Review: Free League Publishing – Starter Set (The One Ring)

Starter Set
The One Ring Starter Set is a core boxed quick start guide with accessories, written by Francesco Nepitello, James Michael Spahn, Marco Maggi, Lorenzo Perassi, and Michele Garbuggio and published by Free League Publishing.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about Starter Set here
Purchase Starter Set here (paid link)
Find other The One Ring posts here

Although The One Ring: Starter Set is a Quick Start set, it’s really more than just that. It is a complete game in a box that includes a compressed version of the rules, a deep delve into part of the setting (the Shire), a full adventure, pre-generated characters, and some fun accessories to make the game that much more exciting. While this sounds like a typical Quick Start set, there’s a lot more utility than that because the included setting and adventure are completely different than what comes in the core rulebook and the pre-generated characters are all hobbits (which gives you not only PCs for the players but NPCs for the GM). Not only does it get your gaming group quickly into an adventure, it provides the GM with a portion of the setting that is much more detailed than what is presented in the core rulebook, effectively providing you with a perfect launching point to start your campaign!

The One Ring core rulebook includes the entirety of the Eriador setting from a fairly high-level standpoint. The Starter Set introduces the same setting and includes a map of Eriador, but really the focus is on the Shire. Which is where the utility value comes in as you get a detailed map of the Shire and a full blown setting guide (56 pages in fact). The only drawback is that your only option if played as-is out of the box is for everyone to take on the role of a hobbit. If you don’t want to play a hobbit, well you’re out of luck because that’s all you get. The larger game includes elves, dwarves, and humans, but the Starter Set is more focused. Although honestly, if you were to include all of them then you would pretty much end up with the core rulebook.

The Shire setting guide goes throughout all aspects of the Shire including a look at the history, its geography, and gazetteers of each area within the Shire. This allows you to add a lot of details to your games either when traveling through the Shire or using it as a destination for your adventure. To be honest, you could create an entire campaign based in the Shire simply by combining the core rulebook and this Starter Set. But then, there’s no need to create the beginning of this campaign yourself as the set includes a 36-page adventure! Oh, and just to throw this out there, one of the pregens is Bilbo Baggins.

If you’re a GM, I recommend picking up the Starter Set in addition to the core rulebook. It’s not just a quick start, it’s much more than that and worth the purchase! Unless you don’t care about the Shire or hobbits… but then if you didn’t, why would you want to play a game in Middle-earth?

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