[Let’s Study] The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild part 2 – Characters

Posted: August 23, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games, The One Ring

Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s Let’s Study article for The One Ring discussing everyone’s favorite part of any RPG: Characters.

Characters, or Player-Heroes as they are called in TOR are all assumed to be ordinary folk who found a motivation to abandon the comforts of everyday life to seek out adventures. Whether it be for answers to great mysteries, or a wanderlust to see things beyond the ordinary, or even a sense of duty to protect those that they love, Player-Heroes come from all sorts of backgrounds.

Character creation in TOR is an involved but simple affair, as it is a hybrid point-buy and template method. Majority of the steps involve choosing from a host of templates, and the final steps have the player spending experience to further customize the Player-Hero.

The first step to creating a Player-Hero is to select a Heroic Culture. As of the first core set, TOR presents five cultures to choose from, each with a splendid writeup of the history, heroes, achievements, personalities and defining characteristics.

The benefits conferred by the Player-Hero’s Culture include a Cultural blessing, starting skills, Specialties, a pre-generated Background, Basic Attributes, Favoured Skill and Distinctive Features. It’s a lot to take in, and one could say that the selection of a Heroic Culture is the biggest decision in the entire character creation process.

Once the Cultural template has been selected (and various sub-choices made) the player then gets to further customize the character by several other selections, like picking out a Favoured Attribute, spending experience to buy up skills, choosing a Calling and additional Favoured skills and prioritising scores for Valour and Wisdom and finally picking out Starting Gear and Fatigue.

The Heroic Cultures are presented at this point, with a brief note about languages. Some can choose to ignore this bit, but I’m certain that fandoms more faithful to the source material will enjoy the fact that TOR pays attention to the various linguistic differences between the Cultures.

The way that TOR handles each of the cultures is rare among RPGs in the sense that it really gives heavy emphasis on players truly belonging to a people.  Player-Heroes are more than just wandering people looking for a job, each one bears indelible marks of belief, behavior and mannerisms that betray their heritage.  The only other game that communicates culture this well would have to be Legend of the Five Rings by Alderac Entertainment.

One thing that drew quite a bit of attention would be the fact that each of the Cultures has a selection of pre-generated Backgrounds.  These are character stories that the players can choose from, or roll to generate.  Each gives a compelling story of a person from the Culture and the circumstances that could possibly have inspired them to go adventuring.

Some players might be surprised at this, as usually creating a backstory fell squarely on their shoulders.  However I can see how this helps especially for people who aren’t quite used to the specific flavor of story that works from a Tolkien perspective.

Another nice part of the Cultures is the list of names for each culture.  Tolkien fantasy has some very interesting rules for names, and just picking from a list is just so much more convenient, while preserving the feel.  “Leiknir son of Lomund” sounds more Tolkien-ish than “K*llf*ck Soulsh*tter” after all.

The Customization phase of character creation starts off with picking out a Calling.  Callings are the “Whys” of adventurers their central motivation.  The ones listed in the book are again very consistent with that of the Tolkien books, ranging from Scholars who seek out old lore, to the Wardens who go out into the wild to fight the Shadow.

The remaining portion of the Customization phase is distribution of Attribute points, spending starting (“Previous”) experience and calculating Endurance and Hope.

The gear rules follow suit, and while they’re pretty standard stuff, one thing I did find interesting was how the Weary condition and Helms interacts.

In combat, when a Player-Hero takes damage, their Endurance stat is reduced.  Whenever their Endurance dips below the Fatigue rating of his collective gear, then the Player-Hero gains the Weary condition.  While weary, the Player-Hero is unable to perform at their best, dropping results of 1, 2 and 3 from the skill dice (d6’s) of their rolls.

This is a dangerous drop in their ability to fight, so the Player-Hero has the option to take their helmet off, dropping the Fatigue rating of their gear, and giving them a chance to shrug off the Weary condition for just a little longer.

The final portion of this chapter deals with Company Creation.  As with Tolkien’s work, the Player-Heroes are assumed to work together as a Fellowship.  This is a genrally rules-less portion of the book, but having it there is always a good reminder of the kind of game that TOR is trying to emulate.

I’m probably going to sound like I’m repeating myself a lot in this series, but just reading through the Character Creation chapter of TOR is an excellent example of rules working to promote a given “Feel” of the setting.   Everything from the Cultures to the stats, to the way that a Fellowship is put together is all specifically put there to promote the Tolkien fantasy.

TOR takes some interesting choices with regards to character creation, but all of them seem to fall in perfectly into a game with a strong connection to the setting.  I think that this is a great example for other game designers with regards to making rules that tie in with the essence of a setting.  Tomorrow we look at the Fundamental Characteristics in the game as we proceed to Chapter 3.

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild is available at DriveThruRPG for for $29.99 or roughly Php 1230.00

  1. Hikkikomori says:

    Remove helmet, Fight harder.

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