What System?

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What System?

Post by Falconer » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:16 pm

I was thinking of making a poll, but the forum software doesn’t allow for users to add poll options, and I didn’t think I could come up with an complete-enough list to cover all the possibilities, so just post replies. We’ve had threads listing and discussing official ME RPGs, but this is more open-ended and personal.

What RPG system have you used most recently, or would you ideally/realistically use in the near future, to game in Middle-earth?

Just curious!

Try to just gush about your favorite system without bashing other options!
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Re: What System?

Post by shesheyan » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:02 pm

My obvious go-to would be Middle-Earth 5E rules by Cubicle 7. I've looked over the PDF and it works for me. Never read The One Ring RPG by C7 so I can't compare. I never played MERPG by I.C.E. but had a very bad experience (in the 80s) with Role Master, which is the same system under the hood of MERPG. I'm thinking maybe BRP or an adaptation of Runequest by Chaosium could work.
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Re: What System?

Post by Tolwen » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:27 pm

I use my own homebrew that is still under development (though has reached some maturity already). For my personal preferences, MERP is far too generic whereas TOR is too narrow in its genre (though it has great and seminal elements that were a real eye-opener for me). For my games, I need something in-between with the flexibility to play a broader range of styles in Middle-earth, but still have mechanical core elements that add real Middle-earth flavour and favour/honour gameplay in the way of Tolkien's heroes.

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Re: What System?

Post by Keridwyn44 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:43 pm

I'm currently running an Adventures in Middle Earth campaign with my family, and we are all enjoying it a lot. Previously, we've played 3.5 & 5E D&D, but have found that the low magic, high drama environment is much more engaging to play in than those others. My husband played MERP back in the day, and he approves of this version, too.

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Re: What System?

Post by Khedrac » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:31 pm

Define "recently" - the last time I played an RPG set in Middle Earth the system was MERP (and it was over 20 years ago).

As for the future, I know it is very tied in to Glorantha, but the new RuneQuest (RQG) might be worth a look, I have yet to get a copy but if one could come up with a Middle Earth version of the rune traits system (which has its origins in Pendragon) it could become a very portable system!
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Re: What System?

Post by agathokles » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:13 pm

My group uses MERP/Rolemaster, so I generally go with that (in return, they bear with my penchant for BECMI when we play D&D). I'd probably use TOR if it was up to me, but I'm never the game master in Middle Earth games, as there are many other games where I'm the only available master in my group (D&D, most modern fantasy/horror games, Shadowrun, Star Wars).

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Re: What System?

Post by Falconer » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:21 pm

I’ve run Middle-earth games using AD&D 1e several times over the past few years. If you’re familiar with the early “Khazad Dûm” scenario from White Dwarf #38, that’s more-or-less my general approach. AD&D is more than fine for a one-shot—when you can totally customize a PC’s spells and equipment and abilities, you can ensure it is appropriate to Middle-earth. But for a longer campaign in which the characters experience advancement, some more work is required so that the advancement is structured within the bounds of Middle-earth. My current project is to convert the Decipher LotR spells. I feel they did a really great job on those. Next would be to change a few things in AD&D to be closer to MERP where it makes sense for ease of converting adventures and treasures from MERP. For one thing, I would be adapting the coinage system essentially wholesale from RM/MERP, and making a few different price lists of common equipment depending on where you are shopping (Bree would be different from Dol Amroth!).
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Re: What System?

Post by Falconer » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:28 pm

My reason for sticking with AD&D is simple. I know it. I don’t think RM or CODA or 5E are inherently more suitable to Middle-earth than AD&D is, and if they can be appropriated to Middle-earth, then so can AD&D. TOR seems to be the only RPG built from the ground up for Middle-earth, and while I admire it from afar, I have pretty strong ideas about what I want to do in a Middle-earth campaign, for which I need more of a toolbox ruleset (AD&D), and more of a wide-open, sprawling sandbox setting (ICE’s).
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Re: What System?

Post by Havard » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:49 pm

I've never GMed Middle Earth myself, but I have played in several MERP and RM campaigns. We also did a brief stint with BECMI in Middle Earth years ago. One of the people in my group speaks very warmly of TOR, but he hasn't run it with our group yet since he is doing another campaign for us. Hopefully I will get to play it some time. I own MERP, TOR and the CODA one.

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Re: What System?

Post by Tolwen » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:15 pm

One of things I really don't like in TOR is the way the rules for playable cultures are published. Of course the Core Book gives you all the necessary mechanics as such, but you start with only a local selection of cultures of the northern Mirkwood area (Beornings, Bardings, Dwarves of Erebor, Wood-elves, Woodmen) plus Hobbits of the Shire. It is only with additional regional expansion modules/books that you get the cultural mechanics to play more people (list as of 2018-06-06):
  • Northern Dúnedain & Noldor in Rivendell,
  • Men of Bree in Bree,
  • Dunlendings & Rohirrim in Horse-lords of Rohan,
  • Dwarves of the Iron Hills and Dwarves of the Grey Mountains in Erebor (sic!)
And Gondor and its people are not covered at all by now (7 years after the core rulebook was published). This piecemeal strategy leaves some kind of smack to me. Of course it gives the developers time to build everything from the ground up with no rush to have everything complete at the start, but it also smells like a Trading Card strategy: You hook up customers with the Core Book (which holds the basic rules), but to make full use of the whole setting (culture-wise with mechanics), you have to buy extra expansion sets. It's a thin line to walk and can be perceived as a rip-off to put more pressure on customers to buy that stuff. It also makes the original rules more heavy with extra options - which is also not for everyone I guess.
In addition, the sometimes extensive rules-section in the regional books take up a lot of space that is lost for the the specific regional content (fluff, sites, adventures etc.).

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Re: What System?

Post by snorri » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:04 pm

* Ryutamaa. Focus on travel with nice tool to handle them. Characters types fit the mood (farmers, artisans, healers, nobles, hunters,...). Interesting combat system - you get bonuses if you use surroundings elements of the battlefield.
Magic is a bit weird, but who really need a magic system for Middle-Earth ? Anyway, it's perfect for elves as it focus on animals and plants. You just don't need the cute dragons.

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Re: What System?

Post by Falconer » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:22 pm

You’re absolutely right, Tolwen. I’ve always said it will be great to see TOR in five or ten years after they’re done slowly trickling out bits of Middle-earth and start publishing more encyclopedic collections—a player’s book with all the playable options; a gazetteer covering all the lands of NW ME; a comprehensive creatures book; etc. Until then, it’s great if you want to run their prepackaged campaigns, but weak if you have strong ideas of what you want to do with it. It’s getting better, to be sure (if you purchase all the fancy books, of course), and to be fair it was several years before ICE published its Lords/Creatures/etc. compilations. But those ICE books exist, you know what I mean? So it makes a lot of sense to use them for now.
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Re: What System?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:38 pm

Keridwyn44 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:43 pm
I'm currently running an Adventures in Middle Earth campaign with my family, and we are all enjoying it a lot. Previously, we've played 3.5 & 5E D&D, but have found that the low magic, high drama environment is much more engaging to play in than those others. My husband played MERP back in the day, and he approves of this version, too.
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Re: What System?

Post by Keridwyn44 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:41 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:38 pm
...assuming you didn't sign up to The Piazza to work on Evil GM Plans™ that you don't want him to know about, because he is one of your players. ;)
You caught me! :D

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Re: What System?

Post by finarvyn » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:43 pm

I have both the 5E Middle-earth and TOR games and like them a lot better than MERP or the Decipher one. My group isn't as into learning a new system so I think I'm most likely to run the 5E version or an OD&D homebrew next time I run a Middle-earth campaign.
Tolwen wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:15 pm
Gondor and its people are not covered at all by now (7 years after the core rulebook was published). This piecemeal strategy leaves some kind of smack to me. Of course it gives the developers time to build everything from the ground up with no rush to have everything complete at the start, but it also smells like a Trading Card strategy: You hook up customers with the Core Book (which holds the basic rules), but to make full use of the whole setting (culture-wise with mechanics), you have to buy extra expansion sets. It's a thin line to walk and can be perceived as a rip-off to put more pressure on customers to buy that stuff. It also makes the original rules more heavy with extra options - which is also not for everyone I guess.
I think that this (Gondor not covered) was intentional. Remember that the default setting is supposed to be more in the time of The Hobbit and not The Lord of the Rings, so what they are developing is the Wilderlands area around Mirkwood. I don't think they "want" to bring Gondor and the south into the game, although given enough time I'm sure they will expand far enough for it.
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Re: What System?

Post by Tolwen » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:48 am

finarvyn wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:43 pm
I think that this (Gondor not covered) was intentional. Remember that the default setting is supposed to be more in the time of The Hobbit and not The Lord of the Rings, so what they are developing is the Wilderlands area around Mirkwood. I don't think they "want" to bring Gondor and the south into the game, although given enough time I'm sure they will expand far enough for it.
For the beginning you're right. The original name was "The One Ring - Adventures over the edge of the Wild". However, the updated Core Rules were re-named "The One Ring Roleplaying Game" - dropping the part that pointed at Rhovanion. They started out with Wilderland (around the northern half of Mirkwood), but gradually reach out further. The - now - playable cultures of Hobbits of the Shire (even a starter culture), Men of Bree, Northern Dúnedain, Noldor, Dunlendings and Rohirrim are not really located in or near the Mirkwood area. Whether they did this enlargement as part of a pre-conceived plan to gradually enlarge the playable cultures or it is due to necessity is a good question. But whatever the cause - the result is the same (providing the iconic cultures only piecemeal).
It is true that the area around Mirkwood has received somewhat more attention, though the "worldbuilding" remains fairly limited even there. But I guess that is intentional and in-line with the game more building on feel and atmosphere rather than on facts and in-depth (original) background info regarding history, cultures, migrations and politics etc.
The timeframe has IMO no real impact on regional foci. The "Hobbit" and "LotR" eras are close enough in the context of the historical background (only about 75 years apart) with little change in terms of the realms involved.

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Re: What System?

Post by JoeNotCharles » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:49 pm

I haven't been able to run any actual Middle-Earth adventures recently, because none of my gaming groups are interested. But I did sneak some with-the-serial-numbers-filed-off conversions of The One Ring's Tales from Wilderland adventures into a campaign of Beyond the Wall, an OSR game which is a great tonal fit.

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Re: What System?

Post by chook » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:08 am

Rolemaster (RM) with MERP supplements for setting material.

/thread.

The game is purpose built for the setting. RM gives more mechanical options than MERP. All of the races are based on Tolkien's writing, High Men are the Dúnedain while Common Men are the various groups of men who did not fight with the elves against Morgoth in the First Age; the Noldor, Sindar and Silvan Elves are represented as playable races with accuracy. If you have spare kidneys to sell, the original MERP material is by far the best available.

Every other game that has tried to do Middle Earth cannot hold a candle to the quality of this work. They have tried but all have fallen very short.

Last Middle Earth game I ran was about two years ago. I feel it is important that the players and the GM have an understanding of what the setting is as it differs greatly from a traditional fantasy role playing game was of playing. In short, magic is a very rare and incredibly powerful thing, not just in terms of spells but magic items. Rewards of weapons and armour are generally those of incredible quality when I run it, not necessarily of enchanted power. Emotions are powerful and important things because Hope can overcome adversity and bring about victory. There is one line in the Peter Jackson movies (which are good but not faithful adaptions) which I felt very much captured this sentiment when Legolas asks Aragorn to forgive him because he was wrong to despair.

I could go on and on but honestly I think I am pretty seriously biased here given I grew up with MERP and RM. They were my first system (I use the singular to describe them together) after BECMI before I even got my first AD&D book.

This is also the point were I might mention I am working on an adaptation of Mystara to RMFRP that I intend to share for all once it is done.

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