Armsmaster for RMU Preview: Two Spell Lists

As part of my project to revise the Armsmaster class and adapt it to RMU, here is a preview of the first two Armsmaster spell lists. You can find them in the Downloads>RMU dropdown menu above. Note these are purely homebrew at this point – they have no official sanction from ICE. I would love to have any and all feedback you can provide.

But first let me give a little explanation of these lists. I noted earlier (in this article on the RMBlog: ) that I always liked the idea of a heavy-armor wearing Mentalism semi-spell user, and that previous editions of Rolemaster gave us the Noble Warrior/Armsmaster. I did have some problems with the class in those incarnations, however, and more recently Jeff Robertson on these boards expressed his frustrations too (many of which I share) in commenting on my posts. The Armsmaster also needs updating to the RMU ruleset and action economy. So this is what I’ve come up with.

One thing to note is that RMU natively solves one of the problems Jeff recently pointed out with the class in previous editions, namely, the problem that so many Armsmaster spells were ‘next round’ buffs. This is a problem because the last thing a semi-spell user wants to be doing in combat is spending lots of turns prepping spells or casting spells that inhibit his combat abilities. Thankfully, in RMU, instant spells (those marked with an asterisk * in the spell list) can now be cast for 0 activity — much like a spell that costs a ‘bonus action’ in D&D — so the RMU Armsmaster can cast a buff spell and still attack at full OB in the same round. I think this makes the Armsmaster spell suite much more useful in RMU (the same goes for the Paladin spells in RMU too, by the way).

I have tried to make all of these Armsmaster spells useful to a heavily armored Kensai/Samurai or Knight type class. I have made his spells focus on his own abilities in combat, rather than group buffs or heals, because I want to leave space for my own Warlord class (who will have a focus on group buffing/enabling). But theoretically you could combine them if you wanted (both are Mentalism users). I am currently working on finishing the Armsmaster’s six spell lists (and the Warlord is just in the planning stages), but I offer you here two preview lists for the Armsmaster:

–Armor Mastery: This focuses on enhancing the Armsmaster’s armor and shield, and on enabling his/her movement in and maintenance of his/her armor.

–Weapon Mastery: This focuses on enhancing the Armsmaster’s weapon, and on his/her ability to wield and maintain his/her weapon, especially his/her ‘personal’ weapon, which is the one mystically attuned to the Armsmaster herself.

In case you are wondering, the remaining four lists for my Armsmaster will be:

–Body Mastery: Focused on movement and alertness skills, such as blindfighting, sensing ambushes, awaking easily from sleep, etc.

–Mind-Sense Mastery: Focused on social skills, unnerving/debuffing, distracting, taunting, and interrogating enemies, etc.

–Self Mastery: Focused on endurance, fortitude, and resistance.

–Technique Mastery: Focused on general combat skills such as multiple attacks, disarming and other weapon tricks, riding, etc.

So, let me know what you think. Is this the sort of Kensai/ Samurai/ Knight that you would find fun to play? Are the spells too weak, too strong, or just right? (Note that some of these spell buffs might seem relatively minor at first glance, but remember that instant spells can now be cast in RMU while meleeing at full effectiveness; and so together, the Armsmaster’s spells and arms skills have a lot of synergy.) All feedback and criticism is welcome. And if you ever get to playtesting these lists, please let me know how it goes!

RMU: Pregenerated Characters of (Almost) Every Class

Bored at home? Looking for something to do? Check out these RMU characters I made by hand. You can find them in the Downloads>RMU dropdown menu above. They were done in Excel, on my own homemade character sheet. They include two of almost every class (at level 2 and at level 5).

I built these characters for several reasons. First, I wanted to have a stable of pregens for any playtestests I run, like the one I did at GenCon last year. I also wanted to include them in the introductory adventures I am writing. I find that one of the barriers to playing Rolemaster for new groups especially is the complexities of the character creation process, so having characters ready to go I think might entice more people to give the system a try. Another thing I wanted to do was to see which classes are viable in combat, and which might need help — and indeed this process was quite enlightening. Finally, I wanted to have a list of ‘Templates’, or a set of skills to buy for 60 DP (the allotment each character gets each level), as a guide to players for how to make a viable build. That too can be overwhelming for new players: not just making a character, but levelling her up.

I built characters of almost every class. I didn’t include the non-PC classes Laborer or Scholar, nor did I try my hand at a No Profession (though a heavy armor Mentalist semi would be a very good class indeed in RMU!). I also didn’t build a Dabbler, because I simply could not make a combat-viable one; I preferred instead to make my own (homebrewed) Warrior Mage, which is much more capable. I also didn’t make a Healer, since I think players already have lots of Healing options, most notably Cleric and Lay Healer.

A few things to note about my characters:

–‘RAW’ or ‘Kosher’ means characters built according to the RMU beta2 Rules As Written. Homebrew means I have included either my own new spell lists (for the Bard, Druid, and Ranger) or both my own new spell lists as well as my own new class (the Warrior Mage is one I made from scratch).

–I built these characters without using the Footwork skill or Knacks, since I don’t need or use either of those. I also didn’t much use the Grace skill, since the mechanics of it are still in flux, and I worry it is a bit overpowered. But I did use it for a few classes that I thought could make the most use of it.

–Some of the later costs for Combat Training skills are a bit of an estimate, since the released beta2 rules only include costs for the first four Combat Training skills.

–The full list of talents for each race involved a bit of guesswork, since the talents are changing as we speak (as Creature Law reduces the number of them). JDale was very helpful however in giving guidance on the talents for the new races I used (High Men, Hvasstonn, Idiyva, Nycamerith, and Sstoi), though, so those should be accurate,. Thanks very much to the always helpful JDale!

–These characters are built for combat. My players are classic Hack and Slashers, which means that in my group, any classes that can’t contribute in combat simply don’t get played. That’s why I needed to add new spells lists (many of which were reworked versions of old RM2 spell lists) for the Bard, Ranger, and Druid. Otherwise, these classes really did not offer much in terms of combat ability. If you play a more combat-light style, you would probably want to exchange some of the combat skills for more spells, and Lore, Crafting, and Social skills.

–I have built Clerics and Druids as both healers and as more battle-versions, so that’s why you’ll see multiple Clerics and Druids, with some focused more on healing and others fighting. I found that even the battle Cleric could still heal quite well though (the Druid wasn’t as effective at that, since he doesn’t get Lifekeeping/-Giving spells like the Cleric does).

–The characters are all Shadow World characters insofar as their languages and lore go, so as long as you are ok with some of the new RMU races being in Shadow World, these should be ready for Kulthea.

I have also added my templates for each class. You will find them in the Downloads>RMU>Templates for RMU Classes file. I also plan to blog soon on what I’ve learned about which classes in particular need help. But for now, enjoy!

The Warrior Mage for RMU (Homebrew): Spell Lists; Skill Costs; Sample Character; and Discussion


As Brian already noted, this is Warrior Mage week here on the Blog, so here is my version of the Warrior Mage for RMU. You will find the skill costs in Downloads>RMU>Profession: Warrior Mage, and the Spells in Downloads>RMU>Spell List: Warrior Mage Base. I have also rolled up a sample Warrior Mage character (High Elf) that you can use in the same section.

The Argument for the Class: To me, the Warrior Mage archetype is more recognizable than many classes already in Rolemaster – yes, Dabbler and Magent, I am looking in your direction! If you ask someone to tell you what a Warrior Mage, Dabbler, and Magent are, I am quite certain the vast majority will be able to give you a better description of the first profession than either of the two others.

     The Warrior Mage archetype also has a longer history. D&D players call the archetype ‘Gish’. As Mark noted, the Gish has been around arguably since ‘Elf’ was a class in original D&D, when Elves could multiclass between Fighting Man and Magic User. It later took its unofficial name from the iconic Githyanki Fighter/Mages in Fiend Folio (one is on the cover, actually, as you can see below), though they were not yet a distinct class. The Gish was formalized in 4e DnD as the Swordmage class, which had many of the spells/feats the RM Warrior Mage exhibited (things like shield, teleportation, elemental attacks, etc.). 5e cut down on the number of classes overall, but has presented several Gish-type options in subclasses such as the Bladesinger. The archetype then is well established, as attested to by the many names it goes by, whether Gish, Swordmage, Spellsword, Warrior Mage, or several others.

A Chronological History of the Warrior Mage in Rolemaster: But let’s focus on the Warrior Mage in Rolemaster, because it has undergone a lot of changes over the years. Here are the main ones:

     –The Warrior Mage class first appeared in 1987’s Rolemaster Companion II. The original lists included the most problematic of all the Warrior Mage lists, Elemental Ways, which gave the WM all the best Magician spells in a single list.

     I would like to make one important point on this original version of the WM, though: The class sure looked overpowered, but in practice he wasn’t quite as powerful as he seemed. He paid high costs for skills and spells, and on top of that needed to develop an additional skill (Transcend Armor) just to function in armor. His best mundane weapon cost was 2/7, Directed Spells came at 3/6, and Transcend Armor was 2/5, meaning an average character would be spending more than 50% of his entire DP allotment on those three skills alone (and that is with just 1 rank in Transcend). This doesn’t include buying the actual spells themselves (at a cost of 4/*), to say nothing of Body Development, Perception, or even Maneuvering in Armor itself. So I think part of the sharp difference of opinion people have on the Warrior Mage is a reflection of the difference between the people who merely read the Warrior Mage’s spells and those who actually tried to buy them. That said, I freely admit that Elemental Ways was overpowered.

     –In 1989 came what was specifically described as ‘a variant of the Warrior Mage’ called the ‘Elemental Champion’ in the RM2 Elemental Companion. This toned down the WM by restricting him to a single element.

     –Next, in 1990, was the RM2 Companion IV which offered a few more base lists to the WM (the Monk base Evasions and the Open Mentalism Illusions).

     –In 1997, perhaps the biggest change happened in the Essence Companion, which attempted to rebalance the Warrior Mage/Elemental Champion as a way of converting him to the new edition of Rolemaster, RMSS. Here an attempt was made to address the elemental attacks issue by removing the ability to cast elemental balls altogether, and limiting the range of the Warrior Mage’s Shock Bolt to 50’. However, the RMSS Warrior Mage also got to use the same spell (not list, but actual spell: Jolting Blade/Flame Blade, etc.) to give her weapon an extra elemental critical until she ‘threw’ the bolt from it. That was arguably more powerful than an elemental bolt alone! And the RMSS version also allowed the Warrior Mage to use multiple different elements too (she essentially got Shock Bolt at level 3, Fire Bolt at level 8, and Lightning Bolt at level 18), with the higher level spells having greater range.

     –Then in 2002, Fire and Ice: The Elemental Companion gave an RMFRP version of the Elemental Champion. This provided more elemental abilities (including immolation-type effects and the ability to summon and control elementals), but removed altogether the class’s ability to cast bolts and balls; the addendum, however, added the ability to cast bolts and balls (limited to one specific element) to the Closed Elemental lists.

     –Finally Rolemaster Classic gave the Elemental Champion another go, adopting the solution of having the class choose only one element, but retaining the ability to cast bolts (and at level 16, a ball too). This version also gave the class buffs/abilities based on its element (e.g. if you specialized in light you could cast Light).

Overall, then, I think it is fair to say that the biggest problem people have had with the Warrior Mage is balancing their elemental attacks. Each new version of the class has tried to get that balance right. I think we can all agree that the concept of a Semi-Spell User has always been at the very core of Rolemaster, but if the Semi’s spells are as powerful as the pure caster’s, then that isn’t very balanced. That, together with balancing skill costs, is the ultimate challenge of the Warrior Mage.

Ways to Balance the Warrior Mage: After appreciating this history and the challenges inherent in the class, I adopted these first principles/solutions to guide me as I created my own version of the Warrior Mage for RMU. These principles are:

     –We can help balance the class’s Elemental Attacks by restricting each individual Warrior Mage to one chosen element. This solution also has pedigree, as it is almost as old as the class itself, and spans both RM2/Classic and RMSS/FRP. The class should not have access to Shock Bolt, Fire Bolt, Ice Bolt, and Lightning Bolt simultaneously!

     –We can also promote balance by making some of the Warrior Mage’s spells self-only. Spells such as fly, shield, invisibility become less game-breaking when the WM can’t cast them on the entire party.

–One of the reasons the WM was unbalanced in earlier editions was that it got an optional self-healing list (the Monk’s Body Renewal). I don’t think this sort of healing fits in the repertoire of a semi-spellcaster of Essence, especially now that the Monk has been moved to Mentalism. So my WM has no more clotting spells, wound-repair spells, etc. That’s just not his jam. Every class needs an Achilles heal 🙂

     –Finally, we can also use the new tools provided by the new edition of Rolemaster (RMU) to help balance the class. The new tools include new size rules (which can be used to ensure the WM’s Elemental Attacks are a step below those of the Magician), as well as clear rules for creating professions (which help ensure the Warrior Mage’s skill costs aren’t just the best costs for all the useful skills).

Skill Costs: You can hopefully now navigate to the RMBlog’s section Downloads>RMU and find my skill costs for the Warrior Mage there. I have used the RMU rules as written for this, because RMU provides an actual formula for assigning skill costs, and all classes in RMU follow this formula.

In the end, the RMU Warrior Mage’s costs are not that different from those of a Paladin (though the two professions have different spellcasting Realms of course). This cost similarity makes sense to me, since both are martially-oriented semi-spell using classes. Thus, if the Paladin’s spell costs are balanced in RMU (and I think they are more balanced than in any previous edition, because  RMU finally has a system for balancing them), then I think it is fair to say that the Warrior Mage’s costs are finally balanced now too.

Spell Lists: I looked through all the old spell lists for the various versions of the Warrior Mage/Elemental Champion in all previous editions and came up with the following six base lists. They represent a distillation and rebalancing of the old spells:

–Warrior’s Bridge is similar to earlier WM movement lists as well as the Closed Essence: Lofty Bridges. Note that the WM can still take Lofty Bridges as a closed list, at a relatively high cost, but the WM-specific version is cheaper, with the downside that it tones down some of the spells by making them caster only. So if you want to be able to fly, you can make a Warrior Mage. But if you want to be able to make your entire party fly, you’re much better off choosing to be a Magician.

–Warrior’s Element tries to balance the WM’s elemental attacks. It gives the WM the ability to make a bolt, ball, and wall, but only of one element: like the old Elemental Champion, my WM has to decide which is his ‘chosen element’, and can only cast elemental attacks of that chosen element. Furthermore, this list also uses the RMU size rules to ensure that a Warrior Mage’s elemental spells are a step behind the Magician’s in power level. Thus for example, the Magician gets a normal-sized Shock Bolt at level 2, but the Warrior Mage’s version of the spell would be size ‘small’, meaning it does only 75% concussion hit damage, and gets a 1 critical severity reduction. So when the Magician’s Shock Bolt does 24C, the Warrior Mage’s would only do 18B. The Magician still reigns supreme for pure elemental power.

–Warrior’s Shield is based on previous WM shield spells, and provides the basics such as Shield, Blur, Deflections (available to most other classes on other open/closed lists), and some elemental defences. The WM could already access many of these on Closed Essence lists, but these ones on his base list are tailored a bit more to the WM’s elemental focus. They are balanced primarily by only affecting the caster.

–Warrior’s Weapon is based on some previous WM/Elemental Champion lists, especially ones that buffed her weapon with elemental damage. I’ve tried to balance these by comparing them to similar spells at the same spell level on other lists in RMU Spell Law; I tried to keep the levels as close as possible.

–Warrior’s Will is loosely based on some of the WM/EC buff lists, but I’ve added some more utility in terms of buffs to skills such as Attunement (which I think a class like Warrior Mage is especially well suited to, given their combination of arms and spellcasting). And as per my basic balancing principles outlined above, I have removed the self-healing spells.

–An Elemental List: For the final list, I recommend that each WM take ONE list corresponding to his element (the same element that he chooses for Warrior’s Element) from the Elemental Specialist lists in Fire and Ice: The Elemental Companion (RMSS). These give really great flavor to the elemental utility lists because they are focused on a specific element. The Earth list Earth Mastery for example includes the ability to oxidize or sharpen a metal weapon, create a corridor through stone, etc. I am currently working on updating these lists for RMU, but they are mostly usable already, and help to distinguish different builds/varieties of Warrior Mages.

So, if you have some time, definitely take a look at these lists and let me know what you think!

New Druid Spell Lists (RMU, Houserules): Druidstaff; Insect Mastery; Stone Mastery

Catharsis, by Kevin Moran:

I’ve just adapted and reworked three of my favorite old RM2 Druid lists for RMU. You can download them in the Downloads>RMU section at the top of this website (just click on ‘downloads>RMU if you don’t get a dropdown menu). Let me know what you think!

This is of course part of our ‘Druid Week’. Peter and Brian and Mark have already weighed in on the Druid in their own blogs, so here is my take. I think we do have a split here between on the one hand Mark and Peter, who tend to prefer the RM2 Animist, and on the other hand myself and Brian, who generally feel that the Animist’s spells sucked. I personally play a combat-heavy game, which I imagine deeply affects my expectations, so keep that in mind: these lists are made to give the Druid some mojo.

Despite our different perspectives, I think we can all agree that the RM2 Druid’s spells had balance issues. I agree with Peter’s critique of the power level of several of the RM2 Druid’s spells and lists. However, I would also note that RMU has corrected most if not all of the general Druid issues (apart from the three specific lists I redid) of yesteryear:

–The Druid’s Peace list is unnecessary (and absent) now in RMU, since the Druid already can take spells to put animals to sleep (Druid Base: Animal Mastery) or calm other living targets (Closed Channeling: Calm Spirits).

–There is also no longer any Plantskin spell in RMU, and indeed the wider issue that made Plantskin so great in RM2 (namely, the wonky attack charts and the fact that armor types such as 1, 4 and 12 were ridiculously good) has been corrected across the board in RMU. RMU has also more appropriately balanced armor-granting spells.

–RMU has also tempered the effects of spells such as Spike Growth and Animate Stone, to make them more balanced. For example, instead of the Spike Stones giving 1d4 +100 dagger attacks, we now have Earthen Spikes which just gives a single A puncture critical.

So, RMU has pretty much fixed the general balance issues with the Druid. They have added one combat-oriented list, Nature’s Ire, true, but it is much more balanced than the old RM2 Druid lists. I think this will allow more people to accept a more combat-oriented Druid into your RMU game if you wish. And if you don’t wish, and instead prefer the original RM2 Animist to Druid, then you can just cut out the RMU Druid’s Nature’s Ire list, and you’ll have your Animist virtually intact from what he was in RM2. The spells will be almost exactly the same.  

But the old RM2 Druid spells were really great, and they have not survived into RMU. I still love the flavor and the feel of the old RM2 badass Druid, so I’ve tried to resolve the balance issues by reworking these three lists, to give the Druid more combat options while keeping the balance in-line with other casters.

–Druidstaff brings back the beloved (or behated!) list from the original RM2 Companion I. I’ve tried to solve the issues here by toning down bonuses across the board. I’ve also made the ability to throw the Druidstaff a separate spell that costs Powerpoints (rather than being an inherent quality of the staff). This list is especially good for a Druid who wants to use spells at a long distance and a staff up close/medium distance.

–Insect Mastery brings back a list that was first introduced as an extra Druid list in RM Companion V, and later copied in slightly modified form into the RMFRP Channeling Companion. I have modified it to fit the new RMU action economy. Since the original list often did not give very good guidance on specific spell effects (esp. attacks), I have also given specific statistics for the insects themselves in the notes at the end (basing them on the templates one finds in RMU Creature Law, which gives stats for Bee/Wasp, Giant Wasp, and Ant Colony). I’ve also given stats for the insects’ enlarged versions. I’ve also added a few new spells (Detect Insects and Speak With Insects) to fill a few gaps (thanks to JDale for some suggestions there!). This list is especially good for a Druid who wants to be more of a controller, harassing and poisoning enemies with swarms of insects.

–Stone Mastery rebalances one of the original RM2 Druid lists that was overpowered. I have tried to maintain the flavor and distinctiveness of this list, though, because it was one of the unique things about playing a Druid. I have toned down the most problematic spells in various ways: Magic Stone is now Bursting Stone, which is more in line with the general power level of other casters’ spells of that level (it just gives an A Krush critical). The list also provides variety insofar asa its attacks are not bolts or balls, but real physical items: Hurl Stones uses RMU’s Rock attack table, for example. Druids have been literally brought down to earth. This list is especially good for the Druid who wants to focus on medium- to long-range combat.

As with my other spell lists, these are drafts, and my main concern is balance. So do enjoy, but if you see something that you think is still to powerful, let me know!

Wyrd Bow and Wyrd Blade: New Ranger Base Lists (RMU, Houserules)

Art by Conor Burke:

The following lists are my solution to what I feel is one of the weaknesses of the Ranger class in Rolemaster: a lack of combat spells. You can access them in our Downloads: RMU section, above.

The Ranger has some good utility spells, but imho it has always lacked some combat oomph. These two lists give a lot of oomph. Too much? let me know what you think.

Each of these two lists allows the Ranger to create a personal ‘Wyrd weapon’ (ranged or melee), a magical bow, blade, or other weapon attuned specifically to him or her (or it). They then use that bow or blade to buff their own attacks, striking more intuitively with it (Intuitive Strike), using special arrows with it (Elemental Arrow), having it change shape to grow spikes, etc.

The concept of a ‘Wyrd Bow’ originated I believe with James W. Canavan Jr., who published the list of that name in the Guild Companion in 2000 ( ). I have adapted that list to RMU, and also used it as the basis of my ‘Wyrd Blade’ list that extends the favor to the melee Ranger.

Note that the intent is that a Ranger character will only take one of these two lists, picking between being primarily a ranged or primarily a melee character (yes, the shadow of Drizzt is long!). A character can only have one Wyrd blade at any given time, so developing both lists would not be very practical or effective.

These are rough drafts, so please let me know what you think.

Mockery: A New Bard Base List (RMU Houserules)

Art by inXile, Concept 4:

In response to Peter’s most recent discussion of the Bard, I offer this new Bard base spell list, Mockery. Although I designed Mockery for RMU, I believe you could use it for earlier editions. If you try to do that, I recommend changing any instances of the words ‘action point’ to a -25 modifier per point.

You should be able to find a Word file of the list in the Downloads>RMu section in the banner above. I have included both the original version and a new, less silly version for those of you who have no sense of humor 🙂 .

Why this new list? As I’ve noted recently on the ICE forums, I feel that some of the RMU semis (Bard, Dabbler, and Ranger especially) lack effective combat spells. This isn’t a problem unique to RMU: this is a problem RMU has inherited from previous editions. These classes have always had lots of utility spells, many of which are great; but my group is quite combat oriented, and in this department, these classes have few options, despite the fact that semis pay a lot of development points for their spells. I hope then to address the paucity of combat options by creating my own lists.

So what does the RMU Bard, specifically, need? Having just pregenerated a Bard character for my upcoming Gen Con sessions, I feel I now have a bit better handle on the class, both its strengths and its weaknesses. One weakness is that it isn’t very easy to make a combat Bard. In my opinion, a combat Bard needs more quick, low-level combat spells: some instantaneous ones that are minor debuffs (similar to the useful, instant-speed buffs other semis like the Paladin get); and some non-instantaneous spells that impose major debuffs or exercise battlefield control.

Being an Essence semi-spellcaster, the Bard needs these sorts of spells even more than Channeling or Mentalism semis in my estimation because the Bard has to develop Transcendence, at a cost of 4/6, in order to wear any armor at all (Channeling casters can wear up to heavy leather without Transcendence, and Mentalists can wear any armor except helmets). My level 2 Bard couldn’t even put on soft leather without it interfering with his spells. This makes for a very squishy caster, especially at low levels. Thus, the Bard needs some good, low-level combat spells – ideally debuff and control-oriented to fit with the class concept – in order to protect himself and make himself less of a liability in combat.

Please note that the spells on this new ‘Mockery’ list are not ‘songs’ that follow the rules for Bardic Songs in Spell Law 10.1. The Bard has two lists (Controlling Songs and Inspiring Songs) that follow these rules for songs, but that means they can be slow and clunky to set up. The spells on the Mockery list, on the other hand, just follow the normal spellcasting rules. I see the Mockery list in particular as the Bard’s backup plan, allowing her more combat utility, especially in cases when the party is surprised by hostile creatures.

Another thing to note is that some spells on the Mockery list have what I believe is my own new mechanic: they allow modifications to their RR based on the ranks the Bard has in a particular skill.  These modifications allow the Bard to use the ability she has developed in otherwise non-combat skills, such as Composition and Social Awareness, to enhance her spells, thus making these skills more useful in combat. This also makes for some interesting tactical choices. The Bard can for example choose between casting more powerful spells that are easier to resist (i.e. have no RR mod.), or less powerful spells that are harder to resist (i.e. have an RR mod.). The Bard can also choose between casting lower level spells with no RR mod., or higher level spells with a mod.

One last thing to consider as you read the spells on this list is that, while many of them are quite powerful control spells, they have one big downside: they are only effective on targets that have a language the Bard knows. Thus the Bard is especially good at controlling foes she can speak to, but much less effective against mindless undead, giant amoeba, etc. The Bard is also better at facing foes if she can spend some time researching who they are, and learning their language (which most Bards consider a very Bardic thing to do), or if she knows/learns spells on other lists that allow her to speak her target’s language. That is one important balancing factor for the list.

This is a rough draft, and I welcome all comments and criticism. I am especially interested in any comments relating to the power/balance of the different spells. I sometimes found it hard to judge what level a spell should be, given that I introduced another variable (RR mods for skill ranks) to the power equation.

I’d also like to give a shout out to JDale and Technobabble66, one of the developers of RMU and a poster on the ICE forums respectively, since they gave me some good ideas that I have incorporated into this list.

So, what do you think? Is this the Bard you’re looking for?

A Note on Hurin’s RMU Houserules: Thanks to Peter’s kindness, I now have a section of the blog devoted to my RMU houserules. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few requests from posters on the ICE boards to formalize my houserules so that they can use them. Over the coming months, I plan to use this section of the blog to do just that: to post for everyone’s use all of the rules I currently use, as well as all the ones I will make in the future.

Since this is my first time posting my houserules, and I’m still figuring out how to post documents and make them downloadable, I am also posting the spell list here. I don’t want to post all about the list and then not have you able to access it! So enjoy.

Bard Base


Level) Spell                                   Area of Effect     Duration              Range    Type

1) Minor Mockery *                        1 target                2 rounds              100’       F

2) Clumsify                                          1 target                1 round                100’        F

3) Annoy *                                          1 target                1 round                50’          F

4) I Wouldn’t Do That                     1 target                1 rnd/5 fail          100’       F

5) Fyre of the Fae                             10’ radius            3 rounds              100’       F

6) Trip                                                   1 target                2 rounds              100’       F

7) Confusify                                        1 target                1 round                50’          F

8) Stinkify                                            15’ radius            2 rounds              50’          F                                             

9) Major Mockery *                        1 target                3 rounds              100’       F

10) Sartorial Savagery                    25’ radius            2 rounds              50’          F

11) Taunt                                             1 target                2 rounds              100’       F

12) Boogeyman                                10’ radius            2 rounds              100’       F

13) You Mock Me                             1 target                1 round                20’          F

14) Pyre of the Fae                          30’ radius            3 rounds              100’       F

15) You’ve Been Served                1 target                5 rounds              50’          F

16) I Really Wouldn’t Do That      1 target                1 rnd/5 fail          100’       F

17) So Tiny *                                      50’ radius            3 rounds              Caster   F

18) Mass Taunt                                 10’ radius            2 rounds              100′       F

19) He’s Copying Me                       1 target                1 rnd/10 failure                 50’          F

20) Mass Stinkify                              30’ radius            2 rounds              100’       F

25) Mass Confusify                          20’ radius            1 round                Caster   F

30) You’ve All Been Served          25’ radius            5 rounds              50’          F

35) Ultimate Boogeyman              50’ radius            4 rounds              100’        F

40) Seriously, Don’t Do That        50’ radius            1 rnd/5 fail          200’        F

50) Lordly Mockery                         50’ radius            3 rounds              300’        F

1. Minor Mockery * – [RR Mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Composition: Writing)] Caster’s mocking limerick unnerves the target. Target is at -10 to all actions.

2. Clumsify – Caster’s cautionary sonnet informs the target of the immense gravity of the current situation, how terrible it would be to screw up, and the inescapable difficulty of life in general. If the target attempts a melee attack, missile attack, or spell, the target must first roll a fumble on the appropriate table and apply all results. If the target attempts a moving maneuver, that maneuver is performed at -75. If the target makes no melee or missile attack and casts no spell, Clumsify has no effect.

3. Annoy * – Caster’s biting stream of insults prevents target from concentrating and breaks any current concentration (see rules for ‘concentration’ in Arms and Character Law, 7.1).

4. I Wouldn’t Do That – [RR mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Social: Influence: Duping)] Caster sings a cautionary little ditty, explaining the finer points of why trying that sounds like a very, very bad idea. Target suffers -50 to one skill of the caster’s choice.

5. Fyre of the Fae – Caster’s passionate scorn causes enemies in radius at the time of casting to glow bright red in embarassment, making them easier to see. The glow adds 10 OB to all attacks against them, and prevents the targets from benefitting from any concealment-type spells (e.g. invisibility, unseen, cloaking, shadow, blur, etc.).

6. Trip  –  [RR Mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Performance: Acting)] Caster warns target not to trip over an unseen imaginary deceased turtle. If the target moves more than 1’, it must roll an RR; failure means it falls prone and is stunned for two rounds. (Note the target only makes the RR if and when it moves).

7. Confusify – Caster’s willfully incoherent poem compells target to pause and ponder the fundamental principles of logic. Target is incapable of making decisions or initiating action; target may continue to fight current foes or in self-defense.

8. Stinkify – Caster calls attention to the unique body odour of one target in the radius. Target’s allies within the spell radius who fail their RR will not willingly move closer to the target, and must move at least their BMR away from target each turn of the spell’s effect, if they have an open path.

9. Major Mockery * – [RR Mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Composition: Writing)] Oh no, did the caster really just say that!?!? Target is red-faced and overcome with existential ennui, at -30 to all actions.

10. Sartorial Savagery – [RR Mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Social: Social Awareness)] Caster’s savage derision calls everyone’s attention to the target’s most questionable fashion choice. The target and all of the target’s allies within the radius who fail their RR suffer -30 Perception due to being unable to stop glancing at target. Affected allies also must spend 1 action point/round laughing uncontrollably at target’s apparel (or lack thereof).

11. Taunt – Caster’s incredibly annoying mime impression enrages target. Target must spend its next two rounds charging towards and attacking caster with full OB. If target’s path is completely blocked, target will attack anything and anyone in its way. Target can make a second RR, using SD stat bonus rather than Essence RR mod, to avoid striking allies; failure means target will use full but non-lethal force (eg: grappling/shoving) to get allies out of the way in order to continue charging.

12. Boogeyman – [RR mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Social: Influence: Intimidation)] Caster’s deep-throated shout of ‘I’m your boogeyman!’ strikes fear into all enemies in a 10’ radius. Targets suffer -15 to all actions and -30 to any fear-based RRs.

13. You Mock Me – Target is convinced that one of its allies (chosen randomly if any real allies are within sight; otherwise, an imaginary ‘friend’) is mocking the target behind its back. Target spends all action points for the turn moving towards and attacking this ally.

14. Pyre of the Fae – As Fyre of the Fae, but with expanded area of effect.

15. You’ve Been Served – [RR mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Performance: Music)] Caster disrespects the target’s dancing skills so harshly that the target feels compelled to show some moves. Target must spend 2 ap/round dancing.

16. I Really Wouldn’t Do That – [RR mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Social: Influence: Duping)] As I Wouldn’t Do That, except the penalty is -100.

17. So Tiny * – Caster’s mocking couplet makes the target seem far less imposing, preventing the target from casting any Fear spell or spell effect, and negating any fear effects the target has already imposed within the area of effect.

18. Mass Taunt – As Taunt, but with expanded area of effect.

19. He’s Copying Me – Caster prevents target from casting any spells by mimicking the target and humming annoyingly when target tries to cast a spell.

20. Mass Stinkify – As Stinkify, but affecting all enemies in radius, who must move 2x BMR away from all other affected targets.

25. Mass Confusify – As confusify, except it affects all enemies within 20’ of caster, and targets may not attack caster for duration (even if they were already fighting caster).

30. You’ve All Been Served – [RR mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Performance: Music)] As You’ve Been Served, but with expanded area of effect, and targets must spend 4 AP/round dancing.

35. Ultimate Boogeyman – As Boogeyman, but with expanded area of effect and penalties: targets now suffer -30 to actions and -60 to fear RRs.

40. Seriously, Don’t Do That – [RR mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Social: Influence: Duping)] As I Really Wouldn’t Do That, except all targets in the radius are incapable of using the chosen skill (caster can only choose one skill total for all targets).

50. Lord Mockery – [RR Mod.: -(caster’s ranks in Composition: Writing)] Future Bards will tell the tale of the unrivalled epicness of this insult. Emotionally shattered, the targets are rendered catatonic in disbelief.

Note: Spell on this list only affect creatures that can understand complex (i.e. non-bestial) languages. The caster must have at least skill rank 2 in one language the target speaks.

Note: This is a silly list. Just go with it.

Rolemaster Deconstruction: Familiars. How should they work?


Familiars are not only a staple of fantasy fiction but a core visual ingredient of Rolemaster book covers–specifically the ongoing series of Angus McBride covers from earlier RM books that featured a cast of PC’s with several small animal Familiars.

Familiars had a more sinister aspect in early fiction; most often a demonic imp, crow or other dark-aspected animal tied to an evil antagonist. Early D&D applied this concept to any M-U, and broadened it to a simple servitor or animalistic henchmen of a spell-caster.

First, let’s differentiate between “animal control” spells and “familiars”. Animal control spells are featured in the Animist, Beast Master, Druid and similar professional lists in Spell Law and Companions. These are spells that summon/call, control/master and sometimes allow the caster to sense through a controlled animal. These are all powerful affects, in in some ways SUPERIOR to the limitations and penalties associated with Familiars. So how does Rolemaster deal with Familiars? Fairly easily, in fact, so easy that it behooves a caster to immediately have one.

So why would a caster have a Familiar?

Familiars have a symbiotic connection to the caster where animal control is just a magical charm or affect on a creature. So what is the symbiotic relationship? What benefit does it provide besides cinematics? How does it work, mechanically via the rules?

The basic premise is that there is a REAL benefit to the caster, but at the cost of INVESTITURE. In other words, if the relationship is severed there is a real, physical or psychosomatic cost to the caster. Otherwise isn’t it just easier and less risk to control creatures when needed?

So what is the benefit, or possible benefits, of a familiar that differentiate it from other animal control spells? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Communication. The Familiar bond should allow for free two way communication between the caster and creature. This may not be actual “language” but at least a strong empathic bond.
  2. Awareness. The caster and familiar should have some base awareness in terms of location/distance of each other at all times.
  3. Shared Awareness. With concentration the caster might be allowed to project sensory ability and awareness through their Familiar.
  4. Control. The caster, with concentration, should be able to have some control over their familiar or, at least, give simple instructions for a Familiar to execute.
  5. Shared abilities. A caster might gain some extra-abilities through the Familiar relationship. Perhaps better vision, languages, strength, sensory etc. On the flip side, a Familiar could gain some intellectual ability bestowed by the Familiar bond.

Most of these benefits mirror other animal control spells. But those are temporary spell effects; a Familiar is permanent.

My belief is that GM’s are reluctant or adverse to Familiars. Why? Familiars are really NPC’s for the benefit of the PC’s. That really complicates the narrative.  GM’s not only have to manage normal NPC’s but a constant stream of Familiars that can upend the storyline unless the GM takes the Familiars into consideration!!! At that point, who is the audience? Additionaly, Familiars can change the challenge/reaction of normal adventures–familiars act as scouts or agents with heightened senses that can off-set the normal challenge-balance. At the least, Familiars can be the “canary in the coal mine” and alert the group of traps or other imminent obstacles.

Some additional thoughts:

  • Familiars are GM agents. You can better control the narrative through them.
  • They should be of animal intelligence. They may act with pro-forma intelligence via their caster, but their base ability should be simple animal intelligence.
  • Size. Should they be of smaller size? Should a caster have a bull as a familiar? Probably not. I would restrain the spell limits using the size rules to Small or less.
  • The penalty for losing a familiar should be EXTREME, or at least cautionary. The tie that binds should snap back accordingly and in proportion. This could be loss of temp CO. or even a permanent CO pt, a general activity penalty and even worse.

Again, this goes back to risk/reward. No GM wants to manage intelligent Familiars that run the unknown gauntlet, trip the traps and distract the monsters. At that point, who is playing? Familiars should be carefully hoarded resources–a cool benefit that needs to be defended! Are familiars a great resource in you game?

Of course, if easy and beneficial, every player will have a Familiar. But if the risks and rewards are balanced, would it be different? Maybe the whole concept should be reduced to a simplified, professional agnostic “Animal Bond” mechanic and spell list. That eliminates the whole D&D Magic-User familiar trope and become a generic but specific rule-set that could be used by a variety of PC’s or classes: Magician, Animist, Druid, Beast Master, Barbarian etc. What are your thoughts?




Tie a yellow ribbon around the Angry Druid!

This post was meant to be published yesterday but I was up before dawn on my way to my first ever elite fencing competition. The difference between sport and combat is that I would have died about 17 seconds in if this was a combat but as it was I vanquished two foes but was defeated five times myself. Not the best hit rate by anyone’s reckoning. If there is every a quest to save the world, I am probably not the hero you are looking for.

The weird title to this post is a bastardisation of the latest two 50 in 50 adventures. I wrote ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon‘ and Brian produced ‘The Angry Druid‘.

I always try and have fun with my adventure titles and in this case Tie A Yellow Ribbon is obviously a reference to a dreadful 1970s song but is a deadly serious adventure which could cost either the players or hundreds of innocents their lives.

On the other hand The Angry Druid sounds like a dangerous foe, which he is, but is actually a bit of a tongue in cheek adventure.

We have passed a bit of a milestone and you can now by a bundle of the first 10 adventures, at a discount if you have bought any of the individual issues. The 1-10 bundle is obviously going to be the first of at least 5 bundles.

Going forward there is going to be a post each Saturday with a round up of what we have published this week. I think I will recap any new uploads in the same post.

I feel that this is going to grow in importance in 2018. Looking at the Directors Briefing for January, if you are not using Shadow World then excepting RMU there are no planned releases for RMC/RMSS or Spacemaster for 2018 at all.

While we await the Singularity we will try and keep RM alive and kicking!

Rolemaster Combat Hack: Expanded weapon modifiers for Rolemaster.

Even in the earliest editions Rolemaster Arms Law contained a detailed chart of weapons with a variety of data: mods to hit ATs, length, weight, speed, notes etc. Beyond any additional to hit bonuses we never really referred to that chart at all–but it did give hints to useful information that could be incorporated into combat.

Recently RMU expanded various “combat maneuvers” and combat situations into the rules. Some of these set penalties can be offset by the appropriate combat maneuver skill (contra skill) or are just specific penalties based on certain situations (close quarter combat). Two situational penalties did take the actual weapon into effect: subdue and close quarters, but the rest just set a base penalty. (rear attack, protect, etc). It seems obvious that this concept can be expanded much further; that each weapon or weapon type should have custom penalties based on it’s speed, reach and style. For instance, the effort to strike behind (rear attack) should be much different for a martial artist than someone wielding a 2-hand sword.  Or the penalty to protect should be lower for someone wielding a polearm than someone with a dagger.

This simple solution adds another layer to weapon complexity without any new rules, creates real differentiation between weapons for specific combat circumstances and reduces the problem of multiple weapons sharing the same attack table. An additional benefit is that if new combat situations are created or a new weapon added, it’s easy to expand the chart without any other design work (like creating a new attack chart). We’ve added these mods right on the character sheet for easy reference.

(Another category I’m going to add is a “Thrown” penalty for melee weapons and initiative modifiers for use with our initiative rules)

I’ve uploaded the chart in Excel for ease of editing.  At the top is a simpler version which classifies weapons into 4 categories based on weapon reach. Below are a breakout of individual weapons, and SW special weapons. (Pete, not sure I did the file upload process correctly…)

RM Weapon Modifier Chart

Another Step Forward Downloads!

This blog is a bit of a lesson in humility for me. I set it up just because  there was a perceived need for this kind of blog and to attract more people to Rolemaster.

It started off as “I am trying this”, “I am trying that” now I am pleased to say it is very much “We are trying this”, “We are trying that”. We have a nice team of writers now and this blog is as much theirs as it was ever mine.

The big thing that I want to share today is our new Downloads feature. You can see it hopefully to the right if you are on a bog screen or below if you are on a mobile. This was kicked of by Brih but I am going back over old posts to find downloads we can add to the list. There is a downloads menu as well and as the number of downloads grows this will get organised into categories to make it easier to find what you want.

I know full well that there are part finished project I have started over the years. I hope this will prompt me to get those topped off and added to the the download list.