Good Setting Book for Middle Earth, Young Kingdoms, The Witcher, Hyboria?


Other RPGs

Dark Archive

If I were to grab a campaign setting book (or series of books) (I don't care what system it's for, it could be rules-less, even) to run a middle earth game, what are my best options?
MERP?
TOR?
Decipher LotR?
One of the various "Complete Guides to Tolkien" (if so which one).

Same question, Young Kingdoms/Elric
I actually can't find a proper setting book on this one.

The Witcher
Is there one available?
If not, "World of The Witcher" which is an upcoming setting guide related to the videogames, may be the way I need to go.

Hyboria
Amazon has a Complete guide to The World's Most Savage Barbarian
There's also Return to the Road of Kings
Any other suggestions from the other Conan RPGs or just guides for the various books/comics?


There are a few Elric products out there:

2 RPG systems called "Elric of Melnibone" and "Stormbringer", respectively. They use the Runequest rules, I believe.

"Dragon Lords of Melnibone" is a D20 adaption.


TOR is like the books
Decipher LOR is more like the movies
MERP is good for settings in middle earth way before the books


The One Ring is another possibility.

Dark Archive

Hmm. Sorry about the confusion;

I'm familiar with the various systems for these settings.

I would be inclined to run any and all of these settings with some variety of BRP Rules ("Age of Shadow", "Elric of Melnibone", Stormbringer/Magic World, or RuneQuest 6).

What I am asking for is advice on which product to get for the most thorough/useful information about these settings with regard to how running a game in them.


Young Kingdoms

I've got both Dragonlords and Elric, both are decent IMO. Dragonlords has some mechanical issues but is basicly Elric reprinted with a small d20 gloss. Elric is BRP to start so that would be a good one for only minor adjustments for your style of BRP. The Mongoose ones as well.

I had friends who really liked the Chaosium setting books, Melnibone and the Sorcerer's of Pan Tang as well as the module things like Rogue Mistress.

I picked up the Cults of the Young Kingdoms PDF from Mongoose and really liked it. Lots of little details on stuff like the water demons.

Conan

I felt GURPS Conan did a fine job of being an all in one book with a decent world gazetteer. Mongoose has a ton of regional supplements for specific countries and a religion book that I really like. Their bigger modules look fantastic but I have not read them so I could not say. The TSR Conan modules are fairly typical 80s AD&D modules, nothing really special IMO. I don't have the comics Conan guide, but I've been tempted to get it.

Witcher

I'm not aware of anything for the Witcher, maybe there is a reference guide/gazetteer in the actual video games but I don't know, I've only read one of the novels.

Middle Earth

I've got MERP which is OK, but I find rolemaster stuff fairly dry reading and so never read it in depth. The Guide to Tolkien's World a Bestiary by David Day is fun and I like the art style even if it is not the best setting guide and I've read criticisms of its depiction of Middle Earth.


Honestly, if you just want setting information, go to original source. Especially with Middle-Earth, where there's tons of history and other detail in the appendices.
Most of the others have a good deal of setting info online, in various wikis and the like. Not specifically for RPG use, but if you don't want mechanics, I'm not sure that matters.

Dark Archive

Voadam wrote:

Young Kingdoms

I've got both Dragonlords and Elric, both are decent IMO. Dragonlords has some mechanical issues but is basicly Elric reprinted with a small d20 gloss. Elric is BRP to start so that would be a good one for only minor adjustments for your style of BRP. The Mongoose ones as well.

I had friends who really liked the Chaosium setting books, Melnibone and the Sorcerer's of Pan Tang as well as the module things like Rogue Mistress.

I picked up the Cults of the Young Kingdoms PDF from Mongoose and really liked it. Lots of little details on stuff like the water demons.

Hmm. I shall definitely look into those.

Voadam wrote:

Conan

I felt GURPS Conan did a fine job of being an all in one book with a decent world gazetteer. Mongoose has a ton of regional supplements for specific countries and a religion book that I really like. Their bigger modules look fantastic but I have not read them so I could not say. The TSR Conan modules are fairly typical 80s AD&D modules, nothing really special IMO. I don't have the comics Conan guide, but I've been tempted to get it.

Yeah; the 2006 Comic Guide looks really good. Fantastic Production values from what I have seen (couple of sample pages).

Here's a 2-page Spread on Thoth-Amon.
and
Here's a 2-page spread on Belit.
I was unaware there WAS a GURPS Conan. I will look into that one as well.
And of Course, I have a big list of Mongoose Conan books to look into. How Crunch-Heavy are the regional books? or more Succinctly: If I am using BRP to run a Conan Game, approximately how much of those books is not useful to me?

Voadam wrote:

Witcher

I'm not aware of anything for the Witcher, maybe there is a reference guide/gazetteer in the actual video games but I don't know, I've only read one of the novels.

The Company that puts out the videogame seems to have some king of book in the works for May 2015. Maybe it will be a decent setting guide. FYI, the videogames are set after the novels. The Author has stated resolutely that as far as he is conerned, nothing but the novels is

canon, but the videogames take the novels as canon and then expand on them after the fact, so a product that incorporates the games sound's great to me.

Voadam wrote:

Middle Earth

I've got MERP which is OK, but I find rolemaster stuff fairly dry reading and so never read it in depth. The Guide to Tolkien's World a Bestiary by David Day is fun and I like the art style even if it is not the best setting guide and I've read criticisms of its depiction of Middle Earth.

Hmm. I'll check out that bestiary as well. RoleMaster can be pretty dry; I'm not sure what their middle earth setting books are like though

thejeff wrote:
Honestly, if you just want setting information, go to original source. Especially with Middle-Earth, where there's tons of history and other detail in the appendices.

There is some good stuff in those appendices, but the appendices don't cover everything, and they don't include many of the things that are detailed in the books, since they're designed to complement the books. I was hoping for something a bit more comprehensive.

thejeff wrote:
Most of the others have a good deal of setting info online, in various wikis and the like. Not specifically for RPG use, but if you don't want mechanics, I'm not sure that matters.

Actually, that's a great idea. I'll look into the respective Wikis of these settings - I'm sure they exist - my concern is mostly that the wikis will be really sparse with their information; Some of them are. On the other hand, others would make excellent Campaign Setting Sources. A Wiki is definitely less good than a Physical Book in some ways, but its much easier to share with the players.

Alright: Here are the wikis that I have found (I will comment on them more once I have looked them over a bit). In the meantime, I am still interested in printed setting information if anyone has suggestions.

Hyborean Age Wiki
Witcher Wiki
Middle-Earth Wiki
Michael Moorcock Wiki (only one I could find)The Moorcock Wiki would not work to run a game in that setting. It's mostly a collection of references. For instane: if you look up Elric and you get a list of products he appears in, but no real character information or history.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Also bear in mind, if you care, that some of the game material is pure invention, not drawn from the source. The MERP books have quite a bit of that, of uneven quality and it's not often clear which is which.

Dark Archive

@TheJeff: Hmm. I don't mind the addition of fabricated stuff, so long as the new stuff fits and doesn't break/contradict the stuff that's not fabricated. Good to Know Regarding the MERP stuff though.

TOR's setting stuff seems to be focused on a tiny region.
How good is Decipher's Setting stuff?


For Elric the Chaosium books for Stormbringer and Elric! are probably the only options. The good part is they are well done, and keep with the themes and feel of Moorcock's books. I have the core books for both systems and several of the sourcebooks. In particular, the Sorcerers of Pan Tang is excellent.

For Conan I think the Mongoose books do a good job of expanding upon the (often miniscule) Conan material from Howard's Conan stories and those developed by the various authors in novels and comics over the years. The GURPS Conan book is fairly rare (took me years to find one which did not have a ridiculous price attached to it)


There is an rpg for Witcher (link) but it's in Polish and it's closer to the books than the crpg.

Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane sans gunpowder would be probably close enough.

Regards,
Ruemere

Dark Archive

Yeah, I looked into the Witcher RPG a while back. They never translated it; and from what I have heard from polish gamers, the system wasn't particularly good.

Yeah, you could also do alright running these settings using GURPS, or Savage Worlds, or FATE, or MERP, or RoleMaster, or White Wolf's Classic World of Darkness (they have medieval supplements and mortal sorcery supplements and demon supplements - they're just not the main books), or even Trollbabe.
But again, I'm inclined to go BRP/Magic World/RuneQuest6/OpenQuest/Age of Shadow, and am looking for good sources of collected setting information, not a system to use to run it.

Thanks limsk. I will definitely need to track down some of those Elric sourcebooks.

Conan GURPS is available in PDF Form if you want it. I'm presently undecided if I want GURPS Conan or if Mongoose conan will be good enough.


In contrast to thejeff, I found ALL of the MERP books to be excellent, especially the Far Harad and other books that extended the IP - I felt ICE's homage to be seamless.

Dark Archive

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
In contrast to thejeff, I found ALL of the MERP books to be excellent, especially the Far Harad and other books that extended the IP - I felt ICE's homage to be seamless.

Hmm. That's interesting to hear.

I don't suppose you happen to know of a good Arda/Middle Earth Guide that is not an RPG Supplement, do you? I figure if you've done LotR gaming, you might be more inclined to know of such things.

Out of curiosity, what do you think of Age of Shadows? The project started with a guy who wanted to run a BRP Silmarillion game set in the first age, playing as characters whom history forgot.


@DH - I'm a known serial Tolkien-basher on these forums, but I somehow love MERP system and flavor. Still, the Tolkster is the best for LotR obviously. My favorite is Unfinished Tales or whichever book details the Istari and the Druadan. I always loved playing a Wose in MERP. Or a Dunlending. Basically anyone who was an enemy of my brother's strawhead (Rohir) character. ;).

*There is the Tolkien Bestiary or Tolkien Treasury by David Day I think - it's more an alphabetical encyclopaedia. A good work, and depending on the version, fantastic illustrations.

*I also have all the visual/artbooks for the first three movies - though I detest the filmic treatments (and worked on them as well) the costuming, armor and weapons are great.

Posting in bed from phone, by all means PM me for better answers/real links to these books...


Never heard of Age of Shadow, but I'll be checking it out!!! Lotsa free stuff!!!
What is BRP - before Ral Partha? ;)


Oceanshieldwolf wrote:

Never heard of Age of Shadow, but I'll be checking it out!!! Lotsa free stuff!!!

What is BRP - before Ral Partha? ;)

Chaosium's Basic Role Playing.

Dark Archive

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:

Never heard of Age of Shadow, but I'll be checking it out!!! Lotsa free stuff!!!

What is BRP - before Ral Partha? ;)

Basic RolePlaying. (like d20). Used in many contexts as not just the Chaosium releases - it also describes the other systems that spun off of the Chaosium Stuff, much of it by other publishers. People conventionally think RuneQuest (which is in 6th edition right now, and has free basic rules); OpenQuest is a streamlined and improved OGL RuneQuest 4 Spinoff that has 2nd edition out (also has free basic rules) - Age of Shadows is a free LOTR Inspired Spinoff of OQ; Mongoose is still publishing things for RuneQuest 5 (Under the name Legend, ever since they lost the RuneQuest License); Mongoose WAS producing Elric Content, but have stopped doing so.

Of course, it also includes the Chaosium Stuff; Call of Cthulhu (Free Quickstart Rules, Free Old Quickstart Rules), Basic Roleplaying [url]Free Quikstart Rules[/url], and Magic World (which is an update/reprint of Chaosium's pulpy Elric variant of RuneQuest - Stormbringer, but without the Michael Moorcock stuff - also free basic rules). You can use stuff from one game in the others, or across editions, very easily; like using 3.0 monsters or classes in 3.5, or using 3.5 stuff in Pathfinder.

It somewhat describes older editions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay as well, and bits of it are still present in the Warhammer 40k Line.

I would advise checking out Age of Shadows, OpenQuest, RQ6, and Magic World. Legend is also pretty good (PDF of the core book is $1), but I would recommend RQ6 over RQ5. It's a big improvement.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Regarding the Young Kingdoms from Michael Moorcock's Elric books, the RPG Stormbringer, later rereleased (in much higher quality) as Elric!, was a top-notch RPG product, with game mechanics similar to Runequest. But it could easily just be used as a background sourcebook with any game system, including Pathfinder. You'd want to re-flavor much of the magic, so almost all of it was about summoning, supplicating the Lords of Chaos, and creating diabolical items, but very solid.

In addition to the many game books and supplements that Chaosium put out in the US, the French licensee Oriflam made a lot of its own content, both for Storbringer and Hawkmoon) which was never translated into English AFAIK. Great stuff (I wrote some of it, so I'm biased).

Dark Archive

Oh?

I actually picked up a PDF of Elric on Drivethru RPG a ouple years back, just because it was cheap; but I only skimmed it. It didn't seem to have all that much setting info at the time. I must have mis-remembered. I'll look through it again. :)


Darkholme wrote:

Oh?

I actually picked up a PDF of Elric on Drivethru RPG a ouple years back, just because it was cheap; but I only skimmed it. It didn't seem to have all that much setting info at the time. I must have mis-remembered. I'll look through it again. :)

Your memory is correct. There isn't much detailed information on the actual world of Elric in the core book. The world information is mostly contained in the sourcebooks like Melnibone, Sorcerers of Pan Tang, and

Sea Kings of the Purple Towns.

Dark Archive

Ah. Well I'll have to hunt those down then. Thanks. :)


thenovalord wrote:

TOR is like the books

Decipher LOR is more like the movies
MERP is good for settings in middle earth way before the books

It also depends on what campaign and style you want to play

The One Ring has mostly material specific to Rhovanion, (and soon north-eastern Eriador), which are not vistas familiar to readers/watchers of LotR and more reminiscent of Bilbo's adventures. Of all three choices, it presents themes and feel that are the closest to those of the books.

MERP, as thenovalord says, has a setting based almost 1500 years before the war of the ring and sometimes wander far from canon (if that's of any importance for you). ICE's products were also of uneven quality as it has been mentioned. Some are really good, some are terrible.

I'm less familiar with Decipher's LotR RPG, but I believe the described setting hovers more around southern vistas visited by characters in Peter Jackson's LotR (Rohan, Gondor and Mordor).

If you're willing to go outside RPG products for inspiration, I suggest Tolkien Bestiary. It's called a bestiary but it contains information on geography and flora as well, and it describes the "good guys" as much as orcs and ringwraiths.

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / Gaming / Other RPGs / Good Setting Book for Middle Earth, Young Kingdoms, The Witcher, Hyboria? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.