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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Gaming & Collecting:
Middle Earth Roleplaying Project (Total conversion mod for Skyrim)

The Shire

Dec 11 2012, 6:31am

Post #1 of 14 (1201 views)
Middle Earth Roleplaying Project (Total conversion mod for Skyrim) Can't Post

It's a hugely ambitious Lord of the Rings modification for Skyrim that remakes Middle Earth in a map nine times the size of Skyrim's map; In case any of you are unaware, Skyrim's map is quite large. The mod, Merp for short, aims to rebuild all of the locations in Middle Earth. Numerous races are planned to be included and play-able. Spears will be added to the already large arsenal of weapons. Magic will be largely restricted to be more lore friendly. Enhanced mounted combat will make the Rohirrim a more worthy mounted force.

Merp will feature three different game modes. The Ringbearer mode, The White Council mode, and a free roam mode similar to Skyrim.
In the Ringbearer mode, the player is Frodo as he journeys to Mount Doom. This is still the Elder Scrolls, so the path one takes to Mordor is entirely up to the player. Events in the world are triggered by the dates in which they occur in the books. So if the Ring isn't destroyed before the Battle of the Black Gate is over, all the main characters present won't survive.
Each mode has its own quest-lines.

There is also a realism mode planned in which the player must worry about food and water; combat is also supposed to be much more unforgiving in this mode.

Merp has been a work in progress since the days of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. When Skyrim came out, the modding team ported as much work as they could. This is the height map as of February this year.

The mod team focuses on completing Middle Earth one region at a time. With each region completed, there was a quest-line to go along with it. Merp has its own musical score, as well as planned voice acting. Merp will have region specific weapons. For example a sword from the Westfold would look different than a weapon from the Eastfold.

Merp's landscapes follow the book's descriptions as closely as possible. The films are used as inspiration, but the landscapes (and Merp in general) are based on the books. It's really amazing just how good the visuals are when one considers the fact that this is all made by a group of unpaid modders.

Unfortunately, Merp is in a bit of legal trouble from Warner Brothers. As of July, they received a Cease and Desist letter. An exchange between Warner Brothers and the mod team can be found here.

Now the modding team has a lawyer and a petition with a bunch of signers, but I think it's a sad thing that it's come to that.

(This post was edited by Recoveryanonymous on Dec 11 2012, 6:35am)


Dec 11 2012, 7:15pm

Post #2 of 14 (500 views)
Sounds Amazing! [In reply to] Can't Post

I would buy a PC and Skyrim just to play this, I'm definitely going to sign the petition!!

The Shire

Dec 12 2012, 1:00am

Post #3 of 14 (511 views)
It's the definition of a labor of love. [In reply to] Can't Post

 An extremely ambitious non-profit fan mod for one of the best fictional worlds out there. Let's hope they pull through this legal trouble and it gets made. This is something every Tolkien fan should know about.


Dec 13 2012, 2:07pm

Post #4 of 14 (485 views)
So depressing . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

That people would put this much love, passion, and care into something just to have a corporation squash it like it probably will . . .

There is a Minecraft Middle Earth server which I am sure will be hit soon too. They are doing the samething but in minecraft.

Don't be hasty.

The Shire

Dec 13 2012, 6:16pm

Post #5 of 14 (687 views)
There is always hope. [In reply to] Can't Post

These things have a way of working themselves out. Let's not give up hope that we'll ever get to play Merp.

Merp was meant to receive a Cease and Desist, the same way that the Minecraft mod was meant to receive a server. The Cease and Desist of Warner Brothers may rule the fate of many. There are others powers in this world besides the will of evil, and that is an encouraging thought.


Dec 15 2012, 8:43pm

Post #6 of 14 (456 views)
where is the petition? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would gladly sign it! this sounds like a GRAT idea


Dec 16 2012, 2:18am

Post #7 of 14 (442 views)
Here you go! [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 16 2012, 3:42am

Post #8 of 14 (727 views)
Done [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for the link!

The Shire

Jan 6 2013, 7:13pm

Post #9 of 14 (416 views)
Update [In reply to] Can't Post

The Merp team has posted an update.

"Happy new year everyone!

Its been a while since the last news post, so we thought we'd make a new one for the new year just to give everyone an idea of where we are at currently. Don't worry, we haven't gone anywhere.
We all had a lovely Christmas over at MERP HQ, its been quite quiet, but then again, we've had no work to do. Hope you lot a had a great Christmas and New Year too!

So, the bit every one wants to know about, how is the C&D situation going?
Well, we were in contact with WB's attourney before Christmas, but haven't spoken to them for about a month due to the holidays. We hope to get back into negotiations soon, but because of their other lawsuit with Tolkien Enterprises, we've been swept under the rug a little. It looks more hopeful than a few months ago, I'll put it like that. The negotiations are currently under an NDA, which is why we don't post much anymore, but the team are still actively fighting for MERP.
The petition also just surpassed 26 000 signatures, which is just mind-blowing, we never thought we'd even get a fraction of that, so Thank-you so much for getting so many people on board and for your continued support on here and on out Facebook page.
We hope to be able to tell you more about the situation as soon as possible.

In other news:

MERP scored in the top 50 mods of 2012
Happy Birthday Tolkien! (January 3rd)
That's all for now, but we hope to post more soon! -Happy new year from the MERP team^MEB"

The Shire

Jan 18 2013, 11:11pm

Post #10 of 14 (607 views)
Merp [In reply to] Can't Post

Over 27,000 signers as of now.
Listen to this track that was made for the Westfold in Merp.

The Shire

Mar 21 2013, 10:41pm

Post #11 of 14 (467 views)
Update with the lawsuit between Zaentz and Tolkien Estate [In reply to] Can't Post


"Bonnie Eskenazi, the attorney for the Tolkien estate, called Warners' counterclaim “nothing more than an effort to sue the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for suing them. They are entirely without merit and are a classic example of studio ‘bullying tactics.’ The Tolkiens and HarperCollins filed this lawsuit in order to force WB and Zaentz to live within the boundaries of the contract to which they agreed. WB’s and Zaentz’s amended counterclaims are simply an attempt to punish the Tolkiens and HarperCollins for having the nerve to stand up to the studios and tell them that they can’t take more rights than were granted to them by contract. Luckily, the law protects people like the Tolkiens and HarperCollins from these kinds of intimidation tactics."

The Shire

May 29 2013, 8:08am

Post #12 of 14 (432 views)
My youtube awareness video for Merp [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been a long while since there was an update with the Tolkien Estate lawsuit against Warner Brothers, which makes sense as 80 million dollar suits aren't resolved overnight. I made a youtube video to raise awareness for Merp.

The Shire

Jun 20 2013, 9:50am

Post #13 of 14 (351 views)
Letter Writing campaign [In reply to] Can't Post

A huge update from the Merp team over at Moddb

"MERP Fans, we call for your support one final time. A last concerted effort to raise awareness and combat the C&D sent by Warner Bros.

We are planning a concentrated letter campaign to show WB just how many people care, so we have written up a legally-informed letter that everyone who cares can print out, write out by hand or email to Warner Brothers and pressure them into at least picking up negotiations with us.
Bear in mind that a hand-written letter is worth a thousand emails. They are not simply ignorable, at least someone has to open the envelope and read the first line, rather than blocking the subject.

Our Letter:


Dear Warner Bros,

This letter is in reference to the C&D (Cease and Desist) that was sent to the MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying Project) modification for Skyrim by Warner Bros (WB) Entertainment.

In case you are unaware what MERP is, MERP is a non-profit, total conversion modification of Bethesda Softworks' single-player PC game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, created by fans of Tolkien's works. It was a project that was set to create Middle Earth, from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, in an open-world Roleplaying aspect. MERP has been around since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and just recently moved its resources to the Skyrim engine. It was a massive undertaking that was years in the making, worked on by dozens of individuals over the years.

I am writing to say that I am very displeased that WB has chosen to shut down this great project. For such a project that seeks no economic gain of any kind, with years of people's lives poured into it, to be given a C&D seems incredibly unfair. This is a project that in no way seeks competition with Warner Bros Entertainment's game department, nor their rights to make games based off of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I believe it is also fair use, as the amount of copyrighted material in relation to original content that was supposed to appear in the mod would have been minimal. MERP is a project that only seeks to create an immersive RPG game experience for Tolkien fans; the game was created as a transformative work under Fair Use laws in the United States, and as the court ruled in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp, "fair use is a lawful use of copyright."

The MERP team has posted that they have asked WB to discuss this matter and work out a way for the project to go forward with continued development. While they haven't discussed with the public the state of any such discussions, since the project has not continued development, it seems clear that they feel they cannot do so because of the C&D letter, which causes a chilling effect to all fans who want to create transformative works. Even though MERP can and should be able to go forward with the project, the demand by WB makes it impossible for them to do so.

I would like to hope that if WB (along with the Tolkien Estate and Saul Zaentz Company) are not willing to rescind the C&D, they should at least give the MERP parameters that would allow them to feel comfortable to go forward with the project that they are legally entitled to move forward with under Fair Use, and if that is not possible, perhaps they are willing to grant a limited license to the MERP to use the names, characters, etc from Tolkien's mythos. They are a talented group of individuals that take Tolkien's works very seriously and would not make a work in mockery to the author.

I do hope that whoever is reading this will pass this up to Warner Brothers Entertainment's legal department. I refuse to buy any products licensed by WB until either the C&D is lifted or you at least consider making a fair deal with the MERP team.

- [Your name goes here]

By all means change the final paragraph to indicate your standing on the situation. If you feel that you'll only consider non-LotR products, then change it.
And a list of addresses... the more you can send to, the better.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products
Karen McTier
4001 West Olive Avenue
Burbank, California 91505
Ph: 818-954-7980

Director of Licensing
2600 Tenth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
fax. 510.486.2119

Warner House
98 Theobalds Rd, London

4000 Warner Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91522, United States
+1 818-954-6000

Please share any other addresses you come across and we'll update this post.

A final note: PLEASE keep this in good taste, we do not want to offend anyone so do not add anything malicious that would give them a definitive reason to stamp us out for good.

Thank-you for your support through all this, we understand how frustrating it is not knowing what's going on. There are backup plans should this fall through that you'll hear about in good time should the day arise.

-The MERP Team"

The Shire

Jun 20 2013, 9:52am

Post #14 of 14 (418 views)
Letter Writing campaign p2 [In reply to] Can't Post

I made an awareness video for the letter writing campaign to help it gain some speed.


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