The One Ring
Best Practices and Pregens

I’m looking through all the premade adventure material that’s available (I’m all-in at this point so yeah, I’ve got Tales, Ruins, and Darkening). And I’m looking at Callings and, to a lesser degree, the Company formation rules. I’m wondering how to square those things! Hey treasure hunter, you’re needed to collect these lost dwarves. 

It’s the oldest problem in RPGs. Other than all the other problems.

Do you folks use the adventures at all? Has anyone actually attempted Darkening of Mirkwood? The same impulses that pushed me into The Great Pendragon Campaign are drawing me toward it but lordy that’s a big bite to take.

Also: any opinions about using Hobbit Tales for Hazards generation? I think it’s mentioned as a meta-tool for other procedurally generated content in the game but I can’t remember where else I saw it. 

Ralph Mazza Ara Kooser Paul Mitchener Eloy Cintron and other TORheads, I want to hear what you have to say!

The One Ring
Cheat Sheet Therapy

I put my crappy mood to good use today! By tearing The One Ring down to the atomic level and finally figuring out how it all goes together. Ralph Mazza talked through it, Ara Kooser talked through it, and now finally I get it. I get it.

This is my process; I don’t recommend it to anyone else. But for a game that has lots of interlocking bits, I find the visual approach works best for me. Unfortunately it works for exactly nobody else I know, hence my failed experiment in trying to doodle up a more visual cheat sheet for Firefly a few months back ( They looked and looked and couldn’t make sense of it.

These days, this is just my first step in locking a game into my noggin. Invariably it reveals interactions or rules I would have otherwise overlooked. In this case, it really highlighted for me that the Hope economy in The One Ring is tight as hell, very hard to stay on top of.

We’re starting next Tuesday, and I’m as stoked as I can be with this otherwise gloomy cloud hanging over my head. Ugh. I need more exercise.

The version I’m giving my players is here:

Let me know if you see something stupid! Or if I left something out.

Final Thoughts

I’m gonna offload some final lingering bits here.

* One neat thing I’m doing when I run Mutant: Year Zero as a convention one-shot is reusing my NYC zone map. So future Stalkers can see the mysterious notes and doodles left behind by previous Stalkers. It’s kind of fun! And irrelevant so far. I keep notes about what was found wherever PCs go investigating. Maybe someday a group will stumble into a piece of the Zone that was established by a different Ark! I regret not encouraging Misha B to add more notes and doodles. It’s just one mysterious X on the map.

* I think I’m formally giving up on ever running Burning Wheel as a convention one-shot again. I mean I know exactly what I’d do with my “Werewolves in Aquitaine” setup to make it more one-shot-friendly, but lord…it’s just so much overhead for so little relative payoff. 

The experiment I carried out in the scenario was this: I had two Beliefs worked out for every pregen, and then in envelopes I included a third relationship-based belief: I trust __ completely, I must keep my affair with ___ a secret, ___ insulted me and that cannot stand. Stuff like that. Then, also, on one of them I included the note “Also, you are a werewolf” and included additional notes. I did this for uncertainty and for replayability. I think it worked! If the other two programmed Beliefs came with firm to-do items, I think I could leave them as merely “act on this and get a Fate” type things.

I really liked the scenario setup, but as Bret Gillan told me, it’s really two campaign frames. Way way too much on-ramp for four hours of fun. I think it could actually be one marvelous long-term campaign frame. I can post my notes at some point if someone wants an AD750 Aquitaine lesson and some pregens.

* Even though the convention was 4 days long, this was the first time I didn’t end a con completely wrung out. I have no idea why. In fact I was kind of antsy to do something else after we wrapped our Fief game early. But hanging out and finally just talking was fun fun fun.

Con could easily run a week and I’d have juice for that.

* Speaking of Sunday: Kind of wish I’d recorded my moderating an Indie Game Reading Club thread in real time between Brand Robins and Mikael Andersson about The Clay That Woke. Super interesting, not too many digressions. I’m stoked again to give it a go sometime!

* Like James Stuart, I had some visceral reactions to folks piping up with their opinions about creators’ works. The diciest was listening to trad rantings about Jason Pitre’s Sig. Not much to do but nod, right? Yes yes, “meta” is pejorative code for “I hate this.” I get it. No, go ahead, say it again. I super-hope I didn’t myself do this talking with Rachel E.S. Walton later about Mars 244! I really only had one on-the-spot thought but I almost immediately regretted sharing it, although it was by no means negative feedback.

I’m saying I really appreciate Jason Morningstar asking folks to sit on that for a week. Lots of amped emotions in the moment, both on the players’ side and the creator’s.

* Do not buy breakfast at the hotel. Stupid. Walk 5 minutes down to the diner or Starbucks, get some fresh air and pay half. Wake your lazy ass up 15 minutes earlier and do not pay the lazy ass tax to Hyatt.

This is a reminder to myself. I felt very poor, lazy and stupid Saturday morning after dropping $20 on a small omelette.

* I hope to live to see the day when ballroom-style mass gaming spaces are actually outlawed. I only sat at one event in that format, and my voice was hoarse afterward. Cannot imagine managing it for a whole con.

* From the outside, Dreamation’s approach to registering for events seems … impractical. Email, really? Multiple choices for every slot x a couple thousand gamers? But I’ll be damned if the thing didn’t run smoothly, like really and weirdly smoothly. I never sat at an I do not belong here table, only had one no-show at an event.

* I regret not dropping serious coin at that amazing table of game books. Somehow I just sort of…forgot he was there. I mean I walked right by several times. And looked. But didn’t remember to swing through one last time and grab stuff. So it goes.

Gonna try really hard to do it again next year. Excellent event.

The mandatory Dreamation tag-everyone thread

Definitely the event that has netted me the most oh so that’s what you sound/look/act like in person moments! Let’s see…

The Separated at Birth award goes to Brand Robins​​. Expected this actually! A genuine pleasure to have you at the Mutant table, regretted not having more screaming match opportunities at Rachel’s Mars table. I’m glad I cabbed back to the airport with you and Mo Jave​​​ and Mikael for the bonus hangout time.

​The Nobody is This Nice, What’s Your Angle? award goes to Mikael Andersson​​​. I was grateful to have you as my summer camp buddy at the event.

The Always Analyzing award goes to Ralph Mazza​​​ for, you know, always analyzing. A relentless game-talk murder machine from the future! A+++, good packaging, would Ralph again.

Avonelle Wing​​​ gets the Eye of the Storm prize for maintaining extraordinary chill, as far as I could tell, across the spectrum of adult kindergarten that is a big sprawling game convention.

The Hostess With the Mostest award goes to Misha B​​​, of course, for her one-two punch of being funny at Mutant and supplying cherry bourbon (for Brand Robins​​​ to spill all over my shit). I may mandate drinking at my Mutant games going forward.

Andrew Medeiros​​​, top marks in the crowded Strong Beard Game category. Busy busy dude, said maybe 10 words to each other all con. Also appearing in this category was Jason Pitre​​ in the Blondest Beard sub group. Pleasantly surprised by Sig!

Then there were all the folks I’ve met and know and really wish I’d had more face time: Rachel E.S. Walton​​​ (never enough time!), Jason Morningstar​​​, John Stavropoulos​​​, luke crane​​​, Keith Stetson​​​, Shervyn von Hoerl​​​, Daniel Levine​​​, Judd Karlman​​​ (really our first time to just hang out and chat!), Dave Turner​​​, Phil Walton​​​, uh uh uh I know I’m forgetting more of you! Tag yourself in if we talked and I forgot!

And of course my old friends Bret Gillan​​​ and Carly Knight​​​ who make me wish we lived closer to each other. Sigh.

EDIT also and MadJay Brown​, my favorite convention roomie!

Secret Fief Game

Three turn win with my blushing bride Bret Gillan​​​, may our family reign for a thousand years. /micdrop

Pretenders to the throne: Ralph Mazza​​​, Carly Knight​​​, MadJay Brown​​​. Their names are hereby ordered removed from the records, stricken from history, forgotten for all time.


So, a mixed bag of games today.

Started today with a very early morning game of my Burning Wheel event. It was…fair. Played with Bret Gillan​​​​​, Carly Knight​​​​​, Ralph Mazza​​​​​, Stephen Holowczyk​​​​​, and Keith Stetson​​​​​. A good table! But I didn’t run it especially well. I’ve been thinking about why it’s so hard for me to successfully execute the game as a one shot, because I’ve been really pleased with my other one shot games at this convention. Dunno. Many theories.

My midday game was Jason Pitre​​​​​’s Sig, which is his homage to Planescape via his Sparks engine. Didn’t know anything about either Sparks nor Planescape! And to be honest, I kind of went in expecting to not really dig it. Dunno why, completely irrational, but it turns out it was pretty fun. The game does some interesting things around trope-y celebration. It’s also a capital-S Storygame, and it runs best when everyone’s familiar with strong framing, creative collaboration, and putting yourself in trouble. In some ways it felt like a weird cross between Archipelago and Burning Wheel. Anyway, good event, didn’t regret sitting at that table.

The last event was Mars 244, Rachel E.S. Walton​​​​​’s reimplementation of Montsegur 1244. Sci-fi setup revolving around a slowly unfolding space disaster, and I really liked what I saw. Good table, too: Mikael Andersson​​​​​, Robert Bohl​​​​​, Brand Robins​​​​​ and Mo Jave​​​​​. Circumstances unfortunately cut the event short so I didn’t get to see the conclusion but the first half was really promising.

I’m pretty cooked and up way late, so tomorrow is gonna be waffles and Fief and I think that’s all. Oh shit, yeah, and that plane flight back home and away from my east coast friends. :-(

Mutant: Year Zero

Another good game of MYZ with a really fun and excellent table: Brand Robins​, Mikael Andersson​, Misha B​, Carly Knight​ and M. P. O’Sullivan​. A little ark drama, a horrific clusterfuck in the Zone…yeah.

Had my first Chronicler in a one-shot and the player and I had a tiny bit of trouble getting traction with it. But hey, between Misha’s cherry bourbon, Mikael’s fudge and amazingly terrible death spiral rolls, you can’t not have a good time.


First event of my first Dreamation was pretty good I think! Good old Sagas of the Icelanders, pretty much a guaranteed good time.

Terrible picture, tiny room, but once again I landed an all star table: Jason Morningstar​​​​​, Mikael Andersson​​​​​, Keith Stetson​​​​​, M. P. O’Sullivan​​​​​, and the fifth player’s name is Cat and dammit I don’t know her last name. Catherine Ramen​​!

The game requires a fairly firm grip on the tiller but it’s just so satisfying to watch it come together. My dream was to get Jason to play the so-called problematic Man playbook, but Mikael did and he did great with it.