The One Ring (and ME RPGs in general)


I spent some time this weekend reading through The One Ring 2E (the Special Edition; OMG that book is gorgeous and the paper is awesome) along with Ruins of the Lost Realm, and watching various lore videos on YouTube.

I know a lot of people are hesitant or downright hostile to playing in Middle Earth for various reasons, from simply not liking the setting or because they don't think there is room for their own stories or whatever. I think it is a great setting for play because it is at once well defined from a thematic standpoint but full of undefined areas in both space and time. I also generally like to think of the Elves in particular as Unreliable Narrators, given how much terrible crap some of them got up to, even while talking up their own stewardship of the world. I don't mean to say that the Bad Guys of Middle Earth aren't Evil, just that the Elves are sure to have a skewed view of history and likely downplay or outright ignore things. It is in these "elf blind spots" that a lot of fun things can happen.

Plus, Tolkien does not get enough credit for embracing darkness and even weirdness in his world. Bombadil is a head scratcher, and so are whatever "were-worms" are. Unnamed Things allow you to put any sort of evil in the world, and you don't have to necessarily tie them to Melkor/Morgoth/Sauron (hello, Ungoliant).

Anyway, I tought it would be nice to have a thread where we can talk about The One Ring and other Middle Earth RPGs.

The first thing I always think about when considering a ME game is when to set it. The various wars of the First and Second Age are always seductive, but I really like the Fall of Arnor and the wars against the Witch King to be fertile ground (big "fall of the Carolingian Empire" energy in there). Of course, there is always the Fourth Age if you want tons of freedom to do whatever, creating your own version of The Return of the Shadow.

I like the default time and place of TOR, but do sort of feel it is too comfortably nestled in between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. If I want to run a game that is about the personals tories of people in that world, it's fine. But if I am of a mind to do something more epic and consequential, it does feel a little bit limiting or irrelevant even. One thing I have never done that I kind of want to try is to put the player generated characters in possession of the Ring and just see what happens.

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Front Range Warlock
I feel that some of the fan-created Middle Earth RPGs (Legends of Middle Earth, MEAG, and There and Back Again) actually do a better job of capturing the essence of the setting for me than the officially licensed RPGs have (although The One Ring is very good and many of the old MERP setting books are excellent).

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
While I don't care all that much for the execution of Rings of Power, there's a lot of fertile and loosely defined ground in the Second Age. I'd definitely consider it seriously if I were to run a game in ME.


I really enjoy my MERP books and the 5e AiME PDFs I have. I don't have a particular desire to go full on Tolkien in my RPGs, but they are great Fantasy sourcebooks with a familiar reference base.

I was considering running an AiME module campaign as one of the options I put forward the last time we were choosing a campaign theme and I was undecided whether I would want to adapt it to my homebrew setting or run it straight in Middle Earth. Knowing my group and myself it would probably have ended up as Army of Darkness in Middle Earth if we had gone that way.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I will say that I am positively giddy to read Gareth's Moria, even though I don't actually plan to start a TOR campaign.
Yeah, I'm so glad I backed that Kickstarter. I've been waiting for Moria for years.

Incidentally, the transfer of license from Cubicle 7 to Free League, followed in a reasonable amount of time by a reissued new edition, is very much what I wanted to see for FFG's Star Wars RPG, rather than transferring it to a different sub company of Asmodee and apparently leaving it to rot.

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