Showing posts with label Tolkien. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tolkien. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: H is for Hobbit

The Hobbit
 "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

A very unassuming start to an epic adventure. Not just the epic adventure that propelled the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and his dwarf companions from the quiet of the Shire to a dragon's hoard and a great battle, but also how it shaped what would become Dungeons & Dragons.

It doesn't take a scholar of either J.R.R. Tolkien or of Dungeons & Dragons to see the similarities between the two. Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Dragons, Were-bears, Goblins, Trolls, Hobbits-er Halflings, and Dragons. Ancient underground areas, dark forests, and a grand adventure. 

It was enough that "Chainmail" and the first version of Dungeons & Dragons (often called the "Original Edition" or 0 Edition), had Hobbits, Ents, and Balrogs in it. Which got TSR a lot of threatening letters from the Tolkien Estate. So instead, we now have Halflings, Treants (Tree + Ent), and Balors (like the Irish Balor, but in name only).

Where it Began, Part 1: Chainmail

Prior to D&D there was Gary's first game, Chainmail, described as "Rules for Medieval Miniatures."  These rules were for War Gamers and not Role-Playing games, which did not really* exist yet.

*Yes there were and have been close games and others that were RPGs in all but name, but the term and the genre did not exist yet.

Chainmail allowed you to play medieval war games with minis. Most often made of lead and played in a large sandbox.  It was released in 1971, but there are claims that the rules in one form or another, existed in Gary's basement since 1968 after the first Gen Con. As people played with these rules, they expanded on them. One of the expansions was the Fantasy Supplement. Here, creatures like dragons, orcs, elves, Balrogs, Ents, and Hobbits were added.

OD&D 1st Print and 3rd Print with Chainmail

These additions proved to be very popular among some, and not so popular among older War Gamers. Yes. Even then the Edition Wars had their first salvos. 

This popularity and the notion that people wanted to play individual characters led to the first drafts of what would become Dungeons & Dragons.

The Tolkien Estate, of course, noticed. 

While sales stopped on TSR's "Battle of the Five Armies" (1975), copies of Dungeons & Dragons and Chainmail had to be edited to change to the more "Tolkien-approved" terms. My copy of Chainmail above still has Hobbits, Ents, and Balrogs. My 1st printing of OD&D has them, my more complete 3rd-4th printing does not.

Of course, there were missives in Dragon Magazine on how D&D was not even remotely inspired by Tolkien, but honestly they rang as hollow as the ones of D&D and AD&D being completely different games. Likely for similar reasons.

Years later on TSR had the chance to do a Lord of the Rings/D&D game and somehow managed to mess that deal up.  Competitor Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.) would have their own Middle-Earth Role-Playing Game, and it was wildly successful. 

Where it Began, Part 2: Rankin/Bass

It is hard to think about a time when The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were exclusive to literate geeks. We are far removed from the time when you could see patches on student's backpacks that proclaimed "Frodo Lives!" While today we have the massive Peter Jackson movies, back in the 1970s we had Rankin/Bass and "The Hobbit."

The Rankin/Bass Hobbit movie, appearing on TV in 1977, was my generation's gateway drug to D&D. I consider myself the 2nd (maybe a little on the 3rd) generation of D&D gamers. I did not come to this hobby because of wargaming. I came here because I read The Hobbit.  In fact, the book pictured above was the one I got for Christmas in 1981 along with my Moldvay Basic set because I was tired of borrowing other people's copies.  I had first read it in Jr. High and had already been exposed to D&D; this was exactly the right book at the right time in my life. I would later go on to read the Lord of the Rings and try to read The Silmarillion. I would finally succeed years later. 

For me, and many others, the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings and D&D are deeply linked. I have even joked that everyone is allowed one "Tolkien rip-off" character while playing D&D. Mine was a Halfling with the completely uninspired name of "Bilbo Perrin."

I reread the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings every few years or so. They are still among the best "D&D" tales out there, even if Gandalf only has the spell-casting power of a 6th-level D&D Wizard.


Tomorrow is I, and I will talk about Imagination.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Trailer: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

I am a huge "Lord of the Rings" fan.  

I reread the trilogy and the hobbit every couple of years, and I always find new enjoyment. I have read and re-read The Silmarillion a couple of times now and I think it gets better each and every time.  I have enjoyed his unfinished tales, I loved The Children of Húrin, and I have been dying to start The Fall of Gondolin.

Small part of my Tolkien collection

I have all the Lord of the Rings movies and yes I did rebuy them each and every time they were released on a new medium, DVD, Blu-Ray, and Ultra HD Blu-Ray.

So I am a fan.

And I am REALLY looking forward to seeing Amazon's new The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

I cannot adequately describe what it is like to see the Two Trees after only seeing them forever in my thoughts. Reminds me of the line from Stairway to Heaven. "In my thoughts, I have seen, rings of smoke through the trees, and the voices of those who stand looking."

I love the Harfoots as proto-ish-Hobbits. I think Morfydd Clark will make a FANTASTIC Galadriel.  People complaining about Galadriel wearing armor and fighting obviously know nothing of her history. Before she turns into Cate Blanchet she was a warrior, a rebel and who was the "only woman to stand tall in those days" according to the Unfinished Tales and Silmarillion. She has a dark past full of murder and war.  

We have Pharazôn, before he becomes the last King of Númenor. No word yet on whether or not Annatar will appear, but I am betting he will. In fact. I am sure of it.  No word on Fëanor though. 

Yes, there are certain liberties being taken.  But that is the nature of storytelling and I am fine with it.

But yes. I am really looking forward to this.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

5 x 5: End of the Year Top Fives. Movies

Continuing my Top 5 for the year's end.  Here are my all-time Top 5 Movies.

Lord of the Rings

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Star Wars

Star Trek: Wrath of Khan

Army of Darkness

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Guide

Today's topic is Guide.

This is a topic that is likely to come up many times today.

Games work best with guides, not just books, but people and things to help show you the way.

I think my first real guide to D&D actually predates my D&D exposure.
I have mentioned in the past that my true introduction to what would become my D&D was d'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths this was nearly immediately followed by Tolkien's The Hobbit.

In between my reading of these two books was when I discovered D&D.  The line is pretty direct for me from Greek Myths to D&D and the Hobbit. These two sources were my guide to what D&D could be if not what it should be.  In fact it is not too much of a stretch to say my D&D then was very much Greek Myths + The Hobbit.

The next guide I picked up were D&D proper.

While Holmes Basic might have been my first set of D&D rules, it was the AD&D Monster Manual that was my first exposure to D&D.   But I have detailed these two books and their impact on me many times here.

From here my guides were less about books and more about people.  When I was learning to how to play and moving through my first few years of D&D I got to play in a lot of different groups and knew of several more.  Here other's experiences and their readings came to influence me.

While I had read many of the books on the infamous Appendix N, they were only a tertiary impact on me and my games.  Usually, either through someone else have read them and applying them to their games and what was in the RPG books. 

Over the years I have had the chance to play with others who have helped guide me (and vice versa) through many RPGs.  Each time I take away something to aid me or push me on.

There were my high school games where I got the chance to play with a lot of different groups. The summer from college that I played in an OD&D campaign.  Games at college and striking out all on my own in 2nd Ed to recreate my own worlds.  Campaigns with other games like ShadowRun, Vampire, and eventually WitchCraft. Meeting people online and talking games with them discovering that even though we all did things in a different way there are common stories and share experiences.  To the message boards, blogs, and social media of today.

Even reading these posts today will help guide me in other directions. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Lord of the Rings fan films

Was doing a little research today and discovered these Lord of the Rings fan films.

I have not watched them all yet, but the production values are really good and they look good as well.  Yeah, they are fan films so the acting isn't Oscar level, but what they lack in skill they make up for in enthusiasm.

The first is Born in Hope a story of Aragorn's parents and The Necromancer/Sauron's search for the Ring.

The other is The Hunt for Gollum. It deals with Aragorn's hunt for Gollum and Gandalf's search for more information on the Ring.

These are based on Tolkien's works but are more akin to the movies than the books, but there is a lot of love in both of them.