Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This Could Be Hobbit Forming!

I have been waiting years to use that title.

So an interesting thing happened yesterday.  There were not two, not three but four "Tolkien and D&D" posts made to the blogs I read all within hours of each other.  I have no reason to assume the author's all planned this, but if you are a fan of Tolkien, Lord of the Rings and D&D then it was a great day of reading.

Tolkien and D&D have had a relationship for as long as there have been a D&D.  While one only needs to look to Halflings for this there are plenty of other examples including the obvious elf and orc ones.  There are also the Balors and Treants or as they appeared in the earliest edition, Balrogs and Ents.

While it was politic for a while to dismiss the effect Tolkien had on D&D, no one really tow's that line anymore.  Gary even rather famously distanced himself from it and his followers likewise took the same point of view.

These next four bloggers are not of that frame of mind.

Tim Shorts of +Gothridge Manor starts us out in Musings from a Man Playing Two Middle Earth Games.   Tim talks about one of our other bloggers, Rob Conley, and his love for Tolkien.  We will get to him in a bit.  His point of view comes from that of the casual Tolkien fan, but also as someone that is enjoying both games he is in.  Immersion seems to be the key for Tim.  The time taken for the adventure feels different for Middle Earth than say D&D. The pacing is key.

+Jonathan Hicks over at Farsight Blogger discusses playing two other Middle Earth games as a self-described big fan in J.R.R. Tolkien and my roleplaying hobby.  His discussion centers around the classic Iron Crown Enterprises Middle-Earth Roleplaying game (of which I was also a big fan) and the later The Decipher Lord of the Rings roleplaying game using the CODA system.  Now for me both systems had their issues, but their fluff was top notch.  Hicks' post is a great narrative of games that "almost were" and some of the issues of playing in Tolkien's world. Or at least the issues of one GM in particular.  I have to largely agree with his post.  Tolkien's world(s) are huge and detailed, but sometimes that detail works against you.

+Rob Conley over at Bat in the Attic follows this up with his Why Middle Earth has been working for me. It is a follow-up to Tim Short's post above but also works as follow up to Hicks.   Rob, also a self-professed big fan, discusses his issues with the MERP system (which I largely agree with) and his enjoyment of the newer Adventures in Middle Earth from Cubicle 7 that uses D&D5 as a base.  The time period of the C7 games works well for Rob; between the battle of Five Armies and the War of the Ring.  So there is plenty of reasons (and reasoning) for young hobbits to want to go on adventures. There is also the rise in Mordor at this point and the waning influence of the elves.
Later 3rd Age Middle Earth is a time of war, but also of adventure.  Compare this to the description that Hicks gives of his Star Wars game (used by him for comparison) the characters don't have to be in some strange part of the world (or galaxy) they can be in the thick of it.

Finally, we get a long post from +Jason Vey over at the Wasted Lands, is sometimes blog about his campaign.  Jason is a huge fan of Tolkien. His post, Fellowship of the Ring: Lord of the Rings and Campaign Building, Part One, deals with as he puts it, Lord of the Rings: A Master Class in Campaign Building.   In this he builds a "Fellowship of the Ring" campaign using the book (not the movie) as a guide.  I only point out book vs. movie here since some of the differences play into the campaign building.    Jason takes a very old-school rule specific look at building a campaign based on the Lord of the Rings model.  This is a subtle difference than the posts above which deal with playing in Lord of the Rings world.  If Jason's approach could be described in a phrase it is getting back to the roots. The roots of both D&D (structure and rules) and of Tolkien (narrative).  It is not explicitly said, but the idea I get is that this is designed with OD&D in mind.  Indeed, Jason and I have talked about how if either of us were to run a Middle Earth game it would need to be using OD&D.  I suppose that Swords & Wizardry would also work, but it does not have the gravitas that OD&D has.  Plus I happen to know that Jason has copies of the LBB that still have "Ents", "Hobbits" and "Balrogs" in them, so there is that.

These posts have me thinking about trying a Middle Earth game.  Something I have wanted to try since discovering D&D and Hobbit right around the same time.   I'd love to do it with OD&D or maybe B/X D&D, but it has to be D&D proper.  I would, naturally need to remove some classes, but otherwise I think it would be great fun.



Links (to current RPGs)
Adventures in Middle-earth Player's Guide
Adventures in Middle-earth Loremaster's Guide
The One Ring Roleplaying Game

3 comments:

Gothridge Manor said...

Very cool I hadn't realized there were so many. Thanks for putting them on one place.

Jason Vey said...

I published Part 2 of my Lord of the Rings examination, The Two Towers, yesterday!

http://wastedlandsfantasy.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-two-towers-lord-of-rings-and.html

Jonathan Hicks said...

Really good to read other blogger's takes on this. Cheers for putting them together, it's given me a few things to ponder!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...