We all know Middle-earth was one of the inspirations for D&D, but did you know D&D inspired an RPG set in Middle-earth? It all starts with an Iron Crown.
The world of Middle-earth set the tone for so much of what we consider "fantasy" as a genre. It's hard to imagine a fantasy world that hasn't been touched by the works of Tolkien's Legendarium. And later, when the Lord of the Rings Movies helped redefine the look and feel of epic, three-hour movies, it changed so much of our visual language. The Lord of the Rings casts a long shadow whose influence can be felt even in Dungeons & Dragons. Elves, dwarves, orcs, halflings, mithril, magic rings that turn you invisible--all of these can be found in the very first D&D pamphlets, ad they continue to endure through to today. There's no question that Middle-earth left its mark on D&D.
But today we're going to talk about how D&D influenced a small part of Middle-earth, launching one of the most beloved retro games, Middle-earth Roleplaying, or MERP. Like most games from the late 70s/early 80s, MERP has its roots in the home game of one of the designers. Because the story of Middle-earth Roleplaying is also the story of Rolemaster, and it's also the story of Iron Crown Enterprises.
It all begins in the late 70s with Pete Fenlon, the founder of Iron Crown--though at the time, Fenlon, then in colleg...