Author Topic: MERP books  (Read 3665 times)

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Offline Oldhead Gamer

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MERP books
« on: January 14, 2020, 12:57:56 PM »
Hi, If like me you started to play the ICE Middle Earth Roleplaying game way back in the days of your youth and still have fond memories of Orc and Troll bashing you`ll probably still love the Game Module books. If so, it may be for nothing more than the artwork, maps and general info on each of the different locations and areas within the world of Middle Earth. You may, like me be looking to purchase the old retro module books again, but have found the prices online silly many being £30-£50 each !! personally, this is something I can't really afford...... so I was wondering if enough of us got together and scanned any book modules we owned and posted links to make them available to other die-hard MERP fans, so if they wished you could download for free, not as good as owning the original but still nice to revisit !! (I don't know if this breaches any copyright etc, so maybe if it for personal use it would be ok to do?) feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Bottom line is, if we are genuine fans why should we be making money from each other when we got into MERP in the first place to find like-minded individuals who had a Love of all that is and was MERP. If anybody is interested feel free to email me and I'll be more than happy to share any Modules that I get my hands on ..... Cheers guys.

Offline Peter R

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2020, 04:28:46 AM »
I think you will find that it would count as piracy, despite the books being out of print.
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Offline Amano

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 06:42:25 AM »
Many of the merp modules are already available in pdf format and can be downloaded for free. The quality can be low and they are sometimes missing colour map inserts.

I think my GM said he has ALL the middle earth ice books as pdfs.

I don’t think it counts as piracy. Who even owns the copyright on these works?

Offline Hurin

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 09:04:51 AM »
After ICE went out of business, the pdfs were readily available on the internet. Was it piracy to download them then? I dont know the legalities of this, which is why I ask.

Is it piracy now to download them, if they were once freely available?
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Offline Grinnen Baeritt

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2020, 03:03:54 AM »
I can only imagine how convoluted a question this is. It's a minefield.

They were licensed products (IIRC), ICE no longer has that licence. So they probably can't make money from "new" products (like a chargeable PDF). That license has passed through several companies since...

In reality, if you dig deep enough into the internet you WILL find copies freely available, it's whether it's ethical to use, advertise and then distribute them freely for "personal use" in an organised fashion.   

My point here, is much the same as whether selling (or giving away) second-hand HARD copies of these products is actually legal either?  It's the thing that annoys me the most about the games publishing industry specifically, is that it is apparently legal to re-sell a second hand copy of an obscure/out-of print/defunct game at a greatly inflated price (of which the original publishers and writers never see any income)....but frowned on (if not also illegal) to do so in an electronic format for free.

Personally though, my own MERP (and ICE Middle Earth guides prior to that) collection is virtually complete... and those missing "one or two" products I can do without.

Offline Peter R

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 07:22:32 AM »
The issue specifically with the MERP books is that the Tolkien content is still owned and being licensed by Tolkien Enterprises (or Tolkien Estates or whoever). If a game company paid a lot of money for the right to use that content but then their market dwindling as you could get the important bit for free (after all rolling up an NPC in any game is pretty straight forward) they would not be best pleased.

Scarcity adds value. You would not expect to buy a penny black stamp for a penny, they are rare so they attract higher prices. The MERP books are harder to find so they are worth more. If you wanted the Middle Earth content you could easily go out and buy currently available books and do the game mechanic conversions yourself. You can find nearly all the ICE rulebooks online if you look hard enough.
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Offline Aspire2Hope

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2020, 02:19:36 PM »
All of which is why you can't commercially offer anything regardless of the system with any specific element for Tolkein's Middle earth. However, the old simplified RM -MERP system should have been repackaged to avoid the references and left as an entry point (as Coleman Charlton intended). Now that mantle has rather being in danger of being stolen by Against the Darkmaster albeit without the direct Compatability to RM.

Offline Peter R

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2020, 04:07:45 PM »
vsD certainly is the highest profile derivative but you also have Blood, Guts and Glory as a PWYW version of Rolemaster. It scales things down from d100 to d20 but beyond that it is pretty close.
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Offline jdale

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2020, 04:22:03 PM »
MERP wasn't directly compatible to RM either. Some kind of RM-light product makes sense, but if the idea is a streamlined non-compatible version, there's already HARP. So, it makes the most sense if it is compatible with RM and intended primarily as a stepping stone into RM. ICE will be in a good position to do that once RMU is finalized.

There was an opportunity at the time to release a light game system that was compatible with (and basically identical with) MERP and just build a new world for it. That would have capitalized on the existing material. But ICE at that point was not at a great financial point and focusing on a single game system might have been necessary, I don't know. I don't think MERP compatibility now has any real market value.
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Offline Hurin

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2020, 04:32:47 PM »
Some kind of RM-light product makes sense, but if the idea is a streamlined non-compatible version, there's already HARP. So, it makes the most sense if it is compatible with RM and intended primarily as a stepping stone into RM. ICE will be in a good position to do that once RMU is finalized.


That explains a lot. You don't want HARP to scratch a different itch than RMU; you want it to be the gateway drug.

I can understand the rationale. Just wish I'd known that earlier, as I have sometimes suggested rules changes to RMu that would distinguish it from HARP. Now I know those are not part of the plan.
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

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Offline jdale

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2020, 06:40:10 PM »
Hmm, that's not what I was saying (and I was speaking based on my opinions and not for ICE). HARP is different from RM (and RMU). You can't move characters between them (although you could dual-stat products).

But we have discussed in various places on the forums having some kind of RM-lite product whether it is a simplified ruleset or an intro campaign or whatever.
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Offline Hurin

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2020, 07:28:08 PM »
Ah, I see what you were saying now JDale. Sorry I misread your post (read it too quickly I think).
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

'Every party needs at least one insane person.'  --Aspen of the Jade Isle

Offline Majyk

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2020, 08:19:09 PM »
Christopher Tolkien, Architect of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, 1924-2020

Looks like there might be an opportunity if old grudges were keeping licensing out of I.C.E.’s hands.

Offline jdale

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2020, 10:14:31 PM »
Right now, Cubicle 7 has the RPG rights, so it's moot. Decipher had it for a while with publications 2002-2005 before Cubicle 7 released The One Ring in 2011.

It doesn't seem like anyone should count on holding those rights for very long....  although give it another decade or three and the books will be in the public domain....

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Offline Hurin

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2020, 10:40:43 PM »
I think Cubicle is losing them presently: https://www.enworld.org/threads/cubicle-7-no-longer-producing-the-one-ring-and-adventures-in-middle-earth.668802/

'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

'Every party needs at least one insane person.'  --Aspen of the Jade Isle

Offline assur

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2020, 11:09:06 AM »
Against the darkmaster is an editorial and sales success who should be studied by ICE guys.
A nice copy of MERP front view and a call to old players hearts and new ones by a simplified rules set who copy MERP in all but name.
Could ICE have done the same with HARP?
Could do the same with RMU?
I don't know, it is not my job, but I hope it'd be.

Offline Cory Magel

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2020, 01:09:54 AM »
In general I think companies don't want to have to deal with Tolkien Enterprises once they've experienced it.
Mind you, Chris Tolkien is of the 'Tolkien Estate' (the family) and not 'Tolkien Enterprises' who actually handle the IP.
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Offline Aspire2Hope

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Re: MERP books
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2020, 02:46:24 AM »
Against the darkmaster is an editorial and sales success who should be studied by ICE guys.
A nice copy of MERP front view and a call to old players hearts and new ones by a simplified rules set who copy MERP in all but name.
Could ICE have done the same with HARP?
Could do the same with RMU?
I don't know, it is not my job, but I hope it'd be.
Are you asking if (New) ICE could have republished the MERP ruleset (without the ME content) or could they have bid for the ME rights?

The former while possible might have tricky IP rights questions for the contributors. It might just be that current ICE don't see a stripped down ruleset that helpful in selling the content they do have.

The latter, Corey is right I'm not sure dealing with MEE is a wise thing to do. There is a pattern of various companies holding the rights for a game for a period of time, only to lose/relinquish it. Good luck to Fria Ligan on the current incarnation of ToR.