Breakfast Gone Bad
Second Breakfast Takes on The Treachery of Rhudaur
"When all was ready the host crossed the Lune and marched north to challenge the Witch-king of Angmar. He was now dwelling, it is said, in Fornost, which he had filled with evil folk, usurping the house and rule of the kings."
–J.R.R. Tolkien, "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
At times, the developers of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game pause amid their endless march toward the fires of Mount Doom, set down their burdens, and join us for an installment of Second Breakfast, in which they share their thoughts and observations on the game we love. Lately, developer Matthew Newman has met with us at each step along our journey through the Angmar Awakened cycle of Adventure Packs. He's shared his insights into the development of the region's aesthetics and discussed the origin of some the cycle's new mechanics.
Today, now that we've completed our arduous and perilous trek Across the Ettenmoors, Matt joins us once again to break bread and regale us with the stories of the haunted lands that lie before us. Yes, today, we get to hear something of a ghost story as Matt addresses many of the invisible forces at work in The Treachery of Rhudaur…
Lead Developer Matthew Newman on The Treachery of Rhudaur
In today's look at the Angmar Awakened cycle, we’re going to delve into the past with an exploration of The Treachery of Rhudaur.
Rhudaur is an area of Middle-earth with a rich history. Many hundreds of years before the timeline of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, the Dúnedain kingdom of Arnor was dissolved, and Rhudaur emerged as a kingdom of its own. Over time the kingdom declined, and in its final years, it was no longer led by noble men of Númenórean blood, but by evil men under the service of Angmar. Rhudaur became a vassal of Angmar and fought against the other Dúnedain kingdoms.
This is the dark and bloody history of Rhudaur, and it is this history that The Treachery of Rhudaur ties to the story of Iârion and our heroes.
Invisible Forces and Haunted Ruins
Because the ancestral ruins that you explore in The Treachery of Rhudaur have such a dark and bloody past, it seemed appropriate for them to be haunted, in both the metaphorical and literal sense, and we designed the scenario so that it would both look and feel like you were exploring the darkest secrets of a haunted house. As I like to say, The Treachery of Rhudaur is something like our “Mansions of Madness in Middle-earth” scenario.
Naturally, establishing the right mood was critical, so we needed the art to really deliver on the scenario's sense of melancholy and quiet despair. Thankfully, our art director, Zoë Robinson, was completely on board. Zoë may not have created any of the pieces that you'll see on the cards, but her dedication to the scenario’s mood and her ability to convey our vision to our artists was instrumental in helping to unify all the work they provided. Additionally, she played an important role in identifying some valuable inspiration for our artists, and we modeled the ruins themselves off of Scottish ruins and castellated mansions like Finlarig and Monzie.
There's another visual element that helps tie the story and art together—the symbol of the hawk-in-flight that appears in many of the art pieces. If it doesn’t ring any bells, you only need to look at the pendant worn by Iârion or at the set icon for the Angmar Awakened cycle. Like the ruins you'll explore, this symbol also bears its own secrets, whispering of forgotten names and ancient deeds.
This symbol was drawn early in the cycle's design by graphic designer Mercedes Opheim so that we could send it to our contributing artists and they could include it in their art. This may be just a small detail, but the symbol appears in a significant number of places throughout the scenario and really helps to bring its story full-circle.
In the end, a scenario in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game isn't just a collection of mechanics. It's an experience that comes together with mechanics, art, and mood, and it takes people like Zoë, Mercedes, and all of our talented artists in order to create an adventure that really draws you in and captures your imagination. My hope is that, as you are inspired by the scenario's haunting art, you'll be interested in more than just making progress on a series of quest stages; you will actually want to discover what horrors happened in this once-beautiful place.
Fortunately, if you do find yourself interested in the scenario's mysteries, you can find clues in the form of objectives, which appear on the back side of the three Side Quests that you put into play at the beginning of the game. These objectives allow you to piece together the story of the ruins that your heroes are exploring, even as your heroes are piecing together the clues themselves. These aren’t just generic clues, either—they are genuine pieces of the story, each of which adds its own flavor and narrative.
Its dark secrets and restless spirits make The Treachery of Rhudaur one of my favorite scenarios in the Angmar Awakened cycle, and I hope you enjoy its mystery and mood as much as I do. Join us next time when the action heats up to critical mass and we take a look at a truly epic scenario, The Battle of Carn Dûm!
The Rusted Gate Opens with a Creak…
You won't have to wait long to pass through the gates of the ruined estate featured in The Treachery of Rhudaur; this mysterious scenario for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is scheduled to arrive at retailers in the United States later next week!