The One Ring: Derpening of Mirkwood, Pt 6

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.

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16 thoughts on “The One Ring: Derpening of Mirkwood, Pt 6”

  1. Blargh I just went through C7’s forums and literally nobody has ever described just what all a horse can carry. I guess it’s functionally unlimited! Which isn’t a terrible answer. But it does shut down the “so do you take the Treasure and risk fatigue?” question, which I find super interesting.

    Ara Winter you ever come up with a better answer?

  2. Alana O’Keeve Yeah! It was a vague idea, and I could get away with it being vague because really it was just a ruin along the river bank with a dead troll inside.

  3. I didn’t go full on Mouse Guard checks for the Fellowship phase, but the idea that you had to do just 1 thing I thought restrictive so I worked it so that the one thing meant “one not yet established by the fiction” thing. So if trying to make a location a sanctuary was something they’d worked on during play, it “activated” during the fellowship phase, but didn’t use up the action.

  4. Horses are expensive to buy and keep, get sick easily, and are really difficult to control in any kind of stressful situation. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff as long as you emphasize those drawbacks.

  5. Ralph Mazza​ I’ve been loose here and there where the fiction made sense. Not in terms of the players getting more actions but in terms of me giving them stuff: a holding, sanctuary access, standing.

    One thing I’ve been letting them do is make small treasure spends in their communities, and when they’ve hit a Standing threshold, I just give them the Standing.

    Noah Tucker​​ maybe that’s detailed in Riders of Rohan but I don’t have that, and as of now horses are none of those things. If your standard of living covers the cost, that cost is just covered. Injury, illness and death are all good failure complications though.

  6. I found one not-awful discussion of this on the C7 site:

    It feels like they settled on “horses can carry as much treasure as needed” and also talked about the potential consequences of losing their horses. There’s one angle that says since Bilbo hauled a lifetime of treasure home on a pony, and a lifetime of treasure is 500 TPs, therefore a pony can carry 500 TPs. Not awful but it’s also such a very high number.

    Also: I do this reflexive little eyeroll-giggle thing every time someone solemnly invokes The Professor when they’re talking about Tolkien. Oh heavens.

  7. Paul Beakley This is pretty accurate from the thread you linked:

    As Dunheved observed, if they’re so obsessed over the treasure, they’re most likely suffering from Dragon Sickness, so I would consider to give them Shadow Points automaticly, instead of having them roll any kind of Corruption Test.

    The Hobbit is about a bunch of dwarves who cause huge amounts of trouble, including a war, because of their lust for gold, and their leader finally realizes (on his deathbed) that maybe friendship is just as important as gold, or even more so. If you’re trying to figure out how your characters can carry their treasure home, they’re probably already corrupted. 😛

  8. Eh, at the same time, IIRC the troll-cache is presented as an unalloyed benefit, even though it did pose a logistical challenge to retrieve. I don’t think Tolkien is trying to say “if you want treasure, you are evil” at all, though he’s definitely saying “some things are worth more than gold.”

    There’s a pretty big difference between asking “hey, how much of this can I fit in my saddlebags?” and “hey Bill, want to murder Tony so we can keep his share?”

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