In the early 1990s I realised the reason why it was I had never tried to game in Tolkien's wondrous creation before.
It was because I was a snob.
I was trying to run a MERP game with a couple of players - post War of the Ring - but couldn't quite figure out why it was I wasn't enjoying the game. It hit me at the beginning of the second session; the players weren't playing the game the way I wanted them to. I had an image of Middle-earth in my head, the way everyone acted, spoke and basically presented themselves, and the players were not playing it that way. They were playing it the same way they played old D&D and WFRP games, speaking normally and messing around. They just weren't taking this amazing setting and world seriously enough. I'd even go as far to say that I was angry at them because they didn't have the same level of respect that I did for Tolkien's world.
Crazy? Oh, yes, it was a crazy attitude to have but after more than ten years being brewed in my head it was going to be difficult to let go of the images and attitudes I thought should be present in a Middle-earth game. Before the game descended into madness I did exactly what my former MERP GM did; I changed the setting to a fantasy Europe. The games were considerably better and the campaign, though short, was a good one.
This was a dilemma - how could I game in Middle-earth when the players involved didn't have the same approach to the setting as I did? Had I ruined any chance at gaming in my favourite fantasy setting? What I needed was something that would unite imaginations, make sure that we were all working from the same page and were approaching the game with the same attitude. This was why my Star Wars D6 games worked so well, because we all had the same visual and emotional attachment to the films so they were very easy games to run and get involved in.
So when Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings' movies were released, and the Decipher version of the rules was published, I had my visual and emotional anchor. I thought I'd give it another shot.