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Tolkien Collector's Guide

How a Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons Crossover Almost Happened

Aug 4 (edited)
2022/8/4 6:38:59 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

In the early 1990s, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth almost became a setting for Dungeons & Dragons. At that time, TSR, the company that created D&D, saw a window of opportunity. Tolkien and his works already had a worldwide following. Creating a game in one of his worlds might bring countless droves of Middle-earth fanatics into the ranks of Dungeons & Dragons. Furthermore, TSR wanted to create sequel novels to Tolkien’s iconic trilogy. The man in charge of this effort would be editor and now internationally renowned Tolkien scholar, John Rateliff.

John Rateliff met with Christopher Tolkien in Oxford and a few days later with a representative of HarperCollins, Tolkien’s publisher, in London. Rateliff laid out the company’s request to create fiction set in Middle-earth. I asked him what Christopher Tolkien’s reaction to the request was. He said, “I’d rather not go into that if you don’t mind,” but characterized Tolkien’s response as “a very final no.” Sequels and the like were “anathema” to the estate.

https://lithub.com/how-a-lord-of-the-r ... rossover-almost-happened/

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Aug 4
2022/8/4 8:23:27 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
This isn't my usual area of interest but I may have to pick this up. Sounds fascinating.
Aug 4
2022/8/4 12:23:58 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Oh to be a fly on the wall in that meeting with Christopher Tolkien...
Aug 4
2022/8/4 12:28:58 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Mr. Underhill wrote:

Oh to be a fly on the wall in that meeting with Christopher Tolkien...

He didn't mince his words!

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Aug 4
2022/8/4 19:04:28 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Kind of interesting, though essentially known since 2008. More to the point—and I say this as a TSR fan and a Rateliff fan—TSR’s creativity peaked in 1982, and by 1987 it was completely creatively bankrupt. Nothing they did in the 90s will ever receive a reprint or homage other than a small number of novels (mainly sequels to more popular—but still essentially insignificant—80s novels). They never aspired to anything particularly Tolkienesque, so it’s hard for me to get excited about what their take on Middle-earth might have been.

What would be more interesting would be a “story” and “descriptive bibliography” of the Tolkien RPGs that we DID get, i.e., the œuvre of Pete Fenlon and Iron Crown Enterprises. Their MERP RPG qua RPG might be nothing to write home about (Decipher did a better job there), but ICE’s Middle-earth supplements were encyclopedic and, at their best, both reverent and aspirational. And their maps are THE BEST fantasy maps of all time, bar none.
Aug 4
2022/8/4 19:20:26 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks Ulmo. For me it's entirely new because I literally pass over anything to do with games, D&D, etc, including the Rateliff blog posts. But the snippet posted caught my attention. I've just picked up the eBook, don't need this type of book physically so I'll have a read of the relevant Tolkien parts.
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