The title. I made a character sheet for a Lord of the Rings RPG game based on the Tolkien Quest books (which apparently was also called Middle-Earth Quest at one point?). Essentially, I thought “well, Troika is an RPG based on the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, why not make one based on the Tolkien Quest ones?” Both are basically “choose-your-own-adventure” books, but with dice and combat rules. So, I made a Middle-Earth Fighting Fantasy.
The skills are streamlined and made a bit easier to understand. I also removed “Magical” as skill, as well as all of the spells you could learn. Middle-Earth games shouldn’t have rules for magic. Like, ever.
I (being the pragmatist that I am) made the rules and character sheet 1 page. I’m planning to use this to run the 5e-compatible Adventures in Middle-Earth RPG for my brother and father over the holidays. I love the scenarios of that game (Wilderland, Mirkwood Campaign), but the rules are too bloated. This game uses two six-siders, and that’s all.
The combat table changed slightly. 0 damage only happens if you roll snake eyes. Keeps things moving in the fights.
Lastly, I really wanted to think about how people “leveled up” in the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. No one really “gains a level.” Rather, they are given titles, items (especially magic ones), and trained by people. When you do something for a peoples, they give you stuff, physical or otherwise. The One Ring RPG from Cubicle 7 uses this dichotomy that I’ve also found useful for categorizing the different peoples of Middle-Earth: valor vs. wisdom.
Martial cultures, like Bardings, Woodmen, Men of Rohan, Men of Gondor, and Dwarves use valor (acts of greatness) to show how awesome they are. “I slew a troll! I held back the Shadow in Osgiliath for years! I fashion the best weapons!” They give Rewards, physical stuff, like weapons, gear, and land for proving yourself.
Wise cultures, like Beornings, Dunedain, Elves, Eagles, use wisdom (qualities of greatness) as a measure of experience. “I am trustworthy, even in the most difficult situations. I give the best advice. No one can corrupt me.” They give Virtues, intangible stuff, like titles, skills, and training for proving yourself.
“What about Hobbits?!” Hobbits probably give you food or something. They’re plump folks. Speaking of food, all this talk of gaming makes me hungry. Gonna go eat.
Travel on, rambler.