Today I’m looking at the ‘problem’ of skills in RM: consolidated skills (of which RMFRP is the paradigmatic version, and which appears to be a certainty in the new version, although with far less skills) or individual skills, each with their own development cost, as was the case in RM2. Let me nail my flag to the mast: I am rather more in favour of individual skill costs, primarily for the tremendous variety and granularity they offer. You simply can’t get that under the skill category system (although the RMFRP rules do allow a certain amount of tweaking, and my rather freewheeling interpretation of the talent rules enabled more).
I am building some real enthusiasm for this idea now. I think it is certainly achievable with a target age down towards the 10yrs old mark or even lower. Hero Kids goes down as far as 4yrs old and I just don’t think that is viable for any sort of Rolemaster-esque game. Just think of the sorts of sums we do adding open ended rolls, adding OBs, adding and subtracting positional modifiers, adding a negative DB and applying percentage based penalties from criticals or faster actions. That is beyond any reasonable expectation for someone below the age of 10 unless they were unusually gifted.
Brian: Attunement. In our rules, every spell ability in an item, power storing, recharging etc all require attunement skill. Plus, many althan/ka’ta’viir devices use mental interfaces which can be accessed with attunement. So even non spell-casters should have some ability, especially at higher levels.
Peter: Lore skills particularly those relating to herbs. Whether you use Herb Lore, Herbalism or Lore:Technical. I suspect that my game is a bit more hack and slash than Brian’s but being able to select the right herb and apply it is a key skill for my players.
Brian and I both share the same philosophy when it comes to skills, less is more. Meta skills are a way of having less skills that enable your characters do more.
More is less
The more skills you have in your game the less capable the characters are. If there are only 40 skills and a character can afford to buy 10 plus some body development, weapons and perception then they have 25% of all the skill bases covered.
If you have 100 skills in your game and they can afford to buy 10 skills then the character has only 10% of all the bases covered.
I really like Brian’s take on skills where the number of ranks has an important role to play as well as the total bonus.
As I see it there are four types of skill roll in Rolemaster.
All or nothing.
This is the classic pass or fail test. You either heard the cocking of the crossbow or you didn’t. In RM2/RMC you need a total of 101+ to succeed in RMSS/RMFRP it is 111+ (which always struck me as a weird number if eleventy-one works for you then who am I to argue.)
Progress towards a goal
I have been doing a bit of homebrew rules writing this week and I have taken bits and bobs of other games and mashed them all together to get a set of rules that did a particular job. It isn’t rolemaster so doesn’t belong here but bits of rolemaster ended up in what I was doing.
Now if you take bits of different games you get different mechanics and different ways of doing the same thing. In rolemaster particularly RM2 if you look at how skills work you you get different ways of doing things in the same game!
This is how I want to work the experience system. I am going to treat Skills, Stats and Magic in three different posts, not because there are different rules but because the way I envision them being handled is slightly different.
As characters get there cultural background ranks and their 1st level development points to spend. The standard rule is still in place saying you cannot buy more than 2 ranks in a skill unless it is starred like a language skill or moving in armour. So a first level character entering play will have no more than 2 ranks in their primary weapon. Their total skill will be made up of Skill + Stat Bonus + Professional Bonus.
You may have noticed that I have not mentioned that much about RMU. The truth is that I have had a collegue on annual leave, I have had to go on 6 sessions of full day training, I have been away my self (a paintballing weekend) and various other demands on my time (blame the Greeks). I simply have not had time to read the books in the detail they deserve and conversely there is a really detailed discussion going on on the ICE forums that is far better than anything I could write with the added advantage of feedback from the actual authors.