Lord of the Rings RPG 101:
Fantasy gaming has been taken to a whole new level, spearheaded by Decipher’s OFFICIAL Lord of the Rings Role Playing Game – or RPG. In my humble opinion: the RPG experience is still one of the most rewarding over and above most other gaming platforms available. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE playing all types of all games – especially when it comes to Lord of the Rings. Yet, in pleasant contrast to TCG’s, video games, table-top miniatures and board games, in an RPG there are no set patterns, no rare powerful cards, no cheat codes, no rare figures, foils or holograms, no pre-programmed interactivity and best of all – no reset button. The only components you will ever need to fully enjoy the wonders of the Role Playing game system are a few books, a few friends and the one element no amount of money in the world can ever buy – your imagination!
The Lord of the Rings Role Playing system is quite simply the very best in RPG entertainment to date. The Decipher RPG Studio, led by Christian Moore, has created a simplified, yet engrossing system of play which embraces the very nature of The Lord of the Rings in the most profound way. Utilizing the breathtaking design and imagery from Peter Jackson’s extraordinary films in concert with the literary support and detail from Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings RPG is the pinnacle product of the industry; unparalleled and unmatched in its level of inspiration, production quality and artistic detail.
Honestly, I could write several pages praising the design achievements that the LOTR RPG Design Team has achieved, because every single support piece I have seen has been worthy of such accolades and more! However, I must address the details of this gaming system in later chapters of LOTR RPG 101. For now, just trust in the fact that this is the era we RPG fans have been waiting for. I am very proud and excited to embark upon what will be a very fulfilling and educational look at The Lord of the Rings and its impact upon the modern world of Role Playing and Fantasy Gaming.
But first…a little history:
Chapter 1: Introduction to Fantasy
It is a foregone conclusion that many people share a very misunderstood and ill-conceived perspective about people who are engaged in the world of role-playing games. Society perceives these “gamers” as congregations who shy away from “normal” society in order to bask in the realm of fantasy worlds filled with faeries, dragons, wizards, heroes and villains. Due to this misconception, normal society brands these people as deviants; those who choose to embrace the abnormal rather than fall in line with ‘decent’ society. How very uninformed and completely wrong society as a whole truly is.
Fantasy gaming has also traditionally been perceived as a past-time for the high-school outsider, the socially unskilled or the reclusive introvert. Would you be surprised to learn that RPG communities are frequented by doctor’s, lawyers, engineers, artists, writers, actors and scientists? Society’s perception of the Role-Playing Gamer has dissuaded many people from participating in what is probably one of the last, true forms of communication and entertainment our culture has ever known: the Oral Tradition.
Oral Tradition? What is that you may ask? In the pre-literary ancient days, and even in many pre-industrial societies today, the verbal passing of tales and legends preserved much of the lore we today call myth or fantasy. The Lord of the Rings itself is a manifestation of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s passion to preserve and encapsulate the grand testimony of his ideals regarding his interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon pre-history in a way that can be passed on; inherited from generation to generation.
So what does all of this have to even remotely do with role playing and fantasy gaming? Well, the core of any role playing game community is the Storyteller – or Game Master. In comparison, the preservation and passing of stories through the oral tradition is testimony to the skill of the storyteller – the original “Game Master”. From the telling of tales in ancient kingdoms to the ghost stories spun around frontier campfires – the storyteller transported audiences into far off places; distant lands full of wonder, of light, of darkness, of heroes, of great battles, of heroic sacrifices, of love, of fellowship, of pain and of joy. For a point in time, the listener could close his or her eyes and through awe-inspired imagination, become closer to a world far more interesting than the present. This was the first true form of escapist entertainment – now preserved in the form of the RPG; a more modernized form, yet no less impactful.
In the early 1970’s, this style of fantasy and escapist entertainment broke monumental ground as it took the form of one of the most influential RPG systems of all time: TSR’s (Tactical Studies Rules) Dungeons and Dragons. With its foundation firmly rooted in the modern fantasy masterpiece that is The Lord of the Rings, this bold and exciting RPG combined a new system of integrated and interactive play. D & D, as it was affectionately referred to, allowed individuals to congregate and embellish upon the very foundation of Frodo’s journey. Each member of the gaming group created a character, who in turn joined the quest as a member of a fellowship of companions in order to protect the hero and fulfill the journey – which of course was to eradicate evil and restore light in the land.
For the last 30 years, Dungeons and Dragons, and fantasy gaming ‘en masse’ has taken great strides in the continuation of the oral tradition. This success through perseverance has undeniably succeeded thanks to the Lord of the Rings – the ONE TRUE SOURCE of which all modern fantasy gaming is based upon. This is due to the single fact that Tolkien’s unwavering preservation over his own, personal oral tradition – the pre-history of the Anglo-Saxon people – is so compelling and engrossing, that it is nearly unavoidable to use this material as a resource to perpetuate new stories with such fully realized races, cultures, maps, languages and mythologies – as Tolkien presented in his own works of Middle-Earth. However, as close as these realms were to Tolkien’s world – they were only BASED upon The Lord of the Rings which undeniably left the adventure longing for the next level; the ability to adventure IN MIDDLE EARTH ITSELF!
Now, we as role playing game fans, enthusiasts and fanatics alike have the unique opportunity to finally create our adventures within the context of The Lord of the Rings in a way never before attempted. The Lord of the Rings Role Playing game system in the most fully realized, detailed and structured system which has ever been offered in this industry. It has broken conformity with the standard D20 – 20 sided dice – rules systems in favor of a more engaging style of play – the Coda System; favoring greater character flexibility over the calculations of dice-induced fate. Yet I digress…and such details like this will be addressed in later chapters – so stay tuned!
If you are interested in delving into the LOTR RPG, there are several products that you may purchase right now to begin your journey.
1. The CORE Book – without a doubt, the single most important resource in the RPG library thus far. It is a beautifully designed, informational source-book full of almost every detail regarding the Third Age and more.
2. Maps of Middle Earth – Daniel Reeve, the master illustrator and map-designer who brought us many of the maps and scrolls used in Peter Jackson’s films – now has brought us 6 beautifully rendered and detailed maps – including close-ups of Gondor, Rohan, Mordor and the Shire.
3. The Mines of Moria: Adventure Game – Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to stand atop the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, defending your companions against the Balrog of Moria. What would you do? What choices would you have made? This mini-adventure is the perfect ENTRY POINT for beginners who want to try the RPG system in an adventure that is all too familiar.
4. The Two Towers: Adventure Game – The Battle of Helm’s Deep: Take command in the role of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas and assist King Theoden in defending Helm’s Deep against the onslaught of 10,000 Uruk-Hai, bent on the destruction of men. Experience the battle which made men heroes and made heroes legends! Yet another great ENTRY POINT for beginners and fans.
5. The Narrator’s Screen – all good storytellers need help every once and a while and the Narrator’s Screen is it. It is a self-contained reference which helps speed along many of the common actions necessary in the course of a game in an easy to read format. The cover which faces the audience is beautifully printed with a panoramic scene of Minas Tirith.
6. The Fellowship of the Ring Source Book – the second installment of the major RPG texts is a 128 page resource book, just as incredibly detailed and illustrated as its CORE BOOK counterpart. However, this sourcebook presents more of an overview regarding the characters, places, events and timelines within the context of the Fellowship of the Ring.
To take a closer look at these products, please visit Decipher’s online store HERE
For more information on the Role Playing Game, its creators and what is on the horizon, please visit Decipher’s LOTR RPG arena HERE
And of course continue to visit Gaming Havens here on TheOneRing.net for more continuing coverage of The Lord of the Rings RPG.
Be sure to tune it to the next installment of LOTR RPG 101: Breaking all the Rules!
Until then, the world of Middle Earth belongs to YOU!
More to come…
Lao of Gondor