I saw a survey today that listed Rolemaster as an example of a ‘Rules Heavy’ system. If you bought ALL of RMC that would be Character Law, Arms Law, Spell Law, Creatures & Treasures and Companion 1 you would have the entire published system and the entier page count runs to about 800 pages. That is roughly the size of just the three core DnD 5e PHB, DMG and Monster Manual.
Page count is not the best way of measuring the weight of the rules. If we were to look at spells every spell in Rolemaster works in one of just a few ways. Either you roll on an attack table (eg Fireball), the spell effect is dependent on the severity of the targets failed resistance roll (eg Sudden Light) or the spell is not variable and has a baked in effect (eg Projected Light). If we look at DnD you get every spell with its own bespoke rules and formulae such as Magic Missile that fires of a variable number of projectiles depending on the level of the caster but never misses. As a magic system Rolemaster is a lot lighter than DnD 5e. Incidentally DnD 5e was quoted as a medium weight system in the survey above!
Combat in DnD vs Rolemaster is a hard one to compare because I have never known anyone apply the rules correctly in either system. DnD is often protrayed as Roll to hit, roll your damage and move on. That sounds really easy and fast but then you add in initiative rolls, and weapon vs armour modifications and different ‘to hit’ tables for different professions/classes and a few hundred classes and things are not as simple if you apply the rules as written. In rolemaster the big bug bear is exhaustion points. I have never even read the rules in full, I have never played them and do not know anyone who has played them. If you ignore exhaustion then Rolemaster looks more complicated with books of tables, one page for each weapon and books worth of critical tables but it still comes down to roll to hit and roll damage (our beloved criticals). rolemaster has more pages but actually less rules. It does have a hell of a lot more flavour than DnD combat. It is aledgedly more dangerous but that is down to how many first level magic users you have tried to play in DnD I suppose.
The point I am trying to make I suppose is that what makes one system ‘rules light’, I think my RM variant is very rules light, one rules medium and another rules heavy is I think the eye of the beholder. the person who created the survey thinks or has heard that Rolemaster is rules heavy and therefore puts it as an example of a rules heavy system perpetuating the myth.
I think ICE need to address that perception and one way to do that is to adopt the Adventure Path methodology and literally put a ready to play pa together that new players can pick up and start playing in the same evening. Of course with a new generation of RM about to be released this is the perfect opportunity to do so.