At the beginning of month we had the usual director’s briefing from Nicholas Caldwell at Guild Companion Publications. This month (June 2015) we were told that Beta 2 of RMU is almost upon us.
Three days ago they tweeted that the second beta is coming soon. I really hope they are beating the drums in preparation for the release.
What is slightly worrying is that we have had RMU beta one since 2012 and issues are still coming to light now, the most recent I can remember being the way healing magic works. I myself only just noticed that Spell Law has introduced material components, of sorts, for Wall spells for the first time. You cannot cast a wall spell unless you are withing 50′ of a piece of the material you want the wall to be made out of. So no water walls more than 50′ away from a water source, no walls of wood in a desert and so on.
The initiative and round sequence got people agitated last time and if it isn’t changed then it will end up as something most poeple will ignore or house rule around, I believe. I find it just too cumbersome to use at present and slow. I am all in favour for light and fast in my games. If they have changed the initiative and round sequence then that will require serious examination. This is always going to be a thorny subject for the RM community as it seems that the creators have a desire for accuracy and real world modelling that is not necessary shared or matched by the actual players.
For RMU to succeed it has to be the game system that draws in tens of thousands of new players to the game. RMU Beta 1 was not that system (again, in my opinion).
Another achillies heel for Rolemaster is that it is such an fantasically flexible system with its modular approach that for the existing user base it is perfectly possible to take what they like from RMU and integrate it into their current games without having to make that commitment to buy the new system. I have already done this to some extent. I really liked the idea of the Vocational Skill and I am now using that, I liked the experience system so I am using that and I like many of the spells in spell law and I am encouraging players to research them and I will research RMU spells in a game where I am playing. Really RMU can be reduced down to nothing more than another companion or set of companions from which you can pick and choose what you want to integrate into your world.
There is no way any RPG games company can force people to upgrade to a new version and very few of us will because we have invested too much in learning the exisitng rules, buying the books and creating our worlds around those rules. To throw it all away is a lot to ask just to buy a new set of rules designed to achieve the same objective but without all the community support that is out there right now.
What I have not seen yet is a USP orUnique Selling Point for RMU that is going to go out there and grab the next generation of table top gamers.
Multimedia, multi-screen or multi-device?
Bearing in mind that we are still only waiting for Beta 2 and nothing is finished yet maybe what RMU needs is to take the Unified part and take it off paper, so on release day make sure that there is an RMU combat minion, RMU ERA and even RMU fantasy grounds module.
I have made a fairly simple pdf of all the most commonly used GM charts (base spells, RRs, MM and SM tables). I have this on a tablet pc when I am GMing and it saves me about 50 book checks every session at least. It is just a flick of a finger to scroll through all the most commonly used charts.
None of those components are required but if you want to go electronic then they can make life easier. I have all the rules for my game, every npc and all my adventure notes all saved in dropbox and therefore on my PCs, phone and tablet. It doesn’t matter where I am, I can answer player questions or create an adventure.
I personally do not think that is enough to grab an entire new generation of players but it is a step in the right direction.