Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/07/30/tabletop-review-the-one-ring-loremasters-screen-and-lake-town-guide/
This is a review of the PDF version of the Screen and Lake-Town source booklet from Cubicle 7 for their Tolkien RPG, The One Ring. I will add some comments about the actual physical, rather than the electronic, product at the end.
The One Ring product release schedule hasn’t lived up to expectations and, although a Loremaster’s’ Screen will always have been on it, I am guessing it appeared reasonably quickly to appease the fans of the system in their personal quest for a Middle-Earth “fix.” That said though, the production value on the PDF is high. The art matches that which can be found in the Core set and subsequent releases, and the writing is of a high standard.
First: The “main” part of this is, obviously, the screen. The “exterior” artwork shows Lake-Town itself in all its glory. It looks good and has a smallish “The One Ring” logo in a lower right corner on one of the four panels. On the Loremaster’s side there are a stack of tables, all individually referenced, which is a good idea. There is very little space for fluff and, other than the obligatory copyright notices, a single and very apt quote from Thorin Oakenshield : “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.” Now, obviously, you need to print this out and mount it to make proper use of it as a screen, and this is where it falls down a bit. The reality is that it makes a great set of pages containing charts but, unless you have something like the Savage Worlds System Screen, which is, in effect, a plastic folder you can put loose sheets in, it becomes a lot more problematic. One option is to mount it on cardboard but, simply put, it isn’t great like that.
Second : The Lake-Town Sourcebook. This consists of thirty-two pages and is full colour, like the core rules. The art is, as always, superb, and it also contains a full isometric map of the town at the middle of the book, supported with a small overhead view. Looking at the contents, the first chapter is obviously the “Introduction,” which summarizes the background in the form of an excerpt of a letter. The second chapter is strangely called “The Map of Lake-Town.” For myself, “Gazetter” would have fit better, but that said, it takes each area of the settlement and covers it adequately, while leaving enough for Loremaster’s to add in their own meat to make the town their own. Next comes “Things to do while in Lake-Town.” This is a section of three new fellowship phase actions unique to the environ, supplemented with two-thirds of a page concerning money and trade. Then there is “Dragontide,” a chapter covering a festival in honour of the death of Smaug. The ideas presented work quite well and could provide a few sessions play for an adventuring group. Moving on, there is “Secrets of the Long Marches,” which deals with the area immediately surrounding the town, including the flora and fauna, with a reasonable bestiary of the not-so-pleasant inhabitants. Following on from that, there is a new playable culture: “Men of the Lake,” which fits in superbly with the original character generation rules presented in the core rules. This is topped of by a proper “Index,” which is a great touch, and one missed off many such supplements by other companies. Oh, and in the end cover, there is a dedicated “Men of the Lake” blank Character Sheet.
So, to sum up: As a Screen, it really does fail to hit the mark, but as a PDF but for reference sheets and the actual source material, it is a winner, and that is what saves it overall. The price isn’t great all round but what you do get is worthwhile.
(Additional Comment : I have the actual physical product as well as the PDF, and the quality of the screen and Source book is excellent. This is one of the best quality screens I have seen, and matches Cubicle 7’s other such releases for Victoriana and Dr Who. )