Shadow World “Neng”, Race or Monster?

neng

Peter’s blog Monday, “Is a Kenku a race or a monster” made me think about the Neng, a creature/race in the “Artificial Beings” section of the Shadow WorldM Master Atlas. SW has a great many odd races: Hirazi, Jhordi, Kuluku, Quaidu, Synshari, so it always struck me that Neng could be moved to the race section and available as a PC choice. Terry in fact states that the Neng can breed/reproduce and qualify as a race.

The Neng were a creation of Kadaena (a more refined version of Shards)—thus the classification as “artificial”. But the Neng are Caucasian, with rough skin (similar to acne scarring), large bony hands, lean and averaging 5’7” to 7’ in height. Compared to some of the other races, the Neng sound downright average appearing! The Neng have two very special abilities: they can shoot acid via a tube in their tongues and they can turn objects or themselves invisible at will. For many GMs those abilities might be too unbalancing in a low level game?

As a “monster” Neng are stat’ed at 8th lvl with a base move of 90! Perhaps as a player choice the acid shooting becomes skill based and invisibility is tied to level by limiting times/day or duration? I think the acid spit is cool, the invisibility slightly problematic but interesting and the base rate is a bit much.  I’ve never had a Neng as a PC,  but I do like the concept of more defining racial abilities than just stat bonuses and physical appearance. I would rather inject special abilities via a race trait than as some arbitrary “talent” or “quirk” randomly rolled on a table.

Terry suggests that Kuluku might be unbalancing and GM’s should carefully consider allowing them as PC’s. Are Neng’s abilities more disruptive than the Kuluku? Although they are described as cruel and evil, would Neng work as a race in your SW campaign?

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Is a Kenku a race or a monster?

I came across the Kenku last week and I really like them. The basic idea is that these are humanoid avians. They are great mimics, infact they have not language of their own but rather string learned phrases together from what they have heard but all in perfectly mimicked form of the original voice. They are also natural thieves.

kenku_by_dave_allsop
I am debating as to whether they should be a monster or a race when converting them over to Rolemaster. As a monster they are rather weak but as a race they require a lot more effort from the GM to prepare them before time.

A basic Kenku, as per the D&D to Rolemaster conversion rules is a rather weak creature.

5th level, 55 hits, AT1 DB10 34OB (short sword)/49OB (short bow). They should have a decent Stalk and Hide Skill of at least +25 as well as a +30 Trickery. There is something of the magpie about them and their desire to steal as much as their carrion crow like behaviour. I first encountered the Kenku in a grave robbing encounter so that may have coloured my perception of them. Their big feature is their mimicry. They communicate via mimicked phrases joined together to get the message across. They can also use it to confuse and lure people into traps.

There is great roleplaying protential here with hidden Kenku masquerading as members of the party and giving conflicting orders. They also gather in social groups called flocks, naturally, so you can use any number of these guys. They cannot fly but going by their D&D stats they should have at least a +15 Agility bonus. Play them as fast, stealthy assassin types when defending their territory and there is a great adventure in here. I just want to use them to steal something from the party.

With mimicry there is a lovely opportunity to have witnesses swear under oath that they heard the party talking at the scene of the robbery and with the best megic in the world the witness would be shown to be telling the truth. How were they to know they were hearing a perfect reproduction?

I now have a urge to put a gang of Kenku into my world, set them up near the players and just see what happens. Is there an opportunity for the Kenku to over hear the parties plans? Would the Kenku be interested in stealing what ever it is the party are trying to find or steal? Who will get there first?

I will see if I can work these guys into my game some time soon. If I manage it I will let you rknow how it goes.

 

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The Many Narrative Perspectives of Shadow World

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There can be no argument that Terry has designed Shadow World with a strong meta-narrative. These over-arching plots, high level NPC’s and secretive organizations reinforce an image of SW has a high fantasy adventure setting. Multi-chapter adventures like the Legacy of the Sea Drake Crown and the Grand Campaign may discourage GM’s from adopting the SW setting or see it poorly suited to low level “one and done” adventures given the rich history and background presented.

For those that see Shadow World as a great setting for a longer term game campaign the question that might be helpful to ask is what will the narrative perspective be that directs the storyline? In short, what IS the story of Shadow World? The history of the Althans and their eventual downfall? Is it the story of Andraax and his millennium long struggle to protect Kulthea? Is it the conflict between good and evil, Orhan and Charon and the struggles against the Unlife? Perhaps Shadow World is the story of the Jerak Ahrenrath and the Shadow Stone. Or is the story of Shadow World the struggles of civilizations and the Loremasters? A simple answer might be “all of them” but that doesn’t help a GM in constructing a long term adventure path that fits his world view and gaming style.

It’s generally agreed that Star Wars follows a universal and ancient story meme: the Heroes Journey. And to many that journey starts with the young Luke Skywalker, his path to becoming a Jedi, and his final confrontation with evil and the Emperor. From that perspective the movies will be seen and enjoyed through the perspective of Luke. But a different group would argue that the “Heroes Journey” actually belongs to Anakin Skywalker: his fall into darkness and his eventual redemption. (A third, much smaller group would say Star Wars is a buddy film featuring 2 robots). The point is that a simple flip of perspective can dramatically change how we experience and understand the films. The same is true for the chosen perspective in a Shadow World campaign.

For my campaign, the story of Shadow World is the story of the Earthwardens. Their origins in the 1st Era, their return and healing of the planet and their subsequent evolution is the backbone of our ongoing SW story. (We’ve developed our own NON-CANON Earthwarden “story”, you can see it HERE with a forum username). Throughout Kulthea the Earthwardens left megalithic monuments with enigmatic powers, hidden powerful guardians and built amazing structures like the coral roads and the sea-tunnels. The Earthwardens had simple but powerful magic (Arcane?) that healed the damaged planet after the wars of the 1st Era. For our story, the Earthwardens are not the “actors” propelling the narrative but the solution or puzzle the players need to solve in their battles.

If you’ve thought about your own narrative perspective, comment on it! If you are considering using the SW setting for a long term campaign think about how a narrative perspective can guide your game.

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Limitless-Adventures Sword Coast Encounters

Sword Coast Encounters

Limitless Adventures have very kindly given me review copies of three of their ‘Encounters’ booklets. What I like about Limitless Adventures is that they sound like a Tuesday night gaming group that every time they have a great idea they publish it, and why the heck not?

The first of these I am going to look at is Sword Coast Encounters. What you actually get is 10 ‘5e’ encounters each confined to a single page for ease of printing. Each contains the opening scene, creature or antagonists stats, a GM only explanation of what is actually happening, advice on scaling the encounter to different challenge levels, the treasure and finally adventure hooks that could spin off of this encounter. When the encounters refer to locations or NPCs these are nicely grounded in the Sword Coast (in this instance). Below is one example.

 Fun Distractions

One of the nice things about this collection is that whilst many can be solved at the point of a sword there are equally moral dilemmas and simply fun distractions.

Limitless do say that every collection contains at least one new ‘thing’ be that a creature, magic item or spell but could equally be a new game mechanic or deity.

Encounters Scale Well

So to using these. I like the self contained single page format. I try to use the minimum of paper in my games but do always have the planned adventure and NPCs on paper. The single page format fits in well with that and as each serves as an adventure hook they could hang around in your campaign for a while. The encounters do scale well when that is required. Not every encounter scales but that is not always required, an interesting NPC is interesting whatever the level and a moral dilemma is independent of the party facing it.

From a RM perspective most of the creatures featured here do not exist in Creatures & Treasures (I will publish the conversions of some of these on Monday), I particularly like the chap at the top of the page here! The same can be said of the magic items. This is an interesting point. When faced with a magic item that does not exist do you a) create the rules required to have that item in RM or b) change the item to fit the RM flavour? What I mean is as an example a +1 ring of protection is a really common D&D magic item. Do you give the party a ring that gives +5DB/+5RR as a constant effect item or do you think well RM doesn’t really have rings of protection but an equally low level item would be a ring castng Aura x3 daily? Another common thing is the D&D potion of healing. You could easily have a potion that casts Heal I from Concussion Ways but equally you could scrap the magic and give the party a vial holding a dose of Rewk (a brewed herb healing 2-20).

I personally have gone down the healing potions are often herb preparations and the ring would be a daily item, Aura and Blur seem to work well as substitutes up to Shield and blade turn spells for more powerful D&D rings of Protection. My players like the idea that items sit nicely alongside their spell lists, it makes them feel like they are playing RM in an RM world rather than a RM in a D&D world.

All in all a D&D 5e DM could use these off the page with no serious prep and not a great deal if they wanted to use the adventure hooks to carry it on. As an RM GM it took me about 5 minutes to do the D&D to RM momster conversion. The power level seems about right. It took seconds to convert the treasure from Gold, Electrum, Silver to Gold, Silver Bronze. I use 1 D&D Gp = 1 RM Sp. Most encounters do not give out magic items from what I have seen and that suits my world where magic is not so common. In the ten encounters here there are what I would magic items one of which is a potion which I would probably make into a herb preparation and one is a collection of runes which are single use. The remaining ones would need a bit of conversion or simply swapping out to offer the party something that you as GM think they need or you know they will need.

There are definitely encounters here I have never used in the past and some I would never have thought of using. For that alone I think it is worth the pocket money prices (most booklets are only $1.99, Sword Coast Encounters is $2.99).  All in all I will seriously consider these if there is a matching booklet to where my party are adventuring. For more information then visit Limitless Adventures or the DMs Guild page for this booklet.

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Shadow World Creature Ideas: The Soulless.

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While I’ve posted up quite a few files, bits and excerpts from our Shadow World campaign over at the RM Forums, I put many of them up with minimal explanation or background. Since we are in the Halloween season I wanted to go back and discuss one of my posting in more detail: The Soulless or UnMen.

We’ve always run Shadow World as “monster-lite”, preferring the unique creatures (Shards, Gogor, Kaden etc) over the traditional ubiquitous fantasy RPG monsters. But generally my group is dealing with human/humanoid adversaries rather than fantastical ones. Shadow World does have one over-arching “foe”, the Unlife, but that tends to be an abstract malevolence that also raises quite a few questions. In our own campaign, we’ve made a distinction between good/evil and the Unlife and eliminated the entire “anti-Essaence” concept that further muddied the waters. We also distanced the Charon pantheon from the definition of “evil” to a more “chaotic” one.

But I did want a better mechanism to manifest the Unlife to my players and I also wanted to replace the traditional D&D Undead that can genericizes a SW campaign. Thus the “Soulless” (“UnMen” to some societies) so named because the hosts eyes turn black. The Soulless can occur in 3 ways: the animation of a dead body (“zombification” which replaces some Undead types and allows for Unlife Necromancy), the possession of a living host (replaces Demonic possession and ties into corruption of a person accessing the Unlife) and in some cases the Non-Corporeal manifestation of the Unlife (replaces Wraiths, Spectres etc).

I like this solution because it shoehorns into the existing spell system, ( “Turning Undead”, “Possession”, of Slaying “Evil”, detection of “Evil”), while it also replaces known, generic Undead with a setting specific adversary. Like Undead, we’ve built the Soulless into “Classes” I-VI with powers and abilities that increasing accordingly. Both Unlife animation and possession touch upon common tropes popular in culture: Fear the Walking Dead, Ash v Evil Dead etc, but add unpredictability and even paranoia to the group. Anyone or anything could be “infected” with the Unlife. Even better, it unifies differing and problematic mechanisms created by the “gap” between the RM ruleset and SW setting.

In this Halloween season, maybe it’s time to introduce your players to the “new and improved Unlife”: the Soulless Continue reading “Shadow World Creature Ideas: The Soulless.”

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Last Session Debrief #1 Zombies!

There is so much I can write about after the last session I don’t really know where to start.

Firstly, the house from Saltwater Marsh worked perfectly so thank you for that suggestion.

Secondly the Spooky effects from Azukail Games were brilliant and even before the players worked out the place was haunted they were beginning to say that the session was getting creepy. That is all you can ask for really when GMing a bunch of 50 year olds!

What I learned

So down to what I learned this time. I didn’t really learn this but I should have been aware of it. What I think is the obvious solution is never going to be what the players think is the obvious solution. So right now the guy who was trying to trick them into going to their demise is currently being seen as an innocent victim that was tricked into deceiving them against his will. What was his ‘in joke’ about them being of dubious parentage was completely misinterpreted and the characters have constructed many theories about the meaning of it. The prevalent one at present means that they are going to try and make contact with Randal Morn. The next module I am planning to send them through is the Sword of Daggerdale and starts with the disappearance of Randal Morn. What are the chances of that?

Daggerdale

The party have only just made the connection between Colderan, the villain in the Doom of Daggerdale and Randal, being related. Colderan escaped at the end of ‘Doom’ and the party have assumed that he is one that has tricked the lay preacher of Lathandar into sending them to the haunted house.

The entire point of this session was to provide an interlude between the two Daggerdale modules. I had set it up so that the mannor house from Saltmarsh really was haunted and in the end I only used two Rolemaster ghosts, both class 2 undead and third level. I gave both ghosts the added innate ability to go invisible. To tie the house into the world I made it a former country house of the Morn family and as the party had said that they wanted to find out as much about Calderan as they could then I made it a former residence of the evil magic user.

Undead army

To add an extra complication I surrounded the house with a sizeable undead army. 300 years ago or so Calderan had started a war against a necromancer and whilst initially he had relished the challenge of move and counter move against this ‘worthy foe’ eventually the necormancer had built up an army of undead and ordered them to destroy the house. The household was the target as that was Calderan’s home at that time. Calderan countered that by using a ritual to slay and create ghosts from his bulter and housekeeper and bound them to look after the house, keeping intruders out and repairing any damage as best they could. As both ghosts and what was initially a zombie army but now mostly skeletons fought this war of attrition then ghosts would use their abilities to drive off the skeletons and the try and repair the house. The necromancer had used the word household rather than house which means that if no one is in the house the undead sit around idol as there is no household.

When someone enters the house the undead march on the house and try and kill them. Between times the butler and housekeeper try and repair the damage with whatever they can lay their cold dead hands on.

Enter the party who force their way into the house though a back door. The ghosts try and scare the party away but at the same time the undead army awakens and starts to converge on the house for the first time in months.

A nice little zombie apocolypse

We then had a nice little zombie apocolypse game with the players trying to battle the ghosts on the inside of the house and also trying to keep the undead out of the building. Their perimeter getting increasingly smaller as they were force back and back. The house was literally crawling with undead they were even scaling the walls to try and come in though the upstairs windows. The party had smashed up the treads of the staircases to try and stop the undead reaching the upper level of the house.

So I can tell you that the ghosts Constitution drain is a useless attack. After about 20 attempts there were only about 5 failures. It would have taken the ghosts weeks to have done any serious harm to any character using it. The ghosts were 3rd level and the party on average 4th. A higher level ghost may have been a different matter but these ghosts were useless at it.

The party had a life giving rune and two does of life giving herbs on hand so I felt completely free to not hold back. Two fatal criticals were delivered one by rolling a good old ’66’ and the other by rolling a 98 on the critical roll. Amusingly both were delivered to exactly the same character. He was not having a good day! I was pleased in that I have removed a large number of healing herbs from the party. This increases the relative value to the party of the more modest stocks they now have.

I was introducing one new undead into the house every three rounds just to see how the party would cope with slowly mounting pressure and it was interesting to see the stress levels go up and the players who were the most active became the most depleted. In theory 4th level characters vs 1st level undead whould have been no contest. The cleric and the sorcerer were trying to defeat the ghosts and the warrior mage and elemental warrior were fighting off the undead horde. The mystic was on healer duty and leant a hand with fighting the undead.

I am pleased that the party is capable of longer running battles and from going from encounter to encounter without having to rest up regain powerpoints so often. I have not haded out any adders or multipliers yet so they are all running on under their own steam.

I will share more on this next time!

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GM’ing Navigators in your Shadow World campaign: Stick to the Code.

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I like to use Navigators in our campaigns. Like Loremasters and Essaence Flows, Navigators can allow the GM to inject direction and narrative changes into the game. Plus SW is a dangerous place–and Navigators give the party added insurance when travelling through the wilderness.

It seems like some GM’s are reluctant to using Navigators. Reading posts on the RM Forums there are a few main areas of concern that people post about:

  1.  Cost. Navigators are expensive–and forget about using them for a Jump (teleport)!

From a game perspective, having the PC’s teleport everywhere can certainly expedite things and save a lot of hassle of normal travel (and work for the GM!). But the high cost of Jumping may make it prohibitive for lower level players. Keep in mind that the Nav Guilds are a “for profit” business and while they may have a monopoly they need to set their prices low enough that people will use them. Don’t be afraid to adjust pricing, up or down! Navigator fees are also a great money sink for groups overflowing with cash.

  1. Which Navigator responds to a summons?

Most Navigators in the Atlas’ are immortal, well equipped and quite powerful. That lends to the perception that Navigators are high priced or inaccessible to regular players. But the organization has to train new guild members and not every Navigator will be high level. Our common Navigator level range is 8th to 15th. These are not omnipotent characters able to fight off powerful servants of the Unlife. They are just specialized guides with extensive local knowledge and some spells that allow them to tackle unpredictable Essaence effects and barriers. Like any professional there is no guaranty of success once hired. If they players see Navigators this way they may be more inclined to utilize them–just like they would an Astrologer, Alchemist, blacksmith or other special profession.

  1. What will a Navigator do in the normal course of their duties?

Most of our exposure to Navigators are the short vignettes Terry sprinkles throughout his books and many of these depict major events or significant characters.  What’s not quite clear is the limits of Navigators services. Combined with the perceived power issue and it’s easy to assume that Navigators can and will extract the group from almost any danger or threat. Much of this decision will depend on the GM, his game style and use of the SW environment but to help guide NPC decisions we refer to the “Navigator Code”.

We are still  playing around with some of the wording and eventually will order them according to importance.

The Navigator Code

  • To Complete my task as expediently as possible.
  • To Protect my wards to the best of my ability without aggression.
  • To Avoid interfering with my clients goals.
  • To Ensure my clients confidentiality.
  • To Maintain the confidentiality of the guilds.
  • To Provide options but not advice to my clients.

Navigators can be a great ingredient to your Shadow World campaign!

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Gaming Weekend

(I am writing this on my phone and on the train so if there are any predictive textisms I apologise and will edit it down later!)

I am on the train to Faerún again to run my face to face game. This is the haunted house session in which a disgruntled follower of Lathander will attempt to lure the party to their deaths at the haunted house. He is after vengeance after they ‘accidentally’ defiled on of Lathander temples.
The adventure should take place between the first two Daggerdale modules (the Doom of Daggerdale and the Sword of Daggerdale).
For me this means that I have three prepped adventures. Colderan The Razor is still at large in Daggerfalls and is out to get the characters, the sinister secret of Saltmarsh should be the nail entertainment for the weekend and the Sword of Daggerdale is where the campaign is going next.
It also means that in terms of raw game notes, encounters, physical challenges and such all my game prep is done for the next two years or so. What I will have to do is make adjustments to the challenge level depending on the relative strength of the characters but that is just a level here or an extra foe there.
On the other hand what I can do is continue to layer on ways of making the game better. This time the players will be treated to me ensuring that I don’t forget all if the characters senses. I have made explicit notes about what the characters can hear, smell and taste as well as temperature.
This time they also get the pleasure of all the creepy special effects courtesy of Azukail Games. I intend to use up to twenty selected effects this time.
If I can get my timing right the characters should reach the house during our evening and late night session. It has to be better playing a spooky game at night rather than in glorious autumnal sunshine.
We are also in a new venue. We have rented a house in Glastonbury with views of the Tor. If I had known where we were going to be I probably would have done something with evil druids!

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REVISITING SPELL LAW: SPELL CASTING MECHANICS PT. 3: CHANNELING

Doctors of Ancient Egypt

In Casting Mechanics Pt. 2 we discussed our reworking of the Essence spell lists. In this post we’ll tackle our deconstruction and rebuild of the Channeling lists.  Recent posts by Peter talked about his difficulties with the Channeling realm. For Project BASil we rewrote Channeling spells (rather than eliminate it), but I agree that the Channeling realm presents some problems. In short, the Channeling realm is dependent on the setting, world build and presence and type of Dieties. D&D and Spell Law deal with this by making Channeling spells fairly generic and “vanilla”—it took the Channeling Companion to really dig into “Aspect Lists” and rules for more flexibility for Clerics and other Channeling Professions.

First, let’s look at Channeling in the original rule set:

  1. Casting Time. Like all realms, spells take 1-3 rounds to cast.
  2. Metal armor interferes with casting.
  3. Spells require a verbal and hand gesture component.
  4. Spell Powers. Spells cover a very broad range of power but generally exclude elemental attacks spells.

Our deconstruction of Spell Law forced us to look at each aspect of Channeling spells and casting mechanisms.

Spell Access. If the very nature of Channeling implies access to, or permission from, a “higher power” than that also implies that not everyone can access Channeling spells. Unlike Essence where even a non-spell user could make an effort to learn an Open list, we must assume that the potential caster must at least worship a god and that the god allows that person to cast. (an atheist couldn’t learn Channeling spells) This assumption throws away the whole concept of Open, Closed and Base for the Channeling realm. Instead we reclassified/renamed the 3 categories. “Holy Believers” (Open) are less powerful, general spells available to faithful followers of the diety that put the time and devotion into studies and are granted access to some basic powers. “Holy Followers” (closed) are specialized or aspect themed spells that are only accessible to the priests and clerics or to special servants or high ranking members of the religion. “Holy Servant” (Base) spells are lists for Priests/Clerics and Holy Warriors of the religion. In short, spell access is driven by the casters role in the religion or church.

Channeling Mechanics. Given the need for a Diety to justify the Channeling Realm we also wanted to define the god’s role in actual spell casting. Spell Law touches upon the concept but it’s all a little vague. Are Power Points drawn from the Diety? If so, then why have PP limits for Channelers? Are the spells themselves drawn from the god? SL mentions that higher level spells may need tacit permission from the god or at least their awareness, but it’s not built into the game mechanics in any real way. Since we defined spell power (power points) as being single-sourced (the Essaence) and individual, it’s not the power that’s drawn from the god. Instead we see channeling as working like an app download. The caster prays and the god/diety provides the spell template to create the magical effect.

Casting Components. Given the above definition for Channeling mechanics, the channeling user doesn’t need to use a magical language or arcane hand gestures to generate spell effects. Instead, the caster just recites a specific prayer, “asking” for a certain spell effect. The prayer/spellcast doesn’t even need to be spoken but we do add a SCR bonus for praying out loud. We added a Prayer skill that is used for the SCR. The prayer skill measure the level of devotion and connection of the caster and also determines the highest level of spell that can be cast.

Channeling Spell Powers. Because the spell framework is provided by the god, we felt that Channeling spells didn’t need to be as logical or linear as the Essence lists They could manifest as more miraculous, wondrous or illogical. From a realm differentiation standpoint, channeling spells are better with the intangible: souls, spirits, auras and similar non-physical aspects. Because they are tied to a higher being, channeling is also better at divination/augury and other “fuzzy logic” spells.

Encumbrance. We eliminated the encumbrance and armor effect for Channelers. As discussed in another blog, the Transcend Armor work around is just rules for rules. I don’t see a balance issue.

Casting Time. Channeling spells can be more miraculous and powerful than other realms, we eliminated casting penalties for armor—so are Channelers now too powerful? We chose to balance these benefits with longer casting times. Since the caster needs to pray for a spell effect it might take some time. Our casting rule for Channeling is 1 rnd per spell lvl. A caster can cast quicker, by “rushing” the prayer but there are casting penalties. So yes, a 50th lvl spell would take 50 rnds (just over 4 minutes) to cast without a penalty.

 

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What would my perfect Spell Law look like? Pt I – A Non Channeling Druid

I am still thinking aboutChenneling magic. As far as I am concerned it is just the channeling realm that causes the problems in Rolemaster. It simply has too many D&D hangups. The idea that healing is the domain of clerics, platemailed paladins and dependence of gods or deities are just things we all grew up with if you started playing in the D&D world. So as a start I thought about the Druid. This is a typical channeling profession. Where would a non channeling Druid fit?

Essence of Mentalism?

Looking at the spell lists in Companion 1 about 80% of all the Druids base spells fall into two schools of magic, Force and Mental. The remained are Healing, Information and a few Phantasms & Illusion. So at first glance Mentalism seems the way to go.

Force Magic

Let us have a look at what the Druid is doing with Force magic and see if that could swing the balance into the Essence realm. The only Force spell on the Animal Mastery list is Animal Summons and that requires concentration. I think that still implies mentalism.

The second Druid Base List is Druids Peace and every single spell on it is a Mental spell until you get to 30th level when you get EARTH CALM (F) Within the radius, caster may “calm” a natural phenomena (quakes, storms, winds, etc) or he may cancel a magically created natural phenomena. Now that does sound a bit elemental but then by the time you get to 30th level you should expect all spell casters to be throwing around some powerful magic.

The third list is Druid Staff. This is one of those enchant your own weapon type lists and the weapon is bound to the caster. Every spell on this list is a Force spell except for three (one utility spell and 2 defensive). In these cases the magic is self only and and requires concentration. I think this still leans towards mentalism.

Natures Forms is the fourth Druid list and just like nearly all mentalism spells the area of effect is self only. All the spells on the list are Force spells bar two that are Phantasms as the druid can mask his own thoughts. This again feels like a mentalsm list.

The fifth list is Stone Mastery and this at first glance looks the most Essence like. There are three Elemental spells in the form of Stone Wall, Curved Stone Wall and Stone Spike. The rest are Force Spells. So what is going on in this list. Well the Druid can speak to animate stones (not particularly useful!). Can throw stones in a similar way to the mentalism Hurling and telekinesis. The rest of the spells involve shaping and animating stone. This list could sit in either realm equally naturally I think.

The final base list for Druids is Plant Mastery and is another Force spell list. The ranges are most touch or self and enable the cast to communicate with plants, heal plants and control their growth. He or she can also create paths though vagetation and animate or activate plants and sentient trees. This is in my opinion another list that sort of sits on the fence between menalism and essence.

The overal balance though is that Druids should be in the mentalism realm rather than essence and there is nothing in here that implies there is any need for a deities involvement. There is no communing, no divination and no cross planes summoning going on here.

Anyone could easily play a non channeling Druid using the no profession and mentalism spell lists and casting restrictions as they now stand.

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