Tuesday 16 January 2018

In Which Your Obedient Servant, Having Thrown Rolemaster Over The Side, Attempts To Bring It Back On Board

I've been looking for ways to accommodate Rolemaster into the new material upcoming without stepping on any toes with regard to Intellectual Property...I know, I know, its been a grumbly theme of mine for a while now. Here is where I'm at: as noted in previous posts, I'm using characters built on the Single Set (Skill Costs)/Archetypal Builds model. I'm left with the issue of spells, spell lists and background options. I'm going to use converted OGL spells, spells from Project BASiL (you'll find these over at the Rolemaster Blog), plus several of my own creation, so characters won't actually be purchasing spell lists at all. Instead, they'll have a pool of spells associated with their Build. Thus, the Prophet build will have a set of - for example - some thirty or forty spells that they can unlock as they progress (using Prime Levels as a point of entry for spells of increasing power and complexity), and will have a casting skill roll based on certain stats and the type of magic they're using - I'll retain the four realms (Arcane, Essence, Mentalism and Channeling: this is supposed to be RM, after all!). It is a system intended to be lower magic than standard RM (the really potent magic will be the product of long, expensive and above all dangerous rituals). The aim is also to reduce reliance on spell lists as the source of magical power, as I'd prefer special Build/Race/Culture-based powers and talents to carry some of that weight.

I'm also looking at some other innovations: I want to change the structure of the combat round a bit, primarily to open up creative space for talents/background options. I also want to do the same around combat itself, by creating (and stealing, I mean borrowing) new maneuver-style options for combat (partly because I don't like the passivity of defense in RM, of which more in another post). Again, these will provide new spaces for talents and will not require the creation of new skills (although I adore the range of skills in RM, I recognise the need to keep them to a manageable level).

The obvious danger with all this is potential 'build bloat' and 'talent bloat' - a bit like issues with multiple feats and ever more classes in d20-type systems...but only if you consider it a 'danger' at all. Yes, you'll have Builds for every concept you can think of (I am currently working on the Botanist, Beggar, Administrator, Herald, Shepherd, Prophet and Guardian 'Profession' Builds along with the Peasantry, Woodsfolk, Moon Elf, Urban Poor, Winter Gnome and Wood Elf cultural builds)*, and talents/skill unlocks burgeoning alongside them, but to be frank, I consider this a good thing. A cornucopia of options enables players to create the characters they want, but more importantly and perhaps selfishly, enables me as GM to build the world I want.

* as an aside, I'm also looking into the possibilities of  - where appropriate - creating all these as classes for OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord.

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