Monday, March 3, 2014

Leaving Wilderland: Upcoming Supplements for TOR

A recent announcement by Cubicle 7 revealed the 2014 releases for The One Ring.  Rivendell has been on the schedule before, and was originally slated for a 2013 release.  It looks like it will be a combination of a regional sourcebook along with a decent amount of player options (including two much sought-after Cultures, and rules for magical treasure).  Not much of a surprise here.

The revised core rulebook is an interesting twist, and I think a necessary one given the switch to hardcover for the more recent books.  Even though hardcover books are a little more expensive, their durability makes them well worth it in my opinion.  I suspect the list of errata will be small, but this is still worthwhile even for some that already have the slipcase set.  I know that my copies have binding issues, like many, and while the pages are all attached with the string, the glue has completely failed.  Functional, but not very pretty.  I'm not sure if I'll personally pick this one up since I have limited funds, already own the core books, and plan on purchasing books for other games, but it would definitely be nice to have.

Ruins of the North looks absolutely phenomenal, because Cubicle 7 has set a strong precedent with Tales from Wilderland.  I typically don't run published adventures, though I will occasionally mine ideas from them, but this adventure anthology is top-notch.  I've read through the whole thing twice already just for pleasure, without intending to actually run it.  I've also run pieces of a couple of the adventures in the book, but even without running it I'd say I've gotten my money's worth.  In short, these adventures do a great job of showcasing how to effectively roleplay in Middle Earth.  Everything from the tone, the style of adventures, and the description.  Middle Earth is a tough setting to GM for, but Tales helps get you in the right frame of mind for it.  I expect Ruins will be just as good.  I've never been this excited about a published adventure before.

The Adventurer's Companion will probably be the best "bang for your buck" for players.  Really, TOR hasn't had any supplements that cater particularly strongly toward players, with Lake-Town being the closest but still mainly a GM resource.  I expect it'll fill the niche of "PHB2" quite well, and it's probably a great way to go about adding more Cultures as opposed to handing them out piecemeal over several GM sourcebooks like the Men of the Lake and the Dunedain.  It'll also be a really quick way to expand the game geographically all in one fell swoop, essentially adding most of the "missing" Cultures from all over Middle Earth.  I honestly didn't expect Bree-folk to be in the same supplement as Riders of Rohan and Men of Gondor, and I didn't expect Dwarves of the Blue Mountains or Elves of Lorien at all!  I'm personally holding out hope for the Druadan, and possibly the Dunlendings, as these would be little-represented Cultures from the legendarium that have a lot of potential for being fleshed out, much like the Woodmen.

The Horse Lords of Rohan will scratch an itch felt by a LOT of TOR players, as Riders of Rohan are easily the most-requested playable Culture based on online discussions.  Granted the Culture itself will be in the Adventurer's Companion, but a GM-targeted regional sourcebook is arguably just as valuable.  All the more so since it also covers Fangorn and Isengard.  I found Heart of the Wild to be absolutely brimming with potential seeds, and I suspect this book will as well.

Overall, it's a very exciting time to be a fan of The One Ring!  While many fans have felt a bit boxed in by the game's restricted support for just Wilderland, it sounds like it will be expanding to the far corners of Middle Earth pretty rapidly!  I was one of those players who actually thought Wilderland was perfect for Middle Earth roleplaying, but I admit that recently I have been itching to explore west of the Misty Mountains lately, and I look forward to how the game handles mounted combat with the addition of the Rohirrim.  I'll also be interested to see how they handle the power level of Rivendell and Lorien Elves, as I initially suspected that they wouldn't be playable Cultures.

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