Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) Middle Earth Role Playing game (MERP) was the very first commercial desktop RPG I played. It was licensed through Tolkien Enterprises and was based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I absolutely loved the campaign and adventure modules, and found most to be of high quality.
That was back more than 30 years ago – in my early years of High School. I hadn’t yet started earning money and my Dad hated the idea of the game, so unfortunately I was never able to buy many of the books.
We moved on to ICE’s Rolemaster and Terry Amthor’s Shadow World / Loremaster environment – another setting I loved. I was able to purchase most of these books over time, but the MERP gear was rarely available.
By the time I had gone through Uni, started my career and set up house with my now wife, ICE was headed into bankruptcy, had lost its Tolkien license and there were no more new books released.
I did buy all the Forgotten Realm Setting books for D&D 3.0 and 3.5 versions when they came out. I’ve rarely played games using them, but loved the format and quality of the books. They are easily good enough just to read for reading sake, and sit on my bookcase in great condition. I still regretted however not being able to collect the MERP books.
For the last five odd years I have taken to looking for the MERP books on Ebay. I have now picked up some 40 of the 100 odd products released, most in as new condition. I’ve paid less than $10 for some, more than $60 for others, but mostly between $20 and $40. I’ve seen some books go for more than $100, although they often get relisted again soon after as the more successful auctions don’t seem to go through reliably. It amazes me that you can receive in the mail a book that is 30 odd years old, yet in as new condition.
In the last year or so however nothing new seems to be put up for auction – aside the same old over priced items relisted month after month after month. There are more options overseas, but I’ve tended to stick to the Australian site. I take the approach that if I get lucky, all good – if not, never mind.
Part of the Collection
My history of role playing games certainly plays a big part in why I’ve liked and spent so long in EVE. My experience with collecting MERP books also probably explains why I have purchased most of the books and what not related to EVE when they are released.