One of the early appeals of Rolemaster was it’s “realism”, and while most people thought of the combat system there was also exhaustive material around magical herbs. In many ways, RM herbs supplanted traditional fantasy RPGs reliance on healing magic and healing potions. Some even argue that RM healing spells are relatively weak, or that the detailed injury system required too many spells to heal even minor wounds.
I think many players/groups use herbs in different ways: some to augment natural healing processes while others allow for instant, miraculous healing effects. “Chew and screw” so to speak. Instant effects allow groups without skilled healers to adventure, or groups in intensive dungeon environments to maintain their tempo.
No matter how a GM handles effects and healing times, RM established some basic criteria for herbs: location codes(biome), form, prep and rarity. Peter discussed creature codes in a previous blog, and certainly RM herb codes were another example of over complexity!
RMU has done much to simplify herb criteria; biomes are simplified, rarity is given a modifier and “form” & “prep” are fairly simple. What RMU didn’t do is completely unify these simplified criteria with the RM skill and resolution process.
What we have done is apply difficulty modifiers to 3 criteria for herbs.
- Rarity. The same as RMU, we give herbs a modifier for it’s rarity. This can be applied to a foraging/survival skill check or as a check to see if an herbalist or store stocks the herb.
- Preparation. This is where we diverge from RMU which sort of combines prep and application into one criteria. Each herb is given a prep modifier, based on the difficulty in preparing the agent for use. Whether that’s brewing, distilling, steeping, powdering etc.
- Application. Finally, we give an herb an application modifier, based on the difficulty of delivering it’s effects. For healing and other herbs with a range of effects the maneuver roll can act as a % of success–so a 85% roll would delivery 85% of the healing effect. For herbs with an “all or nothing” effect it’s simply a pass/fail maneuver.
Interestingly, you can have a herb that is relatively easy to prepare but difficult to apply correctly or more commonly, difficult to prepare by very easy to apply. For herbs that require no prep, or the application is easy we just give it an n/a and don’t require a skill check.
Using these criteria gives herbs complexity, but still rely on the simple skill resolution process. Additionally, players may need to rely on different herbs at lower level that don’t require a high level of skill to prepare or apply, or may need to pay an herbalist to do the preparation for them. (For simplicity sake, I don’t get into much detail on “freshness” and removed most of the herb keeping spells from BASiL).
Also note, we put all rolemaster herbs into our SW Master Encounter table by biome. You can find that HERE.
So this is the last blog for May! Whew, we did a blog every day this month!!! For the next few months I’m going to reduce by blog pace to about 1/wk and focus on getting adventure files ready, finish the other projects I’m working on and do a bit of travelling overseas!