I downloaded my electronic copy this evening. Just spent an hour scanning it. My first impression is this is a clever and well-executed adaptation of Middle Earth into the Wizards of the Coast d20 system. Highlights, etc.
D&D “Playable races” are translated into #MiddleEarth cultures. I can’t wait to roll up my first character, which will no doubt be a Rider of Rohan. Equipment lists are #Tolkien-appropriate, so lots of standard D&D items missing (though you could always bring some of it in if you wanted to.)
The add-on rules required to make a campaign world function the way Middle Earth does are well-thought out and seem intuitive. I’m talking about things like a point system to quantify the influence of the Shadow on mortal hearts & spirits.
At first blush, this is a setting for experienced players and Tolkien freaks. Novice players who are still learning the core rules might have trouble with some of the add-on rules unless they’re so new they can use only what they need from the D&D player’s handbook and focus on learning AME first.
D&D purists and magic junkies are not going to be happy in this setting for long, but any role-playing nerd with even a passing fondness for Tolkien should jump at the opportunity to try it out.
This supplement isn’t going to play or feel anything like your standard high magic, dungeon-crawl-of-the-week fantasy world because Middle Earth just isn’t like that. The campaign structure is entirely different than what most DMs I’ve seen do when they design their own adventures.
There are no spellslingers and no clerics with direct access to divine power unless the gamemaster allows core character classes to be brought in (and I’d discourage that because those are wrong for this setting). But warrior and rogue classes, and lots of abilities like Trackless Step and music-based magic, are incorporated seamlessly.
Worth a look if you can get into a game for free or know someone with the books. Not something to invest money in casually or out of curiosity without reading reviews, though. I bought it because I have friends interested in playing it, and so far I am pleased with the purchase.
Cubicle 7 Entertainment is going places.
I can’t wait for the print copies 🙂