Cubicle 7 No Longer Producing The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth

Cubicle 7 has announced that it will cease publishing Tolkien-related games, including The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth, in early 2020. The One Ring 2E is cancelled.

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‘I am with you at present,’ said Gandalf, ‘but soon I shall not be. I am not coming to the Shire.’


We have some very unfortunate and unexpected news to share. Contractual differences arose recently which we have been unable to resolve, and so we have decided to end our licensing agreement with Sophisticated Games. It is with regret that we have made this very tough decision to withdraw.

This means we will cease publishing The One Ring and Adventures in Middle-earth™ in the first half of 2020. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give us enough time to release the much-anticipated The One Ring – The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game second edition. As many of you know, our first edition of The One Ring is eight years old, and we had high hopes of a full product line to support our second edition. Our team have worked incredibly hard on this new edition; with many of the announced titles already written and edited, so being very close to completion makes this decision even harder.

We fully appreciate how invested so many of you are, both in regards to stock and your love of the game. Especially those who have followed our journey from first edition, or have customers who have pre-ordered the second edition or Rohan Region Guide. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.

We will continue selling our existing stock over the next few months. We will be offering some discounts on our website for consumers as part of our Black Friday sale this week. We will not be reprinting any of these titles, so if you wish to stock up, we would suggest you contact your preferred distributor soon.
 
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Comments

CapnZapp

Hero
Francisco also strongly implies the same; the rights revert to him. And not just TOR/LOTR RPG - Hobbit tales, as well.
You can be sure the only rights are securely in the possession of Tolkien Estates.

(Having rights to a specific implementation of a MERP role-playing game means zilch if you aren't allowed to publish anything Middle-Earth. So I'm not exactly countering your claim, just making sure we're not losing sight of the greater picture)
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
You can be sure the only rights are securely in the possession of Tolkien Estates.

(Having rights to a specific implementation of a MERP role-playing game means zilch if you aren't allowed to publish anything Middle-Earth. So I'm not exactly countering your claim, just making sure we're not losing sight of the greater picture)
SG's license isn't over, and C7 never had the license to begin with, SG did, and partnered with C7 to get Francisco's game published. A lot of the art belongs to Jon Hodgeson, who painted it and licensed it to C7, or in many cases, did as work for hire. And while the products eventually will lose their license from MEE, it's irrelevant to the mechanics, which SG and Francisco have both said remain with Francisco.
Meaning, when SG loses their license, MEE loses the ability to reprint the game, as does SG, but Francisco can retheme are rerelease, not that I think he would, but I know a bunch of fans would like that.

IP is rife with ugly niggling bits. I only found out about SG having the license when C7 pulled out of the partnership. Several of the reports covered that.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
SG's license isn't over, and C7 never had the license to begin with, SG did, and partnered with C7 to get Francisco's game published. A lot of the art belongs to Jon Hodgeson, who painted it and licensed it to C7, or in many cases, did as work for hire. And while the products eventually will lose their license from MEE, it's irrelevant to the mechanics, which SG and Francisco have both said remain with Francisco.
Meaning, when SG loses their license, MEE loses the ability to reprint the game, as does SG, but Francisco can retheme are rerelease, not that I think he would, but I know a bunch of fans would like that.

IP is rife with ugly niggling bits. I only found out about SG having the license when C7 pulled out of the partnership. Several of the reports covered that.
We apparently are in agreement then :)

If Tolkien Estates feels this debacle makes SG unsuited as the games license holder, they can find a better licensee when the current contract lapses. (Not that I think a ttrpg debacle becomes even a blip on their radar, but still)

Mostly just saying the center of this ain't Sophisticated Games, and it ain't Francisco. They all only get to play only as long as Tolkien lets them.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
We apparently are in agreement then :)

If Tolkien Estates feels this debacle makes SG unsuited as the games license holder, they can find a better licensee when the current contract lapses. (Not that I think a ttrpg debacle becomes even a blip on their radar, but still)

Mostly just saying the center of this ain't Sophisticated Games, and it ain't Francisco. They all only get to play only as long as Tolkien lets them.
Tolkien Estate has literally ZERO to due with it. Middle Earth Enterprises owns the rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Nothing else of Tolkien's work. It's a US Based company, formerly the Saul Zaentz Company.

The professor sold the rights half a century ago... a huge mistake on his part... for those two. Everything else belongs to the Estate, but the estate never got the rights back from MEE. I suspect Christopher might be able to get them as he was an uncredited but documented participant in their creation, and the US copyright code allows for termination of a sale of copyright rights... He could, with a savvy lawyer, potentially reunite his father's works to the estate.
See U.S. Copyright Office - Termination of Transfers and Licenses Under 17 U.S.C. 203

Note that Steve Jackson Games just did so with The Fantasy Trip, which he did on contract for Metagaming... and I've a big box of reprint nearby thanks to him doing so.
 

Crusadius

Explorer
We apparently are in agreement then :)

If Tolkien Estates feels this debacle makes SG unsuited as the games license holder, they can find a better licensee when the current contract lapses. (Not that I think a ttrpg debacle becomes even a blip on their radar, but still)

Mostly just saying the center of this ain't Sophisticated Games, and it ain't Francisco. They all only get to play only as long as Tolkien lets them.
There is no debacle. C7 decided that they could not publish TOR 2E for reasons they have not revealed. SG will therefore look for another publishing partner as they have indicated they want 2E published.

Not sure why any of the owners of the rights would care about a delay with the publishing of a niche product by the license holder due to a commercial agreement between the holder and another party being terminated.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Tolkien Estate has literally ZERO to due with it. Middle Earth Enterprises owns the rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Nothing else of Tolkien's work. It's a US Based company, formerly the Saul Zaentz Company.
To quote wikipedia:
"The company {MEE} owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of J. R. R. Tolkien's two most famous literary works: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. These elements include the titles of the works, the names of characters contained within as well as the names of places, objects and events within them, and certain short phrases and sayings from the works.
...
J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sold the film, stage and merchandising rights of those works to United Artists in 1968..."

There was some contention (settled out of court) about gambling machines and video games.

Copyright for the original books remains with the Estate.
 

Reynard

Legend
There is no debacle. C7 decided that they could not publish TOR 2E for reasons they have not revealed. SG will therefore look for another publishing partner as they have indicated they want 2E published.

Not sure why any of the owners of the rights would care about a delay with the publishing of a niche product by the license holder due to a commercial agreement between the holder and another party being terminated.
Did C7 do anything other than publish the books? As in, do we expect a major change in style, editorial perspective or art direction should SG decide to publish directly?
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Did C7 do anything other than publish the books? As in, do we expect a major change in style, editorial perspective or art direction should SG decide to publish directly?
Many of the books were worked on by C7 staffers, and the primary artist and art director for much of the line was Jon Hodgeson, who was, until recently, a C7 staffer, and very much the voice of C7 in the C7 TOR Forums. If Jon's implication is inferred correctly, then there should be at least visual continuity... Noting that Jon has not confirmed participation, merely implied it by where and when and how he phrased that post.
 
Cubicle 7 and their authors did all the work on TOR and AiME and Sophisticated Games was just the license holder and go-between and, I think, probably got greedy and wanted a bigger piece of the pie from TOR 2nd Ed, forcing C7 to terminate their deal. I honestly do not believe that C7 came to the decision without any outside influence at all.

IP is rife with ugly niggling bits. I only found out about SG having the license when C7 pulled out of the partnership. Several of the reports covered that.
I knew about this arrangement before the original slipcase version of the core rules were published, as I was following the development of the game as soon as it was announced.
 
Several were done or contributed to by freelancers, rather than C7 staff.
Same thing to me. They were hired or contracted by C7 and not Sophisticated Games, and while they wrote the material, they worked for C7. It is not like they wrote the rule book, then took it to C7 and said "look at this cool book, you should go and talk to SG about sub-leasing their deal to publish Middle-Earth games." So on the actual payroll as an employee or hired to freelance the work, they were still being paid by C7.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Same thing to me. They were hired or contracted by C7 and not Sophisticated Games, and while they wrote the material, they worked for C7. It is not like they wrote the rule book, then took it to C7 and said "look at this cool book, you should go and talk to SG about sub-leasing their deal to publish Middle-Earth games." So on the actual payroll as an employee or hired to freelance the work, they were still being paid by C7.
Francisco and Marco went to SG, who contracted C7, at least that's the impression Francisco was giving on RPGG.
 

AndromedaRPG

Explorer
FYI $15 will get you digital copies of all the Adventures in Middle-Earth books

Well, it is all of them but the Rohan Region Guide. Still an awesome deal! That final PDF can be purchased from DriveThruRPG at this time.
 

Lurker Above

Explorer
Oh well, another Middle Earth tabletop rpg bites the dust, leaving MERP as the continuing champion of the genre. I wanted to like TOR/AiME but I just thought the mechanics in both cases were too intrusive and meta-gamey. The character classes were pretty lame as well. This is too bad because the art was pretty good and the decision to set the game between The Hobbit and LOTR made sense from a standpoint of familiarity, though it also had limitations that one didn't have with the earlier default time period of MERP. Still, a bit of a shame they didn't get to finish the product line they had planned out.
 

JeffB

Hero
My 2 clacks..

ICE/MERP held the license the longest by far : 82-ish for the first ME universal system supplement, then '84 for MERP itself and held through 1999. And produced the most amount of material by far.

And disregarding whatever one feels about the system itself, the source material that ICE produced are some of the best RPG "Lore" material produced in the hobby. On the whole, the MERP sourcebooks are pretty danged amazing The maps too- Fantastic maps. I'd say if there was a downfall it would be some of the adventure books. Not all, but some.

Also- Angus McBride one of the best (and prolific ME) artists of all time- His covers and interiors- well C7 or Decipher cannot compare in the least.

From a business perspective ICE did a fantastic job with keeping the setting alive much like WEG did for Star Wars during times when the franchise was otherwise dead. Today, it's easy to be successful with a LOTR/ME product unless you are inept. But when ICE had the license, It was nowhere near the pop culture heavyweight it is now in the post PJ Movie years.

So yeah, I'd give ICE's work the nod. The bad thing is the MERP material is not available anymore for purchase and print copies of most things are VERY expensive so many people are not/will never be familiar with it :(
 

Crusadius

Explorer
Frankly, that is not a fact and it´s quite debatable.
To add to the post by @JeffB, MERP had two editions and, according to wikipedia, ICE was working on a 3rd edition before they lost the licence. ICE also release a CCG and an introductory rpg with the Intellectual Property. MERP may not be the best ruleset for LotR, but ICE supported the IP for 15 years and from all appearances would have kept going for a few more years. For longevity and support, I think ICE is ahead of the pack.
 

Lurker Above

Explorer
The setting detail alone in the ICE products is amazing. Sure, they went "off canon" a bit, but is it cool to have names and backstories for all nine ringwraiths? Hell, yes!

And unlike TOR or AiME, they didn't just try to shoehorn you into reliving the books with restrictive journey mechanics and audiences and patrons and crap like that. They gave you a metric ton of material and said, enjoy! The maps alone are worth the product price. I'm still re-purposing those old MERP maps for my current games.
 

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