The One Ring/Adventures in Middle-earth License Goes to Free League

Swedish company Free League has announced that it has taken over the license for Tolkien-based RPGs The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth!

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Up until recently, Cubicle 7 was the publisher of Adventures in Middle Earth and The One Ring. AiME is the D&D-5E based version, while The One Ring is its own system. The press release says they will be doing both.

Free League (Fria Ligan) are ENnie Award winners and the publisher of popular d6 games like Tales from the Loop and Alien. Here's the press release:

Free League Signs Deal to Publish RPGs in Tolkien's Middle-Earth

Free League Publishing today announced a partnership with Sophisticated Games to publish tabletop roleplaying games set in Middle-earth and based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Francesco Nepitello, author of the game series alongside Marco Maggi, will continue as its lead designer.

"We are thrilled to be working with Sophisticated Games and Francesco Nepitello to bring to life a new edition of The One Ring and its 5E iteration. We grew up with J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic works and we're huge fans of the original version of the game. We have a very similar approach to game design as Francesco and we're convinced that we can create something truly special together," Free League’s CEO Tomas Härenstam says.

“Free League shares all our values. Values which are vital in interpreting the most extraordinary fantasy world ever created, one that is of enduring interest throughout the world in every language. Working with Free League’s highly talented team we look forward to continuing the work we began a decade ago, with publication of The One Ring," says Sophisticated Games’s MD Robert Hyde.

The agreement will go into effect from June 1, 2020. Products and release dates will be announced at a later time.

 
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Comments

teitan

Adventurer
I'm excited but trepidatious. Is it going to be a continuation or a new edition of AIME? That's the question. Will we see Rohan as a print product now? Eager to hear the news as we are looking to maybe do an AIME game in the near future.
 

Ringtail

World Traveller
Awesome! I'm so glad to see this is continuing.

Now what I'm curious about is what about the progress C7 already made? Are they going to sell those art assets and already written manuscripts to Free League? Are they part of the license?

Or do they have to start from scratch? Considering the original designers are on board I'm sure we'll get something great, but I like the C7 art (and especially that Jared Blando map). It would be a shame to see it vanish.
 
Well, this may work out and the books may be easily available in the US. Tales from the Loop and several other books from Free League Publishing are available directly from, and shipped by, Amazon. With the higher profile that anything Tolkien gets, I am sure whatever is released, or re-released, will be too.

And on a side note, anyone in the US looking to get into Tales can get the books for about 25% off retail and free shipping right now from Amazon.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
It'll be interesting to see what comes out from them. I checked out Sophisticated Game's website, anything but sophisticated :p However Free Leagues games are top notch production value. I wonder of we're going too see all of AiME reprinted, or just taking over from where C7 left off? Obviously TOR will be all new, as it is 2e
 

Fredrix

Villager
Sorry? :)

Of course I know the Alien franchise, but I don't recall ever seeing any of the RPG titles on shelves. I thought Tales from the Loop was a TV show.
I think your local Gaming Store must be not great. The only Free League game that I never saw at my store is ironically my favourite, Coriolis. Oh and in other news, their Alien game is in the top five best selling games, you don’t get there without being in a few stores.
 
Ah. So they didn't "drop the ball", they dropped the ball. Got it :)
I still go with the conspiracy theory that Sophisticated Games wanted more money from the deal and C7 was not willing, so C7 "chose to end the relationship" before they were forced out of it or had it taken away. But we will never know the truth of that without seeing the contracts and monetary amounts from both the C7 and Free League deals.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
There is a God! If anyone, I wanted Fria Ligan to grab TOR!
Up until FFG gutted their RPG department, FFG would have been my preferred, but FL is damned good, and would have been my second choice... I'm glad they got it.
Never heard of them. Or rather don't recall hearing of them anyway.

How is their marketing and distribution power? Am I going to see TOR2E on bookshelves in the US alongside D&D like I do PF, FFG SW, etc?
Their US and UK distribution is mostly via Modiphius for Brick and Mortar. For online dead tree? Modiphius' web store, their own web store, and Amazon. For digital? their webstore, DTRPG, some via modiphius' webstore.

Of the four stores I've looked for FL games in, only one has stock on shelf of FL games. (Guardian Games, portland, OR.) 2 are happy to order it.

I think your local Gaming Store must be not great. The only Free League game that I never saw at my store is ironically my favourite, Coriolis. Oh and in other news, their Alien game is in the top five best selling games, you don’t get there without being in a few stores.
The only ones I've seen on shelves are MYZ, TFTL, and Forbidden Lands. Alien was all special orders at my FLGS, and wasn't yet out last I hit Guardian Games. (GG's 90-120 min away)

Many smaller communities, the game stores tend to stock only D&D, Pathfinder, and Palladium; slightly better ones add FFG products, BRP/CoC, Traveller, and/or Savage Worlds. If there are more story oriented games, Fate Core is likely to be on the shelf, along with Fiasco, and only the best have much else.

Palladium isn't a top seller, but it's a steady one.
 

EpicureanDM

Villager
Okay, not to be a contrarian....but, I have to disagree with some of this.

You absolutely do not have to run TOR/AIME the way you describe in order to stay true to the source material. There are tales of brightness, and hope, and fellowship, and the victories absolutely can be lasting and genuine.

Meloncholy is in the world, for sure, but a fellowship and a campaign can absolutely be happy and lighthearted. Focusing on one aspect of the world to the exclusion of others isn't any more true to Middle Earth than fireballs.
Have you actually run a game of The One Ring and been able to achieve this? My understanding is that it's very difficult to play it happy and lighthearted if you play according to the rules.
 
Have you actually run a game of The One Ring and been able to achieve this? My understanding is that it's very difficult to play it happy and lighthearted if you play according to the rules.
Is Tolkien's Middle Earth "happy and lighthearted?" I never read it that way, nor is Peter Jackson's LotR series presented that way, nor the more recent video games ("Shadow of Mordor," etc.) Once you leave the Shire, things get pretty darned scary.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Have you actually run a game of The One Ring and been able to achieve this? My understanding is that it's very difficult to play it happy and lighthearted if you play according to the rules.
yep! Band of mostly hobbits, 1 elf, a very “bright flame of hope in the darkness” campaign.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
yep! Band of mostly hobbits, 1 elf, a very “bright flame of hope in the darkness” campaign.
This completely doable as well, however the setting for TOR is between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring. The world is getting darker, we know how it ends in Return of the King, so most of the rules tend to double down on you can fix things locally, but you're not going to save the world. That is a task for different group of people in the future.
 

Ethawyn

Villager
Awesome! I'm so glad to see this is continuing.

Now what I'm curious about is what about the progress C7 already made? Are they going to sell those art assets and already written manuscripts to Free League? Are they part of the license?

Or do they have to start from scratch? Considering the original designers are on board I'm sure we'll get something great, but I like the C7 art (and especially that Jared Blando map). It would be a shame to see it vanish.
The rules were finished, the game was set to be printed and shipped in late 2019/early 2020, so they'd made a lot of progress. Folks from Free League have confirmed on their forums and on the TOR Discord that it will be Francesco Nepitello's 2E version that he designed for C7 with some dials adjusted.

Here's the comment from Tomas on the Free League forums (translated by a Swede):
"That's correct. We will look at all the material together with Francesco and maybe turn a few dials here and there, but the game will keep Francesco's ruleset."
And here's what Nils from FL had to say on the Discord:
We will use the TOR system, it's Francesco's game and we don't want to fix what is not broken. Regarding Simon Stålenhag, he is a partner/co-owner of the company, we've been fortunate enough to publish him since day one
The later half of the comment was in response to someone wondering if Simon Stålenhag might do the artwork for the TOR line. It's obviously very oblique, but it makes we wonder if they are planning on doing all new artwork for it and having Simon do it. Alternatively, maybe they'll use C7 stuff for the core but call on Simon for the artwork on future editions. Either way, I think he'd be a wonderful person to do Lord of the Rings art.

I hope they can at least purchase and print Blando's map.


It'll be interesting to see what comes out from them. I checked out Sophisticated Game's website, anything but sophisticated :p However Free Leagues games are top notch production value. I wonder of we're going too see all of AiME reprinted, or just taking over from where C7 left off? Obviously TOR will be all new, as it is 2e
I'm curious about this as well. C7 owns all of the art assets for TOR 1 and 2, while Sophisticated Games owns the rule system and IP rights. I suspect that means that if they were to reprint 1e stuff they'd have to purchase all of the assets off of C7 and I'm not sure if they'd want to or if C7 would even be willing.

Guardian Games, portland, OR.
Hey that's my FLGS! Love them.
 

Ringtail

World Traveller
The rules were finished, the game was set to be printed and shipped in late 2019/early 2020, so they'd made a lot of progress. Folks from Free League have confirmed on their forums and on the TOR Discord that it will be Francesco Nepitello's 2E version that he designed for C7 with some dials adjusted.
...
The later half of the comment was in response to someone wondering if Simon Stålenhag might do the artwork for the TOR line. It's obviously very oblique, but it makes we wonder if they are planning on doing all new artwork for it and having Simon do it. Alternatively, maybe they'll use C7 stuff for the core but call on Simon for the artwork on future editions. Either way, I think he'd be a wonderful person to do Lord of the Rings art.
...
I hope they can at least purchase and print Blando's map.
Hoh boy, that's a lot of stuff I like to hear. Time will tell I suppose!
 

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