I cannot help but be impressed by the RMU Dev Team

Firstly I do not envy the dev team on bit. If you have a hard core player community that have ben playing the same game pretty much for 30 years or more and then you wan tto come along and ‘improve’ it then you are on a hiding to nothing in my opinion.

Now I think I am a pretty reasonable guy, I know and love RM2 (which is obviously and clearly the best version of Rolemaster every written and I am not in the slightest bit biased at all) but I have bought and embraced RMC and I can see it is an improvement. I have bought HARP and I can see good things in that as well. Rolemaster Unified on the other handis a pretty big departure from what has gone before.

The public beta testing is mostly been carried out by that hardcore community which I am not sure is a good thing. We are all too opinionated if you aks me. If you follow the discussions they are 1% reported issue and 99% suggested fixes with two or more arm chair designers expounding on their own vision of how the game should be played.

What has impressed me though is the number of, and the speed with which it seems to happen, changes the dev team are prepared to make.  One would have thought that even prior to play test the devs would have had a fairly well developed concept of what the game should lok and play like. To accept the level of change they have speaks very highly of them I think. I know damn well they will not please all of the members of the community ut that was never going to be possible and I am pretty sure they knew that. There were two bits of RMU I didn’t like and one has been changed and the other is pretty minor and I will either learn to live with it or ignore it.

The best thing from my personal point of view is that without RMU I would never have discovered HARP. I knew it existed of course but I would never have bought into the rules. I want to buy myself HARP SF next but that is another story.

2 Replies to “I cannot help but be impressed by the RMU Dev Team”

  1. Willingness to embrace change in this context is not a good thing by itself. It needs to be allied with judgement. Do the devs have good judgement? We shall see.

    1. You cannot have a beta test without a willingness to embrace change, otherwise it is a product launch.

      I get the feeling that RMU is being designed by engineers for engineers but being played by people in all walks of life. At the extremes some poeple get great pleasure from fiddling with sums and producing big numbers whereas others have always found the math element of RPGs a barrier. Balancing those views is never easy for game designers.

      For me, the only part of the Beta II rules I didn’t like was the size rules. They have gone so I personally see the changes they have embraced as a good thing.

      I like the idea of the group costs for skills and the proposed change that the third stat is skill specific.

      I think that the RM2 way of costing skills with every skill having a different cost was unnecessarily complicated, the HARP way of jusst having two skill costs (2 or 4 DPs) is a little coarse. The RMU way is a great middle ground.

      I have never been a fan of spells as skills but I don’t feel that strongly about it to be honest. I haven’t used it for nearly 25 years, it may be time to give it another go.

      I like the broad professions and the developers do not seem to be moving away from that. I think they have got that right.

      The encumberance rules or more exactly the weight allowances were a bit restrictive, but as a GM I tend to look at what the characters are carrying, not the actual weight. I favour minimal book keeping. I know that is not playing the rules as written. That is why I have made no contribution to the encumberance discussion. I have no valid opinion.

      For me the current rules with the changes suggested by Nicholas have the options I need to play the game I want to play. I don’t like thecore healing rules but do like the cinematic healing rules. I was never a fan of the skills bloat and professional bloat of RM2 and I tend towards the ‘no profession’ for all.

      I am not sure about all that counting down initiative points business and I think that is the one area I will probably house rule. I am not a fan of house rules but the RM combat round has spawned so many variations over the years that tweaking it will be nothing new. I have an idea I would like to try out which borrows from a variety of other game systems. I could never propose it on the ICE forums because it is directly and obviously borrowing from other systems. My only issue with the counting down version is again, too much house keeping and book keeping. I want my rolemaster to be fast.

      There will be as many different versions of RMU as their are GMs playing it within 12 months I guess and the Beta II rules plus the proposed changes I think will allow a new generation of players enjoy their gaming. No new version of Rolemaster will ever carry everyone forward from all the old versions of RM. Those old versions fit their users like a glove after years of tweaking, refining and the rules are so ingrained in the long term memories that they are second nature.

      In the last session we played in Shadow World someone questioned the parryng rules. We all thought we knew the rules but when we actually refered back to Arms Law we found that every one of us thought the rules were different from the rules as written and we didn’t even agree with each other. The core rules for one on one melee we fine but it was when things get complicated like trying to parry some one else to protect an innocent that we could not agree.

      I think the RMU dev team are doing a good job of balancing the needs of the underlying system and resisting proposals that would undermine it and at the same time addressing the needs of the many. The biggest sticking point at the moment seems to be broad classes vs tightly defined classes and even Hurin’s own poll showed that the majority likes the way the professions are set up in the Beta and we are all familiar with the use of the word “bloat” used in the rolemaster context. Hurin and others really like the tightly defined professions, I can understand that. I like spell users to have a very limited range of base spells which the spells as skills rules completely destroy. I can sympathise but in the context of atracting the greatest number of players I think my dislike of spells as skills is probably a minority view and the tightly defined professions are also a minority view.

      The oft quoted example of Scholars being better at woodcraft than rangers is in my opinion flawed. Firstly, tightly binding the entire ranger profession to a single skill is ridiculous. Character Law is firmly tied to the mundane world and by necessity Earth. Seeing as there are no woods in Iceland how would an Icelandic Ranger every justify a cheap cost in woodcraft? Secondly I do not agree that a cheaper development cost equates to ‘better at’. Yes the scholar has cheaper costs but they are still limited to buying a maximum of two ranks a level. Al the professions are balanced for game play and by necessity semi spell users will have higher skill costs to balance their access to magic. It simply doesn’t matter if profession X has a cheaper cost that profession Y even if the skill you are looking at you would think is core to X. The important thing is that the professions are balanced so every human player sat around the table can have fun and can contribute. One should not take just individual skills in individual pairs and say this is proof of a broken system when the entire professions should compared to see if they are viable balanced professions in the game world.

      The problem on the forums is that these discussions go around in circles between people who are not the devs and it is the same few voices promoting the same few opinions. That is not play testing.

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