Rolemaster Rogues, Thieves, Burglars and the Nightblade

I have covered a lot about the different spell casters and fighters so here is something about rolemaster thieves.

We have a sliding scale with the more violent at one end and then less violent the other. On that scale then the thieving classes pretty much fall into the order that I listed them in the title. The rogue is almost a cross over between fighter and thief, they get the best (cheapest) weapon skill costs at the expense of some of the subterfuge skills. They can still learn them but they are a little more expensive.

The thief is also called the scout and is the best all round adventuring thief with passable combat skills albeit with a limited range of weapons, good subterfuge skills and the outdoor skills to rival a ranger. Your burglar goes the other way with the best subterfuge skills but weaker in combat. Where the burgular really excels is in acts of concentration and at climbing. The official dummary of a burglar reads “He is similar to the normal thief except he has avoided almost entirely the awkward encumbrance of armor, and instead dodges and ducks very much like a martial artist.”

The final member of this team is the Nightblade. The nightblade has worse weapon and armour costs than the straight thief but has similar subterfuge skills. The big advantage is that the nightblade is a semi spell caster. As a mentalist a nightblade can wear any armour as long as he/she does not wear a head covering such as a helm but given the points cost it is going to be a bit of a hard slog to learn armour.

I have never played a nightblade so all this is theoretical. With semi spell users generally what works best is to avoid buying any magic or invest a minimal amount of development points into magic and just let it ride for the first five levels. At about fifth level something happens and that is that your core skills that you have been developing start to hit the first point of deminishing returns. Secondly some skills are ‘finished’ by that I mean some skills like armour only needs to be learned to a particular point and after that no further bonus is gained. So if you have been learning armour then you no longer need to spend points on that so you can put them into spell lists, if you were buying two ranks in your weapon skills (12 points) to gain +10 per level that would drop to just +4. If you go to just a single rank per level it costs 3 points and gives a +2. I would settle for the +2 to my attack roll and put the other 9 points towards my spell lists. The core thiefy skills are going to cost so something like 2 points for a +2, 7 points for a +4, so take the +2 and put the other 5 points towards your spells. You get the idea I hope. Everything you need to do still imporves but you can probably find 20 or so points every level to build up your spells. Also by fifth level you should have enough power points to make use of the spells as you gain them and you may well have found a spell bonus item (that allow more spells to be cast each day) to further boost your magic. Finally by starting to learn spells when you are 5th level means that when you do learn a list at least you get a handful of spells for your effort. Learn a list at 1st level and you get one spell and barely have enough powerpoints to make any use of it. Finally if you wait until you are about 5th level to learn magic your fellow adventurers may not even realise that you are a spell user at all and it is something you can keep under your hat.

A final word on the nightblades magic. This goes for any semi spell user really but you do not have to learn all your base lists (those special to the nightblade profession) it is entirely viable to learn the open mentalism lists as these are often better than the nightblade ones. There is a nightblade list relating to poisons. If you GM doesn’t want you using poisons any way and gets fed up with you killing everything that way then buying magic to amplify that is not going to go down well. On the other hand buying the mentalist healing list is brilliant for an adventurer, being able to see into the future is useful as being able to detect magic items. There is more to nightblade magic than the nightblade base lists.

There is one thing that makes all thieves stand out and that is that they are probably the single most useful professions in all of Rolemaster. Their skills extend into combat, stealth, subtly, information gathering and even magic and healing. A well rounded thief is almost never out of options and is always an asset to his team and can slip into any role. Th eweakest thief is probably the burglar and that is only because he has chosen to move away from that ‘all rounder’ characteristic and becomes a little bit more of a specialist.

Others of course may disagree.

10 Replies to “Rolemaster Rogues, Thieves, Burglars and the Nightblade”

  1. ” If you GM doesn’t want you using poisons any way and gets fed up with you killing everything that way then buying magic to amplify that is not going to go down well. ”

    Then I say Boo on the GM. For shame. I say let the players make the PC they envision and to let them play the PC to its fullest.

    But apart from that, I too haven’t made many semi-spell users. I think I did dabble with the Warrior Monk once and some of the healing lists for the that class and it was pretty good. It was a challenge because I did want to go running into battle, but forgot on several occasions that I also have to prepare spells and can’t be in active battle while that was happening. I’m pretty sure that detracted from my enjoyment of playing that PC. I’ll have to give it a fresh go at it.

    Along the lines of what you’re presenting here, could we also include the Monk, Warrior Monk, and High Warrior Monk as part of the rogue-like Professions? They do well in both combat and subterfuge, and in being “unseen” and stealthy. They wear little or no armour and can easily perform as well as the listed. In the campaign I’m running now, there are two monks and the players have actually taken on the role of scouts for the party. I hadn’t realized that until now.

    1. The problem I had with my thief was that the GM envisioned ‘Mouse’ from Ladyhawk whereas I had something more like John McClane (Die Hard) in mind. In the group we were in the Magican and I would ace 60% of all the enemy before the rest of the party even got their boots on. The ranger used a bow as his main weapon which made him ponderously slow or inaccurate and the fighter was very pedestrian and was happy to just stand and slug it out. If I had used poison as well (I had all the skills including both the Lore for the theory ad Use/Remove Poison) then balancing the challenge for the party would have been a major headache for the GM.

      Regarding the Monk(s) I agree that semis are harder to play. If you hold off on the magic until 5th level then your first level spells do not require preparation AND if you make use of Rune Mastery, which I imagine would be works of art in calligrathy for a monk, you can make your power points last longer and a rune is a round cast with no prep time. Essence magic is the most overtly powerful realm which is the pay off on the armour restriction and in a long running campaign I think the Monk would be stronger than the nightblade. My reasoning being that Mentalism is less powerful but you can wear up to plate armour but a nightblade would not be likely to go down the platemail route. The Monk cannot wear armour but his skills already take that into account, his magic is more powerful and with runes he can prepare a store of magic to best fit a planned mission that give him/her a greater reserves of magic.

  2. Absolutely agree with the Monks. I think all three versions of the Monk are “stronger” or at least more survivable than a Nightblade.. I’ve never ben able to brig myself to roll up a Nightblade PC. The picture for it looks great and invokes this mysterious supernatural awe, but when I sit down and look at the DP costs and skill set, it just doesn’t appeal to me.

    1. … but it’s only speculation since I haven’t played as a Nightblade and I have only watched others play Nightblades.

      1. I think there are approximately 70 spell casting professions and 30 arms users in RM2 no one was played them all unless you are a habitually suicidal player or you have a PC killer as a GM.

        Most Semi spell users are hard to play because they are neither one thing or another. I have found that if you ignore the magic for about 5 levels and get passibly good at the arms and skills side of things then they are easier but they also can make better solo characters than group players where the adventures are tailored to their particular strengths and weaknesses. It is in a group where they can fall short because they can be over shadowed but single purpose PCs who have not had to compromise.

        1. You bring up a good point. When one is travelling with a group, the “specialists” can focus on the task in which they excel while the rest of the party can make up for or at least protect the weaknesses of the specialist in some manner. The semi-spell user can only hope to supplement the support efforts of the those doing the supporting. Sort of helping the helper so they can focus on helping the primary. It does make sense then, that being solo, it’s better to be a jack-of-all trades as there is very little to offer support to you and out of necessity, one needs to be able to do lots of little things.

          Now, as for the Suicidal PC/PC killing GM… we did have one player who would come to session with 2-4 PCs rolled up. It wasn’t that he was particularly suicidal or that the GMs were Party Killers, it was that he tended to have miraculous rolls, ALL the time. The 10’s die would magically swap with the 1’s die when it was convenient, then it would magically switch back if it was more beneficial to him.

          He cheated on his dice rolls… a lot.

          So the GMs would calculate his MM rolls 1-3 levels of difficulty higher to compensate for that, or the crit level against him would be 1-2 levels higher therefore leading to PC death more frequently. It is POSSIBLE that he played every type of PC LOL, but probably not even then since we did limit the world to Elementalism.

          1. I like the sound of your elemental magic world. I once played in a world were there was supposedly no magic. The PCs were employed by the church to hunt down heretics and it turned out that the villain was an evil magician. The whole feel of the game was much more renaissance than classic platemail and broadswords. Most players had rapiers or shortswords and daggers and pikes were common.

            There was an unfortuneate incident with the farmers daughter and an angry mob with pitchforks and torches where it proved that a rapier was not a very impressive weapon.

    2. Nightblade is awesome and the ‘recent’ addition to RMSS/FRP version is pretty cool too – big thanks to the converter!

      Just remember to pick some fancy flaws to chic your nightblade, like ‘fear of armor’ with greater martial arts talent to everyman your adrenal defense and use martial arts (if using MA comp then with style) as close combat and bow for ranged and voilâ you have a very sneaky and pretty decent defensive character that can handle most situations and remember to raise your spell lists to gain some instant spells to help you out.

      Ambush can be pretty neat with Cloaking spell if you spec into it.

      If your GM gives you ‘hobby points’ like 1 per level you could consider getting some seer or astrologer lists as mentalism user to give the character some decent awareness spells (for pretty low 1 t0 6 spell list level investment) (although, summoner still beats you any day with its own spell lists of finding things etc).

      Prior Nightblade I played as a Zen Monk with Chi Powers which was.. pretty ridiculous.

      With Nightblade I feel a bit more ‘alive’ and more engaging even though, the sneakiness is still the business.

      Still I recommend raising the spell lists as those offer some fancy utility and other useful things especially if you use MA (and if you are development point cheapskate and don’t care spending spell points you could use technically any weapon without spending DP on weapon skills at all by the cost of spell points per weapon usage (great idea, but too costly in my opion.)).

  3. That’s a similar feel to the world I run. It’s the Renaissance period of the world. Everyone is enlightened now. “Science” rules all. It ‘s not Mentalism that made you freeze in place, it was simple hypnotic suggestion. It wasn’t magic healing powder that cured you, it was aspirin. However, like the time period, Alchemy and Elementalism are the untapped wondrous sciences of the time and all the rage among those in-the-know.

    I’ll see if I can find the intro e-mails I sent to the group to get them kick started I RM. I’ll send it to you.

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