The new edition of The One Ring will be a major update to the Lord of the Rings RPG rather than a complete remake, with a new version of long-awaited adventure Moria - The Long Dark also on the way, Free League Publishing has revealed.
The Tales from the Loop, Alien: The RPG and Forbidden Lands maker was announced as the new publisher for the Middle-earth RPG earlier this year, following the cancellation of the 2011 game’s second edition at previous studio Cubicle 7 due to “contractual differences” with Tolkien licence holder Sophisticated Games.
Announced in early 2019, Cubicle 7’s The One Ring 2E had been due to release between the end of last year and the beginning of 2020. The studio’s D&D 5E-compatible spin-off Adventures in Middle-earth was similarly cancelled, before changing hands to Free League.
Speaking to Dicebreaker, Free League developer and project lead Martin Takaichi described the publisher’s relaunch of The One Ring - designed by original co-creator Francesco Nepitello - as “a proper second edition of the game, not a new version altogether”.
“Most of it will be familiar to anyone who has played the first edition, but of course there are a number of tweaks, revisions and improvements that have been introduced,” Takaichi said. “It retains the same core system where you roll the 12-sided feat die plus a number of success dice to try and beat a target number.”
Takaichi revealed that “aspects” of gameplay from the cancelled Cubicle 7 edition would be included in Free League’s version, combined with the open-world elements seen in fantasy throwback RPG Forbidden Lands, cited by Nepitello as an influence on the new edition’s journey system.
“Something Free League has always tried to bring into our games is a sense of openness and freedom, be it the hex-crawl of Forbidden Lands or the Mystery Landscapes of Tales from the Loop,” Takaichi said. “Several of the sourcebooks for The One Ring - like The Heart of the Wild, my personal favourite - did something similar, but we really want to bring a bit more of that sandbox-inspired gameplay into the new edition.”
The revised RPG will feature a different visual style - including black and white interiors from Forbidden Lands illustrator Alvaro Tapia and cover artwork by Coriolis artist Martin Grip - and take place in a new period of Middle-earth history, moving around 20 years forward from The One Ring’s original timeline.
The core rulebook will focus on the region of Eriador, which previously appeared in past supplements for the RPG but will be explored in greater detail in the new game, Takaichi said. The developer added that The One Ring 2E would also feature places new to the RPG, including The Shire, which will be the focus of the game’s starter set.
Free League currently plans to release The One Ring 2E in the first half of 2021, according to Takaichi. The game will launch with a core rulebook, starter set, Player’s Companion - including additional rules for playing as other inhabitants of Middle-earth - and a supplement set in Eriador. The starter set will include playable versions of characters from Tolkien’s books.
The studio is also working on a new version of Moria - The Long Dark, the adventure set in Khazad-dûm originally planned for Cubicle 7’s first edition of the game before being delayed - and subsequently cancelled - alongside its second edition.
“I know this is *the* sourcebook everyone was waiting for for the first edition, and we of course jumped at the chance to make it for the second edition,” Takaichi told Dicebreaker, adding that the revised supplement will likely release under a new title. “We've decided to start from scratch to really get the sense of Moria we've always envisioned ourselves, and [roleplaying designer] Gareth Hanrahan is currently busy working on an expansive supplement! There aren't many details I can share about this project, but rest assured we are giving Moria all the attention it requires.”
Takaichi also confirmed that a version of the game compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 5E would follow the release of The One Ring. As for further Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth titles from Free League, Takaichi said: “While there's currently nothing planned, it's a setting near and dear to our hearts. So I'll answer with a cheeky ‘maybe’.”