Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

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Otaku-sempai
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Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Otaku-sempai » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:25 pm

It occurs to me that there might be Loremasters who are running, or want to run, a game set in the continuity of the Peter Jackson films. Elsewhere, I worked out a timeline that takes into account the changes that Jackson has introduced. The following borrows from that. All years are Third Age:

A TIMELINE FOR THE THIRD AGE OF MIDDLE-EARTH BASED ON THE PETER JACKSON FILMS

Early in the Second Age, the Men known as the Edain reach the island of Númenor. Soon after, many Dwarves leaving their old cities in Ered Luin go to Moria and swell its numbers. Sauron, alarmed as the Númenóreans grow in power, constructs his stronghold of Barad-dûr in Mordor. He offers friendship to the Elves of Eregion and with their aid forges sixteen Rings of Power. The Elven-smith Celebrimbor crafts the Three Rings in secret and they remain untainted by the Dark Lord. When Sauron completes the Master Ring in Barad-dûr, Celebrimbor perceives his intent and the Three are hidden from him. Eregion is destroyed in the War of the Elves and Sauron; Elrond with the remaining Noldor of Eregion founds the refuge of Imladris. In time Tar-Minastir of Númenor sends a great navy to Lindon; Sauron is defeated and driven out of Eriador, bringing peace to the Westlands for many years.

After a century, Númenor begins to establish dominions in Middle-earth as Sauron extends his own power eastwards. This is also when he begins to distribute the Great Rings: seven to the Lords of the Seven Houses of the Dwarves; and nine to kings and heroes of Men--three of those to Lords of Númenor. In SA 2251 the Ringwraiths first appear. About this time Black Númenóreans build a fortress in the south of the Greenwood upon the hill of Amon Lanc. The fortress, Dol Guldur (the Hill of Sorcery), is abandoned after the War of the Last Alliance though the Wood-elves, disturbed by its presence, leave the southern half of the Forest.

Over the next two thousand years the Númenóreans suffer through periods of rebellion and division until Ar-Pharazôn the Golden seizes the throne. Ar-Pharazôn sails to Umbar with a great navy to contend with Sauron for mastery of Middle-earth. Sauron, seeing the size of the Númenórean force, humbles himself and surrenders to the King. He is taken as a prisoner to Númenor where he corrupts Ar-Pharazôn and convinces him to defy the Ban of the Valar. Eru Ilúvatar brings about the Change of the World. Númenor is destroyed and Sauron is driven formless back to Middle-earth.

The surviving people of Númenor found the Realms in Exile: Gondor and Arnor; Sauron returns to Mordor where he regains his power over the next hundred years. The Dark Lord attacks Gondor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men is formed. In the year 3434 of the Second Age the Dark Lord Sauron is defeated when Isildur cuts the Ruling Ring from his hand and the Third Age of Middle-earth begins.

The Third Age
0087 - Legolas, son of Thranduil, is born.
0109 - Elrond weds Celebrían, daughter of Celeborn.
0130 - Birth of Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond.
0241 - Birth of Arwen Undómiel.
1000 - About this time, the Istari arrive in Middle-earth. Lord Círdan gives the Ring of Fire to Mithrandir (Gandalf).
1050 - Gondor is at the height of its power. The Periannaith are first mentioned in records with the coming of the Harfoots to Eriador.
1150 - The Fallohides enter Eriador. The Stoors come over the Redhorn Pass and move to the Angle or to Dunland. The Wizard Radagast the Brown establishes his home of Rhosgobel at the edge of the Greenwood near Dol Guldur.
1300 - The Nazgûl reappear. The chief of these comes north to Angmar. The Periannaith migrate westward; many settle at Bree.
1409 - The Witch-king of Angmar invades Arnor. King Arvaleg I slain. Fornost and Tyrn Gorthad are defended. The Tower of Amon Sûl destroyed.
1432 - King Valacar of Gondor dies and the civil war of the Kin-strife begins.
1437 - Burning of Osgiliath and loss of the palantír.
1601 - Many Periannaith migrate from Bree and are granted land beyond Baranduin (the Brandywine River) by Argeleb II.
1630 - About this time, Stoors from Dunland enter the Shire.
1636 - The Great Plague devastates Gondor. The plague spreads north and west, and many parts of Eriador become desolate. The Periannaith survive but suffer great losses.
1974 - End of the North Kingdom. The Witch-king overruns Arthedain and takes Fornost.
1975 - Arvedui drowned in the Bay of Forochel. The Witch-king is nearly defeated at the Battle of Fornost until the rest of the Nine come to his defense. The Kingdom of Angmar is pushed back, but persists for another five centuries. At some time between 1975 and 2300 Angmar makes war upon the Woodland Realm and the Elf-queen is killed in Gundabad.
1976 - Aranarth takes the title of the Chief of the Dúnedain. The heirlooms of Arnor are given into the keeping of Elrond.
1979 - Bucca of the Marish becomes first Thain of the Shire.
1980 - A Balrog appears in Moria and slays Durin VI.
1981 - Náin I slain. The Dwarves flee from Moria. Many of the Silvan Elves of Lórien flee south.
1999 - Thráin I comes to Erebor and founds a dwarf-kingdom 'under the Mountain'.
2000 - The Nazgûl issue from Angmar and besiege Minas Ithil.
2002 - Fall of Minas Ithil, afterwards known as Minas Morgul. The palantír is captured.
2050 - Eärnur, the twenty-third king of Gondor, answers the challenge of the Witch-king and is assumed to have been killed, leaving Gondor without an heir. At some time after this, the Witch-king returns to Angmar.
2210 - Thorin I leaves Erebor and goes north to the Grey Mountains where most of the remnants of Durin's Folk are now gathering.
2340 - Around this time, the Wood-elf Tauriel is born.
2463 - The White Council is formed. The Nine are defeated by the Dúnedain (possibly with the aid of the Council) and are entombed at the High Fells in Rhudaur. About this time Déagol the Stoor finds the One Ring and is murdered by Sméagol.
2470 - About this time Sméagol-Gollum hides in the Misty Mountains.
2509 - Celebrían, journeying to Lórien, is waylaid in the Redhorn Pass and receives a poisoned wound.
2510 - Celebrían departs over the Sea. Eorl the Young wins the victory of the Field of Celebrant. The Rohirrim settle in Calenardhon.
2570 - About this time Dragons reappear in the far North and begin to afflict the Dwarves.
2589 - Dáin I slain by a Dragon.
2590 - Thrór returns to Erebor. Grór his brother goes to the Iron Hills.
2670 - Tobold plants 'pipe-weed' in the Southfarthing.
2763 - Balin son of Fundin is born.
2772 - Dwalin son of Fundin is born.
2774 - Óin son of Gróin is born.
2776 - Birth of Thorin II.
2781 - Frerin younger son of Thrór is born.
2783 - Glóin son of Gróin is born.
2790 - Dís daughter of Thrór is born.
2815 - About this time, Thranduil commissions the crafting of the Necklace of Lasgalen in memory of his lost queen.
2820 - The coming of Smaug to Erebor.
2829 - Battle of Moria. Thrór and Frerin are slain, Thráin II is captured.
2832 - Thorin leads his people to the Blue Mountains. Sometime between 2840 and 2858 Dís weds.
2859 - Dís gives birth to Fili.
2864 - Kili is born to Dís.
2880 - Smaug is sighted outside of Erebor.
2915 - Aragorn son of Arathorn II is born on March 1.
2917 - Arathorn II slain. Gilraen takes Aragorn to Imladris to be raised as 'Estel' by Elrond.
2935 - Elrond reveals to 'Estel' his true name and ancestry. Aragorn meets Arwen and goes out into the Wild. Around this time Sauron occupies Dol Guldur and frees the Nine from their tombs in the High Fells.
2939 - Thorin meets Gandalf in Bree. About this time might be when Gandalf and Aragorn first meet and become friends.
2940 - The Quest of Erebor; the White Council drives the Necromancer out of southern Mirkwood; the Battle of Five Armies. Thorin, Fili and Kili are slain.
2941 - Bilbo returns to Bag End. Aragorn begins his period of great journeys and errantries.
2951 - Sauron declares himself openly in Mordor and sends three of his Nazgûl to restore Dol Guldur.
2953 - The last meeting of the White Council. Saruman takes Isengard as his own and begins fortifying it.
2959 - Denethor weds Finduilas of Dol Amroth.
2961 - Birth of Boromir son of Denethor II.
2963 - Samwise Gamgee is born. Théoden becomes King of Rohan.
2964 - Aragorn leaves the service of Ecthelion II, the Steward of Gondor. Aragorn and Arwen are reunited in Lórien.
2965 - Meriadoc Brandybuck is born.
2966 - Faramir son of Denethor is born.
2967 - Death of Ecthelion II. Denethor II becomes Steward of Gondor. Birth of Frodo Baggins.
2971 - Finduilas dies young.
2972 - Balin leaves Erebor to found a new dwarf-colony in Moria.
2973 - Peregrin Took is born.
2974 - Éomer Éomund's son is born in Rohan.
2977 - Balin is slain and the colony is destroyed.
2978 - Éowyn sister of Éomer is born.
2979 - Drogo Baggins and his wife Primula drown in a boating accident on the Brandywine, leaving their only child Frodo an orphan.
2983 - Saruman dares to use the palantír of Orthanc and becomes ensnared by Sauron who possessed the Ithil-stone. He becomes a traitor to the Council and he becomes curious about Gandalf's interest in the Shire.
2988 - Bilbo Baggins adopts his young cousin Frodo as his heir.
2990 - Bain son of Bard becomes King of Dale.
2991 - Death of Gilraen.
3000 - Bilbo celebrates his eleventy-first birthday and secretly leaves for Rivendell.
3001 - Frodo Baggins takes the One Ring to Rivendell. The Fellowship of the Ring is formed.

Notes: I think that this should be fairly accurate for the films, although there is some guesswork involved. One has to play around with some birth years to make certain ages come out right (for example: those of Aragorn, Sam, Merry and Pippin). This does require us to disregard the birth years given for Thorin and his siblings on the tapestry that Bard locates in Dale, but I consider that to be an artifact carried over from Tolkien's genealogy for the Line of Durin.

King Eärnur of Gondor might have been tormented and killed outright by the Lord of the Nazgûl. On the other hand, Eärnur could have been tortured with a Morgul-knife and transformed into a Fell Wraith enslaved to the Witch-king. Perhaps he was even placed in command of Minas Morgul for a time in his master's absence.

The Battle of Moria could alternately be set as late as TA 2840, paraphrasing Gandalf's conversation with Thorin at the Unexpected Party of the book: "And Thrain your father [was lost] on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday, and has never been seen by you since". That means that Thorin would have led his people to the Blue Mountains a bit later (probably around the year 2843) and that Dís would likely have married sometime after that (but still before 2859 when Tolkien reports the birth of Kili).

It is possible that the adult Aragorn does not first encounter Gandalf until after the Battle of Five Armies (likely in the year 2941). If this is the case then his period of great journeys and errantries should be adjusted to be 2942-2965, culminating with Aragorn and Arwen plighting their troth in Lóthlorien in the year 2965.
Last edited by Otaku-sempai on Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:07 am, edited 18 times in total.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Majestic » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:30 pm

Thanks for doing this. I don't plan to use it in any game, but I still find it quite interesting (and never realized there were so many changes required).
Adventure Summaries of our campaign, currently playing through The Darkening of Mirkwood

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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Otaku-sempai » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:37 am

Thanks for the feedback, Majestic! Earlier attempts tried to maintain the factoid, derived from Tolkien, that Dis was 10 years old when Smaug drove Durin's Folk from Erebor, but I finally abandoned that idea. That opened up several more options for the film-timeline.
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by finarvyn » Fri May 06, 2016 1:40 am

I must admit that I love timelines and so I really enjoyed looking at the one you worked through. I would be interested in seeing a Tolkien timeline and a Peter Jackson film timeline side by side in order to see exactly what had changed, but I like what you have here.

I may run a film-based campaign since all of my players have seen the movies but not all have read the books, so I'm going to snag a copy of this for future reference. 8-)
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Otaku-sempai » Fri May 06, 2016 2:27 am

finarvyn wrote:I must admit that I love timelines and so I really enjoyed looking at the one you worked through. I would be interested in seeing a Tolkien timeline and a Peter Jackson film timeline side by side in order to see exactly what had changed, but I like what you have here.

I may run a film-based campaign since all of my players have seen the movies but not all have read the books, so I'm going to snag a copy of this for future reference. 8-)
Well, it would be simple enough to print out a copy of my timeline and compare it to Tolkien's Tale of Years from LotR (Appendix B). Mostly, what has changed are the birth-years of several key characters and the years of the War of the Ring.

I haven't seriously considered a film-based campaign myself, but it might be fun. It wouldn't change much in the timeframe of TOR except that the Quest of Erebor and the Battle of Five Armies happens a year earlier and Aragorn is as much as seventeen years older and already an adult traveling in Wilderland.
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by finarvyn » Sun May 15, 2016 11:17 am

All I know is that reading the Hobbit gives me a very different feel for the chronology than does watching the films. Peter Jackson inserted a lot of stuff (from the LotR appendixes, I assume) that makes the Hobbit story much more global instead of party-focused and I would like to get a better sense of the events of the world. I would like to see the timeline expanded, with notes on what Gandalf was doing and where, what Radagast was doing and where, and so on. All of this happened "off camera" in the actual novel.

At times like this, I sure wish I was more of a Tolkien scholar. :|
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun May 15, 2016 12:50 pm

finarvyn wrote:All I know is that reading the Hobbit gives me a very different feel for the chronology than does watching the films. Peter Jackson inserted a lot of stuff (from the LotR appendixes, I assume) that makes the Hobbit story much more global instead of party-focused and I would like to get a better sense of the events of the world. I would like to see the timeline expanded, with notes on what Gandalf was doing and where, what Radagast was doing and where, and so on. All of this happened "off camera" in the actual novel.

At times like this, I sure wish I was more of a Tolkien scholar. :|
A couple of very important differences to keep in mind are: 1) In Tolkien's legendarium, Sauron came to the Greenwood around the year 1050 of the Third Age, soon after the Istari (the five Wizards) arrived in Middle-earth; 2) the Nazgûl were never inactive, either ruling dominions in the North, East and South or taking on missions from their Master. The Kingdom of Angmar fell in the year 1975, but the Lord of the Nazgûl besieged Minas Ithil a quarter-century later, taking control of the tower in 2002 and seizing the Ithil-stone for Sauron.

In the film-continuity, Sauron seems to have stayed hidden in the East for many centuries, only occupying Dol Guldur fairly recently--at which point the corruption of the Forest began and folk started calling it Mirkwood. Likewise, Peter Jackson had the Nine defeated and entombed at a place called the High Fells in the Misty Mountains in Rhudaur. This seems to have taken place about four hundred years before the Quest of Erebor (Elrond's watchful peace). Actually this still allows for the Nazgûl to have taken Minas Ithil (renamed Minas Morgul), but someone else must have been placed in command of the tower at some point before the fall of the Nine. The real puzzle here is whether Angmar still fell in 1975 or did the kingdom survive for nearly another five hundred years to end with the defeat and entombment of the Witch-king and the rest of the Nine?

Jackson posits that Dol Guldur was originally built by the Men of Númenor instead of by Sauron (presumably under a different name). Perhaps at some point it fell under control of Black Númenóreans and became known as the Hill of Sorcery at that time. Radagast might have settled nearby in Rhosgobel in order to keep an eye on the abandoned fortress. But that would have been a long time ago, before he got distracted with the beasts and birds of the Forest.

As for Gandalf, perhaps he himself had a hand in the War against Angmar. The White Council wasn't even founded until 2463. In the legendarium, this was three years after Sauron returned to Dol Guldur after fleeing into the East four hundred years earlier to avoid detection by Gandalf. In the film-continuity, the Council might have been formed to aid the Men of the West against the Nine, or at least after their defeat in order to keep watch against further threats.
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun May 15, 2016 1:46 pm

I've expanded the original timeline, incorporating more elements from both the films and Tolkien's "Tale of Years".
Last edited by Otaku-sempai on Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:08 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by finarvyn » Mon May 16, 2016 4:04 pm

Otaku-sempai wrote:As before, I have incorporated entries from Professor Tolkien's "Tale of Years" and my own entries and dates are speculative in nature.
Very well done, and very helpful! Thanks for doing this!
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Re: Alternate timeline for a film-based campaign

Post by Otaku-sempai » Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:44 pm

Alternately, the Battle of Moria could be set as late as TA 2840, paraphrasing Gandalf's conversation with Thorin at the Unexpected Party of the book: "And Thrain your father [was lost] on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday, and has never been seen by you since". That means that Thorin would have led his people to the Blue Mountains a bit later (probably around the year 2843) and that Dís would likely have married sometime after that (but still before 2859 when Tolkien reports the birth of Kili).
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

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