And what of the Shire?
I'm reasonably sure that the "hefty region guide
" that Jon Hodgson has referred to is probably for Gondor. That said, what might we expect to see in a guide for the Shire if it was formatted in the manner of the Bree
If such a volume stuck to the Shire and only the regions closest to it then we couldn't expect much for a new Heroic Culture; possibly we might get Men of Eriador
to represent homesteaders who might attempt to build new lives along the banks of the River Lhûn, and trappers, birders fishermen and prospectors who might ply the river(s) and try their luck in the lands between the Lhûn and the Blue Mountains--not to mention the men who might prey on folk trying to make a more honest living. We already have the Hobbits of the Shire as a Heroic Culture; we could be presented with new options for customizing Shire-hobbits by the kindreds of the Fallohides, the Harfoots, and the Stoors.
The Lone-lands immediately adjacent to the Shire don't seem to have much to offer beyond the Sarn Ford crossing the Baranduin and the possibilities of the crumbling ruins and abandoned fortifications of Arthedain. However, the Old Forest, where Tom Bombadil dwells with his Goldberry, borders Buckland. The Tower Hills lie just a couple of dozen miles or so west beyond the Far Downs. And just north of the Shire are the Hills of Evendim with Lake Evendim (Nenuial
) and the--doubtless haunted--ruins of Annúminas, the original capital of Arnor. I am still imagining a Mannish trading post surrounded by a handful of dwellings (collectively called Anthorp) at the confluence where the rivulet flowing out of the Hills of Evendim feeds into the River Lhûn.
Admittedly, the every day lives of the residents of the Shire are going to be, for the most part, no more interesting (but no less so!) than the lives of the residents of Bree and Bree-land. Most Hobbits must be farmers, tenant-farmers or tradesmen, with few landed gentry such as Bilbo Baggins might represent. But besides Bilbo we can be introduced to a number of other individuals of note: the Mayor of Michel Delving; the patriarchs of the Tooks and the Brandybucks; Farmer Maggot (who might have met Tom Bombadil as a Bounder patrolling the High Hay bordering the Old Forest); not to mention Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her clan. And we can learn about the celebrations of the Hobbits: the Free Fair held every seven years on the White Downs, also when the election for the Mayor is held; smaller, annual fairs that are likely to be held in each of the individual Farthings in the years between the Free Fairs; Yuletide gatherings at the end of the year; harvest festivals; family celebrations; etc.
Such a sourcebook would likely include several adventures set in and around the Shire. Violent crime is rare among the Hobbits and murder is allegedly unheard of; however, families fight and neighbors feud over disagreements and misunderstandings. Outsiders occasionally make trouble. And curious young Hobbits have adventures and might find themselves in need of rescue.