A couple weeks off the game but we’re back in the saddle. It was our come-to-Jesus session, where the Company faced a for-real existential crisis and came to grips with the fact that belonging to a Company means sharing goals. The last session, everyone was flying in all different directions and there was tons of (really interesting) Shadow-driven internal drama.
First decision was whether to winter together or apart. Wisely, I think, they went their separate ways, licked their wounds so to speak. One of the characters achieved his first level in Standing! Neat. One of them tended to their holding, the hobbit went back to the Shire and was graced with his culture’s Lucky Armour (terrible name), and the elf continued to withdraw and hold everyone at arms’ length.
Notable stuff that I thought was notable:
* Since rereading The Hobbit, I decided to put that knowledge to good use! So they had a chance to make some Explore rolls in search of ancient ruins and, perhaps, treasure. It turned into a neat scene: traveling through the east nether vales en route to Rhosgobel, they went to visit the Kingstone (+3 Hope! Once! I decided not to make it a Fellowship action since they’d gone out of their way to make the journey), and then continued down to the Great Anduin River to poke around the ruins of a funereal … funerary … hell, I don’t know what to call it. The pre-mausoleum prep area before the ancient Northmen of the river valley sent their honorable dead down the river in a boat. Turned out great.
* Followup to the previous bullet: What’s the carrying capacity of a horse? They pulled a lot of treasure out of that structure, and I love the idea that encumbrance is the limiting factor to treasure-hunting, but if horses can, you know, carry hundreds of Encumbrance then the point is kind of moot. Or more likely, I keep horse-accessible barrows low-stakes.
* I’m really enjoying the existential dread that the Dwarf player is now feeling. He’s got 3 of his 4 shadow traits, he’s at 10 Hope and 18 Shadow (and of course 3 permanent), and every roll is a chance for him to invoke “Murderous” as a trait in a shadow scene. Terrifying. The player kind of bounces back and forth between happy nihilism (yay, I’ll play a different dude) and omg it’s going to shit everyone’s gonna dieee. Good! I think there’s a lot of very effective black magic baked into the particular sequence of shadow traits you pick up. It ramps up expectations really well.
* My Burning Wheel addicts are grumbling that their shadow traits don’t earn them XPs. That way lies madness! I agree that the roleplaying has been really great; they’re more than happy to proactively indulge their shadow traits. But it’s pure roleplay, not an incentivized economic decision. How interesting that that decision is a-ok in BW but I feel like it would be all wrong in TOR. BW wants to reward character-driven play while TOR wants to reward companionship. It is surprisingly and sometimes hilariously difficult to get them all on the same page.
* They just finished the last good year before the Shadow reappears in Middle-Earth. I struggled not to laugh and laugh as they looked at their burned-out husks and said those were the good years? I think my personal take on Middle-Earth is way heavier and grimmer than maybe Tolkien’s, especially in the years after The Hobbit, but whatevs.