I think somewhere around page 233, the rules point out that while you can’t KILL a creature 2 more more sizes bigger than you, you can still engage in conflicts with them, so Sam’s not a problem, as he only drives Shelob off.
Re: Balrogs. I believe only two people have every taken a Balrog out 1 on 1. Glorfindel (who is pretty much the greatest of elven warriors, ever - I think we can hand-wave him), and Gandalf - who is a lesser Maiar and therefore only one ‘size’ smaller than the Balrog (albeit in human form and thus denied his divine (larger) Nature) . Everyone else takes them out with groups.
(Heck, even Gandalf wasn’t initially trying to kill the damn thing: the first Conflict was just “You shall not Pass.” vs. “Destroy the Fellowship.” Gandalf won with one Disposition and got a major compromise “drug into the depths; presumed dead.” It was only in the follow-up Conflict that he went to “Oh, it’s ON.”)
Re: Dragons. Bard was fighting as part of a larger group, all of whom were shooting at the dragon, so there were enough people involved to take it down. handwave
He just tapped Nature, pulled out the one-shot Black Arrow, and had his never-used, GM-mandated, “Thrush-wise” in for help (and, via the Thrush, helping dice from the hobbit who learned of the Dragon’s weak spot).
(I’m also not sure if Dragons are really the most horrible things out there, chart-wise, but that’s really a sort of season-to-taste thing.)
So how would Lore Master work?
First answer: it’s mundane application would be exactly like Lore Mouse; a use has many examples available in the books. Gandalf and the eagles, Dwarf-kind and Ravens. Men of Dale and thrushes. The Beornlings.
Note: This mundane version/application of Lore Master should, in my opinion, go back into the skill lists for Realm Guard. Anyone who spent serious time with the Wise (Faramir), or in Nature might believably have it. In the less-magical 4th age, it’s the perfect level of ‘magic’.
Second answer: using it for full-and-proper magic… I dunno. Luke pointed out a problem with my initial hack of it, so I’m back at a drawing board on how it looks and behaves.
On the face of it, the MAIN thing it does is work like Science (alchemy) by letting you take on stuff too big for you. I might ‘gate’ this level of application behind a Rank of 4, maybe, but that’s just so you can have Bard understanding the language of birds without also being able to set pinecones on fire; there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.
The main thing to remember when doing narration of magic is that, with Tolkien, there is a strong tendency for possibly-supernatural events to be described in equivocal terms, usually with the words “as if” or “seemed”.
(Hearing Tom’s song,) Frodo and Sam stood as if enchanted…
Except for magical artifact, and a few times when Gandalf really pulls out the big guns, the magic is very very subtle.
I’m just throwing stuff out there.