Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

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Earendil
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Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Earendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:31 pm

Following on from a discussion in another thread (viewtopic.php?f=7&t=6529) I wondered what changes (if any) people think are appropriate for these two cultures?

They're unlike any other culture in the game in two ways:

1. They have higher starting statistics as well as specific restrictions (Hope replenishment for Rangers, healing corruption for High Elves).

2. They have a slower rate of XP progress, thus making their Valour and Wisdom increase more slowly than those of other cultures. This is maybe somewhat balanced by their Rewards and Virtues being slightly better (although not as good as the Dunlendings! But Dunlendings have other limitations) but it also means their weapon skills advance more slowly, although they do start with more of them.

Now I haven't run a game with either of these yet, but it seems to me that overall they're getting punished a bit too much. In particular the slower rate of weapon skill improvement seems a bit much: they only get one extra skill at rank 1, and enough extra previous experience to raise a 1 to 2 (for Rangers) or a 2 to 3 (for High Elves). When a hobbit will quickly outstrip a Ranger in swordsmanship, it seems to me that something is wrong.

My instinctive response would be to dump the higher XP costs, as I feel they're handicapped enough without those.

I might also give Rangers the ability to use the Fellowship pool, but they'd have to take 3 points to gain 1 (as the other players have to approve any points taken from the pool, this is unlikely to happen very much, but it does at least give them a bit more flexibility). I might also give High Elves the "Folk of the Twilight" Blessing that Mirkwood Elves get, or a lesser version of it, as well as their own Blessing, which is maybe too narrow IMO.


What do you think? Would my ideas make them too powerful? Does it matter if they are a bit more powerful, given that they're more limited in certain ways?
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Glorelendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:43 pm

What if we let Rangers use Fellowship pool, but it costs them XP to do so, 1 XP for each point of Hope?

That would (quite cleverly, if I do say so myself) sort of combine the two handicaps: if you want to get your Hope back, you will have slower progression. By making the points come from the pool it would also restrict the usage.
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Rich H » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:12 pm

I suppose a starting question would be do you think it's okay to have either/both the Rangers and High Elf cultures as being distinctly more powerful than the other cultures? So, could you simply get rid of the higher XP gain for both and the Fellowship pool restriction and the Marked Skill shadow rules for Ranger and High Elves respectively?

1) Personally, I'm comfortable with dropping the higher XP requirements.

2) I feel the Fellowship pool restriction is pretty hideous so would like to get rid or change it in some way.

3) I think there's a need to explain why High Elves remain in their havens rather than venture forth which is what I think the Marked Skills shadow rules do. I'm not sure if something could be done instead. Maybe create a Sea-longing mechanic that serves a similar purpose.

If you get rid of (1) it needs to be done for both cultures, of that I think we can all agree.

If you get rid of (2) then I think (3) needs to go aswell. Altering one is open to debate as to whether the other needs alteration as well.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Glorelendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:53 pm

Rich H wrote: 2) I feel the Fellowship pool restriction is pretty hideous so would like to get rid or change it in some way.

3) I think there's a need to explain why High Elves remain in their havens rather than venture forth which is what I think the Marked Skills shadow rules do. I'm not sure if something could be done instead. Maybe create a Sea-longing mechanic that serves a similar purpose.

If you get rid of (1) it needs to be done for both cultures, of that I think we can all agree.

If you get rid of (2) then I think (3) needs to go aswell. Altering one is open to debate as to whether the other needs alteration as well.
I think the Dunedain restriction is more punishing than the Noldor restriction, so if it were mitigated they would be more balanced. But that may be because I've only seen them early in a campaign, and the Noldor restriction ramps up over time. Maybe over the long run they equal out.
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Earendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:17 pm

Glorelendil wrote:What if we let Rangers use Fellowship pool, but it costs them XP to do so, 1 XP for each point of Hope?

That would (quite cleverly, if I do say so myself) sort of combine the two handicaps: if you want to get your Hope back, you will have slower progression. By making the points come from the pool it would also restrict the usage.
It's certainly an interesting idea! But it still seems a bit brutal to me... :) Not as bad as simply disallowing it, of course. But I don't see any need for the slower progression anyway, so I don't think I'd want to change it in this way. It's hard to say without ever having run or played a Ranger, though! Have you done so? If so, what did you (and the player/LM) think of the RAW?
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Earendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:27 pm

Rich H wrote:I suppose a starting question would be do you think it's okay to have either/both the Rangers and High Elf cultures as being distinctly more powerful than the other cultures? So, could you simply get rid of the higher XP gain for both and the Fellowship pool restriction and the Marked Skill shadow rules for Ranger and High Elves respectively?
I'm not comfortable with them simply being better in toto. I think players of other cultures might feel short-changed if that werer the case. But I'm okay with them having some advantages and some disadvantages, as they do: I just feel the disadvantages are a bit too much.
1) Personally, I'm comfortable with dropping the higher XP requirements.

2) I feel the Fellowship pool restriction is pretty hideous so would like to get rid or change it in some way.
Agreed on both points. 8-)
3) I think there's a need to explain why High Elves remain in their havens rather than venture forth which is what I think the Marked Skills shadow rules do. I'm not sure if something could be done instead. Maybe create a Sea-longing mechanic that serves a similar purpose.

If you get rid of (1) it needs to be done for both cultures, of that I think we can all agree.

If you get rid of (2) then I think (3) needs to go aswell. Altering one is open to debate as to whether the other needs alteration as well.
I actually like the High Elves' marked skill rule is really cool and interesting, but again, it's difficult to judge without seeing them in play.

Rather than removing/reducing that limitation, what do you think of my idea of giving them Folk of the Dusk as well as their current Blessing? (It could maybe only apply at night for them, rather than in woods and underground). That seems to me like it might be roughly equivalent to allowing Rangers to use the Fellowship Pool but at at a higher cost than everyone else.
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Glorelendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Earendil wrote:
Glorelendil wrote:What if we let Rangers use Fellowship pool, but it costs them XP to do so, 1 XP for each point of Hope?

That would (quite cleverly, if I do say so myself) sort of combine the two handicaps: if you want to get your Hope back, you will have slower progression. By making the points come from the pool it would also restrict the usage.
It's certainly an interesting idea! But it still seems a bit brutal to me... :) Not as bad as simply disallowing it, of course. But I don't see any need for the slower progression anyway, so I don't think I'd want to change it in this way. It's hard to say without ever having run or played a Ranger, though! Have you done so? If so, what did you (and the player/LM) think of the RAW?
I'm already a Hope miser, but I was particularly miserly with Hope on my ranger. Spending Hope in those critical moments is part of the fun of TOR, and feeling like I just couldn't spend Hope was un-fun.

The slow progression was disappointing, but not un-fun in the way that the Hope issue is. Reducing the penalty could help. Currently to get a Ranger or Noldor to 5/5/5 (Valour,Wisdom,Weapon...assuming you use background points to raise the weapon to 3) costs 35 more XP than other cultures. That's...what...5 to 10 Adventures? That's a long time and a lot of XP.
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Rich H » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:51 pm

Earendil wrote:I'm not comfortable with them simply being better in toto. I think players of other cultures might feel short-changed if that were the case.
I suppose the solution to that would be only introducing them into a game when other cultures have reached a certain level of XP but I appreciate what you mean.
Earendil wrote:I actually like the High Elves' marked skill rule is really cool and interesting, but again, it's difficult to judge without seeing them in play.
Yeah, agreed, its a very clever mechanical explanation as to why High Elves 'stay indoors'.
Earendil wrote:Rather than removing/reducing that limitation, what do you think of my idea of giving them Folk of the Dusk as well as their current Blessing? (It could maybe only apply at night for them, rather than in woods and underground). That seems to me like it might be roughly equivalent to allowing Rangers to use the Fellowship Pool but at at a higher cost than everyone else.
That's an interesting way of looking at the problem - giving them an extra ability to balance the fact that you're getting rid of the Fellowship pool restriction is a pretty good idea to be honest. I like the simplicity.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Glorelendil » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:10 pm

Maybe that's the solution: don't try to give them big penalties, but just preface it by saying "These cultures are more powerful. Here are the suggested ways to use them in your campaign...."
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Re: Adjusting Rangers and High Elves

Post by Falenthal » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:48 pm

A keyboard at least!! I've been following the thread the whole afternoon with my phone, but couldn't reply such a thread without a real keyboard. To summarize, I share all of your concerns and doubts. Without having played or LMed any of both cultures, I made some changes to both just because I felt like it. :D

First of all, I'd like to add another hindrance those cultures have by the RAW: Their starting Eye Awareness is higher. Besides, the High Elves have 2 Virtues that have "magical effects" and that can add to the Eye Awareness (one of them, Skill of the Eldars, is particulary annoying in that regard, as the player has no control over it).

In the light of some of your comments and ideas, I've rethought and tweaked some of those personal changes.
Here's what I've done to my Rangers and High Elves:
1) Remove every new rule from pages 117 and 118: No higher XP cost to increase Wisdom, Valour and Weapon Skills, and the Ranger's limitation of recovering Hope from the Fellowship pool, and the High Elves' limitation to reduce Shadow don't work the way explained there.
2) Both cultures have the following limitation:
* They can only Acquire Title in elven settlements (Grey Havens, Rivendell, Lórien, Halls of Thranduil, Edhellond?).
* They can only Open Sanctuary in an elven settlement or Rangers refuge. The Ranger/High Elf is considered a company of his own (independent from the rest of the characters) for the purpouses of the Open Sanctuary Undertaking and for any other requirements of spending a Fellowship phase in a Sanctuary. He will have his own list of Sanctuaries, independent from that of the rest of the company.
I think this fits thematically, specially when you consider what the Bree-landers think about the Rangers. Both cultures fight the Shadow, but they are no longer part of the world. Aragorn is not "the Heir of Isildur" to the people at the Prancing Pony, he's just "a Ranger, not to be trusted". And High Elves, who've seen Beleriand, Eregion, etc. don't seem very fit to live in a cottage at Woodmen Town. Also, their Standing won't be used to intervene in the affairs of other cultures during the Fellowship phase.I'm sure there can be found several quotes by Gildor, Elrond or Galadriel telling Frodo that the elves no longer mess with the mundane affairs and concerns of the rest of the Free People.
Moreover, having a limited amount of Sanctuaries, makes it more difficult to get rid of Shadow points: only in a Sanctuary can a companion roll twice to erase Shadow points. This rule helps explain why High Elves don't leave their havens, or at least always return to them and don't settle down among humans, dwarves or hobbits.
3) Rangers of the North:
* A Ranger of the North contributes normally to the creation of the Fellowship pool, but gains 1 point of Temporary Shadow everytime he draws a Hope point from it.
It's a twist of an existing rule: when a player wants to draw points of Hope from the FP, the other players may vote. If they are against it, the player can still draw a point, but gaining also a Shadow point.
This rule would represent the guilt of the Ranger when he has to rely (take something) from those he swore to protect. It represents that the Rangers will fight and protect the other Free People (contribute to the FP), without asking anything in return (as is seen by the way they secretly protect The Shire). The moment a Ranger begins to ask from the others, he might feel guilty, weak, manipulative,...
4) High Elves:
* Whenever a High Elf reduces his Shadow score (for example, by taking the Heal Corruption undertaking), he only heals half the amount of Shadow.
* High Elves' Cultural Blessing is modified as follows: They are only inmune to Fear tests provoked by Undead with an Attribute level equal or lower than the elf's Wisdom score.
Also, add the Folk of the Dusk Cultural Virtue from the Elves of Mirkwood, but it doesn't work when underground.
I think the RAW Hope/Shadow mechanic is wonderful as is to explain the elven fatigue of the world. By giving High Elves a low Heart score (and low maximum Hope), and a harder time getting rid of the Shadow (see also point 2, that limits Sanctuaries to get the double benefit from Heal Corruption), the High Elves will try to stay home as much as possible, and think twice or thrice before meddling in the affairs of the Free People that will surely load them with some Shadow points. In the LotR book, Sam tells Frodo that elves "need songs and music as much as food" (or something like this). This becomes reflected in the game mechanics, as they really need to Sing double than other cultures to get rid of the same amount of Shadow points.
As for the Cultural Blessings, a Bog Soldier (the lowest of the Undead) has an Attribute level of 3. A starting elven character won't be able to automatically resist anything. The weakened Nazgûl from Darkening have an AL of 5.
I think that maybe the Blessing could be improved a bit by saying "equal or lesser than the Wisdom or Valour score, whichever is higher". I don't think it would have a great impact, as Valour is already the score used to resist Fear tests.
And see the behaviour of Gildor Inglorion's wandering company in The Shire to understand that there can't be High Elves without the Folk of the Dusk Blessing. ;)


I also made some other minor tweaks: to their Attribute ranges, starting Weapon skills, starting Common Skills scores, and free initial points. But they all are minor and only fall within the "personal taste" sphere.
Last edited by Falenthal on Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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