The Journal of Grimvuld, Son of Grunvald (The One Ring Strider Mode Playthrough)
I’m going to chronicle a bit of my Strider Mode play with a character that I’m going to create. This will be a solo character for The One Ring second edition. I thought it might be fun to mix up what was expected and go with a character that is a little different that might be seen in the setting. I’ll be doing a more traditional review in a few days, but I wanted to get my playthrough recorded. In addition to using The One Ring Second Edition core rules and Strider Mode, I also used The One Ring Second Edition character sheet that is posted to Roll20.
Grimvuld, Son of Granvald
- Culture–Dwarves of Durin’s Folk
- Patron–Bilbo Baggins
Whenever I engage the mechanics, I’ll take a break and look at what I did.
The Journal Begins
I am Grimvuld, Son of Granvald. While many of my folk prefer to find a home under the mountains and hills, or to do their wandering in tunnels between those places, I prefer walking under the light of the sun, meeting the folk of the world where they are, and learning from them.
A few years ago, my kin brought me with them on a trip that I had assumed was a merchant’s journey to The Shire. In that place, we talked to a Hobbit, a Hobbit known to the Folk of Durin as a friend to Thorin Oakenshield. Bilbo Baggins was there when Smaug died, and the Dwarves reclaimed Erebor.
After hearing tales that I enjoyed and singing songs that I found pleasant, after eating food that was hearty and smoking the best leaf the Shire had to offer, I could call Bilbo a friend, and more than that, a patron. For Bilbo has a desire to learn from the wide world, even as he sits in comfort in his Hobbit-Hole, writing his books.
So it is that I now attend him to do things that need doing, so that I can march around the environs of Eriador. I bring messages to others, and carry knowledge way. And in this way I learn new stories and songs of the world.
I rolled on the Patron Quest’s table for Bilbo, and got “The roads grow dark and perilous. What vital missive do you carry, and to whom must it be delivered?”
When I visited Bilbo, he was agitated. I asked what was wrong, and he told me that an elf he knew was traveling to the Grey Havens. I snorted and said, “of course, they leave this land behind more and more as the years wear on.”
Bilbo said there was more to his distress. He had heard from friends that heard from friends that a foreboding person of ill-mean was asking after elves traveling the route the elf was wont to take. He said that the elf was going to wait for his friends, and that he would provide me with a map, so that I could go forth and warn the elves of their eminent danger.
“They are just as likely to think me a threat as to listen to a dwarf,” I told Bilbo. But he told me I am a dwarf of even temper and demeanor, and that if any dwarf could warn an elf of an encroaching threat, it would be me. I was prepared to continue to jest with Bilbo, but I saw the fear in his eyes. Fear that he could have helped someone that met an ill-fate.
“I’ll be on my way, Master Baggins,” I told him. “Do not worry.”
I determined that the elf that Bilbo was worried about is camping and waiting for their friends in the Tower Hills, near the Grey Havens, and maybe about three days from where we start off. That’s not a huge trip, and according to the Strider Mode rules, that means if I want some uncertainty, I can roll a Travel check instead of engaging the full Journey rules.
I look at Bilbo’s map, and it seems to be a short trip into the hills, about three days away. I don’t bother with a mount, and I know the hills well enough I shouldn’t have to glance at the map too often. I’m used to wandering quite a bit.
I should have known that Bilbo’s map was worth more than I assumed, because around the end of the first day, I noticed a pathway that cuts directly between two hills, when I had assumed I would need to trek up one and down the other. It should be easier to fulfill Bilbo’s wishes than I thought.
I rolled a success on the Travel check, and used the feat die to reference what happened from the special travel tables in the Strider mode book. In this case, it indicated that I arrived a day earlier than I initially planned.
I know not if this elf will be expecting company. I don’t want to make too much noise from too far away, no matter how difficult it is to avoid the ears of elves. I’m going to put on my soft boots, bind up my gear, and attempt to get as close as I can to the camp before explaining what I’m about.
I’m going to rule that sneaking up on an elf making camp and keeping an eye out for trouble is going to be a Foolish skill test, meaning that if I fail, it results in disaster. We’ll see what that disaster looks like if I fail this test. I have useful gear for stealth, so I’m getting a bonus die for that. I’m also spending a point of hope to add another die.
I failed with the Eye of Sauron, and I was already banking on a failure being a disaster. Because Strider Mode is, in part, assuming you are a very competent adventurer that can travel the wilds on your own, there are charts you can roll on to help explain your failure.
I rolled “You learn or realize something which adds a new complication to your mission,” which in this case I’m ruling is that the elf I’ve been trying to find had snares set up around their camp. In avoiding the snare, I made noise and caught the elf’s attention.
In this case, I’m assuming disaster is the elf shooting at me without asking any questions. The elf has an easy time hitting my parry, and rolls an Eye of Sauron (which triggers a potential wounding injury for me). I spend another point of Hope, and resist the injury, taking 3 points of Endurance damage.
I was doing well not making a sound. I daresay I was nearly as quiet as a Hobbit. But as I was about to step into camp, I noticed a snare laid on the ground that would have had me up in the air. In the time it took me to step around the snare, the elf’s eyes were upon me.
I can’t say that I blame them for firing on me. I was sneaking into their camp at night. But I also can’t say that I was particularly thrilled with this outcome as I was hoping sneaking into came would keep me from getting shot in the first place.
The arrow came at me so fast I couldn’t even see it. I heard a snap, and thankfully, the armor under my travel clothes stopped the head from penetrating into my chest, but the impact still knocked the wind from me.
The elf could see I was a dwarf now, and had no weapon drawn. But they still held their bow at the ready, and I was afraid that if I said nothing, another arrow would be sailing at me soon. I wheezed out a plea to hear me out. The elf didn’t lower their bow, but didn’t let fly either.
“I mean you no harm,” I said, and I related that I brought a letter from Bilbo about other shadows that might be skulking about. I offered my name as Grimvuld, son of Granvald. The elf said nothing and nodded towards the letter I had in my hand. I tossed it to the elf’s feet.
“Who might I be addressing,” I asked. The elf said naught. They picked up the letter and read it. Then they finally broke the silence between us. “I am not in the practice of trading names with dwarves that skulk into my camp like a bandit in the night, and while this looks like the script of Bilbo Baggins, how might I know that you did not accost the original bearer of this letter,” the elf asked, coldly.
I asked the elf if they would trust me if I could tell them a riddle that was a favorite of Bilbo’s, and the elf thought this might be a good way to discern the truth of my representation.
I thought about trying to frame this scene as me attempting to sing, which is a skill that is favoured for me, but it felt more appropriate for my patron to tell a riddle that Bilbo had told me, in order to show that I know him. I’m spending Hope again, because I would like to not get shot again.
It took me a few moments to remember one of the most recent riddles that Bilbo had told me, but I remembered one that had to do with the scales of a fish. For some reason it seemed appropriate for someone heading to the Grey Havens. The elf finally smiled and said that only Bilbo could think that as clever has he deemed it, and the elf introduced themself as Celethir.
I told Celethir of the mysterious stranger gathering information on his route, and urged them to move on from this place. They would not be budged, but said they would stand ready now that they had been warned. They said that they could not move on if their friends might come along at the same time as whatever fell trap might be sprung.
Allow me to stay and help you, then, I entreated. Celethir said that I had done my duty to Bilbo and that they were in debt to me, moreso should I fail to pass on that they had failed to kill me with a single shot of their bow. I told them I am not in the habit of leaving simply because there may be trouble, and that my defense of their campsite was recompense for sneaking up on them in the dark.
I’m going to attempt to persuade them to let me stay in the camp and help them with whatever might be tracking them. Am I going to spend more Hope? Yeah, probably. I also have the distinctive feature Wilful, which I’m going to say is a benefit for this roll. I roll an Extraordinary Success, and determine that we have an advantage for the upcoming fight, because the two of us do such a good job scouting out the area for defense.
Defending the Camp
Between the two of us, Celethir and I managed to clear all the lines of sight into the camp. I wish I could say that I was as helpful as Celethir, but I mainly moved the heavier things that might have blocked out line of sight, as well as blocking off entries to the clearing. I knew not how long we would be waiting.
Then we heard the howling.
Because I’m playing in Strider Mode, I’m not going to run the elf in combat. Celethir will have their own wolves to deal with “off screen,” and I’ll deal with my opponent. Both Celethir and Grimvuld have bows, so I’m going to have Grimvuld fire off a volley before the wolves close and we start combat.
Celethir moved like hunting bird, and I saw them no more once they fired their first shot at the wolves. I would see the feathers of their arrows from time to time. As soon as I saw the yellow eyes staring at me from between the trees, I let fly.
Because we had an advantage for setting up the camp to resist the ambush, and because I spent another hope, I rolled with two bonus dice. I got a piercing attack against the wolf. Because this was a standard Wild Wolf, it only had an armor rating of one. It rolled a 7 total against the 14 to not take a wound from my bow, which means I killed the wolf outright, since it only has Might 1.
I was only going to have this be a short skirmish to begin with, so once that wolf is gone, I’m going to have Celethir ask a favor of Grimvuld.
“I can hear other things stirring in the woods,” Celethir told me. “I need you to find my friends, and guide them through a short cut in the hills. I will tell you where to find it.”
I cut off Celethir and said, “I have already found that short cut. I know the way through.”
“Cut back through the hills, find my friends, and circle around the hills to the north. I shall meet you there, once I draw off the other things lurking in the woods.”
“I cannot leave you alone,” I said to Celethir. Fearing I was being too familiar after only knowing one another for a single night, I added, “How can I trust that you won’t get lost on your way back?”
“You jest, but I am but one life, and my friends are two. I will not be standing to fight, but if we are both to put some distance between ourselves and those that track us, we must be away now.”
I agreed, shouldered by bow, put my hand on my short sword, and ran head down towards the shortcut through the hills.
On Through the Night
To find the other elves and guide them around the hills to the north, I determined this would be a Skill Endeavor, with resistance of 3. Time is of the essence, so I only get three rolls for this, but if I’m successful and get a 6 on any of the rolls, which counts as an additional success. I’m going to consider this a “Failure with Woe” check, so each time I fail, whatever is tracking us gets to take a shot at me.
I determine the first check is going to be navigating back through the short cut in the dark. This is going to be a Travel check with me, which I’m pretty good at, and is also a favored skill. I still have 7 Hope, so I might as well spend it now, especially since having Bilbo as a patron gets me additional Fellowship which I can use to replenish my Hope.
I get a success, with an additional success from my dice, so I already have two out of five of my successes, and I still have two more attempts.
I was worried for a moment that I was too hasty to tell Celethir I knew the way, now that I was running, head down, in the dark. But the moon shone from behind the clouds, and I remembered the stones that marked the entrance. As soon as I saw the familiar stones, I saw even more that I remembered. Looking at those stones was like seeing family at a reunion.
Celethir was correct, as I saw two other elves traveling this path. Unlike Celethir, neither of them carried bow or longknife, but rather, both carried with them spears, and went without mail, shield, or helmet.
Since the next part of this journey is going to be guiding us up north, through a section of the hills I haven’t traveled before, instead of Travel, I’m going to use Explore for my skill. I’m not as good at that, and I’m not Favoured with that skill. I’m going to use another point of Hope, and my distinctive feature of Cunning will make that +2 dice instead of one. I roll a success with two additional successes on the dice, knocking this out of the park, and not getting shot at once.
The elves seemed bewildered when I stumbled across them, but I said loudly, “Celethir sends me. They are stalked by something in the night, but we must circle around the hills to the north, and meet up with Celethir, as they are leading off the adversary.”
The elves did not question, and I was amazed that I was moving fast enough to lead two members of the fair folk, although I had to keep looking back to see if they were still there, so quietly did they follow.
The rays of the sun were coming up as we rounded the hill to the northern pass. I was anxiously looking for Celethir. If they had avoided their pursuers long enough, surely the sunlight would be a bane to any of the vile things that might have wanted to do them harm.
I’m going to use the Telling Table, the oracle included in Strider Mode, to see what happened to Celethir as they drew off whatever was pursuing us. I determined that Celethir has a Middling chance to make it back to us this morning, which means in order for that to be a “yes,” I need to roll a 6 or higher on the feat (d12) die. In this case, I rolled a 2.
The sun rose higher in the sky, and Celethir had not arrived. Neither elf would say a word, and I wondered if they did not speak the common tongue. But they understood me when I said I would scout ahead to find any signs of Celethir. It did not take me long to find out my answer regarding the fate of Celethir, though I could have lived a century or more with knowing and been happy for my ignorance.
Celethir was near the end of the long path through the hills, and they stood pinned to a tree with a huge spear. The spear’s haft was twisted, with gnarled handholds worked into the wood, but would have been difficult to throw. I saw my new friend and wept. Celethir’s eyes opened, not quite gone from Middle-earth.
“Thank you for keeping my children safe, Grimvuld, son of Granvald. Though I knew you only for one night, I will count you among my greatest friends. Tell my children that I light the path for them to Valinor.”
I did not know that I had so many tears within me. I told the children the fate of their parent, and they broke into song. The song was beautiful, and though I knew not the words, I knew that it was a song of longing and love as old as Middle-earth itself. The first words they spoke to me were when they set foot on the path to Mithlond, to dwell among those that waited to sail to the West.
Preparing to Return Home
I don’t expect to roll badly enough for this to matter, but I’m going to take my time resting just off the road to Lindon so that I can spend my Fellowship to top off my Hope back to 12. In Strider Mode, Fellowship is about your feelings for the community and your patrons, rather than your traveling companions, although I feel like the friendship that Grimvuld just forged would still count as well.
This is only going to be about four days or so trip to head out again, so I’m going to do the simple Travel roll to see what happens on the way back to Bilbo’s place. I roll a success with an 8 on the Feat Die, which, according to the charts in Strider Mode, gives me another shortcut. I make it There and Back Again in about six days, counting how long it took to set up for the fight and navigate the children to Lindon.
As I travel home, I decide not to use the path that Bilbo so graciously marked on this map that he gave me. At first, I am traveling slow, looking at everything, and trying to appreciate every breeze and ray of sunlight. But then I see a cut out of the corner of my eye that circles around to lowland. I take it, and while I am still sad, I smile as I mark another shortcut on Bilbo’s map.
“I’ll see your shortcut and raise you another,” I say to myself.
Dreaming of the Next Adventure
We’re going to look at rewards now. Since Strider Mode is a little different than having a full company present, there are specific milestones listed in the Strider Mode book that tell you how many rewards you receive. In this case, let’s look at this:
- Accept a Mission from a Patron–1 Adventure Point
- Complete a Mission from a Patron–1 Adventure Point, 1 Skill Point
- Overcome a Tricky Obstacle–1 Skill Point
Even though Celethir died, I did deliver the message, and they made the choice to lead the stalkers away, so I’m considering that a completed mission. I’m also going to say that navigating the children to safety also counts as a tricky Obstacle.
For the steps of the Fellowship Phase, we are doing the following:
- Set Duration (about a month)
- Choose Destination (Hobbiton)
- Perform Updates (Not enough points in Adventuring or Skills to really do much with this)
- Choose Undertakings
Because I’m a Messenger, I can use the Meet Patron Undertaking for free during a Fellowship Phase. I’m going to say that one of those weeks during that month of relaxing I went to Lindon, and met with Cirdan the Shipwright, exchanging stories of the elves that I met during my last adventure.
I don’t know if I’ll be taking on many long journeys, but I also decide to use the Write a Song Undertaking to write a song about Celethir and their love for their children, their wit, and their resolve. This will be a walking-song, so I can attempt to use it once during an adventure to ignore fatigue if I have it.
Bilbo was very quiet when I told him the news. He thanked me for what I had done, and I told him that Celethir had made an impression on me as well. I wanted to rest, but rest would not come. Instead, I traveled the road, in the daylight, to Lindon. My trip was not haunted by shadows, and I saw other elves who arrived without stories of being hunted by shadows.
Cirdan the Shipwright, an ancient elf that watched over the west-sailing vessels, had heard of what I had done, and we spoke about Celethir, their children, and why Celethir was haunted by this misfortune. Cirdan said that there may come a day when he would like someone to look into that for him, and I agreed that if I was free of obligation, I would accept the task when he was ready.
When I returned to Hobbiton, I did something I did not think I would be moved to do. I wrote a song about Celethir, and their love for their children, their humor, and their cunning. When I was finished, I wondered that I had done this thing. I took it to Bilbo and sang it to him, waiting for him to politely nod and congratulate me on my first attempt at song-writing. Instead, when I finished, both of us fell silent. We sagged against one another, and cried, right up until supper time.