Saturday, 27 June 2015

Middle Earth gaming and power levels

An amusing and informative post ranking the most metal deaths in Middle Earth has been doing the rounds on G+. It's given me somewhat more sympathy for the writers of MERP, to add to my appreciation for the critical hits tables - although they still have a fair way to go to make up for the mundanity of the magic system.

It is a good reminder though that Middle Earth as a setting seems almost impossible to systemise. Even setting aside the (perhaps legendary?) exploits of various Noldor in the First Age, it's clear that the DĂșnedain, not to mention various elves of different heritages still around in the Third Age, are capable of extraordinary feats.

Personally I'm comfortable with playing in Middle Earth as a fairly low-powered game, but in doing so I'm quietly ignoring arguably a major aspect of the setting. So am I being fair on game designers where that option may not be available, else they would risk short-changing some portion of their audience?


  1. I've been thinking about this post for a while. I think BRP should handle Middle Earth well, with most 'people' having normal skills in the 30-70% range, but there being nothing to stop the very long lived Elves and Dwarves having skills in the multiple hundreds. They're still just 'people', though. Magic would, I think, be a series of individual skills for causing different kinds of effects, and the greater the roll under margin, the greater the possible effect. Which would allow small charms and so on, up to incredibly powerful magic, without systemising it too much. I'm thinking that it'd work something along the lines of the magic in the (half-remembered) Maelstrom RPG.

    1. Interesting. I've only experienced that system via Stormbringer many years ago, and didn't realise (or perhaps remember) that it allowed such a skill range. Also sounds like it's worth venturing $6 on DriveThruRPG for Maelstrom as well!

      PS. Sorry for the slow reply - I've been away from the internet for several days...