Comparing DnD and Rolemaster Professions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Replies to “Comparing DnD and Rolemaster Professions”

  1. I’ve never seen a good use for a Healer. With all of the herbs, potions, secondary skills (foraging, herb lore, brewing, first aid, second aid, body damage stabilize, etc.), the low level healers were pretty much useless. How much damage can a Healer repair at 1st level, given an average of known 2-3 spell lists? The number of power points is so low, keeping a party of 3 viable is an overwhelming challenge for a 1st level Healer.

    Are they useful? Absolutely. At higher levels. Is it good to have Bone Repair? Heck yes! Nerve Repair? Yes! But how often can the Healer cast the spells needed for an adventuring party?

    Perhaps I am a little biased. We played in a strictly Elemental World so the use of herbs and potions was huge and the healers were little more than pharmacists at the local drug store for us. RM has an incredible amount of herbs and potions included in the core books and even more in the Companions. With a decent Herb Lore skill and Foraging skill, we were always able to make do, or we simply stocked up on the important herbs in the city and used Brewing, Cooking, First Aid and such to use the herbs ourselves.

    In the 25+ years I’ve played, I’ve only seen one player make a Healer and he was quickly abandoned after a few sessions. Maybe I need to see one in action to change my jaded opinion. I will admit, it is jaded. I don’t think Healers really come into their own until level 6-7-8, at least, when they can possibly snap-cast a 1st level spell and have the PP to do so and they can keep a 4-person party going along a little more readily.

    1. The Lay Healer on the other hand is an amazing profession. You can wear heavy armour sans helm, your prime stats are the ones often used with the concentration, social or communication skills (Presence), you get level bonuses with all the magical and concentration skills including the adrenal moves and although you will never be an briliant warrior the weapon costs are a little better than the other pure spell users. The open and closed lists are varied, it is only the base lists that are healing and when you get to higher levels you actually get decent attacking spells so you can do the whole, flying, invisible, bolt throwing wizardy bit but in platemail. Lay Healer magic is very much the morning after, their spells take a minute to cast and 1-10 hours to take effect so you can use your power to fight with and then patch everyone up the next day.

      I played a really cool Lay Healer who was employed as a body guard to emporers in the past and I have just rolled up a 1st level guy of a new campaign.

  2. I’m looking through the rules again for a one shot adventure, and looking at the Healer, it just not that good. The requirement to use Transfering Ways, before you can heal anything doubles the cost of all their healing spells, and it makes their spells less effective than other options.
    When Rolemaster Companion 1 came out, our Healers ALWAYS took the ability that extened spell range, just for the option to change Self to Touch! Only then did they become useful.
    It is stated (somewhere) that they can heal while unconcious which is cool, but I think the Layhealer can do that as well.

    1. Welcome the the blog Jamie.

      Yes, Lay Healers do have unconscious spells. I would always pick lay healer over healer.

  3. It’s been awhile since I’ve played Rolemaster (back in the 90s) but it’s time to start up again. Looking at a game with small party of 4. What would you say are some of the best combinations of professions for a small party ?

      1. Depending on how they do their skills, you could also get away with two rogues, a cleric, and a magician. Rogues can be pretty versatile. Quite a bit of it depends on what kind of game you’re looking at running, too.

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