Spell Law Deconstruction: Charm and Charm-like magic.

The Charm Spell. One of the four foundational spells that are required in fantasy RPG’s. (Sleep, Fireball, and Fly being the other 3). Rolemaster Spell Law includes several type of “Charm” magics, but they don’t feel well thought out in requirements, applications or effects. Charm types spells should not only be differentiated by their Realm assignment, but should also have specific mechanics: mechanics that might break the standard SCR/RR counter play.

Charm type spells can have a potent impact on gameplay: they can create an ally, remove an adversary from the “table” or bypass normal gameplay by using an NPC’s actions to further player goals. Charm spells can have a variety of effects: control, persuasion, influence or distraction. One well cast Charm spell can upend the course of an encounter or combat quickly. Basically it’s a force multiplier: take a combat of 4 on 4 and one successful Charm spell can tip it to a 5 on 3. That’s a winning advantage; especially in a combat system like Rolemaster.

For purposes of this blog and my recent work on BASiL (a complete rewrite!) I see “Charm” spells as covering a spectrum of effects and mechanics:

Charm. I see “Charm” as spells that act as a magical friendship. This may limit what the caster can ask the target to do and excessive requests may break the magical bond.

Enslavement. These type of “control” spells are most often used for controlling Demons, Elementals and other entities, but could also be used in Evil spell lists to enslave a subject. While this might be considered evil, it’s also very potent and conceivably allows a caster to have the target do most anything.

Master. I would classify these types of spells as sitting between Charm and Enslavement. The caster can ask the target to put themselves in harms way–even against their friends, but not unduly put themselves in danger for no reason.

Enthrall. This is more akin to Charm, but the target has an unnatural attraction or focus on the caster. These types of spells are like “Bewitching”, “Love”, or “Seduction”.

Mesmerize. A broad range of spells that subsumes the targets senses. Similar to hypnotism, but could be simple spells like “distraction” or “blind spot” or “tunnel vision” or more potent spells that act like a combination of Charm and Enthrall.

Certainly, my classifications might seem like a distinction without a difference, but they can also be used to differentiate these types of spells among the various Realms. Since I try to incorporate different functionality into the standard RM Realms, I would argue that these spells might also work differently even adopting standard RM (and not BASiL). What might these differentiations be? Here are a few ideas in no particular order of relevance:

  1. Most Charm type spells of any sort should be Mentalism or Channeling. Essence could have control spells for Demons and elementals, but the fundamental basis of charm spells is the subsumption of will or spirit. This is distinctly in the Realms of will, spirit and soul.
  2. Charm spells should have a range of efficacy. Charm, Enthrall and Mesmerizing should require the caster to be in intimate or interactive range (and a supportive environment) to cast. You can’t just mesmerize a target hundreds of feet away in a crowded combat can you?
  3. Some of the spells may require the constant presence of the caster to maintain the duration?
  4. Failure could mean that the target is aware that they were being magically influenced?
  5. Are there any other inputs that could cancel the spell’s influence or require a check of some sort?
  6. Do “third parties” (even the other PC’s) impact the influence of these spells or is it meta gaming?
  7. Should any Channeling based “Charm” spells incorporate the moral implications of the spell and the host Diety?

What I’m trying to get to here is a system–a protocol for most every spell that maintains the logical coherence, game balance and uniqueness of player ability. Yes, it’s magic so by it’s nature it doesn’t require logic. Right?

Anyway, appreciate any thoughts. As I’m finishing up BASiL: Mentalism these issues have become pre-eminent.

Shadow World Mechanics: Essaence and the Moons.

The Kulthea and the Moons.

I’ve blogged quite a bit about game setting driving rule mechanics over the years, and one of the fundamental issues of Shadow World is how “magic” works in a world that exists in our own reality and universe. I expanded on our own views of Essence three years ago on this BLOG POST, but wanted to dive a little deeper now that I’m working on a few related projects for SW.

Ostensibly, the Essaence permeates Kulthea through a tear in our universe into another; the same universe from which the Orhanians originated. This is all well and good, but is really not much more than a hand wave that does little to ground the mechanics of magic in Shadow World. Plus, it raises an important question: where is the “source point’ of this tear? In my mind it needs to be on either Kulthea, one of the moons or on some artifact or techno-artifact somewhere in the system. Let’s examine the pros and cons of several of these options:

  1. On Orhan. This probably makes the most sense. The Gods live on this moon and being the choke point of this power helps explain their ability to channel to their followers on Kulthea–they basically control the well-head. We can than extrapolate that this fifth energy follows gravitational waves and therefore encompasses Kuthea’s magnetosphere as well.
  2. On Kulthea. Does it make sense to have the source of Essaence on Kulthea? The Pillar of the Gods would be the most likely location–it is a physical manifestation of the arrival of Essaence on Kulthea (via a wormhole/blackhole/etc) and would explain the power fluctuations around the region.
  3. Techno-artifact. I originally had the source of Essaence encased in some object (it was a mcguffin and I never identified it) at the Lagrange point of Kulthea/Orhan. This split the power between the planet and moon and allowed for a ebb and flow of power I use in my campaign.

However, I’ve been re-thinking my “Lagrange Point” solution and now am leaning towards #1. This still allows me to play with varying Essaence levels and solidifies the basis for the Orhanian’s “god-like” powers.

I’m pretty weak on orbital mechanics, but I understand that Orhan is on a ecliptic orbit and Charon is on a polar orbit. In my campaign this allows for a variance in Essaence (channeling) powers for followers of Orhan and the Dark Gods of Charon. Therefore:

  1. The Dark Gods are outcasts from Orhan. They were banished to Charon because it acts as a prison and limits their access to the Essaence.
  2. Charon only has normal access to the Essaence when it crosses the ecliptic–otherwise it has limited access to the Essaence elsewhere in it’s orbit. Thus the weakened nature of the Charon Gods and their powers on Kulthea. Channelers of the Dark God don’t have full access to their powers about 1/2 of the day.
  3. When Charon fully eclipses Orhan, then it is both ascendant with full access to the Essaence and it also disrupts Orhans connection to Kulthea. This is the “Night of the Third Moon”. Channelers of Orhan lose access to some of their powers. This makes the Night of particular relevance to Channelers all over Kulthea.

There are probably a few flaws in my approach, and while I don’t get the orbital timings exact during my game play it does add another strategic and narrative element to my SW campaign. It also creates a “moon magic” mechanic that meshes in with current RM spell law without the specific lists found in the RM Companion. It also adds another unique setting driven mechanic to shadow World.

Anybody else do anything like this?

Rise of the Nerds.

Image result for nerds arise

For those following this blog you might have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet for the last year. Happily, my schedule is now settling down and I’m going to get back into regular postings on the Rolemasterblog and start uploading new material here and on the Forums.

One of the recurring themes over the past year is the recognition and growing popularity of Dungeons and Dragons. Here are just a few articles–all in MAJOR news publications:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/how-dungeons-and-dragons-somehow-became-more-popular-than-ever/2019/04/18/fc226f56-5f8f-11e9-9412-daf3d2e67c6d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.982fc7e2c824

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/15/dungeons-and-dragons-is-more-popular-than-ever-thanks-to-twitch.html

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-uncanny-resurrection-of-dungeons-and-dragons

https://www.thestar.com/life/2018/01/05/when-did-dungeons-dragons-suddenly-become-cool.html

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/dungeons-dragons-had-its-biggest-sales-year-in-2017

To me, there are a few takeaways in these articles.

  1. D&D hit the bullseye with 5th edition. The shift to narrative and story was well-timed and it appears to have erased some the of the negative factors in earlier editions. Does this lesson lend itself, in anyway, to the future release of RMU?
  2. A rising tide raises all boats. Arguably, D&D has always been the doorway to new gamers. Niche games, alternative rulesets and even other genre games benefit from the D&D halo effect. RMU has been in production for over 6 years, and can still benefit from the resurgence in table top gaming. This doesn’t require another reset of the rulemaking, but perhaps a rethink of the marketing strategy.
  3. “Trickle down effect”. Even if many new gamers are casual, the enormous number of new players will still result in some of them seeking out other games systems. Rolemaster is positioned to appeal to players looking for more realism (verisimilitude). The original ICE marketing could work again!

I know every Rolemaster fan would love to see a resurgence in our chosen game system and it can be frustrating to see D&D explode in popularity. Our goal here at Rolemasterblog is to carry the torch and continue to produce “d100” content and Rolemaster appropriate products. It’s a small effort in the grand scheme, but helps keep the flame alive!

As we have mentioned, we encourage everyone that has a thought, idea or comment to contribute to the blog and the Rolemaster community.

Shadow World Spin Cycle: Thieves of Tharbad

Welcome to another “Spin Cycle” blog post! If you aren’t familiar with my previous entries on re-purposing MERP products for Shadow World you can find my take on the Court of Ardor HERE, HERE and HERE.

As stated, this entry will look at the MERP adventure module “Thieves of Tharbad” and how the material could be spun into the SW Setting. There are similarities between ICE’s Middle Earth products and the later Shadow World series so it can be easy to grab one of these modules for adventure ideas, maps and layouts.

Thieves of Tharbad (ToT) is only 34 pages but it starts with a great Angus McBride cover of some nefarious goings-on in the harbor and docks. It’s another great McBride picture that captures the kinetic energy of action and story with great use of lighting and shadows.

The table of contents reveals the familiar ICE book format: Intro, Lands, Inhabitants, Politics & Power, the city of Tharbad, Adventures and then the various tables. For those that want to grab quick to use adventure material, much of the into, history and background can be ignored. One of the “complications” of re-using MERP material is the flavor of Middle Earth names. ICE did a fantastic job leveraging Tolkiens language and naming conventions, but they are obviously different than the names and language words in Shadow World.

The real “meat & potatoes” is the city map, floor plans and adventure material. The city map is color with color codes for various professions and businesses. It’s typical of ICE and a great map for a city adventure. Again, some of the map names are very ME but can be overlooked.

The city material, maps and floor plans take up 9 pages so there is some good material. There are around 100 businesses identified with descriptions of varying length. This is more than enough for a GM to have a ready to run mid size city. There are detailed floor plans for the House of Healing, Embassy, a typical Row House, and a Merchant Home and Shop. No taverns though!

Adventures. The first adventure is called “The Extortion Ring and is almost 4 pages in length. It includes several floorplans as well. It’s a good adventure plot with the opportunity to expand it as needed. The second adventure is “Theft of the Tiara” and involves a theft and recovery of a valuable object. Part of the adventure takes place in the sewers and a basic map of the sewer system is included! The real gem is the “water fortress”:

It’s nice to have artwork like this to add the adventure. The third adventure has the players deal with a smuggling ring, and the fourth short adventure involves bandits in the wilderness.

A quick review of the charts indicates that most NPCs average between 4th and 7th lvl. There is a 20th lvl Fighter, a 14th lvl Mage and a 12th lvl Bard. The rest of the PC’s are much lower level. My sense is that Tharbad would be great for starting characters up to around 6-7th lvl as is.

All in all, Thieves of Tharbad is a great resource to use as a city to base the players, several good adventures and of course the framework to add even more plot and intrigue.

You can drop Tharbad onto most any area of Shadow World, but I use it for the city of Arakin on the eastern shore of the Sea of Votania (Haestra, Emer I).

https://goo.gl/images/sSPKEH

Using organizations in your game to ground your PCs.

While it might be setting specific, I have always felt that most RPG systems ignore the importance of organizations for starting characters. In Rolemaster, chargen involves skills developed in adolescence and another set of skills in apprenticeship. There is a implied idea that the characters received some sort of systematic training to build the skills that establish their class or profession. But from that point, most games just drop that idea and players immediately become freelance “adventurers” (excluding perhaps Clerics).

In virtually every quasi advanced society, specialized training, knowledge and skills are transmitted through organizations: guilds, schools, associations and religions. Unlike it modernity, you don’t simply graduate with a degree and a specialized education, it’s understood that you have an obligation and loyalty to that organization now and in the future.

These organizations may be secretive or hidden, but most will have wealth, resources and members that give them financial, social or realpolitik power. Perhaps the reluctance to provide low level characters access to these institutions stems from a fear of game imbalance. How can a player enjoy the challenges of low level gaming if they belong to a group that will provide cost of living stipends, equipment and protection? It sort of defeats the purpose of the game?

However, it’s common sense that most player professions had to be the result of organizational training. Maybe a Rogue or Thief learned their skills on the streets, but a teenager isn’t going to get access to a library and learn to become a Mystic or Warlock. So rather than hand wave the issue, I encourage GM’s to embrace the concept of organizations and would offer a few ideas:

Mentors. Even if it’s only intermittent help, a senior member of a players professional organization could be a great mentor. As a mentor, they’ll want the player to learn through success and failure and not just hand them aid and advice; but a mentor can still be the guiding hand the GM often needs to further the plot. Plus the mentor can be the active ingredient in a adventure plotline.

Training. While actively using a skill can be a common sense mechanism for skill rank development, at times, skill advancement will need the input from a tutor or other source to initiate advanced techniques, concepts and abilities. An organization can be the obvious source for continuing education of special skills.

Safety. Am organization will want to protect their members, even initiates and apprentices. When appropriate, this gives players (and maybe the group) a safe haven to rest or avoid an adversary.

Healing. Healing doesn’t just have to be a resource found in a temple, church or even hospital. Many powerful organizations will have other professionals on retainer: healers, astrologers, spies etc. It may cost the player in dues or services, but their organization should be a source for professional services.

Shelter. I travel a lot but I don’t live in a hotel 365 days a year! Is it realistic to assume that adventures either live in a roadside inn or sleep on the ground all the time? Having a room at a “chapter house” or organizational dormitory gives a PC a place to live between adventures and during downtime.

Equipment. Organizations would probably provide basic kit to their lowly members and could provide additional equipment and/or magic items to a PC member for special missions.

Missions. GM’s are always coming up with fairly thin motivations for players and groups to go on an adventure. Organizations make it easy–they are hired or ordered to. No questions asked (and no answers provided!).

NPC Network. Organizations will be made up of a variety of other personalities and members that can be helpful to the player or even be problematic competitors!

Identity. While most players rely on their profession/class to give them identity, being a member of an organization can be more interesting. Organizations don’t need to be demised purely by profession (Thieves Guild, Magician Academy, Fighters Club etc), they can be made up of a variety of class types or have a over arching objective or purpose besides pumping out adventure classes.

What are some ideas for organizations?

  1. Military. Being a soldier is a useful background for a player. Armies don’t just employ soldiers; they need spies, spell-casters, cavalry and almost every type of skill imagined. PC’s would be veterans and probably no longer in the military, but would still have some advantages. A network of soldiers they were friends will; starting kit they take with them, a small stipend or land grant upon retiring, medals or some small fame, fighting or other skills etc.
  2. Militia or Constabulary. Similar to being ex-army, a PC could have been a city guard or policeman. That might give them access to a information network, call in favors from active guards, or given them special knowledge of a city or town.
  3. Criminal Enterprises. Smugglers, pirates, bandits etc are great backgrounds for PCs. These organizations don’t need to be inherently evil and the PC could have been recruited at a young age and given little choice. Ties to a criminal group might be a cool advantage for a PC: fence goods, rumors and tips, access to hard to find items, etc.
  4. Cults. I have a great time with cults; I define them as “un-organized religions” and often don’t even worship an actual God. My cults tend to take more than give to their followers, but they can be a great source of fun and conflict when a player gets into the role-playing aspect.
  5. University/Monastery. Educational organizations are great for removing the looting for profit motive from a player. Instead they are chasing knowledge and this allows me to have a player that is tracking key narrative points and exposition that might be lost on other players. This works especially well with Shadow World and it’s deep history and timeline.

For me, barring a few distinct player background situations, my players are all going to be tied to an organization. What have you used?

Further deconstruction of Resistance Rolls/Saving Throws.

I wanted to touch upon the subject of Resistance Rolls again, after a couple of discussion HERE & HERE and over at the FORUMS.

To start off, my “Deconstruction” articles are about stepping outside the box, and YOUR mental model built over 30+ years (based on the average age of the blog participants).

The basis for RR/Saving Throws were built out out of early war game mechanics. But even now they are so built into RPG systems that it’s hard not to use them in any future iteration. Let’s try?

Unless you want a early rpg “hand wave” mechanism to allow a player to avoid a mortal result (which can be dealt with via fate points) than we should apply a realistic approach to saving throws? ie verisimilitude.

So what should a character be allowed to save against? Should RR/ST be level based? Can we identify what certain types of attacks would require a “save”?

Physical biological attacks. Poison/disease/nano-particles/etc. Obviously this is a real, physical attack. It seems clear that a “constitution”, “hardiness”, “toughness” factor be applied to that.

Surprise/Dis-orientation. Most RPG’s treat these differently, but the ability to maintain clarity in quick, off-setting, or dis-orienting circumstances are separate from other abilities. Should there be a RR vs. Stun or other dis-orienting factors? Rolemaster places importance on stuns in it’s critical results; but it also can be a game changer. Should there be a RR vs. Stun given it’s impact on combat?

Physical Trauma. If you want a less specific game play, than a roll vs. shock might work. Is that constitution, endurance, will power or something else?

Mind Manipulation. Whether a sleep spell, mind reading or other than “will” comes into play. I think its reasonable to set up a “war of wills” for mind intrusion whether that is mind reading, patterning, charm or other types of personality or mental influence.

Unwanted physical manipulation. Do you “resist” spells or other actions that change your body or physical being? Is that the same as a mind/will resistance or should it be a physical or physical trauma attack?

These are the basic “resistance” situations in my game. Make an argument for more other others!

Saturday Whiskey Thoughts: Umwelt and fantasy roleplaying.

A recent article in The Atlantic, which is worth reading for it’s implications on bio-enchancement also mentioned a concept I hadn’t thought about in a while: the Umwelt. While the concept of umwelt is much more nuanced, in general it’s how the world is perceived by a specific organism. I wanted to comment on this from two roleplaying perspectives: the macro and micro.

Umwelt in the macro. Isn’t one of the foundations of roleplaying subverting our umwelt? Instead of changing how we perceive the world, we change the world we perceive by imagining a different setting with different rules (magic) and even formal reality (physics). Part of the enjoyment, for me at least, is the challenge of taking players out of the mundane or understood and presenting them with a new reality.

Umwelt in the micro. Conversely, we are also changing our umwelt by playing characters that are able to perceive the world different. Whether that is a Dwarf that can use infravision, an Elf with a keen sense of hearing or vision or a caster that can use a spell that allows them to see through stone. All of these are changes or expansion of our normal human-bound umwelt environment. Digging even deeper, we often look for motivations both physical and psychological to help us roleplay a character. Perhaps there is no better example than those damn Elves! Immortal, immune to disease and often with ethereal powers or auras, it’s a standard trope that Elves have a very different umwelt than humans. They just view the world in a completely different way–and as players we try to understand Elven umwelt to guide our roleplaying. It isn’t easy to play something that you can’t intrinsically understand, and I generally don’t allow players to choose “High Elves” as their race.

For whatever reason, this reminds me of Descartes’ thoughts on formal and objective reality:
The nature of an idea is such that of itself it requires no formal reality except what it derives from my thought, of which it is a mode. But in order for a given idea to contain such and such objective reality, it must surely derive it from some cause which contains at least as much formal reality as there is objective reality in the idea.”

While Descartes was arguing that any thought must be based in part in some formal reality (what is real) and was the basis for his argument for the existing of God, I think roleplayers are masters of creating and experiencing objective reality, and umwelt is the lense in which our characters experience it. That’s pretty cool and maybe the underlying, powerful allure of roleplaying?

Today’s whiskey thoughts are brought to you by Rip Van Winkle.

Inherent benefits of religions in Shadow World?

One of the ideas I’ve been playing around with are bestowed abilities from a characters God. Channeling spells are already premised on the idea that a God imparts powers to a Priest; and we use a mechanism called “Invocation” that allows a player to beseech their god for aid but I’m thinking of something different from those.

The idea is that a player (or Priest only) receives a part of their God’s aspect. Maybe this happens at a certain level or some other benchmark but the ability is imbued in the player and reflects their God’s nature. A Priest of a God of Luck might get a bonus to RR’s. A follower of a God of Fire gets a bonus vs Fire attacks, or is immune to natural heat and fire.

Of course many of these abilities are already encoded in Spell Law or BASiL, so it might be cool to think outside the box and have a power that isn’t already a spell. Since I already wrote specific spell lists for all the Shadow World gods, I’m finding it difficult to come up with some other inherent benefit. I’m also hesitant to grant powers at certain levels: this smacks of AD&D and I try to make my game as level-less as possible.

One method I may employ is imparting a benefit to any player (not just Priests) based on their ranks in the “Prayer” skill. I already use the Prayer skill for the SCR, Invocation and a general proxy for “religiosity” so using it as a measure for a god imparted bennie works as well. The rational being that as a player dedicates themselves to their god (measured by Prayer) they are able to tap into or connect in a way that transfers some base power.

Because religion & gods are inextricably linked to fantasy RPG’s, spell casting and Shadow World, I put a lot of energy into building it into the game play. I was recently re-watching Game of Thrones and liked how the followers of the Lord of Light were able to ignite their weapons in combat. That adds atmosphere to the game! I’m going through the various Orhanian Gods and trying to come up with an appropriate ability. I’m not worried about balance; some Gods may not impart anything while others may offer frivolous abilities (followers of Kieron can cleanse themselves from alcohol/drunkeness ).

If you have any ideas for the Orhanian gods, please comment!

Random Thoughts on Various Posts

First off, kudos to Gabe for picking up the pace and posting quite a few blogs! A couple more regular contributors and RMBlog.com will be creating quite a bit of material.

Not even a month ago, I posted up a query asking about other d100 systems. Since then, Peter and Gabe have put up numerous blogs about vsDarkmaster, Zweihander, and most recently Chivalry & Sorcery. C&S aside, since it was published in the very early days of RPGs, both vsDarkmaster and Zweihander were purposeful attempts to create a newer version of early RM/MERP AND recapture the early feel and essence of the game. For me this interesting as these new games are concurrent with I.C.E.’s own path in revising RM with RMU. Basically you have 3 different mandates with each system, but all attempt to improve parts of RM that needed refinement, rewrites or new mechanics. So here are some basic thoughts on various blog posts:

Zweihander Skills. To me, Zweihander skills were very reminiscent of RM regular and secondary skills. That’s good and bad. Obviously, parsing skills leads to skill bloat, but more importantly, skills end up varying quite a bit in utility or have such defined parameters it get’s a bit silly. For an example of a ridiculous parsing of skills (to me at least):

AWARENESS (Perception)
Awareness represents the ability to visually notice minute details and sounds, scents within the air, watch for ambushes, find hidden objects and spot contrivances designed to trap or kill. You’ll use Awareness not only to visually see, also to sense using smell, taste and touch. You may also use Awareness to estimate numbers and distances.

This Skill doesn’t allow you to see through lies, sense motives or innuendo – refer to the Scrutinize Skill in those cases. If you wish to listen in on a conversation or distinctly make something out you heard, refer to the Eavesdrop Skill instead.

While some would argue that are those skills are relevant or useful in some specific situations, it’s harder to argue that Awareness, Scrutinize and Eavesdrop are equal in scope and utility. For me this is a lost opportunity to tune up the RM skill system–something we have discussed here on the blog quite a bit.

Zweihander: Trappings and Skills. I wasn’t impressed with these sections of the rules. Maybe reading the finished product will be different; I am relying on Peter’s assessment and description so I am working with second hand info. The wound “levels” is nice in abstract but it must eliminate a lot of specific magical healing (if that exists in this game). Do spells just reduce your damage classification? Without jumping ahead, I think ZH “character law” and chargen is more compelling than their “arms law” rules.

Stats, Kin and Cultures in vsDarkmaster. A lot of this was very interesting to me. If you’ve read my blog on RM chargen in 15 minutes, you might detect a similar philosophy in this game. Basically by using preset “packages” you can quickly build a new character quickly without sacrificing diversity. I’ve been using just “Culture” & “Vocation” while VsC uses “Kin”, “Culture” “Vocations” and “Backgrounds”. Treating race (kin) a package makes a lot of sense and I’m going to build into my system. I write extensive backgrounds for PC’s so I don’t generally need “Backgrounds” (although I do have a Shadow World background chart HERE). However, if I were designing a system for publication I would add Background packages as well. VsD is not the only system that tackles RM style chargen this way and I think RMU should have adopted this approach as a default. They could still provide the framework for skill buy with development points as an optional rule set but having a “cafeteria style” approach would have been more accessible to new users.

Passions and Drive in VsD. I really can’t get my head around it. Perhaps I’m jaded, but my experience is that players always default to self-interest; even if they camouflage it with clever roleplaying. Passions and Drives seem interesting, but I think it’s hard to build a game mechanic around qualitative morality.

Diseases, falls, fire, intoxication, poisons, sleep deprivation, starvation and suffocation in Zweihander. This is a pretty good list of hazards outside of combat. RMU has addressed these as well. I like ZHs use “toughness check”. I only use 2 types of RRs. “Will” based to resist certain types of spells and “Hardiness” based to resist poisons and diseases. I treat all magic the same so there isn’t a differentiation in saves vs. Essence, Channeling, Mentalism, Arcane, Essence&Channeling, Channeling&Mentalism, Essence&Mentalism. (Did I miss any?) Saving Rolls in VsD also seem simplified. That’s good.

VsD Combat. It seems very similar to Rolemaster and MERP. Maybe they felt it was streamlined or easier, but that’s not the impression I get. Like ZH, it seems like building a new and better combat system was just too much of a task. Just picking through the early RMU beta provides a number of very clever ideas that could be executed for a RM type combat system. I don’t even know what to say about the tactical round. Is it just a almost copy of RM? Oh well. It seems if it’s not much, much better than RM or MERP why change?

Travel in VsD. Feels very much like a boardgame with “campsites” and “safehavens”?

So just a few random thoughts about Gabe and Peter’s review of Zweihander and vsDarkmaster. I’m not overwhelmed with either of their combat systems and definitely not digging their magic systems. I thought there were some really good ideas in both of those systems on character builds and fascinated how other people resolved their own problems with RM and MERP. It makes you wonder what you would get if you put both of these systems and RMU into a box…