Rolemaster Playtest Part 2

A quick post that summarizes my thoughts on the Rolemaster Public Playtest.

Character Law – Stat Generation

So I sat down to make a character and ran into the first big difference that made me go “Huh!”. The same ten character statistics are there, but the way that they are generated is different from all previous versions of Rolemaster; there are two methods:

  1. Random Roll Method: Roll a D100 three times for each stat in order; re-roll a ten or less, then drop the lowest roll and use the middle toll for the temporary stat and the highest for the potential stat.
  2. Points Purchase Method: Use 355 points to purchase the potential stats on the Stat Point Costs table, then use 55 points on the same table to buy your temporary stats.

I thought they both sounded rubbish. Then I made up a couple of characters, they came out quite well and I then realized what tripped me up. In previous versions of Rolemaster there were two kinds of stat bonuses: shit and godlike, and characters with shit stat bonuses kinda weren’t viable. In our games this meant you kept rolling stats until you got the least crap version.

In the new Rolemaster the new smoothed stat bonuses fit well with the stat generation system and you get very viable starting characters. Stat bonuses are not as extreme as Rolemaster 2/Classic and stats do not overshadow skill rank bonuses. Remember a level 1 character is supposed to be just starting their career, not a master in hiding.

Character Law – Skills

Skill categories have been done away with, and I can understand why. They were a great answer to the question “How should related skills work?”, but added too much overhead to character generation and leveling. The skill list has also been pared down, and there is a new skill: Vocation.

Vocation (Em/Me/Re)Every occupation includes a lot of small skills that are not covered by any other skill in this list. A sailor may know how to tie knots, a valet may know exactly the right clothing to wear to a winter ball, a soldier knows whom and how to salute, an office worker knows how to type, etc. A specific occupation or field must be specified when ranks in this skill are developed, and any actions that the player can justify, and the GM accepts, may be attempted with this skill. This skill may not be used to duplicate any other skill; if you want to train that ability, you must learn that skill. Vocation is intended as a general catch-all for the multitude of minor skills that are not of themselves worthy of being made into a specific skill.

Specializations: Advertising, Barber, Begging, Caving, Farmer, Guide, Military Organization, Miner, Sailing, Scribing, Seneschal, Teacher, Trapper, Valet, etc.

Vocation knocks my socks off. it is a catch-all skill to cover the general stuff that any one of the chosen profession should know and effectively shuts the door on some skill creep.

Spell Law

I’ve only had a quick look at Spell Law and compared the Magician’s spell lists with Rolemaster RFP. All the same spells are there; some spells have been renamed to be more consistent and/or accurate. The big change I noticed was that there are now spells for every level which was a nice touch.

I could get away with using my Rolemaster FRP Spell Law books instead of picking up the new Spell Law, but I won’t for one simple reason – layout. I find the layout on the new Rolemaster to hugely user friendly and it works for skimming to find specific rules as well and is nice to read. The layout along with the nice clean rules make this my favourite version of Rolemaster so far.

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