I’ve been reading quite a few RPG blogs lately, and as you might imagine most of them discuss DnD or one of it’s near variants. Some of it is nostalgia (OSR), part curiosity, and general interest in other viewpoints and experiences. One thing I notice over and over–most of these other blogs and forums don’t spend too much time on rule litigation/arbitration. Most blog posts are:
Product reviews or retrospectives
In game experiences
General advice on creating content or running games.
Welcome back to the “Weekend Roundup”! It’s been several weeks since I’ve done one; it’s been hard to scan the news here in the U.S.A. without getting bogged down in political crazy. In the interim, I got a message on the RM Forums:
BHanson: Do you think you could post more roleplaying news rather than obscure or fringe stories?
All this talk about channelling got me thinking. There was also a thread on the forum of someone wanting plug and play adventures.
The problem with plug and play rolemaster adventures is that no published adventure can ever know what options are in play and which aren’t. As a rule of thumb you could optional rules relating to character creation in the companions made PCs more powerful, not less. If you accept that premise then any adventure written against the core rule books would be varyingly under powered when used with characters created with optional rules, spells and skills from the companions. As an example the core RMC core rules has no option for two weapon fighting styles which in many games are extremely common. Stunned manoeuvre is another skill that can have a huge impact on the outcome of a fight.
Why do I keep coming back to Channeling? Tackling Spell Law deconstruction and rewrite forced me to look at all the underlying assumptions around the magic system—not just RM but other games as well. I think Essence (generic magic) is easy: as long as you allow for the phenomena, then simple rules allow for casting spells. Mentalism is not much different than Essence and often conflated as Psionics. Channeling is a whole other can of worms: God given magic REALLY needs to work in a completely different way. We’ve discussed Channeling in depth in several blogs HERE, HERE and HERE.
“Fair and Balanced” is not just a Fox News blurb, but a constantly cited principle for RPG game design. But what is balance? An arbitrary viewpoint? Neutral game mechanics? “Fairness”? Often it comes down to personal opinions and long accepted norms established long ago in D&D.
RMU development is a perfect case study in the tension between rethinking a ruleset and an unquestioning loyalty to RPG tropes. The most basic assumptions are often the most discussed: Magic Users can’t wear armor; magic is broken down into 2 or 3 realms; the balanced party (Fighter, Thief, MU, Cleric); Class tropes and the definition of a particular class, etc.
In the real world right now I am studying Android development and Java programming. As a roleplayer I simply cannot do this without thinking about how I could use this to make bespoke roleplaying tools for my phone.
I am also a big fan of open source software and freeware.
The only real problem with creating Rolemaster apps is that RM is such a closed system that ICE would never agree to anything open source that anyone could take, change, expand and share.
One thing that has often frustrated me about fantasy campaign settings is how they handle time. Possibly to accommodate the lifespans of demi-humans, many published settings fall victim to the model I’ve come to call “thousands of years where nothing happens.”
I remember my first exposure to the Loremaster Series (Iron Wind and Cloudlords). One aspect that made an impression on me was the barrier aspect to the “Essence Flow”–magical currents that also acted as real physical barriers. This was more pronounced in Cloudlords where Tanara was physically isolated from other parts of Jaiman and featured very different and unique cultures. The underground, goth Duranaki, the Viking like Muri, the Inca style Yinka, the rural, gentle Suline and the Roman/heroic cloudlords. Pretty unique and cool!
With every new product Terry Amthor publishes, the world of Kulthea grows larger and more detailed, but it’s been quite a while since an updated version of the SW Master Atlas was produced. In truth, there has been a tremendous amount of world building material generated, but it’s been scattered among the various SW supplements over the last 30 years.
I am truly terrible at maps. Thankfully one of the best fantasy cartographers I have ever come across is Dyson Logos. His blog, Dyson’s Dodecahedron, is an immense resource for maps including amazing isometric layouts.
This particular one…
…is ideal for those of you of a Shadow World bent. The elevator just smacks of higher technology. To my mind even the spiral stairwell would quite possibly be beyond many cultures.
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