Middle Earth Role Playing, or MERP, is, as the name implies, a direct step into J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. For those not familiar with Tolkien's LOR, the setting is a partially tamed fantasy world with ever increasing borders, great mages, large dragons, and the trademark signature of LOR, hobbits. Hobbits, or halflings, are short, stout humanoids that make their home in hills and underground. A generally peaceful race, hobbits prefer dinner to destruction. The MERP guidebook goes adds quite a bit more detail than that and gives summaries for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And while most fantasy books and games are partially based of Tolkien's works, MERP is actually takes part in it.
The thickness of the guidebook (265 pages) is a testament to the detail they present to the world, and is enriched with maps and other supplemental material for any LOR fanatic. The book is very well written and very captivating, which is rare for a guidebook. Detail and rich writing, however, do not make a game - just the guidebook.
MERP uses a condensed version of the Rolemaster system, a 1-100 scale system that is designed more for combat than anything else. And while the percentile system of combat can add a detailed scene, it can get quite annoying in non-combat skills. The game, however, is well written and is chock full of information for LOR fans.
Highs - Very detailed maps and Lord of the Rings information, great combat system
Lows - System can get annoying in anything but combat, bulky character generation
Final Call - If you're a LOR fan or are looking for a pure combat system game, or both then MERP will do you well.
Middle Earth Role Playing, second edition, Tolkien Enterprises 1994, published by I.C.E.
List price: $20.00