I am nowhere near writing the chapter on psionics yet but they are implications to the skill system. Skills are definitely part of Character Generation and that is where I am.
White Star has about 40 ‘meditations’ which are direct one to one equivalents of OSR/OGL D&D spells. You have your Charm Person, Locate Object and so on.
Spacemaster has our familiar lists. I personally found the lists in Spacemaster to be rather bland, uninspiring and limited.
HARP SF has what it calls Fields which group similar psionic abilities together. Each has six to ten fully scalable abilities exactly like HARP Fantasy’s scalable spells.
So a HARP SF field is equivalent to a Spacemaster list but the psionic abilities are learned more like talents with an increasing DP cost as you go up the tiers.
Most Rolemaster folk who also know something about HARP have some admiration of the scalable spell system. You lose the Light I, Light II,… Light True progression that we see in most lists but you gain the ability to scale a basic Light spell in whatever way you need depending on your ability and the amount of power points you want to put into the spell.
The most Spacemaster thing to do is to copy the lists, change the names and some parameters to they are no longer the ICE spell lists, which I know ICE are very protective of. That gives maximum Spacemaster compatibility.
I could turn White Star’s meditations into Spacemaster style lists but that is more difficult as there are too few meditations to populate the lists.
As White Star has so much OGL D&D behind it I could go down the road of doing a direct one to one conversion of White Star meditations to HARP style scalable spells.
This would mean that psionics/spells would be learned by developing them as skills and we would need a power point development skill.
So that is the impact of psionics on skills.
Spacemaster broke the ‘anyone can do anything if you are prepared to spend the DP on it’ philosophy when it came to psions. I think they were right. You were either born psionic or you weren’t. It was not something that you decided to develop when you got to high level as the diminishing returns made buying your core skills pointless.
HARP has psionic potential as a talent that can be bought at creation but can also be bought with GM approval later on. Maybe you get some experimental brain surgery that enables your latent potential. I like that and I can go back and add the Psionic Potential talent to the available talents.
I am not entirely convinced this is actually a big deal. Spacemaster telepaths could do the stuff you expected telepaths to do. White Star mystics and Star Knights have exactly the same psychic abilities as to HARP characters.
It is more a question of presentation, they are all trying to model the same thing.
Does anyone have any strong opinions on this one way or another? I am leaning towards one to one conversion of the White Star discrete mediations using HARP style scalable spells but that is the least Spacemaster-ish solution.
The challenge I see with RMU as opposed to RM2 is the apparent lack of willingness to look beyond fantasy (and even then it’s their definition of fantasy). RM has always suffered (IMO) from the lack of a solid, accessible setting, and RMU just seems to accelerate that trend. They also took steps (especially in the combat system) to render it almost useless for non-magic settings if you leave it RAW. The flexibility that came with RM2 (and even RMSS in its own way) seems to be disappearing.
In addition in a recent comment Hurin had noted the amount of HARP that seems to have found its way into RMU. There is nothing wrong with HARP but HARP is not Rolemaster and definitely not RM2!
That got me thinking. Last year I bought HARP Fantasy and HARP SF. I bought them because I want to run a SF game soon and as I have said many times before I have lost my Spacemaster books.
So HARP is certainly not locked into a fantasy setting and not into one single fantasy setting. Shadow World is statted out for HARP and HARP has its own core setting of Cyradon. HARP SF plays out in Tintamar but by default it also shares the same setting as Kulthea and Spacemaster because of the Shadow World connection.
One of the things I like about HARP is that the last release was to truly unify the fantasy and sf rules and make them interchangeable. I only needed the fantasy rules as monsters make great aliens.
There is a massive gulf between RM2 and HARP and I agree there is a lot of HARP in RMU. The skill system is the same, character creation is very similar. The move in RMU to less combat tables is almost a single step towards the HARP way of thinking and that I think is the problem with RMU. The only weakness as I see it with HARP, looking from a RM background point of view, is the combat system and the criticals in particular. The same old critical comes around again and again way too often and even in the same fight. The rest of the combat system works really nicely as far as I can tell.
Another interesting thing is that the HARP forums are far busier than the RM forums if you exclude the BETA test forums. If you include them then you also need to include the HARP development forums as well. I see a far greater variety of voices in the HARP debates than in the RM ones these days. There is an active HARP community around the game and new HARP books are eagerly awaited,even if most of them are just re-releases to bring them in line with the unified Fantasy/SF rules.
Whether HARP’s firearms are as good as intothatdarkness’s firearms is a completely different question but the fact remains that HARP does have viable settings and it does have modern day and SF elements that make it go well beyond the fantasy genre.
I think RMU is trying to learn from HARP but is struggling to take the old guard with it to some extent. Which is a pity as we are the old guard.