Editorial: So far, so good…

Well, it’s issue two and we’re still afloat. Our baptismal issue of Other Hands was a great success — one hundred and twenty copies were printed of which less than twenty now remain. More importantly, we have made progress in arranging for a European contact to distribute our journal throughout the EEC, which will hopefully reduce our overseas subscription rates. At the present moment we can boast of twenty-two regular subscribers, in addition to having an exchange relationship with Beyond Bree and Estel (the journal of the Sociedad Tolkien Española). A small beginning, perhaps, but a beginning nonetheless.

What has been going on in the world of Middle-earth gaming since April? Behind the scenes with MERP, the authors of the forthcoming Usurper’s Reign module (announced last issue) have recently joined forces with the writer of the projected revision of the 1982 Umbar module in order to synthesize the parts of their respective work which overlap. This collaborative process may delay publication a bit, but we hope that the resulting harmony (and mutual enrichment) of material will be well worth the wait.

Incidentally, much of the artwork you will be seeing in the next few issues will include some of the preliminary character sketches whose later incarnations may end up in The Usurper’s Reign (so forgive us if we appear preoccupied with the Kin-strife!). Although Iron Crown will be using its own artists for that module, the authors on the project decided to commission these sketches as suggestive guides. And, of course (need I say?), if you find them abhorrent do not hesitate to take matters into your own hands by sending us your own artwork.

This brings us to the matter of reader participation. You may notice that this issue is somewhat thinner than its predecessor; that is because you haven’t yet sent us all of that wonderful gaming material you have hidden away in your closet. We know that there are brilliant gamers out there just waiting to submit stuff to this, your gaming journal. So do it; we want Other Hands to be BIG.

Having carved out a niche for ourselves between Iron Crown Enterprises in Virginia and Tolkien Enterprises in Berkeley, we are now continuing discussions with the latter regarding the legality of publishing actual adventure scenarios within these pages. Other Hands is intended to be a practical journal of useful stuff for gamemasters, as well as an open forum for conversing about Middle-earth and role-playing generally, so we are strongly hoping to gain permission to do just that.

The key legal issue at stake for the licensing division of Tolkien Enterprises is whether or not the publication of such material in our journal in any way undermines the exclusivity of ICE’s world-wide license over Tolkien-related role-playing games (see OH 1: 1.3). Anyone with a constructive opinion on this matter should send their comments in writing to Tolkien Enterprises: PO Box 200S, Berkeley, CA 94,702.

And now for introducing the contributions to the present issue. We are honored to have the name of Jorge Qiñónez joining the roster of Other Hands authors with his response to Anders Blixt concerning the presence of Elves in Middle-earth during the Fourth Age. Jorge is the founder of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship and founding editor of its prestigious journal Vinyar Tengwar. He was at one time working on a Lindon module for ICE, and while lecturing me over the phone about the trials and tribulations of being an editor, offered to write the present piece for us.

My own essay on religion in Middle-earth is an attempt define the role of cult and ritual in a role-playing context by taking the example of Númenor and its successor realms. On a somewhat lighter note, we decided to inaugurate (another) new feature of Other Hands: interview profiles of characters that have been played in a Middle-earth campaign (a more user-friendly” way of communicating adventure or character ideas to other role-players).

Credit for this idea goes to Jeff Hatch (our resident artist), whose own veteran character now has the honor of being the first Middle-earth character to have ever been interviewed by a Tolkien-related journal. Jeff has offered to do character drawings for anyone else who wishes to submit such an interview piece about one of their own characters. The contributor is asked to include gaming stats and a written or sketched description of the interviewed character.

Anders Blixt will already be known to those who have read our first issue. He is a seasoned free-lance game writer who has contributed to the well-received Gorgoroth module. He is also the content editor for The Usurper’s Reign as well as for a projected future collaborative effort which will incorporate a revised and reissued version of Havens of Gondor and Sea-lords of Gondor (see OH 1: 5). His short piece on game design for Middle-earth is reflective of his long experience with writing and publishing in Sweden.

A brief word about advertising. Other Hands is a non-profit publication, and any promotional material appearing within its pages is either for the purpose of alerting Middle-earth gamers to publications of interest, or (in the case of the Interface add on our back cover) it represents a free exchange, whereby the advertised journal will reciprocally contain an advertisement for Other Hands. In this way, our journal will get wider exposure to other gamers who may end up becoming subscribers.

So far, so good. Let’s hope we can keep this journal in good health, and that an increase in subscribers will lead to a corresponding increase in reader participation and contribution to these pages. Enjoy! 

Chris Seeman, 20 June 1993

Contributors: Jorge Qiñónez, Chris Seeman, Jeff Hatch, Anders Blixt

Artwork: Jeff Hatch Tom Loback Kirsten Lopez

Layout & Design: Lisa Disterheft-Solberg, Nicolas Solberg

Statement of Purpose

Other Hands is an international gaming journal devoted to fantasy role-playing set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s secondary world of Middle-earth. It is a quarterly, non-profit publication welcoming submissions dealing with any aspect of gaming in the context of Tolkien’s world: scenario ideas, rule suggestions, gaming product review, gamemastering aids, bibliographic resources, essays on Middle-earth, and whatever else our readership would like to see in print. In a word, Other Hands aims to be the definitive Tolkien-related gaming journal for a world-wide role-playing community. Within the pages of Other Hands the interested gamer may publish materials with reference to any game mechanics he or she chooses (including Rolemaster and Middle-earth Role Playing). Such gaming material may deal with any time period of Tolkien’s world, and need not be bound to what has already seen print in Iron Crown’s modules. Other Hands provides this freedom because it is a non-profit publication. Subscription rites ire as follows: inside the USA — 1 issue $2/4 issues $8; outside the USA — surface 1 issue $3.50/4 issue $14 — air 1 issue S4.50/4 issues $18. All materials published by Other Hands remain the copyright of their individual authors.


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