The most significant value lies in the eight maps that covers each of the four large regions of Middle-Earth, Eriador (where the Shire, Bree and Rivendell lies and the site of ancient Arnor), Wilderland (which is the initial focus of the setting), Gondor & Rohan and Mordor.
The hexed maps are essential if you wish to use the Middle-Earth travel system. In this system area has a colour code and a symbol for how difficult and dangerous the terrain is. With the core books you only get the map for Wilderland, so if you run a game in one of the other areas these maps are needed (I guess you can make something similar yourself, with some graphic skills!).
The booklet contains expanded events, rules and inspiration for generating random NPC-encounters on the road, inspiration and random tables for creating ruins, a few groups of enemies, a couple of camp-site battle-maps, a system for avoiding battles, a couple of pages of inspiration for sights along the way, and two pages on lodgings on the road and finally two pages on experience for journeys and travel related oaths.
Is it good?
Yes, I actually liked the supplement, and was inspired by it. As always, Cubicle 7 captures the mood of Middle-Earth very well.
The maps are of good quality, and I now have one I can hand out to my players.
The best part, was – for me – the random events, encounters on the road and the section on ruins (which covers about 2/3 of the booklet). I don’t need them that bad, as I run Wilderland Adventures, where there are dedicated event charts, but if you run a more open sandbox style game, the will be handy. But I did get a better sense of details in the setting, like which plants are you likely to find and what travelers can you meet on the road.
The section on motivations for random travelers on the road is thorough, and has some suggestions for turning expectations on its head, and they help you ask questions, that can generate plot hooks and interesting role-play situations.
Bones of the Earth
The ruin section helps you create ruins with a distinct Middle-Earth feel. The odds of encountering something dangerous is actually quite low, though. I think the best way to use the section is to spend 30 minutes rolling up a couple of ruins for later use, in stead of slowing down the game and doing it at the table. That way, you also make sure you have something ready, if you want to change the pacing of the game, or need to introduce a place to rest for the players.
The eight dangerous encounters are also handy. They run from CR 4 to 10. They claim the CR can be modified by giving the boss or the warband one of the strengths or weaknesses from the Loremaster’s Guide. I have serious doubts that they have that great an effect, as the deciding factors in encounter CR are mainly the number of attacks arrayed against the PC’s. Secondly an unusually high AC or nasty (area of effect) special ability, is normally a key danger point.
The part on avoiding battle is basically a set of skill checks, and may be useful for beginning Loremasters, but something a more experienced GM/Loremaster can wing quite easily.
The ekstra battle-maps and the oaths PC’s can make to gain experience are also ok, but minor additions, in my view.
That also goes for Lodgings on the Road, which describes the poor and rich farmhouses and inns in Middle-Earth. Again, fine inspiration, but not needed for most Loremasters.
Is it worth 30 dollars?
If you need the maps and/or if you have little time to prepare, I would say yes. But if you are on a budget, and you don’t need the maps, you can probably get more value for your money elsewhere. I would suggest the Rhovanion Region Guide. It is only 10 dollars extra, and has 135 pages of ready content and setting information. Will review it soon.
Except for the maps, there aren’t really anything in Road Goes Ever On that can’t be made by a relatively experienced Loremaster with time on her hands.
But if you – like me – are a fan, like the tables and the direct inspiration of the charts and questions, this is a useful supplement. I will definitely roll up a few things, just in case I need them in my game.
Why should you buy Road Goes Ever On:
- Your game moves outside of Wilderland
- You enjoy tables and charts for inspiration
- You want to save time preparing your game
Why should you consider buying another supplement?
- You have plenty of time to prepare
- You prefer planned encounters
- You are on a budget and don’t need the maps