I have run two weekends now of my face to face Forgotten Realms game and there is nothing else planned until September. This leaves me free to concentrate on my pbp game.
The setting will be Waterdeep and the North. The rules will be mostly RMC with a few options thrown in from RM2 companions and the condensed combat system from the Combat Companion. The gaming platform will be www.rpol.net.
If you read this blog and are interested in being a player then drop me an email. I already have two players lined up.
You will be starting as a solo character to give you a chance to find you feet and if parties form then it will because they happened naturally. I am not going to force people together unnaturally.
I have most of my free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I would prefer a posting frequency of twice a week but if the character is alone or just in conversation then I will happily post more frequently. I am based in the UK so will be operating on GMT but I am generally online from 7am until 11pm most days.
Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun is a major player in the culture of Waterdeep. He is described in the source material as interfering in events often years into the future. To this end ‘my’ Blackstaff is going to be a Seer.
The sourcebooks describe him as just a ‘magic user’ but Rolemaster gives you plenty of different types of magic user to choose from. There are three realms of magic. The Eassence is Mystra’s Weave, Channeling is power derived from your god or deity and mentalism is that inner magic controlled by the mind of the caster. We are in Jedi territory with the mentalists!
Eassence is proably the most overtly powerful magic, this is where you will find your fireballs and lightning bolts and such. The three core magic users of this realm are the magician, illusionist and alchemist.
Channeling includes your cleric, animist (druidic type) and the healer. All Channeling casters have access to some level of healing magic with Clerics being able to raise the dead and healers instantly healing the wounded by taking the injury on themselves and then healing themselves with their magic.
Mentalists focus on the mind and bodily control for the most part. Their magic rarely effects more than one target at once and canbe more subtle. The mentalists have a healer called a Lay healer and a Seer who can work with past and future knowledge. This is where I want to put Khelben Arunsun.
Don’t think for one second that a Seer is a push over. Mentalists are great ones for Telekinesis and he can easily pick up objects and throw them across the room with devastating effect (don’t think vase of flowers, think ripping up a cobble stone and throwing that 300′).
There were more options for my Khelben. In addition to those nine options Rolemaster has three ‘hybrid’ magic users that straddle different realms to give us a sorcerer, mystic and astrologer. These are really fun to play and Mystic was a really strong contender when considering this NPC. In Rolemaster terms Khelben is 39th level which does give a lot of scope.
It was while I was developing Khelben that it occured to me that although creating NPCs is a great way to learn the basics of any roleplaying game, for a new game master creating a 39th level character is not the best way to start. I would strongly recommend creating a fist full of lower level characters before tackling anything like these more powerful NPCs.
I would also say for NPCs don’t fall into the trap of always going for Magicans and Clerics as stock magic users. If you mix it up a bit and use the entire spectrum then you players will never know quite what is going to hit them next.
Probably the most significant NPCs for any game set in Waterdeep has to be the Lords.
I am going to talk about the D&D and Rolemaster levels and classes for some very significant NPCs so if you don’t want to know don’t read it.
We really have to start with Piergeiron. According to the City of Splendors source books he is 14th level or higher Paladin. So translating this into Rolemaster speak and you are looking at a 21st level character. That seems fitting as 20th level in Rolemaster is sometimes referred to as “Lord Level” so that was easy enough. Now the Paladin bit gives you a number of choices. The core rule books do not provide a Paladin class. The reason being that the flexible approach to character design does not really need to define every possibe flavour of possible PC. Now two of the Rolemaster Companions (Rolemaster Companion 1 & 2) do define the Paladin profession. General consensus seems to be that the Paladin profession is best reserved for a high powered campaign although I do not have a problem with them. The question is do we really need a Paladin class? There are three ways of creating a Paladin…
Option 1: Use the defined profession, problably from rolemaster companion 2, being the most balanced version.
Option 2: Use a cleric and spend more development points on the arms side and less on the magic.
Option 3: Create a fighter and invest in some slepp lists.
Options 2 & 3 require a slightly higher level of roleplaying as it would be very easy to abandon to the archetype of he Paladin and just buy the skills and spells etc that are the cheapest for the base profession.
In the game I am in the process of setting up I am not using the professions from the companions so option one is out any way so that only leaves me with 2 & 3 to play with.
For Piergeiron I am going down the route of the Cleric based Paladin. The only things I need to do is make sure I buy just enough Transcend Armour skill (a skill that allows the caster to overcome the penalties for wearing, in this case metal, armour and casting spells) so that our chap can wear his platemail and of course Platemail as a Maneuvering in Armour skill. Both of these skills are skills that can be built up little by little every level just s single skill rank every level. So what you get is a Competent warrior imbued with the power of his God. that pretty much is the very definition of a Paladin to my mind.
So lets look at the third option…
To be the classical Paladin of RPG yore you need to be able to lay on hands to heal people and scare the undead. There is pretty much it. There are really three spell lists that the character would find desirable. Light Ways, Purifications and Concussion Ways. Learning Magic is not going to be easy but with Rolemaster you can start to learn a spell list and let that investment of development points ride until you are successful. I would suggest that you buy just 2 skill ranks in the first spell list and then roll the spell gain roll every level until you get it. Two ranks equates to a 10% chance of success. Given those odds our 21st level Paladin would probably have made 22 attempts (characters get a chance at 0th level before starting play) so statistically getting those three lists is not impossible or even that improbable. As a player I would most likely be quite disappointed if I had not learned at least two by then.
I would also say in my reinterpretation of the Realms that if a group of Paladins, such as the knights of the round table, rode out on a quest, to find the holy grail, that it would be made up of both types of Paladin with neither seeing any distinction between themselves. Every group is made of individuals of differing strengths and weaknesses. Going back the Waterdeep and the Lords Piergeiron is not the only Paladin on the council. Texter is 17th level (D&D)/27th (RM) and also a Paladin. Taking into account Texters feats then I would certainly make Texter a fighter based Paladin.
Whilst my versions of the Paladin are definitely less powerful than the Companion profession it does not suffer from the accusation of being over powered. If anything I would say that those characters would suffer for their convictions but as a GM I would compensate for that giving the characters access to support from their order and opening doors that may not otherwise be open to them. I have always rewarded good roleplaying and the Paladin definitely does give plenty of opportunities for that.
It also goes to show that although the companions do define some 70 or more additional professions you do not need to rush out and buy all those books and then read 1,000 pages of rules just to play the game.
I am very pleased that my game will be going from two long weekends a year to three weekends. Furthermore rather than my game being the Friday night/Saturday morning game it will be moving to the Saturday afternoon, evening and Sunday morning slot. In real playing terms that will mean 16hr+ hours of actual game play rather than about 10hrs. Over a year we are talking 48hrs play compared to 20hrs. The game is going to get bigger in another way as well. I am starting some players in Waterdeep this summer.
As you know I am primarily a face to face, paper and pen roleplayer. I have been dabbling with play-by-post (PBP or PBM) gaming and I have been enjoying playing that game. It is my intention to start a PBP game this summer set in Waterdeep but still in the same campaign as my face to face game. Geographically the centres of action will nearly 1,000miles apart so they should not interfere to frequently but there is always the chance that news will flow in both directions about significant events. What I do have to do is get Waterdeep ready for the players.
I am a GM that likes to have everything prepared. One of the really nice things about the forgotten realms materials is that it gives the race, level and class of all the significant NPCs. So right now I am creating all these NPCs as Rolemaster characters.
If you are new to rolemaster then creating characters is one of the best ways to become familiar with all the rules. As a GM it will be your responsibility to assist your players to create their characters so the more NPCs you create the easier it is to help other new players get started. It also helps, I think, to create many NPCs to make you faster at creating characters. It can take inexperienced players and GMs the best part of an evening to create their first characters if they do not know the rules.
I would have said that the biggest single difference between the systems (Rolemaster and D&D) is the way that magic magic is handled. It would definitely be to the GMs advantage to have created a few magicians and clerics before trying to help a player create their first PC magic user.
When you are converting the significant NPCs from the Forgotten Realms source materials then as a rule of thumb you should multiply all levels by about 1.5 so that a 12th level fighter in the D&D rules such as Helm Dwarf-friend, Master of Sundabar would be an 18th level warrior in Rolemaster. For a more powerful game you would make the NPCs higher level but as a rule x1.5 works pretty well.
Right now have a number of sourcebooks to re-read to refresh my self about this location and maybe fifty important NPCs to create before I can let any innocent PCs loose in the city. All the new players will be running around as solo characters initially, probably for the first couple of levels, ‘enjoying’ adventures created especially for them to let them bed in and get a feel for the setting. As always I will share as much as I can here.