Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

The place for discussion of Cubicle 7 and Sophisticated Games' "Adventures in Middle-earth" OGL setting.
Paid a bod yn dwp
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Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Paid a bod yn dwp » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:02 pm

Hello all,
Have Just recently come across Cubicle 7 ( via WFRP 4ed news) , and am intrigued by both Adventures in Middle Earth & The one Ring. I have a few questions :

1. How do Adventures in Middle earth & the One Ring differ in play styles? Would people say there are significant thematic differences between the games?

2. How do 5ed classes effect the low level feel of the Tolkien world? Do people think with 5ed that there could be a danger of power gaming in the Tolkien world? Or is this handled sympathetically in AIME?

3. If there is D&D class progression in AIME, in contrast how is character progression handled in TOR?

At the end of the official FAQ on AIME it states "TOR and AME have different aims, and we believe there is plenty of space for both game lines to flourish."

4. What do people (& game designers) see as the different aims of these 2 games?

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Majestic
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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Majestic » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:25 pm

Hey there, Paid a bod yn dwp. Welcome!

1. The two games do have a bit of difference in play styles, but thematically I think they're very close. The authors and designers have done a great job with both in capturing some of the uniqueness of Middle-earth. For example, magic is common, but most often it's more subtle, and less overt and flashy. 5E (and D&D in general) seems to have a bit more emphasis on Combat/Fighting (compared to TOR), but AIME expands on the other two components (Encounters/Audiences and Travel/Journeys) enough to make them similar in their focus. I think a lot of any game is what the GM/LM chooses to focus on, and even sometimes what rules mechanics they tend to emphasize.

2. I suppose it differs based on the Levels (or experience) of the PCs. There could be a danger of power gaming, probably more likely to be exploited in AIME than TOR (for instance, a high-Level Warrior could end up with way more attacks than everybody else), but I also feel that a good GM can compensate for things like this and it really depends on the emphasis of the stories they tell. Just to stick with that example, the number of attacks is fairly irrelevant if the current adventure has negotiations and diplomacy as the focus, rather than a skirmish. There's a lot of direction in the AIME rules about capturing that 'Tolkien feeling' to help GMs keep things with the right ambiance and feel.

3. Class progression in AIME is exactly the same as 5E D&D, as opposed to the way one advances in TOR.

4. While similar, I feel the focus for each game is different. TOR captures more of the full breadth of Middle-earth, while AIME is more of a simplified game. Much of the streamlining of 5E (compared to earlier editions of D&D) really simplifies the game (I find that to be a feature, rather than a bug), and I believe part of the reason for the game's existence is to tap into the much larger pool of players who have that framework as their play experience. So TOR serves somewhat like chess compared to AIME's checkers. Perhaps a better analogy would be AIME is more straightforward like War (the card game) or Poker, while TOR provides more of a bridge/pinochle experience. Neither is 'better' or 'worse' than the other; they have different levels of sophistication or depth. Just like Poker has many variants and ways to expand it beyond it's basic game (Texas Holdem, for instance, over Stud), the 5E D&D game can be built upon and expanded to provide a very rich game experience. Still, at its core, one usually rolls a single d20 to resolve most things, whereas in TOR one is usually rolling many dice. TOR has been around longer, too, so there's just way more product that has added to the richness of the game.
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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Otaku-sempai » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:54 pm

I suspect that Loremasters using AiMe would find it easier to evoke the feel of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films than one could using TOR.
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Duplicate Post

Post by Otaku-sempai » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:54 pm

Duplicate post; please, disregard.
Last edited by Otaku-sempai on Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Paid a bod yn dwp » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:07 am

Hi Majestic,
Thanks for your welcome and detailed response to my questions. I'd like to go over a few of the points raised:
Majestic wrote:5E (and D&D in general) seems to have a bit more emphasis on Combat/Fighting (compared to TOR), but AIME expands on the other two components (Encounters/Audiences and Travel/Journeys) enough to make them similar in their focus.
Majestic wrote: There's a lot of direction in the AIME rules about capturing that 'Tolkien feeling' to help GMs keep things with the right ambiance and feel.
I 'm familiar with D&D5e but not TOR. I enjoy 5ed D&D, so the combat factor is appealing as I like a bit of crunch, but equally I wouldn't want to miss out on the atmosphere generated by an innovative good story telling game mechanic. Your mention of AIME expanding on themes in TOR (Encounters/Audiences and Travel/Journeys) sounds like they have managed to successfully port key elements of TOR to a DND 5ed frame work. So perhaps this is the right balance for me.Sounds promising
Majestic wrote: 3. Class progression in AIME is exactly the same as 5E D&D, as opposed to the way one advances in TOR.
I suppose what I imagine as the element of a D&D game that might not sit well mechanically/thematically with Middle Earth are Hit points and how they increase each level. I don't necessarily mind class improvements to abilities/attacks, but there is something that grates a little in thematically low level games, where characters hit points continue to raise at each level. In my mind a low level game should continue to have character vulnerability, which i'm not sure the D&D hit point increase models well?
Majestic wrote: 4. While similar, I feel the focus for each game is different. TOR captures more of the full breadth of Middle-earth, while AIME is more of a simplified game.
Majestic wrote: Still, at its core, one usually rolls a single d20 to resolve most things, whereas in TOR one is usually rolling many dice.
Are you saying TOR uses a bigger brush stroke to describe the action, whereas AIME is more specific focusing on detail a little more? This is something I need to look into more, as it seems to get to the heart of the differences between the 2 games.
Whilst it sounds like there is a very successful porting of thematic elements of TOR to AIME (big tick), its seems that the dice pool of TOR and how its used is key to understanding that game, and ( from the perceptive of someone who has played DnD5e ) key to understanding the differences.

Presentation & the cover of the TOR book looks great, and Tolkien rich in atmosphere. Not as keen on the core AIME cover with Gandalf , but the new Loremasters cover looks great, and feels a good fit for AIME. Does the interior presentation of AIME match that of TOR?

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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Paid a bod yn dwp » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:10 am

Otaku-sempai wrote:I suspect that Loremasters using AiMe would find it easier to evoke the feel of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films than one could using TOR.
Good point, I'm not adverse to a little bit of action, but story and atmosphere is just as important to me. AIME does sound promising in both these regards.

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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by zedturtle » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:05 pm

Paid a bod yn dwp wrote:Presentation & the cover of the TOR book looks great, and Tolkien rich in atmosphere. Not as keen on the core AIME cover with Gandalf , but the new Loremasters cover looks great, and feels a good fit for AIME. Does the interior presentation of AIME match that of TOR?
Here's a wonderful sampling of some of the interior spreads for the Loremaster's Guide.
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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Paid a bod yn dwp » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:54 pm

zedturtle wrote:
Paid a bod yn dwp wrote:Presentation & the cover of the TOR book looks great, and Tolkien rich in atmosphere. Not as keen on the core AIME cover with Gandalf , but the new Loremasters cover looks great, and feels a good fit for AIME. Does the interior presentation of AIME match that of TOR?
Here's a wonderful sampling of some of the interior spreads for the Loremaster's Guide.
Excellent, thanks.

I was looking over the character sheets of both respective games for further clues. Being a bit of a groganard I like the grittiness of DnD 5e, I enjoy a conventional spread of characteristics to determine my character (Str, Dex etc) & skill spread , but the one thing that impresses me most about 5ed is the inclusion of role-play traits/bonds/flaws, which I think makes it very amenable to story telling such as in Tolkiens world ( and in general) just the right level of detail, not to overwhelm, but get you started with your characters personality.

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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by ThrorII » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:20 pm

I'll try not to paint with too broad a brush, so forgive me if I do.

I've played & GM'd both d&d5e, and GM'd TOR. Our group (together for nearly 10 years) has played the gamut of games (from BX D&D, D&D2e, 3.5, Mongoose Conan, 5e, FATE, ICONS, Starblazers!, Edge of the Empire, etc. just in the past few years). Our group varies between a few years and 30 years experience of play. Most of the group (as players) have problems with FATEy or storyteller type games (not much in the thespian or creative-proactive vein).

TOR is a very evocative game, and the 2nd edition is clearly laid out and explained. It is very much the product of an indie-style (if you understand what I mean). It plays board-gamey at times, and requires a FATE-type think-on-your-feet GM to avoid that feel. The Fellowship pool and Hope economy are great. The armor rules are strange and counter intuitive. Combat is very abstract. My group felt that TOR's Encounters (AiMe's Audiences) are supposed to be role-play-y, but felt board-gamey (tracking successes, etc). They also HATED the journey rules in TOR (a dice-rolling convention). We felt it was a weird mashup of storyteller and boardgame, with each in the wrong place. While the dice pool (and the G and Eye runes) are neat, we felt the curve was way off- A TN14 ('average') is difficult to hit for a beginning character with 2d in a skill. In short, my group didn't like it. Others love it, but from where we were coming from, you can judge for your tastes.

AiMe solves all those (in my opinion-as well as those in our group who have read it). Plays more like traditional 5e (or any traditional RPG). The Journey rules accomplish the same goal and feel, but much more succinctly. Audience rules are better (IMO) and now you have a choice of 'basic' or 'advanced' Audience rules with the LMG ('advanced' is more like TOR's Encounters, but still better laid out, I feel). Yes it has hit point inflation, as all D&D does. Damage output is higher in 5e, so that mitigates some of that at higher levels. I wish AiMe had ported over the DMG's optional Hero Point rules for Hope points, but you can house rule that. I wish they would have strayed from 5e in class-race design, and stuck with TOR's model (culture is everything, calling just modifies).

Before AiMe came out, I had converted TOR to a microlite version of 5e for us to play (I loved the world and concepts, but we needed a more traditional platform). My group loved it. When we finish our current D&D5e campaign, we're playing AiMe.

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Re: Play styles: Adventures in middle earth vs The One ring

Post by Majestic » Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:23 pm

Like ThrorII, I have extensive experience with both games, and, like him, I have played and GMd 5E and run TOR (both for years).

The Hit Point increase is one thing that's quite different, as are the way stats/attributes work. In D&D, they increase over time, but in TOR they stay the same over the life of the character. Well, the 'main' stats do. The only one that has an equivalence in D&D that changes is Wisdom, which can go from below average to remarkable over the course of a PC's "career" in The One Ring RPG.

Combat is a little more abstract in TOR than it is in D&D. I think it works better for a 'theater of the mind' game, whereas D&D combat has a little more 'crunch'. For instance, ranges are hardly used in TOR.

Each game has areas where it shines and does things well, and I imagine everyone who compares them will find things they like or dislike in each game.

I'm looking forward to testing out Audiences in AIME, as their equivalent mechanic in TOR have become something that is just way too easy for my party in TOR.

There are some elements that make TOR similar to a board game, which I think is unique and makes it quite fun. But some of those might not work for everyone, and 5E's more 'traditional' rpg mechanics might be more palatable to many.
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