Back to the Source

Like every other gamer on the planet, I have of course kept up with the Lord of the Rings movies of the past several years. I’ve kept meaning to go back and read the books again because it’s been a good 15 years or so since I last did so. In my early teens, Lord of the Rings was like my Bible. I just loved the Tolkien, to the point that I had three bookshelves in my room and one was strictly reserved for Tolkien-related books. Moorcock, Lieber, and Howard, they had to share a shelf, but Tolkien got one all for himself. Hell, I even tried to run several campaigns with the old MERP rules from ICE (which were really pretty dreadful).

This past week I’ve finally have returned to the trilogy. The books hold up and I’m enjoying the hell out of Fellowship at the moment. It’s been interesting comparing them with the movies. Long time readers know I had some issues with certain choices the scriptwriters made. The book is reminding me how much was changed in some instances, even more than I had originally estimated. For instance, the rewrite of the race to Rivendell downplays the heroism Frodo displays in the books. Although wounded, Frodo turns and faces all nine nazghul, draws his sword, and defies them. This bit is given to Arwen in the movie (presumably to give Liv Tyler something to do). Similarly, in the film Frodo does not jump forward with Sting and stab the cave troll in the foot at the start of the battle in Balin’s Tomb.

Anyway, I’ve been having fun revisiting the books that ended up being a huge influence on my life. Without Tolkien, after all, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into D&D;, which was my first step on a game industry career path. Since I’ve gotten back into a Tolkien sort of mood, I’ve also decided to start a Lord of the Rings RPG campaign. We’re giving the Decipher game a try. I think there’s a decent game in there somewhere, but it sure could have used another three months of playtesting and development. I made a character last night to test that part of the system and it was a huge pain in the ass. I was able to sort it, but I pity the newbie who bought that game and tried to figure it out.

We’ll see how the system plays later tonight.

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