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.

0 thoughts on “The One Ring: Cheat Sheet Therapy”

  1. I can kinda relate: I had to rewrite the character burning rules for BW in a more succinct format for myself. I’ve also made extensive, chicken-scratch notes for myself for lots of the Hub, just to see it written in my own hand. Stupid trick I learned from a college professor and it’s stuck ever since (unlike lots of other important shit). It’s sort of learning-by-doing, but the lazy man’s method.

    Yours is far more extensive and intricate.

  2. For One Ring combat, do you know the Voidstate stance map? If not, I’ll try to dig it up for you.

    (And I sympathise; I write a rules summary for myself for every new game I run. Quite enjoy it actually, though I’m more linear in my approach than you are.)

  3. I second the use of the voidstance combat map. I love the way the player turn/GM turn implementation in this game and how it interacts with damage and fatigue mechanics. Best travel rules!

  4. Yeah the cards are sharp! I looked at a play mat thing at rpggeek and it wasn’t doing it for me. Wrong form factor. The vibe I get when I get or give an entire sheet of paper is that it’s important information, like TOR will be a fighting game because look at this big sheet of paper.

  5. Hmm Paul Beakley The way I see the combat mat is that it speeds up combat considerably. Concrete representation of the abstract system. No need to remember who is at which stance. Just a quick glance. YMMV, I suppose 🙂 EDIT: best use of minis, IMO. Not tactical, just as markers.

  6. Well, there’s also a handy travel sheet, where you can place the minis to mark who is doing what task, so it’s not ALL about combat… 😉 EDIT: you have strange ideas about games, I like visual aids. It’s all good!

  7. Eloy Cintron​​ I get the hazard track, that makes sense. What’s the fatigue test track for?

    Oh yeah, the other thing my process does for me is highlight where everyone else’s cheat sheet efforts have gotten things wrong. That may be me, not my process but those are inextricable I think. Popular rule to mess up: hazards happen on all Eye results during fatigue tests, not just failed ones. Both rpggeek cheat sheets mess this up.

    I’m also now seeing that gathering in groups attracts the attention of the Shadow: more rolls = more Eyes (and to be fair, more Gandalf)! I wonder if TOR is tuned to an especially good company size? Like, three doesn’t generate enough interesting Eye/Gandalf outcomes but five is too swingy, or whatever. We have four so at least all the journey jobs can be covered.

  8. Timely! Found my first error in my alpha overview: permanent Shadow Point upon Madness.

    I was getting a Mutant: Year Zero vibe off TOR and now I see why. Ethical Rot!

  9. Paul Beakley I think the Fatigue test tracker is to keep track of all the tests you need to make for the entire journey. I.e. if you have to stop to handle a hazard, once you resolve that, you see how many tests you have left… And yes, you have a good point. Just because the player made resource is out there, it doesn’t mean its 100% Correct. Plus, I think these sheets were made using the first edition rules.  I haven’t used them in a while, but it might be worth double checking with 2nd ed. 
    And, here’s the edited combat sheet I did for my group:

  10. Eloy Cintron do you stop and resolve the hazard right there? Yikes! Something else I overlooked. I was just gonna do all the rolls at once. More forgiving.

    I like this better. Grind grind grind.

  11. The real key though…is narrate narrate narrate.  There are TONS of rolls to make when making a journey.  Its up to you to make sure it doesn’t just become a boring roll fest.

    I like to ask leading questions, like “Dwarf, that’s the third time this trip that the Elf scout has brought danger to the Fellowship by flubbing their job…how do you feel about that”

  12. Yes for sure, I’m seeing that!

    One of my greatest learning experiences was grinding through the travel rules for Skyrealms of Jorune. Similar but way grindier! After like 15 rolls before we “started roleplaying,” I had a mutiny.

  13. Narration is vital for Travel. I go for a GM narrates, players roll, players narrate cycle. Without that, journeys are a dice rolling slog.

    As for numbers in play, I’ve tried The One Ring with 5 or 6 players (lots of Travel Hazards, but they can handle them) and with 2 (few Hazards, but each is more of a struggle). It balances itself to an extent, though I’ve not run the numbers. One thing though is that Travel can be fairly miserable for a player with a Travel skill lower than 2 (or better, 3).

  14. Okay wait. Now I’m looking back at Voidstate’s travel sheet and now I’m wondering what the point of tracking the total number of Hazards could be, if you’re supposed to stop and resolve any Hazard after an Eye shows up on a Fatigue test.

    I’m not remembering the total # of Hazards ever mattering. What am I forgetting?

  15. hmmmm Not sure what good it is to track the # of hazards.

    My one gripe with the game is that it seems to me that the Hope economy is so tight that players will hoard their Hope, or use it up too fast… in which case, either the players wind up using Hope only 1 per session or worse, burn up their Hope real fast and the character becomes unplayable in a couple of sessions…  Would love to hear your opinion on this, Paul Beakley , whenever you think you’ve a good sense of how it goes.

  16. Eloy Cintron Yeah for sure.

    Economy tightness is such a touchy thing in game design. And it plays out different depending on the game and the players.

    I’ve had players step up to the challenge of a very tight Artha economy in Burning Wheel, and I’ve had others just opt the fuck out because it’s too much of the kind of work that doesn’t interest them.

    One player’s incentive is another player’s disincentive and all that.

    I speculate, based on just reading and my own experience, that Hope is over-tight. I think everyone will grab Courageous at an opportune moment, and that’s good. I also think everyone will preferentially be throwing Hope at their Focus characters. But the fact there is no actual cycle to Hope — it doesn’t incentivize anything other than showing up — I suspect it’ll just be a downer for my players. Which, you know, that’s cool. MYZ’s Rot grind is also a downer! But that atop Corruption, ugh, might be a dreary game.

    I suppose the perverse incentive is going to be to not spend Hope at all, and strictly spend Fellowship every session getting and staying topped off.

  17. An awful lot of the One Ring feels like a lighter version of Burning Wheel to me, for example how experience points work. I say this having only read, not played Burning Wheel (I’d love a go of it over about 8 or so sessions with a group of players committed to the rules, but I’m really drifting off topic here).

  18. I agree with that… In BW there is an Artha CYCLE, so it comes and goes, and I love that. I tend not to hoard there. 
    But here, I get extremely risk averse, and so wind up interacting with Hope only 1 roll per session…  It feels like this whole section of the game goes unused…

  19. Hope isn’t that tight in play.  Until you become weary you can succeed at most things you’re good at without needing it, and many things you’re only ok at.  Its really only when you start losing the points due to weariness that it seems like every other roll requires Hope.  

    Of course, every Fellowship needs at least 1 Hobbit.  So with 4 characters you’ve got 5 Hope to burn before anyone even dips into their own.

    But yeah, it is supposed to slowly grind you down…just like Sam and Frodo.

  20. Paul Mitchener Drifting even more off topic… I’d love to play some unholy Frankenstein monster amalgamation of TOR and MouseGuard. Maybe with BIGs driving Hope recovery, and using MG Help rules and MG social conflict, with TOR for everything else…

  21. Wow. “Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. A long time.” I need to get back to that and see if there was anything remaining to be done with RG. Pretty sure it’s at 95% but, if so, I ought to put an official final version out into the wild.

    Thanks for the kind words, guys!

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