I spent a three day weekend playing Rolemaster with my group of long standing. The Friday and Saturday morning was spent GMing my Forgotten Realms campaign and Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday morning was playing my, now 3rd level Lay Healer.
The plan for the game I was running was to finally get the characters to the BBEG’s tower, defeat the evil lady, defeat the big bad monster and rescue the folk hero they have been trying for the past month to locate.
The scene had a giant, stargate style, mirror showing swirling water but vertically, in front of which was the folk hero in some kind of energy sphere and in front of all of that was an altar to a dark god.
As the characters approached the mirror/gate started to form a whirlpool with water funnel extending deep into the mirror. As the got a bit closer the massive tentacles of our friend Octomancer lashed out fighting two of the characters at once and starting to draw on of them into the mirror.
The fighter types did a wonderful job of hacking off tentacles which our friendly neighborhood Octomancer promptly animated into undead tentacles.
Over the space of about three rounds Octo’s beak emerged from the mirror pool and it is a long time since I have seen my players as worried for their characters. At the height of the battle a black garbed witch appeared behind the altar which meant they had to split their attention between Octo and her.
That was a little disappointing as the first attack on her that landed killed her. One of the characters long doored behind her and used a wand of lightning, point blank into her back.
The only consolation for me was that the one useful magic item that she had on her was her robes and the critical completely destroyed them.
Octo was a great success. Of all the things that scared the PCs the most was the point at which one of them tried to retreat across the room, out of range and Octo’s tentacle lashed out and hit them when they thought they were safe. It is funny what gets to players.
I got to play my lay healer. He is a 6’7″, 200lb Aryan man mountain, ironically from an incredibly poor family. Luckily for him someone spotted his magical potential and he ended up apprenticed to healers at the next cities public hospital.
The GM wanted a world where almost everyone had at least one family member who could use magic, it is a really magically infused world. To model that he had made spell lists really easy to learn and he had given us additional power points by using options in RoCoIII. We could learn spell lists concurrently up to a maximum of one for each base power point that we got. So at 1st level I had six base power points so I could learn six lists at the same time. I had put all my background options into Skill with Magic so I have a mammoth PR stat bonus. It was worth my while just putting a single rank into each of six lists when I was zeroeth level and again at first level and relying on pot luck. Now I am third level I already have 19 lists.
Everyone else pretty much did the same and the GM has realised that in next to no time we will have all the open, closed and our base lists and there will be nothing more to learn.
He solution was to tell us that he had made two rules changes. The first was that all the lists have to be learned as five level blocks, I-V, VI-X and so on. So although I have 19 list they are all just to 5th level.
The second change is that he now says that we must have learning materials to learn new lists. Our guilds/hospitals (in my case) will provide these with up to 1.5*base powerpoints in lists in the magical texts. So in my case my new book has 9 (6*1.5) lists in it but only five levels worth of each list. This is so that he can limit the number of lists that we have access to.
I kind of like the idea of a lay healers book of magical study. I can visualise it as a rather graphic book of watercolour anatomical depictions surrounded by the mystical.
I can also imagine that the GM is going to limit the opportunities for us to find people who can replenish these materials.
As I had already spent my DPs for fourth level, learning more lists as I thought I had plenty of time to really expand my capabilities before worrying about the 11th to 20th spell lists, I now find myself thinking that I could well end up with absolutely no sixth level spells when I hit sixth level. All it would take would be one level’s worth of poor rolls on my spell acquisition, and sod’s law says that the few lists I do manage to get will end up being ones with no sixth level spell in the list.
I am sure I will survive, I am the healer after all. It is everyone else that has to worry.
The remedy of halving the list length from 1-10 to 1-5 has effectively doubled the cost of spell lists. As we are all third level it does mean that that 5th/6th break point in looming quite close.
A third change he has made is the graduate the amount of stat bonus that one can apply to the spell list acquisition. As a Pure caster I can use all my stat bonus, hybrids get to use two thirds of their stat bonus and semis only one third. The party right now is a Magician, Lay Healer, Bard and Noble Warrior. Two pures and two semis. The poor semis are being hit with double the cost for their lists and a relative hit in the chances of success.
My character is going to be fine. If anything I think if the GM does limit the number of lists I can access and learn I can start to direct DPs into learning plate mail. I had initially thought I was going to avoid going down the heavily armoured mentalist route but the character has been rubbing shoulders with a lot of armoured knights recently and if I am going to have DPs I cannot spend on spells I may as well put them to good use.
It was quite interesting to see a GM go through the process of realising the consequences of applying Rolemaster optional rules that seem to do what he wants and dealing with the fall out.
The pity is that it is going to be half a year before I get to play again.