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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

The One Ring

I love RPGs. I do. I must have enough systems from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Star Trek on my shelves and in electronic form to see me through a few thousand lifetimes.

I've run a few adventures using Adventures in Middle Earth, but prior to that, through Humble Bundle, I'd picked up The One Ring system and set of books. I've always wanted to play in that world, to experience it as an adventurer (not just a GM) and using the mystic forces of Discord, I found a group to join.

And I just found out, because I wasn't looking, that Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan (The Gutter Prayer - such a great book!) wrote a lot of the books for it!

My first adventure - being rescued from a cave troll and some bandits, was this weekend. One of the aspects I like of the system (and its DnD AiME version) is the Fellowship Phase. Just because the Adventure is over, doesn't mean your character just sits around and twiddles his or her thumbs waiting for the next. Oh no! There are things to do. Skills to learn, people to meet, sanctuaries to open, wealth to be earned or spent.

What's more, many folks invest in their characters during this time, placing them in the world, making them a real part of a fictional world (about which more has been written than any other - there is a lot of lore!). Well, that's a great excuse to do some writing in Tolkien's world and exercise the imagination - it is also good to step away from my own worlds for a bit and just freshen up the ol' brain.

So, as I did some writing I can share; you'll find my little account of my first Fellowship Phase below - Footsore, for that is my character's name, has travelled across the mountains from the Great Forest seeking to find those who will listen to his worries about a growing darkness in the forest. (With a nod to the characters and descriptions written in the Bree Guide by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan - thanks.)

Bree. Strange, loud, busy. A crush of people who seem forever in a rush to be somewhere important and little time for courtesy. Their lives given to the pursuit of coin and wealth, and small care for their surroundings. Houses lean one upon the other, dark alleys and paths lead to dead ends where the scatterings of civilisation gather; rubbish, rotting meat and vegetables, and those fallen on hard times.

My new friends seem to belong here. Each to their own degree. They wear the town as a familiar coat, not much loved or prized perhaps, but as one they know will keep them warm and the rain from their skin. I thank them for rescuing me from the Troll and bandits. Already they have proved themselves more caring than those who inhabit this tangle of homes, shops, and merchants.

As soon as was courteous, I left Bree. The familiar weight of my bow and quiver, the heft of my axe in my hand, are a comfort. The smooth wood of the axe haft, planed and shaped by my people, polished by the years of practice and use are a reminder of my home to the East. My bow, my source of food and protection in the wilds, was crafted by my father and gifted to me when the sun rose on my fourteenth summer.

My only discomfort is the weight of the gold in my pack. Such wealth as I never imagined, nor can I consider what to do with it. Yet the people of Bree must think this a small sum, for coins of silver seem to flow like the Anduin through their hands, spilling as a waterfall into the waiting grasp of merchants, traders, inn keepers, stable owners.

I feel it, heavy on my shoulders and thoughts. The gold is a measure of my guilt. One for each month I have failed to find those who will listen to my concerns, who will acknowledge the descent of darkness once more upon the forest.

Breathing deep of the air on the walk to Archet, my confidence returned. I may not know the lands here about, but I am in the wilds where I belong, where I feel safe. The woods surrounding Archet are as nothing compared to the Great Forest, but the darkness of my home does not lie heavy on this small remnant of forest which once covered the world. I can feel the welcome of the trees, recognise the sounds of the woodland, know the ebb and flow of life here. It is not home, but it is familiar.

Archet is a small village, a little larger perhaps than those of my home or even Rhosgobel. Here the homes are built to be part of the land, or the trees, though most cluster around a clearing as my people’s do. Strange though, to see people move about their village without a care or weapon close to hand, even if they spare me only measuring stares. I spoke to some of the villagers, inquiring about a home, a place to rest my head while I stay here. A tent in the forest would suit me. A house of branch and leaves I built myself, with a fire to keep me warm when winter comes. I need little, but I sense it is important to belong, to fit in if I want to convince those around of my need.

I met a man, Talltree by name, in the Archet’s Inn. Those hereabouts give him respect and as his height exceeds mine, as does the girth of his arms, I am minded to do the same. Against all looks, he speaks in a soft voice, but the large axe resting against the table tells its own story. After an ale or two, and an exchange of stories, he has granted me permission to take over an empty home on the outskirts of the village.

The last owner, an old lady, moved to Bree to be with her daughter and help raise the girl’s child. Rent I’ll pay to him and he’ll see to it the woman receives it. There is something about the man, the way he carries himself and his guarded words that reminds me of my father and his family. For that reason, I’ll trust him - and I’ll need his permission to hunt in the forest, so I am caught between the boar and the tree.

When nights fall on the village, the Inn and Hall become the place of meeting. My coin, tucked beneath a board in my new home, is spent careful here. There is no denying, even to myself, that I am not alone, but the company of these villagers is enough. The tales they tell of the lands here are deepening my knowledge and they seem grateful of the tales I share. The exchange of stories and history may yet be our salvation, binding people tighter than our differences force us apart.

The visits from my new companions are a highlight of my days. Robin drops by more often than the other, she knows the area well and I can learn from her. I begin to get to know them a little, and sense they share some of my desire to wander, and to protect those they care for.

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