If Other Fantasy Heroes Existed in LOTR LCG
Just as a warning, this post is all about having fun on a Friday, so don’t expect the usual analysis and game discussion. With that caveat out of the way, let me begin by saying that as a fan of not just Lord of the Rings, but other fantasy settings as well, whether literary or cinematic, I sometimes wonder what other fantasy characters would look like if they existed in the LOTR LCG world. Well, the time for wondering is over! Here’s a selection of some of my favorites, straight from my mind to the page (with a little help from Strange Eons):
I grew up back in the 1980’s, and during that time there was a short period when the fantasy genre got some serious backing from Hollywood studios (this wouldn’t really happen again until Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy). With a story written by George Lucas, and directed by Ron Howard, Willow was a fantasy movie of the time that I remember with great fondness. The story owed much to Tolkien, as it featured a main character from a diminutive, peace-loving folk. It was not objectively the most original or complex fantasy movie, yet stories from our childhood often hold special places in our heart, and for that reason I love it. More importantly, I’ll cut anyone who says it’s garbage! One character stands out from the all the rest: Madmartigan, played by Val Kilmer, the self-proclaimed “greatest swordsman that ever lived”. Madmartigan is a bit of a rogue and a scoundrel, and constantly gets himself and others into trouble through impulsive behavior and bravado. He fits right into the Tactics sphere, with an ability that reflects his martial skills but also his tendency to attract trouble. Here’s a short clip of Madmartigan in action for your enjoyment:
Setting: R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf Series (Forgotten Realms)
R.A. Salvatore is one of the most prolific fantasy authors around, and there are as many people out there who detest his work as there are those who adore him. I personally enjoy his stories, for the most part, because they quite simply provide great entertainment value. They are the fantasy novel equivalent of a “popcorn” movie. In particular, his Dark Elf Trilogy, which explores the origin story of one of his most famous characters, Drizzt Do’Urden, is a compelling read. Here we find a hero who defies the evil and cutthroat ways of his people (known as the Dark Elves or Drow), and that is a fairly novel concept in the fantasy realm. Just imagine if one of the orcs of Moria decided he didn’t want to waylay settlers and adventurers anymore and wanted to pursue a more noble path instead, and faced all the repercussions from that decision. Anyway, while Drizzt is also a great warrior, known for his two-handed fighting style, I decided to place him in the Lore sphere. Most of the ranger characters in the game find their home in the Lore sphere, and Drizzt fits that mold. He is silent, deadly, and knowledgeable about the ways of both the underworld and the wild, and this tracking skill is reflected in his exhaust ability. He also is a bit of a lone wanderer, and seems to shine in single combat against many foes, thus his other ability is meant to embody that characteristic. I would love to see him paired with an attachment card representing his panther companion, Guenhwyvar, as well. I wonder what the Noldor and Silvan of Middle-Earth would think of a Drow.
Setting: Dragonlance Novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
With this list, I have probably effectively outed myself as a fan of “trashy” fantasy. In my defense, I came across all these characters when I was a kid, so they tend to stick in my brain more so than any others. And also in my defense, I will cut you if you speak ill of the Dragonlance series! For those who never read these books, Raistlin is a skinny, sickly mage nearly driven to death by his pursuit of raw power and knowledge through magic. In a company made up of do-gooders, he is the most complex figure, flirting with dark powers and driven ultimately by his own goals more so than any noble desire to save the world. As such, he was always the most interesting to me of the company of heroes present in the series. I thought a bit about how to model such a character in LOTR LCG. He definitely fits into the Lore sphere, as a mage and seeker of arcane knowledge. To represent his spell book, I gave him a pair of abilities that would be activated by giving him damage (to represent the effect on his health of spell-casting). I realized that healing abilities could easily be abused to make him overpowered, so I tried to build in a mechanic to make healing him a risky proposition.
Well, I hope you got some enjoyment out of this article. What fantasy characters have you imagined being in the game and what do you think their stats and abilities would be? Let me know in the comments below.
Stay tuned next week, as I will continue the Deck-Building 101 series with a look at my mono-sphere Lore deck, begin to take a look at some encounter card sets, and much more!