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The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game $29.99
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
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The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game
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The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Frank C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2018 16:54:32

Good Game, System is very true to the Middle Earth world, System is not very hard to follow but does have some quirks that take a bit of running through. Only Con so far is there isn't a bestiary book that makes it easy to reference all the potential mobs in one location.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/15/2016 21:57:14

Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts in this game, and it's easy to miss stuff. From the pre-encounter rolls, to Hope and Fellowship points to getting used to the Stances. We have kinda trialed-and-errored our way through the first two sessions. It's not a dense, math-heavy system, but it's also not light and quick, but pretty much all the mechanics feel like they have a purpose. The Corruption Tests, Journeying, Encumbrance, Hope, Hate...it feels like a Tolkien game to me, and not just a generic fantasy RPG.

Speaking of Journeys and Fatigue...this is the first game in years that I haven't handwaved the Encumbrance rules, because Encumbrance makes sense when there is such a heavy focus on hiking across mountains and tromping through swamps. The little adjustments here are great, as your Spring gear and Winter gear, for instance, weigh differently because you prepare differently, and the burden of your equipment isn't a constant one, but one that grows as your journey becomes more daunting and arduous.

The Corruption system is harsh and unforgiving, especially at early levels, and it practically guarantees that no one is going to have an adventuring career and retire without SOME stain on their soul. This is Boromir losing his sense of perspective in the face of an overwhelming foe and trying to steal The One Ring, Thorin losing his mind at Bilbo not giving him the Arkenstone or even Frodo finding that he can't settle back at the Shire because of how he's changed. None of them were villains, but their adventures changed them forever (and led two of them to their deaths)...the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, indeed.

The Virtues and Rewards are very cool and evocative. A Dwarf channeling their Shadow Points into their efforts gives them a reason to give in to their weakness a bit, or even having your axe become a fearsome item of legend in and of itself.

18 skills is about the upper limit of what I will stomach for a skill list, but you have to love a game in which your character's ability to sing (Song) can be every bit as important as their knowledge of combat (Battle) or their ability to find food in the wild (Hunting).

That starting adventure is HARSH with the Corruption Tests, combat is a touch more complicated than necessary, and a few things are unclear (can Standing be gained through adventures and deeds? The rules don't seem like it can, but one of the adventures in another book provides just that option).

I'm not sure if I'm in love, but I can easily say I'm infatuated. A great game in which the mechanics feed the atmosphere in one of the finer marriages of mechanics and theme I've GMed, in my opinion. It's surprisingly harsh, at least at low levels (we've lost one NPC to the first adventure, and one PC has a permanent Shadow point, while the other PC is knocking on the door of one, two episodes in...and the second adventure would have ended in a TPK, but I rolled with the Epic Feat and interpreted it to get the heroes out of their predicament).

Two sessions in, and I'm glad I didn't go with Adventures in Middle-Earth. I'm sure Cubicle 7 did a fine job with the 5e version of Middle-Earth, but The One Ring feels very much like what I wanted from a Middle-Earth RPG. Hopefully we'll get to play it enough to work the kinks out, because I've enjoyed my first time playing in Tolkien's sandbox.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2016/11/tommys-take-on-one-ring.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Scott M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2015 06:28:14

As a long-time avid fan of Tolkien's works, I was inexorably drawn to checking out this latest attempt at a Middle-earth RPG. When I ordered the hardcover rulebook through Cubicle7, my order included a free PDF copy through DriveThruRPG. The PDF is scanned beautifully for DriveThruRPG, though it is not indexed with internal hyperlinks. First let me say that it is good to have a new Middle-earth game back on the market and actively supported by a publisher. The original Middle-earth RPG from the 1980s is quite dated mechanically and was filled with as much D&D-inspired imagining as it was with material from Tokien's writing. Decipher's "Lord of the Rings" RPG didn't last long, was too riddled with errors, and drew too much inspiration from the movies. "The One Ring" accurately bills itself as deeply based on the writings of JRR Tolkien.

I wasn't able to find much specific information about the "The One Ring" core rules before I bought it, and after reading the rules I'm torn on whether I would buy it again. There is a lot to recommend the game, but also reasons against it. Chiefly, I do not feel that the core rules contain a sufficient range of fully articulated setting options, opponents, travel encounters, or character choices--it feels like you almost have to buy multiple expansion products (or be willing and able to design and write expanded elements yourself) for the game to be satisfyingly playable. To help others parse this decision in the future, I'll share what I've learned in terms of Pro and Con.

PRO:

  • On the whole, the rules are well-written and clear. Most descriptions and easy to follow, and there are numerous (often extended) examples provided. The rules text is usually very concise without undue flourish.
  • The core rules contain a considerable amount of setting detail for central Middle-earth (roughly from the Misty Mountains to Rhovanion, with The Shire added in for good measure), including a rather detailed chronology of events in the Third Age. Key locations (Erebor, Dale, Lake-town, Thranduil's Halls, Rhosgobel) are usefully fleshed out.
  • The book contains two useful and attractive game-play maps of central Middle-earth.
  • The game offers a completely original and unique mechanic that is easy to roll but still offers quite variable outcomes--from very low results (potentially even as low as zero), automatic success (8.25% chance), middling results (in the neighborhood of 14), and extended successes (by getting natural 6's on a number of dice based on your skill points). While Cubicle7 also sells custom dice for this mechanic that look nice, there is no meaningful reason why players can't just use a normal d12 and handful of regular d6's.
  • The mechanics are truly suited to the spirit of Middle-earth. Characters revolve around their skills and personal traits, including qualities like Wisdom and Valor. Players will put a lot of attention into choosing descriptive traits like Burglary and Herb-lore, Determined and Merry. Action is meant to be heavily narrative and fast like in Tolkien's novels, not densely tactical like in D20 game systems. In battle, like in the novels, characters typically emerge just a little winded (loss of "endurance" points) or grievously hurt ("wounded"). Every clash bears the risk of one or more characters being wounded, and occasionally killed outright, so characters have reason for diplomacy or stealth without excessive fear to stand and fight when appropriate. There are no dungeon-crawls in Middle-earth.
  • There is a strong emphasis on storytelling--the game really requires players to help narrative actions and character development. Bonds of character growth are important, as "fellowship points" are a key feature. There is a "fellowship phase" at the end of every adventure and campaign season in which time passes and characters develop appropriately as part of Middle-earth.

CON:

  • This revised edition, from what I've read, consists of material that had previously been separated across two books (one for players, one for the Loremaster). While combining them into a single book avoids the problem of having to repeat a lot of setting information or being unsure of what details are in which book, this unified book still feels like two separate texts mashed together. The reader constantly is coming across rules that require looking ahead (or looking back) to related elements in order to understand the whole of the mechanic. Features are described briefly up-front in one place, but then the mechanics for how they operate often are detailed in ore or even two other places.
  • The core rules' setting is highly limited. When the game claims to be set in Wilderland after "The Hobbit" this is quite literally true. The game only contains descriptive elements for central Middle-earth--just the cultures and locales of that northern region. Your only options to play are Erebor Dwarves, Bard's Lake-men, Beorn's Men of Carrock, Woodmen of Mirkwood, Thranduil's Wood-elves, and Shire Hobbits. The included maps do not even include other regions or locales, not even fringes like the Brown Lands, Rhovanion, or Dorwinion. If you want to play a Northman of the River Running, or Man of Framsburg, a wandering Grey-elf, a Dwarf from the Iron Hills or other eastern mansions, or a Breeland hobbit, there are no rules support. If your heroes want to journey outside Wilderland to Rivendell or Rohan or Lorien (as almost any epic campaign along the Anduin likely will lead) then you need to buy expansion supplements
  • For a game as deeply set in Tolkien's Middle-earth, there are hardly any connections to its wider history. Almost everything in the game is exclusively grounded in the Third Age. There are virtually no references even to the Second Age, let alone the Elder Days. Again this is mostly a consequence of the limited setting--the core rules of "The One Ring" are very heavily based in "The Hobbit" and less in "The Lord of the Rings" (and I found nothing connecting to "The Silmarillion"). The rules explicitly are meant to support stories that take place only from 2945 to 3017 in the Third Age.
  • Character creation is putatively open and flexible but at the same time strangely circumscribed and restricted. The rules encourage player imagination and creativity to play almost any kind of Middle-earth character they could want, but the mechanics force them into choosing from among a handful of cultures. If you deviate, there are no choices of 'generic' cultural blessings to choose from--you either have to adapt the blessings of the given cultures or make up your own substitutions. Most frustrating, your start skills are determined by your culture (so that, for example, Dale-men have 3 points in Persuade and 2 points in Battle and all hobbits have 3 points in Courtesy and 2 points in Song, regardless of your character concept). The rules state the players should be free to make adjustments and substitutions--but no guidelines are provided at all. Now the mathematics of character creation are easy enough to deconstruct (i.e., you get 29 experience points worth of common skills with one being favored and 10 experience points of weapon skills with one being either favored or part of a cultural grouping), but why should the player have to figure this out instead of the designers providing it?
  • The rules provide a small number of Middle-earth opponents: quite a few different kinds of goblins and orcs and trolls, two kinds of giant spiders, and three kinds of wolves. But this is barely enough just to replay famous encounters in "The Hobbit" and little else. Off the top of my head I can think of numerous other opponents appropriate to the North of Middle-earth that aren't included: wild men like bandits or Easterlings; undead like skeletal warriors and mewlips (Sauron was called the "Necromancer" for a reason), cold drakes both winged and wingless as well as lesser fire-drakes (shy of the size of Smaug or Scatha), and stone giants (Gandalf said he knew a "more or less decent" one).
  • The game revolves very heavily around travel, which is quite appropriate to the Middle-earth setting, but the rules do not sufficiently detail enough travel encounters. When the fellowship moves overland, characters take up various roles like look-out or scout or guide. Everybody makes travel skill checks. On particularly bad rolls, a travel event happens keyed to a particular character in the fellowship. A table is provided to determine what kind of trait check and consequence is involved (e.g., a corruption check to gain Shadow points, a fatigue check to avoid being temporarily Weary, etc.). But then the game provides a mere handful of loose narrative examples of what these events actually could be (for example, "Lost Directions" is for a Weariness check keyed to the Guide). There are a possible 40 narrative combinations (4 roles + all characters times 8 different types of hazards, not including a random combat encounter), but only 8 loose examples provided. Loremaster and players are left to dream up what a Weariness check keyed to the Look-out represents. To my mind, this is just plain laziness on the part of the writers not to provide one example for all 40 combinations--with this basis then Loresmasters and players can use their imaginations to create variations.
  • Not much gear is provided in the rules: a handful of swords, spears, and bows; two helmets choices; three kinds of shields; five types of armor; and absolutely no miscellaneous gear. Daggers and unarmed combat are synonymous. The mechanics for the provided weapons look workable to me--there is a good reason to consider using any of them (for example, some weapons have a higher chance of inflicting a potentially lethal blow but in turn are either heavier or don't hit as hard against endurance). But whole obvious categories of weapons are missing--no throwing javelins/darts for horsemen, no mace, no war hammer (all things mentioned in Tolkien's works). There is a good incentive to carry shields, but armor is highly debatable. To some extent, this is appropriate to Tolkien's setting (after all, in the Fellowship of the Ring only Gimli and Frodo wore dwarf-armor). But then why would the Riders of Rohan or knights of Gondor wear armor? In the game mechanics, armor only comes into play when making a check against potentially lethal piercing blows. It provides no protection whatsoever against regular winding blows. Yet wearing armor greatly increases fatigue, meaning that an armored character is very quickly going to become Weary and suffer a substantial penalty to all skill checks. In fact, in the rules as written it is possible only for Dwarves to bear a knight's full harness (mail hauberk, helm, great shield) without being instantly Weary--no Man could. And this encumbrance is regardless of physical strength or training, as there is no way in the rules to use strength to reduce endurance or to get training in armor use to mitigate fatigue.

Though I am no art critic and usually don't concern myself with this aspect of game books, I do have to admit that even to my eyes the art in "The One Ring" is of widely varying and often dubious quality. Some of the artwork featuring Middle-earth vistas and scenery is quite lovely and looks skillful, many of the drawings of people look amateurish at best (particularly when compared to the industry standard of art set by the new fifth edition of 'Dungeons & Dragons').

In conclusion, be sure that what "The One Ring" offers is what you want to play. If you and your players are eager to have adventures more akin to "The Hobbit" and set chiefly or exclusively in Wilderland and to have only loose rules guidance supporting your narrative travels, you likely will be pleased. But if you want to travel Middle-earth more widely, be prepared to purchase more expansion supplements to the game.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Ian A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/08/2015 15:24:37

If you want a different rpg experience you have to try The One Ring game. It isn't about exterminating the rest of the multiverse: the opposition is too much for that. You have to measure your own success by your survival, then the survival of those around you. Finally, has your part of Tolkien's world been helped to survive? If so, then you have realised the aim of the game. In this game true hero status is achieved by making and taking the right decisions and actions. Best advice: be true to yourself and keep on struggling against the odds.

One of the main differences in the system is the limited role of direct magic; another is the enhanced role of interacting with the general population. after all, who are you trying to help? if just yourself, then that's not very Tolkien-hero is it?

I like this system because so much control will stay with the players as they narrate the action. If you are the Loremaster (read:DM) in this, then you are much more of a referee than I remember of the D 'n' D guys who would spring another trap on my unwary half-elf.. The down side for some people is that you are stuck with being on the side of Light, so if you are secretly an Uruk berserker - it's best to think a bit before joining this party.

The additional supplements are all real bonus material. This Core book is great - but the other stuff will delight you and stretch your experiences. Good luck!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Doug T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/07/2015 10:31:05

This game is the best at capturing the true feel of Professor Tolkien's works. Its predecessors had their strengths, but this one does everything well, giving players (and the Loremaster/GM) an immersive experience in the wonderful world of Middle-earth.

While the first edition (the slipcover) was tough to navigate, this revised edition compiles everything into a single volume. The formatting and editing is greatly improved, as is the extensive index. For the PDF, this means searching for a particular term is much easier, as you now only have one book to look through. Another new feature (over the slipcover version) is the addition of more great art (all of which is very evocative of the books).

The mechanics are brilliant. Magic is subtle, but infused throughout, both in characters and items. There is a mechanism for the growing Shadow, but players have Hope to struggle against it. Beginning PCs are competent and strong, but not super heroes right out of the gate. Campaign play is rich, with many mechanics that beautifully feature the passing of years.

If you're a fan of The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings, this is the game you've been waiting for!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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