An exciting New Year for Rolemaster

I just read Nicholas Caldwell’s directors briefing January 2016. Is really exciting to see that RMU won’t be going to a third beta but rather straight to a draft edition of the final rules. The draft edition should be there just for us to catch any missing tables spelling mistakes typos that sort of thing. It will be cool to see how the final rules I’m sure they will not have satisfied all of the people who are not happy with how the rules frankly I don’t think that was possible anyway, we have all modified our own versions rolemaster and no new edition that ever satisfy everybody.

I am interested to see how RNU stacks up against HARP. I’ve been really impressed with HARP so far as the criticism of the entire system is that the critical tables a little thin, the same critical, again and again. But it is not difficult just to create your own alternative criticals..

I normally try to play with rules as written but with a completely new set of what none of my players have played this would be really good time to try a customised game. I have always been tempted to play again based on a mix of rolemaster hero system and runequest to create a level-less experience-less classless system. I think the way that RMU does the character skills is perfect for what I have in mind.

I think I need to buy a couple more HARP rulebooks and build some of the key NPC’s first and then try and recreate the using the RMU rules when they are available. Hopefully the comparison will tell me if my hybrid idea will work. If it turns out I wanted to it should look and feel exactly like rolemaster but with a damn sight less hunting through pages of books to find 1,000,001 obscure tables.
This is one of those things that HARP does so well with the entire core system coming in at well under 250 pages. I’ll be amazed if RMU comes in under 2 1/2 thousand pages just for the core books. Admittedly they are different beasts but at the end of the day they are both only frameworks but all GM’s can use to create their own worlds, adventures and tell the story.

What I do need to do first of all is buy HARP SF.

6 Replies to “An exciting New Year for Rolemaster”

  1. I’m not sure whether 2,500 pages is actually much less than you need for Pathfinder; Paizo simply disguise it better. Yes, you can get started with the Beginner Box at about 160 pages, or get the Core Rule Book that has a bit under 600, but I reckon if you are planning on running an actual game you’ll soon bulk up with the Bestiary and Gamemaster Guide, and maybe some others too.

    1. Oh I agree, Rolemaster is always going to be a physically large game because of the unique way it models every individual weapon, the way it deals with injuries and how it runs magic with every spell on every list detailed in full. Those pages earn their keep.

      When I was young I knew all of the AD&D players handbook, DMG and most of the monster manual and could run a game without rulebooks.

      Now I am middle aged I neither have the time to read rules that are 50% bigger than War and Peace and I cannot retain it like I once hve read it.

      I like the idea of moving important rules and information from the rulebooks and on to the character sheet, I have made my own GM’s Shield style PDF with most of the important charts extracted into a single document. I have abandoned Arms Law in favour of the condensed combat system. I give every character print offs of their spell lists. Finally I have rationalised every optional rule I use, they really have to add something or resolve something or I don’t use them.

      All of these things reduce the foot print of the rules in my own head, it reduces the time spent checking books for clarifications, it speeds up combat and it almost eliminates the bottle neck of all the players wanting to check details in Spell Law.

      Both RMU and HARP also simplify the process of character creation with fixed DPs and standardised skill costs. I like the broadly defined professions reduce the need to scores of new professions in suppliments because you can create any character concept with the core rules right from the outset. I am sure there will be new ones further down the line but they are then optional and if there is an explicit need for them then fine.

      For me RPG rules should just provide a simple and fun model for creating characters and the world in which they live to enable the story telling and playing of the game. Page count is often a symptom of either over complexity or just too many rules.

      I argued against the size rules. I appreciate that they were a single mechanism for handling a great range of situations and on paper it appeared quite elegant. In practice though they were slow, cumbersome and players that knew how they worked manipulated the situations to gain size advantages were as players that didn’t know the exact letter of the law didn’t or couldn’t. Nothing will eliminate Min/Maxing but to introduce it to every combat round was a mistake and giving the min/maxers the option of getting double damage or more for free every round was not the developers intention. Finally some players and GMs love math and sums others don’t. The size rules introduced a lot of sums into combat and slowed it down. I found Rolemaster combat can involve a lot of page flipping and is one of the slower rules systems in that respect.

  2. Yes, at least with both editions of AD&D, although you could increase the number of rules, they were optional. Admittedly, if you got all the hardback books and all the softback Guides, you had a truly impressive amount of rules but, like RM Companions, they were all optional. D&D was even better; all you needed really was the box, or boxes, or, later, the Rules Cyclopedia. I still like D&D.

    With regards to page flipping, I still find that easier with printed books as opposed to PDFs. One reason I haven’t actually picked up Pathfinder as yet; I really don’t feel like reading a 600 page ebook, even though it’s way cheaper than the printed version.

    It’s a while since I looked at the new RMU rules, so I don’t know if it has a built-in mechanism for making the rules lighter – which would probably help. I think one difficulty is going to be, at least getting new players, convincing Pathfinder players that RMU isn’t really any more complicated than Pathfinder/3.5 these days. At least computers make the whole number thing easier. (Well, I’m glad I copied this before posting, because the CAPTCHA time had expired, and otherwise I would have lost it all.)

    1. I will look at increasing the time out value.

      RMU does have some ‘light’ features such as the cinematic healing rules. Character creation is easier than pervious Rolemaster versions. It is certainly easier on the book keeping than RMSS/RMFRP according to the players of those rules.

      I bought HARP SF yesterday and will start reading that soon. I like the idea of one set of rules (HARP and HARP SF are compatible) for all of time and space.

      I use the condensed combat system on paper during games but all the most commonly used tables I have in a single document PDF which I have on a cheap 10inch tablet. Being able to ‘find’ a particular word in a rulebook almost instantly or every reference to a key word is really useful and avoids a lot of flicking back and forth through books.

      I can run an entire weekend of gaming from a single ring binder with all the paper based rules, the plot notes and all the NPCs. As I normally travel 200miles from home to where we play going light in the rules has added significance to me.

  3. I’m thinking of getting HARP & HARP SF myself at some point. I think Rolemaster is also supposed to work for all of time and space; at least, the original Rolemaster/Spacemaster and setting books worked on that principle to a degree. I think once RMU is complete, they’ll probably try and make it a universal system too.

    Regarding the amount of material you need to transport, that is one area where ebooks excel.

    1. I used to own both RM2 and Spacemaster (1st ed) but during some house move I think I lost the books. I had scanned and OCRed the rolemaster core books and the parts of the companions I used but none of the Spacemaster rules. I haven’t run a SciFi game for decades now.

      I don’t really want to wait years for the RMU Spacemaster edition.

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