The Middle-earth Role Playing game, commonly referred to by the acronym MERP, was the first role playing game licensed to use JRR Tolkiens Middle-earth as its setting. It was published by Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) from 1982 until they lost the license from Tolkien Enterprises in 1999. The series started as a setting meant to be used with any fantasy role playing system, primarily ICE’s own Rolemaster or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but in 1984 a simplified version of Rolemaster was published as the primary system for the setting. The name Middle-earth Role Playing was not used before this, but was retroactively applied to the older material as well.
Note: The changes between 1st and 2nd edition were minimal. Some of the differences include spell corruption points and the dark effect of magic, optional professions, and additional rules for shape changers and martial arts.