Capturing the "feel" of Tolkien.

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
The closest I have ever gotten is during the sequel D&D 3.x campaign to a highly successful 2E campaign, where the PCs were the children of PCs from the previous campaign (largely the same player group) and all the history, both background and played, really mattered. It was really wonderful, and I don't expect i will ever feel that way about a game again.
Aw! :(
By "feel" I mean the tone of the work that balances the mundane, the wondrous, and the horrific all at once; the sense of a deep history reaching up to produce the drama of the Now; the archetypes and ideals that yet hold on to humanity and even grittiness to some extent; and, most of all, the tug-of-war between hope and despair.

I can get some of those sometimes, but never all of them in a single game. I am not sure it is even possible in a game because the GM is not the author as such, but I do strive for it. . .

If you look at Tolkien's work and see it as a thing you would want to emulate in play, have you ever managed it? Did it require a ME/LotR game or campaign? What elements were hard? Which seemed to come easily? What do you think makes game "feel" like Tolkien?
Some of the "wondrous" comes from ignorance - not knowing what's out there, and being surprised at its discovery. Hard to do that when all of a game's monsters and spells and items are neatly listed in the book.

I tried an adventure in Orthanc, the tower of Isengard, once. Without walls of text blocks, it's hard to sound like you're Tolkien as you narrate a scene. But I used Modos 2 (in signature), which allowed the players to detach from the rules and pay more attention to the narrative, which helped a lot. It was also helpful to use as many Tolkien-words as possible, not just the proper nouns, but the older-English-sounding ones as well.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
NOTE: This thread isn't specifically about Middle Earth/Lord of the Rings RPGs, licensed, fan created or otherwise. it is about emulating the feel of high fantasy as exemplified but Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, The Hobbit.

If you look at Tolkien's work and see it as a thing you would want to emulate in play, have you ever managed it? Did it require a ME/LotR game or campaign? What elements were hard? Which seemed to come easily? What do you think makes game "feel" like Tolkien?
Tolkien takes time to revel and reflect in the mundane, pastoral, and everyday of the world instead of constantly bombarding you with the fantastical. Even some of the most fantastical elements - i.e., Tom Bombadil - exist as moments of reflection, calm, and/or whimsy. But in my The Sort of TTRPGs You Want to See More Of thread, I mention how a lot of fantasy novels and TTRPGs, particularly those coming out of the OSR scene, possess a cynical view of the world and its inhabitants, whereas Tolkien largely operated from a perspective of "hope" in the world and its people, even those that succumbed to evil, who were viewed with pity. So IMHO, an important part of emulating Tolkienesque play would be to frame the fiction in terms of how hope exists and people rising to that hope through their deeds.
 

aramis erak

Legend
If you look at Tolkien's work and see it as a thing you would want to emulate in play, have you ever managed it? Did it require a ME/LotR game or campaign? What elements were hard? Which seemed to come easily? What do you think makes game "feel" like Tolkien?
For me, it pretty much does require a game built to create the feel. And players willing to work within the tone, and with to accept the narrative restrictions imposed by the setting.

Now, there are other low-power high-fantasy settings. And those work differently, and feel differently., and require some tinkering to be able to get close to Tolkien's feel.
 

Eilathen

Explorer
If you look at Tolkien's work and see it as a thing you would want to emulate in play, have you ever managed it? Did it require a ME/LotR game or campaign? What elements were hard? Which seemed to come easily? What do you think makes game "feel" like Tolkien?

I'd love to have a meaningful experience like that, yes! ME is still one of my all-time favorite secondary worlds (although I do prefer The Silmarillion to LotR or TH). So much depth, flair and mythic atmosphere!

Unfortunately, I think the way to get that feel is by having just the right people with you at the table. And so far, i wasn't able to find those people. I haven't found a rules-set that inherently creates that feel either.
It surely is not created by AiME or ToR. A DnD rulesset will never be able to catch it, ruleswise. And ToR is still one of the biggest disappointments in my game-ing "career".

That being said, if I were to try a ME RPG campaign, I'd probably go with something that has narrative dials. At this moment in time, I'd probably use either Fate or Cortex + (or Prime). If i wanted something crunchier, I could see trying to hack Genesys.
 


PencilBoy99

Explorer
Yes but it is curious - I ran a One Ring Darkening of Mirkwood campaign (took 2 years). By the end we felt emotionally wrecked and it felt exactly Tolkeny - less the poems which I couldn't improv. I'm not sure what mechanics did that though - they have a bunch of them that all work together to point at his themes / feelings.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
I have, but this isn't about "what's the best ME game" or specifically about Middle Earth at all. It's about the feel Tolkien's work creates and how to potentially create it at the table.

TOR provides an answer to the design question you asked, you just have to be attentive to its answers.
 



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