[Middle Earth] Published Systems

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[Middle Earth] Published Systems

Post by Havard » Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:15 pm

Here are the published RPGs for the Middle Earth setting that I have found:
How many of these have you played? Which of them would you prefer for a future game set in JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth?

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Boneguard » Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:34 pm

I would personally exclude RoleMaster as MERP is a simplified version of it and RoleMaster was the default Fantasy system for Iron Crown Enterprise (I.C.E.).

I would add Lord of the Rings Adventure, Middle Earth Quest and Tolkien Quest to your list.

Every/Most MERP books (both 1st and 2nd edition) would include RokeMaster and Lord of the Rings (LOR) adventure stats.

I would personally go with MERP or The One Ring, despite the "bulkiness" of MERP, as I feel they have a better flow.
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by agathokles » Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:37 pm

I think MERP is nice, but really the setting is not that faithful to Tolkien's original one, due to the abundance of overt magic.
I'm not familiar with the other systems.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Falconer » Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:50 pm

  1. Rolemaster
  2. Middle-earth Role Playing
  3. Lord of the Rings Adventure Game
  4. The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game
  5. The One Ring Roleplaying Game
  6. 5e Adventures in Middle-earth
There are definitely Middle-earth products which use the Rolemaster system alone because they predate the MERP system. MERP is nothing more and nothing less than a lite version of Rolemaster. Once MERP was published, all Middle-earth products were dual-statted for RM and MERP, and also, all non-Middle-earth products were dual-statted for RM and MERP. LOR (#3) is an even liter version. Once it came out, all products were triple-statted for RM, MERP, and LOR.

If I had to pick one of the above with which to run a straight game, it would be RM with MERP’s simplified combat system but retaining RM’s classes and spells. The ICE support products make up a gigantic resource that is obviously unparalleled by the later games.

I like LotR (#4) for its magic system.

In practice, I use AD&D/1E as my baseline and incorporate bits I like from the above.

I would really love to love TOR, but I really don’t. Maybe it will be worth another look in 5 years, if it will be more of a toolbox by then and less of a straightjacket.
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by rabindranath72 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 4:46 pm

Tried all of them (plus LotR Adventure Game, which is just a variant of Middle-earth Quest) but I vastly prefer The One Ring.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by thorr-kan » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:56 pm

Falconer wrote:I would really love to love TOR, but I really don’t. Maybe it will be worth another look in 5 years, if it will be more of a toolbox by then and less of a straightjacket.
Huh.

I find TOR to be less a straightjacket that highly, highly focused. It's supposed to emulate the general going-to-hell period in Wilderland between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. I think it captures the feeling and the Professor's intentions very well.

And it's oh, so pretty...

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by rabindranath72 » Thu Sep 03, 2015 12:49 pm

thorr-kan wrote:
Falconer wrote:I would really love to love TOR, but I really don’t. Maybe it will be worth another look in 5 years, if it will be more of a toolbox by then and less of a straightjacket.
Huh.

I find TOR to be less a straightjacket that highly, highly focused. It's supposed to emulate the general going-to-hell period in Wilderland between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. I think it captures the feeling and the Professor's intentions very well.

And it's oh, so pretty...
Yes that's my feeling as well. It's extremely, exceedingly focused on the source material. I have played D&D with MERP, but I'd have trouble doing it with TOR.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Havard » Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:33 pm

I haven't played The One Ring (TOR) yet, but one of my friends speaks really highly of it. I like what he is telling me about how magic items are never random, but planned from the beginning of the adventure or campaign because you were meant to find that item and how some dwarves can use ravens to communicate for instance.

I also like how the more powerful characters are also the ones more vulnerable to corruption.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by thorr-kan » Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:57 am

rabindranath72 wrote:Yes that's my feeling as well. It's extremely, exceedingly focused on the source material. I have played D&D with MERP, but I'd have trouble doing it with TOR.
Speaking of MERP, has anybody come across a complete index of it?

I know there were oodles of sourcebooks, but my Google-fu has never been real good.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Falconer » Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:06 am

Here is the classic list:

ftp://ftp.funet.fi/index/RolePlaying/sy ... icelst.txt

And here you can find pictures and info on each product:

http://www.icewebring.com/ice-products/
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Falconer » Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:07 am

And links to retrospectives:

http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/phpbb3/ ... 43&t=11862

Very handy!
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Sturm » Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:11 am

agathokles wrote:I think MERP is nice, but really the setting is not that faithful to Tolkien's original one, due to the abundance of overt magic.
I'm not familiar with the other systems.
GP
I played MERP, noticed the same but I'm not sure it was necessarily a bad thing if you keep wizards quite rare...
The original material anyway had several magic users, mostly elves or other immortals, but the Nazgul were human sorcerers, or at least some of them were. The point is if you prefer to assume they were sorcerers already BEFORE they received the rings or rather they became sorcerers only BECAUSE they received the rings.

Anyway, anyone knows how The One Ring manages this issue of the rarity of magic?
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:10 am

Sturm wrote:
agathokles wrote:I think MERP is nice, but really the setting is not that faithful to Tolkien's original one, due to the abundance of overt magic.
I'm not familiar with the other systems.
GP
I played MERP, noticed the same but I'm not sure it was necessarily a bad thing if you keep wizards quite rare...
The original material anyway had several magic users, mostly elves or other immortals, but the Nazgul were human sorcerers, or at least some of them were. The point is if you prefer to assume they were sorcerers already BEFORE they received the rings or rather they became sorcerers only BECAUSE they received the rings.

Anyway, anyone knows how The One Ring manages this issue of the rarity of magic?
Magic for PCs is represented by racial "virtues", and there's only a handful of them (three "spells" for elves and three for dwarves) and not everyone has access to them. Elves for example can make an arrow particularly deadly, or can lure creatures with a sort of faerie fire, or put a creature to sleep. Dwarves know spells of opening and shutting, prohibition and exclusion, and secrecy.
There's no spell list, and even for monsters and NPCs, magic is represented by a special ability. Overall, there's not a "magic system" to speak of, which I feel is very much in keeping with the source material.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Sturm » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:18 am

Ok, thanks for the explanation. Still seems a bit too limiting to me, I guess it can work in the times of The One Ring main campaign, but I'm not sure it would be appropriate in the First or even the Second Age.

BTW someone knows if any Middle Earth Roleplaying material was ever published for playing in the past Ages? All the Merp I own is set end of the Third Age, IIRC.
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Boneguard » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:19 am

thorr-kan wrote:
rabindranath72 wrote:Yes that's my feeling as well. It's extremely, exceedingly focused on the source material. I have played D&D with MERP, but I'd have trouble doing it with TOR.
Speaking of MERP, has anybody come across a complete index of it?

I know there were oodles of sourcebooks, but my Google-fu has never been real good.
This will give you the list of every MERPS (and I.C.E. product).
http://www.icewebring.com/ice-products
Sturm wrote:
BTW someone knows if any Middle Earth Roleplaying material was ever published for playing in the past Ages? All the Merp I own is set end of the Third Age, IIRC.
IIRC all MERPS adventures are set in mid Third Age. Kin-Strife is set earlier and Palantir Quest is set in the Fourth Age. I think it's the only exception.
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by agathokles » Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:20 pm

I've just got The One Ring in PDF from Bundle of Holding... I'll post my thoughts on the system once I've read the book. For now, I've just skimmed the "how to play" section. The main mechanic is d12 + as many d6 as the applicable skill level (max 6) vs target number (in the 10-20 range, with 14 being a "moderate" difficulty for a skilled character). Characters can be humans (Beornings, Bardings, or Woodmen), dwarves, wood elves, or shire hobbits. "Callings" are somewhat similar to classes, and provide an edge in "professional" skills (Scholar focuses on lore, Slayer on fighting a specific type of enemy, Treasure-hunter on thievery, wanderer on travel, and warden is somewhat similar to the Dunedain Rangers).

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Havard » Sun Oct 11, 2015 3:01 pm

agathokles wrote:I've just got The One Ring in PDF from Bundle of Holding... I'll post my thoughts on the system once I've read the book. For now, I've just skimmed the "how to play" section. The main mechanic is d12 + as many d6 as the applicable skill level (max 6) vs target number (in the 10-20 range, with 14 being a "moderate" difficulty for a skilled character). Characters can be humans (Beornings, Bardings, or Woodmen), dwarves, wood elves, or shire hobbits. "Callings" are somewhat similar to classes, and provide an edge in "professional" skills (Scholar focuses on lore, Slayer on fighting a specific type of enemy, Treasure-hunter on thievery, wanderer on travel, and warden is somewhat similar to the Dunedain Rangers).
Cool GP,
I will be interested in hearing your opinion on the system. The concept of rolling 1d12 plus a bunch of six siders sounded pretty odd to me, but from what I have heard it works pretty well.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by agathokles » Mon Oct 12, 2015 11:27 am

It is somewhat similar to Alternity and Dragonfist, where you roll a primary die (d20) plus a bonus die based on attributes/skills, except here you get a wider range of bonus dice, so the impact of skill is higher.
The system is thus relatively simple, although there are many small details that prevent it from being considered truly lightweight. The game has interesting subsystems for travel and downtime. Overall, the game is good, but very focused: the main game is set in the Mirkwood area only, and an expansion provides information and cultures for Eriador (High Elves and Dunedain, but oddly, not for the Men of Bree).

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by agathokles » Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:42 am

Besides the base mechanic, TOR employs a feat-like system of traits, which are fairly free in format, and basically grant auto-success on a specific area of expertise, or the chance to make a roll when none was allowed, assuming the player can justify how his character's knowledge affects the outcome of the action.

Combat is managed through standard skill rolls, with fixed damage based on weapon type and the possibility of critical hits. Normal damage can only lead to unconsciousness, while critical damage causes wounds and possibly death.

There is a mechanic similar to Cinematic Unisystem Drama points or Star Wars Saga Force points. It is implemented in a particularly clever way, as the points come from a Hope pool. If the Hope pool falls down below the level of corruption of the character ("Shadow"), the character gets some psychological disadvantages, which mirrors physical disadvantages from damage accrued beyond a "fatigue" threshold.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:55 am

agathokles wrote:Besides the base mechanic, TOR employs a feat-like system of traits, which are fairly free in format, and basically grant auto-success on a specific area of expertise, or the chance to make a roll when none was allowed, assuming the player can justify how his character's knowledge affects the outcome of the action.

Combat is managed through standard skill rolls, with fixed damage based on weapon type and the possibility of critical hits. Normal damage can only lead to unconsciousness, while critical damage causes wounds and possibly death.

There is a mechanic similar to Cinematic Unisystem Drama points or Star Wars Saga Force points. It is implemented in a particularly clever way, as the points come from a Hope pool. If the Hope pool falls down below the level of corruption of the character ("Shadow"), the character gets some psychological disadvantages, which mirrors physical disadvantages from damage accrued beyond a "fatigue" threshold.

GP
The Fellowship mechanics are also quite interesting, since they provide pools of resources for other players to use.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems

Post by Havard » Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:46 pm

Added this to the list:
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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems

Post by JoeNotCharles » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:04 am

Not sure if you're taking unofficial games, but there are also:

Age of Shadow - Middle-Earth with the serial numbers filed off, system based on RuneQuest
Legends of Middle-Earth - A custom system based on d6 dice pools.

And I'm certain there was a retroclone of ICE's LOR, but I can't remember the name now or find any evidence on Google. (It had a 3-letter or 4-letter acronym for its name, I think containing an M, and I definitely remember it had an essay at the back about how the War of Dwarves and Orcs was the perfect setting for a Middle-Earth game.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by JoeNotCharles » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:16 am

Falconer wrote: I would really love to love TOR, but I really don’t. Maybe it will be worth another look in 5 years, if it will be more of a toolbox by then and less of a straightjacket.
I'm also a bit iffy on the system - I like a lot of the individual rules subsystems, but strongly dislike two of the central ones.

The setting information and the adventures are almost all AMAZING, though.

The new 5e material supposedly has subsystems adapted from TOR, and they're starting to convert TOR products to that system. I haven't tried them but people who disliked TOR might prefer the looser D&D-based system.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems

Post by JoeNotCharles » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:36 am

JoeNotCharles wrote: And I'm certain there was a retroclone of ICE's LOR, but I can't remember the name now or find any evidence on Google. (It had a 3-letter or 4-letter acronym for its name, I think containing an M, and I definitely remember it had an essay at the back about how the War of Dwarves and Orcs was the perfect setting for a Middle-Earth game.
...and there's a thread on it in this very forum: MEAG.

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Re: [Middle Earth] Published Systems?

Post by Tolwen » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:23 pm

thorr-kan wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:57 am
Speaking of MERP, has anybody come across a complete index of it?
EDIT: I was obviously somehow distracted as the link I found was already posted right after the original question. It seems I should take an old rule to heart - read first and type then ...

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