Interlude: A Rolemaster Hack of Chivalry & Sorcery Character Generation

So far, I’m charmed. With time and the right group, I’d explore the entirety of Chivalry & Sorcery, on its own terms, by playing it as the game it is. But since that’s unlikely to occur—at least not anytime soon, especially since I face a multiplicity of similarly attractive systems—I’m tempted to steal some of C&S’s most exciting features and “hack” them into any version of Rolemaster.

C&S’s determination of a character’s Social Class is full of roleplaying possibilities and seems easy enough to integrate into RM in a variety of ways. I probably would treat Social Class as a Culture, that feature that awards characters with starting Skill Ranks. In the realist medievalist milieu that C&S emulates, Social Class would replace Culture (since there is, broadly speaking, just the one “culture” of Middle Ages Europe). In a fantasy setting in which regional environment contributes to culture, I would use Social Class Ranks in addition to or as a subset of these more usual starting packages. Unless I had a specific campaign experience in mind—an adventuring party comprised entirely of Knights, for example—determination of character Social Class would be random. Social Class moreover, as in C&S, would contribute to a character’s starting equipment, overall Wealth, and reflect the character’s Social Status (also while recognizing that my current game system, Against the Darkmaster, presents “Noble” as a Culture). I have yet to see how Status, in C&S, behaves as a mechanic, so, without that precedent yet in mind, in an RM game Status probably would translate into a special bonus on certain Skills and Maneuvers.

I also like the determination of the Father’s (or Mother’s, for non-patriarchal settings) Vocation and Social Status and the Sibling Rank and Status in One’s Family tables. I’m not sure if I would use the C&S charts in toto or drift them into the RM method for Sibling generation as found in one of the Companions; I’d investigate my options in more detail. Porting in these C&S features again raises the question of how C&S deals with its Status rating system, so keep tuned as I discover this and consider possibilities for translating this feature into RM.

I would browse through all the C&S Special Talents & Abilities, being sure to compare them to RM’s (there appears to be considerable overlap). Since I am running VsD for my home group, I would use both C&S Talents and Abilities and RM Talents and (going back to the Companions) Background Options as inspirations for the slightly different packages VsD offers as Background Options.

Adapting C&S’s character Body Points system for RM probably would be the most radical hack I could make, and I want to do it. The approach essentially would result in making RM hp more or less static after character generation; Body Development would be removed as an RM Skill option (or I could make it prohibitively expensive, just for Fighter-types, perhaps). This would make development of Weapons Skills critical for adventurers (as if it wasn’t already) so that plenty of OB always would be on hand for Parrying. For VsD, I would give PCs starting HPs based on Kin and character bonuses resulting from Fortitude, of course, with yet another bonus that results from C&S’s character Build table. This necessitates that I also port in C&S’s character Size rules.

I would modify and use the Horoscope table. I need not adhere to the Earthly zodiacal calendar. It also need not be contingent on celestial systems. I could see myself designing a Viking game wherein runes are used for these purposes.

Finally, character age is appealing to me as an RM variation. The game group would have to be agreeable to the use of this feature, but, essentially (contingent on random rolls) PCs would begin play at various Levels. This approach might even make up a shortcoming that I have noticed in VsD’s emulation of its inspirations: the fictions informing VsD present PC parties of varying “power levels,” something that VsD, rules as written as yet, does not accommodate.

5 Replies to “Interlude: A Rolemaster Hack of Chivalry & Sorcery Character Generation”

  1. Social Status and Background Options seem easy hacks for RM: they would work quite well I think.

    I am intrigued by the idea of playing a RM campaign with basically static hit points (i.e. they don’t increase much or at all after level 1). I think someone — maybe Peter or Brian? — plays a game where poison resistances don’t improve, and that sounded interesting too. It definitely would be gritty!

    1. I think both Brian and I do that. I also have pretty much static #hits. They only increase with stat increases so a point or two at a time.

  2. Most FGU games used some variation of fixed hits. Bushido had hits increase through training, but also added the D&D-esque mechanic of rolling a die each time you went up a level and adding that to hits. Privateers and Gentlemen went with more fixed hits based on Mass, but if you could improve Mass hits would obviously go up.

    I’ve run other systems with fixed hits (Recon being one) and systems with hits that improve, and on the whole I’ve found that players seem happier when they can improve their hits in some way. I don’t care either way, provided the fixed hits are adequate in the beginning. If they aren’t, you’d better have a very streamlined character creation system or be running Paranoia…

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