Roleplaying Games Do Not Exist

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Roleplayers as people exist and roleplayers as gamers exist but roleplaying games do not really exist. What is in the rule books is a framework from which the Game Master can create a vision of his world, or bring another world to life.

There was a thread onthe ICE Forums this week about how many development points you as a GM give your players. Some gave more, some gave less and it really sort of stacked up along ruleset lines. RMSS/RMFRP generally gave more as that game has many more skills that the characters are expected to have. RM2 has many skills and so the GMs generally gave more and RMC GMs seemed to give the least but the game has the least skills. No shocks there really but what was interesting was that nearly every GM clearly had a difference of opinion of that was requird or what was the ‘norm’ and even what was possible but we were all broadly meant to be playing the same game and even if you split us into ruleset camps we still did not generally agree.

Another reason only see the rules as a framework is that I have spent nearly 6 months now working with another GM in trying to decide exactly what rules we want to apply from all the rulebooks and companions. We mostly agree but there are red lines that we have drawn because to cross them would break our personal world view(s). We are nearly half a year in to this and less than half way through the companions. We have been playing together since about 1984, you would not think that two people playing the same game would be so far apart.

All versions of Rolemaster that I have seen (I have never played or even read the rulebooks for RMSS/RMFRP or Rolemaster Express) have been very modular and very consistent in their approach to describing the characters world. This means that it is very easy to slot in an optional rule and have it work seamlessly with all the other rules. The companions have optional rules and options for the optional rules. Some options have four or more solutions to the proposed problem, all of them viable but some impact on complexity others on the power level of the game.

This modular approach lends itself to house rules because you know that the rules will work if you follow the style of the rules as written. I am not a fan of house rules and generally do not use them, I don’t see the need and in my opinion most cause more problems that they solve because they are normally one persons opinion and completely or relatively untested.

When I played DnD I can remember discounting great swathes of the rules (the table of all the different weapons vs armour classes and all the plusses and minuses never got used) and almost every month when we bought White Dwarf or Dragon magazine we would add in more spells, character classes or alternative rules. House ruling is not a Rolemaster problem is a natural occurance when you have highly creative and imaginative people trying to create worlds.

I would say there are as many versions of every roleplaying game as there are GMs running those games. All variations are valid and of equal worth and all are unique. DnD does not exist but there are a great many DnD derived games just as there are a great many Rolemaster variations out there.

Ironically I would have said that there are as many versions of the Fearun as there are GMs/DMs running that setting too. As GMs I don’t really think we can leave anything alone can we?

Comparing DnD and Rolemaster Professions

What I would like to achieve is attract some new players into the Rolemaster fold. Additionally Spectre771 has recently asked me what character professions were available. Below is a table with the DnD classes on the left and the possible best match professions to the right. I took this list from Wikipedia and it does not match my memory. I definitely remember the assassin as a profession and I am sure that wizards were called magic users but then there have been so many versions of DnD since I played that I am well out of touch.

D ‘n’ D Class Rolemaster Profession
Barbarian Barbarian
Bard Bard
Cleric Cleric (variations based upon deity)
Druid Animist
Fighter Fighter
Monk Monk
Warrior Monk
High Warrior Monk
Paladin Paladin
Champion
Ranger Ranger
Venturer
Rogue Thief
Rogue
Nightblade
Burglar
Sorcerer Sorcerer
Arch Mage
Wizard Magician
Illusionist
Mystic
Seer

There are some other professons that do not seem to have a direct equivelant. These are the Elemental Warrior (seven variants) which I suspect is on a par with the swordmage and six other spell casters; Healer, Alchemist, Astrologer, Mentalist, Lay Healer and Delver.

In my personal view Healers are terrible PCs. The way magic works in Rolemaster is that you learn lists of spells and they fall into three groups. Open lists are the easiest to learn but also the least powerful. Closed lists are restricted to just the pure and hybrid spell casters and are more powerful and Base lists that are unique to each profession. So the difference between an illusionist’s spells and a magician’s will be in the six base lists for each profession. Channelling spell caster’s closed lists are frequently about healing so all pure and hybrid channeling users can heal. A Healer then has access to the weaker open lists and then closed healing magic and then even more base healing magic. It is just a bit too much of the same thing with too few other options.

The Astrologer is often a hard character to GM as the profession can see into the future. How do you handle a character than knows what will happen before the party even open the door to the vault?

The alchemist is there to create magic items, that is what they do. Their spells and processes can take weeks to cast and complete but their range of spells is quite useful.

The Delver is a knowledge seeker. The best Delver I have ever seen in play was heavily influenced by Indiana Jones and was quite fun to play alongside.

The mentalism professions are the pure Mentalist and the Lay Healer. Think of these as your psionicists or as I like to think of them Jedi. The lay healer is one of my favourite professions for a PC.

So if you are one of the people who wants to play in my version of the Forgotten Realms then those are the professions you have to choose from and if you are moving from DnD to Rolemaster those are the equivelants to help you get oriented.

I am farily sure I will have offended someone with my assessment of the Healer but then every class probably has their own fans and detractors.

My Take On Spell Lists and Spell Casters

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I don’t watch much TV but one of the programmes I do like is The Good Wife. There is an episode called Goliath and David which centres around copyright and derivative works. Bear with, I going somewhere with this. In the TV programme one group of musicians had covered another artists song with permission, so that was fine but they had changed it considerable musically, the melody etc. A third group, a major TV station had then taken the derived work and used it in a TV show and then released it on iTunes and made $2.3Million dollars.

The TV lawyers argue back and forth with the defence for the TV network being that their song writer was inspired by the same original song and arrived at the same melody just by chance. The Judge at that point cannot possibly rule as to who was inspired by what and the story moves on.

Now does it not strike you as strange that four magicians, all of who have an interest in fire leave the guild/academy/their master with exactly the same spell, being Boil Water. To make it worse these four magicians come from very different places, races, cultures. One comes from Middle Earth, one from Shadow World, one from Shadowdale in Fearun and one from the world of Greyhawk but they still all only know the one boil water spell. If a similar melody in two different cover versions of a song is suspicious then what is going on here?

Anyone who wants to play a spell caster in either my face to face game or my pbp game is going to discover that learning magic is hard. I do not allow you to add any stat or level bonus to spell gain rolls. I do not allow more than one list to be learned at the same time (unless you buy 20 ranks in the first list of course) and I do not use the ‘magic as a skill’ rules. You will probably get one list per level with a some people investing a lot in spell lists getting a slim chance of learning a second list (spend 21DP on magic gives you one automatic list and 5% chance of a second list). Typically PCs get 35-40DPs a level so 21 is a huge investment at the cost of everything else.

You would think that if a first level spell caster only has the two lists (one at apprenticeship and one at first level) then they are even more likely to be exactly the same.

That isn’t true. In another game I am just creating a character for magic is more common and my first level character has 5 lists, two learned at apprenticeship and three at first level. I will be starting with almost all of the professions base lists. Any other person under the same rules and the same profession would be severely tempted to learn all of the base lists as well.

This does of course change with the profession. All the healers would be silly to not buy all their base lists. Who wants a healer who looks at the main fighter in the group and then tuts and says “Sorry mate, I don’t do bones.” Illusionists are the same, you cannot use your Major Illusion base list unless you already know all the seperate ‘mirage’ spells so they must learn all bar one of their base lists.

Magicians are different. Every base list basically has a mix of offensive and defensive spells. Shockbolt is the lowest level directed spell but you have to wait until much later to get lightning bolt, the most powerful directed spell. Firebolt comes much later than Shockbolt but you then get Fireball soon after. Wall of Fire doesn’t offer any protection but does hurt your opponent, Wall of Water adds 80 to your DB. They are a group of comparable spell lists rather than complimentary spell lists. If you had five lists at first level then maybe two of your base lists are worth having but also start to learn the invisibility list, the flying list and the detection spell list.

Now this is where my rules start to create more variety. Rather than everyone knowing all their base lists by second level, you have to start to make those choices. What is important to YOUR character? You can meet two different first level magicians and have them know different spells and that will change their approach to all the problems faced by the party. The magician with detection and scrying magic is just as important as the Fireball thrower.

Restricting lists is only part of it. On its own it could be seen as taking some of the fun away from playing a low level spell caster. Afterall, two spells and you are probably done for the day.

I actively encourage  and almost insist on spell research. I imagine it as the spell casters right of passage from apprentice to being their own man/woman. Now you may have only two lists but you should be on the way to learning a new, unique to you, first level spell. This spell gives you (at first level) as many spells as someone with three lists and if you learn more first level spells then the same as four lists or five lists. There is no reason not to have three first level spells on each list if you have the inspiration.

A DnD first level magic users has the choice of charm person, magic missile, burning hands and sleep. All of which give them an offensive capability. A rolemaster magician can make the tea. It is not quite the same. Of that list of DnD spells the only one open to a first level magician is Sleep. Do you as a GM want every single magician to learn Spirit Mastery and then cast sleep at the start of every encounter?

I have written a lot recently on spell research both here and in articles for the Guild Companion. I feel really strongly about it being the missing link in the chain that that stops the ‘spell list’ model from producing jelly mold or cookie cutter spell users.

If you are going to play a spell caster in any of my games prepare to get creative!

Clear the decks, the PCs are coming!

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I have run two weekends now of my face to face Forgotten Realms game and there is nothing else planned until September. This leaves me free to concentrate on my pbp game.

The setting will be Waterdeep and the North. The rules will be mostly RMC with a few options thrown in from RM2 companions and the condensed combat system from the Combat Companion. The gaming platform will be www.rpol.net.

If you read this blog and are interested in being a player then drop me an email. I already have two players lined up.

You will be starting as a solo character to give you a chance to find you feet and if parties form then it will because they happened naturally. I am not going to force people together unnaturally.

I have most of my free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I would prefer a posting frequency of twice a week but if the character is alone or just in conversation then I will happily post more frequently. I am based in the UK so will be operating on GMT but I am generally online from 7am until 11pm most days.

Any questions then give me a shout.

Well that was a hard core RPG weekend

As you know I normally post my Monday updates at about 8am but there was no way that was going to happen today! We started gaming at about 2:40pm on Friday and finally gave up at 3am Saturday morning. Up again at 6am and played until 1am Sunday but we did take two hours out to go to an Indian restaurant for a Lamb Biryani then up at 6am Sunday and played through until Midday.

Sunday evening was calculating experience time and then this morning I was so tired I could barely put a sentence together let along spell it correctly. Someone recently pointed out that I was spelling Kobold as Kobald. This morning I was spelling Peter as ;sjrhga;lrfhfa. I just went horse riding for an hour and the horse just looked at me as if I was stupid whenever I tried to tell it to do anything. I guess today I cannot speak horse either. God help me tonight at the fencing club.

So the highlights of the weekend was the Party finally making it the Drow stronghold section of the cave complex they have been exploring and mapping. Having bypassed the outer guards, gatecrashed a religious ceremony and slaughtered the unsuspecting drow worshipers they then made short work of the Priestess of Lloth but not before she had turned one of the dead Drow into a Zombie behind the party. A lucky strike made short work of it taking half its head off in the first blow of the combat. Job Done! The party pressed on into the stronghold freeing dwarven slaves as they went and trying to find the drow overseer who they had learned was here with an apprentice. Int he end the overseer fled as he was seriously out numbered and his ruse to get the party to surrender failed. A general round of clapping each other on the back of a job well done when the Zombie reentered the fray having recovered from its wounds.

The party had had enough it him this time and chopped him into lots of little bits and the kicked the bits all over the place. I guess that should keep him down of a while this time.

All in all a sucessful outcome. The party still haven’t explored everything they set out to map but with nearly 30 slave hostages to return to the surface they have had to escort them out first. As a first level party a night in an inn to recover from wounds and restore some power points is not a bad idea.

Hopefully next time they will finish this mission as they are starting to get a bit of a reputation amongst the locals for being a bit heroic.

As for Shadow World technically we all survived and we saved the world. Actually I died in the first round of combat in t he big showdown but they brought me back afterwards. I was playing my illusionist and the big boss was not effected by illusions which left me with just the ‘Strike’ spell. We were in fairly close quarters so range was not an issue. The entire party bar myself was enthralled by the 60th level (as we were told afterwards) Godling and I needed to do something to save them. It is hard to use the phrase ‘all guns blazing’ when all you can do is a rank 1 martial arts strike using a 2nd level spell. I also missed despite having a directed spells skill with Strike of +167. That is not what I wanted to be remembered for though. In my telling of the story “I was in lone combat with a God to save the world. The world is still here so you can guess the outcome yourself.” That is my version and I am sticking to it!

 

Shadow World – So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, adieu

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This will be a very brief post. I am on my way to Shadow World or more accurately I am about to get the train to meet up with my fellow players and GM for the final battle in the Shadow World campaign.

Considering that the characters were created for a one off adventure to introduce us to Shadow World and that was six years ago I think as an introduction it worked pretty well. Either tonight or tomorrow morning we will defeat the evil god Kabis or die trying either way that will be the end of our adventures in Shadow World.

We have been running two games each weekend to share the GMing duties and so everyone gets to play. These have been my Forgotten Realms game and the Curse of Kabis in Shadow World. Starting in the Autumn it will be Faerûn and a homebrew world.

Our Shadow World GM was the last diehard RM2 advocate as well. Myself and the new GM have both made the jump to Rolemaster Classic so it will be a little bit of a changing of the guard in that respect as well.

I will report back how the party faired next week. Hopefully they will get a bit further on and I will be able to share more details of creatures I have converted over. I had expected their opening adventure to be over long before this but you can never tell. What looks like something they will skip through in minutes can end up taking half a day to roleplay.

Until next week then…

The Ghost of Christmas to Come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who Am I? I’m 24601!

OK, So I am not Jean Valjean. I’m not even French. Here is a little story for you that got me thinking about NPCs in the world around the party and could be useful to DnD DMs moving over to Rolemaster.

I took up fencing with Sabre and Epee after the London 2012 Olympics. I started with Sabre but after six months or so I tried Epee and for me it was everything I was looking for in a sword fight.

Three months ago I took up horse riding again. I did it for a few years as a teenager but gave it up when I was about 14. They say that at that age boys either give up horse riding or turn super competitive. I obviously was one of the former not the latter.

Tomorrow I am going running, just for fitness. I swore I would only go running when I saw a happy jogger. They always look in pain to me but I am getting fatter by the week and need to do something as I am 47 in three weeks time and staying fit is not getting any easier.

Back in February I was going to a gaming weekend with a friend and I commented that with the fencing and new horseriding hobby, if I could find an archery club near me I could be a first level fighter by the time I am 50. My friend replied that I was probably higher level than that as a Computer Technician (a SpaceMaster profession).

He was probably right but what level am I and what level are the normal people in the world around the player characters?

In DnD most people are 0 level human, 1d6 hit points, AC 10 as I remember. Things are a litte different in Rolemaster. Rolemaster has a profession (class) called ‘No Profession’ and that is a sort of generic person. If you really needed to detail someone because they have become important to the story then unless they are one of the player character professions (or an evil variant) then the No Profession is where you would start.

But at what level? For most people that the party meet, who cares? You do not need to roll every waiter and barmaid the players meet nor every blacksmith or horse dealer. I would only consider creating NPCs that are going to have a direct impact on the players story and will have to make skill rolls or combat rolls and the like.

I normaly work on this schedule. People who are just living their normal lives whatever that may be with no significant threats, I give them one level for every five years beyond the age of 16. for people living a harder life or with regular existential threats then it is one level for every four years. This is where I would put your normal gate/town or wall guard and even farmers living on the very edge of civilisasation. For people who are actively going into dangerous situations on a daily basis such as caravan guards, sell swords or tyrants bodyguards then it is one level for every three years.

So here are some concrete examples.

A courtesan, early 20s, would be 2nd level with a couple of skill ranks in performing arts type skills such as dance or playing an instrument, social and political history, heraldry and etiquette. I imagine that would take up most of their development points but you may want to buy a single rank in dagger if it is that sort of world. The character would be useful to the party in helping them navigate the dangers of a political campaign and may have skills they lack.

A farmer, 56 years old, raising crops and live stock. Here we have an 8th level NPC with skills in various ‘Lores’, herb lore, flora lore (so he knows what to plant where and when), fauna lore (so he knows what to feed each animal and what predators are local), animal handling, loading, driving, some animal healing. Some performing arts, a bit of dance and a musical instrument, useful for attracting a wife and a few ranks in weapon skills. There probably have been a few instances of banditry in the area, joining a posse or driving off or hunting wolves and that sort of thing. He may even have served in a peasant levy at some time. I doubt he has a sword but spears are good all round weapons, easy to make and do not need much metal, bows are likewise and both are good for hunting.

The guys stood at the city gates or patrolling the walls could vary. In a war torn area a guard in his early thirties could be 5th level in a peaceful region just 3rd. If the same guard had been in the rank and file of an army in a protracted war then he could be as high as 6th level.

In these three examples I would make the courtesan and the farmer ‘No Profession’ but the guards would be fighters. Character Law has a table of all the core professions with typical armour types, and skills and even the typical number of spell lists and to what level.

So what am I? Well I’m nearly 47, living a peaceful not particularly stressful or dangerous life so by my own reckoning I would be a 7th level No Profession or IT professional (in RM parlance that would probably make me a rogue or thief depending on your opinion of IT guys)

Three weeks and counting

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My next face to face game session is in 3 weeks today. The party has been in the same underground cave system (under the tower of Ashaba) in human terms since November 2014. They have had 24hrs of actual play time since then and hopefully they should get another 20hrs of play time in the next gaming weekend. This particular weekend will be a bit different as one game we have been playing for the past six years will come to an end. We had been having half the weekend playing in Shadow World and half in my Forgotten Realms world. I suspect that all the Shadow World characters will die very quickly on Friday night or early Saturday.

I am still migrating them slowly off of Rolemaster 2nd Edition (RM2) and onto Rolemaster Classic (RMC) and this time they will see the biggest changes to play.

The stand out changes will be in combat and there is normally a lot of combat in our sessions. The Shadow World GM liked to have one big fight at the end of each session, al most like an end of level boss. After years of this several things stood out. Firstly as a GM he would tend to evenly match the numbers of bad guys to players. I do not mean that there were always four bad guys, but we stormed a tower and every level had four defenders. I do not remember how many guys were with the boss at the top but there were definitely the boss and two lieutenants but there probably was someone else as well. In another fight there were four war trolls as body guard to an evil sorcerer, we sort of defiled a temple to Orgiana and had to fight four demons and then three summoned monsters and a living statue. As you may guess that there are four characters in the party. Where this would fall down was that as we grew more powerful some of us had multiple attacks via haste, adrenal move speed or two weapon combo or a comination of two of those. Others in the party were still doing one single attack a round. Now four enemy vs four PCs did not equate to one kill each. What actually happened is that two of us would kill our target and then finish off the wounded foe of another party member. Over time this lead to up to a six levels difference between the highest and lowest level party members. Six levels makes a lot of difference in Rolemaster.

The second observation was that it was extremely rare for a combat to take more than six rounds to complete. It is very rare for anyone to last more than three rounds in single combat and it was unusual for the GM to pit us against more than two vs one odds. When you get to three against one in Rolemaster the fight is much more likely to bigger force. What this means is that the Magician in the party really did not believe in conserving power points.

As a GM I have a different style. The players have not really noticed yet as they are just first level and there is a limit of how much you can throw at a first level party but things will change. They already have enough experience to level up and the job is not done yet and the biggest challenges are yet to come as are the biggest rewards.

So to get back on topic, I am migrating the party more over to RMC and the changes this time will be in combat. One of the big differences between the two systems is that in RMC you roll initiative and the fastest person goes first. In RM2 that is not strictly true. RM2 has a system of Phases. Magic is resolved first, then missile, then movement and finally melee. So imagine this situation. One character draws back his bow string and aims at almost point blank range at a high level magician. At the start of the next round before that arrow can be released the magician can cast a spell. If the magician is over 17th level he can cast lightning bolt and kill the archer or teleport and escape because they take place in the spell phase and the magician needs no preparation time then only way the archer can possibly kill the magician is if the mage fumbles his attack roll. Even of the archer rolled the best initiate roll possible and the magician rolled the worst magic always goes first. Not in RMC. You roll your initiative and the fastest person goes first. Bang,.. dead magician!

The second change is that I am using the condensed combat system from the Rolemaster Classic Combat Companion. This was an excelent companion but you can only get it on ebay these days despite begging for an updated version (something to do with (licensing the artwork).

Going back to the Shadow World game, the bog end of level boss fight as I have said was generally four vs four or four vs five and generally lasted no more than six combat rounds. This would probably take three hours to resolve. Part of the problem was that we generally had so many attacks to resolve but still six combat rounds in three hours is not exactly a blistering pace.

The condensed combat system takes everything from eight to ten pages of Arms Law and condenses it down on to a single page. You get multiple weapons on a page and the matching critical. If in the past one person was using a scimitar and another a broadsword each would have their own page for attacking and you could need three different critical tables (each on their own page). Each page ofthe condensed system handles up to 10 weapons and their criticals.

Another nice touch is that before every pointy weapon did puncture critical, every blade did slases, every blunt instrument did krushes (as the books had it). Now long blades have their own critical, great blades have their own. Crossbows do different criticals than drawn bows and so on. This section of the book offers greater realism and greater simplicity and greater speed of exectution.

The way I like to run combats is more like you see in the James Bond movies, a sequence of encounters, back to back with little or no respite. In a big blow out if someone gets injured it makes little difference as you can heal them after the event and everyone is fit to fight another day. In a rolling combat you have to carry this wounded companion with you. Bleeding wounds are a bigger issue and healing on the move. The spell casters will need to conserve their power and that means making the best possible use of the lower level spells that than firing off a fireball every round.

Lots of people like to use the RM software Combat Minion but I am reticent to use a computer programme to resolve combat. I may go there but if I can avoid it I will.

In the meantime I will let you know how long it takes to carry out a decent combat.

Creating a Rolemaster Golem (or “In just 7 days I could make you a man”)

I am still trying to read as much Realms Lore as possible and one of the things that struck me was that Golems are a fairly common magical defence for the spell casters of Faerun but there is no mechanism for their creation in Rolemaster (that I know of).

Under the ‘good old days’ of Rolemaster 2nd Edition (RM2) there should have been a whole companion dedicated to Golems and at least a profession of Golem maker.

What I like about Rolemaster Classic (RMC) is that it does not come with that huge canon of companions and expansions. Just three pages from Spell Law are about all you need to introduce a coherent set of spells needed to introduce Golems into your world.

Firstly lets have a look at a Golem. A flesh golem is a 5th level creature. The description is pretty much what you would expect if you are familiar with the D&D creature, a sort of Frankenstein’s monster inbued with a spirit. I don’t see this as an inherently evil act, it is not particularly pleasant and not to be done on the kitchen table but I do not want to restrict the construction of flesh golems to the evil magician profession.

Here is how I want to approach it. I am assuming that creating the flesh golem is not that different from creating an undead. Rather than having to have a whole dead body the body may be constructed from different parts but the body needs to exist and is not created by the spell. The Golem is 5th level and a Type III undead is also 5th level. To create a Type III undead requires an 11th level spell (Necromancy, Evil Clearic Base List). I think this is just about the right level and 11th level is a bit special. Hybrid and Semi spell users cannot cast 11th or higher level spells unless they have chosen the list as one of their base lists. This will keep Golems on the rare side and not something that everyone seems to do. Below is the description for the Create Undead I spell, Create Undead III just allows upto type III udead to be created.

-5. Create Undead I – Given a body that has been dead less than 1 week, the caster can turn the body into a Class I Undead. The Undead will attempt to attack the closest living being (if uncontrolled), but can take no other activity other than moving to the being and attacking. If controlled, the Undead will do anything (within its capabilities) that the caster wills. The Undead can be Dispelled, Repelled, or just smashed into little pieces.

So to create my spell I can use this as a model so we get

-11th lvl, Create Flesh Golem, Area varies, Duration P, Range 10′, Type F.

Given a suitable body the caster can turn the body into a Flesh Golem. The Golem will attempt to attack the closest living being (if uncontrolled), but can take no other activity other than moving to the being and attacking. If controlled, the Golem will do anything within its capabilities.

So what list does this belong on? I could create a ‘Golem Ways’, or Golem Mastery list as I am not going to stop at just flesh golems and that is a real possibility but the key here is that the golem is a body inbued with a spirit and one of the cornerstone spell lists for nearly all essence spell users is Spirit Mastery. So I am going to put this on the spirit mastery list.

We still have an outstanding problem though. Our golem is uncontrolled. We need a way of controllling it. On the spirit mastery spell list, the stock 11th level spell is Quest

-11. Quest – Target is given one task; failure results in a penalty determined by the GM (task must be within capabilities of target). If the target ignores the quest, they will suffer the same effects as for failure.

This is perfect! As soon as the Golem is created you then have to give it a quest, the quest being its purpose. This means that the purpose must be defined at the time of creation. This will stop a player from creating an army of golems to do act as general purpose soldiers. The failure condition I would rule will release the spirit from the golem effectively killing it.

The three pages of spell law are pages 52-54, Spell Research. Our spell right now does not exist. For a spell caster to learn it they will need to do the research. To research an 11th level spell takes 8 months 1 week. (33 weeks) assuming 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week. (in RMU it will only take 18 weeks as a different formula is used for spell research durations.) As a rule of thumb that is not something that most PCs are going to do but they could if it was that important. The spell could be taught to another spell caster who knew Spirit Mastery already in 8 weeks. Now that is short enough to fit into most campaigns. I have seen characters with wounds that took longer to heal than that. This even is beginning to sound like a reason to go on an adventure to find someone who has already researched this sort of magic and so on.

What  have described is the process to give this spell to essence users but there is no reason why this does not appear on the necromancy list or at a stretch on the Life Mastery list (Cleric Base). On that list 12th level is the first time a Cleric can actually raise the dead so binding a soul into a flesh body is still viable if the clerics god would allow that. The 11th level Sorcerer Soul Destruction list acutally has a spell that can transfer part of a soul into an organic object. If they are already moving souls around this could then fit in here as well. These other professions may lack the Quest part of the process but then they just need to research that if there is no suitable spell available.

Flesh Golems are all very well but you wouldn’t want to take one home to meet your parents.

A Stone Golem is 10th level and a Type IV undead is 10th level. I think we have a match there. I would put it on the Earth Law list for the Magician but equally it fits on Solid Manipulation. The matching Create Undead spell is 15th level so I would put Create Stone Golem at 15th level. It would still need the 11th level Quest spell to control it. Iron Golems are 15th level and the matching undead spell is 25th level.

The question is, is it worth creating an entire list of for creating constructs? There are all sorts of things that could be created this way from stone gargoyles, living statues and animated suits of armour. You could dot the spells around on suitable lists such as animate object spells on the Essence Hand or Telekinesis lists or bring them all together.

It is my preference, and nothing but preference, to dot them around the other lists. If I put them all together and a player learns that list they are going to want to use it, logically enough. Whilst golems are no more powerful than undead social convention prevents them [the undead] from being used excessively. Stone Golems on the other hand could be placed around the formal gardens of a house with a purpose of protecting the inhabitants in great number. Suits of armour could line every hallway ready to leap into action and so on.

If you are familiar with Faerun then you will know that golems are use a lot as protectors of magicians towers, bank vaults and the like. Now I have the mechanism for their creation and control.