LORD OF THE RINGS (board game by R. Knizia)


LOTR: a six-player variant By Walt Mulder, 1Jan 2001 (current V1.4, 20/01/01)

Premise: Gollum was part of the group and is the perfect choice for a 6th character. This variant shouldn’t change the story line any more than adding Fatty to the fellowship does. Gollum is bound to help destroy the ring in as much as he wants to truly regain "precious" for himself. As such, he is both a help and hindrance to the fellowship. Sauron would just as soon destroy Gollum as well as anyone else to get him the ring back. In this 6-player variant, Gollum wins if he gets the ring back. He will continue to help the party destroy the ring up the point where he can get it for himself and disappear into oblivion.

Setup and cards: With six players, each player receives a starting hand of 5 cards. In Rivendell and Lothlorien, each player receives two cards from the distribution. Start Sauron on 15 for your first game of six players.

Gollum Special Ability: The Gollum player uses the "Gollum" card from the Shelob Lair stack as their character card. This card counts as one of their five starting hand cards. This card may be used once in each of the first two scenarios and final scenario as a hobbit card. At the beginning of each scenario (except Shelob's Lair), give the "Gollum" card back to the Gollum player. In the Shelob's Lair scenario, the Gollum card is acquired normally via the event. The active player acquiring the card must immediately decide whether to keep the card, or to give it to the Gollum player. If Gollum is the active player, he keeps the card.

Special Ability Note - Gollum never rolls the die when using the "Gollum" hobbit card!

Special Gollum Rules:

Gollum Win: If Gollum becomes the ring bearer, the game ends and the party final score is number the activity token resides upon.

Gollum can obtain the ring in three ways:

  1. If Gollum has the most ring tokens at the end of a scenario (before Life Token movement resolution), and is on a space on the corruption board all by himself, he disappears with the ring never to be seen again. The game ends in a loss for the fellowship and a win for Gollum. If, however, he is on a corruption track space with another hobbit, that hobbit will become the new ring bearer. If there is more than one hobbit, the one with the least hobbit cards becomes the new ring bearer. If still tied, go to the 1st hobbit on the same space clockwise from Gollum.
  2. If Gollum becomes the ring bearer by being the next person clockwise from the current ring bearer due to everyone having an equal number of ring tokens, and he is on a space on the corruption board by himself, (before Life Token movement resolution) the game also ends with the same result as above. If he is on a space with another hobbit, that hobbit will become the new ring bearer. If there is more than one hobbit, the one with the least hobbit cards becomes the new ring bearer. If still tied, use the hobbit on same space clockwise from Gollum.
  3. Mordor. If the party reaches Mt. Doom, Gollum is the last player to attempt to destroy the ring (even if out of turn). As the only player remaining with the ability to destroy the ring, accomplish the following: roll the die. If the blank face or eye of Sauron comes up, Gollum slips and falls into the volcano with the ring and the fellowship wins, on any other roll the game ends and Gollum merrily disappears with the ring, causing the fellowship to lose.

Everyone should take card to prevent this from happening. Remember that Gollum goes last in the first scenario only (or if trying to destroy the ring). If it looks like he's going to be the next ring bearer at the end of a scenario, players should take care that someone else will be in Gollum's space at the end of the scenario. After the first scenario, Gollum could become ringbearer under condition #2 above.

Fellowship Win: The entire party (including Gollum) wins if the ring is destroyed in the normal fashion. Gollum is redeemed (thereby starting onto the long road of recovery through much needed psychotherapy, group counseling, cosmetic surgery, and physical rehabilitation).

Random Musings: I use a metal miniature gaming figure to represent Gollum. These can be obtained from any hobby store that carries role-playing miniatures. There are even some made for Lord of the Rings role-playing. If you use this variant, let me know how it works out. Change whatever you need, but be sure everyone agrees to any changes prior to starting the game. I wanted a way for our gaming group of six to all get involved in this great game. In creating this variant, I've tried to keep with both the story and established rules thereby making it difficult for Gollum to win the game. I strove to maintain the play balance of the original game. I hope it will work for you also. Cheers, and Good Luck. WM