“In a room in the attic lived a role-playing fan. It was not a nasty, filthy or musty room, filled with a sweaty aroma and other odors, but neither was it a dark, dry, hot and empty attic with no furniture to sit on and no food: it was a game room, and that means loads of fun.” Perhaps a tall, wise wizard, a so-called Loremaster, will pay a visit to the RPG fan in his attic, full of Kallax cabinets, game boxes, meeples, dice, miniatures and RPG books, perhaps he will take The One Ring with him.
The One Ring is a wildly popular role-playing game set in the fantasy world Middle-earth. Middle-Earth, of course, is the world we all know from J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, such as “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Silmarillion.” Tolkien’s works can be considered the grandfather of the Fantasy genre, and much modern Fantasy and the stereotypes and standards we find in it have their origins thanks to Tolkien. Worlds full of dwarves, halflings, orcs and compelling adventures.
Tolkien’s world was the world many a fantasy fan (a FANtasy?) wanted to enter, and for a long time people have been trying to escape to that world or similar worlds by LARPing and running through forests in disguise (I’d like to do it again, too), reenacting wars in Middle-earth with miniature war games, or having fictional adventures in tabletop RPGs. Of course, the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons also drew a lot of inspiration from The Lord of the Rings, among others. D&D is also full of so-called “Fantasy Tropes” from Lord of the Rings.
The role-playing game The One Ring was originally developed by Cubicle 7 Entertainment and has now been published for some time by the Swedish company Free League Publishing (Fria Ligan). Free League Publishing releases several board games, but mostly role-playing games in all kinds of different settings and based on all kinds of different media and diverse IP rights such as Blade Runner, based on the iconic Sci-Fi movies, and also Mörk Borg, inspired by Heavy Metal music, among others.
Free League Publishing gave The One Ring a new coat of paint, streamlined the rules a bit and also released renewed material. The rulebook received a stunning reprint that may be described as bulky and won’t look out of place in any LotR and RPG collection. What particularly characterizes the book is the thematic layout and the many illustrations. Just as the Silmarillion manages to further describe Tolkien’s world, The One Ring also manages to describe and flavor the rules and world of role-playing in a clear way.
A few years ago, Wizard of the Coast had the brilliant idea of releasing a starter set for Dungeons & Dragons with all the essential parts: some pre-developed and entry-level characters, adventures, summary of all the important and necessary rules, dice and some other material.
For The One Ring, Free League Publishing also follows this standard with a beautiful box set. In this set you will find unique dice (2 special D12 and 6 D6 dice) and richly illustrated and double-sided character sheets that are pre-filled (again to be entry-level for beginning adventurers). In addition, the box contains streamlined standard rules, booklets that include background information, explanations, events about The Shire and The Adventure, maps and also cards (Journey Roel and Combat Stances) that you can also use during a “regular” The One Ring session.
The One Ring offers players the opportunity to experience adventures in the era known as the Third Era. The One Ring additionally offers players the opportunity to be fully immersed in Middle-earth. Players can then also have themselves put on the feet of a Hobbit. Indeed, players can take on the role of – among other things since it remains a role-playing game and the choices are endless – characters belonging to the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, such as hobbits, humans, dwarves and elves. Players can invent what part of Middle-earth they come from and what adventures they have had. Fortunately, Tolkien’s works provide more than enough information and variety for a fun start to your new role-playing character.
Like The Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings, The One Ring is all about adventure and companionship, and so that is the basis for the gameplay of this role-playing game. Players will travel and explore during the Adventuring Phase and during the Fellowship Phase players can recover from their adventure, focus on social and noble activities to make Middle-earth a better place despite the threat of Sauron and other evil secrets this world harbors.
The One Ring, unlike other role-playing games, places particular emphasis on travel: indeed, something that is central to Tolkien’s books. After all, we all know the story of a relatively young Hobbit who walked barefoot toward a volcano to illegally dump some precious waste into that aforementioned volcano. That Hobbit suffered many setbacks on his journey. The One Ring therefore contains a very elaborate travel system that influences how the journey goes and makes the journey itself challenging, with the different players all taking on their own roles.
Like other role-playing games, dice are central to The One Ring, but they do not use the entire set of different dice you know from D&D to do so. In the One Ring, you use special D12 dice with the numbers 1-10 and two unique symbols (a rune for Gandalf and the Eye of Sauron) and a d6 dice where the instead of the 6 is a Tengwar rune pictured (Tengwar is an alphabet from the works of Tolkien). The different dice allow players to use their attributes and determine successes (or losses) during the game.
The game master in The One Ring is the so-called Loremaster, who like a real Gandalf the game master tries to set up an entertaining adventure for the players and actually sets up a playable fanfiction for LOTR fans in this way.
The One Ring offers players the opportunity to engage in this popular and immersive fantasy setting and that is right away one of the biggest pluses of The One Ring: it immediately gives players a wealth of one setting and World building because, of course, Tolkien had already written that. The One Ring makes Middle-earth playable.
Both the Starter Set and the rulebook are packed with information, illustrations, background and features. In addition, plenty of additional information is available that helps a Loremaster create their own unique stories and campaigns within the Middle-earth universe.
For fans of Tolkien, fantasy in general or role-playing game enthusiasts alike, The One Ring offers plenty of gameplay.