Summary of Miscellaneous Musings on Spell Law, BASiL and RM Magic.

53 Chaos' Magical Languages ideas | runes, book of shadows, ancient symbols

With RMu seemingly close to release, I’ve left my BASiL project on the back burner for quite some time. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m focusing more on game content rather than rules or rule hacks. Rolemaster & Shadow World needs more game support, not more Companions or optional rules. Plus, I’ve found everyone is fairly set in their ways using their own house rules, are waiting for RMu, or I rapidly change my own house rules as I progress. In fact, my participation here on the Rolemasterblog has slowly shifted me to more “rule light” than my previous drift to rule density. I like grittiness but am pushing back on complexity.

Eladans participation here on the RMBlog and over at the Forums, has re-opened some of the broader discussions on spells, lists, base lists and spell functioning. I had some thoughts rolling around, so I thought I would excise them via a blog post! An older summary can be found HERE.

  1. Revisting Spell Law Mechanics.
  2. Essence. Mechanics. The skill bonus is the appropriate Magical Language Skill. You can read more thoughts on this HERE.
  3. Channeling. You can read some thoughts HERE, and I’ve written extensively on this blog about channeling.
  4. Mentalism. I probably tinker with Mentalism more than any other “realm”. Here are my last thoughts about this. There were some comments and concerns about the impact of concentration on gameplay. Lately, I’ve been allowing the total number of spell levels cast not to exceed the total ranks in Mental Focus. So 10 ranks of Mental Focus would allow the caster to have 10 1st level spells “running” or 2 5th lvl spells etc. It’s less complicated but still models the appeal of “partitioning” that comes from Mental Focus.
  5. Notational Magic. Eladan’s posts over on the Forums, made me revisit some of my thoughts on Notational magic. You can read my original post HERE.
  6. Investiture/Enchanting. I haven’t done a deep dive on my solutions for imbedding and creating magical items. Mostly because the spell lists are fairly simple, much of the sausage making takes place out of game time and I built a very simple system for making magic items in game time. Some thoughts can be found HERE.
  7. Rendered/Performance Magic. I haven’t written much about this at all. First I need to put a lot more time into this, it’s potentially the most complex and interesting realm and it could add a lot of new magical layers to the Spell Law system. The concept of magic as performance is not new or novel, but utilizing it in gameplay can be.

This is just a summary of a handful of relevant posts I’ve made over the last 5 years! My thoughts and views evolve, but I always enjoy other thinking “outside the box”!

8 Replies to “Summary of Miscellaneous Musings on Spell Law, BASiL and RM Magic.”

  1. So much to comment on here… first of all, the amount of thought you (and the rest of the contributors) have put into all the nuances continually impresses. I think your assessment of the state of gaming when it comes to Rolemaster is particularly relevant to me: I’m stuck in this Limbo-like state between actually gaming and trying to use what we know of RMU to create a system ready to hit the ground running when it finally drops. As such, I find myself in a rut, torn between so many projects and ideas at once.

    One thing that jumps out at me in your post is the concept of Performance magic. This is something that I’ve almost never examined because I never had a Bard in-party and the NPC Bards I ran I typically hand-waved to create the effects I wanted. But I agree, this is an area of the game with room for huge development. Credit to RMU developers, the notes on Bardic songs are infinitely more detailed than the old RM2 system and explains a lot in terms of how this type of magic should work, but there’s room to clarify and codify a few more elements, with more build variety available… the Dervish comes to mind.

    Now you’ve got my brain working in yet another direction…

    1. Yes, so in my work, performance magic is any magic that is derived from “artistic expression”. This could be a painting, (think Dorian Gray or Mark Charan Newtons’s Legends of the Red Sun), sculpture, dancing, an instrument or of course singing. The Bard aside, this type of magic feels very cultural/racial (Elvish is the obvious one) but certainly the Dervish or Dancer is an interesting profession–I have a variant as Priestesses of Inis in Shadow World.
      My goal of to generate discourse and think outside of the box. Deconstructing Spell Law was all about starting from scratch mentally, rather than just fixing SL/Rolemaster or using it as a starting point.

      1. It’s an interesting category of magic. I like the Dorian Gray reference and from a gaming perspective I’m reminded of Relm from Final Fantasy VI, painting a creature and having that creature manifest and attack. There are some really outlandish and unique ideas for magic going down that rabbit-hole.

        The idea of deconstructing and starting over I think helps clear the vision of how I want to see magic work in my campaigns. Hurin’s recent comments come to mind (as well as discussions on the forum – see below) and I think he is right in that one of the issues is that the realms simply don’t have enough distinction. If this means further tweaking the spells themselves, that might help the “polyrealm”/sphere model even more. If the separation between the Essence and Mentalism lists is that the spells are limited to the caster in Mentalism, then Channeling versions should be perhaps more shield based rather than rely on deflections. None of this is new or revolutionary, but this type of customizing seems to be a focus for a lot of us.

  2. You’ve got me thinking about how to make a Shield spell adapted to the Channeling realm. If the Mentalism version needs to have the strictest casting requirements (since they have no armor penalties except for helmets), then it makes sense that the Mentalism version only works on the caster. And if the Essence version needs to have the least requirements (since they have the harshest armor penalties), then it makes sense that the Essence version works on anyone. This leaves the Channeling version to have ideally some restriction that is harsher than Essence but not as restrictive as Mentalism. Perhaps the Channeling version can be cast on others but only so long as the target is not a worshipper of a God/Goddess opposed to the caster’s? (To translate this to Shadow World: a caster worshipping a god of the Orhan Pantheon can’t cast this spell on anyone who worships the Dark Gods of Charon or the Unlife).

    There’s also the question though of how to make the Channeling Shield unique. Channeling is above all the realm of healing and gods, so perhaps the shield gives some sort of healing or hit point boost?

    I think there’s also some room to adjust the DB bonus from the various shields to further differentiate them. E.g. a Mentalism shield might just give +15, Channeling +20, and Essence +25. I think this could help balance the realms too. Or perhaps the Mentalism Shield only works on attacks the attacker can see (eyes are the window to the mind/soul), the Channeling Shield surrounds the caster completely (protection from God), while the Essence Shield gives the higher DB bonus.

    Just some food for thought!

    1. I think you are onto something with both those models. The “bubble” shield is along the lines of what I was what I was thinking for Channeling model — the Mentalism is effectively the weakest, Essence the strongest at least in a personal sense, and the Channeling shield is an area effect of some kind. The variance in bonuses would apply as well.

      The second concept is one that has some precedent: a shield that heals. If anyone is familiar with the past iteration of the Discipline Priest from World of Warcraft, his schtick was that some of his heals created a stackable shield buff, making him an anticipatory healer in a combat setting. Other shield spells of his had a regeneration effect. All of these seem to fit well into the Channeling model (divine restoration from gods for Clerics, nature’s healing for Druids, etc).

      1. Thinking outside the box, instead of just having a “shield” spell for each realm with some small modifications–Essence has an actual shield spell that manifests as a shimmering force field. At higher levels it protects flank and rear and eventually is a sphere. Channeling just has “prayer”, “bless” style spells that protects the caster and others against various types of attacks. mentalism has an invisible shield , but the caster has to concentrate to “parry” physical or elemental attacks. So each realm has protection but in very different ways.

  3. Yes, lots of fun ideas here. I think this helps make my case that the problem isn’t the Realms; it is more that the realms need to be a bit more distinct from one another.

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