One of the problems for D&D players coming to Rolemaster is that although ‘Profession’ appears to be pretty much the same as ‘Class’ they are definitely not the same thing!
There are significant flaws in Rolemaster professions.
- Once you choose a Profession in RM just about everything is set for life and is unchangeable. If your chosen profession virtually excludes magic then whatever happens in the future you will be forever pretty much excluded from magic.
- There are so damn many professions. Professions define the costs of your skills and the base spell lists that can be learned. The difference between a fighter and a barbarian is just the skill costs, the difference between a witch and an illusionist is skills and base lists. Choosing profession comes down to which profession has the best skill costs for the skills you want to buy and the closest fit for the spells you want cast. I have ended up viewing it as institutionalised min/maxing as when you get up to 70+ professions there has to be optimised to give the lowest price for exactly what you want.
- The professions are scattered though so many books that if every GM does not have all the same material then your particular profession simply may not exist.
- Not all professions are as equally balanced as others. There are some optional rules that when combined with some of the professions either makes them unplayable or unstopable. I have seen games where one single Directed Spells skill is used for ALL directed spell attacks. In the case of the Warrior Mage profession all of their attacking spells are on a single list so with a single skill they can attack with their full OB with every attacking spell. The magician who is meant to be the specialist with elemental attacks would have to spend 10 times the development points to be equally good AND could not even start to learn the skill in Lightning bolt until twelth level. The Warrior Mage could start learning it at 2nd level.
As you can see there are issues with professions as they stand. I propose using the No Profession as the basis for all characters.
The No Profession is a standard set of skill costs that are uniform to everyone.
Normally once you have chosen your profession you have to buy skills using your development points at least twice. The first time is your ‘apprenticeship’ level, essentially 0th level. The second time is your 1st level skills and then a third time to show what you are learning at the moment. As skills are spread thoughout most of the rolemaster companion and Law books it can be a challenge and very time consuming to evaluate all 200+ skills available to you. 200 skill costs for 92 professions makes over 18,000 different combinations.
In my version there is only the No Profession, only about 40 skills and you buy your skills only once. There will be more about skills later.
Professional Magical Realms
In addition to the skill costs your profession also gives you a Realm of magic, six base lists and a set of professional level bonuses.
The realm of magic remains the same as standard RM in that you get the choice of one realm from the three standard realms (channeling, mentalism or Essence). Technically I do not insist you choose your realm until you start to study some sort of magic. On the other hand though your power points will be based upon one of your stats. This means that if you envision casting spells then you will need to ensure you have some power points from your stats before you start.
If you have spell lists from just one realm then all your power points will come from the stat governing that realm (EM), (IN) or (PR). If you learn a list from a second realm then your power points will come from the average stat from the two realm stats. If you then learn magic from the third realm then all three stats will be averaged to find your power points.
You do not need to chose all your base lists right from day one. There are 10 lists in total that you can learn above 20th level and these will be the first 10 lists you learn above 20th level. As you can only learn spells but actually using them it is logical that your ‘speciality’ will be the magic you have proven best at.
The professional bonuses or level bonuses will be the ones as described on pg 128 of the RMC Character Law. This uses the RMSS skill categories. The only variation here is that you may swap up to 2 of the bonus categories for example you may choose to move the +1 from Outdoor Skills to the Urban category and move the +1 from Athletic Skills to Directed Spells. This allows you to customise your professional bonuses a little so if you want to play a wizardly character you can shape him or her into a more academic type rather than the athletic type that the No Profession starts out as. Once you have moved a set of bonuses they cannot be changed later.
That is it. The No Profession is intended to be a bit of a blank canvas from which you start building your character.