Since moving my “RPG Kickstarters You Should Back” column from the Guild to the Open Gaming Network, and taking over Angus Abranson’s “RPG Crowdfunding News” column on EN World, I’ve contemplated a new Friday column for the Guild. Something RPG-related, but less Kickstarter. Then, one of my two longtime DMs suggested an ongoing Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e campaign. Doing a campaign review obviously touches on tabletop roleplaying games, and it offers the broadest appeal by combining Dungeons & Dragons and JRR Tolkien’s world. Still, will writing about how my terrible dice rolls in a variant of Dungeons & Dragons 5e be compelling week-after-week? With those questions, I decided to sit on the idea for the time being.
Our first session was Saturday, December 1st, 2018 and, while it was a great start, I still had doubts about it being enough to justify a series to discuss it. Then, on Monday, December 17th, 2018, Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e rolled out on Bundle of Holding (here) offering most of the books as PDFs. That made this campaign and article series feel more timely. The next day, Cubicle 7 opened up pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF (here). Even as I was preparing this article, small pieces were coming together to push this forward like Humble Bundle offering LEGO® Lord of the Rings for free (through Saturday, December 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific time). But the clincher that made me decide that I need to do a play review was the month, December. For me, there is no month I associate with Tolkien’s work more, and that’s because of Peter Jackson’s adaptations:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – U.S. release date: December 19, 2001
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – U.S. release date: December 18, 2002
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – U.S. release date: December 17, 2003
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – U.S. release date: December 12, 2012
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – U.S. release date: December 13, 2013
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – U.S. release date: December 17, 2014
All of that together makes this feel like the right column to tackle right now. It will let me talk about the books, the system, the world, the campaign we’re playing, other adaptations (from the 1966 short animation to the upcoming Amazon series) and the characters. Each article will talk about some aspect of the RPG, Tolkien’s work, the movies, or whatever is appropriate to the moment.
Even with that, this would not have seemed practical without a few more life accomplishments that made playing Adventures in Middle-Earth for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition happen:
- As an adult RPGer, I managed to play in a 50 session D&D 5e campaign and bring the campaign into the station in 2016/2017. If you’ve ever played RPGs, you know that’s an accomplishment unto itself.
- At Gen Con 2017, I won the ENnie Awards Date auction to sit with Cubicle 7 (DriveThruRPG link or their site) at the ENnie Awards where they won the Silver ENnie (Best Rules) for Adventures in Middle-Earth Player’s Guide. As an additional prize, they presented me with Adventures in Middle-Earth Player’s Guide, the Loremaster’s Guide, Wilderland Adventures, and a great set of maps of Middle-Earth in print and PDF. Having those books made the game a possibility.
Interested in trying out Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e? You can get most of the books as PDFs through Bundle of Holding (here) until January 4th, 2019. The price for Adventures in Middle-earth Player’s Guide, Rhovanion Region Guide, The Road Goes Ever On, Loremaster’s Guide, Wilderland Adventures, and the Eaves of Mirkwood & Loremaster Screen is not likely to get cheaper than what BoH and Cubicle 7 have it for there.
As well, Cubicle 7 has started taking pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF on there site (here).
Let’s round out the introductory post with the variety of RPG systems that existed to bring Tolkien’s work to the tabletop:
- Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP) from Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.) was published through two editions from 1984 to 1999.
- Lord of the Rings Adventure Game also from I.C.E. from 1991 to 1993. This game was a beginner’s version of MERP.
- The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game by Decipher Inc. that ran from 2002 to 2006.
- 2002 Origins Award – Best Roleplaying Game
- The One Ring Roleplaying Game from Cubicle 7 that started in 2011 and is still going.
- Awards and nominations:
- 2012 Golden Geek – Best Art and Presentation
- 2012 Gold ENnie Award – Best Free Product, Golden ENnie Award – Best Art (Interior)
- 2012 Silver ENnie Award – Best Production Values
- 2012 Lucca Games’ (an Italian convention) Best of Show for Best Role Play Game
- 2012 Origins Award Nominee – Best Roleplaying Game
- 2013 ENnie Award Nominee – Best Accessory for The Loremaster’s Screen and Laketown Book
- 2015 ENnie Award Nominee – Best Accessory for The Darkening of Mirkwood, ENnie Award Nominee – Best Accessory for Hobbit Tales
- 2017 ENnie Award Nominee – Best Supplement for Horse-Lords of Rohan, ENnie Award Nominee – Best Writing for Horse-Lords of Rohan
- Hobbit Tales from Cubilce 7 is a standalone storytelling card game that could be used with The One Ring Roleplaying Game.
- Awards and nominations:
- Adventures in Middle-earth for Dungeons & Dragons 5e also by Cubicle 7 that began in 2016 and has the distinction of being the first time Tolkien’s works were officially adapted to D&D.
- 2017 Silver ENnie Award – Best Rules for Adventures in Middle-Earth Player’s Guide
- 2018 Origins Award – Best RPG
As I was putting the finishing touches on this article, I received this email from Humble Bundle promoting their LEGO® Lord of the Ring giveaway (talk about nice timing):
“We’re giving away FREE copies of LEGO® Lord of the Rings for 48 hours (or while supplies last) in the Humble Store! This promotion is available from Thursday, December 20 at 10 a.m. Pacific time to Saturday, December 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
Below is your link to LEGO® Lord of the Rings on the Humble Store.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program.