Ahhh…that satisfies. Full table, perfect attendance, an early start and a really nice session of The One Ring with good friends.
This was the first session where I needed to be really flexible about where they might go and what they might do. We added a new player with a dwarf character, the sole survivor of the Werewolf of Mirkwood’s attack on his trading caravan. Despite many scary tales and lots of “are you shitting me with this” from NPCs, they’ve decided to go on a werewolf hunt. In the heart of Mirkwood. Oh you sweet innocent children.
Got to play through the folk-moot of the Woodmen in 2948 at Rhosgobel, the second year of Darkening of Mirkwood. Lots of interesting threads there, and it’s kind of a must-attend event (which I hate, but The Great Pendragon Campaign had them as well so what are you gonna do?). They got to finally meet the bad apples from Tyrant’s Hill as well as the various major NPCs in and around Woodmen Hall. Negotiated to begin the eventual reopening of the Old Forest Road, which they’ll scout out while en route to the werewolf. Things played out nicely there. We’ll have lots of leads to pursue.
Oh lord. So this werewolf hunt, right? I mean it’s not like hunting Smaug or anything but it’s not gonna be easy. And their main lead is the common knowledge that it lives in the caves under the Mountains of Mirkwood. Riiiight in the center of the forest.
This was their first attempt at sketching out a travel plan, and with no player knowledge of where the good and bad parts of the forest are, they’ve definitely chosen very nearly the worst instant-death course. Calculating the journey wasn’t terrible. Good reason for everyone to take a 5 minute break.
Hilariously, just 3 days into the forest they rolled a Hazard, which affected everyone, and was a combat encounter. Oh lord. Literally the worst possible outcome. They got to meet another NPC! A leader of a band of outlaws running away from an orc horde. Unfortunately they also got to meet the orc horde. Good fight, very exciting — I’m sold on how The One Ring handles combat. Lots of interesting choices, good sense of drama. Super-tank dwarf in his 5d of armor, oh yeah, that dude got weary fast. I wonder if he’s gonna rethink the armor situation after this? No idea.
They ended up barely defeating the orcs, and hobbling back to the outlaw camp to stop, rest, and restart their crazy journey. There are like 40 days of travel left ahead of them and they’re all gonna end up shadowed out and crazy.
A couple observations:
* I’ve made a mistake by easing up the requirement to earn advancement points. At first I thought it wouldn’t be bad to let players earn their APs in any order they wanted, i.e. if they were able to shoehorn a trait into a successful roll, well sure, no problem, go ahead and fill in the second AP spot. It’s pretty clear to me now that it screws up other bits of math! Specifically, it makes locking in all three AP spots in a skill group pretty easy, which means players fall back on just using their Traits to bang out ordinary successes for things (like their Travel rolls during a journey). That in turn means fewer Hope points get spent to nudge needed rolls. I think the harder AP earning scheme needs to be there to entice folks to just roll the fucking dice already and not rely on their Traits so much.
* Felt super iffy trying to structure the Encounter(s) at the folk-moot. Couldn’t tell when one encounter stopped and if another started. Tracking successes seemed pointless. Tolerance was completely irrelevant. In fact the whole “roll until you run out the Tolerance” system seems…not well thought out. Maybe there were some lucky rolls, but my players just kind of shrugged and stopped rolling once they hit seven earned successes (the most that “matter” in an encounter) and no failures. I think the whole thing cost a Hope.
Well, it was pretty fun and the sandbox has plenty of sand in it now. Pretty stoked to see how many years into Darkening we can make it.