The One Ring, Last Night

Started by masqueradeball, January 31, 2012, 04:27:09 PM

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So, tonight I played The One Ring for the first time. Just thought I'd record a few responses:

* Character creation is fast and gives you a lot of canned reason for being and adventurer in the region in which the game is set. Its one of the many benefits of having such a focused design.

* The book is poorly organized and fails to make it clear just how things work. If we all had taken the time to do a solid read through, I don't know how much of a problem this would have been, but its definitely not made to be a learn-as-you-go process. This is a shame considering how elemental the system is.

* Travel was boring when we were making checks and some of the outcomes didn't seem to matter once the travelling was done, but the actual fights and decision points that ensued were really fun. A streamlined version of the travel rules would be awesome.

*There's a lot of mechanical weirdness 1) isn't that bad, and really just comes from a superficial similarity to D&D and other similar games and 2) its all actually very clever.

* There wasn't a good way to indicate which player had the right to speak when. Social situations were a little messy as everyone talked over each other until someone started off on a little monologue. I felt like I had to either be pushy and dominate scenes in order to get face time, or I had to sit out entirely so that they other players were clear that it was there turn to talk.

* About mid-session our efforts were focused on trying to investigate the possible location of the Brown Wizard. It felt like we just kept going back and forth between a) nothing happening and b) bald exposition. I'm sure in large part this was to do with the way the GM was handling everything, but the system didn't seem to offer solid guidelines on how to use skills or clearly gauge their results.

Mel White

I played The One Ring for the first time as well last week and can provide some initial impressions.
   I also found it hard to use the books during play.  This was mainly because I was less prepared than I should have been, having read through the books but not fully digesting the rules and the books' setup.  The other players were equally unfamiliar as I was.  We were counting on being able to consult the books in play.  But there are two books!  The Loremaster's book and the Adventurer's book; some rules are in one but not in the other.  And the indexes for each book deal only with that book (which may be standard practice, I don't know).  Plus, the indexes make user error easy.  For example to look up weapon damage the information is found in the Adventurer's Book under 'Weapons Table', which seems simple enough, but the entry in the index follows the entry for War Gear—listing axes, bows, spears, etc.  So skimming the index quickly, I looked up the War Gear pages, which have narrative descriptions about the weapons, but no data on damage, encumbrance, etc—the information I was looking for.  The War Gear pages start at p. 114, but the Weapons Table is on p. 77.  They're not even close.  In another example, creatures have the characteristic 'Hate' but Hate is not in the index (it is in the Loremaster's Book in the 'Adversaries' section.)  After the game, finding these things took only a little time, but in play it became frustrating to have to hunt through the books to find answers.
   Yet, despite this, I had a great time playing the game!  My group probably lost 30 minutes out of a three-hour session to looking up rules, but I have a positive memory of the actual gameplay.  Partly this was simply due to playing in Middle Earth.  Partly this was due to learning the 'mechanical weirdness', some of which includes automatic successes through rolling the 'Gandalf rune' on a d12, the fear of rolling the Eye of Sauron during an action, and prioritizing favored skills (versus normal skills) due to higher bonuses on the roll.
   We also liked the use of traits and callings that, if pertinent to the situation, allow automatic success in an action without rolling any dice.  The combination of skills (requiring dice rolls) and traits (obviating dice rolls) is an interesting mix.  I wonder if this mix will feel discordant in future games because there will not be a clear distinction between types of activities requiring rolls versus types of activities not requiring rolls—it will depend on the characters involved.  For example, with two characters trying to impress an NPC, one might have to use the skill Persuade—and roll dice.  The other, with the trait 'Storytelling' can make the case that she automatically succeeds with the Persuade attempt.  If the PCs are competing to be the most eloquent the contest is, by the rules as written, irresolvable, because the Storytelling trait has no dice associated with it.  There are workarounds to this conundrum, based on subjective decisions by the Loremaster at the table.  And that feature may be the critical factor in The One Ring's design—the decision to leave things like traits to interpretation.
For social situations, we had a different issue:  social conflict between PCs.  In our game, we had PC A (with Storytelling) seek to convince PC B to pursue a particular course of action.  Player B said to Player A, 'tell me your story, maybe I'll agree.'  In the end, Player B agreed, but made Player A roll the Persuade skill to help shape the level of PC A's success by tying it to a number rolled on the dice. That solution worked for us, but without player-to-player agreement to be bound by social contests, there is nothing like the Burning Wheel's 'Duel of Wits' mechanism.   
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