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August 10, 2003 - August 16, 2003

8-16-03 Latest News

The Boyd Experience in Edinburgh
Xoanon @ 10:09 pm EST

Boyd in Edinburgh

Ahriell writes: Last night I went to see the play "San Diego" by David Greig, in which Billy Boyd stars. It is on at the Edinburgh Royal Lyceum Theatre for a few days. The play was very good, quite a challenging play to watch, but well worth sticking with. After the play I took my chances and waited for a bit in the theatre bar, and oh God was I rewarded!

The cast, including Billy Boyd arrived in the bar and I summed up all the courage I could, shaking like a leaf, I walked up to Billy and introduced myself. I told him briefly about the Scottish Fellowship, and he was interested and said to me that he would put his bags down somewhere, grab a drink and come back to speak to me!

On his way he was "attacked" by about a dozen teenager fans, LOL, but 20 mins or so later, when he had dealt with them, I saw him looking around the bar, seeing me and waving at me, and then he came over to where I was sitting. I explained to him about the dvd parties we have and the auctions we organise to raise money for a charity, and he was more than happy to sign the various cards I had brought along. In total he signed 6 items, 2 I will keep for myself, and 4 will be auctioned to the Scottish Fellowship members! He was so sweet and friendly!

I showed him my cool Scottish Fellowship card, and he said "I like it!!!" He seemed impressed to hear about the fact that we have 120 members worldwide including Brian Sibley and Bret McKenzie (aka Figwit)!

We took a photo (attached) and off he went. A little while later, he was leaving, but just before he left the bar he turned around and waved goodbye to me!!!!! I am soooooo happy about having met him. He is the first main cast member of lotr I have ever seen in the flesh, and I can now fully understand all the reports I have read over the past months from other people with similar experiences. Awesome!

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Demosthenes @ 12:38 pm EST

Frodo and Sam make their escape from Cirith Ungol. Not a moment too soon as the Nazgul appear and the alarm sounds. But have they simply leapt from the frying pan into the fire? What follows is a gruelling trek through the Morgai and across the Plains of Gorgoroth.

RoTK - Book Six, Chapter Two: The Land of Shadow

Through a chance encounter with a pair of orcs, Frodo and Sam discover that they haven't even been able to shake Gollum. Their situation becomes desperate, and they take to the road in an effort to get to Mt Doom before Frodo's strength fails him entirely.

Risky stuff, and it almost all goes wrong as the pair are accidentally press ganged into Sauron's army. Join us this weekend in the Hall of Fire as we discuss the final gripping stages if Frodo's and Sam's Quest. We'll also be sure to touch on the cultural and hierarchical aspects of orc society and how Mordor managed to keep function whilst being utterly desolate.

Upcoming Topics:
August 23-24: Colours in Tolkien's World.


Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 3:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Having trouble working out a time zone near you? Try this.

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net. And don't forget that you can check out previous chats here.

LoTR Risk News
Demosthenes @ 5:43 am EST

TORn Staffer Ostandan recently spotted this post from someone who works for Hasbro on the usenet group rec.games.board about what's happening with Risk for Return of the King.

Subject: Re: Attn Rob D.: LOTR Risk news
Newsgroups: rec.games.board

Sorry to disappoint you but it will NOT be a two-player expansion. The new game will replace the game on shelf. It will have two more panels to the game to incorporate Gondor and Mordor. It will have a third deck of territory/adventure cards. It has a totally rewritten rulebook. It has new rules for "Alliance Play" and "Team Play". It cleans up confusion on the cards. It clarifies rules in the game. It contains more pieces to account for the larger number of spaces.

The only thing I have not been able to do is figure out to get just the pieces you need if you already own the first version. Unfortunately, you would need:

Then I realized that you need the first two card decks since the copy has been clarified and modified. Then I realized that the card backs will be blue, not red, so you need all three decks. (The blue is keeping with the ROTK style guide and to ensure that the correct decks are put in the game on the assembly line.)

I also realized that the vacuum-formed tray is different to account for the larger number of pieces and cards.

So the only thing that carries over is the ring and the dice. Everything else is significantly new.

So it is a re-release. On shelf in December.

Hasbro Games

8-15-03 Latest News

LOTR Game "Movies" Reviewed
Osyen @ 7:47 pm EST

Hugh Hancock, the Artistic Director at Strange Company recently sent us an email about the 'movies' in the Two Towers Playstation game:

'We've got something kinda unique for you: "games from films" site
Machinima.com reviews not the gameplay but the "movies" in the Two
Towers Playstation game.

Machinima.com is a site focused on movie-making in computer game
engines. In this review, we're looking at the way that the game blends between real footage from the Lord of the Rings movies and the "Machinima" footage from the game - Lord of the Rings moments created inside the PS2's graphics engine.

Here's an excerpt:

"As far as how it stands as an extension to the films, "Two Towers"
does digress from the plot of the films at times, in order to fit in more battles, but is otherwise fairly faithful. The "flashback" plot
mechanism is very nice, and gives the game a subtly different story arc, but the game
creators do occasionally seem to be struggling to find enough action
from the films to fill out their game. However, there's nothing that really stands out as blatantly changing the story or feel of things, Gandalf's use of very "computer game" magic in one of the levels and the "Suicide Bomber Orc" characters notwithstanding."'

Find the review [here]

Ardan Nights
Osyen @ 7:21 pm EST

Hail and well met all!

[Ardan Nights]
is a project which is dedicated to bringing a Middle-earth, that strictly adheres to Tolkien's works, to Neverwinter Nights.

The project has been running for over four years. And
progress has steadily been made. We hope to go live with
our first module, Bree-land before the end of the Summer.

Bree-land encompasses the areas of Bree and the surrounding
lands, including the Barrow Downs, South Downs, Old Forest,
Midgewater and the Weather Hills. This comprises of roughly
151 16x16 areas and also 164 interiors.

But this is not all, that we have accomplished in the last
year since NWN was released, major customisations have been
made to the engine, with our own set of classes and races and
replacing the NWN magic system with our system of Songs.
There has been other custom content made ranging from a
complete selection of new PC heads, relevant monsters
and creatures from Middle-earth to a new tileset.

We are dedicated to an all encompassing Role-playing
environment, so our work is not only geared to the
adventurers, much work has gone into more "normal"
professions in Middle-earth, including craftsmen and

We recently relaunched our website with a completely new
design, which is hopefully easier to navigate and easier
for a visitor to find the relevant information that they
may be looking for.


Head of Council for Ardan Nights

LOTR trivia game testimonial
Osyen @ 6:45 pm EST

Good morning! I don't know if you've seen this trivia game that Fantasy Flight Games has produced, but it is excellent! My husband got a copy for his birthday yesterday and we played it last night until far too late. :) I'm a huge LOTR fan and a huge trivia fan, and this game satisfied both aspects completely!

The questions are very specific, for one thing, which I really enjoy. They're often taken word for word from Tolkien's text. And there's a good range from mildly difficult to bang-your-head-against-the-wall stumpers. Best of all, you can customize the game depending on how skilled the players are! Each question has 4 multiple choice answers, one of which is right and one of which is in brackets. If you want an easy game, you skip the answer in brackets so the person only has 3 answers to choose from. If you want it a little harder, you offer all 4 answers for the person to choose from. And for the real expert, you can just read the question, without giving the possible answers at all... :)

There's also a game board and tokens, if you want to play the actual game instead of just firing questions at each other. :) I'm not usually impressed with game boards for trivia games, because they often seem contrived and pointless, but in this game, they really do quite a good job of recreating the challenges involved in the quest of the book. And it's illustrated by Ted Nasmith, so it's visually stunning as well.

You take the role of Frodo, and the game board shows all the major locations you go through on your quest. You have to pay "resource" tokens to move to the next area (fighting tokens, walking tokens, One Ring tokens), and when you get there, you have to answer trivia questions or pay more resources or both. There are also gift tokens, which you can use to counteract the effect of getting a question wrong or having to pay extra resources. Slightly convoluted to explain, but once you're into the game, it flows very smoothly and is quite intuitive in its rule structure.

If your only exposure to LOTR is the movies, you're probably in for a frustrating time, because so many of the questions are nit-picky about something that was only mentioned once in the book (i.e. the name of Nimrodel's lover.) But if you've read the books at least once or twice, you'll enjoy this game a lot. And if you've read them more than 4 times, you'll really enjoy this game a lot. :) HIGHLY recommended, and apparently it's now available in game stores. It's certainly made it to the Greater Toronto Area!

Here's a link to the game-maker's site. http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/lotrtrivia.html


Osyen @ 6:20 pm EST

Rob Daviau from Hasbro Games recently responded to a post on Usenets Rec.games.board inquiring about a Lord of the Rings RISK expansion pack. This is what he had to say:

"Sorry to disappoint you but it will NOT be a two-player expansion.
The new game will replace the game on shelf. It will have two more panels to the game to incorporate Gondor and Mordor. It will have a third deck of territory/adventure cards. It has a totally rewritten rulebook. It has new rules for "Alliance Play" and "Team Play". It cleans up confusion on the cards. It clarifies rules in the game. It contains more pieces to account for the larger number of spaces.

The only thing I have not been able to do is figure out to get just
the pieces you need if you already own the first version. Unfortunately, you would need:
The new board
The new rulebook
The third card deck
All the pieces again (since they are bagged in one bag, we can't just send the extras)

Then I realized that you need the first two card decks since the copy has been clarified and modified. Then I realized that the card backs will be blue, not red, so you need all three decks. (The blue is keeping with the ROTK style guide and to ensure that the correct decks are put in the game on the assembly line.)

I also realized that the vacuum-formed tray is different to account
for the larger number of pieces and cards.

So the only thing that carries over is the ring and the dice. Everything else is significantly new.

So it is a re-release. On shelf in December."

LOTR Trailer Music
Xoanon @ 10:27 am EST

Much of the success for the Lord of the Rings trailer campaigns can be attributed to the great musical cues used in each trailer.

The first Web-only preview for 'Fellowship of the Ring', assembled by The Cimarron Group and downloaded more than a million times the first day it appeared on www.lordoftherings.net, boasted a Middle-earth-shattering cue fashioned after Karl Orff's 'Carmina Burana', a piece called "Gothic Power" by Christopher Field. (The same music was used in the final theatrical trailer and various tv spots).

'The Two Towers' trailer then used another original reorchestration, this time by Dan Nielsen based on Clint Mansell's "Requiem for a Dream" score.

A Report From Middle-Earth!
Demosthenes @ 10:06 am EST

Ringer Shalane recently went on a Red Carpet Tour. Between July 28th to August 8th, Shalane had the opportunity to wander New Zealand visiting many of the sets where the filming for Lord of the Rings occured.

I have just returned from a twelve-day tour of Middle-Earth (aka New Zealand) with the Red Carpet Movie Tour Company organized by Vic James. Our group of fourteen came from the US, the UK, Wales, Scotland, and Australia. Although this was the middle of New Zealand winter, the grace of the Valar gave us lovely weather, with only one or two overcast days.

I must say, this trip exceeded my wildest expectations! (And I had some pretty wild expectations, let me tell you!) It was, in a word, incredible! Vic has done an extraordinary job in researching the exact locations where filming took place, sometimes finding them himself by questioning the locals (many of whom worked as extras in the films), sometimes using Ian Brodie's locations book, and sometimes by sheer determination and persistence.

Rather than a day-by-day detailed diary, I will list some of the places we visited, occasionally adding a comment. I do not wish to spoil the many surprises for those who might be going on a tour soon. So if you do not wish to know anything about the tour itinerary, STOP READING NOW!

Mount Doom

Locations from "The Fellowship of the Ring":

Locations from "The Two Towers":

Other notables: We stayed in many of the same hotels and ate at the same restaurants that the cast did. You can see the autographed T-shirts and the signed hotel registers on display. We also met many people who were extras (usually nasty orcses!) and who were willing to share their experiences. We got to see much of New Zealand since the tour took us from Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington in the North Island to Christchurch, Te Anau, and Queenstown in the South Island.

This is the journey of a lifetime, folks! I cannot speak highly enough of Vic James and Red Carpet Movie Tours for putting this together for LOTR fans. For those on the December tour including the Premier of ROTK in Wellington, I am envious! Read the books, see the movies, and now, visit Middle-Earth yourselves! Elendil! - Shalane.

8-14-03 Latest News

Jon Labrie Speaks at Content World
Xoanon @ 11:51 am EST

Beh sends this in: Jon Labrie, former CTO at Weta Digital - who masterminded the digitalarchitecture behind the Lord of the Rings films.

Meet the Tech Wizard Behind Lord of theRings at Content World 2003

Jon Labrie, former CTO at WetaDigital - who masterminded the digital architecture behind the Lord of theRings films - is looking forward to meeting you at Content World in LA. Jon will be drawing on his experience with Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema to discuss the process of creating content for multiple delivery systems: film, DVD and Web, as well as examine the logical progression to his new venture, Kedidi Wireless.

Jon's keynote presentation, "Something in the Air: Content for a Mobile Audience" is at10:30am on Wednesday, October 8.

To see the full agenda, and takeadvantage of early bird registration click here.

8-13-03 Latest News

Bad News For HBO Ole Watchers
Xoanon @ 12:28 pm EST

Cinthia writes: I'm here to give a terrible news to all Latinamerican fans. Once again we receive a dissapointment. HBO Ole without any explanation has cancelled the showing of the extended LotR-FotR, they will show only the theatrical version. They even have erased the last paragraphs in their site which stated that it was going to be the extended one.

So, Peter Jackson, if you hear us through TORN, could you say something to New Line so the distributors in the Latin American region could produce a region 4 DVD or at least could the region 1 DVD have subtitles in Spanish?

8-12-03 Latest News

Ringers Documentry Update
Xoanon @ 6:16 pm EST

Ringers Needs your help!

Wanted : Atlanta Based Production Sound Person -- August 29 - Sept.1st at Dragon Con Must have experience. (College experience is OK.) Must be over 18. We need a boom operator for our interviews at Dragon Con. We'll be shooting field/ENG style but may do a few sit down interviews. We will provide the equipment, but if you have your own, that's great too. Sense of humor a must! Presently, pay is on a deferral basis only. Meals and parking fees will be provided. Contact: ringers@theonering.net

Please check out the Help Wanted section for ways in which you can help the Ringers production or to be featured in the film.

Ringers Traveling to Dragon Con

The Ringers crew will be heading to Atlanta for the America's largest sci-fi and fantasy convention, Dragon Con ; held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis from August 29th to Sept. 1st, 2003.

While Dragon Con will not see a return of the infamous Comic Con Ringers Confessional , we'll be hanging around TheOneRing.net's fan table and getting lots of great footage of Ringers in costume. We'll also be giving two seminars about Ringers: Lord of the Fans and the history of Tolkien fandom in the Tolkien track. Times and particulars to follow! [More]

Mortensen Gallery Exhibit in LA
Xoanon @ 2:48 pm EST

Robin sends this in:

New exhibition in September at the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles!
Viggo Mortensen
September 13 - November 1, 2003

"Miyelo" is comprised of a series of large-scale, panoramic photographs of a Lakota Ghost Dance. They record a re-creation of the dance that was originally performed by members of Chief Big Foot's band on December 29, 1890 near Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota. These long exposures represent what was intended as a hallucination by a veteran of the Wounded Knee Massacre, as shot in the California Desert in March 2003 for the movie "Hidalgo." The intent was to capture the event as a delirious remembrance, an ephemeral dream. The artist hopes these images might illustrate his belief that regardless of the context of any specific time or place, "we communicate, at best, as outlines and silhouettes to each other; blurry vanishing tracings of what we really see, feel and mean."

There will be no reception or book event in association with the exhibition. Viggo has requested that calls to the gallery be limited, with emails preferred. I hope people will respect his wishes and not contact the gallery as they do not have a large staff and all the information regarding the gallery and the exhibition is already available on their website. [More]

Perceval Press is publishing a large format book to accompany the exhibition. It will be available for purchase beginning September 13th.

What Happens When FIGWIT Comes Over...Again?
Xoanon @ 12:40 pm EST

What Happens When FIGWIT Comes Over...Again?

Ahriell writes: After a very busy week of preparations for the party punctuated by frequent trips to Edinburgh to catch various shows, including Flight of the Conchords (Bret mcKenzie, aka Figwit's show at the Fringe Festival)... a few times, the weekend finally arrived. On Friday evening (the 8th august), Silien (Claire from Wales) arrived at Edinburgh airport where I was waiting for her, not wearing my pointy ears this time, but flaunting my Ian McKellen t-shirt (the one with the Gandalf drawing he made himself), and holding a "lovely" Scottish Fellowship banner. We met up and headed for Rivendell (my house in Dunfermline, a few miles north of Edinburgh). Silien helped me a lot with the final preparations.

Saturday morning, and I was up at 7.30am (don't ask me how I did it, I still don't know myself), and I did my housework, the shopping and the tidying up (the things you can do in an hour when you know you have visitors coming which include an Elf ;-). Then off to Dunfermline train station (the 1st of many similar trips that day) to pick up Sky (Roxane from London) who had just spent a whole night on a coach to join our party. What commitment!

Back to Rivendell, where Silien and Lady Sirion (Sheena from Glasgow) then arrived, and there was a lot of activity, and a lot of excitement at the prospect of Bret McKenzie coming too a little bit later.

Everything was set up, the barbecue, the weather which was glorious too, the Council of Elrond garden furniture arrangement on my patio, the Scottish Saltire bunting, the party games (they were: Pin the Pout on Figwit, The Battle of Helm's Darts and Nobody Tosses a Ballrog, LOL), the food, drinks, etc...

At 12.50 I drove again to Dunfermline train station to pick up our star guest. He got off the train, looking a bit bemused at the crowd of Celtic football supporters that got off too (there was a big game that day between Celtic and Dunfermline Athletics, and police everywhere, who thankfully were too busy checking out the footy fans to worry about an Elf and a mad SF woman walking around town), and we headed for Rivendell.

I was impressed at how well Bret remembered the area from last year, and arriving at Rivendell must have felt to him like coming home (I wish!!!)...

He was duly introduced to the other guests, and was immediately made to feel welcome: within seconds he had a drink in his hand, a burger in front of him, and Silien had shown him all the exciting auction goodies.

We had a fantastic time, chatting in a very relaxed atmosphere about the festival, the latest Scottish Fellowship members and news, last year's madness when he was here with not only 3 other kiwis, 10 SF members, a friend filming a doco, a journalist from the local paper with a photographer, but also a NZ TV-crew to boot... nothing like that this time around! It was more a question of enjoying the calm and sunny day, and the most stressful part of the day for Bret must have been deciding whether to have mustard or ketchup with his burger.

We played Irish Bingo, a very new and probably very strange experience for an Elf, we took some interesting photos, and then unfortunately it was time for Bret to leave, as he had an appointment back in Edinburgh to do an interview with Brian Logan of the Guardian newspaper.

All guests received a party bag, and Bret's included information about the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust: a video, some leaflets and a photograph of the group of 3 dolphins we sponsored first: PJ, Figwit and Tristan, which he was delighted to see. Imagine what you would do if you met you... as a dolphin (small in-joke inserted here for the people who have seen Bret and Jemaine's show)...

Bret and Jemaine's show at the Festival Fringe is doing extremely well. Audiences are growing in numbers every night, and I wouldn't be surprised if the last week was sold out. The new songs are amazingly good, and it is a nice touch for them to do requests... I never miss an opportunity to shout out for the Frodo song ;-)

After Bret left, the party went on! The auction was a resounding success (a huge thank you to all who placed bids, especially Silien who spent a fortune and must now be in talks with her bank manager now to re-mortgage her house!), and adding to that the money we made from the Irish Bingo and the "Nobody Tosses a Ballrog game", we have raised A STAGGERING 258 GBP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This means that we can sponsor another 2 dolphins, and a 3rd hopefully after the dvd party coming up on the 30th of August. We chose the following 2 names for the new dolphins: Haldir and Lorien.

We also did the caption competition, and the winners were: The Greenwood, Silien (she didnt get to vote for herself!) and Lady Nurlhawen. More details in another email soon.

In the evening we all went to Edinburgh to watch the Flight of the Conchords, and we all had a fantastic time. Silien even had Bret and Jemaine pose on stage for her camera! Hilarious moment!!! This photo, along with many more, will of course be on our new website (when it is launched soon), but in the meantime, I leave you with 4 photos: one of Bret with Lady Sirion, Silien and Sky, one of Bret and me, one of the 4 of us with friends ;-) and one of Flight of the Conchords, when they posed on stage for me one evening last week!

A very good time was had by all... I can't wait til the next party! But I'll be wanting a bit of rest first.

8-11-03 Latest News

Legolas' costume to feature in London exhibition
Xoanon @ 10:46 am EST

The costume worn by Orlando Bloom in his role as 'Legolas' in The Lord of the Rings trilogy is to feature in The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy - The Exhibition at the Science Museum in London.

The dazzling outfit - designed by Kiwi designer Ngila Dickson and featuring the Elf's famous bow and arrows - is expected to be one of the most popular exhibits.

The family exhibition opens on 16 September - before the eagerly awaited final instalment of the film trilogy and will be the only chance for European fans to explore for themselves the fantastic world created for The Lord of the Rings films.

Although some tickets will be available at the door when the exhibition opens on 16 September, advanced booking is strongly advised to avoid disappointment.

Visitors will be transported into the world of Middle-earth where they will be met by Frodo and his Hobbit companions, the wizards, the Black Riders, the cultures of Middle-earth and the fearsome warriors - all in the authentic costumes created for the films.

The fascinating exhibition includes:

- Demonstrations of special effects, including the combining of 'real' and 'digital' action and CGI (computer-generated-image technology)

- A scaling interactive allowing visitors to become Hobbit sized in a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring - and then buy a print of themselves

- A display on prosthetics including Hobbit feet, Orc teeth and the contact lenses used to give the Orcs their unique look

- Giant models including Hobbiton Mill, Treebeard and a cave troll

- An 'armour corridor' features twelve complete sets of armour including King Thťoden's from the The Two Towers. Weapons belonging to Arwen, Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn are also featured.

The exhibition culminates with a face-to-face encounter with the central icon from the films - the One Ring itself.

Tickets can be pre-booked on 0870 870 4868. The booking line is open from 8.30am-6pm. A booking fee applies.

Ticket Prices:

Monday - Friday: Adults £9.95, Children/Concessions £6.95
Saturday - Sunday: Adults £11.95, Children/Concessions £8.95

For more information visit The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy - The Exhibition media centre at: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/press/thelordoftherings

Jackson Loves 'Cabin Fever'
Xoanon @ 9:10 am EST

A Rep from Lions Gate Films writes:

After several sold out screenings of CABIN FEVER at the New Zealand Film Festival, several staffers of Peter Jackson's production company WETA Digital raved to Jackson about the film and it's young filmmaker Eli Roth.

Jackson was eager to see the film and who this new face of horror was. He immediately sent for a print of the film and shut down post production on LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING not once but twice to screen CABIN FEVER for the entire cast and crew to great response and summoned the stunned director to his offices.

Director Roth lunched with Jackson on the set after the screenings while Jackson complimented Roth on how he had not seen an American horror film like this in 20 years. During lunch, Jackson said he was pleased to see someone carrying on in the tradition of horror that Jackson had started his career in -- his early films include the cult classics DEAD ALIVE and THE FRIGHTENERS -- and gladly offered Roth a quote to use to promote the film - something Jackson has never allowed for a film of any genre. Roth was then paraded around the WETA Workshop and introduced to every single person who worked there where he was greeted enthusiastically.

"Brilliant! Fantastic! Horror fans have been waiting years for a movie like 'Cabin Fever.' I loved it!" Peter Jackson, Director of the "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy

8-10-03 Latest News

Games Day Chicago 2003!
Luthien @ 11:36 pm EST

TORn Staffer Balin was able to attend Games Day in Chicago this year. Here's his report:

Games Day Chicago 2003
Games Workshop, makers of the LOTR Tabletop Battle Game, brought their GamesDay event to Chicago this weekend. GamesDay is a celebration of all their tabletop battle games, which include Warhammer and Warhammer40K as well as LOTR. This was my first time at such and event.

My day began at 10 AM when I arrived. After buying my ticket I entered the world of tabletop war gaming. I wandered around looking at all the different tables that were set up. There were several dedicated to each of the games. Every table was richly decorated with buildings and scenery, the perfect place to play at war. Seven of the tables were set up for LOTR. The largest of these was set up for the battle of the Last Alliance. Sauron was there in the middle towering over the others. All the miniatures were beautifully painted and the sheer number of them made for a breathtaking panorama. It would be easy to get lost in playing on this game board. Several players did just that.

While this was the largest, Helmís Deep was the most complex and drew the most interest. I wandered about going to the store area to make my own purchases and take in all the other tables. I came back to the Helmís deep table and found the same players, Erik and Zak defending the walls and Russ and Brad just as diligently moving wave after wave of miniature Uruk Hai up ladders to take the battlements. There were Uruk Berserkers with a Ďnew deviltryí attempting to blow a hole in the walls. Warg Riders in the ready to enter the breach and attack the Rohirrim Riders garrisoned inside. I think they must have played for at least 90 minutes before they needed to move on to other business.

There was one table for the escape into Lorien. A couple tables were generic landscapes to use for almost any battle scene. The last table was the scenario at Amon Hen. I got lucky and was able to play this one. The object of the forces of Good (the fellowship less Gandalf) was to get the Hobbits to safety. Getting 3 or 4 to safety is a win. Getting 2 is a draw. One of the Hobbits that get to safety must be Frodo. The other characters are expendable. The Hobbits start out in the company of Boromir. The other characters are spread across the board. The Uruk Hai are in the middle. The game combines strategy with a bit of luck. You have to use strategy to give yourself an opportunity but you roll the dice and sometimes luck is not with you. In my case, I was lucky and got some really good rolls and all 4 Hobbits made it to safety. This game can suck you in. You find yourself getting pumped up when that crucial roll goes your way. It is a great experience and very exciting.

There was one seminar on the LOTR game. It was given by Gordon Davidson. He talked about what was coming up for the LOTR Tabletop Battle Game. He gave a slide presentation and the images were awesome. Most have been on the web but there were some new ones from the upcoming ROTK update. There were banner bearers and soldiers of Gondor. Most of the images were of the latest section called Shadow and Flame. This will be in stores in America in a week or so. For some reason I am particularly drawn to Balinís Guard. This is a box set and I canít wait to get it. There will be about 9 other box sets and 21 blisters. Shadow and Flame is a first departure from the movies. It introduces characters that are familiar to the books of JRR Tolkien and this will include The Hobbit (look for Smaug and the likes of Beorn in the future). While the movies are out it makes sense to stay with them but this game is not going away any time soon. After the third movie, ROTK, there will be even more added from the books. He also talked about what was coming out for ROTK. There will be box sets like the siege of Gondor and Heroes of the West. There will be much more in the way of scenery. This will be along the lines of the Helmís deep set that is out in conjunction with TTT. The image of the Fell Beast was great. It was a very tantalizing taste of things to come. I canít wait.

After the presentation I wandered back to the Gaming room and took in some of the other contests and tournaments going on. There was a speed painting contest area. A gaming area where you could test your skill against each other or some pros. I focused on LOTR but there was much more there. All the games were represented and the national Blood Bowl Tournament was in another room. The day passed quickly and soon it was time to leave. I had a great time and indulged in a little gaming. I know I will be back next year. I hope to see you there!

Balin bows.

WizardWorld Chicago 2003 Images
Xoanon @ 7:17 pm EST

More WizardWorld Chicago 2003 Images - Sean Poses

We've got two very detailed reports from WizardWorld 2003 which is currently wrapping up in Chicago at the moment.

The first is from Telcontar:

Yes, it was a comicbook convention, but the Chicagoland fans were thrilled to welcome Sean Astin to our home town yesterday. The line was already snaking through the convention floor when we arrived just after 10:00 a.m, and some attendees had to wait for the the second autograph session, but Sean was his usual personable self. Unfortunately, there were only autograph sessions: no question-and-answer sessions at this con. Sean however made everyone feel like there was plenty of time for everyone, chatting and joking with the crowd.

Last year, Sean had requested that LOTR fans become community volunteers in honor and memory of the 9/11 tragedy, and Chicago Fellowship answered the call by founding Pippinís Apples, to support local anti-hunger organizations. In appreciation of Seanís being the inspiration of this charity, we presented him with a green glass apple.

The Chicago Fellowship also gave Sean a copy of ďThe End of the Third AgeĒ by Christopher Tolkien, in which Sean was astonished to discover the fabled LOTR Epilogue. [Rather fitting as itís about Samwise Gamgee and his daughter, Elanor.]

Sean makes every minute count, and we were fortunate enough to get a group picture with him before he had to dash off to his next appearance. It was a wonderful and too brief time with the actor; we look forward to seeing him again!

The second is from Naomi:

I arrived at the Rosemont Convention center on Saturday, shortly after 3 pm. My first mission: to find the signing booth with Sean Astin (Sam). This was quite a challenge, but I finally received direction from some ladies whom I overheard mention his name. They told me that I would probably get no more than a glimpse of him, however, because the line was so long and earlier they had to turn people away. My spirits dropped significantly, but I couldnít just give up. Sean was the main reason I came for this convention (although I was glad I did for other reasons, as well... I met Star Wars actors Jeremy Bulloch and Leeanna Walsman), and I just had to meet him now.

I made my way back to his signing booth, and sure enough, the line was extremely long and pretty daunting. The security guard said that we probably wouldnít get up to him before his time was up, but I decided to hang around for a while anyway. Eventually, they officially "capped" the line, and it appeared that if I was patient, I would eventually get up there!

My waiting-in-line time is hardly exciting, so Iíll get to the good stuff :) My heart was pounding as I approached Samwise himself... but he was enthusiastic and really welcoming! I asked him if he could sign a few things for me, and he replied, "No!" We laughed and he said, "Thatís my new joke." I had a "Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide" for him to sign, and he drew an arrow pointing out Sam in the line of the Fellowship. He also signed my "Rudy" DVD, and a picture of Sam for my best friend. Sheís a huge fan as well. As he was signing my things, I thanked him for playing Sam in the films, because "...When I read the books Sam made me cry, and I when I watch the movies you make me cry..." and he chuckled and said something like, "Aaaaw, nah."

Iím afraid I was quite star-struck so I couldíve said more, and Sean, if youíre reading this, I meant to tell you Iím really looking forward to seeing your daughter in Return of the King! I think itís so cool that sheíll play his daughter in the movie, too. I also meant to ask him some questions, but my mind went pretty blank by the time I got up there. But he was so friendly and nice, and he gave his full attention to whoever was talking to him (which Iím sure was no easy task, with all the people and noise around him and in the line). I asked for a picture with him, and he was even patient when the camera didnít seem to be working for my little brother.

Then he asked, "Is this your boyfriend?" I thought he was referring to the cute guy behind me, but he was actually pointing to my brother I think. Oh well, then it was his turn. He told Sean he thought it was cool to meet him, and Sean said, "Well I think itís cool to meet you too!" My brother had a shirt with the Fellowship characters on it, and Sean pointed to Sam and said, "Look, thatís me!" I thought it was cool how he took the time to notice things like that Ė he commented on some of the things people had him sign, and a few T shirts. He signed my brotherís shirt and I took a picture of them.

And that was my moment with Sean Astin Ė others have said it before, Iíll say it again. Heís such a nice guy! It was really exciting to meet him in person. And the day I went, it was free, which was a relief. He didnít rush, and was really personal with everyone. Thanks Sean, youíre great! Definitely a day Iíll never forget.

[Click here to view all the WizardWorld 2003 Images]

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