Saturday, September 1, 2012

Games I Ran At Gencon Four: The One Ring

Sorry about the pause in updates there. Came back from Gen Con and had to pull overtime on the weekend both Saturday and Sunday and then some ten hour days in the last week as well, you know, end of the month push and all that. Thankfully I was still able to get into my regular Pathfinder game yesterday and because of a cold or allergies or something, decided to avoid the booze so am relatively sane this calm Saturday morning with no hangover.

Anyway, another game I ran at Gen Con was The One Ring. It's been out for a while and it's a great looking book with a fairly simple system that revolves around a target number and all sorts of other nifty bits. Cubicle 7 also had a new screen that came with some information on Lake Town, as well as a new adventure source book, all with the same format and art and style as the core book.

Despite having owned The One Ring for a while, I'd never run it before. While my friends all dig the movies and the original stories, they are all about the Pathfinder/3.0/3.5/OGL variants. So while I'd prepared myself to run, I was uncertain how things would actually roll out.

In my first two games, I had some fantastic players in terms of knowledge base. They really added to the game and helped move things forward. With their assistance I was able to kick up my rules mastery of the system very fast.

In the first game I ran, the players and I fumbled the first combat a little in terms of the stances and how they worked in terms of player going on group initiative and monsters going on their initiative. Some of this was due to my lack of actual play but by the end of the session it was under control. One of the players was such a rules guru that he had a few links for me, that of course I promptly lost, that had links to a massive twelve page index. Despite being a beautiful book, the One Ring's index is not one to make you go, "Ah, found it first try." It's a modest two pages so there was some page flipping during that all.

In this game, I didn't bring up the ability of traits to make automatic successes because I had completely forgotten about it and in their haste to play, apparently the rules guru always ran, they didn't actually take advantage of it themselves. But at the end of the game, I always ask for feedback either positive or negative and this one was one of the things brought up so I made a note of it.

In my second game, one of the players took a blank piece of paper and some prepainted minis he had and did a grid for the stances. Wow. That worked fantastic in terms of not only keeping the players in line for their initiative stances and their target numbers, but quickly and easily showing the players where they were in combat order and what they were committed to and made a great visual reference. I snagged that for my third game with no problems.

Traits still didn't get a use as I don't think the players were absolutely sure of what they were used for but I did try to go through their utility at the start of the session.

For my third game, one of the players, a dwarf, was always in the most aggressive stance and rarely got hit in return. The dice were kind to him, even as they were not kind to others.

This one traits came into their own for a few skill checks as we had several new players and I tried to make sure to point out when they could use them.

The 'problem' with a convention adventure was in full swing here though. The One Ring is a pretty rich game for home gaming where things are going to take a long time. For a convention game, there's really not a lot of fear of burning through your starting hope. There's no chance of getting blight. There are no cursed magic items. These limitations make the characters far more powerful then they would be in a home campaign because all of those things become 'real'. You might not necessarily have to conserve hope, but you're not going to be spending multiple points in multiple combats over the course of a single session.

Overall the experience for me got better and better but as it did, the adventure got shorter and shorter. The players were able to take advantage of my growing knowledge of how to run combat for example, and cut through those combats far quicker. One of the prebuilds for example, has a character with a spear that has a fairly low 'Edge' and that came up a lot and took out a lot of foes. The dwarf, as mentioned, took out a lot of foes in that third game. The more aggressive and lucky the players, the better off they were in terms of getting combat done quickly in most cases although a few did take a Wound here and there.

I'm looking forward to trying to get my players into this one again but since I'm a player in a Shackled City campaign using the Pathfinder rules and we'll still stuck in that first adventure, I think it will unfortunately be a while.