As we announced last week, we're gearing up to release a new edition of The One Ring Roleplaying Game. This week we're kicking off a series of articles taking a closer look at the different aspects of it, starting with the setting.
Middle-earth is a huge place, stretching thousands of miles from the Lonely Mountain in the north to Far Harad in the south, and beyond. It’s an ancient land too, with a richly detailed history going back thousands of years to the dawn of the First Age.
But The One Ring Roleplaying Game is set in a very particular place, in a very specific time: Wilderland, 5 years after the Battle of Five Armies. Wilderland is at once familiar to fans of the novels, as it's the region both Thorin’s Company and the Fellowship (once broken) traverse on their journeys.
The game’s designer, Francesco Nepitello, explains more about why he set the game then and there:
“Wilderland at the end of The Hobbit is an area that can be considered familiar to the reader of Tolkien. It's the land where the Eagles and Beorn live, where Smaug used to dwell, and where the forest of Mirkwood lies. Tolkien introduces it in The Hobbit, and then does not tell much about it until the events told in The Lord of the Ring. This leaves almost 70 years of ‘history’ to be filled by the players of The One Ring with their own heroic deeds.”
This land is filled with instantly recognisable locations from the novels: Mirkwood, Thranduil’s Halls, Lake-town, Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, Dol Guldur. All are locations ripe for exploration and adventure. Its also home to some of the best-loved characters from the novels too, from Radagast the Brown and the Elvenking Thranduil to King Bard of Dale and King Dáin of Erebor.
We asked Francesco about his favourite aspect of the setting:
“There are several ‘grey areas’, subjects that Tolkien sketched only roughly in his books or in the appendixes to The Lord of the Rings, the very reason why we set The One Ring there. One of the biggest riddles for me is the nature of Beorn, the skin-changer. He's a Man, but as Tolkien puts it, he was ‘no doubt a bit of a magician’, whatever he might have implied with that statement!”
The setting is right at the heart of The One Ring – the cultures you create your characters from, the patrons who send you off on adventures, the adversaries you face and the campaign you play – rooting everything about the game in Middle-earth. When you sit down to play the game you really feel like you are bringing the novels to life.
Already Own The One Ring?
If you’ve already played The One Ring, you’ll already be familiar with the setting and scope for the game, as well as realised what a wonderful place for adventure Wilderland is. That’s not changed for the revised edition, but what you’ll also know by now is how much more depth we’ve gone into with the various supplements out already. Heart of the Wild delves into Wilderland in far more detail than ever before, while The Darkening of Mirkwood campaign takes your heroes (and their descendants) through three decades of the region’s forgotten history.
And, for those of you who have kept up to date with our release schedule for 2014, you’ll know that we plan to widen the scope of the setting out with the next supplement, Rivendell, and, later in the year, Horse-lords of Rohan, all the while maintaining that clarity of focus and vision we did with Wilderland.