When many players joined their first game of Dungeons & Dragons they had J.R.R. Tolkien on their mind. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings massively influenced the fantasy genre in books, films and games. Countless D&D worlds have been birthed from the same mythology used by Tolkien to create Middle-Earth.
Now. Middle-Earth returns to Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition thanks to Free League Publishing. They brought a new edition of The One Ring to tables this year and have adapted it to the world’s most popular role playing game in Lord of the Rings Roleplaying. The company sent along the first three books in the line to review.
Lord of the Rings Roleplaying
Lord of the Rings Roleplaying adapts the material in The One Ring Second Edition to the mechanics of Fifth Edition. Much as Tolkien focused on the journey and the travels of the characters, so to do these rules offer weight to getting to the big epic set piece as much as the big fight against the bad guys. Gameplay cycles through the journey phase, where the action and intrigue happen and the fellowship phase, where characters rest, recover and reflect on all the amazing things that happened to them out in Middle-Earth.
While the game uses the basic mechanics of Fifth Edition it adapts several things, like character classes and heroic cultures, from the original rules. Classes are also kept to 10 levels as part of the appeal of the game is passing on adventures and treasure from generation to generation, much like Biblo passes on the ring to Frodo. Each class has virtues which give classes their special abilities.
There are no magic classes in these games as characters like Gandalf and Saruman are more like gods or angels that would outshine any fellowship. Scholars come the closest with features that feel akin to the bard or cleric. For all the flashy special effects and immortal elves, Middle-Earth is a relatively low magic setting.
Magic can ctually lead to the downfall of a character. Each class has a shadow path which reflects what happens when that character is overtaken by the weariness of the journey, the lure of magical power or the dread of going up against powerful evil. That scholar might start to think they know everything and their companions aren’t intelligent at all which makes betraying them for a powerful artifact all the easier to do.
Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Shire Adventures
Much as Lord of the Rings Roleplaying adapts the corebook of The One Ring Second Edition so does Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Shire Adventures adapts the excellent Starter Set for The One Ring. This book functions as a short campaign and as a setting guide to the area of Middle-Earth at the heart of both epic tales: the Shire where the hobbits make their home.
The first part of the book offers locatons and characters important to the Shire and how to use them in adventures. The second part features a short campaign where the players seek out information for Bilbo Baggins for the book he’s writing about his travels. The final part of the book included multiple pre-generated characters to use, including Bilbo himself.
Shire Adventures goes a long way to highlight the differences between a tale set in the shire and something more epic. If there’s such a thing as cozy adventures, that’s what these hobbits go on, though they do finally get into a battle with a big beast at the end. They are an enjoyable collection of tales with moments that feel like a lost tale out of Middle-Earth.
Lord of the Rings Loremaster’s Screen and Rivendell Compendium
Every Loremaster must keep their secrets and this sturdy screen puts the most important rules and tables right in front. It also includes the Rivendell Compandium which adds vital information about the Last Homely House includign maps and drawings. It also includes rules for playing High Elf characters as part of a fellowship.
Lord of the Rings Roleplaying is available directly from Free League Publishing, online and through Friendly Local Game Stores everywhere.
Read the full article here