Winter in Middle-earth


There are plenty of locations in Middle-earth that have wintery conditions that could be hazardous to any brave enough venture there, as well as two extremely harsh winters that occurred in the past. The rules presented here could be added to scenarios and games to represent these severe cold conditions.

The Fell Winter of F.A. 495/496 was especially long and bitter, with ice and snow from November to March. It came immediately after the Fall of Nargothrond, hindering both Túrin's journey to Dor-lómin and Tuor and Voronwë's to Gondolin.

The next extreme winter of note happened between November T.A. 2758 and March 2759 and covered Eridaor, Dunland, and Rohan.

In T.A. 2758, Easterlings and Dunlendings (led by Wulf) attacked Rohan from both the north-west and east; not only was Gondor unable to help due its war with the Corsairs, but the Dunlendings were strengthened with the enemies of Gondor who had travelled up the rivers Isen and Lefnui. The Rohirrim were defeated; King Helm Hammerhand's son, Haleth, was killed; and Wulf sat in Meduseld declaring himself King.

The Long Winter compounded the problems: Rohan was under snow for five months with both the Rohirrim and their enemies suffering grievously from famine. Meanwhile, King Helm took refuge in the Hornburg and the ravine behind (becoming known as Helm's Deep): at Yule a great counsel was held, and, against the King's advice, Háma, Helm's younger son, went out in a sortie and was lost in the snow. King Helm himself would secretly go out to enemy camps, clad in white, and slay many men with his bare hands - before he left he would always blow his great horn, striking fear into the hearts of his enemies. One day, the men heard Helm's great horn blowing in the Deeping-coomb, but when they came to him, they saw that he had died, standing upright.

Come March T.A. 2759, the Long Winter ended and Fréaláf Hildeson, Helm's sister-son and new King of Rohan, came from Dunharrow and took back Edoras, catching the Dunlendings unaware and killing Wulf; the Dunlendings and Easterlings were driven out of Rohan (including Isengard), or else they had perished. The melted snow caused great floods with the Entwash becoming a vast fen; and in the spring, once Beregond, son of Steward Beren, had defeated the invaders from the south, Gondor sent aid to Rohan.

Although the Long Winter did not affect Gondor directly, it did have an indirect effect: in T.A. 2758, three fleets of Corsairs and Haradrim began to assail the coasts of Gondor as far north as the River Isen; due to the dual perils of the Long Winter and the war with the Dunlendings, the Rohirrim were unable to send help.
After Beregond had defeated the invaders, Gondor began to recover to its former power. However, in T.A. 2758, seeing Rohan's weakness, the Steward, Beren gave the keys to Orthanc to the wizard Saruman.

The Shire
The Long Winter resulted in the deaths of many thousands of Hobbits in The Shire. Although the wizard Gandalf came to the aid of the Hobbits, a dreadful famine followed the Long Winter, known as the Days of Dearth, which lasted into T.A. 2760.

The Long Winter had a more indirect effect on the history of The Shire and Middle-earth: it was during the Long Winter that Gandalf first became fond of Hobbits and their affairs, which indirectly led to Gandalf's selection of Bilbo Baggins to go on the Quest of Erebor:

"And then there was the Shire-folk. I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them to survive. [...] And anyway you must begin at some point, with some on person. I dare say he was "chosen" and I was only chosen to choose him; but I picked out Bilbo."
― Gandalf speaking to Pippin

The next winter of note in the history of Middle-earth occurred between T.A. 2911-2912. Like the earlier Long Winter, the Fell Winter began in November. This time Sauron was not able to launch a full attack, as the War of the Dwarves and Orcs of a full century earlier had eliminated most of the Orcs in the north, and the Haradrim had been badly defeated in 2885.

The winter was also less harsh than the Long Winter, and snow and ice stopped in Eriador at the Greyflood River, and in Wilderland in the middle of Mirkwood. Nevertheless, there were severe problems, as food again ran short, and the Hobbits of the Shire were attacked by White Wolves which crossed the frozen Brandywine river. It was on this occasion that the Horn-call of Buckland had been sounded; it was not heard again until Black Riders invaded Buckland in 3018. Gandalf and the Rangers of the North had to provide food for the Hobbits to prevent them from dying of hunger.

In March when the winter ended great floods of meltwater rushed down Greyflood, and the city of Tharbad was ruined and its bridge broken. The people of Enedwaith also suffered greatly as their lands were flooded.


Terrain can be nominated as being Icy, any water on the board is a good candidate for this. Icy areas of terrain are difficult to traverse and as such counts as difficult terrain. Walking on ice also be can be treacherous and care must be taken. Before moving a model on Ice roll a die and consult the table below. Note that even if you don’t move a model you must roll on this table if it is on ice.

Ice Table

1The Ice Breaks
The ice breaks under foot, and the model is swept underneath. Remove the model from play.
The model slips on the ice and falls. Lay the model prone. The model may move no further this Move Phase.
The Model may move as normal, remember to count the ice as if moving through difficult terrain.

Environment Conditions

Whenever the priority is drawn, roll a D6 and consult the table below, the result remains in play for the rest of that turn.

Environment Conditions Table

1Deadly Cold
The temperature becomes so extremely cold that any models 3” from a fire suffer a wound. Fate can be used to prevent a wound being taken.
2Freezing Cold
The temperature becomes so extremely cold that any models 3” from a fire suffer take a strength two hit.
3-6Snow Storm
A snow storm makes visibility next to zero, models may only charge and target others that are in a 6” range.


Fires can be lit and placed on a board if a scenario requires it. These fires cause terror to all Wargs and if these wild beasts wish to charge an enemy that is within 3” of a Fire they must pass a Courage test.
They can also be warming in cold conditions. If there is a Deadly Cold or Freezing Cold Environmental Condition in play, models within 3” of a Fire are not affected by it.