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September 14, 2001 - September 22, 2001


Decipher Report #4!
Xoanon @ 10:07 pm EST
And so it ends. After Twelve hours of celebration, the Decipher birthday bash has come to it’s conclusion.

There was no lack of action towards the end, and while I was busy nourishing myself of a much needed dinner, the Decipher folks were working hand in hand with the fans. The names of employees are numerous, and it seems from all walks of the game, be it designing, marketing, or production, everyone’s been on the boards spilling out trivia and answering questions.

I’ve taken some samples of the questions and answers from the stretch run of the party, so kick back, and do a little investigation into the intricacies of Decipher’s LOTR card game.

Questions fielded by Tom Lischke (Design):

How is it decided which member of the fellowship fights a shadow-character? And what happens when there are multiple shadow-characters against you?

Say there are 5 minions (A, B, C, D, and E) and 4 companions (1, 2, 3, and 4).

First, The good guys assign any defender (1 defends A, 2 defends B, 3 defends C, and 4 defends D).

Now, there is no one left to defend, and there is still one minion. The owner of that minion gets to assign it to attack one of the caracters (and that will almost always be the Ring-bearer).

Once all assignments are made, the Fellowship player decides which skirmish to resolve first.

Are there any known gameplay idea that are not in the first set?

There at least a couple of things that existed in the playtest for the first set, and we shelved them because they weren't working yet.

For instance, the concept of a Captain (on the bad guys), who could either deploy inexpensively or add strength to guys from his culture or something.

I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of, but I'd hate to give to many away, as they are what you'll see in the next sets.

When will more card images be released?

We have to get special permission from New Line for each one that we release before the game actually releases, and there are a couple of cards that aren't in the first set specificly because they can't preceed the movie release.

What is the difference between a possession and an artifact?

One is older :)

Other than that, changing them to a new class gets them out of a lot of the cancelation that will effect possessions. For instance, a card called rust might be appropriate to whack a possession, but nobody is going to leave a palantir out in the rain. See?

Steve Long (RPG Project Leader) had a long, in depth post worth reading.

Well, generally speaking, I don't make my notes and outlines available to people; it's not really appropriate. However, part of the reason for assembling the five-page list is to be sure I include all those effects in the "Magic" chapter -- so you'll get the all-important end result. :)

<< It looks like there will spellcasters other than Istari in the game. Though I haven't read every word of Tolkien's Middle-earth work, it looks to me like there is the Elven and Dwarven magic of being and making, and there are Wizards, but there isn't a whole class of magicians among Men.
>Please show me that's wrong, as long as you're not bent by people's desires to play wizards.>>

There are definitely going to be users of magic other than the Istari. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are lots of subtle references to the traditions of magic and magic use in Tolkien's works. For example:

-- mentions of Dwarven magic runes and enchanted toys
-- Gandalf's mention of knowing "dozens" of spells in the "tongues of Elves, Men, and Orcs" -- and that on the single subject of doors
-- various subtle Elven magical stuff (which is dealt with as a racial ability, not spellcasting per se)
-- the mention that the people of Bree suspected Frodo of being a "traveling magician of unknown powers and purpose"

String all that, and other references, together, and you can create a fun, game-able system of magic and magic use that remains true to the nature and feel of Tolkien's work.
Dunedain, Middle Peoples, Easterlings, Wild Men -- similar, but not identical, to Faramir's classification system in TT.

<<& some comments you can comment on if you want:
>>Will you people be able to get anyway near the huge wordcount of the MERP books?<<

I don't have exact figures on the wordcounts in any given MERP book, so I can't really answer that. The core book is nearly 150,000 words, and the supplements will likely be 60,000-80,000 words.

I have little familiarity with MERP; I don't own any of those books.

<< Do you have first-rate cartographers and put a lot of thought into mapping the places that Tolkien didn't?>>

I feel confident in saying that I have absolute faith in our graphics guys to do a *superb* job with maps and every other graphic element of the line.

There are certainly plenty of options for tailoring a campaign to suit your preferences and tastes! Just as you might want an all-Men game, I bet there are people out there planning all-Dwarf chronicles. :)

<<>How familiar are you with Hero Wars, the Gloranthan RPG partly designed by Robin Laws? It's my first choice of rules system for a Middle-earth campaign (not having seen yours, though it sounds like it has too many 'crunchy bits' [rules excess to what's in the world] to be ideal). >>

I own the books, but haven't read them. I have the deepest respect for Robin's talents as a writer and designer (and he's a great guy, to boot).

What constitutes "too many 'crunchy bits'" is difficult to say. One person's excess is another's deficiency. :) Fortunately, the great thing about RPGs is you can always change 'em to suit yourself!

Fourth Age: would either be pointless for the same reasons Tolkien discovered when he tried to write his sequel, or very challenging to make work>>

Au contraire! I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that games aren't novels, and novels aren't games -- what works in one doesn't necessarily work in the other. Just because Tolkien didn't think that he could write a good sequel to LOTR doesn't mean that there's not *LOTS* of game-ability in the very late Third/early Fourth Ages. After all, *someone's* got to help King Elessar mop up those pesky lurking evils. ;)

There’s lots more, the posts are as numerous as the stars in the sky, and thus, sadly, I can present only this fraction of the wealth of card gaming wisdom imparted by the Decipher folks. Go Here to meander through the wealth of trivia, gossip, and newly released tidbits about the game.


LOTR Ads in Paper
Xoanon @ 7:31 pm EST
From: Daddy Twofoot

Not sure if you're interested in these, I noticed these two minimalist LotR ads in the Philadelphia Weekly, our local indie paper.

LOTR/Angel Press Release!
Xoanon @ 6:57 pm EST

BURBANK, CA (September 20, 2001) The WB's action-adventure drama ANGEL, starring David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter, will have a cinematic flair this season. Not only will the series, which debuts its third season on Monday, September 24 at 9:00-10:00 pm ET be broadcast in letterbox format, ANGEL will also give viewers the opportunity to get the first look at the new trailer - in it's entirety - for the highly anticipated theatrical release: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

During the season premiere of ANGEL , The WB will broadcast the World Premiere of New Line Cinema's trailer for the epic adventure "The Lord of the Rings." Based on J. R. R. Tolkien's classic novel, the trilogy will open world-wide in theatres on December 19, 2001. "The Lord of the Rings" stars Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin and Viggo Mortensen, among many others. Directed by Peter Jackson and produced by Barrie M. Osborne, "The Lord of the Rings" chronicles the struggle between good and evil for possession of a magical ring that can shift the balance of power in the world.

"ANGEL and 'The Lord of the Rings' are extremely compatible in that they each target similar demos. It is always great when we are able to work with another arm within AOL/Time Warner in a way that benefits both companies," said Lew Goldstein, co-President, Marketing of the The WB. "We are always looking for ways to give our audience something special," said Bob Bibb, co-President, Marketing of The WB. "By giving them the first look at this sneak preview, we feel it will not only give added value to our highest-rated night, but attract viewers to ANGEL in its new time period."

In another cinematic twist for ANGEL this season, the popular series will air in letterbox format this season.

"The format lends itself to the production quality and action sequences of ANGEL," said ANGEL executive producer David Greenwalt. "Still, viewers who do not have the capacity to view shows in this format will not miss anything and will be able to enjoy the show as they have in the past."


This is John Howe's Bag End!
Xoanon @ 1:40 pm EST
John Howe, all around nice guy and amazing LOTR artist, not to mention conceptual artist for the LOTR films, really has his hand in making what Middle earth will look like.

Along with Alan Lee, Howe has transformed entire countrysides into places like Edoras, Wearthertop and Hobbiton. Take a read below:

I'm sending you two scans, one attached here, one to follow, of a double page spread from The Fellowship of the Ring: Visual Companion, written by Jude Fisher, published by HarperCollins.

These scans need to be placed side by side for full impact. I'll also send a scan of John Howe's Bag End. It shows just how much the films owe to his work, and what a brilliant job Peter Jackson and his crew have done in making Howe's paintings come to life.

Cannes Footage in Korea
Xoanon @ 1:21 pm EST
From: Moonfire

Hi I'm from Korea, I just thought that you guys would like to know that the Cannes footage of The Lord of the Rings was shown here in Seoul just yesterday, Tuesday, September 18th. And guess what, about 30 members of our LOTR fan site were allowed to see it!!! Me?? I'm still recovering.

It was like all the other showings all over the world, I think.

Metal detectors, no cameras ect ect. And not even the staff were allowed to see the footage until the screening itself. I don't remember the name but there was a guy from New Line who came for a few reasons, making sure that no one filmed the footage prabably not one of the least.

I also heard from one of the Korean marketing staff that that guy took the footage back right after the screening. Wow...

After the screening we had a sort of meeting with one of the marketing guys, and learned that a hell of a lot of money is going to be spent on the advertising and marketing. Also the release date is currently set for December 21st, but they're aiming for the 19th.

Anyway, I've got to say that the 26 minute footage was great, though it may need a few last minute touch-ups. And they've got the real Gandalf on the cast, sorry to those McKellen fans out there.

I can't wait to see the movie!!!

I'd also like to say that I think you guys at TheOneRing are doing a great job. Keep up with the good work!


Wanna See Gandalf the White at Helms Deep?
Xoanon @ 8:28 am EST
Ringer Spy Dakwest from lordoftherings.nl sends along this AMAZING pic (it's a pic of a pic, hence the glare) of Gandalf the White in Helms Deep! Check this out!

LOTR DVD's Mix Up?
Xoanon @ 8:23 am EST
From: Lawrence

I found a funny, and kind of insulting, error on the recently released DVD's "Lord of the Rings" and "Return of the King." I am of course talking about the animated versions (I didn't want you to think I was REALLY out there ;-). If you examine the track listings on the inside sleeves of both sets, you'll find that they are identical!

Warner Brothers, in a rather sloppy move, has used the track listing of Bakshi's film on the Rankin and Bass production of "Return of the King." Imagine my surprise, after watching ROTK, to see a chapter on the sleeve called simply "Treebeard." Scanning that chapter revealed a long talk between Bilbo and Frodo, with no mention of the Ent. It was at that point I happen to have the two DVD's side by side... and well you can put together the rest.

I find it really disappointing that such sloppy production values would be allowed for a new release, particularly when considering December 19th is the reason these sets were suddenly released. And given the subject matter, Warner Brothers should know better than to fall asleep at the wheel when the items in question are for some of the most demanding and meticulous fans out there (myself included ;-).


New Legolas Pics
Xoanon @ 11:10 pm EST
From: Sharon

I've got three new photos of Legolas, hey...we females really LIKE Legolas (trust me, I know), so please do post them. :)

Great New Images and Art!
Xoanon @ 1:06 pm EST
Take a look at these great new images from Simon and Patrice, for the first time you can see Smeagol and Deagol on the boat together! Very cool! And some posters (I have yet to see these anywhere), great pic of Christopher Lee in his Saruman pose, very cool.

More LOTR Promotion Items
Xoanon @ 12:51 pm EST
From: Tunnelly

Attached is a scan from a HarperCollins catalogue of LOTR point of sale material. This stuff will start appearing in Australian bookshops in late October, along with the film tie-in editions of the books.


Lawrence Makoare Pics
Xoanon @ 5:56 pm EST
We were pleased when a good friend of Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz) who is also the Senior Prosthetics Supervisor for the Weta Workshop sent along these pics of Lawrence. Take a look, this man is HUGE! Thanks alot!


Toy Biz Toy Pics
Xoanon @ 7:18 pm EST
Check out these pics from Ringer Spy Ed, I wanna play with mine soon! C'mon Toy Biz..send me some!

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