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Nine Sessions Of The One Ring Written In TV Guide Style

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While cleaning up some old DVDs I found possibly the best episode summary ever written by a human being:

Londo summons his three wives to Babylon 5 so he can divorce two of them, Talia gets a visit from her obnoxious ex-husband - the only man ever to leave the PSI Corps… and Delenn has her first bad hair day.

(Babylon 5, season 2, episode7, if you’re interested.)

It’s delightfully absurd, but it also immediately reminded me of the episode which I haven’t seen in at least a decade. And it got me thinking: if the episode summary format can be that entertaining and still remind me of events that happened a long time ago, maybe it’s a good format for session notes from RPGs.

So I started writing up each session of our The One Ring Darkening of Mirkwood game in the style of a TV guide. It’s not a perfect fit since I wanted a little more detail and include spoilers for how it turned out. But for the most part it works and it’s a joy to write. Writing one of these each week and then sending it to our group chat the day before the game has become a standard part of my toolkit, even as we’ve switched systems.

Here’s what they look like:


Frar’s party at the Easterly Inn causes trouble for everyone. Atanagild and Arundhel kick in doors and fail to understand contracts. Meanwhile Hergrim learns a lesson about who can be trusted and Hob becomes a short order chef.

Later, the fellowship chases and is chased by wargs leading to a fight with the final stone troll in Mirkwood.


Hob sings in an elven glee club. Hergrim hums along in Dale. Arundhel shares the wealth and ponders killing Thanduil to be even higher standing. While we were partying, Atanagild studied the axe. No one wants to go back to the Greydelve.

Later Thranduil sends the fellowship to Woodman town represent him at the Festival of Lights. Despite a summer snow storm from the Grey Mountains they arrive in time for the festival, but in the celebration the lamp is stolen but the fellowship tracks the thieves to The Skybridge Tree where the Werewolf of Mirkwood has them cornered.

Meanwhile Arundhel is a silly elf, but not a conjurer of cheap elves.


The fellowship does battle with the Werewolf of Mirkwood. When Hob grabs the Lamp of Balthi a Nazgul is drawn to the battle, but in the light of the lamp the forces of shadow flee.

After they return to Woodland Hall the fellowship tries to make peace between the wayward elves and woodmen, but nobody responds to push ups or axes.

Later, Hergrim is summoned back to Dale… for a surprise birthday party!


The fellowship gets an invite from Rhadagast to come to Rhosgobel, but on the way they meet weapon smugglers and Arundhel falls in love. Again.

When the fellowship arrives with the smugglers at Woodman Town things get tense with Atturmund. The Fellowship has to find a way to convince him not to point the smuggled weapons at Thranduil’s Halls.

When they finally arrive at Rhosgobel Rhadagast is not quite as they remembered him, but he has news of where the captives from the raids have been taken… to Fenbridge Castle!

The Fellowship sets out to try to intercept the captives as they’re moved from Fenbridge Castle to Dol Goldur, but some goblins and wargs have other ideas.


The fellowship is beset by wargs, goblins, and orcs. Being outnumbered is a bad time, and Arundhel has a bad time.

When Rhadagast tells the part to continue to the Fenbridge Hob gets mildly fed up with wizards and the party decides the only way forward is disguised as the worst orcs.

While the fellowship saves the prisoners, Rhadagast somehow keeps the orcs busy (probably involving bird poo). Luck shines on Arundhel when he tries to pretend to be an orc.

Back in Rhosgobel the fellowship are named Heroes of the Wood!


The fellowship has to decide between dealing with a plague in the East Bite and a gold rush in the Mountains of Mirkwood. They decide to do what does the most good instead of what makes for the most Thranduil jokes.

On their way to the East Bite Hergrim finds the wight of Ulvar the Cruel, a Black Neumenorian. The lure of power in Ulvar’s barrow draws Hergrim in and leads to a battle with wights in the confines of the barrow.

In the East Bite the fellowship finds a sickness that gives wood-like growths. Since they left their ponies behind and therefore don’t have any horse dewormer they instead try to calm people, ease their suffering, and slow the spread.


Arundhel finds his elvish medicine can’t help the plague, but Hergrim yelling at people to stay home can. But while the fellowship tries to keep the plague under control a crow arrives with word of orcs on the march for the East Bite.

After a quick meeting with Ceawyn the fellowship heads to Dalath Nir to make a stand on the river. As the dust clears from their battle word arrives that this was just the scouts and more waves are on the way.


The fellowship makes a plan of action to defend Dalath Nir and turn back the orcs. Atangild’s foresight shows that a troll leads the next unit of orcs. As they await the battle the fellowship makes the most of the defenses they have, setting traps and establishing archery points.

After the troll knocks out Arundhel, Hob steps up to save his friend, though it turns out Arundhel just needed a bit of a pep talk from Atanagild. Hob manages to go a few rounds with the troll and eventually slay it. But as the party recovers Atanagild goes exploring in his bear form and find a nazgûl is coming


The final assault by the forces of Shadow on Dalath Nir brings a nazgûl to the fight. After many knees are taken and several brief faints the nazgûl is finally forced from its mortal form and it flees unclad leaving Dalath Nir safe.

But when the fellowship returns to Sunstead they must still contend with the plague. Hob and Arundhel both nearly succumb, but pull through. As they recover the fellowship takes care of their personal matters, with Atangild naming an heir, Hob becoming a mayor, and the Old Ford being very well guarded.

As the year comes to a close Hob and Atanagild are haunted by nightmares emanating from Mirkwood…

Sage LaTorra is a game designer and engineering manager at Google. You may know him from Dungeon World.

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