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Author Topic: What my RM Revision would have looked like - Part I  (Read 386 times)

Offline Rasyr

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What my RM Revision would have looked like - Part I
« on: November 17, 2021, 12:37:49 PM »
Originally posted June 30, 2012

Over on, it was recently revealed that prior to the company that I used to work for losing the ICE/Rolemaster license, that I had developed and written a Rolemaster Revision. I was about to turn it into the company for release as an Open Beta, to get some final, more widespread playtesting done before its official release when they lost the license.

Since it has recently been revealed that I wrote this revision, I thought that it might be a good idea to describe it to folks, telling about how I did certain things, and what I think a Rolemaster Revision should actually look like. Now, this is quite likely going to take several installments to fully describe it in as much detail as I want, as I am planning on discussing some of the reasoning behind certain design decisions (something I never got the chance to do before being told that it wasn’t going to be published). Anyways, read on to see the first installment…

The last playtest PDF was 122 pages long and it still needed an index added to it, so likely would have ended up being 128 pages in total, if there were no other additions made. THe credits page listed 30+ playtesters, some of whom were RMSS fans, others who were RMC fans, and even one or two who were not really hardcore RM fans to begin with, but who had agreed to participate in the playtest.


We start off by defining the types of Professions (Non, Pure, & Semi), and under each type description, I put the description for the Professions of that type. Each profession description consisted of a paragraph or two describing the profession, the Level bonuses for the Profession (+1 to +3, per level, on various skills important to the Profession — note: further playtesting via an Open Beta may have changed this to a single static bonus, it was something that was still under discussion and the plan was to allow the Open Beta to decide it) and a section listing the 2 most important stats for that profession. If the profession was a magic using one, I also include a list of that professions base lists along with a sentence that basically describes that spell list.

Very careful consideration was given to determine which professions were included. The idea was to make sure the main archetypes were represented and that all three realms were also included. The Professions are:

    Fighter – got +3/lvl to one weapon group, +2/lvl to all others — allowing him to be a specialist in one group.
  • Thief – your standard stealthy character type, good at picking locks and disarming traps. He also was allowed to choose at least 1 skill that was to recieve a level bonus (most were pre-determined).
  • Cleric – A Pure Spell User of Channeling, he got 10 base spell lists, 6 predefined lists, and 4 lists of his choice from the available Open and Closed lists from the Realm of Channeling. The GM could allow him access to other spell lists (from any realm) as Base Lists based upon the deity that the character worshipped. He also got to choose some skills to receive a level bonus, and as a Pure spell user could sacrifice one of those choices to increase the number of Power Points he got each level by 1 point.
  • Magician – A Pure Spell User of Essence, the Magician received 10 base spell lists, 6 predefined and 4 that he got to choose from the available Open and Closed Essence Spell Lists. Like the Cleric, he could also sacrifice one of his level bonus skill choices to increase the number of Power Points he got each level by 1 point.
  • Pathfinder – A Semi Spell User from the Realm of Mentalism, this Porfession filled several niches at once. The role of a Semi, of the realm of mentalism, and of a wilderness-oriented character. Semi spell users only have 6 base spell lists, and the Pathfinder was allowed to choose his base lists from the 6 lists given for his profession and the availabel Open and Closed Mentalism spell lists. While a player choosing an Open or Closed list over one of the given base lists was unlikely, it was always possible.

Note: Any profession that did not choose one of its predefined spell lists as a base list will thereafter treat that list as an Open Spell List for that particular character.

Professions are also what set the costs of skills that the characters were allowed to learn. More on Skills later.


The Revision included 4 races. Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings. The stat bonuses for them were in roughly the same ranges as from RMSS (i.e. +0 to +10 maximum with +2 to +5 being the average). The stats also include modifiers for Resistance Rolls, Base Hits (the number of hit points every character started with), Hits per Rank (a flat number representing how many hits were gained per rank of the skill Body Development), and Max Hits, the racial maximum number of hits points that an average member of the race would have.

Next up was the racial descriptions themselves. These included paragraphs describing the race’s general appearance, their general demeanor/attitudes, their Background Skills (see below) and any special abilities that the race may have. For example, Humans were highly adaptable, so their abilities included allowing the player to spread some stat bonus points amount the various stats, and another allowed the player to alter the costs of a few skills and he also got to place a static bonus in 2 specific skills of his choice. Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings each had their own racial abilities as well. And between their stat bonuses and their racial abilities, all of the races were roughly balanced against one another.

Background Skills – Each race came with a listing of specific free skill ranks that the character gained from growing up in the most common background of the race. Humans actually had 4 sets of background skills to choose from. However, players were allowed to swap out the set of background skills for their race with any of the others to represent growing up in a different culture than the norm.


Next up was stat generation. The Revision allowed for using a pregenerated array of stats and for rolling stats in a random fashion. There were both Temporary (i.e. current) and Potential (i.e. max) Stats. Once the Temporary Stats were generated (using array or random), next up was to determine the Potentials.

Players could choose either the Static or Random methods, but had to apply that method to determining all potentials. In either case, a number is determined, and this number is added to the Temporary Stat to give its Potential Stat.

Stat Bonuses – These ranged from -10 to +14 (for a 102) and were based on the Temporary Stat Value. The Stat bonus table also determined how many Power Points a spell user got each level, based upon the Temporary Stat Value.

Development Points — in prior versions of Rolemaster, this was determined by the character’s stats. As many people have mentioned over the years, this was broken (and here isn’t the place to go into how it was broken, go visit the ICE forums for that discussion). For the revision, I decided (and the playtesters ALL heartily approved) to use a static number of Development Points per level. I gave players 70 points to spend at first level, and he then got 35 points per level for each additional level. Even though characters got double the normal DPs at first level, this was still only a single level of development, so limits on how many ranks of skills could be purchased was still in effect. Players could spend DPs on individual skill ranks, on Training Packages (which gave away from skill ranks), and on Gifts (i.e. Talents, skills that usually never improved once learned, and/or other special abilities).

Additional Stats – This included things like figuring Power Points, Hits points, Movement Rate, Fate Points, and Resistance Roll Modifiers. Each was relatively simple to figure out and usually based on something else.

Resistance Rolls – I want to point out that here is where I made a relatively major change. In previous versions of Rolemaster, there were up to 7 types of RRs (one for each magical realm, including Arcane, one for diseases, one for poisons, and one for fear), and they usually involved comparing the level of the character against the level of the attack on the table to find out what the player has to roll over, and then rolling and adding in the modifiers. I tried to simplify that a bit. In the Stats section, there is a table that provides a bonus to RRs based on the character’s level (this being added to the racial modifier, and intended to be pre-calculated). In the Running Rolemaster section, there was another small table which listed the attack level of the effect, and the Target Number of the Resistance Roll. GM basically says okay, roll xx or higher to resist this. The end result is the same as before, but the whole process is speeded up as the GM doesn’t have to cross-reference 2 different levels to get a target number. Instead, he looks it up (a simpler look-up than a cross-reference, and it also takes less space, making it easier to include in a GM Screen later on) and tells the player what type of RR to roll.

Another major change in Resistance Rolls is that I reduced the number of rolls from 7 or so down to 3: Mental, Magical, & Physical. Now, the names sound similar to HARP, but the mechanics are still pure RM, if expressed in a slightly different manner. The idea was that all physical effects would be under the one RR type (regardless of whether they were caused by magic or not), all mental under one RR type, and then anything left over would fall under magical if another type was not specified.

Additionally, there was always the opportunity to include realm-specific modifiers (i.e. +15 versus Essence spells), and there could have also been a later option that introduced realm modifiers across the board.


The Revision contained a core list of 31 skills. However, 15 of those skills required that the player purchase specializations of the base skill. Now, the skill system itself, was designed (due to Development Points being Static) to be pulled and replaced in a single chunk for the implementing of a more RMSS-like skill system for those who wanted more detail overall.

It was apparent to me, after all the time spent discussing RM with folks from both the RMC and RMFRP camps that there was essentially no way to reconcile the two since the main point of contention was the skill system itself (simple skill list versus cat/skill system). Therefore, it seemed to me that the best solution was to provide BOTH. The simpler as the core, and then the more in-depth skill system as an option that could easily be converted to. The reasoning being that it is always easier to add complexity/detail than it is to remove it later one.

Adrenal Moves was one of those skills that required specialization. Combat Skills also required specialization, but there were now only 2 costs, Melee and Ranged. Players were free to swap the costs of the two (but only once) in case they wanted a character who preferred to be a ranged specialist. There were 16 weapon groups in total, 4 of which could be either ranged or melee, thus giving an actual total of 20 weapon groups (counting the ranged and melee versions of a group separately). Maneuvering in Armor was now a single skill, and learning spell lists was spread across 3 skills, once each for Open, Closed, & Base Spell Lists.

Training Packages — These were groups of skills that could be purchased at a discount. Each Training Package had a specific single cost based upon what it contained. I wasn’t fully happy with this since it meant that different professions got better discounts on the training packages, but it was much better than how it was done in RMSS/RMFRP where we ended up with a spreadsheet containing over 10,000 individual Training Package costs. Later on in the Revision, in the Running Rolemaster section was a small sub-section that explained how Training Packages were created as I wasn’t going to mimic the idiocy of the original ICE where they kept tweaking and changing the TP cost formula between each book, causing confusion on why smaller packages ended up costing more overall. Open Beta testing would have shown how viable this actually would have been.

Gifts were included simply to be sure that they were there, so that adding them in later on didn’t change the basic power level of the game itself.Only a few were included as there wasn’t a lot of room, and I was actually, aiming for as low a page count as possible, Many more Talents could have been included in Character Law (which would have also expanded the number of Professions available).

I think that this is about enough for the first installment. Next time, I will discuss the Running Rolemaster chapter and the Combat chapter. I think you will be interested in that as it is another place where I made some signification changes (specifically in armors and the attack tables) to streamline and modernize things. I might even discuss the spell chapter…. maybe…