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Character Law

A Supplement for ROLEMASTER Fantasy Role Playing


Reviewed by Brent Knorr

Character Law is the latest supplement for Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing, or RMFRP for short, from Iron Crown Enterprises. It expands on the Character Creation system that is given in the basic book (RMFRP). It adds 11 additional races and cultures, 11 additional professions, 21 additional training packages, 5 additional skill categories and dozens of additional skills. It also presents a detailed system for determining what flaws, talents, status, wealth and starting items your character has. For those who are familiar with the previous incarnation of Rolemaster, the Rolemaster Standard System (RMSS), Character Law finishes reprinting the Character information that was available in that product, as well as incorporating the majority of what was in Talent Law. You require the RMFRP book to use Character Law.

With the combination of the basic RMFRP and the additional information presented in Character Law, I feel that I.C.E. once again has developed one of the best systems for generating characters for a fantasy setting. Unlike some systems, you are not locked into only having a certain set of skills and abilities once you choose your profession. For example, a thief in Rolemaster can still learn spells if he or she wants. It will be more difficult to learn than it would be for a magic-using character, but not impossible. With the inclusion of a carefully selected Talent or two, even the difficulty can be reduced. If you are tired of playing systems with restricted choices for characters and want something more flexible, this is a system definitely worth looking into. The potential combination of Races, Professions, Training Packages, Skills, and Talents and Flaws provides for an almost endless variety of characters.

The rest of this review will consist of an overview of each of the sections in Character Law. This portion of the review assumes that you have some familiarity with RMFRP already, or at least the Rolemaster System in general.

Section 1 of Character Law presents additional Races and Cultures. The new Races presented are: Mixed Men, Grey Elves, High Elves, Common Orcs, Greater Orcs, Half-elves, and Half-Orcs. These add to the races that were presented in RMFRP: Common Men, High Men, Wood Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings. Six new Cultures are also presented. Each Common Man and Mixed Man character must have a Culture. These Cultures are: Urbanmen, Ruralmen, Nomads, Woodmen, Hillmen, and Mariners. Some General Notes and notes on Talents are given for the Races that were presented in RMFRP, then detailed descriptions of each of the new Races/Cultures are given.

Each new Race/Culture is given a full page description that includes the Physical Characteristics of the Race/Culture and notes on the culture such as clothing, fears, lifestyle and religion. There are also notes on the general demeanor, what languages are spoken, what prejudices the race/culture has, common professions, special skills and a list of standard hobby skills. It also lists what sort of equipment and money a member of this race/culture would likely have, as well as notes on what background options apply to this race/culture.

Section 2 details the new Professions. These are: Laymen, Warrior Monk, Animist, Illusionist, Lay Healer, Paladin, Monk, Magent, Healer, Sorcerer and Mystic. The last three of these are Hybrid spell users, which are characters who combine some of the powers of two different realms of magic. There were no Hybrid spell users presented in RMFRP, so Character Law includes a short section that explains how to handle Hybrid spell users. It also has a short section on Evil Spell users. Each of the new Professions is then given a full page description.

The description of each profession has a paragraph on what the profession is, what the prime stats for the profession are, what spell lists (if any) are available to the profession, and what Skills or Skill Categories the profession gets bonuses to. It then lists what the costs of Skills and Skill Categories are for that profession, and what skills are Everyman, Occupational, or Restricted. The Costs for developing Spell Lists are then given, followed by the costs for Training Packages.

Section 3 describes 21 additional Training Packages, which add to the 15 that were presented in RMFRP. The new training packages are: Assassin, Berserker, Cloistered Academic, Con Man, Crafter, Crusading Academic, Cut Purse, Detective, Diplomat, Explorer, Guardian, Highwayman, Martial Artist, Mercenary, Philosopher, Sailor, Shaman Priest, Spy, Wanderer, Weapon Master, and Zealot.

Each Training Package has a paragraph that describes what a character that has this package would be like, or a basic definition of what the package entails. It then lists the time required to obtain the package, what effect on a character's starting money the package has, and a table of what special items, favors or connections might be acquired by taking this package. It then lists what Categories and Skills are obtained by taking this package, what Stat Gains might be gained, and finally, what the cost of the package is for each Profession.

Section 4 presents six new skill categories as well as adding new skills to existing categories. Some of these skills were mentioned in RMFRP but were not given descriptions. The skills that are added to existing categories are:

Athletic - Brawn Skill Category - Power-striking, Power-throwing
Athletic - Gymnastics Skill Category - Pole-vaulting, Rappelling, Skating, Skiing, Stilt-walking, Surfing, Tightrope-walking.
Awareness - Senses Skill Category - Reality Awareness, Spatial Location Awareness.
Combat Maneuvers Skill Category - Adrenal Deflecting, Reverse Stroke, Subdual, Tumbling Evasion.
Communications Skill Category - Magical Languages.
Influence Skill Category - Propaganda.
Lore - Magical Skill Category - Circle Lore, Planar Lore, Symbol Lore, Warding Lore.
Outdoor - Animal Skill Category - Animal Healing, Animal Mastery, Herding.
Power Awareness Skill Category - Divination, Power Perception.
Self Control Skill Category - Adrenal Balance, Adrenal Concentration, Adrenal Landing, Adrenal Leaping, Adrenal Quickdraw, Adrenal Speed, Adrenal Stabilization, Adrenal Strength, Cleansing Trance, Control Lycanthropy, Death Trance, Healing Trance, Sleep Trance, Stunned Maneuvering.
Subterfuge - Mechanics Skill Category - Counterfeiting, Forgery, Hiding Items, Trap Building.
Technical/Trade - Professional Skill Category - Advertising, Architecture, Dowsing, Military Organization, Surgery.
Technical/Trade - Vocational Skill Category - Cartography, Gimmickry, Hypnosis, Midwifery, Preparing Herbs, Preparing Poisons, Siege Engineering.

The new Skill Categories, and their associated skills, that are added are:

Martial Arts - Striking Skill Category - Boxing, Striking Degree 1, Striking Degree 2, Striking Degree 3, Striking Degree 4, Tackling.
Martial Arts - Sweeps Category - Blocking, Sweeps Degree 1, Sweeps Degree 2, Sweeps Degree 3, Sweeps Degree 4, Wrestling.
Power Manipulation Skill Category - Channeling, Magic Ritual, Spell Mastery, Transcend Armor.
Spells - Arcane Skill Category - No individual skills given, costs are given for Open Arcane Lists.
Special Attacks Skill Category - Brawling, Disarm Foe (armed), Disarm Foe (Unarmed), Jousting (Lancing).
Special Defenses Skill Category - Adrenal Defense, Adrenal Toughness.

Sections 5, Talents, is the first section that really adds a new concept to the RMFRP game. The previous sections were just expansions of material that was presented in the original book. Talents (and Flaws) are primarily meant to be a way of giving your character background material. It is expected that the players will come up with a story that explains how their character obtained a particular Talent or Flaw. Talents are things that affect your character in a positive way, an ability that grants you some sort of advantage. There is a table that breaks down the way you can obtain Talents and Flaws, allowing variations of player-selected Talents, randomly generated Talents, and Talents that come with or without associated Flaws of various degrees.

The Talents are broken into five different categories: Special Training, Physical Abilities, Mental Abilities, Mystical Abilities, and Special Abilities. They are also broken down as Lesser, Minor, Major, and Greater Talents. There are twenty two pages that are then devoted to describing the Talents that are available. Each description includes a paragraph that describes the game mechanics of the talent, then a paragraph of flavor text to help clarify the Talent and provide an example of how to incorporate it into your characters background. For example, in regards to Danger Sense, the game mechanics portion reads "You may make an Alertness maneuver to detect danger (GM's discretion). You all receive a special bonus of +10 to your Awareness - Perceptions category." The flavor text reads "Whenever you get near some source of danger, you can feel it. You cannot always depend on it, but it has certainly saved your life on more than one occasion. You do not tell people about your sense because they would not believe you. You use it to your advantage, though."

Section 6 - Status, Wealth & Items expands on the Talent system, presenting options that affect the characters social standing, connections to persons of power, wealth, and Special Items that the character could have.

Section 7 - Flaws are basically the mirrors to talents. They are things that can affect your character in a negative way. These are broken down into the same sorts of categories as Talents and described in a similar manner.

Section 8 - Defining Your Character's "Life" delves into the non statistical portions of character creation. It describes what other things should be considered when creating a character, such as who his parents and siblings are and where his home was. What is the character's personality like? What religious affiliations does he have?
An example is then given of the creation of a fully rounded character background.

Section 9 - Optional Rules for Utilizing Talents & Flaws. As the title of this sections suggests, optional rules such as modifications to the costs and availability of talents and flaws are presented, as well as a Point Based system for purchasing Talents and Flaws are presented here.

Section 10 - Optional Rules offers an assortment of additional optional rules for the RMFRP system. I'm not really sure why these were included in Character Law; I would have thought that Gamemaster Law would have been the better place for them. However, since they were included in the RMSS book, by including them in Character Law, it really does complete the reprinting of RMSS. Personally, I think this space would have been better used to reprint the non magic-using professions. As the magic-using professions are all reprinted in the various Spell Law books, it would be nice to have the non-magic professions in this book to reduce the number of books you need to haul around.

Section 11 - The Master Tables collects the commonly required information from RMFRP and Character Law needed for generating characters, and summarizes it into tables.

Editor's Note: Character Law is published by Iron Crown Enterprises. Their contact details are as follows:
Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc.
P.O. Box 1605
VA 22902
Web: http://www.ironcrown.com/
Email: icepbx@aol.com
Tel: (804) 295-4280
Fax: (804) 977-4811

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Editor's Note

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