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Open Middle-earth Role-playing - OpenMERP

by admin published Mar 30, 2012 05:35 PM, last modified Sep 07, 2015 07:30 PM
In the context of this concept, "MERP" only stands for "Middle Earth Role Playing" as a generic term for role playing gaming in J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginary universe with Middle-earth as the central area. This is not to be confused with ICE MERP (Iron Crown Enterprises Middle-earth Role Playing system), which is a specific game-system and content released by ICE from 1981 through 1999.

Tolkien role-playing game content that follows the OpenMERP approach uses a game-system agnostic style, roughly similar to the old Chaosium Thieves' World boxed set design. Any game-system specific statistics are included as appendices to the rear of the books, or listed in a system neutral percentage change of success/failure/discovery, et cetera, if appropriate in the relevant module portion.


The appendices may include statistics for any of the following game systems:

  • Ea d20 (D&D 3.5) (definitely)
  • ICE MERP (definitely)
  • ICE Rolemaster/MERP (maybe)
  • Decipher LotR (Lord of the Rings) (maybe)
  • Cubicle 7 TOR - The One Ring (beginning in late 2011 maybe)
  • ICE HARP (possibly, pending volunteer contributions)
  • Ambarquenta (when applicable - need volunteers)
  • Harnmaster (possibly - need volunteers)
  • GURPS (possibly - need volunteers)
  • Other game systems as people volunteer/contribute will gladly be added



These modules are NOT intended to be just "adventure seeds".   The adventure modules will be either fully detailed, ready to play gaming modules, requiring very little prepration (short of reading ahead to know what to expect) on the part of the GM.

This will be slightly different with the source modules "The Land", "The People", "The Realm", since those are mostly just source material books, rather than ready-to-run modules.

The projected modules I have planned are as follows:

"Escape from Numenor" - Ready-to-play Adventure Module (nearing completion) This was played in MerpCon I 2005

"Numenor, The Gift" - Campaign and ready-to-play adventure module (barely sketched out)

"Numenor, The Decline" - Campaign and ready-to-play adventure module (barely sketched out)

"Numenor, Mending" - Campaign and ready-to-play adventure module (barely sketched out)

"Numenor, The 'Golden' Years" - Campaign and Ready-to-play Multiple-adventures Module (only a rough sketch)

"Numenor, Under Shadow" - Campaign and Ready-to-play Multiple-adventures Module (only a rough sketch)

"Numenor, After The Fall" - Sourcebook, but possibly with Ready-to-play adventures or campaigns (only a rough sketch)

- "Umbar, After The Fall" - Ready-to-play Adventure Module (about 3/4 complete) This was played in Merpcon II 2006

"Numenor The Land" - Reference Source book (a mass of notes and information not yet very organized)

"Numenor The People" - Reference Source book (ditto on the mass and unorganized)

(The above two to finally be amalgamated into:)

"Numenor the Realm" - Reference Source book (ditto)



A brief description of each module follows:

"Escape From Numenor"

This is the adventure that was played at MerpCon 1 2005.

It is a fast paced adventure module.

It is set in the last 2 weeks before the destruction of Numenor.

The players must find a means of joining up to Elendil's fleeting and/or escaping the Island before it's too late.

This module is nearing completion for a 1st release draft.

I am currently receiving artists submissions, while I continue to revise and clean up the module core.

I intend to release more updates to the other "alternate paths" that were sketched out, but not detailed in time for the convention.

This should be released in coming weeks. The worst case for a late release I think would be the end of December, but it could be as soon as the end of this month. We'll see...



"Numenor, The Gift"

This details Numenor during it's glory years of expansion and kindness to other men.

It will not only cover the status of the island during the time period (I haven't decided which emperors to place this under exactly, I will try to keep it as flexible as possible), but will also cover the impact and interaction of the Numenoreans in the rest of the world, with a few short scenarios set in a few of those locations.

This time period covers when the Numenoreans were teachers and protectors to "lesser men".

They also had to help fight off the evil that had encroached on much of the world while the Numenoreans were away on the island during it's initial settlement and growth. So lots of opportunities for adventure there.

This is a campaign scenario setting, but will include at least one ready-to-play adventure module.


"Numenor, The Decline"

This covers the years when the Numenoreans started to pull away from the ways of respect and reference for The West, as their fear of "Gift of Men" (Death), they began to look at more and more as the "Doom of Men".

This covers the rule of Numenor from ______________ and includes up until the reign of Ar-Pharazon.


"Numenor, Mending"

This covers the years under Tar-Palantir's reign, when he tried (too late) to mend the wayward ways of Numenor. There is a lot of content possible here for political and other conflict as the island becomes more split in twain between what will become "The Kings Men" and "The Faithful".


"Numenor, The 'Golden' Years"

This is a bit of a pun, it is set during the Reign of Ar-Pharazon The Golden.

This would be a "prequel" to "Escape From Numenor", and can be used as a source campaign module as well.

This covers all of his reign up until he "captured" Sauron.

This will have several adventures of different types.

A political adventure set in Numenor itself.

Other intrigue adventure involving the Faithful and efforts to stop Ar-Pharazon.

A ready-to-run action adventure set during his expansionist, tribute-demanding efforts.

Players will (finally) be able to play either the side of the Faithful OR be on the side of the King's Men, going out and collecting tribute, enforcing the King's will/law on lesser men and the Faithful, fighting off Sauron's attacks on Numenor "protected" ports, etc.


"Numenor, Under the Shadow"

This covers from the Time that Sauron was captured up until where the module "Escape From Numenor" takes over/finishes.


"Numenor, After The Fall"

This covers the years immediately after "The Fall", continuing from where "Escape From Numenor" left off.

A ready-to-play "sub-module" set in this time period, either to be included, or as a separate module (I haven't decided which yet) is the one used in MerpCon II 2006, with a number of modifications and improvements over the original version run at the convention: "Umbar After the Fall".

Additional areas, with adventures detailed may include:

"The Landings" (where the Faithful landed, and their initial struggles to get back on their feet, and subsequent rise to power in Middle-earth. And details the coastal havoc wreaked by the ripple effect from the destruction of the Isle of Numenor.

"Growing Pains" as the kingdom grows and has to deal with the backlash and troubles from others in the early years.

The idea is to fill in the gaps in some detail from "The Fall" up until the "Last Alliance".



"Numenor, The Land"

This is pretty self-explanatory for those familiar with "The Land" series by ICE. I'll be following a similar approach. This will definitely require a LOT of input from everyone to flesh it out as fully, but as accurately as possible.


"Numenor, The People"

Same as above, but for "The People" series.


"Numenor, The Realm

Once "The Land" and "The People" are fleshed out, then a final revisioning will MAYBE be done to merge them together into "The Realm".

My preference is to try to stick as much as possible to content published by Tolkien (J or C) for information related to the time period and Numenor. Of course there will have to be a lot of "fleshing out" beyond said canon, but I will do my best to try to "keep it true" to Tolkien's vision as best as possible, but still make it completely playable for GM's and Players. I want to try to make it so that there is not only a cohesive repository of "Canon" data, but also some ready to play adventure modules, and detailed playable campaigns that save the average GM from having to wade through all the information as I have had to do over the years.

I hope I am able to live up to these expectations I have set.

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