Review in Summary
The newly-released Strider Rules present additional and modified rules to play The One Ring 2e entirely on your own, or potentially in a small group, all without the aid of a Loremaster. If you crave adventure in Middle Earth but can’t get a group together to play The One Ring or if you just want to tell a story where the spotlight stays firmly on your own character, the Strider Rules are for you.
Much of the story is told using randomizers to introduce unpredictable elements which would normally be determined by your Loremaster. This allows your story to surprise you, but still requires you to fill in the details. The mechanics are slightly adapted to support solo play, but don’t deviate far enough from the core rules that they might feel frustrating or unfamiliar. It’s mostly changes to some tables and additional concerns about how to handle challenges.
While the Strider Rules are certainly intended for solo play, the tools included are wonderful creative tools for Loremasters and for game masters in other systems. Randomizing details, decision points, story hooks, and even simple yes or no questions can allow game masters to break through the analysis paralysis which many GM’s feel when the players ask an unexpected question like “does this town have a place to buy goats?” or “is this person wearing a hat?”.
I’m impressed by how thoroughly the Strider Rules managed to adapt the core rules to solo play. Everything has been thought of down to “what if I want to be an archer but still get into fights?”, so nearly any character that would fit into a regular game of The One Ring will easily work in solo play.
If you plan to pick up a copy of The One Ring and the Strider Rules, physical and digital copies are available now. I strongly recommend a copy of the Lore Master Screen due to how frequently you’ll be referencing tables during solo play.
- Core Rulebook (digital) (affiliate link)
- Core Rulebook (physical) (affiliate link)
- Lore Master Screen and Rivendell Compendium (digital) (affiliate link)
- The Strider Rules (digital) (affiliate link)
- The Strider Rules (physical) – Not yet available anywhere that I can find them
Solo Roleplaying in Middle Earth
I read a lot of tabletop RPGs. And, as a result, I want to play the vast majority of them. Tragically, my friends and I are bound by the finite nature of time, so there simply isn’t enough time to play every tabletop RPG at length.
Which makes solo roleplaying a very enticing prospect.
The One Ring’s Strider Rules offer a gentle introduction to solo roleplaying. Within the first few pages of the supplement you’ll find a quick primer on what solo roleplaying is, how it works, and how to make it work in The One Ring 2e.
The story is shaped primarily by the player, but the Strider Rules also offer tables of prompts, events, quest, etc. to provide fodder for your imagination. Each patron offers 6 quest prompts, which should offer a huge amount of play time.
The core rules for The One Ring are adapted in a few key ways in order to support solo play. Some tables are replaced, some Journey Phase rules work differently, and much of the way you tell the story is left up to the player to invent with the aid some randomizer tables.
But the resolution mechanics are otherwise the same, so if you’re already familiar with The One Ring’s dice mechanics you’re already ready to go. Just remember which versions of the tables to reference if you’re playing solo or as a group.
A Singular Hero
Characters built for solo play are slightly more powerful than new characters in a conventional game (meaning that you get more points for “prior experience”) and advance more quickly than they do a typical game. This makes it easier for solo characters to survive, which is crucial in a game where you need to address every challenge unassisted, and the rules for character creation steer the player away from Virtues which are intended for group play so that you don’t find yourself with a pile of unusable character options. The Strider Rules also introduce a new combat stance intended to make combat work for singular heroes.
Normally, characters are expected to gain 2 Skill Points and 2 Adventure Points every session (adjusted up or down for session length). The Strider Rules instead grant 3, so your solo character not only starts with more experience, but gains it more quickly, too.
The Strider Rules also present a table of “Experience Milestones” to use an alternative to the session-based experience progression, granting Skill and/or Adventure Points when you accomplish certain things. This is great if your session durations aren’t consistent, and it could also be a good variant for regular group play.
Combat in Strider Mode works in essentially the same way as in regular group play. However, the combat rules only allow characters to fight in a Rearward stance (that’s the one for ranged combat) if there are enough allies in melee stances to engage all of the enemies in the current combat.
This would normally mean that a solo character simply can’t fight at range once you’re through the opening volleys, but the Skirmish Stance introduces a way to simulate running around to stay out of reach while fighting at range. This makes it difficult for enemies to attack you in melee, but also makes it more difficult for you to attack with a ranged weapon, so you’re making a calculated trade. Against numerous foes, this is a great option.
Even so, don’t hesitate to flee. There’s no one to rescue you if you’re beaten unconscious by an orc far from the comforts of home.
Telling Your Own Stories
To aid in storytelling, the Strider Rules offer the Telling Table and Lore Table.
The Telling Table provides a way to randomize Yes or No questions with a way to account for likelihood. For example, you might ask “is it raining”, determine the likelihood based on location and season (perhaps “Likely” in late fall in the Shire) and roll to determine the result.
The Lore Table is a crucial storytelling device, allowing you to randomly generate the nature of basically anything. For example, if your hobbit messenger finds a road-side inn, you might roll for the nature of the person managing the inn, rolling a feat die and a skill die to pick both the table and aspect. If you were to roll a 4 on the feat die and a 2 on the skill die, you would describe the innkeeper as “Fierce” (aspect). You might roll for another traveler at the same in and find a “Sombre” (aspect) (yes, they used the non-American English spelling) character who wants to “Search” for something (action) in some local “Ruins” (focus).
These tables should be easy to plunder for any TTRPG system in either solo or group play, and I fully intend to do so.
But it’s not all friendly elves and visits to Tom Bombadill to sing songs. The Strider Rules also recommend using the optional Eye Awareness rules, which presents a persistent threat from The Enemy. The system is modified somewhat so your Eye Awareness score resets after every Fellowship phase. This prevents a single character from rapidly accumulating so much awareness that adventuring becomes too dangerous to continue, but creates the possibility of a “Revelation Episode”, which is a broadly-defined event where something bad happens.
A Lot of Game in a Small Package
The entirety of the Strider Rules totals just 27 pages, 8 of which are an appendix with consolidated tables for easy reference. This is a quick read with a lot to unpack, and by combining the unpredictability of the randomizer tables you can get a huge amount of story out of the small amount of content presented.
Conclusion and summary of personal opinions
I’m very impressed by this. I don’t typically go for solo roleplaying because I enjoy the collaborative play experience so much, but the Strider Rules have caught my interest. The amount of tables involved is somewhat daunting, but, with a little bit of practice, I think this could be a really fun way to spend a quiet evening imagining elves and hobbits braving an exciting and dangerous world on their own.