Issue: 16

The Northern Border War
by Philip Tidy

The Lord of the Rings is a fruitful source of "classic" fantasy campaign settings. One period that offers considerably scope is earlier in the Third Age in the Northern Realm of Arthedain. To cover the background briefly, two "Realms in Exile" were founded; Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. In TA861 Arnor split into three, Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhurdaur. Most of the Dunedain were concentrated in Arthedain. Rhurdaur rapidly fell under the domination of the Witch King of Angmar, and Cardolan was destroyed in the great invasion of TA1409. Thus for some two hundred years Arthedain stood alone against Angmar until their mutual destruction in the great battles of TA974. This latter period offers scope for actions akin to those in any frontier setting, e.g. Hadrian's Wall, ranging from scouting missions to full scale battles.

The ICE Middle Earth Role Playing Game modules offer some useful information for this period, and ICE have just brought out a campaign guide "Arnor" for this region. I haven't seen this yet and the following potential forces are based on information in the earlier guide books.

The Arthedain Army consisted of two military structures, a standing Royal Army, and the combined armies of the various nobles. Also listed were elite units of Rangers.

Royal Army (uniforms predominantly black with seven stars).
300 Mounted Troops: lances and bows.
600 Foot Soldiers: spears and bows.
Nobles Army (uniforms variously coloured, but all with the seven stars).
400 Mounted Troops: spears and bows.
2,400 Foot Soldiers: bows and swords.

The Witch King of Angmar has at his disposal various quantities of Angamarim (men of Angmar, drawn from various subject races) and Orcs.

60 Hoerk Aran: Elite Bodyguard, maces, bows. Grey uniform with red ring symbol
6 Hoerk Tereg: Elite Troll Bodyguard.
60 Rangers: Elite Trackers.
200 Trackers: Lesser Patrolmen.
3,000 Easterling Horsemen: light lances and bows.
10,000 Footmen: swords and bows, minimal armour and motivation.
Uruk-Engmair (Orcs of Angmar).
2,000 Wolf-Riding Orcs.
28,000 Orcs on foot (equipment variable from advanced to backward).

That briefly covers the basic forces for any large scale encounters. Typically most encounters would seem to have been between the Royal Army operating on its own or a force drawn from the local nobles fighting against raiding parties from Angmar. other scenarios would include getting supply trains through pre-emptive strikes into Angmar, reconnaissance missions, etc...

Thus there is potential to move from role-play to skirmish to main battles with the effects all inter-linked. There is also the option of outside intervention from the Elves of Lindon, or expeditionary forces from Gondor. The manoeuvrings of the various factions and mercenary companies in what remains of Cardolan also offer scope for action.

See also: