Creatures of Middle-earth (1988)

Sigh. Creatures of Middle-Earth. What a mixed bag.

Let’s start with the awesome: Angus McBride’s cover painting of Smaug the Golden. I love his take on Smaug, particularly those crazy ears – I think he nails the dragon’s mix of rage and charisma nicely.

For me, a monster addict, a tabletop game’s bestiary is its heart and soul. I can love a game without a rich selection of monsters, but an excellent creature book is always going to get some love out of me. MERP, sadly, has a monster problem.

Namely, there aren’t a hell of a lot of monsters in Tolkien. The other Middle-Earth sourcebooks run upwards of 150 pages but Creatures barely cracks 60. Most of the “monsters” are just Middle-Earth versions of regular animals. Everything else is a take on a familiar fantasy monsters concept – the most interesting being the Pukel-creatures, Tolkien’s answer to golems.

James Holloway is the illustrator and…not a lot of energy here, which I put down to the material he was working with. No illustration of a Barrow Wight, either. Boo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *