The One Ring

The One Ring
Tactical Setup

Got through setting up our upcoming game of The One Ring last night. It took a really long time, and we didn’t have any bandwidth at the end to actually play at all (other than talk about the fiction in the opening moments). That surprised me at first, because the choices look pretty straightforward and there aren’t any calculations. Just fill in numbers, underline things, write things down.

But of course what I was forgetting was that once you enter the realm of mathematically optimizing packets of fictional capacity, that’s a whole different deal.

On the one hand, I really like the full-throated cooperative spirit that this kind of game encourages: Are all the journey roles covered? Do we have folks that can serve in every combat position? Oh my god how did we forget a healer? Can we hit Encounters with the full range of skills? How can we squeeze the most out of these virtues and rewards? 

It kind of makes me wish there was a similar all-in approach to more drama-driven games, you know? Like: do we have an unreliable shitheel? Is someone handling the role of moral center? Oh my god how did we forget the damaged soul in need of redemption? And so on.

I hope we can extract some decent character play out of these constructs. Some games are better for that than others! But it feels weird, I think, to try and shoehorn characterization into a set of values that represent a group’s best efforts to tackle a range of tactical challenges. Then again I’m not really sold that Tolkien himself was particularly concerned with characterization or tackling the human condition. So, a good fit.

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0 thoughts on “The One Ring”

  1. It kind of makes me wish there was a similar all-in approach to more drama-driven games, you know?

    +Yes

    Aside: 

    Man, I didn’t think they made horrible no-budget fantasy movies like that any more.

    EDIT: Woah, Bai Ling!

  2. I think there are some games built around a specific scenario and characters that provide that, but they’re veeeery specific, like Love in the Time of Seith.

    I find in ongoing PbtA games that I will move myself towards a dramatic role that provides tension. Everybody hates Rothschild? I’m falling in love with him. Everybody’s getting along? I start acting out. We have a PC “bad guy”? I’ll become a “good guy”.

  3. So when we played Mutant and I pointed at your R-Map and said “that’s like half of doing a Danish Freeform scenario?”

    The thing about “do we have our broken soul in need of redemption” is like, the other half.

    Congrats, go to Fastaval next year and win an Otto.

  4. I’ve only played Apocalypse World once, but I found myself doing the Hx like that. Everybody likes this guy? Fine, we hate each other’s guts.
    Wound up giving everyone a lot of Hx that they could use against my character, but that’s sort of the point, right?
    Keep us posted on TOR! 😀

  5. Aaron Griffin I think you need to direct that question to Brand Robins. He’s got a better grasp of what all is covered by Jung. Or is that Campbell? I get them confused.

  6. Pluto is dead, meaning that it is the dying and resurrecting god of the Golden Bough, and as the Hero with 1000 Faces it’s totally Jesus.

  7. That kind of group skill spread optimization makes sense as something that could grow organically out of adventuring with a small group over an extended period of time — when we hit a challenge we can’t cover, someone (or maybe a synergy of someones) develop techniques for handling it.

    To do that for story roles, it strikes me that you need similar “story scene challenges,” noting that the failure case isn’t “we don’t defeat the scene” but “dramatic hook comes up, but interplay is boring” which is kinda-sorta the opposite.

  8. I wonder if all you really need is conflict. Good stories are about conflict, so as long as your group of characters have conflicting goals, you’re good. That nature of the characters’ desires simply defines the kind of conflict you’re going to see in play, at least at the outset.

  9. Someday I’ll position myself like Timothy Ferriss and do a series of essays about The Four Hour Human Rights Intersectionalist and The Four Hour Bhagavad Gita Scholar and see if I can’t get myself firebombed from Canuckistan.

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