Fellowship of the Palantíri ends with a tough situation, just like Fellowship of the Ring did. While I didn’t necessarily set out to do that, this marked the end of my six-week stint of GMing, so I embraced the cliffhanger. Tolkien provides plenty of precedent for Eagles swooping in and rescuing protagonists from dead ends, so I wasn’t too concerned about that.
We never did finish the three-part epic I had originally envisioned, so the details of the Enemy were not fully worked out. I had intended the Winter Queen to be another maia, like Gandalf, but one who had fallen to Shadow like Saruman did. From Tolkien’s writings, we know there were at least five Wizards and that two of them went off to the East. So my mysterious villain was going to be one of those. I called her Luin the Blue.
When maybe a thousand years had passed [since Isildur defeated Sauron], and the first shadow had fallen on Greenwood the Great, the Istari or Wizards appeared in Middle-earth. It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear.
They came therefore in the shape of Men, though they were never young and aged only slowly, and they had many powers of mind and hand. They revealed their true names to few, but used such names as were given to them. The two highest of this order (of whom it is said there were five) were called by the Eldar Curunír, ‘the Man of Skill’, and Mithrandir, ‘the Grey Pilgrim’, but by Men in the North Saruman and Gandalf. Curunír journeyed often into the East, but dwelt at last in Isengard. Mithrandir was closest in friendship with the Eldar, and wandered mostly in the West and never made for himself any lasting abode.— from Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Book 2 was going to be The Two Mountains. The party would head into the Grey Mountains where mines had been found silent, the dwarves either missing from them or their bodies desecrated. Additionally, the Red Bolt sigil had been seen painted in blood on the walls of caverns, but no one had been able to report on the movements of the foe. The party would expand to include a dwarf and a Wizard (the other one not covered much in Tolkien’s writing, so with plenty of space for us), and they would deal with threats like gray-stone-camouflaged versions of uruk-hai and also pay a visit to Thranduil’s court in Mirkwood for a good old fashioned Council scene.
Book 3 was going to be The Return of the… something. They’d unravel Luin’s plans in some fashion, whether by defeating her or bringing her back to the side of Goodness and Light.