Adjustments Mid-Stride

The Rolemaster game I am running with Rod and Robbie continues, and John has joined us as well. I feel like the point of this post is worth a new post instead of continuing the old one, but you can view that right here.

About a month, maybe longer, ago Rod had asked if we could use the full traditional initiative and turn system. Up until that point we had been using a streamlined version that you can find in the updated version of the “classic” rules. When we began it had been a while since I had played or run Rolemaster and I wanted us all to get our feet wet.

But I had also been thinking about just leaping into the full rules as well, so Rod’s request came at the right time. Combat had been okay, but as a central part of play in Rolemaster, it had not been as satisfying as expected or remembered. Memory can be problematic of course.

As I refreshed myself on the full turn order, I also decided to try some of the opponents presented in the rules, specifically the old Creatures & Treasures book. An opportunity came up during prep to put this into play, to see how an adversary designed explicitly for the rules faired versus one I had reverse engineered.

The difference leaped out at me. Even with similar stats, the skeletons I unleashed in the recent fight have and are performing far better than any of my Frankenstein creations. The combat has been more intense and I feel as if we have a good handle on the flow of combat with the more elaborate turn order.

Skeletons in Rolemaster are no pushovers.

5 responses to “Adjustments Mid-Stride”

  1. I have Character & Campaign Law and Spell Law rulebooks at hand – the ones I like to call “skunk stripe elf,” I’m sure you know them – is that the right version for the older rules you’re talking about? I don’t think I have the Arms Law and Claw Law book, though, thus am out of luck.

    For purposes of discussion here, can you summarize the ordering and actions during fights? I don’t really want a complete option-heavy text transcript so much as an ordinary-language, casually instructive idea of what to do.

    • That is the version we are using.

      It breaks down into discrete phases and initiative determines who does what in each phase. In order the phases are:

      Spell Phase (cast/prepare)
      Spell Results Phase (resolve previous spells)
      Fire Phase A
      Fire Result A
      Movement / Maneuver
      Fire Phase B
      Fire Result B
      Melee Phase
      Melee Result

      GM Clean up

      Character actions are limited to movement and one of those phases, depending on what weapon they use or spell.

    • I’ve grown more fond of these systems over the years. Most of the early games focused on understanding the group/side dynamics rather than individual action, and although I recall from those days that I found The Fantasy Trip’s shooter’s-eye-view to be very welcome, I now understand the benefits of the more wargame-y side’s-eye-view or, as in this case, “by action type” organization. It’s true that the group must always retcon and wiggle a little bit (“why didn’t my guy get to hit him before he cast his spell?”), but I’ve found that actually to be easier to manage, cognitively, then the gymastics we have to go through to justify “freeze frame” individual movement + actions all the way down the line.

    • I think the one space where we had questions was what happens during movement, since it is nearly simultaneous. Did you have to roll to disengage if someone moved next to you? I made a decision (no, just move), but am going to try and nail down what the text says if it says anything at all.

  2. We played a few sessions of MERP (or actually the Swedish translation of it) earlier this year and I must say I really really enjoyed the ordering of actions in MERP. It’s a bit different from Rolemaster in that you state intentions and initiation upfront, and then ordering comes afterwards depending on what actions you take. Ordering is first magic > ranged attacks > maneuvers > melee > movement > static maneuvers. In MERP maneuvers is used to disengage and/or get out of the way of an incoming melee attack, you state your action, GM decides how hard it is and then you roll on the table to see the degree of success/chance of complete success/penalty for incoming attack (depending on how you wanna read the result).

    MERP was the first RPG I owned myself, and played it a bunch as a kid, at first without understanding what the hell I was doing but later on more or less by at least some of the rules. It was a great feeling to get back to it and see that there was something there to enjoy and now I’m pretty eager to get back into it for something a bit longer.

    Would love to hear more about the ordering and skeletons and how this the change made a difference!

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