Monthly One-Off Recap! The One Ring from Cubicle 7!

NEW-TOR-packshotEvery month, I or a guest GM, run a “one-off” for any one who wants to come.

It’s always a pre-determined game, set several months in advance, and we use it to teach, learn or try games, we’d not play normally, either due to interest, trepidation or others. It’s sort of a time we cut loose, just play an RPG, and enjoy company with out the structure or stricture of a full campaign (which we love, but a break is nice).

I’ve been heads down on my Kickstarter for my science fiction RPG: Tiny Frontiers, so it was nice to step away and take a break for an evening.


This month, we played The One Ring from Cubicle 7. No one but me had played or read the books before, so we had 5 players new to the RPG, one of which is not a Tolkien fan, and one of which only really knows Tolkien through the movies.

I’ll explain: the reason I chose TOR was two-fold. First off, Lord of the Rings is my all-time favorite book series (as a series). I love the films, the associated media, the books, and all things.

Secondly, I selfishly just wanted to play it again (having only ever done a one-off).

So we sat down, and I provided everyone with pregenerated characters I pulled from the C7 website.

I ran through the rules, the dice, how Hope, Shadow, Fatigue and Endurance worked, and did my best to explain the combat rules before we did any combat.

We started with a pretty iconic style of adventure, Gandalf giving a hobbit a quest to recover a piece of treasure that was driving an Orc Warlord made due to it’s Dragon-Curse. The Dwarves of the Misty Mountain would have gone in force to recover the lost goblet of King Gamlin the Fat, and Gandalf wanted the land to remain settled after the Battle of Five Armies.

We worked through the Journey mechanics and explained how the Travel Map works. We were able to leverage that to great success, with the party encountering harsh rains, that slowed them by several days, but eventually making the trek to Rhosgobel where we used the social encounter rules to have the party gather information at the Inn of the Leaping Trout.

the_one_ring_iconics_wallpaper_by_jonhodgson-d494jc1We had a lot of fun with the introductions, the use of the Riddle and Song skills (which feel very Tolkienian), and learning how fellowship focuses work.

The company eventually traveled off into the deep dark of the Mirkwood where they encountered giant spiders, and the Orc warband of Gathon the Greedy, an orc who survived the Battle of Five Armies, but was driven mad by Dwarven gold he stole.

There was a ferocious battle, and wounds were taken and shed on both sides, but eventually the foul Orc was slain.

The treasure was returned to Gandalf, and all ended well.

We ran out of time, so we didn’t get to leverage or use the Fellowship phase, but overall it was great.


The mechanics and style of the game feel very Tolkienian, and the strength of the game is clearly apparently, as it’s a master-class in building rules around the form and setting of a game.

I loved it, and all the players were complimentary of the mechanics, agreeing that it fit the idea and feeling of Lord of the Rings.

(Highly Biased) Grade:

  • Mechanics: A-
  • Setting: A+
  • Accessibility: A
  • Replayability: A+

I think I might be able to run a TOR campaign shortly! Everyone had a good time, and several people were very complimentary regarding the mechanics and feel of the game.

An excellent success and a winning game.

RPG Review: Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition from Green Ronin

GRR5510e_MutantsAndMastermindsThirdEditionDeluxeHeroesHandbook_1_1024x1024Wow, two RPG reviews in a week. Aren’t you lucky?

I have a soft spot in my RPG heart for Mutants and Masterminds, as both my favorite superhero RPG, and one of my best campaign memories (an online play-by-post) with some of my best friends at the time.

I’ve only tried to run it a handful of times since then, but I still carry very fond memories of it. So I finally took the dive and obtained the 3rd edition corebook, several years after it had already been out.

So here I am, to review Mutants and Masterminds Third Edition!


1.) Size and Production Quality

A 288 page full color hardback book. Regular sized, and expertly laid out, the quality of this book is also very reminiscent of the graphic design/layout of the previous 2e edition I fell in love with. It’s a well made book, and very easy on the eyes to read. The quick references pages at the end are fantastic, and very useful in the heat of game play.

10/10


2.) Art

In my previous review, I complained about art being reused from previous editions, and M&M 3e commits some of the same sins. However, they go out of their way to also include new art, which is fantastic. Some of the new “iconic” heroes, are amazing, and the art that covers them is equally amazing. There’s a few weak points in the art throughout the book, but very few books have gorgeous perfect art all the way through.

8/10


3.) Content/Rules

So. One of the big struggles with M&M 2e was it’s mired beginnings in 3rd edition D&D’s OGL. There was a lot of holdover baggage there, and the game suffered in actual play for it.

I’m pleased to find that 3e doesn’t commit those errors. The design team did a fantastic job of stripping the game down to it’s core and basic play mechanics and rebuilding from there. Multiple tables have been condensed into a single quick reference table. Powers have been streamlined, and problematic powers have been completely redefined into newer versions with better mechanics, or removed completely. There were a few old powers I missed in the new book as their own powers (gravity control, etc), but Green Ronin did the stellar job of publishing a very in-depth and useful conversion guide (here) that will cover your needs and help you find the new equivalent to those old powers.

The changes to abilities, advantages, skills, and effects really bring the game into a simpler design space, while retaining the “complexity” of custom builds that helped to allow a player to truly define what they wanted.

10/10


4.) Game Master Section

As always, I normally loathe game master sections. But, Green Ronin knocked it out of the park here, with indepth examples of the more complex rules, detailed analysis of comic book and superhero genre, (in movies, comic, novel or other formats).

I was actually quite impressed. My only real complaint is the lack of easily accessible PDF print outs of some of the charts and tables they want you to use. I understand the lack (buy the GM screen), but as a player who doesn’t like GM screens, I really don’t want to buy one. I’d rather just have a reference sheet I can use as needed.

8/10


5.) Pre-Made Adventure

Wow. 2 pre-made adventures that are distinct, different, and very well written. As a bonus, there’s a partial 3e update to Freedom City (their old 2e default setting), and their new setting Emerald City (which actually seems really cool).

Well done Green Ronin. Well done.

10/10


Total Score: 46/50

Wow. Not a bad score (actually really high, I think only Pendragon books have beaten this one out). I love this edition, and I’m intending to make time for it after my next campaign wraps up (whenever that is).

A great book, and one I’ll avidly recommend, especially if you love the genre like I do.

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 480

In which, I, Alan, keep a yearly log of the progress and history of the characters playing through the Great Pendragon Campaign.


During the year 480, we followed the travails and successes of three of the knights of Salisbury, the knights being named as follows:

  • Robert of Newton Tony, a British Christian Knight, famed for his Honesty.
  • Cole of Tisbury, a Pagan Knight, famed for his Just ways.
  • Einion of Baverstock, a British Christian Knight, famed for his Generosity.

Of Battles, Knighting and Marriage

First, the knights began the year as squires, and were sent to Vagon for training under Sir Elad, the Marshal of the Earl of Salisbury. After some training and martial practice, the squires were sent to Imber to remove and slay a man-eating bear that was causing the peasants to fail to work the fields as appropriate.

With much effort, and aid from the local priest, Old Garr, the squires were able to track down the bear. Robert fell upon the beast first, and valiantly held it off, while Cole and Einion raced to aid him. After furious fighting and blows, the bear was felled, though Cole and Robert had been wounded.

The bear was dressed and as the squires transported the carcass of the great beast back to Imber, they fell upon some bandits, who were waylaying one of their Lord’s peasants. Slaying two, and taking one alive, they spent the night in Imber, where unbeknownst to Cole, he fathered a bastard child with a villager.

Arriving back at Vagon, they recounted their tales to Sir Elad, who instructed them to accompany him to Sarum, a few days in advance of Easter Court, so they could inform their liege, the Earl of Salisbury, what had occurred.

After a half-days ride, they arrived in time to speak with the Earl, who was greatly pleased with their progress, and informed them to explore and enjoy the town around them.

Robert spent some time praying, and consulting with the local father about marriage and how to continue his line. The priest instructed him to speak with Lady Ellen, the wife of the Earl about a suitable wife.

Einion sparred with Sir Jaradan, performing well, and inspiring a rivalry fueled by minor jealousy.

Cole wandered the gardens, meeting several ladies of the court and engaging them in conversation.

Before the dinner that night, Cole, Einion and Robert all conversed with three eligible ladies (whom the GM had moved about 5 years earlier in the city, as he needed eligible ladies):

  • Lady Adwen
  • Lady Elaine
  • Lady Gwiona

That evening, each of the squires was put forth by Elad to recieve the honor of being knighted. They stood in vigil that night, praying and attempting to stay awake.

The next morn, they recited their vows and received their titles and lands. As Easter Court was being held in Sarum, their ascension to knighthood was witnessed by none other then the High King himself, Aurelius Ambrosius, and his entourage. There was much glory heaped upon the new knights, and many congratulations given.

As the knights navigated their Easter Court, Robert spoke with Ellen, who agreed to intercede on his behalf for the hand of Lady Adwen if Robert performed well, as he accompanied Rodrick to war this summer.

After the court, the Knights returned home for a time, until Rodrick summoned them to travel with himself and the High King against the Saxons, whose treacherous King had led them against Salisbury. The knights traveled south along the Avon river, until the armies collided and clashed.

Sir Elad, Rodrick’s marshal led the knights into battle, and much blood was shed. The High King fell victim to poison, and Duke Gorlois rallied the knights, who pushed and pursued the Saxons back to their ships.

Robert gave into his hatred (critical success on Passion [Hate Saxons]), and such was his rage and hatred that dozens of Saxons died by his sword that day.

Upon return, Robert was gifted Adwen’s hand in marriage for his valor in battle, and Einion secured the hand of Gwiona.


Winter Phase

  • Robert and Adwen produce a daughter, named Adwen after her mother, as Adwen dies in childbirth
  • Einion and Gwiona produce a son, named Brynmor.
  • Cole produces a bastard son from the villager in Imber.
  • All of them produce new locations, improvements, and defense for their manors, fueled by wealth gained form marriage and/or battle.

Titles Earned

  • Robert earns the title, Sir Robert, the Saxon-Butcher of Salisbury
  • Cole earns the title, Sir Cole the Just (due to his ending the Winter phase with a 19 in Just)
  • Einion earns the title, le Roche (the Rock), due to his defense and valor in combat, and his unyielding nature.

GM wrap-up

  • House Rules I used:
    • 2k glory earns you a title, based on an event during the year (Robert and Einion earned those).
    • A 19 in a trait earns you a title based on that trait (Cole earned that).
  • In one year, we did the knighting, two marriages, and a massive battle, met major NPCs, and had a blast.
  • First off, I love Pendragon, so starting the GPC is always a blast. The group was involved, invested, and we had some great moments. When Robert’s player rolled a critical on Hate (Saxons), the shock and surprise from the other players, as he lost himself to the battle-rage was wonderful.
  • Robert losing his wife, lead to some great RP, and planning for future lives.
  • as a GM, Cole having a bastard son, is exciting because I get to make some longer term plans.

Overall, I think the session was one of the best sessions I’ve ever ran, and I had a great time. Can’t wait for year 481!