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

dchart

Villager
They kind of do, you can't march to Mordor and punch Sauron in the face. The rules are very clear there are somethings the characters can't defeat. They might be able to hold back the darkness, but it isn't their place to put an end to it.
On the other hand, page 96 of Horse Lords of Rohan has a third-page box discussing the possibility that the player characters could prevent the corruption of Saruman. I don't know about you, but I would find that a completely satisfying positive story arc for a Middle Earth campaign. In some ways, more so than a simple "you do Frodo's job" campaign, because there would be much more freedom in how things played out.
 
Nothing in the design of TOR prevents the PCs from becoming the heroes who save the world. E.g., like Sam (with some notable help from Frodo.).

But it does pretty much prevent them from becoming super-powered heroes like Gandalf/Glorfindel, or even like Aragorn/Boromir.

In other words, it has constrained mechanics, not constrained storyline.

Although I suppose you could, if you interpreted both the fiction and the rules in a very particular way, force those two graphs to cross. Along the lines of the famous "Gandalf was a 5th Level Magic-User" essay.

Not the interpretation I prefer.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Although I suppose you could, if you interpreted both the fiction and the rules in a very particular way, force those two graphs to cross. Along the lines of the famous "Gandalf was a 5th Level Magic-User" essay.

Not the interpretation I prefer.
TOR's mechanics make even the most powerful magic users of the non-(high-elves & istari) not even as powerful as a level 1 wizard. The magic is subtle and all pervasive... but Gandalf really is comparable to a 5th level AD&D wizard with Int 20. (I suspect his dump stat, however, was Wisdom.) The special effects rule of high elves is pretty subtle, too...

His "fireball" doesn't even kill the goblins in The Hobbit; it stuns and pains them, but doesn't kill them. Most of his magic is easily subsumed with cantrips in AD&D 1e+GHA, 3e, 4e, or 5e... but that stunning burst feels more like a fireball converted from damage to (level)d6 individuals stunned for 1d6 rounds.

The D&D magic is much more flashy than any of Tolkien's but the Istari, and even then, the Istari we see (Radagast and Gandalf) seem to be pretty weak by D&D terms. The only thing Gandalf routinely does with his magic is cast light on his staff, and igniting his pipe.
 
TOR's mechanics make even the most powerful magic users of the non-(high-elves & istari) not even as powerful as a level 1 wizard. The magic is subtle and all pervasive... but Gandalf really is comparable to a 5th level AD&D wizard with Int 20. (I suspect his dump stat, however, was Wisdom.) The special effects rule of high elves is pretty subtle, too...

His "fireball" doesn't even kill the goblins in The Hobbit; it stuns and pains them, but doesn't kill them. Most of his magic is easily subsumed with cantrips in AD&D 1e+GHA, 3e, 4e, or 5e... but that stunning burst feels more like a fireball converted from damage to (level)d6 individuals stunned for 1d6 rounds.

The D&D magic is much more flashy than any of Tolkien's but the Istari, and even then, the Istari we see (Radagast and Gandalf) seem to be pretty weak by D&D terms. The only thing Gandalf routinely does with his magic is cast light on his staff, and igniting his pipe.
It depends on what kind of "magic" you are talking about. Yes Gandalf has no fireballs but can fight with his sword against a Balrog and even impose to him to not pass. He can evoke and direct a lightining and evoke the king of eagles ti rescue him. It's magic is in his force of will and in the manipulation of nature.
 

Reynard

Legend
TOR's mechanics make even the most powerful magic users of the non-(high-elves & istari) not even as powerful as a level 1 wizard. The magic is subtle and all pervasive... but Gandalf really is comparable to a 5th level AD&D wizard with Int 20. (I suspect his dump stat, however, was Wisdom.) The special effects rule of high elves is pretty subtle, too...

His "fireball" doesn't even kill the goblins in The Hobbit; it stuns and pains them, but doesn't kill them. Most of his magic is easily subsumed with cantrips in AD&D 1e+GHA, 3e, 4e, or 5e... but that stunning burst feels more like a fireball converted from damage to (level)d6 individuals stunned for 1d6 rounds.

The D&D magic is much more flashy than any of Tolkien's but the Istari, and even then, the Istari we see (Radagast and Gandalf) seem to be pretty weak by D&D terms. The only thing Gandalf routinely does with his magic is cast light on his staff, and igniting his pipe.
This kind of thing only makes sense if you assume that the whole world looks like D&D, which it clearly doesn't. Magic is pervasive in Middle Earth. People, even hobbits from the Shire, have heard of sorcerers and monstrous wolves and magical toys made by dwarves. It's just not D&D magic. So the Istari are certainly not "low level magic users" by any measure that makes sense in Middle Earth. Gandalf knows EVERY spell ever made by elf, dwarf, man or orc. That statement alone tells you a lot about the prevalence of magic in Middle Earth as well as Gandalf's power and knowledge. And he certainly does far more than light his pipe.

I suggest folks reread the books rather than relying on half remembered knowledge from the movies or when they had to write a book report in 8th grade.
 
This kind of thing only makes sense if you assume that the whole world looks like D&D, which it clearly doesn't. Magic is pervasive in Middle Earth. People, even hobbits from the Shire, have heard of sorcerers and monstrous wolves and magical toys made by dwarves. It's just not D&D magic. So the Istari are certainly not "low level magic users" by any measure that makes sense in Middle Earth. Gandalf knows EVERY spell ever made by elf, dwarf, man or orc. That statement alone tells you a lot about the prevalence of magic in Middle Earth as well as Gandalf's power and knowledge. And he certainly does far more than light his pipe.
I clicked "Like" for this.

I suggest folks reread the books rather than relying on half remembered knowledge from the movies or when they had to write a book report in 8th grade.
Then I un-clicked it because of this.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Believe you me, everybody is more powerful than a level 1 AD&D Wizard
A first level AD&D wizard can kill 2-3 normal people a day with one spell, or subdue 4-20... we don't see anything in Hobbit or LOTR of similar potency from most in those novels. Having found the Silmarillion unreadably dull, and by comparison to Unfinished Tales, I can only judge by what I've read... and note that D&D/AD&D wizards are able to kill directly with magic (magic missile doing 1d4+1 or 1d6+1 per missile, and joe normal being either 1d4 or a fixed HPT under 4...)... something we do not see in LOTR nor the Hobbit. We do see Saruman trap Gandalf... but we don't see Gandalf kill with a word and gesture.

The AD&D wizard at level 1 is a common man hit-wise, but can kill any one 0-level human with a single spell... or probably kill 3 common men.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
A 1st level AD&D Wizard would get capped by a couple of toddlers who wanted their blocks back. It's a sad state of affairs.
Given that level 0 non-warriors tend to have the same 1-4 range of hitpoints, no, they're not that weak. It's just that AD&D is a game of medievalish Super Heroes.
 

Ampolitor

Explorer
so I just hope they continue with what has already been put out and not another new rules system, that would suck, I just want the Moria boxed set already!
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
It will be a second edition of The One Ring.
If they keep the changes already announced, it's going to have a few fundamental changes in the task mechanics.
Amongst the changes announced:
  • 1E – TN 14 or, optionally, by difficulty of action
    2E – TN18-Att (TN 18-Favored Att for Favored skills)
  • 1E: Spending hope adds attribute to roll (Favored Att if Favored Skill)
    2E: spending hope adds "hope bonus" to roll; derivation not specified but wording implies not attribute derived, and it's one score regardless of attribute.
  • 1E – Hope and Endurance varies by Culture
    2E – Hope and Endurance figured by uniform process from attributes.
  • Shadow - 2E adds a weakness, which adds an extra point if it's the reason for shadow gain.
  • Fatigue on journeys
    1E: from failed travel rolls
    2E: from distance and terrains travelled.
  • Tolerance
    1E: not really clearly laid out for scope - Per bargaining session? Per Town? (I've used it both ways in the same town! It's a great GM tool for "Stick to what you need" for town.)
    2: Only for "Councils"
So, compatible? Not really. Easily converted on the fly? Yes. The relative value of attributes is strongly altered, and the expectations of Hope and Endurance are quite different. The "always exhausted Dwarf" in plate with a greataxe, armored like a tank, possibly with 6d armor from Armor Mastery, and Axe 3 at start who wades into close and becomes an out-door abattoir...

I think it good that C7 was planning the name change to LOTR... as the tone is significantly different. But we shall have to see if FL and FN decide to keep all those. I know I'll be using the new TN's next time I run TOR. And it will make CharGen choices matter more.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
If they keep the changes already announced, it's going to have a few fundamental changes in the task mechanics.
Since it is a new edition and not a reprint, "a few fundamental changes" is not only unwelcome, but entirely expected.

My point, I guess, is that me saying "It will be a new edition" already answers Ampolitor's hope "they continue with what has already been put out and not another new rules system".

Since it's a new edition (and not a new game) it will be much but not all of what he hopes. For one thing, a new edition means a "reset" on published materials (beginning anew with a rulebook and so on), meaning a particular product (such as Moria) is likely more distant in time than if the current edition had just... proceeded.

But there is no reason to expect a new edition to be entirely incompatible with existing materials. (It happens but we have no indication of any plans in this direction here)
 
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BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Late to the party again but to say that Gandalf is a 5th level magic user because he only displays spells that a 5th level magic user is a terrible leap in logic. 5th level magic user don't solo Balors.

But Gandalf clearly wasn't built using PC rules. In 5e he'd be CR 16 Planetar or at least a CR 10 Deva with innate spellcasting and an appropriate spell list, a legendary magic ring, and one of the sweetest longswords ever forged. The text also seem to indicate his staff held some power too (at least he took great care to take possession of Saruman's staff after breaking it with a verbal command)
 

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