gull2112
Topic Author
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu 26 Aug 2021, 19:11

Never knew TOR 1E

Sun 05 Sep 2021, 17:12

I have played RPGs since the 70s. I ran an I.C.E. Middle Earth campaign for many years. Last campaign I played in was Knights of the Old Republic back in the early 2000s. I saw the TOR2E Kickstarter and backed it out of curiosity. When the Alpha rules became available I shared them with my old game group and we all became very excited to try it out.

Over the years I have drifted from combat focused RPGs to narrative focused RPGs. I believe that dice should add excitement, not drive the system. I have been reading the playtester's comments, and I believe I understand where they are coming from. 2E is a streamlined version of 1E. This is right in my wheelhouse, but if I were coming from 1E I would feel like a lot of the "meat" had been stripped away. That is what I am picking up from the comments. Stripped down v. Streamlined.

Having the perspective of only knowing 2E, I have to say that I am eagerly looking forward to its release! Fria Ligan has created a system that is true to the feel of Tolkien's legacy, without bogging down the narrative experience.

I read a lot of admissions to having to house rule things. Of course you are going to house rule things! Everyone does with every RPG. If you don't, you're playing it wrong.

I really like that the combat system is simplified. Yes, a mace is different from a longsword is different from a spear, etc. However, all are combat implements that are effective in the hands of a competent wielder. Quibbling over differences seems misplaced. I like the Endurance/wound difference.

Although I have no experience running TOR combat, as a DM for D&Dx.y, I was very used to adjusting ACs if necessary to make the encounter balanced for the party, up or down, so the TN concerns seem irrelevant. I see the value in sharing one's experience and perception while playtesting, but I'm not worried about it.

We are starting our campaign next week, and we are simply(!) travelling from Hobbiton to Lake Town to retrieve some Elven accounts of the Battle of Five Armies, for Bilbo to add to his story. I am really looking forward to trying out the Journey rules. I have the 1E pdfs and if the party desires they may do some side adventures whilst getting there. Once we get 2E, we will decide whether to continue with what we have started, or just flip the table and begin again!
 
MDuckworth83
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue 06 Jul 2021, 03:32

Re: Never knew TOR 1E

Sun 05 Sep 2021, 18:29

I'm mixed on this concept. I agree that a D&D or Pathfinder inspired system feels very out of place in middle earth, and is too crunchy and interrupts the narrative too much. The counterbalance is that I "also" don't want a system that is "so" stripped down, that mechanics become nearly irrelevant and I'm just sitting around a kitchen narrating a story with friends with an occasional ad hoc dice roll thrown in. Some people might like that type of play (I do not), but even if you do, what are you buying $50 rulebooks that are thoroughly playtested and balanced for? If I'm going to just make everything up as a DM/GM, I don't need Free League or Francisco to do that, I can do it for free. We are paying for an internally coherent system that is playtested and balanced - somethign I cannot do on my own sitting around the table. So obviously, there is a balance.

With that said, I am mostly happy with what I see so far in 2 ed. There are definitely things in the Alpha that didn't feel nearly fleshed out enough, but there has been indication that we are to sit tight, as these were prototypes that will get further development (weapon system being the chief one mentioned). Honestly, the thing bothering me most at this point is councils. That mechanic didn't just get stripped, it got transformed. It started out as a nuanced process that could result in a variety of flavorful outcomes with varying degrees of success in 1st edition, to a simplistic binary "yes/no" system where you pretty much just run through the algorithm of best to worst social skills in the party and either accomplish a singular goal or you don't. I'm baffled at who thinks this is a better system.

Everything else I was bitching about early on though, I have pretty much come to terms with and am optimistically taking a wait and see approach.
 
baldrick0712
Posts: 284
Joined: Fri 28 May 2021, 12:29

Re: Never knew TOR 1E

Mon 06 Sep 2021, 07:09

The problem with streamlining a system is that you may end up cutting too much, similar to the way that "director's cut" versions of movies are often superior to the theatrical release versions. TOR 1e felt very much to me like a finely tuned machine - everything was there for a reason and all the subsystems seemed to work well together. I worry that the "cutting" that has been done may have gone too far and damaged this beautiful symmetry that the original version had.

For example, the condition "Miserable" in TOR 1e used to trigger a Bout of Madness whenever you rolled an Eye of Sauron. In TOR 2e, being Miserable with Shadow equal to or greater than Current Hope causes Eye of Sauron rolls to become automatic failures (a very marginal penalty seeing as a Feat Die result of zero is probably a fail anyway), and once Shadow equals or exceeds Maximum Hope, all tests become ill-favoured. Only then is a Bout of Madness possible, and it is voluntary. Characters can even Harden Will to remove Shadow and suffer a single permanent Shadow Point as a Shadow Scar, making the likelihood Shadow ever reaching Maximum Hope even less. This, to me, devalues the Miserable condition. Perhaps changes to the Shadow/Hope point economy of TOR 2e balance this but currently I don't know if this is the case, and it seems like it is breaking the Bout of Madness mechanic, which was very thematic in TOR 1e.
 
CVA
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 23:01

Re: Never knew TOR 1E

Mon 06 Sep 2021, 08:22

I cut my teeth on MERP as well, where elf wizards could fly through the air and throw fireballs from above while warriors would stumble over invisible tortoises and break their necks when trying to mount a horse.
TOR, in both 1e and 2e, is definitely vastly superior in evoking a genuine Tolkien feeling to anything that has come before.
For what it’s worth, I don’t see 2e as “stripped down” but more as a re-imagining of 1e with a tighter focus. I am not happy with everything, but the things I like seem so good to me that I am willing to go along with the rest for now.
Hope economics is actually a good example, because I hope to see some improvement in this area. I agree that 1e hope sounds fantastic on paper, but it never worked for me quite right in actual play. In our long-running campaign players fear Bouts of Madness so much that they have stopped using hope beyond what the fellowship pool provides, while Heal Corruption is about the only undertaking they will pick. 2e puts personal hope into the spotlight again and redefines madness from a semi-random Gotcha! into a game element with player agency that the may use to shape their personal story now.
So while it may seem simplified at first glance, I see it as an attempt to address some very real issues.
Whether or not that will hold true in actual play remains to be seen, of course.
 
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eternalsage
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue 31 Aug 2021, 19:41
Location: Bree

Re: Never knew TOR 1E

Tue 07 Sep 2021, 02:52

I am also a veteran GM (since the late 90s) with a laundry list of systems in my wheelhouse, ranging from the super crunch of HERO system to negligible crunch of FATE. I have also slowly been edging toward simpler systems over time (as the whole industry has, honestly). I also have run 1st ed TOR.

To me Journeys are much better, Combat is better although not extremely different, and I like the Councils, although I'll be honest to never having liked Encounters and ditching them after the first couple of sessions, so I am not entirely certain I understand MDuckworth83's complaints with it. I simply don't remember it well enough, other than thinking it was entirely cumbersome and generally less useful than just making a skill check and doing some RP.

I do 100% agree with Miserable being nerfed.... I think that the 1e had bouts of madness happen too often, but this seems to be too far in the other direction. Although shadow points are more plentiful in this, so it seems anyway, so we'll see. May just need to ditch "Harden Will." Although I will say that Tolkien had definite Bouts of Madness in his stories, I mean Thorin, Boromir, and Turin all had them, and the movie version of Frodo does as well, which fits the altered narrative of the movies quite well, but none of those characters were breaking down constantly. It is something to consider seriously.

I pretty much only miss the Cultural Rewards. Everything else is either a minor inconvenience or actually better. And that is honestly pretty minor to fix as well, since I have my 1e books to draw from. They were just added a lot more flavor to the choice of culture. And changing Broken Spells back to the 1e version, for the same reason. Like, 99% of my issues are solvable by just bringing over stuff from 1e that was left out, because its almost all "adds flavor" and very little "changes mechanics" stuff.

Also, I don't really believe in "balance" as I don't think that is really possible. Some players are willing to have characters that are basically useless because the backstory is neat and others want to add all the bonuses, and you really can't "balance" that in the rules. As long as it feels like Tolkien then I am not worried about it.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King
 
gull2112
Topic Author
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu 26 Aug 2021, 19:11

Re: Never knew TOR 1E

Wed 08 Sep 2021, 16:56

I agree with many of the concerns here, but I am very excited to wait and see. All of the changes started as an idea and then were playtested. Sometimes in the comments it's as if they think that these changes were just spit-balled ideas that are being forced down people's throats. Most of them originated from oft repeated complaints through the years of 1E, that are finally getting addressed.

Of course, if they drop something that your group feels is absolutely critical, you can always home rule it back in.
 
User avatar
eternalsage
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue 31 Aug 2021, 19:41
Location: Bree

Re: Never knew TOR 1E

Wed 08 Sep 2021, 18:12

Totally agree. And honestly, if you don't end up liking 2e, no one is going to come and burn your 1e books lol. Nothing wrong with playing old editions. My group has several games that we prefer an older version of.

All in all, I'm happy this is happening and excited to be here. Lol.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King

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