The Travels of Duinhir Tailwind: Session 5 is a game session report for The One Ring. We played in my living room on .
The morning of May 11th, the travelers gather before the Kettlebar family. Duinhir Tailwind shoulders a traveling pack with his unstrung bow. He leans on his spear.
Artie, the youngest, has loaded his pack with supplies. His right hand grasps a freshly hewn maple spear, it’s wooden tip blackened by fire. His left holds the tether to Clover, a donkey loaded with further supplies.
Daisy, a woman of middle age, also has a new spear. Loosely tied to her leather belt is a sling and a pack of stones. She carries a smaller pack.
And last is Old Nob, a grizzled man hardened by many winters. His ax, hunting bow, and pack lie on the ground. He’s busy tightening Artie and Daisy’s packs, helping shift the load to make traveling easier.
With hugs and well wishes from the family, the travelers depart.
The path of the return journey is to follow the Baranduin to Sarn Ford, then follow the North-South road where it meets the Greenway. Then head north along the Greenway back to Bree. This is a journey of 9 hexes.
As they set out, Old Nob starts sharing wisdom of the road with young Artie, “Now Artie, you’re tending Clover. It is your job to find the path that you know he’ll take. To be mindful of Clover’s weariness. And to ensure the supplies he carries are well tended.”
Duinhir quickens his pace to get ahead of them all, and turns and stops, “We’ll be on the road for more than a week. We should establish how we’re traveling together now, before we get ahead of ourselves.”
The Kettlebars stop and look at Duinhir then to Old Nob.
“And I suppose you’re going to tell us when and where we rest?” inquires Old Nob.
As Loremaster I want Duinhir to Persuade them that he should be the Guide. These are Standard stakes.
With no ranks, I choose to spend a point of Hope and invoke Duinhir’s Distinctive Feature of Folk-Lore; now Inspired Duinhir will roll 2 dice plus the Feat die.
“I’m not saying the lad can’t do this, but I’m the one who’s most recently traveled this way. I am best prepared to guide us to Bree. Traveling anywhere near the Barrow Downs is not a time nor place for learning the ways of the road. Many a young traveler have disappeared amongst the hungry fog,” says Duinhir.
Let’s roll that Persuade test. Duinhir rolls a 5 and the Feat die comes up ⏿. Failure!
I spend a bit of time re-reading the rules to understand how I, as the Loremaster might interpret this result.
I think that Duinhir has hit a nerve in the Kettlebars. They’ll begrudgingly let him Guide them, but they won’t take too fondly to him, continuing to look at him as an outsider.
Snapping back, Old Nob says, “Very well master guide. Do tell us how you’d like us to help on this journey.”
Not quite reading the situation, Duinhir says, “Well, Old Nob it looks as though you are equipped to help keep us provision. And Artie you should keep a rein on Clover and an eye out for trouble. Pay attention to Clover, that beast may well give us a warning to any trouble. Last, Daisy, help scout and find us good places for camping. With a bit of luck we can make it there without any delays.”
This hits a nerve, but the Kettlebars tacitly agree. Duinhir turns and begins leading them. Behind his back the Kettlebars exchange looks of frustration.
The First Travel Test on the Way to Bree
Duinhir gathers his 3 Success dice for Travel and two Feat die, as this is a Favoured skill. Duinhir gets a ᚠ with 1 Շ icon. Their first event happens 4 squares from the Kettlebar farmstead; just north of the crossroads along the Greenway.
I roll a Six-sided die (d6 📖) to determine the Event Target. The company’s Hunter will face the event: “Ill-Choices”
Old Nob must make a Hunting test. I haven’t statted up Old Nob but let’s give him a Hunting skill rating of 3 (I rolled 1d3+1).
Old Nob gets a 17 plus 1 Շ. Success and then some.
On the fourth day of travel, the 15th of May for those keeping tally, the company has turned northward. After some light rain and contending with mud, Duinhir agrees to halt a bit early.
Old Nob, stoic and sour mumbles that he’s going to go track down some game for the evening meal.
Not knowing to keep his mouth shut, Duinhir says, “Be cautious the Barrow Downs are nearby and with night coming and these clouds, I’d hate for them to lure you in.”
Old Nob snarls back, “Master guide, I’m no green fool dallying amongst the hills. I’m on the hunt for something warm and juicy.”
With that Old Nob strings his bow, nocks an arrow, and heads into the darkening late afternoon.
Around the fire Daisy and Artie quietly sing. Duinhir sits, making note of the passing time. Afternoon fades to dusk. And Old Nob has not returned.
Duinhir insists on more timber to the fire. “I want the fires ready for whatever game Old Nob brings back,” says Duinhir as he thinks how this fire can also be a beacon for Old Nob’s return.
Fog replaces the drizzle, a clinging late spring chill reminds the travelers everyone of the cold stony grasp of winter. And still Old Nob has yet to return.
Around the fire they look at each other. Duinhir says, “Let’s make a fire brand and I’ll go look for Old…”
“Thought the old dotard got lost? And were going to leave these young folk?” interrupts Old Nob as he comes to the edge of the campfires glow.
They all look and see Old Nob’s muddier and has a few new scratches on his hands and cheek. His bow and ax are strapped to his back. And their bellies all grumble in unison at the empty hands of the hunter.
Old Nob succeeded at his test and doesn’t gain a point of Shadow; though as an Non-Player Character (NPC 📖) I think failure should’ve been more dire.
This follows Apocalypse World 📖’s advice of putting NPCs in cross hairs.
With their first event, everyone gains 2 Travel fatigue.
The Second Travel Test on the Journey to Bree
Again Duinhir gathers his 3 Success dice for Travel and two Feat die. Duinhir succeeds with no additional Շ icons. Their next event is 2 hexes further along the Greenway. I have adopted a house rule to roll dice for the number of hexes of an event. The expected value matches the fixed values in the The One Ring 📖 rule-book. My reasons are to make the specific location of the event a bit more unpredictable. Right in between the Barrow Downs and South Downs.
For this event, I’m going to use the Strider Mode 📖 tables. As Loremaster, I figure that this is a good way to put the tension of dice on Duinhir and to test the relationship with the Kettlebars.
Grabbing the Feat die, I roll a 9 and get a “Short-cut”. Consulting the “Event Detail: Short Cut” table on page 18 of Strider Mode I get “Familiar Waypoint: Make an Awareness test to recognize a landmark.” Success means they reduce the length of their journey by 1 day.
I gather 2 Success dice and 1 Feat die. The Target Number (TN 📖) is 12 and I get an 8. Failure.
Duinhir fails to notice a fresh Ranger mark which they could’ve followed.
Everyone’s Travel fatigue is now at 3.
The Third Travel Test on the Journey to Bree
For this leg, Duinhir succeeds. The next event will occur in 1d3+1 hexes from the last event: 3 hexes. That brings them to Bree.
My read on the rules is that because the Travel test indicates that the event would occur in the hex of their destination, this does not trigger an event.
Ending the Journey Phase
It is the late afternoon of May 20th.
Duinhir makes a Travel test and clears 2 points of Travel fatigue. He then reduces his current Endurance to 24.
As Loremaster, I have a few questions to ask:
“Do the Kettlebars part ways with Duinhir?”, it is Likely but the Telling Table says “No.”
Interesting. They want further help. Perhaps along the journey they picked up the Duinhir might have a means of contacting Gert. Or that they want him to accompany them back.
“Have the traveling Kettlebars warmed to Duinhir?” The Telling Table says “No.”
So they assume he’s holding out information regarding Gert. And during the journey there was no camaraderie; which makes sense given Duinhir’s 0 rating in Enhearten and Persuade.
Consulting the Lore Table, I ask “What news of Gert has reached the folks that Duinhir could easily find in Bree?” I get the words: Endure, Mighty, and Burden.
I’ll let those rattle around a bit.
I consult the “Experience Milestones” table on page 7 of the Strider Mode supplement.
I don’t know if I’d call this a meaningful journey, which would award 2 skill points. I’ll split the difference and give 1 skill point.
I definitely would say that Duinhir completed his patron’s mission. He garners 1 adventure point and 1 skill point.
Let’s move into a Fellowship Phase
Fellowship Phase in Bree
Duinhir’s been on the road 20 days. I think he’ll take a handful of days to rest, let’s go with 5 (1d6+2).
The Kettlebars have quite a bit of work ahead of them, what with setting affairs in order, liquidating things, and packing up for a return journey. One looming question that I’ll ask the Telling Table is “Does something pull Duinhir away from Bree before the Kettlebars reach out to him?” I think there’s a Middling chance. The answer is “ᚠ Yes with an extreme result or twist.”
Oh my! But I get ahead of myself.
Back to the Fellowship Phase.
With 2 skill points, Duinhir can’t advance or open any new skills.
With 2 adventure points, Duinhir could raise his Valour or Wisdom or hold out to advance a combat skill.
Let’s nudge Duinhir’s Wisdom from 1 to 2.
During this respite, Duinhir recovers all of his Hope; he was down 3 and with a Heart of 6 would recover 6.
Last, I choose the Gather Rumours Undertaking. And with Duinhir’s calling as a Messenger, he freely takes the Meet Patron Undertaking.
As Loremaster this is a lot to consider. What does Gandalf want? And what else is there that Duinhir might learn?
This post grows long, so I’m not going to delve further. Those are all things to explore in my next session.
While Duinhir hasn’t engaged with the combat subsystem, I’m definitely appreciating the procedures of this game. The Journey Phase is a nice middle-ground between hand-waving and the finer grained daily travel procedures of other games.
I love the elegance of Travel Fatigue as an accumulating “penalty” that grows during the Journey Phase. The procedure delineates the crisp boundaries between subsystems. Something I appreciate when engaging with the mechanics of a game.
Contrast this with the defacto Dungeons and Dragons: Fifth Edition (5E 📖) travel experience and it’s comical how the game’s Long Rest obviates most all travel tribulations.
If you want a game that has traveling adventures, look to the procedures. As one would hope The One Ring gets this very right. After all it is working to emulate the traveling adventures from The Lord of the Rings 📖.
As Loremaster, I decide that the Kettlebars have in mind the following travel roles:
The Guide is in charge of all decisions regarding route, rest, and supplies. As tender of Clover, Artie seems to be the natural choice.
Duinhir, a Ranger, is accustomed and well-trained for being a Guide. Perhaps a little tension as they set out.