Game Review: The One Ring: Adventurer’s Book by Francesco Nepitello from Cubicle 7 – Part 6

The end is nigh! Well, the last part of my multi-post review of The One Ring: Adventurer’s Book from Cubicle 7 and writer Francesco Nepitello anyway… “Part 6: Fellowship Phase” deals with that part between the adventures of any campaign – downtime. But as I’ve pointed out more than a few times during this long process, The One Ring does some different things to codify various options for Loremasters and players alike during those all-important spaces for hero development.

Heroes, just like the rest of us, need a bit of rest and relaxation (R&R) time sometimes. This time might be used to simply heal deep wounds, whether physical or psychological. It might be used to reconnect with friends and family. Perhaps they want to touch base with the leaders at home or particular benefactors bankrolling some of the heroes’ adventures. And just like with other games, this “time between” can be as short as a few days or weeks and as long as years.

It seems that The One Ring wants to have one Fellowship Phase at the end of each adventuring year, which makes sense in a Tolkien-based world (based on the timelines of the books). And they also suggest that these breaks may happen more naturally with seasonal changes, perhaps working in a Fellowship break during the coldest months where travel would be difficult. As the writer says “a life in the Wild is an unforgiving one, and adventurers prefer to have a roof over their heads when the wind is howling and the land is buried in snow…”

So how does this phase work? First, the players either decide separately or together where to spend the phase, but it must be somewhere they’ve already visited. They may wish to disband for a time or may work to establish deeper ties with new allies as a group.

The players must keep in mind however that they must maintain a good relationship with their friends, family, and leaders at home. This is just like in real life when you haven’t connected with old friends after a while – you sometimes drift apart from one another. In the game, characters have a Standing rating. If you spend a year’s end Fellowship away from home, you must reduce your Standing rating at home by one point unless you spend Treasure points equal to the current Standing rating. Think of this like sending money home to help support your family and friends during an extended absence.

What can you do during the actual phase? You can spend XP to increase a character’s Valour or Wisdom rank, and buy Weapon or Cultural Weapon skill ranks. And you can spend Advancement points to raise common skills.

And when that’s done, you can decide to take on a task during the downtime. Characters may meet with a patron, change one Distinctive feature to another (though they should do this sparingly), heal the Shadow’s corrupting influences, raise their standard of living, raise their standing, or open a new sanctuary (as a group). I want to talk about a couple of these in a little more detail…

Anyone who’s read Tolkien’s work knows how the darkness creeps into some of the characters, corrupting them over time. Consider poor Bilbo and Frodo dealing with the burden of the influence of the One Ring. Or think about Sam Gamgee working to keep his friend from the depths of despair. Frodo enjoyed spending time with his friends Pippin and Merry who always brightened his day – their friendship kept the darkness at bay for a while. And Sam would have liked to have spent more time working in his garden to chase the blues away. This is just one more part of the game that really reflects the source material well.

The other undertaking I want to mention is “Opening a New Sanctuary.” I love this concept because it can only be done as a party, not as an individual. During their travels, the party will find new friends they may want to establish long relationships with. For instance, they may find a village or town in places off the beaten path that may work well as a place to rest and recuperate while on the road. The whole party must participate in this undertaking and choose to Fellowship in the same location to do this.

Lastly there’s a discussion about the events at “Year’s End” where the Loremaster and the players get to summarize their heroic journeys. This is a great way to get the entire group involved in sharing the tales from their adventures.

At the end of the book are an Appendix containing pre-generated characters, a blank character sheet, and a detailed index. The characters include: Liftan, Son of Leiknir (Bardings); Beran of the Mountains (Beornings); Beli (Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain); Caranthir (Elves of Mirkwood); Trotter (Hobbits of the Shire); and The Bride (Woodmen of Wilderland).

This concludes my chapter-by-chapter review of The One Ring: Adventurer’s Book from Cubicle 7. I think it definitely will appeal to fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, especially with the new films coming from Peter Jackson and company in the next 24 months. However, there are some great concepts that should appeal to GMs
playing in ANY game, with some neat ways to approach various party-building aspects of traditional campaigns.

By the way, if you missed part 1 of this review series, you can find it here. Part 2 is here, part 3 is here, part 4 is here, and part 5 is here. For more about the game, check out Cubicle 7′s page here.

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