[d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

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[d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:55 am

I love Rolemaster.

But it never seems to make it to the table, these days. It's just too clunky and complicated and my players won't go for it.

So I've been thinking about what is the fundamental essence of Rolemaster.

And to me it's three things:

1) The detailed damage system. You don't just have hit points. You don't just have arbitrary wound levels. Instead you can be limping around with a broken leg, a slashed muscle in your arm, a shattered shoulder, and an ear missing. And each of those wounds gives a specific penalty and has specific ways of being healed (or mitigated).

2) The way heavy armour makes you more likely to be hit but less likely to be severely damaged. Armour doesn't simply serve to reduce damage by a flat amount or increase an arbitrary "Armour Class" making you harder to hit.

3) Development points. Apart from having different base spell lists and realms, and a small variation in level-bonuses, no class has any special features or abilities. Instead, everything is skill based, but your class alters the cost for the different skills and you're limited in ranks per level. Therefore anyone can do anything. Fighters can learn a spell or two. Mages can handle a sword. Priests can pick locks. And so forth.

To me, that's the core of Rolemaster. The specifics of how dice are rolled and skills work, or the specifics of moving manoeuvres, or even the specifics of the three realms of magic; they're not essential to the Rolemaster experience.

So the question is, can such a game be attractive to modern players? I'll say from the start that I don't care if old-school Rolemaster players wouldn't want to play a simplified game. Not that I've anything against old-school Rolemaster players - I'm one myself - but it's just that if people want to continue to play the old game then they can. Any hypothetical new simplified "Rolemaster Style" game would be in addition to the existing Rolemaster game, not replacing the existing Rolemaster game.

So, if we take an existing game system - let's say Wizards of the Coast's D&D 3.x SRD (hence my posting this on the 3.x forum!) because it's already level/class based and already has skills with somewhat varying costs - what would we have to do to this game to make it play like Rolemaster but without the unnecessary complexity.

After all, the original Rolemaster was developed as a set of house rules for AD&D, so it makes some sense to look at a relatively modern (and still heavily played) version of the same game as the basis for a new set of Rolemaster-style house rules. Especially since the SRD is open content.

So what would we need to do to make the SRD more Rolemaster-like? Note that this is not an attempt to retro-clone Rolemaster. We're looking for the spirit of Rolemaster rather than a detailed copy of the game.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:21 am

Specifics

Dice: Although Rolemaster uses d100 for everything, there's no reason why the normal d20 of the SRD can't be used. Most Rolemaster bonuses and penalties are in increments of +/-5 anyway. We can use an equivalent of Rolemaster's "open-ended" rolls by simply saying that if you roll a natural 20 you roll again and add, and if you roll a natural 1 you roll again and subtract.

Ability Scores: Rolemaster uses ten ability scores with separate "Temporary" and "Potential" values. Each level, you get to roll on a chart to see how much your ability scores increase towards their potentials (and they may go down!) This strikes me as overly complex, and we can use D&D's six ability scores with an increase every four levels just like the SRD does.

Static Manoeuvres: This is what Rolemaster calls its skill rolls. It uses a system where you have a skill bonus and then roll d100 and add that bonus (and any penalties for difficulty) in order to try to get 101 or more. When translated into a d20 roll, it's rolling a d20+ skill-difficulty and trying to get 20 or more. Another way to do this is to add the difficulty to the target number rather than subtracting it from the roll. In other words, normal d20+skill vs DC as in the standard SRD (but with 20s being "roll again and add" and 1s being "roll again and subtract".

Moving Manoeuvres: For skills that involve ongoing movement (like climbing or swimming), Rolemaster has you roll d100+skill but then you look it up on a table (on a column based on the difficulty of the task). The table gives you a result anywhere from falling over and hurting yourself to 100%+ of the action completed. If the result was from 10% to 90% of the action completed, then you roll again next round and so on until you've completed it. To be honest, this system is over-complicated - and these skills could just use the normal skill system instead.

Learning Skills: Rolemaster gives each character a number of "development points" (i.e. skill points) each level. This number is based on five of their ten ability scores. If we're using standard SRD ability scores then we can assign "skill points" for all six of them - no dump stats! If we work out the numbers right, we can make it so that you get better skills for having average stats rather than ultra-specialised stats (e.g. a bunch of 13s will give you more skill points than two 18s and a bunch of 9s and 10s). Rather than limiting maximum skill rank by total character level, skill purchasing is limited in terms of the number of skills you can buy per level. Instead of the SRD's simple 1-point or 2-point ("cross class") skill costs, skills can cost anywhere from "1/*" (you can buy as many ranks as you want for a point each) to a more common "2/8" (you can buy a rank for 2 points or two ranks for 2+8=10 points) to "20" (you can only buy a single rank, and it costs you 20 points).

Learning Spells: In Rolemaster, spells are arranged in lists - each of which has a particular theme and has spells ranging from 1st level to 50th level (but not all lists have spells at every level). There are three realms of magic - Essence, Channeling and Mentalism - which correspond pretty much exactly to D&D's Arcane Magic, Divine Magic and Psionics. Each realm has a set of "Open" lists which are easy to learn and "Closed" lists which are hard to learn. Additionally, each spell casting class has a set of "Base" lists which define their strengths. The classes are split into "non-spell user" (can only learn Open lists and then with great difficulty), "semi-spell user" (has a set of Base lists, and can learn Open lists of their realm with difficulty), "pure spell user" (has a set of base lists and can learn both Open and Closed lists of their realm easily), and "hybrid spell user" (has a set of Base lists and can learn the Open lists of of two realms easily and the Closed lists of those realms with difficulty). Lists are learned in portions (e.g. 1st-10th, 11th-20th, or 1st-5th, 6th-10th) by spending skill points on them. Basically a character buys ranks in a skill corresponding to the portion of the list they're trying to learn, and then makes a single skill check each time they go up a level to succeed in learning it. They can only try to learn one list portion at a time, but if they spend enough ranks to guarantee learning it without a roll they can start spending on a second list portion in the same level. This whole system can be simply used as-is.

Casting Spells: Spells are cast using a power point system. Power points derive from an appropriate ability score and are multiplied by level. If using the SRD abilities, I'd use Int for arcane/essence, Wis for divine/channeling and Cha for psionic/mentalism. To actually cast a spell, the spell caster makes a roll to see how well their casting was, looking up the result on a chart on a column determined by what armour the target is wearing. This table then gives a modifier for the target's Resistance Roll against the spell. Other than the modifier, the Resistance Roll is set up so that a target of equal level to the caster has a 50% chance of succeeding. This is another overly complicated system and should be replaced by a single "Saving Throw" with a DC based on the caster's level compared to the target's level. Notably, Rolemaster has very few save-or-die spells.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:50 am

(Continued)

Attack Rolls: Rather than D&D's all-or-nothing approach where a weapon either misses completely or does full damage, Rolemaster uses a graduated approach. An attack roll is OB-DB+d100 (where OB is the attacker's bonus to hit and DB is the defender's bonus not to be hit). There is a table for each weapon with rows from 1-150 and 20 columns (one for each armour type). You look up your total roll against the armour type of the target and the table will either show you that you have missed or show you that you have hit. If you've hit, it also tells you how much damage you've done and what sort of critical hit if any (ranging from an 'A' to an 'E'). If you've done a critical hit, you roll 1d100 (usually unmodified) on the relevant critical table - there's a set A-E for each of the following damage types: Puncture, Slash, Crush, Heat, Cold, Lightning, Impact, Martial Arts Strikes, Martial Arts Sweeps & Throws, Tiny Creatures. It is this critical that does most of the "interesting" damage in terms of broken bones and bleeding to death and so forth. This whole system can be used pretty much as-is, except that the tables would need to be 1-30 and criticals 1-20 instead of the tables being 1-150 and the criticals being 1-100. That's not actually much loss of granularity, since for the most part (particularly on critical tables), things are in 5% chunks anyway on the d100 based tables.

Damage: Rolemaster characters have hit points just like D&D characters. Rather than simply gaining hit points each level, there is a "Body Development" skill that's bought like any other (with varying cost by class). Each rank in the skill gives you one "hit die" of base hit points, of a die type based on your race. Each race also has a maximum base hit points. Your Constitution score gives you some initial base hit points before any Body Development has been acquired, and your Constitution Bonus applies to base hit points to give you actual hit points. This can all be ported as-is, except that some scaling factors may need to be applied to Constitution since it will be on a 3-18 scale rather than a 1-100 scale. Running out of hit points knocks you unconscious, and going down to negative hit points equal to your (on a 1-100 scale) Constitution kills you. However, that's unlikely to happen unless you're bleeding to death at X hits/round as the result of a critical. What's more likely to happen is that you will be killed outright or otherwise incapacitated by critical hits that break bones, rupture organs, slash muscles, and so on. Again, all that can be ported over directly.

Death and Resurrection: Rather than a simple "Raise Dead", Rolemaster has a number of systems for handling post-death. Firstly, when you "die", your soul doesn't leave your body straight away. It hangs around for a variable number of rounds depending on your race. If you can be healed before it's gone, you were only "mostly dead" and you can get up again. Assuming you can't be healed in time, there are two other ways to come back. Firstly, you can have a "Lifekeeping" spell cast on you. This will prevent your soul leaving for an extended period of time, so there is plenty of time to get you healed. Secondly, you can have a "Lifegiving" spell cast on you. This will bring your soul back (although if the damage to your body has not been healed, it will leave again after a number of rounds as before). However, if your body has been without a soul (even for a number of hours) it will start rotting, and your ability scores will have been severely damaged even after you are brought back from the dead. Therefore a "Preservation" spell is usually needed to keep the body fresh until someone who can do "Lifegiving" can be found. All of this can be used pretty much as-is.

Character Classes: The Rolemaster character classes are:

Non-Spell Users: Fighter, Rogue, Thief, Warrior Monk
Essence Users: Magician (pure), Illusionist (pure), Alchemist (pure), Monk (semi-)
Channeling Users: Cleric (pure), Animist (pure), Healer (pure), Ranger (semi-)
Mentalism Users: Mentalist (pure), Seer (pure), Lay Healer (pure), Bard (semi-)
Essence/Channeling Users: Sorcerer (hybrid)
Essence/Mentalism Users: Mystic (hybrid)
Channeling/Mentalism Users: Astrologer (hybrid)

These classes (with appropriate copyright-safe name changes) can be used as-is.

Magic Items: Rolemaster uses magic items in a similar way to D&D, with magic weapons and armour, and scrolls (Rolemaster calls them "Rune Papers"), wands, staves, rings, and so forth. Rolemaster assumes that normal non-magical weapons and armour are made of iron, and that steel or better items will give non-magical bonuses. The item creation rules are detailed, since the entire base lists of the Alchemist class revolve around making them. If the Alchemist class is ported across, then these rules can be ported across too without change.

Feats: Rolemaster doesn't have them. The sorts of minor bonuses given by feats are generally provided by low level spells (particularly for some of the semi-spell users).

Skill Bonuses: Rolemaster gives a -25% penalty for having no ranks in a skill, then +5% for each of the first 10 ranks, +2% for each of the next 10 ranks, +1% for each of the next 10, and +0.5% for each rank after that. These diminishing returns will need to be converted to a d20 scale, resulting in up to 20 ranks being needed for a +1 bonus!

Level Bonuses: Rolemaster gives from +0% to +3% per level as a bonus to most skills depending on the skill and class. Again, this will have to be converted to a d20 scale.

Levels: Rolemaster takes characters from level 1 to level 50, with a relatively linear experience system. Like D&D, low level spell casters are weak and high level ones can dominate play. Capping levels at D&D's level 20, and using D&D's experience system, will vastly reduce the dominance of high level spell casters. Rolemaster also assumes that there is an (unplayed) "level 0" beneath level 1, so first level characters have actually spent two sets of development points. This can be dropped as insignificant and overly complex.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:26 pm

Some Numbers

With 20 levels, and the opportunity to buy up to 2 ranks in a skill per level (except for some unusual skills but they're special cases), a character can have up to 40 ranks in a skill. The skill bonus for each rank (skill ranks 12, 14 & 17 rounded up for aesthetic value, all others rounded down) turns out to be:

Rank --> Rolemaster d100 Bonus --> SRD d20 bonus
0 ---------------> -25 ----------------> -5
1 ---------------> +5 -----------------> +1
2 ---------------> +10 ----------------> +2
3 ---------------> +15 ----------------> +3
4 ---------------> +20 ----------------> +4
5 ---------------> +25 ----------------> +5
6 ---------------> +30 ----------------> +6
7 ---------------> +35 ----------------> +7
8 ---------------> +40 ----------------> +8
9 ---------------> +45 ----------------> +9
10 --------------> +50 ----------------> +10
11 --------------> +52 ----------------> +10
12 --------------> +54 ----------------> +11
13 --------------> +56 ----------------> +11
14 --------------> +58 ----------------> +12
15 --------------> +60 ----------------> +12
16 --------------> +62 ----------------> +12
17 --------------> +64 ----------------> +13
18 --------------> +66 ----------------> +13
19 --------------> +68 ----------------> +13
20 --------------> +70 ----------------> +14
21 --------------> +71 ----------------> +14
22 --------------> +72 ----------------> +14
23 --------------> +73 ----------------> +14
24 --------------> +74 ----------------> +14
25 --------------> +75 ----------------> +15
26 --------------> +76 ----------------> +15
27 --------------> +77 ----------------> +15
28 --------------> +78 ----------------> +15
29 --------------> +79 ----------------> +15
30 --------------> +80 ----------------> +16
31 --------------> +80.5 --------------> +16
32 --------------> +81 ----------------> +16
33 --------------> +81.5 --------------> +16
34 --------------> +82 ----------------> +16
35 --------------> +82.5 --------------> +16
36 --------------> +83 ----------------> +16
37 --------------> +83.5 --------------> +16
38 --------------> +84 ----------------> +16
39 --------------> +84.5 --------------> +16
40 --------------> +85 ----------------> +17

Similarly, level bonuses in the range of +0 to +3 per level can be converted into "Good", "Medium", "Poor" or "None" (all directly converted and rounded to nearest) as follows:

Level ---> Good --> Medium --> Poor
1 --------> +1 -----> +0 -----> +0
2 --------> +1 -----> +1 -----> +0
3 --------> +2 -----> +1 -----> +1
4 --------> +2 -----> +2 -----> +1
5 --------> +3 -----> +2 -----> +1
6 --------> +4 -----> +2 -----> +1
7 --------> +4 -----> +3 -----> +1
8 --------> +5 -----> +3 -----> +2
9 --------> +5 -----> +4 -----> +2
10 -------> +6 -----> +4 -----> +2
11 -------> +7 -----> +4 -----> +2
12 -------> +7 -----> +5 -----> +2
13 -------> +8 -----> +5 -----> +3
14 -------> +8 -----> +6 -----> +3
15 -------> +9 -----> +6 -----> +3
16 -------> +10 ----> +6 -----> +3
17 -------> +10 ----> +7 -----> +3
18 -------> +11 ----> +7 -----> +4
19 -------> +11 ----> +8 -----> +4
20 -------> +12 ----> +8 -----> +4
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Hugin » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:05 pm

Interesting exercises, Blackball. Especially interesting to me since I have no knowledge of Rolemaster.

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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:24 pm

Yeah, I'm not really sure where this is going, to be honest. I keep telling myself that I'm just writing this up because I'm bored, and I'm not going to end up turning it into an actual book like Dark Dungeons...

But I've a feeling that I'll end up doing just that sooner or later!
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:48 pm

Here's a first go at converted ability scores. We start with a basic 3-18 range, but racial bonuses and stat-gain rolls can boost that up to 25.

Bonuses for ability scores keep rising, but skill points and power points max out at an ability score of 19.

Score --> Bonus --> Skill Points --> Spell Points
25 -------> +7 -------> 10 ------------> 4
24 -------> +7 -------> 10 ------------> 4
23 -------> +6 -------> 10 ------------> 4
22 -------> +6 -------> 10 ------------> 4
21 -------> +5 -------> 10 ------------> 4
20 -------> +5 -------> 10 ------------> 4
19 -------> +4 -------> 10 ------------> 4
18 -------> +4 -------> 9 -------------> 3
17 -------> +3 -------> 8 -------------> 2
16 -------> +3 -------> 8 -------------> 2
15 -------> +2 -------> 7 -------------> 1
14 -------> +2 -------> 7 -------------> 1
13 -------> +1 -------> 6 -------------> 0
12 -------> +1 -------> 6 -------------> 0
11 -------> +0 -------> 5 -------------> 0
10 -------> +0 -------> 5 -------------> 0
9 --------> -1 -------> 4 -------------> 0
8 --------> -1 -------> 4 -------------> 0
7 --------> -2 -------> 3 -------------> 0
6 --------> -2 -------> 3 -------------> 0
5 --------> -3 -------> 2 -------------> 0
4 --------> -3 -------> 2 -------------> 0
3 --------> -4 -------> 1 -------------> 0

Each level, add the skill points for all six scores to determine your skill points for the level. Spell points are derived from your Int if an Arcane user, Wis if a Divine user, or Cha if a Psionic user. The spell points from the appropriate ability are multiplied by the character's level to derive the total spell points usable per day. Hybrid spell casters average their two relevant ability scores before deriving spell points.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by rabindranath72 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:27 am

I would say that the only thing missing from 3e which does not approximate something in Rolemaster is the detailed damage system. For all the other things, the two systems are quite close in "spirit", namely:
1) Development points = Class/Cross class skills
2) Wide access to class abilities (e.g. spells) = Multiclassing

It's not surprising, I guess, considering that Monte Cook has worked for ICE before coming to WotC.

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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:31 am

As a long-time Rolemaster player, I remember being very excited at seeing Monte Cook's name on the 3e credits - and recognising things like cross-class skills and the dexterity bonus limits on armour and so forth.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D SRD

Post by Azaghal » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:45 pm

Blacky this is Awesome! I love the Rolemaster system but it's tough to teach quickly and I'd never suggest it to a novice gamer. I like the idea of translating the style to d20. One thing I've always meat to do was port the spell system over for 1e/2e.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:22 pm

Still bored. Doing more thinking...

Here's a go at changing the names of the classes:

Fighter = Heavily specialised warrior. Spell casting is incredibly expensive, but able to (cheaply) use the most weapons and the heaviest armour. Becomes: Warrior
Rogue = A pretty average character. Reasonable in combat, and able to use spells more easily than any other non-spell user. Becomes: Adventurer
Thief = Great at subterfuge skills, less good than a rogue at fighting and magic. Becomes: Scoundrel
Warrior Monk = Excellent at martial arts. Poor at using heavy armour. Can learn a bit of magic. Has no religious connection despite the name. Becomes: Ascetic
Magician = Pure Arcane spell user whose spells control the elements. Becomes: Elementalist
Illusionist = Pure Arcane spell user whose spells deal with creating false senses and even semi-solid apparitions. Becomes: Conjurer
Alchemist = Pure Arcane spell user whose spells deal with making magical items. Despite the "Alchemist" name, they don't usually deal with alchemy. Becomes: Artficer
Monk = Semi Arcane spell user and martial artist whose spells are to do with superhuman acrobatics and combat. Becomes: Transcendental
Cleric = Pure Divine spell user whose spells deal with life giving, undead destroying, and minor summoning. Becomes: Lifemaster
Animist = Pure Divine spell user whose spells deal with nature and healing herbs. Becomes: Witch
Healer = Pure Divine spell user whose spells deal with transferring the wounds of others to themselves and self-healing. Becomes: Penitent
Ranger = Semi Divine spell user and warrior whose spells deal with nature and travel. Becomes: Explorer
Mentalist = Pure Psionic spell user whose spells deal with mental contact, domination, and attack. Becomes: Telepath
Seer = Pure Psionic spell user whose spells deal with enhanced senses (including seeing the past and future). Becomes: Visionary
Lay Healer = Pure Psionic spell user whose spells deal with healing others (including making and animating prosthetics). Becomes: Empath
Bard = Semi Psionic spell user whose spells deal with songs and lore. Becomes: Rhymer
Sorcerer = Hybrid Arcane/Divine spell user whose spells deal with destruction. Becomes: Ravager
Mystic = Hybrid Arcane/Psionic spell user whose spells deal with transmutation and misdirection. Becomes: Warlock
Astrologer = Hybrid Divine/Psionic spell user whose spells deal with light, speech, and time. Becomes: Prophet
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Hugin » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:36 pm

I quite like those names, actually. Well done.

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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:37 am

Saving Throws

From the Blood Oaths and Thunder Beasts thread, it occurs to me that I need to revisit saving throws.

Rolemaster saving throws (called "Resistance Rolls") are done on a level vs level table where you normally have a 50% chance of succeeding against something of your level. At lower levels, this chance goes up or down by +/-5% per level difference between the effect and the target - but this diminishes at high levels until it's only +/-1% per level difference.

The categories for saves that Rolemaster uses are different to those of the SRD. Because area attacks like dragon's breath and fireballs are done using weapon-like attack tables, there is no such thing as a "Reflex" save. "Fortitude" saves are split into "Poison" and "Disease", and the saves against spells are split by the realm of the spell rather than whether it is physical or mind effecting. Each race has a separate bonus or penalty to each of these Resistance roll types, so some races can be particularly resistant to (or vulnerable to) certain types of magic. Additionally, when casting a spell in Rolemaster, the spell caster must make a Base Attack Roll (BAR): a d100 roll to which they add their relevant ability bonus and level bonus) and consult a table - which table is based on the realm of magic compared to the type of armour the opponent is wearing - in order to derive a bonus or penalty for the target's Resistance Roll. In practice this unnecessarily complicates things, since the BAR can result in anything from the the spell being fumbled to the target getting a -75 or -100 penalty to their Resistance Roll!

To simplify this, it would seem at first glance that the sensible way to do it would be to simply use an SRD based saving throw where the DC for the save is based on the level of the caster (adjusted by their ability bonus and level bonus), and the target gets a save bonus based on their level (adjusted by their ability bonus). The armour of the target can give a direct modifier to the target's save bonus against particular realms of magic.

However, the problem with this is that it removes the chance of spells being fumbled, which requires the attacker to be making a roll.

Instead of having two rolls (the attacker rolls to avoid fumbling then the defender also rolls the save), we can take inspiration from 4e and replace the saving throw with a mathematically identical skill roll made by the caster which pits their bonus against the defender's DC- on which rolling a natural 1 will result in a fumbled spell.

To keep the basic 50% chance for equal levels, and take into account the other factors mentioned above (except the diminishing returns for high level, since we're only going to 20th level not 50th), we can therefore implement the following rule:

Each character has five Save DCs:

Divine Magic (Wis based)
Arcane Magic (Int based)
Psionic Magic (Cha based)
Poison (Con based)
Disease (Con based)

The base value of each of these Save DCs is listed for each race - with an "average" value of 11 (no particular bonus or penalty meaning that there's a 50% chance of rolling an 11 or better on a d20). Races vulnerable to a type of attack will have a value less than 11 and races resistant to an attack type will have a value more than 11.

All characters add their relevant ability bonus to each Save DC, and also add a level bonus to each Save DC. This will require an extra column on the level bonus table that gives a straight +1 per level. A character may also get a situational bonus to certain Save DCs for wearing armour.

All characters also have a Spell Penetration skill. This is a special skill in that ranks in it cannot be bought, so the rank bonus is always +0. However, characters can add their relevant ability bonus and their level bonus to it. Again, this requires an extra column on the level bonus table that gives a straight +1 per level, and will also need one or more additional extra columns that give slightly higher than a +1 per level bonus for some pure spell casters.

When a spell caster wishes to cast a spell, they roll their Spell Penetration skill as if it were any other skill, with a target DC equal to the relevant Save DC of the target of the spell. If they make the roll, the spell worked. If they fail the roll, the spell failed. If they roll a natural 1, they fumbled the spell.

In the case of diseases and poisons, the GM simply assigns them a level and that level is used as the "skill bonus" for their attack on a character.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:12 pm

Combat

Rolemaster combat rounds use a phase system. Each round is split into four phases:
  1. Spell Casting. All spells are resolved simultaneously.
  2. Missile Fire. All missile attacks are resolved simultaneously.
  3. Movement. All combatants may move up to their normal movement allowance
  4. Melee. All melee attacks are resolves simultaneously.
However, Rolemaster combines this with a rather fiddly percentage action system where each action taken takes a certain minimum percentage of the character's activity for the round - which may limit or penalise actions done in subsequent phases.

Basically it sucks.

And the Rolemaster authors clearly knew this, since they provided at least three alternate initiative or action point systems in the companions...

So clearly it needs ditching. The simple SRD "roll a d20 + Dex bonus" system can mostly be used, but there's no concept of full attacks or opportunity attacks or so on - and no multiple attacks. Also you need to decide on how much of your weapon skill you're adding to your attack and how much you're adding to your defence at the beginning of each round.

Additionally, Rolemaster has the concept of being stunned, or "stunned and unable to parry". Plus spells take from one to three rounds to cast depending on their level, except those that are "instantaneous".

Because of all these special cases, I think I'll simply use the system I used for Dark Dungeons, but modified to use a d20 rather than a d6:
  1. Statement of Intent. All characters state their intended actions, and how much of their attack bonus will be used defensively. Instantaneous spells can be cast at this time. Players have the choice of declaring their actions before hearing what the NPCs are doing in order to get a +3 initiative bonus but then the NPCs can react to their declared actions, or waiting until after the NPCs have declared so they can react to the NPCs declarations but then taking a -3 penalty to initiative.
  2. Roll initative
  3. Characters take their actions in initiative order. Stuns don't take effect until the following round, so if you're stunned before your initiative then your action still goes off ad normal.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Seer of Yhog » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:45 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:However, Rolemaster combines this with a rather fiddly percentage action system where each action taken takes a certain minimum percentage of the character's activity for the round - which may limit or penalise actions done in subsequent phases.

Basically it sucks.
That does suck, and when we played we did ditch it. For us, it was:

1. State intent (and indicate what percentage of your attack would be allocated to defence)
2. Roll initiative
3. Make your move.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Azaghal » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:26 pm

Seer of Yhog wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote:However, Rolemaster combines this with a rather fiddly percentage action system where each action taken takes a certain minimum percentage of the character's activity for the round - which may limit or penalise actions done in subsequent phases.

Basically it sucks.
That does suck, and when we played we did ditch it. For us, it was:

1. State intent (and indicate what percentage of your attack would be allocated to defence)
2. Roll initiative
3. Make your move.

Same thing here, the system sucked but was easy to tweak. As stated above.
1 declare intent,
2 roll initative,
3 move.

Made it straight forward and simple.

I found that after a couple of years of playing I could whip out a character in about 20 minutes.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:56 am

Skill List
  • Weapon Skills - Weapons are split into six categories, and each class has a list of six skill costs which the player may assign to the six categories as they see fit. However, skills are bought with individual weapons rather than with whole categories. Str bonus is used for melee weapons and Dex for missile weapons, and a character adds their level bonus for Combat Skills. Named as per weapon.
    Manoeuvre in Armour - This is a set of four separate skills (for soft leather, rigid leather, chain and plate) with different costs. The skills are special since they is never used on their own. Instead, each rank bought pays off one point of armour penalty when using other skills, and no ability bonus applies. Renamed to "Armour Use".
  • Climbing - Used for climbing things. The character adds their level bonus for Outdoor Skills, but subtracts their armour penalty. Dex bonus applies. Renamed to "Climb".
  • Swimming - Used for swimming. The character adds their level bonus for Outdoor Skills, but subtracts triple their armour penalty. Dex bonus applies. Renamed to "Swim".
  • Riding - Each type of animal has a separate skill. The character adds their level bonus for Outdoor Skills. Dex bonus applies. Renamed to "Ride Animal".
  • Disarm Traps - Self explanatory. The character adds their level bonus for Subterfuge Skills. Dex bonus applies. Renamed to "Disable Device".
  • Pick Locks - Another self explanatory one. The character adds their level bonus for Subterfuge Skills. Dex bonus applies. Renamed to "Pick Lock".
  • Stalk & Hide - Used for both static hiding and active sneaking. The character adds their level bonus for Subterfuge Skills. Dex bonus applies. Renamed to "Stealth".
  • Perception - Used for spotting, hearing and smelling things. The character adds their level bonus for Perception Skills. Wis bonus applies. Renamed to "Spot".
  • Spell Lists - Used for learning spells as described in a previous post. Int bonus applies for Arcane spells. Wis bonus applies for Divine spells. Cha bonus applies for Psionic spells. Renamed to "Spell Research".
  • Staves & Wands - Used for activating magical items. The character adds their level bonus for Item Skills. Int bonus applies. Renamed to "Use Magical Device".
  • Runes - Used for activating Rune Papers (Rolemaster's equivalent of Scrolls). The character adds their level bonus for Item Skills. Int bonus applies. Renamed to "Read Magic".
  • Channelling - Used for passing power points or spells from one character to another. Wis bonus applies. Renamed to "Mana Transfer".
  • Directed Spells - Just like a weapon skill, but for an offensive spell such as a fire bolt. There's a separate skill for each spell. The character adds their level bonus for Directed Spell Skills. Dex bonus applies. Named per spell.
  • Ambush - A special skill used to adjust critical results on foes who are taken unawares by your attack. No ability bonuses apply. Renamed to "Sneak Attack".
  • Linguistics - A special skill for learning languages. No ability bonuses apply. Renamed to "Language".
  • Adrenal Moves - A group of skills (Balance, Speed, Strength, Leaping, Landing) for performing superhuman effort. Each is a different skill. Cha bonus applies. Renamed to "Focus Ki".
  • Adrenal Defence - A skill for dodging in combat when unarmoured. No ability bonuses apply. Renamed to "Unarmed Dodge".
  • Martial Arts - A set of eight skills for martial arts attacks that work much like weapons skills. The character adds their level bonus for Combat Skills. Str or Dex bonus applies depending on the type of martial arts. Renamed to "Soft" and "Hard" Martial Arts.
  • Body Development - A special skill that gives one hit die per rank. The character adds their level bonus for Body Development Skills. Con bonus applies. Renamed to "Toughness".
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:44 am

Races

Rolemaster races are straight out of Tolkien, with the numbers filed off. They are:

Common Man (=typical Gondorian or Rohirrim)
High Man (=Dunedain)
Wood Elf (=Teleri)
High Elf (=Noldor)
Fair Elf (=Vanyar)
Dwarf (=Dwarf)
Halfling (=Hobbit)
Lesser Orc (=Snaga)
Greater Orc (=Uruk Hai)
Troll (=Olog Hai)

The SRD, on the other hand, has the most generic fantasy races imaginable:

Human
Elf
Dwarf
Halfling
Gnome
Half-Orc
Half-Elf

To be honest, neither of these lists of races is particularly inspiring. Personally, I'd simply prefer a bunch of seven races - having one that is simple and has no ability score bonuses/penalties, and six more that each have a bonus in one of the six abilities and a penalty in another.

As an example, and something with slightly more flavour than the generic SRD (breaking the human-elf-dwarf-halfling cliché) we could go for:

Common Human - Default race
Arch Human - Wise but slow and peaceful race (+2 Wis, -2 Dex)
Dwarf - Tough but dour magic-resistant race (+2 Con, -2 Cha)
Troll - Strong but not too smart race (+2 Str, -2 Int)
Gnome - Smart but small magical race (+2 Int, -2 Con)
Fee - Charismatic but impulsive race (+2 Cha, -2 Wis)
Ratling - Dextrous but small disease-resistant race (+2 Dex, -2 Str)

These are kind of a blend between the Rolemaster and SRD racial choices, all but the last two coming from one or the other list.
Last edited by Blacky the Blackball on Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:52 am

Bored again...

Ability Scores Revisited

We're using SRD ability scores, but the SRD doesn't provide a way of generating those scores. Therefore we need an original one...

Rolling for ability scores is done as follows:

1) For each score in order, roll 3d6. You may re-roll the lowest die or dice (e.g. if you rolled 3, 5, 1 then you could re-roll the one; if you rolled 2, 6, 2 then you could re-roll both twos; if you rolled 5, 6, 6 then you wouldn't want to re-roll).

2) You may then swap any two scores, before applying racial modifiers to them.

What do people think to this? Compared to "roll 4d6 and take the highest three" it's more likely to let you avoid particularly low scores (for example if you roll 1, 1, 1 you can re-roll all three dice and not be stuck with using two of them plus the fourth die) but less likely to give you particularly high scores (rolling a 4, 4, 6 means you aren't given a fourth die to have a risk-free chance to change it into 6.4.6) - and being able to swap two scores gives you a bit of flexibility to play a particular class without going down the optimisation route that a points-based ability score generation would.

Levels and Experience

As with ability rolling, the SRD does not provide an experience system so we need an original one.

Rolemaster's levels are somewhat linear. You start with 10,000xp, and the amount of extra experience you need to reach each of the first five levels is 10,000. The next five need 20,000. Then 30,000, and so on. However, gaining experience is a complex affair, with experience gained on a per-character basis for all sorts of actions and it is really difficult to track.

For example, when you fight some monsters you get experience for every point of damage you do and for every point of damage you take. You also get experience for every critical you do or take, and for every spell you cast. Additionally, every monster has a total experience value that it can give out, and when it dies the experience it's given out so far for damage and criticals is subtracted from this and the remainder is shared amongst the characters who fought it, with a multiplier for how many of that type of creature you've fought before and a multiplier if it was fought in single combat.

Every GM I know either just handwaves it and gives the group arbitrary numbers of experience points when it's appropriate or even skips experience completely and simply tells the group they've gone up a level at dramatically appropriate points.

Assuming we want to keep experience points (although we won't keep the Byzantine formulae for awarding them, we'll replace it with a very simple "1gp acquired = 1xp earned" system like B/X D&D but without even the additional experience for killing monsters) - because it's easier for a GM to ignore experience point awards and level the party at appropriate times than it is for a GM to invent appropriate experience awards from scratch - then we need an experience table.

If we take the basic Rolemaster values for each level, but smooth out the big jumps (instead of going 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20 we can go 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 - and end up with the same totals as the reduced levels balance out the increased ones), we end up with the following numbers:

Level ---> XP Needed
1 ----------> 6000
2 ----------> 14000
3 ----------> 24000
4 ----------> 36000
5 ----------> 50000
6 ----------> 66000
7 ----------> 84000
8 ----------> 104000
9 ----------> 126000
10 ----------> 150000
11 ----------> 176000
12 ----------> 204000
13 ----------> 234000
14 ----------> 266000
15 ----------> 300000
16 ----------> 336000
17 ----------> 374000
18 ----------> 414000
19 ----------> 456000
20 ----------> 500000

While they are an accurate (but smoothed) facsimile of the Rolemaster level values, they look a bit high, especially if they're money based. Characters will need to acquire half a million gold to get to level 20. So we can reduce them by a simple scaling factor of 50...

Level ---> XP Needed
1 ----------> 120
2 ----------> 280
3 ----------> 480
4 ----------> 720
5 ----------> 1,000
6 ----------> 1,320
7 ----------> 1,680
8 ----------> 2,080
9 ----------> 2,520
10 ----------> 3,000
11 ----------> 3,520
12 ----------> 4,080
13 ----------> 4,680
14 ----------> 5,320
15 ----------> 6,000
16 ----------> 6,720
17 ----------> 7,480
18 ----------> 8,280
19 ----------> 9,120
20 ----------> 10,000

This, of course, means that 10,000gp is a fantastically huge amount of money in these rules.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:19 pm

The previous post brings us onto the subject of...

Economics

The d20 SRD assumes that a gold piece is a relatively small amount of money. Even starting characters have 100gp or more, and treasure caches found by high level characters can run into the hundreds of thousands of gold. In a similar vein, the value of wealth decreases exponentially as character level increases. In Rolemaster, wealth is handled in a similar manner, although characters start with less.

SRD coinage is basically:

100 copper pieces = 10 silver pieces = 1 gold piece

Rolemaster coinage, on the other hand, is basically (from memory):

1,000 tin pieces = 100 copper pieces = 10 silver pieces = 1 gold piece = 1/100 mithril pieces

In neither system have I ever seen anyone bother with coinage of lesser value than silver after character generation, and after second or third level anything less than gold is just considered a waste of space.

I'm going to start a new thread to discuss economics...
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:32 pm

Magic Items

Since Rolemaster's rules include both skills for using magic items ("Runes" and "Staves & Wands") and an entire class whose spells - all 120+ of them - are devoted to creating magic items, you'd think that they'd have some nice consistent rules for them.

And you'd be completely wrong.

Spell Law has the Alchemist spell lists which allow the creation of magical (and Rolemaster's equivalent of "Masterwork" or"Special Material" items). It also has some rules to back these spells up and explain how they fit together. From these you have a nice coherent system for creating magical items, and can know exactly what level of Alchemist is needed to create an item and how long the item will take to make.

Character Law has a list of magical items that can be bought/sold, and their prices. These prices bear little to no resemblance to the Spell Law rules for creating items, and there are prices for many items that simply cannot be made according to the Spell Law rules.

Finally, Creatures and Treasures has treasure tables for monsters and has lists and lists of magical items that can be found on those treasure tables - much like D&D's treasure tables. The items, of course, are given no values and are almost invariably completely different to the sorts of things that can be made by Alchemists. They're simply items that the authors thought would be fun.

I propose scrapping all but the Spell Law stuff, then inventing my own formula for the price of an item based on the level of Alchemist needed and how long it takes them.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Azaghal » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:16 pm

I really like the stat generation idea, it seems to have a lot of promise.

The use of gold for exp and the reduced/simplified level chart will work, though I never had a problem with handling xp based on crits, spells and damage. I did not care for xp from travel points.

Sticking with the Alchemy laws for magic items makes sense, those rules can be worked much better.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:20 pm

Simple item creation formula:

Item Cost = AWW * Alchemist Level * Time (in weeks) needed to create item

Where AWW is an Artisan's Weekly Wage.

In other words, a first level alchemist gets paid the same amount weekly as any other artisan - blacksmith, stonemason, scribe, etc. A second level alchemist gets paid the same as two normal artisan workers. A third level the same as three. And so on. The time taken to make an item (by the book) is 1 week per spell level needed for the basic item (including any magical plusses) and for the first spell-like, and then 2 weeks per spell level for the second spell-like ability, and three for the third, and so forth.

So as a couple of example items:

A +1 sword needs two spells to create it: Work Iron (which is level 1) and Weapon I (which is level 4). Therefore it takes 1+4=5 weeks to make, and requires a 4th level Alchemist because the highest level spell is 4th. The Alchemist therefore gets paid the equivalent of four artisan craftsmen each week for five weeks, for a total of 20 AWW.

A suit of +3 armour that can do Shrink Self (a first level spell) once per day takes four spells to create it: Make Steel (5th), Work Steel II (6th), Armour III (14th), Daily I (6th). Therefore it takes 5+6+14+6=31 weeks to make and requires a 14th level Alchemist. The total cost is therefore 31*14 = 434 AWW.

That seems sensible enough. Simple items like a +1 sword aren't totally out of reach of a peasant, but big expensive stuff is out of reach of all but adventurers and the extremely rich - without getting the completely ludicrous exponential price increases for increased level that you get in the SRD.
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Azaghal » Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:46 pm

A simple enough and very efficient system. I take it based on the above post you plan on leaving the spell levels as is?
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Re: [d20r] Injecting the spirit of Rolemaster into the D&D S

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:38 pm

Azaghal wrote:A simple enough and very efficient system. I take it based on the above post you plan on leaving the spell levels as is?
Yes, but I am thinking of re-doing the ascending scale of hardness, especially since the Rolemaster ones include a couple of fantasy (and copyrighted) materials.

The Rolemaster scale (as far as level 20 spells go) is:

Iron = +0 (can be enchanted to +1), requires a level 1 "Work Iron" spell to make things out of it (but only if it is going to be enchanted).
Low Steel = +1 (can be enchanted to +2), requires level 5 "Make Steel" and level 2 "Work Steel I" spells to make things out of it.
High Steel = +2 (can be enchanted to +3), requires level 5 "Make Steel" and level 6 "Work Steel II" spells to make things out of it.
Alloy = +3 (can be enchanted to +4), requires level 7 "Make Alloys" and level 10 "Work Alloy" spells to make things out of it.
Mithril = +4 and inherently enchanted and better at hitting certain creatures, requires a level 15 "Work Mithril" spell to make things out of it.
Laen (a super-hard volcanic glass) = +5 and inherently enchanted and hits creatures as if Mithril, requires a level 20 "Work Laen" spell to make things out of it.

I obviously can't use Mithril or Laen, but I thought it might be nice to have Iron take Mithril's place rather than be the bottom rung; so iron weapons are "special" in the same way that Mithril weapons are "special" in normal Rolemaster.

That would require something like:

Copper = +0 (can be enchanted to +1), requires a level 1 "Work Copper" spell to make things out of it (but only if it is going to be enchanted).
Low Bronze = +1 (can be enchanted to +2), requires level 5 "Make Bronze" and level 2 "Work Low Bronze" spells to make things out of it.
High Bronze = +2 (can be enchanted to +3), requires level 5 "Make Bronze" and level 6 "Work High Bronze" spells to make things out of it.
Orichalcum = +3 (can be enchanted to +4), requires level 7 "Make Orichalcum" and level 10 "Work Orichalcum" spells to make things out of it.
Iron = +4 and inherently enchanted and better at hitting certain creatures, requires a level 15 "Work Iron" spell to make things out of it.
Quicksilver = +5 and inherently enchanted and hits creatures as if Iron, requires a level 20 "Work Quicksilver" spell to make things out of it.

That might give the setting a nice bronze-age flavour, since it would mean that the most common metal that things are made from is copper, and that bronze is widely used but less common and iron is rare metal that only the best artificers can use.

Orichalcum here is assumed to be a pinkish (about the colour of red gold) copper/silver/gold alloy that is harder than bronze but not as hard as iron.

I thought that the +5 one might be either gold or quicksilver. Neither of those can normally be made into weapons because they're too soft (quicksilver being liquid, of course) - but with the aid of powerful magic they could be. And either would make very shiny and impressive weapons or armour for high level characters.
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