Friday 6 January 2023

Rolemaster Revisited: The Saboteur Build for the Delver

The Delver might just possibly be one of the more excoriated RM professions, so I, of course, always rather liked it. One of the memorable early NPCs in my New Kingdoms campaign was the dreaded Johlard, the "White Rat", a diabolical conniver and chief lieutenant of the Montesist faction in the strife-riven city if Sabahris. When I made him, I wasn't aware of the comparative lack of utility (other similar professions, such as the Nightblade, Montebanc and Sleuth tend to exceed the Delver's capabilities in combat, stealth, trickery and information gathering). I didn't find Johlard particularly underpowered, until I made a Sleuth NPC of similar level: after that, I didn't really use the Delver again. As written, they're slightly worse than the Bard in terms of combat, but the Base Spell Lists are kind of odd, and for the most part very weak in terms of combat (Delvers are very good with regard to mechanical and crafting skills, however). 

It wasn't until the Delver reappeared in the Alchemy Companion that I realised that this was in fact their proper place: they really are focused on the material side of things, with their analytical and crafting spells, and their ability to imbed spells into symbols provides a genuine twist. They're a kind of academic-artisan-thief, which is an odd combination, quite hard to pull off in a roleplaying sense but potentially very rewarding if done right.

As one of the few RM2 professions to survive into the RMC revision the Delver is fair game for my own RM houseruled version, so here it is (similar treatments exist for the Rogue and Ranger elsewhere on this blog), along with the Saboteur build - an elaboration of the Delver that seems to me to be a natural fit with the Delver's existing focus.

 The Delver

Level Bonus/Development Costs: Delver

Spell Lists: Semi-spell user.

Realm: Essence

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

Acute Hearing: as per Character Law (p.64). May be selected with or without the accompanying drawback. Cost (with drawback) 1 BGO (without drawback) 2 BGOs.

Acute Smell: as per Character Law (p.63). May be selected with or without the accompanying drawback. Cost (with drawback) 1 BGO (without drawback) 2 BGOs.

Alchemical Tutelage: nominate one Alchemist Base list. You may learn this list, and the Alchemist Base list Alchemical Preparations as Open lists.* Cost: 2 BGOs. May only be selected once.

Ambidexterity: no penalty for off-hand weapon use*.

Arcane Tutelage: nominate one Closed Essence or Essence Base list. You may learn this list as an Open list of your own realm.* Cost: 1 BGO (Closed List); 2 BGOs (Hybrid or Semi-Essence Base List); 3 BGOs (Illusionist or Magician Base). May only be selected twice.

Assassin Training*, Danger Sense, Equipper, Eye of the Tiger, Immovable Will, Light Sleeper, Lucky*, Mana Sensing*, Martial Arts Training*, Natural Facility with Armor*, Portage Skill, Resistance*, Subtle, Survival Instinct, Trained Regular Footman, Transcendence*: see RMC Companion 1.

Divine Tutelage: nominate one Channeling list. You may learn this list as a Closed list of your own realm.* Cost: 1 BGO (Open Channeling List); 2 BGOs (Closed Channeling List); 3 BGOs (Hybrid or Semi-Channeling Base List); 4 BGOs (Pure Channeling Base List). May only be selected twice.

Evil Delver: you may replace one of your Base lists with an Evil Essence list.* Cost: 2 BGOs (may be selected twice, but second selection costs a further 3 BGOs).

Innate Magician I: You may nominate one spell list in which your ESF modifiers are reduced by 10. May be selected more than once, for a different list each time.  

Lightning Reflexes: as per Character Law (p.64). May be selected with or without the accompanying drawback. Cost (with drawback) 2 BGOs (without drawback) 3 BGOs.

Magic Knack I: One of the following Spell Lists is learned at half cost: Detecting Ways, Elemental Shields, Essence’s Perceptions, Lesser Illusions, Physical Enhancement, Rune Mastery, Spell Wall*. May only be selected twice

Magic Knack II: One of the following spell lists is learned at half cost: Living Change, Lofty Mastery, Rapid Ways, Spell Reins* Cost: 2 BGOs. May only be selected once.

Magical Trickster: Reduce ESF modifier for casting spells with no free hand by 2/rank in the Trickery skill, to a minimum of 10*. May only be selected once.

Mental Tutelage: nominate one Mentalism list. You may learn this list as a Closed list of your own realm.* Cost: 1 BGO (Open Mentalism List); 2 BGOs (Closed Mentalism List); 3 BGOs (Hybrid or Semi-Mentalism Base List); 4 BGOs (Pure Mentalism Base List). May only be selected twice.

Nimble: as per Character Law (p.64). May be selected with or without the accompanying drawback. Cost (with drawback) 1 BGO (without drawback) 2 BGOs.

Potent Meditation: you may make a Sheer Folly Meditation roll in order to regain 1 PP/rank in Meditation in 1 minute. Failure on this Meditation roll causes a violent backlash that drains you of all PPs for 1 day per # of PPs you attempted to regain. You also take 3d10 hits of damage and are stunned for 1d10 minutes.  Associated Drawback: Your odd relationship with ambient Essence means that every spell you cast has an ESF modifier of 10 (in addition to any other modifiers), unless you expend double the PP requirement of the spell. Cost (with drawback) 1 BGO (without drawback) 2 BGOs.  

Power I: Up to 5 ranks in any spell list.* Cost is 1+1 BGO/ranks selected. All standard ESF modifiers apply. May only be selected once.

Quick Caster: Reduce ESF mod for casting spells without full preparation to 2/rank in Perception, to a minimum of 10*. May only be selected once.

Skilful: 5 ranks in Acrobatics, Appraisal, Caving, Contortions, Crafting, Lock Lore, Metal Lore, Rope Mastery, Smithing, Spell Lore, Stone-carving, Stone Lore, Streetwise, Symbol Lore, Trading, Trap-building, Trickery or Tumbling*. May be selected multiple times, for a different skill.

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.


The Saboteur is a Delver specializing in stealth, urban skills and throwing things that explode...They are very capable when creating incendiaries, and have developed techniques to magically charge the explosives they create with spell-like effects.  

Specialisations: Athletic Games (Discus) 2, Channeling 4, Climbing 4, Stalk & Hide 3, Thrown Weapons 2/8.

Inhibited Skills: none.  

Skills (ranks): Athletic Games (Discus) 1, Body Development 1, Chemistry 3, Climbing 1, Crafting (Ceramics) 3, Gimmickry 1, Perception 3, Stalk & Hide 2, Streetwise 1, Trap-building 1, Thrown Weapons (Grenade) 1.

Background Options (cost 1 unless specified): 

Alertness: +10 to Perception.

Demolition Man: +15 to LoreTechnical (Architecture or Engineering) or Stone-carving (Masonry), only when attempting to locate and capitalize on weak points in the construction of large structures. 

Grenadier: +10 to Thrown Grenade

Magic Theoretician: you may develop the Spell Mastery skill in the following spells, even though you may not have the ability to cast them: 

Call of the Wild (Animal Mastery)

Blur Vision, Fear, Stumble, Fumble (Confusing Ways)

Dispel Channeling Sphere I, Dispel Essence Sphere I, Dispel Essence Sphere V, Dispel Mentalism Sphere I (Dispelling Ways)

Vibrations I, Vibrations II, Vibrations III, Vibrations IV (Essence Hand)

Tear Cloud I, Tear Cloud II (Feel-Taste-Smell)

Call Flame (Fire Law)

Call Cold (Ice Law)

Darkness (Light Law)

Sudden Light (Light Molding)

Mind Blank I, Mind Blank III (Mind Death)

Disorientation, Unbalance, Distortion (Mind Destruction)

Minor Poison, Major Poison (Poison Mastery)

Silence I, Silence II, (Sound Molding)

Sleep V, Sleep VII, Confusion (Spirit Mastery)

Fog, Stun Cloud I, Stun Cloud II (Wind Law) 

You may not develop Spell Mastery in any of these spells until you have a number of ranks in the Spell Lore skill equivalent to the level of the spell you wish to study. Cost 3 BGOs.†  

Master Incendiarist: +15 to Chemistry (only to craft explosives)

Skilful: 5 ranks in one of: Appraisal, Athletic Games (Discus), Chemistry, Cookery, Crafting (Ceramics), Gimmickry, Meditation, Poison Lore, Smithing, Spell Lore, Spell Mastery, Streetwise, or Trickery.* May be selected multiple times, for a different skill.

this background option is primarily to allow access to certain spells that can be used - with difficulty - to empower the Saboteur’s incendiaries with different magical effects. The Saboteur ‘mimics’ the spell effect by developing formulae (using the Gimmickry and Chemistry skills, subject to certain limitations outlined in the appropriate Skill Unlock entry, below). The components for these formulae are usually chemical compounds, but also include herbs, body parts from all manner of creatures, an investment of Power Points, and the inscription of an appropriate glyph on the incendiary device itself.

Skill Unlocks: 

Barefaced (qualifier: Acting 10, Falsification 8, Trickery 8): once per day/PL, you may make an Acting maneuver (Very Hard), using the Moving Maneuver table, and subtract the result from any Perception rolls (by those attempting to discern deception). Each time you use this ability - with regard to the same targets and the same deception - the difficulty reduces in severity by one degree. However, should you fail, further attempts to deceive these targets - on any matter - require a result of over 100 on an Absurd Acting maneuver.

Underworld Brawler (qualifier: Streetwise 10, Perception 8, Contortions or Tumbling 10): years of life in the seedier parts of cities and their subterranean underside have honed your reflexes and alertness. You can, if engaged in unarmed combat in an appropriate site (close quarters, crowded streets, barroom brawls), add your ranks in Streetwise to your OB and your ranks in Contortions or Tumbling (whichever is higher) to your DB. 

        Variable Effects (qualifier: Gimmickry 8, Chemistry 10, Spell Lore 4 ranks (distributed between at least two spells), Channeling 4, Symbol Lore 4): you can create spell-like effects with your explosives, although the procedure to do so is very complicated. as a prerequisite, you must have developed Spell Lore for the individual spell you wish to simulate (see Magical Theoretician, above).

        The procedure is as follows: The Saboteur must make a research roll using their Spell Lore skill in the appropriate spell, rolling on the Medium column of the Moving Manuever Table. The resulting number is then added to a Gimmickry roll on the Extremely Hard column of the MM table. The number generated by this second roll represents the efficacy of the generated formula and is added to all checks hereafter.

        The Saboteur then makes a Chemistry roll with a modifier of -10 per level of the spell simulated on the Static Maneuver table. This (and all subsequent steps) is an all-or-nothing roll: if it fails, the components are destroyed and the quest for a new formula to accurately mimic the spell's effects begins anew (i.e., the process must recommence, and the formula generated by the previous Gimmickry roll has been revealed as flawed).

        Assuming success, the components are then charged with a number of Power Points (equivalent to double the amount to cast the spell in the normal manner), using a standard Channeling roll (all normal Channeling rules apply). Finally, the process is completed by the etching of an appropriate glyph (this is checked using the Symbol Lore skill; if this is unsuccessful, the Power Points invested in the previous stage are lost, and the process returns to that stage).

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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