Saturday, May 30, 2009

That's How I Rolemaster

I was perusing the shelves of a used bookstore with the missus and a friend of ours today when said friend plucked from the shelves a boxed set of Rolemaster, 2nd edition. Though I have only heard generally negative things about it, I am a rabid, uncontrollable collector of old gaming things, plus it was only fifteen bucks for a set containing Character Law/Campaign Law, Arms/Claw Law, and Spell Law.

First impressions: Holy charts, Batman!

Second impression: Holy fucking charts, Batman!

Although I am loathe to use Ron Edwards' terminology, this seems like a Fantasy Heartbreaker of the first order. (In fact, Character Law recommends swiping AD&D's magic system for the poor soul who is without Spell Law) I get the impression that the authors had houseruled an AD&D game to the point where it wasn't AD&D, and eventually it became Rolemaster. I have absolutely nothing to back this up, it is just the vibe I get from the game.

It will likely be a long time before I'm able to devote time to wading through the complexity and the hot chart action, as I am starting my AD&D1 game in eleven days.

...gah, I'm running out of space on the gaming shelf. I have nobody to blame but myself.


  1. I love Rolemaster and used to play it alot and still love it. They made a series of books called 'Companions' and those are filled to overflow (like everything else in the game) with tons of ideas and spells and classes and whatnot.

  2. Charts get a bad reputation. Not quite sure why people don't give a damn about memorizing a fuckton of equations quiver in fear when confronted with a chart.

    Your instincts are pretty spot on as to the origin of RM. The game was originally designed as a series of bolt-on systems for AD&D and RuneQuest and eventually grew into its own system.

    I think RM is tons of fun, and what I consider my best campaign was run using that game. It's extremely flexible and open to endless tinkering (the Companions Ragnorakk mentioned are full of such tinkering), and when you're in the mood for endless tweaking no matter what side of the screen you sit on, nothing's better.

    Once you get past the poor organization and such, you'll see that most of the game is based off of one or two mechanics. Really not nearly as bad as it seems. I eventually made it even simpler, using the Maneuver Chart for just about everything outside combat and magic.

    Combats can get a bit boggy if everyone in your group is not pitching in. Everyone does need to be paying attention during the session. The game appeals to a certain type, I guess, so your more social/casual gamer might not enjoy it.

    If nothing else, RM is a great idea mine for AD&D house rules.

  3. Gentlemen,

    I am very much looking forward to digging through the innards of this system...just as soon as I finish this linguistics class I'm taking and I get AD&D nailed down. XD

  4. I had to do a complete rehaul of my gaming shelf. When you find those unusual gems you have to buy them or all you do is think "Damn, I should have bought that."

  5. Yes, indeed. Role Master is a lot of fun, I love the critical hits. Fond memories, but I couldn't run a campaign using it.

  6. Ah Rolemaster, my first of many affairs I've had with games not-D&D.

    Rolemaster is worth it just for MERP Middle Earth Roleplaying.

    HARP is a "modern" simplified version with free "lite rules" download.

    Guild Companion is an interesting RM E-zine.

    I really dig RM's three way magic system. And for the rest of the system I love all the crunch, except when it actually comes to using it in a game.

    It's a great simulation... Perfect for world building. Always thought it would be good mechanics for a computer RPG.