College of Calculations

This post may be a bit jumbled, I was reading, writing and the calaculations all at the same time, bouncing between HARP, Spell Law, College of Magics and my own notes.

HARP College of Magics.

This is a little bit of a weird book for HARP. It absolutely must have been intended to be part of the core rules. In the core book magicians have an upper limit for the number of spells they can learn that is greater than the number of spells in the core rules. Either it was intended that this book be compulsory or it just didn’t make the release deadline.

What is contains that excites me is a formal set of rules for spell creation and in HARP parlance, scaling.

I am not going to reproduce the rules in detail as they are clearly ICE intellectual property. I am going to work through a few examples of spell creation.

First up is Light. In Rolemaster this would be a set of spells Light I, Light II and so on.

Using Channeling as my base we get this progression.

2nd Light I
4th Light II
8th Light III
9th Utterlight I
13th Light V
15th Light X
17th Utterlight V
18th Mass Light
50th Mass Utterlight

2. Light I – Lights a 10’R area about the point touched; if the point is on a mobile object or being, it will move with the object/being. If this spell is cast onto a target, they get a RR. If the RR succeeds, the light is centered on the point where they are standing, but will not move with them. If the target fails the RR the light remains centered on the target and will follow with them until it is dispelled, or the duration ends.

Under HARP rules these are one spell with different scaling options. Here is the Light spell.

Light

PP Cost: 6
Range: Touch
Duration: 10 rounds/rank
Spell Type: Utility
RR: — Spheres: Universal
Description: Creates a small globe of light centered upon the point touched. This globe will be as bright as a torch and illuminate up to a 20’ radius area. If the point touched is mobile then the spell will move when the point is moved. The caster may vary the illumination from the maximum size down to a small point with a round of concentration.
Scaling Options:
Increase Duration (1 minute/rank) +5 PP
Increase Duration (10 minutes/rank) +6 PP
Increase Radius (up to 50’) +3 PP
Increase Radius (up to 100’) +8 PP
Utterlight (no magical darkness may exist in radius) +6 PP
Artificial Daylight (works on certain undead as sunlight) +6 PP

The most obvious difference at first glance is that:

HARP Light costs 6PP and RM Light is 2PP,

HARP Utterlight I is 18PP while RM Utterlight is 9PP

At first glance I cannot see a direct correlation between HARP PP costs and RM levels.

If we were a Magician the levels would have been slightly different.

3rd Light I
7th Light V
17th Utterlight

In this case Light I would cost 6PP and light V would be 9PP and Utterlight 18PP.

One thing to remember is that in HARP you can learn up to 3 ranks per level including 0th level. So a 6PP spell is capable of being cast at 1st level if you put 6DPs into it per level.

I had a further look at all the available spells and everything that you would consider a 1st level spell in RM cost 3PP or 4PP in HARP, with 4 being by far the more common. I think there is a built-in assumption that pure casters will be buying two ranks per level in their core spells. If we half the cost of the HARP spells (to reflect 2 ranks per level) Light becomes 2nd level (6/2 = 3 being 0th, 1st, 2nd). Utterlight would then be 18PP /2 = 9 or 8th level. This is much more in line with the Channeling list.

So what about magicians? I would have said that if you are developing spells as individual spells then a magician is much more likely to put more ranks into Lightning bolt than into Light. A progression of 1 rank per level would mean that Utterlight for a magician would come in at 17th level which is exactly what you find in RM.

Fire Bolt

I have to ask myself if I have massaged the numbers to make them fit or have I identified the underlying philosophy.

This time I am going to build an RM fire bolt using HARP rules and assume that the magician is going to spend 2 ranks per level on it. It is much more important than something like Light but not as important as Fireball or Lightning bolt.

Spells are defined by an aspect, in this case Element (Fire); a type, in this case Attack; and Attributes such as casting time, range and duration. Fire Bolt has a range of 100’. Each of these has a cost which you add up and then divide in a rather simple formula. The basic spell comes out at a cost of just 3PP but it is tiny in size. There is now an option to scale up the critical size. Fire bolts are a regular E critical type spell so I need to scale the damage up. Once I have taken all of these factors into account you end up at a 13PP spell. Using my 2 ranks per level we have a 6th level Fire Bolt. In RM it is also 6th level.

Fire Bolt III is the same as Fire Bolt I but with a 300’ range and is 11th level.

Let me scale up the HARP fire bolt and see what happens. Each additional 50’ of range adds 1PP to the spell (or half a level by my reckoning). A 300’ Fire Bolt would be 2 levels higher, or 8th level.

I think I can see the logic and the connections now.

If you had to pour 4DP into Fire Bolt to get a working spell for seven levels I think that is a major investment. On the other hand, would you continue to do the same once you have the working spell? If we assume 1 rank per level after you have a functioning spell then the levels fall back into line. In this case 10th for HARP and 11th for the RM version.

So my outline rules appear to be. Calculate level by 2DP per level for core functionality spells and one DP per level for scaled up versions of the same spell.

What that gives us is spells that will fall within a level of their RM equivalents.

What you also get is more options that you ever had before. Sure there are plenty of versions of spells there is fire bolt with a range of 100’, 300’ 500’, there is triad of flame and corner fires but the HARP rules allow you to mix and match every effect from every possible spell. What you end up with a base cost that you can then extrapolate into a level.

The rules seem pretty simple to use and easy to read.

What would be perfect is if ICE were to create a RMu version of these rules. It may be possible as they are already talking about creating a HARP to RM handbook. It would be amazing if these rules ended up in that handbook.

How Do You Spell That?

I am a huge fan of Spell Research for a few reasons. The first is that for NPCs if they start throwing spells that the characters do not recognize it puts a bit of wonder back into the game, especially if you are playing with seasoned old hands.

I also like it for PCs. They tend to research low-level spells because of the time constraints and it gives casters something to do while the fighters are recovering from wounds.

For the player, it is a way of strengthening their character’s concept and individualizing their character. It adds spells to existing lists which makes them more functional for no DP cost.

In some respects, magical guilds are little more than window dressing in many games as lists can be learned just by spending the DPs. Spell research on the other hand made gaining access to research materials and libraries really useful.

The same is true for your clerics that can make great use of religious houses, festivals and gatherings to do the prayer needed to create new spells.

I have a lot of very unused HARP books. In college of Magics there are rules for new spell creation. Every effect and magical aspect is listed along with all the target, range and duration parameters. Each has a point cost and there is a simple formula to turn this point cost into power points.

HARP doesn’t have the concept of spell level. As each spell is scalable what we think of as Sleep V, Sleep VII… Lord Sleep are just the same spell with different scaling options applied and higher DP costs.

For us the DP cost would equal level and scaled options would equate to higher level versions of the same spell.

What I haven’t done yet is attempt to recreate specific RM spells using the College of Magic rules. What I am expecting to happen is that the RM level will exactly match the HARP power point cost. The reason I expect them to match up perfectly is that the same brains are behind RM as HARP. If you are going to have much the same team working on both systems and they are largely compatible, compatible enough to cross stat Shadow World for both systems, then chances are something as basic as a power point is going to be the same in both sets of rules.

If all my suppositions are right, or even if they are wrong but there is a typical and consistent error then the two systems can be brought into line.

It then means that there are a set of rules that can be applied to any spell the characters want to create. At the moment it is a little bit arbitrary. The player designs the spell and then the GM has to assign a level to it. This can lead to mismatches in expectations. If the player has already worked out how they want to stack the spell with something else in Spell Law but the GM has not recognized the potential ‘abuse’, if that is the right word.

With formal rules in place, much of that disappears. Spell research becomes a process of describing the effect you desire from a menu of possible effects. Then running through the costs to arrive at the PP cost or level. It really is a 5 minute to 30 minute job depending on whether you know what you want or if you are browsing for inspiration.

I just think it is a pity that with all the crunch already in all the other RMu books, that rules like these didn’t make their way into Spell Law.

It is that one fact that may point to my theory being wrong. If when I try this the numbers for the spells in Spell Law do not add up it could mean that back in the day when was first converted from D&D to the spell lists we now know there was no system in place.

When HARP was written they may have taken the opportunity to standardise all the existing spells with a set of coherent rules.

Trying to apply that to all the spells we have in Spell Law may have resulted in a swathe of 3rd level spells rather than a neat 1st, 2nd, 3rd and spells that we all know and love suddenly jumping about in level. Where we have a spell that could be a 2nd level Magician Base but a 5th level Closed Channeling and a 6th level Closed Mentalism (looking at you Shockbolt) the HARP rules do not set out to differentiate by realm.

The work needed to either fix all the existing spells and reorganize the spell lists may have been deemed too much effort for too little gain.

I have an adventure in mind which will require a spell caster to have some alternative Light Law spells. This will be my chance to try out HARP spell creation in RMC.

Pure Casters! To Arms!

Over the gaming weekend I got to play as well as GM. Due to a complete miscommunication, I ended up rushing into the fray with a Wyvern when everyone else, ie. the guys with the big swords, didn’t.

On the plus side, it made me look really heroic in front of the innocent wagon drivers. On the downside the same wagon drivers failed their fear checks and one died on the spot and the other one was eaten before I got into melee range.

Technically, the fight didn’t go so well. The first critical I took ripped my shield away reducing it to so much kindling. My counter attack did little. The second critical from its stinger layed open my thigh, thankfully I resisted vs the poison. I was stunned for five rounds, no parry and bleeding so we will gloss over the next few rounds.

If I was a fighter type my battle would probably be over but as it happens I am a lay healer. So I could clotting III the bleeding and Unstun myself and on the 3rd round after taking the big critical I was back up and running. Not many hits left but not out by any means.

The next critical it did to me was grab my weapon arm. There was a sort of “For F$%& sake!” feeling going on at this point. Partly because I was running out of limbs, partly because the heavy hitters had decided that as I had its attention they were trying to outflank it. At this point, I had one hand in its mouth, no weapon, no shield, and limited options. So I punched it. Off hand, no skill and at that point I rolled a double open-ended attack but the damage cap for rank 1 martial arts meant that I couldn’t do a critical anyway. What it did do was give me mega kudos. It would have been nice to have dropped it from lack of #hits but sadly it still had plenty of those.

Eventually, the party put the beast down. We are in the 3rd/4th/5th level range but superior numbers plus the flank and rear OB bonuses were sufficient to put the odds in our favour.

I was the only PC hurt and I could patch myself up.

I am the highest level PC, at 5th, My OB is +48 from 6 ranks in Spear, +8 from stats and +10 from a superior quality weapon we found in an earlier adventure.

I don’t think my OB is too bad, on top of that I am pretty good at Adrenal Speed and Strength. I have the option of going for +10 and x2 damage or two attacks. I am also wearing AT17. I am not fully trained but I don’t maneuver much at the best of times. In my, no unbiased, opinion I think for a pure caster I have a reasonable and well-rounded combat ability.

Our party mage is in a slightly different position. AT1, but wielding a sword that is both +30 and shows up as cursed when we did our best at working out what it did. It comes with a ring, that cannot be taken off that is intelligent but keeping quiet so far. The ring gives an additional +10 OB just with this sword.

Our mage as an OB of +50, two ranks, no stat and +40 for magic.

In the game I am running the Sorceror has an OB of +15. Two ranks and +5 for stat. The same is repeated with the other pure and hybrids. They bought a rank or two in weapons at character creation and then binned the skill in favour of magic ASAP.

I hadn’t really noticed this until this session when I was throwing challenge after challenge at them and they had burned so many power points in the first encounter that they were coming up empty pretty soon. Their priority was where could the go to meditate, the elven sorcerer and half elf warrior mage were the worst culprits of this 5 minute work day assumption.

Yes, weapons are expensive skills for pure casters but the difference in learning a weapon for a Magician and a Lay Healer is a single DP. (8 vs 7). Subduing is not particularly expensive as an alternative nor is Disarm Foe.

The session I ran should have, but probably didn’t, highlight the weakness of being 90% dependent on your magic. Maybe it is my fault. I did tell everyone that this was a low magic game and there have been rumblings that they are 7th and 8th level and no one has a spell multiplier or adder yet. I think that the fact that they have limited power points should have been a warning light to them not to be so dependent or as I see it, to be more rounded.

The difference a GM and the optional rules they choose can make is really striking in this case. My Lay Healer has 70 power points at 5th level and typically been burning about 5-7pp per battle. I think it is kind of ironic that I have a huge number of power points but conserve them just in case. My players have about half as many, at higher level, but burn them like they are unlimited, which they clearly are not.

I think there is a mismatch in expectations somewhere along the lines.

Hitting the ground running

Since I posted last time I have moved house, away from the coast and into a proper crofter’s cottage. Downsizing from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom cottage means that we are inevitably swamped with boxes of stuff we don’t know where to put.

In the world of Rolemaster, since my last post, I have released the third part of Plague, Famine & War and I am writing the November issue of the Fanzine. This will be a bit late due to the house move.

So this year I have been writing the RMu adventure path which could end up as 10 to 12 parts. Plague, Famine & War is already three parts and is likely to be four full adventures. What has got me exciting to do next is some one-page adventures.

A one-page adventure would have a hook at the top, a plot, a location with a great looking map, a series of encounters, a conclusion, and a reward. Everything would fit on two sides of a single sheet.

What this brings to the party (haha) is variety. As a one-page adventure would be much faster to write than a full module or even a mini-module I could play around a bit. I am thinking of finding a monster that is underused and making it the star of the show. Once you know the monster that will tell you where it is most likely to be found, so you have your location. I buy about 100 commercial maps each year, it will just be a case of picking the best map for the adventure. That gives us the primary monster, terrain/biome, and actual location. The biome gives us random encounters and environmental hazards.

All my adventures this year were for, or started with, starting out PCs. These one-page adventures could be for any level, that would really be dictated by the star of the show monster. As a single page and only a couple of days work these would be real pocket money price adventures. The advantage to the Rolemaster community and the whole system, in general, will be that the Rolemaster name will continue to feature on the front page of DriveThruRPG on a near-weekly basis. New players of the game will have, and almost as importantly, see new products released on a regular basis. This creates the impression of a lively community around a game and makes it more attractive to potential buyers. It could also attract more people into adventure writing. This is one of the things that Rolemaster needs.

There is no community license or open content, which does hobble adventure writers somewhat, but it is still possible to write for a closed system. The trade-off is that ICE do not support their community but they also earn nothing from that community’s efforts. The other alternative would be that ICE do support the community and then take a royalty from all the content produced. Swings and roundabouts of course. Only ICE can say what they are thinking.

Hopefully, next week I will be back to regular writing. My gaming weekend is looming and I am looking forward to all the things that it throws up that I can write about, both as GM and as a player.

Proactive GM-iness

My next face to face gaming weekend is fast approaching. It is a chance to both play my Lay Healer and to run my Forgotten Realms based RMC campaign.

At the end of last session the characters had killed an evil witch but not before she had opened a portal to another realm, think Stargate SG1, a big mirror showing rippling water and then out of it came giant octopus tentacles trying to drag characters into the mirror’s surface.

That was the climactic final fight scene.

Everyone survived and no one was seriously hurt.

Over the past dozen weekends I have slowly loaded the characters up with life-preserving and in two cases life-giving magics.

This is originally a D&D setting so there is an expectation that there will be clerics to hand to cast Raise Dead in the parts of lift from published modules. In the previous session I had expected someone to die. I wasn’t going to bend any rolls to save them. I had done my part by making sure they had the magics needed to survive death.

I will confess that I was a little disappointed that no one died. I wasn’t out to kill them but they are not a high-level party, averaging around 6th level. The big bad monster should have been able to kill them and on any other day, it probably would have killed someone. If he had killed a PC it would have made more of a statement of just how dangerous the beast was. As it happened I have thrown a troll at them in the past and it has given them more trouble.

My mission in this coming weekend is to kill someone, kill them heroically and then bring them back. That may seem mean but when we play only a few times a year I want to make these sessions stand out. To pack in all the RPG experiences. Death does need to be part of those experiences. If death isn’t a real threat then victories are not real victories. It all gets devalued slightly.

The last session involved a lot of incompetent goons, a witch and a horror from another plane. Before that was real ghosts in a haunted house and before that was an evil wizard in his hidden lair.

There have been a lot of magical opponents and my group is magically very strong, a sorcerer, warrior mage, elemental warrior, mystic and cleric. I am thinking of doing a session of unrelenting combat, they are in the first dungeon level of a castle. I can activate some Golems, motivated by the witch’s death and see if the characters will fight their way out or head into the dungeons deeper levels. Either work for me. It would be most sensible for them to try and fight their way out immediately but then this group doesn’t always do the sensible thing.

I do not believe I have ever actively set out to kill a character before so that will be an experience in itself. NPCs I will happily kill like flies if I get bored of them or they have served their purpose but never a player character.

Looking over their character sheets the characters have the capability to raise three characters from dead. My action will take one of those ‘three strikes’ out.

Now I wonder how many Brass Golems it will take to kill on character and only one?

Plague, Famine & War II

I was unexpectedly busy this week, so this is a little late.

Plague, Famine & War II was released on Sunday. This is another low level adventure and rather than being set in the port, where the first episode was placed, this one takes the characters up a mountain.

I recently saw this tweet…

I’m increasingly convinced rpg settings should consist of 3 things:

  1. Core concepts
  2. Adventures
  3. Random tables of details for anything that might come up
    With the first 2 being as short as possible and the third being the majority of the presentation.

I like that philosophy and judging by the range of supporting comments that the original poster received many other people do as well.

I can see more of a balance between 2. and 3. but the principles hold true. This is basically what I have done with the Fanzine adventures. A few of the barest maps, lots of random tables and but a strong sense of style.

With these PF&W adventures we are getting the same sort of thing again. They were originally intended as drop in adventures, drop the first one on any port and you are ready to go.

Once you have two or three, the third episode is being written, one almost has enough to create a foothold in an entirely new setting, in the same way that Waterdeep was the default jumping off point for Forgotten Realms.

It begs the questions of what would make this setting unique? What is the rest of the world like?

Do those questions need answering? I think that PF&W will only be three or possibly four episodes long. A mini campaign of sorts. So far we have had a sea adventure, a mountain top battle against the elements and part three is going to be a low-ish level dungeon crawl. I think a fourth part with a city-wide threat, a bit like the end of one of the Avengers movies would be quite cool.

I don’t really want to map an entire city, although Dyson Logos has some good city maps. I am thinking of a hybrid approach where a nice map is provided for the GM and pre-, post- adventure but during the actual high intensity action sequences a random table is used to detail the rat runs of cross alleys and side streets, the shops and businesses on those streets.

I am thinking that I create a d10 grid, the first column gives a quick glance down the street to say whether it is a terrace of small cottages, a small public square, a cluster of shops, a junction with side roads and so on. Then another column to tell you what kind of shop or business, if the player asks, then further columns for the owner name, the quality of the place and so on.

An organised GM that loves prep could use the random tables to map out entire city blocks. A GM that doesn’t do prep could generate the city on the fly. I dislike obviously rolling dice in front of the players to determine world facts. I like to appear that everything was plotted well in advance. So I would use a table of random 1-10 numbers to achieve the same effect but without the dice rolling. A simple glance at a row of numbers would tell me that the next stand out building is a cheap bakery, run by Hamish Goodfellow. If the PCs run past then I don’t need to know any more, if they try and hide in the bakery or burst in, asking if there is a rear exit, I know enough that the chap behind the counter is probably chubby (being both a baker and anyone called Goodfellow must be chubby and happy looking).

So I was contemplating at what point do these adventures constitute a setting? I think the defining feature would be do I want to keep on writing for the same world? If the answer is yes, then I am building a setting one adventure at a time. Every little fact or reference adds to the fabric of the setting.

If the answer is no, I have written a series of adventures and now I want to move on so something different then no this was not a setting but a drop-in mini series.

I am tending towards the latter. The adventures in the fanzine are all set in impenetrable jungle with strong asian influences with a little dash of ninjas and shoguns. PF&W are set in a euro-centric medieval fantasy world. I don’t know where I want to go with the next series but I do have a particular monster in mind and that will probably limit my terrain types and suggest a setting.

Right now I have more ideas for adventure concepts than I have time to write.

Plague, Famine & War I

This is part one of the series of adventures I was talking about last week.

It is my hope to put out an adventure every few weeks. Unlike the installments of the RMu Adventure Path in the fanzine each month I want to hop about a bit more with these. Also I have specified that these adventures are for RMC/RM2 and RMFRP/RMSS.

As RMu Creature Law is being split into two parts I am not entirely sure what will make the cut and what won’t. So just to be safe I am only supporting the currently available games.

Plague Famine & War II should be out by Monday (14th Oct) and I expect there to be three chapters in the entire series. I can then move on to something different.

I laughingly said to someone that I wanted to write 200 adventures in 2020, based upon 1 a day. That was based upon the premise that I could write some viable adventure design tools that would take most of the burden off of me. Adding in a healthy dose of reality check I would hope to write 20 adventures in 2020. That is a bit of a climb down but I also want to support 10 to 12 systems. From my perspective that is still 200 product releases and each one is unique in its own way.

I expect each adventure to be an evolution on a journey towards a mix of automation and hand crafted adventures. Automation is not a bad thing whether it is using random weather tables or encounter tables, these are all forms of automation.

Of course it is easy to sit here at my desk and think, oh, I will just write 20 adventures, no problem. The reality could be rather different. From where I am sitting right now, it feels easier to write 20 fully developed adventures to be released when each is good and ready than it is to produce on a month on a fixed deadline as I do with the fanzine or to write 25 brief ones as we did for the 50in50 adventures.

How this all pans out we shall see.

Site Breakdown!

Hopefully some of you noticed the Rolemasterblog blog has a bit of a technical wobble this week.

Our host moved the site to bigger and better servers and in the process managed to break the site.

I was offered the option of them fixing it or as I have a power user account I could fix it myself and in return get 5 years free hosting and domain renewals.

I took the free hosting option and then learned that I am not as good as I would like to think I am.

It has taken me 2 days to fix everything that was broken, half of it just finding out which files were corrupted and which I could safely just overwrite.

All that remains to restore the backups of all the file downloads. and images etc.

This will be rather incremental as my net connection is about the speed of dialup at times and the backup I need to upload is 291MB. I have tried twice already and my connection has dropped out killing the upload.

In November I am moving to a new place and there I will have a fixed line and proper 21st century broadband. If the worst comes to the worst I will wait until the beginning of Nov to do the big restore.

Navigator RPG Playtest Live

Today is a big day in the life of Navigator RPG, although it will barely cause a ripple in anyone elses lives.

There is a live playtest version of Navigator RPG up on DriveThruRPG.com.

It went live shortly after midnight, this morning.

There are two points to this post. The first is of course to tell you all that the game has reached this point. I have been teasing about the game for a while but have intentionally not posted any details.

The second point is that I am going to keep something of a development diary for the game on here. I am not being intentionally bitchy but I am going to couch it in terms of comparing Navigator RPG to RMu.

The posts could help anyone else thinking of publishing their own game.

I know I have told this joke before but I think of it every time I am tempted to criticise anyone else’s work.

There is a guy driving, lost, along some back roads. Up ahead he sees a farmer on a tractor parked in a gateway eating a sandwich. The driver stops and asks “What is the best way to get to Birmingham?”, after a moment’s consideration the farmer replies “The best way, you say? Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”

That is the point, we don’t know where anyone else started from, we don’t know what their needs are, how much they have invested into a project or their goals.

I see this as a four stage project, behind closed doors, this is the part I have finished and the time spent on RMu before Beta 1.

The second stage is the public playtest. This is where RMu and Navigator are right now, both in stage 2.

Stage 3 is putting the full game on sale. At that point I expect RMu to massively out perform my little Navigator RPG. Fantasy is a bigger genre, in fact the biggest, RMu and Rolemaster has an existing fan base, ICE is a recognised brand and ICE has a massive marketing budget.

ICE’s marketing budget is not in cash, although it may have a cash war chest as well, but in PPP. The total value of RM books and software sold each year is roughly $10,000. I know this because every company in the UK has to post their accounts online. The company doesn’t have massive expenses as no one is drawing a living wage and that sort of thing. Publishers receive 70% of the ticket price from a book sale on DTRPG. So from the declared earnings, you can multiply up to find the total revenue and then multiply up to take into account the £:$ exchange rate.

Publishers receive Publisher Promotion Points from OneBookShelf at a rate of 20+(revenue/10) each month. So $10,000 gives 1,000 PPP plus 12 months gives 1,240/year. I have not seen any evidence of these being spent so it looks like ICE have a stockpile of nearly 20,000 PPP.

To give you an idea of what they can be spent on, to be Deal of the Day costs about 400-500PPP, home page featured product costs about 70-80PPP and that will put an advert for your product on the home page of DTRPG which will be shown 2,500 times. To put a featured product advert at the top of a game section costs 30-40PPP for the same 2,500 impressions. The traffic to specific sections is lower so your impressions last longer and can be more specifically targeted.

The most cost effective spend is the Deal of the Day. ICE have the resources to be DotD once a week for 40 weeks and then of course that will generate sales which will earn more PPP and keep the wheels on the promotional wagon. If a full set of RMu books costs $100 they would only need to sell 50 a month to earn sufficient PPP to afford another DotD.

One can achieve a virtuous circle where your DotD spend puts you at the top of the Best Sellers list and then there are the metal best sellers lists. The more times you cover is shown on the best selling lists the more sales you are going to generate.

The nub is that RMu can buy its success and its way to the top. Its success is guaranteed.

I don’t have that luxury.

Starting Today

Starting today we are both in Stage 2, playtest. I am at the beginning and RMu is at the end.

RMu has to go through editing, layout and art commissioning. Nav doesn’t. Because I am doing everything in the open the editing, can be done by the community. Layout, well that isn’t going to fundamentally change from the public playtest. Every time a change is suggested and implemented the playtest document is going to be updated. So the layout and text will change many times over the playtest but everyone will always have access to the current state of the game. This is a difference between RMu and NavRPG.

At the end of the playtest everyone who downloaded the playtest will get the full game as a PDF. Even if they didn’t contribute. Even when the game goes on sale the PDF version will be free. It is the printed books I will charge for. I think GMs actually like to have physical books at the table.

I also don’t write games to then act as gatekeeper. The more people who play the game the better, even if they are using the free PDF.

The playtest game is listed on DTRPG as a PWYW title. This is what Kevin was complaining about this week. His adventure had 100 downloads and almost no one paid anything for it. He also got some middling star ratings.

That is the nature of the beast for PWYW. I am under no illusion that people are going to rush out and throw money at the game. The reason I have made it PWYW and not free is so that even £0.05 purchases will accumulate. When it comes to creating the print on demand books, these are going to cost me somewhere up to $200. I am perfectly happy to swallow that as I it is my business plan to make money on the physical books. On the other hand every single cent donated to the playtest will soften that upfront hit.

In Theory

All of this is all ‘in theory’ only.

So far in the few hours since the game went live it has had 7 downloads. RMu had 145 downloads of the playtest documents. America has not woken up yet, at least not enough of it to think of downloading free games.

This is the first marketing objective. Get the playtest version downloaded and into the hands of gamers.

Stage 4

I have talked about stage 1, writing; stage 2 playtest and stage three release and marketing.

Stage 4 is the long term success of the game. I don’t think that RMu has much of a future, although I hope I am wrong. Most games get bought, played and then languish on shelves never to be played again.

One way of measuring the popularity of a game is in its community support. Only some of a games fans will ever write and publish something either under a fan license, a Community Content Programme, a Compatibility License or just create compatible products that don’t need any form of license.

ICE has shown itself to be resistant to open standards and community content. NavRPG on the other hand is at the other far extreme. It is a simple core designed to be extended by the players and GMs. It is released under the OGL, Open Gaming License, which gives anyone the right to modify, remix and republish the work. No barriers.

My negative forecast is based upon the idea that RMu has not addressed the most pressing negative opinions of the gaming community. The whole chartmaster, rulesmaster thing. They are already talking about dumping most of the stuff actively being discussed on the forum into the first companion.

This is, in my opinion, repeating the sins of the past.

Rolemaster was, I beleive, the 4th most popular game in the industry in the early 80s. Now it is a vestigial hangover played by maybe less than 1,000 people worldwide? The forums certainly have a very small population. Looking at all the places where communities gather the RM based ones are tiny and largely inactive.

I think there will be a flurry of activity, a mass of sales, and commercial success followed by a trailing off of interest and in two, three years we will be back to the same hard core of forum users that we have now but with a few few names in the mix.

The difference will be that we will now be discussing RM2, RMC, RMSS, RMFRP and RM. RM2 did not go away when RMC came along and RMFRP and RMSS is no different. I can see a lot of RM fans not moving to the new game simply because they love their old game. They have all the books they want, all the house rules to make it play the way they want and they know what they are doing.

The the die hards the new version will be missing 90% of what they want and need because all those companions just won’t work quite right.

That is a bit gloomy I know. I will definitely buy into RMu but my group of friends are definitely RM2 despite the fact that we are playing the core of RMC. They have imported all the RM2 stuff they miss into the game.

Navigator’s Future

I think the total sales figures will take a long time to get in the same realm as RMu. No marketing budget doesn’t help. On the other hand I think the open attitude will help build an active community. That is where I am putting my efforts. Right from today onwards, actually I started about 8 weeks ago, everything is about building a community around NavRPG. Making people feel included, and welcome.

Well that is today’s update.

Update Time

Yesterday City of Spiders, one of the first 50in50 adventures became a Silver best selling title on Drivethrurpg.com. That is no mean feat. We still get sales of those adventure hooks most weeks. It won’t be long until we get a raft of them going silver.

I am going all out to complete outstanding projects before the end of the year. Ladt week I was working on my Wild West game. That is now ready to go to kickstarter. That is new territory for me. I gave had to pause that for a few days as jump through the legal hoops.

As I cannot go any further with DS:WW right now my attention has turned to Navigator RPG.

Navigator RPG

Since Friday I have completed the Star Knight meditations and Mystic Gifts. These replace the Telempath’s psions in Spacemaster. I have also converted all the equipment over from White Star to Nav and started building the Nav version of Arms Law. Ladt night I finished the last of the melee weapons tables. Tomorrow I start the ranged weapons which include bows, guns and energy weapons.

When I am working on projects like this they often seem really simple before I start. They then go through a phase where for everything one part I complete I notice two more sections that I need to do.

I am in that phase now but I don’t think it will be long until I am crossing things off faster than I am adding them.

As of today you can create a character using any race, culture, profession learn and use psionics and beat each other up using hand to hand combat and ranged attacks, even grenades and make maneuvers.

No one will die because there are no critical tables.

There are no spaceship rules, no monster/aliens/robots. The only healing is through gifts and meditations. There is no natural healing yet.

There is no universe either.

I am sure there is a lot more that I haven’t thought of but the current list is not overwhelming.

I am mentioning all this as I think I am only a week or so away from sharing what I have so far.

I do need some help though. See right at the bottom of this post if you are feeling creative.

City of Forgotten Heroes

I started to detail the city last month in the fanzine. The first month I did the marshes around the city, the city walls and the gate house on the causeway. This month was the library, complete with ghost book, the orchard and a new location called the architect’s tower.

In the October issue will be the palace, the cistern and Octomancer.

I think I will have completed the entire RMu adventure path before the end of the year. I estimate the entire thing will take characters from creation to 12th/14th level.

I mention this because I am aware that sometimes I can seem really enthusiastic about something and then it disappears from view. I don’t just drop things, it is just that actually doing the hard bit of writing it all up isn’t very exciting and having a monthly publishing schedule means that nothing moves quickly.

Amusingly, I don’t know what the end of the adventure path is. I am not entirely sure how to get from the past bit I have written and the point where the characters save their world and defeat the BBEG.

I am sure it will come to me. I have 7 weeks to think of it and get the characters from where they are to where they need to be in time from the final climax in December.

I wonder if I will complete the adventure path before RMu is released? It is supposed to be in Nicholas’s editing queue now. How long will that take and the same goes for art commissioning and layout.

On September 22nd there are 100 days of 2019 left and we were promised RMu in 2019.

Help

What I could do with is a bit of help coming up with witty and graphic critical descriptions.

At the moment I have need of the following critical tables. Puncture, Slash, Krush, Fire, Unbalance and Impact. I would really appreciate some suggestions for the criticals. There are 120 entries on a critical table and I have six to do giving 720 lines to come up with.

All help will be greatly appreciated. Just comment below.