Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) was a role playing game based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Created in 1984 Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) continued to publish the game and supporting material until the license was lost in September 1999. ICE no longer publishes or supports Middle Earth Role Playing but is immeasurably proud of it. A number of fans continue to play MERP and there is always at least one MERP discussion and numerous references in the Iron Crown forum.
To this day Iron Crown Enterprises still receives a number of enquiries about Middle Earth Role Playing and its associated products. While ICE can no longer produce or support these products, we encourage people to try some of our other products. Many of the things that made MERP great can still or now be found in our current RPG systems Rolemaster and High Adventure Role Playing (HARP), and there are unofficial, fan-based websites, which support GMs who wish to use these systems to run games set in Middle-Earth.
What were your favourite things about playing MERP?
If it was attack tables, criticals, and spell list magic, then you should consider trying Rolemaster – you will find more attack tables, a much greater variety of critical effects and many more spell lists going from 1st through 10th and onward to 50th level or higher. Indeed many old-school MERP players migrated to Rolemaster for just these benefits and if you have any of the old ICE MERP supplements, you’ll find the Rolemaster stats right next door to the MERP stats tables.
If it was flexible but painless character creation and fast fun play, then you should try HARP with its one-roll combat resolution with integrated attack and critical results, master maneuver table, scalable spell system, and customizable character creation, enabling you to match the rules and available player-character creation options to your vision of Middle-Earth gaming.
ICE published a first and a second edition of the MERP ruleset along with many adventure and campaign modules, until the license ended in 1999.
In 1991-1993, Iron Crown Enterprises published the Lord of the Rings Adventure Game. This game was similar to Middle Earth Role Playing but used a much simpler system than MERP and was intended to introduce new players to role-playing.
Middle Earth Role Playing along with several of its adventure and campaign modules were translated into a number of different languages and MERP gained a large following across the globe.
MERP in the modern day
Despite ICE no longer producing or supporting MERP, there are a number of resources for fans including an online magazine named Other Minds Magazine (which bears no relation to Iron Crown Enterprises). The magazine began publication in 2007 and supports the role-playing community that play Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) and other Tolkien-centric role playing game systems. These are some of the more popular sites:
ICE fans continue to discuss MERP, Middle Earth and the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien on the ICE Discord server and ICE forum.