What to run first?

The place for discussion of Cubicle 7 and Sophisticated Games' "Adventures in Middle-earth" OGL setting.
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philhendry
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Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 11:01 pm

What to run first?

Post by philhendry » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:56 pm

Hi folks,

The group I belong to started out playing ICE’s venerable MERP. It’s a clunky, early-type, RPG system, and it was very much ‘magic-heavy’, so it really didn’t suit the setting. But it had Pete Fenlon’s wonderful maps - which are, for me, probably the most evocative maps the setting has ever had. And we loved it. Heck, we played it (with a few tweaks, including little bits of Rolemaster - like the Critical Tables) almost exclusively for over fifteen years, and we still return to it for an adventure or two every now and then.

We looked at Decipher’s effort. We didn’t play it - somehow it just didn’t really appeal. Folk who did play it complained of severe play balance issues - even that it was ‘broken’.

We tried The One Ring, in its first incarnation. We found the two books, and the ‘random’ way the rules were set out, good for reading but poor as a play reference, even once a decent index became available (I know that’s been addressed now!). Somehow the style didn’t really suit us very well. It seemed to have too much narrative/metagaming mechanics in it and to be too abstract in other eras like combat for our preferred style of play. It felt to me more as if it was focused on creating stories set in Middle Earth rather than experiencing what it is like to do things in Middle Earth - if that makes sense? The latter is what I want out of an RPG in which I take part... I want to feel as though I’m there, rather than writing a story about being there.

And now we come to the latest: Adventures in Middle Earth. As we’ve been playing a lot of 5E lately, it should be easy to pick up. I’ve read the Adventurer’s and Loremaster’s guides fairly thoroughly, and I think it probably pretty much ‘hits the sweet spot’ for me… It seems to have ‘the good bits’ of TOR (‘flavour’, corruption, Fellowship Phase, journeys, etc), coupled to a solid set of somewhat abstract, but simple and familiar, adventuring mechanics which have both stood the test of time and been gently ‘tweaked’ over the past four decades or so.

But the decision facing me is what adventures to run to get us started? When we were trying to learn to love TOR, we played ‘The Marsh Bell’, and followed that up with all the adventures from ‘Tales from the Wilderland’. It’s not that long ago, so I suspect that ‘Wilderland Adventures’ is going to be all too familiar?

Any recommendations?

Thank you,
Phil

Wanton
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:06 pm

Re: What to run first?

Post by Wanton » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:22 pm

Phil,
I wish I could help more, but I am in the same situation as you. MERP player and GM for over 25 years.

I started with the "Don't leave the path" and then went to "Eaves of Mirkwood" and I would recommend doing them the other way around I think. I really like adventures, so I don't know how recently you ran them, but so far they have been really fun, but I don't know how much you players retain, so that might have to be considered.

Either way, I just wanted to respond because I related so much to your story. :ugeek:

Gilrohir Arncelevon
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Suffolk, England

Re: What to run first?

Post by Gilrohir Arncelevon » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:18 pm

I recently started a new group of players off and decided to use a modified version of the Marsh Bell. I have never been hugely keen on the vast treasure hoard in the marsh dweller caves as it can become an obsession with players (especially those who want horses, dwarf wrought armour and weapons, etc at low levels). So I changed the story. The players were sent south not to search for Balin, but instead to search for a group of Lake-Town hospital healers who had gone into the marshes searching for healing herbs. I replaced the marsh ogre with marsh hags and had the final encounter with a group of goblins (snaga trackers, goblin archers and misty mountain goblins) who had survived in the marsh after fleeing the battle of five armies. If your players have played through the Marsh Bell, adapting it in some way with a few "surprises" might allow you to effectively play it again without the players becoming bored.

Just a thought - I've actually adapted quite a few of the adventures after getting a suspicious sense that one or two of my players were buying the books and reading the story lines in advance :o(

Hope that helps

BookBarbarian
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:34 pm

Re: What to run first?

Post by BookBarbarian » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:55 pm

Eaves of Mirkwood is perfect for those who have played 5e, but haven't tried AiME. It highlights new things like Journeys and Audiences, but is quick enough to do in one session.

I think it's the perfect starting point.

Mykesfree
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Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:05 pm
Location: Queens, NY

Re: What to run first?

Post by Mykesfree » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:26 pm

I agree with BookBarbarian, run Eaves first. There is a bit of a removal of Player Agency at one point, but the adventure writers do give advice on how to make it work. Even with that point, it is a great Middle-earth Adventure that really shines on all the high notes themes of the novels and does a wonderful job of showing players this is a different way of using 5e to tell a story.

philhendry
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 11:01 pm

Re: What to run first?

Post by philhendry » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:41 pm

Thank you! That’s all useful. It’s sounding as though either a ‘mutated’ version of Marsh Bell, if I think they won’t remember it, or else Eaves, is the way to go to start off with.

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Jon Hodgson
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Location: Scotland

Re: What to run first?

Post by Jon Hodgson » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:00 am

Mykesfree wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:26 pm
I agree with BookBarbarian, run Eaves first. There is a bit of a removal of Player Agency at one point, but the adventure writers do give advice on how to make it work. Even with that point, it is a great Middle-earth Adventure that really shines on all the high notes themes of the novels and does a wonderful job of showing players this is a different way of using 5e to tell a story.
That’s a lovely review, thank you.
Jon Hodgson
Creative Director, Cubicle 7
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Garaboncias
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Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:28 pm

Re: What to run first?

Post by Garaboncias » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:05 am

And You can use Hobbit Tales card game for inspiration. :)

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