BHanson’s 2020 Year in Review.

It’s that time of year where we look ahead to a new year and review what, if anything was accomplished this past year! For me, this was truly a lost year and when I look back at early 2020 blog posts I can barely remember writing them. Strangely, the pandemic and the resulting shut down of my businesses actually freed up a lot of my time; but psychologically it was very hard to write or be creative. So how did the year look?

  1. Blogging. I wrote a total of 27 blog posts; or 1 every other week. Not bad compared to other RGP blogs but not what I would consider amazing output.
  2. Topics. One theme this year was a harder look at various RM Professions. My take on Rangers, Bards, Druids, Warrior Mage, and Mystic. Peter and Hurin added their own posts and I thought it was a fun to have everyone’s perspectives.
  3. Spin Cycle. I’m also a fan of re-purposing MERP modules for Shadow World. The SW “DNA” is imbedded in these early ICE products given that Peter and Terry had their hands in both lines. This year I tackled Umbar (one of my favorite all-purpose supplements), Assassins of Dol Amroth.
  4. Most Engagement. My blog post on the aging RM gamer demographic, “Thoughts on Mortality” garnered 22 responses.
  5. RMU. Another year has come and gone with RMU just around the corner. Will 2021 be the year?
  6. ICE. The ICE website and forums are down again (3 times this year?). This time, the site has been down to the point that google in no longer indexing it for searches! Is that bad? Right now the Blog and the Discord Server seem to be carrying the water for Rolemaster gamers. Personally, I don’t get a lot of utility from Discord, but it seems like a solid resource for gamers seeking games online and the group adventure project appears to be moving along which is encouraging.
  7. Master File List. I had the time to post up a list of most of my uploaded files here on the Blog. I didn’t include the BASiL material, and it needs updates. Unfortunately, most of the links go to the RM Forums, so right now it isn’t that useful.
  8. Other 2020 Completed Projects. From a writing standpoint, 2020 was a below average year for output. I put some finishing touches to Priest-King in May and handed it off to Nicholas for further editing. Will it ever get published? Who knows, but it’s out of my hands. I also posted up a shrapnel/swarm critical chart, a handful more Mentalist spell lists, an Essence list, The Book of Pales, completed the user versions of all 5 chapters of “Legends of Shadow World” and have put out 2 or 3 new adventures for 50 in 50 Pt II. I think the total uploaded output was around 100 pages.

Looking ahead. 2021. I’m already well underway on several new projects and finishing up long gestating ones.

  1. Legends of Shadow World Omnibus. I’d really like to format this for RMU once it’s finalized. I think the new system needs support material and no one has really tackled a 50th lvl adventure for Rolemaster. I’m going to consolidate all 5 chapters, polish things up, add a scoring system for each chapter so it can be used for tournaments and will look into 3rd party artwork and floorplans. I’m happy to pay for the work but I’m always hesitant when it comes to Shadow World material…
  2. Empire of the Black Dragon. This was originally part of Priest-King, but to keep the size reasonable and avoid any serious canonical disputes I split it off. It had been siting at 50 pages for years but I’ve been plugging away at it. Ultimately, it will be Part III following the last adventure of Priest-King and combined with Part I: The City of Nontataku. This module is basically 5 fortresses so it’s layout intensive.
  3. Mentalism. 2021 will be the year for me to put out the rest of BASiL: Mentalism.
  4. 50 in 50 Pt 2. I got off to a slow start but have 10 out of the 25 complete or drafted. I just need to focus on them for a week to catch up.
  5. SW Channeler Players Guide. I’m excited about this–I consolidated all of the SW religious spells, religion material and added more player specific information to help flesh out Priests in Shadow World. It’s averaging 5 pages/diety so it should finish up around 60-80 pages!

So, a look back, a peak ahead. Hopefully we start climbing out of this pandemic over the next few months, ICE gets back up online, RMU is published and Terry finishes up Emer IV. That would be a year.

Vote for RMU on ENWorld’s List of Most Anticipated RPGs

Don’t forget to vote for RMU on ENWorld’s poll of most anticipated RPGs of 2021: https://www.enworld.org/threads/vote-for-the-most-anticipated-rpg-of-2021.677253/

And Happy Holidays everyone! I hope to be back to posting by the end of the holidays. Look out for several new Armsmaster spells lists for RMU in the near future.

Legends of Shadow World Chapters 1-5

I had a handful of people looking for the final chapter of my Legends of Shadow World series. If you are not familiar this was an experiment with a few purposes:

  1. Write a tournament style module for RM that could be used as a 1-shot adventure or for use at conventions.
  2. Test the viability of high level (50th lvl) roleplaying with Rolemaster.
  3. Give the players a chance to play some notable characters featured in Shadow World books and be involved in a “major” event in Kulthean history.

Some of the chapters include stat blocks, but I refrained from adding them in the last chapters. I think now, I want to wait for the RMU ruleset to be finalized and see if ICE has any interest in me fleshing it out as a RMU/SW product.

With that said, if anyone has any interest in adding a map, floorplan, battle map, illustration or art to this, let me know. I think a finished product with artwork, printable character sheets, maps and added narrative could easily hit 50 pages. From a tourney standpoint, if the players can move quickly and avoid lengthy battles then the entire series can be played in 4-6 hours.

Finally, thanks for the people that sent me feedback and thoughts. You can message me via the RM Forums (if they go back up) or email me at bhportland at yahoo. If you get a chance to play it, have any thoughts, ideas or feedback I’m happy to hear them.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2021.

A March of Monks

I have mentioned a few times that our group has multiple GMs. Last night I got to play a character in one of the other GM’s RMC game.

It was the first session of the campaign, running on Fantasy Grounds.

We bought the new Companion One for FG this week and at least two of the characters were built using that.

The party is comprised of a rogue, lay healer, paladin, high warrior monk and my character a ‘normal’ monk.

The high warrior monk and paladin are both companion one professions.

The first thing that was striking was how high the stat bonuses get for characters built using the Skill at Arms and Skill at Magic background options.

One of the curious things, and it was really apparant starting again at first level, was the difference between a starting arms user, the high warrior monk, and the a semi spell user, my monk.

One had an OB of +66 compared to my +21. The HWM had bought Rank 1 and Rank 2 martial arts. I could only afford Rank 1.

The gulf between us is of course that I am investing in magic, the HWM is a pure arms profession. I fully expect to be in the HWM’s shadow for about the first five levels. After that I expect the diminishing returns to start kicking in for the HWM and I my magic to start becoming more useful.

In last night’s session we had two combats vs goblins. In the first fight I got almost taken out in the first round. I went from 26hits to 2hits in a single hit by a goblin arrow. Our lay healer gave me some herbs which helped somewhat and I did get to rejoin the fight for the last combat round.

In the second combat, almost exactly the same thing happened to the high warrior monk.

We are both running around in AT1, if someone lands a blow on us, we don’t have the hits to absorb the damage. My defence is largely going to be built around Adrenal Defence, but that is no good to you when surprised. I will also improve my ability to self-heal, but that is limited to Flow Stop 1 at the moment.

Last night we got ambushed when the path went through the woods, which we did survive, but far from unscathed. We met some farmers who complained about the amount of goblin activity and point us to an old ruin of a keep. We found the keep without getting lost, by no means certain given our skill level, and ran into some goblin lookouts.

That fight went much better for us, only some light wounds. The HWM took the brunt of it and that was just concussion damage and stunned. No broken bones or anything nasty.

In the next session we are going to press on and explore what looks like a dungeon level below the keep.

Happy Holidays with a BASiL Stocking Stuffer!

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted up a Christmas themed spell-list. Since it’s been a particularly trying year and the ICE Forums are down once again I thought I would post one here on the Blog.

I’m finishing up a usable version of Chapter 5 of my “Legends of Shadow World” tournament module. This final encounter takes place in the north of Kulthea, a desolate realm of ice and snow which takes me back to my early years as a player in the Iron Wind. I was also thinking of Terry’s upcoming module in Wurilis–he mentions introducing a new race or culture of Snow Elves. All of this led me to finishing up a widowed spell list I had in the master BASiL file–“Arctic Law”. I see this as a cultural list or even a natural list for “Snow Elves” or similar magical races. This one isn’t as light-hearted as “Santa’s Ways“, but a useful list that could add some flavor to your adventure or campaign.

Enjoy and have a safe holiday season!

Session 2 and a litany of failures

Last night’s game was not very successful.

The first fail was when I set up the Line of Sight on one of the maps I had left a small gap around one of the alcoves. When a character stepped into the alcove they could see across to a ‘secret’ area. This was an area that I did not intend to use in the adventure, and had blocked off using the wall tool in Fantasy Grounds.

The player immediately told me that there was a problem and they could see more of the map than he should be able to.

So that was a failure in preparation. My fault.

That disclosure that they could see another area had an instant effect on the other players. They were three levels down into a temple and had not checked for a secret door at all in all that time. All of a sudden they were checking every wall. Because the players thought they knew something was there, they couldn’t resist searching for it. The more detailed their searching, the more detail I gave them. The more details they got, the more convinced there had to be something significant about the damp patch on the plasterwork, or a section of bricks that looked like it had be repaired at some point.

If they had had a hammer or a pickaxe, they would have started exhuming 40 year old bodies.

Meta gaming, tsk, bad players.

I did find that about 60% of the entire talk amongst the players was directly about their tokens on the map, where to move them to, where not to move them, trying to step their characters forward to get maximum line of sight. This part was particularly tedious.

The players seem to like the map, but they are dyed in the wool wargamers, they do love a battle map. It is just a pity that I think they really spoil a game.

I am going to try and wean them off of maps. I am not adverse to imagery. I am going to try and give them a flow of pictures of what buildings and places or beasties look like, and try and tone down the map use. Not sure how that will work out.

What I am thinking is to not make maps of the entire place, do that by theatre of the mind. But when they enter combat then give them a battle map so they can use the ranges and positioning.

Finally, something went very wrong with my Fantasy Grounds set up last night. Clicking on the prepared encounters would not open them. I had to try and recreate the encounters in real time, not ideal. Once I had done that, there was definitely something wrong as I could not roll any attacks for the foes. The player rolls worked just fine, but the foe rolls did not register. I didn’t notice for two rounds as the foes were closing the distance and the players used missile weapons.

That glitch effectively ended the session. It was then pooling our limited knowledge of FG to try and work out what went wrong.

All in all, not the best session.

Session 1, for real this time

Tuesday night was the first proper Rolemaster session I have run. I was prepared or it to be either a one-shot that degenerated into a learning experience, and prepared for it to be the start of a campaign.

The opening adventure was Creatures of the Night. It didn’t go strictly to plan, the first thing the characters did when the murders started was try to use the church tower to get an overview of the town.

Leaping from plot hook to showdown without passing through the adventure.

I set up my adventure using a story panel, to get what I imagined would be the general progression.

Of course, no plan is ever going to survive first contact with a player character party.

I am a fan of the story element. It made it very easy to just to the right place in my notes when they bypassed most of it and jumped to the church.

The “Church Horror” encounter was with the Gargoyle. That was one 5th level beastie against three first level characters, two fighters and a thief.

That fight was touch and go for a while. The three against one odds was the main deciding factor. One character was down to half a dozen hits, and bleeding at the end.

They have yet to explore the crypt, if they even bother.

That is probably where they will end up. There are more people who have disappeared than have been accounted for by the remains found with the gargoyle.

Two of the missing bodies are in the crypt, just waiting to be released. This is part of a side plot that they haven’t discovered yet.

So, at the end of the first real session, no one died, they all gained some experience and one mystery has been solved. Not a bad evening.

RolemasterBlog Fanzine & More…

I uploaded the 44th issue of the Rolemaster blog fanzine yesterday (Sunday 6th). I am not sure how or why, but I seem to have settling on the 6th of the month as release day for it each month. I suspect that without a deadline it simply would not get done.

While I was in adventuring mode, the fanzine contains two adventures this month, I also wrote my next 50in50 adventure. I have passed that to Egdcltd/Adrian for his editing and battlemap making.

The 50in50 is going slower this time. First time around we were banging things out weekly right up until near the end. This time it is more like two a month, and 50 in 100 sounds a bit sad.

There was no way that anyone could have played everything the first time around in 50 weeks, we wrote just too much material. The supplements this time are slightly longer. I have been leaning towards short adventures or situation that would take one or two sessions to complete, possibly more.

You can tell by the cover that these adventures are not city/urban adventures for a change! I also think that they are ideal for characters at above 6th level.

FGU and Getting Going

So, after last week’s problems we had a much more successful session using Fantasy Grounds Unity.

My group has pretty much settled on Tuesday nights being game night. We all had characters now, and the group ran into a band of five goblins, two hobgoblins, and a goblin chieftain.

The fight was fairly bloody, on both sides. Somehow the players all forgot about the need to parry, or even to move.

Out numbered, and out gunned the result was fairly predictable.

I am hoping that it was because it was all new, but the game session did end up focussing on the map and tokens than on any roleplaying. This is what happened when I played in a 5e game online as well.

The good thing is, even the players said that it was very wargamey or boardgamish.

I want to run something more theatre of the mind next time.

Things I liked was the line of sight in Fantasy Grounds Unity maps, and I like the character creation.

What I found difficult was that there was a massive lag between someone rolling an attack, and the Tabler Resolver appearing and showing the right attack table.

I am not sure if I can bypass that. I don’t know how to add damage to a foe, and the conditions. I would still like to use the condensed combat system by hand, but I am not sure if that is going to be possible.

I have read online that FGU is still being optimised, so I am hoping it wall become more responsive over time. I don’t really want to buy a new laptop just to run FGU.

The other alternative is to let someone else GM. Wouldn’t that be a shame, if I only got to play 😉

As part of my practice and learning I have been making quite a few characters. I cannot decide which I want to play. I am hovering between an Illusionist and a Mentalist. I am also considering building a monk tomorrow and seeing how he turns out.