Roleplaying Games Do Not Exist

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Roleplayers as people exist and roleplayers as gamers exist but roleplaying games do not really exist. What is in the rule books is a framework from which the Game Master can create a vision of his world, or bring another world to life.

There was a thread onthe ICE Forums this week about how many development points you as a GM give your players. Some gave more, some gave less and it really sort of stacked up along ruleset lines. RMSS/RMFRP generally gave more as that game has many more skills that the characters are expected to have. RM2 has many skills and so the GMs generally gave more and RMC GMs seemed to give the least but the game has the least skills. No shocks there really but what was interesting was that nearly every GM clearly had a difference of opinion of that was requird or what was the ‘norm’ and even what was possible but we were all broadly meant to be playing the same game and even if you split us into ruleset camps we still did not generally agree.

Another reason only see the rules as a framework is that I have spent nearly 6 months now working with another GM in trying to decide exactly what rules we want to apply from all the rulebooks and companions. We mostly agree but there are red lines that we have drawn because to cross them would break our personal world view(s). We are nearly half a year in to this and less than half way through the companions. We have been playing together since about 1984, you would not think that two people playing the same game would be so far apart.

All versions of Rolemaster that I have seen (I have never played or even read the rulebooks for RMSS/RMFRP or Rolemaster Express) have been very modular and very consistent in their approach to describing the characters world. This means that it is very easy to slot in an optional rule and have it work seamlessly with all the other rules. The companions have optional rules and options for the optional rules. Some options have four or more solutions to the proposed problem, all of them viable but some impact on complexity others on the power level of the game.

This modular approach lends itself to house rules because you know that the rules will work if you follow the style of the rules as written. I am not a fan of house rules and generally do not use them, I don’t see the need and in my opinion most cause more problems that they solve because they are normally one persons opinion and completely or relatively untested.

When I played DnD I can remember discounting great swathes of the rules (the table of all the different weapons vs armour classes and all the plusses and minuses never got used) and almost every month when we bought White Dwarf or Dragon magazine we would add in more spells, character classes or alternative rules. House ruling is not a Rolemaster problem is a natural occurance when you have highly creative and imaginative people trying to create worlds.

I would say there are as many versions of every roleplaying game as there are GMs running those games. All variations are valid and of equal worth and all are unique. DnD does not exist but there are a great many DnD derived games just as there are a great many Rolemaster variations out there.

Ironically I would have said that there are as many versions of the Fearun as there are GMs/DMs running that setting too. As GMs I don’t really think we can leave anything alone can we?