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Ruleset Review: The One Ring

What is The One Ring? [Fantasy Grounds Ruleset and review by Valarian]

torThe One Ring Roleplaying Game is the latest roleplaying game based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, designed by Francesco Nepitello of Sophisticated Games and published by Cubicle 7. It has rich and detailed background information, rules that focus on Tolkien’s themes, character types unique to the world and a setting that changes as the Tale of Years progresses, when you play The One Ring Roleplaying Game you really feel like you are playing in Middle-earth.

The Game

Characters have three Attributes: Body, Heart and Wits. This is based on Gandalf’s observations on the essential qualities of a hero. There are 18 skills are divided into three sets of six, with each group falling under one of the Attributes. The skills are also grouped into six sets of three related skills (for example, Awe, Inspire and Persuade make up the Personality skill group).

All tasks are rolled using a Feat die (d12) that is numbered 1 to 0, and has a couple of additional symbols. The A rune symbol counts as a 10 to the roll, and also counts as an automatic success. Gandalf’s rune becomes your friend in the wild. But the C symbol counts as zero, and Sauron’s Eye can also trigger complications along the way. In addition, you roll a number of Success dice (d6) equal to your skill rating. The roll is usually against a difficulty Target Number of 14. Rolling equal or over the target number gets you a success. Quality of success depends on how many B are rolled. One is a great level of success, two or more and the success is extraordinary.

Hope represents the character’s spiritual vigour, optimism and will to continue. It can be used to get a bonus to a dice roll (it lets you add your relevant Attribute rating to the roll). Opposing Hope is the taint of the Shadow. Characters gain Shadow points through experiencing distressing events, travelling in blighted places and committing misdeeds. Be careful not to let your Hope score fall too low, or you risk succumbing to the Shadow.
A character’s Endurance represents their physical reserves. You can lose Endurance through arduous journeys and in combat. Lose enough Endurance and your character becomes Weary, affecting the dice score rolled to do things (you stop counting Success die score of 1, 2 or 3).

The Setting

The lands of Rhovanion, the Wilderland of the game subtitle, some five years after the Battle of the Five Armies that is the end of The Hobbit. This is the region traversed by Thorin and company on their trip to the Lonely Mountain.

This land is filled with instantly recognisable locations from the novels: Mirkwood, Thranduil’s Halls, Lake-town, Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, Dol Guldur. All are locations ripe for exploration and adventure. It’s also home to some of the best-loved characters from the novels too, from Radagast the Brown and the Elvenking Thranduil to King Bard of Dale and King Dáin of Erebor.

For those wanting more depth, the region has been described in more detail in the supplement The Heart of the Wild. The supplement describes the lands of the River and the Forest, the Vales of Anduin along the banks of the Great River, and the trackless forest of Mirkwood to the east. It expands on the descriptions given in the Loremaster’s Guide, offering new sanctuaries and new perils for the players to discover. Each region is described in detail, listing potential friends and foes, sites of interest and potential adventures.
An expanded bestiary contains a host of strange creatures and servants of the Enemy, from the beasts of the forest to the fabled Great Spiders. Variant Cultural Backgrounds like River Hobbits or Wayward Elves offer new options for adventurers, while new Fellowship Phase actions bring the wild to life in your games.

The Ruleset

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The ruleset is a community offering by Valarian and, as such, doesn’t contain rules. It does offer you a fully functional character sheet, NPC sheet and combat tracker for budding Loremasters running a game.

Players can roll dice by double-clicking the skill rating, or by dragging the skill rating to the chat window and dropping the dice on the chat area. Other “rollable” stats are also treated with the same double-click or drag ability. These include Valour (for Fear rolls), Wisdom (for Corruption rolls) and Armour (for Protection tests).

The combat tracker orders the action in terms of The One Ring initiative order. Combat is done as a narrative using in combat stances, denoting attitude toward risk in combat, rather than tactical placement on a map. Forward stance is a full out attack, easier to hit your opponent but also easy to get hit in return. Open stance is a balanced approach to melee combat. Fight in Defensive stance, you wait for the right opportunity to arise. In this stance, it’s more difficult to get hit, but harder to get your hits in too. Your opponent uses the same target number as you do. Finally, rear stance is for ranged combat. In order for someone to fight here, they have to be protected by two melee fighters and also the company must not be outnumbered by more than a 2:1 ratio.

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So, where can I get this game?

The Cubicle 7 website is the place to start (http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/the-one-ring/). Buy from their store and you can get the PDF of the game as well as the physical copy. A new revision is just out, including all the rule revisions and errata that has been discussed on the forum.

If you just want the PDF version, the game is available on DriveThruRPG (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/131351/The-One-Ring-Roleplaying-Game).

For the Fantasy Grounds ruleset, this is available on Valarian’s rulesets folder (link) and (hopefully soon) on the Wiki. As it’s a community set, there are no rules included. However, there is a template Player’s module that lists the skills and traits in the game – allowing you to create a library module for personal use. The module doesn’t include any of the text, but there are blank sections that can be filled in from a PDF, or by typing. The template module contains less than the online character builder which is linked to in the forum resources thread and is a recommended resource. This seems to be the limit of fair-use.