The final chapter of the core Zwei book is the starting adventure and I am not goung to spoil that. So in effect that is the end of the read through.
All GMs are magpies. We will happily steal ideas from anywhere. The two things I have already tried to introduce to my game are Zwei style wilderness travel and encounters and the way that Zwei treats chases as what we would consider percentage action manoeuvres.
What I would really like to adopt, but it would be a massive amount of work would be Zwei style spell failures. Scrap the spell failure table and adopt spell specific effects.
Part of my motivation for that choice is that I don’t like the failures that dump the PC into a coma for months. In effect that is most likely game over for that PC and all because of two poor rolls the player had no control over.
There needs to be consequences but random death needn’t be on of them.
I can see two solutions to this. The first is the piecemeal answer. I tell my players that I will not be using the RAW spell failures. Then on the occasions that we actually get spell failures I create an on the fly unique spell failure for that spell and jot it down in my notes. At the end of the session I add that new spell failure to the spell list as the new default spell failure. I could over time create two. One for a straight spell failure and one for an ESF induced spell failure.
The sort of thing I mean is something like Light. On a regular failure it covers everyone in the light spells radius with an flickering glow, this impedes stalking and hiding rolls by -25 to -75 depending on the lighting conditions.
On the ESF failure the light spell creates a chain lightning effect centred on the caster with the casters ESF penalty as the OB.
That last one sounds drastic but there are spells that can defend against the effect such as lightarmor and lightningarmor. This time the caster will probably be hurt but they can also mitigate against some of the effects.
A second option is to adopt HARP scaleable spells into RMu. The reason this is an attractive option is that there are a relatively small number of discrete spells in HARP so working through them all sequentially is not such a big task. Much of the work involved in converting from HARP to RM has already been done so that isn’t much of a burden. The HARP rules have a full entry for each spell so adding in the failures to that page is simple. RM on the other hand has the same spells turning up on half a dozen lists rather than a single source.
For me and my preferred play style the HARP option also brings with it added bonuses. I prefer a low magic game where characters have fewer spells and have to be creative to make the best use of them.
RMu with its spells as skills approach has no mechanic to stop a PC just learning enough of Invisible Ways to get Invisibility, just enough Lofty Bridge to get Fly, and so on so by 4th level they basically can do everything.
With HARP spells the character has to learn the individual spells so one can have gate keepers to that knowledge and limit the access that way while still giving people access to most of the Universal sphere so they are completely functional.
This is a thought for when we finally see RMu in all its glory.
Getting back to Zwei for a moment. The other lasting impression I got from the rules is how incredibly slick the game is. It all [skills, magic, monsters] feels like one coherent system. The characters alignment and in play choices drives the corruption mechanic, corruption can lead to mutations, the bestiary has an entire section for mutants. That sort of chain of consequence is common and it explains where all these mutant creatures come from.
The combat is not as bloody as Warhammer but it is still bloody and specific wound driven like RM. As Hurin once said, once you have rolled 1d8 for damage, you have rolled them all.
I think Zwei is a big threat to RMu’s commercial success. I can think of no unique selling point for RMu except one.
That USP is that there are thousands of original Pete Fenlon MERP books out there and people love them. RMu is close to the original MERP/RM that should people want to use these old sources with a new game then RMu may be the logical choice. How compatible it is will be rather debatable and that is rather niche USP. Those books are rare and getting rarer by the day and there will never be any more of them.
MERP aside, every feature that made us fall in love with the game when held up against RuneQuest and D&D; Zwei has and does equally well. In addition Zwei is available right now and people are buying it so it is eating up those customers who will only buy one gritty, simulationist, D100 system.
Another disturbing thing is that Zwei was designed to be a core system behind a “Powered by…” family. This is something that I was advocating for RMu last year. It is now a reality in Zwei. They are working on a US Colonial Period game powered by Zweihänder. It will be the first of many.
One cannot help but think that RM will be forever niche until use old time players die off and then RM will die with us.