Blast from the past?

Not long ago I stumbled upon this old post of Unified Rolemaster Playtest. Obviously I am interested in people opinions of Rolemaster as a house ruled version of Rolemaster is my system of choice.

My only gripe is that Rolemaster has a legacy poor reputation for complexity and bloat, but if you look at Pathfinder by comparison Rolemaster is rather slim. That reputation can be a barrier to introducing new players. All of that is by the by and not particularly relevant to this post anyway. What really struck me was Johnkzin’s comment about the wargamer’s challenge “if I need more than 1 sheet of paper (4 pages) for rules, for a war game, then that was too many“.

I was a little confused by the 1 sheet/4 pages limit, The paper I normally buy comes in 1 sheet/2 pages format but possibly I am buying old fashioned paper or wargame rules are printed in landscape/A5 so you are getting two small pages, sideways on each side or the paper.

Anyway, this year I have a lot of travelling to do so with a home brewed GM Emulator I thought I could do a bit of solo gaming to pass the time. To make things even better I created a 1 sheet/2 page version of Rolemaster to go with it.

There are a few caveats to go with this. Firstly, it is generally accepted in the Rolemaster community (or so it seems) for players to have printed/photocopied pages of all their spell lists as part of their character sheets. This is because characters can have so many spells that they have loads of options and the Spell Law book becomes a bottle neck at the gaming table. Give everyone their own spell lists and you remove that bottle neck. I have assumed the characters have their spell lists. Secondly, These rules are using a good healthy dose of the new RMU rules along with a pinch of the old MERP rules and a bit of 2nd Edition mixed in for good measure. Lastly, there are two notes that should have been included but as I wrote these for myself and I know how this works I didn’t write them down. These are, where you see ### you should insert an appropriate ‘simile’ so that swords slash and cut but maces strike and blow. The location 1-10 is the units die from the attack roll, so an roll of 78 on the d100 uses the ‘8’ and equals abdomen. I hope that makes sense, if not then comment with your questions and I will elaborate.

So with that out of the way, the following two PDF documents, cover a basic combat system with criticals, skill resolution, and spell casting.

If you don’t have any Rolemaster characters then you can basically get by by using a D&D or PF character just start them at 2nd level, every +/-1 on the D20 is a +/-5 on the D100 and give all characters 10 additional hit points. Oh and shields and Dex bonuses do not change your armour class, they get subtracted from the attackers attack roll. Finally, if you get a natural 20 then roll again and add the second roll to the first!

If you have never played Rolemaster and you have a few spare minutes then why not have a play around?

I have been blogging about Rolemaster for the past few years. When I am not blogging I run the Rolemaster Fanzine and create adventure seeds and generic game supplements under the heading of PPM Games. You can check them out on RPGnow. My pet project is my d6 game 3Deep, now in its second edition.

6 thoughts on “Blast from the past?”

  1. 1 sheet/4 pages:

    Being American, I can never remember the dimensions of european A5/etc. sheets. So I’m going to describe this with the American standard 8.5″x11″ (letter size) sheet.

    Take a single sheet of paper, that is 17″ x 11″. Fold it in half, so that (folded) it’s 8.5×11. You now have 4 pages, on a single sheet of paper.

    1. (and, of course, that 4 pages is for _all_ of the rules, of the entire game… not a reference sheet). I’m actually not personally that extreme, but … the FUDGE RPG is actually 2 pages (when boiled down to “Fudge in a Nutshell”, and I sometimes aspire to that :-} ).

      1. I know I was cheating with my 2 pages. If a games has a single consistent mechanic for skill resolution and conflict resolution, then the rules should not need to more than a few pages.

        A lot of it comes down to how much you shift off the page and on to the gaming table for the GM and players to solve for themselves.

    2. Ah Ok. US Letter is about our A4 size. A4 is what I would normally think of if anyone says ‘sheet of paper’. Your starting sheet is what we would call A3.

  2. did RMU reduce the armor to just those 4 types (instead of the old Rolemaster 20ish types)? or is that your “pinch of old MERP” (which I recall did just use those 4 types).

    Are you saying: roll to hit, use the unit die to determine the location from the upper right of page one … and _then_ roll the % in the box below that?

    1. The four armour types are from MERP. RMU uses 10 armour types.

      Roll to hit, yes the first roll is d100 open ended. plus skill and minus any penalties. uou take the units die for the location. The if you get a critical (A-E) you roll a second d100 for the detail.

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