27th Best NPC? created or in a module.

Brian: Feldaryn. My favorite NPC was “Feldaryn”, a crazy old man is tattered robes and a long beard. I’m pretty sure it was in a campaign I was running for Matt and his friends (matt, any recollections?). Feldaryn had “found” himself a flying boat (this was pre-SW) and picked up the group. Given his appearance and confident proclamations they all assumed he was a powerful mage or perhaps a god in disguise—the Dragonlance effect. In reality he was crazy, low level and being pursued for stealing the flying boat. The fun was seeing the players agree to almost anything Feldaryn suggested!

Peter: There was a high level Drow Sorcerer who the party caught completely by surprise along with his apprentice. His plans were to decieve the party for long enough to put his grand plan in place to destroy them but the party were having none of it. They chased him from pillar to post without a moments respite until he had to flee in a rather pitiful manner killing his own apprentice so that he could not give away the location of Sorcerer’s final hiding place. One day he will be back and he will have his revenge but unfortuneately he is having issues achieving his full potential.

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26th Your favourite Rolemaster profession (and why)?

Brian: I almost always played a Warrior Monk (Caylis, who is featured in some RMU examples) but occasionally I ran a Rogue. Strangely enough I have never played a spell-caster! I played Monks in D&D as well. I think I like the minimalist and self-reliant nature of the profession: I don’t worry about loot, magic-items, equipment etc. I don’t need weapons to attack or armor for protection. It’s very liberating!

Peter: What I like most are characters that are as comfortable out of combat as they are in a fight. I don’t like the idea that I ever have to take a back seat. The professions I favour in fantasy settings tend to be thieves because they are pretty good all rounders, mentalists and illusionists. I don’t feel the need to be the big firebolt caster much prefering subtler magics. In Space Master I really like the criminologist profession as a basis for building just about any character concept.

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25th What was your first experience of Rolemaster?

Brian:1983. One of my friends who lived in another town played in a group that used Rolemaster. He tried to explain it to me (any profession could learn any skill) and intrigued, I went out and bought Character Law. (blue cover w/ Jorgensen artwork). I immediately rolled up a Warrior Monk and was hooked! I joined their game group and we started a new campaign using Court of Ardor

Peter: I cannot remember the exact year but there was a games shop in Bristol called Forever People. It was your typical games/comics and miniatures store. I bought the red book version of MERP as I had a friend who was LotR mad. We were playing a lot of Champions at the time and I thought this would be a bit of a change. The first character we created was a Dunlending warrior with a hobbit sidekick. The first true rolemaster product was the Arms Law Claw Law box set with the naff fake parchement paper.

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12 Days of Rolemaster

Just for fun Brian and I have come up with the 12 days of Rolemaster. Twelve questions about our Rolemaster experiences and we will post our answers to each question on the 12 days of Christmas, starting on the 25th.

If you want to join in then the 12 questions are:

25th    What was your first experience of Rolemaster?

26th    Your favourite Rolemaster profession (and why)?

27th    Best NPC? created or in a module.

28th    Have you ever regretted allowing an optional rule or house rule into the game?

29th     The most useful piece of technology (hardware or software) for Rolemaster?

30th     Your Rolemaster favourite spell (from any list)?

31st     Best “cool bit” from a RM product.?

1st        Is there any cunning plan you can share that you are hoping to spring on your players this year? If you don’t want to spoil it then what was the best cunning plan from the last 12 months?

2nd      Best layout/structure in a RM product?

3rd       Of all the companions and ‘laws’ which book could you not be without?

4th       In my opinion the best bit of RMU is…?

5th       Excepting Perception, Stalk & Hide and Body Development, of all the skills in all the books which one would you say is the single most important for a player to take?

If you want to join in the you can post your answers in the comments each day or take the twelve questions and create your own post.

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Season Greetings and Happy Holidays!

This may be my last post for the year due to the holidays and travel so I thought I would finish up 2016 with some random thoughts.

  1. I started posting earlier this year and I’m not really sure how many articles I’ve posted. I keep a running list of ideas that pop into my head: some random, some sparked by comments on the RM Forums and some when I’m working on RM/SW stuff. A few times I come up with great ideas and don’t write them down—only to forget them. That’s frustrating. Obviously Peter has been doing this longer and keeping up a 2 blog/week pace takes quite a bit of discipline. Other RPG blog sites post MUCH less frequently or have lots of contributors to share the load. Both Peter and I have encouraged others to write posts but haven’t really gotten a strong response. That surprises me given the number of people that write fairly long and technical arguments in the RM Forums; I would think they would have other material to contribute?
  2. I’ve posted up a number of blogs and RM posts regarding to big projects I’ve been working on for over 10 years. Project BASiL (Brians Alternate Spell Law) and SW “Red Atlas” (name inspired by the Redbook used for RMC I). Our SW “Red Atlas” is over 300 pages without charts, pictures, graphics, layout or any creatures and a narrative timeline rather than the standard date timeline and fills in a lot of fundamental information that we needed to address during our own gameplay. More importantly it consolidates all the “world level” info into one tome, drawn from all the canon books that Terry has written. Differentiating world info from local or regional info was a useful exercise—and allowed us to identify gaps in material that could be expanded in a future Master Atlas.
  3. Priest-King of Shade. Terry has hinted that he’d like to get “Priest-King of Shade” done this year. The module is 27 years in the making—the original manuscript was approved by Coleman in 1989 and sent back with hand-written notes by Terry but life got in the way and ICE when through changes and I never finished it. “Shade” is actually a spin-off of that original project: Empire of the Black Dragon (which is now a separate module I’m finishing up). There has been some speculation on its relationship to “Shade of the Sinking Plain” so I thought I would provide a few answers. In fact, Priest-King was meant to be a re-imagining or ret-con of the “Sinking Plain”—a module that really never fit in with the Loremaster or Shadow World series. I took some of the material from Empire of the Black Dragon and worked to make a loose adaption or “inspired by” module. If you have ever read “Sinking Plain” you know that there isn’t much info that fits into SW—it is very D&D in style and feels like an early Midkemia Press or Judges Guild product. However there were some cool elements that were used for inspiration. Here is an early blurb I wrote for the back cover:

Agyra. Far from the historic events of Emer and Jaiman, this region has been cruelly shaped for thousands of years by both natural forces and the powerful flows of Essence.  Scattered and isolated tribes peoples are a legacy of a nation that sunk beneath the waves in millennium past. Monolithic blocks scattered along deserted coasts and leagues of crumbled ruins lying in shallow waters are remnants of a lost civilization.

 However, these lands are not dormant. Powerful nations and secretive groups are at odds: a war of not just arms but of politics and commerce.  Into this conflict a new power has risen. A mysterious Priest-King and his devout followers have occupied an ancient citadel and are slowly expanding their power across the lands.  For the nearby tribes that inhabit the coasts, these newcomers are viewed with outright fear. Rumors of demonic armies, missing children and empty villages have cast a pall throughout these lands.  

But adventurers have come nonetheless. Ancient ruins have been discovered: a sprawling city lying submerged in the shallow waters off the southern coast of Agyra. Many believe the ruins date millennia back to the First Era and holds untold wealth and the secrets of the Ancients.

The Priest-King of Shade is a module detailing the lands of South West Agyra and the growing empire of the Priest-King of Shade.  This product contains a regional guide, maps and layouts of key places, detailed description of key NPCs and 12 adventures ready to play.  Designed for player’s level 5-20.  Will you confront the minions of the Priest-King?


  1. Empire of the Black Dragon. I was focused almost exclusively on getting “Shade” published and let EotBD idle for several years. Now I’m back working on it and hope to have a draft ready for review in the next few months. I’ve always found Ulya Shek the more interesting of the DragonLords and the tech angle adds to the creative design choices. It feels more like a “Fortress” book (MERP) rather than a linear adventure or regional overview module. We’ll see. I had also wanted to tackle Drul Churk but Terry covered him in Emer III.
  2. It’s amazing how much work has gone into the RMU re-design. Given the fact that it’s all volunteer you really have to applaud the contributors. House ruling professions or combat sequences is quite different than designing a framework for attack tables and critical charts or a foundation for creature development. Yes, some of it is very crunchy and may not need to be in the initial product offering, but it’s a tremendous amount of work. So Kudos to Matt, Vlad, Dan and now Jonathan (sorry if I missed anyone else) for all their effort. I’m sure they have felt unappreciated at times but they carried the load for all of us.

If you are regular reader here at the Rolemasterblog, thanks! If you have an interest in adding your voice to this blog than please reach out to Peter. Best wishes to all on this holiday season.

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My Take on Adventure Design

Rolemaster Logo

I was going to post the second instalment of my RMU playtest but I will try and post it later in the week. Instead, inspired by Brian’s post I thought I would share how I like to go about trying to create new and hopefully original adventures.

The basic premise is ‘take to its extreme limit’ by which I mean I like to take an idea or inspiration and then try and see how far I can take that idea.

When I say idea it is often not so much an idea but rather an inspiration. It could be a profession that I want to make the bad guy, it could be a particular spell on a specific list. In the past it has been a tactic that the players have used and I wanted to use against them.

Once I have this inspriation point I then see just using that core idea how much could you achieve with just that one thing. In a recent post I outlined an evil illusionist and his plans. Once I know what is happening I can then see where would this encroach on the characters lives. How would they first become aware of what is going on and how? Often this first possible contact is completely ignored by the characters. It could be just a mention in the Waterdeep broadsheets or a rumour in the market place. Once I have placed the events in the world though I try and advance the villains plans and see where and when the characters could next become aware of them. They may or may not take the bait that time but it doesn’t matter. In theory at least as the villain’s plans proceed he should be getting more powerful and the longer the characters ignore them they should be advancing in level as well so both are in step.

I think every spell list has the potential to be the inspiration for an adventure. If you only had Sleep V as a spell and nothing else what crimes could you commit?

Not every adventure needs a spell caster behind it. How about a single intelligent creature, an enterprising goblin for example? What could a goblin achieve if he really thought through his plans? Once he starts to make some alliances he suddenly gets a lot more threatening. If he plans a few raids and they are successful then others are more likely to follow a winning leader that beings in loot and freah meat. Put his lair or hold on an easily defending island or in a marsh, inhabited by something equally threatening from lizardmen to the undead to noxious marsh gas and the Goblin chief now has natural defences as well as his band of goblins and their allies.

Each and every adventure can be embedded in the game world and existed before the characters came along and continues to grow in scope until the characters deal with it.

Occaisonally if the characters are either staying in an area or revisit an area then I have had these embedded adventures actually come into conflict with each other. If you have two villains both of which have designs on taking the same town or goblins trying to raid traffic on a particular road and someone else using it to smuggle goods then there is going to be a conflict. Put the characters in the middle of that and you have potentially complicated situation for the characters to sort out.

I think to put it in a nut shell I think I am saying, take something simple and take it to its extreme.

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RPG Game Design. Leveraging familiar elements into your creative process.

The more things change the more they stay the same. When designing an adventure it’s difficult to avoid using established tropes—most stories can be distilled down into just a handful of plotlines. Some GM’s and players embrace common fantasy standards but for the GM that wants to create something a bit different what can you do? After 40 years of RPG history, thousands of modules and game ideas can you really come up with something unique?


Even Shadow World has been accused of being too “kitchen sink and it’s obvious that many of SW’s elements are fairly standard tropes are similar to our own world:

  1. Greek/Roman pantheon of Gods.
  2. Planets and moon names.
  3. Orcs, Goblins, Immortal Elves, High Men
  4. Classical western architecture.

If no idea or plot device is truly original, how can we continual design new adventures that feel fresh to our game group, challenge them, or surprise them? Here I want to discuss three mental models that I use when developing adventure content: the “Loki”, “Bohdi” and “Constanza”.

  1. The “Loki”. This is one of my favorites. Loki was quite the trickster and a good head fake can throw the players off their standard operating procedure. Embrace an established idea but give it a twist: the Dungeon Boss that the players confront for their final challenge? Make him a low level impostor. The Orc lair in the foothills of the mountain that the players want to raid? Turn it into a monastery and school of learning. Messing with established tropes can challenge player’s ready assumptions and tactics and put a new spin on the game.
  2. The “Bohdi”. The Bohdi is adopting an established idea, trope or reference as a framework to build your own material. For instance, I had a culture descended from an ancient high tech race (Xiosians) living in the mountains. The people were genetically modified but appeared to be barbaric due to the loss of the technical heritage. I thought that the depiction of Khan and the crew of the Botany Bay marooned on Ceti Alpah VI (fyi Star Trek) would be a great template to use. By adopting this idea I anchored a strong image in my mind as the basis of my desired culture which sped up the writing process.
  3. The “Costanza”. What does George do when nothing seems to be working? He does the opposite of his normal instincts! This is a more extreme example of the Loki—doing the diametric opposite of a trope or established idea. The supposed bad guys are actually the good guys, food has more value than gold or treasure, the “Good” gods are actual manipulative evil bastards, traps that heal not harm etc. A perfect example is the “Killer Bunny” in Monty Pythons Holy Grail movie (I think that deadly bunny is in C&T?).

Combined these three mental models help me write new adventure material. The “Loki” keeps the players off balance, the “Bohdi” helps create material that seems new or novel but with a foundation of familiarity and the “Costanza” teaches the players not to get to comfortable with long held beliefs and assumptions.

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Rolemaster the Christmas Movie?

I was obviously really busy when I was looking at a list of the most frequently shown films over Christmas on the BBC. I was very surprised to see how many Rolemaster movies make it onto our TVs each year!

White Christmas

The list is topped by White Christmas (18 showing since 1964). Despite the all the Christmas dressing this is obviously really all about the impact of both successful and fumbled social/influence skill rolls and how they can influence the best thought out GMs plotting.

Santa Claus: The Movie

Santa Claus: The Movie (10 airing since 1985) is a film about the use of the Rolemaster Companion II skill Gimickry, the Alchemy skill and the overly complicated rules for combining the skills and skill ranks known as Complimentary Skills and Intra-Skill Areas (RoCoII pages 16 and 17). Anything that involves rolling one skill to see if you can get a +15 on a different skill or on the other hand could have you adding half the ranks from skill No. 2 to those of skill No.1 could easily end up with your character producing exploding candy canes!

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz (9 showings). Now this is your classic RMU Beta 2 Creature Law play test. Everything from a Lion, Scarecrow and a golem are described using the same development points as the more traditional races, human and halfling (munchkins), and professions such as dabbler (Oz) and Sorcerer (Elphaba or the WWotW).

The Santa Clause

The Santa Clause (8 showings). This is the seminal work on the correct use of the Sorcerer Base list Soul Destruction up to level 20 (list portions B, D). Scott Calvin, played by Tim Allen, is subjected to the many of the spells in order including Neurosis (3rd), Guilt (4th), Paranoia (5th), Panic (7th) and finally Demonic Possession IV (13th) at which point Calvin is fully possessed by the Santa which is all know is an anagram!


Finally in the movie round up is Casper. This necromancy movie has been shown seven times since 1995 during which four Class V undead attempt to protect their earthly focus. Without magical weapons the only way to kill a Rolemaster Ghost is the destroy or disperse its focus.

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Play Test Session #1

Gao discovers the Emporer, still alive and grasping at a knife in his chest. Rushing to him and kneeling by his side Gao attempts us use his medical skill to preform first aid. the rules are very sketching on the scope of First Aid in RMU A&CL (Arms and Character Law).

I made the difficulty Very Hard (-20) and Gao rolls a 94 + 20 skill – 20 difficulty, a partial success, that should buy the Emporer some time. While Gao is working on the Emporer the doors to the apartments burst open and the Emporer’s body guard enter. They take one look at Gao covered in blood, knife in hand and the fallen Emporer. Putting two and two together in the way that only happens when PCs are around the enraged guards draw their swords and charge.

Gao knew things didn’t look good the minute the guards entered flees for the only other obvious exit, a pair of open doors on the a roof terrace that surrounds this end of the appartment. He easily out distances the more heavily encumbered guards but realises that the terrace affords no easy means of escape. He is faced with two options either out along the roof tiles or using silk ropes that suspend lanterns over a courtyard below. Gao opts for the ropes thinking the guards would not be able to follow.

A terrible agility check sees him barely hanging on when the first guard arrives, makes an opened ended Perception Roll and reaches out to grab Gao by the wrist. To avoid escape Gao tries to use his weight and strength to get the rope to break by swinging and jerking on it. Thankfully for him it works and he goes from certain death to near certain death as the rope snaps and he starts to fall to his death.

The result of the fall is 11 and a D Impact which reads Foe’s hand gets in the way, two fingers broken. + 2 Hits, -25, Ftg(-20), Daze but he is now on the ground with the guards up on the terrace and he is alive.

The guards start shouting the alarm and pointing down to where Gao is regaining his feet. Some of the guards leave the terrace to try and capture him.

Looking around for where he can run to take cover. To his left was an arch heading towards the gardens and palace kitchens and that was the way he went. He soon had plenty of soft cover and could hear a hue and cry going up looking for him. Gao broke into a shed and buried himself into some sacks of vegetables. He got another partial success on his concealment roll. A second attempt at concealment got the job done.

Another medicine roll with a bit more time spent on it allowed Gao to strap up his broken fingers. Outside he could hear the search come close and then move away.

All this took place late in the evening. Waiting a few hours Gao decided to try and find out if the emporer was alive or dead. If he lived then he could clear his name. Sneaking out of his shed he headed towards the kitchens when he heard movement. Moving quietly through the gardens were other armed men with drawn swords and theatrical masks hiding their faces.

Gao knew they were not imperial soldiers looking for because they were not dressed correctly, the way they were trying to avoid being seen and it was just not normal to have armed men running around the palace grounds like this. Assuming the emporer still lived then maybe these were sent to finish the task of killing him.

Gao attempted to sneak up on one and take him out using his martial arts. The modifiers for rear plus surprise stacked up to nearly twice Gao’s OB and his hit delivered an E crit that knocked the guy prone. A second strike with the prone modifier was enough to kill him having broken all his ribs. Gao then took his Qi Jian.

The night time raiders entered the palace via the kitchen doors as well as scaling trellises attached to the outer walls. Gao thought that the target was probably the Emporer and these assassins were there to finish the job. The most direct route was going to be us the trellis so he attempted to climb. I had reduced his penalty for the broken fingers because of this successful medicine skill earlier and the trellis was easy to climb. With a very good roll Gao managed to follow the assassins up the trellis and back onto the roof terrace. There he found a dead imperial guard and the doors were open into the Emporers appartment.

Gao failed to notice that there were two other assassins on the terrace and failed a perception check to hear either of them sneaking up behind him. Being a kind GM I did not kill the PC out of hand. Instead I had one of the assassins put his hand on Gao’s shoulder and whisper to him to “head that way.” whilst pointing towards the inner bed chamber of the appartment. Gao made an SD check not to cry out when he was touched by the assassin!

He didn’t really have much choice but follow the instruction as there as he didn’t feel capable of fighting both of them. Thinking he could double back and try and take these two out one at a time he headed to the bed chamber. Inside was the emporer apparantly asleep and looming over him was an assassin, sword raised, who stopped at the sound of Gao entering. Gao made a silent “Shh!” mime which silenced the assassins question and he turned back to the task of killing the emporer. Gao then took the opportunity to try and take the assassin down. He was relying on surprise and I requested a stalking check to actually move up behind the assassin which Gao failed. The bad guy looked around a fraction before Gao hit him so he was still hit from behind but not with surprise as he could flinch.

Gao’s strike dazed the assassin but did not take him down. We now had our first proper combat where the Action Point system came into play.

I hate the 2-20 initiative system, Rolemaster is a d100 system so why we have a 2-20 initiative is beyond me. Both rolled 10 for initiative both had a +2 for quickness. Gao has -1 for his momement penalty but the assassin had -4 this round due to penalties (-15 from the critical + -25 from Dazed). Gao went first. The assassin had turned to face him so Gao just did a full 4AP attack. The assassin already had his sword draw so chose to put all his OB into parry this round while he was Dazed. His movement options were limited anyway with Gao in front and a bed behind him.

Gao only clipped him for a couple of #hits but I made the assessing make a 0OB attack to check for fumble and he did actually fumble. an 07 on the fumber was a bit of a non event.

Round 3 and Gao wins initiative but is now facing an undazed assassin. Both go for a full OB attack. Gao blow to the assassins check leaves him stunned unable to parry for two rounds and knocks the wind out of him. The assassin cannot reply.

Gao keeps on pummeling the assassin and gets another decent strike in rolling an 85 + 48OB, + 20 for a stunned opponent – 10 for his broken finger. The assassin bits off the tip of his tongue and is bleeding, stunned and staggered and basically very unhappy. He has no OB left to parry with even if he could.

In a change of tactic Gao swaps to sweeps and throws to see if he can keep him stunned. The total attack is +155 and the resulting critical throws the assassin 5′ and is enough to put him unconscious. As he is bleeding 5 #hits a round that will actually finish him off but in just a few minutes.

Gao takes the opportunity to wake the emporer and explains that there are assassins all over the palace. He gave him the assassin Qi Jian. The emporer is really in no fit state to defend himself after the attack only a hew hours ago but it does suggest that Gao is not one of the assassins.

Gao then tries to take down the two assassins on the terrace. He has been very disappointed so far with how effectived martial arts have been so is hefts the sword. This gives him a 31OB instead of his 48 for unarmed strikes.

He attempts to stalk up to one of the assassins without being seen but completely fails the stalking. Thankfully assassin#2 failed his perception roll (obviously looking out over the palace and not back into the appartment). Assassin#3 does spot Gao and is a little confused as to what he is up to until Gao lashes out with the Qu Jian.

The attack cuts assassin#2’s two leaving him staggered, stunned and unable to parry and bleading. The damage delivered by the sword even with a OB that is almost half the unarmed attack was significantly better.

We now went to AP combat. Assassin#3 reacts first and has to move for 3AP to engage Gao. Gao waits for him to arrive and does a 4AP attack. Assassin#3 completely misses and Gao doesn’t do much better delivering #hits and no critical.

What followed was a couple of rounds of no one being able to hit anyone until Assassing#2 recovered. Everyone was parrying for at least half their OB and they all needed to roll roughly 80 to 90 or more to hit for any sort of critical. Eventually Assassin#3 landed a blow on Gao that stun/no parry’d him and that was lights out for him.

We ended the game at that point and talked about how it went. The players impression was that it was too hard to do anything. Skills that seemed quite good (+48 to +51) for a starting character just did not translate into a competent hero.

The positional modifiers in combat played a massive part in the overal effectiveness and that martial arts seemed very underwhelming compared to the sword attacks.

Gao is not dead, but he is now a captive of the assassins. The player is happy to carry on play testing and to see what happens to Gao.




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“Chartmaster” or “ChartLESSmaster”? Simplifying Rolemaster is Simple!

So, it’s December 12th 2016 and the official Iron Crown website has been down for 3+ days, stalling a number of thread discussions on RMU development. This momentary pause got me to thinking. Rolemaster has always been criticized for being “chart heavy” but with RMU and a few tweaks, most of the charts can be eliminated. My own house rules have already done a lot of simplification but even a quick review of RMU indicates that most charts are illustrative and not really needed during gameplay. In overview:

  1. Character Generation. There are charts needed for character creation: stat bonuses, skill rank bonuses, equipment etc. But these are used initially or when leveling up, not for general game play.
  2. “Cool” charts. As Peter discussed in an earlier blog—individual weapon and critical charts are really the unique differentiation for RM. Those really are the heart of the system.
  3. RR’s. The RR chart is almost intuitive and could be tweaked so that RR’s can be quickly calculated without a chart.
  4. Consolidating most mechanisms into a d100 “unified maneuver scale” framework eliminates most of the charts and streamlines the system. RMU has done quite a bit of this but there are still “one-off” rules that have a separate resolution process. Basically the unified maneuver scale is: 0-25 Absolute Failure, 26-75 Failure, 76 Partial Failure/Success and 100+ success. This scale can be applied to RR’s, MM, SM, fatigue, breakage and skill checks. In reality, No chart is needed for almost all Rolemaster action resolutions.
  5. Simplifying armor penalties and encumbrance eliminates a number of charts and calculations. I have blogged about removing the Maneuvering in Armor skill and consolidating it into encumbrance here. It’s also been discussed on the RM Forums. This step takes away quite a bit of charts, calculations and unnecessary complexity.
  6. Eliminate name tags. Qualitative titles like “Easy”, “Hard” “Absurd” or “Small”, “Very Large” or “Quick”, “Blinding Fast” impart general information but are really just placeholders for a numeric value. They may add atmosphere but all require a quick look up on a chart to translate into their game mechanic or modifier. By eliminating the name tag you eliminate a number of charts. For instance, when describing a lock door in a module is it easier to say (-30 to pick) or (Medium to pick)? I have blogged about this here.
  7. Master Mod Chart. All the environmental, melee, combat maneuvers and health modifiers could be reduced to a single 1 page chart. The same could be done for all the magical mods. The GM screen would be simplified and streamlined.

So let’s go through the charts and see what could be eliminated. (Using RMU CORE 2014 March 15)


2-1. Skill Ranks. A small simple chart that is only used for char gen and level ups. It’s also easy to remember. Result – Chart barely needed.

2-2 Maneuvers. The failure/success ranges are intuitive that there is really no need to refer to a chart. Difficulty name tags (casual, routine etc) can be eliminated and a simple range of -100 to +100 applied by the GM (btw this actually provides more range of difficulty for the GM to implement than the pre-set difficulty levels). Light and pain mods can be included in a master modifier chart (with melee mods). Other modifiers are mostly encumbrance related and don’t need a chart. So basically 9/10ths of this chart can be eliminated or simplified or doesn’t need to be referenced during game play. Result – Chart eliminated.

2-3 Movement. Name tags (creep, walk etc) can be eliminated and just use pace multiples of ½ to 5x. As Hurin suggested in a RM Forum thread, a simple penalty per pace multiple can be set. In addition, the encumbrance penalty can be applied to MM and to the total rate itself. Result – Chart eliminated.

2-4. Sizes. A useful reference tool but once a size is applied to a creature than it is not necessary. Eliminated the name tags (Tiny, Small, Huge etc) and just using the size # (I-X) makes size calculations easier (see next table). Result – Chart only used as reference to assign a size to a creature.

2-5 Attack Size. I proposed a simpler size adjustment system: 1/X or X/1 per size difference and +1/-1 to critical results per size difference. Simple and easy. It’s the system I’m using with Beta 2 although there were some changes to the combat tables in RMU Beta 3 that might skew results.  Result – Chart eliminated.

2-6 High Criticals. This info could be included on each weapon table so it’s easily referenced when determining attack results. With the new chart design there is room on each page. Result – Chart incl. in each weapon table eliminates separate look-up.

2-7 Hit Loss Penalty. This small chart could be rolled into the master modifier chart (with melee mods and lighting etc) or a GM could just apply a penalty equal to hit loss (rounded to nearest 10%). Result – Chart consolidated or eliminated.

2-8. Resistance Roll. Stat RR’s can be included in the stat section and the failure results can use the unified maneuver scale. Result – Chart eliminated.

3-1. Races. Needed for char gen.  Result – Chart needed for reference.

3-2 Race Sizes. Rather than apply a name tag: “S”, “M” or “L” skip to the actual “numerical size”: III, IV or V. The remainder is just char gen reference.  Result – Chart simplified and used for reference.3-2

3-3 Cultures. Chart used for char gen only.

3-4 Profession Spell Costs. Chart used for char gen and level up only. In our NO Profession rules we’ve eliminated this chart and apply a standard 5* cost to all skills. Chart used for char gen and lvl advance only

3-5 Stat Bonuses. Chart used for char gen and stat gain only.

3-6 Stat Gain. We eliminated this chart and just use DP’s to advance stats. However, RAW, this is only used on level advance. Chart used for stat gain only

4-1 Skill Summary. Reference only. Not needed in game play.

4-2. Skill Similarity. Simple enough that you don’t need to refer to it. Include in GM screen or eliminate it at GM’s discretion of skill use.

4-3. Animal Maneuvers. I’m not a fan of a separate modifier chart for every single skill. Some basic guidelines on difficulty modifiers would be my choice. Chart used at GM discretion.

4-4 through 4-9, 4-11, 4-12, 4-14, 4-15, 4-16, 4-17 These are a perfect example of chart bloat and adds to the perception of “Chartmaster”. These should be eliminated and used as presented with the unified maneuver scale. Perhaps some examples of what a “failure” or “partial success” could be included in the skill description but results really depend on context and situation. Charts redundant and should be eliminated.

4-10. Knowledge Tier. Useful and ties the skill/lore system together as discussed here.

4-13. Channeling Modifiers. Small chart can be included in nFUX master modifier chart. Chart consolidated into master magic mod chart.

4-16. Driving Maneuvers. Again this seems like “Animal Maneuvers”. Unneeded complexity, lots of modifiers for a single skill. Chart should be simplified or eliminated or moved to optional rules or companion.

5-* Tables. Talents should be optional rules but are not needed for regular gameplay. Optional

6-1 Coinage Standards. Basic reference. Keep

6-2 Starting Money. Only used at char gen. Keep.

6-3. Equipment Breakage. Should be further simplified into unified maneuver scale. Eliminate chart.

6-4 Equipment Repair. Should be simplified into unified maneuver scale. Eliminate chart.

6-5 General Equipment. Reference chart. Keep

6-6 Armor Chart. Reference chart. Keep.

6-7 Weapons. Reference Chart. Keep & expand. We’ve proposed shifting various combat maneuvers into weapon specific mods. Shouldn’t the reverse strike penalty be different between a dagger and a polearm? Chart should be expanded into weapon specific modifiers.

7-1 Action Points Action. I think there are currently changes being made to the initiative and round resolution system.  In development?

7-2 Charging. This could be simplified. For instance, the size category can increase by +1/pace X. Pace modifier would still apply. Chart eliminated!

7-3 Attack Roll. This could morph into the master modifier chart to include the handful of useful modifiers in previous tables (lighting, terrain, position etc). Included in master mod chart.

7-4. Disarm Maneuver. Lots of rules for one skill. Personally I think disarm should just be a standard result in the critical roll or purely a maneuver resolution separate from melee actions. Disarm, dodge, ambush are problematic powerful skills with complicated rule resolution. Work needs to be done.

7-5 Katas. These rules may need some work but there are only a few mods in a small chart. Include in master modifier chart.

7-6 Protect. Include in master modifier chart or review for simplification. It seems that this should only work if the Protector is at the flank of the defender. Move protect mods into individual weapon chart.

7-7. Slaying. It makes more sense to just have Slaying bump up the severity and not add to the crit roll. Thus the chart would be eliminated.

7-8 Subdual. Roll into master modifier chart and/or use individual weapon modifiers. Chart eliminated.

8-1  Armor Flexibility.. Delete and/or incorporate into 8-2.

8-2 Armor Type. Reference Keep.

8-3 Shields. Keep or incorporate into equipment/armor table 6-6.

8-4 Piecemeal Armor. Confusing—simplify into table 6-6.

11-1 Power Level. Optional but should be expanded to include other mechanisms to adjust (equipment, DP’s etc). Move to optional rules or companion.

11-2 Levels. Confusing? Needed? Eliminate.

11-3 Starting Money. Only for char gen. Expand into larger random table? Keep.

12-1. Endurance. Use unified maneuver scale. EliminateThe few mods could be included in the master mod chart.

12-2. Injuries and Recovery. Simplify?

12-4 & 12-5 & 12-6 Cauterization and Defibrillation & Decomp. Too complex, granular. Move to Optional rules?

13-1 Biomes. Useful as reference. Keep.

13-2 Extreme Temps. ? Optional rules.

13-3 & 13-4 & 13.5. Fright & Morale & Rally Consolidate and use unified maneuver scale.

13-6. Feats of Strength. Simply with an intuitive conversion of weight to weight. Eliminate chart.

13-7. Poisons & 13-8 Diseases This is something that needs to be simplified for game play. Perhaps create 1 affect/poison or disease and use the unified maneuver role scale.

13-8. Lighting. Eliminate and incorporate into master mod chart.

You’ll note that most RMU skill charts do follow the Failure/Failure/Partial/Success unified maneuver scale—but many skills have their own chart. That adds to the perception that RM has too many lookup charts for gameplay. Rather than include a chart for various skills, some simple guidelines on what a “partial success” or “partial failure” may look like to help a GM.

All in all, the total modifiers for environment, health and melee situations can be distilled into 1 master table. All the spell casting and magic mods could be distilled into another chart: 2 pages total. The few remaining charts are either reference, optional or used only at character gen or leveling up. You still have individual weapon attack charts, fumbles and crits but that’s what people love about RM. Everything else can fall under easy to remember, intuitive or quantifiable labels to ease gameplay. All the mods can be consolidated into 2 master tables. In other words, a unified rule system.

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