Sunday, October 2, 2011

A few reasons I like MERP

So the second game of the Middle Earth game was completed yesterday, and a few things stood out that made me appreciate the MERP rules.

1) Experience points are pretty much outside the GM's control. Characters get points for a wide variety of things, and all of them are specifically outlined. 1 XP per mile traveled, XP for hits given, etc. Makes it a lot easier to run the game without having to worry about awards.

2) Crits add excitement to the game. Yes, my goblins were killed rather quickly, and in an alarming manner, by a bunch of pugnacious dwarves, but the fact that one PC lost a hand more than made up for it. He also received 500 XP for the loss, apparently because he knows not to rush into battle without support. Crits also make for some hilarious results.

3) 0-level characters are explicitly outlined in the rules. And they're not worthless. PCs start at level 1, which requires 10k XP. 0-level characters, thus, are made exactly like PCs, but only gain adolescent skill ranks to start. This does mean dwarves are the most militant race in existence, as they are all capable warriors before they ever gain any experience. Hobbits, in turn, are natural thieves.

4) Low, almost non-existent, magic is great. I'm not a fan of magic rich environments (Forgotten Realms pretty much nauseates me), so MERP, even with its spell lists and spell-casters, is cool. Further, the manner in which items gain power (per the setting) makes for interesting results. The hand-severing dagger is now "magical", given the deed accomplished in battle. Not really sure how many of the players care to use a goblin dagger of Beorning-slaying, but they now have one.


  1. MERP was my favourite RPG for a very long time. I regret that I haven't had a chance to play it in over a decade.

    I agree with all four of your points, although if I were to run it today I would probably simplify (greatly) the experience system.

    Great to hear others are enjoying the game these days! :)

  2. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called 'The New Death and others'. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story 'The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune' and HP Lovecraft's 'Under the Pyramids'.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me ( or reply to this thread.

    You can download samples from the ebook's page on Smashwords:

    I'll also link to your review from my blog.