Shadow World Cage Fight: Giants.

giants11

Welcome to my newest blog series where I discuss, rant, and explore common fantasy monsters for use (or not) in Shadow World. Like many RPGers in the early 80’s we started RM using the Middle Earth setting, moved to the Loremaster series and then on to Shadow World. The RM settings were unique in their discarding of most of the usual fantasy monsters packed into ecosystem defying environments. That really appealed to me and our gaming group. Aside from Goblins, Orcs and Dragons and the occasional Kraken, Middle Earth was “monster lite”; that same philosophy carried over to the Loremaster series that used a human-centric approach to antagonists. Opponents such as the Unlife and most villains were humanoids—relatable to the PC’s in a way far different than facing a bizarre and fantastical creature. While the original SW Master Atlas contained most of the monsters found in Creatures & Treasures, Terry’s work continued in the tradition of MERP and Loremaster and ignored most fantasy stereotypical monsters. Shadow World did have a few monster tropes: Unicorns, Dragons and Vampires but the focus instead was on unique fusion creatures that gave SW its particular flavor: Shards, Krylites, Kaeden, etc. I believe that further emphasizing these unique SW specific creatures better differentiates the SW setting from other products on the market. If Shadow World was described as “too kitchen sink” when it first came out I would argue that while many fantasy tropes were presented in the 1st Edition Master Atlas, Terry hasn’t whole-heartedly embraced those elements in subsequent modules.

Giants!!!!!! Look, G1-3 was a great module series in a “cartoony, I’m an eleven year old gamer” way but Giants as a viable game monster in Shadow World just doesn’t hold up. There are a few mentions of Giants in the SW Master Atlas and there are the Titans of Emer but Giants thankfully don’t appear in any SW “canon”. I treat mentions of “Giants” as pure speculation and rumor—the same way Giants are mentioned in fairy tales and stories in our culture. I do have very large humans: 7’, 9’ or a bit larger, but anything much larger than that I start having issues. 20’ or 30’ storm giants with a profession are just plain silly in my opinion!

Looking at it from a combat approach, Giants just don’t work. Go out and pick a fight with a 4 year old child—chances are you’ll win quite handily. A 24’ Giant wielding a 14’ war hammer wearing a massive set of platemail armor and moving and fighting in the same physical manner as a normal 6’ character is ridiculous for all sorts of reasons. A bipedal humanoid over ten feet tall, with excellent motor skills and tool making ability would be an incredibly dangerous opponent. At least a Dragon will have a different fighting style: claws, wings, breath weapon more akin to a reptile, snake or wild animal. Yes, it’s fantasy and doesn’t need to be realistic, but I feel it always take players out of the game. I’ve found a fantasy monster can be more immersive than encountering a 25’ human. RMU’s size scaling rules (Beta2) addressed the size disparity by making Giants and large creatures devastatingly dangerous—as they should, but the combat approach is only one aspect of the problem.

The cultural approach. Does a community of 20’, 2 story humanoids with size appropriate weapons, utensils, pots, clothing, and houses make any sense in your setting? Will adventurers plunder giant tombs only to find they can’t lift the 18’ magic battleaxe they find? Do your adventurers come across a 4’ sock discarded by a teenage giant or plunder a sack of 1’ wide gold coins? Every culture leaves detritus: abandoned objects and buildings that populate the adventure setting—how does a Giant culture work in any setting? Of course the answer is typically a remote Giant “settlement” high in the mountains or tucked into a hidden valley far from humans and other humanoids. And certainly SW’s Essaence Flows could wall off a remote community of Giants but for me it just doesn’t work.

Game Mechanics approach. One of the main reasons I avoid common monster types is because they are tropes and immediately changes the game play into ritualistic, rule-oriented process. Present a Giant to a D&D group and what do you get: Dwarves and Rangers to the front, others use missile weapons and Mages cast from a distance. The bonuses given to certain races and professions force the party’s strategy because they maximize the potency of certain characters. For players who memorize the Monster Manual, encounters became a combat by rote process exploiting known weaknesses. RM includes many of those monster mechanics: Silver vs. Undead, Mummies cause disease, Con drain, can only be hit by magic weapons etc. Alternatively, when your party encounters a menacing party of adventurers they have NO idea their level, power, abilities or weaknesses.

For me, Giants have no place in my fantasy game and no place in Shadow World. But that’s just my opinion and I welcome yours!

RM Combat Hack: Missile Parry

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Popular fiction is replete with master swordsmen deflecting arrows with their blades or martial artists knocking aside or even catching thrown weapons. In our efforts to reduce skill bloat and add a “cinematic” quality to game play we’ve allowed the ability to parry missiles along with the standard option of applying OB to DB against melee weapons. For simplicity we prefer to build it into the normal OB/DB mechanic but we have also play-tested it as a combat expertise skill as well.

Parrying a missile attack uses 2 modifiers: the missile parry modifier of the parrying weapon used (which models the utility of the weapon in deflecting a missile object) and the missile parry modifier of the missile itself (which models the size and speed of the missile). Weapon missile parry modifiers can be found on the “Weapon Attack Modifier Chart” posted on the RM Forum (you need to have a forum account to see and download). The download can be found here:

http://www.ironcrown.com/ICEforums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=17102.0;attach=3660

Missile Parry Modifiers are as follows:

Spear/Javelin/Axe:  -40

Dagger/Shuriken/Dart:  -40

Bow/Crossbow:    -60

Sling:   -80

In our current simplified version anyone can parry a missile attack under the following conditions:

  1. They must be aware of the attack.
  2. They must have OB to allocate towards the missile parry attempt.
  3. The allocated OB to DB must exceed the weapon and missile parry modifiers.

Ex. Caylis, the famed Warrior Monk is confronted by a powerful servant of the Unlife, a Messenger of Kulag. Before they can close and engage, the Messenger fires his short bow at Caylis. Caylis decides to full parry the missile attack. His 110 MAStrk OB is modified by +10 (parry weapon modifier) and the arrow is modified by -60 (missile modifier) for a total modifier of -50. Caylis can add +60 to his DB against the arrow.

Note that between the parry weapon modifier and the missile parry modifiers, a character might need a very high OB to offset those penalties and be able to add any DB against the missile attack. This is purposeful and reflects the high level of skill and weapon mastery needed to successfully parry a missile attack.

For those that prefer a skill-based mechanism and a more effective missile parry system we also play-tested “Combat Expertise: Missile Parry”

Missile Parry: This skill reduces the parry weapon and missile penalties associated with blocking or parrying a thrown object or missile. The skill must specify the weapon category to be used. For Unarmed MA, the skill can also be used to catch a thrown object or missile. The character must be aware of the attack and must have available “action” left. The catch attempt is resolved before the attack resolution: Treat as an Absolute Maneuver modified by the attack OB, Missile Parry Mod and Missile Parry skill bonus. Success the object is caught. Failure and the % failed by is added to the missile attack roll.

Ex. Caylis, the famed Warrior Monk is confronted by a powerful servant of the Unlife, a Messenger of Kulag. Before they can close and engage the Messenger fires his short bow at Caylis. Caylis decides to full parry the missile attack. He has +60 in Missile Parry: MAStrk which offsets the +10 (parry weapon modifier) and -60 (missile modifier) for a total modifier of -50. Caylis can add his full +110 OB to his DB against the arrow.

Alternatively, Caylis can elect to catch the incoming arrow in the hopes of impressing and intimidating his opponent. The Messenger fires his arrow. In order to catch the arrow Caylis must roll above 110! (110sb + 60 weapon modifier -60 Missile Parry skill bonus). He rolls an 82, short of success and the Messenger can add an additional +28 to his attack roll since Caylis intentionally put himself in the arrows path during his attempt to catch it!

Additional Options.

  1. We allow unarmed melee the same parrying ability as weapon melee. It’s implied that unarmed combat techniques incorporate defensive block/dodge/parry techniques into their respective combat systems. Additionally, “Parrying” has been defined as not just one specific, physical, blocking of a blow but the general balance between offense and defense.
  2. Because of this allowance we eliminated the skill “Adrenal Defense”. This always felt like a work around: since MA attacks couldn’t parry then there needed to be a mechanism for martial artists to dodge and evade blows.

Trump RPG: Low level characters and property ownership.

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I was doing some work on the training packages we use the other day. Depending on the package, the player gets a starting kit, money, maybe a bonus item etc. Then it occurred to me that even a starting character has a good chance of being “landed” ie they own property. Thinking back over decades, I can’t ever recall giving a starting player land/building/business and can’t seem to think of a reason why not. Whenever a realization like this occurs I suspect the subtle hand of a fantasy trope guiding my thinking process. What reasons, good or bad, might have formed this mental model?

  1. The Hero’s Journey/Taran, Pig Farmer. Putting Frodo and Bag’s End aside, it’s pretty common for characters to be unknown, impoverished or “wet behind the ears” at the start of their adventures. Owning property and its implied wealth and value discards that trope and disrupts the Hero’s Journey.
  2. “Game Balance”. Starting players that own property wealth, leasable land/building or income producing business have too many resources which could allow them to buy better equipment, magic items that unbalances the game or removes the risk/reward proposition of adventuring.
  3. Ingrained “western medieval caste system” trope. The common allusions of a fantasy setting to western medieval feudalism re-enforces the idea that only the powerful (high level or royalty) are landowners and the rest are crofters/lease-holders.
  4. D&D. Obviously the founding game system has set the standard for many Rolemaster mechanisms that we take for granted now: invisibility until struck; turning undead by “levels”; Mages have Sleep, Charm, Fly, Fireball; permanent effect magic items etc. D&D also established the progression between character level and having henchman, followers and strongholds. Land and property are directly equated to character level and power.

So why not allow for starting players to own land? There is a lot of options between a thatched hut on a farm plot and a multi-story tenancy in a large city—it doesn’t have to be a hovel nor a large castle or stronghold.  A GM can choose easily choose a property that fits the setting and not give a 1st lvl player an unfair “advantage” (a better benchmark than “game balance”). A few thoughts:

  1. If you aren’t running a gritty “low fantasy” game,  having a small income mechanism for a player or the group eliminates the need for constant calculations of room & board cost.
  2. Similarly, having a reliable, safe place to dwell, organize or hide out gives the group a base of operations and a foundation for future adventuring.
  3. Having a “base” can help with group cohesion. They can fortify, improve, trap or modify it for their own needs. Secret doors, hidey holes, safes etc give them a common purpose and a convenient staging area between adventures.
  4. The property itself could be a great adventure hook. I’m not suggesting “Real Estate RPG”—but being robbed, having the property seized or even starting a business or legitimate “Adventure Group for Hire” could add to the game. Have one of the players inherit a small tavern—what better way is there to immerse the group in local events, intrigue and drama!

In the bigger scheme of things a small building in a city worth a few hundred GP’s will quickly seem like  a small value to a group that adventures for magic, gems and gold worth thousands. A starting character with leasable land or property that generates a few silver a month will quickly outgrow that need for such income. However, at the start of the game or campaign that property could provide the hook for the initial adventure, be a safe haven for a low powered group and a common foundation for the group’s identity.

 

Nemeses: Introducing “Newman Groups” into your campaign.

Newman NEWMAN!!!

One of the more enjoyable elements of my past campaigns has been creating an opposing group of NPC’s that compete or thwart the party as their characters grow in experience and power. Seinfeld had his “Newman” and Indiana Jones had his “Belloq”; a fleshed out contra-group can add a personal and competitive feel to the gameplay more than just another nameless villain or mob-boss. Over a long campaign the relationship between the groups can evolve based on their shared experiences and conflicts and eventually lead to a final “reckoning” or confrontation.

This NPC Nemeses (Newman Group) doesn’t necessarily need to be similar in make-up to the PC’s but having similarities allows each PC to have their own specific nemesis as well. So there is a group vs group dynamic concurrent with a more personal and individual PC vs NPC dynamic.

Depending on your setting there are many ways to initiate a “Newman Group”.

  1. Opposing Gods. The most obvious mechanism for opposing groups is to have each group avatars of a pantheon or god. In Shadow World the conflict between the gods of Charon and Orhan sets that up easily.
  2. Opposing Employers. At lower levels PC’s are often just trying to survive, accumulate experience and wealth. Giving the PC’s a patron (Priest, Lord, merchant, scribe, mage etc) that assigns them tasks creates a tidy mechanism to start adventures. It’s only natural that such a patron would have an enemy or competitor that would also need their own group of henchman.
  3. The Unlife. Of course you could forgo subtlety and create an opposing group under the thrall of the Unlife. Perhaps they work for one of the 12 Adherants, the Priest Arnak or similar organization. This sets up a longer term campaign thread into the larger SW plotline.
  4. Familial or background element. Perhaps one of the PC’s has a brother, sister or family member they are at odds with. Jealousy, inheritance issues, rivalry or racial tensions could all be the spark to start the groups down the path of opposition.
  5. Friendly competition. Introducing the opposing group early only as a general competitor for a certain goal or treasure can leave the future open-ended. Later as the campaign progresses the groups could form an uneasy alliance to overcome a difficult task or transform into more serious and deadly rivalry.

The NPC group should plan, act and behave as the PC’s would. They will retreat or surrender when beaten; plan carefully when expecting an encounter with the PC’s and have their own goals, aims and desires. The more personal you make the relationship between your PCs and the Newman Group the more depth it will add to the gameplay. Once the rivalry is introduced it came become a great plot device to confound, frustrate and delight your players. Whether intentionally plot driven, random or capricious, the players will be left wondering as to the role of their nemeses when they encounter them!

Initiative, the third leg of the RM combat stool.

8.1

When it was first introduced in Arms Law the fluid concept of splitting a weapon skill between offense and defense was very compelling. It helped that RM’s d100 system provided a larger result range than the competing d20 systems that allowed for any number of modifiers to be used within that basic framework: multi-attack, drawing weapon, parry rules, combat modifiers etc. Mostly it was just intuitive and the allocation between offense and defense added a layer of combat strategy within a simple die roll.

However on facet of combat has been the subject of repeated rule revision and discussion: an effective initiative system. These solutions generally involve 2 components: a roll (d10, d100 etc) modified by the characters Qu. Whichever system is used, the purpose is to determine who will act or attack first—an important consideration in a system that can result in decisive criticals.

If you haven’t seen our weapon specific modifier table posted on the RM Forums I would encourage you to do so. You can find the document link here:

http://www.ironcrown.com/ICEforums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=17102.0;attach=3660

RM/RMU generally sets combat modifiers at fixed rates regardless of the weapon size, speed or function. For instance, drawing a weapon is generally -20 whether you are drawing a dagger or a 2H sword. Attacking multiple foes incurs the same penalty per/target no matter if you are using a pole arm or unarmed combat. It seems like a system that models weapon efficacy with individual combat charts can better model other weapon characteristics. In fact, even the earliest RM had weapon stats for “speed” and “length/reach” but never an elegant solution for incorporating them into combat without clumsy or complicated rules.

Our initiative combat hack brings the initiative system into the offense/defense duality, includes weapon specific factors, eliminates the need for a beginning declaration phase and adds a component to combat initiative beyond “order of action”. A new tactical “triumvirate” of combat! How does it work? Let’s lay out the parts:

Initiative (Init) = (d100) + (allocated skill bonus) + (weapon speed mod) + (Qu mod)

The character rolls d100, can allocate part of their skill bonus to the roll and then adds weapon speed mod and Qu mod. It’s important to note that these are in order of importance—Qu will often be the least important modifier. The concept, like the allocation between offense and defense, means that the character can opt for a quick strike or offensive series over accuracy or even defense:  a “wild, rushed, flurry of attacks”. Obviously the character can opt to allocate none of their OB to Init.—like parrying, this adds a tactical layer to the combat without any “one-off” rules. Weapon Speeds can range from 0 to 75 and thus are the larger part of the initiative roll when historically Qu has been the predominant modifier. This adds complexity to player weapon selection beyond its ability to deal damage.

Initiative Results: Normally initiative is used only to determine order of attack/action. Under these rules the winner of initiative also sets the “combat sphere”: the area/range that is most effective for their weapon. For opponents using the same/similar weapons this won’t matter, but for weapons with different combat ranges this can have a significant impact. So while the initiative roll uses “weapon speed”, the combat sphere uses “weapon range”. As a simple example visualize two combatants; one has a halberd and the other a dagger. The halberd has a slow weapon speed and the dagger has a high weapon speed. They roll initiative and the halberd user opts to allocate a portion of their OB to the Init. roll knowing that the dagger wielding opponent will have a speed advantage.

Combat Sphere: The winner of the Init., sets the “Combat Sphere”: the effective melee distance based on the weapon reach. Basically there are 4 broad melee ranges: Hand (1-2’ unarmed, dagger etc), Short (2-4’ handaxe, short sword etc), Med. (5-7’broadsword, longsword, battle axe) or Long (8’ whip, polearm, 2H). Alternatively, you can use the Weapon Combat Modifier chart linked above and use the proximity penalties. A penalty of -20 per range category is applied to the combatant who loses the Init. Returning to the “Halberd” and the “Dagger” combatants: Halberd wins the Init and decides to attack with his full OB. Halberd is positioned for the attack at the optimal reach of the Halberd. Because Dagger lost Init. he is outside the effective range of the dagger and is at -60 (Hand to Long range -20×3). Dagger can allocate remaining OB (been reduced by 60) to parry. If Dagger doesn’t have any OB remaining he can’t allocate to parry but is allowed to attack modified by the negative OB.

Note that if the Init. results were reversed, Dagger would have moved in close to Halberd, effectively nullifying the long weapons attack advantages. In this case if Halberd survives the attack he could elect to drop the Halberd and draw a dagger, but OB would be furthered reduced by the weapon draw penalty on the Weapon Combat Modifier chart.

Parry Declaration: No parry declaration is needed at the beginning of the round: both combatants can allocate OB to the Init. roll and then the winner of the Init. can decide the OB/DB split and the loser of the Init can decide DB as a response to the winner’s attack.

Summary: Adding the “combat sphere” not only simulates weapon reach in combat but it increases the importance of Initiative beyond determining first strike. Including Initiative into the skill bonus allocation (with OB/DB) reinforces the importance of Initiative and builds in individual weapon speed. This process is easily inserted into version RM combat, adds strategic choices for the players without new “one-off” rules, models weapon advantages and disadvantages on more than just damage, simulates the factors between combatants with widely varying weapons/reach and adds a “visual” aspect to melee with combatant positioning.

RM Optional Rules: Alternate Skill Rank Bonuses & Aptitude Bonuses

I’m a bit off track with blog content but wanted to continue on the subject of skills that both Peter and I have discussed in the previous blog entries. All of these “rule snippets” are part of a larger “No profession” system that we use within the SW setting. While rules like “skill atrophy” can be used as a standalone option they are put of a broader rule ecosystem that allows for balanced character creation without the arbitrary limitations of the professions system. There are several other parts that might be worth exploring as options:

8.1  Skill Rank Bonuses

These rules use an alternate skill bonus progression. This progression follows a normal distribution curve where gains start low and then slowly increase per rank, peak and then slowly decline. This follows a more realistic learning curve, pushes the cost/benefit slope higher and avoids lower level players accumulating a handful of levels (leveraged by stat bonuses) to generate a broad range of skills with minimal investment. Note that we also use unlimited skill progression with stepped cost. So it is possible for a low lvl player to be a “prodigy” by dedicating all of their DP’s to a single skill and at the opportunity cost of all others.

# Ranks Bonus Total Bonus
0 -25 -25
1 1 1
2 2 3
3 3 6
4 4 10
5 5 15
6 6 21
7 7 28
8 8 36
9 9 45
10 10 55
11 9 64
12 8 72
13 7 79
14 6 85
12 5 90
16 4 94
17 3 97
18 2 99
19 1 100
20 1 101

+1/rank after 20th

7.1     Skill Aptitude Bonuses

Since we don’t use professions we don’t have traditional professional skill bonuses. Instead the players get “aptitude bonuses” they can place on any skills. Players can choose from 3 options to assign Skill Aptitude Bonuses. Each character gets a total of 6 points that can be used in ONE of the following choice

  1. +1/skill rank to each of 6 separate skills
  2. +1/skill rank to 3 separate skills AND a +2/skill rank to 1 separate skill
  3. +3/skill rank to 1 skill

 

RM Optional Rules: Skill Atrophy

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While RM and it’s various iterations focus on obtaining and learning skills much less attention has been paid to the slow erosion of skills due to lack of use: “Skill Atrophy”. Many RM skills should require continuous practice to maintain that ability or sustain the peak level of performance. Taking a handful of ranks over a few levels and then ignoring the skill shouldn’t guarantee performance in perpetuity.  Skill atrophy also addresses several issues with the RM skill system:

  1. “Min/Max skill rank bonuses”. Many players will run a skill just up to the +5/+3 rank bonus inflection point. This gives them the most bang for the buck and when tied to stat bonuses can give them a solid bonus for most skill checks.
  2. Higher level skill bloat. Once most core skills are maxed out (skill rank +20), PC’s will turn to obtaining ancillary or non-core skills. While they may cost more DP’s, the +5 bonus gets them a better return than adding a + ½ to a fully developed skill. Thus higher level characters tend to homogenize into a jack of all trades.

Skill atrophy incrementally reduces skill ranks IF the character doesn’t take at least 1 new skill rank in that skill when they level up. So even high level characters with 20+ ranks in a skill and who gain very little in taking an additional rank will need to continue spending DP’s to maintain the skill.

Skills are assigned a skill atrophy percentage of 5%, 10%, 20%, or 25% that sets the amount of atrophy and the minimum threshold the skill can’t be reduced below. If, at level advancement, a current skill doesn’t gain a new rank than the skill atrophy modifier is applied. The result is always rounded down and the skill ranks can never be reduced below a level that the atrophy percentage is less than 1. So an atrophy mod of 5% means that the skill won’t reduce below 19 skill ranks while a 25% atrophy mod means the skill could slowly be reduced to 3. For example, a skill with 15 ranks and an atrophy level of 10% will lose 1 rank at each level advancement that the skill is not increased until 9th lvl, where it won’t atrophy any further.

Skill types and atrophy. In general learned knowledge (lore skills) have little or no atrophy while skills that require top physical performance or specialized training (athletics) will atrophy faster. While individual skills in categories may have differing atrophy rates, general suggestions are as follows:

Lore Skills: No atrophy or 5%.

Trade skills: 10%

Crafting: 10%

Social: No

Performance: 10%

Physical or athletic: 10% or 20%

Endurance: 20% or 25%

Combat skills: 10% or 20%

Mental skills: 20%

Magical Skills: 5% or 10%

Spells: No

Directed Spells: 10% or 20%

Special Skills: 5% or 10%

Option 1. Atrophy still applies but instead of requiring an additional skill rank, allow a character to expend 1 DP to “maintain” the skill IF they don’t take a new skill rank in that skill.

Using RM’s professions, skill atrophy reduces skill bloat at higher levels by requiring characters to continually invest in their critical skills. When using a “No Profession” system, this further enforces the need for characters to focus on core, “defining” skills that in effect creates professions without the need for arbitrary pre-defined classes.

RM Combat Hacks: Enhanced Riposte

Welcome to my 1st RM Combat Hacks post! While RMU is developing cool new combat expertise options, I thought I would introduce a few rule tweaks that we’ve used over the years. Our options don’t require adding new skills and can be used with every version of RM. I thought I’d start with a simple one that has worked well in years of playing.

Enhanced Ripostemelee7

While riposte was added as a secondary skill in RM2 the rules allowed for a combatant to Full Parry and still be allowed to make a +0 attack. Enhanced Riposte allows the combatant to Full Parry and make an attack, but if the attacker misses, the defender is allowed to make an attack with a bonus equal to the attackers result and the minimum number needed for a critical result. The attacker cannot use any allocated parrying DB against the Riposte.

Ex. Taor a 3rd lvl Bard is in combat with a 5th lvl Evil Paladin. Feeling that he is over-matched, he elects to Full Parry in the hopes that his friends will show up and save his bacon. He allocates all +28 of his OB to Full Parry along with his +10 DB. The Evil Paladin attacks with +75 Longsword. He rolls a 14 for a total of 89 less Taor’s 38 Parry/DB for a final result of 51. The Paladin needed an 87 to generate a crit result on Taor. Taor does take 4 pts of damage but can now make an attack at +36!

Note that if the Paladin had generated a critical result, Taor would still be able to make the normal +0 attack per the Full Parry rules.

As this example shows, it’s possible to generate a Riposte attack bonus HIGHER than the combatant’s actual OB. This reflects the mechanism of the riposte—drawing the attacker in and even taking slight damage to create an attack opening from an over-extended opponent. Obviously, a GM can limit the Riposte bonus to the combatants OB.

For lower level players this gives them an additional tool against a superior opponent and if the attacker rolls very poorly, could give the PC a considerable Riposte bonus.

 

New Topics and Blog Contributors Needed!

I’m a bit behind on posting up new blogs but I’ve come up with 4  basic titles/topics for my  upcoming contributions. So even with a continual stream of new ideas or inspiration I’m going to try and stay within my own topic guidelines! The four I’m focusing on:

  1. Shadow World Spin Cycle: Re-purposing other gaming material to fill in content in SW.
  2. RM Combat Hacks: Optional rules and ideas for adding additional depth to RM combat.
  3. SW Adventure Hooks: Adventure “hooks”, ideas and starting points for SW adventures using the SW Master Timeline and other threads “dangling” in Canon material.
  4.  SWARM. “Shadow World Alternate RoleMaster”. My own rule set for No Profession Character Law for use in the Shadow World setting.

With that in mind Peter is looking for new Blog writers & contributors. Do you want to write short posts on RM or RM related topics? Let Peter know!

Spin Cycle for Shadow World: CoA pt. 2

5The Citadel of Ardor.

What is it? A 9 level tower of black “marble” stone. Interior features with familiar SW elements including iron/steel/laen tracked doors, glowing glass panels. There is even a lower level cavern hall.

How and where to use it in Shadow World? The tower feels A LOT like the Loremaster’s Tower of the Winds with its High Council Chamber and the lower cavern could be the repository for the Master Orb. (MA p.72). But the elements, materials and craftsmanship certainly evoke LoE or 2nd Era style.

General Ideas:

A tower for a powerful Priest of the Unlife, a Mage or local Lord/ruler. If you need to drop in a powerful adversary, this layout may be perfect for their stronghold. The lower cavern works well as a room for summoning or ritual magic. Like the CoA plot, the PC’s can try and stop a dark ritual or sacrifice.

Empty fortress to explore. If you need a floorplan for an abandoned tower this could work well. The entrance gate may need to be open or the PC’s could access the lower hall via an Earthwarden tunnel or the Ash Lairs.

Lords of Essaence (LoE) facility. There hasn’t been many, if any, LoE towers detailed—most of their surviving structures have been underground. It’s certainly possible to attribute it to the LoE, but has subsequently been taken over another ruler, powerful individual or organization.

Earthwardens (EW). The stronghold seems too polished for the EW but the lower cavern could be built around a Foci and the tower could have been built over the site later in the Interregnum or 2nd Era.

Specific Ideas:

Some of these locations are only noted in the map keys without any other information. However, if the PC’s are exploring Emer than the Citadel may be great layout to quickly insert for the following:

  1. Tower of the Church of Zanar. Isle of Fire, Emer.
  2. Tower of the Spider Queen. Haestra I. Map A #1
  3. Red Moon Tower. Haestra I. Map A #4
  4. Tower of Kelstro. Haestra I. Map B #2
  5. Amethyst League Tower. Haestra I, Map C #3
  6. Blackforest Tower. Haestra I, Map C #17
  7. Xa’Chaak Mentalist School. Haestra I, Map C #19
  8. Tower of Silver Ice. Haestra I, Map C #20
  9. Tower of the Five Moons. Haestra I, Map D #3
  10. Earthwarden Ruins. Haestra I, Map D #8
  11. Tower of the Warlock. Haestra I, Map E #7
  12. Tower of the White Sorceror. Haestra I, Map F #3
  13. Vog Ien. Northern Falias
  14. Tower of Magic. Ebon City Govon.

If you have any ideas on re-purposing the Citadel of Ardor please add a comment! Stay tuned for Part 3!