Cubicle 7 No Longer Producing The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth

Cubicle 7 has announced that it will cease publishing Tolkien-related games, including The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth, in early 2020. The One Ring 2E is cancelled.

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‘I am with you at present,’ said Gandalf, ‘but soon I shall not be. I am not coming to the Shire.’


We have some very unfortunate and unexpected news to share. Contractual differences arose recently which we have been unable to resolve, and so we have decided to end our licensing agreement with Sophisticated Games. It is with regret that we have made this very tough decision to withdraw.

This means we will cease publishing The One Ring and Adventures in Middle-earth™ in the first half of 2020. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give us enough time to release the much-anticipated The One Ring – The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game second edition. As many of you know, our first edition of The One Ring is eight years old, and we had high hopes of a full product line to support our second edition. Our team have worked incredibly hard on this new edition; with many of the announced titles already written and edited, so being very close to completion makes this decision even harder.

We fully appreciate how invested so many of you are, both in regards to stock and your love of the game. Especially those who have followed our journey from first edition, or have customers who have pre-ordered the second edition or Rohan Region Guide. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.

We will continue selling our existing stock over the next few months. We will be offering some discounts on our website for consumers as part of our Black Friday sale this week. We will not be reprinting any of these titles, so if you wish to stock up, we would suggest you contact your preferred distributor soon.
 
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Comments

innerdude

Adventurer
I've criticized Cubicle7 in the past for its handling of The One Ring product line. From my perspective, it was obvious from the beginning that they'd been both overly ambitious and overly optimistic in their ability to meet the full demands of the product line.

I don't think they released a single supplement for TOR that wasn't at least 6 months behind schedule, and in many cases 12 or even 18 months behind schedule (see: The One Ring Adventurer's Guide).

Not only that, they purposefully excluded major components of the setting from the original core game ---Rohan, Gondor, and the Noldor---which is functionally equivalent to releasing a Forgotten Realms campaign setting that excludes the Sword Coast, the Underdark, and Waterdeep.

Admittedly the material they did release was top-notch, but I quickly lost patience with the whole endeavor---especially when I had the excellent Lord of the Rings Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight competing for my consumer dollars.

And that's really what it comes down to --- consumer dollars. It's pretty obvious that the product line simply wasn't profitable enough for C7. If it was profitable enough, then C7 would do everything within its purview to renew/continue the license.

If it wasn't about sheer profitability, the only other reason I can imagine them dropping the license was if the terms of control over the IP going forward were too onerous---much like Paizo determined in 2008 that the licensing terms of the 4e GPL were far too confining.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Did your opinion change when reading AiME?
I loved TOR, and found the original layout functional, and much better in the revised hardcover, but I found AIME PM to be the worst edit and rules jobs I've ever seen from C7. Including games I've skimmed but won't buy.
I mean I love GURPS but yes TOR is also excellent.
I wouldn't worry about SJG. GURPS is already on life-support (It runs just ahead of break-even, based upon comments from SJG staffers.) SJG makes their money on Munchkin and boardgames.

I figure the most likely scenario for the next Tolkien RPG is going to be Amazon hiring WotC or FFG, and creating their own imprint.

Unless Christopher Tolkien, having decided his work is done, sails west with the Elves. Or, gets smart, and invokes the copyright recovery act, claiming SZC/MEE is devaluing his and his father's works...
 

Celebrim

Legend
I'm a massive Tolkien fan, and have heard good things about both of these systems. Of the two, which would you recommend me picking up, "The One Ring" or "Adventures in Middle Earth"?
 

darjr

I crit!
I'm a massive Tolkien fan, and have heard good things about both of these systems. Of the two, which would you recommend me picking up, "The One Ring" or "Adventures in Middle Earth"?
Both really, or either one. TOR is more different than many RPGs but yet very traditional in its roles and kind of play, imho. Adventures is more like 5e but subtly subverted to support Tolkien like play.

There is more content for TOR at the moment and the big core book is BEAUTIFUL.

_But really TOR content can be used with some work in Adventures
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
Why? That would be weird.

Why is the narrative suddenly “which company could screw over Cubicle 7, and by the way we don’t care about the One Ring system they carefully developed”?

All these people know each other.
FFG and Star Wars?

I think FFG COULD be a factor (no idea if big or small) as they have made in roads to a LotR type RPG already with a Roleplaying Boardgame. As they are already familiar with the properties it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that they could be being catered to in regards to an RPG.

On the otherhand, they've had LotR games for a long time thus far and haven't really come out with a straight up RPG for it. It would probably also compete with their Terrinoth properties a little if they did so.

They are tearing it up with their most recent Middle-Earth boardgame though.
 

kinwolf

Explorer
From their facebook account:

Annotation 2019-11-30 090449.png


Sophisticated Games commissioned The One Ring RPG from Francesco Nepitello back in 2008. The game that he - with Marco Maggi - created, exceeded our best expectations and has gone on to become one of the best - and successful - Role Playing Games of all time. Francesco and Sophisticated Games have had many other collaborations since then.
We were saddened - and indeed surprised- to learn this week from Cubicle 7, our long term distributor and publishing partner, that they had decided against publishing the 2nd edition of TOR. This came in the middle of some discussions on the dynamics of how Francesco, Sophisticated Games and Cubicle 7 should work together in the future. But at no stage had there been any suggestion that TOR2 would not be published.
Fans of the game should be assured that Sophisticated Games, in conjunction with Francesco and Marco, will do their best to rectify the current uncertainties.
 
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TheSword

Explorer
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the Mirkwood campaign of AIME and found it a really refreshing low/no magic version of 5e that ticked a lot of boxes.

That gave me a huge amount of confidence when C7 picked up the WFRP license and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

My hope is that designers and resources can be retained and redeployed and hopefully people won’t lose too much work. I don’t think it’s a massive publishing house (which is these days) so the thought of my favourite setting getting more attention is a silver lining in this otherwise sad news.

I really don’t understand the criticism for C7 for taking 6 months longer to release a book. These products will be around for decades (now that eBay, POD and digital download are in play). 6 months to get a book right is nothing in the grand scheme of things. As much as I would like the full Enemy Within Campaign before Christmas, I’d much prefer to wait until Christmas 2021 and get a quality product.

Incidentally the Enemy in Shadows companion was released on pdf this week and I must say it’s a cracking addition that blows out of the water the suggestions that this campaign is just a reprint. Really good stuff!
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
Oh, god, no it's not. If it was, they'd all be selling drugs, not RPGs. Businesses have plenty of priorities beyond profit.
I would to argue the opposite, for (most) of us, it is a drug! I know there's a lot of booksniffers out there... ;-)

As a side note: When I read between the lines of the announcement, it sounds as if there was a contract renewal coming up next year and the sub-licensor wanted or changed the new contract in such a way that either raised the prices or constrained what C7 could do with the license. This is not new in the industry, this has happened before, it will happen again. A NDA would make it impossible for C7 to expand beyond the current statement on the subject, so all we have is speculation (and possibly leaks)...

C7 is license shop by the looks of it and they have 5 other game lines to pursue.
 

innerdude

Adventurer
Sophisticated Games commissioned The One Ring RPG from Francesco Nepitello back in 2008. The game that he - with Marco Maggi - created, exceeded our best expectations and has gone on to become one of the best - and successful - Role Playing Games of all time. Francesco and Sophisticated Games have had many other collaborations since then.

We were saddened - and indeed surprised- to learn this week from Cubicle 7, our long term distributor and publishing partner, that they had decided against publishing the 2nd edition of TOR. This came in the middle of some discussions on the dynamics of how Francesco, Sophisticated Games and Cubicle 7 should work together in the future. But at no stage had there been any suggestion that TOR2 would not be published.

Fans of the game should be assured that Sophisticated Games, in conjunction with Francesco and Marco, will do their best to rectify the current uncertainties.
Looking at this, my speculation is that the situation is similar to what happened to the Nosgoth video game a few years back.

Game development company Psyonix had been granted a license by Sony Interactive to create a game based on the Legacy of Kain intellectual property. Rather than sticking with the tried-and-true action RPG formula of the prior Kain games, Psyonix instead created Nosgoth, which was an online-only, PvP 3rd-person shooter of vampires versus humans.

Having never played a single minute of any of the Kain games, I didn't have any connection to the IP other than what I saw in Nosgoth. I personally loved the game, but it was roundly criticized by the gaming community at large for straying away from what they wanted from the Legacy of Kain license (a game like the others in the series). It never really caught on and was never profitable.

Just as significant however, was that Psyonix had just released a game of their own creation, a little game you might know as Rocket League. And it became obvious within weeks of Rocket League's release that Psyonix was going to be infinitely more profitable putting their resources into it rather than Nosgoth, which had essentially become a millstone around their neck. They weren't making money on it, but to even keep the game up and running they had to keep the matchmaking servers up and running and continue patching it.

So what did Psyonix do? They fufilled the terms of their development contract to the letter, publicly announced they were letting their LoK license lapse, and weeks later shut Nosgoth down entirely.

Based on the reports of corporate restructuring going on at Cubicle7, it feels like something similar is going on. Releasing TOR v2 would continue to take significant investment in company resources. If there were suddenly any snags at all in talks related to the ongoing use of the ME license, it's not hard to see how Cubicle7 leadership might be inclined to say "Eh, not worth it. Drop it and move on," especially when they seem to be having significant success with the Warhammer Fantasy license.

For whatever reason, Cubicle7 decided that the terms of the ME license no longer created enough value for their company.

Though the wording of the quote from Sophisticated Games does call into question whether both parties were negotiating in good faith. If either side had/has an ulterior motive to not extend the licensing agreement, it would be simple enough for either party to add provisions to the contract negotiation that they know would be untenable to the other side. At that point it's easy for both sides to throw their hands in the air and tell their corporate shareholders, "Eh, we tried, but the other side just didn't want to play ball. Waddya gonna do?" It's an effective face-saving move if you're actively trying to get out of your side of the equation.

None of us will ever know the circumstances of the contract negotiation, so it's all supposition and inference on our part, but the wording of the quote is interesting in this context.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
According to this post on rpg.net, there's still some (small) hope for the line.
This intrigued me, so I wrote to Sophisticated Games myself, saying how regrettable it was that TOR and AiME were being shut down, and that I hoped they'd find a way to keep them going. Notwithstanding the greeting and sign off, here's the response that I received:

Do not worry, the line will continue!
I'm not sure which line they meant, TOR or AiME (possibly the latter, since I mentioned that I enjoyed that one more), but this is still hopeful.
 

Haffrung

Explorer
Can you be a bit more specific about what you think failed? I just ask because I never got to play ToR 1e, and was wondering if it was worth trying.
It's a much more complex system than it seems at first blush. And while the mechanics read well, and are all very evocative of Middle Earth and the source material, they do not mesh together well. The various sub-systems seem tacked together. And as a rules reference, the books were awful. Something simple like travelling through a forest and then resting involved references 4 or 5 sections of the rules scattered over two books.

By the fourth session we were still spending almost as much time looking things up as we were playing, so we shut down the campaign.

These faults - cobbled together sub-systems explained poorly in a badly organized rules book - are hardly confined to Cubicle 7. But they're often overlooked so long as the production values look impressive enough.
 

Hurin88

Explorer
It's a much more complex system than it seems at first blush. And while the mechanics read well, and are all very evocative of Middle Earth and the source material, they do not mesh together well. The various sub-systems seem tacked together. And as a rules reference, the books were awful. Something simple like travelling through a forest and then resting involved references 4 or 5 sections of the rules scattered over two books.

By the fourth session we were still spending almost as much time looking things up as we were playing, so we shut down the campaign.

These faults - cobbled together sub-systems explained poorly in a badly organized rules book - are hardly confined to Cubicle 7. But they're often overlooked so long as the production values look impressive enough.
Thank you very much for that clear explanation. That helps me a great deal!
 

darjr

I crit!
The new core book is a much better reference. I dint agree with most of the above post but the original boxed set was not a good reference.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
The new core book is a much better reference. I dint agree with most of the above post but the original boxed set was not a good reference.
The only issue I've had with TOR1.0 was, as you, the splitting things between the two books.
I don't feel the systems tacked together; they provide a cohesive system for me, especially once the song and treasure rules were added (Rivendel).

And TOR 1.1 solved the reference issue, as you imply.

Not everyone grasps the interactions, but the travel montage system is an intentional and powerful old-school resource drain... but the resources being hope and health, and to a lesser degree, sanity.

Is it perfect? No- if it were, I wouldn't have added 3 additional combat maneuvers, and added the expansion materials.
Does it do Tolkien well as written? Oh, hell yes!
 

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