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For a number of reasons (detailed and explained in their products), ICE chose Third Age 1640 as the temporal setting for the vast majority of their MERP publications. At that time, just a few years after the passing of the Great Plague (T.A. 1635-1637), the ethnic, social, and political situations of northwestern Middle-earth were significantly different from those of the late Third Age (War of the Ring). Much of the following is therefore non-canonical extrapolations and/or inventions.

Strategic Overview, T.A. 1640:

The date is year 1640 of the Third Age of Middle-earth (and year 40 in Shire Reckoning), almost 1400 years before the War of the Ring. The Great Plague ended in 1637, leaving many areas of Middle-earth depopulated and in political chaos.

In Eriador, the three successor realms to Dúnedain ArnorArthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur – still remain, but only Arthedain (sometimes supported by remnants of Cardolan) retains political cohesion, and is actively opposed by a still-extant Angmar (supported by the Hill-men of Rhudaur). Fornost Erain (Arthedain) and Tharbad (Cardolan) are still the major cities in the region, but Bree and many other towns and villages still exist.

To the west, Elves still dwelt in Lindon, primarily at Mithlond (the "Grey Havens"), minding their own business, and securing a haven for all Elves who wished to depart Middle-earth for Aman (the Undying Lands) in the Uttermost West. The hidden Elven refuge of Imladris is also strong at this time. Dwarves were still to be found throughout the Ered Luin ("Blue Mountains") and at Khazad-dûm (Moria, home of Durin's folk), generally minding their own business, but traveling and trading throughout Eriador. Hobbits were found primarily in the newly-formed Shire (gen. W. Sûza), which they were busy "organizing" in their own chaotic way, and also in Bree-land; but scattered groups could still be found in En Egladil (the "Angle") of Rhudaur and elsewhere, including the Stoors of the Gladden Fields in the Anduin Vales.

Elsewhere in Endor (S. "Middle-earth"): the Dark Lord Sauron was believed to have been vanquished in the War of the Last Alliance, and Mordor was (apparently) empty; a mysterious (but definitely evil) "Necromancer" (later proven to be Sauron, reincarnating) had taken abode in Dol Guldur (S. "Hill of Sorcery") in Mirkwood (S. Taur-nu-Fuin), which was becoming ever more dark and dangerous; Dwarves still lived and ruled in Khazad-dûm; the secretive Elven realm of Lórinand (Lothlórien) was ruled by Amroth; Stoor Hobbits were found in the Loeg Ningloron ("Gladden Fields", where the One Ring still lay lost); the lands that would become Rohan were still Calenardhon (a province of Gondor), and the ancestors of the Rohirrim dwelt on the plains south of Mirkwood; Gondor was still strong but had abandoned its watch on Mordor; and civilization was in general decline.

In the synopses below, the people(s) in the majority (or at least the plurality) are listed in bold.

Drúwaith Iaur

Main article: Drúwaith Iaur
Type: Region
People(s): Men (Drughu, Dunir)

This region was once, briefly, part of Gondor – which still maintains a claim on the land. However, Gondorian presence is very limited, and restricted to the eastern portion between Adorn and the White Mountains, with no presence at all below Ahasiril. The desolate region is indeed "wild" and is thinly peopled by Dunir and Drughu.

Eriador

Main article: Eriador
Type: Region
People(s): Dwarves; Elves; Hobbits; Men; Orcs
Many Men of various cultures dwelt throughout Eriador, primarily in Arthedain and Angmar, also Cardolan and Rhudaur.

Politically, Eriador is dominated by the human realms of Arthedain (S: 'Realm of the Edain', ruled by the heirs of Isildur) and Angmar (S: 'Iron-home', ruled by the mysterious Witch-king, who was later proven to be the Lord of the Nazgûl), although the Elvish havens at Imladris ('Rivendell') and Lindon/Mithlond still held their own. Of the old Dúnedain realm of Arnor, only Arthedain remains; Cardolan is ruined and in turmoil, while Rhudaur (controlled by the Hill-men) is now merely a decaying client of Angmar.

Angmar

Main article: Witch-realm of Angmar
Type: Realm (military dictatorship); incumbent: the Witch-king; capital: Carn Dûm
Other leaders: Ongûlûn, Spokesman of Angmar; Dancu and Rogrog, Warlords
People(s): Men (Easterlings, Northrons); Orcs

Arthedain

Main article: Arthedain
Type: Kingdom; incumbent: King Argeleb II; capital (and largest city): Fornost Erain
Other leaders: Marlas en Tarmeär, Captain of the Rangers
People(s): Hobbits; Men (Dúnedain of the North, Eriadorans, Northrons)

Cardolan

Main article: Cardolan
Type: Kingdom; incumbent: None (various petty nobles); capital (and largest city): Tharbad
Other leaders: Pellendur, Hir of Tyrn Gorthad; Eärnil, Regent of Girithlin; Finduilas III, Hiril of Dol Caladir; Hallas, Hir of Dol Tinereb; Imlach Hardadrinrissë, Gondorian Canótaran of Tharbad
People(s): Hobbits; Men (Dúnedain of the North, Eriadorans, Northrons)

Enedwaith

Main article: Enedwaith
Type: Region
People(s): Hobbits; Men (Dunmen)

Most of the eastern half of Enedwaith is occupied and administered as a territory of Gondor (see Dor Wathui below).

Dunfearan

Main article: Dunfearn
Type: Region (tribal lands)
Other leaders: Einion Gurgan, Chief of Clan Gurgan; Ungust of Tref Maur, Chief of Clan Tref Maur; Dinglas Corddwallon, Chief of Clan Corddwallon; Rulart, Chief of Clan Rhudd; Belligel, Chief of Clan Eogbann
People(s): Men (Dunmen)

Politically, Dunfearn is not united.

Imladris

Main article: Imladris
Type: Realm; incumbent: Lord Elrond
Other leaders: Erestor, Glorfindel
People(s): Elves

Minhiriath

Main article: Minhiriath
Type: Region (of Cardolan, see above)
People(s): Hobbits; Men (Eriadorans)

Claimed by Cardolan, effectively wild.

Rhudaur

Main article: Rhudaur
Type: Kingdom; incumbent: (various claimants); capital: Cameth Brin
Other leaders:
People(s): Hobbits; Men (Hillmen of Rhudaur, Northrons); Trolls

Forodwaith

Main article: Forodwaith
Type: Region
People(s): Men (Men of the Forodwaith)

Forochel

Main article: Forochel
Type:
People(s):Lossoth

Gondor

Main article: Gondor
Type: Kingdom; incumbent: King Tarondor; capital: Minas Anor
Other leaders:
People(s): Elves (a very few at Edhellond); Men (Dúnedain of the South, Gondorians, Northrons)

Andrast

Main article: Andrast
Type: Province; incumbent: ; capital: Tharagrondost
Other leaders:
People(s): Dunir; Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Anfalas

Main article: Anfalas
Type: Province; incumbent: Governor Hindrasimir, Lord Protector of Anfalas; capital: Lond Galen
Other leaders: Maeldring, Squire of Haerlond; Caldwinna, Subject Queen of the Southern Daen; Ar-Balazor, Prince of Tharagrond.
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Anórien

Main article: Anórien
Type: Royal Demesne; incumbent: King Tarondor; capital: Minas Anor
Other leaders:
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Belfalas (Dor-en-Ernil)

Main article: Belfalas, aka Dor-en-Ernil
Type: Princely Fief; incumbent: Prince Celdrahil; capital: Lond Ernil (aka Dol Amroth)
Other leaders:
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Calenardhon

Main article: Calenardhon (includes the Westmarch)
Type: Province; incumbent: Alandur, Hir of Calmirie; capital: Calmirie
Other leaders: Caranthir, Hir of Angrenost; Finlong, Hir of Aglarond; Sorondothor, Hir of Tir Anduin; Urrhi, Chieftain of the Rhyddyll Tribe
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Dor Rhûnen

Main article: Dor Rhûnen
Type: Territory; incumbent: Aicawë, Regent of Gondor
Other leaders: Prince Augomundo, Northman Emissary
People(s): Easterlings; Northrons; Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Dor Wathui

Main article: Dor Wathui
Type: Occupied Territory; incumbent:
Other leaders:
People(s):

Harondor

Main article: Harondor
Type: Occupied Territory; incumbent:
Other leaders:
People(s):

Ithilien

Main article: Ithilien
Type: Royal Ward; incumbent: Queen Mírien
Other leaders:
People(s): Ithilwaith; Dúnedain of the South

Lamedon

Main article: Lamedon
Type: Province; incumbent:
Other leaders:
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Lebennin

Main article: Lebennin
Type: Province; incumbent:
Other leaders:
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Mornan

Main article: Mornan
Type: Fief; incumbent:
Other leaders:
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Tolfalas

Main article: Tolfalas
Type: Territory; incumbent:
Other leaders:
People(s): Gondorians; Dúnedain of the South

Haradwaith

Main article: Haradwaith
Type: Region
People(s):

Near Harad

Far Harad

Utter South

Khazad-dûm

Main article: Khazad-dûm
Type: Kingdom; incumbent: King Báin; capital: Yes
Other leaders:
People(s): Dwarves of Durin's Folk

Lindon

Main article: Lindon
Type: Realm; incumbent: Lord Cirdan; capital: Mithlond
Other leaders:
People(s): Elves

Rhovanion

Anduin Vales

Fangorn Forest

Main article: Fangorn Forest
Type: Realm; incumbent: Fangorn; capital: N/A (but see Derndingle)
Other leaders:
People(s): Ents

Lothlórien

Main article: Lothlórien
Type: Kingdom; incumbent: King Amroth; capital: Caras Galadhon
Other leaders:
People(s): Elves (Silvan, Sindarin, Noldor)

Mirkwood

Woodland Realm

Main article: Woodland Realm
Type: Realm
People(s): Elves (Silvan, Sindarin)

Realm of the Necromancer (Dol Guldur)

Main article: Realm of the Necromancer
Type: Realm
People(s): Orcs

Realm of Dale

Rhûn

Dorwinion

Main article: Dorwinion (Rhûn)
Type: Region
People(s): Men (Dorwinionrim)

Khand

Main article: Khand
Type: Realm; Region
People(s): Men (Variags)

Mordor

Main article: Mordor
Type: Realm, Region; incumbent: None; capital: Barad-dûr
Other leaders: Dringir, Captain of Durthang; Veantur, Captain of Cirith Ungol; Dorgilatar, Captain of Cirith Gorgor
People(s): Mordor Orcs; Men of Núrn; (a very few) Gondorians in three fortresses in the Ephel Dúath

Mordor at this time was effectively a "lost realm" and truly a wild land: Gondor, which had maintained a military occupation of the region since the beginning of the Third Age, had recently mostly abandoned its watch in the aftermath of the Great Plague, with only three fortresses (Durthang, Cirith Gorgor, Cirith Ungol) in the Ephel Dúath still manned, leaving most of Gorgoroth and all of Núrn unadministered. The surviving Orcs continued to hide themselves in their refuges in the mountains as much as possible, while the Men of Núrn, survivors of Sauron's slaves, eked out an existence in Núrn.

Palisor

Rhûnaer

Farthest East

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