Review: Free League Publishing – Ruins of the Lost Realm (The One Ring)

Ruins of the Lost Realm
Ruins of the Lost Realm is a supplement for The One Ring, written by Gareth Hanrahan, Francesco Nepitello, Michael Duxbury, David Esbri, Lorenzo Fanelli, Sara Gianotto, and Diogo Nogueira and published by Free League Publishing.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about The One Ring here
Purchase Ruins of the Lost Realm here (paid link)
Find other The One Ring posts here

Ruins of the Lost Realm is an intuitive supplement detailing the lands of Eriador as envisioned by the RPG developers (because they don’t match Tolkien 100%). It is presented in three parts – the first part details a number of larger locales for adventuring, the second part looks at the people of this region and what the GM can do with it, and the third and final part zooms in on specific locations in complete detail for running actual encounters. It is a complete supplement in the hands of the GM, but doesn’t really present any content for the player. It does touch base on historical locations provided by Tolkien, but it’s not what I would considered a book for those who want to absorb the canon of the setting. It’s more of a way of taking Middle-earth and fleshing out areas that Tolkien did not (that really exists?!).

The way Ruins of the Lost Realm was developed is quite amazing to me. I love how it zooms in and out of the setting, people, and places to provide different perspectives and history of the region, giving the GM the opportunity to take it in almost any direction. It does assume you are playing in the same date as The One Ring, but other than that the sky’s the limit. The one thing I do think it is missing is how you could take this setting and create PCs from it or even how you can create customized, memorable NPCs (although it does include many for you). However, it’s ultimately a setting book for building adventures and not a companion book to the core rulebook for expanding character possibilities. In all honesty, if you combine Ruins of Lost Realm with the core rulebook region and the 1st edition core rulebook region, you have a huge area to explore (and it even includes the hex map)! Literally an endless amount of possibilities. After all, Middle-earth is as much about the depth of the world as it is the events going on throughout it.

Each location includes a map zoomed in at an appropriate scale. The details surrounding these maps provides everything you need to run an adventure, but it doesn’t piece together a campaign or larger story arch for you. That’s another thing missing… suggested campaign designs, overarching storylines, and motivations for running through all these different locales. But sometimes you just need to let the players lead the way and drop bits and pieces in when necessary. This book definitely gives you that ability.

It will be interesting to see if Free League Publishing develops other setting supplements like this. It’s a great way to really dig into what’s possible within Middle-earth, but players may want to get more out of these releases. GMs will definitely find no shortage of information, and this is a great supplement to add to your library!

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