Monday, June 8, 2020

Another Box in the Basement

Cover Illustration
     I keep a lot of the stuff I picked up in the 70's and 80's, especially the old hex and counter games in a plastic bin in the basement.  I did find another use for the box this weekend, as it was the right height to support the running boards I was installing on the new truck.  Of course, I needed two bins of that height so I grabbed the one underneath, which I'd forgotten what had been packed into it when we moved in 1999.
     After I finished what became a long and painful process when the wrench slipped and I caught it on (not in) my mouth; I popped the top to see what was in it and found not only the board game 'CA' (heavy cruisers); but also my copy of Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) Moria setting.
  This is a 71 page booklet, authorized by Tolkien Enterprises  in 1984, so it freely quotes from the LotR and reproduces information from the appendices in Return of the King.  
   The stats in the book use the ICE Middle Earth Role Playing System (MERPS), a d100 based system, but they offer handy conversion tables for a 1-20 scale, like D&D. 

    After the section on conversion there is a five page introduction to the area (if you haven't read LotR), climate, ecology, plant and animal life.  These include Lothfelag a rare mushroom capable of healing and even restoring life, and the bat swarm called the "Cavern Wing" - described as a twisted cloud of knives.

  Twelve pages mixing rehashed information from the appendices about the history of Moria and the
Dwarven Sketches - including
the illusive beardless female!
dwarves with a smattering of new information, such as dwarvish burial customs, then we get into Dwarven Technology, extensive fluff on smelting and forging and bar works and wore works and mold works, ending Cold Forging magical glass on an underground glacier.
  A few machines are described and illustrated, the only ones of note to me are the "Ram Drill" and the Fire Wagon, which heats the stone which is dowsed in ice water causing it to crack.
   Three magical items are described:
       Light stones - not quite eternal light sources in gem stones.
       Watchers-in-stone - not quite animated statues that guard and warn.
       Rune Keys - for the very best magical locks

Detail of a spiked trap

Fluff on arms and armor  and use of water power leads us to the meet of the booklet, a physical description of Moria.  It's avenues and roads, mines and crypts, the metals, the metals and gems they mine - and the traps they guard them with.  While they only list seven types of trap, I will say that the quality and ingeniousness of each is so high - I was disappointed when I picked up Grimtooth's Trap a couple years ago.  Razor studded chute traps that drop you into an abyss; traps that drop you into live steam or the wheel trap that will leave a thief as a greasy smear in the tunnel.

     A couple of pages on the orcs, trolls and the dreaded Balrog, before it returns to the layout of the
Map of 1st Level and 1st Deep
city.  Very small scale maps of each level and deep in Moria - little detail but the major roads and location of important features (Durin's Stairway, the Balrog's Throneroom etc), but that's what the accompanying random chart is for, detailing what the party encounters as the skulk through the caverns.
    The last few pages have adventure ideas for different times in Moria's past and one in the future (early Fourth Age), then a number of charts.

    Overall, a nice resource that I'm glad I found again.


No comments:

Post a Comment