Seeing as Lilly’s latest post highlighted the fact that we somehow hadn’t talked about RPGs yet, I have decided to make a quick post about one of my favourites! This will also serve as a nice intro to my new series of posts I am working on 🙂
The One Ring, as I’m sure is obvious, is an RPG set in Middle-Earth. It was first released in 2011 by Cubicle7, making it a relatively new game in the world of tabletop RPGs. I first discovered it when I was looking for ideas for the first RPG i could have a proper go at DMing myself (I had tried a one shot with Discworld already, but didn’t get on well with GURPS). I eventually decided to look up what Middle-Earth or Lord of the Rings RPGs were out there. With me still being quite new to RPGs having only tried D&D for the first time a few years earlier, I thought that running a game in a very thoroughly realised world that i was quite familiar with would make things a bit easier for me. I started looking through the previous two RPGs of MERP from 1993 and LOTR RPG from 2002. They seemed like decent games, and were fairly standard. But then I stumbled upon The One Ring, and suddenly found it in my possession…
The first thing that drew me to The One Ring RPG was that brilliant artwork throughout the books by Jon Hodgson, as well as some very nice maps (I’m a sucker for a good map). Then once I looked into the game more, I was very intrigued by the angle they were taking. Instead of using a more standard RP system and rules, they decided to make one that would suit tone of Tolkien’s world, and I believe they have pulled it off very well. Also, the core books for the game started on a more focussed area and time period, which I think has contributed to the high quality of the game. Of course you can decide to adapt the books into anything you want, but the focus of the books is on a setting shortly after the events of The Hobbit and in the area around Mirkwood. There have been a good amount of supplements already, with two of the major ones expanding into the areas to the West and South, meaning Eastern Eriador and all of Rohan and Dunland. The next expansion currently being worked on promises to add a ton of new content, mainly for the players with more character options, and there will hopefully be more expansions that include new areas such as Gondor and more land to the West.
Now I’ve only barely scratched the surface in terms of actually playing this game, especially because I’m the only one to have ran a campaign for it so far, and that had to be discontinued fairly early on unfortunately. However, I do own all the books and have read them multiple times, and from what I can see this game really captures the feeling of Middle-Earth in RPG form. The rules in the game really emphasize a focus on actual roleplay rather than just fighting and leveling. Theres equal emphasis on rules for things like journeying, encounters and conversations with important characters, and even the down-time between adventures on top of a simple yet robust combat system. The game also plays with the possibility of corruption in various ways depending on your character and what happens to them. There’s even some great rules for when you decide to play as one of the ‘Heroic’ cultures such as the Dùnedain or High Elves of Rivendell where you are inherently more powerful or experienced than the other playable cultures, but well balanced in ways such as sometimes being unable to avoid combat with certain enemies. Other than the excellent rules of the game, the books also contain a ton of information on the world, with simple timelines to give you a basic idea, as well as entire chapters that detail each part of a region of Middle-Earth, it’s landscape, history and notable people.
Considering that I love these books so much even without having been able to run a long campaign with them, I really hope i can someday, and maybe even play a character in one. In the meantime I have decided to take advantage of this new blog of ours and put this wealth of material that I paid good money for to some use. I will be starting to write some stories based on the guides in the books and some of the many ideas I have had since buying them. I mean to start off by introducing a handful of characters and their backstories the same way I would if they were player characters, and then I will hopefully have it in me to take them on a long series of adventures across Middle-Earth. Considering that I’ve never really written any fiction before, and I only have had a brief experience of DMing with the game, I’m not sure how this will turn out. If anyone out there does by some chance want to read my stories which will essentially be amateur fan-fic then please let me know how terrible it is if you want to! Either way, I’m looking forward to getting on with it!