Category Archives: Iron Crown Enterprises History

Early ad for ICE’s Middle-earth Series

Middle-earth ad

I would like to share with you a piece of Iron Crown Enterprises history, an ad from 1982 announcing the newly launched Middle-earth Series which would spawn such a rich tapestry of Middle-earth only being matched by J.R.R. Tolkien’s own creativity. When this ad appeared in America (probably in a game magazine) ICE had already published that great map over the entire Middle-earth (ICE Stock # 2100), a beautifully crafted poster in full color cized 24″ x 36″ (60 x 90 cm). (See map below and click for greater resolution.) It was proficiently drawn by Pete Fenlon, one of the creators of the Rolemaster and Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP) game systems, as well as the brain behind the Middle-earth Series. It seems that between Fenlon and Coleman Charlton, the former was responsible for the world system while the latter main responsibility lied with the game system. Fenlon also drew all of the smaller detalied maps that were attached to the different Middle-earth modules of the series that even surpassed that great map; Fenlon’s crafmanship gave ICE’s Middle-earth Series that special flavour that haven’t been surpassed since. He was also one of the authors of the companion to the great map, the Campaign and Adventure Guidebook for Middle-earth (ICE Stock # 2200), the first game module proper of the series. It contained a general overview of entire Middle-earth, mapping its geography, fauna and flora around the aforementioned map, which also was attached to the module but now in a reference gridded version.

Middle-earth Map

The Guidebook for Middle-earth also contained a general overview over the different races and cultures of the regions, as well as delineating the several languages of Middle-earth and their geneology and interrelationship. The ad also announced that by Christmas ICE would publish more modules centered on portions of Middle-earth, mapped out in much more detail, containing the aforementioned detalied maps, or to cite the ad:

Each module will come with color maps scaled and keyed to the grid sections of the reference map. These maps will fit together ultimately forming a huge richly detailed world mosaic. Cultural data, topography, major citadels, climates, politics, military systems, magic, and city layouts will all be included.

In retrospect, ICE’s words weren’t the least hollow and few players and Gamemasters would become dissapointed at its Middle-earth Series modules which would be continously published for an entire 15 years until 1997. The initial upcoming campaign modules launched in 1982 as mentioned in the ad were Angmar Land of the Witch King (ICE Stock # 2300), Umbar Haven of the Corsairs (ICE Stock # 2400) and The Court of Ardor in Southern Middle-earth (ICE Stock # 2500), although that last module wouldn’t be published until early 1983.

Guidebook for Middle-earthAngmar Land of the Witch KingUmbar the Haven of the CorsairsThe Court of Ardor