I wanted to write something a bit different as we have had a lot on house rules and a load of HARP but they are both rather niche and possibly divisive.
Next weekend I was supposed to be running my RMC game. This was going to be a major session with the conclusion of a chapter, the start of the next chapter and a big reveal to show a glimpse of what is really going on in the background for the characters.
One of the key players, one of the players that always turns up and remains engaged for every session has for the first time in 12 years had to miss the session. I don’t want to run this pivotal session with out him as he is likely to be one of only two that will grasp the significance of what happens.
Without the player there is also meant to be a point where that character should put two and two together and be able to tall the party something of great importance. If I have to NPC that character for that session then it will come across as me having to spoon feed the party and lead them by the nose.
So what to do?
The best option is to run a one shot game for the weekend with the players that are there.
As it happens I was given three of Gramel’s mini setting booklets that go along with Adventurers!, a micro RPG.
Adventurers! bills itself as an RPG in two pages. In fact the entire rules is 10 pages but the players guide is 2 pages, the GM guide is 2 pages, the gear list is two pages and then you have the bestiary, 3 pages and character sheets that make up the rest of the game. Having the character creation rules and the bestiary means that you have everything you need to do an Adventurers! to Rolemaster conversion. I will come back to this later.
In addition to the Adventurers! rules Gramel also gave me three adventure ‘mini settings’ an alternative version of the Caribbean with pirates and voodoo, ghosts, zombies and mermaids. Pretty much then entire cast of Pirates of the Caribbean. The second is a modern Supers setting and the third is a wacky setting if you wanted to role play Pixar’s Toy Story.
Voodoo Pirates is everything you need to run a game set in an alternative world where voodoo and black magic are real. The PDF is 35 pages including covers. This is made up of:
6 pages of pure setting information to set the scene about what has happened in the recent past, Character concepts about the sorts of characters inhabiting the caribbean, naval battles, setting themes to act as a backdrop to any games and a gazetteer of the most important islands that make up the caribbean. Finally in this section are famous ‘people’ of the caribbean from real pirates to mythical entities such as Davy Jones the captain of the Flying Dutchman.
2 pages cover voodoo Powers, necromancy and voodoo sorcery. You also get some unique magical items under the heading Amazing Objects. Off of these will be familiar and only one of them I would struggle to model using Rolemaster’s ruleset, more of that later.
2 pages of unique gear with prices. This is of limited use to us as it is all aimed at being used with their own rules.
9 pages of bestiary. These broadly fall into two categories. The first are creatures, mainly undead because of the VooDoo theme that you can pick straight out of C&T. The second group are stock NPCs such as soldiers, spies and savage natives. There is also a small selection on non-fantastical creatures like sharks which again can come straight out of C&T.
4 pages of ships stats. Ships are treated as characters in Adventurers! with character sheets, stats and abilities. They conduct ship to ship combat just like a regular combat. We have more options than that and we have more ships to play with. This is an opportunity to break out either Sea Law or if you are really hardcore RM2 then you can dig out your copy of Pirates.
3 Pages of NPC. The character sheets are pretty basic but the important bit is that you get the NPCs background and equipment…
…with the information they have provided you can easily role play that NPC. As a really rough stat conversion I would use 50 + (Adventurers! Stat *12) and then round down if the result is over 100. So in this example all the physical strength and conditioning stats (St+Co) would be a straight 50. Agility and Quickness would be 74 and the mental stats would be 98. It is not a brilliant conversion but functional.
8 pages of adventure. This makes up the largest single section and is an adventure described in scenes. It is rather linear but the writer has countered this with lots of If… conditions such as:
If they manage to defeat it,
If the party has someone with Voodoo
If the PCs want to fill the white sacks
If anyone manages to come out
…and so on. The effect is that although the adventure is rather linear there is a lot of flexibility, most of the ways that players could balls themselves up have been catered for and will not break the adventure.
So the Gramel mini settings cost about $5-$6. These 2nd editions, of which this is one, are about 30-40 pages and include everything you have read here. The 1st edition ones cost $1-$2 and are about 6 pages. I have not seen or read one of those. Obviously Gramel want me to write about their new products, not their old ones.
Do I think they are good value for money, yes I do. Do I think they are easy to use with RM? That is harder. I am happy to pull stock NPCs and stock monsters on the fly and run with it. My adventures are not normally based on maps, and there are none provided, but having said that I can get a random map online in about 10 seconds and I own the Dyson Logos book of maps which I could also use. I think for some groups these will be perfect to have in your GMs toolbox to pull out when you need something. To be honest you can probably read 30 pages on the way to a game session, if you are not driving, or at least skim read it over a coffee. The hard part of coming up with an off the cuff adventure is going to be thinking up the story, not the finding the monster stats. These pdfs do all the creative bit for you, the stats we can deal with.
Adventurers! characters have 3 stats, Body Agility and Mind. You get 6 points to divide up between the three stats. The lowest allowed value is -1 and the highest is 6. The highest stats I have seen are +5 for Strength for a Minotaur and for an Ogre. The rule of thumb of 50 + stat x 13 would give a minotaur a 115 strength which is not good so capping it at 100 (for RMU) or 102 for RM2 makes things viable.
Endurance is Str + Agi + 3 so could in theory be -1 + -1 + 3 or a 1. For most NPCs it seems to be around the 5 to 7 area so using that for level would drive the body development that Endurance is meant to reflect but also give us a key indicator for all the other skills.
There is not one truly unique creature in this mini setting that you could not pick directly out of Creatures & Treasures. The only complication is an entire swarm of spiders, RM does not handle swarms very well in my experience. To get an idea of the writers intentions the swarm of spiders in this adventure has stats 50% higher than a Giant Spider and is treated as a single entity. I am sure you could wing something!
Something Special to think about
So how would you model a voodoo doll? This is the classic cursed item where sticking a pin in the doll causes the character to suffer the wound in full scale. I have gone through the companions that I have and I cannot find anything that really suits.
I would not want this to be too deadly to both stop the PCs wanting to use it against everyone or to be so dangerous that it leads to a TPK with no chance at fighting back.
So I am thinking that each pin stuck into the doll would generate a critical. The doll’s controller decides what sort of action they are taking such as sticking a pin in it or crushing it under their foot etc. They then roll a critical of the correct type, puncture, krush, heat etc., the victim makes an RR and if they fail by 1-20 it becomes and A critical, 21-40 a B and so on. If the RR is successful the character feels the pain or the sensation but no damage is delivered.
So the Doll’s controller doesn’t really know what is happening at the other end but it is not an automatic kill either. It would be very easy to role play this as you can just describe all these psychosomatic symptoms such as “It feels like your entire skin is on fire. “You take 10 hits and your clothes are actually starting to smoulder.”,”You feel a stabbing pain in the small of your back like you have been run through with a rapier, you take 3 hits.” and so on. The characters can act and react and hopefully get to the doll’s controller before something really bad happens.
7 thoughts on “Pirate Adventures!”
You can get a Voodoo Doll using RMFRP Channeling Companion spell list Voodoo Magic. The spell at lvl 15 is Voodoo Doll, and at 30 you get Voodoo Doll True.
I have been sent a screenshot of that list and the two spells are:
I quite like the 15th level version as it is a sort of permanent Suggestion spell and it would be great to introduce to a campaign. The affected character would certainly want to get control of the doll and prevent it getting into evil hands.
The 30th level spell is a bit of a cop out as it doesn’t really give us anything to work with apart from “GM Discretion”.
Voodoo Doll True does have the potential to be overpowered, which is probably why it says GM discretion. I think I’d probably look to see how such are handled in other systems (I think it would include poppets) and scavenge from them to make the spell more interesting though.
You call it scavenging, I call it up-cycling, you have to love it though.
Cool. My RM2/RMC collection let me down.
That would set a level for the voodoo villains, slightly higher than I had envisioned.
RM2 has the Maleficant. You may want to look at that profession and its spell lists too. That’s the same theme you are going for here with the Voodoo aspect. In fact, the pic of the Maleficant is that of hi poking a Voodoo doll. Can’t be that far off from what you’re looking for.
RM2 let you down??? Bah, humbug!
Found them! RoCo VII, not a place anyone in my group was a frequent visitor to.
So now we have Lesser Control Doll and Greater Control Doll. The first is a much more powerful version of the RMFRP spell. You get the Suggestion effect but two additions. The first is that there is no line of sight restriction. The spell has no range or duration limits. The second difference is that in addition to the Suggestion you can cast Illusion/Phantasm spells through the doll at the target.
We do get an additional mechanic though which is helpful. The doll can be destroyed only by casting Cancel True or Remove Curse on the doll.
The 30th level spell is identical to the RMFRP spell of the same level.
I like the Cancel True/Remove Curse as that gives the victim an ‘out’. The RM2 version is definitely much more powerful as a 15th level Phantasm or Illusion can do serious damage and even kill the victim. I suppose this is an example of where RMFRP has tried to rein in the power creep of later RM2 companions.