Rolemaster Skill Bonuses and Skill Ranks

In our attempt to reduce skills to the absolute minimum possible AND to create a unified action resolution for all actions we’ve come up with a hybrid system of ideas from RM and RMU.

The basic premise is that total skill bonus is used for action resolution (MM, SM, combat, SCR etc) and # of skill ranks are used for “proficiency issues”.  The following chart breaks down skills into 3 overall categories: Lores (knowledge), Vocations (job that represents a number of skills and disciplines) and General Skills (everything else).

Skill Ranks Lore Vocation General Skills
1-10 Grade to High School Apprentice Basic knowledge and abilities skill and simpler sub-skill.
11-20 College Journeymen Broad abilities of skill and sub-skills
21+ PhD/Post Grad Master Advanced skills and sub-abilities
50+ Erudite Master Guildmaster or similar Singular mastery of skill and inter-related disciplines

Some will argue for a more robust break down — but again, we are trying to keep things simple. The breakdown is driven by our own rules on learning skills. Knowledge can be learned via tutoring, research or reading; vocations must be learned by doing (you can’t  become a master sailor by being taught in a classroom or reading a tutorial) and the other skills are a combination of learning methods.

Now we have a visual relationship between rank/proficiency and the three overall skill types with qualitative labels for reference. Let’s use one of each for an example:

Lore. As cool as it is to provide obscure info to a player on Dragon mating habits, most GM’s are going to need to rely on skill checks rather than building a expansive wiki on their game world. Lores are simple–the # of skill ranks gives the player and GM a good idea of the players depth of knowledge and sets the boundaries for what the player could possibly know. A skill check using the skill bonus allows for success or failure.

Vocation. Most jobs utilize a number of skill sets–a sailor will have skills in sailing, weather, navigation, knots etc. The skill rank level is used to determine the players level of proficiency and determine if they have the right level of experience and training. A journeyman sailor won’t have star navigation but a Master or Guildmaster certainly would.

General Skills. Using my previous comment on the warrior with 20 ranks in longsword and a 130ob. The total skill bonus is used in combat and the 20 skill ranks is used as a modifier against various combat maneuvers (reverse strike, disarm etc). The shield skill: the skill bonus is used for shield attacks, the rank # is used for DB. Same as RMU.

We’ve folded many skills into “meta skills”. For instance Survival includes sub skills like tracking, traps, snares, weather watching etc. Acrobatics includes contortions, diving, tumbling etc.

There are still a few skills I’m tweaking but I like how its working so far.

One Reply to “Rolemaster Skill Bonuses and Skill Ranks”

  1. I think that is quite elegant. I definitely approve of the meta skills concept and it is something I am using in another project.

    It is to my mind easier to use meta skills if you use the RMU style stat bonuses where you add three stat bonuses together rather the the RM2/RMC style average of the three stats to find the bonus.

    The reason is that you can as a GM use one skill in many situations but allow the player to add a diferent stat bonus to best suit the situation or task at hand.

    If a character is trying to disarm an opponent, flip their weapon up in the air and catch it, then that requires a little more agility than trying to use the same weapon’s flat of the blade to subdue someone.

    This is something that they are leaning towards in RMY with two fixed stats for a skill category and a third stat unique to each skill. I am saying pick the stat at the time of the roll to best suit the situation.

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