December 30, 2019

The Council of Elrond, #ifthiswereaTTRPG

We kick off the first – hopefully of many! – of Wednesday’s #ifthiswereaTTRPG series with the critical inflection point in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring at the Council of Elrond scene.

This scene involves representatives of Middle Earth’s three major “good” civilizations, Elves, Dwarves, and Men, as well as Wizards and Rangers essentially discussing the fate of the world via arriving at a collective decision on what to do with the Ring of Power.

#ifthiswereaRPG, a number of players would be characters in that scene such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and Boromir. Each would be role playing what they thought was the correct course of action for the ring as the character do in the film. Boromir would believe the ring should reside with men as he’s seen the horrors of the Orc armies up close – such a swing in power would be a boon to his struggle. Gandalf and Aragorn want a wise, thoughtful consensus among the nations. Gimli is intrinsically distrustful of Elves and vice versa for Legolas. Players taking up the mantles of these characters, like the characters in the film, would find themselves at loggerheads during this scene.

But today’s #ifthiswereaTTRPG post is all about Frodo. In comparison to the people at the council, Frodo is quite simple although certainly adventurous for a hobbit! So when Frodo observes to cacophony of the arguments among the other players and their characters, #ifthiswereaTTRPG, the player playing Frodo would turn to the GM and perhaps ask: what would I know about the trip to Mordor?

The GM would respond: “Very little, especially in comparison to the others. But you know you very likely won’t be coming back.”

In the film, we see a moment of resolve on Frodo’s face: he’s coming to terms with the fact that by volunteering to be the ring-bearer, he is essentially sacrificing his life. The above exchange between the player and GM is essentially the same thing.

The Frodo player would then tell the GM that he’s going to say that “he will take it.” The GM says: “Not so fast! That’s a heavy decision my friend. Please make a roll to see if your willpower is high enough in the moment to have the bravery and courage to do so.”

The Frodo player would then roll their dice and have to pass what is assuredly an incredibly difficult willpower roll. A 2d6 (two, six-sided die) example might be Frodo needs to roll a 10 or above in order to have the courage to volunteer himself.

But of course Frodo does pass and the GM allows the Frodo player to step forth and volunteer himself to be the ring-bearer. The other players, representing the other major powers at the council, clearly realize that Frodo represents the only fair and universally-agreeable option to be the ring bearer and, in their own way, accept this fact and volunteer their services to go along on the mission.

And, by so doing, form the Fellowship of the Ring. In many ways, the Council of Elrond scene is a wonderful tabletop role playing game scene. It tests loyalties, negotiation abilities, foresight, strategy, and team-building among the players under dire circumstances for the fate of the world. And further serves as a natural launching point for the newly formed group to go on their epic quest.

Stay tuned for the next Wednesday #whatifthiswereaTTRPG post!