Personalities from Melos

This follows on from last week’s post on Melos.

I mentioned two personalities, Allair Trewaint & Howe Gothnan last time but I thought I would flesh out the people a little more this time.

Jack ‘The Slayer’ Dormer

The militia are an adhoc group but when they are needed the most common leader elected is Jack ‘The Slayer’ Dormer. The monicker comes from his experience in giant killing. In his younger days he lead several successful defences against giants and his place in peninsular life was assured. Now Jack is nearly 40 years old and although solidly built he is a little thicker around the middle that he was in his youth. He has dark curly hair, greying at the temples and a dark mediterrainean complexion. He favours a leather poncho with woollen sock and leggings. His favoured weapons are the spear and sling with sling being the one that he truly excels at. He is an enthusiastic man that loves the wild landscape where he lives and knows almost every game trail, village and villager within 60 miles of his home.

Bill Newlander

Bill is a ‘retired’ fisherman. A grizled old seadog his frequently found on the beaches watching the fishing boats load and unload. He is a preeminent source of wisdom on boat craft but he is also one of the closest friends to the Morimanus. Although no one knows how old Bill is it is rumoured that he has live well beyond the normal span for a human. This is sometimes ascribed to his association to the Morimanus. Local myth says that as a young man Bill fell in love with a Morimanus girl who took him under the waves to live for many years. Eventually he become homesick for his family and desired to return to the surface world. He did return to his family home only to find hat so many years had passed for his family that they had all died or moved on. With nothing to hold him to the land he wanted to return to live under the waves but he found he was locked out from the undersea world. The magical change that allowed him breath below the surface was a one time only change and he had used it and broken it when he had returned to the surface. The truth of all of this is a closed secret and Bill will never talk of it and locals do not mention the stories within his hearing. Bill now serves as a general adviser to the fishermen and has a wealth of knowledge on fishing, tides and the Morimanus.

Guy Hydroc

Guy is the Constable or the elected upholder of the law. He normally has two or three sheriffs in his employ. Guy is about 30yrs old and is normally dressed in a rigid leather breastplate when on duty and has a dark suede jacket that he wears off duty. He is an accomplished horseman which is unusual for the local population. He constantly travels from village to village as the visible symbol of he law. Most minor crimes he will act as police and magistrate but for anything more serious the village elders will sit in judgement. Guy carries a spear and on his hips are a pair of hand axes.

Guy is very popular and respected both as Constable and as a barritone singer. When in a vllage he is often drafted in to male voice chiors (a popular past time).

More next time!

The Crystal Shard: Bk. 4 (The Legend of Drizzt)

This may be book book four in the legend of Drizzt but this was the first Drizzt book written by R A Salvatore. It is also the first book in the Icewind Dale Trilogy.

The interesting thing about this book is that Salvatore says himself that he was inspired to write having read Lord of the Rings and this book really chronicles the coming together of a fellowship before embarking on their quest just like The Fellowship of the Ring. That though is where the similarities ends.

The thing about Forgotten Realms novels is that they are written, I believe, with a target audience of 14 to 6 year old boys in mind. Reading them now you should not be looking for great literature, all the Drizzt novels are just a damn good read and great fun but they are not deep, meaningful or challenging. If you have read the novels in order then the fact that this was written first is really quite amazing, It really does feel like part of a continuum from the end of Sojourn rather than the first three books being an extended bolt on prequel.

If you are a roleplayer then the thing about these books is the combat, we all like killing things, wading through orcs, goblins, ogres and all the rest of the goblinkind. The combat portrayed in these books is not DnD combat where you are grinding down the hitpoints and D8 of damage at a time. These books are Rolemaster combats where your strike to the back of the knee slashes tendons and muscle and drops your opponent or you slash severs the trolls arm.

Back to the book though, it is a good read, on Amazon amazon there are second hand copies sellig for 70p and it makes you feel like a 14yr old again. It is almost a guilty pleasure. What more reason do you need to give it a go?

RMU Creature Law First Impressions

RMU-Creature-Law
The new public playtest editions of RMU are monsters. Creature Law weighs in at 898 pages (Spell Law is now 475 pages) and to do them any justice is going to require time to really read them. That said I thought I would share some first impressions and first up is Creature Law.

I am really pleased to see the inclusion of the genric NPC tables. In old versions of Character Law there was always a table that gave you each profession and typical stats and skills at 1st, 3rd, 5th level and so on so if you needed a quick NPC you could just lift one off the page. Well this is now back and it is better than ever before. They are now called Archetypes and they have been developed for every level from 1st to 50th. Rather than having a list of Magicians from 1st to 50th and then Thieves 1st to 50th now you have generic descriptions such as Offensive, Defensive, Skilled, Semi Spell User and so on. The advantage to this method seems to be that however many new professions* the powers that be decide to add to the game these tables should continue to hold true.

Staying with the Archetype tables this gives me something else that is valuable. When you are creating new PCs for the first time with a new ruleset, having a benchmark you can measure your creation against is a useful tool.

You are not going to buy Creature Law just for a list of generic NPCs. You want monsters and lots of them. This leads me on to a negative point. Creature Law does not look or feel like a second beta version. What if feel like is something any one of us would cobble together in word if you were making a load of new monsters for a particular game. The tables of stats are all over the place. It just feels like a mess. Worst of all the terrible terse enviornmental codes still exist. I do not know anyone who likes these and these days they serve no purpose except to make the book hard to read, understand and use.

All in all I would say I am disappointed at first glance. This book simply is not of the same quality as the other RMU works to date and feels like someone was ruhing to get their homework in on time.

To sum up, great ideas but terrible execution.

* I get the impression that the intention is after the initial release of RMU core rules is to release companion after companion. I understand that the percieved wisdom is that every company has a need to continue to generate new sales but the main criticisms of Rolemaster has been that it is too complicated, has too many optional rules and too many charts and tables. Following the same route again that taking a new set of rules and then adding in more and more options, complications and charts just seems to be repeating the mistakes of the past.

Book Review The Loremaster Legacy

It seems like a lot of the fantasy fiction I have been reading lately has been more about relationships against a fantasy background that the hack and slash of yesteryear. In the same way that Trudi Canavan explores relationships against the backdrop of the magicians guild in The Black Magician Trilogy and other works so it is with Terry K Amthor’s Shadowstone Chronicles Book One The Loremaster Legacy.

The work itself is a coming of age story of two young nobles who get caught up in events beyond anything they had imagined. As the first book, in an ongoing chronicle, this book is very much about their beginnings, finding their feet in the world and discovering their talents all while events threaten to over take them.

The fantasy world setting for the novel is of course Shadow World and as readers of this blog many of you will be somewhat familiar with the setting. From that point of view I think the Loremaster Legacy brings that world to life wonderfully. You get to meet or at least see at work many of the great figures of Shadow World as well as glimpses of the technology that lurks constantly in the background. In many ways this book is as much science fiction as it is epic fantasy.

As a novel it is easy to read and is engaging and as the first instalment of a series it leaves a great many hanging threads and unanswered questions. You do get to meet the Loremasters, Priest of Arnak, Dragon Lords as well as characters from off world which goes to demonstrate both how rich a world setting Shadow World is and the scope of the chronicles to come.

I have read the book twice now and I am impatient for the second part. My only criticism is that the book introduces a substantial cast of characters and at times it can be confusing as to who is who, Jad and Tad were the two that had me confused for a page or two) and a few of those characters leave little lasting impression. That aside this is a damn fine book.

If you are a gamer in Shadow World then I would say this is a must read book.

If you are a roleplayer of any genre then you will certainly identify with the central characters as they start their careers.

If you are neither then why are you reading this blog, although you are welcome of course.

Terry K Amthor’s The Loremaster Legacy is available on Amazon here as well other online sites.

The Ghost of Christmas to Come

Right now I am holding on to a handful of monsters statistics I have converted over from D&D to Rolemaster. The reason being that I am converting them as needed for my game but my players have not encountered them yet. Some of these will be a real spoiler if the players knew they were around the next corner. It is a little frustrating as I really want to share them but cannot yet.

I was thinking about these creatures the other day and I had a cool idea. What I am going to build is a sort of (depending on which side of the fence you are looking in from) Monster Manual or Creatures and Treasures addendum. D&D monsters but Rolemaster stats but just for the creatures found in the Forgotten Realms and missing from the existing Creatures and Treasures.

I looked into this and as long as I do not intend to sell it then as I am promoting the Forgotten Realms then I would be covered by the Wizards of the Coast Fan Site license to use their intelectual property.

The descriptions I could take from the Forgotten Realms Wiki. I am more than happy to give attribution to that site. I think that site needs as much support as I can give it.

The rules for moster conversions are available on page 92 of the the RM2 Creatures and Treasures or as a seperate download from the Iron Crown website ‘vault’

My only contribution will be the time and effort to actually do the conversions plus the page layout and hosting. I will give the document away for free. I am not in this to make money off of other peoples ideas.

I am going to play around with some page layouts this weekend and share them on Monday. I will welcome any constructive feedback.

 

It is now officially unofficial!

I made a few changes to the blog today and here is the story why.

I woke up this morning to an email from Colin @ ICE which was a pleasant surprise.  He asked for a few things, They wanted a link to the rpgnow site on the blog (you can see it to the left now) but more interestingly they asked if I would make it clear that this was an unofficial blog and put a link to the official blog (also on the left now).

As Colin put it “They thought this was the official ICE blog”. I am not out to masquerade as anything I am not so obviously I was more than happy to make the changes. What is interesting is who ‘they’ are? I kind of hope it was some completely new people first discovering Rolemaster for the first time. That was sort of the reason for starting this blog, to spread the word about Rolemaster.

The really cool thing is that Colin has offered to share pre-release copies of products for review. I really hope this turns out to be possible as I could then give you all my personal take on the new products.

Watch this space!

Roleplaying software review Rolemaster Character Utility

One of my favourite pieces of software as a GM is the Rolemaster Character Utility or RCU. This is a piece of freeware (you can download it from here Rolemaster Character Utility full) that you can share and anyone can use. This is the windows version but I have run it under WINE on linux boxes without a problem.

What the programme does is allow you to step through the character creation process from name and profession, race, stats and skills in a wizard style interface. Every time you make a choice it eleminates things that no longer apply, so chose a mentalist and all the channeling and essence spell lists drop off the lists. Chose a halfling and all the height and weight charts adapt to give sensible results for halflings.

Once a character has been created it can be saved and recalled to do the leveling up including stat gain rolls, spell aquisitions and hits and skill. It automatically calculates level bonuses, stat bonuses and updates the spells available.

You can when developing a character go back and keep the same basic character but change their profession or race to see if they would be better as a different realm, profession, race etc.

It is easy enough to set the GM specific optional rules such as if you allow characters to reroll paticularly low stats, whether to add stat bonus on to spell aquisition rolls and such. Everything is optional and you can just skip things that do not apply to your game. When you are buying skills it shows you just about every possible skill with the correct costs for that class. The programme was written back in 1999 and seems to include every profession, skill, spell list and background option from every book published up until that point. In my case this inlcudes many skills and spells that I do not have in my game but that is not an issue.

Creating a 1st level character takes about 15 minutes for a spell user, slightly less for a realm of arms character and then leveling up takes about 5minutes to 10 minutes depending on the level as I find some are more significant than others especially 4th level and 9th.

The only thing this doesn’t do is spend the points for the coming level, the ‘learning’ development points.

The output is clear and simple to understand and all the ‘DruTam’ character sheets in this post were created using this programme. If you are playing RM2/RMC and you have not used this before then I would seriously consider giving it a whorl. It looks dated because it is but it will save you hours upon hours in creating interesting and fully developed NPCs in any ongoing game.

 

Rolemaster blog gets it social media accounts

I have just created the Facebook and Twitter accounts to compliment the blog. If you like or follow these then you should get the automatic notifications on your phone or whatever when I post something new.

The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/rolemasterblog

The twitter feed is https://twitter.com/RolemasterBlog

Of course you can use either of those to contact me directly and I promise to reply as soon as possible.

Getting PBP notifications

As I wrote earlier, this is my first full weekend of PBP (Play by Post) and Spacemaster. The game I am playing is being played out via the rpol.net. One of the weaknesses of the system or so it seems so far is the lack of notifications. You can enable email alerts up to every 15 minutes, but that took a couple of false starts to get going, the conf email went straight to junk and then it insisted on sending alerts for every single forum on the site and then I eventually tamed to to only show alerts from the game I am in. It is not the most intuitive interface I have ever come across.

Since setting up the alerts I have had one email about two hours ago and then nothing so that doesn’t seem that promising.

Rpol does offer RDF, RSS and atom feeds. I thought maybe I could add the feed to feedly and then have that notify me whenever there was an update but yes technically that works but you have to manually make it go and refresh the feed. I am after something to tell me as soon as GM Joe updates my game thread. Every 15 minutes doesn’t sound very long but there is only a limited window when we are both awake at the same time. I would kind of like to make the most of that time but also not be having to hit F5 refresh every two minutes to see if the game has moved on.

If I find a solution to this then I post an update.