Opening up a whole new area for exploration, this book looks at the Lonely Mountain and the kingdoms of Erebor and Dale. Back in the time of Smaug, this region was abandoned and known as the Desolation of Smaug, but since the dragon's demise there has been a resurgeance and it's well worth a visit.
We start with The Kingdom Under the Mountain, a section which describes Erebor, its denizens and the wonders that might be found there. Stronghold of the House of Durin, it is more than just a city, or a mining complex, or a fortress... there are mighty wonders here, palaces and mineral riches untold. If the dwarves will let you in to take a look, that is! There is history and background galore from the earliest times right through to the present day. There are maps (supplemented by a map pack in the PDF download) for those who wish to explore the vast complex, and who can gain admittance in the first place. The process for getting in is explained, along with some of the notable locations to visit and individuals to meet if you do get in, and ideas for things to do whilst there.
Next is Treasure of the Dwarves, with a look at some of the wonderful artefacts made by Durin's folk, fabled items crafted with skills now lost to the world. Dwarves have this bad habit of hoarding knowledge instead of passing it on, and many a craftsman has died before managing to find an apprentice he deems worthy enough to teach what he knows. Still, they remain excellent craftsmen and ancient artefacts still turn up. Based on the rules for item creation in the Rivendell supplement, there is information on how to design dwarf items that are distinctive and fascinating, as well as details of many famous examples of their work. A dwarf character with a good craft skill can choose to spend a Year's End Fellowship Phase holed up in his smithy making something fantastic and all the rules you'll need to make that happen are here.
Then comes Dale, a description of the burgeoning city of men and of the surrounding areas. Set beside the River Running almost in the shadow of the Lonely Mountain, Dale's history from earliest times until the present is recounted. The new kingdom doesn't spread far beyond the city walls yet, but every week sees new farms established and it's growing fast. Plenty of opportunity if settling down is in your plans. There's loads of evocative description to help you bring this bustling city to life... and like any city, there's plenty of intrigue to get involved in if that takes the party's fancy. Notable locations and personages, and things to do in Dale round out this section before we proceed on to The Lands About The Mountain for those who'd like to go further afield, with wildlife, locations, inhabitants and plenty of ideas for adventure.
Next there's Concerning Dragons, with probably more than you really want to know about them. History to anatomy, their role as rare and unique creatures that might be sighted once in a whole campaign if even then... here we have the rules necessary to create your own dragons and bring them to memorable life... memorable, that is, to those party members who survive the encounter! Treasures for their hoards, items that can kill them, some sample dragons, and a wonderful selection of rumours about dragons end this section.
History next with The War of Dwarves and Orcs, including notes on how this long-running war can be woven into your campaign. Older dwarves (over 150 years) likely saw combat in this war, but just about everyone will have heard of it. Finally, those who fancy playing a dwarf will find two new heroic cultures to try: the Dwarves of the Iron Hills and the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains.
This work puts a contemporary twist on places long-known from the Tolkien books, providing fascinating places to visit and adventure in, replete with ideas for Loremasters and players alike. Of particular relevant to those who play dwarves, there's a lot of material to be enjoyed and used here.
Return to Erebor: The Lonely Mountain page.
Reviewed: 15 November 2016