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Meeple’s Eye View – The One Ring RPG

The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. As the Malted Meeple has become Northeast Ohio’s role playing game hotspot we have decided that it is time to start reviewing some of our favorite role playing systems as well!

Published by Cubicle 7, The One Ring Roleplaying Game offers players the chance to roam the rolling plains and treacherous mountains of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  Players can create a variety of characters including Dwarves, Hobbits, Elves, and Men, each with a variety of backgrounds.  Each race offers players distinct skill sets, while each background offers players a unique attribute combination.  The players also gain cultural blessings, specialties, hope points, endurance, and a calling based on their race and backgrounds.

Like most roleplaying systems, the core mechanic revolves around rolling dice to determine success or failure of an action. This system uses a 12-sided die along with 6-sided die to determine the outcome.  When a skill check is required, the Lore Master tells the player the difficulty of the check, which sets the Target Number (TN) that the player is trying to obtain. The player then takes the 12-sided feat die along with any success dice given to them by skill ranks, and rolls them. If the player rolls a Gandalf rune, or beats the target number, the test is considered successful.  If the player does not beat the target number, they may spend a point of hope to add their attribute bonus to the total. Otherwise, the test is a failure and the player must suffer the consequences.

The One Ring definitely delivers on the Tolkien “feel.”  When your characters are traveling overland, the travel feels arduous and the characters slowly become fatigued.  An important distinction from most roleplaying systems is that while the players are heroes, they are nowhere near as powerful as Legolas or Aragorn. They are common folk who realize that the shadow is slowly spreading across the land. They will stand together to confront this shadow no matter the cost.  The system is very narrative and does not get bogged down with too many tactical choices. The One Ring allows for the pace to change quickly and fluidly between travel, social interaction, and combat.

One of the things that I really love about the core rule book is the art. The core rulebook is a fully illustrated, full color rulebook.  In the front and back of the core book is a detailed map of Wilderland – the area east of the Misty Mountains for those who know their Tolkien.  The written modules feature many familiar names from Tolkien’s books such as Radagast the Brown, King Thranduil, and Beorn.

There are a few minor quibbles I have with The One Ring. First off, the overall layout of the book causes a fair amount of flipping back and forth to find things. Character generation requires a fair amount of this as the procedure is not laid out succinctly. The next quibble is that currency and combat are both very abstract. Combat is much more narrative than tactical, which is okay if that is what you are looking for. Currency on the other hand is extremely relative.  Finally, calculating travel can be a little tedious as there is quite a bit of math involved.  However, most of these quibbles are easily overshadowed by the simplicity of the system.

Overall, the system acts as a fantastic roleplaying bridge into Tolkien’s beloved Middle Earth. If you are looking for a system that captures the feel of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, you want to play a more narrative system that will allow you and your players to craft an epic tale, or you are looking for a game to replace your weekly dungeon crawl, look no further than The One Ring.

Meeple Karington Hess - Small

Karington Hess is a lifelong gamer whose passions for hospitality and all things game-related led him to Ravenwood Castle, where he served as an Innkeeper before joining The Malted Meeple. When not pouring beers, crafting milkshakes, or teaching boardgames, Karington can be found behind the DM’s screen, weaving intricate stories for his fellow gamers.