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Home Forums The Smoking Room The Hobbit… origin of obsession…

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    Way back in 1982 I owned a ZX Spectrum and that year a game came out called the Hobbit… it unleashed a monster…

    The game was packaged with a paperback (which I still have) of the same name and I read it.

    It started a chain reaction… because soon after I read the Lord of the Rings.

    That same year I was introduced to something called Dungeons and Dragons. We played a high level scenario in someones garage and as far as I recall, the session sucked… but the game was ‘amazing’… well it seemed so to me.

    We persevered, with three of us rotating as DM (there was a Dungeon Master back then… not a Games Master) as we fumbled our way through an old White Dwarf scenario called ‘The Lichway’, followed by the Salt Marsh Trilogy and by then I was well and truly hooked.

    Move forwards a couple of years and ‘Middle Earth Role-Playing’ was published by Iron Crown Enterprises… it was a deadly system with far too much magic for Middle Earth, but it combined Middle Earth with role-playing games…

    Over the years I spent a lot of money on MERP supplements, but as time moved on, the games changed.

    My obsession with the works of Tolkien continued and I ploughed through the Silmarilion, Book of Lost Tales and many others… some of which were not easy reads.

    Over the years I discovered that BBC Radio produced an awesome radio series with Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins.

    And Ralph Bakshi made the first half of the Lord of the Rings as an animated tale… that was never finished.

    Peter Jackson did a quite successful series of movies too… with Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins… you got to love that he recruited Frodo to play Bilbo…

    Anyway… back to gaming…

    Cubicle 7 released the One Ring, by far the best Tolkien RPG in my opinion and I have everything they have published for it to date… and will buy more. (@UH Francesco Nepitello was involved in the creation of the One Ring)

    A few years ago I took an interest in board games and at a convention picked up something called War of the Ring… some of you may be familiar with it. (@UH and Francesco Nepitello was involved in the creation of the War of the Ring)

    It was first edition and second hand, but in good condition and I upgraded to second edition, adding the supplements of course.

    FFG did a card game… a challenging game and I, of course, added the Saga Edition of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

    In short… that one purchase back in 1982 had a massive impact on my gaming life… and it still does… as I’m currently starting a new campaign with the One Ring.

    Thus ends my epic tale of gaming and Tolkien.

    What has inspired you over the years?

    Universal Head

    A wonderfu bit of gaming nostalgia 8th, nice one. The first Saltmarsh module was fantastic (The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh). A few of us will never forget when a less experienced player joined the group, we started playing the module, and his character immediately walked up to the first villager he saw and demanded “What’s your sinister secret!?”

    I didn’t know Ian Holm had played Frodo on radio, that’s great.

    BTW I’ve tweaked my WotR summary and reference yet again – coming soon!

    I think Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was a great inspiration for me. I started with Empire of the Petal Throne (well, our extremely simplified version) in 1978, and then played Basic D&D and AD&D, but WFRP hit the right buttons for me – I’ve always preferred the grim, gritty, realistic adventures of low-level characters to the ‘high fantasy’ that D&D turned into from Dragonlance onwards. In fact The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh was a D&D favourite because it was done by an English team and more in that ‘realistic’ style.

    I’ve used all 3 versions of WFRP and it was our only roleplaying system for many years. I loved the grotty Germanic feel and the very the English sense of humour. It’s a great shame Games Workshop has dumped the Old World in favour of the ‘He-man in space’ heroics of Age of Sigmar (where it feels absolutely nothing is at stake because everyone involved are superheroes), but I’m happy to see the WFRP system is being re-released yet again in the original world.

    Not that I have any plans to start yet another WFRP campaign – there are only so many cultist plots and skaven in the sewers adventures you can play!


    In the late 80’s I was a player in Warhammer FRP campaign, The Enemy Within’… loved it.

    Setting was great. I bought into that with the wargame rules 2nd edition and the ‘Magnificent Sven’ scenario in the box… it had humour to offset the dark setting.

    I will probably buy 4th edition out of nostalgia, but really want to see some real rules first.

    I hate that they destroyed the world for Sigmar, but some of the models are amazing. Deepkin, Daughters of Khaine and the undead in new box set… Soul Wars… Just a pity the bloody golden boys of Sigmar in the box too. Undead Vs Khaine or Deepkin and I’d pre-order it…


    There was a quiz show on German TV back in 1981 or 82, with one of the candidates having Lord of the Rings as her topic. She was abysmal, hardly got a single answer right, but still piqued my interest with the tidbits of story mentioned. 🙂 Got the books for my next birthday.

    From there it was Fighting Fantasy game books, my first rpg (German “Das Schwarze Auge”, not D&D), MERP, Rolemaster, RuneQuest. I ran multiple campaigns set in Middle-earth, using ICE’s regional guides – the best was Greater Harad with a very epic campaign.

    As teenagers we actually designed our own Lord of the Ring game, a huge, sprawling affair without achievable victory conditions. One little design bit mirrored War of the Ring: The Free Nations couldn’t go to war against Sauron and Saruman, before a hobbit hadn’t visited their homeland and “activated” them.

    Universal Head

    I designed my own game as a teenager too, but it was for Latin class and based on the legend of Aeneas and the founding of Rome. It was heavily influenced by the old SPI game Freedom in the Galaxy I seem to recall.

    Striking that you came up with that very similar mechanic!

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