The Essaence: Thoughts for magic in Shadow World.

 

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As we gather here, of primary importance is to answer this question: what is this “Viir”, as we now call it, this seeming essential force that permeates our planetary system?  Let us review.  It’s been almost 75 years since our orbital sensors first detected these energy emissions.  Tachyon detectors, plasma traps, electron screens and a variety of other particle shields all registered this force—all of them.  Is it all of these? Or is it something altogether new to our reality?

We are close to locating its source within our system—perhaps in the gravity well between the planet and its second moon.  What do we know?  It’s unclear if this energy is modifying and transmuting our physical laws or subsuming them.  The “Viir” seems to fundamentally change both ionic and covalent bonds for molecular and macromolecular structures.  In practice this energy field is also distorting chemical interactions and material structures most acutely—its effect on life forms and our planetary biome is still under analysis.

…Perhaps most perplexing and disconcerting is that the background level of the field seems to be growing….

…..We are now monitoring two dozen subjects that have exhibited unusual sensitivity to the Viir.  We have yet to isolate the specific epigenetic mechanism that allows for this, but our experiments lead us to believe that the subjects are increasing their sensitivity through time and effort.  It is our belief that sensitivity acts as a feedback loop, allowing these subjects to conversely manipulate these fields to some unknown effect.

Notes on the “Viir”

Excerpts from Emergency Meeting,

Althan Imperial Science Committee

Like every fantasy game setting, Kulthea is a world of magic, bathed in energy flows (Essaence) which provide the underpinnings for magical abilities. Unlike many other settings however, the Shadow World is also identified as being in our “known universe”, (the planet Ceril VII). This makes Kulthea somewhat unique: a fantasy setting within our real world with an aberration of the physical laws of existence. Of course this is a game, so a bit of hand waving can gloss over any logical discrepancies.

For those that play a cross-genre setting (other Sci-fi and fantasy) or want a consistent framework for the magical systems then some more details need to be considered. Over the years we’ve put together a framework during our own rewrite of Spell Law and for arbitrating Essaence effects during gameplay.

We’ve also posted up some basic rules for magic and technology on the RM Forums here.

What is Essaence?

The Essaence is a fifth energy along with the Strong Force, Weak Force, Electromagnetism and Gravity and interacts with and modifies our physical laws. Unlike these other forces which are normally produced or manipulated with technology (depending on technology level), the Essaence is also “bio-manipulative”; able to be controlled by living beings who have or developed sensitivities to this energy. Because this is a non-native energy, alien to the established physical rules of the universe, it interacts with the other forces in unusual ways.

Source. Where does the Essaence come from?

Per the MA, a rift was created by interdimensional travelers allowing energy to seep into the Kulthean system. But what does that mean? The Kulthean planetary system is moving through the galaxy—is the source a fixed point? If so, where? The Essaence gateway is a keystone between dimensions that allows the continual seep of Essaence. This object (asteroid) is at the Lagrange Point between Orhan and Kulthea—providing a continuous stream of energy to the planet and the moon. Depending on their orbital positions, the Essaence will also interact with other moons/planets. (Most notably Charon, Essaence power there will wane and wax. The Night of the Third Moon coincides with the greatest amount of Essaence energy reaching Charon.)

Is Essaence unique to Kulthea?

Apparently. A group of Ka’ta’viir left Kulthea in the 1st Era looking for other manifestations of the Essaence. (the Old Ones-who later came back in the Interregnum as the Earthwardens). This means that Essaence powers will not work outside the Essaence envelop around Kulthea, Orhan and on occasion the other satellites. However, unique Essaence imbued materials and alloys (Laen, Eog Ethloss etc) will retain their material qualities, (i.e. pure crystals that are fabricated in zero g).

Fundamental Impact.

The Essaence is a physical force but non-native to our plane of existence. On Kulthea this means it has changed reality on a quantum/physical level. We see two obvious effects. Chemical interactions and material changes. Both of these shoe-horn well into the established SW narrative. Chemical reactions and associated technologies are both rare and unreliable in SW. Also, Kulthea has a number of native “magical” /superior materials and alloys beyond normal material science. Changes to the established physical laws on Kulthea are the result of the Essaence interacting with the other 4 forces.

Spell Casting.

The Essaence was first discovered by a handful of sensitives and then explored by Althan scientists. Over the millennia, the Essaence has become fully immersed in the biology of SW. Humanoids, creatures and flora have absorbed this power, imbuing special natural abilities and/or the ability to willfully shape the Essaence into unique effects (spells). Now, almost all native flora and fauna have developed Essaence sensitivity to some extent, although the ability to manipulate it may take training.

The Realms.

Spell casters draw Essaence directly from their surroundings and into their “well”—through practice their ability to hold more power and draw it more quickly grows. The standard RM “Realms” are just different mechanisms to call upon the Essaence and manipulate the physical world. Therefore we don’t differentiate between energy sources by realm: multipliers, adders etc. are Essaence. There is no need for pools of PP’s for each specific realm, or averaging PP’s for hybrid users. Channelers provide their own power just like Essence or Mentalism, but the spell formation is drawn from their patron God.

Foci and Flows.

Casters can tap into both Foci and Flows but there are dangers as well as benefits. Adventures taking place after the loss of the Northern Eye should see an increase in Essaence fluctuations, spell failures and other random effects of spell casting.

Treating the Essaence as the “fifth force” gives us a solid framework for creating new spells, set unclear parameters on spell effects and provides a solid framework for magic in our campaign.

RMC House Rules – My Experience System #1 Skills

This is how I want to work the experience system. I am going to treat Skills, Stats and Magic in three different posts, not because there are different rules but because the way I envision them being handled is slightly different.

As characters get there cultural background ranks and their 1st level development points to spend. The standard rule is still in place saying you cannot buy more than 2 ranks in a skill unless it is starred like a language skill or moving in armour. So a first level character entering play will have no more than 2 ranks in their primary weapon. Their total skill will be made up of Skill + Stat Bonus + Professional Bonus.

In my variant Stat Bonuses, being additive rather than averaged will be higher and I have scrapped the Self Discipline penalty for the elves. so I accept that the characters stat bonus will be higher.

A starting character should typically have a starting OB of about 40-ish but a skill bonus of only +10 from the two ranks.

Depending on when and how you choose to give our experience, I know this varies from GM to GM, you ask the player to roll a d100 OE against every skill they have actually used or explicitly practiced (more on practicing later). If the player rolls greater than their current skill they gain a rank in that skill.

So in our starting out player example a roll of 11+ would give a free rank with that weapon.

If the player simply puts a small tick against each skill that they use and get at least a partial success in those are the skills they get to roll against.

In this way the allocating of experience take only a couple of minutes. There is no allocating of development points and trying to balance your budget. There are also no sudden leaps forward in power.

What also happens with this system is that the higher someones skill the harder it is to roll above that number so their progression slows. I am retaining the deminishing returns so the first 10 ranks give a +5 and then the nesst +2 and so on but the system is naturally balancing so that the higher your skill the harder it is to learn and improve.

On the other hand under standard rolemaster you could buy a single rank in a skill use it every day, ten times a day and never improve if the player doesn’t devote DPs to improving it. With my system every skill you use gets that chance to improve.

What you lose is rapid skill development but you gain more rounded characters. If you allow characters to roll this skill rolls more often than you dished out experience points then the speed of progression is about the same.

The only skill that does not get rolled this way is body development as that is covered in my next post, Stat Gains.

 

 

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #7 Spell Lists

There are two significant bit so to learning spell lists for my house rules.

Firstly I will be using pretty much the Spells as Skills rules. You only need to learn the 1st level spell to enable you to start progressing up the spell list. This means that for the most part you will only need to spend 5 -15 development points to get the full list at first level.

Beyond first level it will typically take a week of study from a suitable source to gain the first rank in a spell list. That is taken from the spell research rules. That would give you the first level spell and from there you need to use the list to progress in it. If we take a list like lofty movement then that has no 1st to 3rd level spells so it will require 4 weeks of study or 20DP as a first level character to learn.

The second part is the way that spell effects are based upon level. There are spells that have a duration based upon level and these are the easiest to adapt. Here you read ranks in the spell list as the level with that spell. This means that you may have a duration of 3 minutes with one spell and only 10 seconds with another but then if you rarely use the second spell you are likely to be less good at it!

The second reference to level are spells like Sleep V that effects 5 levels of target. For this I will use 2 ranks in Body Development equates to 1 old style level. So Sleep V now effects upto 10 ranks in body development.

That seems balanced to me. Of all the changes to make to Rolemaster these changes to Spell Law are the simplest but also have the greatest effect on balance and game play.

Spending just 5DP (out of 50 at 1st level) to get a spell list means that anyone wanting to play a Mage like character can easily afford possibly 5 or 6 lists and still have a range of other skills.

All the rules for learning portions of lists are now gone.

Everyone is always 1st level so resistance rolls will work the same. If you are casting a (Base) spell then the rank in the spell will be the attack level.

That all seems to work. I suspect that in play spell users will end up with more spells sooner but the self regulating nature of the experience system means that this will soon level off. As it is at the higher levels that Rolemaster seems to breakdown that point should be almost pushed back to the points where it doesn’t happen any more.

Interestingly This house ruled version should work brilliantly with the RMU spell law when the final version is released as every list in that has all slots filled. That would standardise the cost of all the lists and give beginning characters a nice range of spells.

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #6 Skills

I like few skills and broadly interpreted.

What I mean is, take the Athletic Games skill as an example.

Athletic Games: (Ag/Qu or Ag/St) Bonus for playing any one game
primarily involving agility, coordination, and motor skills.

You see I don’t agree with that in a fantasy setting. In the modern world you will get footballers, basketball players, rugby players and so on and they are all specialists and have coaches to work on sport specific skills. At the end of the day though they are all about core strength and hand-eye coordination, balance and spacial awareness.

In a fantasy world you just don’t normally get professional footballers. As far as I am concerned if you have that mix of strength, balance, coordination and awareness then you could, with a little time and practice play any sport. Here is an example from our real world. My horseback archery coach decided that we (I) were going to work on core strength and balance for a session so he produced a balance ball (a big round soft ball) that I had to kneel up on and shoot arrows at the target. At first I could barely get upright before keeling over sideways in slow motion. After 5 minutes though I was kneeling up and shooting a couple of arrows. I practiced each day and at the end of the week I could shoot an entire quiver of arrows. So with less than 2hrs practice I got to grips with an entirely new way of balancing and coordinating my actions.

This is me and my first time shooting from kneeling on an excercise ball.

So I don’t beleive that characters have to buy one copy of this skill for every sport. What I say is one skill for all athletic sports but if you have never done it before then he firs time it is sheer folly as a difficulty and as you get more familiar with the sport then the the difficulty factor comes down.

All the musicians I know can play multiple instruments and they teach themselves new instruments to a passable standard in a matter of hours and certainly no more than a weekend. So I apply the same method to Music and playing instruments. The Music Instrument skill encompasses the understanding of music but the individual instruments are simply a matter of time to practice and playing well get easier over time.

This is my approach to skills. I would rather use this broad strokes approach to skills, have less skills and each one enables the character to do more then the 200 skills that give Rolemaster some of its bloat reputation.

Some skills such read tracks I don’t use at all. As far as I am concerned  if you want to know more about the person you are tracking, make a harder tracking roll.

Really this  is my attitude to skills. Avoid the bloat and make every skill work for its place in the game.

For my game I have cut the lost of skills down to just 43 skills.

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #5 Profession

One of the problems for D&D players coming to Rolemaster is that although ‘Profession’ appears to be pretty much the same as ‘Class’ they are definitely not the same thing!

There are significant flaws in Rolemaster professions.

  1. Once you choose a Profession in RM just about everything is set for life and is unchangeable. If your chosen profession virtually excludes magic then whatever happens in the future you will be forever pretty much excluded from magic.
  2. There are so damn many professions. Professions define the costs of your skills and the base spell lists that can be learned. The difference between a fighter and a barbarian is just the skill costs, the difference between a witch and an illusionist is skills and base lists. Choosing profession comes down to which profession has the best skill costs for the skills you want to buy and the closest fit for the spells you want cast. I have ended up viewing it as institutionalised min/maxing as when you get up to 70+ professions there has to be optimised to give the lowest price for exactly what you want.
  3. The professions are scattered though so many books that if every GM does not have all the same material then your particular profession simply may not exist.
  4. Not all professions are as equally balanced as others. There are some optional rules that when combined with some of the professions either makes them unplayable or unstopable. I have seen games where one single Directed Spells skill is used for ALL directed spell attacks. In the case of the Warrior Mage profession all of their attacking spells are on a single list so with a single skill they can attack with their full OB with every attacking spell. The magician who is meant to be the specialist with elemental attacks would have to spend 10 times the development points to be equally good AND could not even start to learn the skill in Lightning bolt until twelth level. The Warrior Mage could start learning it at 2nd level.

As you can see there are issues with professions as they stand. I propose using the No Profession as the basis for all characters.

The No Profession is a standard set of skill costs that are uniform to everyone.

Normally once you have chosen your profession you have to buy skills using your development points at least twice. The first time is your ‘apprenticeship’ level, essentially 0th level. The second time is your 1st level skills and then a third time to show what you are learning at the moment. As skills are spread thoughout most of the rolemaster companion and Law books it can be a challenge and very time consuming to evaluate all 200+ skills available to you. 200 skill costs for 92 professions makes over 18,000 different combinations.

In my version there is only the No Profession, only about 40 skills and you buy your skills only once. There will be more about skills later.

Professional Magical Realms

In addition to the skill costs your profession also gives you a Realm of magic, six base lists and a set of professional level bonuses.

The realm of magic remains the same as standard RM in that you get the choice of one realm from the three standard realms (channeling, mentalism or Essence). Technically I do not insist you choose your realm until you start to study some sort of magic. On the other hand though your power points will be based upon one of your stats. This means that if you envision casting spells then you will need to ensure you have some power points from your stats before you start.

If you have spell lists from just one realm then all your power points will come from the stat governing that realm (EM), (IN) or (PR). If you learn a list from a second realm then your power points will come from the average stat from the two realm stats. If you then learn magic from the third realm then all three stats will be averaged to find your power points.

You do not need to chose all your base lists right from day one. There are 10 lists in total that you can learn above 20th level and these will be the first 10 lists you learn above 20th level. As you can only learn spells but actually using them it is logical that your ‘speciality’ will be the magic you have proven best at.

Professional Bonuses

The professional bonuses or level bonuses will be the ones as described on pg 128 of the RMC Character Law. This uses the RMSS skill categories. The only variation here is that you may swap up to 2 of the bonus categories for example you may choose to move the +1 from Outdoor Skills to the Urban category and move the +1 from Athletic Skills to Directed Spells. This allows you to customise your professional bonuses a little so if you want to play a wizardly character you can shape him or her into a more academic type rather than the athletic type that the No Profession starts out as. Once you have moved a set of bonuses they cannot be changed later.

That is it. The No Profession is intended to be a bit of a blank canvas from which you start building your character.

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #4 – Cultural Background

Cultural Background is another element of RMU that I really like. The mechanism is really simple. There are a number of predefined backgrounds such as urban, nomad, coastal and sylvan, plus 4 others in RMU, and there is a mix of skills that are typical for people growing up in that culture. So you choose your culture and you get free skill ranks to assign into skill categories defined by your culture.

This has two immediate effects. Firstly it replaces at least in part the adolesence level for buying skills. you are just given a few ranks in some or all skill categories and regardless of the cost you just pick the skills that you want. The second effect is to force every character to have a good balance of background skills.

Avoiding Meta-Gaming?

I have a player in my face to face game that has only spent development points on weapons, magic, body development and perception and a couple of other skills that I insisted on. For hobby skills I give away 13 ranks that you can assign to secondary skills and he always tries to assign some or all of them to combat and magical skills. Compared to all the other characters he has the most hits, the biggest OB and the most magic. On the other hand he gets very upset when the challenges facing the party require tracking, lore or any of the other useful skills he eskewed in favour of big weapons.

I will confess that every now and again I take great pleasure in seperating him from he rest of the party by a wall, pit, door or whatever and give him a really simple challenge that everyone on one side of the door could easily do and he is completely perplexed by.

It is also no surprise that this player is the biggest meta gamer in the party who most of the time is using his own knowledge to decide his characters actions rather than what the chracter knows.

How Cultural Backgrounds Work

Anyway back to cultural backgrounds! Each background in my variation comprises 35 ranks spread over 13 different skill categories. The average skill costs for a single rank is about 2DP so that equates to about 50DP as an apprentice level although the single biggest block goes to languages which are traditionally cheaper.

The point of these character cultural background ranks for me is two fold. It is both faster and easier to just pick skills from a list than to try and spend exactly a fixed number of DPs. We have all been in a situation where you have to trade off one skill against another to make everything fit into your budget. Secondly it will make a Barbarian from the Frozen North significantly different from a Warrior from Chult and that difference has an impact on those characters which will last a long time into the characters careers.

Actually implementing this I have skewed everything to fit my world setting of the Forgotten Realms. If you are from Thay then you will have a significantly different skill set than if you are from Chult. On the other hand I have not really split it alone national lines. Both Waterdeep and Thay are magically very rich places and the citizens will both have a great amount of day to day experience of magic.

Cultural Background Skills Table

Cosmopolitan

(Waterdeep)

Coastal

(Sword Coast)

Harsh/
Tundra/
Waste

(Frozen North)
Highland Nomad Rural

(Dales)

Sylvan

(Chult)

Underground

(Underdark)

Urban
Athletic 1 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
Awareness 1 2 3 2 2 1 2 1 1
Body Development 1 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
Combat Maneuvers 1 1
Communcations 13 10 6 8 10 8 10 10 12
Crafts 5 6 4 5 5 7 5 6 7
Influence 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
Lore 4 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 4
Martial Arts 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1
Outdoor 3 2 5 3 2 1
Scientific Analytic 1 1 1
Subterfuge 1 1 1 2
Technical/Trade 7 6 6 6 5 8 7 5 6

When assigning these ranks the same rule applies as with buying skills. You cannot buy ore than 2 ranks in a single skills unless the skill is listed as 1*, 2* etc., such as languages. This forces players with say 7 ranks in Technical/Trade skills to buy a range of skills.

You will notice that there are no weapon skills or armour skills in here. That means that all of your OB has to come from your 1st level development points.

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #3 – Rolemaster Races

I am not suggesting many changes to the Rolemaster races in my RMC variant but first a bit of background on the long running ‘issue’ of Elves and Self Discipline.

Elves and Self Discipline

Most elves in Rolemaster based games get a -20 on the Self Discipline (SD) stat. SD happens to be one of the stats used to determine your Stalk & Hide skill and Meditation skill.

When most people see that -20 they assume that elves have no self control or discipline which is not the way Tolkien’s elves are generally portrayed. Rolemaster elves are the direct decendants of Tolkien’s elves as the roots of Rolemaster are set in the world of the MERP (Middle Earth Role Playing) franchise.

Furthermore when you notice that when you read about the stalk and hide skill the elves -20 should be treated as +20 and that elves get a natural +20 to meditation. It strikes me that if you are having to ‘fix’ the figures because of something you did earlier then the initial thing was wrong.

Elves are not irrational and impulsive and clumsy. You firstly have to remember that all stat bonuses are relative and not absolute. Originally the common man had no penalties or bonuses at all and that all the tables were constructed as the common man being the absolute norm. From that point races are describe relative to a common man so if a typical dwarf is stronger than a common man then it gets a strength bonus. In this way elves are seen as being less disciplined than a man. Not bad at discipline, just less discplined than our common man. This idea was prompted by the idea that elves being immortal have all the time in the world to complete tasks and most problems tend to resolve themselves if given a few centuries to bed in. Your common man with a short and often hard life has to act now. An elf could spend several thousand years building an empire, a man probably has no more than 30 years if he wants to have any time to actually enjoy it!

I have no problem with this concept of ‘relative’ stats. I do have a problem with the elves -20 because obviously this is the wrong implementation if the rule has to be applied only some of the time or additional fixes have to be put in place to fix the problems that the rule introduces.

I would argue that although elves may not be as hasty as humans to interfere in affairs their long view almost breeds more self discipline in that they are inherently patient and this builds tolerance. If you have to cancel out the penalties for mediation and stalking then why not just forget the whole thing?

In my rules there is no SD penalty for any elves including half elves.

Base Hits

There is a table known as “04-01 RACE ABILITIES”, on that table it tells you the hit dice used for each race. Common men get a d8 as do some elves and halflings. Other races get d10. Why? Rolemaster is a d10 based game. The only places where you get all the other polygon dice used is in the variable amounts of healing from some herbs.

My first reaction was to say everyone gets a d10 hits but then I decided to go in a completely different direction.

The way hits are calculated in RMC is your Con stat/10 plus the accumilated dice rolls plus your Con stat bonus as a percentage. Almost every race gets a con bonus so most people get a few extra hits from this. So if you have a Con of 76 and a total of +10 Con stat bonus and you bought 4 ranks in Body development as an High Elf you would have 8 hits from your Con (76÷10) plus 4x1d10, lets say that comes to 28 plus 10% of the total from your con bonus. So 8+28=36 plus 10% = 40 hits.

Some GMs I have played with say re-roll hit points if you get a 1-3 on the dice and others have given out maximum hitpoints at first level. Letting the characters have a decent number of hit points gives the GM more freedom in what he or she can throw at the party.

With that in mind I am going to give a little, take a little and simplify things a little.

In my rules you always get maximum hits, so 8 for a human, 10 for an high elf and so on but you no longer get the con bonus percentage. So under my rule the above character would get 48 hits being (76÷10)+4×10=48. So we now have diceless body development. In fact as you will see all of character creation is now diceless.

Background Options

In table “06-01 RACE BACKGROUND OPTION TABLE” each Rolemaster race has a number of background options ranging from 2 to 6. I personally feel the options in Character Law were a bit limited and those in Companion One were too powerful. I like the HARP and RMU talents and I nearly included them but at the end of it they just seemed a bit ‘wrong’ to me. Instead I am going to steal another RMU feature and that is Knacks. In the RMU beta rules all characters get to pick to specific skills that get a +5 bomus. this makes a character just a little bit better than their peers in that particular skill. It is a one time only bonus and is always fixed at +5 and cannot be doubled up. I am going to replace the background options with knacks but each character will get between 2 and 6 knacks depending on race.

Race Background Options
Common Men 6
Dwarves 5
Halflings 5
Orcs 5
High Men 4
Half-elves 4
Wood-elves 4
Greater Orcs 4
Trolls 4
High-elves 3
Fair-elves 2

This does reduce the impact of background options but then I never liked the way that some good rolls could turn a character into an almost superman and likewise a bad roll could cripple them or destroy the players concept of the character they wanted to play. This solution puts the player in charge, is non-random and always give the character a slight advantage without making a massive impact. They are far easier to administer than Talents and Flaws.

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #2 Potential & Stat Gains

On Monday I covered how I intended to use a point buy system for generating characters stats. The point is to enable the player to play exactly the character they want whilst still being balanced.

When it comes to potential stats I was quite taken with the idea of giving the players an additional 100 points with which to buy their potential stats but the temptation to just dump that all on the prime stats for the character would be too great. That makes total sense to do that but in the end every ranger would end up looking pretty much the same as would every fighter and so on.

Turning to RMU again, with the point buy system they advocate every character has a potential of 100 in every stat. The player then has to choose which stat to improve. This would I think lead to exactly the same situation of the players being swayed towards improving the stats the give the greatest gains. What I did like was the generosity of the concept that all characters had the potential to be 100 in every stat.

In my system You will have a 100 potential in every stat but the players do not get to choose which to improve. That decision will be made by the skills they have used or the training they have undergone since they last made a stat gain roll. (There are no levels as you will see later so it is not a case of one stat gain roll per level.)

So if a character has been stalking, disarming traps and picking locks then they will get a chance to improve In, Ag and SD stats as those three stats govern those skills.

Making a stat gain roll will be a case of making a D100 roll and if you roll MORE THAN your current stat then the stat goes up by 1. There are no adjustments to that roll so a character with a 99 Strength would have to roll a straight UM 00 to get the stat gain but it is impossible to go above a 100 stat.

Under the old RM2/RMC rules a stat gain roll could yield up to +15 to a stat if you had a big enough difference between your temp and potential stats. In my version the gain will always only be a +1. This is intentional. The smoothed stat bonuses mean that even going up +1 at a time will bring regular increased in stat bonus. Secondly as all stats have a potential of 100, too rapid a stat gain process would even everyone out to exceptionally high stats too quickly. Because of the point buy system guaranteeing well above average stats anyway there is no need to advance low stats more quickly.

One of the objectives here was to take all the dice rolls out of character creation. The total process should be about the players vision of their character and not dictated by good or bad dice rolls.

These stat gain rolls should be made at the ‘end of each chapter’ of their adventure in the sort of same space that giving out experience occupies. As you will see later skills will also improve at the same time.

RMC House Rules – Character Creation #1 Stats

Brih has been posting some of his groups house rules or hacks. This has inspired me to put forward some of my proposed house rules for an up coming game.  I have alluded to many of these in the past but I have never listed them explictily. So there is Part I of character creation namely generating some stats.

My favourist game ever for character creation was Champions (or Hero System as it is now). That gave you complete freedom of all of time and space to drw your inspiration from and all the characters were equally balanced. Hero System was a point buy system and so that is where I intend to go with character crreation.

I went through the Rolemaster RM2 companions over the weekend and none of them had a point buy system for RM2 or RMC. If there was one for RMSS/RMFRP I don’t know it as I don’t have any of those books. I have drawn my inspiration from some of the RMU beta rules.

There seem to be three philosophies with RM point buy systems. Firstly you have a big pool of points and all your stats start at 0. Second, you stats all start at 50 and you have a small pool of points and finally all stats start at 50 but you buy stat bonuses not the stats themselves. The first option is the one that my PBP Spacemaster GM has employed. There we rolled 10D10 and added that to a base 700 points to give our point total to spend. The third option is the one used by RMU. You get 10 points to spend on your stat bonuses. you can get more points by taking minuses on other stats.

I am going to use the middle option of all stats start at 50 and you get 250 points to spend on your stats. You can lower a stat to get more points somewhere else if you want.

The flaw in my system would be that in standard RM stats anything between 26 and 75 give you no bonus or penalty there is no reason why not to reduce any stats you do now explicitly need down to 26 and spend those points boosting other more important stats.

To counter this I am going to use a smoothed stat bonus table. While I am talking about stat bonuses I am also going to adopt the RMU standard of smaller stat bonuses that get added together for skills rather than the averaged method used in RMC/RM2. So what does this stat table look like?

The Stat Bonus Table from RMU Beta 2
The Stat Bonus Table from RMU Beta 2

This table discourages ‘buying down’ stats as the penalties for low stats start at just 47.

The only complications come from ‘single stat’ rolls. As an example if a player asked “Can my character remember reading anything about this legend as a student?” I would normally ask the player to roll a Memory (OE D100 roll with their Memory stat bonus as a modifier) roll to which I would add or subtract a difficulty factor depending on how well known the legends are. A character with a Me stat of 90 in RMC would have a +10 stat bonus. In this stystem that is just a +8. Your DB is normally equal to your Qu stat bonus but that too is reduced.

To address this all single stat checks will be made with the stat bonus doubled. This now makes DBs slightly higher for lightly or unarmoured characters and stat checks slightly easier. Especially as you will get a small bonus from a stat as low as just 54.

Looking at the bandings in the table here you will see the labels Deficient to Exeptional. These are used for the costings. Each +1 or -1 in the average band costs or gives 1 point. So it costs 9 points to go from the statng 50 up to 59. The Above Average band all cost 2 points so it costs an additional 46 points to get the same stat up to 83. It costs 3 points for the Superior band and 4 points in the exceptional so to get a stat up to 90 costs (9+46+21) 76 points in total.

Reducing stats works the same way.

Stats do not give any development points and I have kept all 10 stats. I was tempted to go with the HARP 8 stat version but that would lock me into the HARP skills system.

The 200 point pool means that a typical character can have two stats up at about 90 and all their other stats at around 54-55 easily within their budget.

Potentials are all 100 right across the board but I will cover potential stats next time as well as stat gains.