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     " This core book is definitely the direct equivalent to D20's Player's Handbook and serves as every bit its equal for a launching point. "

      Title: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game: Core Book by Decipher

      Format: Fantasy RPG

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: Finally the one that started it all has a roleplaying game to call its very own. Live the drama of middle earth with your own sense of character and style! Taken from the movie which is, arguably, as faithful to the books as anything could ever be this game should tap the vein for all you Tolkien freaks out there.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Story and Drama: One of the things that has been perplexing me with all of the Ring's games is the utter lack of story included. Sure, they're based on a very famous set of books but does that really mean you don't have to include any story? It would seem to me that you shouldn't require your players to go out and read 1200 pages worth of novels just to catch up on what's going on- yet that's apparently what this game expects. Sure, it's got plenty of information on the world and locations but very little on what's actually going on. Disappointing to say the least. 2 out of 5

      Layout and Presentation: On the plus side, this book is about as beautiful as they come. Full of gorgeous, bright colors and tons of stills from the movies it's definitely enough to make you "ooh" and "awwe" as you're flipping through the pages. On the down side is the rather eclectic layout the book presents. I suppose it's fair to say "It makes sense to someone" or it wouldn't be that way but it sure as hell was boggling to me and my gaming group. The order of chapters and presentation of information within those chapters is just about as confusing as any book I've seen (for example- character creation is done 8 chapters before the rules are explained) and, if not for the presence of a fairly comprehensive index, would have had this book hurled out of a window long ago. 3 out of 5

      Playability: Based on Decipher's "CODA" system, Lord of the Rings uses a fairly basic stat, skill, and roll vs. target number set up that should be old hat to any veteran gamer. Speaking strongly to its advantage, and significantly contrasting the lack of background and story, is the huge amount of information presented on spells, equipment, and character archetypes. There is enough rank and file here to choke a horse and will be more than sufficient to make any aspect of the world you want come to life. All in all, it's a fair system that should serve as a pleasant alternative to anyone looking for an option to fantasy RPG away from d20. 3.5 out of 5

      Desired Content: Of all the things I expect in a core book, only the story was lacking. It has gear and character information in spades, tons of race and archetype background, and all the pretty pictures I could ever want to look at. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, Lord of the Rings is a solid RPG that is set to rival all of the games that have been created in the properties wake. So for all of us who have wondered for decades what would happen to spin off properties like D&D when the original hit- we're off to a good start. This core book is definitely the direct equivalent to D20's Player's Handbook and serves as every bit its equal for a launching point.

      The Good: Very pretty with a decent system.

      The Bad: No story and a layout that can only be described as "craptastic".

      The Overall Ugly: Rules and characters…But if you haven't read the books it has about the same depth as the D20 core.

      What it's Worth: Market

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