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Level Less Rolemaster

Copyright Jeremy Friesen, 1999

  • Alternate Stat System: An alternate stat system is provided to rectify the absence of levels.
  • Development Points: Instead of Experience Points the Gamemaster awards development points.
  • Skill Advancement: A new system is provided for advancing skills without levels.
  • Resistance Skills and Realm Aptitude Skills: Instead of level based, resistance rolls have been changed to a skill-based system.


Alternate Stat System

Since the main goal is to move away from levels, an alternate stat system is ideal. The concept of temporary and potential stats is excellent but ultimately hinders a level less system. I therefore recommend using stat bonuses instead of temporary and potential stats. Since stats are only rarely referenced (constitution and negative hit points), we can remove the translation step from temporary stat to stat bonus.

At character creation time, a character is allotted 50 points to allocate for bonuses. The table to the left details the cost of bonuses. A character must purchase at least a +6 bonus to their primary stats.

Since temporary stats are no longer used, award 80 development points for apprenticeship (i.e. first level). For instances where a temporary stat is necessary, use a corresponding skill or skill category. When a character reaches zero hit points they can sustain their hit points or 60 in concussion damage before dying (which ever is greater). Likewise if an undead effect specifies to drain constitution, drain hit points instead. If you wish to be particularly nasty, drain body development bonuses. I can't immediately think of any other stats that would matter, but there could be more.

Development Points

Instead of awarding experience points, the Gamemaster should award development points. A standard RMSS level would be represented by approximately 80 development points; the GM should take this into consideration when awarding development points.

Skill Advancement

#9;I stumbled across a very noteworthy level less system by a fellow net-denizen (email bcd@pvv.ntnu.no). One of the concepts introduced was "crosses". A cross is essentially an indicator stating that you have practiced enough to be eligible to purchase the "crossed" skill at the character's development point cost.

Each character has a limited number of crosses available to him or her (skills in training for a new rank) based upon their memory bonus. Throughout a session, a character can be awarded crosses (or portions of crosses) for:

  • Dramatic or fantastic use of or attempt of a skill. (Resistance rolls in dangerous situations should always give crosses)
  • Training a skill for four hours a day over a ten-day period. By using a teacher or trainer, the time period is reduced. I suggest that a competent professional instructor would reduce this time to five days.
  • Lasting activities or activities repeated often. Such as sailing crosses for the captain of a sea-going vessel every now and then.
  • Body Development after having taken punishment.

This list is not exhaustive; there are other situations that would apply. When a character is awarded a cross, the player records the appropriate skill in an empty cross-slot. If there are no empty slots the player may opt to change one of the cross slots to the new skill or develop rank(s) in an already crossed skill to free up that cross slot. A GM could award half or even quarter crosses for a more granular approach; the above chart would need to be modified accordingly.

A skill that is crossed can be developed as if the character has just gained a level (i.e. may develop rank(s) based on the development cost). Once that skill is developed via the cross, that cross is removed and the character must gain another cross to redevelop. Optional: A GM might allow players to develop rank(s) in a skill at double cost if the skill is only half crossed.

A character may develop rank(s) in one of the following, if the skill is crossed:

    • The crossed skill.
    • The parent category of the crossed skill.

A character may develop rank(s) in one of the following, if the spell is crossed:

    • One of the applicable Realm Aptitude skills.
    • Power point development.
    • Spell Mastery for the crossed spell list.
    • The crossed spell list.
    • Optional (recommended) A character that gains a rank in a spell list would gain the additional "power" but not the spell.

If the above optional rule of spell list rank not earning the spell is chosen, then a player may learn the spell for that rank by performing one of the following:

    • Paying the spell level in development points.
    • Removing one quarter cross (for that spell list) per spell level.
    • Performing research (see GM for details but 10 days training is a reasonable amount of time).

Example: Gned the Farmer doesn't have the best memory in the world (an incident with a crazed cow, a bottle of vodka, and some tinker toys). He has a memory of –3 and therefore has two available crosses. Currently he has a cross in "Region Lore: Nowhere" and a cross in "Animal Herding: Sheep". In a recent encounter with a rather vicious tabby cat, the Gned earned a cross in "Staff". With no empty slots Gned decides he will develop "Region Lore: Nowhere" and place "Staff" in the now empty Cross-slot.

Resistance Skills and Realm Aptitude Skills

#9;To make the level less system work, several new skills and categories need to be added. Resistance rolls should be resolved with the modified resistance system. Alternately resistance rolls and the BAR table could be used. For the attack and defense level, use the number of ranks in the appropriate skill.

    • Aptitude: lt;Realm gt; represents the characters magical talent in the realm. The number of ranks in this skill represents the highest "level" spell the character can cast in this realm. For hybrid spell users take the average of the two realms (round down or up depending on GM leniency). For arcane spell users take the average of all three realms.
    • Resistance: lt;Realm gt; represents the character's resiliency versus that realm. Resistance versus hybrid or arcane spells should be the average of the two applicable realms or the average of all realms, respectively.
    • Resistance: Poison, Disease, and Fear represent the character's resiliency to those forms of attack.
    • Optional: Allow characters to develop specific Aptitude: lt;Specific Spell List gt; as Everyman. Then when casting spells assume the highest aptitude is the maximum available level. Likewise allow for lt;Specific Spell, Poison, Fear, or Disease gt; to be developed as everyman (can anyone say Iocane powder).

If a character fails to resist against a higher ranked attack then the character gains a rank in that resistance skill. Optional (recommended): A character may only get one rank in a resistance per spell caster. This is more in place to prevent excessive abuse of gaining free ranks.

 

New Skills

Category Name

Progression

Development Cost

Stats

  Magical Aptitude 

0 0 0 0 0

As Power Manipulation

None

Aptitude:  Channeling 

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

 

 

Aptitude: Essence

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

 

 

Aptitude: Mentalism

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

 

 

  Magical Resistance

0 0 0 0 0

As Power Awareness

None

Resistance:  Channeling 

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

Add any RR bonuses

3x In

Resistance: Essence

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

 

3x Em

Resistance: Mentalism

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

 

3x Pr

  Physical Resistance

0 0 0 0 0

As Body Development

None

Resistance:  Disease

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

Add any RR bonuses

3x Co

Resistance: Poison

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

 

3x Co

  Psychological Resistance

0 0 0 0 0

As Self Discipline

None

Resistance:  Fear

0 5 3 1.5 0.5

Add any RR bonuses

3x SD

Spell Resistance rolls =

Poison, Disease, Fear Resistance rolls =

50 + Realm Resistance skill bonus of the defender

50 + applicable Resistance skill bonus of the defender

- Realm Aptitude bonus of the attacker

- 5x level of the attack

- Spell list ranks of the attacker

+ Other modifiers (including precautions, range etc)

+ Other modifiers (including cover, range, armor, etc)

+ Concussion damage and exhaustion penalties

+ Power Point exhaustion penalties

+ D100 open-ended

+ Concussion damage and exhaustion penalties

+ D100 open-ended

Modified Resistance Static Manuever

Roll

Result

-26 or less

Spectacular Failure

 

Stunned 2 rounds. If this was a spell, lose PPs equal to the Spell List ranks of the attacker.

-25 to 4

Absolute Failure

 

Stunned 1 round.

5 to 75

Failure

 

It's worse than that, you failed Jim.

UM 66

Unusual Event

 

Reverse effect!? You still failed.

76 to 90

Partial Success

 

You almost made it, but then again maybe not...See Failure.

91 to 110

Near Success

 

You failed this time but you may try to resist next round, with a +10 to your RR.

UM 100

Unusual Success

 

You feel invigorated as you scoff at that puny effect, +10 to all rolls for the next 5 minutes. Oh yeah, you succeeded. See Absolute Success.

111 to 175

Success

 

Ah, blessed success.

176 and up

Absolute Success

 

Not only did you succeed but if this was a resistance versus a spell, the spell caster fails the spell. Watch and try not to weep at the poor sap's fate.

Range

Modification

Cover

Modification

Touch

-30

Full

+20

up to 10'

-10

Partial

+10

11' to 50'

0

None

0

51' to 100'

+10

Static

-10

101' to 300'

+20

301' or more

+30

Armor

Essence

Mentalism

Channeling

None

0

0

0

Leather

+10

0

0

Metal

+15

0

+15

Helmet

None

0

0

0

Leather

0

+5

0

Metal

0

+15

0

Same Realm:

+15

Willing Target:

-50

Editor's Note:

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