Can Professionless provide all the detail of RM2?

I know that many people love the minute detail that the full spectrum of RM2 professions provided. The professions were basically a package of individual skill and base lists.

Keeping the base lists within professionless and level-less RM is easy.

The individual skill costs are completely compatible with level-less but I am open to ideas about how to create that flexibility with professionless gaming.

BriH has pitched the idea of getting rid of skill costs all together so that every skill costs 5DP (I could be wrong about who came up with that idea but that is not the point). I was thinking of playing with the idea of going to the other way.

As you can see the standard No Profession  character doesn’t have any real strengths.

How about allowing the player to juggle a few points around? So let’s give each player 10 points they can move about to make some skills cheaper and others more expensive. If no skill could cost less than less that 1 point for the first rank and 2 points for the second and no skill can cost no more than 3/6. This stops players from ‘dumping’ points into a skill they have no intention of every buying.

I would love to have peoples opinions on this. If you like all the old professions would the option of tweaking the skill costs at level one appeal?

To make it fair when you are thinking about this you should bear in mind that all characters get 50DPs. You do not have to buy Body Development (that is free), there is only one armour skill that costs 2* and in total there are only about 45 skills not the 200 from all the companions. You need that to know just how far 10 points would go in tweaking those costs.

Do you think that will make PCs more varied and do you think it would help you build the character you would want to play? After all that is the whole point of having a detailed character creation process in the first place.

16 Replies to “Can Professionless provide all the detail of RM2?”

  1. I give the players 6 points that replace professional rank bonus that they can assign themselves. That, in effect, does the same thing as you suggest (changing some skill costs). But, this 6 pts is also subjected to diminishing returns so the player can choose one of the following:

    1 skill with a +3/rank bonus or (3+2+1 = 6)
    2 skills each with +2/rank bonus (2 +1 = 3)2
    1 skill with +2 and 3 skills with +1/rank (2+1=3) + (1+1+1=3)
    6 skills with +1/rank bonus (1+1+1+1+1+1)

    This can create a good jack of all trades or a focused “phenom”. But with these bonuses it changes the total bonus/dp cost ration which in effect is the same as just changing the skill cost.

    1. So you are using customisable professional bonuses to achieve the same thing. I allow people to allocate which categories of skills get their professional bonuses to customise their version of ‘no profession’ but that is +1 or+2 per rank for the first 20 ranks linear progression.

      Really I am exploring how big a divide there really is between the No Profession camp (you and I) and the individual skill costs camp (of which Hurin is an advocate) because the skill cost by category doesn’t really solve anything as it is still profession based and still lacks the fine detail of RM2 style professions and is still prone to Profession bloat.

  2. It took me awhile to discard individual skill costs–I get it. Plus the class/profession trope is deeply imbedded in rpg DNA. My players still use profession “labels”–we have Priests, Fighters, Thieves and Mages–but those titles are “skill driven” versus “driving skills”. In other words, the player who focuses on essence & elemental spells will be called a wizard; a player who focuses on combat is a soldier, fighter or warrior.
    With professions and assigned skill costs, it’s in your best interest to choose skills with the lowest cost; thus you are directed by that choice.
    Finally, professions are so laden with cultural memes that it over influences the setting. There was a debate on the forums about skill costs for Rangers. It was interesting because various arguments were grounded in that particular person’s idea of a Ranger. Is a Ranger a roving, wilderness guardian? A combat oriented druid? A huntsmen, outdoorsman? A nature Paladin?
    anyway, I’ve beat this drum enough! My players like the flexibility of character creation and they decide how to describe themselves (or if they are in an organization they adopt that label).

  3. I think one other thing you need to consider is that professions aren’t necessarily just about allowing you to play the class you want. Other posters have shown me that professions are also templates that give guidance as to what skills you should take — and that is quite useful in a game that gives you as much freedom as Rolemaster does.

    Consider for example the novice player. I’ve got a player in my group who has played a couple of DnD campaigns and even a Spacemaster campaign; he also knew he wanted to play a fighter type in RMU. So he selected the fighter class… but then had no idea what skills to buy or how to prioritize them (should he take Fortitude over Shield? 2 ranks in Perception or 1 in Perception and 1 in Riding)? He’s a pretty sharp guy, but he was just overwhelmed with choices. The Fighter template at least gave him some guidance, as he knew he would be good at weapon and armor skills. If he had not been able to pick Fighter, he would have been totally lost I think. The profession gave him at least some guidance as to how to build his character.

    I’m not opposed to a professionless system, but I think that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Novices in particular will come to the game wanting more guidance than ‘Do what you want!’. And it is a bit harder to build a good Cleric in a professionless system than in a profession system, since the Cleric by definition is specialized in Cleric stuff.

    I do agree though that the RMU category system is a mix between a no-profession system and a profession system, and in some ways it unfortunately combines the worst elements of both. For entire categories, many professions have been left with the exact same default skill costs as the no-profession. Yet other categories have been specialized, and the professions still have the profession names. I think the current RMU system, which is a hybrid of profession-less and profession systems, is going to disappoint some people when they really delve into the numbers, and realize that their Magical Secret Agent (Magent) is worse than a Paladin at Spell Trickery, that their Ranger is worse than No Profession at the Lore of Beasts, and that a random Laborer has the same cost for Religious Lore as a Cleric.

    If you’re going to use professions, then you need to make them good at what players expect them to be good at. And on the other hand, if you’re not going to use professions, then that is fine too. But mixing the two doesn’t give you the best of both worlds; it gives you the worst. It sets players up for disappointment by offering them ‘Rangers’ that are mediocre at Beast Lore and ‘Clerics’ who are middling at Religious Lore, while simultaneously eroding the differences between the professions and forcing them to work very hard (in the form of spending lots of development points) to do the things that they should find easy.

  4. Sorry for the rant; I’ve calmed down now 🙂

    Over the last couple of months I’ve come to realize that the main things I don’t like about RMU (namely the category system and the lack of unique attack charts for individual weapons) are leftovers from HARP. While I could understand importing these ideas into Rolemaster if HARP was being discontinued, I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to cannibalize their own audience and game by reducing the differences between Rolemaster and HARP. Let HARP be HARP, and Rolemaster be Rolemaster.

    Crap, that’s another rant I guess 🙂 It does however seem like the RMU design team is much more RMSS and HARP oriented than RM2 oriented; I’m not sure there’s anyone there really speaking up for the RM2 perspective. You see it in the skill system and in the weapon tables especially: those seem to be a HARP player’s dream, and an RM2 player’s nightmare.

    I still look forward to RMU and am playing it now. But those two HARP elements are the hardest for me to accept, and I think they will be for other RM2 players as well.

    1. I agree there is a lot of HARP in RMU. In general HARP is a nice system. I have been buying the rule books but haven’t been able to play it yet. I thing that strikes me when you look at the forums is that RM players admire the HARP scaling spells and that HARP players admire the individual weapons and criticals.

      I wonder if my making RMU more HARP like if the two game systems are not on a converging path? Economically it would make more sense for ICE to have one larger cohort of customers and be able to produce more books more frequently for that customer base rather than dividing their time between two product lines that have to compete for attention.

      Is RM dead?

      1. Good points. I admit that some cross-pollination can be good. If RM players admire HARP’s spell scaling, then that is something that could be adapted to RM. But my RM group at least doesn’t admire the lack of individual weapons tables in HARP, so I would not like to see that imported into RM… especially not if even some HARP players would prefer to have individual weapon tables. The same could be said of individual skill costs. If you are going to take something from one system and apply it to the other, you should be taking only the best elements that add function, not the ones that limit or erode function. The removal of individual weapons tables erodes function, as many players are currently coming to realize in the active threads on the RMU forums. I think the more they play RMU, the more they will realize the removal of individual skill costs similarly erodes function.

        Is RM dead? Well, RM with individual skill costs and individual weapons tables seems to be dead at this point, unfortunately. I think there might be some movement on the weapons tables, and I’ve created my own spreadsheet of individual skill costs for RMU (published as the Guild Companion article), so I think the old style RM might still live on, even just as houserules.

        1. I was surprised when the Guild Companion accepted your article. You now have an officially sanctioned house rule for a set of rules that hasn’t even been published!

          1. LOL, I guess that is true! They were good to their word though. At the height of my criticisms of the individual skill system, Nicholas said there wasn’t going to be any movement on the issue, but invited me to submit my option as a GC article. I wondered if he was just saying that to stop me pestering them, but he kept his word. I have to give them props for that; they didn’t have to do it.

            I think the RMU professional skill costs are more or less set now, so while my option is for a game that hasn’t been published, I think when it is published, my option will still be viable.

        2. One thing I’ve never quite worked out is any actual rationale for doing away with the weapons tables aside from “fewer tables is good.” RM2 at its core never had that many tables, and many weapons existed as modifications to those tables in any case.

          Perhaps one of the root weaknesses is a lack of any articulated way to calculate damage. With firearms, I developed a system to do that and could then make decisions based on barrel length for weapon tables (damage and range and so on). I’ve never figured out if there’s an objective way in RMU to do this or if they just pulled a number out of a hat and said that was it.

      2. I did look at HARP SF and found it to be not especially useful for the kind of stuff I was doing. The reason was the combat system. It’s far too generic for a firearms system that had the feel I was looking for. I also wasn’t especially entranced with the class/profession system, but I can understand its appeal if that’s what your group is looking for.

  5. Oh, one last reason why I think some groups like professions: it is just much cooler to play a Samurai in one campaign and a Cavalier in another, rather than playing a Fighter in both but just building him differently. The class names, descriptions, and specialized costs not only give guidance, they give inspiration for a class concept and for roleplaying. It is easier for me to create and roleplay a unique character if I can choose a Samurai than if I have to choose a generic Fighter and then take discipline-oriented skills. The unique class name, concept, and costs go a long way to shaping a unique character.

  6. Since I do a fair amount of non-fantasy gaming using RM2 mechanics, I appreciate professions for the reasons Hurin articulated. But I also reject the “Profession=lifeway” model that seems to be heavily entrenched with many RM users. I allow Profession changes since I feel Profession is more about access to training (you pick your ‘life way’ when you assign stats).

    To me profession less is both confusing to new players and not especially useful when it comes to modeling how profession can modify access to training. I’m starting to use assignable skill costs within professions based on the Combat Training model, and that’s done quite a bit to add shading to professions without requiring huge modifications.

    1. I totally get the professional change logic. In real life I have completely retrained and changed career three times. So if I can do it in real life why not a character? That works for me.

  7. Have you looked at the “Alternate Realms” article on GC for customized “profession”/skill costs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *