RMU has had a successful launch! Will Shadow World benefit?

As of today, 1-24, RMU is back to the #2 position at DrivethruRPG and is at Platinum level seller. That’s great news, and while there is much debate on the stickiness of buyers, the adoption of the rules in gaming etc., there is no doubt that RMU has swung the spotlight on Rolemaster and ICE to some degree. That’s a good thing!

Given that my focus is on adventure material, specifically Shadow World, I wonder if SW will benefit from the RMU “halo effect”. Will Shadow World get a bump as new RM users look at ancillary ICE products? I’d be curious to know if SW products are also getting a sales bump.

Shadow World Evil Realms: Wrangôr

Despite it’s reputation as a “kitchen sink” setting, mostly due to the inconsistent tone set by third party authors, I’ve always thought Shadow World had a unique feel driven by Terry’s artistic sensibility. I’ve written about the Many Flavors of Shadow World before and I’ve always appreciated the blends of genres: fantasy, sci-fi, anime and even goth and horror. Despite my own lack of interest in standard fantasy tropes, I acknowledge that there is still huge interest in the “Dark Lord/Dark Master” trope in roleplaying and pop culture.

Luckily, Terry has included this trope in many parts of Shadow World! Putting aside Lorgalis and other “Dark Lord” NPC’s in his fleshed out works of Emer and Jaiman, the Master Atlas outlines some other parts of Kulthea that might be readily adaptable for a traditional “Against the Darkmaster” style campaign.

Where might one look? Wrangôr

Per the Master Atlas:

Wrangôr: This is a realm of Lugrôki (Orcs), and Lugrôk-hybrids,
the result of centuries of captured slaves being
interbred with the Lugrôk population. This has
created a race smaller than the true “High
Lugrôki” but able to function during the day as
well as at night. They are no less ugly, however.
This program has been under the Dark Master,
a shadowy dictator who, with his War Troll
guard, resides in a citadel outside the port city
of Vashtak. The “Dark Master” of this realm is a Dyar Elf, a
powerful Mystic who rules through terror and
brute force—concepts which the Lugrôki understand all too well.

This is the only substantive reference to Wrangôr in any of the books, typical of the short summaries found in the Master Atlas. Wrangor is located on the eastern part of Thuul, the continent west of Emer that is begging to be fleshed out! It’s proximity to Emer’s southern reaches makes it accessible to adventures based out of EMER book III.

In short, if you enjoy the straightfoward nature of an evil Kingdom and a mysterious Dark Master, Shadow World has that too!

Has anyone run adventures in Thuul?

A few random perhaps unpublished tidbits with Terry.

I’ve been reviewing my conversations with Terry Amthor as part of my interview and found a few pieces of unpublished items. None of them are inappropriate, but don’t seem relevant. Now however, I appreciate every interaction I had with him! Without editing or commentary I would offer the following, although it was only a few excerpts….

Hi Matt, 

(Answers below, but first a question: is this mainly about SW or me and ICE in general? I’m answering below assuming the latter.)

Terry, this is fantastic!  First, this is Brian, (Matt is my younger brother.)  My intent is more a focus on you and your journey, creative process and perception of the industry rather than ICE itself.

Oops, sorry Brian, I knew it was you, but for some reason typed Matt! 

Non Published Side Bar  (And oh yes the Court of Ardor. I once sold one of my few copies on Ebay for $425! I think later on that Pete was less than thrilled about it, because it was not very ‘Middle-earth.’ He once referred to it in an interview as a ‘Rogue module.’ It’s a real pity that his campaign in eastern Middle-earth will never be published. It wasn’t all that ‘Middle-earth’ either, but it was fantastic and so imaginative. And oh, yes, ‘Spy in Isengard!’ The story of our ‘choose your own adventure books at ICE was a tragedy that almost banrkrupted us, because our licensor got in a fight with the Tolkien estate over whether they were ‘books’ or ‘games’)

(fyi. The Parking Lot Movie is a documentary about the Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville. I think it’s available on netflix DVD)

Really! Well, I have been familiar with parking on the Corner since 1976… sounds interesting!

It’s not much, I wanted to include almost everything Terry had to say. The take away, is that everyone confuses Matt and I, and Charlottesville is a great place (I’ve been visiting there since 1987 and wandered into Pete and Terry’s office!!!

1st Adventure Idea pt 2

I want to use JDales NPC generator to create all the NPCs for this adventure. If you have not seen this already it gives output like this.

The nice thing is that it will do down to 0th level.

The above NPC will just be one of the pirates on the ship. If the characters are 1st or 2nd level then 0th and 1st level pirates should be a fair challenge.

I would like to include a variety of NPCs, such as a scholar as the ship’s quartermaster, thieves as basic pirates, and laborers as deck hands.

Then add in a couple of named NPCs as the captain and first mate.

However the players decide to approach this, the GM should be able to pick out some suitable NPC stats.

I have one really minor sticking point. If you look at the example above, that 1st level laborer is a child of 11. This is because Core Law ties level to age. What I want is low level threats, not a kindergarten pop-up pirate ship.

This is not a suitable Rolemaster villain.

The solution is simple, I just write my own descriptions. The players should never know the villains level or stats.

What I want is a fun and interesting first experience of Rolemaster. I also want the player characters to win. It would be a really crappy session if you died before you have even finished creating your character. This is Rolemaster not Traveler!

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1ST Adventure Idea

Following on from my last post…

I am thinking of an adventure for 1st or 2nd level characters. The intention is that you run this before you finish your character creation. If you are going to start at 2nd level, run this at 1st. If you are starting at 3rd, then run this at 2nd level.

An adventurous interlude will give new players a chance to use some skills before they have spent their last round of DPs, so they can make some last-minute changes or improvements before starting for real.

It also means that if anyone takes a nasty injury that is going to take weeks or months to get over, that time period can be glossed over as they will be starting the campaign for real long after, and one experience level, after the end of this training wheels adventure.

My initial idea is for this:

Someone/wealthy merchant/relative of a character hires the characters to retrieve a stolen item.

The item is now aboard a merchant ship in the harbor.

The ship will leave on the dawn tide tomorrow.

The characters need only retrieve the item to claim their reward.

On board the ‘merchant’ ship the characters can discover a disproportionate amount of weaponry.

There is no cargo.

The crew will be outwardly respectable, but below decks they are rough and ready.

I will create the crew from the Reaver culture.

The item will be found in the captain’s quarters, in the captain’s possession.

This little adventure can be solved by stealth, sneak in, steal the item back, and sneak out.

It can be achieved by force, if you are extremely lucky, by storming the boat and taking the item.

The expected route will be an attempt at stealth that will only get them so far, a confrontation with the captain and some of the crew. A fight on the deck of the ship, allowing movement over different levels of deck, rigging, ropes for swinging on, and gang plank.

A chase scene as part of the getaway.

The merchant ship is obviously really a pirate here in disguise, which will give the new GM a chance of a recurring villain, as this ship can turn up in docks and ports repeatedly through the characters’ careers.

If they are successful, it also gives the GM a potential quest giver in the initial merchant.

All of this can be done just using Core Law.

I will also put together a rag tag crew of several different player races, to help differentiate the crew and showcase some of their strengths and weaknesses.

With no monsters or magic, I think pirates is a good source of ‘obviously the bad guys’.

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Those ‘between the years’ days

I confess that I haven’t so much as read Core Lore yet. I started to, I read the first dozen pages, but I have no one to play it with at the moment, we have an ongoing 5e campaign, and one of my main RM players is busy with other stuff, so my game is on hiatus again.

I then decided that I would wait for Spell Law to arrive, hoping that it would be before Christmas and I could then read and make characters and maybe run a one-shot in this odd week between Christmas and new year.

No Spell Law, and my reading goals have gone awry as I had books for Christmas which have been taking my attention.

I am impressed that RMu is still the No.1 best selling title on DTRPG nearly a month after its release. That is no mean feat. It has been momentarily displaced by War Hammer and Traveler, but to take the top spot back again is even more impressive. It is much more common for titles that lost that top spot to start to slide down the rankings.

So far the book has sold between 500 and 1000 copies. I hadn’t realised that the RM community was that big, and I am assuming that the magic here is that old Rolemaster was such an iconic game system that there are a lot of people that played it decades ago and are curious about the new edition.

We, as a hobby, are terrible for buying games that we will probably never get to play. I hope that those people that are not Rolemaster die-hards are not just buying Core Law just to collect it.

This is where ICE struggles a little. There is no introductory adventure included in Core Law, and with all attention focused on the core books and getting them published, there is not likely to be an official introductory adventure coming any time soon.

I think that is a real pity.

I think that I will use this idea to make a Core Law only introductory adventure issue of the fanzine and kick that back into life.

But, for that to happen I will really have to read the rules and make some characters. Maybe this is the motivation I need?

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Shadow World as a cross platform setting. What would it take?

I’ve written dozens of blog posts about my thoughts on the future of Shadow World and now with Terry’s passing, it’s unclear if there is even a future for the setting. Of course, there are many RM users that have no interest in Shadow World and there are other settings that might not fit quite neatly into the world. But that’s true for any setting; I have no interest in the Forgotten Realms or Tekumel (although that setting is intriguing for it’s “alienness”!

But now we are at a crossroads. RMU is being rolled out without any supporting setting or adventures; Terry won’t be writing anymore material; and yet, TTRPG’s are more popular than ever AND building a new world setting for any game system has a high barrier to entry for anyone.

Look at the cover art for EMER. Wow. Look at the material Terry has written over 30 years. Again

How might Shadow World survive or even prosper now?

  1. An aggressive re-statting for RMU.
  2. A d20 version.
  3. A flexible game license for writers to place their adventures in the Shadow World setting.
  4. An editorial schedule of micro-adventures, modules and regional books over a 5 year horizon.

While some resources would need to be deployed (art, page layout and editing) much of this framework is already in place. I wrote about this HERE in early 2021….

I’m not a big believer in “production by committee”, but we already have a core group of productive resources that could be deployed. Rolemasterblog has proven consistent material for over 8 years, over 70 adventure hooks and multiple publications. I’ve written extensively about Shadow World and have posted up quite a bit of SW material here and on the RMForums. My brother Matt (Vroomfogle) is the Shadow World moderator at the RMForums, was the architect and project manager for the SW Players Guide, was the early primary author for RMU Core, ran the Nomikos library, and was a participant in many RM products in the 2000s.

There is a roadmap of ideas, products, role-out and support–what do you think?

Unfinished Shadow World maps?


Hi. You can now download some of the maps of Shadow World for free.
OBS: They are NOT behind any pay wall. This is my way of honor the crator for all wonderful years he gave us all.
You can get to the files in 2 different ways.

  1. go to my FB page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2198307846888743
  2. Go to the patron page and search for “shadow world”

I will update info on the maps on my facebookpage, so be sure to check in on that from time to time.
i probably have a 10-15 maps so far. Not all is up yet.