RMU: Settings, Adventures and Modules.

I thought I would put a quick post in an effort to stir some discussion on support products for RMU. We’ve blogged and talked quite a bit about Shadow World and there has been some discussions on a RMU.

Following the RMU threads on discord, RPGNet and others there seems to be some interest in game support material. No one expects that to happen quickly, Spell and Creature Law still need to to be published, errata corrected and POD’s rolled out etc.

It’s been stated that rule books generate more $ than supplements and modules. I think that’s hard to quantify given that virtually every game system can rely on older settings for support, and old modules can be converted or pillaged for material. So perhaps RMU can rest on the laurels of RM SW, Cyradon and MERP modules.

There does seem to be some interest in new material, and I can’t help but think that gaming material written specifically for RMU rules, races (species?), professions and creatures would be beneficial to system adoption. Of the varied comments:

  1. Generic setting adventures. This could quickly fill the gap and it sounds like there are a number of people that could submit material.
  2. A new setting. A new setting could really embrace the specifics of RMU, would not rely on Terry’s unique setting and could draw talented writers to participate.
  3. Revision. It would seem that revising older RM material to RMU stats might be the easiest solution?

It appears that interest in RMU is peaking, with new members at the RMForums and perhaps new readers here at the RMBlog. This is an excellent chance to engage to RM players and invite them to participate in the community!

What are your thoughts?

12 Replies to “RMU: Settings, Adventures and Modules.”

  1. Hello.
    I will not go into excessive detail but in general I can understand why new players are gravitating away from some of the mainstay haunts. Those Shadow World, MERP and Cyradon settings and modules are classic and timeless but not necessarily in the good way. I’ve had two children that are now 28 and 19. and watched their interests and hobbies as they have grown.

    Choice and customization are the flavors of the day. Today I want a gritty cyberpunk setting. Tomorrow I want Space Opera. Then a post apocalyptic alien invasion. Can I get those from any of the existing material?

    So where does that leave the renewed enthusiasm for RM? I would stay stick to its strengths. Be a recourse that can plug into other settings to add a level of detail not realized by that host system.

    Lingering issue: One possibility that comes to mind for me personally is an old resource made by TSR decades ago, The Primal Order. within its back pages offered a gamers version of a rosette stone. A way to convert different systems to be compatible (at a base level of statistics and damage). Maybe that is one way forward, but that is a question I will leave unexplored for now.

    Peace 😉

  2. I just have some brief thoughts.

    1. Even a “generic” adventure can/should have a Kulthea “placement.”

    2. People can keep writing for Kulthea just as people are still writing for Glorantha, etc.

    3. Probably a good idea to convert as much as possible so that you don’t find yourself a decade or two from now and there is still more playable material available for a given previous edition than the current one.

  3. I think one of the challenges is most new systems come grounded in some kind of setting already (Witcher, Cyberpunk, Conan), and while RMU has a whole bushel of races and whatnot, there’s really nothing in the rules themselves to ground those options. Sure, there’s SW and MERP, but those products can be hard to find (especially MERP) and I don’t think new players and GMs are going to be that interested in hunting around for them. RM in general in my view has always suffered from setting confusion (maybe not so much in the beginning when RM was bolt-on stuff for other games, and obviously MERP suffered from none of those issues), and that can be a real problem when you’re trying to attract new people.

    At its peak, AD&D supported a number of settings (Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, and likely one or two more I’m not remembering), and I don’t see any reason why RMU couldn’t have another setting added on. One that’s perhaps more accessible and “traditional fantasy” than SW, as I know people who don’t care at all for the SF elements in SW. Wedding it exclusively to SW is in my view a mistake.

  4. It’s a good question, and sure there are plenty of people who might consider doing so. However as discussed last year (‘Writing in a Vacuum’) article, if it’s a fan product I doubt many will take the time/energy/effort of sending it to ICE for official publication. Absent that, anything else would have to be published under something like the Open00 system. It’s too bad that publishing a ‘generic’ module ends always end reading so stale.

    It’s funny, as I’m reading Tim Dugger’s excellent ‘The Tomb of Aosath Bak’ atm (for his Novus 2E system). It’s the exact kind of intro module I’d love to see for something like RMU. Three parts: Part 1 has 2-3 pages of setting description, 10 pages of adventure, and a few pages for rewards and creature stats. Part 2 has 12 pregen characters. Part 3 has a 6 page intro to the system, and it even comes with maps for Roll20. At $8 it’s a steal, and IMHO the exact kind of thing ICE needs to encourage.

    Publish something like that under the Open00 system, and you might be able to hit multiple RPG’s at the same time (much like the OSR crowd does). Course the setting changes (town names, implied spells, skills, etc…) are NOT negligible changes.

  5. Deciding how to write an adventure that should cater to a wide audience is np-hard.
    On the extremes you would end up with either a very setting-flavored product or a generic-sandboxed one, GMs will either hate or love exactly because of the flavor or sandbox nature.

    The other axis of consideration is, if the adventure should be of a “ready-to-run” nature (with a mainly fixed narrative) , or an “open-world” style setup context, or a combination of the two. The widest audience would prefer to have both.

    For an introduction adventure, surely a somewhat flavored sandbox with a narrative ready-to-run would be best, as you can always offer a free adaptation/conversation guide to fit the sandbox into different settings.

    I faintly remember the “Vog Mur” product that had about a half-page worth of recommandation to fit it into the greater Emer context.

    1. My thoughts on this subject are well known, but how would you address the various posters, some of them new to RM/RMU that ask where the support material is? What is the best path forward for RMU to address their questions?

      Is RMU meant as a drop in system to established settings or modules? A generic ruleset that doesn’t want to tie itself to a specific setting? Something else?

      1. I’m honestly not sure if ICE knows the answer to that question, and that’s always been part of the problem with RM in its various incarnations. It’s often put out as a generic system, but then you look at the very specific races they use and start to wonder if that’s the case. The magic system is also framed on what feels like a very setting-specific construct, but again that’s never made clear. And that’s a problem for newcomers, one I feel has never been fully addressed by ICE itself. Only Arms Law is generic enough to be used as non-setting-based system in my view.

        1. Yea, you clearly identified the Elephant in the room; the only entity that can lead the discussion and make the decision is ICE. Until they do so, everyone else is left in the dark, fumbling around and shouting at the sky. I’m jaded enough to assume that they don’t want any changes. Simply because the best time to announce those kinds of decisions and policy is when the first RMU product dropped. It’ll be an utter disgrace if it never comes.

          Besides, the simple fact is that everyone’s hands are tied until at least two more products drop (Spell Law & Creatures and Treasures). Of course if clear direction and/or policy were announced, authors could have stuff penciled in and ready, simply tweaking them for the final revs of those two products.

          1. At least the majority of the Shadow World stuff is available on DTRPG, but if you look at the track record ICE has with keeping its HARP setting in print it doesn’t bode well for the future. That and, of course, all the SW stuff is optimized for RM2 and maybe RMSS (not sure about the last one, since I didn’t care for it and never really kept up with Shadow World honestly). The amount of legacy system stuff they have is really daunting, and potentially confusing to people who get their hands on RMU and start looking for supplements, settings, and the like.

            Frankly I think they need to bite the bullet and make RMU explicitly tied to Shadow World and start updating the setting and commissioning new material for it. It’s really clear that the roots of RM are in SW, and denying that just creates confusion and a set of rules that really aren’t as generic as they might claim (which has been a problem for about as long as RM has been around, honestly…or at least since Spell Law came out). If for some reason they don’t want to use SW, they need to start developing a RMU-specific setting post-haste and start getting stuff out for it.

            1. I don’t disagree that ICE should marry their new ruleset to a setting, and Shadow World is obviously the one they have leaned into the most, without truly committing to it. My issue is that I’m not a huge fan of SW. Don’t get me wrong, it’s intriguing and TKA’s work on it was excellent, but that particular setting isn’t exactly what I’m looking for in terms of world-building.

              I still feel as though ICE continues to ignore an untapped resource… namely us. There is definitely a cadre of loyal GMs who have followed the development of RMU from its inception, and more than a few of them (who are writers here and other places) have fully developed worlds.

              Look at what Wizards of the Coast have done recently… they’ve expanded even beyond the old Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Kyrnn, and now have relatively short but well-developed supplements for various settings in the Magic the Gathering universe: Domineria, Ravnica, and others. These supplements have custom races, monsters, and even slight variations on magic systems. I wish ICE would openly advertise and seek help in creating a multiverse, especially since it has a brand new system that allows for creating customized races, professions, creatures, and more.

              1. I was never a huge fan of SW either, and I also feel ICE is ignoring freelance content creators…folks who might be more in touch with the needs of particular segments of the gaming community. I think they might “miss the boat” when it comes to potential gamers drawn in by shows like Witcher and Lord of the Rings. Granted, Witcher has its own system (beautifully packaged but, IMO, the rules leave something to be desired), but LoR is going to attract people who are more interested in what might be called traditional fantasy gaming. They want dwarves, hobbits (halflings), elves, and so on and a more familiar setting. While it’s great that more experienced gamers want to push the edges when it comes to many concepts and settings, the simple truth is newcomers may be put off by that more often than not. RMU is flexible enough it could easily support multiple settings…SW and another one geared more toward traditional fantasy.

                I think there’s also a tendency to ignore or underestimate the needs of new GMs. A fairly open system like RMU puts additional pressure on a GM, and if players have a bad experience with a rookie GM they might never try the hobby again. An accessible system with some solid entry-level support could help mitigate that, and draw more people in. Sadly, I don’t see much of that, and SW isn’t exactly accessible to someone who only knows fantasy through Game of Thrones or the LoR movies or series.

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