Second Breakfast in the Ettenmoors
Fill Your Belly Before Your Grueling and Perilous Journeys
"If we keep on as we are going we shall get up into the Ettendales far north of Rivendell. That is troll-country, and little known to me."
–Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring
In their Second Breakfast articles, the developers of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game pause from the rest of their labors in order to offer their company and insights into the game they love. Recently, as we've begun to undertake the quests of the Angmar Awakened cycle, developer Matthew Newman has joined us for a couple of breakfasts in and near the region's tainted lands. He warned us what we might expect as we pursued a captive Ranger into The Wastes of Eriador, and he unlocked our cell doors so we could plot our Escape from Mount Gram.
Now, the dungeons of Mount Gram lie squarely behind us, and it's time to pause and fill our bellies before we begin our next adventure. The skies are grey, and the land before us is rocky, barren, and brown. Thunder peals in the distance as we chew our dinner rolls and consider the long and perilous journey that lies before us – Across the Ettenmoors.
Lead Developer Matthew Newman on Across the Ettenmoors
Recently, we have explored the world of Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game by discussing some of the key areas of Arnor and Angmar that you can encounter in the Angmar Awakened cycle. Last time, we showed off the tunnels and prisons of Mount Gram. Now it’s time to take a look at the barren and weather-beaten scenery of Across the Ettenmoors.
The Ettenmoors are another area of Eriador that we don’t learn too much about in The Lord of the Rings. Still, while we were designing this scenario, we wanted it to give the Ettenmoors a strong personality, as befits the centerpiece for an entire quest. So we took the things we did know, and we dialed them up to "11."
Here There Be Trolls
For starters, we know that the Ettenmoors were also called the “troll-fells,” and that the word “etten” is derived from Old English, meaning “giant” or “troll.” We also know that Arador, Aragorn’s grandfather, was killed by Trolls in this area some seventy or so years before the timeline of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Therefore, we can safely assume that Trolls are a reasonably big danger when traveling in the Ettenmoors.
Meanwhile, the terms used to describe this region (“moors” and “fells”) and its location near the Misty Mountains help us fill in the details about the area itself: the Ettenmoors are likely hilly, uncultivated, barren, and wet. This is an area where you'll find yourself badly exposed to the Weather effects from The Lost Realm. Combined with the danger of the Trolls and Giants, this makes the Ettemoors a pretty inhospitable place to travel. Our goal, then, was to create a journey that feels thematically miserable for the heroes, but remained fun for the players. How do we make such an awful journey feel fun? That’s where the scenario’s four unique "Safe" locations come into play.
Shelter from the Storm
With help from the art department, we envisioned the heroes’ trek through the Ettenmoors as bleak as possible, with the sole exception of these four Objective-Locations. While in any other setting these areas would seem like typical location cards, in the Ettenmoors, they stand in stark contrast to the rest of the heroes’ journey. Each of these locations offers a refuge where the heroes can take a moment to rest and recuperate:
- A small Patch of Woods (Across the Ettenmoors, 71) offers just enough tree cover to help block out the rain.
- As they root through an Abandoned Camp (Across the Ettenmoors, 70), the heroes might be able to find some supplies.
- A Secluded Cave (Across the Ettenmoors, 68) offers shelter from the weather outside, so the company can huddle together for heat.
- At the river Hoarwell (Across the Ettenmoors, 69) the heroes can fill their canteens with clean water and heal their wounds.
These locations, along with the scenario’s brutal new side quests, ensure you'll face a lot of interesting decisions throughout the course of your game. For example, the reason we created the scenario's Objective-Locations as a new card type was so that they could be Guarded by other encounter cards, adding another layer to the risk-reward theme of the scenario, and made reaching each Safe location very satisfying. Imagine having to fight off a Savage Trollspawn (Across the Ettenmoors, 72) to gain entrance to the Secluded Cave, or having to explore the Barren Moorland (Across the Ettenmoors, 78) in order to find a Patch of Woods. And, yes, a Objective-Location might even be guarded by a side quest! The possibilities for storytelling and replayability are very high in this scenario.
Because each of these Safe locations is very powerful, thanks to the Safe keyword, we were able to really push the difficulty of the other encounter cards surrounding them. The result is a scenario with a unique difficulty curve, where you must use your resources sparingly as you attempt to travel from one Safe location to the next.
Good luck in your journeys, and join us next time when we look forward to The Treachery of Rhudaur!
Watch Out for Trolls
Your crossing of the Ettenmoors promises to be a difficult endeavor, so be sure to pack appropriately. You'll want cloaks for the weather, and you'll want to pack light in order to focus on your journeys. Still, you can't cross this region without fighting a few Trolls or Giants, so be sure to wear your armor and keep your weapons at hand.
The Ettenmoors lie just over the horizon, and you can already see the first old footprints the region's Trolls left in their wake. Across the Ettenmoors is coming soon, so head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy today!