RPGs Will the Hobbit bring in new gamers?





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  1. #1

    Will the Hobbit bring in new gamers?

    I came to fantasy RPG gaming -- D&D -- from wargaming, but in large part because I was a huge fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The last major growth in fantasy RPGs, driven by D&D 3E and the d20 surge, coincidentally occurred just as the three Lord of the Rings movies were being released.

    With three Hobbit movies coming, is there an opportunity for a surge in gaming? Is WotC behind in not having 5E (or even a new release of 4E material) ready for release as the Hobbit hits theaters, to try and grab on to the rising tide of interest? Or is this an opportunity for other companies to grab on to Hobbit popularity with the release of new LotR gaming material or other new fantasy gaming items?
    Last edited by Olgar Shiverstone; Saturday, 13th October, 2012 at 05:10 PM.
    "The Soul of D&D? It's rolling a natural 20 when you're down to 3 hit points and the cleric's on the floor and you're staring that sunnavabitch bugbear right in his bloodshot eye and holding the line just long enough to let the wizard unleash a fireball at the guards who are on their way, because they're all that stands between you, the Foozle and Glory." - WizarDru

 

  • #2
    Another thought ... should EN World fill in the gap? Is it time to bring back @ColonelHardisson 's Middle Earth D20 page on EN World, to try and encourage and influence some of these future Hobbit-inspired gamers?
    "The Soul of D&D? It's rolling a natural 20 when you're down to 3 hit points and the cleric's on the floor and you're staring that sunnavabitch bugbear right in his bloodshot eye and holding the line just long enough to let the wizard unleash a fireball at the guards who are on their way, because they're all that stands between you, the Foozle and Glory." - WizarDru

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    Was there a surge in gamers or did any company successfully take advantage of the release of the Lord of the Rings movies?

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    It seems like the game industry operates in a vacuum, and reacts rather than acts when it comes to opportunities like the Jackson movies.

    MERP (Middle-earth Roleplaying) lost the license before the movies were released, then Decipher didn't get its game out until 2002. So no game was in print for Middle-earth when the first movie was released.

    Decipher's game never seemed to build any momentum, despite being much better than it was given credit for. Decipher didn't even release a sourcebook for Return of the King, which was a glaring absence after the release of sourcebooks for the first two movies. Those books were pretty good, too. The entire Decipher Middle-earth RPG line was solid. The game itself, the CODA system, is very similar to d20; I always said it was d20 using 2d6. It handled things like classes and advancement a bit differently, and in a way that I liked. Still, the following it gathered never seemed to get as big as you'd expect for a licensed property of Middle-earth's magnitude.

    I haven't seen the current Cubicle 7 game. It's gotten some good notices and awards. I'm not hearing too much about it, otherwise.

    3e was released the year before the Fellowship movie. 3e was huge, but I don't know if the movies gave it any kind of appreciable bump.

    During its rather long run, MERP did pretty well for much of that time, apparently, judging by the number of books they published over the years. It's impossible to say what would have happened had it continued to exist when the movies were released, and was properly promoted in conjuntion with them.

    My own feeling is that not as many people want to game in Middle-earth as you would think. I don't know why that is.
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    I wanted to add that there were a couple of fairly consistent reasons people gave for not wanting to game in Middle-earth. Pretty much either of them could apply to other licensed games that sold well, too.

    *Tolkien's writing touches some so deeply and personally, that they can't countenance the thought of altering canon.

    *The quest to destroy the One Ring is often seen to be the only worthwhile thing to do in Middle-earth. Some don't want to mess with canon, so they never get to handle the Ring or do anything they consider interesting.

    The first is one reason you can't really reason with. These folk won't play in Middle-earth, anyway.

    The second never made a lot of sense to me. Middle-earth, even without the Ring or in the times it was lost or inactive, was more detailed and interesting than most, if not all, other game settings. Even with the Ring destroyed, there were a lot of things to do in Middle-earth. At risk of pimping it too much, I wrote about that very subject at length; you can read about it here. That's the last time I link to that, because I don't want to be seen as spamming.
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  • #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelHardisson View Post
    My own feeling is that not as many people want to game in Middle-earth as you would think. I don't know why that is.
    The real opportunity I see for RPGs is not so much for Middle Earth games per se -- I think those will generally have limited life -- but the opportunity to use the movies and Middle Earth as a bridge to bring new gamers into the broader hobby.

    Hardcore gamers I can see generally being lightly or not at all interested in another ME-based game. But imagine elementary school kids who were too young (or not born) for the release of LotR, but for whom the Hobbit trilogy will be their first exposure to a major fanatasy series that they will see on the big screen for the first time. They want more ... and there's a natural segway into RPGs if the right hooks are there.

    The RPG industry failed to capitalize on the Harry Potter series (again, not so much to sell massive numebrs of HP RPGs, but to use a HP RPG as a gateway game to bigger RPG franchises), in large part due to JK Rowling's resistance. That same resistance is not there for the Tolkien properties -- can the RPG industry take the advantage?

    Thus far, I don't think it is positioned to, or we'd bee seeing more gaming products announced with movie tie-ins, or at least timed to take advantage of synergy with the movie releases. LEGO is all over it; who not gaming?

    Aside: @ColonelHardisson ... love the blog, BTW. Great analysis of the various MERP products. I now regret not having picked up the game back in the '80s (being a kid with little $, I bought D&D products but couldn't afford to expand into another game line). When is your Moria review going up? I've often considered a 4th Age Middle-Earth / D&D campaign built around the cleansing of Moria, but didn't want to have to create that mega-dungeon from scratch.
    Last edited by Olgar Shiverstone; Saturday, 13th October, 2012 at 04:52 PM.
    "The Soul of D&D? It's rolling a natural 20 when you're down to 3 hit points and the cleric's on the floor and you're staring that sunnavabitch bugbear right in his bloodshot eye and holding the line just long enough to let the wizard unleash a fireball at the guards who are on their way, because they're all that stands between you, the Foozle and Glory." - WizarDru

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    Nothing brings in new gamers but good game masters.
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  • #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    Nothing brings in new gamers but good game masters.
    Mostly I'd agree.

    But I have to say that I'm an exception ... I picked up D&D because it looked interesting and Hobbit-ish, taught myself to play, and then taught friends so I'd have people to play with.

    RPGs have gotten quite complicated and the barrier to entry is such that it almost forces the need for "a good game master" as the sole barrier to entry ... but how does that help people & kids who don't know RPGs exist (outside of video games and MMOs) and don't know a game master, but are potentially interested because of an interest in fantasy epics?
    "The Soul of D&D? It's rolling a natural 20 when you're down to 3 hit points and the cleric's on the floor and you're staring that sunnavabitch bugbear right in his bloodshot eye and holding the line just long enough to let the wizard unleash a fireball at the guards who are on their way, because they're all that stands between you, the Foozle and Glory." - WizarDru

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olgar Shiverstone View Post
    Aside: @ColonelHardisson ... love the blog, BTW. Great analysis of the various MERP products. I now regret not having picked up the game back in the '80s (being a kid with little $, I bought D&D products but couldn't afford to expand into another game line). When is your Moria review going up? I've often considered a 4th Age Middle-Earth / D&D campaign built around the cleansing of Moria, but didn't want to have to create that mega-dungeon from scratch.
    Thanks for the kind words.

    Unfortunately, the Moria discussion will be a while in coming. There are three good Moria products: the original MERP version, the later expanded MERP version, and the boxed set from Decipher, so it'll be a massive undertaking just to give a look at them all. I'll be covering Goblin-gate and Eagle's Eyrie around then, too. In addition, the way I've been doing the blog has the southern Middle-earth books up next - Umbar, Greater Harad, Far Harad, Nazgul's Citadel, and Shadow in the South.

    The Moria products I own are all pretty good. My favorite would be the later, expanded MERP book, which was part of the Citadels of Middle-earth series. The trouble with either of the MERP versions is that they're hard to find, and expensive when they turn up. I was lucky to buy the original new, and found the expanded one at a used bookstore for $10 a couple years ago. However, Decipher's boxed set can be found on some shelves still, and it's not that expensive online. It's not a bad product.

    Also, Axe of the Dwarvish Lords could be tweaked to make for a pretty passable Moria. At the least, the maps can still be downloaded from WotC's site here. They're pretty snazzy.
    "Illegitimis non carborundum." - General Joseph Stilwell

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    My guess is that if tabletop gaming companies can focus their marketing, it could happen.

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