MERS (role play)

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Middle-earth role-playing game (MERS)
(Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP))
Original publisher Iron Crown Enterprises
Original publication 1984-1999
original language English
German publisher Laurin , Queen Games
German publication 1995–
World and system
genre Fantasy
Game world Middle earth
Basic system Rolemaster
Ascent level-based
cube W100 / 2W10

MERS ( M edium e RDE R ollen s Piel , English MERP for M iddle- e arth R ole P laying ) is a Pen - & - Paper role-playing game , the scene of the world of Tolkien Lord of the Rings is. The players take on the role of inhabitants of Tolkien's world , who experience adventures that are based on the local conditions.


The game was first published in 1984 by Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE). The set of rules was a simplified version of ICE's Rolemaster system adapted to the Middle-earth background ; the licensor for the game world was Tolkien Enterprises . In 1993 a revised second edition appeared. A German translation was published in 1995 by Queen Games , an older one was available from Laurin . In total, the game has been translated into 13 languages ​​and, with over 2.5 million copies sold, is one of the most successful role-playing games worldwide. As a further simplification of the system, the QuestGame system was created , which was intended for solo adventures and appeared for the adventure under the Tolkien Quest and Middle-Earth Quest brands . Closely related to MERS was the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game , which continued to use the world descriptions created for MERS.

In 1997 ICE lost the Tolkien license in the course of the Lord of the Rings film adaptation produced by Peter Jackson and had to stop publishing new material, the last copies were officially sold in 1999. The new license holder was Decipher , who published the Lord of the Rings role-playing game (German at Pegasus Spiele ).


The usual two ten-sided dice (2 D10 ) simulate a hundred -sided dice ( D100 ).

MERS follows the basic approach of Rolemaster: it uses a hundred- sided dice and the results of maneuvers and battles are determined by comparing the skill values ​​of the characters , dice results and additional modifiers with tables.

In contrast to the more extensive Rolemaster, MERS only offers six character classes (professions): Fighter / Warrior, Scout / Thief, Mage, Animist (Cleric), Ranger and Bard. However, the rulebook contains suggestions for integrating other professions from Rolemaster. The races are dwarves , hobbits , various elves and human races as well as theoretically orcs and trolls to choose from.

A character has 6 basic properties or attributes (strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, intuition, demeanor) and a multitude of special skills (fighting with different weapons, moving in armor, riding, defusing traps, etc.). The former are rolled once when the character is created and are thus permanently set. The latter get their starting values ​​according to race, occupation and selection of the player. Through battles and maneuvers, a character gains experience points and rises up levels , whereby skills can be increased - classically independently of the activities actually performed. MERS is designed for a maximum level of 10, it can also be played beyond that, but with this the player characters become absurdly strong and theoretically can dominate all of Middle-earth.

For rehearsals of all kinds (maneuvers, attacks, resistance rolls, etc.) a D100 is used, which is usually simulated by two 10-sided dice (one each for tens and ones). There are "closed throws", in which the throw result is used directly, and "open throws". A dice roll of 96–100 counts as “face up”, which means that another roll may be made and the result added to the first roll. Litters from 01–05 are considered to be "open to the bottom", in which case the second litter is deducted from the first, which can also lead to negative results. The result rolled in this way is now added to the value of the character in the respective skill and any other bonuses and penalties that may arise in order to arrive at the final result. This result is looked up in the associated table and the player can read what the result of his action looks like. In combat, an open throw, to which the appropriate weapon skill is added, decides on the basic success or failure of the attack, the hit points caused and the type of critical hit that may occur . In this case, a subsequent closed throw decides on additional serious effects of the hit, which can include loss of limbs or death. Both in combat and in other maneuvers, there are blunders with particularly bad throws, which can cause effects similar to those of critical hits.

Overall, the system offers ready-made tables for a large number of situations, which should not be understood as prescribed rules, but as decision-making aids. The simplification compared to Rolemaster mainly consists of the reduction of the tables, so that MERS represents a middle ground between this and systems like D&D in terms of regularity . Due to the critical hits, the fight is very risky for the players and systematic, in case of doubt also underhanded approach is encouraged compared to pure hack and slay .

The system is based on so-called magic spell lists that can be learned according to the profession and each including a spell per stage. Magic points ( mana ) are used up to cast spells . The usual spectrum of healing, support and combat spells is covered, but it also contains a large number of spells that are not directly related to combat.

Game world

MERS is essentially based on the description of Middle-earth in the Third Age as presented by Tolkien in his books The Lord of the Rings , The Hobbit, and News from Middle-earth . The preferred time frame for the published adventures is around 1640 DZ, around 1400 years before the War of the Ring .

Even in the base game, however, ICE deviates significantly from Tolkien's own representation in many points, for example the magic system is based more on the strong battle slogans from Dungeons & Dragons than on the rare, reserved and only used by few characters in Tolkien's magic. In the course of time, a large number of so-called source books appeared , which described the peoples and regions of Middle-earth in detail, as well as fully developed adventures and campaigns. In doing so, ICE made Middle-earth one of the most extensively described role-play worlds, but here too it is disputed how well the actual atmosphere of Tolkien's works was captured.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Pete Fenlon: " ICE CEASES THE PRODUCTION AND SALE OF MIDDLE-EARTH PRODUCTS ( Memento April 8, 2004 in the Internet Archive )".