Thursday, 31 May 2018

War of the Dwarves and Orcs

Hobby time has been neglected recently - good weather is a rarity in the north of England and a particularly fine May has seen me out and about in the local woods and mountains rather than hunched over a paintbrush like a proper nerd. I have also failed to find something to really inspire me, until now that is....

Lord of the Rings was my way into the world of fantasy. Many, many years ago I read the trilogy when I was still at school. It was one of the reasons I drifted into the world of fantasy gaming, though predominantly this was a Warhammer adventure. Lately, I have come to like the aesthetic of the Middle Earth miniatures more and more. I have a fairly haphazard collection of orcs, uruk-hai, Rohan and Dwarves - and enjoyed a few games of Strategy Battle Game and War of the Ring, as well as using the figures in games of Dragon Rampant. Now, I am developing a little ruleset of my own, and am building the system around a piece of lore that fits my collection. Welcome to this short article on the War of the Dwarves and Orcs.

The conflict started with the arrival of Smaug the dragon at the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Thror, King under the Mountain and his dwarf warriors were no match for the serpent and were forced to flee their stronghold, wandering the wilds until finally settling in Dunland. After twenty years of living in poverty, Thror set off with his friend Nar, to look upon the ancestral hold of Khazad-Dum, also known as Moria. Fearing it was occupied by orcs, Nar pleaded with Thror, but the old king was adamant and entered the former stronghold. For days, Nar kept watch at the east gate, until finally his worst fears were realised. Azog the Orc Chieftain had captured Thror, branded his head with his own name and tossed it out the gate. He allowed Nar to live, to return to his kinfolk to warn them to stay away from Moria. Nar delivered this message to Thrain, Thror's son, who brooded for a week before deciding his father should be avenged. And thus the war started, a simple tale of revenge and bloodshed.

Thrain travelled to the other six great dwarf houses, mustering a huge dwarf army over a period of three years. They then marched to war, systematically sacking and destroying every orc hold they could find in the Misty Mountains, from Gundabad in the north, to the Gladden in the south.

After six long years of battle, the War came to a climax at the Gates of Moria, where it had all started. Known as the Battle of Azanulzibar, it was here that Thorin gained his name Oakenshield, forced to use an oak branch when his shield shattered. It was only the late arrival of a contingent of dwarves from the Iron Hills that swung the battle for the dwarves. Nain the king of the Iron Hill dwarves was slain by the orc chief, Azog. It was Nain's son, Dain, who finally brought down the hated foe, swinging his red axe to decapitate the great brute. The orcs fled the battlefield. And thus the war that had started with a dwarf losing his head was ended with an orc decapitation!

The victory was bought at great cost to the dwarves. They had lost at least half of their force. There were so many dead that they were unable to bury them in tombs as was their tradition. Instead, they cut down the trees in the dale to build huge pyres to burn their fallen.

Thrain wanted to enter Moria to retake the fabled dwarf stronghold, but his companions had suffered too many losses. The dwarves returned home to their holds. Thrain and his son Thorin returned to wandering Dunland, while Dain returned as the new king of the Iron Hills. Their paths would meet again at Erebor in the Battle of Five Armies, as told in The Hobbit.

What a stirring tale! Epic in nature, with so many tales untold, so many battles to ponder over. This has really got my imagination fired. The hobby lull is most definitely over. Expect more dwarfish activity very soon.


Steven Williams said...

Sounds brilliant! Purely by chance, today I finished batch painting 96 Moria Goblins to further swell the horde.

MichaƂ Kucharski said...

Ah, fantastic story!!

Unknown said...

Hello Old Fogey,

Have your blog book marked and occasionally come for some inspiration and to invariably lament my lack of hobby time (two young boys and shift work). This post has a struck a chord; from a life long love of Tolkien to a love of wondering woods and mountains (Snowdonia within an hours drive for me!) . I think it may be finally time to start my own bog.

I am a serial reader and tinkerer of rules too, so would love to see what you have produced off the back of this epic story. I have a huge collection of lotr dwarves and orcs hibernating in the garage, this post may prove the catalyst (images in this blog are great) which brings them in to creation!

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your work and ideas,


Old Fogey said...


With a name like that, you have to start a blog about Lord of the Rings! Good luck with it, glad my ramblings have inspired a fellow hobbyist to start their own journey. The first step is the hardest, but to paraphrase, once you get on the road you never know where it might take you. Happy wandering.

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