August is a bit of a dead zone for RPGs in general and the ICE forums in particular. I think there were something like 3 posts on the forums yesterday and they were pretty much ‘me to’ or ‘thankyou’s.
We [Rolemasterblog] are the ICE forums, ugly friend. If you cannot get a date with the ICE forums then people come here instead. So if the ICE forums go down [I really wish I hadn’t made that dating reference now) then our popularity leaps up and like now when no one is posting on the forums then people come here for their daily dose of Rolemaster.
So the prompted 31 posts in 31 days is a great way of giving the RM community something to read and hopefully react to. I know that most of the comments are from the stalwart followers but we had Voriig Kye comment on the post about Land of the Blind with a valuable contribution and a misguided comment from someone blaming me for breaking RMU. I have done many things but that you cannot lay at my door. I rather like RMU, just not the size rules but as with everything I will have a work around but the time I play. (Composite attack charts with all the size results built in go most of the way and dedicated combat tables for +1 and -1 sized weapon will complete the task).
If you read 10 blogs on the same day you would get 10 very different interpretations of each question. RM is by far my favourite fantasy game but I do like to dabble with other game systems some times. If I ran something SciFi right now then it would probably be HARP SF and if I did something modern day then it would be GhostOps. So mentioning other systems seems perfectly reasonable to me. I also think that most GMs would happily transplant rules or mechanics they like from one game system into RM. Why not, rpgs are great for customising and RM is such an easy system to modify.
On that point there was one discussion this month that has my imagination working. You all know that I am not a fan of Spell Law and realms of magic. I had also mentioned that I liked the Champions supers rpg. So there was a discussion about Hero System and Shadow World. So Champions uses points to buy super power type effects. So 5 points would buy you 1d6 of damage but those costs could be modified with advantages and disadvantages so if you were trying to model a fire attack then you could reduce the final costs by taking a disadvantage that it doesn’t work underwater. Champions/Hero System also had three ways of grouping ‘powers’. The first was a multipower where you had a pool of points and then defined slots that utilised that pool in different ways. You paid for the pool and then a smaller cost for each slot. Only one slot could be active at any one time so it was a good way to model one ‘thing’ being used different ways. So if I wanted to model a sword then I could have one slot as a killing attack to represent the edge of the blade, a second slot as a stunning attack to represent using the flat of the blade to subdue and I could have a slot that added to my defence to represent parrying.
The second grouping was called an Elemental control and that allowed you to group closely related (thematically) powers. You paid the full price for the first power and then all the others were at half price. Each could be used simultaneously if you wished but they had to be part of a conceptual whole. So if you had control of gravity, for example, you could bundle the ability to fly (antigravity), telekinesis (manipulation of gravity) and a protective force field (superdense gravity) all into the one elemental control.
There was a third grouping and that was the variable power pool. Here you paid for the pool of points but you could redefine how those points were used and shared between powers on a round by round basis. If I remember correctly there was a skill based roll required to redefine how the points were used. In a supers game for example Batman’s utility belt would be created as a variable power pool which is why it always contained exactly the right thing at the right time.
So if we imported hero system’s point system (say 1 RM Development Point gave 5 hero system character points) you could have each spell list defined as some combination of Multi power, Elemental Control and the 50th level spell would be the Variable Power Pool. So Sudden Light, Shockbolt, Lightning bolt, Corner Lightning and Following Lightning would all be slots in a multi power as they are all discrete. Light, Shade, Darkness etc would all be part of an Elemental Control. You wouldn’t need Light I, Light II etc. as these effects would be controlled by how many powerpoints you used to put into the power.
I could easily see how all the spell lists could be converted to Hero System powers. The advantage would be that all spells would be inherently balanced as they were built from a menu of effects that had already been priced for balance. The second advantage would be that there would be no concept of realms, magic is magic. If your magic only worked when you had an opportunity to pray to your deity then that would be a ‘disadvantage’ and it would make your magic cheaper to buy so you could buy more with your development points.
What is more is that new lists could be build easily as all the components are off the shelf components. Hero System has something called an Energy blast and it doesn’t care if that is fire, radiation, pure magic or lightning. The special effects are then either purely cosmetic or used to choose advantages and disadvantages. So you could use an advantage of a powerboost against metal armours as an advantage and a penalty against organic armours as a disadvantage on a lightning bolt.
For us the special effects would define the critical table. That would help tie the system back into Rolemaster so it still feels like RM and not like Hero System.
The more I think about this the more I think the hero system parts would have to be under the hood and not on display. RM has a bad enough reputation for being rules heavy and the version of Hero System that I have has about 250 pages of powers rules. Imagine adding 250 pages to Spell Law and then having all the lists on top of that! No, I think one could redefine all the lists as Hero System powers and resent them as completed things. What you would really gain is something as flexible as the HARP scalable spells with the flavour of RM lists. Rather than learning 1-10 and then 11-20 you could learn either the elemental control or the multipower or you could choose to put more DPs into either one to make the spells more powerful (effectively the same as granting the I, II, III… lord versions of the same spells). The top slot would then be the variable power pool.
I think this idea has mileage and I would like to talk to anyone who has blended RM and Hero System in the past. Luckily for me the Hero Games forum looks nice and active. Incidentally I just did a quick search of their forum for rolemaster and it returned 60 results and more for Shadow World. So if I am lucky there could be a solution already out there. I will add this to my todo list!