Monday, March 03, 2014

Fog on the Barrow-Downs - LOTR/Hobbit AAR

Game five of our Fellowship of the Ring campaign... Fog on the Barrow-Downs...

Having escaped the Ringwraiths across the Buckleberry Ferry, our heroes find themselves at a brief interlude of calm in the tale. The book now goes on to detail the stop at Crickhollow, then the adventure through the Old Forest, the encounter with Old Man Willow and the eventual meeting with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry...

Sadly none of this action hits the silver screen, but having watched the Appendices of the Extended edition of FotR, you can readily see why this approach was taken by PJ and his crew... I suppose if he was making the movie purely for Tolkien fans and 'buffs', then they'd love to see these scenes on the big screen, and would avidly sit though 3, 4 or 5 hours of required footage, to cram all these extra scenes in...but to your average Joe Public, they don't really advance the story, the crux of which is getting the ring to Mordor...

Bombadil is a real enigma, one of those unfathomables in the Middle-Earth mythos... Simply put, he is an irresistible force, within his own small realm...

So back to the book, after leaving Bombadil's care the hobbits find themselves lost on the fog shrouded Barrow-Downs, where Wights lurk, to do their evil. However all is not lost. Tom has said, if they have any problems, call and he will come...

Tom Bombadil
I remember coming across the above picture many years ago, and couldn't help wonder if they had cast Bob Hoskins as Bombadil. Now that would have been classy! ;-)

The scenario pits our 4 Hobbits, against 4 Barrow Wights. The hobbits deploy spaced out, lost in the fog, in an off centre band through board. The Wights deploy in their barrows... Once A hobbit sees a wight (within 6" due to fog) they can start calling out for Bombadil to come, though need a 6 for success. Goldberry will follow in a similar fashion.

Deployment, lost on the Downs...
The Downs are foggy, mysterious, and disorientating, and our erstwhile hobbits blunder their way through the swirling clinging cold mists... their ponies have long since bolted, spooked by the evil presence they sense on the Downs...

Sensing the approach of warm blooded prey, the Wights are roused from their Barrows, seeking souls to sacrifice to the dark gods...

The hobbits move off and with calls in the fog, start to gather together again, not realising evil is approaching from all sides...

Soon they find themselves under the influence of the Wights, and Frodo and Pippin slump to the ground from the Wights paralysing effects...

Frodo is roused again by Sam, but slumps back to the ground as another Wight closes in...

Merry manages to get Pippin back to his feet...

But eventually all the Wights are in close enough, their chilling miasma force all four hobbits to slump to the dewy grass on the hill top...

The Wights close in and start to drag their hapless prey back to their barrows... the Dark Gods will be appeased in ritual sacrifice this night...

As they are dragged to their doom over the cold, rough ground, Frodo and Sam, briefly come to their senses, and escape the cold clutches of their captors...

However they are quickly overwhelmed again...

But not for long, once again, Sam being made of stout stuff for a hobbit, manages to shrug off the wights numbing effects... and coming to his senses for a brief moment, realises the peril they are in calls out to Tom:

Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!
By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,
By fire, sun and moon, hearken now and hear us!
Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!

Not a moment too soon, a peculiar lilting song can be heard through the misty gloom...

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

And with Toms arrival, the fogs clear, exposing the Wights to the sunlight...

Wake now my merry lads! Wake and hear me calling!
Warm now be heart and limb! The cold stone is fallen;
Dark door is standing wide; dead hand is broken.
Night under Night is flown, and the Gate is open!

...and Pippin finds himself wide awake and invigorated once more!

But the wights don't give up... and start to focus their attention of Frodo once more...

More cries of assistance from the now fully alert hobbits, and Goldberry enters from the woods...

The wights continue their evil exhortations, but their abilities are failing fast...

The cat and mouse game continues for a while as the Wights resort to attacking their hobbit prey directly, in the hopes of subduing them...

But Tom is there to the rescue each time where needed...

Get out, you old wight! Vanish in the sunlight!
Shrivel like the cold mist, like the winds go wailing,
Out into the barren lands far beyond the mountains!
Come never here again! Leave your barrow empty!
Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.

... and Goldberry is not far behind...

With both these powerful mythic beings entering the fray, irresistibly within the borders of their own realm, the Wights have little chance, though their malice keeps them trying, hating the living before them...

Roused to his full vigor, Sam even manages to dispatch one of the foul wights!

In the face of these beatific beings, the Wights are powerless to stop the Hobbits escaping their clutches...

Tom even finds time to gather the hobbits missing ponies...

Hey! now! Come hoy now! Wither do you wander?
Up, down, near or far, here, there or yonder?
Sharp-ears, Wise-nose, Swish-tail and Bumpkin,
White-socks my little lad, and old Fatty Lumpkin!

... and over the next few moments, the hobbits flee the scene, with grateful cries of thanks to Tom and Goldberry...

The wights are left to follow Goldberry for a moment but for them , all is lost...

... the Dark Gods will not be appeased this night after all, and the wights utter wails and cries of anguish...

And Tom bids the Hobbits farewell...

Tom's country ends here: he will not pass the borders.
Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting!

The hobbits escape the clutches of the Barrow Wights, fleeing the Downs, and make their way with all haste to Bree...


Another fun game, and boy was there a few nervous moments for the hobbits there. At one point it looked like it was all over with all four hobbits down... but the wights had to drag their unconscious forms slowly over the ground back to the barrows, just giving them enough of a chance to wake up, albeit briefly. 

Sam became the man (or hobbit) of the hour, and managed to call out, getting Toms attention.

Once Tom and then Goldberry entered the game, there was little chance for the Wights to succeed, as should be the case...

If we were to play the game again, I'd probably move the wights, away from the hobbits to form a 'goal line defence' of the far table edge, the hobbits are trying to reach. This way they have less of a distance to drag the hobbits to the end two barrows, and Bombabil and Goldberry would have further to travel across the board before they could directly affect the game.

Good game!


  1. Another groovy LOTR game report. Looks like it was a great game. Entertaining to read.

  2. Bombadil and Goldberry are, I think, unique in gaming- a completely unstoppable force regardless of any tricks or dice rolls. Can't say I really missed them in the Jackson version...

    1. I think it would have been nice to see them realised on the silver screen, and perhaps an interesting interlude, but I don't think it would have advanced the story very well, in movie terms...

    2. You say that, but how could you NOT want to see Goldberry on screen? Phwoar!

    3. LOL, you raise a good point Millsy - diaphanous nymph/dryad like creature could be rather appealling...!

  3. Great report Scott! Sounds like a lot of fun!

  4. This campaign is going from strength to strength - excellent !

  5. Nice report. And happy birthday!

  6. Another sadly discontinued set. There is one going on eBay for $255 at present! I wish I'd just bought every set as they came out!

    1. Bombadil & Goldberry are still available in the Wanderers in the wild section, under Free peoples, and the wights are in the Angmar section, but the set is gone and I cant see the paralyzed hobbit anywhere now...

    2. Ha Ha got the individual figures on ebay, badly painted. Already have Tom from the Battlegames in Middleearth magazine. It's all your fault!

    3. LOL good to hear! ;-) I look forward to seeing how you paint them up!

  7. Well done Sam! Great game Scott and seemed to play much as you might expect with the tide turning in favour of the Hobbits once Tom arrives on the scene.

    1. He did well didn't he! Yes indeed, Tom is the master!

  8. Looks and sounds like you had a wonderful game. The "fog" is very effective and really enhances the look of the game. Best, Dean

    1. I thought it would be a nice little touch, and helped differentiate the phase of the game when Tom arrives and the mists then auto clear.

  9. Nice report, and love your barrows and the fog effect looks great too :) I got lucky about a year ago and snapped up a Fog on the Barrow Downs set off ebay for about $30 and I'm glad I did as it is an excellent set. Can't wait for the next report.

    1. Thanks. Likewise I grabbed the set off ebay some years ago... glad I did! Not long till next report, we played the next two games in quick succession over the weekend.

  10. A nice looking game, but the AAR was really good!


  11. The swirling mist really sets the scene, great idea.
    I am looking forward to going around my mates at the end of the month for a very large War of the ring game.

    1. Thanks Pat - its aquarium filter floss, that I just pulled apart and teased out thinly into clumps. I hope you do a report of the War of the Ring game!

  12. What a fun game. It must be quite neat gaming following the books story line. It certainly is neat for us readers.

    1. Its certainly been a lot of fun, especially sharing it with my son, who's busy reading the books and keen as mustard too!

  13. Now that was on a knife edge, I enjoyed the tension, then chuckled when Tom and Goldberry turned up and threw the spanner in the works. I both love and hate that section of the book as it seems so out of place from the pacing of the story however I do like the profile that GW settled on for Tom. Which incidentally spawned a whole discussion at the club the other night over why Tom was written and yet never explored! But that's another story.
    Good write up as ever, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Ste. Its a great little scenario with some very interesting personalities - how often do you have in game an invulnerable being?
      I must admit I just noticed the errata - after playing the game, which reduces the range of Bombadils and Goldberrys spell effects Oooh - I demands a replay! ;-)


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