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: The Lone Wolf Adventure Game from Cubicle 7

LoneWolfBoxIt’s time for another RPG review! This time it’s the Lone Wolf Adventure Game from Cubicle 7!

The Lone Wolf Adventure Game is based on the series of Lone Wolf Gamebooks by Joe Dever, and is both a continuation of those books (both mechanically and in spirit) and an advancement of those game books into an RPG.

1.) Size and Production Quality

The Lone Wolf Adventure Game comes in a box priced at $30 retail. That’s pretty cheap for a full RPG, but about right for a “beginner box” as many bigger RPGs do now days. Inside the box are several things: 6 ready-made characters (both basic and master level, we’ll get into that later), tokens, handouts, reference sheets and 3 books: The Book of Kai Legends, Training, and Wisdom.

Each book is full color and ranges from 60 to 100 pages in length (it’s about 240 pages total between all 3 books). All are soft cover, and have art on almost every page. It works well, and for 30$ you won’t be disappointed in the contents.


2.) Art

The art is the same artist that decorates The One Ring roleplaying game, and gives a very distinct vibe. There’s a lot good here, and the spot illustrations and graphic design are top notch, as befits a Cubicle 7 product.

My only real complaint, was I felt like I kept seeing the same pieces over and over again, and while there was some reuse of pieces, it was actually different pieces that were very similar. A minor quibble, but it mattered to me.


3.) Content/Rules

Each of the 3 books covers a different section.

The Book of Kai Training is an “intro to roleplaying” book, and covers a lot about the setting, called Magnamund. It explains the role of Kai Lords in the setting, and how they manage (basically, they’re fantasy Jedi, complete with some mind-reading, force pushing, animal calming, and small object moving abilities). It covers creating new characters both on the basic level, and the Master level.

The difference is the complexity of the rules. Basic level is the simplest common denominator between the rules, and is really easy to use, play and go with. Master-level is much more akin to a complex RPG, while still retain the base mechanics of the basic level. The best part is the layering levels of rules, where the narrator can add new rules and mechanics as he deems appropriate, as to teach all the players the rules at the same level.

Some parts of the book revolving around Master level rules weren’t very clear, and I had to do some hunting through text to figure out various mechanics, rules, and interactions. The book is exceptionally new player friendly in it’s layout, and interface, but there’s some loss of clarity in it’s attempt to have a newer player friendly place.

The base mechanic harkens back to the old Lone Wolf books, and you flip a “coin” onto a grid of numbers rated from 0 to 9 to determine your starting skill check, and then add your level. It’s exceptionally new player friendly, and for more experienced gamers, contains rules for using a d10 (hint, 10s count as 0s, and the rest of the numbers are the same).

The Master-level mechanics work well, but involve a lot more math and creation then I expected at their highest level.


4.) Game Master Section

The Book of Kai Wisdom covers all the rules of the game in a single place for the Narrator to manage the game. It also has a lot of setting fluff, and covers what the steps to scale some of the mechanics. After reading it, I discovered many of the lingering rules questions I had from Training were answered here.

It’s a little frustrating to be flipping through 2 separate books to try to piece together mechanics that could have easily been condensed into a single book.


5.) Pre-Made Adventure

The Book of Kai Legends (the third book in the series) contains two missions that scale the rules up from basic to master by introducing new scenarios as the newly appointed Kai Lords move through the land being fantasy Jedi. It works for what it is, a learning adventure, and the full-color illustrations of NPCs and maps make it very immersive and easy to show and tell your players.


Total Score: 39/50

Not a bad score. The game suffered from some writing issues, and lack of clarity, plus a pretty heavy docking for having to flip between multiple books.

However, the game does pass the “Would I play this?” test, with flying marks in one particular section. This is a roleplaying game that will hook new gamers on RPGs easily, and with intuitive mechanics and an easily accessible setting. This is the one I’ll be busting out when I have to teach children, or newer players, and it’ll be a go-to game on my shelf.


RPG Review: Keltia from Cubicle 7

KeltiaCover550Time for an RPG Review! Anyone who knows me will know that I am a huge fan of Arthurian roleplaying, history, and myth, and integrating that into my RPGs.

So Keltia seemed like a natural fit for me, and I bought it. Guess that’s time for a review then eh?

As usual, let’s start with:


1.) Size and Production Quality

A 240 page hardback that MSRPs for $49.99. Hm, little bit of a small book for a price tag like that, but it seems like RPGs are getting more expensive anyways. The art inside and layout is in greyscale which was exceptionally frustrating. For $50 I expected a full-color book. Pages feel a little thin, but the book itself is plenty sturdy.


2.) Art

The art inside itself is quite evocative and beautiful, and works in the greyscale feel of the book. The cover is simply gorgeous and one of my favorites I’ve seen recently. Can’t complain there.


3.) Content/Rules

The interior layout of the book was interesting. There was a good 80 pages of setting in a lot of detail. Serious detail. A fascinating read, but it was a bit jarring to see so much setting first. It reminded me of layout I’ve seen in Pinnacle books. It kinda jarrred me at first, but that’s probably due to the currently reading slate of RPG books I’ve been involved in. The detail given about the world and setting is fantastically done, and the discourse on the “true” Arthur is well done. Where C7 filled in gaps in real world knowledge, it flows very well, and makes logical and cultural sense.

The rules are mostly good. They’re mostly simple, and mostly to the point. There’s a few points in which I was confused and had to reread multiple sections, and there’s one particular section that I still am unsure about. Character creation is fast and easy, and the rules of the game will not bog down in play.

I like their combat system, the multiple action set up is exceptionally interesting. Their combat action list is well thought out, but it’s a little too much for how fast the rest of the game plays. They need cards to remind you of the options.


4.) Game Master Section

Historically I have little patience for Game Master sections, and C7 historically keeps theirs pretty well done, and focused on how to capture atmosphere, and feel of the game. No exceptions here. I like what they did, but a few examples of rules usage would make up for some previous confusion.


5.) Pre-Made Adventure

Well well. An Arthurian “saga” adventure that will be continued throughout splat books and detail the coming of Arthur, and his rise to power/fame/etc. It’s interesting. It’s short. It’s fun. It’s well done. I have no complaints here, other than it’s a little too short.



Total Score: 42/50

That’s the highest score I’ve given, so… pretty good score?

Frankly, and I tried to keep the gushing down. This is one of the best RPG purchases I’ve made in recent years, and I can’t wait to get a real campaign going and buckle down to play in a mythic history of Arthur. I would highly recommend this RPG to anyone, and it’s got a very strong chance of being in my top 3 RPGs of all time list.