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
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 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 signified the end of the Third Age.) 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. 
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 side-quests, 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 Rhovanion 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 side-quests 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 aesthetic 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 occasionally experience special random events in their 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.
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
- Beornings - Ruled by chief Grimbeorn the Old, its commanders are Beranhelm and Beranor Blackfur. The faction's settlements are the Woodsmen Village, Beorning Village and Beorn's House.
- Dale - Ruled by king Brand, its commanders are lord Halward, lord Bard and lord Esgarain. The kingdom's settlements are Dale itself and Esgaroth.
- Erebor - Ruled by king Dain II Ironfoot, its commanders are Fulgni Longbeard and Thorin Stonehelm. The kingdom's settlements are Erebor itself and the Iron Hills Quarry.
- Gondor - Ruled by steward Denethor, its commanders are Angbor, Baranor, prince Imrahil, Orthalion, Duinhir, Hirluin the Fair, Faramir and Forlong the Fat. The kingdom's capital city is Minas Tirith and its many settlements include Pelargir, Linhir, Dol Amroth, Edhellond, Lossarnach, Tarnost, Erech, Pinnath Gelin, West Osgiliath, Henneth Annun and Calembel.
- Imladris - Ruled by lord Elrond, its commanders are Elladan, Elrohir and Halbarad. The faction's only settlement is the Rivendell Camp, housing the Rivendell army while it takes part in the fighting in the north of Rhovanion. The Dúnedain Rangers are featured as part of this faction.
- Lothlorien - Ruled by lady Galadriel, its commanders are Celeborn, Haldir and Orophin. The capital city of Lothlórien in Caras Galadhon and its other settlements are Cerin Dolen and Cerin Amroth. Glorfindel is recruitable as an NPC for the player's company of soldiers.
- Mirkwood Elves - Ruled by king Thranduil, its commanders are Miriel and Gladvaethor. The capital city of the Woodland Realm are Thranduil's Halls and its other settlements are Woodelf Camp and Woodelf West Camp.
- Rohan - Ruled by king Theoden, its commanders are Grimbold, Erkenbrand, Elfhelm, Háma, Gamling and Éomer. The kingdom's capital city is Edoras and its other settlements include Aldburg, Hornburg, East Emnet, Westfold, West Emnet and Eastfold.
- 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.
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. 
"The Dawn of a New Era" campaign
|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
|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.)
The music for the total conversion was composed by Vladan Zivanovic, who created an extensive soundtrack, consisting of 109 unique music tracks on release. 
Below are some examples of the various leitmotifs used for factions, locations, travel and combat.
|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
The Last Days total conversion has been received very positively by modding communities, the gaming press and individual gaming critics. 
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. 
- ↑ TLD (The Last Days, LOTR mod) for M&B 1.011 Scenes Preview - updated (September 2010)
- ↑ Companions (spoiler) - Discussion at a M&B modding forum
- ↑ TLD Soundtrack Thread - A FAQ and Q&A with the soundtrack's author
- ↑ Lord of the Rings Last Days mod released for Mount and Blade, looks amazing
- ↑ MOTY Players' Choice - Mod of the Year Feature
- ↑ MOTY Year in Review 2011 Quarter 04
- ↑ Mod Review: The Last Days of the Third Age (Mount & Blade) - in-depth video criticque by LastLevelPress
- The Last Days (of The Third Age of Middle Earth) at ModDB.com
- Nightly patches for The Last Days
- The Last Days of the Third Age at Steam Workshop