What Do I Know About Reviews? The One Ring Strider Mode (TOR Second Edition)

SM CoverHow many times have you picked up an RPG, and really wanted to get it to the table, but you either don’t have the time, or the buy-in from the members of your regular gaming group? Would you be interested in being able to give those rules a workout in a manner that provides some twists and turns that you can’t predict to tell a solo story?

Solo RPGs have been gaining more visibility recently. In some cases, these take the form of journaling games, which ask you to create a character, and then respond to various prompts through the lens of the character that you have created. Other games, like Ironsworn, have integrated progress clocks and oracles to help provide an evolving story that the solo player can’t always predict.

Today, I’m taking a look at The One Ring: Strider Mode, which requires the full The One Ring Rules. You can find my review of The One Ring here on Gnome Stew, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can see the solo play through I did with this supplement here on this blog.

Disclaimer

I was provided a copy of The One Ring: Strider Mode, as well as the copy of The One Ring Second Edition which I used to write my review for Gnome Stew. If you want to see my interactions with the rules, hit the link above.

The Green PDF of Review

Strider Mode is specifically designed to be a digital product, and is available only as a PDF as of this review. The PDF itself is 28 pages long. About seven of these pages pull together all of the tables that appear in the PDF as a collection of reference pages. The very last page contains the credits for this product.

This is a two page layout with various sidebars and tables (lots of tables), along with a few quarter and half page line art images. It looks nice and matches the style used throughout The One Ring Second Edition.

What is Included?

The first page touches briefly on what the document is trying to accomplish, as well as a quick primer on solo roleplaying.

There are three primary types of tables in the product to facilitate solo play:

  • The Telling Table
  • The Lore Table
  • The Fortune and Ill-Fortune Tables

The Telling Table

The telling table is a broad oracle to help you to determine how likely something is to happen. Effectively, you need to have a yes or no question in your mind, and an idea of how likely the answer will be yes or no. If it seems like something is just as likely to happen as not, or you just don’t have an idea, the Middling chance answers “yes” on a six or greater.

You are rolling on this table with the Feat die, which means it is a d12, with two runes, the Eye of Sauron and the Rune of Gandalf. The Gandalf rune is not only a “yes,” but a “yes” with an extreme result. The Eye of Sauron is a “no,” but with an extreme twist. Could you do this with just about any die, especially if you are rolling “middling” chances? Yes, but there is something satisfying about using a die from the game, and having the probability of the two runes added into the mix.

The Lore Table

The Lore Table is actually a series of tables. There are actually twelve tables, with three columns to add details to a scene. These tables are Action, Aspect, and Focus. So if you need to know what action someone is taking and you want to be surprised, you would access that table, as an example.

The table connected to the Eye of Sauron are all more sinister in tone, and the table connected to the Gandalf Rune are all more gentle and uplifting in tone. So the focus of a scene might be Hope, Love, or Peace from the Gandalf Rune table, and the focus of a scene might be Weaken, Treacherous, and War, from the Eye of Sauron. The Lore Table isn’t used for every single scene. It’s more of a prompt to push you into action when you don’t have an idea what should happen next in your character’s story.

The Fortune and Ill-Fortune Tables

The Fortune and Ill-Fortune Tables are used to push the events around you in different directions, in many was revealing a wider world than whatever your character is focused on achieving. If you roll either the Gandalf Rune or the Eye of Sauron when resolving a skill check, you can reference these tables to see what else contributed to your positive or negative luck.

This might represent you finding just the right place to make your stand, finding something that gives you insight into your mission, or you run into a new ally. On the other hand, you might feel an old wound flaring up, find a new complication in your path, or find a brand new enemy on the scene.

Beyond the Tables

The tables above are all about injecting random events and prompts into whatever story you think you might want to tell with your character, but those aren’t the only rules that are modified to facilitate solo gaming.

Characters gain more points to spread out around their skills when they make a character for Strider Mode. In addition, the derived values that serve as your target number are two lower than in the standard game. This is to make your single character more broadly competent, as well as to make up for the lack of options for other allies aiding your skill tests.

Your Fellowship Score is about how you feel about your home and family, and it represents pushing on because of all of the things you care about. You don’t have a Fellowship focus in Strider Mode. You also pick up a new distinctive feature, Strider, which can be triggered whenever you journeying (because it’s all about your skills on the journey).

There is a Strider Mode-specific Skill Special Success Table for spending success runes on skills, usually making it a little bit easier to get hints, sneak around, or gain extra dice on your next roll. The Journey events are also simplified for Strider Mode, allowing for a single traveler to make a check to resolve the event on the road.

Characters gain an additional stance in combat, Skirmish Stance. This is a ranged combat stance, which is assuming you are running from cover to cover taking shots at your foes. Enemies have a harder time using melee weapons against you, but you have a harder time hitting because of your mobility.

In addition to all of this, there is a table of Experience Milestones that gives you multiple triggers for rewards, specifically for solo adventuring.

What Would Sauron Do

Strider Mode requests that you use the optional Eye Awareness rules from the core rulebook. What this means is that characters eventually may start to gain the attention of Sauron or his lieutenants due to your actions. If you have a high valour rating, are a Dwarf, Elf, Dunedain, or have famous weapons or armour, you already have a higher awareness score out of the gate.

There is a special Revelation Episode Table to determine how the attention of the Enemy is manifested. This might mean that you find a patch of nature that is corrupted and detrimental to you, one of your items might become cursed, or your home or allies may be put into danger.

Employment Agency

Each of the patrons that appears in the core rulebook also appear in Strider Mode. The PDF doesn’t reprint their Favoured Callings or Agendas, so you’ll still need to reference their entries in the main rules. However, each of the patrons has six random quests to pass along to your character.

This is just a side note, but I’d love to see these kind of random missions for the patrons introduced in the Rivendell supplement that came with Loremaster’s Screen (and, you know, potential future patrons in other products).

Go Where You Must Go, And Hope!

I really like that this doesn’t rewrite huge parts of the rules, but rather fine-tunes some aspects of the rules to account for singular adventurers. I also appreciate that these rules can also be used in a more traditional manner for smaller fellowships with a traditional Loremaster and one or two adventurers. Those tweaks also make you think about why the standard rules work the way they do in the first place.

It’s the Job That’s Never Started Takes Longest to Finish

Everything that is here is good. I like how it works. However, I wish there was a little bit more. Six quests per patron works fine if you have characters that are widening their net of potential patrons, but you could burn through missions quickly if you keep working for the same patron for multiple missions.

I also wouldn’t mind a little bit more advice on framing the Revelation Episodes, as well as some guidance on how hard to push a character when they get into trouble. When I ran my session, I was a little worried about overwhelming a single character, but on the other hand, that poor wolf went down quick once they failed to resist a wound.

Recommended–If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.

This is a pretty easy product to recommend. Not only can it be used for its primary purpose, solo play, but also gives a Loremaster more tools to tweak the game for smaller parties. I appreciate the look at how the rules are meant to work that we can see with all of the knobs that can be adjusted.

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