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The Last Days (of the Third Age of Middle-earth) is a fan-made total conversion (TC) for the action roleplaying games Mount & Blade and Mount & Blade: Warband, which were developed by Turkish development studio TaleWorlds Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive.

The total conversion had been in development during the latter half of the 2000s by a team of over twenty dedicated fans of Mount & Blade and Tolkien's works. After a mod development period of roughly 5 years, The Last Days saw its official release in 2011, on the TaleWorlds forums and ModDB.com. Since then, the TC's developers had worked on regular patches and updates. The Last Days was at first only available for the original game Mount & Blade (specifically ver. 1.011), but was later ported to Mount & Blade: Warband as well. Aside from mod-hosting sites, it is also distributed for the Steam version of Mount & Blade: Warband via the Steam Workshop.

Setting and Gameplay of The Last Days Edit

The total conversion is based primarily on the literary works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially The Lord of the Rings and other works detailing the Third Age. Art designs for the mod were mostly inspired by existing Tolkien illustrations, and to a lesser degree by some of the visuals from the film adaptations. Many of the particular designs were also filled in by the modding team's own imagination.

The Last Days focuses on the War of the Ring from the perspective of an ordinary combatant, male or female, who takes part in the fighting and various military campaigns during The War of the Ring. (The TC derives its title from the fact that The War of the Ring signifies the end of the Third Age in Tolkien's legendarium.) Due to the geographic scope of the war within Middle-Earth, the game world only includes Rhovanion (and the eastern side of the Misty Mountains), Gondor, Rohan, Mordor and parts of northern Harad and the East. This corresponds to the battlefields of the War of the Ring from the books. Major and minor Third Age locations from Tolkien's legendarium, such as Edoras, Minas Tirith, Dale, Caras Galadhon, etc., can be fully visited and explored (and depending on the current situation, fought in). The mod development team took extra care to give each location its unique sense of place. [1]

Available playable races include Men, Elves and Dwarves for the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth, and the orcs of Mordor, orcs of Isengard, warriors of Harad and Khand, etc. for the forces of evil. Reflecting this, the campaigns of the War of the Ring's two main sides are dubbed "The Dawn of a New Era" (Free Peoples) and "The Twilight of Man" (Mordor and vassals).

The Last Days features a large number of various factions, varying in the size of their territory, manpower and military specialisations. Of the Free Peoples, Gondor is the largest faction, and includes several regional subfactions which offer different military strengths. Other factions have a more "single region" scope (Rohan, the Woodland Realm, Lothlorien) or are fairly localised (Beornings, people of Lake Town and Dale, the Dwarves). Despite Eriador not being featured directly, the mod contains some small-scale Eriador factions that plausibly took part in the War of the Ring, such as the army of Rivendell and the Dúnedain Rangers of the North.

Characters from The Lord of the Rings and related works make appearances throughout the total conversion as non-player characters (NPCs). None of them are controllable by the player, some appear only in brief cameos (e.g. Gandalf the White), or as static NPCs in particular locations (e.g. Denethor and Pippin Took at Minas Tirith).

While most of the gameplay follows that of the base game (mounted and infantry combat, leading and managing a party of fellow soldiers, gaining and investing experience), much of the in-game economy has been altered to better suit the theme and setting of the total conversion. Player characters no longer use in-game currency (fictional coins) that is valid in the entire game world. Instead, each of the many factions provides players rewards for their military efforts and completing of quests and sidequests, in the form of "Resource Points". These abstract resource points can then be used to purchase new equipment. However, Resource Points are not universal, and one needs to gather them separately from each faction. A player can have a high amount of RP among the Beornings and Mirkwood Elves, making transactions with them easy, but zero RP in Gondor, disallowing any purchases of equipment within that territory (until the RP number is raised).

Unlike in the base game, where all towns, villages and castles are permanent and can only be captured, the conversion enables the enemy to eventually raze a less-defended town. This removes it from the game world altogether. The player character's troop and their military allies need to make sure the enemy doesn't completely destroy these more vulnerable garrison towns. The War of the Ring isn't just about back-and-forth fighting between the two sides. The war can be won or lost, and each of the sides can win or lose.

Player characters begin (with only the most basic of clothing and equipment) in a location that logically corresponds to their chosen race and faction. Players creating a character from Rohan begin in Rohan, players creating a Dúnedain Ranger character begin in northern Rhovannion near the Misty Mountains, and so on. A player's standing within a friendly faction can change and develop based on how well he/she fulfills quests or sidequests for local authorities and noblemen, or how well he/she engages in small-scale diplomacy. When players start their adventures, the War of the Ring has yet to have been declared. Once players reach Level 8 with their character, pre-scripted storytelling events will occur

There are certain esthetic and technical limitations to what items can be used by members of particular races and factions. The Free Peoples cannot scavenge and don armour and weapons of the evil factions, e.g. the Mordor orcs, Saruman's orcs. Conversely, the evil factions cannot scavenge and don armour and weapons of the Free Peoples. Due to technical limitations for certain non-human races, these races also have limitations to choices of gender and certain military capability. For instance, the Dwarves only have male playable characters, and cannot use horses, engaging only in infantry combat.

The player character can occassionally experience special random events occuring during his or her travels (e.g. getting attacked by giant spiders while travelling through Mirkwood).

Unlike horses, which stop posing a threat on the battlefield after their riders are killed or knocked unconscious, the warg mounts of the orcs are counted as separate units, and will continue to harass soldiers even after their riders are killed.

Factions Edit

This is a brief overview of the factions and their leadership present in the total conversion's recreation of The War of the Ring.

The Free Peoples Edit

Adversarial factions Edit

  • Dol Guldur - Governed by Master Fuinur, its commanders are general Tuskim and general Mugslag. The faction's settlements are Dol Guldur itself and the Dol Guldur North Outpost.
  • Dunledings - Ruled by chief Daeglaf the Black, its commanders are chief Fudreim and chief Wulf. Their only settlement is the Dunlander Camp, used in the fighting against Rohan.
  • Harad - Ruled by chief Ul-Ulcari, its commanders are chieftain Karna the Lion, chieftain Naman and chieftain Haarith. The faction's only settlement is the Haradrim Camp, used in the fighting against Gondor.
  • Isengard - Ruled by the rogue wizard Saruman, its commanders are Ugluk, Mauhur, Mog the Seven-fingered, Hushnak Longshanks, Gridash the Tree-biter and Gronk the Man-eater. The faction's settlements are Isengard itself, the Uruk Hai Hunting Camp, the Uruk Hai River Camp and the Uruk Hai Outpost.
  • Khand - Ruled by Shibh Krukmahur, its commanders are Torask and Lurmsakun. The faction's only settlement is the Khand Camp, used in the fighting against the Rhovanion factions.
  • Mordor - Governed by the Mouth of Sauron, its commanders are captain Mortakh, Berúthiel, Skang, Pharakhard the Bastard, Grishnákh and Gothmog. Settlements controlled by Mordor at the start of the war include Cair Andros, Morannon, Minas Morgul, the Orc Patrol Camp, East Osgiliath and the Orc Sentry Camp.
  • Moria - Represents the Moria Orcs. Governed by Master Bolg the Lesser, its commanders are whip Snog and whip Snotgor. The faction's settlements are the Gates of Moria, the Goblin Northern Outpost, the Goblin Southern Outpost and the Troll Cave.
  • Mount Gundabad - Represents the Gundabad Orcs. Governed by Master Burza Krual, its commanders are whip Brolgukhsh, whip Grumrunt and whip Grimsob. The faction's settlements are Gundabad, the Gundabad Northwestern Outpost, the Gundabad Northeastern Outpost and the Gundabad Mirkwood Outpost.
  • Rhun - Ruled by jarl Helcaroth, its commanders are Kusulak, Ulwarth the Balchoth and Brodda. The faction's settlements are the Main Rhun Camp, Rhun Northern Outpost and Rhun Southern Outpost, used in the fighting against the Rhovanion factions.
  • Umbar - Governed by admiral Tulmir, its commanders are captain Morbir, captain Angamaitë and captain Sangahyando. The faction's only settlement is the Corsair Camp, used in the fighting against Gondor.

Companion NPCs Edit

As in the Mount & Blade base game, certain unique NPCs can be befriended by the player character and recruited into their party. Below is a list of the recruitale NPCs. 17 companions in total, 9 available among the Free Peoples, 8 among the forces of Mordor and its vassals. [2]

"The Dawn of a New Era" campaign Edit

Recruitable NPC Race, Role & Faction Location
Kili Goldfinger Dwarf, Erebor Erebor
Glorfindel Elf, Lothlórien Caras Galadhon
Luevanna Elf, Mirkwood, Missile Thranduil's Halls
Cirdil Men, Gondor, Infantry Minas Tirith
Mablung Men, Gondor, Missile Henneth Annun
Ulfas Men, Rohan, Cavalry Hornburg
Galmyne Men, Rohan, Missile Cavalry Edoras
Faniul Men, Dale, Healer Dale
Dimborn Men, Beorning Woodsmen Village

"The Twilight of Man" campaign Edit

Recruitable NPC Race, Role & Faction Location
Ufthak Orc snaga, Mordor Orc Patrol Camp
Gorbag Uruk Slayer of Mordor Minas Morgul
Durgash Orc, Wolf Rider and tracker, Isengard Isengard
Gulm fighting Uruk-hai (berserker), Isengard Uruk Hai Hunting Camp
Bolzog Orc snaga healer, Moria Gates of Moria
Fuldimir Men, Umbar Sailor, Umbar Corsair Camp
Lykyada Men, Gold Serpent Horse Archer, Harad Haradrim Camp
Varfang Men, Rhun Swift Horseman, Rhun Northern Rhun Camp
Heidrek Men, Dunlander Dunlander Camp
Turmbathu Men, Khand Khand Camp
Zigurphel Men, Dol Goldur Dol Goldur

Recruitment prerequisities for the individual companion NPCs vary. Often, an important factor is to have good relations with a recruitable companion's faction and possess a degree of influence within the faction's territory. (Influence can be achieved by particular player actions.)

Music of The Last Days Edit

The music for the total conversion was composed by Vladan Zivanovic, who created an extensive soundtrack, consisting of 109 unique music tracks on release. [3]

Below are some examples of the various leitmotifs used for factions, locations, travel and combat.

Track Theme/Leitmotif
Follow Your Feet Intro theme
A Tale Untold Main theme / Main menu theme
Iron Hills Dwarves of the Iron Hills
Lake Town Lake Town and its people
Erebor Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain (Erebor)
Over the Misty Mountains Travel theme
Beorning Town Settlements of the Beornings
Mirkwood Elves Elves of Mirkwood, the Woodland Realm
Rivendell Rivendell (camp and army)
Nightfall on the Anduin Travel theme
Battle Rohan Rohan (combat theme)

The entire soundtrack is available from the total conversion's Music folder, after the conversion is successfully intalled on top of a Mount & Blade or Mount & Blade: Warband base game (vanilla game).

The soundtrack can also be acquired in its entirety as a separate download at ModDB.com. (This download is actually an alternative addon. It contains the exact same music, but encoded at a lower bitrate, in order to increase performance on weaker computers running the total conversion. As a consequence, these music files are of a slightly lower quality than the ones in the conversion's standard install.)

Trailers and videos Edit

Images Edit

Reception Edit

The Last Days total conversion has been received very positively by modding communities, the gaming press and individual gaming critics. [4]

It won 8th place in the Players' Choice category of ModDB.com's 2011 Mod of the Year Awards, after being previously nominated. [5] [6]

Several critics noted that the total conversion has something of a learning curve, better-suited to players already somewhat experienced in Mount & Blade. Battlefield tactics of allied and enemy fighters have been given greater depth compared to the base game, so The Last Days might prove further challenging to newcomers, but enjoyable after some amount of time spent playing. [7]

References Edit

External links (download and technical) Edit

External links (overview) Edit

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