Pilot RPG Playtest!

So this is a re-run of how I set up Navigator RPG. Today I have put the Pilot RPG draft up on DTRPG as a Pay What You Want download. You can grab it for free, and any money it does raise will go back into developing the game.


I am a fan of putting things on public playtest, unlike RMu that has put behind a registration wall. The more eyes on the game the better, as far as I am concerned.

This game is covered by the OGL Open Game License. This means that you can grab it and hack it however you wish, and you can add community content. In this book, the Unarmed Attack Table and its condensed Claw Law were both community contributions, as was the Logo you can see on the cover (bottom left).

This is the Bare Metal Edition [BME] logo, which you can find on Github as a project. The idea is that all the rules, spells, monsters, items, etc. that I create as I iterate through genres will all feedback to a central public repository. In theory, anyone should be able to download the BME source files and build whatever they want.

This game builds on and extends Navigator RPG.

If you don’t have that game, you can grab it from DTRPG here:


In both these games there is a lot of content you will recognize, both as being rolemaster-esque, and as being straight from Rolemaster’s great grandparent D&D. All I did was follow the same process, going from the d20 source to the open-ended game mechanics that we know and love.

I you look at the screenshot above (from Pilot RPG) you will recognize the skill cost progression, and the numbered paragraph structure. I wanted to keep the numbered paragraphs because they make drop-in house rules incredibly easy to share. You just replace one paragraph 7.3 with a new 7.3 and everything else remains the same.

If nothing else, these OGL versions of the game mean that should ICE go bust again, there is a free alternative version of the game, now both fantasy and science fiction, that will live on, and one that anyone can write adventures for and companion material.


It is unfortunate, but all titles that are released on DTRPG for free or Pay What You Want get hoovered up en masse. They are then bulk rated at 2* or if you are lucky 3*. These star ratings are then used by the site as a ranking metric.

If you download either or both games, if you get an automated email prompting you to rate your purchase, please could you give it a half decent rating just to offset the trolls?

Pilot RPG Update#2

I am pleased to say that I have finished the monsters, or at least I have finished the core monsters. There are some OGL monsters that I would like to include, but they are most definitely bells and whistles and not a requirement.

As I was doing the conversion, I noticed that Pilot monsters have OBs on a par with RM monsters, but they tend to have lower DBs and #hits. Essentially, they hit hard, but they are much easier to put down, a bit of a glass jaw.

My first reaction was to fix that, but upon reflection, I want to leave it. It will be much easier to adapt the thousands of OSR adventures to Pilot RPG than it would be to convert them to RMu.

It gives a Pilot RPG character a more heroic feel, and you can put more creatures down with #hits even if you cannot roll a decent critical to save your own skin.

OSR adventures tend to use larger numbers of monsters, and the way they have converted over means that you are likely to be able to use those encounters as written.

The other thing I have done is get stuck into the treasure tables. I have converted over 10 or so today and I have another 13 pages to go. The changes are minimal, converting each +1s to a +5 and so on. Things that were doing a d6 of fire damage become an A fire critical, etc. These are minor tweaks to each item.

That is thirteen pages of items and then a big block of random encounter tables for each biome. Then, I need to finish off the missing attack tables.

None of these are a lot of work; they are just repetitive. I think the most time-consuming single task is getting tables written for d6s, d8s, and d12s into d100 tables.

I does look like it is possible to get the first draft of the game on DTRPG for Tuesday as a playtest edition.

Pilot Update

You may see a lot of these between now and the end of the year. They help keep me on track as I feel that if I commit to telling the world about how much I have done, then I need to do something to justify it, and by telling the world how much remains to be done it motivates me to get it done.

Since the last post, I have started up all the monsters I have (basically the D&D SRD monsters) from B [Banshee] to D [Dryad]. There were no A monsters in the game book I am converting. If I have time for bells and whistles later I may try to add in more monsters, but no promises there.

I have copied across the weapons from Navigator RPG, and have found a list of 13 attack tables and so far 1 critical table that the fantasy rules have that the Sci Fi rules didn’t. I have made one attack table, and one critical table, Morning Star and Cold criticals.

Fantasy monsters are often poisonous, and I didn’t have any poison rules, so I have written those up.

In a completely unrelated subject, I have decided that the World War II version of the game is going to be called Ranger. That follows the theme Navigator/Pilot/Ranger and the US Army Rangers are also dead on the genre. I imagine that I will be able to get some public-domain imagery from the period that I can use for illustrative purposes.

You may ask why I am worrying about the WWII version of the game when I haven’t even finished the fantasy edition, but it was because I was having to cut out the firearms and grenade rules, and that started the mental ball rolling.

I have converted 25 monsters so far, and I have 77 more to complete. Following them are two big sections, a small one on converting monsters and creating your own monsters plus random encounter tables, and treasures and magic items.

Those will be the rules; then I have to circle back and complete any further combat tables and critical tables and then read Navigator RPG and Pilot side by side to check that there are no contradictions between the two systems.

The writing is the hard part, that is then followed by art direction, listing the images that I would like, finding what I already have, and sourcing art for the images I don’t have.

Then we go to layout.

Then we go to playtest.

Last time, I put the rules up for public playtest as a Pay What You Want download and made the commitment that the rules would always be free. It is my intention to do the same again and probably do the same for all of the books in the series.

Doing it this way means that I can go live before I have sourced all the art and reinvest PWYW donations to pay for the art. I can get playtest feedback, update the PDFs, and iterate until done.

That is enough rambling for today, I am now going to get back to monster converting.


Navigator RPG & Pilot

I have been away for far too long, and there multiple reasons for that, but my own tardiness aside, what I want to write about today has its origins back in 2014.

When I started this blog, someone was asking where was all the playable material online. There were no free adventures or anything for someone running an RM game that was short of time to grab and run.

I also honestly believed that RMu was about to be released. I think we were all given that impression.

Five years later and there was still no sign of RMu, but we were told that there was definitely no plans for an SMu, or Space Master Unified.

I was pretty frustrated, as were many of us, and as I prefer SF to fantasy, that was a real pity.

My reaction was to ‘do a Rolemaster’. The origin story for Rolemaster is one of taking D&D and converting it to the D100 system that we all know and love. These days there are plenty of D&D retro-clones built off of the D&D System Reference Document and the Open Game License [OGL].

Some of these retro-clones step outside of the fantasy genre and one of them, White Star was a FS version of D&D that borrowed heavily from Star Wars and Dr Who, and countless other classic TV and movies, you got Jedi, Cybermen and countless others. All of that was under the OGL and free to hack however you wanted as long as credit was given.

I wrote a bit of software that could make critical tables for me, and a formula to turn D&D damage dice into RM-esque attack tables, and I was 90% of the way there.

D&D had discrete spells whereas RM had spell lists, but I was a fan of HARP style spells with scaling. So I turned D&D spells into the bastard children of HARP but where D&D used per level as a common scaling device, I started using per rank or scaling. I compressed related spells (think cure light wounds, cure serious wounds and so on) into single spells but with scaling, etc.

There were some cool ideas in RMu, such as Combat Expertise, all potentials being 101, and the Vocational skill and some cool suggestions that seemed to fall on deaf ears, like stat bonuses of (Stat-50)/3.

All in all I kept what I liked about RM2/RMC. I adopted what I liked from RMu, and I imported stuff that I liked from elsewhere. The result was Navigator RPG.

That game is virtually backwards compatible with all existing SpaceMaster materials and at the time, if ICE had failed again, it would have kept the Space Master game alive. In the spirit of keeping the game alive I a) made the game free as in free speech – it is OGL so you are free to hack it as you wish, and b) made it free as in beer. The game is PWYW so you can download it for free. It is available in print soft and hardback and you only need to pay print and shipping. I make nothing if you pay the minimum price.


I also promised a Pilot RPG, a fantasy version of the same game. In theory, that should have been even easier to create.

This is where things went sideways. Firstly, it is never a good idea to think “This will be easy!” Secondly, Terefang from this blog and the RM forums had a brilliant idea. In the spirit of open gaming, we could abandon the OGL/D&D parts, write an absolutely minimal RM system, make it modular, so character stats was one part, skills another and so on, and then create a github for it so anyone could fork off to make their own games or contribute to the project. This was called Bare Metal Edition or BME.

As with many projects, it started with a lot of enthusiasm while we did the easy bits and then floundered when it became work and progress slowed.

That also consumed the time I had free that I had earmarked for Pilot RPG.

So Pilot RPG ended up on the backburner of eternal inactivity.

Skip forward now until November this year. Knaz started talking to Brian and I via the blog and email. The subject of Navigator RPG came up and it got me starting to think about Pilot again. The stumbling block last time around was the magic system. For Navigator RPG, I had made the Star Knight (read that as Jedi) meditations (read as mind tricks/force) by kind of eyeballing it and making a best guess. With BMI, Terefang had noted that the HARP spells had little or no rhyme or reason behind their math but had shared some stuff with someone I cannot remember the name of (sorry!), and between them, they had a balanced system. When I read the BME magic rules, I didn’t understand them, and they seemed pretty incomplete, or I was missing something.

What I didn’t want to do was bash out a wonky, eyeballed system when there was an open and balanced system out there.

With Knaz’s interest, and not understanding what we had written for BME, I thought ‘sod it!’ and I dug out my draft of Pilot, and my OGL source game, and then this week, I started keyboard bashing.

All of the character creation is done, and the dreaded spells are done (in my best cobble-it-together eyeballed version). Most of the weapon and combat tables are done.

Much I can import from Navigator RPG as the rule system is the same and then just fantasize it.

The last biggest task remaining is converting all the monsters and magic items. Converting big lists of items is a chore, but in principle, it is not a huge amount of work. The monsters will be a lot of work, though.

I honestly think I can get this done before Christmas.

Considering that we still don’t have all of RMu yet, I am only 4 years late, in RM terms that is but a blink of an eye.

I will get this finished.

I will ensure that it will always be free.

I will let it all be added to BME so anyone else can build their own game off it.

If you end up downloading it, and you like it, you can thank Knaz, it is their fault, they poked the bear.

Rolemasterblog Revisited: Murder Hobos.

James recent post over at Grognardia had me rethinking about the topic. So, given it’s Thanksgiving, here is a post that I also did around Thanksgiving back in 2016 on the subject and a follow up in 2018.

New Magics in BASiL

One of my frustrations to completing ongoing projects is that I tend to jump from one work product to another. I started on my “Channeling Chronicles” but got distracted into BASiL Mentalism and then I started reworking BASiL Essence. The positive news is that I continue to create content, but I would rather finish one off, post it up and then move on to the next rather than having 5 projects going all partially complete and moving slowly. I had asked Terry about this when I did my interview with him; I wanted to get a sense for his work flow, motivation and even writers block but we didn’t dive too deep into it. From his own public comments he seemed to have a patchwork approach to his own projects: he was working on Wurilis, moved to Emer IV, stopped to do Green Gryphon Inn, etc.

Anyway, while revamping BASiL (I think I’m going to put up final, revised versions on DTRPG in d100 format) I wanted to formalize some spell casting structures that were still a little loose in all versions of Spell Laws: Power Analysis and Delayed Casting.

Power Analysis.

Broadly speaking, I’m referring to a number of spell abilities that allow casters (or “sensitives”) to interpret power and spells. This could include detecting and visualizing the “Essaence”, Auras, Power Perception, Colors of Magic, and various “Analyze” or “Detect” Spells found in Spell Law or BASiL (Power Analysis).

RM has 3 different mechanisms that can impart information about spells or power:

  1. Passive w/ no latent ability. By allowing spellcasting emanations to be colored by Realm/aspect anyone watching a caster will be able to determine some information about the spell and/or the caster. This allows anyone, even without casting ability or magic skills to visually learn information from someone casting.
  2. Inherent Ability. Some races have or could have the ability to see, feel or detect the Essaence. (Lords of Essaence, some magical creatures, some high Elves?)
  3. Active Spell Ability. All the realms have Detection or Delving spells that can be used to detect the presence of power, or determine the spells effects, level, source or creation.

Like much of RM and Spell Law, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge without any underlying logical framework. Fine. I think that all works, but there is a side to this that hasn’t been fully explored: Caster Signatures. I see this as similar to the Mentalism spells around “Mind Typing”. Basically, every caster leaves a signature, their own flair or style to their casting, that can be detected, stored and analyzed. Much like a fingerprint. So higher level spells like “Spell Analysis” doesn’t automatically provide who the caster is unless the analyzing caster has encountered the target caster’s work before, has “typed” it and the target caster hasn’t hid their spell signature in any way.

This doesn’t add much for real mechanics to Spell Law, but provides a playing dynamic that can add depth to the game. Yes, new spells would include “Spell Typing” or “Store/Recall Spell Signature” and there is a need for counter spells “Hide Signature”, “Distort Signature” or even “Counterfeit Signature” that would utilize another spellcasters casting style. This also adds a clear mechanism for “Evil” casters to hide behind a facade–like Priests Arnak. Currently they are provided this cover with a simple handwave–they all possess a magic ring that hides their evil nature. Bah.

Delayed Casting.

There are a number of “Delayed” spells: Runes, Wards, Symbols, Glyphs, Store Spell and Trigger Spell. Again, I feel it’s a confusing bunch, some of which have individual mechanics that feels more like AD&D then Rolemaster. They are all just slight variations on the same idea: Delaying a spell effect until some variable is met. In BASiL these types of spells are grouped into a different “Realm” due to their similarity and the idea that their casting mechanics, use, rules are VERY different than traditional Essence/Mentalism/Channeling spellcasting. Even moving them into another realm is still confusing. What’s the difference between a Rune and Weapon Rune? Is a Glyph different than a Sigil? How/Why?

Sometimes it’s easier to create a new mental model that acts as a bedrock foundation for spell lists, powers and mechanics. I’m working now on a concept of “Shells” or “Cocoons” to represent this concept. Does it really change anything or does it just help to unify all of these types of inscribed magics? The basic spell concept is the creation of a vessel (shell or cocoon or any other name, culturally or professional) that wraps around another spell and holds it inactive. At lower levels that spell vessel may be visible, may need to be “attached” or anchored (like a rune or symbol) or at high levels float in the air (like a Glyph or Sigil). They can be triggered by simple to complex stimuli and it’s the wrap itself that holds the spell for X time–with that duration growing in spell level. Basically a Spell Bomb Shell.

With “Spell Shells” (say that 3 times fast) you can separate the soft mechanics of Imbedding, Storing and Delaying/Triggered. Right now there is some cross pollination that confuses the situation.

One other possible benefit is that it puts delayed spells back in the normal casting framework, you can stylize it to fit the peculiarities of each realm and you don’t need to have Glyphs, Runes or Symbols with any particular power, it’s the wrapped spell that provides the effect.

Alternatively, it can be just another spell list that adds variety, complexity to BASiL, either as a open or closed list.

Just a few thoughts as a modify, edit and expand upon BASiL. What’s new with you?

Predictive Spells in Spell Law

Some recent comments on the Forums or Discord had me collecting my thoughts on all of the predictive spells in Rolemaster. I’ve always had trouble incorporating comprehensive divination/augury in my games. My experience has been that I go one of two ways:

  1. Make the divination result vague enough to be virtually meaningless
  2. I have to build the spell result into my game, either by incorporating that content into the game world, or by bending the game results to meet the predicting outcome.

I find neither are good choices and I’ve also struggled with those personal biases when designing BASiL. So purposes of this blog post, I’m going to ignore various “Finding Spells” which provide information about a thing or a topic. Most of the spells are poorly designed, but ultimately those spells help provide necessary exposition; useful in a dense world build like Kulthea!

Instead, let’s delve into predictive or forward looking spells that provide information about an event. The first spells that are troublesome are found on the Astrologers Time Bridge list. I already wrote about Astrologers HERE, and since then, several others have tackled a redesign of this admittedly cool profession concept.

Guess. The first level spell just biases the players choice by 25%, perhaps a bit much for a 1st level spell and might encourage guesstimating actions, but it works well in a random rolling game system.

Intuition. Now we start down a slippery slope, with each successively higher level version looking further into the future: 2nd level peers 1 minute into the future while 15th lvl can look ahead 1 min/lvl. How should one DM that without having the “fix in”? Sure, it’s easy to match a few minutes into the future with a quickly generated answer, but isn’t this just predetermination?

Spell Anticipation. This type of spell really makes me feel constrained. First, I actually try and write out spell casting preferences for my NPC’s when designing an adventure: this was common in earlier AD&D modules (see the Slavelord series) but it’s harder to do in RM when RAW can have a spell user with 150 spells by 10th lvl! There is a lot that happens in RM combat, lots to track and NPCs and critters should be played intelligently and to the best of their ability. How can I as a GM lock a spellcaster into a particular spell they may cast in the future? And if I lock it in, how much can that tilt the balance of the combat to the PC’s favor? And is that bad?

Dreams. This is the grand daddy of railroading a party. This literally enables a GM to guide and direct the party exactly as needed: hints about which direction to go? check. Background info on a foe or item? no problem. Provide the party advice on resources and assistance? Sure, they “dreamed” that.

Thinking back, these spells are cool and I probably enjoyed and appreciated them more when I was much younger and starting out in RPG’s. And looking back at the early version of Spell Law it’s easy to see some of that influence: what D&D established, what works for a dungeon crawl, railroad vs. sandbox. But now, these spells are a real hindrance for my GM style and feel very much deux a machina.

How about you? How often do you use predictive spells in your game?

I would like my $279Million Please.

Stolen credit?

Brian, what the hell are you talking about? Well first, there is no such thing as a new idea and certainly there are brilliant writers and developers in Hollywood…but..some of us at the Rolemasterblog might have stumbled upon some of the “plot sauce” that backed the largest grossing movie: Avengers: Endgame.

First, I typically charge a 10% success fee for my work, or a “finders fee” which I will happily share with my Rolemasterblog contributors. Avengers: EG grossed 2.79 BILLION so I think my ask is modest at best.

So how did we earn such a high sum? Well, direct your attention to a blog I posted in 2017. (note bold emphasis)

The idea worth hundreds or millions of dollars?

There is some great commentary but a few that stand out:

Peter, using Voice to Text or similar had this to offer:

Many of the problems with time travel are the same as ghost posed with the forest owl edge spells

Ha Ha, I’m just messing with Peter (who runs this blog and can shut me down anytime). Thanks Peter.

In all seriousness, in response to Voriig’s comment I responded thus:

I’m thinking time travel will be the necessary ingredient to the Grand Campaign–probably via Jinteni tech. I see the GC more and more as a Grand Heist–or stealing back some objects (northern eye, heart of agoth) that has already been stolen. 

So there you go. A world saving disaster, a time travel solution and a complicated heist of needed artifacts. Yep, I completely solved the MCU corner they had backed themselves into. 2 years prior to the movie release.

You are welcome. (And thanks can be expressed with the purchase of our products on DTRPG).

GM’ing Navigators in your Shadow World campaign: Stick to the Code. pt 2

Recently there has been an uptick in discussions about Shadow World’s Navigators on both the forums and the discord server. I thought I would write a follow up to my previous blog that I wrote back in 2016, found HERE.

Navigator Cost. Given the importance of Navigators and the original concept of the Essence Flows, it makes sense that Navigator services should be affordable by the PC’s. Otherwise, what’s the point? Some people have pointed out that the published costs of Navigators (MA ed. 2) are prohibitive and when you calculate the cost for merchants and the weight of trade goods doesn’t hold up under a rational economic system. But first, let’s review the original source, The Iron Wind (not the 1st ed. parchment), where the outlines of the Navigators Guilds were germinated:

To calculate the cost of a Guild-directed trip, use as a standard unit of
either one person or 501bsof cargo. Charge I gp . per mile per unit overland ;
1 gp . per 10 miles per unit by sea. An additional flat rate of 100 gp . per unit
per Jump -as deemed necessary by the Navigator – is charged, with a surcharge
of 10 gp . per unit per mile of Jump travel over 50 miles. (Nearly all
Jumps used at the Navigator’s discretion to bypass barriers and perilous
areas are less than 50 miles.)

I’m pretty sure that this price structure carried over to the Master Atlas, but do these costs even make sense given the prices for other goods and services? I would note that there is very little evidence that Terry actually GM’d in any significant way; he was a writer and creator, but may not have play tested his materials to any degree. Maybe the Navigator prices need to be adjusted?

Or perhaps we need to address what the Navigators do and don’t do.

It wouldn’t surprise me if most SW players perception of Navigators was that of high level magic users that can teleport at will, have extensive spell powers and provide passage AND safety to the group that hires them. Of course there are high level Navigators with formidable powers but the Guilds are very clear on what services they provide. In no particular order and drawn from a variety of SW books:

–They provide swift, relatively safe transport to anyone who has the money to afford their prices

–They will not transport what military personnel or items, either
for the purpose of attack, espionage or sabotage

–They provide is the ability to guide people safely through the Essænce flows, and to locally influence Kulthea’s often violent weather.

–They guide ships and caravans along the safest route; they are able to teleport groups—or cargoes and even ships— across vast distances by using nearby Essænce Flows

–Direct ‘Jumps,’ , especially long ones or those involving large numbers of people, are tricky and correspondingly prohibitively expensive

–Conventional transportation—such as riding animals or sea vessels—is almost never supplied by the Guild, and in fact must be provided to the Navigator by the client. The Navigator, however, will advise the ignorant client on what mode of transport is most appropriate.

–Navigators are notoriously unsympathetic to people with no money in tight situations.

–The Navigator will not fight unless he or she is personally threatened.

–The Navigators will not communicate their knowledge to clients: transport is their trade, not information. 

–The Navigator will inform a potential client if he asks to be delivered to a dangerous location. 

–The official stance of the Navigators is complete neutrality.

The take away is that Navigators are primarily guides an less often are providing “Jump/Teleporation” services which are much, much more costly. But that raises a whole other issue: what powers do they really have and do they match the services they should be able to provide? There are 3 Navigator Ranks: Apprentice, Journeyman and Master that are roughly 5th lvl, 10th lvl and 20th+ level respectively. For the moment, let’s put aside any undefined abilities that the Navigator compasses may provide and just review the profession Base Lists for the Navigators, specifically: Mass Transport, Self Transport, Flow Mastery and Path Mastery.

Apprentice. (Around 5th lvl). These Navigators handle simple tasks like responding to summons via the Obelisk network and negotiate services and pricing. They may even handle simple guide services in safe areas, but they still need to teleport to the client.

Self Transport. At or around 5th lvl an Apprentice Navigator can “Jump” up to 10miles per level and Long Door up to a 1000′. So at this point, until they reach 8th lvl they can’t Teleport to a Obelisk or return to Nexus which would be the minimum requirement to handle initial requests.

Transporting Targets. Apprentices can basically do short “leaving” or “long door” with up to 3-5 targets over distances of a few hundred feet.

Weather Control. An Apprentice can control winds, perhaps calm water and predict weather.

Guidance. With Path Mastery an Apprentice has some decent skills of navigation, location and sensing hazards.

Essaence Control. Barring the ability to locate flows and foci, Apprentices are able to tap into Flows and completely replenish their PPs.

Conclusion. At just 5th level and assuming no ability to overcast, an Apprentice can’t really perform the basic duties ascribed to them. But as basic wildnerness guides they have some utility, but perhaps not more than a Druid or Ranger.

Journeyman. (Around 10th lvl). A Journeyman is allowed to lead low-risk
expeditions that won’t require Jumps or high-level magical weather or Flow control. Can they do this?

Self Transport. By 10th level a Navigator can easily teleport to any Obelisk, return to Nexus and Teleport themselves up to 100m/lvl using Flows.

Transporting Targets. Journeyman can Teleport 2-3 targets 10 miles/lvl.

Weather Control. Advanced spells to calm water, control winds and call clouds.

Guidance. Journeyman gain useful spells for guidance, sensing hazards, scout ahead and create magical bridges.

Essaence Control. Slightly more advanced abilities than a Apprentice including parting a minor flow and the ability to draw power in excess of normal limitations.

Conclusion. Journeyman can probably handle most of the typical Navigators duties. At 10th level they’ll have skills and abilities based on their normal Profession (I have issue with this) so they will be competent.

Master. (Around 20th lvl). Master’s should be considered “full-fledged” Navigators with all of the abilities attested to. Let’s see:

1Self Transport. By 20th lvl a Navigator can basically transport themselves pretty much anywhere.

Transporting Targets. Have the ability to Teleport up to 20 targets 10 miles/lvl.

Weather Control. Excluding complete mastery of weather, Master’s can modify skies up to 1 mile/lvl for 1 hr/lvl.

Guidance. Slightly more advanced than a Journeyman with longer range of senses.

Essaence Control. Masters have the ability to “ride the flows” and by 25th lvl can part Major Flows.

Conclusion. Masters are basically the “full package” but don’t have the ability to move large groups and objects (like Skyships) via Teleport until 50th lvl, and even that is limited by size and range. So the reputed powers of Jumping ships to avoid danger is only held by a few of the most powerful Navigators.

Additional thoughts and comments:

  1. The Navigator spell lists are a mess. Some of it seems like lack of editing but there are quite a few useless spells and some useful abilities are missing. I have it on my list for BASiL treatment.
  2. Exact powers of Compasses are never enumerated, but to address some gaps in Navigators abilities, it would easy to assume that compasses provide the ability to cast above your level–I think 10 levels over would be adequate. Apprentices are given “lesser Compasses” (of more recent fabrication). Perhaps these only allow to cast 5 levels above.
  3. Why would Navigators spend days or weeks guiding parties when they could just Jump them quickly and be on their way? Well as written, the Nav spell lists just don’t provide that ability. Other reasons could be the risk involved, factors due to the loss of the Northern Eye, difficulty in Jumping through various Flows, Storms and Foci for longer jumps.
  4. Why would high level Navigators even stoop themselves to such a mundane task? First, powerful Navigators would only be tasked with the most risky assignments. Second, they are probably working for powerful or wealthy entities which could provide valuable intel or insight. Third, it isn’t inexpensive and they need to keep the lights on!
  5. How many Navigators could there possibly be? If you want Navigators to be an element in the game, they can’t just be a legend or rumor–they need to be seen and attainable. But imagine all of the trade, all of the Obelisks and the apparent need for Navigators to, at least, help bypass Essaence Barriers. Would there need to be thousands of Navigators? Tens of thousands?
  6. How many Compasses could there be? The first batch was found in the City of the Dead, consisting of “a dozen magical wristbands”, and then more were found of various designs. All are thought to be of Ka’ta’viir construction. Are there hundred or thousands? Certainly not tens of thousands. We know that the Ka’ta’viir were a small population subset of the Althans, perhaps a few dozen families. Can they be copied? They are supposedly intelligent…by whom or what? (that could lead to an interesting adventure if compasses were corrupted or changed..)
  7. Where did the Navigator Base lists come from? The Loremasters helped the early Nav’s to figure out the compasses, but spell lists access is controlled. Nav and Loremaster base lists are considered “Arcane”, which date back to proto realms times. Maybe the intelligent compasses themselves have the spell lists and grant their use via attunement.

As NPC’s this is mostly a thought exercise. Terry is known for bending, or ignoring, the Rolemaster ruleset to fit his world building. Certainly we can handwave away any inconsistencies. However, I think there is work that could be done to tighten up the Navigators, and I’m all for hidden knowledge escaping–why shouldn’t a player character discover these erudite lists or find a compass themselves in some unplundered tomb?

What do you think??

  1. ↩︎

Slipped through the cracks?

It never fails that I when I go through the various SW books I find something that “slipped through the cracks”. Sometimes it’s a reference to a Loremaster that is never listed anywhere else, or a herb that is brought up once and was never included with the master list of herbs and poisons.

I’ve been going through the original Emer: The Great Continent boxed set as part of a review and I found these two critters:

I’m a firm believer that the Shadow World setting needs to lean into specific creatures, races and “monsters” and not rely on generic fantasy creatures like skeletons, vampires, orcs etc. So I rather liked both of the creatures and especially the Boerks “azure ivory” which is a great addition to the list of valuable trade goods and special material to be included in alchemy and magic item creation.

I checked for these creatures in Emer I, II and III, Master Atlas 3 & 4 but can’t find them. Did I miss it? Were they renamed and I skipped over it?