The Lord of the Rings crosses over to Dungeons & Dragons 5E

There and back again: The Lord of the Rings gets an official Dungeons & Dragons 5E adaptation through Free League Publishing.

Hobbits and Uruk-hai will soon be clashing with Halflings and Dragonborn through the upcoming official adaptation of The Lord of the Rings for Dungeons & Dragons 5E.

There and back again: The Lord of the Rings gets an official Dungeons & Dragons 5E adaptation through Free League Publishing. (Images: Middle-earth Enterprises and Free League Publishing)

J.R.R. Tolkien’s sweeping fantasy epic set in the world of Middle-earth is often mentioned as an inspiration for Dungeons & Dragons. Gary Gygax, one of the creators of D&D (along with Dave Arneson), stated in an interview that Tolkien’s material had a strong impact in the creation of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Due to later legal issues and controversies, an official adaptation of the races, locations, and magic of Middle-earth for D&D had become a remote possibility, even after Wizards of the Coast acquired the Dungeons & Dragons brand.

But just in time with the live action Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film brings mainstream attention to tabletop roleplaying, a new series of books will be officially bringing D&D rules for play in Middle-earth.

Free League Publishing announced the release of The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E and the supplement Shire Adventures.

Free League Publishing had previously published The One Ring: Roleplaying in the World of the Lord of the Rings designed by Francesco Nepitello. According to the official website:

First released in 2011, The One Ring RPG was hailed as the best attempt at bringing Middle-earth to the gaming table to date. Now the time has come for the game to enter a new era and bring new players further into the Twilight of the Third Age with the new 5E conversion The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying.

The year is 2965 of the Third Age and the Shadow is returning. Rumors of strange things happening outside the borders of civilized lands are spreading and they sometimes reach the ears of individuals who recognize the sinister truth they hide. You are part of such a company of heroes seeking adventure.

These are restless warriors, curious scholars and wanderers, eager to seek what was lost or explore what was forgotten. Ordinary people call them adventurers and, when they prevail, they hail them as heroes. But if they fail, no one will even remember their names.

The One Ring: Roleplaying in the World of the Lord of the Rings is already in its second edition, which was released in 2021 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Free League Publishing also publishes other tabletop roleplaying games based on popular IPs such as ALIEN and Blade Runner.

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying will feature rules for character classes, creatures, and magic using the Dungeons & Dragons 5E system.

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E will be based on The One Ring second edition. The main rulebook will be 236 pages in a hardback volume. The content will include six original heroic cultures from the setting of Eriador, six new character classes, familiar creatures and monsters from the Tolkien lore, and rules for "journeys, councils, wondrous artefacts, and the subtle magic of Middle-earth".

Aside from the core rules and setting hardback, the initial release will also include two separate products. The Shire Adventures 5E is a supplement which includes rules, ready-to-play adventures, and characters in the four farthings of the Shire. Players will be able to play Hobbits like Primula and Rory Brandybuck, Paladin Took, and even Bilbo Baggins.

Meanwhile, the Loremaster’s Screen is a version of the D&D Dungeon Master’s screen, with painted artwork on the outside and useful reference charts and tables for the DM on the inside. The Rivendell Compendium, on the other hand, contains details about the High Elves of The Last Homely House. Aside from maps of Rivendell and floor plan of The Last Homely House, the compendium contains character details of Elf Lord Elrond and rules on creating High Elf player characters.

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E products are intended to be played using the current Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition ruleset, which is now available for free after the OGL Controversy. Players new and old can download the SRD that was released through Creative Commons.

This is not the first time The Lord of the Rings has had a presence in tabletop roleplaying. In 1984, Iron Crown Enterprises produced Middle-earth Roleplaying (affectionately called MERP by fans). In 2016, Cubicle 7 produced Adventures in Middle-Earth before Free League Publishing acquired the license. On that note, The One Ring: Roleplaying in the World of the Lord of the Rings will remain a stand-alone TTRPG from The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E.

As part of the marketing for The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E, a trailer of a liveplay conducted by Lost Odyssey during the LA Comic Con was released by Free League Publishing which features an intro from Frodo Baggins himself, Elijah Wood.

Pre-orders can be made of The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E ($49.00), Shire Adventures ($39.00), and Loremaster’s Screen & Rivendell Compendium ($29) through Free League Publishing. While the physical copies will not be available until May, the PDF versions can be immediately downloaded upon purchase. These initial releases will also be available as a bundle for approximately $99.

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying 5E, Shire Adventures, and Loremaster’s Screen & Rivendell Compendium will be released on May 9, 2023.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.