Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Rolemaster combat variant

Way back in the days, Rolemaster was one of those big systems used in fantasy campaigns all over the place. Then the company who published it, I.C.E. suffered some setbacks and eventually folded. Through all this a few new iterations of the game saw the light of day, and being an old fan of the system, having started my GM career with MERP, I own more than a few of these books.

Now the company is back again, and it's time for consolidation and a new edition of the rules. Will it be viable in today's marketplace? I have my doubts, but for old times sake I took a peek at the play test documents.

One thing I never liked was how every weapon in the system had its own attack table. If for nothing but logistical reasons, it was unwieldy. But, it also made no sense. While the difference between getting hit by a small piece of sharpened metal and a bigger one might might be significant, the steps in between were just way too fine grained. It was often lauded as realistic, but in reality that was a simulationist dream. But, in MERP and in RMFRP they did something else.

In those variants of the rules (I consider them all to be kind of the same, even HARP), you had groups of weapons, like one handed edged weapons. It was easier to handle, and kept a level of verisimilitude. Today, considering the effects of what this about to model, I came upon an idea of how to present this even more concisely.

The individual hit points matter little in RM. What kills you is the critical hits, which are divided into levels of severity. So, I thought why not boil it down to those crits? Since a critical shows up in the upper level on the hit charts, you can see how big a percentage of the hits are of a specific level. Those percentages could be rolled in tandem with the attack roll, skipping the roll on the hit table. If you beat your opponents roll, add the overlap to the crit roll and see what level of crit you inflicted. It will make a bunch of simplifications to the RM system, but keeps some of the flavour. The obvious thing missing is of course the difference against different kinds of armour. Maybe I can shoe horn that back in somehow as well, given some time.

I wont be able to do a proper play test, since I'm lacking a group to test with. But, I felt like throwing it out there for anyone who happen to see it, and for my own archival purposes. Enjoy.

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