RMU and it’s implied setting.

[Disclaimer. I haven’t finished reading the RMU Core book and haven’t even started on Spell Law or Treasure Law, but I wanted to start the discussion and/or provoke some thought!]

Because RMU Creature Law has not been published yet, this post may be a a bit premature. We’ve blogged a lot about the relationship between game rules and the associated setting; mostly the “gap” between Rolemaster and Shadow World. Now that RMU is quickly becoming whole and fully formed I was wondering what the rules are implying to you about a setting? Professions, races, spells and now alchemy rules all inter-relate and drive a concept about a setting. To me, clearly it’s not Shadow World but neither is it a generic quasi medieval, European setting nor a Gygaxian ecosystem. We’ve always argued that a ruleset should have strong supporting adventure material. Maybe just adventures in the beginning, but ideally a world setting that matches the metaphysics of the magic system, a cultural history to support the races and economy, and a physical framework for adventuring. To me, RMU is not a dungeon delving system. But the rules should inspire the setting and the setting should support the rules…

My first setting impression that RMU invokes is a bit of a steampunk setting. Perhaps it’s the dabbler or the style of Treasure Companion that feels more tech than magic. I’m reminded of the the Ketty Jay setting: flying ships, a construct/golem, daemonist, ancient civilizations, magic and firearms.

I’ve included a few links to past posts, but I’m very interested in readers thoughts!!

3 Replies to “RMU and it’s implied setting.”

  1. I can definitely see the steampunk concepts you’re talking about; Shadow World still has trace influences on the game, or at least how the game is perceived by us older gamers. I’m not sure how fresh eyes perceive the “setting” of Rolemaster based purely on what we have so far.
    Maybe it’s my own history with the game and the evolution of fantasy out of the 80’s, but I see the default RM setting as somewhere between the world of the first Beastmaster film and Willow. Maybe it’s their largely unexplained magical elements and hodgepodge of creatures and races, but that’s where I land when I think of the default setting, even if my own are different.

    1. I definitely see the first Beastmaster film and I have always felt that RM and Ironwind was one of the first “grimdark” settings in RPGs. Before SW I always had settings that reflected that feel. But for RMU, I was also wondering how the races impact the ideal setting. Is the goal of RMU to be another drop in rule set, or is it implied that the setting would have all of the “new” races: Avinarc,s, Hvasstonn, Nycamerith, Plynos, Sohleugir, Sstoi’isslythi and Vulthen? As a SW user, most of those are unfamiliar, and I’m trying to imagine what that RMU world building would look like.

      I guess that any RPG rule system is going to imply a certain setting and all the material in the rules would be used in that setting. You don’t real the D&D rules books and then are told that “this rule, or that creature, or spell” doesn’t really fit into the Greyhawk or FR setting. Shadow World was already a step away from the RM1. I’m wondering if there is a cohesive world using all of the RMU material, or if it’s a la carte.

  2. To me it’s clearly an a la carte system. In Core Law it even states:

    “A Gamemaster should examine each race carefully before including it in his campaign—not all these races are suitable for all settings, and some may be better suited as NPCs and adversaries rather than player characters. GMs should also feel free to customize races to fit the setting or to create new races.” (Core Law, p20)

    My read on this is that there’s not any immediate push to create a unified setting. Personally, I don’t particularly like settings with too many races. Neil Gaiman has a great speech on world-building that says to figure out the small details first. Sanderson echoes this in his essays on Laws of Magic. Even a select few races add nearly infinite potential for interactions and dramatic storytelling. Look at how littered with drama our own history is with only one species!

    All that being said, if RMU is to thrive after the release of Creature Law, I think serious work needs to be done in creating playable and developed settings…

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