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?

Star Fighter – Fourth Wish Games

Star Fighter by Lucas Jones, Forth Wish Games, is a fast and loose Sci Fi role playing game released in February this year. I am a fan of games that define characters through skills rather than off the shelf professions or character classes. Star Fighter treats everything as a skill so there is mo rolling stats or characteristics. If you want a physically strong character then you take the Might skill, want to be athletic the choose the Athletic skill.

Every character starts with the same number of skills and at the same levels, you simple have to choose what you excel at and what you are weaker in. This makes character generation extremely fast and easy.

There are two aspects of Star Fighter that make it really stand out. The first is skill resolution.

Skill Resolution

Star Fighter uses a dice pool built of d8s and d6s. You roll your pool and if you get at least one 8 then you succeed, no problem. Anything less that an 8 and you start to build up consequences. So, a 7 still succeeds but with a minor consequence and so it goes down from sucesses with consequences and then failures and increasingly serious consequences. Each scene in the characters story has a break point value and as soon as the number of consequences that the characters have accumulated equals or exceeds the break point value then the story takes a turn for the worse. This is rather like the ‘plot twists’ in a GM Emulator or solo engine, only here there is a GM to decide what sort of nastiness to throw at the characters.

The second stand out feature is dice control. In Star Fighter the GM never rolls a dice. Everything is on the hands of the players. If the players want to shoot someone then they roll their attack. if someone wants to shoot them then the player rolls their dodge. If they fail the dodge then they were hit. As GM all you need to keep the story going.

The rulebook in Star Fighter comes across as a labour of love. Lucas Jones obviously loves this game, style of play and genre. It has a lot going for it and I confess that I have taken some bits and intend to roll them into my future gaming.

I am pretty sure my player would not enjoy this but then that says more about them than Star Fighter. If you are a control freak or power gamer then this game is not for you. If you like free wheeling gaming where you can be fairly sure your best laid plans are going to go awry then you can do a lot worse than Star Fighter. The game is a Pay What You Want download on RPGnow and deserves some support in my opinion.

Review: Mutant Year Zero: Gen Lab Alpha

I was never very fond of anthropomorphic animals. That’s one of the reasons why I never actually played Gamma World. I just found it too childish. When my Mutant: Year Zero GM approached us with the wish to play some Gen Lab Alpha, I was skeptical at first, but – oh, boy – I am having the time of life with my grumpy, old healer cat character called Tiberius and his motley crew of Mutant Animal resistance fighters …

Mutant: Genlab Alpha is an expansion of Mutant: Year Zero but also a standalone game. In MY:0 you play mutant humans with extraordinary abilities trying to survive in the dangerous and irradiated Zone, while in M:GA you take on the roles of mutated animals. You are the result of genetic experiments which gave animals some human traits like being able to speak, use tools and walk upright.

M:GA is a 244-paged hardcover book with a beautiful matte finish and high production values. As with Mutant: Year Zero and the other books by Free League Publishing, it’s a joy just to leaf through the book and admire the artwork and excellent layout. There’s also a PDF version of the rules which is fully bookmarked. This review is based on both the hardcover and PDF versions of the book which have graciously been provided by Free League’s Boel Bermann. Thanks again!

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