A while ago I wrote a review of a game named “Hobbit Tales: From the Green Dragon Inn” by Cubicle7. Without delving into that review again, the game is tremendous. You should go by this game if you do not already own it. It’s great for friends or family and is just fun all around. Along with this game (or actually connected to this game) is the game “One Ring” which is a fantasy role playing game set in Tolkien’s world set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried for a while to get my boys interested in this game, and they both are to different levels. Role Playing games where an important part of my childhood and I wanted to introduce them both to it, even if only to show them something I enjoyed at their age. The issue I came to with the game was that for their ages, particularly the younger one, the game mechanics were too complicated. They made him bored with the game and frustrated with his role in the game (some of that was my fault because of rustiness at running a RPG. So while I continue to buy the books as they come out, and eventually I plan to run a game again, I mostly do so because the books are wonderfully put together and the rules to govern Tolkien’s world are very well done.
So a few months ago I saw that Cubicle7 was releasing a fantasy RPG based on the old Lone Wolf series of game books. If you aren’t familiar with game books they were a lot like the Choose Your Own Adventure books except that there were hit points, and battles resolved with random number generation built into the book (such as number on the corners of the pages that you would flip through) so no dice needed. I read the description of the game and from the description the mechanics seemed much easier than One Ring.
Well I ordered a copy of the game last week and I have read through the rules. I was correct. The mechanics are very simple. You don’t even need dice. The game works on a random number system of 0-9 that you get by flipping a token into the box top (or bottom) to generate your random number. You could also use a 10 sided die if that was more to your liking. Tasks are easy to resolve and the combat system makes use of the random numbers and a chart to determine hit point loss. As you play you can add some or all of an expanded rule set (think of this as something like the difference between D&D and AD&D) but you don’t have to.
The game even has an initial adventure that not only guides the game master (here called the Narrator) through his or her first game but also explains all of the rules to the game in a more practical way that just listing them out. Oftentimes RPG rule books can explain rules in an accurate, yet clinical or detached way. This makes the rules more abstract than necessary. One Ring tries to solve this by using simulated scenarios after explaining a rule. That isn’t as effective as the method employed by Lone Wolf. Though with the level of complexity of One Ring I don’t think it’s possible to do it the same way as Lone Wolf.
The artwork of the set is fantastic (as is all the artwork I’ve seen from Cubicle7). Most of it by the same artist that worked on One Ring. I also like that this comes as a boxed set. Like the old D&D sets of my younger years. You remember the “Red Box” (or maybe those sets that came out before the “Red Box”). There is something nice about having a contained set rather than a group of books in your bookcase (no matter how much you love those books) when it comes to a game. I do miss the addition of dice, and truth be told, I will probably use dice instead of the tokens, but even without them the box contains everything you need to play the game (minus some pencils and scrap paper).
The best part is that my boys are chomping at the bit to play. I like it when they are both excited to play a game I buy. They want to pick their character (the set comes with 6 pre-made characters which I think was a stroke of genius, no character generation, unless you want to) and play. The only reason we haven’t yet is because I wanted to get through the instructions before we played. It is well set up to play a game quickly but also giving you all the fun and feeling of RPGs.
I know what we’re doing this weekend. You should do it too.