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MERP - Middle Earth Role Playing - ICE

MERP Campaign Settings | MERP Cities - Fortresses - Citadels | MERP Sourcebooks | MERP Adventures | MERP Gamebooks | Rolemaster

Foreign Language Roleplaying Games has several editions of MERP in other languages

Ad in Dragon Magazine announcing MERP | Middle Earth Boardgames | Other LOTR Accessories | SPI's War of the Ring


For 17 years, ending in 1999, Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE), held rights to produce games based on the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien. ICE released over 100 sets and sourcebooks detailing the penultimate fantasy campaign world, regarded in gaming circles as the cream of the RPG genre. Known writers Peter Fenlon and Terry Amthor were joined by talented artists Angus McBride and Liz Danforth (as well as the contributions of countless others) to open Middle Earth to game players.

With the imminent arrival of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy by Peter Jackson, ICE surrendered the license to MERP.

"The movies are why ICE went under. We had always been self funded from sales and receipts, and had worked with Tolkien Enterprises when we had seasonal cash flow problems. But when the movies were scheduled, the called in all of the money due when we hit the next shortage. Then they licensed dozens of other companies to do what we had been doing."
- Coleman Charlton
(Full interview)

Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP, 1st edition)
"MERP contains in one book all of the components required to play a fantasy role playing game:

A complete character development systems covering Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, etc.
Realistic yet playable rules for combat
A simple but comprehensive magic system; Detailed guidelines for gamemasters
material covering poisons, healing, weather, magic items, MIDDLE-EARTH creatures, encounters and much more."

Box set includes:
* 1st edition MERP rulebook (red cover, shows characters in treasure hoard menaced by ghosts).
* 16 page booklet with floorplans.
* Card with character counters.

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1984 ... 128 pages ... ICE 8000 ... ISBN 0915795183
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Box set:
1984 ... ICE 8100 ... ISBN 0425078108
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Middle Earth Role Playing, 1st edition rulebooks.

At some point, the classic 1e MERP book covers got a graphical revamp. No dates are given. Interiors are identical, as far as I can tell. Boxes are mostly unchanged, save for bits noted below.

Pretty sure the book on the right is the later printing, for various reasons:

* The box for the left book has an incorrect ISBN (0915795329) on box bottom. That ISBN is actually for Lords of Middle-Earth Vol 2: The Mannish Races. Early ICE box sets always used a 0425-prefix ISBN. Box for book on right has the correct ISBN (0425078108).

* The box for the left book uses un-inked Gamescience dice. Box for right book uses modern inked translucent rounded-corner dice (these became easy to source as RPG dice production and competition ramped up in the Eighties).

* Book on right has much clearer product identity.

* ISBN of book on right has MSRP data ($8). Corresponding box also has an MSRP ($12). This is common for the early game companies, belated realizing they needed to add MSRP to accommodate book distributors and stores.


Middle-earth Role Playing (1st edition, revised)
Box set includes:
* The MERP rulesbook.
* An adventure booklet including a solo adventure and a beginning multi-player adventure with layouts.
* A layout and chart booklet with layouts for the Trollshaws adventure.
* 56 full-color stand-up playing pieces of all the adventure characters.

See my deep dive into this set:
Middle Earth Role Playing – MERP, 1st edition revised (1986), with Foreign Editions

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1986 ... S. Coleman Charlton ... 128 pages (paperback) ... ICE 8000 ... ISBN 0915795310
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Box set:
1986 ... ICE 8100 ... ISBN 042509037X
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MERP Combat Screen (1st edition)
4 panel screen & two 11x17" combat charts.

1984, 1989 ... ICE 8001 ... ISBN 0915795345

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MERP (2nd edition)
Also available in a hardcover Collector's Edition. -W

"In a role playing game, you assume the role of a character in a "living" novel. Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP) and its companion sourcebooks provide the structure and frame work for role playing in the greatest fantasy setting of all time... J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.

Middle-earth Role Playing is the next step up for those who have already experienced the thrill of ICE's introductory role playing game, the Lord of the Rings Adventure Game. It is also perfect for more experienced gamers who are looking for a realistic, easy-to-play fantasy role playing game.

Middle-earth Role Playing, 2nd Edition includes:
• Middle-earth Character Templates for those who want interesting, fully developed characters in a flash.
• A complete Character Development System covering Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Orcs, Trolls, etc.
• A Magic System with simple yet comprehensive rules that reflect the unique nature of the use of magic and power in Middle-earth.
• A flavorful Combat System that is realistic, fast, and playable.
• Gamemaster Guidelines that cover travel, encounters, weather, random events, healing, poisons, magic items, and much more.
• Detailed information on Creatures and Peoples that covers the major beasts, monsters, and cultures of Middle-earth.
• An expanded set of secondary skills, background options, and professions.
• A complete Sample Adventure set in the Trollshaws, complete with layouts."

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1993 ... 272 pages ... ICE 2001 ... ISBN 1558061916
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Hardcover (Collector's Edition):
1993 ... 272 pages ... ICE 2000 ... ISBN 1558061908
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MERP Accessory Pack [BOX SET]
Actual contents: * THE LOONS OF THE LONG FELL (32-page adventure booklet + 16-page b&w map booklet) * 60 STAND-UP FIGURES (1 folded 11"x17" cardstock sheet) * 16 PAGES OF COLOR DISPLAYS (1 booklets) * STANDS for figures * Clear overlay

"Middle-earth Role Playing Accessory Pack includes:

* THE LOONS OF THE LONG FELL, an enthralling adventure in the Trollshaws that introduces MERP novices to Tolkien's world and the wonders of fantasy role playing in Middle-earth.
The scenario includes:
- 6 fully developed characters ready to play and enjoy with no preparation or hassle.
- Extensive notes for the Gamemaster to help less experienced GMs learn the subtleties of crafting and running an adventure.
- Maps & floorplans of the adventure sites geared specifically for the GM, with information that should initially be concealed from the players.
* 60 STAND-UP FIGURES exquisitely rendered in full color. All the people encountered in The Loons of Long Fell are included, as well as the creatures and folk from the sample adventure in the Middle-earth Role Playing rulesbook.
* 16 PAGES OF COLOR DISPLAYS bring adventure alive when stand-up figures are placed on their surfaces. You'll see a crow's view of the terrain and the action. The displays include color maps and floorplans of:
- The Last Inn, Fulcwian's House, & The Long Fell for the adventure in this Accessory Pack.
- The Ruined Castle & the Troll's Lair for the scenario in the Middle-earth Role Playing rulesbook."

1994 ... ICE 2002 ... ISBN 1558061924

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Middle-earth Campaign Guide
"Inside you'll find the full color poster map of Middle-earth pictured here. It's larger of course, 24" x 36" and rendered in exquisite detail. It includes the region chronicled in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as well as the wild lands - north, east, and south!

The Middle-earth Campaign Guide includes:

TIMELINE provides in-depth coverage of the entire history of the West.
LINGUISTIC guidelines for the many tongues of Middle-earth - the speech of Elves, Dwarves, Ents, Hobbits, and Men.
DICTIONARY of Elvish, including notes on pronunciation and grammar.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS provides a quick reference for the people, cultures, and places of Middle-earth.
ROLE PLAYING notes for incorporating Middle-earth into any major role playing system.
THEME MAPS detail Middle-earth's topography, climate, trade routes, and population centers.
24" x 36" COLOR MAP pictured above - including a superimposed reference grid.
The Campaign Guide provides a working base for creative minds who enjoy Tolkien's world - people who have long wished to venture into Middle-earth's lands, experience its magic and politics, discover new cultures, and build upon its wondrous structures and settings. This sourcebook charts the well-documented reaches of northwestern Endor, as well as the shadowy lands that comprise the rest of the continent. Its scope is broad, treating the fundamental and unique themes needed by those who wish to enjoy authentic fantasy role playing in Tolkien's Middle-earth.
The Middle-earth Campaign Guide is a compilation of material previously available in the Middle-earth Adventure Guidebook, Volumes I and II."

1993 ... Peter C. Fenlon, jr. & Jessica M. Ney-Grimm ... 128 pages ... ICE 2003 ... ISBN 1558061932

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Middle-Earth Role Playing: Combat Screen & Reference Sheets
"In a role playing game, you assume the role of a character in a "living" novel. Middle-earth Role Playing (M£RP) and its companion sourcebooks provide the structure and framework for role playing in the greatest fantasy setting of all time... J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.®
The Middle-earth Role Playing Combat Screen™ is a must for all MERP gamers! Included are all the MERP tables needed for battles, maneuvering, and action. All this on one 34" x 11" combat screen plus two 17" x 11" reference sheets that can double as screen extenders."

1993 ... ICE 2004 ... ISBN 1558061959

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Middle Earth Poster Maps
"Contains 2 full-color maps: (1) ICE's original, 24" x 36" map of Middle-earth, depicting the entire continent of Endor; and (2) a 22" x 34" map focusing exclusively on northwestern Middle-earth. This map of the Northwest is rendered in vivid detail for Tolkien fans who enjoy spotting landmarks passed by the Fellowship of the Ring.
Both maps are provided rolled, in poster format: heavy paper, no creases, no grids!
Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS™"

1994 ... ICE 2008 ... ISBN 1558062017

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Explore the Ultimate Fantasy - Come to MIDDLE EARTH - I.C.E. proudly announces its new line of fantasy role-playing products based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Trilogy THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT.
Dragon Magazine, issue 64 (August 1982), back cover. ICE would dominate the back covers of Dragon Magazine for years.

"The hallmark of the line will be a 2' x 3' poster/reference map of Middle Earth, including the wild undefined reaches of the north, south and east. This full color map is printed on heavy, durable stock and will come either folded, with a superimposed grey grid, or in an unfolded poster format. The folded map will be accompanied by a guidebook for adventures and campaigns in Middle Earth which will provide handy tips and info adaptable to any major FRP game, as well as an introduction to the use of I.C.E.'s forthcoming modules.

September, 1982 marks tile debut of Iron Crown Enterprises' line of FRP modules based on Middle Eanth. Each module will come with color maps scaled and keyed to the grid sections of the reference map. The maps will fit together, ultimately forming a huge, richly detailed world mosaic. Cultural data, topography, major citadels, climates, politics, military systems, magic, and city layouts will all be included. The modules will cover settings from three different periods of time, allowing tremendous flexibility for any campaign — regardless of the rules system used."

Middle Earth Boardgames

The Fellowship of the Ring Boardgame [BOX SET]
• 21"x26" full color mounted mapboard of Tolkien's Middle Earth (6 pieces)
• 72 small cards
• 150 large cards
• 65 plastic playing pieces (dice)
• 40 diecut counters
• Rulesbook (23 pages), card displays, charts and tables, and stickers

The Fellowship of the Ring based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

"As the Fellowship player maneuver Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn and the rest of the Fellowship and their allies as they attempt to carry the Ring towards Mordor and its eventual destruction in the Cracks of Doom.

As the Enemy player hunt down and crush the pitiful forces of the Fellowship using your minions: Nazgul, Balrogs, Dragons, Giant Spiders, bands of Orcs and Trolls, assassins and other evil servants of Sauron.

The Fellowship of the Ring is a two player game based upon J.R.R. Tolkien's three volume epic, The Lord of the Rings. Action focuses on the eraly periods as the Fellowship attempts to move the Ring from the Shire to the vicinity of Mordor. One player controls the forces of Sauron, the Dark Lord; while the other player controls the Fellowship characters and their allies.

The game uses special cards and plastic markers to implement deployment and hidden movement. The cards and markers even allow certain combats to be resolved without revealing the identities of the combatants. The Fellowship player attempts to avoid, deceive, and misdirect the Enemy player while moving towards Mordor. The Enemy player attempts to force the Fellowship player into combat where the Ring can be retrieved for its rightful master, Sauron of Mordor.

The rules are organized for a standard scenario and basic game; however optional rules are included for simpler and advanced games."

1983 ... ICE 7100 ... ISBN 0425078116

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Battle of Five Armies
• An 18"x24" full-color map of the mountain spurs and battle ground between
• 156 full-color double-sided die-cut counters
• Rulesbook, a charts and tables sheet and one die

"This action packed game simulates the epic struggle from the final chapters of THE HOBBIT™. Elves, Men, Dwarves and Great Eagles do battle with Ores, Wolves and Wargs for control of Lonely Mountain and the vast treasure. As the Free Peoples player you control the hastily allied armies defending the mountain spurs and the Front Gate, entrance to the ancient Dwarven Kingdom. Your numbers are few but among them are some of the best warriors known to Middle-earth. As the Dark player you command Bolg of the North and his vast host. The weight of numbers is with you as is the element of surprise. The second wave of goblins comes scrambling over Mount Erebor itself. Who will win dominion over the mountain in THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES?
This game is played by 2 people across a beautiful full-color map of the mountain spurs and battle plain between. The object is to win the day by gaining control of key areas.
A set of Basic Rules provide the simplicity and guidance necessary for beginning players. The Standard Rules provide a complete, fast paced game for experienced gamers as well as beginners who have mastered the Basic Game. Finally, the optional rules add complexity to the Standard Game while increasing the flavor and 'realism' of the simulation."

1984 ... Richard H. Britton ... ICE 7200 ... ISBN 0425078116(?) [Shared with Fellowship of the Ring game (ICE 7100)]

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The Lonely Mountain: Lair of Smaug the Dragon (The Hobbit) [BOX SET]
"Lonely Mountain is an adventure game played by 1 to 6 players. Each player controls a group of adventurers attempting to sneak into the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) and steal as much loot as possible. However, they must escape before Smaug the Dragon awakens, discovers their trespasses, and slays them all. The game takes place relatively soon after Smaug attacked and drove out the Dwarves in Third Age 2770. At that time, Smaug had not yet sealed all of the minor entrances, and he considered the entire inner complex of rooms and tunnels to be his "lair". Thus adventurers can enter (and hopefully leave) in a variety of ways. A raid such as the one this game depicts could have been the event that caused Smaug to close all the minor entrances and to gather most of Erebor´s loot into one huge pile."

1984 ... ICE 7300 ... ISBN 0425078124

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Riddle of the Ring: Boardgame based on Lord of the Rings [BOX SET]
- One full-colored, mounted, puzzle-cut board (6 pieces).
- One set of Basic Rules (8 pages).
- One set of Advanced/Optional Rules (4 pages).
- Eight plastic playing pieces (markers).
- 96 playing cards.

"Middle-earth is the setting of J.R.R. Tolkien's master works of fantasy: The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and others. Riddle of the Ring is a game which recreates much of the action in his famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Players will enjoy many of the same adventures experienced by the original characters. Players do not have to be familiar with Tolkien's works or Middle-earth in order to play and enjoy Riddle of the Ring..."

1985 ... ICE 7400 ... ISBN 0425078175

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All MERP products Copyright © TOLKIEN ENTERPRISES, a division of ELAN MERCHANDISING INC., Berkely CA. Middle-earth PBM, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Return of the King, all characters and places therein are trademark properties of TOLKIEN ENTERPRISES. All characters and places derived from the works of J.R.R.Tolkien are common law trademarks used under license from Grafton Books (Harper Collins), publishing successors to Unwin Hyman, Ltd. and George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London, UK.

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