You’re far too keen on where and how, but not so hot on why

Spell Law has an advice section on how to handle different spells and their effects such as invisibility, illusions and how spell effects can interfere with each other such as Aura and Blur counteracting each other. What it doesn’t handle is the future.

There are two ways of seeing into your characters future, divination and magic. The first is a mundane skill, anyone can learn it and it involves using tarot cards, runes, tea leaves and crystal balls etc. to get a glimpse of the future. The skill is a RM2 skill and appears in Companion II along with a neat little table of modifiers and difficulties. It is great for predicting the very near future in vague terms with limited accuracy. I have a Seer in my world who keeps telling party members that ‘there will be a death in the next two minutes’. As a GM I can be fairly certain that if the party is about to sneak around the corner into a Drow partrol then that prediction is likely to come true but also dividination is vague. Yes the death card comes up but you never know whos death. The seer casts rune stones for her divining and that is not something that you can do in the pitch black while everyone is trying to be quiet. Divination I think works well. The other option is harder to handle.

There is the sort of thing I mean. this is the first level spell from the Seer base lists.

1. Intuitions I – Caster gets a vision of what will happen in the next minute if they take a specified action.

So the party are about to burst through the door and confront the bad guys body guard. Does the vision include the death of one of the party? What if it doesn’t but as it turns out it should have done?

As a GM you should have a reasonable idea of relative difficulty of each encounter but there is always the chance of a freak accident or the dice gremlins prevent the main fighter in the group from rolling anything about a 06.

You could argue that the simple act of knowing the future changes the future and what the seer saw was one possible and the most probable future at that moment if the seer had not cast the spell and the party forewarned. The spell above is the first level spell but at fifth level the Seer can see five minutes into the future and at 15th they can see one minute for every level so that could easily extend into the half hours.

Imagine the Seer casts Intuitions I while the party are preparing to kick in the door. He or she sees that the guards are caught entirely by surprise and a fight ensues with the party winning at the time the vision ends. The Seer does not tell anyone what he saw. The door flies open, the magic user casts fireball, fumbles and the attack goes off at ground zero blowing up the party. Surely the Seer would have seen that? The arguemets over the Seer changing the future do not really hold up as the plan was formulated before the spell was cast and not changed as a result, it is not even a case of the plan being delayed even by 10 seconds. Everything should have been as the vision showed.

I don’t know the right solution to this but this is what I am doing currently.

For the duration of the spell if there is a game changing dice roll I pick a number from a random number chart and use that instead. So if the player fumbles his fireball I change the dice roll. The players all know that once magic has been invoked then their fate is already ‘written’. As soon as the sixth round is over then all dice rolls stand.

The table above is an axample of a random number table. You just start at row one column one and if it is a d100 you want just take two columns. There is even a nice 00 at row 14 column 7/8!

This has worked well so far as the players know I am not ‘fudging’ dice rolls or fixing things. It is literally just the few rounds and the few critical freak rolls that get changed.

I also use this table for subtle perception rolls. If the party all walk past a secret door but no one is explicitly looking for it I will just pick their dice roll from the table. I think my players are paranoid, as soon as the GM picks up his dice the pary draw their swords.

It is easy enough to create something like this is a spreadsheet but I find I barely use a single row in a weekend and at three weekends gaming a year a single page will last me 10 years.

does anyone else have any ideas on how to handle a player knowing the future?

p.s. I am on holiday/vacation next week. I will still see, read and approve all your comments but there may be a bit of delay. I don’t spend my entire holiday glued to my phone.

Finished Rolemaster NPC (Little Miss Defensive)

Rolemaster Logo

I have been thinking abou this NPC for a while and I know what she looks like, how she acts, how she fights and the nature of her magic. All that really remained were the actual skills on the page and which profession best realised the concept.

She has a working title of DruTam as part of her original concept was a mix of Drusilla from Season 2 Buffy the Vampire Slayer and River Tam from Firefly/Serenity. the actual character name will be decided when her twin brother is created and has a name.

The dilemma with DruTam was always that she she could easily be one of several classes. What I have done is create her as each class, Astrologer, Seer, Monk and Mystic. We have the same stats, potentials and background options (all skill with magic and all ended up as stat bonuses) The only variable was the character profession. That of course changed the stat costs, professional level bonuses and to some degree the spell lists available.

All the character sheets are below, the one marked Ch is the character sheet with stats equipment etc, skills is the full list of skills and totals and the spells is the list of spell lists and actual spells.

None of these characters can cast spells at first level. The lists chosen just do not not have first level spells on them, except for the monk who simply did not make the spell gain roll. She is capable of defending herself as descussed in this post on her kick boxing fighting style. She also has an interesting mix of predictive skills in weather watching, stargazing and divination. By changing the two spell lists she has aquired you could easily make her far more proactive if that was your choice.

It should be noted that I do not use stat bonuses on spell gain rolls. This would make a significant difference as she would possibly have had four or five more development points per level to play with.

I think the most agressive character here is the mystic but the best fit for my game and the party I have in mind will be the Seer.

As an aside I have also created another version of this NPC but in this case I have used slightly more mainstream rules, stripped out the combat abilities and taken her all the way to 20th level. I will be submitting her with her story to the Guild Companion this week. If they publisher her then I will post a link to the article, if not I will share her here. She has a sligthly diferent name but you would recognise her.

Little Miss Defensive and her profession

Rolemaster Logo

I have been looking at suitable professions for an NPC I am working on. I want her to be potentially useful to the party but at the same time I don’t want her solving all the problems instead of them.

She is particularly non agressive in combat with all of her skills in that department being dedicated to parrying and avoiding being hit.

I had always intended that shw was going to be some sort of spell user and I quite liked the idea of her being some sort of astrologer/seer/mystic with a monk as an alternative if the other three didn’t work out. I am looking at those classes mainly because I kind of like the idea of someone who has such insight into the future and the fates of the characters but then cannot actually communicate except via one person whom she is tied to.

Looking at the spell lists available, all of the classes above have access to spells like blue, shield and blade turning and that satisfies my need for a really strong defence and all of them have some kind of self healing, body renewal lists. That was something else I wanted. I want the PC to whom she is linked to have no good reason to leave her at home. IF she can protect herself, heal herself (and him potentially) and be useful in other ways as well then more the merrier!

Two of my favourite spell lists are gate mastery (or equivelant) and rune mastery. In this case I do not think that gate mastery woudl suit her but I could imagine her with elegant carved ivory scroll cases and scrolls written in beautiful eastern style caligraphy. I would happily give her a brush and a pot of ink for creating these. So right now I am leaning towards the mystic or the back up monk character. I am not really taken that much with the idea of the monk, it doesn’t quite have the other worldlyness of the pure and hybrid spell user professions.

Surprisingly, I had never noticed quite how aggressive mystics were! I would certainly consider playing one as a PC and there is nothing wrong from what I can see with the spell lists. It looks like she will be able to do everything I am looking for in this NPC.

Next up I am looking at the seer profession. We are talking pure mentalist here. We get the healing and attack avoidance spell lists, some excelent future prediction and interrogation spell lists. What we don’t get is the rune mastery but I can live without that. This profession is also ticking all the boxes so far. The party are not really going to be looking to their seer to bail them out if things go horribly wrong for them.

The astrologer, looking at the available spell lists encompassing Channelling and Mentalism is interesting. Of the three this has the strongest healing spells taken from the closed channeling lists, good future prediction lists and the attack avoidance spells. Looking at it though the channelling realm is only contributing to the healing everything else is being provided by the realm of mentalism. I am not at this time overly taken with the astrologer.

I suspect that I will end up generating at least three first level characters and seeing which one ticks the most boxes when the pencil hits the paper.

I will start creating characters this week and will share the character sheets once they are done.