Rolemaster and multiclass characters

I am spending the day travelling today. I was up at the crack of dawn to get the train to London and right now I am sat in Caffè Nero at Heathrow terminal 5 waiting for my flight to Switzerland. Initially I thought I may end up missing my Friday article this week. One the Iron Crown forum there is a discussion going on about allowing a character to change professions.

Professions are so ‘loaded’ in Rolemaster that I knew this would turn into one of those rambling threads.

Changing or having multiple character classes is so integral to D&D that I am surprised that this question doesn’t come up more often. D&D, as I remember it, has  two options, you can start out with two or more classes and your experience is split evenly between each or you choose to change from one to another and once your new level catches up with your old one you can start to use features of both classes. For a game with many hundreds of classes the need to create new combinations us a little odd but who am I to criticise, there are millions of D&D players and they all seem happy enough to me.

Rolemaster professions are not character classes. A Rolemaster profession is intended to be an entire way of life and represents the characters entire world view, their education and sets their aptitudes for their entire life. The are not something that you can change at gheeta drop of a hat.

In my Rolemaster Classic (Rules as written) game  the party met and have been adventuring for just 22 days but they are already on the verge of achieving 5th level. In the forum thread the character wanting to change profession is just 4th level. That is a pretty short window in which to shift ones entire world view. Of course the character in the thread may have been adventuring for years, we don’t know.

So in Rolemaster there are few if any hard limits on what a character can learn to do. Fighters can cast spells if they invest the points into spell lists and makes can wear armour if they are prepared to take the rusks of spell failure. These soft caps were meant to remove the need for multi classing to changing profession.

The fact is  that a fighter with a spell list is not a mage. Going against the professional archetype will never be the same as adopting the new archetype and that is what the player wants to do in the forum thread.

HARP does allow multi classes and is balanced to take these into account so it is possible but the RMC/RM2/RMSS/RMFRP development point system of individual skill costs mean that multiple professions will always be over powered. It will much more viable in RMU as the professions are much more like HARP professions, remember that HARP is a much younger system than RM and has the benefit of a lot of hindsight in its design.

The other option is to use the No Profession. This is my preferred solution. You cannot have multiples or change things you don’t have. It gets rid of some much ‘baggage’ that this forum thread has reinforced my view that No Profession is the right way to go for Rolemaster. It is one of the best things about this modular system that No Profession was available as a built in option right from the beginning.

4 Replies to “Rolemaster and multiclass characters”

  1. No Profession just seems so simple and obvious to me and it’s been great in our SW campaign. I was reading that forum thread and while there are a number of detailed processes for changing professions it just seems like more “rules for rules”.

    Why is it even complicated? Are people that attached to the “name of things”? Take skills in outdoors, combat and some nature spells and call him/her a Ranger, or Tracker, or Druid.

  2. Just found this blog through a search for “rolemaster multiclassing”. The current problem I am having is that I have a player running a Cultist (RM Companion 6) who has advanced in our campaign to a point where his god has actually raised him to a position of a high priest (after he assassinated the previous, corrupt one). The player has decided he wants to start leveling as a Cleric from this point forward. Interestingly this dovetails nicely with your comments about “shift[ing] one’s entire world view”. I think direct contact and elevation from a god would do that to a person.

    My problem is how do do it, mechanically. I would have liked to do the No Profession class, but that would have required knowing that this was going to happen in our sandbox campaign.So now I think I’m just going to let the player swap skill costs and redo his base spell list picks to be able to pick from Cleric base lists.

    1. The way I would approach this is to use Divine Intervention to swap out two maybe three skill costs from that of Cultist to Cleric. Your choice, not the players. I would then in addition open up the some or all of the Cleric base lists to the player.

      Multiclassing really isn’t necessary. The character isn’t a cleric and isn’t a cultist, they are a High Priest.

  3. Looking at this from the PoV of a player that has played a lot of different systems and professions are functionally the same as classes in D&D regardless of whether the fluff represents a profession as the character’s world view. The way you would run multiclassing in RM is to make it a diminishing return. In D&D (among other systems which allow multiclassing), that is front-loaded – a multiclassed character will never reach the heights of a single class character. Any power spikes they gain from dipping or fully splitting their levels across 2+ classes are temporary.

    The way it can work in RM is that the old profession stops, and the new profession starts. Every level the character gains in the new profession, they gain the normal level bonuses in the new profession but they remove one level worth of the level bonuses from the old profession e.g. at 11th level, Bob decides that his Fighter, Robin, who has recently returned home after years of war in a distant land and found that his noble family are now gone and his lands and title taken from him by an evil sheriff, decides to change to a Rogue, as he gains the 1st level worth of level bonuses for being a rogue, he loses 1 level of level bonuses for fighter. At 20th level, Robin will have none of the fighter level bonuses and only 10 levels of rogue level bonuses as those fighter skills decreased and became a bit rusty from disuse.

    In this scenario, Robin is no longer the young lordling fighter, warring in distant lands, and is very much a rogue who lives in the forest, using underhand tactics and careful ambushes to steal from the sheriff and his cronies and spread the wealth among the poor.

    It all depends on whether you are tied to ‘Profession for life’ or not.

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