Luke Ueda-Sarson's Fantasy Battle Scenarios for DBM:

The Pelennor Fields: 3019, Third Age


The conquest of Gondor was one of Sauron's main objectives in the War of the Ring. Accordingly, Minas Tirth, the Gondorian capital, was beseiged by his forces under his chief captain, the Witch King, Lord of the Nazgul.

The city looked certain to fall, with its great Gate broken, when it was relieved in the nick of time by two forces hastening to the field, one riding south, under Theoden, King of Rohan; the other sailing north under Aragorn, claimant to the throne of Gondor.

Although the Theoden was killed fighting the Witch King, the Lord of the Nazgul was himself slain, and caught between the two relief forces, and the sallying garrison of the city, the Witch King's forces were routed.

Map of Ithilien

The battle is described in some detail in the Lord of the Rings. (Page references within these notes refer to the Unwin paperback edition of The Return of the King, from the 1983 reprint).

The battle site itself can be easily reconstructed. A large-scale map in RotK (p13-14) helps with some details. Minas Tirith lay on a ridge projecting eastwards from Mt. Mindolluin, most easterly of the peaks of the Ered Nimrais. It was heavily fortified with smooth sheer walls that did not have towers studding their length; the outer circuit wall was pierced by a single great Gate.

The battle site lay within a defensive fortified loop that protected the city's outlying regions, the Pelennor Fields. As this was several miles from the city, it won't be depicted on any table-top recreation. A road ran northwards from the Gate, another southwards. Another ran northeast towards the old capital, Osgiliath, splitting the Pelennor Fields in two. To the south (and most probably east) of the city, and a mile's distance from the Osgiliath road, lay Harlond, the city docks upon the great river Anduin, which at this point turned southwards so that an observer in the city could look out along its length (RotK, p143). Harlond does not count 4 elements lost to the defenders if they reach its centre, it is too small to worry about - Minas Tirith does of course.

The besieging forces had thrown up defensive trenches, lit with fire, just out of bowshot of the city walls; these had gaps in places to allow the passage of seige machines and the like. In DBM terms these should be represented by TF between 200p and 400p from the city walls. The table size will need to be larger than normal to accomodate the large forces arrayed at the battle - say 8 by 6 foot in 15mm scale rather than the standard 6 by 4 foot (for a smaller battl, use a standard table, and halve the number of elements).

The Anduin counts as a waterway - vessels of 'great draught' could use the docks of Harlond, and to cross the river below Osgiliath required the use of many vessels. Minas Tirith is a very large BUA superimposed on a steep hill encircled by PF - however there should be a gap where the great Gate's position is, as the battle is best fought from the point in time where the gate has just been broken.

Starting the 'battle' earlier would allow the Invaders to shift their forces to meet the flank marches, which the Witch King didn't know about, but which every tabletop comander will! By starting the battle when the Riders of Rohan are just arriving, the beseiging forces of Mordor will already be committed in a position of disdavantage, which they need to be given their overwhelming numerical advantage.

The weather had no major impact on the battle; there was a northerly breeze blowing - this counts as light winds and will not effect archery or rowed naval elements, etc.

Battlefield Map

The forces inside the city are described as follows:

200 well-armed axeman from Lossarnach
300 foot from Ringlo
500 bowmen from Morthond
Some scantily equipped men from the Anfalas and Langstrand
A few hillmen from Lamedon
100 or more mariners
300 men in green
A company of Knights of Amoroth
700 Men-at-arms from Amroth

These above were all reinforcements that arrived just before the seige began and totalled to a bit under 3000. If we assume the long line of scantily equipped men plus the hillmen, etc. came to 500, that would leave 300 knights, if the total was 2900.

Additionally, the city's garrison needs to be considered. We know the Company of the Rangers of Ithilien were 300 strong. (It might be well to assume a company is 300 strong). A small company of horsemen was all that remained of Faramir's rearguard from Osgiliath. When all the mounted forces available in the city charged to their assistance, the Amroth Knights were just the leading portion, and the cavalry are described as being in companies. We have to assume that there were more than one company of cavalry in the city in addition of the Amroth Knights (or it would be pointless to describe them plurally), so that's at least 4 companies of mounted troops.

Additionally, Pippin was assigned to the third company of guards - so there were at least that many foot guard companies, and very likely more. When after the battle, the allies marched off to Mordor, they led 7000 men. Of these, 1000 were Rohirrim. Of the 6000 Gondorians, 2000 were not at the seige (having arrived afterwards), leaving 4000 that were - 3500 foot and 500 horse. None of these 4000 are likely to be the 2000-odd irregulars that went into the city prior to the seige, since only the best men were taken to Cormallen. Most men were left behind to guard Minas tirith - 2000 out of the 4000 southerners, no doubt all the irregulars; some of the original garrison: the total of all these men came somewhere over the strength of the forces in the city garrison before the seige - alas the algebra us such that this doesn't help the equation.

Therefore in addition to the 2000 odd Irregulars, and 1000-odd Amrothians (700 on foot), there were foot guards and men-at-arms, (plus Rangers) etc. to the total of at least 2800 (of which only few were bowmen), plus those that were left behind after the seige; and horse to the total of likely 1000 strong, so at least 7000 men and likely more; not counting those that arrived with Aragorn on the ships: 30 of the large ships were manned - with southerners and irregulars. Even if we assume that there were only 50 men per ship (likely an underestimate, since they were large ships and dromunds - which normally carry much bigger marine contingennts than 50 men) there would be 1500 men there. Since 1800 men from Lossarnach were tied down around the area near Pelargir, some of which came with Aragorn in his ships, plus many others from Lebennin and Lamedon - 4000 of which later arrived after the battle, there were at least 6000 men in the south of Gondor guarding the coasts.

Therefore the city's garrison at the time of the battle was at least 7000 men - let's say 8000. In addition, the city had some short-ranged artillery, numbers unknown. Aragorn's naval force brought at least 1500 men by ship - let's say 2000. In addition, the Riders of Rohan totalled 6000 men, of which 600 were horse archers. For discussions about the gradings of Gondorin forces, see the Gondor army list, for the Rohirrim, see the Rohan army list.

At a scale of 1 element equals about 175 men, these forces should be depicted thus:

The city garrison:

1 x CinC as Reg LH (S) - Gandalf, who had taken over after Denethor withdrew
1 x Reg Ax (S) - Rangers of Ithilien
1 x Reg Ps (O) - Rangers of Ithilien
12 x Reg Sp (O) - Guards, men-at-arms, etc
2 x Reg Art (I) - light artillery on the walls of the city
4 x Irr Bw (I) - bowmen from Morthond, etc
2 x Irr Bd (O) - axemen from Lossarnach, etc
3 x Irr Ax (O) - foot from Ringlo, hillmen from Lamedon, etc
8 x immobile Bg - buildings inside the city
1 x Reg Kn (O) Ally-general - Imrahil, Lord of Dol Amroth
1 x Reg Kn (O) - Swanknights of Amroth
4 x Reg Kn (O) - Roquen (knights) of the city
4 x Reg Sp (O) - men-at-arms of Amroth
3 x Irr Ps (O) - men from Anfalas, Langstrand, etc
4 x Irr Ax (O) - mariners, etc

Aragorn's force:

12 x Reg Gal (S)
1 x Reg Sp (S) Ally-general - Aragorn and his Rangers etc
4 x Irr Bd (O) - axemen from Lossarnach
4 x Irr Ax (O) - mariners, etc
3 x Irr Ps (O) - mariners, etc

The Rohirrim:

1 x Ally-general as Reg Kn (F) - Theoden and his household knights
2 x Reg Kn (F) - Eomer and Elfhelm's household knights
4 x Irr LH (F) - horse archers
27 x Irr Kn (F) - Riders of Rohan

The Generals are rated as ally-generals to account for the confusion of the Nazgul flying overhead. All (including Theoden) are reliable. The defenders total 85 1/2 element equivalents, and 658 AP not including PF (of which the Rohirrim are 302 AP!)

Aragorn's command is flank marching up the Anduin, and must dice for arrival as per normal. The Rohirrim will arrive in the defender's first bound (ie. they diced to arrive successfully 'last' bound). They may come on anywhere in the DEFENDER'S half of the northern table edge. The two other commands must be deployed within the city walls, with the CinC's element within 150p of the broken Gate.

The numbers of the invaders are not given, although are said to have had few horsemen (RotK, p107). I propose the following (see the Mordor army list for details):

The beseiging force:

1 x CinC as flyer (for rules click here) - the Witch King
2 x Reg WWg (S) - seige towers pulled by Mumakil and pushed by trolls
4 x Reg Art (S) - catapults
2 x immobile baggage - camps
16 x Irr Ax (O) - Orc battalions
24 x Irr Ax (I) - Orcs mostly used as labourers
12 x Irr Ps (O) - Orc archers
8 x Irr Bw (I) - Orc archers
4 x Irr Bw (O) - Orc archers
4 x Reg Bd (F) - Uruk-hai from Minas Morgul
2 x immobile baggage - camps

The reserve command from Osgiliath:

1 x Sub-general as Reg Bd (F) - Gothmog, lieutenant of Morgul
3 x Reg Bd (F) - Uruk-hai from Minas Morgul
10 x Irr Ax (O) - Orc battalions
12 x Irr Ax (I) - Orcs mostly used as labourers
8 x Irr Ps (O) - Orc archers
8 x Irr Wb (O) - Half-trolls
4 x Irr Cv (O) - Variags of Khand
8 x Irr Bd (O) - war-hardened Easterling axemen
10 x Irr Sp (I) - other Easterners and Southroners
1 x Reg Cv (O) - uniformed Morgul cavalry
2 x immobile baggage - camps

The Haradrim (see the Harad army list for details):

1 x Ally-general as Irr Cv (O) - the Chietain
11 x Irr Cv (O) - cavalry with scimitars
6 x Irr El (S) - Mumakil
4 x Irr Lh (O) - Far Haradrim horsemen
12 x Reg Sp (I) - uniformed spearmen
2 x Reg Bw (O) - armoured archers
4 x Irr Sp (I) - other spearmen
8 x Irr Ps (O) - other archers
6 x Irr Wb (O) - Far Haradrim foot
2 x immobile baggage - camps

The invaders total 180 element equivalents, and 849 AP not including TF.

The Witch king's command must be deployed between 200 and 1200p from the city walls. The reserve command must be deployed within 1200p of the road to Osgiliath, and no closer than 1200p to the city walls. The Haradrim must be deployed south of the Osgiliath road and no closer than 1200p to the city walls.

The invaders win if they break the defenders without being broken themselves. The defenders win if they break the invaders without losing both of Gandalf or Aragorn's elements. Any other result is a draw.


This page last modified: December 15, 1999

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