We’re gearing up for the release of a new edition of The One Ring Roleplaying Game, and until it goes on pre-order in a fortnight we’re publishing a series of articles that each take a look at a different aspect of the game (you can find them all here). Today’s article takes a look at one of the most important parts of the game: the maps.
As we discussed the other day, long and perilous journeys are at the very heart of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so they similarly form the heart of The One Ring Roleplaying Game. The journey rules give the players the feeling that their characters are embarking on an epic trek across Mirkwood or the Misty Mountains or down the Anduin. The part of the journey rules that captures this the most is when the players first plot their route, huddling over the map of Middle-earth and arguing over whether the best way to get from Beorn’s house to Lake-town is by going around the top of Mirkwood, or straight through the middle.*
The new edition of The One Ring Roleplaying Game features two distinct maps: the Adventurer’s Map and the Loremaster’s Map. Not only are these included in the game as pages in their own right, but also incorporated into the end-papers, a neat solution that makes them instantly referable without the risk of coming loose or being lost.
Cubicle 7’s layout artist and graphic designer Paul Bourne designed both maps:
“The initial challenge of making the maps was presenting them in the style that people are so familiar with. I did quite a bit of research, looking at existing maps of Middle-earth, to get a handle on paper texture and drawing style. I wanted to make a nice feature of the borders, so I made some new diamond and Celtic elements that tied the maps in with the design of the rest of The One Ring, as well as expanding on the woodcut design I’d created previously for the Hobbit culture. The only way to get the proper ‘look’ for the main body of the map was not to work digitally but to draw it all by hand then scan the drawing.”
The Adventurer’s Map is designed to look like an in-world artefact; rare, possibly incomplete and only somewhat accurate. Players use this map to plot their routes, and must use their judgement (and their character’s Lore skill) to work out which route poses the least danger.
The Loremaster’s Map, on the other hand, spells out exactly where that danger lies. It’s overlaid with a hex grid, so that the Loremaster can calculate how far the journey will be (each hex is 10 miles, making you realise just how big even this small corner of Middle-earth is). It’s also colour coded, with each colour representing the difficulty of the terrain to cross (green being moderate, all the way up to the daunting of red), and marked with symbols to show whether a land is free, wild or under the Shadow.
All of these aspects allow the Loremaster to take the company’s proposed route and quickly work out how long the journey will take, how difficult it will be and what potential dangers they might encounter.
We asked Paul what his favourite feature of the map was:
“My favourite feature is the Hobbit travelling song written in runes around the edge of the map, which ties in nicely with the journeys aspect of the game.”
*Hint: The writers of The One Ring cannot be held responsible for any danger – including spider-poisoning – that befalls characters wandering into Mirkwood without a suitable guide.
Already Own The One Ring?
If you already own The One Ring, then you’ll already have poster-sized versions of these maps – the versions incorporated into the endpapers of the new edition feature the same maps. But, for those of you looking for additional copies of these posters or, say, wondering whether you’ll be able to get similar maps of the rest of Middle-earth, stay tuned…