Lotr meets the Order of Hermes?

Hey guys I've been thinking of a idea to combine my Favourite Fantasy setting (Arda) with Ars Magica.

The idea is that the pc's traverse through the magic realm via an ancient, secretive Cosm and by some incredible chance happen to find themselves within the Mythical world of Middle-Earth, currently in its 3rd age before the War of the Ring.
Now with the way Magic works in Middle-earth I'm not sure how well this would work background wise as Magic is a very different concept in lotr compared to Mythic Europe.

Any ideas how I could implement this Saga story so that it works and is plausible when taking in to consideration the mechanics of the Magic Realm and the Magical Mechanics of Middle-earth itself? Also can Cosm even work like that, i.e hold within them an entire cosmos with alternate histories, rules and realities (I.e Different divine and Infernal, Beings akin to God and Satan (Eru and Morgoth) but work in an entirely different format with no connection to mythic Europes God and Satan?

Grant one could just stay screw it and don't worry about it but I love my saga settings to be plausible and believable within their own context, so this all being plausible is important to me.

Is it necessary to have Eru not be The Divine/God?

I admit I haven't read the silmarillion, but as far as I know Eru is the ultimate creator of everything, all-powerful but choosing not to interfere directly. Which describes The Divine perfectly.

As for Magic: It seems to me that the Gift doesn't exist in Middle Earth, but the cosmology is otherwise compatible. Hermetic Magi turning up wouldn't necessarily lose their powers, although they'd have a hard time finding magic auras (most magic users in LotR are either Divine [gandalf] or Infernal [the ringwraiths])

My problem here is that the magicians would be more akin to Istari than anything. There is nothing that compares to the power of th ooH in Middle earth except for a few elves that use their powers in extremely limited ways, and the Istari. Magic is much more subtle, akin to mythic herbalism and similar abilities, not the Te+Fo of the OoH.

So, while the cosmology might be similar (and I agree that it is similar enough to be transportable with no changes), I think hermetic magicians will not fit well there.

Regarding the supernatural, you will find quite a few Magic auras (Fangorn, old woods). Fae auras will be related to the elves and the Shire, nature oriented people. I would not put divine auras anywhere except temples and infernal auras in orc-infested areas.


I've only superficial knowledge of Tolkein, but as I see it:

I agree there is no problem identifying God/Satan with their Middle Earth counterparts. The good wizards (Gandalf e al) are essentially angels, although they may be considered to be Divine spellcasters I guess. The bad guys draw on Infernal magic, including Corrupting the arts of the good guys (Saruman), demons (ringwraiths), and more. It fits rather well.

I don't think Middle Earth can be a part of the Magic Realm, however. It needs to be a place with Divine and Infernal practitioners and auras, which is opposed to it being a part of any Realm proper. It is very clearly an alternate "Earth", so if you would include it you would need to extend the Ars Magica cosmology into a multiverse. I would certainly allow travelling to another land - like Middle Earth - through any of the Realms - through the Twilight Void of the Magic Realm, or through the dream-lands of Arcadia in Faerie, perhaps. Something like that. This is a major change in Ars Magica cosmology, but can be done seamlessly; I see no problem adopting it.

A bigger problem is the power level disparity. Hermetic wizards are just so much more powerful than their Middle Earth counterparts. But then again, Hermetic magi are too powerful for the vanilla Mythic Europe setting as well, in my opinion. I will just let the magi run around dominating the "hedge wizards" and Divine practitioners much like they do in Mythic Europe. The only thing I might change is the Magic Resistance scores - I'd generally bump them up for Middle Earth creatures against the "foreign" magic Hermetic magi bring to bear. That will keep them vulnerable to the local "hedge wizards", while still keeping their MR significant for Hermetic magi to care about it.

Have fun playing it out,


True Middle-earth is an alternate earth. Actually the multiverse idea would be more plausible so I think i'll go with that, Basically The Pc's (One Maga and her Grog companions get sucked through the Twilight Void when a Massive Ritual spell is badly botched. They wake to find themselves within a fearsome, forboding Forest (Fangorn or Mirkwood). Eventually they learn that they have been sent to a world quite similar to their own yet different, like an alternative Earth of something.

To help the Magic power problem most of our players will be Grogs with only the one Maga as a PC. Though her magical power would rival the supernatural powers of the maia she is but one individual so things shouldn't fall into chaos too much.

Now the question is how should the Races of Middle-earth be classified. Elves/Dwarves were made in the same vein as humans in mythic Europe so they would basically be mundane with small amounts of magic and Divine interlaced in their blood. Orcs, Balrogs, Various spawns of Melkor, Dragons and the Nazgul are obviously Infernal. Hobbits, Ents, Trolls im not sure. Entwives are a folk lore so they should be Faerie.

Any ideas?


Elves: Faerie. Imladris and Lothlorien have strong auras and shrouded glens. Anduril is so linked to human stuff that marks it as a faerie item 100%. Some other elven items might be magical or faerie as you see fit.

Fangorn, ents, tom bombadil: magic

Istari: Divine (infernal for the fallen Saruman)

Nazgul, sauron, balrog, dragons: infernal

Dwarves: mundane. Just another kind of being. Not only humans need to be mundane. Touched by magic. (Item creation)

Hobbits: mundane (same as dwarves). The whole shire has a low faerie or magical aura. Pungent colors and pleasant to live in acording to the texts.

Trolls: magical.
Wargs: mundane, magical or infernal. They are just bad tempered large wolves
Crebain: infernal.


Alright here's a few points I've designed for Arda's place within the Ars Magica Cosmos for this Saga.

  1. Arda is an alternative version of Earth located somewhere within the multiverse.
  2. Eru is Arda’s version of God
  3. The Maia and Valar are Arda’s version of the Divine Angels
  4. Morgoth is Arda’s version of Satan
  5. Morgoth’s spawn and creations are his infernal legions.
  6. The Elves/Humans and Dwarves were all created by Arda’s god.
  7. Normal magic within Arda is much rarer and more subtle. Due to this the Maga will be treated with high regards thanks to her powerful magic abilities (If the Gift doesn't effect mundanes like it does on the normal earth). If it does most non-magical citizens will shun her. Elves and mabye Dwarves should treat her welcomly though as they have inherit magical powers (subtle though they may be).

Edit: Oops your post hadn't registered when I was typing this Xavi. Thank you for the insight though. :slight_smile:

I had posited a setting where Eru was the axis mundi of the cave of twisting shadows who created a new universe after actually escaping the prison of time.

Hmm interesting. You wouldn't happen to have a post link by any chance?

It was nothing that I wrote out. I was thinking about a setting that was familiar to my players but where they would feel less concern about historical accuracy (my players are more concerned with such things than I am and I find it frustrating, particularly because I've read much more on medieval history and culture than any of my players).

My plan was that Tulkas, Melkor and company were magi who escaped with the axis mundi. Sauron was an apprentice to Morgoth and they had a different immortality virtue than the others. By the end of the second age none of the original magi could leave their aura in the west without instantly being destroyed by the effects of aging. Five new apprentices are trained and sent across the sea in white ships loaded with books. They are to set up a covenant (Isengard) and contest with the enemy. (My PC's)

I would say high elves are divine since they can oppose the Ringwraiths with the power within them. Wood or twilight elves would be closer to fairy. Especially how they are described in the Hobbit.

IMHO, Tom bombadil is a Maiar or Valar that first descended to the world before anyone else or was created with the world.

I think you would have a hard time getting away from the divine/infernal unless you just mixed them a bit. Magic covers both divine and infernal applications. Or it is all magical and only the how you use it makes it divine or infernal.

I would personally say screw it, regarding the cosmology. However you can do the whole Wheel of Time thing (ages pass and are forgotten) as Tolkien was fairly adamant that he set Middle Earth as a fictional history of our world. So Ritual Magic going wrong kicks everyone back in time by 20,000 years or so and guess what the histories were wrong. By our time elves connected to the Divine all headed West on their ships ie. have all gone off to heaven or instead they completely reverted to faerie, along with the hobbits and surviving orcs and trolls freed of the influence of Sauron and Morgoth. Hell turns out to be where Morgoth was imprisoned and by the 1200’s a lot of other demons are also imprisoned there but they are not held as securely and can be summoned or escape.

Realms and Species

Like genies in Ars Magica the question here is of chosing sides, however unwillingly.

All the spirits in the book start off as divine servants of greater or lesser might. When Morgoth turned against the scheme, he and his followers (varied balrogs, vampires, werewolves are mentioned) chose to be infernal. Some of the various spirits were tasked to look after nature, those would either fit best as Faerie creatures like Tom Bombardil or as elementals spirits of magic like the spirit of the mountain that summons a storm to drive the Fellowship off Caradhas (I never bought that it was Saruman behind that storm like the movies say).

All the creatures twisted by Morgoth and Sauron would fall under the infernal, so orcs (corrupted elves), trolls (corrupted ents) and fell beasts (corrupted great eagles). With orcs and trolls at least I have read implications that greater and lesser demons took their shapes under the direction of morgoth and ruled them. As an example all of the giant spiders are of the brood of Ungoliant which was the greater demonic spider spirit who helped and then betrayed morgoth. Of course all undead fall under infernal too.

Creatures of the wild like certain of the Rohanic horses and the great eagles would have magic might, I would even say the watcher in the water would be a creature of magic rather than infernal, as it doesn’t appear to me to be evil but immoral. The Ents and their more mobile trees would have faerie, verging on dark faerie for those who hate men.

Following this pattern Elves can be divided into those who went West and those who did not. Those who went west, the Noldor, use the divine as can be seen in Glordindel in Frodo’s vision of his from the otherworld. Those who do not seem to have power over animals, and nature and would therefore fit under faerie powers best. Rivendell itself is meant to be a hidden valley that most cannot find, so it would be a regio.

Humans can be divided into those who have the blood of Numenor/Dunedain who are descended of both Noldor and godly blood and so have Divine connections, as shown by the perks in healing allowed to the rightful King. Those who have remained independent, like the Beornings and men of Rohan who use magic, especially the Beorning shapeshifters. Finally those who have fallen under the sway of Sauron, the Southrons and Easterlings whose shamans would use infernal methods.

Dwarves pretty much avoid all magic except for enchanting items.

Incantation is used on a minor level by a number of characters in the books you wouldn’t think of as even hedge magicians, Sam and Frodo calling on a name of power when fighting off Shelob for example, acts to force her away, which would be an example of Faith at work. Tom Bombadil’s rhymes are more powerful spells of binding that he used both to send the awakened tree back to sleep, and to banish wights in the barrowdowns, he also uses other rhymes to help the hobbits, in effect healing them of the infernal curse they were under. At a more minor level both Saruman and Wormtongue use poisonous words to far more effect than would be expected without a talent.

The healing hands of a king, the only one who could effectively use that herb to heal the breath of a Nazgul (can’t remember which) made me always assume that just as much power came from the (Divine appointed) office of the King as came from the herb. You also have ent droughts, giving permenant bonuses to all the physical characteristics.

During the chase in Moria, Gandalf wards a door reinforcing it, and the Balrog breaks the door down overcoming his warding level. During the siege of Minas Tirath the Witch King Nazgul uses an enhancement spell to break the gates down by timing his spells with the strikes of a battering ram Gram (which was obviously a preenchanted siege weapon).

Working with these themes, magicians can perform the more powerful effects only by utilising physical objects, and which obviously leads to a strong tradition in magical items creation and brewing potions. The most powerful spells cast without tools all appear to be mind affecting.

As you are planning a Third Age story, presumably before Sauron becomes openly the enemy, then he would really love to recruit your maga. Hey here is a lovely powerful focus ring he’s got on special offer in return for her teaching some of his friends.