This post is inspired by a SubReddit I found on Reddit. It’s called Unpopular Opinion. The beauty of that sub is that someone is allowed to express their opinion there, specifically because it’s unpopular, without fear of reprisal. It’s a ‘safe haven’ (as safe as any opinion on the internet is able to be) for a person to get off their chest, that which they have been keeping inside.
To those ends, and owing to the fact that my brutal, orcish, task master has given me a break from Devil’s Staircase: the Wild West, I’ve found that I’m sitting here anxiously wanting to type something. It’s partly owing to the fact that I spent so much of the past few weeks just buried in the DS:tWW, that I’ve come to see more failings in another gaming system. So brace yourselves, because here comes the unpopular opinion. And bear in mind that it is exactly what I advertise: Opinion, unpopular, merely my own.
RMU is not impressive at all.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard me voice my thoughts on the latest hot topic on RMU. The most recent topic is the discussion of the use of an Action Point to move a weapon from one hand to the other to start casting a spell. There has also been the initiative system. There has also been the DP cost for skills and the severe lack of variability between the professions. There has been the stat buying system, but this one is just a general dislike that I have in any system and unfair to pin specifically to RMU. The list is simply growing the more attention I give to the system. Bear in mind, I’ve deliberately stayed out of the Beta2 Spell Law and Beta2 Creature Law forums and have very lightly dabbled in the Beta2 Treasure Law recently. All of my displeasure has been limited to Beta2 Arms and Character Law.
I limited myself to the single forum for a several reasons. RMxx (Insert favorite flavour here) is a huge, daunting, RP simulation-style system. The entirety of RMU would have been too much to take in all at once to still be able to offer educated, in depth responses. Now it’s been years and I’ve started to expand to the other sub-forums and rather than adding to the awe and excitement I had, it’s been adding to the dismay and confusion. The more of the RMU system I explore, the more disappointed I am, not more excited.
The new armour system: Awesome! I thought that was a great change and I like the mix and match type armours. Clearly more ‘realistic’ and simulationist.
Simplified initiative: Amen! It’s still not as simple as I’d like though. I use an extremely simplified initiative system for RM2. D100+QU bonus. Resolve from highest to lowest. A fumble is simply a failure to act that round.
Slimmed down skills: OK. That’s a good thing. Some people claim there is skill bloat and/or lack of DP to cover the skills available. I’ve started to write a post on several occasions addressing that topic but never finished it. I’ll save that for another time. (Spoiler alert: There’s no skill bloat and/or lack of DPs especially since I’ve recently picked up GURPS 4th ed!!!! Holy Crap.)
Unifying the crit tables: It’s a nice tweak to have a 84 E-Slash Crit target the same area as an 84 E-Puncture Crit, etc. But it really wasn’t that difficult for the GM to change the word in the crit description to match. “Slash to foe’s thigh… and you puncture his nose…” Simply change it to “Slash to foe’s thigh… and you puncture his other thigh…”
Apart from a couple of other minor tweaks that I like, the wheels start to come off the wagon. I don’t care about a set date for the Singularity Event. I would rather see a fully developed, or extremely well-developed RMU, when it’s ready, not before. I don’t want to see something rushed out the door that’s loaded with broken rules, things that need to be house-ruled, things that simply don’t make sense. That would be more detrimental to the brand than the moniker of ChartMaster or RollMaster. So the time delay is not the issue.
I, and I think maybe a good majority of us old-timers, have to look at the new RMU as decidedly Not-RoleMaster. It’s a different game system, just as Vampire:the Masquerade is different, just as GURPS is different, just as D&D 5th is different. It will not be the RM that we know. I have to do this because if I try to trick my mind into thinking this is RM, the whole system breaks down. To get fresh, new players, the RM brand needs to re-invent itself. (This was also a topic of discussion.) RM can’t half-ass its way between holding onto the existing RM community and trying to bring in the new generation. It was generally accepted that if it tried to do both, it would fail at both. Let’s face it… the RMxx brand isn’t going to bring in many new players because the system is so old. Therefore, RMU has to be new and different.
So now I look at this as a brand new gaming system that I’m going to learn. The only real ties to the old RM systems will be the crit tables and the ‘realism’ it brings vs. a board game or an arcade game. Some people call this “grit.” If it wants to be any type of competition in the RPG market, I don’t think RMU it’s going to succeed. If it wants to pull players from the D&D franchise, it’s going to need to appeal to that crowd. It’s going to need to shake its stigma of ChartMaster. It’s going to need support material! Bundle it with Something from Terry’s Shadow World collection! Work out a deal to include Green Gryphon Inn. What a great book that is for having a small, manageable region with plenty of starting adventures and plenty of room to expand into a grander adventure with well-fleshed out NPCs.
RMU is going to need to appeal to the masses, not the dedicated fan-base it currently has. RM and ICE need to pull in NEW and younger players, not appease us old-timers. I accept that fact. I also accept that I have to forget what I know and love of the RMxx systems. I have to learn a new game system. For the record, I’m all for “Adventure Title – *Powered by RMU game engine” That was another great idea that was brought up.
To put things in perspective. I just spent nearly $90 on GURPS 4th ed., only to find out, I only needed one of the four recommended books… of which I only purchased three anyway. It’s looking like RMU is a minimum of three books and probably a fourth book where I can run GURPS from one book.
For Christmas gifts, I purchased three copies of RMC-II and three copies of Elemental Companion for less than $50 total. Of those copies, two of them are nearly New Condition, two look Used but still great, and two are brand new. I purchased the new hardcover of Jaiman. When Haalkataine comes out, I’m getting the hardcover as well. I’m going to be extremely hard pressed to even consider buying RMU, even in electronic version.
Now where’s my revised copy of Devil’s Staircase??? Before I start going off on another rant.