Last year on the 21st of September it was 75 years since the publication of The Hobbit and there was a fan-led celebration event to host a Hobbit 2nd Breakfast which was enjoyed the world over at precisely 11:00AM on the 21st. I organised one at my workplace last year and it was surprisingly popular. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that this post has been published at 11:00AM instead of it’s usual 12noon slot to “take part” in that celebration this year at least in a small way.
Rather than focus specifically on this celebration of one of the most definitive fantasy novels I thought I would use this as an excuse to talk about how it was a RPG in the world of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings that really kickstarted my first foray into RPGs.
As I’ve said elsewhere the first RPG I played was the Red Box edition of Dungeons & Dragons however that wasn’t the first one I owned as that was actually owned by my brother even if I played it more.
We were on a family holiday to York in England and I’d started to think about getting something of my own. Now I read The Hobbit when I was maybe 9 or 10 so my brain was ready to explore fantasy worlds when my brother Allan introduced me to D&D. So when I spotted MERP on the shelf of the Games Workshop in York in 1985/86 I knew I had to have it.
That GW edition of MERP was however very different to Red Box D&D… Also it wasn’t really a Games Workshop RPG; it was the Iron Crown edition of MERP reprinted (with some errata) and given a new box/book design.
The rulebook was dense and the rules themselves involved so much more “crunch” than the Red Box D&D that at first I was put off. I persevered and it very quickly became my game of choice and in time I had a number of supplements and had started to pick up some Rolemaster books to expand the games. MERP was itself a scaled down version of the Rolemaster RPG system however mechanically there were compatible. I also had a go at simplifying MERP yet further into a homebrewed system but that’s been lost over the years; I remember it being broken but fun!
Over the years my attention drifted back to D&D but I continued to run games in Middle Earth despite not using a system dedicated to that setting.
ICE lost the license to publish MERPs in 1999 and in 2002 Decipher brought out a new game which again came to an end when they too lost the license. When we come to 2011, Cubicle 7 have released their The One Ring RPG. Neither the Decipher nor the Cubicle 7 iterations of a game set in Middle Earth really caught my eye, although the artwork in The One Ring is very very good I have no specific desire to play in Middle Earth anymore especially when it would be against my Gaming Principles to buy it when I have no Game Time to play it in.
Anyway it’s time for that 2nd Breakfast. Time to open the belt out a notch.