Monday 31 January 2022

Rolemaster Revisited: Archetypal Builds in RMC

 So, this is the resurrection of a document from four years ago that I thought I'd lost via an accidental deletion (hence the dead link in this post). I've re-examined it, and decided that it remains a good base for house-ruling RM closer to where I want it to be. So here it is: comments welcomed!

Sample Archetypal Builds for Rolemaster Classic

Rule Considerations 

The following is an exploration of the alternative character development method for Rolemaster Classic (ultimately, I’d like to carry it over to RMU and maybe to other systems that work well with the basic concept). It is partly based upon character generation methods in such games as Fantasy Hero, Talislanta, Pathfinder (1E), Warhammer and Mythras. After level one, character development proceeds as per normal. Thanks to the various contributors over at the RolemasterBlog for giving the spark for applying builds to Rolemaster (I’m probably reinventing the wheel here!)

There are two core assumptions: firstly, there is no fundamental need in Rolemaster for a wide range of professions with their own unique development costs. The second, partially related to the first is that Rolemaster character generation takes far too long – even for ‘advanced’ players, and that the use of Builds is a useful way to mitigate this. Below are the design considerations behind the system:

Rapid Skill Development

Up to four ranks may be purchased in a single skill as part of an archetypal or cultural package only. The cost is as follows: Rank 1 is purchased at the first listed cost. All other ranks are purchased at the second listed cost (e.g., 4 ranks in Foraging at 2/6 would cost 20 DP, 2 for the first, 6 each for the three ranks following). Normal rules apply in the case of skills where the cost is n/*.

Specialised Skills

For each Build, 20 points are allotted for the purpose of customising development costs, as follows:

2 points are spent to halve the cost of the first rank of a skill.

3 points will halve the cost of the second rank of a skill.

5 points will halve the cost of a skill where there is only one skill rank (such as Adrenal Defense, Linguistics, weapon categories, individual Spell Lists, etc.).

8 points will halve the cost of that skill a second time (e.g. Adrenal Defense with a cost of 15 can be reduced to a cost of 4).

Spending 12 points reduces the cost of a single rank skill to ¼ its original cost and grants a second rank that costs ½ the original cost (e.g. Adrenal Defense would now cost 4/8, or Power Point Development with a cost of 5 would cost 2/3).

6 points grants a second rank to a skill that has a single cost, at a cost of 3x the cost of the first rank (e.g. Channeling has a cost of 3. 6 points would give Channeling a cost of 3/9).

No more than 8 skills can be chosen for specialisation. The lowest possible cost for a two-rank skill is 1/2. No skill may have a cost where both ranks cost n.

Inhibited Skills

Note that the cost of some skills may be increased in order to provide more points for specialisation. For doubling the cost of a skill (i.e. 2/6 becomes 4/12), 5 points may be gained. Up to 3 skills may be used for this purpose. However, this must be applied to weapon category costs in order, beginning with the primary weapon. Note that Linguistics increase by 1 per 5 points spent to increase their cost (e.g. 2/* becomes 3/* to gain 5 points) and cannot be increased above 3/*. Armor and Spell Lists double as per normal. With regard to Armor the cost increases as follows: if Soft Leather is doubled, all Armor costs double. If Rigid Leather is doubled, Chain and Plate double also (and so on). Weapon and armour skills for Pure/Hybrid Users cannot be inhibited.

Parent Professions

The Build has a ‘parent’ for the purposes of development costs, level bonuses, list access and base Background Option selection. Regardless of specialisations or focus, this is the actual ‘Profession’ of the character. Thus one can have a Wood Elf Ranger (Botanist). This character selects the Ranger Profession with its related skill costs, gaining level bonuses as per Table 09-08 (p. 128, RMC Character Law), spell list access as a Semi-spell user (see Table 03-01, p.21, RMC Spell Law) and access to the Ranger, Botanist and Wood Elf Background Options.

Background Options

Every character has at least 3 Background Options and must spend at least 2 of these on Cultural and/or ‘Base Profession’ Options. They also receive 1 Background Option to spend on talents unique to their Build only (although they may supplement this with unspent options if they have them).

Skill Unlocks

As characters pass certain thresholds, they gain access to ‘Skill Unlocks’, where, if meeting particular prerequisites, they may select a Skill Unlock. This occurs at the following levels: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40. To select a Skill Unlock costs 1 Background Option. Note that where the description of a Skill Unlock states that “this ability may be used once per PL per day”, this indicates that the ability has a number of daily uses equivalent to the number of Prime Levels (see below) a character possesses.


Background Options after Level 1

Normally, characters only spend Background Options at level 1. With this rule, characters gain Background Options as they progress through different levels in order to buy further talents and skill unlocks at levels 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40. Characters gain 1 BGO every time they reach a Prime Level. Prime Levels, as the name suggests, are as follows: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43 and 47. Background options gained in this way (but not the initial options granted by selection of race) may be saved in order to buy more expensive talents at a later level.

Hobby Skills

In this system, Hobby Skill ranks may purchase any skill (Primary or Secondary), but, if used to purchase ranks in a Primary skill, are spent on a 3:2 ratio (e.g. to buy two ranks in Attunement costs 3 Hobby ranks). At least 3 ranks must be purchased in Secondary skills.

Rank Limits for Starting Characters

Characters may not have more than 10 ranks in any one skill at first level (including all ranks from cultural and professional packages, Hobby skills and background options). This does not apply to languages or ranks used to purchase spell lists.


The Ranger

Level Bonus/Development Costs: Ranger

Spell L­ists: Semi-spell user, Ranger Base Lists.

Realm: Channeling

Ranger Background Options (cost is 1 BGO unless specified):

            Master Tracker: 5 ranks in Tracking*

            Chosen Foe: replace one Base List with Guardian Ways (RMC Companion 1)*

            Ambidexterity: no penalty for off-hand weapon use.

            Survivalist: 5 ranks in Foraging and Body Development DP cost is halved (racial hits maximum increases by 50%)* Cost: 2 BGOs

            Chosen Environment: +20 to Moving Maneuvers, Stalk & Hide, Perception, Foraging, Tracking, Flora Lore and Fauna Lore in one type of environment (e.g. Swamp/Mountain/Plains etc.)

            Healing Hands: % chance = level + PR bonus of doubling the effect of any healing herb applied (with the following caveat: the “difficulty of finding” of the herb must not exceed the Ranger’s ranks in Herb Lore).

            Enhanced Survivalist: as Survivalist above, but also gains +25 to RRs vs magic of one realm.* Cost: 3 BGOs

            Light Sleeper, Danger Sense, Look of Eagles, Outdoorsman, Assassin Training,         Portage Skills, Survival Instinct: see RMC Companion 1

            Exceptional Survivalist: as Enhanced Survivalist above, but also gains +10 to Perception.* Cost: 4 BGOs

            Hybrid Ranger: gain access as a Semi-spell user to either Essence or Mentalism. Cost: 2 BGOs            

            Evil Ranger: replace one Base List with an Evil Channeling list. Cost: 2 BGOs (may be selected twice, but second selection costs a further 3 BGOs).

            Terrain Veteran: as Chosen Environment, but the Ranger also gains +20 (to be split between DB & OB each round as desired) and +25 to Initiative (but only in their chosen terrain). Cost: 2 BGOs

            Hunter: +10 to Riding and +15 to Animal Training (Hounds)

            Forester: 5 ranks in Craft (Lumberjack), +15 to Flora Lore, Tracking (in Forests only) and +10 to Battle Axe* Cost: 3 BGOs

            Superior Statistic: +15 to one stat bonus* Cost: 2 BGOs (Can be increased to +20/+25 at a cost of 3 or 4 BGOs respectively). These do not stack.

Options marked ‘*’ may only be selected at level 1.




Primal Ranger

The Primal Ranger has formed an incredibly close bond with nature, so much so that they manifest within themselves both the red-clawed cruelty and gentle calm of the wilds – even, on occasion, at the same time! Primal Rangers approach nature through meditation, dance and ritual. They gain special mastery over themselves and their immediate environment through the use of these skills, but can also descend into the madness and bloodlust of the berserker. In fact, during their fits of rage, they have even been known to shapeshift – if only partially – into animal form.

Specialisations: Body Development 2/4, Channeling 3/9, Dance 1/5, Frenzy 1/3, Meditation 1/4, Perception 2/4, Ritual Lore 2/6, Tracking 1/3.

Inhibited Skills: Rigid Leather 4*/Chain 6*/Plate 8*, Gimmickry 4/10 

Skills (ranks): Body Development 2, Channeling 1, Dance 2, Frenzy 3, Meditation 3, Perception 3, Primary Weapon 1, Ritual Lore 1, Tracking 2.

Background Options (cost 1 unless specified):

            Meditative: +15 to Meditation.

            Directed Weapons Master*: see RMC Companion I

            Animal Companion: gain a Familiar (as per the Gate Mastery or Familiar Law spell lists, except penalty if Familiar dies is -50). If Meditating or Channeling in the presence (within 10’) of the Familiar gain a +10 to skill roll. If casting a spell within 10’ of the Familiar subtract 10 from any ESF penalties. Cost: 2 BGOs

            Frenzied Channeling: whilst Frenzied, if scoring a critical hit on a foe, you may make a Channeling roll at -30. On a successful result, you may transmit one of the following spell effects to your foe: Fear; Blur Vision; Stunning; Diminution (all criticals scored by foe against you are reduced in severity by 1 for 1 rnd/5 failure) or Shudder (foe’s Fumble Range is increased by 1 for 1 rnd/5 failure). All effects require RR vs your ranks in Channeling, modified by in your favour by your IN bonus and in your foe’s favour by their PR bonus. Ability may be used a number of times per day equal to your PP stat bonus (i.e. the amount of PP’s you gain per rank of Power Point Development). Cost: 2 BGOs

            Insightful Dance: whilst making a successful Dance maneuver, you may make a Ritual Lore roll at -15. If successful, you may select and cast one of the following spell effects: Detect Evil, Detect Curse, Detect Hate (ClChan list Lores); Guess (Cleric Base list Communal Ways); Animal Sight I, Animal Sense I (Seer Base list Sense Through Others); Presence, Detect Illusion (Seer Base list True Perception). You must dance for 1 minute/level of spell. Cost: 2 BGOs

            Frenzied Fortitude: if you receive a blow that gives a result of ‘Stunned’ whilst Frenzied, you may offset the penalty for being stunned by the number of ranks you have in Frenzy. In addition, if you receive an injury that imposes a penalty, you may make a Frenzy roll (modified by the total of the injury/stun/magical penalties you currently have, inclusive of penalties already subject to this talent), in order to ignore that penalty for a number of rounds equal to your SD bonus (minimum 1). Where an injury impedes mobility or combat capability significantly (e.g. a broken leg or arm), you may only halve the penalty.

            Greater Frenzied Fortitude:  as Frenzied Fortitude, but you may, if targeted by a mental attack (subtype ‘m’) use your ranks in Frenzy as your level for the purpose of Resistance Rolls whilst Frenzied. Cost: 2BGOs

            Ritualist: 5 ranks in Ritual Lore*

            Frenzied Dispel: if, during Frenzy, you strike a foe protected by a defensive spell (such as those appearing on the lists Shield Mastery or Elemental Shields), the defensive spell must make an RR (attack level= your ranks in Channeling; defender’s level: level of spell) or be dispelled immediately. If there two or more spells in effect, the lowest level spell is targeted.

            Silent Spirit: +10 to Stalk & Hide*

Skill Unlocks:

            Frenzied Leap (qualifier: Frenzy 8, Acrobatics 5): Whilst Frenzied, you may make an Acrobatics roll to jump as if using the Adrenal Leaping skill (no preparation required).

            Endurance (qualifier: Meditation 8, Body Development 5): If you successfully meditate for one hour, you may ignore penalties due to hunger/thirst/fatigue for up to one hour per rank in Meditation. At the end of this period, however, all penalties take immediate effect. This ability can only be used once in a 24 hour period.

            Frenzied Casting (qualifier: Frenzy 10, Meditation 15): Whilst Frenzied, you may cast instantaneous spells only with an ESF penalty of 30.

            Power Meditation (qualifier: Meditation 15, Channeling 15): You may make a Meditation roll at -20 to regain PPs at the rate of 5/hour of meditation. This ability can only be used once in a 24 hour period.

            Demoralising Strike (qualifier: Meditation 10, Channeling 8): if you successfully score a critical strike against a foe, you may make a Channeling roll at -25. If this roll is successful, your foe must make an RR vs. Channeling (with your level as the attack level) or suffer one of the following penalties (your choice): ESF penalty of 20 on all spell-casting attempts; -20 penalty to OB; -20 penalty to Adrenal Moves; or -20 penalty to Fear-related Resistance Rolls. All effects last 1 round per 5/failure. This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

            Spiritual Signature: (qualifier: Meditation 15, Tracking 10): On making a successful Tracking maneuver, you may then make a -30 Meditation skill roll. If this roll succeeds, you become attuned to the individual (or, if many individuals, one of them) you are tracking. You gain +20 to all maneuvers to Track this individual for a number of hours equal to your Memory bonus (minimum of 1). This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

            Discern Temperament: (qualifier: Meditation 10, Perception 15): on first acquaintance with a humanoid or appropriate creature (some Demons, other planar creatures), you may make a Perception roll (adding your ranks in Meditation as a bonus and subtracting the level of the target). If you are successful, you are able to partially read their inner character. This will grant you knowledge of their outlook (as per Creatures and Treasures), basic emotional tone, and if using an appropriate system, their alignment. This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

            Turn Animal (qualifier: Channeling 5, Fauna Lore 5): Twice per PL per day, you may make a Channeling roll in order to scare an animal such that it runs away for 1 round/your ranks in Fauna Lore. The animal’s level multiplied by 5 is subtracted from your Channeling roll.                                

            Ritual of Blessing (qualifier: Ritual Lore 13, Dance 5, Meditation 10, Channeling 5): After making a successful Ritual Lore maneuver and Dancing for 5 minute/level of spell effect, you may make a Meditation roll at -5 (per level of spell effect) in order to cast a spell from the Cleric Base List Protections. You may not cast a spell of a level higher than you have ranks in Channeling, and the duration of the effect is equivalent to 1 minute/rank in Channeling. This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

            Plantspeech (qualifier: Ritual Lore 8, Meditation 10, Flora Lore 8): After making a successful Ritual Lore maneuver, you may make a Meditation roll at -15. If successful, you may – whilst remaining in trance – mentally ‘communicate’ with any one plant. You are unable to coerce the plant into dialogue, and the plant is able to lie, deceive, threaten or gossip according to its aims and level of communication skill. This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

            Greater Plantspeech (qualifier: Ritual Lore 12, Meditation 15, Flora Lore 10, Interrogation 8, Seduction 6, must already possess the Plantspeech Skill Unlock): as Plantspeech, but requires a successful Ritual Lore maneuver at -30, and a Meditation roll at -25. If successful you may force the plant to ‘speak’ with you, and compel honest communication. (This does not preclude the possibility of malign disclosures, and of attempts by the target plant to intimidate, overawe or confuse you, if it has the capacity to do so. This ability may be utilised once per day.

            Sense Nature’s Mood (qualifier: Meditation 5, Flora Lore 6, Fauna Lore 6, Perception 4): Upon making a successful Meditation roll (using your ranks in Flora Lore and Fauna Lore as a bonus), you may make a Perception roll to discern the spiritual/emotional ‘tone’ of your immediate environment (e.g. placid, threatened, joyful, harmonious, angry, etc.). This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

            Improved Frenzied Casting (qualifier: Frenzy 12, Meditation 18, Spell-Mastery [in one specific spell] 6, must already possess the Frenzied Casting Skill Unlock): you may select one spell (in which you have Spell Mastery sufficient to qualify) that you may now cast as if it were instantaneous with an ESF modifier of 30, whilst Frenzied. You may use this ability once per day. You may purchase this Skill Unlock multiple times. Each time you may either (a) nominate a different spell, (b) reduce the ESF modifier by 10 (not below 0, however) or (c) increase the number of uses per day by one (to a maximum of 3 daily uses).

            Conveyance (qualifier: Meditation 18, Perception 10): You may make a meditation roll at -30 to send your awareness ‘out of body’ to any location within a 10’ radius/ranks in Perception. You can only maintain this effect for a number of rounds equal to your Meditation skill. While you are in this disembodied state you cannot interact with the world in any way other than to observe, and your body is completely helpless. All five senses are active as if you were bodily in the location of your awareness, but you yourself are invisible to any of the five senses. Certain spells can detect your presence (GM discretion). You may use this ability once per PL per day.

            Wild Assault (qualifier: Frenzy 10, Fauna Lore 18, Channeling 12): Whilst Frenzied, you may make a Channeling roll (of varying difficulty; see below) in order to create and wield a spiritual ‘animal’ attack. This temporarily grants you mystical appendages as required. The difficulty is determined by the attack style you wish to use, as follows: Small Stinger/Grapple/Bash (-10); Small Claw/Bite/Trample/Beak (-15); Medium Stinger/Grapple/Bash (-20); Medium Claw/Bite/Trample/Beak (-25); Large Stinger/Grapple/Bash (-40); Large Claw/Bite/Trample/Beak (-50). The ability lasts for 1 round/PL, and all attacks with this weapon are treated as magical for the purpose of determining damage and criticals. To add poison to any Stinger attacks, the penalty is doubled, and the severity of any poison is limited to Moderate.   This ability may be utilised once per PL per day.

All RM material quoted here is copyright; 2002-2017 by Iron Crown Enterprises Ltd. All rights reserved. No reproductions without permission.

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