So I'm starting an Adventures in Middle-earth campaign!
Years ago I ran a MERP game, which convinced me to ditch 1e D&D and move to MERP's grandpappy, Rolemaster. I never could really get into MERP though. Playing in Middle-earth seemed like blasphemy. It was hallowed ground. I liked the system, but, yeah, it just seemed wrong to walk down those roads without Tolkien holding my hand.
I was interested in the One Ring when it came out - but MERP still haunted me. The ghost of Tolkien would surely smite me dead. I mean, even if I could get everything right lore-wise, the thought of having the party go murder-hobo in Middle-earth was very depressing.
Then Adventures in Middle-earth came out. They basically took the soul of The One Ring game and laid it on top of 5e D&D. Excited, but a bit timid, I began to investigate.
I've read the Player's Guide and the Loremaster Guide and like everything that I've seen. The game strips off the top of 5e - races, classes, feats, alignment, and then rebuilds on top of the core mechanics - giving a Tolkien flavor to - well - what had been a mouthful of Faerûn. :)
I also set upon The Hobbit, LOTR, and The Silmarillion. Actually, first I hit the Silmarillion. That was a nearly impossible slog back when I was a teen. I read it, sure, but I don't think I retained more than a vague concept that a bunch of people started singing and then Atlantis sank.
It's amazing what a few decades do to your ability to understand complicated literary forms.
Dang, the Silmarillion is a great book. Sure, it's still a slog, but with a hardcopy of the book, the audio book playing in my headphones, Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth, and the entire Internet at my fingertips, I could finally dig into the beast and understand at least some of the juicy awesomeness that Tolkien spent his lifetime fiddling with.
I think that grokking the Silmarillion has given me the hope that I can take Middle-earth and world-build right along with Tolkien. I think - I hope - that I can add stuff that will enhance and expand on the flavor and feeling of the works, so that the players won't be able to tell very easily where J.R.R.'s world ends and my tacked on bits begin. I think. I hope. :)
I'll be posting some of the background material I've developed soon, and maybe even play reports. I'll at least let ya'll know whether our campaign is good, or turns out to be a big ball of suck. Stay tuned!