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Contest: Ring-maker Entries

by on November 24, 2014

There was an absolutely amazing response to the joint ring-maker contest held here and over at Hall of Beorn, and I think it’s safe to say that this was the most successful one yet! People went out of their way to create many fantastic entries and clearly put some thought into creating interesting and well-balanced cards (as well as a few humorous ones). In fact, I could definitely see some of these custom cards existing as actual cards. Hopefully, we will see more magical rings in this game in the near future, as this contest has me excited for the wide open design possibilities in this area. Without further ado, here are the entries!

Entry #1Wizard Ring

Narya 2

Narya.

Entry #2

“To give a brief explanation, Wizard’s Ring plays, according to the theme, only if there’s a wizard in play. It gives an incredibly good recursion ability, but there’s the threat of the corruption of artifice, in the form of damage to the hero if a treachery is revealed.
Looted Ring is a fairly simple idea. You’re supposed to loot if from an enemy and you get a minor attack bonus. Thematically, it’s supposed to be one of the many magic rings the elves made before the Rings of Power, probably a magic ring that increased the wearer’s fury and battle-prowess.
Last of the Seven is again a simple yet useful card in the right deck. Obviously it was meant to be played in a “dwarf mining” deck, giving a willpower bonus to the lucky dwarf that found the last Dwarven ring, and also helping them to keep on mining even more. It also works pretty good in almost any deck, having a repeatable effect that shuffles 2 cards into the deck every turn.”  

lastofthesevenwizdef stolenring

Entry #3

Narya

Entry #4

“I decided to go for the Hobbit II-extended edition route in drawing inspiration for this one.”

Thrains-Ring-James P

Entry #5

“First up is Lesser Ring.
I did not came across any real quote so far, but it is rumoured/known that Celebrimbor and the other smiths made several lesser Rings. These were not the Rings of Power, but maybe just frivolities for them. This card is about one of those rings.
Usage of power always comes at a cost in ME (Tolkien world, not per se ME but the universum) so even this lesser ring inflicts the health of the bearer, thus the -1 hp. The Nine who were given to the Men amplified powers of the bearers and so does this lesser ring. It increases the leadership skill of the bearer, +1 willpower, or the power of the bearer (magical or not) with +1 att. 
Then we have to versions of Narya
Version 1 attaches to Gandalf and gives him +2 hitpoints. As the quote states “It will support you in the weariness” thus giving him more hitpoints or livestrength. Narya was the Ring of Fire, enlighting the hearts and hopes of people without them. The ‘examples’ we now of, like Bilbo or Frodo, are always regarding people who have less strength of themselves. To represent this in the game, heroes with a lower threshold are overall weaker (lower stats) and therefore I chose every threshold from 1 t/m 8. I would love to have put an exception for Splorfindel on it, but room is always scarce on my custom cards. Rekindling hope is represented by a boost of willpower and defense so they will have courage against great enemies and will travel without a heavy heart through the quest. 
Version 2 attaches to Gandalf and gives him the Leadership sphere. I found this thematic because it is after all Gandalf his symbol. To give Gandalf a sphere of it’s own is probably too powerful, but it also costs two (as version 1) because it’s action is situational. Gandalf has an immensive bond with Hobbits. From the moment he set foot on the shores until he set sail and even then, Hobbits were ever on his mind. What really attracted Gandalf towards them remains unclear, but fact is that he laughed quite some adventures with them. That’s why he gives them a morale boost.
Then we have One of the Nine rings.
I wanted to create a card about the Nine Rings. It attaches to an ally and it costs 0, because it’s effect is like the Palantír in our game. You can build around it, or at least build a deck that can withstand it’s drawback, but it remains a threat. 
It represents the fading of the bearer into a minion of Sauron. The Nine Rings amplified the strengths of the bearer, such as: give him magical powers, more mortal strenght, or/and enhanced leadership skills. (Overall= power) So this One of the Nine enhanced the allies magic powers and destroyes an enemy. Then you’ll face his evil side, as a Wraith enemy is then summoned.
Version 2 is an alt art. I found it very very hard to find art for these Ring cards, so I chose two. There was not much in the honeycomb to choose from.
The next one is One of the Seven.
I always found it interesting how the Dwarves reacted to the their rings. Of their true effect not much is known, but it is suggested that it multiplied their treasures, but it ‘needed gold to breath gold’. So, poor Dwarves got nothing. So it multipied their hoards of gold and also their greediness for more treasures. The hoards of the Dwarves lured great Dragons, like Smaug, and so this card raises your threat after use. The “needed gold to breath gold” also explains why the hero targeted has to have resources. Otherwise it can gain none.
 Then the Rings of Saruman. (These would only work if there will ever be a Hero Version of Saruman, because putting them on a 1-turn ally doesn’t seem like a great choice to me)
The Ring of Curunír as is Saruman his name in Sindarin. 
Saruman gains +1 Attack for this ring enhances his powers as a leader. (be it a leader of Uruk-Hai or Dunland allies). The action of this Ring is an auto-Feint, with a maximum of 4 feint for 1 card. This is really powerfull, but the card costs 3, and requires exhaustion of Saruman so you will lose him unless you have some UC ready. (and if there will ever be a ‘ready an attachment-card’, I blocked that one already) It’s effect has a base, for it represents Sarumans Voice powers. He could even talk Treebeard into letting him leave, and only Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel, maybe could withstand him. So, I thought, maybe in an alternate history, where Saruman turned to the Free Folk, he could have used his Voice against the enemies instead. 
The Ring of Orthanc, first, has bad art. But just imagine the flash being from this Ring.
As in the lore quotation, it represents his Many-Coloured, by giving him all spheres. (I imagine a hero version of Saruman also being neutral) It’s as easy as that. Then it’s action plays out the role of the industry he made around Orthanc and in Isengard. This is a very powerfull ring, so maybe it should even cost 6, because you’ll have your money back in no time. (If you will exhaust Saruman)
Then it is time for the Ring of Skill.
Curunír meant “Man of Skill”, so that’s where the name comes from. It gives Saruman +1 willpower, for his determination of finding the One Ring and/or crafting a Ring of Power for himself. It’s effect lets you search for an Artifact or Staff attachment. All Staffs are probably Artifacts but you never know what the designers might forget. All Rings are until now artifacts, so this ring lets you search Nenya or even an custom One Ring. Found that very funny. 🙂 It puts the attachment into play for free and you may search a deck of your teamplayers, because it also requires an exhaustion, and that is a heavy cost IMO.
Then the last ring is Talya.
I translated, with Derek’s help (aka shipwreck) Earth and made this name. Saruman was very jealous of Gandalf the older Saruman grew. Gandalf had a Ring of Power and was in Favor of the Lady (and Elrond etc. after all) and Saruman thought they wanted to deceive him. So if he had built a Ring in would probably be something like Narya. Because Narya and Nenya have a name combo, I thought it fitting this name would combo with Vilya , so Talya. The other three rings are the rings of fire, air and water, so the other core element left, was Earth. Sarumans ring probably would have been black, and made of some metal mined underneath Orthanc (so iron seems likely). It’s action though shows an real different face of Saruman. As he commanded an army of Dunlendings, he can summon them. He was an ally of Rohan, so thematicly, he may have been able to call for troops to help his needs, and his own army of Isengard thugs can come to his banner. The wording is or, but I did not know how to correctly word and/or. So it doesn’t need to be 2 Rohan or 2 Isengard, but it could be 1 Rohan and 1 Isengard. Since there are no Dunland allies yet (but I hope there will be), that doesn’t trigger, and there are also quite few Isengard allies. I considered adding the limit once per game, for it is really strong, but opted no, because Saruman his Ring would have been powerfull imo.
It’s cost should be 4 though! And Saruman gains the tactics icon, because then we will have all four spheres. (Galadriel Lore, Elrond Spirit, Gandalf Leadership, Saruman Tactics) 
Last and least is Sarumans Staff
I created this card to fit with Ring of Skill, just for fun. The rods of the Five Wizards are things of mystery. We do not know if they posses magical powers themselves or are rather channels of power. Also it is probably no container of the power of the Istari themselves, but we do not know for sure, because Gandalf does defeat the Balrog without staff and Saruman his staff gets broken by Gandalf, but his Voice still possesses great strength. 
This card uses Saruman his Voice and his Staff to lay bare an enemy his weaknesses.”
Lesser-Ring-Front-Face (1)Narya-Front-Face (1)One-of-the-Nine-Front-Face (2) (1)
One-of-the-Nine-Front-Face (1)One-of-the-Seven-Front-Face (1)Ring-of-Curunír-Front-Face (1)
Ring-of-Orthanc-Front-FaceRing-of-Skill-Front-FaceStaff-of-Saruman-Front-Face
Talya-Front-Face

 Entry #6

Balan-Front-Face

Entry #7

“I know this wasn’t one of the rings mentioned specifically in the contest, but I felt that the lesser rings are discussed very little so there is potentially a lot of space there for card design.  I wanted to capture the notion that they bestowed strength to their bearer, but as Sauron held some sway over them with the One they also carried some liability.”

Lesser-Ring-of-Strength-Front-FaceLesser-Ring-of-Healing-Front-Face

Entry #8

Saruman's Ring - Matt D.'s Custom Card

Entry #9

“Ring of Numenor – Obviously, the nine rings are not in “circulation” at this point in Middle Earth’s history, so in some ways they don’t belong in the game, but perhaps one of the rings has been stolen from Saron, or maybe this could fit in with your First Age set.  Anyway, my understanding is that these rings made the men who wielded them incredibly powerful, and gave them the charisma and strength of will needed to bring the scattered tribes of humans together.  I felt that these effects were best captured by increasing the attached hero’s willpower (the power granted by the ring), and also allowing the ring to increase the hero’s willpower for each character you control (their followers inspire the ring bearers to heights of greatness).  However, as we know, those who bore the rings eventually succumbed to the seductive power of the ring.  I wanted a way to track the corruption of the ring and to have it eventually kill the bearer, but I ran into the problem of players saying “well, if I use this 3 times, I die, so I’ll just use it twice and be done!”  This kind of attitude really necessitates a system that forces you towards corruption.  So I added two ways to gain corruption tokens – the first is using the power of the ring, and the second is whenever you ready (every tiny use of the ring corrupts).  The final touch was that I wanted to prevent players from getting rid of the ring in some way, so I made it immune to player cards and encounter cards.  I didn’t think that a mortal could cheat the power of the ring.  Once you take it up, you will succumb to its power, sooner or later.  In the end, this card is likely too complex for it’s own good, but I think it nicely captures the flavor of having an incredibly powerful effect which is also certain to kill you.

Ring of the Dwarf-lords – I wanted to find a way to emphasize the greed that these rings inspired in the dwarves.  Resource acceleration seemed like the easiest way to do this (their greed caused them to amass a great deal of wealth), but in the game we collect and then spend our resources which didn’t sound all that greedy to me.  A way I thought of to encourage players to hoard their resources was have your threat increase if you used resources during a turn.  So if you want to minimize how much your threat increases, you will save up resources for multiple turns and play all of your cards all at once.  Finally, the wealth and power of these dwarf-lords drew many of their kins-folk to them, which I’ve represented by allowing them to spend their resources on any dwarf ally (all dwarves answer the call of the ring and the promise of wealth).  This card ended up being quite nice and simple, and I think it really emphasizes the greed that the ring inspired.”

Ring of NúmenorRing of the Dwarf-lords

Entry #10

“Narya – Firstly, it’s my sincere hope that the reason they didn’t release Narya with Road Darkens is that they’re actually planning a Cirdan hero and didn’t want to give it away by referencing him on the card (though otherwise it’s all Gandalf-focused). The actual design was inspired by the quote on the card, and by the events of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, when Gandalf takes charge of the Gondorian forces after Denethor gives in to despair. Along with the fact that granting a resource icon wouldn’t fit so well with Gandalf as a neutral hero, I thought giving him a trait was a nice alternative, to allow him to truly become a great leader of whatever people he happens to be on the table with (and share their synergies). And then the ability seemed a good representation of ‘rekindling their hearts’ (Of note of course is that he has the trait himself, so you could just use it to give him +1 to all his stats. Actually, that might be a bit too good, maybe I should’ve specifically excluded him, but it’s done now).

Ring of Durin – The Seven Dwarven rings as I recall were used primarily to amass wealth. I considered something akin to O Lorien, but for playing attachments on Dwarfs, but for Durin as the greatest leader of Dwarfs I wanted something to boost them (Like the existing Durin’s Song) while sticking to that theme. So rather than helping the hero acquire wealth, it powers up a character based on the wealth they’ve already acquired. I debated what stat or stats to boost, or if it should be a choice between them, but that was leading towards a long and unwieldy text, so I just went with the Dain boosts (an interesting combo of course would be to put this on Dain – then when you’re running out of other Dwarf actions, it may be less useful to keep him ready for his ability than it would be to exhaust him and give Gimli +4 attack for that Citadel Plate).

Dwarven Ring of Power – Rather than imagine the dwarfs somehow retrieved a ring from Sauron, I thought “What if a dragon took one of the Seven as part of its hoard, instead of melting it?” Thus conceiving of a hypothetical quest based around retaking a dragon’s hoard, with a bunch of objectives to try and claim. Here I went straight for the desire for wealth – as soon as a piece of treasure (objective) appears, the ringed Dwarf is immediately galvanised to claim it. And the forced effect I saw as representing the fact the Dwarf would most likely rather die than relinquish the ring (And a quest like this probably would have treacheries and shadows which would force you to discard attachments, perhaps even specifically objectives).

Ring of the Nazgul – I couldn’t see one of the Nine as a player card, but  could conceive of a scenario with potential for a hero to take one of the Nine and be corrupted by it. I was originally going for the hero gradually turning into a wraith, but that ended up too similar to Fallen Into Evil, not to mention the description would have been far too long unless I actually used the First Age terminology of just “add 1 corruption”. And any attempt to vary the idea would’ve just made it even more overly wordy. So I thought, well, the process of becoming a wraith is supposed to take years in any case, so instead have something to represent that the hero wearing the ring is already partially under the sway of Sauron. Unfortunately there isn’t a unifying ‘Human’ trait, so I picked Gondor/Dunedain as that catches a large number of the human heroes, and at least some of the original Nazgul were Numenoreans, so it makes some sense. I’d include this in a quest with a Saga or Objective Gondor/Dunedain hero, to ensure there’s always at least one target.”

Dwarven-Ring-of-Power-Front-FaceNarya-Front-Face (2)

Ring-of-Durin-Front-FaceRing-of-the-Nazgûl-Front-Face

Entry #11

Narya_JVMSarumansRing

Entry #12

“A couple notes about the card:

  • I wanted to keep the exhaust attachment/character trigger of Vilya and Nenya
  • Had to be something that targeted other characters, also like Vilya/Nenya
  • I steered clear of Willpower-boosting, since that’s very much Nenya’s bag, but still had to represent mustering hope and courage
  • I wanted something that would sit well on OHaUH Gandalf too (maybe even a little better on him)
  • I wanted to represent Gandalf pushing others on in the face of overwhelming odds, and I thought a response to surge (without cancelling it outright) was a cool way to do that”

-Narya-Front-Face

Entry #13

Narya-Front-Face (3)

Entry #14

Lesser Ring 1Lesser Ring 2Lesser Ring 3

Entry #15

Narya-Front-Face (4)

Entry #16

“The card represents one of the Seven rings that were given to the dwarf lords. While the nine rings which were given to men turned them into Saurons servants, the seven “only” turned the dawrf kings filthy rich (gain 1 additional resource at the end of round). I think the ring also made them greedy and selfish, never giving help to others or help in a common cause (unable to commit to a quest with others, help in attacks or spend money with others). They can still do these tasks on their own (commit to quest all alone, attack alone and spend money alone). Defending is (almost) always done alone and considered self defence, so I didn´t see a point to add it to the list (the dwarf will accept help if someone offered it).
I didn´t make the card unique, since I think each card of this represents one of the seven rings, though only one can be attached to a character. Since the rings were given to Noble Dwarves (who were strong minded enough to withstand Saurons grip), I added the limit to attach the ring only to Noble dwarfs, but realize now that there are only 3(!) noble dwarves in the game currently (why is Dain not a noble?). So the card would propably work better without the noble requirement.
The cost is zero, since I think this card has its limits (well, maybe a cost of 1/2 could be argued), and I think you would have to consider attaching it. It would be interesting, if all of your heroes had one.”
One of the Seven Rings
Entry #17
ring of orthancthe one ring
Entry #18
DurinsRingTheOneRing
Entry #19
The Ring of the Witch-King of AngmarThe Ring of the Firebeards
Entry #20

“First we see Celebrimbor’s early work, some texts suggests he was Feanor’s grandson, so it seems fitting to somehow tie one of his first rings to his time in Valinor and could hold the Doom on Mandos at bay.

Then the minor rings, which were made in abundance according to Gandalf but were dangerous to mere mortals.

Three of the surviving dwarf rings that only work when the dwarves gather gold and trigger off their greed.

Then Saurman’s ring, which works only with the Saruman ally we have to extend his power over those he has trapped by his voice, or that stir up his ire.

And of course one that would be better suited to “that other podcast” about LotR LCG but was too easy to not pass up on.”

Vardaen-Ring-maker-1Vardaen-Ring-maker-2Vardaen-Ring-maker-3

Vardaen-Ring-maker-4Vardaen-Ring-maker-5Vardaen-Ring-maker-6

Vardaen-Ring-maker-7

Entry #21

“I designed a card for One of The Nine Rings of Power gifted to the race of men. I wanted it to be free, because it was gifted to them, and they took them without thinking there was a cost.  The rings gave these men power, illustrated by the boost of a stat for a phase.  A hero may use the ring to gain power as often as he chooses.  But beware, as you use the ring you will increase your threat dramatically, symbolically turning yourself into a wraith.”

One-of-The-Nine-Front-Face (3)

Entry #22

Ringmaker - Juszczyk - Aragorn

Entry #23

“First with the big one: The One Ring
– Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel all evaded the temptation of the ring, so they are restricted to use it.
– You became invisible once put to finger, except for nazgul/ringwrights.
– Canceling an attack is pretty powerful, as is readying, so I put the damage and eventual threat raise as punishment for using the ruling ring.
Second, is Gandalfs ring Narya:
– I designed it as a little partner to the One Ring (and specially Frodo/hobbits), so that you can negate the threat raise (like rooting and couraging the one with the burden).
– This card is like putting together Dunedain Quest, Signal and Cache, when you cast a spell. I imagine Gandalf is able to throw somekind of fireballs or such… or not.
And third, the ring that doomed kings, Ring of Power:
– Free and possibly powerful, but eventually going to become your doom. Propably more effective earlier than later, when the discard pile is larger.”
Narya (1)Ring of PowerThe One Ring (1)
Entry #24
khamulsgift copy
Entry #25
One Ring - Matt DeLano's Custom Card
Entry #26
“Here’s my submission for the ring-maker contest, one of the seven dwarven rings. Its name is Otlikumarâkh, which according to the Dwarrow Scholar’s dictionary means “(the) art/skill of shield-making”. (Armor-making would be more appropriate for what the card does, but I couldn’t find “armor” anywhere in his dictionary; a strange omission…) This *almost* led me to use “A fair jaw-cracker dwarf-language must be! – Sam Gamgee” as the flavortext quote. 🙂 But I found a more appropriate quote in the Silmarillion, so I used that instead.”
Otlikumarâkh-Front-Face
Entry #27
Narya-Front-Face
Entry #28
“I was inspired by Isildur’s brief possession of the ring as an example of its promise of power and control in Middle Earth but also, as the weapon of the enemy, ultimately accelerate one’s Doom.  With the future of LOTR LCG possibly containing many unique (and non-unique) ring attachments it seems fitting that The One Ring’s primary action is to “rule them all” – providing new, powerful combinations for the player willing to risk using the ring, at the expense of another hero or players’ success.   For situations where rings are not in play, those lucky enough to find The One Ring could realize the benefit of its card draw ability, but with the enemy constantly seeking the Ring this becomes a more dangerous proposition each round!”
The One Ring MK
Entry #29 
Chime-of-the-Citadel-Front-Face
Entry #30
 Earring-of-Bill--Front-Face

Entry #31

The Lore

“Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone…”

In the Second Age, Celebrimbor and the other Noldorin smiths of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain forged many rings of power with the aid of the repented Maia Sauron. Unbeknownst to them, however, the former servant of Morgoth held evil plans for the rings, and his touch tainted all but the Three Elven rings.

When Sauron sacked Eregion, he tortured the whereabouts of all rings but the Three out of Celebrimbor (as told in “The History of Celeborn and Galadriel” in Unfinished Tales). Presumably, this is when Sauron recovered the Nine (which he gave to lords of Men who would become the Nazgûl) and also the Seven, which the Silmarillion relates:

“Seven rings he [Sauron] gave to the Dwarves… And all those rings that he governed he perverted…and they were accursed, and they betrayed in the end all those that used them… They [the Dwarves] used their rings for the getting of wealth; but wrath and an overmastering greed of gold were kindled in their hearts, of which evil enough after came to the profit of Sauron. It is said that the foundation of each of the Seven Hoards of the Dwarf-kings of old was a golden ring; but all those hoards long ago were plundered and the Dragons devoured them, and of the Seven Rings some were consumed in fire and some Sauron recovered.” (Simarillion, “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”)

But, as told in the Appendices to <i>The Return of the King</i>, one of the Seven had eluded Sauron from the start, passing to the Dwarves of Durin’s House in Moria through their great friendship with the Elf-smiths of Eregion:

“It was believed by the dwarves of Durin’s Folk to be the first of the Seven that was forged; and they say that it was given to the King of Khazad-dûm , Durin III, by the Elven-smiths themselves and not by Sauron, though doubtless his evil power was on it…” (The Return of the King, Appendix A)

From Durin III the first and last of the Seven passed down through the royal line, escaping Durin’s (VI) Bane in Moria with Thráin I, until it came to Thrór, King Under the Mountain at the time when Smaug descended in flame and destruction upon Erebor. Many of those who knew of the existence of the Ring believed that Thrór had, in his folly, worn the ring when he re-entered Moria and was slain by Azog (it is rumored that Balin’s doomed attempt to retake the mines was motivated by the desire to recover the Ring). However, this was not so, for Thrór had not been quite so foolish:

“Years afterwards Thrór, now old, poor, and desperate, gave to his son Thráin the one great treasure he still possessed, the last of the Seven Rings… He was a little crazed perhaps with age and misfortune and long brooding… or the Ring, it may be, was turning to evil now that its master was awake, driving him to folly and destruction” (The Return of the King, Appendix A)

No one except Thráin II knew of the whereabouts of the Ring, an artifact which had long been shrouded in secrecy as is common among Dwarves with respect to their treasures. Looking back, it seems probable that Sauron knew something of the Ring and Durin’s Heirs who bore it, for the Dark Lord’s malice was clearly at work the night Thráin II, as he sought “shelter under the eaves of Mirkwood”, was kidnapped and imprisoned in the dungeons of Dol Guldur. And so Sauron recovered the last of the Seven to remain free.

In retrospect, it would seem that the recurrent ill-fate of the House of Durin can be traced to the malice Sauron directed at the Dwarves for their resistance to the corruption of the Rings of Power. While the Nine corrupted and enslaved Men, reducing them to ringwraiths, the Seven had no such direct power over the Dwarves, and Sauron was limited to acting against their bearers indirectly:

“None the less it may well be, as the Dwarves now believe, that Sauron by his arts had dsicovered who had this Ring, the last to remain free, and that the singular misfortunes of the heirs of Durin were largely due to his malice. For the Dwarves has proved untameable by this means. The only power over them that the Rings wielded was to inflame their hearts with a greed of gold and precious things, so that if they lacked them all other good things seemed profitless, and they were filled with wrath and desire for vengeance on all who deprived them. But they were made from their beginning of a kind to resist most steadfastly any domination.” (The Return of the King, Appendix A)

Thus the loosing of Durin’s Bane, another former servant of Morgoth aroused by Sauron’s rise to power, could be attributed to the evil taint upon Durin VI’s Ring of Power. Likewise Smaug may have come to Erebor seeking this very ring, as many others of his brood had devoured the golden rings at the heart of other Dwarven hoardes. The deaths of Thrór and Thráin seem to have been driven by a madness perhaps kindled by the Ring’s desire, and even the subsequent deaths of Thorin II, Fili and Kili could be interpreted as ripples of this evil legacy.

Thus while the Last of the Seven brought power and great wealth (as evidenced by the glory of Khazad-dûm and Erebor at their heights), and possibly could “prove the foundation of a new fortune for you yet,” as Thrór told to Thráin upon gifting the Ring to his heir, that power came at a price. At each turn, the Ring invited dark fortune upon those who would wield it to breed gold from gold…

The Card

What if Thráin had not been captured and the Ring taken by the servants of Sauron? What if instead he had gifted it to his heir, Thorin II, or to another of the royal line of Durin’s House? The histories might have been very different indeed had King Dáin, or even Glóin or Gimli, born this Ring. What wonders might they have accomplished, or what dooms might they have visited upon their companions, with this power upon their finger?

The Last of the Seven card is designed to let players discover for themselves the alternate histories possible under such a scenario. The card’s abilities are designed to represent both the unique promise and peril of this powerful artifact in the game world of the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game.

Befitting the secret legacy of the Seven, and the jealousy of the Dwarves, only a noble heir of the House of Durin may bear this Ring. This restricts its use to the heroes Thorin, Glóin, and Gimli, but the card specifically includes Dáin Ironfoot, since the exclusion of the “Noble” keyword on this card is likely an oversight. (Note that a house rule allowing it to be attached to Balin as well could be argued for on similar grounds).

Once attached, however, the Ring flames the greed and jealousy of its bearer, hence the immunity of the attached hero’s resource pool — this nullifies resource-smoothing effects such as Blue Mountain Trader or Errand-rider, but also nullifies outside aid such as Gaining Strength (the Dwarves are by nature hard-headed, and such a Ring makes them even more resistant to outside meddling of any kind).

The ability of the Ring itself is meant to evoke Thrór’s final message to Thráin, “This may prove the foundation of a new fortune for you yet, though that seems unlikely. But it needs gold to breed gold.” (The Return of the King, Appendix A). The player must spend a resource for the hope of gaining three (a more powerful effect than Steward of Gondor even), but in the spirit of the Dwarven miners of Khazad-dûm, those who delve deep for treasure may uncover darker things. If the wrong encounter card type is guessed, not only has one resource been wasted, but a new evil is unleashed upon Middle Earth to harry and harass the heroes (or possibly worse).

Last-of-the-Seven-Front-Face

I have one more entry, for Saruman’s Ring. Here is the lore and explanation of the card’s design:

Curunír, known commonly as Saruman during the Third Age of Middle Earth, was the eldest of the Istari. In Unfinished Tales it is said that Curunír was chosen from among the Maiar to be sent to Middle Earth as agents of the Valar by Aulë, the master of craft. Sauron, too, was a Maiar of Aulë, and this connection is perhaps the source of the rivalry mentioned in the Silmarillion:

“Curunír had turned to dark thoughts and was already a traitor in heart… Too long he had studied the ways of Sauron in hopes to defeat him, and now he envied him as a rival rather than hated his works… Therefore he was willing to play with peril and let Sauron be for a time, hoping by his craft to forestall both his friends and the Enemy.” (“Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”).

Though Saruman played a dangerous game, his crafts were indeed powerful, for as Gandalf tells Radagast, “It was by the devices of Saruman that we [the White Council] drove him [Sauron] from Dol Guldur”. In particular, he studied “the lore of the Rings of Power, their making and their history” (Silmarillion). He gleaned enough knowledge, in combination with his innate skills, to craft his own ring of power. Gandalf reports at the White Council meeting in Rivendell that when he met Saruman (by then “of Many Colours”) and was taken prisoner at Isengard, Saruman “wore a ring on his finger” and named himself “Ring-maker” (The Fellowship of the Ring).
In the spirit of alternate histories made possible through the living card game format, we can imagine that Saruman might indeed have resisted the corrupting influence of the Enemy’s art. What might Saruman have been able to accomplish through sheer strength and artifice, while Gandalf worked through the more subtle means of kindling hope and courage? The player card for Saruman is already very powerful: he boasts a stellar stat line (with a monstrous 5 attack), and can furthermore put any encounter card out of play for the duration of the turn. For all this, his was by necessity plays with peril, and the card represents this price through the Doomed 3 keyword.
While the Professor never uncovered the precise nature of Saruman’s Ring, nor mentioned any suppositions as to its power, we can extrapolate from the personality of its maker something of this Ring’s character. Overall, it should enhance Saruman’s existing strengths, while also magnifying his weakness. Hence the player card for Saruman’s Ring, in keeping with Saruman’s transient tenure in play, is an event rather than an attachment. It too is cursed with the doomed keyword, but allows Saruman to appear in any phase, as though he were watching from a distance awaiting precisely the right moment to reveal his power, and also boosts his amazing stat line by a universal +1. The ring greatly increases the threat cost of Saruman, but adds a very powerful (and free) effect in turn (especially in combination with Flame of Anor) — precisely what I imagine Saruman might have planned out for a Ring of Power of his own design.
Saruman's-Ring-Front-Face
Narya, the Red Ring or Ring of Fire, was the last of the Three — the Elven Rings of Power forged by Celebrimbor alone and thus unsullied by the malice of Sauron — to be revealed in the Third Age of Middle Earth. Only after the War of the Ring did any beyond the Wise discover that the Ring had passed from Gil-galad to Círdan at the end of the Second Age. The Master of the Havens had entrusted this mighty artifact to Gandalf, in secret, perceiving in Mithrandir a wisdom beyond that of the White Wizard, but also that “thy labors and thy cares will be heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness” (Silmarillion).
The player card for Gandalf — especially when accompanied by his staff, pipe, and Flame of Anor event — is already extraordinarily powerful, and so it seemed redundant for the player card Narya to concentrate on defending Gandalf the hero from weariness (arguably, Flame of Anor could be interpreted as the player card manifestation of that facet of Narya’s powers). Instead, it seemed that the Narya player card should focus on a different aspect of the Ring of Fire, it’s ability to “rekindle hearts to the valour of old”. Hence we have a fairly straightforward, but powerfully universal, readying effect. However, as in all cases with Rings of Power in Middle Earth, power comes at a price. Using the Ring poses a temptation to power for Gandalf, and also raises the possibility that Sauron might perceive its whereabouts. This danger is represented in the card by raising your threat by 3. I chose not to include a doomed effect, like with Saruman and his Ring, because Gandalf by contrast takes the threat and danger onto himself, rather than spreading it to others. Hence he, and he alone, bears the threat increase from Narya.
Narya-Front-Face (5)
I will declare the winner of my half of the contest in the next few days. Until then, look over the entries and leave your thoughts, comments, feedback, and questions below. Your input just might sway my decision!
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8 Comments
  1. Great entries!

    I like the idea of a Dwarf-lord Ring that attaches to a Dwarf hero.
    Exhaust the Hero and the Dwarf-lord Ring to gain X resources, where X is the number of Underground locations.
    Raise your threat by X.

    And of course, I am still working on my submission even though the contest is over and will have to be sent over outside the competition for commentary.

  2. Entrant #26 permalink

    I’m the person who designed entry #26, Otlikumarâkh. Since others have talked about their design process, I’ll talk about mine. (I don’t think anyone knows me so it’s probably an unnecessary precaution for me to do so anonymously, but I don’t want to accidentally prejudice the judging in any way, so I’ll stay anonymous until the winners are revealed).

    I decided to design a Dwarven ring, since the Dwarven rings are under-represented in the game (not represented at all, in fact, at least so far). Tolkien never said much about the Dwarven rings, but he did say that they amplified their wearer’s greed for gold, though they never could enslave the wearer to Sauron’s will, unlike the Nine Rings given to men. And I thought that the rings’ original powers, designed by the elves, would probably involve some enhancements to dwarves’ natural abilities. Dwarves are famous for working metal, so the ring should involve forging in some way. The one dwarven-forged artifact that plays a major role in The Lord of the Rings is the mithril coat worn first by Bilbo and later by Frodo, so I decided that the ring I designed would involve forging armor, rather than weapons.

    At this point, the major features of the card were in place: it should help its wearer to forge armor more easily, or more quickly. So how could I convert this to game mechanics? Here, the Eagles of the Misty Mountains card gave me an idea. It uses other player cards as facedown attachments, and I could do something similar with Otlikumarâkh. So I decided to use facedown attachments to represent the armor that Otlikumarâkh’s wearer would be forging: the top card of the player’s deck essentially gets turned into an armor attachment when Otlikumarâkh’s ability is used.

    This basically allows a player to have 50 armor cards in his deck, which is too powerful, so some restrictions were necessary. FIrst, the armor cards need to cost resources. 2 Tactics resources seemed about right; it’s more expensive than the Gondorian Shield which has comparable stats (+1 defense, or +2 defense if character is a (insert trait here)), but unlike Gondorian Shield, the armor that the ring creates can be attached to any character, not just a hero. So you could give the armor to a Veteran of Nanduhirion to boost him to 4 defense, or give it to a Defender of Rammas to give him 5 defense. And by having the shield-creating ability cost 2 resources from the attached hero’s own card (while he will only generate one resource per round), it means that hero can only create a shield once every other round, unless he gets resources from some other source. Which means that this hero will crave resources — which ends up being very thematic, since one of the few things we know about the Seven Rings is that they boost their wearer’s lust for gold.

    Second, Otlikumarâkh’s wearer needs to exhaust to use its ability. Creating armor is not a trivial task, and someone who’s busy sweating over a forge is probably not going to be questing, attacking or defending at the same time — unless they have an unexpected amount of courage. And third, to limit this ability to once per round no matter how many resources the attached hero needs to acquire, Otlikumarâkh needs to be exhausted as well.

    Finally, the cost of the ring itself needed to be addressed, as well as whether it should have any other abilities beyond armor-crafting. Many of the other artifacts give a resource icon in addition to their other abilities (Ring of Barahir, Celebrian’s Stone, Vilya, Nenya…), so that seemed thematic. The resource icon that this ring grants should naturally be Tactics: its bearer is spending his own resources to create armor, and those resources should naturally be Tactics resources. The ring itself could have been another sphere, but having an artifact grant the resource icon needed to play it does have precedent (Sword that was Broken), and it just seemed wrong for a ring that enhanced shield-making to belong to any sphere but Tactics. I decided to give the ring a cost of 1 resource rather than 2 (my first version of the ring cost 2 resources), because I wanted to allow a Dwarf deck to start creating shields right away if it was carefully designed. For example, if Bifur is accompanying Gimli and Thorin, Gimli can give the ring to Bifur, Thorin can give him a resource, and Bifur can then create a shield for Gimli.

    One other thing: by not making Otlikumarâkh’s ability a Planning Action, I’ve allowed it to happen in any phase. So if you’re blocking a Hill Troll with Gimli, planning to let him take 4 damage, but then a Shadow effect shows up that is going to boost the Hill Troll’s attack by 1, your armor-crafter can throw Gimli a hastily-assembled shield to save his life.

    Even if Otlikumarâkh doesn’t end up winning the contest (there are many REALLY good entries!), I hope it’s a well-balanced card that will make a fun addition to your decks.

  3. Great job to the entry including Cirdan!

  4. Wow. I’m surprised you actually read all of these 😛
    BTW, there are a lot of images overlapping each other when viewing in Firefox.

  5. Susan permalink

    I thought the Saruman’s Ring in entry #8 was really intriguing – as was the entry #12 version of Narya.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. An Unexpected Desolation | Dor Cuarthol
  2. Year End Roundup | Warden of Arnor
  3. Contest: Ring-maker Entries | Hall of Beorn

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