Minor Enchanting in Shadow World

I recently finished my first pass through on the new RMU Treasure Law and was pleased to see the inclusion and continued concept of “Charms” in the book (Charm Creation p.182). I’ve written a bit about “Single Use” magic items, and I think they are a underappreciated and perhaps under developed type of magic in Rolemaster. I’m not sure if “Minor Enchantments” is the best name for this category of magic items because it implies these are relatively minor or weak spell effects. But on the contrary, powerful magics can be imbued into “minor” objects (thus the name): a feather, a semi-precious stone, a talon or something similar. There are a number of lists I would categorize as Minor Enchantments: Charms, Weapon or Armor Runes, etc, but they can be defined as the following:

  1. Easy embedding or creation process. These items don’t require multiple day/week/month investiture to create.
  2. 1 use. While you could have multiple charges in some, generally these charms are consumables–the item is destroyed when activated, or the effect is dispelled from the object.
  3. They are either “pro-active” or “re-active” items. Pro-active items could be candles that once lit activate whatever store magical potential exists. Re-active items are triggered when a certain condition is met: a certain spell is cast upon a wearer of a charm, a crit result during combat with a weapon rune etc.

I purposefully try to stay within Terry’s wheelhouse when creating spells or magic items for Shadow World, and Terry was guided by the original Spell Law. Early edition Rolemaster didn’t have weapon runes, simple imbedding or charm creation spell lists so they don’t exist in SW canon. (However, Terry never really used potions either). But I feel that Minor Enchanting is a great addition to Shadow World:

  1. It provides temporary magic items at low level that don’t unbalance the game.
  2. It fills the gap between a setting that needs a lot of Alchemists to create many items, to a setting where Minor Enchantments are more common and permanent magic items are rare and more valuable.
  3. Minor Enchantments are flexible and can be created specifically for a challenge, rather than a permanent ability in a magic item that isn’t needed or less appropriate for the moment.
  4. Protective Charms can mitigate some of the deadlier aspects of Rolemaster combat and crits without an arbitrary “reroll token” or similar.

In conclusion, Minor Enchantments can be a much more usable and functional magic than some of the cool but cumbersome spells that players will never really use. How many of you regular use this type of magic in your game?

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