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December 02, 2023, 04:29:13 AM

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Expanded Combat Options


Rolemaster is one of the best games on the market, yet it still has a few drawbacks here and there. One of the areas with them most problems is that of combat. Currently, Rolemaster uses numerous charts to determine the outcome of a weapon's strike. In terms of combat options, there are very few choices available. A character involved in melee has two basic options, attack or parry.

In Rolemaster, a parry is considered to be the shifting of offensive potential to defense. Any character in Rolemaster is also required to make an attack when they parry, even if they do not want to. In this article, I will be presenting several alternate forms of defensive maneuvers to use instead of the current method of parrying.

Combat Options

From Rolemaster's version of parry we can produce at least two distinct defensive maneuvers for a character to use. These two defensive maneuvers are both designed to be used without requiring the use of a new skill. They will use the standard Movement & Maneuver (MM) charts, relying on it to determine the success of the maneuvers.

The two defensive maneuvers are the Parry, and the Dodge. We will go over each in detail including how it is resolved and the effect of a successful resolution, but first we need to talk about the action types.

In many game systems, once you have declared an action it is almost impossible to change that. Please note that this system almost ignores the Snap/Normal/Deliberate action types. Instead we have what we call an Abort action. This means that a character may, as long as he is not over 50% completed with his declared action, he may abort it, and declare a new action without penalty. The only actions he may declare after an abort, are Parry, or Dodge, all other skills use the normal skill cancellation rules. The character must also have a sufficient percentage of time left to perform the maneuver.


A parry is the use of a character's offensive skill in a weapon to deflect a portion, if not all, of an incoming attack. This is done by basically trying to turn aside an incoming attack. Parry is the maneuver I described above that has two possible methods of resolution. In both methods, the character's skill in his weapon is shifted and added to his Defensive Bonus (DB) against an incoming attack.

No matter which method is used to determine the success of the parry, the character cannot have made an attack at any point earlier in the round. The Parry actually takes the place of an attack for the round.

This defensive maneuver is only usable against incoming melee attacks, and may not be used against missiles or spells unless the character has some special ability that allows him to do so.

Method 1

    In this method, performing a parry takes just as much time as making an attack, and the character's Offensive Bonus (OB) is adjusted according to the percentage of the round he uses to perform the parry just like normal. All other modifiers that apply to an attack may also be applied here to give a modified OB usable for parry. If a character does not use all of his OB for parry, the remainder is not used in this action, unless specified below.

    Once the amount of parry available has been determined, and assigned then the player must make a roll to determine if he has successfully parried the incoming attack. This roll receives no modifications, and the fumble range (FR) of the weapon being used is considered in determining the success of the roll. Use the guidelines below to determine the success of the parry.

    • If the roll falls within the fumble range of the weapon being used, then the character performing the parry receives no benefit from his attempt to parry and must make a roll on the appropriate fumble chart.
    • If the roll is equal to or higher than a 96 then the character not only succeeded in performing his parry, but he also slipped and must make an attack against his foe. This is done by rolling again, adding it to the parrying characters first roll, and adding in any OB that the character did not allocate towards his DB. No other modifications are performed on this roll, other than applying the normal DB of the other character. There is no choice in this attack, it must be performed if the character open-ends on his parry check.
    • If the roll falls between the high side of the weapons fumble range and the low end of the open-end range (95 or less), then the parry is successful and the character may apply his OB to his defense. With this result, no attack is made upon the character's foe.

Method 2

    With this method of resolution, the character uses the MM charts to determine not only his success or failure in attempting to parry but also the amount of his OB usable in the parry. It also determines the percentage of the round used in performing the parry.

    To use this method, the character must make an unmodified roll on the MM chart. If the character and his foe are approximately evenly matched, then the Medium column is used.

    If the attacking character is more skilled than the character trying to parry, then a higher difficulty column is used. Which column is determined by the Gm based upon the difference in the skills of the character and his foe.

    If the defending character is much better than his foe, then a column of lesser difficulty may be used. The results of roll are used to determine the amount of OB usable towards the parrying character's DB.

    • If the result indicates a number above 100, then the character is actually able to use more than his normal OB towards DB.
    • If the result is a high end verbal result, then the character applies OB towards DB the same as above, and must also make an attack against the other character with no bonuses other than positional or from items.
    • If the result is in the verbal responses on the low end of the chart, then the parry failed, and does not apply, though appropriate text in the result does apply.
    • If the result of the roll falls in the fumble range of the weapon, then the parry failed, and the character must make a normal fumble roll as per the weapon being used.
    • If the result of the roll falls in the range that gives a number as a result, then the character is allowed to apply that number, as a percentage of his OB to his DB.


Dodge is a method of avoiding attacks by moving out of the way of the incoming attack before it can strike. This is a function of the characters Agility and Quickness, so therefore both of these stats are used to determine the success or failure when a character wants to perform a dodge maneuver.

During the round in which a character is performing a dodge, the character may not make an attack, nor perform most other actions except the dodge. It is considered to be an 80% activity action.

NOTE: The dodging character MUST be aware of the attack and its source location, or no dodge can be allowed.

The dodge will use the Movement & Maneuver (MM) charts in determining success or failure. A basic dodge, versus melee attacks, uses the Very Hard column of the MM chart. Attempting to dodge a thrown or missile attack is an Extremely Hard maneuver.

It is also important to note that the act of performing a dodge may carry the character a certain number of feet away from his starting point. The maximum number of feet movable during a dodge is equal to the sum of the Agility and Quickness bonuses. It is also worthy to note that a character will only move the minimum amount needed when performing a dodge, unless otherwise stated before hand. If the character does attempt to move more than the minimum needed during a dodge, then the degree of difficulty for the dodge is also increased by one degree.

The maneuver difficulty may be adjusted up or down according to the skill level of the attacker. It is suggested that the starting point for these adjustments be 50 points in the attacking skill.

  • For every 25 points below 50 in the skill being used to attack, reduce the severity of the maneuver by one degree. This can lower the maneuver no more than three degrees maximum, and that is only for a person who is unskilled in a particular attack.
  • For every 25 points above 50 in the skill being used to attack, increase the difficulty of the dodge maneuver by one degree.

To perform a dodge, the player makes a roll, adding in both the Agility and Quickness bonus of his character. The results are figured as below:

  • If the result is a number equal to or above 100, then the dodge is successful and the incoming blow is avoided completely.
  • If the result is a number less than 100, the character may apply that number as a percentage of his normal DB against the incoming attack.
  • If the result is a number below 0 or a text result, then the maneuver has failed, and any text results are applied to the character, and he receives no benefits from DB for this round.

Final Notes

As you can see, I have used the standard Maneuver charts to resolve actions and give my players slightly different options when involved in melee. The purpose of this article was to show the flexibility available in using the Maneuver charts, and to encourage GM's to make more such uses of them in the future.