The Hobbit is among one of our favorite books so when we heard Free League Publishing was making a Lord of the Rings tabletop game, we got excited. It’s like having the extended extended editions of all the movies in one, except you’re the Loremaster. The One Ring is as alive and vast as the world you see on screen and read on the page.
Right away the pages make it very clear that everyone around the table is part of telling the story. It isn’t just led by the Loremaster. Every player is there to be a part of the tale and make sure it’s a thrilling and memorable one.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were.The Lord of the Rings
The One Ring comes with a core rule book, and a starter set. The rule book is worthy of J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s a massive 248-page tome stuffed with everything you need to start adventuring in Middle-Earth. It’s also a rather pretty book with a stunning cover and beautifully drawn art inside. Every page feels like diving into The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings paperbacks. It’s a grand adventure.
Once you’re through creating a character and learning how to play, you can dive right into a quest. The final few pages contain a thrilling adventure called The Star of the Mist. It’s a journey that fits right into the lore of the Lord of the Rings and is a great starting point for a fellowship. It’s got bandits, dwarves, a dwarven city—a mine— a ghost, and a mystery to solve.
Going on an Adventure
Each game is split into two phases: the adventure and the fellowship. The first involves scenes related to building the overall plot. These can be a tense social encounter or a fight. Whereas the second phase is what happens between each adventure. Characters have time to take for themselves to rest and relax.
Free League enjoys using a d6 system and it’s featured in The One Ring as well. Though this time around, they’ve added a d12 to the mix. Characters have 18 skills they can use to overcome challenges and will use both d6—Success Die—and d12—Feat Die—to determine an outcome. The combined total of all the dice is compared to a target number (TN). If the rolled total is equal to or greater than the TN, the roll is a success; otherwise, it has failed.
Each Feat Die features a Gandalf rune (12) and the Eye of Sauron (11) rune. Gandalf’s rune is the greatest result you can get on a Feat Die and means you automatically succeed regardless of reaching or succeeding the TN. Whereas the Eye of Sauron icon is the worst result possible outcome, resulting in a zero on the Feat Die.
Being favored in a skill means you’re proficient in it. When using a skill, players roll one Feat die and a number of Success Dice equal to the Player-hero’s skill rank. Only one Feat die is rolled if a Player-hero is unskilled.
Instead of occupations or classes, The One Ring includes Callings. Callings are your character class and allow you to be as dextrous as Legolas, strong as Gimli, or wise and powerful as Galadriel. Callings range from Captain, Champion, Messenger, Scholar, Treasure Hunter, and Warden. Coupled with a Heroic Culture, this decides who you are in Middle-earth.
There are three Attributes in The One Ring: Strength, Heart, and Wits. Each score describes an adventurer’s physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. These are broken down to hit points, resisting spells, and the effects of dread.
Along the way, the fellowship gains access to a patron. This sponsor is the one who provides them with quests, items, and information to push the plot forward. They also allow you to re-roll dice, summon them to your aid, or other circumstances that aid the fellowship. It’s a fun system that brings back familiar characters such as Balin, Bilbo, and Gandalf the Grey.
Like Tolkien, The One Ring is a beast of a tabletop book. The fantasy author made everything feel spectacular and worthwhile. From the novels to the compendiums and the movies, the world of Lord of the Rings is massive and exciting to see. The One Ring makes it that much more excited to jump into and explore.