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The Silmarillion - The Card Game

I've created a Silmarillion card game. I finished it tonight, although I need to actually print the cards out. That will involve a trip to Plymouth to buy some card.

Here are some extracts from the rules, to give you an idea. Once it's been properly play-tested, I'll put the files up on a website as .pdfs so that anyone can play it.

'The Silmarillion – The Card Game' tells the story, in the form of a card game, of the First Age of Middle-earth. Each player (ideally four players, although the game can be played with three or even two) controls one of the three houses of the Noldor elves or the Sindar Elves. The object of the game is to succeed in begging the Valar for help against Morgoth.

'The Silmarillion – The Card Game' is a turn-based card game. Players take it in turns to draw a card from the pack. Cards can be new characters, armies, good events, bad events, opportunities or sometimes disasters. The ultimate objective for each player is to put your faction into a position to ask the Valar for help against Morgoth (see 'Appealing to the Valar' below).

The object of the game is to succeed in begging the Valar for help against Morgoth. How do you beg the Valar for help against Morgoth?

Well, that's complicated. First of all, you'll need a Silmaril. The good news is that there are three of them. The bad news is that all three are set in the Iron Crown of Morgoth, and he won't give them up easily. For more on getting a Silmaril, see 'The Quest of the Silmaril' below.

Once you have a Silmaril, you'll need to get someone special to take it over the sea to the Undying Lands in the West. That someone special must be a half-elf – born of the union between a man and an elf (or, as it happens between a man and a half-elf or between an elf and a half-elf or between a half-elf and another half-elf).

Oh and you'll need a ship to get to the West. The only ships capable are built by Círdan the Shipwright, so you'll need his friendship. Círdan is a Sindar elf and recognises Thingol as his overlord so the Sindar faction always has the friendship of Círdan. However Círdan is rather more friendly to the Noldor than his king and so will be friendly to any Noldor faction that holds one of the three ' Círdan the Shipwright' cards. It is possible to offend Círdan and lose his friendship.

Once you have a Silmaril, a half-elf and the friendship of Círdan, the final step you need to take is to draw a 'Voyage to the Undying Lands' card. There are two of these in the pack. If you draw one and you have a Silmaril, a half-elf and the friendship of Círdan, then congratulations – you've successfully pleaded for help from the Valar, they send a great host to Middle-earth, they defeat the armies of Morgoth in the War of Wrath, Angband is destroyed, Morgoth is cast out into the Void and more to the point...you've won the game!

If you draw a 'Voyage to the Undying Lands' card and you don't have all three of a Silmaril, a half-elf and the friendship of Círdan, then the voyage is unsuccessful. Replace the card in the desk and shuffle the deck.

There are more rules, but the game is set up in such a way that you only need to refer to most of the rules when a player draws a particular card from the deck.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
My designer's notes:

I wanted to design a game based on the Silmarillion. After resisting the urge to produce a strategic war-game, with a detailed board representing Beleriand, I came up with this. It is (or should be) a really simple game. Yes, the rules are 54 pages long, but a) I used a large font and b) most of those rules you only need to read when someone draws a particular card. It's worth one of the players reading the rules up to page 15 (and be fair, they only really start on page 6), but if you do that, then you're ready to play.

There isn't much in the way of strategy or tactics involved in the game. I'll be honest, it's mostly luck that decides who wins. I figured that every so often every gaming group needs a low brain activity game. That said, the four factions are different and some are easier to win with than others. I recommend assigning the factions to the players randomly, unless one of your players is vain enough to think of herself as the living reincarnation of Lúthien Tinúviel. If that is the case, give her the Sindar to play and just get on with it.

I should write a small piece about copyright. Basically someone else probably owns the rights to produce a card game based on J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion'. I certainly do not have the right to use any of the characters or events mentioned in the book. I've also basically nicked all the artwork off the internet. The artists are a mixture of professionals and amateurs. If you're an amateur Tolkien artist and I've used your work, please try to be flattered - I used your work because I thought it was great. If you want me to give you a credit, then get in touch. If you want me to remove your work, then similarly get in touch and just ask.

As to copyright on the game mechanics, well they're mine. You can't take them and use them in something without my permission. However, I would love it if you want to take a copy of the game files and pass them to all your friends. Don't ever charge anyone any money for the game, because then we're getting into dodgy copyright issues again. But as long as it always stays free and is maintained in this format, then you can reproduce the game as much as you want.
Apr. 9th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
If you haven't already looked into this, you might find adding a Creative Commons license of some kind fits your intentions here re copyright? They seem to come in an appropriate range of flavours and be generally well thought of.
Apr. 10th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
I'll look into that. Thanks.
Mar. 28th, 2010 08:01 am (UTC)
Sounds fun. There are definately times for low brain games :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )