Legends of Shadow World. Using “Slug Throwers” in Rolemaster.

I’m fine tuning my “Legends of Shadow World” adventures and debating the mechanics of firearms used by some particular nasty Demon Warriors: basically a large caliber gatling gun! Here is what I used:

Gϋthϋraxx Auto Gun

Weighing 22lbs and 42” long, this ornate hand held rotary gun is the preferred weapon of Gϋthϋraxx Shock Troops. The guns are ornate constructions with a bulbous receiver, curved metal stock and a cylindrical clip of grey/black metal.

Each gun holds a 12 round clip of .80 caliber slugs that are fired from 6 rotating spring powered barrels. The gun can fire up to 6 slugs/round. Each clip takes 1 round to change and the spring rewound every 12 shots.


  1. Use Heavy Crossbow Table. 4x Damage. 4x range.
  2. Each shot after the first will receive a cumulative -10 penalty due to recoil.
  3. Requires 95 strength to fire w/o penalty. For every point under 95 there is a cumulative -1 penalty. For every 5 points under 95 winding the barrel takes an additional round.


Since I’m using RM2 stats (like other SW products), I wanted to keep things simple. Using the Heavy Crossbow chart with a damage and range multipliers made sense.

Anyone have a better idea or thoughts on this?

#RPGaDAY2017 26th, 27th and 28th

26th Which RPG provides the most useful resources.

Having read other people answers to this already it is funny how they all cancel out. Some say Pathfinder has the best resources and then others that Pathfinder is a victim of its own bloat. Some say the new D&D 5e online service is amazing but then admit that none of their players have even made an account so paying more to be able to share resources was money down the drain.

I am a less is more sort of person and for me most of the companions I junked anyway even when playing RM2. When I started afresh with RMC not having the companions was a blessed relief.

I am going back to my old time favourite of Car Wars again. There were loads of expansions for it but none of them made the game more complicated. There was an expansion for trucks but that just added a new vehicle type. The game remained the same but players got to face new challenges. Half of those little plastic boxes were filled with battle maps such as Truck Stop that were big enough to cover your dining room table. There was a periodical, Autoduel Quarterly, that released regular new material. I think everyone eagerly awaited any new equipment! There were also adventures, there were two that I remember buying Turbo fire and Hell on Wheels. Hell on Wheels ended up becoming the launch point of an entire campaign as the starting character had a really cool Lamborghini Countach which has to be the best starting equipment for a new character ever!
So that is my answer, Car Wars again.

27th What are your essential tools for good gaming?

Post-it notes! I love them and with the best prep in the world you are still going to have to make and record changes on the fly and that is where Post-it notes come in. I also use them for recording NPC turns of phrase when talking, key strategies when in combat and important magic items so I don’t realise AFTER they are dead that they had a staff of teleport and would have bugged out long ago!

A post-its and pencils are the things I cannot do without, even dice are optional but those are my essentials.

28th What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

I think the answer is probably anything by Monty Python, absolutely anything and everything they have ever done is likely to come up at some point.

Rolemaster Spell Law Deconstructed: Are Summoning Spell mechanics broken?

I thought the commentary on “Illusions” in my last blog post was pretty good, so I thought I would discuss another spell mechanic that might need to be re-examined: Summoning.

Spell Law contains a number of spells to summon/conjure Demons, creatures and other beings in Essence and Channeling.  But really it’s a just a big hot mess of vague, confusing spells.

The 2nd level spell Summoning (Evil Magician Base) says “Caster can instantly summon a first level non-intelligent creature”….  Does this mean that the creature teleports to the caster or does the creature have to travel to the caster. Is a teleport affect powerful for a 2nd lvl spell? Is this a Summoning spell or a Gating spell? Per the spell, the duration is 10 min/lvl normally (or 1 min/lvl when put in danger). What happens at the end of the duration? Does the creature disappear and teleport back from whence it came? Does that mean the spell generates 2 separate teleport effects?

Now lets contract that with a 9th level spell “Animal Summons I” from the Animist Base. You would assume that an Animist would be better at summoning general creatures than an Evil Magician? Well, you would be wrong. The spell states: “Caster can summon any 1 animal within radius (1 mi/lvl). That’s a ninth level spell compared to a 2nd level spell and implies that the creature has to travel to the caster. Yes the Animist has a built in control function when concentrating but the duration is only 1 min/lvl. I think there is a discrepancy here.

“Gating” also opens a number of questions about spell mechanics. (Some of this really depends on the setting and implied meta-physics of the world.) I’m finishing up “Book of the Pales” which is expansion material on the Demonic Realms: more creatures, environment, adventuring in etc. That effort along with my re-write of Demon summoning spells made me think about the whole premise. Let’s review:

Spell User casts “Lesser Demonic Gate”, a 5th lvl spell on the Evil Magician base list Dark Summons. This calls a Demon (Type I-III) that will slowly appear over a few rounds. If the Demon is not controlled in some fashion (control, master, barter, binding etc) the Demon “leaves”.

So what’s going on here? Does the spell open a doorway to the Pales and call a Demon through the gate or is this just a materialization? Now let’s assume that the Caster Masters the Demon in some fashion. Demon Mastery has no duration, just contingencies (range, kill or release).  But how does the Demon eventually return to it’s world/plane/Pale? If the Gate is now closed by what method does the Demon dissipate? Is there some spell reserve around the Demon that activates another Gate?

Some would argue that Demons  are just physical projections created by magic. When the spell “ends” the magic unbinds that projection and the Demon disappears. That’s a good solution but pretty powerful. In effect it’s creating a powerful physical form for a spirit creature from another Plane! And what about the other Summoning spells that work the same but on real creatures of the game world? They aren’t spirit beings given a physical form through magic. What about existing Gates that allow Demons to enter the world? Do the Gates have some implied “form physical body” ability?

For my own game, I am more interested in Shadow World and how Demon Summoning would work; and that required a spell re-write. Under my game, the Pales are other planes of existence and most Demons are physical creatures (thematic Demons are manifestations or possessors). That means that Demons do need a “Gate” or doorway to go from the Pales to Kulthea–or vice versa. This can be a spell, conjuring circle, natural Essaence Gate or other construct. Like any door, if it’s present and open it allows for 2 way travel: once a Demon enters Kulthea it’s there unless it returns via a door/gate willingly or sent back the same way. How else does Kulthea get populated by Demons? (Under Spell Law RAW I think  they would de-materialize when no longer controlled.)

For purposes of this discussion let’s delineate two different types of mechanics (despite naming conventions used in Spell Law) and use Shadow World for the default setting:

  1. Summoning. This “calls” a specific or general creatures from the local area to come to the caster. The creatures must physically travel to the caster.
  2. Gating. These spells create a magical “doorway” that teleports a creature directly to the caster.

So far so good, right? This is a simple differentiation that lays the framework for a variety of spells. The second part of the equation is “control”. I like the established vernacular used by RM: Control requires concentration. Mastery does not. Ranges and duration can be set by spell level, base list, profession etc. The final piece is protection. Without Control/Mastery there is no implied protection for the Caster. The Gate itself is a doorway, not a Circle of Protection or Ward. Opening a Gate and calling forth a Demon is no guarantee that what you want is what shows up!! Even a normal animal may not react well when Summoned and end up attacking the Caster if uncontrolled.

In conclusion, while various types of Summoning/Gating should be dependent on the world or setting, a few basic tweaks can vastly simplify these Spell Mechanics.


#RPGaDAY2017 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th.

Not sure I said this last time but I think I am missing the point somewhat by doing #RPGaDAY in bi-weekly chunks. Having said that I will freely confess that the point for me was to get rolemasterblog mentioned on the twitter feed for #RPGaDAY. Anything that raises Rolemaster’s awareness has to be a good thing.

So to the questions…

22nd Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

This seems like it is going to be which ever RPG the GM is most familiar with. Given the writers and audience here any answer that is not RM would be a little weird. On the other hand Rolemaster is not a ‘thing’ it is many things or even a whole library of things. Anything that requires me to dive into book after book to try and find the right ruling for this or that situation is not really my thing. I think that drives my style of GM prep where I insert the rules for each situation/hazard into the game notes and my desire for an ever more minimalist ruleset. I want to reach the Lagrange point between a full RM experience and no rules. I was once told that the car brand JEEP was an old army acronym for Just Enough Essential Parts. That is what I am looking for in a game and the ones that I find the easiest to run, for me at least.

23rd What RPG has the most jaw dropping layout?

I have the advantage of seeing other people answers to this question and there are some brilliant page layouts around now. By contrast Rolemaster, every edition from the originals to the newest core rulebooks for RMC are boring! The most attractive book  in the RM stable I have seen is the Shadow World Players Guide. I don’t know if all of Terry’s Shadow World books look the same but I suspect they do not. Somehow I think RM’s design is stuck in the 80s.

I personally hate the FATE rules. They are just not my idea of fun but look at this page. There is no art, which is often sighted as one of the real barriers to having great looking books. Art is a real expense I admit. We have discussed that many times and at length.

First and foremost the most striking this is that they have rejected the ‘norm’ of the two column layout that just about every RPG rule book I have ever seen has used. The box outs are  striking and add both to the clarity of the rules and the visual impact of the page. The useful navigation in the margins is an excellent addition making it easy to find related sections.

I am certainly going to adopt many if not all of these features into my future publications. I have always been a bit of a revisionist. I create things that are probably a bit crap but then I go back and improve and improve. I am no designer but I can recognise good design when I see it and I am not above borrowing other peoples great ideas and using them to improve my own work.

So on the basis that FATE has made me change the way I am going to create everything else I think FATE has to get my nomination.

24th Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

My answer to this is Nemo Works. I think the effort they put into their products is superb. I simply cannot draw so anything that allows me to create layouts and floor plans is an absolute god send to me. Their core product is just $8 but they have a number of PWYW addons that you can use to expend the core product into many different genres.

Pay What You Want serves a couple of different purposes. For many of the bigger games such as FATE and Shadowrun it is a loss leader. They are prepared to give away some products to get you hooked. For smaller and independent publishers they are not really in it for the money and may not even know how much to charge. I put out my house rules using PWYW so I could say I was not charging for a RM product. I see any payments as donations and entirely voluntary. I typically get between $1 and $2 per download and that is fine. I wanted to share the rules not make my fortune. If I wanted to make money I would be selling to the D&D audience not Rolemaster.

25th What is the best way to think your GM?

I think leave your lawyers hat by the door on the way in. I am certainly not perfect and I do not remember every rule, word perfect every time. We all make mistakes and we are all human. Most of the time I am super prepared and as I said above I actually include the pertinent rules in my game notes. The most likely  cause of needing an on the spot decision or adjudication is going to be a player trying to bend the situation, spell or skill in a way which was not how it was intended. I don’t have a problem with this. This is the beauty of table top RPGs and what a computer RPG can never match. You can do anything you can imagine in that situation to survive or succeed. Sometimes that is going to stretch the rules. I like to think of myself when GMing as being on the players side. We are all their to have fun, the game was created to help them have fun. What I don’t like is when the game breaks down because a rules lawyer decides to argue with the GM. I don’t care if I am a player having to stop playing while the argument takes place or if I am the GM having someone disrupt my game and the other players. So the best way to thank the GM is enjoy the game and don’t go out of your way to break it!

Rolemaster Spell Law Deconstructed. Are Illusions a broken mechanic?

Perhaps more than any other spell, and dating back to AD&D, Illusions have been misused, misunderstood and abused. Some have argued that Illusionists, if played “correctly”, are the most powerful spellcasters in RPGs. That assertion relies on two bedrock principles: creativity of the player and an expansive interpretation of the limits of the spell.

The principle of illusory magic is a bedrock in myth–deployed by trickster gods, Djinn and clever mages in ancient tales and modern pop culture. At first glance the idea of magical mirages is simple, useful and restrained in effect. Unfortunately, AD&D forever changed and corrupted illusions to the delight of rule-lawyers everywhere. For me, it got the point where I didn’t allow Illusionist Base Spells until I could get around to fixing them. What was the mechanic that screwed up illusions? The mechanic of “believing creates reality” first found in Phantasmal Force, a 1st level illusionist spell.

“When this spell is cast, the magic-user creates a visual illusion which will affect all believing creatures which view the Phantasmal Force, even to the extent of suffering damage from phantasmal missiles or from falling into an illusory pit full of sharp spikes” (emphasis mine)

The concept that visual illusions can cause real damage is both revolutionary and game breaking. Like many things D&D, this promotion of Illusion effects has been mainlined into other game systems and now an accepted trope. We can never know the original intent of the “believing” rule–perhaps without a physical component, illusions would be weak and easily ignored? Maybe D&D saw some mental aspects to illusions that created a placebo effect on the unwitting? “Believing” as a game rule is always tricky. Sure, some players can dive into it and roleplay it well, but having a group where some of the characters believe and others don’t can take the players out of the game quickly.

But the more fundamental question is should Illusions have a physical force/touch component to it to begin with? What’s wrong with just having a visual illusion spell that doesn’t have a “touch” or “believe and it will harm you” mechanic? I can think of many, many uses in gameplay. Sure, upon close inspection a foe can determine that a visual effect is an illusion, but that doesn’t minimize it’s potency in many gaming situations.

Spell Law attempted to rationalize this through the “touch” process–giving illusions a physical impact to reinforce the spells authenticity. The Rolemaster Touch spell was a level 2 spell that could be added to other illusion effects. (while working on this post a discussion popped up on the RM Forums HERE).

While D&D mixes many magic types into their spells, Rolemaster’s realms maybe best suited to utilize differing types of illusions into it’s framework. Glamours, phantasms, illusions, mirages, facades etc are all used to describe some type of illusion spell. It might be helpful to create a framework for these words that tie them to certain phenomena or attributes, but for now let’s keep it basic: An illusion is a false sensory stimuli produced by a magical effect. Whether it’s a visual scene, smell, sound or perhaps even a touch, the spells efficacy is dependent on the target. A blind person cannot be affected by a visual illusion, and a deaf person cannot be affected by a sound illusion.

Rolemaster has two realms that work well with illusion, but both should work quite different from a mechanics standpoint. I’m not happy with Spell Law RAW–so like all the other spells, I tore them down and then built up from scratch. To me it’s clear that illusions will work quite differently with each realm.

The realm of elemental powers and physical manipulation, Essence, and more specifically “Light Law” or light manipulation seems a natural fit for visual Illusions. It’s harder to rationalize including physical effects, smell or sound into a “Light Law” spell list though. Sound illusion can fit into a “Sound/sonic Law”, physical effects could fit into “Telekinesis” and smell could be a utility list. Of course, consolidating into a single “Illusions” list with various aspects (sight, sounds, smell, touch) works but requires casting multiple spells to generate a multi-faceted effect. Nonetheless, I don’t see the Essence realm creating illusions that will cause damage if a target “believes”. Instead, Essence illusions are physical manifestations–a hologram or sound machine.

Mentalism, however, opens up a wide range of possibilities. Under our rules (and I think RMU went this route as well) Mentalism illusions are “internal”–a false sense implanted into the target, or targets, mind(s). This allows Mentalism a more flexible and powerful Illusion ability. Unlike Essence though, these Illusions will only be experienced by the target(s). To me this a good balance between Essence and Mentalism spells. Essence allows for manifestations, that are seen by anyone but are limited in scope while Mentalism can be fully immersive but only by select targets. This mental projection also gives the Mentalist the ability to affect the targets nervous system, i.e. pain receptors. This gives Mentalist the ability to incorporate “damage” (via pain penalties and not real damage) in the spell effect.

In my opinion, it’s Mentalist Illusions that best mirror the functions of the D&D Phantasm spell, while Essence emulates the presentation of the Phantasm spell. Rolemasters realm differentiation allow for more precise form/function execution.

These are my solutions. But to revisit the topic: are RAW Rolemaster Illusion spells broken? Should a caster be allowed to add “touch” effects to a bridge illusion so characters can cross a chasm? Does this even make sense? Is an illusion, a false sensory input, compatible with a touch; an actual real directed spell that creates a physical effect? Combining the two break the rules.

Just my 2 cents!


#RPGaDAY2017 19th, 20th and 21st

I am sure that bulk answering these questions twice a week completely misses the point of #RPGaDAY but to be honest I don’t care.

Yesterday Sparta commented on a post I wrote at the beginning of July. The significance of that is that we are obviously reaching new people and they are looking at what we are writing. This is a good thing. I have no idea but it is entirely possible Sparta and others found the blog through the #RPGaDAY hashtag.

Insidentally one of the most most common good search phrases that brings people to the blog is [shadow world amthor]. The busiest day so far this month was the day that Brian mentioned the fanzine on the RM Forums!

Anyway, I digress.

19th Which RPG features the best writing?

This is a really subjective question. What is best writing anyway? The D&D Basic box set (red cover) that got me started had a life long impact on me so that must have been pretty good I would say.

I am actually going to put forward Champions as my answer though for this question. That was a brilliant system and the rulebook was a pleasure to read. It also changed the way I thought about RPGs and character generation forever.

20th What is the best source of out of print RPGs.

The only sites I have ever looked at for these are ebay and amazon marketplace. I guess the point of this question is that if you scanned twitter for the answer to this question then you are going to find a few gems of sites that are little known but will worth knowing about.

I bet scribt has a load of old RPGs uploaded as illegal copies, you seem to be able to find just about anything on there!

21st Which RPG does the most with the least words?

I assume they do not mean shortest rule set. I know there are tons of one page ‘rulebooks’ out there. I am going to answer with CarWars again. We used to role play it ans I think the game has a single character stat for your life which was 3 if you were healthy and maybe three skills driving, combat and mechanic if I remember rightly. So your entire character sheet was 4 words long and 4 numbers. The vehicle character sheet was a box with maybe 6 sets of initials, MG for machine gun, RR for recoiless rifle, PR for puncture resistant tyres and so on. It has to be the game with the least vocabulary of them all!

That was a brilliant game and we spent months playing a CW campaign with just these couple of skills. The next game I played after that was champions and the game after that was RM2. Champions and RM2 were all about skills (and powers), that is what what defined your character, that is what allowed you to craft exactly the character you wanted to play. But that was the impression I got with just Character Law and shortly afterwards Companion I. So at that point there were maybe 45 skills. Over the years we added every companion and all the Laws but with 200 skills the characters were no more unique. In fact I think the most skills that were added the more similar the characters became. Some of the skills became essentials such as tumble attack and tumble evade, two weapon combo and iai strike, at least in our games. The same was true of herb lore and sense ambush.

I suspect that that experience of playing CW with the 3 word (4 words if you include the characters name) character sheets may have stayed with me and gone some way towards inspiring my super light RM variant. You never know.

Legends of Shadow World. Chapter 5: Ad Acta Atra Peracta Sunt Facta Atta Patrata

This past Tuesday, the group ran through the final chapter of Legends of Shadow World. Unlike the back to back nature of the first four chapters, the group was able to return to Eidolon, rest, heal and gather resources for the final task. They felt prepared and more optimistic…until the mission briefing. Apparently even a group of 50th level PCs can feel apprehension!

Once again the group had to undertake a long journey, handle adverse environment conditions and then run the gauntlet of several smaller challenges. The final encounter was against the mob boss so the party was able to shift to known RM combat strategies of a PC group fighting a singular, powerful foe (over level 100). Generally superior numbers is a huge advantage in RM combat, but this was a very powerful adversary and two of the PCs were killed during the battle. It felt truly epic and the players all had a great time–in fact they wanted another run through the battle just to see if they could win without any party kills.

Without giving away the details, this encounter was actually the starting premise of the whole exercise: to build a 50th lvl adventure. Once I had the end drafted out, I just needed to create a narrative to lead the players to the final battle. But as I was writing it, and then testing it, I wanted to use the adventure path to test various aspects of high level gaming.  Each chapter was meant to combine difficult terrains or environments with varying opponents. Unlike lower level adventures, there was much less reliance on regular skills to solve challenges–at 50th lvl, skill bonuses are maxed out and make most actions automatic or the group has spells that can tackle the problem.  Normally I would want a more well rounded adventure, but this was intended to be a tournament style to played with pre-gen characters in short 2-4 hour sessions.

Some final thoughts:

  1. There was a learning curve–I had to modify much of the chapter 1, half of chapter 2, a lot of chapter 3, a bit of chapter 4 and almost nothing in chapter 5. I’ll be getting additional feedback from the other two playtest groups but I’m pretty close to a finished product.
  2. I don’t know how 50th level characters would work in a prolonged, ongoing, campaign but they work great for stand alone adventures. The players really enjoyed roleplaying these known personalities but weren’t so invested in them that getting killed was a problem.
  3. High level creatures that have a lot of spells or special abilities give GMs a wide range of tools to play with. It becomes even more important to plan out spell usage when casters have hundreds of spells. I like to list out 10-15 spells with contingencies as a GM combat guide. That, plus special abilities and magic items should be enough choice for most battles.
  4. I’ve always preferred running low level adventures. Even small achievements seem significant and there is a real progression of power and abilities up to 10th lvl. However, I think I’m converted! High level adventures are different but a blast. Basically the player gets to use all the abilities and spells that were just a distant promise at lower levels!
  5. Information. At 50th lvl, the PCs should have access to quite a bit of hidden world info but in the framework of a short tourney adventure I didn’t bother with a “data dump”. When needed, I provided needed information in the game, but I didn’t want to ruin our regular SW campaign with world secrets. One of the PCs is a Loremaster after all! One of my players did ask for information that I suspected would be useful in the other group.
  6. High Fantasy. One of RMs greatest appeal is the granularity and grittiness of the system but with high level groups there needs to be a certain amount of hand waving. Travel is simplified when you have a Navigator that can Jump, a cleric that can create food and water, significant healing abilities and for all practical purposes, unlimited wealth. But RM grittiness manifests back into the game during combat and tactical level events. Even at high levels, fighting in burning lava, violent Essaence Storms, no/low gravity or sub zero temperatures requires resources and changed combat strategies. You can’t hand wave away non-breathable air!
  7. Herbs & Power Points. I’m going to increase herb allocations to the PCs. I think its one of the simpler ways to adjust game balance compared to the more involved process of changing the #/power of encounters. I think Peter does the same thing with runes & 1-time items in his campaign. I rarely allow instant herbs for use during combat, but it makes a huge difference after encounters in group resource management. Although I’m sticking to RAW RMC, I am using SW crystals as power storage (more of a magic item than a rule change). PCs can replenish PPs via these objects but I think they had too many PPs. I never felt they were being strategic with their usage and I like casters having to weight spells against their PP cost.
  8. Mass Combat. Still pondering this and I think I need to pour through War Law again. I have a handful of ideas on more 50th lvl adventures but need a good process for handling armies and mass groups. I know it’s doable, but it feels like a different game when you do it. There is a thread on this at the RM Forums that I’m keeping an eye on.

I’m looking forward to getting this adventure out there–I only wish I had artwork and professional layouts to punch it up a bit!



#RPGaDAY2017 15th to 18th

I am having a frustrating week this week. I had so many plans, my wife is away at the Edinburgh Fringe so I could really dedicate loads of time to just writing (and horse riding whenever I get stuck). As it happens I have spent the week mostly in the car going from one place to another and have achieved very little and I have the same in store all weekend! This was supposed to be the week I tackled my Rolemaster for young players project (GameMaster Kids). For a bit of light relief I was going to put some more meat on the bones of my HARP/FATE hybrid under the working title of FART. I am way behind with my 50 in 50 adventures and that just about sums up my week.

This weeks questions for #RPGaDAY 2017 could be answered in just two words. I am not a hoarder of games and books and nor do I buy stuff I have no intention of using. When you see the questions you will understand…

15th Which RPG do you enjoy adpating the most?

Well Duh, that would be Rolemaster.

16th Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

That would be Rolemaster and more specificaly RMC.

17th Which RPG have you owned for the longest but not played?

This would be HARP that I bought last Christmas and is still as yet unplayed.

18th Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

Anyone for Rolemaster?

So the answers were either Rolemaster or HARP. I think RMC specifically works well as is and without any house rules if you want a pretty generic fantasy RPG. I have dropped wholesale into the Forgotten Realms without modification and as D&D was equally generic it just works. I could just have as easily dropped it into Greyhawk and had the same results.

My adaptation of RMC into my own game is a result of wanting to make the rules invisible during normal play. If I had may way there would be no need to pick up a rulebook from the start from the session to the end. I haven’t achieved that because of Arms Law or which ever flavour of combat system you prefer. About 50% of the effort went into adapting the rules to what I wanted and the other 50% went into adapting my prep time. The better organised I am the less time is lost at the gaming table. That is true of every GM but as you all probably know I go so far as to copy and paste sections of the rule books from the PDFs into my game notes so that if someone were to be at risk of drowning then the rule for that is the next paragraph in my notes, if you may fall off a cliff the next page in my notes is the Fall/Crush table from Arms Law and so on. I have merged rules and adventure notes so I need no other documents beyond characters sheets, my notes and the combat tables (and even those I have as individual sheets that I sort so that I only have the weapons/attacks I need for that session to minimise the number of pages. The less pages then the less page flipping to find the right table!)

So there you have it. I fairly uninspiring set of answers this week. Next week is more about publishers and different games so the answers will not all be RM & HARP.

Random Musings. High Level Channeling Spells in Rolemaster.

In last weeks BLOG POST, I discussed issues I had with high level Essence spells; specifically combat oriented spells from the Open and Closed List. These posts are a result of the intersection of two projects: BASil (my rewrite of spell law) and 5 of 50 (50th lvl adventure series). This puts me in a position of familiarity with spell law and  creating and testing high level adventures.

It’s been a few years since my first iteration of BASiL, and I haven’t bothered reviewing my notes and analysis in quite some time. Instead I’m looking at RM spells from this new perspective: how useful and powerful are they for very high level adventuring. Today I want to offer my thoughts on the Channeling realm. Again, just focusing on combat oriented lists and just the Open and Closed.

Barrier Law. I’m not sure that much of Barrier Law is Channeling appropriate–seems more elemental. This also goes to a Gods “aspect” and what type of powers a cleric would have. Should a Cleric of the God of Fire be able to cast Ice Wall? Anyway, let’s just talk about “Wall of Force”–the 50th lvl spell. It creates an impassable barrier of energy…but…it’s only 10′ x 20′, lasts up to 1 rnd/lvl and the Cleric must concentrate! This feels more like a 25th or 30th lvl spell with a better version at 50th lvl. Maybe no concentrations and AoE scaled to level?

Concussions Way. Here is a good example of a great high level spell, but a awkward power progression. 30th lvl provides “True Healing” which heals 1 target of all their hits, but the cleric must be touching the target. Then the next spell (50th lvl), Mass True Healing, does the same but for 1 targetlvl (50 targets!) and they can be up to 100′ away. That’s a fantastic spell, but seems quite a bit more potent than the next highest? On a  side note the 25th lvl spell “Regeneration” is a missed opportunity. It should heal 5 hits/rnd, last 1 rnd/lvl and not require concentration.

Lights Way. 50th lvl Mass Utterlight. Not a great 50th lvl spell. I”ll leave it at that.

Spell Defense. The 50th lvl Resistance True requires concentration–taking the Cleric out of action.

Calm Spirits. Not sure about this–“Calm True” has a duration of P. Does this work in the game–permanents pacifying a target?

That’s it for Channeling! I definitely think that the lack of protective or augmentation spells nerfs the profession compared to other systems. Looking at just those spells/lists, the most effective role for a Cleric is to cast Concussion Ways when needed. Spell Defense requires concentration and Wall of Force would only be needed in extreme circumstances (and require concentration.)

My Channeling BASiL lists, including all the Orhan/Charon pantheon specific lists really pumped up Clerics. In fact a group of Clerics in my SW campaign are as powerful as almost any other mixed profession group!



#RPGaDAY2017 12th, 13th & 14th plus more!

So I am continuing with the #RPGaDAY but I have more exciting news!

The August issue of the Rolemaster Fanzine is now for sale on RPGNow and this is the Shadow  World special.

This issue has a reprint of two of my favourite BriH Shadow World articles from the blog, the interview with Terry and chapter one of the Loremaster Legacy, Terry’s novel.

Whilst not RM related I am really pleased to be able to link to my game on Amazon. This is my latest achievement and it is really nice to see the book in print. The PDF and print version should be on OneBookShelf this week and the Kindle edition the week after.

So with that out of the way here are my RPGaDAY questions.

12th Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

One of the funny things about these questions is that it makes you think about things that you may otherwise not given a thought to.  I think the original MERP art was probably the best I have ever seen and was definitely in keeping with the original LotR books.

13th Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

I think I have told this story before. We were meeting for the first session of a spacemaster game. Rather than all sitting around creating characters together we were split up and the GM started us playing our characters, describing the scenes and we started role playing before the characters were rolled up. The GM shuttled between us nipping from kitchen to living room and I had drawn the short straw and had the bathroom! This was the first time I actually knew my character before I put pen to paper and picked skills. Now I always have that really strong concept before I even start. Incidentally, that was the shortest campaign I ever played in as we all accidentally killed each other at the first meeting after only one character uttered just one word. There had been a sort of cat and mouse game going on with each character thinking they were being followed or were following a bad guy. We ended up in a mexican stand off but with concealed weapons in a taverna until one character who seemed to be oblivious to all of this walked in, came to our table and said “Hello” at which point everyone opened fire. I was using an assault blaster at point blank range and I remember rolling a straight 66 for my critical. I also ended up bleading about 8hits a round from several wounds by the end of the round, stunned and about to pass out. I don’t think anyone survived beyond fire phase A of the first round.

14th Which rpg do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

This has to be Rolemaster and RMC for me and to further clarify my level-less and profession-less variant. I am not going to bang on about it because you have all heard it before.