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Middle-earth Role Playing

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Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP) was a subset of the Rolemaster role-playing game rules set in Tolkien's Middle-earth and published by Iron Crown Enterprises.



The system was somewhat like Dungeons & Dragons with character classes and levels. Classes available included Animist (Cleric), Bard, Fighter, Mage, Ranger and Scout (Rogue). The system departed in having a highly detailed combat and magic system.

In the MERP game system, attributes are rating between 0 and 100, and skills can surpass these limits (under 0 or over 100). An attack roll would consist of a percentile roll + skill rating + attribute rating - target's dodge rating. This result was looked up on a table against the victim's armor type (leather/plate). Most hits in combat would cause a 'critical' which would be rolled and looked up on separate tables. For some, these criticals are quite entertaining due to their variety and creativeness, but for others the task of adding and subtracting high numbers and then consulting a table is the height of roll-playing, not role-playing.

Spell casters had the unique advantage in MERP that they learned lists of 10 spells (1 per level) as a unit. Once a character learned the Healing list, he would be able to cast increasingly better healing spells as his level increased.

The setting for this game predates the War of the Ring by around 1400 years and as such it represented a version of Middle-earth radically different to that seen in The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

This was the first licensed role-playing game based on this setting; the second was the Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game from Decipher Inc.


  • (Year) Stock# Title

MERP 1st Edition

MERP 2nd Edition


  • Finnish: Keskimaa Roolipeli (KERP)
  • French: Le Jeu De Role Des Terres Du Milieu (1987-2000)
  • German: Mittelerde - Das Klassische Rollenspiel System (1987-1998)
  • Italian: Il gioco di ruolo del signore degli anelli
  • Japanese: ?
  • Polish: ?
  • Spanish: El señor de los anillos (1989-2004)
  • Swedish: Sagan om Ringen: Rollspelet (1986-1990)

Further developments

MERP has a loyal and strong following, which can be seen in the multitude of material which has been written for the system since ICE lost their license. The main channels are:

External Links