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The One Ring™ - Ruins of the Lost Realm
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by David P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2023 20:20:28

Do you want point crawls in Lord of the Rings? A thoroughly detailed region to run alongside it? Beautifully produced, immaculately designed, and a joy to hold physically (matte linen finish). Truly a studio and team of writers at the height of their careers faithfully making a world of wonder and hope despite grim odds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ - Ruins of the Lost Realm
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by David P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2023 20:17:30

You can use the toolset here for sectors and factions in pretty much any science fiction setting. On those merits alone, this is a toolbox to carry with you (and cheap too). A GM's friend.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by David P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/17/2023 02:26:41

This was the pinnacle of rpg layouts and wordlbuilding as a kid. The book has that older D&D quality of being a gazeteer, not just a series of story beats or character options. I used to scan it endlessly, especially the encyclopedic approach to describing the different regions on the goregous map tucked inside. It was easily readable and not artifically aged like many peers at the time. It's as if it popped fresh from Volo's desk.

This is a setting reference first but it includes numerous character options from prestige classes, organizations, and breaking up the monoculture trope of fantasy peoples. It's a shame later versions would be so truncated and D&D fell into a greatest-hits-of-the-sword-coast-to-icewind-dale routine, retreading well worn stories. This tried to do something different: reintroduce material that was really only 10-15 years old at that point. While the quality does dip later in the series, it maintained a clear aesthetic that carried the weight when the content didn't (and the content was pretty good too).

This isn't a scan. It appears to be a direct-to-pdf export as opposed to older titles. You can search for keywords, etc.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3e)
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The One Ring™ Loremaster's Screen & Rivendell Compendium
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by David P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/05/2021 12:51:52

The loremaster screen has great advice on running the rules and in running games in general. It discourages rolling for eveyrthing -- encouraging dice rolls only where there's a stake: some danger, discovering something unknown discovery, when trying to influence or manipulate an uncooperative Loremaster character. It has guides for each gameplay phase: journeys (roles, endurance, and events), combat, councils, and shadow tests. It's dense and table based. No fluff illustrations on the loremaster side -- every panel has related rules. The PDF does crop the loremaster screen player-side oddly when the interior panels are clearly ultrawide (looks like three, landscape oriented a5 papers).

Also, stay for the Rivendell Guidebook. It offers an additional player-hero culture and details about the Last Homely House, Imladris. It'll be quite delightful if more noteworth sites arcross Eriador, Rhovanion, Gondor, and Harad get this treatment. Doesn't overstay its welcome.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ Loremaster's Screen & Rivendell Compendium
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The One Ring™ Core Rules
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by David P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/05/2021 12:35:04

Superb design and many quality of life improvements to the award-winning, original TOR 1e.

Adventures are given a significant overhaul: balancing more story-oriented fair with sandbox and non-linear plot threads. The system is very tightly designed owing to designer Francesco Nepitello's board game sensibilities (he not only designed The One Ring 1e but also the acclaimed War of the Ring tabletop game, noted for its depth, thematic harmony with the source material, and assymetrical conflict resolution). The system rewards ingenuity and collaborative storytelling through the player-hero abilities, themselves organized in a grid. Everything just fits and has a use.

The book is well organized and absolutely gorgeous. Unlike some other core rulebooks, this is a delight to read. Just enough flavor text to keep the game rooted in the source material but never so much to feel bloated or padded unecessarily. There's an expansive region guide in the core rulebook with quirks and tables related to areas as diverse as the Greenway, the Trollshaws, etc.

All skills use a d6 plus d12 system, where d6 represent your proficiencies and d12 for adding some variability. The d12 has a eye of Sauron and a Gandalf run which can lead to some exceptional effects. The rules have great advice discouraging die rolling unless it's dangerous, you're trying to learn something you don't know. This is good. There's a weariness and shadow mechanic that add psychological layers and have in-game actions inspired by the books to overcome the effects: cheering fellowship adventurers with song, struggling with your own shadow path and personal vices. Unlike contemporary 5e D&D, this game has four distinct gameplay phases: journeys, combat, councils, and fellowship phase / yule undertakings. This is by no means an easy game and you can see where Francesco Nepitello leans on the books and his board-game sensibilities to inject fresh challenges and means for mitigating them, all based on some passage of the books.

  • Journeys: Players may stumble upon all sorts of challenges and journeys present a unique series of challenges that recall the Dungeon Turn of early D&D editions. It feels and plays differentlly from combat.
  • Combat: Fast with cinematic zones conferring different advantages and disadvantages.
  • Councils: These are in-depth social encounters that also play differently from combat and either make journeys or combat easier. It's a chance for exploring relationships, history, and diplomacy as you muster support for your quest. You're not rolling to talk to just anyone. These are higher stakes, multiday affairs -- think the Council of Elrond in Fellowship of the Ring or the Council at Edoras between Gandalf and corrupted Theoden or Pippin singing in Return of the King to Denethor's descent into despair.
  • Fellowship / Yule: These are the yearnings for home or personal improvement between major adventuring phases. People may be recuperating in Rivendell or working on a book in the Shire. It's a chance to develop your character between major legs of a big adventure. In a way, it reminds me of Pendragon's famous cycles of heirs and family that support multigenerational play.

For new RPG players: Try the lower stakes adventures from the Starter Set. There's a beautiful Shire region guide with adventures that capture the wonderment of The Hobbit: brave people venturing a little ways from home and finding challenges bigger than their feet dreamed of.

Looking forward to where my feet take me, Frodo. You never know where you might be swept off to when you set outside your door in this game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™ Core Rules
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