Empire of the Witch-King (1989)

I love this not-quite-awesome cover by Richard Hook. Both the ring wraith and the orc have such awkwardly posed arms it kind of rises above its flaws into a kind of can’t-pull-my-eyes-away black hole. That dude in the lower right corner knows what I mean.

Anyway, Empire of the Witch-King (1989) is a reprint and substantial expansion of Angmar: Land of the Witch-King (1982). That earlier book actually pre-dates MERP entirely (it was put out half for Rolemaster, half as a generic D&D sourcebook), but since MERP kinda sorta settled on the regions around Angmar in the middle of the Third Age (about 1000 years before the War of the Ring) as the default setting, it made sense to return to the material with that in mind. Sort of. The region is entirely under the control of the Witch-King, so it is unlikely that players will actually, you know, visit it.

Which doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting. There is a lot of high level information here that a GM can use to forge a campaign, particularly in the description of the Witch-King’s elaborate plans. Most interesting is the seat of his power, a strange tower that houses a tainted fragment of one of the giant lamps Morgoth toppled in The Silmarillion. The Witch-King spends much of his time with it, harnessing its power, and it generally feels like a seed for an epic campaign (though one that never surfaces elsewhere in the line). Even the bits that aren’t useful are fun, in that Middle Earth fan fiction way that so much of the MERP line has.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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