RMU is finally out! After years of waiting, we finally have a finished (sort of) product, so the best thing I could think to do to honor this moment is to immediately start assessing its rules and suggesting tweaks! This will hopefully be the first post in a series of RMU rules evaluations.
The rule under discussion today has to do with the way stats function in this latest iteration of Rolemaster. Unsurprisingly for those of us who have been tracking its progress, the “old” model of stats is preserved, with characters having temporary stats with determine bonuses for use in skills, and potential stats that serve as caps that the temporaries can grow towards.
This won’t be anything that some others haven’t discussed before, but I too have a handful of issues with the stat system as it is currently configured. Here are some of the gripes:
1️⃣ Rolling for Stats – This actually isn’t a gripe and I’m curious where people fall on this issue; for years I was a stat-rolling loyalist. RMU does give the option to use stat-buy and I have converted to that camp. I like that all players start on equal footing, so I’m already using one of RMU’s optional rules.
2️⃣ Potential Stats – This is actually one of the bigger issues I have, in that I’m not sure potential stats have much functionality. D&D doesn’t have them, and even with stat raises each level, characters don’t typically max out all their stats until pretty far into the leveling process.
My solution? I’m ditching them. All stats now have a “potential” of 100, so if a character wants to focus on developing one or two stats to the exclusion of others, so be it. With most skills drawing from three different stat bonuses, I think the effect will be negligible.
3️⃣ Smoothing the Stat Progression (even more) – RMU features a much smoother bonus curve compared to old RM2, but still requires referencing a table, and still has big spikes at the high and low ends. I suppose my question is why? Is this more realistic in depicting real-world ability progression?
On the ICE forums, Hurin has advocated for a simpler formula for stat bonuses that is easy to remember: (Stat-50)/3. This gives a simple linear progression that requires one less chart. I have actually toyed with a variation on this of (Stat-50)/4 which brings the stats a little closer to the RMU default curve, but this progression also rewards bigger bonuses before characters hike stats into the 90s. Again, simple is better and either one doesn’t seem to affect game balance.
4️⃣ Standardizing Stat Gains – As in prior versions, each player gets two stat gains each level, with the amount now partially determined by the stat itself, rather than the difference between the temporary and potential. You still roll however for the amount gained. Here’s another element where chance can separate players rather than choices made in character development.
As a result, I’m putting in standardized stat raises. Each level, two stats can be raised by a +1 bonus — the stats themselves then raise by the corresponding amount each level, whether using RMU’s curve of the smoothed progression, but the bonus is what really matters). This actually brings up another issue of whether we even need stats at all, since really all they do is provide bonuses. I believe a few of our RMU play-testers have gotten rid of them completely and just have players purchase bonuses, but I actually like seeing stats purely as a visual of the character as a whole and how they compare to the rest of the population.
So there’s my thoughts and rulings on just one aspect of the final RMU rules. My house rule fixes aren’t too drastic, and are centered on taking chance out of character development. Players deal with enough chance already due to the fall of the dice during adventuring, so any chance I have to take away another gripe of life’s RNG seems like a good thing to me.
Thoughts? Any surprises for anyone in the finalized version of RM Core Law?