Innovation Incubator: New Rule Ideas for Rolemaster or d100 game systems.

Ok, I’m going to dip my toe back into rules! Rather than me present my ideas I thought I would call upon the Rolemasterblog.com readers and writers to offer up suggestions on new rules. Today I want to solicit ideas for four rules that have undergone several revisions, companions, house-ruled and now addressed in RMU. I’m looking for simple, elegant ideas that fit into the current engine and make sense. RMU introduces various combat expertises that allow that skill bonus to offset a combat style’s penalty. AT first I loved the idea but now I’m really not a fan. RMU does have some good solutions for other issues…. Anyway, looking for novel approaches–explain why it works but identify any failings as well. Let’s begin:

  1. Two Weapon Combo. The mere fact that 2WC allows a player 2 attacks makes it a compelling option. RM offered 2WC as a skill equal to the combined skill cost acquisition, provided for a “off-hand” penalty but there are still many complication. Can a Dual Wield attack 2 different opponents? If so, what is the penalty? How far apart can the targets be? How does parry get allocated? Does the wielder develop one weapon in the main hand, and the other in the off hand, but must use the 2 only in combination? Can the wielder use just a single weapon with the normal bonus? Should weapon and shield fall under the same rules as Dual Wield?
  2. Mounted Combat. So RM kept this simple: your riding skill bonus acted as a percentage applied to your weapon skill bonus. That’s not a bad solution really, but doesn’t take into account some weapons relative ineffectiveness when used mounted. Another option is to have the weapon skill specify that it’s specific to mounted combat–but that doesn’t take into account a player taking “mounted combat-weapon” and not taking any riding skill whatsoever.
  3. Weapon Kata. I won’t even get into the optional rules in RM1/2. The real question is weapon kata really a thing? Is a martial artist using a spear any different than a fighter using a spear? Should a MA with striking ranks be allowed to do additional damage when wielding a kata weapon that is 2 handed? RMU deals with this by allowing different attacks with different weapons…spear & fist in this example. Not bad but it’s not a martial art weapon kata–more a universal solution for multiple attacks.
  4. Shield. Now that Shield is a viable attack option should it be treated as a second weapon? Should it be a stand alone skill that can be combined with any weapon is the other hand or should it be trained specifically with another question. Should you still get the shield bonus if you attack with the shield? Personally, I think RMU mostly nailed this, but I’m still thinking it needs to be tightened up.

As Rolemasterblog.com continues to publish adventures we are going to develop a short-hand lingo for versatile stat blocks and character attributes. Even though game rules are not protected IP, I have my own S.W.A.R.M. ruleset, Peter has developed a great reductionist stat block and all of us are working on a “Universal” language that is easily adapted to d100. I’m interested how our work will connect with Zeihander and other competing works. A simple solution for these would be great when utilizing other d100 rule sets. These aren’t obscure or niche issues: dual wield, mounted combat, shield use and even martial arts weapons are really core abilities in fantasy lexicons.

There may already be a good solution in all the various rules iteration. RMU may already have solved it to your satisfaction. However, if you have a novel idea, or just a glimpse of one that you haven’t worked out yet, please comment.

9 Replies to “Innovation Incubator: New Rule Ideas for Rolemaster or d100 game systems.”

  1. Ah, Kata that takes me back – I’m lucky enough to have a very wise martial artist play with me. His considered opinion is that whilst the form (style) may, with practise, improve your accuracy and efficacy of the strike; so would practising in European styles. The idea was supported by a weapons master who is involved in a wide range of re-enactment societies for various eras. Really it comes down to training to the most efficient method of inflicting damage with your chosen weapon in your chosen armour. So we dropped the additional damage rule but did allow a character training in MA to use an appropriate weapon as a kata to match the style.

    Shield bash – are we talking the full charge method with body weight and generally both hands or the opportunistic swipe to unbalance your opponent to gain an advantage? This was in the 10 sec round days so the latter was counted as something that just happened in the melee to get an advantage that led to the hit (if you like part of the fighting style). The former was an all-out body charge or a constant battering with the shield for the round. I guess you could do it as a two weapon combo with appropriate penalties with the shorter round structure.

  2. “Even though game rules are not protected IP, I have my own S.W.A.R.M. ruleset, Peter has developed a great reductionist stat block and all of us are working on a “Universal” language that is easily adapted to d100. I’m interested how our work will connect with Zeihander and other competing works. A simple solution for these would be great when utilizing other d100 rule sets.”

    Question: is it viable for you to develop your own d100 system, something so bland that it easily can be blended with many different flavors?

    1. Yes, I think I have a full replacement for RM with my SWARM rules excluding arms/claw law attack & crit tables. I use a quick chargen process, simplified and reduced meta skills and basically a brand new “spell law” (BASiL). I meant to polish it up but at this point I’d rather just write adventures.

  3. I would be perfectly happy to see Weapon Kata disappear completely. Bear in mind, I’ve been doing Martial Arts for 35+ years. Forget that the rules for calculating the extra damage are a pain in the behind. The extra damage has to be calculated for every armour type which involves additional calculations in an already bogged down combat system. I always felt katas gave the Martial Artist an unfair advantage in gameplay and in DP expenditure.

    1 – A MA who is skilled with a weapon is no more or less dangerous than a knight or a rogue who is also skilled with a weapon. (As stated by Aspire2Hope) It comes down to “skill with the weapon.”

    2 – The additional damage is something a fighter or rogue-type would have to spend DP on for Adrenal Speed, Iaijitsu, and/or Reverse Stroke. The Adrenals skills are usually cost prohibitive… unless the PC is of the Monk-type professions… yet another unfair advantage if Weapon Kata is allowed. A monk with weapon kata and adrenal speed could get off four attacks in one round all for a very low cost in overall DP. For a fighter-type or rogue-type, it would probably never happen. Two Weapon Combo + Weapon Kata + Adrenal Speed???? Eight attacks per round? I don’t think so.

    Shield Bash – This is brought up from time to time in our group and again, Aspire2Hope nails it. Are we talking the quick brush aside that is normal shield use in combat or are we talking a concerted Shield Bash attack? Is the shield being used as a weapon attack or simply as a defense mechanism? Shield Bash as an attack should be treated as any other weapon attack with the same restrictions and cost as a weapon category, and NOT at the cost of 1-Hand Crushing category. A shield attack is a far cry from a club/mace weapon attack. It needs to be it’s own DP cost weapon category. The player needs to develop TWC if the shield will be used as any type of offensive maneuver rather than strictly defensive cover.

    Two Weapon Combo – Eeessh…. This is a tough nut to crack and would take a much more elegant overhaul. Just scratching the surface, I never liked the penalty for not using both weapons of a TWC combo. If I train Dagger – RH and Mace LH…. then my right arm is damaged… I’ve magically forgotten how to attack with my left hand even though I’ve obviously trained with it? Or I’m sneaking up on a target and I want to stab him with a dagger… I need a mace in my hand to stick a dagger in my target?

    The DP cost may be a little high, but given that the player gets two attacks, the cost should be high compared to players who only get one attack. Should the cost for TWC be at a set price per Profession or at the cost of the two weapon categories added together? That’s a toss up. I can see good reasons for either method.

    Ambidexterity – I still think this should be a random roll, but at a higher percentage than what exists now. I think the range is 4% – 10% chance. I don’t remember off-hand (bada-bum! lol) To me, that is an extremely rare chance for a PC. However, changing Ambidexterity so a simple 10DP cost makes it far too easy for EVERYONE to be ambidextrous. You go from hardly anyone to nearly everyone. A one-time cost of 10DP is peanuts compared to the advantages of the perk.

    Case in point: My family is Chinese and there are many superstitions in Chinese culture. Left-handedness is considered bad luck. My mother and uncle had to learn to use chopsticks in their right hand while they learned to write using their left hand. My uncle is left handed, but he golfs right handed. He bats left-handed. While he has these quirks, he’s not ambidextrous. He cannot use chopsticks in both hands, the cannot golf left and right handed, he cannot bat left and right handed, he cannot write left and right handed. What he is able to do is from learned skills and practiced skills, not from being ambidextrous.

    In Major League Baseball, switch hitters aren’t ambidextrous, they are able to hit from both sides of the plate, but there is one dominant side of the plate for those athletes. Again, I argue that’s trained skills, not ambidextrous. I see there a need for the perk to be easier to obtain, but not a wholesale giveaway at 10DP. Maybe 20% chance in a die roll? 25%? I would welcome a PC with ambidexterity into the group, but not every player.

    1. Most games with ambidextrous PCs base it on a die roll from what I’ve seen. Making it something you can purchase does seem odd to me as well.

      The issue you identify with 2 Weapon Combo and weapon use is an interesting one. I got around that in my world by allowing some professions (combat-oriented ones for the most part) to purchase weapon skills by Class instead of Type. So a Fighter would buy One Handed Weapons instead of Mace. It’s a very rough solution and has its own issues, but it worked for us.

  4. “Case in point: My family is Chinese and there are many superstitions in Chinese culture. Left-handedness is considered bad luck. My mother and uncle had to learn to use chopsticks in their right hand while they learned to write using their left hand. My uncle is left handed, but he golfs right handed. He bats left-handed. While he has these quirks, he’s not ambidextrous. He cannot use chopsticks in both hands, the cannot golf left and right handed, he cannot bat left and right handed, he cannot write left and right handed. What he is able to do is from learned skills and practiced skills, not from being ambidextrous.”

    My next comment might not be relevant for gaming purposes, but my own “handedness” happens to be something I’ve heard called “cross-dominant.” I’m right handed. But, on a skateboard, I’m “goofy-footed” (I kick with my left). I prefer to shoot a rifle, shotgun or bow left-handed. I sight easier through my left eye.

  5. I agree very much with what Spectre said (his points 1 and 2 above). I think RMU more or less solves most of the issues that have been raised here with kata, 2WC, and shield bash; at least, it does to my satisfaction. Kata is now dealt with more like 2WC: if you want to combine martial arts striking with a broadsword, you take Multiple Attacks and get a striking attack and a broadsword attack each round. That’s pretty simple and elegant to me.

    The Shield Bash more or less works the same: develop skill in it for your OB, and if you want to combine it with a weapon attack, develop Multiple Attacks skill. I think the default rule is that if you are bashing with your shield, you don’t get the passive DB bonus (at least, that is the way we play it). The only grey area I see is if you try to combine a quick bash (2 ap, -50 OB) with a partial block (2 ap). Do you get any passive shield DB?

    1. There would have to be some sort of passive defense from the shield no matter what happens. The laws of physics don’t change when a player decides to attack with a shield. A 3’x4′ piece of wood and iron is still in between me and my opponent. I certainly wouldn’t say “I’m going to move my shield out of the way for you because I’m going to make a shield attack, so you can ignore my shield and get a free attack at me.” The laws of physics win out.

      Now granted, if the player is going to attack with a shield, then some of the DB is going to be converted to OB. This is the exact same mechanic as parrying with a weapon… some OB is turned into DB. The payer is not putting 100% into attack and is holding something in reserve for a parry. In this case, the player is not putting 100% into DB, but is holding something back for an OB.

      How this is calculated is the question. Actively blocking vs. passive DB. The mere fact there is an obstacle in the way gives the wielder some sort of protection. Maybe a Hard Cover bonus or Partial Cover bonus? Not so much from the shield’s bonus, but simply from game play mechanics. If a player is hiding behind a boulder, the player gets a partial cover bonus. He’s certainly not wielding a boulder as a shield. LOL.

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