Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Hobbit: Ch2 Roast Mutton

I'm pretty sure the party once won an encounter using Hold Portal, but never before have I seen such effective use of the Ventriloquism spell.

Of course, never before have I seen a critical fumble  on seventeen consecutive Intelligence checks, but the dice gods will have their wrath and their due.

I'm sure I've heard the "daylight turns to stone" thing somewhere before, but for the life of me it's not coming together in my brain. Is it a famous fairytale? Something does it, I know. Besides moron trolls.

So far I've got Gandalf using Arcane Mark, Erase and Ventriloquism (and maybe Mount) so he's pretty low-key as wizards go. He's also an overgrown pest of the kick-in-the-pants sort, practically chivvying (it's a fantastic word) Bilbo out into the wild blue yonder with little more than his nose and his pants. And then he leaves them all to get yoinked by trolls. Bilbo, here's a tip from a guy who's played the campaigns before: When you're Level 1, seek out CR 1 foes to practice on. Don't go for trolls right away.

Bill Huggins & company were a fun first encounter. I'm very curious about these Lone-lands and the implications thereof, and also the evil castles. When they said the king might not be known, are they referring to Thorin's royal lineage or are the Lone-lands part of a kingdom? Anyway, I kind of feel sorry for William. He wasn't a bad sort, really. Chaotic neutral rears its head in antagonist form. Bert and Tom can go get a really permanent gray tan for all I care, but come on, William was all for sparing Bilbo.

I'm intrigued by the idea that Bilbo feels he should prove himself; if they'd asked it of him that he go steal the mutton (I would love to try mutton, I really enjoy lamb) then that would be one thing, but I got a real sense of Bilbo wanting to be a burglar, to some extent. It's that Took in him, as Chapter 1 would say, that spark that makes him want to feel like an adventurer. I like the reluctant-yet-eager adventurer angle here, it adds an interesting quality to the personality of our beleagured (love that word too, might not have spelled it right, computer's complaining about it) protagonist.

This was a short chapter, but I suppose it didn't need too much considering what it offered, up and down. Bilbo did a roguish thing, I think, in nabbing the key to find the treasures of the trolls. He also gravitated to a dagger right away (though that's because of proportion rather than preference, I think) which hey, he's a rogue. Original Halfling Rogue, everybody, give it up for Mr. Baggins. Gandalf's shown that on this adventure he plans to come and go as he likes and everyone else can suck it. I was wondering about that when he was referring to them being 13 when he would be along, and there's the response to that - he wouldn't be. I hope that he won't keep pulling this sort of deus ex machina appearance, which is the story term for when some outside force appears to resolve a conflict for the characters. Still, if you're going to do it, Ventriloquism is a pretty subtle way to get 'er done.

Loving the descriptions of the travel experience. I've been camping and done walking trails and experienced the "fun" of crap weather (hello Nova Scotia) so I could feel the damp and the chill as they ran into it. Mind you I've never let all the supplies wash off my pony, but then I'm not a dwarf. Or a moron, despite a few arguments against me (shut up Lacy).

Next chapter, it looks like we're going to the city of Elrond, which I guess is in Rivendell. Looking at the map, it seems Rivendell is this kingdom between the two rivers and Elrond is the castle near where they fork. It seems that we missed Ford somehow, unless that's coming up next. After Elrond, though, I can see the Misty Mountains, and far over them some deep dungeons and cold caverns filled with pale enchanted gold. And of course a necromancer and a dragon but why complain about trivial travel complications like those? The Wilderland Tourism Department would like to advise everyone that pale enchanted gold is well worth braving a little fire and undeath for.

Still very sold on this book, and curious about Gandalf's friends from Elrond. Looking forward to next chapter! :D

16 comments:

  1. D&D came out in the mid 70's This came out in the 30's. It's not going to follow D&D rules. :P

    Your commentary reminds me of "Harry Potter and the Natural 20": https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8096183/1/Harry-Potter-and-the-Natural-20

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  2. There's a famous old article that argues that if this were D&D, Gandalf wouldn't need to be any higher than fifth level to do most of the magic he does. In reality there's reason to think he's quite a bit more powerful than he lets on.

    Trolls turning to stone in the sun is pretty common in folklore, so I'm not surprised you've heard it before. There are lots of hills and rock formations and stuff in Sweden that are said to be the remains of trolls that got caught out in the daytime.

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    1. Huh, that's really interesting. I still wonder which specific folklore I heard it out of, though.

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    2. Just for fun, here's a famous troll we've got here in Seattle (the "Fremont Troll", because it's in the neighborhood of Fremont):
      http://c1.staticflickr.com/1/1/1155886_7b21bf056c.jpg

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  3. Your analysis of Bilbo BTW is spot on.

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    1. Hooray! I'm a genius! :D

      (and modest, too!)

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  4. Mutton is what you eat if you can't afford lamb. :-)

    It's pretty good in curries and dishes with long, slow cooking times in general, though.

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    1. I've never had curry. Is it any good?

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    2. It can be.

      It can be.

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    3. Also, curries are delicious. You might like to try them one day.

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  5. I think that the Ford on your map is the Ford of Bruinen, which is simply a river crossing on the road near Rivendell. If so, that's a detail from the sequel to the Hobbit, which is probably here for completeness.

    Also, magic in these books tends to be rare and subtle. There's a reason that Gandalf carries a sword. In fact, there's really only a handful of outright magic-users in the world of Middle Earth.

    Dungeons and Dragons' approach to magic is partly lifted from Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" books, but really has a lot to do with simple gaming mechanics. People wanted to play magicians, they had to be able to do something useful in combat, gamers of the day were already familiar with wargames involving powerful ranged weapons, and it sort of spiraled from there.

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    1. I bet you didn't expect that Star Trek would have more flat-out wizard magic!

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  6. It's interesting that you pulled out the Lone-lands and expressed interest in the history of them. There's a LOT more info about this in Lord of the Rings (especially in the Appendices) and I'm wondering if it might be better if you read the books rather than watch the movies now.

    Over the rest of the Hobbit you're also going to be tantalized with other things which came from the broader history (much of which was already written at the time the Hobbit was written). If you're happy to accept these as just giving a sense of depth then you can safely carry on, but if you get interested and want to know more, you're definitely going to need the other Tolkien books at some time.

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  7. I'm enjoying your comments on The Hobbit -- in fact, I've decided to re-read (well, listen to the audio) book again. I thought I might try to stay in sync with your posts, but not sure if I can be that disciplined..

    Oh, it's "beleaguered", BTW. You were really close.

    I've especially enjoyed your Star Wars commentary, as well. Keep up the good work!

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  8. Hi! Quick note, the place they are going to is Rivendell and their specific destination is the House of Elrond. Elrond is a powerful Elf.

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