Middle Earth Role Playing
MERP for short
was a 1980's pen and paper role-playing game set in Tolkien's
world, made by Iron Crown Enterprises
under license until the late 90's.
I played it quite a bit as teen, and loved the game. Then in my twenties i was part of a campaign to preserve the books as licenses were lost in run
up to Peter Jackson's movies, and last played several years ago when i ran a bit of a campaign with some friends.
The game was notable for a few things; firstly and obviously it's setting and ability to make modules and adventures about places like Cirith Ungol,
Moria, Mirkwood and Mordor.
It also had a pretty amusing combat system that would give you graphic results for critical hits, like
Strike to head destroys brain and makes life difficult for the unfortunate fool. Expires in a heap, immediately.
for a very lucky sword strike, and
Chest strike destroys both lungs. Cut in half. Charge extends 10 feet giving an "A" critical in anyone in the way.
for an excellent roll with a lightning bolt.
But the favourite part for me was the art and the maps. Beautiful covers adorned the many Adventure and Campaign books, the first edition ones in
particular. One of the frequent artists was Angus McBride, who is a wonderful artist and illustrator.. he did the most hilarious and gross "Dracula"
book which i had as a kid, and is known to many as the illustrator in Channel 4's Time-Team. This is one of his:
I found the others equally wonderful too:
I still have my original copies of the above 2 (polishes geek badge)
But the real thing of beauty was the the maps that they included.
Oh, the maps.
They were beautifully drawn by Pete Fenlon in droolsome detail, he did all of western Middle Earth (the area featured in The Hobbit and Lord of the
Rings), of course drawing from and adding to Tolkien's wonderful maps. Other areas that were never illustrated by Tolkien were also created, stepping
off-piste as such for modules in places like Far Harad.
This map is for the area around the great City of Umbar, south of Gondor and Mordor, when the corsairs come from, ruled by the descendants of the
Numenoreans who sided with Sauron.
This is The Bay of Belfalas and the Isle of Tolfalas, in southern Gondor:
The river Anduin, straddling Ithilien, Gondor and Mordor. With Minas Tirith, Osgiliath and Minas Ithil/Minas Morghul.
Gorgoroth and Udun, in Mordor, showing Mount Doom and Barad Dur, Sauron's tower.
And the Mity Mountains, with Angmar, and The Eagle's Eyrie..
A map showing the location of The Paths of the Dead:
And a city-map of Pelargir, Gondor's great port:
A lot of care went into their earlier books and they were simply gorgeous to own and read. Obviously floor-plan type dungeon maps were made for the
various locations, like the Balrog's lair in Moria, caves in Trollshows, the homes of the Elves in Ost-in-Edhil where the rings were forged etc etc -
they were a real labour of love. I will try to post some more pictures later, depends on what i can find online, as i don't want to break t&cs
I found a lot of the pictures at various pages on This Blog
, but i have
a full collection already, this was just a handy source for pictures, and i'm going to read it as soon as i've hit post
And for those interested in playing, or taking a nostalgic trip...i found a UK edition rulebook, available all legit:
MERP Rulebook pdf
and likewise, a couple of adventure modules too:
Weathertop, Tower of the Wind
Dark Mage of Rhudaur pdf
Did any of you folk here at ATS ever play MERP?
edit on 8-12-2014 by skalla because: title
edit on 8-12-2014 by skalla because: missed a pic
edit on 8-12-2014
by skalla because: spotted a couple of typos
edit on 8-12-2014 by skalla because: minor stuff
edit on 8-12-2014 by
skalla because: typo