Grappling with Grappling, Part III: New Options for Grappling in RMU

Indian Wrestler by Lordeeas: https://www.deviantart.com/lordeeas/art/Indian-Wrestler-677553936

In the first two installments of this trilogy of blogs, we saw how previous editions of Rolemaster struggled to simulate grappling, primarily because they tried to fit grappling into the standard paradigm of attack chart and critical chart. This forced wrestlers to choose between being bad wrestlers or good murderers, because successful attacks always did some concussion hit damage, and criticals were both erratic and deadly. The RM2 companions and RMSS/FRP tried to solve the problem by adding new skills, but this just increased skill bloat, without reducing the swingy-ness or the lethality of Grappling. We also saw how D&D currently offers a simple and reasonable nonlethal option for grappling, and how RMU innovates as well by adding a Grapple% to the Grappling critical chart and changing the action economy to one that runs on Action Points.

Using the new tools provided by the beta RMU rules, and simultaneously adopting the best of what previous RM editions and the present edition of D&D have to offer, I here present two options for better representing grappling in RMU. I call the first suggestion the ‘Tweak’ Option because it represents some relatively modest additons to the existing RMU rules: mostly just adding a couple of basic grappling maneuvers. I call the second option the Alternative Option because it offers an another way of resolving nonlethal grapples that you can use instead of or along with the default RMU option. But note that you can mix and match elements of these two options to produce exactly the system you want. You could for example implement the Tweak Option’s two basic maneuvers but also use the Alternative Option’s method of resolving grappling attempts with skill checks rather than attack and critical charts (see below).

Both solutions involve adding some additional actions, or combat maneuvers, to the RMU list of actions and their action point costs. I think adding some specific moves is the secret to enabling varied and realistic grappling without risking skill bloat. Thus, instead of RMSS’s Tackle skill, you just have a Tackle maneuver, which you can use so long as you have at least 1 rank in Unarmed: Wrestling. Now, you don’t have to worry every level up about buying a distinct Tackle skill in addition to Wrestling skill; instead, tackling just enters the repertoire of things you can do with your Wrestling skill. We thus avoid skill bloat while also allowing wrestlers to do all the things they love to do.

Another beneficial feature of this maneuvers system is that it allows you to choose which specific maneuvers you want to add to your game, thus enabling you to tailor the RMU grappling rules to your own playstyle, whether it is simple, complex, or anything in between. You can also easily adjust the Action Point costs of individual maneuvers to whatever you think appropriate for your game. And if you like the system, you can add further distinctive moves for various grappling styles, such as Judo’s rear naked choke, and you can assign them different prerequisites in terms of position, Grapple%, and even skill ranks (or you can keep the move simple, and your combat more fantasy-esque, by just ignoring those prerequisites).

Adding formalized maneuvers works especially well for grappling because although real-life wrestling involves a great deal of improvisation, it also encompasses a vast array of set moves with specific names, both offensive and defensive (single-leg takedown, double-leg takedown, fireman’s carry/throw, sprawl, etc.). These manuevers are thus somewhat analogous to the standard maneuvers Rolemaster has already implemented for its weapon combat (e.g. parry, shield block, dodge, disarm, subdue).

Perhaps best of all, adding these sorts of moves to Rolemaster is now easier than ever, because of the changes RMU makes to the action economy. As Aspire2Hope noted, the shorter RMU round (5 seconds as opposed to 10) makes RMU’s combat considerably more specific and less abstract. The fact that the 5 second RMU round can then be broken down still further, into 4 action points of roughly 1.25 seconds each, moves Rolemaster further away from the abstract ‘flurry of blows’ approach of earlier editions and towards a true second-by-second and move-by-move combat system. It is almost as if RMU were tailor made for this sort of grappling system.

The Tweak Option

            The first of the two options I offer here is the Tweak Option. The Tweak Option just adds two new, basic combat actions – Takedown and Shove – to RMU’s grappling rules and action costs table. These additional actions (detailed below) are the sorts of actions that grapplers are going to want to make frequently, so formalizing them with specific AP costs, prerequisites, and written descriptions provides helpful guidance for how to implement them, mechanically.

I express these maneuvers below in a manner similar to the way JDale presented his combat styles a while back (IIRC, since the forums are down and I can’t check this); I suspect my moves could be integrated into his system with little effort. Do note though that the prerequisites I list are optional, and the action point costs are tentative (feedback especially welcome on these!). These actions are also similar to the combat moves you find in games such as All Flesh Must Be Eaten (thanks Mark for that reference!). The fact that we can express these maneuvers so simply is also a feature of RMU’s streamlined action point system:

Tackle/Takedown

Cost: 3 AP

Prerequisites (optional): Unarmed (skill)

Modifiers: As melee attack

Effect: You try to tackle your target. Roll an Unarmed skill check, opposed by your target’s skill check (Acrobatics, Contortions, or Unarmed). If you win, your target is knocked down (supine), with you on top. If you are using tokens/figures and squares or hexes, you occupy the target’s square.

Shove

Cost: 3 AP

Prerequisites: Unarmed (skill)

Modifiers: As melee attack

Effect: You try to push your target. Roll an Unarmed skill check, opposed by your target’s skill check (Acrobatics, Contortions, or Unarmed). If you win, your target is knocked down (supine), or 5’ backwards (your choice). 

Size: The last thing to consider is how to handle size. Because in grappling, size really matters; that’s why wrestling has so many weight categories. D&D as we saw prohibits characters from grappling creatures more than one size larger than their own. But RMU has many more weight categories than D&D, and the RMU categories are more finely graded, so we should probably add some typical Rolemaster open-endedness instead. I suggest that combatants in RMU get a bonus to size-dependent maneuvers equivalent to 50 times the square of the size advantage. So a human fighting a Halfling (one size difference) gets a +50 bonus to any maneuvers. A Troll fighting a Halfling gets a +200 bonus. So yes, the Halfling can still try to take that Troll down, and might get very lucky. But he’ll probably have to roll at least double open-ended to do it. And he’ll have to roll high open-ended 8 times or more to trip a dragon. (If you want a still more granular approach to relative weights, you can use the bonuses in the RMU Feats of Strength rules, which rely on a precise comparison of combatants’ weights even within a size category).

The Alternative Option

            The Alternative Option involves adding a few more moves, but also offers an alternative, nonlethal method for resolving basic grappling attacks: namely, opposed skill checks. This is the system that D&D uses, and it seems to work fine; at least I don’t see too many people complaining that grappling isn’t random or deadly enough in D&D. The system I present here is influenced by the D&D system, and is thus both simpler and in some ways more realistic than the present RMU system insofar as it requires no attack chart (or even critical chart – see below). It also has the advantage of allowing me to grapple my young son without killing him, just like I do every day in real life. This solution also has an RMU twist, though, because it uses RMU skills, and can still use part of the RMU Grappling Critical chart if you want it to. To resolve grapples nonlethally in RMU, then, try adding this move:

Grapple (basic, nonlethal)

Cost: 3 AP

Prerequisites: Unarmed (skill)

Modifiers: As melee attack

Effect: Make an Unarmed skill roll, opposed by your target’s skill roll (target’s choice of Acrobatics, Contortions, or Unarmed). If you win, roll a critical on the Grapple critical chart. The severity of the critical is determined by how much your roll exceeded your target’s: 1-10 = A critical; 11-20 = B; 21-30 = C; 31-40 = D; 41-50 = E; 51-60 = F; etc. Apply any results of ‘Grapple%’ to your target, but ignore all other results. All other RMU Grappling rules apply (see Arms and Character Law, 2.7 ‘Criticals and Injuries: Grapple’).

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use the Grappling critical chart at all, then the Grapple% you impose with a successful attack equals the amount by which your roll beat your target’s (e.g. if you beat his roll by 30, you impose a 30% Grapple).

Note that this system allows you to resolve grappling attacks without any chart at all. You can still use the RMU Grappling critical chart whenever you feel like it of course, if for example you want your combat to have a chance at being lethal; and you can also at any time switch to the current RMU Grapple attack chart if you want to represent the more hostile grapples of the sort that wild creatures perform, or if the party Ranger is possessed by a demon, and the party Fighter is trying to wrestle him to the ground. You still have that flexibility.

This chartless method of resolving grappling explains how wrestlers can spar for hours without dying due to concussion hit loss. In the Rolemaster rules as they are currently written, which rely on both attack and critical charts, each successful attack causes some concussion hit damage, and even B criticals can be deadly. This means that wrestlers (especially level 1 adolescents) cannot sustain such attacks indefinitely without being knocked out or even killed. In real life, though, a single practice session for wrestlers sees them subjected to literally dozens of attacks; yet they aren’t constantly falling unconscious and dying. This is what I mean when I say a nonlethal method of resolution is actually more realistic at representing wrestling.

Now that we understand the basic system of moves and nonlethal skill resolution, we can proceed to offer some sample advanced maneuvers:

Single-Leg Takedown

Cost: 3 AP

Prerequisites: Unarmed (skill); at least 25% Grapple (position).

Modifiers: +15 to your skill check; otherwise as melee attack

Effect: Roll an Unarmed skill check, opposed by your target’s skill (Acrobatics, Contortions, or Unarmed). If you win, your target is knocked down (supine), with you on top.  

Double-Leg Takedown

Cost: 3 AP

Prerequisites: Unarmed (skill); at least 50% Grapple (position)

Modifiers: +30 to your skill check; otherwise as melee attack

Effect: Roll an Unarmed skill check, opposed by your target’s skill (Acrobatics, Contortions, or Unarmed). If you win, your target is knocked down (supine), with you on top.

Rear Naked Choke

Cost: 8 AP

Prerequisites: Unarmed or Subdual rank 5 (skill); at least 50% Grapple (position); rear (position); a breathing target

Modifiers: -25 if target is standing; otherwise as melee attack

Effect: Having taken your opponent’s back, you leverage your arms around his throat and squeeze.Roll an Unarmed skill check, opposed by your target’s skill (Acrobatics, Contortions, or Unarmed). If you win, your target falls unconscious.

Note that the single-leg takedown is better than the basic grapple or takedown: it benefits from a +15 modifier. This is because it also requires that you have a hold of one of your opponent’s legs first (the 25% grapple prerequisite). So if you can set this up by doing a basic grapple first, you will have a better chance of landing it. Similarly, the double-leg takedown has a better modifier (+30), but requires that you have a hold of both legs (50% grapple). Finally, the rear naked choke renders an opponent unconscious, but has the highest requirements and takes the most time: it costs 8 AP, and can only be performed if you already have rear position. These different maneuvers simulate the way a grappler breaks down an opponent.

Suggested Additional Rules

–Close Quarters: If you think these options make wrestling too strong, you could allow a target’s Grapple penalties to be reduced by her RMU Restricted Quarters skill, since that skill represents training in fighting in tight spaces, with a restricted range of movement. This creates an appropriate and pretty effective counter skill to wrestling, but one that only Arms users are likely to be able to afford. (Spellcasters already have lots of other tools for evading grapples, such as Teleport spells).

–Multiple Hands: How do you handle a grappler with multiple hands? You could give a bonus (e.g. +10) to grappling attacks/defenses for each additional hand a combatant employs, beyond the first. Vard Orcs will definitely be happy with that!

–Subdual: One skill that could nicely complement Unarmed: Wrestling is RMU’s Subdual skill. I like the idea of making Subdual an alternative grappling skill that could be used for moves such as the rear naked choke. This is why I list Subdual as an alternative prerequisite skill in my Rear Naked Choke move above.

–Ground and Pound: If you want to simulate an MMA-style ‘ground and pound’, whereby a wrestler first gains position on an opponent and then delivers strikes to him, you can just switch to Unarmed: Strikes once you have obtained sufficient Grapple%. All positional bonuses still apply, and you can still use the default RMU rules for breaking grips.

Conclusion

I could throw some more moves at you, but this is already a ridiculously long article, and I think now you all get the basic idea. You can probably think of many more maneuvers to add. I certainly will, and both earlier editions of Rolemaster (e.g. the Martial Arts Companion) and other games (e.g. All Flesh Must Be Eaten) give dozens more moves too. And that of course is part of the fun of the system. You can create entire combat styles that represent real or fantasy fighting traditions. And you can make grappling as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

            The most important point to note, though, is that RMU already has a chassis better built for grappling than any prior edition of Rolemaster. The action point system, the 5-second round, and the new grappling critical chart all make our job far easier than it has ever been. As long as you are willing to recognize that grappling doesn’t really fit very well into the standard Rolemaster attack chart, and that D&D can have a good idea or two sometimes, then I think the door is open to a much better system of grappling for RMU.

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

Source: http://www.amokanet.ru/gallery/gamedev/jagger_1598.html
Source: http://www.amokanet.ru/gallery/gamedev/jagger_1598.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading List and Dark Space

Over Christmas, I set myself three goals, one of which was to read the Call of Cthulhu rules. I had only ever played the game, never run it, so was familiar with the rule in practice but had never sat behind the keeper’s screen.

It is now the middle of Feb and I am still reading.

Alongside that, quite a while ago I borrowed Dark Space from one of the guys in my Rolemaster group and I have now bought the book from him as he has said that he will never run it.

This throws up the issue of insanity in Rolemaster. I have written an article about this in the latest Fanzine. The gist of the article is about how dodgy using something as glib as a low-level neurosis spell is on a player or a player who has never experienced mental health issues trying to play a neurosis for laughs could be if you have someone sat at your table that has been struggling with their own mental health.

I don’t think the argument that a group may have been playing together for years and none of you have mental health problems so this doesn’t apply to you doesn’t stack up. People can and do hide issues for years. I know that my long term GM suffered from Schizophrenia for decades before getting a diagnosis. It is also recognized that role-players as a group have higher instances of mental health issues than the population as a whole. Presumably, the possibility of living someone else’s life for a while has an appeal. I cannot find the research right now but I think it was based upon a sampling of US role players so that may not apply globally but I cannot see why it shouldn’t. People are people all over the world.

Since writing the article in the fanzine I have been thinking about this a bit more. Not from a mental health perspective but from a game mechanic point of view.

Dark Space has two options. The first is to use Stress and Depression criticals from RoCoIII, which I am really not that impressed with. The second option is to use a new Stat called Rationality (Ra). The Ra stat is a complete carbon copy of the CoC Sanity stat and you lose Ra points depending on what the character experienced and loss of Ra leads to temporary or long term insanities, which you roll on a table. This pretty much imports all of the potential problems with CoC into Rolemaster.

The Criticals solution is equally crass. It just tells the player to play their character as either depressed or suicidal with a percentage chance of suicide each week.

I am thinking about a solution that has more shades of grey to it. We already have Co drain from the undead, could we have mental [temp] stat drain from a variety of stats. So studying some material that makes you question your very understanding of how the universe works could give you a resistance roll with your Re bonus as an assist but failure leads to a reduction in your Re stat, x number of points for every 10 points of RR failure. But, here is the first of two clever bits, if the trauma were emotional you could use In as the pertinent stat and damage the In temp as a consequence.

We can import the idea of temporary mental health issues from CoC. If you lose 20% of your remaining temporary stat in a short period of time but rather than rolling on a table what we, as GMs, do is you talk to the player and discuss how their character should react to this to that trauma. This negotiated behavior means that two characters facing the same emotional hurt could react very differently. One player could choose to be callous and unfeeling, wall themselves off from others and emotional bonds. Another player may choose to make their character desperate for emotional support.

As GM you are there and agreed with how the player was going to play this personality change. That means that you can use it to reward good role-playing. You know the criteria so you can measure performance against expectations.

Now we have a system that allows you to model different types of stress and trauma, it gives the player an active role in portraying the effects and the character gets rewarded for the player playing their character well.

You could also introduce parapsychology and psychiatry as skills and use these to restore lost tempory stats. There has long been a lack of clarity in how undead Co drain was supposed to be recovered.

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

Catharsis, by Kevin Moran: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/P0Dzn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art by Conor Burke: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/m4K98

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mockery: A New Bard Base List (RMU Houserules)

Art by inXile, Concept 4: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/bard-s-tale-iv-bard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bard Base

Mockery

Level) Spell                                   Area of Effect     Duration              Range    Type

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

2) Clumsify                                          1 target                1 round                100’        F

3) Annoy *                                          1 target                1 round                50’          F

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

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

6) Trip                                                   1 target                2 rounds              100’       F

7) Confusify                                        1 target                1 round                50’          F

8) Stinkify                                            15’ radius            2 rounds              50’          F                                             

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

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

11) Taunt                                             1 target                2 rounds              100’       F

12) Boogeyman                                10’ radius            2 rounds              100’       F

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25) Mass Confusify                          20’ radius            1 round                Caster   F

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bloody Hell! RMU Bleeding

So assuming we stick with the 2 second house ruled round, which I would like to, we don’t want people to bleed out too fast.

I really like Hurin’s suggestion that bleeding 1-3hits/round will clot. If we can keep that I will be happy. The criteria would be that the character much be inactive for the clotting to start and the wound reopens if the move.

This will stop the a solo character from dying after the very first fight they have almost every time (assuming the GM doesn’t intervene to save them).

So…

  • 1 hit/rnd stops after 10rnds of inactivity. (10hits received)
  • 2 hits/rnd stop after 20rnds of inactivity (40hits received)
  • 3 hits/rnd stop after 30rnds of inactivity (90 hits received)

3 hits per round will most likely still be fatal in most cases so it is the 1 and 2 hits of bleeding that we are really talking about here.

Bleeding in a 2 second round environment is a lot more dangerous than a 10 second round environment, five times as dangerous at first glance.

That is not actually strictly true because that assumes endless combat. In my game I find that unless I intentionally set an encounter up to be longer then most combats are over in about 4 rounds.

With the RMU beta 2 as written then they took a lot longer but in RMC and RM2 four rounds was about the average. I will assume that once the final Arms Law is out then the weapons tables will be delivering more damage. I think it has been increased by 1.5?

So if fights are short, as in sub 10 rounds then the actual bleeding is not going to be the deciding factor most of the time. If it is heavy bleeding of 5 to 8hits per round then yes, that can finish a character or villain off but that is outside the scope of these changes anyway.

The point is that the duration of a round is moot if you are counting time in rounds.

So our upper bound is that if a character falls unconscious and is bleeding 3hits per round or more then they will probably die. So that is pretty much rules as written.

The lower bound is that a character bleeding 1 or 2 hits per round that falls unconscious may survive taking either 10 or 40 additional hits from bleeding.

It was suggested, JDale I beleive, that outside of combat bleeding be treated as hits per minute not hits per round. This allows for people to die up to an hour or more on the battle field if no help is forthcoming. I like this and would like to accommodate it.

What that does is mean that bleeding in combat is no different regardless of the round length. Bleeding when the character will get no help is not always 100% fatal. Bleeding out on a battle field may take minutes or hours.

The times provided by Aspire suggested 10 to 30 minutes for bleeding out. If you are unconscious and bleeding 4 per minute then that will kill most characters in that sort of time frame. It is much easier to die from loss of hits in RMU than previous versions of RM.

The only thing I would like to add is compression.

I personally would allow a character to half the blood flow on a round by round basis if they forego their action and apply compression to a suitable wound. Obviously you cannot apply pressure to internal bleeding. I would do this without the need for a first aid roll. If it were fire damage then a character can drop and roll without a skill roll. I would think that anyone who has trained in using a sword would most certainly have hurt themselves at some point so the most basic idea of stopping the blood coming out would be known.

So compression would work on the rounds when it was applied. It does not count as inactivity for clotting purposes unless the character is actually inactive while doing it. The minimum bleed remains at 1 hit/round.

The compression rule becomes a tactical decision. Which now makes me think of concentration and mental focus. If I am told to keep hold of something and not move and my mind wanders I am quite likely to let my hand drift. So can you keep compressing a wound if you are maintaining a spell?

Taking all of that into account does that seem fair? I feel that bleeding per 2 second round in combat and per minute out of combat is roughly equal to Aspires ‘per 10 seconds’ if you averaged it out. The clotting does only cover the lightest of possible bleeding and is touch and go at 3hits. Compression forces characters to make tactical decisions. Characters will still die from blood loss.

So over to you. Can we make this better?

RMU Combat and My House Rules

So this time I am really wide open to suggestions!

What I have done in the past and certainly want to keep is the 2 second combat round. I use this in RMC and it works perfectly.

I have eliminated all notion of flurry of blows. Every attack is discrete. Short combat rounds have a few knock on effects.

Movement

Obviously in 2 seconds you can move 20% of what you could move in a 10 second round or now 40% of what you would move in an RMU round. I have never like the notion of the detailed 1AP count down in RMU but I think this is because my 2 second rounds provide almost exactly the same granularity but with out flurry of blows you don’t have to start an attack 5 seconds before you even see your target.

Shorter rounds make things naturally more tactical as it is entirely possible to get peppered by bullets/arrows/spears if you try and cross an open space without covering fire.

Spell Casting

RMC doesn’t have the fast and penalty free casting of RMU but 2 second rounds comes close to emulating that. If your mage is being charged down then because movement is 20% as fast they have more time to prep and cast. So I kept the requirement for 2 rnds prep, cast on the 3rd round despite the rounds being shorter, so 3 x 2 second rounds not 30 seconds.

This has produced some fun situations where one member of a charging party chose to accelerate faster to get to a spell caster that was prepping a spell hoping to get there before the spell was cast. The fact that the players’ plan was kind of dependent on the entire party arriving simultaneously went completely out the window. 

Spell Effects

I do not adjust the spell effects to take into account the shorter round. This does change things. Spells that last hours, minutes or seconds are potentially more powerful especially ones that have a combat usefulness.

Spells that last for rounds/level or rounds/ 5 or 10 RR failure are possibly weaker. If you wanted to blind an opposing magician while you all charge then the charge will take more rounds making Sudden Light less useful in that situation.

On the other hand shorter rounds make ranged spells more powerful as it is harder to get out of range or you need to spend more rounds in range if you are trying to close distance.

I have been playing these rules under RM2/RMC for something like 7 years and this has never been a problem, but it does have an impact of spell selection sometimes.

The impact under RMU should be half that as it was under RM2/RMC as the spells are all set up for 5 second round and not 10 seconds. I don’t think this is going to be an issue.

Bleeding

I do have a house rule that bleeding 1 hit per round will stop on its own after 50 rounds of inactivity. the reason I have this is because I spent a few years when I only had one player and multiple times they were knocked unconscious and bleeding 1hit/round. There was no chance of me being able to justify bringing in an unexpected NPC so they should have bled out. This happened just too often for my liking so once the character is unconscious, and therefore not moving, if there is no one around to save you or finish you off that 1 hit of bleeding will stop.

I mention all of that as bleeding is more dangerous with shorter rounds. I don’t want to halve the bleeding in all the criticals but there is another solution.

The first is the natural clotting I mentioned above and the second is staunching the flow.

Staunching the flow takes 1 hand to do and basically means the character is applying pressure to stem the flow of blood. No First Aid or medical skill roll is required. The character can choose on a round by round basis if they want to apply the pressure. The down side is that you cannot use that hand for anything else while staunching the flow of blood. So no shield or just shield by no attacks.

The effect of staunching the flow is to half the blood loss for that round. I tend to round down so staunching 5hits/round will result in bleeding 2/rnd.

This gives characters a way of mitigating the more dangerous effects bleeding in the 2 second rounds without having to make changes to every critical table. It also makes another tactical choice available for characters.

Action Points

I have never used an Action Point system. I am a big fan of the RMC percentage action system. I have just viewed AP as blocks of 25% activity.

If you eliminate the AP by AP tactical round then lots of the problems with the Action Point system disappear.

I know Hurin has suggested in the past adopting a D&D 5e approach to what can be done in a round but I don’t know much about what that entails now. The last time I played D&D it was in about 1993 and it was 2nd Ed. I think.

So what is the best solution to stay as compatible as possible to RMU but using a 2 second round?

RMU House Rule #2 Skills

Before we start I want to set out two core concepts.

  1. These rules are based around No Profession.
  2. Characters will only be buying skills once. (Thereafter training and experience will take over.)

So I am quite happy with the RMU cultures rules and free skills ranks. I do think that GMs should tinker with the ranks both number and distribution to fit their game and play style but apart from that I am cool with cultures.

The biggest bone of contention is the category cost vs individual skills costs.

The individual skills cost for professions is rather moot if you don’t have professions. The hang over is that I can see why people would want to differentiate their characters.

I don’t want to go down the Training Packages route which of course would put a ‘skin’ or ‘build’ over the top of the No Profession.

The No Profession has the nice feature of being able to choose where to place your professional skill bonuses. That guarantees that each player can customise their character.

The best solution so far is Intothatdarknesses variable skill costs.

So there is a standard skill cost progression which I assume will not change again. So I am think that in each category each player may reduce one skill cost by two steps and one skill by one step.

I was concerned that assigning skill costs up front may mean that should a future skill be introduced that characters are then unfairly penalised. I am thinking about RM2 and when Two Weapon Combo was introduced in RoCoII.

On the other hand if the players are only adjusting two skill costs in each category they are not actually locking themselves out of any skill.

This solution also solves another potential problem. The default number of DPs had has been increased from 50 to 60 but the No Profession profession is less efficient than most others so I have been upping the number of DPs 70. Now if each player can reduce the cost of their preferred skills that will redress that balance between the inefficiency of the No Profession and the off the peg professions.

RMU Skills

I like the RMU skills and I like the way combat expertise works. On the other hand I don’t like passive skills and passive bonuses. In all versions of RM each and all skill has been optional and I cannot see any real reason why I cannot simply drop the skills I don’t like, or more the case of redefining the skills. Just dropping the passive skill bonuses solves a lot of my issues.

So I think with just those two house rules I am good with the RMU skill system.

RMU House Rule #0

OK, so I thought I would take a break from my HARP series today and write about RMU for a change.

This is inspired by the comment made by Aspire2Hope on the post RMU to Infinity and Beyond.

So as you all know my RMC house rules do not use levels or professions. I also use point buy for stats and fixed concussion hits. Basically my entire character creation is dice free so I am perfectly happy to allow players to create their characters away from the gaming table. As long as we have discussed character background and motivations and that is all acceptable then the GM is no longer needed.

What I would like to start is another occasional series of posts where I/we:

  1. take what we know of the state of RMU
  2. for each aspect I state my intended goal
  3. We marry the two together to get a coherent house rule

So for example stat bonuses are neither linear nor exactly bell curve. I would like stat bonuses that don’t need a table to work out so I would throw out there (Stat-50)/3 gives a range of 0 to +/-17. That is slightly more generous than RMU as written with the rate of bonuses increasing and at the top end bonus, +15 vs +17 but it also does away with a table.

I don’t really want my house rules to break the compatibility with RMU too much. I would still like to be able to use off the shelf ICE products but at the same time I would like to promote my ideas of simplicity and speed of play at the gaming table.

Things that I think will cause the most debate will be what to keep in and what to throw out. So we could have a set of simplified house rules and a set of optional house rules that plug in things that I don’t feel the need to use but others do. Allegedly, I am not always right and if that is the case then having alternatives would be good.

This is also an opportunity to build things that are missing like dedicated two handed weapons tables and fix their lack of stopping power.

The big one will be magic. I have never been really happy with Spell Law but it was always too big a challenge to fix but committing myself to doing publically may force me to get the job done.

So that is my intentions. The first and foremost task will be to completely rebuild character creation.

Anyone up for a challenge?