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rolemaster as a guide for fantasy


steph
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hey guys just want to know for your fantasy game, if rolemaster inspire your campaign  in a way or other. Personally the healing system of rolemaster is very flavorous (is it a word in english ?) and i use it a lot. Another example, anecdote etc etc are welcome.

 

Steph the bad english man ;)

 

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Flavorful.

 

Rolemaster was the first fantasy game I played after D&D. 

 

I do like the magic in Rolemaster, including the healing magic. 

 

But, I call it "chart-master" for a reason and haven't played it in 23 years.

 

But, one thing that has stuck with me is adolescent skill development.

 

When I make a character, for any game, I think about how their abilities and skills developed.

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My exposure to the Rolemaster system was tangential. I dabbled a little with MERP, because, well, it was Middle-Earth; but the system never caught my fancy. I was more interested in some Rolemaster publications during the time Iron Crown Enterprises owned Hero Games, because a number of them were dual-statted for Rolemaster and Hero System: the Campaign Classics series, and the Shadow World setting. I played and ran those somewhat, and adapted a few elements to other settings, but only the Hero parts.

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Interesting, even among people that like RoleMaster, the healing subsystem isn't usually regarded as all that great. Sure, there's a certain flavor to it, but it's often very frustrating to players.
In most other games with magical healing, the healer PC can heal most wounds the PCs suffer from the start. If they're heavily wounded, it might take a longer time for him to cast that many spells, but it's certainly doable. Sickness/blindness often being exceptions to this.

Whereas in RoleMaster with its detailed criticial system, you might suffer hits where the cleric/animist/lay healer would need to be of a higher level to treat them. Which means either heading to NPCs or letting natural healing take its course (or running around impaired). Never mind that you had to learn a lot of spell lists just to cause "normal" battle wounds.

 

For a game that otherwise stuck to the high fantasy D&D tropes, that's quite a change. And I've rarely seen something emulated in a game that wasn't hellbent on providing realism. And even then it's rare (i.e. if GURPS doesn't do it...).

 

You've got a very mild version of this in HERO with its distinction between STUN and BODY damage. You do have long term injuries with impairments, but those don't require specific healing by default.

 

Generally HERO seems to avoid things contributing to "death spirals", so I'm not sure whether it'd be that great to shoe-horn that in.

 

Other than that, I find RoleMaster to be difficult when it comes to exporting bits and pieces of it. It's a pretty integrated system. I know that Arms Law was intended to work with other early RPGs, but I haven't ever seen someone doing that.

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Other than that, I find RoleMaster to be difficult when it comes to exporting bits and pieces of it. It's a pretty integrated system. I know that Arms Law was intended to work with other early RPGs, but I haven't ever seen someone doing that.

 

I've never actually played Rolemaster, but it was used as a basis for a homebrew system by one of our core GMs (he was a good GM, but also the guy who showed me that effective game design is harder than it looks).

 

We did however plunder a number of tables from Arms Law and Spell Law, back in the day and used them either as-is or further modified.

 

Possibly relevant to the healing question - using my old Arms-law inspired critical hit table, one of the PCs in my game got stabbed in the guts, while solo adventuring. It did not kill him, but it did give him an infected wound that would kill him in 3-8 days. He could heal the physical harm, but not the infection. There followed an epic race back to cvivilisation, in search of healing, with the character growing weaker and more feverish day by day :) He finally tottered over the threshold of the healing temple holding aloft a bag of coins, near death and whimpering "Cleric! Quickly!" So you can get atmospheric results from the system ... I just don't think it's worth the general grief.

 

cheers, Mark

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I GM'd Rolemaster/MERP and Spacemaster for years while also running Champions.  Which game I ran depended on who showed up that day.  At some point my RM/MERP champaign bled over to Champions via character stories though I never tried to merge the two systems.  Finally RM sort of faded and all was Champions.  I found RM to be tedious in both character creation and combat with too many unanswered questions about game mechanics.  The one thing I still find useful is the MERP books which are fantasic.

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My group used the MERP critical and fumble tables for our AD&D game. They can be pretty deadly. I've lost a few characters to those charts, including a couple from my long-running campaign. I started a new campaign, the PCs being the children of the ones from the previous campaign.

 

I call it MERP: The Next Generation

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Rolemaster has always had a major influence on my Fantasy Hero efforts.

 

1: I use a "Heroized" version of RM healing in my fantasy games. Body and Stun are healed via normal Healing spells (I use simplified healing) and Impairing and Disabling wounds require a different spell to heal which is based on Transform (it is transforming the body from impaired to whole) it works quite well for limiting healing in various ways, but not quite as draconian as the RM healing.

 

2: I use a Heroized version of the Rolemaster magic system. I use Essence (INT), Channeling (PRE), and Mentalism (EGO). Multipower to represent spell lists. Overcasting consequences. Possible spell internalization on a failed roll. (If failed by 5 or more)

 

3: I use the Shadow World campaign setting for my fantasy campaign. I have converted quite a bit of stuff over to Hero. Yes much of it was already "converted" during the RM2/Hero 3rd days, but we all know those conversions were terrible. I fixed the ones most relevant to my games.

 

 

I loved Rolemaster and Shadow World. However RM became too cumberson and it didnt satisfy my desire for completely customizable characters and mechanics, so once I found Hero, I switched eagerly. I do love the crits in RM, but I dont miss them because Hero's hit locations and impairing rules work just as well and I can better interpret the results instead of the chart doing it for me.

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To add on to MDH, Hero system also has poison, Dim Mak, rabbies and various other dieseases from fourth edition and in fifth to highlight I suspect the new adder, a sample healing spell with heal limbs for campaigns that use disable/impair rules. So im sure you could strike a balance of various healing spells and use fluff from Rolemaster while not being too cumbersome with Hero.

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Yeah, it's certainly not tied to the setting (a common source of complaint from Tolkienites, not that anything can ever please them). A few years ago, they released "Rolemaster Express" as a lite version, and it had plenty in common with MERP.

 

Someone also made a d20-RoleMaster mashup a few years ago, called "Blood, Guts & Glory".

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The one thing I still find useful is the MERP books which are fantasic.

 

This.  I remember when ICE borrowed Hero back in the day, the one big thing I was looking forward to was those awesome Middle-Earth modules with FH stats.  Sadly, it never happened.

 

Has anyone tried to use the MERP system without the Middle-earth setting? I've been considering it.

 

I feel like you have that backwards.  :)  MERP was a big improvement over AD&D1, but it was still a rigid class based system with an equally rigid magic system.  And the crit tables become annoying after about two sessions.  It's been about thirty years since I last picked up anything MERP though.

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I don't find MERP too clunky. There are still a bunch of charts to look at, but not as many as RM. And the 2nd edition includes some optional classes. My only thing I'd have to do if I use it outside of Middle-earth is translate the different cultures because of the adolescence skills.

 

I have run games set in Middle-earth with other systems, usually AD&D. I still do at times.

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I really liked the spell lists of RoleMaster back then, as they're very "non-exception". Almost everything was described in a single line. At first that looks like a disadvantage, a lack of flavor when compared to D&D's Vancian effusiveness. But in practice, it saves you a lot of rules to look at in the heat of battle. This is something I really have to be aware in HERO, too. I'm often tempted to pile on quite a lot of limitations to make a spell more "unique", but that might have more flaws than merits. It's probably better to have more uniqueness on the core spellcasting ability if you want to differentiate casters.

They also tend to start out at a lower power level, which is fine for me (D&D-ish level 1/2 spells are my sweet spot for magic).

 

One thing that I remember less fondly was rolling to learn a spell list. Two characters with the same amount of points spent of "spell development" or whatever it was called could have a wildly different amount of learned lists.

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