The City of Spiders Now a Copper Seller!

Copper Sales Medal

The City of Spiders, one of the first supplements published in the 50 in 50 series (there are still some more left to publish; I’m working on finishing off one that Brian sent me but damaging my back, my arm, my shoulder, my finger and Christmas have all got in the way!) has just reached the Copper best seller rank on RPGNow.

This is the first supplement to achieve a best-selling metal rank, although when RPGNow sales are merged with DriveThruRPGs in a month or so, many more are going to achieve this.

So, thank you anyone who bought this supplement. If you haven’t, well here’s The City of Spiders on RPGNow. Showing off its shiny new medal!

Gauntlet on the Ice – Now With a Hex Map

The 50 in 50 (yes, they aren’t quite all done yet) adventure hook Gauntlet on the Ice has just been updated with a new hex grid version of the battlemap in a second PDF.

It’s taken some time to get to this point, but if you have the adventure hook already, and are subscribed, you will have got a message about the update.

Figuring out how to get the hex grid to actually work has been a bit of a problem, but I found something that looks like it does the trick. It is, of all things, a font.

So, feedback on this is appreciated. If it looks good to everyone the rest of the adventures with battlemaps will be updated too.

Tie a yellow ribbon around the Angry Druid!

This post was meant to be published yesterday but I was up before dawn on my way to my first ever elite fencing competition. The difference between sport and combat is that I would have died about 17 seconds in if this was a combat but as it was I vanquished two foes but was defeated five times myself. Not the best hit rate by anyone’s reckoning. If there is every a quest to save the world, I am probably not the hero you are looking for.

The weird title to this post is a bastardisation of the latest two 50 in 50 adventures. I wrote ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon‘ and Brian produced ‘The Angry Druid‘.

I always try and have fun with my adventure titles and in this case Tie A Yellow Ribbon is obviously a reference to a dreadful 1970s song but is a deadly serious adventure which could cost either the players or hundreds of innocents their lives.

On the other hand The Angry Druid sounds like a dangerous foe, which he is, but is actually a bit of a tongue in cheek adventure.

We have passed a bit of a milestone and you can now by a bundle of the first 10 adventures, at a discount if you have bought any of the individual issues. The 1-10 bundle is obviously going to be the first of at least 5 bundles.

Going forward there is going to be a post each Saturday with a round up of what we have published this week. I think I will recap any new uploads in the same post.

I feel that this is going to grow in importance in 2018. Looking at the Directors Briefing for January, if you are not using Shadow World then excepting RMU there are no planned releases for RMC/RMSS or Spacemaster for 2018 at all.

While we await the Singularity we will try and keep RM alive and kicking!

Relative Adventuring

This is not my idea but one I have borrowed from the Conan game by Modiphius.

Imagine you are reading an adventure module for Rolemaster. The adventure describes an ambush by goblins at a river ford. In the details it says ‘There will be two goblins for every character’. In the next encounter, in an outer chamber of the goblin lair the numbers are ‘There will be three more goblins than characters.’

Every encounter describes the strength of the encounter relative to the strength of the adventuring party.

We all know in RM superior numbers can be the critical factor in a battle. Even a first level character can open ended and kill anything in the first round if they are lucky enough.

My party of 5th level characters got into serious trouble against a raiding party of kobolds. The same raid against D&D characters would have been a non-event.

So the idea is that the level that the adventure is pitched at is highly flexible. If you write an adventure and the main bad guy is a 70th level drake then that is not a starting adventure but more middle of the road stuff just flexes to meet the strength of the party, not by level but by threat.

This has never really been an issue before now, but as the number of monsters available grows and now eDGCLTD is sowing the seeds of self publishing, BriH is asking about short form monster stat blocks all the pieces are coming together for unofficial RM modules.

So what are your thoughts?

…and another Happy Halloween!

Brian got in there first with his Happy Halloween From BriH post. He signs off by saying that “I know  all of us at Rolemasterblog have a lot of work in store for the coming year.” This was timely as on Saturday we released our first mini supplement. I say mini as it is a single page adventure hook. This one was written by BriH and edited by Edgcltd, published by Azukail Games and sold on RPGnow. Now it only costs 50¢ but that is not the point.

Spires Reach is the first of 50. All 50 are already written and cued up. If we were allowed to give you NPCs in all their detail, Monster stats for the encounters and so on then these would not be just a couple of pages of adventure hooks, or locations or outlines of adventures. These would be much more substantial adventures.

You may ask who is going to pay even 50¢ for an adventure hook like Spires Reach? I don’t know the answer to that but they are selling as I can see the royalty reports.

I spent yesterday evening writing the next edition of the fanzine which looks like it is going to be the biggest issue yet. I am full steam ahead on converting monsters. These free to use monsters will mean that anyone can start to create adventure modules for any version of RM.

I am convinced that if there were a 3rd party industry for producing adventures and supplements for Rolemaster then the system would be more attractive to the gaming community. Right now RM is just a game people used to play in 80s. If anything Rolemaster is a bit like Latin, yes, sure a small number of people can still speak it but to most they think of it as a dead language. Rolemaster is not dead but it is going take a small band of plucky adventurers to take on the quest to save Rolemaster, especially if RMU is not going to be on the shelves until the 2020s!

If the RPG year starts now then the next year is going to be really exciting.

Where to Start in Shadow World. How about Gryphon College in Jaiman?

Shadow World is well stocked with interesting groups and organizations: Navigators, Loremasters, the Iron Wind, Cult of Stars, the list goes on and on. But what organization might be accessible to, and make for a good starting foundation for starting players?

Tucked into the module Jaiman, the Land of Twilight is a good candidate: Gryphon College. Gryphon College is a small monastic school that hides a secret: the institution is a façade for an intel gathering and strike team force working against the Unlife. The college hosts around 100 students, but a smaller elite group of 14 make up the Gryphons. It’s assumed that the college draws from the student body to staff this force.

This is a great premise for a starting group. The college becomes the reason for the players to meet and group up (and learn starting skills), and the hidden machinations of the school give the PCs opportunities to go on missions. Perhaps this starts as seemingly innocent errands, but eventually gives the players an opportunity to join the ranks of the Gryphons!

So, what are the Gryphons? They are goddamn Batmans! Each Gryphon is equipped with mechanical wings—jagged bat like apparatus that allow them to fly and they have small wrist mounted dart guns. Give them functional black leather armor and utility belts and you have a squad of Dark Knights. I can imagine a number of other gadgets, magical devices and alchemical tricks that could add to the overall cool factor.

So let’s review, starting the players at Gryphon College:

  1. Bases them in Jaiman which is supported by numerous supplements and key events in the Kulthean timeline.
  2. At a college, allowing players access to learn and train in skills both magical and mundane.
  3. The college fights the Unlife, so allows a great premise to send the group on missions.
  4. The college it tied up into major events in Jaiman, which provides a great gateway into larger campaigns.
  5. The college has the Gryphons, which would be a cool organization for the players to be members.
  6. Gryphons = Batmen

If you are curious about playing in Shadow World, and want to know where to start, pick up a copy of Jaiman. Used copies are always on eBay and Amazon.

50th level adventures in Rolemaster. Does it work?

50th lvl…the mythical pinnacle of roleplaying achievement. I vaguely recall 1sted. D&D and I don’t recall 50th lvl (maybe it was 20th in that game system?). I do remember looking through Rolemaster for the very first time and thought the 50th lvl spells were so crazy—and cool! It opened up a world of possibilities. After that, MERP modules continued to introduce VHL (very high level) NPCs that continued pushing this perception of Rolemaster: deadly, complex and high level. After that…Shadow World. Again, the inference was that this was a high fantasy world, only populated by incredibly powerful NPCs and organizations.

So, Peter and I are working on a 50th level adventure series. Mine are based in Shadow World, but I’m going to convert these adventures to a generic format. So guess what? Creating adventures can be hard, but creating an adventure for a group of 50th lvl +- adventurers is even tougher!

Some people would argue that RM system rules break down around 15th lvl. Others would argue that the gradual power progression of RM spells, while potent, is not the same progression as the power progression of spells in AD&D—spells like “Wish” make high level Magic Users or Cleric almost god-like. Many 50th lvl spells in Spell Law are just “Laws”: the ability to cast lower level spells 1/rnd. That’s an efficient resource spell, but perhaps doesn’t lend itself to a transcendent narrative.

My first question when starting this adventure design was: “Under what circumstances would a 50th lvl PC even get involved? Not all world threats should, or can be, handled by a “well balanced group” of 5-15th lvl characters. An adventure should be: challenging, interesting and rewarding. Once a PC reaches the heights of 50th lvl, what is challenging? What adventure could possibly be new, novel or interesting? What could be rewarding for a player group equaling 200-250 levels?

We are going to try and find out with our Rolemasterblog 5of50 later this year. Have you run or played in a VHL adventure or campaign? What worked? What didn’t?

An Opportunity Creating Rolemaster Adventures

I don’t know if you have all seen this thread but if you have wanted an opportunity to create something ‘Official’ for Rolemaster then now is a real chance.

Colin has given a single paragraph hook for their three samples on the ICE Blog

Now, I know we have been teasing people with the hidden project called 50 in 50 but I can let on that you will be getting more than a single paragraph from each of our adventure hooks. I have been flicking through them and each runs to a typical 1000 words with environmental considerations, battle tactics and nicely developed pen portraits of key NPCs so you could play them off the page if you are competent seat of the pants GM.

I really struggle with the whole idea of ready to run adventures for Rolemaster. What I know about RMSS/RMFRP could be written on the back of a gnats testicle and still leave room for house rules. Even my beloved RMC is different from its grandpa RM2. Just take for instance a basic skill roll. Imagine you have a fairly good skill of +57 as a 2nd level character (two ranks for the 3 levels, two lots of level bonus and a +13 stat bonus for example) and you make a middling roll of exactly 50. The skill was an absolute pass or fail test.

Total roll of +106. Did you pass or fail?

RM2 = Pass.

RMC = Fail.

To the best of my knowledge RM2 and RMC are the two most closely related RM versions there are so if RMC NPCs and characters need skills to be a typical 10 points higher than the same character in RM2 how do you balance a prepared adventure?

How about HARP? Does anyone know all the systems well enough to cross stat?

What about setting? I think the setting should be interweaved into each and every adventure. Whether it is maybe different cultures of NPCs sat around in the inns and taverns, languages heard in the market places. When I write adventures I like to explicitly write in these cultural references so I do not forget to mention them to the players. I am picturing one thing in my mind’s eye but they may not be seeing the same thing.  If the fields are filled with Aurochs grazing open common land they would look different than Bos Indicus.

Are there Shadow World races and cultures or do you not mention them?

It sounds like a real nightmare to me. In my recent post An Explosive Situation the actual setting I had in mind was an Arabian desert town with a dusty market place and white plastered buildings, the taverna with hookah pipes on the tables and curtains in the the doorways. None of that is in the text but if I had written it for myself then that would have all be there to project that across to my players.

This all sounds more negative than I had intended but going back to the beginning. Colin has make an opportunity or three available for anyone who want to have a crack at it.

My Take on Adventure Design

I was going to post the second instalment of my RMU playtest but I will try and post it later in the week. Instead, inspired by Brian’s post I thought I would share how I like to go about trying to create new and hopefully original adventures.

The basic premise is ‘take to its extreme limit’ by which I mean I like to take an idea or inspiration and then try and see how far I can take that idea.

When I say idea it is often not so much an idea but rather an inspiration. It could be a profession that I want to make the bad guy, it could be a particular spell on a specific list. In the past it has been a tactic that the players have used and I wanted to use against them.

Once I have this inspriation point I then see just using that core idea how much could you achieve with just that one thing. In a recent post I outlined an evil illusionist and his plans. Once I know what is happening I can then see where would this encroach on the characters lives. How would they first become aware of what is going on and how? Often this first possible contact is completely ignored by the characters. It could be just a mention in the Waterdeep broadsheets or a rumour in the market place. Once I have placed the events in the world though I try and advance the villains plans and see where and when the characters could next become aware of them. They may or may not take the bait that time but it doesn’t matter. In theory at least as the villain’s plans proceed he should be getting more powerful and the longer the characters ignore them they should be advancing in level as well so both are in step.

I think every spell list has the potential to be the inspiration for an adventure. If you only had Sleep V as a spell and nothing else what crimes could you commit?

Not every adventure needs a spell caster behind it. How about a single intelligent creature, an enterprising goblin for example? What could a goblin achieve if he really thought through his plans? Once he starts to make some alliances he suddenly gets a lot more threatening. If he plans a few raids and they are successful then others are more likely to follow a winning leader that beings in loot and freah meat. Put his lair or hold on an easily defending island or in a marsh, inhabited by something equally threatening from lizardmen to the undead to noxious marsh gas and the Goblin chief now has natural defences as well as his band of goblins and their allies.

Each and every adventure can be embedded in the game world and existed before the characters came along and continues to grow in scope until the characters deal with it.

Occaisonally if the characters are either staying in an area or revisit an area then I have had these embedded adventures actually come into conflict with each other. If you have two villains both of which have designs on taking the same town or goblins trying to raid traffic on a particular road and someone else using it to smuggle goods then there is going to be a conflict. Put the characters in the middle of that and you have potentially complicated situation for the characters to sort out.

I think to put it in a nut shell I think I am saying, take something simple and take it to its extreme.

Melos, A contribution to Aioskoru

Quite a while ago now I produced half a dozen blog posts in support of Ken Wickham’s Aioskoru world setting. Things than kind of went off the boil a bit and I didn’t do much more beyond describe NPCs, three settlements and some adventures based around a ship full of orcs.

So recently Ken emailed me and said that he had bundled up a lot of his Aioskoru material from his blog and posted it on RPGnow. He had kept the format simple so that it was easy for him to update but he was putting it our there. He has had over 200 downloads of the material he has produced which hopefully means that the setting may get more supporters and continue to grow and develop.

I am always willing to lend a hand so I bundled up my old blog posts, re-edited them to turn them into a coherent supplement and submitted them to RPGnow. They have only been up for a few days but they have already had about 50 downloads. You can download them yourself for free at the link below. (click the cover image)

Melos, A contribution to Aioskoru


The ship on the cover refers to the sloop full of orcs in the featured adventure material.

If you want to download it and you like anything in it then let me know whar you think!