This comes to us from Michael Martinez over at Suite 101…
Chris Seeman, the editor of Other Hands, recently mentioned in an email to his subscribers that New Line Cinema has been talking to a couple of gaming companies about producing a new role-playing game based on the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
Tolkien afficianados may tremble at the prospect of yet another role-playing game, with all its modules and histories, being unleased on an unsuspecting fandom. Iron Crown Enterprises did a good job in producing a game, but through the years they made many departures from Tolkien. Some of the departures were dictated by lack of access to the original material. But some of the departures were also necessary in order to remain consistent with previously published materials.
I think my first introduction to the Middle-earth Role-playing Game was an exquisite map a friend of mine showed me back when we were playing Rolemaster. I.C.E. produced Rolemaster, too, and MERP’s rules were very similar to Rolemaster’s. A lot of the sourcebooks allowed players and Gamemasters to carry ideas over from one game system to the other.
The map in question was game designer Peter Fenlon’s interpretation of what the entire continent (which most people inappropriately call “Middle-earth”, though that name refers to the entire world) on which The Lord of the Rings is set, might look like. As maps go it’s an impressive work and I’m sure I still have a copy buried in some box somewhere. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that long before Christopher Tolkien published The Shaping of Middle-earth and all of Fenlon’s hard work was immediately invalidated. Many gamers insisted the Fenlon map was the “official” map because it was “authorized”, whereas the Tolkien purists insisted that only JRRT’s maps were “official”, even if they only depicted a world from an earlier phase of Tolkien’s writing career.
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