How LOTR RPGs create a new D&D campaign structure

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game adapts the lands of Middle-earth to the rules of Dungeons & Dragons 5E, but adds some unique twists, most notably in how it depicts adventure. supplement these rules new stages of exploration and downtimethat D&D groups might want to incorporate into their next campaign, as it offers more opportunities for roleplaying and fleshing out the events between the dungeons and the towns.

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DnD doesn’t have a fixed structure outside of the adventure

Image via Wizards of the Coast

DnD 5E campaigns tend not to last very long, both in terms of adventure and real events. Therefore, most of the rules apply in The game is tied to things that happen to adventurers on a daily basis, like fighting, casting spells, healing, and shopping. That’s by no means a bad thing, as every campaign is different and many of them progress at the pace of the storyline, so the structure isn’t needed for things that happen outside of the confines of the adventure.

It is up to the DM and the players to determine the important issues that require roleplaying. Some groups may go shopping and simply select items from a list. In contrast, others will want to play through the whole thing, forcing the DM into shopkeeper mode while trying to bargain down prices, and resorting to charisma (persuasion) tests when flirting and funny accents don’t pull through.

The Lord of the Rings RPG divides things into phases

A boat in the RPG The Lord of the Rings.
Image via Free League Publishing

The campaign is much more structured in The Lord of the Rings RPG, where everything is divided into phases: Adventure and community phase. The Adventure phase includes Heroic Ventures (the combat and exploration parts of D&D), Council (the social encounters where players interact with those in positions of power), and Journey (the mechanics of traveling between locations).

Well known to D&D groups, Heroic Ventures encompasses most of the dungeon crawling aspects of the game. The Council is more interesting as there is a structure for dealing with authority figures as players must design a formal introduction and role-play the encounter as much as possible. They must pass multiple skill checks appropriate to the severity of their request, with the DC based on the NPC’s friendliness to the party.

The travel phase includes the Players plan the route to their destination and set specific roles for each character: guide, hunter, lookout and scout. Players in these roles must complete skill checks along the way depending on what the Loremaster/DM intends to do with them. These events can be positive or negative, such as Being caught in a storm, meeting a friendly merchant along the way, or experiencing the magic of Middle-earth as it exists in The Lord of the Rings RPG.

The fellowship phase includes the Player downtime between adventures, allowing the party to rest and recover for weeks, months, or even years. Resting in this way allows them to ward off the shadow’s effects and heal any remaining wounds. Players can also start ventures to further define what they do with their free time and give them bonuses as the adventure progresses. This includes collecting rumours, identifying magical items or raising an heir.

How to use adventure and community stages in D&D 5E

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Image via Wizards of the Coast

The Structure of the adventure and community phases In The Lord of the Rings, role-playing can provide for one great addition to any D&D campaignbut especially those if the player has a patron to whom they are accountable, or has a patron who requires them to travel back and forth between different cities a lot. Giving players options for how they want to spend their time is a great way to get a new party out of their shell and encourage them to interact with NPCs and each other in a way they’ll immediately understand when their party goes to their boss and asks for a favor or needs to discuss how to get to their next destination.

The travel phase is also great for sandbox campaigns where the exploration aspect of D&D is more important and you need to carefully consider your next move since you are in unfriendly lands. The mixture of the structure of the role distribution with the randomness of mishaps is something that can be attractive for campaigns like Curse of Strahd or Tomb of Annihilationwhere travel is dangerous and enemies lurk in every shadow.

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The level of structure in the various phases of The Lord of the Rings RPG will not be to everyone’s liking, and some looser DMs may prefer to keep the current system. Those looking to help bridge the gaps between quests in their D&D campaigns could benefit greatly from the quest and fellowship stages, especially if they have an idea for an epic campaign that spans a long period of time.

Curtis Crabtree

Curtis Crabtree is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Curtis Crabtree joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: curtiscrabtree@24ssports.com.

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