The Hobbit as DnD

In a way, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is the archetypal DnD adventure. A small (but not as small as you might think) group of homeless dwarves (plus one wizard and one reluctant burglar) travels through caves, forests, wildernesses, ruined cities, and pretty literal dungeons in search of treasure (yes, there’s a bit about reclaiming a lost kingdom, but it’s mostly about huge piles of treasure).

On their way to the treasure they must tangle with: goblins who capture (not kill) them, riddle-contests with subterranean weirdos, giant spiders, hostile elves (who put them in a dungeon), shape-changing bear-men keeping giant bees, locked doors, trolls, pseudo-helpful Men, and finally, a Dragon of such immense size, strength, ancient-ness, and wisdom that they have to sneak into his stronghold with a magical invisibility ring (after figuring out how to open the secret door that gets them access) and basically prod his ego until he reveals his secret weakness (because they’ve no chance of beating the dragon in an actual fair fight).

Some of the adventurers die. Some of them get rich & go home to retire. There’s a war, but it’s basically “off screen”, and the interesting bits of it are diplomatic, negotations and gathering of troops and that sort of thing.

It’s actually a perfect DnD adventure. There’s a minimum of plotting (find the treasure, defeat the dragon), and an enormous dungeon (the Wilderlands between The Shire and The Lonely Mountain) to explore, with sub dungeons like the goblin warrens under the Misty Mountains, and Mirkwood Forest. There are safe refuses like Rivendell, Beorn’s house, and Lake Town.

And how many times do the dwarves solve their problems by fighting? They don’t even have any weapons till they find the magic swords (Thorin has to fight the trolls with a burning stick). And aside from a couple of magic swords, some bows and knives, they really don’t do much fighting. Bilbo does far more, stabbing giant spiders with Sting.

All their other problems they solve with improvised weapons, or by talking their way out of it, or getting somebody else to exploit the weakness they talked somebody into revealing.

Textbook DnD right there!

P.S. After writing the above something was tickled in my memory & I did a quick search; I’m sure I read the posts by Hydra’s Grotto and Rise Up Comus at some point in the past. Read them, they are great!


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This page last updated: 2019.01.12