The best part of a new year is turning our gaze forward with anticipation of what’s to come. This is no different in the world of tabletop RPGs as a slew of “Most Anticipated” lists hit the internet. What big announcements are coming? What may take us by surprise? And my favorite question, what indie developer is working on what could be my new favorite game? It’s with these thoughts in mind that, over the next few weeks, we look at some exciting RPGs releasing later this year. Starting with a game I am most excited for: The One Ring 2nd Edition.
The One Ring 1st edition RPG launched in 2011 and was designed by Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi. Not only did these two support the game with supplements through 2019, but also pre-dated the tabletop RPG by working on the “War of the Ring” battle game in 2004. So, it’s exciting news that these Tolkien veterans will be returning for the design of The One Ring 2nd edition. However, we will be seeing a new publisher this time around. The first edition was published by Cubicle 7 who set a high bar for overall book quality. Due to licensing shenanigans, which I’m not even going to try to understand, Free League will be taking on the responsibility of publishing this new edition. Personally, I’m a huge fan of both of these companies and have the upmost faith that Free League will produce a book worthy of the Lord of the Rings moniker. That being said, I’m interested to see how Free League tackles the art design for this new game, because the 1st edition really captured that worn tome feel. That fantasy of a forgotten book containing a long lost story. It was warm, inviting, yet mysterious, and really captured Lord of the Rings from an aesthetic point of view. Obviously, 2nd edition will want to stand apart visually, and the art/design choices will be interesting to see. Free League often works with a wonderful artist, Martin Grip, whose work can be seen in other Free League games, such as, Symbaroum and Coriolis. Both of which were featured here!
In regard to The One Ring, I do have a confession. Though, I own a few books, I haven’t played a game in that system. Since Cubicle 7 also produced Lord of the Rings supplements for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, it was just easier to adventure in Middle Earth using those familiar mechanics. So, what I would like to see out of The One Ring 2nd edition is a reason to use this new system. Tailor the mechanics to adventuring in Middle Earth. The name Lord of the Rings carries a lot of weight in the fantasy space, but the tabletop RPG scene is way more competitive now than it was in 2011. Meaning, we are going to need more than pretty books to justify the shelf space. The designers have stated in interviews that the core of the system will remain the same and this will be more of an update, rather than a re-invention like we saw with D&D from 3rd to 4th edition. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s been 10 years at this point, and tabletop RPGs have changed tremendously in that span. I feel like you maybe leaving some great ideas on the table. That being said, 1st edition did last 10 years and had an active fan base, so perhaps more surgical tweaks can re-energize this popular IP.
All in all, I’m excited to see what Free League will do with The One Ring. Cubicle 7 published beautiful books, and one of the only companies I can think of to carry that torch would be Free League. If that designers can tweak and update the system to bring in new fans along with the old, than The One Ring will may be on a lot “best of” 2021 lists come the end of the year!
If you want to check out other products from Free League to get a taste for their style, check out the links below!