Friday, November 19, 2010

MERP/Rolemaster: The Example that Broke the Camel's Back

This is a post I had half-written in the back of my head and had been meaning to post, but getting caught up on JB's blog, I noticed a post where he bemoaned the same thing I was going to, which motivated me to sit down and pound this out.

I was recently skimming through game books, trying to find something that rekindled my DM mojo. (As much as I'd love to have my AD&D campaign back, I think everyone else has moved on) I tried to give MERPS a second chance, but about ten minutes into that fiasco, I came across an example of movement during a combat round. Unless I'm mistaken, you have to roll for moving...and you can fail... and if you fail, you fail to move.
Yes, unless I somehow misinterpreted the example, you have to roll to see how far you can move, and failure appears to indicate that you somehow do not move.

Rolemaster can officially go and fuck itself. I think I'll be ebaying this shit right off my shelf.

**even if it turns out that I'm wrong, I find Rolemaster/MERP to be needlessly complex. In the words of some of my less-motivated students, "Maaan, that's doin' too much."


  1. I played MERP a few times, but it was waaaaay over my head. I did love reading the supplements, though. Beautiful maps and jammed with neat info.

  2. Hahaha! That's ridiculous! I never actually spent the moolah on the MERP basic set.

    There was a LotR adventure game that I believe was a simplified version of MERP, I had that and it was cool, but had no rules for advancement or monsters other than the ones included in the beginning adventure.

  3. When I ran MERP and Spacemaster back in the day I ran it like I did my AD&D... Using thevrules I liked and ignoring what I didn't.

    Same with most RPGs.

  4. We played a lot of Rolemaster 3 but we mostly ignored the movement rules.

    It was a lot of fun but unless the GM knows what he is doing (ours did) and everyone has weapons and spell charts (we did not) , the game bogs down.

    Also Char-Gen is glacial. I have plenty of RM experience but making a 5th level character (about 3rd in D&D terms) took 30+ minutes with a spread sheet.

    I can make one for say Pathfinder in half that by hand ..

  5. In high school my friends attempted to play MERP, since a few of them were almost competitively Tolkien fans. It was rough. I think I recall instances where I couldn't move in our first sessions, and from then on I tried to develop strategies that didn't risk failing movement, which is idiotic. "Don't put yourself into a situation where you may have to move."

    By 1am, most of those games devolved, sadly enough, into romantic encounters with female elves resolved on the d% critical tables, which was all the pathetic comedy we could wring out of that rotten-ass game.

  6. Tenkar- From what I can tell, removing all the stuff I don't like about Rolemaster would essentially leave me with AD&D1. Rather than spend time gutting a game I don't like, I think maybe it's a better use of my time to just play a game that I do.

  7. Speaking of examples, I remember reading through the RM corebook and coming across two examples of the "muscle strain" and "permanent nerve damage rules". They revolved around a dwarf trying to shave his back hair and pulling a muscle and another character pinching a nerve when trying to reach an awkwardly-placed toilet paper roll while sitting on a toilet.

    Ten years later the books are long-since eBay'd, but I'm still not sure if those examples are the stupidest or most brilliant rules examples I've ever read.

  8. Never had a problem with MERP per/se. I have allot of RM and Rmfrp gming experience and I love the system, I also love cyberspace and space master privateers all go IMO.

  9. I have never played Rolemaster of MERP, but will take your and JB's comments as a warning.

  10. Man, we played the heck out of RM and MERP back in the day. We did not find it all that complicated but my brother, always the DM, did go on to become an engineer so maybe its a matter of tolerances for math and lookups. I'd still play it, given the chance.

    We never played that you had to roll make movement maneuvers outside of combat or peril, though. It's pretty hard to imagine the circumstances where you actually fail to move at all, but a bad roll will make you move some fraction of your maximum rate, and a fumble could result in a trip or much, much worse. But the rolls were always for climbimg/jumping/acrobatics, not walking. Maybe we were not adhering strictly to the rules.

    But it sounds like you have other issues with the rules so I wouldn't sweat it, there are plenty of other games out there.

  11. Hahaha! This is the kind of blog post *I* write all the time! Ryan, I come to you for your "kinder, gentler" take on things!
    ; )

  12. MERP is one of my all time favourite games. Some of my fondest gaming memories involve running MERP. I never found the rules that difficult (no more than AD&D), but simply poorly organized.

    Sorry you didn't like it.