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Let's explore all the Middle-Earth games

Alban

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Skipping this one: between AiME and the OSR games, I have enough d20 variants. (That goes for Midnight, too.)
I checked their website, and they (Ea Rpg team) also aimed to propose 3 rule sets for playing in Middle Earth. One basic, one standard and one advanced.
Sadly, only the basic one seems finished. I took a brief look at the standard and advanced systems, and there are quite a lot of blank paragraphs.
I even found a paragraph (11.2) where the game refers to sub-systems from other games without explaining any of those (it's really "use rule A from game B, rule C from game D and rule E from game F").
 

Arioch

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Ok, I've updated the OP with all the games I might be doing. I won't force myself to be complete if I get too overwhelmed. So here are the characters I'm going to make with each:

There are four, two hobbits and two elves. The idea is to see if the game can handle a couple of specifically Tolkien characters, and also handle variations within each character type.

Eriond Took
An athletic young hobbit who, unlike many of his peers, enjoyed boating up and down the streams from the Shirebourn to the Brandywine. His friends thought him a bit mad, especially when he became captivated by Bilbo's stories and began openly wishing to see the Long Lake and the river running down from the mountain. A fine swimmer with a keen eye for nature.

Ortho "Uncle Mathom" Proudfoot
A stout, middle-aged hobbit, slow-moving and a little clumsy but with a keen mind. He was keeper of the Mathom-house (the Shire's museum) and his interests went beyond the normal hobbit love of genealogy to encompass a detailed study of the Shire's history. He's uncovered hints that hobbits originally came to the Shire from the east, and from old documents he's traced some of the development of hobbit language suggesting kinship to peoples from far away. But he's taken as research as far as he can with the records of the Shire, and he's decided that despite his sedentary nature, the only way to learn more is to venture into the East himself and see if he can find any trace that wandering hobbits left there.

Maeglar, March-Warden of Imladris
A Noldor of Elrond's court. Not so illustrious as Glorfindel or the sons of Elrond, but a mighty warrior nonetheless. Maeglar's task is to range beyond the bounds of the Rivendell, making sure that fell creatures come not too near and that the paths to the Hidden Valley remain hidden.

Lebenniel
A Wood Elf of Mirkwood. Although she appears young, she is old enough to remember her family's home in the central part of Mirkwood, before the Shadow spread north from the Mountains of Mirkwood and pushed Thranduil's court to its current location (just the latest in a long line of displacements). Lebenniel often wanders the woods alone, ranging southwards into dangerous regions, searching for remnants and memories of elves' former holdings.

The two hobbits are obviously quite different - one athletic, the other a sendentary scholar. The two elves, on the other hand, are similar on the surface - both rangers or hunters - and are meant to see if the system distinguishes between High Elves and Wood Elves.
Cool concepts!
If you don't consider it cheating, Against the Darkmaster also has a Sage Vocation, which might be particularly fitting for one of the characters. It isn't part of the Quickstart Rules, but will be included in the full rules and we talked about it in one of our blog posts: https://www.vsdarkmaster.com/2019/03/09/the-sage-a-low-magic-vocation/
 

JoeNotCharles

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Cool concepts!
If you don't consider it cheating, Against the Darkmaster also has a Sage Vocation, which might be particularly fitting for one of the characters. It isn't part of the Quickstart Rules, but will be included in the full rules and we talked about it in one of our blog posts: https://www.vsdarkmaster.com/2019/03/09/the-sage-a-low-magic-vocation/
I'll be honest with you, I've got enough to get through now that I'm probably not going to do the retroclones as well as the originals. I'll do them last at least and see if I've still got any steam.
 

Arioch

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I'll be honest with you, I've got enough to get through now that I'm probably not going to do the retroclones as well as the originals. I'll do them last at least and see if I've still got any steam.
Fair enough, I might jump in later and try to do the VsD version myself when you're done with the others, if that's ok with you.
 

fairytalejedi

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Ortho "Uncle Mathom" Proudfoot
A stout, middle-aged hobbit, slow-moving and a little clumsy but with a keen mind. He was keeper of the Mathom-house (the Shire's museum) and his interests went beyond the normal hobbit love of genealogy to encompass a detailed study of the Shire's history. He's uncovered hints that hobbits originally came to the Shire from the east, and from old documents he's traced some of the development of hobbit language suggesting kinship to peoples from far away. But he's taken as research as far as he can with the records of the Shire, and he's decided that despite his sedentary nature, the only way to learn more is to venture into the East himself and see if he can find any trace that wandering hobbits left there.
It's a shame you don't have the Decipher version, as this concept seems perfect for its Loremaster class. :)

I have fond memories of the Decipher version, though I agree with those who argue that it's probably better suited to a Tolkienesque game as opposed to Middle Earth proper. Still, I briefly considered using it again lately, before deciding to go another route with the game (sword & sorcery + fantasy races rather than an actual ME game).
 

JoeNotCharles

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Fair enough, I might jump in later and try to do the VsD version myself when you're done with the others, if that's ok with you.
Yeah, absolutely! I'd be interested to see how it differs from MERP itself.

It's a shame you don't have the Decipher version, as this concept seems perfect for its Loremaster class. :)
Please add Decipher writeups if you get the time! That's the only one I'd have to spend money on to do.

Anybody else who mentioned a free game, feel free to do it yourself if I don't get to it. But for now, let's start with MERP - 2nd Edition:

Woah, the intro to this game mentions a bunch of stuff that I never see in other games. The names of all the encircling seas, whole other continents. I've never even seen that in The Silmarillion - I wonder if it's from Tolkien's notes or just made up? I've had this book for a few years now (got it for $6 in my FLGS's used rack!) but every time I cracked it open I skipped over to the rules to see how they differed from Rolemaster. I don't think I ever paused on the intro page before. I see why the fluff is beloved. (And also contentious, if they went beyond Tolkien's creation a lot...)

Moving on, I see a sidebar about "converting characters from LOR". I didn't realize 2nd Edition actually came out in the 90's (LOR was 1991). LOR is actually the Tolkien-specific game I had as a kid, and I remember it fondly. (This was after I improvised a brief Middle-Earth campaign with Rolemaster.) Hmm, maybe I should do LOR first and MERP second. But my LOR box is all the way in the other room....

Anyway: character creation.

First there are 16 premade character templates. Silvan Elf Scout looks perfect for Lebenniel, and I could probably use Sindar Elf Warrior unchanged for Maeglar. (I said he was Noldor, but I was thinking the Wood Elves were Sindar and the Rivendell Elves were Noldor. Seeing "Silvan" and "Sindar" as separate things here made me realize I was wrong about that. Rivendell is mostly Sindar, with a few scattered Noldor like Glorfindel and Elrond and his children. The elves of Mirkwood are actually Nandor (Silvan) except for the king and his family, who are Sindar.) Hobbit Scout might fit for Eriond, if it can swim (the sample character is even a Took). I don't see anything for Uncle Mathom, though.

But I'll ignore that and make my own, starting with Eriond.

Actually, first I have to feed the cats and do the dishes. Tomorrow!
 

Robin Smallburrow

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Arda Marred & Amber RPG in Middle-earth are two systems you haven't mentioned. Arda Marred in particular was designed as a way of making MERP more 'Tolkieny' IIRC.

Robin S.
 

JoeNotCharles

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Man, having to deal with physical books is awkward - I can't just do this whenever I have a spare moment, I have to both have a spare moment and be in the same place as my books.

MERP characters have 6 stats, which look basically the same as the standard D&D ones: Strength, Agility, Constitution, Intelligence, Intuition and Presence. Plus Appearance which is buried in the text so I'm not clear if it counts as a stat. They're ranked from 1-100, and there's a table of bonuses similar to D&D's.

Roll 1d100 6 times, rerolling anything under 20, and assign as desired. Jump ahead to the Professions chapter, choose your character's profession, and (if you want) erplace their "prime stat" with 90. Also, elves have to put their highest stats in Presence (highest for Noldor, one of two highest for Sindar, one of three highest for Sylvan elves).

Eriond Took

Eriond's first roll is a 7, so I rolled another die and replaced it, getting a 99. Wow.

Looking ahead, Eriond is athletic, adventurous, likes nature, boats and rivers. I was thinking he'd be a Scout, but looking closer that's more of a thief type, and I think I'm going to make Eriond a Ranger. (It says they can learn spells, which doesn't really fit, but I don't think I have to learn spells.) That means the prime stat is Constitution. So I could either give him a really high Con (99) and put a 49 somewhere, or give him a 90 Con and make him pretty decent across the board. I don't see Eriond as being super hardy, more agile and perceptive, so I'll give him Con 90.

If I'm not mistaken these are supposed to be stats compared to the average member of your race, so I shouldn't give Eriond a high CO because hobbits in general are hardy - there will be racial adjustments later to reflect that. 90 means he's in the top 10% of endurance even among hobbits.

ST 94 +10
AG 99 +20
CO 90 +10
IG 77 +5
IT 98 +20
PR 84 +5

Eriond is a renaissance hobbit!
 
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