Keeping Up Appearances – The Appearance Stat

A nice round 11 stats

Deconstructing Rolemaster a little, the stats system is not particularly outstanding. The whole stats system lacks conviction, there is one option to use just a single stat bonus with skills, another to use the average of two or three stats and the latest version with smaller stat bonuses that are added together. If you bring HARP into the frame then there are 8 stats, in Rolemaster there are 10 stats if you ignore the poor relation of Appearance that makes 11 stats.

Shadow World “Neng”, Race or Monster?


Peter’s blog Monday, “Is a Kenku a race or a monster” made me think about the Neng, a creature/race in the “Artificial Beings” section of the Shadow WorldM Master Atlas. SW has a great many odd races: Hirazi, Jhordi, Kuluku, Quaidu, Synshari, so it always struck me that Neng could be moved to the race section and available as a PC choice. Terry in fact states that the Neng can breed/reproduce and qualify as a race.

Is a Kenku a race or a monster?

I came across the Kenku last week and I really like them. The basic idea is that these are humanoid avians. They are great mimics, infact they have not language of their own but rather string learned phrases together from what they have heard but all in perfectly mimicked form of the original voice. They are also natural thieves.

I am debating as to whether they should be a monster or a race when converting them over to Rolemaster. As a monster they are rather weak but as a race they require a lot more effort from the GM to prepare them before time.

The Many Narrative Perspectives of Shadow World


There can be no argument that Terry has designed Shadow World with a strong meta-narrative. These over-arching plots, high level NPC’s and secretive organizations reinforce an image of SW has a high fantasy adventure setting. Multi-chapter adventures like the Legacy of the Sea Drake Crown and the Grand Campaign may discourage GM’s from adopting the SW setting or see it poorly suited to low level “one and done” adventures given the rich history and background presented.

Limitless-Adventures Sword Coast Encounters

Sword Coast Encounters

Limitless Adventures have very kindly given me review copies of three of their ‘Encounters’ booklets. What I like about Limitless Adventures is that they sound like a Tuesday night gaming group that every time they have a great idea they publish it, and why the heck not?

The first of these I am going to look at is Sword Coast Encounters. What you actually get is 10 ‘5e’ encounters each confined to a single page for ease of printing. Each contains the opening scene, creature or antagonists stats, a GM only explanation of what is actually happening, advice on scaling the encounter to different challenge levels, the treasure and finally adventure hooks that could spin off of this encounter. When the encounters refer to locations or NPCs these are nicely grounded in the Sword Coast (in this instance). Below is one example.

Shadow World Creature Ideas: The Soulless.


While I’ve posted up quite a few files, bits and excerpts from our Shadow World campaign over at the RM Forums, I put many of them up with minimal explanation or background. Since we are in the Halloween season I wanted to go back and discuss one of my posting in more detail: The Soulless or UnMen.

We’ve always run Shadow World as “monster-lite”, preferring the unique creatures (Shards, Gogor, Kaden etc) over the traditional ubiquitous fantasy RPG monsters. But generally my group is dealing with human/humanoid adversaries rather than fantastical ones. Shadow World does have one over-arching “foe”, the Unlife, but that tends to be an abstract malevolence that also raises quite a few questions. In our own campaign, we’ve made a distinction between good/evil and the Unlife and eliminated the entire “anti-Essaence” concept that further muddied the waters. We also distanced the Charon pantheon from the definition of “evil” to a more “chaotic” one.

But I did want a better mechanism to manifest the Unlife to my players and I also wanted to replace the traditional D&D Undead that can genericizes a SW campaign. Thus the “Soulless” (“UnMen” to some societies) so named because the hosts eyes turn black. The Soulless can occur in 3 ways: the animation of a dead body (“zombification” which replaces some Undead types and allows for Unlife Necromancy), the possession of a living host (replaces Demonic possession and ties into corruption of a person accessing the Unlife) and in some cases the Non-Corporeal manifestation of the Unlife (replaces Wraiths, Spectres etc).

I like this solution because it shoehorns into the existing spell system, ( “Turning Undead”, “Possession”, of Slaying “Evil”, detection of “Evil”), while it also replaces known, generic Undead with a setting specific adversary. Like Undead, we’ve built the Soulless into “Classes” I-VI with powers and abilities that increasing accordingly. Both Unlife animation and possession touch upon common tropes popular in culture: Fear the Walking Dead, Ash v Evil Dead etc, but add unpredictability and even paranoia to the group. Anyone or anything could be “infected” with the Unlife. Even better, it unifies differing and problematic mechanisms created by the “gap” between the RM ruleset and SW setting.

In this Halloween season, maybe it’s time to introduce your players to the “new and improved Unlife”: the Soulless

Last Session Debrief #1 Zombies!

There is so much I can write about after the last session I don’t really know where to start.

Firstly, the house from Saltwater Marsh worked perfectly so thank you for that suggestion.

Secondly the Spooky effects from Azukail Games were brilliant and even before the players worked out the place was haunted they were beginning to say that the session was getting creepy. That is all you can ask for really when GMing a bunch of 50 year olds!

GM’ing Navigators in your Shadow World campaign: Stick to the Code.


I like to use Navigators in our campaigns. Like Loremasters and Essaence Flows, Navigators can allow the GM to inject direction and narrative changes into the game. Plus SW is a dangerous place–and Navigators give the party added insurance when travelling through the wilderness.

It seems like some GM’s are reluctant to using Navigators. Reading posts on the RM Forums there are a few main areas of concern that people post about:

  1.  Cost. Navigators are expensive–and forget about using them for a Jump (teleport)!


Doctors of Ancient Egypt

In Casting Mechanics Pt. 2 we discussed our reworking of the Essence spell lists. In this post we’ll tackle our deconstruction and rebuild of the Channeling lists.  Recent posts by Peter talked about his difficulties with the Channeling realm. For Project BASil we rewrote Channeling spells (rather than eliminate it), but I agree that the Channeling realm presents some problems. In short, the Channeling realm is dependent on the setting, world build and presence and type of Dieties. D&D and Spell Law deal with this by making Channeling spells fairly generic and “vanilla”—it took the Channeling Companion to really dig into “Aspect Lists” and rules for more flexibility for Clerics and other Channeling Professions.

Articles and discussion on Roleplaying in general and various settings including Shadow World, Forgotten Realms and Aioskoru. We talk about pen and paper roleplaying as well as play by post. We have a strong interest in Rolemaster but also play and love other games