As we announced last week, we’re gearing up to release a new edition of The One Ring Roleplaying Game. The next in our series of articles taking a closer look at the different aspects of it discusses the heroes of The One Ring.
As we mentioned last time, the setting runs through the heart of everything in The One Ring, and this is just as true where its heroes are concerned. Every player character is rooted in the setting, each defined by the culture they come from; be they Beorn’s savage followers, the Beornings, the noble Bardings who are rebuilding Dale or the elusive Elves of Mirkwood.
The game’s designer, Francesco Nepitello, explains why these cultures are so important to the game:
“The main reason behind the majority of the design choices in The One Ring is faithfulness to the sources. In Middle-earth, culture is the main defining element in an individual, and by limiting the choices in that regard help us attain a genuine 'in-world' perspective.”
In broad terms, in The One Ring a hero is made up of two halves: their Heroic Culture (where they come from, such as Hobbits of the Shire, Dwarves of Erebor or Woodmen of Wilderland) and their Calling (why they adventure, including Slayers, Treasure-hunters and Wanderers), each of which opens up different choices for a player.
Whilst a Heroic Culture determines a hero’s attributes, virtues, rewards and skills, their Calling gives them a trait, a favoured group of skills, as well as defines their Shadow weakness (the tragic fate that awaits them should they succumb to the lure of the Shadow – we’ll cover that in more detail in a few week’s time).
By combining the various Heroic Cultures and Callings in different ways, it’s easy to see that from these focused choices a vast cast of unique characters can be made. Add into the mix different background packages, a wide array of virtues (special abilities unique to a culture) and rewards (treasured artefacts possessed by a character) and countless other ways to customise a character and no two heroes – even two from the same culture – need be the same.
We end up by asking Francesco to describe what type of character he plays when he gets the chance:
“I like to play as a Woodman of Wilderland, as I had far more freedom when creating them as a Culture. Tolkien only hints at their presence in Wilderland, but I think I found his inspiration for them in the House of the Wolfings by William Morris. And their Hound of Mirkwood virtue is pretty cool too!”
Already Own The One Ring?
If you currently play a hero in The One Ring, you’ll find that we’ve paid a great deal of attention to your characters in all manner of ways both big and small! Here is just a small taste of what we’ve done.
We’ve tinkered a little with the various Cultural Blessings, so Beornings ignore weariness in combat so long as they’re wounded, whether they were wounded in the same combat or not, and Bardings now enjoy a bonus to all Valour tests, not just Fear tests.
The biggest change to how characters work is with the Cultural Rewards and Virtues – we’ve tweaked and changed most of them in some way, based on the feedback we’ve had over the years. So, just to pick a couple of examples, we’re now explicit as to what constitutes a servant of the Shadow for Elves with Shadow Bane (and you instead add an extra die to your rolls against such creatures); you don’t have to first be wounded to use your Staunching Song; the Axe of the Azanulbizar can be used against enemies with an Attribute level of 7 or less, so you can hew the really big guys; and, yes, we’ve changed how the King’s Blade works.