I started this document back in 2007, and still have not finished it. It is, however, a little more complete than my page on Magic in Middle-earth, althouhg it has not been play tested any more than the magic page.
Faith in Middle-earth
In 2007 I began a campaign which I called The Age of Sauron. In it Sauron recovered his ring and promptly smashed the major population centres of Free Peoples of Middle-earth. I mention The Age of Sauron throughout this document, for this is what prompted its development, but these Faith rules should, I hope, be able to be used in any Age of Middle-earth. I began The Age of Sauron campaign as a result of a friend showing me the Midnight Campaign World for the D20 system. I'm no fan of D20 particularly, but some of the material (story wise) is great, and Midnight is one of those.
For the last few years I have taken great pleasure in messing with the history of Middle-earth, from a campaign that saw Galadriel claim the One Ring when Frodo offered it to her (using the Rolemaster Standard System), to an invasion of Gondor in the Fourth Age by Haradrim led by a Queen empowered by a fragment of the ancient Southern Lamp, Ormal (using RMSS again), to the defence and redemption of Doriath after the Girdle of Melian had been breached by a Balrog (using Amber Diceless), to this new campaign, The Age of Sauron (using Chivalry & Sorcery Rebirth, which is pretty much all I use now). Looking back, it seems shocking to me that I didn't think to do something like this before the sledgehammer prompt that was Midnight. So, thanks to Midnight, without which I probably wouldn't have thought about running a campaign in a Middle-earth ruled by Sauron.
In all of these campaigns I have struggled with magic and faith in terms of giving the players something they can use, enjoy and is not too restrictive, whilst remaining faithful to how magic and faith are Middle-earth. Until now, I have simply used the standard C&S magic and faith systems and made on the spot changes of that just isn't going to work in Middle-earth. But this is unsatisfactory when I like to be upfront with my players in terms of rules, so they know what is possible and what isn't, so we can all concentrate on the role-playing element of the game.
So, these rules are an attempt to build a workable solution to the issue of Faith in Middle-earth (I am trying to develop a tweak to the magic system, but it is slow going), whilst keeping true to Middle-earth, but using the Chivalry & Sorcery system. I may not have achieved this, but I hope it does some of it, and it can always be refined at a later date.
The purist Tolkienits among you will no doubt point out that the peoples of Arnor and Gondor had no priesthood, as Tolkien says himself in one of his letters, and the King filled the role of both ruler and priest for his people. And from a purist point of view I would not dare to argue with the Great Maker himself.
However, I would argue that an RPG game is more attractive with a priesthood. It's not necessary by any means, but it does add a BIT of colour to the game if nothing else. Hence this (incomplete) suite of documents.
Priestly Power in Middle-earth
What do the individual Valar stand for? And what are their Priests capable of?
These two questions demand answers if we are to build an idea of the kind of power faith can bring to the Middle-earth faithful.
Importantly it must always be noted that the Valar do not directly intervene in the everyday affairs of the peoples of Middle-earth in any shape or form. Not even in the trying times that are The Age of Sauron. They are simply not allowed to. So the Priests of the Valar do not channel power from their deity, as it is common for Priests to do in most campaign settings. The power Middle-earth Priest's use is a form of sub-creation and so the power is within them. To this end, and in Chivalry & Sorcery (C&S) terms, Priests of the Valar have more in common with traditional C&S mage-priest classes, like Druids, Shamans and Witches, rather than traditional C&S Christian-like, Priests, Monks or Clerics.
What effects a Priest is capable of is greatly determined by the Valar they worship. The below is of course only a guide, for if one takes the power to sub-create literally, then I guess you could argue that any of the Valar could attempt to do anything they could think of, given how Tolkien envisaged sub-creation:
Letter 155: To Naomi Mitchison...The basic motive for magia - quite apart from any philosophic consideration of how it would work - is immediacy: speed, reduction of labour, and reduction also to a minimum (or vanishing point) of the gap between the idea or desire and the result or effect...
As anyone can envisage, if not think of, an idea, then if one could sub-create then one could attempt any effect following on from that thought.
But there has to be some limits and I have chosen, logically hopefully, those limits to be what the Valar is most closely associated with, i.e.: Manwë with Wind and Authority, for example, and Ulmo with Water, etc. These limits are what really differentiate a Priest of the Ainur to a standard mage-Priest from C&S. Additionally, as Middle-earth is, on the face of it, a place where magic is rare and hard to come by, some spells listed are at a higher ML than presented in the standard C&S books, and Ainurian Priests only get certain spells when they achieve the appropriate ML (i.e.: they can only gain MR 5 spells once they have achieved ML 5), and then they must have learnt all the spells for MR 1-4 before being allowed to acquire the MR 5 spell. In the lives of Ainurian Priests, as with a lot of other things in Middle-earth, there is structure, and sometimes it is very rigid.
Eru - The Highest Power
He is God in the vein of the God of Catholic worship! However there are few peoples who worship Eru exclusively. Of course, most who worship the Ainur (except the servants of Melkor and Sauron) also give deep reverence to Eru, possibly even the same reverence. But worshipping Eru is probably more fruitless than worshipping any of the Valar, if only a touch. Eru cannot influence the world other than he already has, i.e.: allowing the Valar to dwell within the bounds of Arda as his messengers/servants and to do his bidding; nor can he allow his personal power to enter the world, for when he/it does HUGE things happen, such as the sinking of Númenor. The finite existence of Arda simply cannot contain the infinite power of Eru, so when he enters he enters only in part, and he does so very infrequently.
History of Middle-earth Volume 10 - Morgoth's Ring
ATHRABETH FINROD AH ANDRETH
(The Debate of Finrod and Andreth)
... Finrod, however, sees now that, as things were, no created thing or being in Arda, or in all Eä, was powerful enough to counteract or heal Evil: that is to subdue Melkor (in his present person, reduced though that was) and the Evil that he had dissipated and sent out from himself into the very structure of the world.
Only Eru himself could do this. Therefore, since it was unthinkable that Eru would abandon the world to the ultimate triumph and domination of Melkor (which could mean its ruin and reduction to chaos), Eru Himself must at some time come to oppose Melkor. But Eru could not enter wholly into the world and its history, which is, however great, only a finite Drama. He must as Author always remain 'outside' the Drama, even though that Drama depends on His design and His will for its beginning and continuance, in every detail and moment [my emphasis]. Finrod therefore thinks that He will, when He comes, have to be both 'outside' and inside; and so he glimpses the possibility of complexity or of distinctions in the nature of Eru, which nonetheless leaves Him 'The One'...
The Greater Powers
The Valar are worshiped across Middle-earth, but it is the Aratar (the High Ones of Arda) among them who tend to have more followers then their lesser brethren. However, even among the Aratar, in the trouble times of The Age of Sauron, two Valar gain more worship than all others.
Ulmo has never been able to distance himself from Middle-earth, and as he can travel all the waters of Middle-earth, there are few places he cannot achieve or gain some knowledge. Ossë and Uinen are servants of Ulmo and their love of Middle-earth has allowed Ulmo to maintain a constant presence, knowledge and contact with the people who have and continue to worship him.
Aulë is still honoured and worshiped by most of the Dwarven people, mainly those who still dwell in Ered Luin, and since there are probably more Dwarves free of Sauronic influence than of any other of the Free Peoples, Aulë still feels great strength of worship from Middle-earth. In The Age of Sauron the Dwarves of The Iron Hills are not so fervent in their belief in Aulë. Indeed they have very much turned away from the Valar, for they feel the Valar have turned away from Middle-earth, and more importantly the Dwarven people, and dwarves can be a stubborn race.
Of the rest, it is probably Varda that has the most active worshippers, for the few Eldar that are free still give her reverence above all others.
The other Valar, whilst they are still all honoured by those who know of them, it is only Oromë who has people who follow him, but those numbers are no doubt dwindling as Sauron increases his grip on the lives of those who dwell in Middle-earth.
The Lords of the Valar
Lord and ruler of Arda, he is the Elder King of the Valar. He is the Lord of Winds and Clouds, from the utmost borders of the Veil of Arda to the breezes that caress the grass. He is Master of the Air and Weather and all swift birds, strong of wing he loves, and they come and go at his command. He sees further than all others, through mists, through darkness and across the long leagues of the sea.
(aka: King of the Valar. Wind Lord. Master of the Air and Weather.)
Lord of all waters of Arda, and the one who dwells alone. He moves through all the deep waters of the Earth and under it. He keeps all Arda in his thoughts, but he seldom walks on the land and rarely takes form as his brethren. When he does it is as a Great King of the Ocean arising from the water and all who behold him are filled with dread. But he has never abandoned the people of Middle-earth.
(aka: Ocean Lord. Master of the Waters.)
Lord of all the substances of which Arda if made. The fashioning of the Lands was his labour and he is a mighty smith and master of all crafts, from the smallest jewels to the mightiest mansions.
(aka: The Smith. Master of the Earth. Lord of Crafts. Maker of Mountains. Maker of Dwarves. Also called Mahal.)
Most dreadful in anger and he loves the lands of Middle-earth, leaving them reluctantly. He is a hunter of monsters and fell beasts and delights in horses and hounds, and all trees he loves.
(aka: The Huntsman. Tamer of Beasts. Forest Lord. Master of the Wilds. Hornblower. Also called Araw, Aldaron or Tauron.)
Keeper of the Houses of the Dead and summoner of the slain. He forgets nothing and knows all things that shall be. He pronounces dooms and judgments at the bidding of Manwë.
(aka: Master of Spirits. Keeper of the Dead. Doomsmaster. Lord of the Halls of Waiting. Also called Namo.)
The Master of dreams and visions and his gardens are the fairest of all in Arda and many spirits dwell there.
(aka: Dream Master, Lord of Visions, Lórien.)
Greatest in strength and deeds of prowess. He delights in wrestling and in contests of strength. He can outrun all things that go on feet, and he is tireless. His weapons are his hands. He gives no heed to the past or future, is no counsellor, but is a hardy friend.
(aka: Champion of the Valar.)