Book Review: The One Ring Roleplaying Game

The One Ring Roleplaying Game, by Francesco Nepitello

It is an intensely frustrating and Nathanish experience to read a book that consists of two books that one has already read under a different name.  At any rate, if you have already read the Lord of the Rings player’s guide and loremaster’s guide (reviews forthcoming) as I have, this book will not really provide a great deal of new information at all.  That said, if you are looking for a one-stop volume to give some basic structure for a 5e roleplaying game that you and some friends want to undertake in the Lord of the Rings universe, this book is an excellent guide.  It is a pretty simple and basic guide, to be sure, so those who appreciate this book will likely want to read up more on the roleplaying in Tolkien’s universe, but as far as starting guides go this is certainly an excellent one that will likely be enjoyed by a great many people and it is formatted in a way that will make it easy to read and gather the information as well as some excellent artwork and some worthwhile scenarios to start gameplay with as well that will be of interest to many.

This particular work is about 300 pages long and is divided into nine parts.  In the first part of the book, we see the introduction, which includes some very basic discussions of what a roleplaying is as well as the setting of Wilderland and how to play.  After this there is a discussion of creating a hero by looking at the various heroic cultures of the game and the classes involved for them and how to create a company out of various characters with a plausible reason to join up together.  This leads into the fundamental attributes of characters, namely skills, traits, as well as valour and wisdom, that are a part of the gameplay. and even gear and the acquisition of treasure and fellowship points.  After this there are chapters that discuss both the adventuring phase (including journeys and combat) and the fellowship phase, which includes undertakings to preserve one’s relationship with patrons as well as the end of the campaigning year.  With the sixth part we enter into the loremaster’s guide section of the book, which discusses the way the loremaster helps to structure the adventure and play the non-player characters encountered by the party.  This leads into a discussion about the shadow and how it influences the world of Middle Earth and its denizens.  With the eighth part of the book we read about the setting and some material about the darkening of Mirkwood and then we close the book by looking at some campaigns about the marsh-bell and some pre-generated and blank character sheets.

There are at least a few elements that make this game distinctive as far as role playing games are concerned.  For one, there is a lot more attention paid to the place of characters within society, to the point where characters can earn as part of their rewards property and titles, not something that one tends to see very often in this sort of games where hacking and slashing and ransacking treasures is high on the list but there is not often thought of where these characters fit in the larger world as a whole.  With the Lord of the Rings there is a definite ethos and a high degree of importance for audiences and diplomacy and the roleplay of conversation and not only killing.  The subdued use of magic as well allows for this universe to be a different one, one where being a scholar is considered to be an adventuring class, something which is at least present in the lives of some of the people who will be playing this game and others like it, and not something one often sees in roleplaying games with more flamboyant uses of magic spells such that scholarship seems rather too tame in comparison.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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