The Rolemaster Public playtest is underway, you can register over at the Iron Crown forums and download the files yourself if you like. Character Law and Spell Law were released on 28th September, and Arms Law was released on 16th October.
I’ve had a quick read through of Character Law and here are my thoughts…
Character Law – First Impressions
There are two major improvements that I haven’t seen a lot of comments about on the forums, probably because the people on the forums are already Rolemaster fans.
1. The layout is good and the chapters flow. This is a huge improvement over Rolemaster FRP, FRP was a good system, but the layout was a dogs breakfast. The chapter on professions told you how to pick one, but then you had to flip to an appendix to see what the professions were. This meant that anyone picking up the book in a game store could not get a feel for the game.
If they stick with this layout a person can easily get a feel for the game, move through the character creation and pick up the rules quickly. A decent layout is crucial for picking up new players.
2. It does not assume that reader has played Rolemaster before. Rolemaster FRP seemed to be written for Rolemaster fans, or at least people that had played previous versions a lot. This version is written for everyone, again this is something that will make it easier for ICE to attract new customers.
Most commentary on the forums is focused on the system itself, which is great, however the ICE will be looking to sell this game to a wider audience.
Things I Liked
These are just a few of the few of the things that stood out for me on my (very quick) read through:
1. Definition of what a Rolemaster Profession is. One of the common flame-bait topics has been around professions, with people arguing that they are like jobs and characters should be able to swap them around just as we change jobs in the real world. However in Rolemaster a profession was more like a vocation or something that you showed aptitude in, rather than just a job. In the new Character Law they explain it clearly:
A Profession which is an archetype which defines which skills the character finds easier or harder to learn, which will tend to shape the character’s development.
(Chapter 7) Rolemaster Professions are not Professions in the typical sense of a job or occupation. They determine how difficult it is to learn skills and thus make it easier for a character to focus on certain abilities, while making others more difficult to learn, but not impossible.
This is a good example of them not taking any prior knowledge for granted and also making it clear for players what they are choosing when they select a profession.
2. A set number of development points each level. This not only removes time from character creation and leveling up, it also removes players weighting the development stats to get the most points possible. And besides, most PCs had a similar amount of points as well.
3. Stat Bonuses are smoothed out and start a lot sooner. This means you don’t need to have the best stats every just of be a middling adventurer, it also keeps Rolemaster true to it’s roots by making skill the true measure of a PC’s power rather than uber stats.
That’s what I’ve picked up so far. I’ll continue this after making a character which will let me test the stat generation system. Oh and things I didn’t like; there’s only one, the Warrior Mage is missing.