The Darkening Wild
Every encounter has a Tolerance score – the number of times you can mess up socially before the conversation is over. In most cases, this will just mean an angry rebuff or brush-off – in other cases, this might mean that the encounter escalates into a combat.
Tolerance is determined by what the NPC values more: Wisdom or Valour. The highest applicable score in the fellowship provides the base Tolerance. This is reduced for the NPC’s prejudices (Elves and Dwarves mistrust each other, Beornings mistrust Dwarves, etc.) and increased for any applicable Standing the PCs have.
Introductions come first, using either Courtesy or Awe, and PCs can introduce themselves individually, or choose a spokesperson for the group. Next the PCs seek information, or assistance, or try to deceive the NPC, etc. This might involve more Courtesy, Persuade, Insight, Song or Riddle depending on the PCs’ approach. (For now, I’m saying that traits cannot be used for automatic successes in an encounter).
The journey begins with the players choosing their route based on the player map, and the Loremaster referencing his own map to determine how long it will take to travel and what hazards they might encounter. Any player can also make a Lore roll – if they fail, they lose a day, but if they succeed the can choose one of three benefits (two with a critical success, three with an extraordinary success):
- One member of the fellowship automatically succeeds on their journey roll for one leg
- One member of the fellowship makes journey rolls at TN 12 instead of 14
- The journey takes one day less to complete
For each leg of the journey (and legs are defined by similar terrain or similar hazards), each member of the fellowship rolls based on their role:
- The Guide rolls Travel to keep to the right path and keep a steady pace
- The Scout rolls Explore to choose a camp-site and explore treacherous terrain
- The Hunter rolls Hunting to supplement the fellowship’s food stores
- The Look-out man rolls Awareness during the last watch, and to be aware of changes in the weather
Depending on the quest, there might be other rolls: Search or Hunting to find tracks, Explore to find a safe trail, Athletics to guide a boat safely, or Lore to remember useful information about a ruin.
Success means things go smoothly. Failure means the PC, and possibly the whole fellowship, loses endurance. An Eye of Sauron result triggers a hazard, and a Gandalf rune triggers a boon of some sort.
Hazards are scenes where something goes wrong and the PCs have to work together to solve the problem, or they might just be some inconvenience that is imposed on the players, depending on the situation – anything from a puzzle to a combat to one of the fellowship becoming Weary or being forced to make an extra corruption roll.
First, test for surprise. If the PCs are surprised, they do not have the initiative and their foes go first. They are also unable to shoot an opening volley, though one can be shot at them. If the PCs surprise their foes, this is reversed.
Second, test Battle. There is no penalty for failure, but if you succeed, you gain an advantage die to use some time during the combat, plus one die for one tengwar and two dice for two tengwars.
Third, choose stance: Forward, Open, Defensive or Rearward.
Forward Stance: defense is 6 + parry, TN to attack is 6 + opponent’s parry. Instead of attacking you can attempt to intimidate your foes. Test Battle or Awe. With a success your foes lose one Hate, and one more for each tengwar rolled. Failure means you lose one Hope.
Open stance: defense is 9 + parry, TN to attack is 9 + opponent’s parry. You can attempt to rally your allies, inspiring them to fight on. Roll Song or Inspire, and success grants all allies one endurance point, plus one for each tengwar rolled. Failure means you lose one Hope.
Defensive stance: defense is 12 + parry, TN to attack is 12 + opponent’s parry. You can intercede for an ally, taking a blow intended for them. The attack is resolved as if you were the target, including damage, wounding, and so on.
Rearward stance: defense is 12 + parry, TN to attack is 12 + opponent’s parry. You can choose to aim for a full turn, and if your next shot hits, it is automatically counted as a piercing blow. To be in this stance, at least two allies must be in one of the close combat stances.
Changing stance requires an action, unless it is after the opening volley.
Attempting to flee automatically succeeds for those in defensive and rewarward stance, while those in forward or open stance have to roll Athletics.
Normal attacks reduce endurance by the damage value of the weapon, plus the PCs damage modifier (usually Body score) for each tengwar rolled. If you roll your edge or higher on the feat die, you have landed a piercing blow and threaten a wound, and your opponent must make an armor test against a TN equal to your weapon’s edge score to avoid being wounded.
When your endurance is equal to or less than your fatigue score, you become weary, and 1s 2s and 3s don’t count on skill dice (the d6s).
If you are wounded and have zero endurance, or you are wounded twice, you are out of the fight and need immediate care or risk dying. If you are reduced to zero endurance, you collapse in exhaustion, possibly unconscious.