We’ll be starting the pre-order for Rivendell, the latest supplement for The One Ring Roleplaying Game, in the next week. In the meantime, we’ll be taking a much closer look at the various aspects of the supplement. In this preview we showcase a new optional set of rules: The Eye of Mordor.
The Eye of Mordor are a set of optional rules for the Loremaster to use, reflecting the growing influence of the Shadow upon the lands of Middle-earth. Not only do these rules measure the amount of attention Sauron and his minions are paying to the company, but also the growing hostility of the landscape itself, as The One Ring designer Francesco Nepitello explains:
“It is not as simple as Sauron literally watching the heroes. These rules can be considered to represent one of the many manifestations of the ‘subtle magic’ of Middle-earth. In the words of Aragorn: ‘There are many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have purposes of their own.’ The Eye of Mordor represent the worsening of the ‘unfriendliness’ of such things, as they are stirred by the growth of the power in the Black Land.”
In game terms, the possibility that a company catches the Eye of the Enemy – whether literally or otherwise – is expressed by two rules: Eye Awareness and the Hunt. Eye Awareness is a numerical value tracked from session to session (using glass beads or tokens), measuring the hostility of the world towards the heroes and the level of attention that the Enemy reserves for them. The higher the score becomes, the higher the likelihood that the company will be revealed and a hunt began.
The starting level for Eye Awareness depends on the composition of the company: a company containing just Hobbits won’t have any Eye Awareness at all, whereas a company containing Rangers or High Elves will be much, much higher. Most companies will be somewhere in between. Heroes with a high Wisdom or Valour, or who carry a famous magical weapon, will increase it further.
The Eye Awareness increases during an Adventuring phase too, most commonly when an Eye is rolled on the Feat die outside of combat. Heroes who gain Shadow or openly use magical power also increase Eye Awareness too (such as Broken Spells, Wood-elf Magic or several of the High Elves’ more powerful virtues). It may decrease too, resetting at the start of an Adventuring phase or being lowered if a company spends a Fellowship phase in Rivendell.
A company remains hidden from the Eye so long as the Eye Awareness does not exceed a target number called the Hunt Threshold, which is determined by the type of region the company are in, whether the company are taking steps to conceal their presence or identities or are being actively searched out by the Enemy’s agents. But, should the Eye Awareness ever reach the Hunt Threshold, the company will be revealed and a Revelation episode occurs…
We asked Francesco where the inspiration for Revelation episodes came from:
“There are almost too many to mention! From the purpose that seems to guide the searching tentacles of the Watcher in the Water, to the misfortune that plagues the fellowship when Boromir attempts to seize the ring and the others are ambushed by the Uruk-hai at the same time, or the hostility of Caradhras the Cruel…”
Revelation episodes reflect the actions of an increasingly hostile world towards the heroes. Much like a Hazard episode during a journey, the Loremaster decides the exact circumstances Revelation episode based on what the company are up to at the time, but will always suggest the presence of strange forces; a distinctive aura, a baleful glow, unusual behaviour amongst men and beasts, and the faint trace of sorcery.
We’ve included a whole host of sample Revelation episodes, from Lathspell, where the arrival of the company is interpreted as an ill omen, lowering the Tolerance of an encounter, to Do Not Tempt Me! where a hero must make a Wisdom test or suffer from a sudden bout of madness. Perhaps the deadliest is We Come to Kill, where the next enemy faced by the company gain the No Quarter special ability.
Suffice it to say, a Revelation episode is the last thing a company should desire, especially if it should have the severe misfortune to coincide with a Hazard episode or a bout of madness…
Finally, Francesco has this to say on choosing to use the rules in your games:
“The rules serves many purposes, from giving a reason to the players to refrain from rolling the dice for the most trivial reasons, to taking away from the Loremaster the responsibility of ‘being mean’ to his players, or ’timing’ the worsening of the risks of adventuring as the Twilight of the Third Age deepens. But the main reason for them is especially to add thrill and excitement to the game – certainly not to make the players’ life impossible!”
Rivendell is 144-page, hardcover, full-colour supplement written by Francesco Nepitello, with additional contributions from Amado Angulo, Shane Ivey, Andrew Kenrick, Marco Maggi, Thomas Morwinsky and James M. Spahn. It is lavishly illustrated by Jon Hodgson, Jan Pospíšil and Jeremy McHugh, with fantastic maps of Eastern Eriador created by Paul Bourne. Keep an eye on the website for more information and previews over the next week.