Great Rolemaster Memories

I was reading this blog yesterday and it got me to thinking about the topic. Do I try and write adventures with “memorable situations” (cool setting, unique creatures or plot twists), or do great gaming memories derive from something else?

It wouldn’t surprise me if pop culture subtly influences GM when writing material. Shouldn’t an adventure or campaign be framed properly in narrative form, much like a movie script? With so many system specific and generic adventures, isn’t there a motivation to come up with a clever new take on an old idea? Do we try and wow our players with a new obstacle, trap, monster or puzzle?

We all play RPG’s for a variety of reasons, but one unifying experience we all share is a great memory of gameplay. Every player has a favorite memory and every GM can probably relate an equally memorable game incident. But when discussing this with my players and other Rolemaster games, those great memories weren’t necessarily derived from something unique introduced by the GM, or a specific challenge written into the adventure.

For me the one differentiator that Rolemaster enjoys compared to other systems, that comes up often, is the Open-Ended Roll and to a lesser extent Unmodified 66 and 100 results on critical tables. If you think about it, OE rolls are a baked in mechanic that guarantees amazing, some might say miraculous, results during gameplay. Rolling a “20” in D&D is nothing like rolling high open-ended. Over and over, I heard stories of the “Hail Mary” roll, the multiple OE and resulting critical that saved the party, defeated the baddie or allowed for a unusual success.

As a long time GM, I’ll occasionally put my “thumb on the scale” to assist the party, but nothing compares to a player rolling and hitting the “00” when the chips are down. That’s a serendipitous result I can’t write into the adventure and I enjoy it just as much as my players.

During the development of RMU there was a steady stream of suggestions and ideas to improve and streamline the ruleset, but one item that was considered sacrosanct was the crit charts. Despite the negative connotation of “chartmaster”, the majority of the RM community wanted to keep the crit charts! But if you were to dig down, I don’t think it was the charts themselves, but what they represented. Part of the random magic of Rolemaster. That’s what creates great gaming moments that are remembered fondly.

What’s your Rolemaster memory?

As a player did you beat the odds with a once in a lifetime dice roll?

As a GM did a once in a lifetime roll change the game situation radically or take the game in a completely new direction?