From the Mouth of Sauron

Date:  08-31-95
Issue:  E-36

Note:  all authors retain exclusive rights to their
material.  Reprinting is allowed for non-commercial game
use only.

The Mouth is edited by Brian Mason and Tom Walton.  All
correspondence can be sent to them at:

Brian Mason    -
Tom Walton     -,

Back issues of "From the Mouth of Sauron" and the general
info files are available at via anonymous

First Word

Those of you who are familiar with our ezine, you may remember a while
back Tom and I being engaged in a truly fabulous game of me-pbm, game
97. This was an immensly entertaining game, thanks largely to well
matched playe rs on both sides. Tom and I roundly and repeatedly
praised the exceptional play of our adversaries, especially Brian
Lowery and Steve Latham, who made the game "one for the ages."

The game was so marvelous that I didn't mind losing that much (well,
that's a lie, I minded it a great deal ...). Shortly after the demise
of that game we got into another game, started as an all-email game,
and were fort unate enough to play with Brian and Steve this time.

However, game 22 was fated not to last very long, and towards the end
of it, two of our allies, namely Brian and Steve, proposed another
game, this time with all neutrals pre-assigned and all positions played
by active, c ooperative individuals.

Thus, largely through the efforts of Brian and Dave Rossell, game 204
was born. In this game, Tom and I took our customary roles as the
"kicking boys of Mordor" and once more were (and are being) inflicted
with severe dam age.

Our hope is that, even if we fall, the victory of Mordor over the
Eothraim and Northmen, will be Pyrric and will more than be made up by
victories by our Free Allies in other regions.

So, why am I bothering you with all of this?

I consider it not unlikely that I will use these First/Last Word spaces
for the opportunity to vent once more over a very tough game. Since you
will be subjected to my periodic core dumps, I thought I'd bring you up
to sp eed.


Looking for other players in game 39 (2950)

I represent a group of three experienced DS players in game 39 circa
2950 and would like to hear from other players in that game.  I don't
care if you are DS, FP or Neutral.  I wanna have fun.  We can always
trade insults with the FP!  :)

Paul Stratton
206/822-6063  (pacific time zone)

Vampires Again

Apparently the table I sent for the last Mouth got jumbled.  Here it is 
again.   If you have troubles reading it still, I can try to reformat 
it or something.

- -- Sam
The following is some data for a vampire encounter that I recently had
in the Rhun area.  Others have had it in Mirkwood and Umbar.  My
encounter occured on one of my pop centers, and no foreign characters
showed up on the turn report, nor did any NPC influence the loyalty.
The vampire probably has a challenge of 50-70.  Defeating it gives you
gems/gold.  Most times the char escapes with 1 health.  My char
(challenge 21) died when he tried saying "Thuringwethil".  The
vampire's response was, "Your words have no power over me."

"He is at a camp when a sudden chill passes through him and a shadow
momentarily obscures the stars overhead.  Alert and ready for action,
he scanned the surrounding terrain but could see nothing.  Then from
out of the night he heard a hollow voice.  "Little do I like others so
near to where my errands take me!  Speak, lest I silence you forever."

ALLEGIANCE                                        combat(5)
INTERROGATE    combat(1)           combat(4)
APOLIGIZE                                         combat(3,5) 
REQUEST info                       combat(6)
say ______
"thuringwethil" combat
People who provided the data (perhaps (3) and (5) can gives us the 
alignment of their chars involved):

(1) (Holger Eichmann)
(2) Ian Pearson 
(4) (Jeff Holzhauer)
(5) James.
(6) (Dan DeYoung)
(7) (KGiven):
>I believe you've run into one of the rarer variants of a vampire
>encounter (there are at least three).  The voice is the female 
>vampire "Thuringwethil"  (unlike the other Celgor vampire 
>encounters).  As far as I know, there haven't been enough 
>encounters to confirm a "safe" response."


>From Larry Bundy

ME 2950 
Artifact                        Known Secondary Power 
117 - Hatred Curse              Cast Capital Return 
119 - Moon-Axe                  Cast Minor Heal 

>From Tom Lutke

To all,

I always thought that if a mage with a combat artifact casts a combat
spell, then the effects of the combat artifact are negated.  Recently,
I was told by another player that this was untrue.  So, I Emailed GSI
and asked them directly.  This is the response I got.

>In response to your question(s) when a mage casts a combat spell, 
>while possessing an artifact they both are added to the combat 
>totals yet, only one message is generated.


>From Mark Mills

  I wanted to pass along this riddle which I encountered recently in a 
MEPBM 1650 scenario game: I've never seen it posted, but it was so easy 
that maybe no one has needed to post it : )

  From the outer dark into the world was she called
    Terror, pollution, and great evil was what she bred.
      Sipping the sap to all our great peril
          She helped to cause the light to go dead.
             Fighting even the Black Enemy with some success
               'Til she was forced to some dark recess
                  And even now may not be dead.

   The answer is "Ungoliant".

Newbie Thoughts on ME-PBM 2950
by John Amenta

Given Brian and Tom's desperate pleas for articles to the Mouth, I
thought I would submit some Newbie thoughts to ME-PBM 2950 that might
give a new perspective to old players or similar perspective to other
new players.  First, however, I wish to give a tremendous thank you to
both Brian and Tom for Mouth issues 1-34, they added more depth to
ME-PBM than perhaps GSI deserves (but Tolkien certainly does) and every
single article was a joy to read.  (Ok, maybe not every single one.)

I signed up for a ME-PBM 2950 game just recently, and am now in the
waiting period, going on week 3 for game start.  I heard also the wait
could potentially take up to 3 months.  This is somewhat of a shock to
someone fai rly new to the PBM arena.  Another shock I have received is
the realization that I am actually going to pay $6.50 a turn in
ME-PBM.  It is relatively expensive given that I am not rich at the
moment.  And it is a bit upse tting also that GSI will offer no
discounts for Email turns, while OTHER pbm companies do, and email does
facilitate less overhead.  Also, some of the reports in the Mouth of
GSI's customer service practices has not made me too thrilled about
future prospects of ME-PBM, especially in the area of rules refinement
or even rules expansion.  Why especially, GSI has failed to do anything
about the common complaint of HEAVY CAVALRY being the on ly worthwhile
military unit in ME-PBM, or the slaughter of armies on the battlefield
with no allowed retreat - seems to be the biggest mystery of all.

After reading the 2950 rules I became excited about a number of things
that I will now tell you about.

First is City development.  I can build my own cities anywhere I want.
Really, I ain't lying.  Just the idea of building new cities somewhere
on the Middle Earth map draws my imagination up, and if I get the right
nation , I can even hide my cities. (Note I use city as a convenience,
since I am aware a city starts off as a camp.  I am also aware due to
economics in 2950, that my camps will have a tough time every becoming
a city, unless I am in the game for about 100 turns or $650 dollars).

Collecting artifacts.  Now this is one area I look forward to as a
Newbie.  I wonder how many artifacts a nation could possible collect if
it is artifact crazed?  GSI lists 213 total artifacts in the 2950
rules, and boy d o they all look interesting.  I mean "Sword of Soul
Reducing" and the "Foam Cleaver" and the "Elfhewer" are all artifacts I
would like to own and have for myself.  And having those artifacts, you
could give some away to o ther players as a sign of your benevolent and
warm nature.  And some of them add tremendous power to your armies on
the battle field.  I would also like to own any or all of the rings of
power, Vilya, Nenya or Narya.  And then to find out what special powers
the artifacts I own have.  I especially look forward to "Teleport"
artifacts, since I think it is pretty cool to be able to have your
character appear anywhere in a single turn, I mea n ANYWHERE.  "Hey
Bob, did you see what I just saw?"  "Get back to work Ding, it ain't
Elrond, and my orc ass is blue."

Sending my characters on miniature adventures and obtaining back dialog
from GSI, in the form of riddles and little prose vignettes of Middle
Earth encounters.  I enjoy the prose vignettes because they often are
of fairly decent quality and add a sense of my actual existence within
Middle Earth, and that my characters I control are flesh and blood.

I will be able to build armies that will defeat my enemies, and with
careful surveillance of enemy marching orders, will shock them with
overpowering destruction when they come across one of several hosts. My
enemies will learn to fear my military prowess and strategic genius, I
am sure of it - this is one of the most exciting of MEPBM prospects for
me.  Also:  the idea to to have some total Cavalry armies that will
move faster than HEAVY INFANTRY seems provocative.  I will probably
build a Cavalry force just to see how fast I can move about enemy
territory and make them wonder which way I'm going to go next.

Another aspect of MEPBM I am looking forward to being a Newbie is being
in a game of 25 players and watching how the events unfold in a game
with so many potential personalities.  Of course, I imagine a game can
be ruined by too many player drops, but it seems from previous Mouth
issues, that even with drops and an imbalanced game, drama can still be
high, as a player digs into the trenches and battles it out just to
battle it out, in a c ause all his own.  I like this idea too, even if
I find myself losing, I can play with the idea of honor uppermost in my
mind - virtue and courage to fight until the final $6.50 turn.

I found the 2950 rulebook cover to be pretty awesome, depicting Eowyn's
final struggle with the Lord of the Nazgul in full colorful splendour.
The rulebook was worth that picture alone being the Tolkien fan I am.
The rules themselves I found well organized and well written
(Surprise).  The Orders concept I find fascinating and challenging,
especially the sequencing of orders, which can be critical in certain
circumstances I imagine.  Th e ME map I found ok.  In fact, I have to
admit a little disappointment - for some reason I imagined the map
would be much bigger and with greater graphical detail.  But now that I
have gotten used to it (used magic putty and put it on my study wall) I
am beginning to like it more.

Finally, I look forward to meeting new fellow ME_PBM players on the
battlefield.  Matching my military wits and gaming acumen with them in
a land that can never be forgotten, steeped in lore unparalleled in
literary history.  Tolkien was a remarkable man, and his creation
always leaves me in awe whenever I come back to it.  See you there.

A Reply to Colin Forbe's Article
By Larry Bundy

I'd like to respond to Colin Forbe's article "2950 Scenario" in issue
#34 in which he states his belief that the release of info on 2950 in
this and other medium will take away the mystery and somewhat spoil the
enjoyment of this new scenario.

First. to inroduce myself, my name is Larry Bundy and I have played ME
1650 since game #3 and am presently in 3 games of 2950. Although I
agree that learning the mysteries of ME on ones own is fun, it is
unrealistic in 2950, and, I believe, the cause of so much bad press
about the game.

In my first match (started in winter, just to add insult to injury) it
has taken forever to get going. In that, I agreed heartily with those
who said the new set-up just meant an additional 10 turns in GSI's
coffers. However, since picking up the nation info in my
opinion has changed drastically.

Applying that info in my next two games has allowed me to battle, both
with armies and characters, constantly from turn #1. The excitement is
even higher than in 1650 since, a mis-step in this scenario spells
disaster. This info is not my own alone, most of the players (on both
sides) have it and that is why things have become so exciting.

Without the info, as in my first game, we were all too weak and unsure
to forge outwards. This caused most players (myself included) to huddle
at home and try to raise our nation up to 1650 standards before
venturing forth. This resulted in a boring start. ( One exception is
the Rhun whose army accidently moved to the Northman capital and found
only 100 troops there. He has been rampaging up that way ever since and
my hat's off to him).

In conclusion, I firmly believe, IMHO, that the widespread use of the
info collected in this and other formats will make 2950 an exciting
medium to play in. Good hunting all, Helcent.

A Soldiers Tale
by Gary Drebit

This is not an old tale, but a true one.  I know, I was there.

Working in the mines of Mordor was not a happy life for me.  I wanted
the smell of fresh air and the feel of grass beneath my feet.  For an
Troll, this is uncommon but not unheard of.  Many of us wished we were
farmers or herder's but were not.  We are miners; producing bronze or
steel, sometimes mithril.  It is well known that our land is barren and
will not produce the crops that we would enjoy like our neighbors to
the west.  A group of us tried to start farms in the rich bottom land
and our farming community was just starting to grow, our fields were
just starting to produce, when they came.

I have heard of him; from Minas Anor, "The Prince-Regent", "The next
King of the Northern Gondor Empire, Regent Telumehtar.  The Heavy
Calvary, 900 strong that he lead, rode over the crest of the hill with
flags waving and drums beating; as if we were an invading army.  As the
elected leader of our group, I tried to explain that we are simple
farmers.  That we are willing to pay taxes to his King.  But he did not
listen.  He could not see past the texture of my skin or the slur of my
common speech.  It still makes my blood hot to remember his face
uttering those words, "This is not your land and you, and your kind,
have no right to be here. Go now!"

"But Sire" I begged, "our crops are just about ripe and a year of work
will be ruined."  "Do not worry about the crops" he stated.  "They will
feed the good people of Northern Gondor, now leave before we set the
torch.  Tell your King that we will not tolerate this type of
encroachment onto our land."  With my child crying in my wife's arm, I
gathered what little I could; as they watched and urged us to be
quicker.  We loaded the cart with what we could in the time they had
given us.  I was sorry to leave the plow behind but when the scarred
faced sergeant saw that it was molded from steel, they wouldn't let us
take it.  We started to make the journey back to Durthang.

The mood of our city, and our Great King, was already changing when we
arrived.  The people no longer wanted to locked in the prison of
Mordor.  Poor food, poor economy, and poor conditions were all caused
by the Northern Gondors.  No longer were we content to live on the
"reserved land." The Kingdom of the Fire King had already made war
against the Northern Gondors capturing the town of Minas  Ithil, a town
that they claim was their's many lifetimes ago.  I also heard a rumor
that our Great King, Hoarmurath; also sees the injustice of the way
land is divided and was calling for a great army to move against the
Northern Gondors.  I remembered my embarrassment in front of the
Prince-Regent Telumehtar.  I remembered the Northern Gondor sergeant
telling me to leave my plow.  I remember kissing my wife good-bye as I
joined the Heavy Infantry of the Ice King.

We marched to Osgiliath the next day arrived at the morning mist.  I
could also see the banner of the Fire King as well from our camp.  I
could not tell if this was the army from Minas Ithil or a fresh unit.
They looked as fresh as us and hungry for a fight.  There was no time
to rest or eat before the horn sounded to form our attack line.  War is
funny in the sense of what you remember from a battle.  Don't ask me
how many Northern Gondors I killed, for I do not have a number but
there was many.  What I do remember was the Northern Gondor Naval ship,
full of troops, watch as we sacked Osgiliath.  There was no time for
spoils as our Commander moved our force to there capital city, Minas

We arrived later that night and lit our fires.  Not only to warm
ourselves in the cool night air but also to show our large numbers to
the city militia.  Although I'm a simple Troll and not schooled in war,
I believe the tactic was to instill fear of our size to the enemy.  In
the morning I was nudged awake by Killum, one of my recent friends.
"Were going to die" he said.  "Don't be stupid" I replied rolling over
to my side to look in the direction he was  staring in.  My heart
almost stopped when I saw the army filing out of the city gate.  It out
numbered us 2 to 1 and they had Heavy Calvary units, something we did
not.  Before I had time to say or react to anything, the sound of the
battle horn filled my ears.  Again we moved into our attack line.  I
said good-bye to Killum, for he was right; were about to die.  My only
regret was not kissing my wife one last time and that the Northern
Gondor army facing us was lead by that bastard, Prince-Regent
Telumehtar.  I braced myself for the attack that would send me to my
god but instead, one of our Knights rode to the front just ahead of our
Commander.  His armor was pure black and without a mark on it.  I
didn't remember seeing him at Osgiliath, for I would have remembered.
"A challenge was issued, a challenge" was whispered through our ranks.
Prince-Regent Telumehtar rode forward to meet our Knight.  He looked
confident and smiled with his other Officers until he saw the size of
the challenger.  "Your blood will be at my feet" our Knight shouted as
our troops started to bunch up to get a better view.  "I will send you
back to Saron!" the Prince-Regent shouted back.  I could only see the
top of his helmet as my view was getting worse.  There was a loud crash
of armour and shield, and then another before I large gasp was heard
from the troops of the Northern Gondors.  Suddenly, our attack horn was
sounded and our line ran forward screaming and shouting in victory.
"The Prince-Regent, their Commander, is dead" someone shouted, "long
life and good praise from Saron, to our Knight" another screamed.  In
my staggered, blind running I came upon the spot that the challenge
took place.  Our Knight was not to be seen but the blood tramped corpse
of Prince-Regent Telumehtar was still there.  As I had said before, I
don't remember much about battles but I do remember spitting on what
remained of the Prince.  "It's not enough" I thought, as I ran to catch
up with the rest of my company.

Saruman's Diary


In bouncing about the net I came across a charming story which I
thought would work nicely within "From the Mouth of Sauron." I wrote to
the author and got his permission to publish it. First, I enclose my
correspondence, and then the story.



I really enjoyed the work. I co-edit a free ezine for the Play-by-Mail 
game "Middle-earth" called "From the Mouth of Sauron." I'd like to ask 
if we could include it in our next issue.

Brian Mason
co-editor, From the Mouth of Sauron


> I really enjoyed the work.

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. It was fun to write, too.

> I co-edit a free ezine for the Play-by-Mail game "Middle-earth" 
>called "From the Mouth of Sauron." I'd like to ask if we could 
>include it in our next issue.

Sounds like fun! My answer is yes, with two (small) conditions: one,
that the copyright and disclaimers at the end of the article stay with
it intact; and two, that you send me a copy of the 'zine when it comes
out.  (It' s partly to see what context it'll be in, and partly because
I'm curious; I haven't heard of that game before, and the 'zine title
is intriguing.)  :)

Thanks for the interest! Hope your readers like it!



And now, the story...

: ...The problem with things like Dunlendings and Variags is that : the 
winners wrote all the history-books, so it's hard to get    : objective 
information  about a lot of the Bad Guys. [snip]
:        We may have Bilbo's _Red Book of
:                       Westmarch_, but I'd pay good money to
:                       read a copy of Khamul's
:                       _Black Book of Dol Guldur_.  :) :) :)

..Evidently I have relatives in England, though _they_ spell "Sharp"
with an extra "e".  :)  In today's mail I received a small number of
draft pages from the as-yet-untitled _HoME_ XII along with a hard copy
of the above article and a note from "Aunt Nan", saying she'd met CJRT
as a result of finding this MS in "Uncle Avery's" papers and bringing
it to his attention - and then managed to obtain these draft-pages for
me after seeing the above article. Amazing! I'm not sure whether to say
"Ask and ye shall receive", or "It's a small world after all"; since
the latter is a grotesque Disney product, I'll stick with the former.

I'll duplicate this as best I can without typographical equipment.
Footnotes are in {curly brackets,} and are given at the end of the
article. Yes, I know that means scrolling up and down a lot. Sorry.

..Amazing coincidence, isn't it? If you didn't know me better, you'd
swear I made the whole thing up. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------        "The words of this wizard stand on their
                       -Gimli (_TT_, p. 184 hardback)


                        THE DIARY OF CURUMO {1}

	In all the works given in the history so far, there has been
only one account of the events at Isengard, and that is the one given,
in various forms, in _Two Towers_ and 'The Fall Of Saruman' (VIII. Part
One). But the tale of Isengard consists in  fact of two seperate
accounts. The second account, once intended for the Appendices, has
only recently come to light, found written on the back of several
examination papers in the effects of one Mr Avery Sharpe of Bristol,
now recently deceased. The text is here in a very rough state,
pencilled hastily and often almost illegibly, sometimes erased and on
one occasion actually spray-painted over. On the 30th of April 1944 my
father wrote to Mr Sharpe that he would 'have your final examinations
back to you any day now'; on the 4th of May (_Letters_ no. 65), having
read one entry to C. S. Lewis on the 1st, he was 'busy now with the
next'; and on the 11th (no. 67) he said that he had read his 'final
Orthanc entry to Lewis and Williams three days before, and they both
hated it'. A letter to Mr Sharpe in my father's most ornate hand (no.
219) was found with the manuscript, dated the 29th of September 1959,
saying he was 'terribly sorry about the delay in returning this'. {2}

     An isolated note written on a cocktail napkin no doubt belongs
with this chapter: "King Elessar, after he was crowned in Gondor, began
the reordering of his realm, and one of his many tasks was the
restoration of the Tower of Orthanc. Then it was that all the secrets
of the tower were revealed. Many things of worth were found, rare
treasures and heirlooms from Rohan, brought (we guess) by Grima
Wormtongue during the days of his deception; and the Box of Isildur,
where Isildur's Bane of old once was kept; yea, even the Elendilmir
itself, given to Elendil by Silmarien before the fall of Westernesse,
the token of royalty of Arnor of old; and many other secrets besides.
{3}  And among them there was a compass, bound all in black, and upon
the leaves was the hand of Curumo, now written with firm hand, now
scrawled in haste in its owner's dismay. This Elessar read, and bore it
back to the Tower of Guard to complement the reunited kingdom's scrolls
of lore."

27 February 3019 {4}: Incredibly good news! One of the crows just got
here with a report. It seems that yesterday the Uruks scattered what's
left of Olorin's little band of wanderers. They even captured two of
those pathetic little halflings! Ahhh ha ha ha haa! And now they're
bringing them here! If they don't actually _have_ the Ring, they'll
certainly know where it is. Hah! Victory is just around the corner. I
just wish that pathetic pseudo-Wise bastard Olorin were here to see me
win and defeat Sauron while he was out playing mah-jongg with all those
mortal weaklings. But if he ever re-bodies and comes back from Valinor,
I'll show him I wasn't called Curunir for nothing! {5}
     The first troops from Dunland began arriving at the Gate today. I
was tempted to dismiss them and send them all back; once I have the
Ring, I'll have all of Sauron's forces at my beck. Who needs these
weak, black-haired terrorists? But I chose to let them stay anyway.
It'll be fun to let them have their little revenge against the Forgoil
{6} before I enslave them all. Besides, they may come in handy as a
mopup crew around Rivendell or something. Most of the troops from the
Fords are back, too, exultant from the victory there; that kid of
Theoden's is finally dead, and no longer a thorn in my side. {7}
Everything is going my way! The only problem now is finding enough food
for all these troops.
     Dinner wasn't too bad tonight: smoked salmon. I really think using
fresh wood makes all the difference. I wonder if the factories have
finished that rowan-wood desk I demanded? Or gotten it right yet?
They've already built dozens, and I've rejected every one of 'em.
Stupid bastards.  They just can't seem to make one that looks right,
even when I send my crows out to pick the best wood first. {8} But damn
it, they'll get it right if it takes the rest of their miserable
pathetic little mortal lives.

28 February 3019: More Dunlendings arriving today. It looks like  I'll
have ten thousand troops within the Ring! {9} A lot of the newcomers
are saying they don't want to "sleep with the Orcs". Hah! If they only
knew! You'd think that a few of them, at least, would have begun to
notice the resemblances. But I want to keep them all together, anyway;
they need to work together, if they're going to fight together as
brothers. Or second cousins, anyway. {10}
     It's getting harder and harder to stay away from the Ball. I want
to see the halflings, and see how close the Uruks are; the Ring is so
close I can almost taste it. But if I use the Ball, He might read too
much of my thought. And then what? The Nazgul come after the Orcs, wham
bang; and the halflings are gone, and He gets the Ring. No, I _have_ to
stay away from the Ball. I know He's expecting a report, but I can't
take the chance. Once I have the Ring, though, _then_ I'll contact
Him... and tell Him what His new duties will be to the Realm of
Saruman.  Maybe I'll make Him my boot-black... that is, if he's _good_
enough at it....
     The stress of waiting for the halflings to be delivered is almost
more than I can take. I keep imagining things going wrong. Some of His
troops are out there, too. Mauhur's near the Forst with reinforcements,
but I'm still worried. My nerves are killing me. I'm going outside for
a smoke... no, better stay inside, someone might see me. {11}  Dammit,
I _have_ to cut back on the pipe-weed. It's just ruining my voice.

29 February 3019: I've _got_ to get a look at that Ring. I want to see
how He put it together, how He got His Power into it. I was with Aule a
lot longer than He was; I should know more than Him about it! Maybe He
learned things from the Great Enemy that Aule couldn't teach. It's not
like the Lamps were all that clever a piece of work, anyway. {12} I've
_got_ to get a look at that Ring. Maybe I could get _my_ ring to work.
Oh, sure, I can control Worm with it; but I can control Worm with a
harsh look, the pathetic little leech. No, the Ring-lore has only given
me Voice; only the Ring itself will give me power! {13}
     I can't wait any longer; I'm going out there to meet them. I want
the halflings now, not sometime next week! I'll leave Ulugl'm in charge
{14} while I'm gone; he knows what he's doing, even though he babbles
all the goddamned time. He'll keep all the troops in line, if he
doesn't bore them all to sleep first. I'm on my way as soon as I'm done
writing this. I just need to get something to eat before I go. The
damned Dunland merchants just can't get me fresh vegetables, and you
just can't get anything to grow inside the Ring. Is asking for some
decent vegetables asking too much? {15}

2 March 3019: The last three days have been perfectly damned
miserable.  Everything's gone wrong. I have a headache you wouldn't
     I left Isengard on Wednesday, right after lunch, and set out East
over the Bridge {16}; early Thursday morning, I saw smoke rising near
Fangorn. There was something about it that held my attention, and so I
headed towards it. Sure enough, late Thursday afternoon, I found the
Orcs.  They'd all been killed and burned by those damnable Horsemen!
_All_ of 'em! Even Mauhur and his reinforcements! {17} The whole thing
left me a little sick and dizzy. I think the shock must have
temporarily snapped my mind; I wandered for a time, lost in thought,
and that night I swear I saw a _Dwarf_ in Fangorn Wood! Impossible! He
was with a Man and an Elf; the Man leaped up and said I was his
_father!_ Dammit, it's these lousy provisions I keep getting that are
doing it. It's malnutrition, I tell you. Once I get the Ring I've got
to set up a stronghold where I can at least get some decent food. {18}
     Friday morning I was a little more clearheaded. I went back and
searched the battleground. There's no doubt about it: the filthy
Forgoil must have killed the halflings, and taken the Ring for
themselves! If they don't have it, they certainly know where it is now.
I've got to stop them before they try to use it! They won't know enough
about the Ring to use all its powers, of course, not yet; they haven't
studied all the ancient Ring-lore, as I have. But if they try using it
at all, He'll notice! And He'll come after it! I can't risk that. I
made it back here late last night and roused the Guard. I have to
attack the Mark immediately; it's the only way to stop them from using
the Ring! I can't trust Worm to filch it in time; I have to get it from
them quickly, and that's exactly what I'll do - even if I have to
destroy every filthy Brigand of the Mark to do it! {19}
     ...For some reason lately, I keep on thinking about the Great
Music. I remember Olorin and I singing the same melody for a time, and
that moment when I thought I'd found a stronger theme and started
singing it instead. And it sounded so good, so strong and powerful, I
_knew_ the One would appreciate it most of all. But then Olorin's
damned major-chords got all confused with my minors, and I lost track
of where I was, and I lost my voice. And right when I'd recovered, and
was _just_ starting to sing again, the One ended the _music!_ _Damn,_
that was frustrating!... Why am I thinking about that now? As if I
haven't got enough to think about. It's really beginning to get on my
goddamned nerves. I need another smoke. Damn that Olorin for getting me
started on this accursed weed.
     ...It's coming up on midnight now, and Ulugl'm tells me (in his
usual long-winded style) that they're almost ready to march. There's
enough of them to decimate Edoras! And Wormtongue'll keep that old fool
Theoden unprepared; by the time he sees what's coming, it'll be too
late for them all. I've had a pretty bad setback, but now that I've had
a good meal (venison stew; it was surprisingly good, even the
vegetables were fresh for a change) {20} and some time to think, I'm in
much better spirits. I should have the Ring, or at the least know where
it's hidden, within a handful of days. And then, nothing will be able
to stop me - not even Him!
     Now to go downstairs and send my minions off to kill the
horse-vermin. This will be a glorious night! I'll have to remind the
captains to search the bodies of Theoden and his household for the Ring
- inside and out, if necessary. I must get the Ring! {21}

3 March 3019: This has been a _really_ wretched day. I no sooner finish
sending my armies after Edoras when what happens? Some psychotic tree
comes and starts hammering at the Gate and yelling like hell. And when
my stupid ineffectual guards can't get rid of it - what the hell's
wrong with them? Aren't they _fed_ well enough? {22} - it calls more
trees, and they all start tearing apart the Ring! The whole damned Ring
of Isengard! One of them got in and tried to kill me! The damned
monstrosity chased me all the way back to the Tower, screaming that I
was a "tree-killer"; I was lucky to make it back in alive! What the
hell _is_ this? Why are they so upset over one lousy desk?!
     Ahhh, but once I was back in the Tower - _then_ I gave them
something to think about! I fired up the furnaces and the forges, and
started sending up fires and gas from underground. Hah! _That_ made 'em
think twice! I set one of 'em afire with a spray of _narphilm_ {23},
and the rest just went crazy. Hah! It was so _funny_ watching them hurl
themselves against the Tower! Oh, they were loud; I thought my eardrums
would break from their screaming. But it was delightful! They may have
torn the Ring to shreds, but it looked like they were all going to kill
themselves too!
     But they didn't, damn it. They all just stopped. I think they all
got bored with the attack when they realized they'd never be able to
defeat me. A few hours ago most of them left, walking away to the
North.  Not all of them; a few are still loitering around in the Ring.
I can still see a couple from here. Stupid damned wretched Ents! When I
get the Ring I'll burn all their forests to the ground. {24}
     But I'm stuck here, at least until these last few trees pack up
and leave and go attack somebody else. Once they go, though, I'm
heading South. My troops should be starting to sack Edoras tomorrow
morning, and then I'll be able to claim the Ring for myself. But I need
_news,_ damn it; and my crows refuse to come while those last few trees
are here. And I don't dare use the Ball; this is the last thing I'd
want Him to find out about!No, no, patience, I must be patient; once
these last few deranged trees get tired of standing around they'll
leave to cause ruin elsewhere, and I can continue with my plans. I've
almost got the Ring;  all I have to do now is be patient.
     I'll definitely need a new fortress. Something with a decent
kitchen for a change. I wonder if the Barad-dur has a good kitchen?

4 March 3019: Damn those stupid Ents! They're making my life hellish. I
woke up choking around three this morning, and found the room full of
smoke; I thought I'd been smoking in bed again, but no! _The damnable
trees have flooded the Ring!_ They poured water in for hours; it's been
flooding all the basements, the factories, breeding-pits, storerooms,
armouries, dungeons, playrooms, everything! The Downward Passage has
been flooded all day. I'm trapped in here like an ant. It's only been
the last few hours that I've been able to open a window around here.
     I don't know how the hell I'm going to get all this repaired.
Once my troops get the Ring from Edoras, how the hell am I going to get
out of here to _get_ it? It's not like these Trees are going to provide
me with a rowboat. This is really making me sick. And there's _nothing_
to eat around here; just some cheese and crackers, and the cask of wine
I had waiting for the victory celebration. {25} I _knew_ I should have
kept some more food in the Tower! Dammit, the hunger's making me
lightheaded. I've been chain-smoking all afternoon; it clears the
stench from the flooding, and takes my mind off the hunger. I've got to
think of a way out of here. Maybe if I stand on the roof all night like
Olorin did, some Eagle will get me out of here and out onto the plain.
Or it could just tear me apart, too; they were always Mithrandir's
allies anyway. I wonder if that fool Radagast the Bird-Lover knows
what's happened? Not that you can ever find him when you need him.
Dammit, I've got to get out of here so I can receive the Ring!

5 March 3019: {26} I spent most of the night up on the roof. No
Eagles.  I drank all the wine; it was the only thing I had left, apart
from some stale biscuits I found behind a cabinet. I fear I drank too
heavily, and spent a large part of the night (at least, the part I can
remember) tracing the lines on the floor with my fingers {27}. I've
spent most of the day with a desperate hangover.
     That pathetic bastard Worm arrived this morning, too; the trees
even let him come to the Tower. I thought when I saw him that he'd
gotten word of the Ring from Theoden, or perhaps laid hands on the Ring
itself, and was bringing it to me! Why else would he leave Edoras? {28}
So once he got to the door I yanked him inside - he was soaking wet,
and covered in slime, and one of those damnable trees was nearby - and
slammed the door. "What in the hell _happened_ here?" he gasped,
half-drowned. "I thought you said Isengard was invincible."
     I ignored him. "Do you have the Ring?" I demanded.
     "Do you have any _food?_"
     "I don't have _anything,_" he whimpered. "They kicked me out of
the hall. It was either come here, or ride into battle."
     I let go of him and he fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes.
What I wouldn't _give_ for a sack of potatoes! "The strawheads are
riding to battle?" I demanded. "Where? How long ago did they leave?"
     "Uh, they didn't say where," Worm snivelled. "Probably took
Eomer's advice, and went for the Fords, I'd guess. And they probably
left on the same day I did, the second. Hey, what day is it, anyhow?"
     "Then they've probably already fought their battle by now," I
mused. My forces were enough to mop up any army Theoden could muster,
fighting in open ground at the Fords; it could be that the Ring was
already on its way here. I still had a chance.
     "When it's all over, will I still get Eowyn?" Grima asked. {29}
     "Eowyn?" I screamed. "Eowyn!? I'll give you Eowyn! Filthy little
bag of grease. Don't whine to me about trifles! Ask me again once I
have the Ring! Once we defeat the former Ring-lord and burn down a few
of these forests, and get a couple of decent square meals, _then_ we'll
see about getting you that skinny bleached tomboy. For right now, leave
me alone!  Watch to the South; I'm expecting a delivery." And I kicked
him in the ribs and strode upstairs.
     Grima's pathetic whining hadn't made my hangover any better; I
spent the rest of the morning chain-smoking and holding my head between
my hands. (Now the _pipe-weed_ is starting to run low! If I run out of
that, I'm going to be really ticked.) Just past noon Worm started
banging on the door; the noise was so loud, I thought my head was going
to explode.  "Go away, you grovelling insect!" I cried.
     "But there's people on the Road," Grima said. "Coming this way."
     I flung the door open, pushed past Worm and darted for the
southern windows. My troops! The Ring! They were here at last! The
water had receded, I noted, and the ground was visible; they had a
clear path to the Tower. Would the Trees give them any trouble? But
even as I looked, my hopes were dashed yet again: they weren't my
troops, they were damned Horsemen, and it looked like Olorin at their
head! "I thought he was dead," I whispered.
     "Didn't you _know?_" Worm whined. "He woke Theoden. I saw him
twice on the plain on the way here; he's been everywhere! And he's been
calling up legends out of the ground, it seems; the tall guy over there
says he's Isildur's heir. Eogorne, I think he said his name was."
     "You're delusional," I spat. "Even if there were an heir of
Isildur, would he have a _strawhair's_ name?" But I was staring at
Olorin. Something felt different about him. I've always been suspicious
about him; but now he looked different, somehow, even at this range.
Could _he_ have the Ring? It had to be either him, or Theoden; that
would explain his shaking off old age and riding into battle once
again.  It was also the only way they could defeat my troops! I decided
Theoden must have the Ring.
     And as I watched, a few of them (including a couple of children
and this so-called "Isildur's Heir") were dismissed to stand watch at
the gates, and the others went around to the North. I spat at Worm as
we moved to a northern window. "I see Eogorne got left behind to stand
watch," I hissed. "Not being treated very well for an Heir of Isildur,
is he?" Wormtongue just whimpered and crawled off somewhere.
     But then Theoden and Olorin added insult to injury, and they sat
down to the North with all their troops and had a big merry _picnic!_
Right in my view! Here I am starving, nothing left to eat here but
stale biscuits, and they sit there eating what looked to be a
twelve-course meal!  {30} _Damn_ them! I felt myself salivating more
and more the longer I watched. The vicious, heartless bastards! Olorin
put them up to this, I just know it.
     After I'd watched all I could stand, I knew all hope was lost.
Obviously they had the Ring, and obviously I was not in a position to
defeat them myself. Did any of my army still exist? Could they make it
here in time to overpower Theoden so I could recover the Ring? After
all, there weren't more than thirty of them here. I didn't see any
choice. I went upstairs to the Pedestal {31} and sat down at the Ball.
The idea of facing Him terrified me, but it was the only way I had to
locate my troops. I hesitated for what seemed like hours {32}, then I
removed the cloth to gaze at the Ball.
     No sooner had I done so, though, than Worm began banging at the 
door. "They're here!" he cried. "They're outside the door. They're 
calling for you!"
     "Stay here!" I ordered. I went down to the balcony, and stepped 
out to speak to them from there.
     ...I don't even want to _talk_ about this. I tried talking to
Theoden first, thinking he had the Ring, and hoping I could ally with
him now and steal the Ring from him (or have Grima steal it for me)
later. At length, though, he made it clear he didn't have it. {33}
Stupid old goat!  After I insulted him, I turned my full attention upon
     Obviously he had the Ring; I should have realized that
immediately.  He seemed more powerful; also he had rebodied far too
quickly after vanishing in the Mines. {34} The Ring must have been
claimed by him! I used all the powers I had; I tried to entice him back
inside, as I had before, but this time he refused. And then he had the
temerity to ask me if _I_ wanted to come _down!_ Very tempted I was to
do so; I could have escaped the Tower, and been free. But then he
demanded the keys to Orthanc! My _home,_ goddammit! And my _staff!_
This was asking too  damned much. I told him to go **** himself and
went back in to use the Ball; if I could summon my army here quickly
enough I'd mop the stones with his insolent tongue, Ring or no Ring!
     But then he used a word of Command. I didn't know he was even
_capable_ of it. {35} And then... he broke my staff! And destroyed my
colour! It _must_ be the Ring! It's the only possible explanation! He
could never have done that to me _without_ it! And just as they were
all getting ready to go, Worm threw something heavy out the window at
them (though he just about knocked _my_ head off doing it). Damned
insolent fool!  But the worst part of my day was still coming.
     I was stripped of power; I felt like an ordinary mortal Man, tired
and weakened. But if I could find my armies with the Ball, and could
somehow get word to them, I would still have one last chance of killing
Olorin, and gaining the Ring, and regaining my powers. I ran upstairs
and found Worm standing next to the Pedestal.
     And the Ball was missing. That stupid little irresponsible 
kleptomaniac must have snagged it. "Where's the Ball?" I demanded.
     "Ball?" he asked.
     "The Ball," I growled. "The _palantir_. The big black thing. Don't 
**** with me, Worm! I need it now! It's our only hope! Where the hell 
_is_ it?" I started to look under the table for it.
     "I, uh," he whined, "I threw it at them. Didn't you see it? I was 
aiming at _them,_ I promise!"
     ...I don't remember much after that; I remember screaming, and
then flying into a rage, but the memories all kind of go black after
that. I look at Grima now under the rising moonlight, snivelling in the
corner, and he seems to be covered with new bruises; and he shrinks
back a little every time I look up. Serves him right, the goddamned
little toad.
     The trees are back again, too. I talked to one of them; he calls
himself Treebeard, and if anything he's even more impossibly
long-winded than Ulugl'm was. Still, at least I can get news from him
(though he fills it with lots of grotesque moralizing), though I'm not
sure how much of what he says I believe. {36} Still, though, at least
now the Ball is gone; _He_ won't have any way to bug me any more...
unless He sends the Nazgul all the way out here; but now that Olorin is
wielding the Ring they're probably under _his_ command now. They're
probably spying out the Barad-dur for him even now; I doubt _I'll_ ever
see a Nazgul ever ever again. {37}
     ...I'm still hungry. But at least now there's the prospect of 
fresh meat, at least; Grima seems kind of lean for my tastes, but he 
might be passable with the right seasonings. {38}

FOOTNOTES   (all page references are to hardback editions)

 1: "Curumo" being a possible Quenya form of the Sindarin "Curunir". 
     _UT_, p. 406.

 2: Faux CJRT introduction based on actual CJRT writings from _Lost 
    Road_  p. 155; _Lays_ p. 4; and _WotR_ p. 144.

 3: _UT_ p. 275 further describes the loot found at Orthanc.

 4: All dates taken from _RotK_ pp. 373-4, or derived from information 
    in  _TT_ book III.

 5: _Curunir_: translated as "the one of cunning devices" _UT_ p. 434; 
    or more simply, "clever guy". Possibly in modern American English, 

 6: A Dunlendish term for the Rohirrim: "strawheads". _RotK_ p. 408.

 7: From _UT_ pp. 359-60: Saruman rested after this victory, as opposed 
    to immediately pressing his advantage. "Saruman made the mistake,
    fatal as it proved, of not immediately throwing in more forces and
    proceeding at once to a massive invasion... If the invasion of
    Westfold had begun five days earlier, there can be little doubt"
    that Rohan would have been overthrown.

 8: _TT_ p. 87 relates this same story from an Entish point of view.

 9: "Obviously the Ring of Isengard. It's unlikely Saruman could fit ten 
    thousand troops into the ring he was wearing on his finger, or that
    he had yet fallen to such folly as to attempt it." [Author's note.]
    Also cf. Gandalf's comment, _Fellowship_ p. 273: "Only one hand at a
    time can wield the One".

10: Cf. Treebeard's comment, _TT_ pp. 76-7: "He [Saruman] has been 
    doing something to them [Orcs]; something dangerous. For these 
    Isengarders are more like wicked Men... has he blended the races of 
    Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!"

11: Saruman's secret smoking-habit is documented in _UT_ pp. 352-3.

12: A posible explanation for Sauron's being listed as a Maia of Aule 
    is implied here: that Sauron was with Aule during the time of the
    Two Lamps, Illuin and Ormal. Melkor had fled Arda briefly, and at
    that time "brooded in the outer darkness". It's worth noting that
    Aule's craftsmanship had been called repeatedly by the other Valar
    during that time, and so Sauron (and, indeed, Saruman) could have
    learned much from him at that time. _Sil._ pp. 35-6.

13: Saruman's ring is noted briefly by Gandalf in _Fellowship_, pp.  
    271-2. As noted elsewhere, it suggests Saruman's possibly attempting
    to enslave Grima with another ring. Hence the already-published joke
    about "Grima, the Ringworm".  :)
       More interesting, though, is Saruman's comment, "the Ring-lore
    has only given me Voice". It gives me a chance to propose a theory:
    that it was Saruman's investigation of Ring-lore, particularly the
    One Ring's ability to dominate the wills of others, which first
    taught him the ability to daunt and influence others with his voice.
    Certainly the power of his voice had some Ring-like effects on the
    wills of his listeners (_TT_ p. 183)... but when did Saruman
    _develop_ this Voice? Before he arrived in Middle-earth, or after
    he'd arrived and begun his investigation of the Rings? I've found
    nothing to suggest he had this power before the mid-to-late Third
    Age. Any suggestions? Comments?

14: "Ulugl'm was not an Orc but a Man, possibly descended from the  
    Numenoreans who once defended Isengard, or perhaps the Dunlendings
    who held Isengard in years after; or perhaps both. He was known more
    for his incessant chatter than his skills as a warrior; some say that
    he envied Curunir, and desired the majesty and persuasiveness of his
    voice." [Author's note.] For Ulugl'm's ancestry see _UT_ pp. 376-7.
    Note the  name _Ulugl'm_ may possibly even be Elvish in origin: 
    _ulug_ "horrible", and either _ngal_ "loud or incoherant talk" or
    _glam_ "barbarous confused noise". Not unlike this post.  :)

15: In _WotR_ p. 38, Aragorn implies that Isengard would be fertile  
    ground if Saruman weren't there polluting everything; in _RotK_ p.
    257, the Ents confirm he was right.

16: "'The Bridge of the Ring-Maker', as Saruman named it in his  
    insolence." [Author's note.] Evidently referring to a bridge built
    over the Isen by Saruman, roughly one mile East of Isengard. A
    crossing such as this is deduced by Elfhelm on _UT_ p. 364; Merry
    points it out to Aragorn on _TT_ p. 171.

17: The Orcs' destruction is documented in _TT_ pp. 58-63.

18: For Saruman's delusion see _TT_ p. 45. Also note Saruman's comment  
    about "a stronghold where I can at least get some decent food";
    this may be the first hint of his plans to conquer the Shire, where
    later he appears at Bag End "looking well-fed and well-pleased"
    (_RotK_, p. 297).

19: I wrote this as pure conjecture for Saruman's motivations, and 
    oddly enough later found it explicitly confirmed by _WotR_ p. 51.

20: "Now that the Dunlendings were at Isengard in force their families 
    in Dunland took special care to send fresher provisions Eastward, a 
    care they did not take when (as was typical) their people were
    fewer in the Wizard 's Vale." [Author's note.]

21: _WotR_ p. 29 has Gandalf telling Theoden, "To take you and slay  
    Eomer was what he [Saruman] most desired"; this line is absent from  
    _TT_, perhaps in light of these new instructions from Saruman
    (though there are still indicators that Theoden was to be taken
    alive if possible; see _TT_, p. 145). The order to "search the
    bodies of Theoden and his household inside and out", however,
    appears to have been followed literally; cf. Theoden's comment on
    _TT_ p. 185: "They hewed Hama's body before the gates of the
    Hornburg, after he was dead."

22: The guards were, evidently, well-provisioned (_TT_, p. 165), though
    the quality of their food was probably better than usual that week
    because of the presence of the Dunlending's army. See note 20,

23: _Narphilm_: prob. Quenya _nar_ "flame, fire" + _pilim_ "arrow" (or
    possibly _phalma_ "crested wave"). Possibly the root for modern
    English _napalm_.

24: Merry and Pippin's account of the attack and occupation of Isengard 
    is given in full in _TT_ pp. 171-180.

25. Note Pippin's comment, _TT_ p. 166: "...the deliveries have been 
    rather interrupted in the last few days".

26: The text, at first in a bold hand, is now reduced to a hasty and
    almost-illegible scrawl. Whether this is due to Saruman's declining
    situation or the author's disgust with the material is hard to
    say.  The entry for th is date, however, begins with the words "Oh
    God I can't write another word of this pointless goddamned drivel";
    this was struck through almost immediately, and the text continued
    as written.

27: _TT_ p. 160, emphasis mine: "...there upon a floor of polished  
    stone, _written with strange signs,_ a man might stand five hundred 
    feet above the plain."

28: If the Rohirrim had obtained the Ring, as Saruman had supposed,  
    Grima's stealing it and bringing it to Orthanc was actually quite  
    possible - and, if Theoden had it, even likely. _TT_ pp. 121, 123;
    also see note #3 above.

29: Eowyn was part of Saruman's promised payment to Grima for his 
    deception. _TT_ pp. 124-5.

30: _TT_ p. 164 and 180. Though it was a good meal, doubtless Saruman's 
    "twelve-course" estimate was exaggerated by his own hunger.

31: "The _palantir_ were each situated on low round tables of black
    marble, seated in a central cup or depression." [Author's note.]
    Also stated in _UT_, p. 415.

32: Very possibly it _was_ hours, since the picnic started shortly 
    after noon but the parley at the doors of Orthanc didn't take place 
    until roughly 3:15. _WotR_, p. 72.

33: "Doubtless this happened when Theoden spoke the words, 'A lesser 
    son of great sires am I'; such humility, Saruman knew, would not
    be found in one who bore the Ring as a weapon." [Author's note.]
    Theoden's quote can be found at the end of his speech in _TT_, pp.

34: "Saruman had no first-hand knowledge of Gandalf's fall with the
    Balrog, though he had surmised it; rumours had come from the Orcs
    of Barazinbar, and spies had told him of Gandalf's absence from the
    Company East of th e Mountains. Also Saruman's estimate of the time
    Olorin would need to take new raiment was made without considering
    the possibility of aid from Manwe and the Lords of the West."
    [Author's note.]

35: He obviously was capable of it, having used a word of Command  
    against the Balrog as well. What a "word of Command" _is_ exactly,  
    however, remains vague. Please don't cite any RPG rules to explain
    it all for me. _Fellowship_, p. 341.

36: _RotK_, p. 258.

37: Needless to say Gandalf was _not_ wielding the Ring, and Saruman 
    was going to see at least one Nazgul before the night was over -
    very possibly two, if Sauron dispatched a second Rider to Orthanc
    after Pippin had looked into the _palantir_. _TT_, pp. 201 and

38: Putting a different spin on Gandalf's quote, _TT_ p. 189: "Small 
    comfort will those two have in their companionship; they will gnaw
    one another with words."  :)

What tiny little bits of this may actually be original, and are not
already owned by the Tolkien Estate, are copyright 1995 by O. Sharp.
If you want to copy it all somewhere else, please do me a favor and ask
me about it first. Comments are welcome, but please do all of us a
favor and don't quote the entire article to comment on two or three
sentences. My apologies for its terrifying length. The information set
forth should not be considered canonical or authoritative in any way,
except for the actual references given in footnotes. No warranties,
express or implied, have been made for this product's usage or fitness
for any specific task. Do not exceed recommended dosage. For external
use only.


Last Word

Another long hiatus in the Mouth due to vacation times.  I was gone the
first week of this month, and Brian took off a couple of weeks later.
I'm starting to wonder if you're all getting suspicious about what it
is we *really* do....

(That's Bond.  James Bond.)

I would follow up Brian's commentary on game 204, but I'm getting
pounded worse than I ever have in any game; so the pathetic plight of
my nation is something I don't want to dwell on at the moment.  I'd
rather think happy thoughts on the carnage I plan to leave in my wake
in my newest 1650 game.  One which, for security reasons, I can't
identify at the moment - but I hope to spread my glee in the coming
months.  Crushing the enemy fills me with such joy.

An update on War of the Ring: yes, we're still working on it.  The
current iteration of the game manual looks very little like the first
incarnation.  Revision after revision after revision, I think the game
gets better.  I hope so, at least.  Brian is hard at work creating the
map - a real monster at 10 miles per hex.  He's also doing all of the
historical research, having a head for this where I don't (I'm ashamed
to say I don't even own a copy of the trilogy at the moment).  We both
agree that the beast has to be done before we grow old and die, so we
hope to have the prototype ready sometime in the next few months.
After that comes the translation into software.  Although I groan
everytime I pull the thing up on my pc, I can easily wile away my time
into the wee hours poring over the rules, coming up with new stuff and
throwing out the old.

I do have a question, for those who may be interested: we have a device
within the game which at this point is called an Event Card'.
Essentially, every player gets one every turn, some of which are used
immediately and some of which can be held by the player to be employed
at a later time.  These cards signify events of varying importance
which can aid the campaign against the enemy.  Examples would include
the intervention of eagles during a battle, the rousing of the Ents,
Gandalf's mobilization of Rohan, and so forth.  What would you, the
potential player, like to see as an event card?  The only limitation is
that it has to fit into the historical context of the Lord of the
Rings.  I'm in the midst of brainstorming cards, but I'm bound to miss
some interesting things that beg to be included.

Finally, if anyone had any problems with this format of the Mouth
(regular line lengths, no cuts) please drop me a line and explain the
problem.  I'm going to separate Those With Nifty Services from Those
With Less-Than-Nifty Services in my mailing list to make sure everyone
gets the mag intact.

Until next time,