Pack your bags! It’s #TORsday and it’s time for a trip. With the reveal of the stunning map for second edition, now is the perfect time to talk about travelling in The One Ring – The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game. Like Councils and Combat, Journeys are a core component of the game.
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings an adventure travelogue, though, of course, there’s more to those stories than just the trip itself. In The One Ring, a Journey is an important part of an adventure — in fact, the entire adventure might play out over the course of one or more Journeys. Heroes might be sent to carry urgent news to faraway rulers, to seek out lost places or stranded travellers, to spy on agents of the Enemy, to guide others to safety, or arrive to bolster the defences of a stronghold. In each case, the trip matters.
To start a Journey, the players first plan their route, using their map. For a new Company, the players’ map might be mostly bare — they only know of their own homelands and distant places are only unreliable rumours. As they continue to adventure, the heroes are encouraged to make notes as they learn the lands better and discover new locales along the way, whether they are safe or deadly dangerous. The heroes can also make Lore rolls in order to recall information and provide advantage along the way, with each successful roll producing Company dice that the heroes can use later. At the same time, the Loremaster is using their map, which has a series of icons and colour codes that allow the Loremaster to calculate the difficulty and duration of the upcoming Journey.
Before starting out, each member of the Company must choose a role for their Journey. There must be a single Guide, who is responsible for plotting the trip and keeping the Company on course. There can be one or more Scouts, who investigate potentially hazardous areas before the heroes commit to that route (like a comfortable-looking cave conveniently close by during a rainstorm); one or more Hunters who help keep the Company fed; and one or more Look-outs who keep watch while the rest of the Company sleeps. These roles become important during Journey Events. We imagine that all of the Company are doing a little bit of everything, but when it’s dramatically appropriate the chosen hero will fulfill the appropriate role. Sort of like a movie — if a character shows you that they’re good with a bow in the first ten minutes, you can bet that they’ll have that bow in hand during the final confrontation.
Once the Journey begins, the Loremaster can keep track of how long it takes by counting hexes and looking at the terrain colour codes. By the basic rules, heroes on foot can cross one hex (twenty miles) in a day. A group that wants a greater degree of verisimilitude can modify this, allowing heroes to travel faster on good roads and slower in rougher terrain. For every full set of three hexes that the Company crosses they have a Journey Event, which can be good or bad. A Journey Event might result in a short-cut or delay, with the Company becoming lost or finding unexpected help, or with them suffering from a hazard or finding renewed joy in the sights of Middle-earth. At the end of longer Journeys, each member of the Company might accrue some additional Fatigue due to being on the road for so long.
Now let’s take a quick look at a sample Journey, using the rules for modifying the time required by the terrain traversed.
Rivendell to Lothlórien
Arwen and her brothers have reason to visit their grandmother Galadriel on occasion, and often walk the wild lands of Hollin, which still remember the Elves of Eregion who dwelt their long ago. For this Journey we will use the detailed terrain rules seen below.
For this example we have broken the Journey into two parts: Rivendell to Redhorn Pass, and Redhorn Pass to Lothlórien. When determining the distance, the hex the Journey begins in is ignored. The Elves route is shown in blue.
Each hex on the map represents 20 miles. When on a good road or well-trodden path, the Company can travel 2 hexes per day on foot, or 4 on horseback. When not travelling on a road or by river, the distance the Company can cover is modified by the difficulty of the region they are moving through
- Moderate (Green): 1 hex per day on foot, 2 on horseback
- Hard (Orange): 1 hex every two days on foot, horses must be led
- Very Hard (Red): 1 hex every three days on foot, horses must be led
Rivendell to Redhorn Pass
It is approximately 180 miles from Imladris to the foothills at the beginning of the Redhorn Pass. Much of the Journey involves passing through the Lone-lands, which are Hard difficulty (shown in orange) and as such require two days of travel per hex. Thankfully this phase of the Journey begins and ends in easier territories: the lands around Rivendell and the peaceful lands of Eregion, both Moderate difficulty (shown in green). It will take the Elves 15 days to reach the Redhorn Pass on foot (E3 on the map). During their travels they will experience 3 Journey Events. For each event the LM will roll on the appropriate table and narrate the outcome. We won’t get into specifics of the events here as this post is already getting quite long!
Journey Events (3)
- 1. Lone-lands near Mountain Pass (Wild Lands)
- 2. Lone-lands at the border of Eregion (Wild Lands)
- 3. Eregion at the beginning of Redhorn Pass (Border Lands)
Redhorn Pass to Lothlórien
From the western edge of the Misty Mountains to the tree-top city of Caras Galadhon is about 160 miles, much of it through challenging terrain. It takes twelve days of careful travel to ascend the pass and then descend into Dimrill Dale, then another six days of walking to reach the city. Of course, hard-pressed heroes that have scores of Orcs at their back might have a quicker pace.
Journey Events (2)
- 4. Redhorn Pass (Wild Lands)
- 5. Borders of Lothlórien (Border Lands)
Wow, that was quite a trip! You can prepare for your own Journeys by pre-ordering both the Collector’s Edition of The One Ring – The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game and the Standard Edition right now on our website. We continue to be hard at work on second edition, and we can’t wait until we can show you everything. Have a great TORsday!
The One Ring, Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their respective licensees. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.