In 2021, Free League Publishing made Kickstarter history again. They raised over 2 million dollars to produce the second edition of The One Ring RPG. The game was a smashing success, beloved by Tolkien fans and RPG lovers alike. These fans were all of them deceived, for another game was made. In the land of Sweden, in the offices of Stockholm, Free League Publishing forged in secret a 5th edition game. And into this game, they poured the rules for DnD, their ambition, and their will to dominate all RPG tables. The Lord of the Rings 5E Roleplaying was born.
As this is a 5E port, it is not a stand-alone product. You need to know how to play 5th edition DnD. Lucky for would-be Loremasters, DnD’s basic rules are available for free online.
What is in the Lord of the Rings 5E Rulebook
The Lord of the Rings 5E Roleplaying book comes packed to the brim with content. First of all, there is the artwork. This is a mixture of color paintings, maps, and exquisite pencil sketches. The art is respectful to the Middle Earth setting and helps you get mentally prepared for a Lord of the Rings game.
Next up are the rules of which there are many, and the book provides rules for the following.
- Character Creation. Races and Classes are gone, replaced with Cultures and Callings respectively. The base game comes with six Cultures and Callings. Don’t worry, all of the main Tolkien races are present within the cultures; Men, Dwarves, Hobbits, and Elves.
- Adventure Phase. The Gameplay in The Lord of the Rings 5E is split into two phases. The first of which is called the adventure phase. This is where most of your game time will take place. You will conduct councils, meet Patrons, explore ruins, fight monsters, and all the other things you would expect from a fantasy RPG.
- Fellowship Phase. This is a downtime phase where PCs can heal scars, cleanse themselves of the shadow, conduct personal tasks, compose songs, and even take on an heir.
- Shadow Points. A new mechanic to the game is shadow points. Witnessing evil will corrupt the characters if not correctly managed. Players also gain shadow from committing misdeeds like plunder or theft. Something your average DnD player may struggle with adapting to. My players were not happy about receiving Shadow for taking loot from a crypt, which in other games is standard behavior.
- Collection of Monsters. Over 20 monster stat sheets come in the book. There are also rules for creating custom Nameless Things and the Eye of Mordors awareness.
- World Lore. Tolkien fans will rejoice at the pages of setting lore that comes packaged in the book. 30 pages of Eriador setting lore await you
- Star of the Mists. The appendix includes a small one-shot adventure that some friends and I played for this review.
Is The Lord of the Rings 5e Roleplaying worth it
Is the Lord of the Rings 5E Roleplaying any good? Or is it another cheap 5E cash grab? I am pleased to say this is a good product and Free League has done a great job converting their work. Much like the One Ring RPG this game is based on, it has a staunch commitment to bringing Middle Earth to life.
The One Ring has flaws, as all games do. The biggest is the rule set can be quite clunky. Newcomers may have found The One Ring to be a very obtuse intro to the hobby.
The 5th edition rule set is designed with the beginner in mind. This ease of access translates perfectly into the Lord of the Rings 5e Roleplaying. It is easy to teach, and experienced DnD players won’t skip a beat. From character creation to combat, this game is easy to pick up and play.
Free League has designed an easy-to-consume rule book here. The text is laid out in a way that makes finding what you need a breeze. The artwork is stunning and compliments the text rather than retracting from it. The best part is that it feels like you’re reading a Lord of the Rings product.
The Lord of the Rings 5e Roleplaying’s biggest strength and biggest weakness; is that it is DnD with extra steps. If DnD is your jam, you will feel right at home here. If you’re looking for a new experience, you’re in the wrong place friend.
That being said, loremasters should remember this is not set in the Forgotten Realms. We may be using 5E’s rules but that doesn’t mean it should be played like DnD. Hack-and-slash gameplay should be discouraged for a more deliberate and diplomatic approach.
One of my favorite additions is the rules for carrying out journeys. In DnD days or weeks of travel are narrated over a sentence or two and roll on a random event table. Here players take on different roles in the adventure like scout or hunter. The journey is as important as the destination just like in Tolkien’s books. These rules are easy to reverse-engineer for other games, like DnD or Pathfinder.
The Lord of the Rings 5e Roleplaying is a wonderful reimagining of Free League Publishing’s the One Ring system. First off, if you’re a Tolkien fan and a DnD fan, this is a must-try for you. A new setting is always welcome, and this one respects its source material well. If you hate DnD this isn’t for you; it doesn’t do anything special to elevate the 5E rules. If you’re desperate to roleplay in middle earth, then you’re in luck. Free League also has The One Ring RPG for you to try instead.
The Lord of the Rings 5e Roleplaying is a wonderful game set in a beautiful world and gets a full recommendation from me. Are you looking for expansion content? You should read our review of the Shire Adventures and Rivendell Compendium next.
The game releases on 09/02/2023 and retails for $49 for a physical copy and $24.99 for a PDF. You can order it here. Thank you for reading.