Brian: I’ve always liked Terry’s magic items. As a Warrior Monk there were very few magic items that I could use, so I really appreciated those. Two of my favorites are in Cloudlords of Tanara:
Fist of Agonar. A spiked gauntlet that destroys doors.
Jarn’s Shurikens. 2 shurikens that hold small red disks that explode as Firbolts 4x damage. The disk is spent but the shurikens return via Long Door.
Peter: My favourite ‘cool bit’ isn’t a thing, it is a monent. It is when you get a new RM book and it has new critical tables and you get to read though the really dangerous fatal wounds for the first time, normally trying not to laugh or smirk and the gory deaths.
Brian: I’ve always liked the Mystic base list “Hiding” and on it are two cool spells: 14th lvl “Merging” which is a great escape/hide spell and 13th lvl “Flattening” which makes a player 2 dimensions. How cool is that?
Peter: Mass Vibrations I, 13th level Essence Hand. Everyone in your field of vision needs to make an RR every round of fumble their weapon. It is absolutely brilliant and far better than any kind of blade turning. The first time I discovered this spell I was playing an invisible illusionist who cast this followed by a summoning spell that gave me a pair of tigers against a dozen guards. It was carnage and I don’t think any of them survived! Even the lower level spells are cool. In RM you rarely meet massed enemy so Vibrations I as a first level spell is a great defence once your caster reaches 4th or 5th level.
Brian: There are 3 things that are indispensable to my game: iPad which has everything in PDF for reference, tri-fold GM screen and my “noteboard”. www.noteboard.com. I’ve never tried any RM software—I guess I’m too old to learn new tricks.
Peter: I agree with the Tablet PC. I don’t have a GM’s screen but I have created a small PDF with just the few charts that I need for running a game that serves the same purpose. I tend to print the important specific rules that relate to bits of the adventures and insert them into my plot notes at that actual point so I don’t have to access any rulebooks during play.
I have tried Combat Minion for a single session but didn’t like it the added prep time setting up the encounters doesn’t suit my play style as I often have no idea how many foes I am going to throw at my players until part way through the session.
Incidentally here in the UK the BBC is supposed to be non-commercial and impartial and if they ever mention a brand name they have a habit of saying “Other brands of Tablet PC are availaible.” and I had an irresistable urge to add that in after Brian’s mention of the iPad!
Brian: “Talents”. Can’t stand any rules that are “one-offs” are turn into crutches that underpin the entire character.
Peter: The extended character background options from RoCoI particularly the Skill at Arms and Skill at Magic. These are prime examples of where a single (un)lucky dice roll can complerely change a character. There is no balancing factor and no relationship between the result of the dice roll and the initial character concept.
Brian: Feldaryn. My favorite NPC was “Feldaryn”, a crazy old man is tattered robes and a long beard. I’m pretty sure it was in a campaign I was running for Matt and his friends (matt, any recollections?). Feldaryn had “found” himself a flying boat (this was pre-SW) and picked up the group. Given his appearance and confident proclamations they all assumed he was a powerful mage or perhaps a god in disguise—the Dragonlance effect. In reality he was crazy, low level and being pursued for stealing the flying boat. The fun was seeing the players agree to almost anything Feldaryn suggested!
Peter: There was a high level Drow Sorcerer who the party caught completely by surprise along with his apprentice. His plans were to decieve the party for long enough to put his grand plan in place to destroy them but the party were having none of it. They chased him from pillar to post without a moments respite until he had to flee in a rather pitiful manner killing his own apprentice so that he could not give away the location of Sorcerer’s final hiding place. One day he will be back and he will have his revenge but unfortuneately he is having issues achieving his full potential.
Brian: I almost always played a Warrior Monk (Caylis, who is featured in some RMU examples) but occasionally I ran a Rogue. Strangely enough I have never played a spell-caster! I played Monks in D&D as well. I think I like the minimalist and self-reliant nature of the profession: I don’t worry about loot, magic-items, equipment etc. I don’t need weapons to attack or armor for protection. It’s very liberating!
Peter: What I like most are characters that are as comfortable out of combat as they are in a fight. I don’t like the idea that I ever have to take a back seat. The professions I favour in fantasy settings tend to be thieves because they are pretty good all rounders, mentalists and illusionists. I don’t feel the need to be the big firebolt caster much prefering subtler magics. In Space Master I really like the criminologist profession as a basis for building just about any character concept.
Brian:1983. One of my friends who lived in another town played in a group that used Rolemaster. He tried to explain it to me (any profession could learn any skill) and intrigued, I went out and bought Character Law. (blue cover w/ Jorgensen artwork). I immediately rolled up a Warrior Monk and was hooked! I joined their game group and we started a new campaign using Court of Ardor
Peter: I cannot remember the exact year but there was a games shop in Bristol called Forever People. It was your typical games/comics and miniatures store. I bought the red book version of MERP as I had a friend who was LotR mad. We were playing a lot of Champions at the time and I thought this would be a bit of a change. The first character we created was a Dunlending warrior with a hobbit sidekick. The first true rolemaster product was the Arms Law Claw Law box set with the naff fake parchement paper.
Just for fun Brian and I have come up with the 12 days of Rolemaster. Twelve questions about our Rolemaster experiences and we will post our answers to each question on the 12 days of Christmas, starting on the 25th.
If you want to join in then the 12 questions are:
25th What was your first experience of Rolemaster?
26th Your favourite Rolemaster profession (and why)?
27th Best NPC? created or in a module.
28th Have you ever regretted allowing an optional rule or house rule into the game?
29th The most useful piece of technology (hardware or software) for Rolemaster?
30th Your Rolemaster favourite spell (from any list)?
31st Best “cool bit” from a RM product.?
1st Is there any cunning plan you can share that you are hoping to spring on your players this year? If you don’t want to spoil it then what was the best cunning plan from the last 12 months?
2nd Best layout/structure in a RM product?
3rd Of all the companions and ‘laws’ which book could you not be without?
4th In my opinion the best bit of RMU is…?
5th Excepting Perception, Stalk & Hide and Body Development, of all the skills in all the books which one would you say is the single most important for a player to take?
If you want to join in the you can post your answers in the comments each day or take the twelve questions and create your own post.
This may be my last post for the year due to the holidays and travel so I thought I would finish up 2016 with some random thoughts.
- I started posting earlier this year and I’m not really sure how many articles I’ve posted. I keep a running list of ideas that pop into my head: some random, some sparked by comments on the RM Forums and some when I’m working on RM/SW stuff. A few times I come up with great ideas and don’t write them down—only to forget them. That’s frustrating. Obviously Peter has been doing this longer and keeping up a 2 blog/week pace takes quite a bit of discipline. Other RPG blog sites post MUCH less frequently or have lots of contributors to share the load. Both Peter and I have encouraged others to write posts but haven’t really gotten a strong response. That surprises me given the number of people that write fairly long and technical arguments in the RM Forums; I would think they would have other material to contribute?
- I’ve posted up a number of blogs and RM posts regarding to big projects I’ve been working on for over 10 years. Project BASiL (Brians Alternate Spell Law) and SW “Red Atlas” (name inspired by the Redbook used for RMC I). Our SW “Red Atlas” is over 300 pages without charts, pictures, graphics, layout or any creatures and a narrative timeline rather than the standard date timeline and fills in a lot of fundamental information that we needed to address during our own gameplay. More importantly it consolidates all the “world level” info into one tome, drawn from all the canon books that Terry has written. Differentiating world info from local or regional info was a useful exercise—and allowed us to identify gaps in material that could be expanded in a future Master Atlas.
- Priest-King of Shade. Terry has hinted that he’d like to get “Priest-King of Shade” done this year. The module is 27 years in the making—the original manuscript was approved by Coleman in 1989 and sent back with hand-written notes by Terry but life got in the way and ICE when through changes and I never finished it. “Shade” is actually a spin-off of that original project: Empire of the Black Dragon (which is now a separate module I’m finishing up). There has been some speculation on its relationship to “Shade of the Sinking Plain” so I thought I would provide a few answers. In fact, Priest-King was meant to be a re-imagining or ret-con of the “Sinking Plain”—a module that really never fit in with the Loremaster or Shadow World series. I took some of the material from Empire of the Black Dragon and worked to make a loose adaption or “inspired by” module. If you have ever read “Sinking Plain” you know that there isn’t much info that fits into SW—it is very D&D in style and feels like an early Midkemia Press or Judges Guild product. However there were some cool elements that were used for inspiration. Here is an early blurb I wrote for the back cover:
Agyra. Far from the historic events of Emer and Jaiman, this region has been cruelly shaped for thousands of years by both natural forces and the powerful flows of Essence. Scattered and isolated tribes peoples are a legacy of a nation that sunk beneath the waves in millennium past. Monolithic blocks scattered along deserted coasts and leagues of crumbled ruins lying in shallow waters are remnants of a lost civilization.
However, these lands are not dormant. Powerful nations and secretive groups are at odds: a war of not just arms but of politics and commerce. Into this conflict a new power has risen. A mysterious Priest-King and his devout followers have occupied an ancient citadel and are slowly expanding their power across the lands. For the nearby tribes that inhabit the coasts, these newcomers are viewed with outright fear. Rumors of demonic armies, missing children and empty villages have cast a pall throughout these lands.
But adventurers have come nonetheless. Ancient ruins have been discovered: a sprawling city lying submerged in the shallow waters off the southern coast of Agyra. Many believe the ruins date millennia back to the First Era and holds untold wealth and the secrets of the Ancients.
The Priest-King of Shade is a module detailing the lands of South West Agyra and the growing empire of the Priest-King of Shade. This product contains a regional guide, maps and layouts of key places, detailed description of key NPCs and 12 adventures ready to play. Designed for player’s level 5-20. Will you confront the minions of the Priest-King?
- Empire of the Black Dragon. I was focused almost exclusively on getting “Shade” published and let EotBD idle for several years. Now I’m back working on it and hope to have a draft ready for review in the next few months. I’ve always found Ulya Shek the more interesting of the DragonLords and the tech angle adds to the creative design choices. It feels more like a “Fortress” book (MERP) rather than a linear adventure or regional overview module. We’ll see. I had also wanted to tackle Drul Churk but Terry covered him in Emer III.
- It’s amazing how much work has gone into the RMU re-design. Given the fact that it’s all volunteer you really have to applaud the contributors. House ruling professions or combat sequences is quite different than designing a framework for attack tables and critical charts or a foundation for creature development. Yes, some of it is very crunchy and may not need to be in the initial product offering, but it’s a tremendous amount of work. So Kudos to Matt, Vlad, Dan and now Jonathan (sorry if I missed anyone else) for all their effort. I’m sure they have felt unappreciated at times but they carried the load for all of us.
If you are regular reader here at the Rolemasterblog, thanks! If you have an interest in adding your voice to this blog than please reach out to Peter. Best wishes to all on this holiday season.
I was going to post the second instalment of my RMU playtest but I will try and post it later in the week. Instead, inspired by Brian’s post I thought I would share how I like to go about trying to create new and hopefully original adventures.
The basic premise is ‘take to its extreme limit’ by which I mean I like to take an idea or inspiration and then try and see how far I can take that idea.
When I say idea it is often not so much an idea but rather an inspiration. It could be a profession that I want to make the bad guy, it could be a particular spell on a specific list. In the past it has been a tactic that the players have used and I wanted to use against them.
Once I have this inspriation point I then see just using that core idea how much could you achieve with just that one thing. In a recent post I outlined an evil illusionist and his plans. Once I know what is happening I can then see where would this encroach on the characters lives. How would they first become aware of what is going on and how? Often this first possible contact is completely ignored by the characters. It could be just a mention in the Waterdeep broadsheets or a rumour in the market place. Once I have placed the events in the world though I try and advance the villains plans and see where and when the characters could next become aware of them. They may or may not take the bait that time but it doesn’t matter. In theory at least as the villain’s plans proceed he should be getting more powerful and the longer the characters ignore them they should be advancing in level as well so both are in step.
I think every spell list has the potential to be the inspiration for an adventure. If you only had Sleep V as a spell and nothing else what crimes could you commit?
Not every adventure needs a spell caster behind it. How about a single intelligent creature, an enterprising goblin for example? What could a goblin achieve if he really thought through his plans? Once he starts to make some alliances he suddenly gets a lot more threatening. If he plans a few raids and they are successful then others are more likely to follow a winning leader that beings in loot and freah meat. Put his lair or hold on an easily defending island or in a marsh, inhabited by something equally threatening from lizardmen to the undead to noxious marsh gas and the Goblin chief now has natural defences as well as his band of goblins and their allies.
Each and every adventure can be embedded in the game world and existed before the characters came along and continues to grow in scope until the characters deal with it.
Occaisonally if the characters are either staying in an area or revisit an area then I have had these embedded adventures actually come into conflict with each other. If you have two villains both of which have designs on taking the same town or goblins trying to raid traffic on a particular road and someone else using it to smuggle goods then there is going to be a conflict. Put the characters in the middle of that and you have potentially complicated situation for the characters to sort out.
I think to put it in a nut shell I think I am saying, take something simple and take it to its extreme.