Load up the loot

As requested here are some thoughts on scaleable treasures for our adventure.

We have so far been working on several power levels for a beginning party, mid level, high and very high level party.

I can also see four distinct bands for the loot. I consider myself a tight fisted GM and tend to give away little treasure. This is particularly true with adventures I share as I don’t want to break someone else’s game.

My original plans for the city of forgotten heroes was to supply magical weapons that had no real value and/or faded away after the next full moon. The big treasure was the jade throne, a one ton mass of evil magic. The sort of treasure that the party may have trouble spending down the tavern.

My first instinct was also to provide magical runes in the form of entire books and potions that may or may not be spoiled. Single use magic and it may or may not be kill you(!).

Not that generous at first appearances.

So we have four levels of wealth miserly, poor, wealthy and rich.

At the rich end there are some nice stock items in Creatures & Treasures.

The Lich King

At the palace location we have the lich or lich-like ruler. Here I would like to see something necromantic, you would be hard pressed to convince anyone you had turned yourself into a lich by accident so the ruler must have had necromantic leanings.

So in order of decreasing power…

Robe of Kazlauskas: This robe was made by Kazlauskas before he became a Lich. It is made of a very fine black cloth with strands of silver lining the bottom of the robe, and it has a belt of silver links. It protects its wearer as AT 4 with a DB of 30 without maneuver penalties. The robe can cast 40 charges per week of the following Essence spells (30th level effect, charge cost in parentheses): Stun Relief II (2), Cut Repair I (3), + 50 Lightning Bolt (5), + 25 Fireball (4), Protection II (2), Telepathy (4), Perceive Power (4), Detect Invisible (2), + 20 Ice Bolt (2), Ache (2), and Shield (1). Artifact.

Kawfigu’s Ring: Forged by Kawfigu the Necromancer long ago, this gold band imparts many powers to whoever wears it. It protects the wearer as a Robe of
Protection. All RR’s against spells cast by the wearer are modified by –15. Further, they may cast up to 50 power points per day (up to 5th level) from the Sorcerer’s base spell lists (at no personal power point cost). Most Potent.

Talisman of Absorption: This talisman can absorb magic spells cast at its owner. The attack level of the talisman is 10th, and any spell failing to resist is absorbed. It can absorb 50 + (1–100 open–ended) power points before becoming inert. Potent.

Whispering Sword: This + 5 short sword uses the two–handed sword table for attack (still using one hand, short sword skill and fumble range), whispers when swung, and floats in water.

I like the Whispering Sword as this has great role playing potential with it giving dark whisperings when in combat.

It is entirely up to the GM whether to include these magical treasures or not. If they are added in then the undead ruler should make full use of them. For a more powerful game or richer game then you can add more than one of these items to the lich king.

The Librarian

I don’t think the Wight librarian needs magical treasure but I can imagine a locked chamber where the most restricted books were stored. There is one book in particular in C&T that is both a great treasure and has the potential to completely mislead the party.

Book of Yesh: This book is an ancient artifact in which much magical lore is written. It contains the names of many Demon Lords and the rituals necessary to summon them. It also describes how to make protective pentagrams which can decrease or negate the chances of a demon–summoning harming the summoner (depending upon the type of demon and the materials used). It lists all the various “Black Channels” spells and how to perform them. It fully describes both the appearance and power of many powerful ancient magic items. The book is 1’x20″ and 7″ thick and bound in black cloth with silver trim. It is virtually indestructible and is written in elvish with a single large “Y” in the center of the last page. Most Potent.

Of the stock items that is the only one I would adds significantly to richness of the location. What you can do though is add runes into the books that have survived in the library. This is a useful mechanic so that if the party are in serious trouble you can make a tome of medicine available that has a rune of the correct healing spell. So a treatise on blood may yield up a rune of clotting. A tome on anatomy may give up a rune of shatter repair and so on. I would suggest that the GM wing this and use it to advance the story and enhance the game session rather than slavishly following a table of random magical items.

The Gate House

I have been thinking about the gate house captain and guards and I simply do not think that the captain and guards should be carrying treasure. If any other adventurers had ever travelled this way before then they may well have killed the guards and captain before. The chances of any magical treasures surviving is slim.

There is an opportunity here to offer a minor magical weapon to a low level party. We can do this by putting a slain body on the road close to the gate house. Someone who didn’t make it. If the party can get to the body and retrieve it or at least loot it then you can give a beginning party a magical weapon, needed to harm the non-corpreal undead.

So those are my thoughts…

Crowd Sourced Adventure – Weapons and Goodies

As we’ve been working on our group project, I’ve been fleshing it out on paper.  Sometimes it helps the brain to organize things (as you get older).  As I’m filling out the creatures in different areas, I’m running into the possible weapon/armour combos the party will encounter.

The octopus *could* wield a weapon, particularly if it’s being controlled by a sentient will.

The guardhouse would certainly have weapons .

Certain non-corporeal undead could wield weapons.

Heroes and Rouges Companion (RM2) has one of my favorite treasures “Ghost Shirt.”  Paraphrasing: A wispy shadow that appears around the wearer’s torso, protects as AT 16 encumbers as AT4.  A non-corporeal undead could easily wear this item or BECOME this item once dispatched.

For the possible Executioner at the possible Gallows location in the courtyard we discussed, I’m thinking of a non-corporeal controlling the skeleton of the Executioner who is wielding an executioner’s sword or broderak.  The party will think they are fighting a skeleton, but are really fighting the non-corporeal.  (Just another little twist we throw in with the pseudo BBG in the castle/manor.)

The ‘ruler’ in the castle/manor should have a crown, perhaps a spell or PP adder.  A scepter or sword?


These are just ideas I’ve been thinking of as we’ve been working along.  Are these things we would wait to add?  Do we finish off the module details, then add the loot?  I’m having a blast with this group project and maybe I’m getting ahead of where we are because of that excitement.

Catch Up Time

I have been away for a couple of weeks but I am back and it is time to catch up.

When you see that list you cannot help but think how great it would be if we could have created fully statted out adventure modules rather than just plot outlines, locations and hooks.

I still think it is an impressive list especially for our first concerted effort. So to the latest pair of adventures.

First up is Time Bandits of the Motley Faire.

The Time Bandits of the Motley Faire sees the characters come across a faire that provides entertainment, supposedly without the use of magic. However, a group of thieves are also with the faire, and these thieves are using temporal magic to carry off a series of heists for which they have not been caught.


Despite the ‘Time Bandits’ reference that adventure title is not my fault!

Next is The Claw!

The Claw is an odd item that can be found in a curiosity shop. A gruesome object, the owner of the shop would dearly like to be rid of it. For the claw keeps regrowing every night. If it isn’t kept on top of, eventually the severed limb will regenerate the entire body to which it was once attached.


Once upon a time I remember a D&D ‘trap’ that went along the lines of deep in some dungeon there was a ‘market stall’ selling frozen meat for the characters to buy. The trap element was that the meat was actually frozen troll meat and when the characters defrost the meat overnight the troll regenerates and they have a surprise encounter with a troll.

This whole concept seemed to sum up everything that was wrong with D&D in the 1980s. Why would there be a market stall in a dungeon, why would the characters buy rations from anyone who thought that this was a good place to sell food and so on. There is so much wrong with this that I don’t know where to start really.

The Claw is almost a cliche of the Edgar Allen Poe style horror story. It could be a fun distraction for the party but Albert Stepfoot and his gang of street kid informers could be a useful addition to any campaign as a way of introducing story hooks to the characters.

All is quiet in Rolemaster world.

I have literally 5 minutes to spare so I thought I would get in a quick blog! As RMBlogs reader have seen, activity is WAY DOWN on the blog and even the RM Forums are pretty slow moving. Let’s chalk it up to the dog days of summer, real life commitments and a temporary lull in the conversation. I have 5-6 posts stewing on the dashboard that I hope to get to, some polishing up on the 50in50’s and then of course the rest of my projects.

So what have I gleaned from quick and random perusals around RM land?

  1. It feels like RMU is close. There was a flurry of activity on the development forums on several topics and it looks like some tightening of the rules. Generally though it feels like most everything is now set and close to publication. That is just my sense–no inside info.
  2. GenCon. I was sad to see Terry had to cancel  his GenCon game. I think his presence would have been a big hit and brought some exposure to Rolemaster and Shadow World. On the other hand, it’s time for newer younger players to take up the banner and run with it via RMU and new products.
  3. Real life news. No not politics! There has been a ton of cool archaeology news lately. I should do a weekend round up soon!
  4. According to Terry, my SW submission and Lethys are on the shelf! He has asked Nicholas to find a new editor since he is busy with his own projects. That’s discouraging… I’m leading towards just publishing it for free so I can have closure and move on to the next one.
  5. When things free up we are going to put together a super edition of the Fanzine with a compilation of updated SW material. I promise Peter!

ok, back to the grindstone. If anyone wants to put their big toe into the land of RM or RPG blogging now would be the time! And it would be a great help.

Snakes On A Wagon Train

Snakes On A Wagon Train is quite obviously one of my 50in50 creations.

Reading it back now it has a certain wild west feel to it. It also makes quite a good introductory adventure for low level characters if you want an investigative adventure rather than out right hack and slash.

Sorry for the very brief post today but I am writing on my phone today as I am on route from Reykjavik to Husavik for a week’s horse trekking.


Roll Call of Horror!

I have been thinking this week about our city of forgotten heroes, the spaces that exist between the palace, the library and the still to be laid out cistern where Octo resides.

My first thought was for a number of locations with prepared encounters, the market, back alleys and so on. I have come around to a different way of thinking though.

Herding the Heroes

Once the existence of the heroes has been registered then it is in Octo’s best interest to have the characters headed towards him. He wants them as food after all. The throne wants to extend its dominion so that too wants the heroes brought closer. So it makes sense for the undead in the city to gather around the characters rather than stay in specific zones.

As a GM then we can throw all sorts of horrors at the party but also leave an exit. The undead are all incorporeal so they can pass through walls and floors but the characters will need to use streets, gates and doors. There is nothing to stop you have undead to the front, left and right of the characters but nothing behind them. The heroes can then fall back and the hoard will follow.

We have an entire city population to play with so there is no need to worry too much about the numbers. The characters cannot kill them all.

In keeping with the idea of a truly scalable adventure I took a roll call of the incorporeal undead by class and you actually get quite a variety.

  • Phantom (I) 2nd
  • Ghost Minor (II) 3rd
  • Mara (II) 2nd
  • Revenant (II) 3rd
  • Shadow Lesser (II) 4th
  • Specter Minor (II) 5th
  • Apparition (III) 6th
  • Corpse Candle (III) 7th
  • Fire Phantom (III) 5th
  • Ghost Lesser (III) 7th
  • Headless Ghost (III) 6th
  • Specter Lesser (III) 10th
  • Corpse Lantern (IV) 10th
  • Ghost Wolf (IV) 10th
  • Shadow Greater (IV) 8th
  • Wigth Minor (IV) 10th
  • Wraith Lesser (IV) 10th
  • Ghost Greater (V) 15th
  • Specter Major (V) 15th
  • Wight Lesser (V) 15th
  • Wraith Greater (V) 15th
  • Lich (VI) 20th
  • Wight Major (VI) 20th

So far we have detailed three major encounters, the captain of the gatehouse, the librarian and the ruler in the palace.

Party Power Captain Librarian Ruler Minion
Low Revenant Lesser Shadow Specter Minor Phantom
Mid Specter Minor Lesser Ghost Lesser Specter Apparition
High Specter Major Wight Lesser Wraith Greater Shadow Greater
Very High Wraith Greater Wight Major Lich Specter Major

The ‘Minion’ column is for when you want to add some additional canon fodder to an encounter so the for a low level party the gatehouse keeper would be a Revenant with some Phantom guards but for a very high level party it would be a Greater Wraith with Major Specters manning the walls.

The rest of the undead roll call can be used for creating variety. If you party are mainly first level then most encounters would be Phantoms but they should be able to handle a lone Revenant or Minor Ghost.

With encounters there are really two ‘end conditions’, win or retreat. We want to drive the players towards the palace or the cistern system so you don’t want to kill your players but you can keep adding more and more foes to an encounter as the combat attracts attention.

We can group the undead into little random encounter tables…

Low Level – 1d6

  1. Phantom (I) 2nd
  2. Ghost Minor (II) 3rd
  3. Mara (II) 2nd
  4. Revenant (II) 3rd
  5. Shadow Lesser (II) 4th
  6. Specter Minor (II) 5th

Mid Level – 1d6

  1. Apparition (III) 6th
  2. Corpse Candle (III) 7th
  3. Fire Phantom (III) 5th
  4. Ghost Lesser (III) 7th
  5. Headless Ghost (III) 6th
  6. Specter Lesser (III) 10th

High Level 1d10

  1. Corpse Lantern (IV) 10th
  2. Ghost Wolf (IV) 10th
  3. Shadow Greater (IV) 8th
  4. Wigth Minor (IV) 10th
  5. Wraith Lesser (IV) 10th
  6. Ghost Greater (V) 15th
  7. Specter Major (V) 15th
  8. Wight Lesser (V) 15th
  9. Wraith Greater (V) 15th
  10. Wight Major (VI) 20th

Magical Weaponry

There is one topic we haven’t mentioned yet. This is particularly important for the lowest level parties. None of these creatures can be hurt without magical weapons.

If you need to give each character a magical weapon before they have even a chance of survival then there are a number of ramifications.

If these are being ‘given’ then who is the giver? Do we now have a quest giver?

As almost everything here has no treasure then are these weapons the party reward, but paid in advance?

How much power do you want to introduce to your game?

The least powerful magical weapon is probably one that has no bonus but is x% lighter than standard though magical means, not just superior quality.

Other great low level magical weapons are ones with a few uses of self healing type spells. So a Daily Item with heal 1-10 twice a day or Clotting I. That is not going to really going to shift the power balance of most games.

Another option, and one I particularly like is to enchant the characters existing weapons. So for example all their weapons are enchanted so they are +15 vs Undead until the next full moon. This boosts the low level party but also self moderates. This idea does also imply a quest giver and one with access to plentiful magical skills to enchant these weapons.

With mid and higher level parties one would expect most combat oriented characters to have at least one magical weapon, surely?

The Oasis

The Oasis is a small oasis that is mostly hidden behind sandstone rocks and formations. The oasis is a safe place to visit, although characters may not realise it is and could well attack dangerous creatures they see. It is protected by a local goddess who will not tolerate attacks on creatures within her, tiny, sphere of influence.

This PDF supports Adobe layers and the page backgrounds and images can be disabled to make printing easier.

The adventure comes with a 24″x24″ battlemap of the oasis taking up nine pages that can be printed out and assembled.


The Rolemaster Fanzine Issue 15 has been released on RPGNow!

Issue 15 of the Rolemaster Fanzine.

This month is all about ideas and giving you inspiration to make things your own.

I want to introduce the idea of different kinds of magic. We have the three realms and we have Arcane but we haven’t had anything truly new for nearly four decades. So this month I am introducing Blood Magic that does away with Power Points during casting.

After that you will find lots of other ideas for your adventuring heroes to overcome.

Rolemaster Deconstruction: Is it a Skill or an Ability?

As part of our Rolemaster deconstruction I’ve followed two processes: consolidating small “skills” into larger meta-skills and changed traditional skills into inherent abilities. (Perception and Body Development being the two foremost).

Obviously, one of Rolemasters differentials with D&D was shifting almost all abilities into trainable skills. The contrast was clear: D&D imparted abilities through racial mechanics, classes and levels and was on one end of a game  spectrum while RM’s skill focus sat at the other end. The problem (in my mind) of course is that under RM’s approach, EVERYTHING became a trainable skill. Skills became parsed further and further into niche secondary skills, skill bloat became rampant and a more complicated similar skill mechanic was necessary to manage the interrelationship between overlapping skills. Lost in all of the Rolemaster Companions, RMSS and RM bolt-on’s was questioning the very premise of “what is a skill?”

There were a few early exceptions: DB and RR’s. Those kept to their D&D roots and RM never allowed a trainable skill to offset poison, disease or the realms of magic. Adrenal Defense was a skill, but had lots of restrictions and has now been mostly nerfed  in RMU.

As discussed in my various blogs, I’ve reverted some core skills into inherent abilities using stats or other approaches. Just a few examples:

  1. Body Development. I’ve mostly embraced Peter’s approach and set HP’s by race and constitution. However, we also add +1 HP/# of skill ranks in Endurance.
  2. Perception. I’ve moved the skill into a 12th stat. This measures the characters PHYSICAL perceptual abilities: eye sight, sense of smell, alertness, hearing etc. This also is easier to use with a racial modifier.
  3. Feats of Strength/Lifting. Purely based on strength.
  4. Maneuvering in Armor. It’s been discussed in previous blogs and now is being talked about at the Forums, but I just don’t see maneuvering in armor as primarily a trainable skill. Instead I see it as a “handicap” (like adding weight to a race horse). Plus, making MnA a trainable skill, armor becomes a video game like level ability: players progress up in armor type as the gain in levels. As I have argued before, thats akin to players proggressing up in weaponry: start with a dagger and eventually getting to a 2hand sword at 10th lvl.

There are arguments for aspects of a established skill as a being trainable. For me, it’s weighted the other way: if the argument is less than 50/50 for it being trainable I want to work it into an inherent or stat based ability. I know many people want to stick to the core of RM and it’s skill system; but think outside the box…what RM skill should really be an ability?

Brokedown Palace

The title above is a song by Grateful Dead which I thought was very apt for this post.

So we have a magical throne that urges one towards the dark arts and necromancy. The last human ruler of the city of forgotten heroes was very magical and it was them that caused the throne to be hurled down into the deepest well, or more accurately a cistern, where it should never be found again.

If we are dealing with a lower level party then I would suggest that a Revenant (3rd level) takes the place of the king or queen.

For a mid to high level party I would like to use a Lich. There are three suggestions here.  If you don’t have stats for Sprectre771’s ex-wife we will have to discard the first option. So we are left with two possible Lich ‘builds’. For are hack and slash game a Lich Magician is the most aggressive version. The magician base lists lend themselves to straight out blasting combat and there is plenty of more devious lists to challenge an entire party.

The most fun version if you have the time to role play it out is the Lich Sorcerer. The fun a GM could have with the Transferal and Subjugation spells (Soul Destruction 8th and 11th levels)

A Lich is a 20th level foe and spell caster on its own territory, this is a major opponent.

The Palace

I would like to see the party being surrounded and pushed back and back by overwhelming numbers of undead spectres, ghostly figures. Finally, with their backs to the gates of a palace there is only one place they can go and that is into the palace grounds and the undead don’t follow.

Any experienced players are going to know they have just gone from the frying pan into the fire but right there and then they have a moments respite, a moment to regroup and treat wounds.

Behind the party a palace stands set in dead and withered formal gardens.

It is here that the party can find the actual location of the throne. You could play so that if the party were to simply ask for Lich about the throne then it will tell them that it was thown into a bottomless cistern so no one will ever sit upon it again.

As the party enter the palace there is one ante chamber and then the hall. The most notable thing about the hall should be that there is no throne but a clear place where one had stood. That is a clear and obvious clue.

At its simplest this could be a straight fight with the Revenant/Lich and then search for clues for the location of the missing throne. It will be much more interesting to up the role playing tension here. There is one caveat. As a GM you should read up on the Revenant and what it wants and how it acts before introducing this element to your game. RPGs are meant to be fun and suicide is a serious subject. You should play this in the right way for your group. Alternatively you can swap out the Revenant for either a lesser or greater Shadow (4th or 8th level). I rather like the Shadow alternative as it adds a touch of the vampire palace to the adventure.

The location could be under the palace or at another site. Right now I am inclined to put the throne below the palace.

Thinking about the entire module we have here the party could simply be tasked with retrieving the dark artifact from the city, maybe before some dark agent gets it first. They are told it is referred to as the kings seat of power before the city fell to an undead army. They should be able to find more information at the city library. So the party have to get into the city (gate house or the marshes), visit the library (wight’s domain) and the palace (Lich/Octopus). Between these location we can have a number of semi random encounters. These are easily scaled to the party level. So one to take place in back streets should the party decide to go that way, one for a market place, square or plaza and a third on the city walls. So where ever the party decide to go they will meet a prepared encounter. Then on the way out the party will meet another prepared encounter on the streets of the city, as they now have a cart and heavy load to move and the final encounter is the original gate house with the spectre.

Is that enough?


Kill The Priest

Kill The Priest sees a corrupted priest unleashing a creature to look for a religious relic. The creature is now on a quest to kill any and all powerful female priests of the deity in question. The priest is themselves a dupe, and the characters must stop the creatures and the priest.

This adventure has a Terminator style villain who just keeps on coming. It uses the Black Stalker from C&T in the role of Terminator but the priest in the title is a definite manipulator in the background.

Even if you don’t buy this booklet, look up the Black Stalker (RMC C&T pg 79, ENTITIES FROM OTHER PLANES). Awesome foe and one that deserves to grace every campaign at some point!

I do accept that this adventure has a high chance of killing a PC, at least once. The black stalker has +30 initiative, a 180 OB and a slaying weapon. One top of that they have armour that encumbers as AT4 but protects as AT20 and a cloak that adds +50 to Stalk and Hide, oh yes, the regenerate as well.

If your party is up around level 15 or higher then this is a chance for the GM to play a ‘monster’ to the absolute limit of its abilities.

It is not all about hack and slash though. There is an evil plot going on here that you can weave into your game style be it political intrigue or broad strokes.

The game that inspired this had the black stalker coming back on a weekly basis and the players had no end of trouble defeating it. The highlight, for me, was when one character tried to keep and use the black stalkers weapon which was actually slaying against that actual character. The player was happy enough using a sword that had +30 to initiative until he fumbled really badly and delivered a slaying critical to himself!