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Thread: The CODA system (AKA Deciphers LOTR)

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    The CODA system (AKA Deciphers LOTR)

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    So I've had Middle Earth on the brain and been thinking about a campaign. Looked at GURPS, started making my own conversion for MRQ, started flipped through MERPS again, signed up for LOTRs Online and started watching the movies again. Then I'm down at one of the FLGS and I see they have a copy of the old Decipher game (which I used to own but I hated it and wrote it off as D&D 3.0 with 2d6 and then sold it) so I figured I would pick it up for a laugh and mabey glean an idea or two... Now maybe its because I'm older and perfer a simpler system these days but I find myself liking it. I would never run MERPS these days because its too complicated (Rolemaster light is still Rolemaster) but this I could run. It reminds me of a MERPS conversion to d20 with some original elements. Its less deadly than MERPS but thats easy to correct. In fact I think they understand some things about stages of success better than d20 ever did. All in all if your looking for a light Middle Earth game I recomend CODA, it may take some house rules to get the feel you want with magic or combat but over all its not a bad little game.
    Playing: Pathfinder
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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    So I've had Middle Earth on the brain and been thinking about a campaign. Looked at GURPS, started making my own conversion for MRQ, started flipped through MERPS again, signed up for LOTRs Online and started watching the movies again. Then I'm down at one of the FLGS and I see they have a copy of the old Decipher game (which I used to own but I hated it and wrote it off as D&D 3.0 with 2d6 and then sold it) so I figured I would pick it up for a laugh and mabey glean an idea or two... Now maybe its because I'm older and perfer a simpler system these days but I find myself liking it. I would never run MERPS these days because its too complicated (Rolemaster light is still Rolemaster) but this I could run. It reminds me of a MERPS conversion to d20 with some original elements. Its less deadly than MERPS but thats easy to correct. In fact I think they understand some things about stages of success better than d20 ever did. All in all if your looking for a light Middle Earth game I recomend CODA, it may take some house rules to get the feel you want with magic or combat but over all its not a bad little game.
    I've heard both extremes(good and bad)on the rule systems. Seeing as how i see great potential with a LOTR campaign, even to the point i am wishing i could join yours, please share with us your gaming experiences once your campaign gets underway. Thanks.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
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    Well I don't know that I'll be running it anytime soon but the CODA system seams to give me 90% of what I want so I think I'll design around it and come up with a few house rules to make it more lethal and magic a little rarer.

    My idea centers around Mirkwood and the coming of the Necromancer to Dol Guldur (Third Age cira 1000 or about 2000 years before Bilbo). Agents of Men and Elves investigating a new evil in southern Mirkwood.
    Playing: Pathfinder
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    I was much more a fan of Rolemaster, and MERP. I have a few coipies of those, to hand out as spares.

    I bought the decipher game, and though it has nice writing, and art, and stills from the movies, it wasn't to my players' taste, and I could never get a game of it going, whereas we played MERP a few times.

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    Well I like the game, and have stated so previously in the forums here. The game is not without it's problems, but it is certainly playable. The two biggest problems with the game IMO are the way it deals with HP's and XP's. Work out those two issues to your satisfaction and everything else should be fine.
    It's as if there are people who play RPGs that don't have computers or something. Seriously, people need to upgrade to 1994 already. - - -TheRedRobedWizard

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    Well I don't know that I'll be running it anytime soon but the CODA system seams to give me 90% of what I want so I think I'll design around it and come up with a few house rules to make it more lethal and magic a little rarer.

    My idea centers around Mirkwood and the coming of the Necromancer to Dol Guldur (Third Age cira 1000 or about 2000 years before Bilbo). Agents of Men and Elves investigating a new evil in southern Mirkwood.
    Now youre speaking my language, MortonStromgal. Coming "up with a few house rules to make it more lethal and magic a little rarer," is right up my alley. I love dark and gritty. Probaly explains why i like WFRP so much. Sounds like a great campaign to be in. Best of luck getting it going.
    Last edited by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon; 12-09-2008 at 03:16 AM.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    and started watching the movies again.
    The movies? Say you don't mean it. You really mean, "reading the books again." Right?

    I definitely recommend reading the appendices of The Return of the King. They're one of the best resources for a mid-Third Age campaign.

    I would suggest bookmarking some fan websites and subscribing to a few mailing lists. There are some really good resources available; a lot of passionate people are running Middle-earth campaigns.

    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    I would never run MERPS these days because its too complicated (Rolemaster light is still Rolemaster)
    I can't blame you. You should take a hard look at using the MERP supplements with a different ruleset, though (whether Decipher or something else). All of the Iron Crown materials were specifically designed to be easy to run with other systems; they went to great lengths to separate the setting from the rules. The stats are even listed in the back of the book instead of within the text.

    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    Well I don't know that I'll be running it anytime soon but the CODA system seams to give me 90% of what I want so I think I'll design around it and come up with a few house rules to make it more lethal and magic a little rarer.
    You'll probably have to tinker with any magic system you use; I haven't seen one well-suited to Middle-earth. Rolemaster's magic system wasn't designed for Middle-earth and didn't work well with it; it was really designed for Shadow World.

    My idea centers around Mirkwood and the coming of the Necromancer to Dol Guldur (Third Age cira 1000 or about 2000 years before Bilbo). Agents of Men and Elves investigating a new evil in southern Mirkwood.
    Interesting. Also very dangerous. I've only run one campaign set in Mirkwood (most of mine have been in Arnor), but it was a lot of fun.

    You might want to consider setting it a bit later so that you can use the Iron Crown supplements more easily. ICE generally set their modules in either the early 1400's (just before Angmar's invasion of Arnor and the Kin-strife in Gondor) or the early 1600's (just after the Great Plague). I usually set my Arnor campaigns around 1407, to give the players a chance to get oriented before the war started. If you think your players might move to Arnor at any point, you may want to set it a bit earlier and plan to get them there around 1408.

    Also, if you set it too early, the Necromancer might not be ready to receive them properly . . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    ...My idea centers around Mirkwood and the coming of the Necromancer to Dol Guldur (Third Age cira 1000 or about 2000 years before Bilbo). Agents of Men and Elves investigating a new evil in southern Mirkwood.
    One word: cool!
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    While probably just a small derail ... I read the first two books of the trilogy, but the third movie came out before I got to Return of the King and, since my family insisted on seeing it in a group, the plot was kind of spoiled for me. Is the book much better than the movie? I was highly dissatisfied with the whole Arwyn being a major plot point ... seemed too artificial and intended to keep the male audience members awake.

    Also, I've been dying to play/run a LOTR style campaign but never felt confident enough in my grasp of the setting to do so. As a kid, one of my ambitions was to learn to speak Tolkein elfish
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoddessGood View Post
    ...Also, I've been dying to play/run a LOTR style campaign but never felt confident enough in my grasp of the setting to do so. As a kid, one of my ambitions was to learn to speak Tolkein elfish
    One of the friends I game with is a huge Tolkien fan. He could do worlds more justice running a Middle Earth campaign than I could ever hope to. When I recently came into possession of a few of the MERP books again, I passed them on to him as he said he had sold his MERP books years ago. He also owned the Decipher LotR RPG for a short time, but apparently sold it off as well. We never did get a chance to play it.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    The movies? Say you don't mean it. You really mean, "reading the books again." Right?
    No the movies, followed by the cartoons and then the extra movie disks (With a healthy dose of LOTRO). I will get around to rereading the books probably starting with the Hobbit and then the Simarillion before doing the trilogy. Right now though I'm reading MERPS, Decipher, GURPS and MRQ.
    Playing: Pathfinder
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    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    So I've had Middle Earth on the brain <SNIP> ...signed up for LOTRs Online and started watching the movies again.
    Hey Morton,

    Not sure if you meant the MMO LotRO (Lord of the Rings Online), but if you did...may I make a suggestion?

    I'm a longtime player of LotRO, and I've played on Landroval server since March. Excellent RPers, and you couldn't ask for a nicer community. Try it out sometime, and look for my handle on the forums over there if you'd like more information.

    /end thread derailment
    "All you need is ignorance and confidence, then success is assured." -Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talmek View Post
    Hey Morton,

    Not sure if you meant the MMO LotRO (Lord of the Rings Online), but if you did...may I make a suggestion?

    I'm a longtime player of LotRO, and I've played on Landroval server since March. Excellent RPers, and you couldn't ask for a nicer community. Try it out sometime, and look for my handle on the forums over there if you'd like more information.

    /end thread derailment
    Yup thats the one, I have friends on Gladden who have tried to convinced me to play since it came out but I have a hate of Turbine. I finally caved, though so far I still prefer EQ2 overall I will say I have never had so much fun questing as LOTRO, good job guys the quests are well done and don't feel like grinding in anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoddessGood View Post
    Also, I've been dying to play/run a LOTR style campaign but never felt confident enough in my grasp of the setting to do so. As a kid, one of my ambitions was to learn to speak Tolkein elfish
    I suggest picking up any of the MERPS stuff you can find (good luck on that) its really well laid out so you can get a grasp on the world.
    Last edited by MortonStromgal; 12-09-2008 at 02:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoddessGood View Post
    Is the book much better than the movie?
    Yes.

    I intensely disliked the movies. Peter Jackson claims he shot the movies with the book in his pocket. Perhaps he had it in his pocket, but he certainly didn't pay much attention to it.

    Also, I've been dying to play/run a LOTR style campaign but never felt confident enough in my grasp of the setting to do so. As a kid, one of my ambitions was to learn to speak Tolkein elfish
    My suggestion would be to read all four books again (including The Hobbit), paying close attention to the appendices of The Return of the King. Then try to read The Silmarillion as well. A lot of people don't make it through The Silmarillion; if you don't, that's okay, but you should have it as a reference. (Personally, I liked it even better than the trilogy.) Unfinished Tales is also very useful as a reference, even if you don't read it cover to cover.

    My favorite third-party references are The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster (which was published before Unfinished Tales came out, but is still very useful) and Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth. Be sure to get the latest edition of each (especially of the Atlas). I would consider The Atlas of Middle-earth essential; some of the maps are not in the game supplements. When I'm running a Middle-earth campaign, we usually have the Atlas open on the table.

    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    I suggest picking up any of the MERPS stuff you can find (good luck on that) its really well laid out so you can get a grasp on the world.
    I agree completely. My own opinion is that the ICE (Iron Crown Enterprises) MERP (Middle-earth Role-Playing) campaign material is much better quality than the Decipher campaign material. Another advantage of the ICE material is that it's much easier to run a campaign well before The War of the Ring.

    The ICE supplements can be difficult to find, but some of them are still available on eBay (though they may be expensive). You may be able to find PDF's, which would be just as good.

    Also, I would definitely check out some of the Middle-earth websites and subscribe to some of the mailing lists. And I'm always happy to answer questions and make suggestions, too, though some of the hard-core fans are a lot more expert than I am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    ...I intensely disliked the movies. Peter Jackson claims he shot the movies with the book in his pocket. Perhaps he had it in his pocket, but he certainly didn't pay much attention to it...
    I liked the films for what they were, even if that isn't a completely accurate rendition of the books. I surrendered myself to the knowledge that there would be no mention of Tom Bombadil nor Scouring of the Shire in the films before they ever released (at least they gave Treebeard some of Bombadil's lines and did an excellent job at that). Just not enough time even in a 3-and-a-half hour movie to include everything that needed to be, nor can a film support the same sort of pacing as a novel.

    The films were just an "adaptation" of the books and that's how seriously I take them. They are a great deal of fun to watch and I even got my wife (who doesn't generally read fantasy or sci-fi) interested in watching them with me. She enjoyed them. The books are better, of course, but that's just having your cake and eating it too. Nothing wrong with that.

    I expect the same thing to happen with the Hobbit film(s?) when they arrive. The Hobbit was always my favorite of the four books and I want very much to see it done proper justice, but I know that it too will have its deviations from the book. I just have to expect that and judge it based upon whether or not it lives up to the "spirit" of the book instead of whether or not all the details are kept accurate. I find myself wondering if they will even bother mentioning Beorn or the Arkenstone.

    The Watchmen film is in the exact same category. I'm hoping that it will be enjoyable even though I know it will not be 100% faithful to the graphic novel. So long as the "spirit" remains true, it may still be considered a success. It won't be as good as the original. It can't really. But I don't expect to get that from it.
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