Archives Fellow Travelers Voices of Reason Where am I? Making Fantasy a Reality The Guild Companion Please vote for us once every day by clicking here!

Optional Character Generation and Level Advancement

Copyright Mark D Carlson ©2002

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Temporary Stat Generation

The first change is an alteration to character stat generation. I let my players roll three sets of 10d10 and keep the highest sum for their point total. This is a simple change from rolling 10d10 and adding your result to 600 to determine your point total. As you can guess this generates higher point totals but also has the advantage of a player recovering from very "cold" dice. I have also changed the static roll of a d10 to an open-ended roll. That is to say if you roll a 10 you roll again and add your totals together. This continues until you don't roll a 10. This also works in the opposite direction if you roll a 1, you roll again and subtract the number from 1; you continue to roll if you roll a 10. For example if you roll a 1, and you roll again and the die comes up 7, then your score would be a 6, but if you had rolled another 10 you would keep rolling. This system works very well and to my surprise if fairly balanced. I have generated approximately 50 characters and the vast majorities were in the 70 to 80 point range. (Editor's note: this observation is based on rolling two sets of 13d10 (not three sets of 10d10), but this was deemed overly complex.)

Development Point Determination

I have also changed the way characters receive development points. I take 75% of the total of development stats and 25% of the primary stats to determine a character's development point total. In testing I used a range from 60% to 80% from the development stats and the corresponding percentage from the primary stats before settling on the above percentages. This does add another step in character generation and advancement but I feel the extra math far out weighs the added complexity. I also have been surprised at the response from my players who have loved the change and would not go back to the old style for anything.

Stat Gains

One thing that I have learned from role-playing for twenty-two years is that players like a way to advance. Most games provide for skill advancement and Rolemaster is the first I have seen that uses a system based on a temporary and potential stats. During character creation you know your character's limits, and you know where your stats start and where you may end up. This did not sit well with me so I decided to let my players have a small chance to increase their potential stats. In my game stat advancement is conducted as indicated in RMSR/RMFRP, but if you roll doubles of a higher value than your potential stat, you may have a chance to increase that potential. If the character's potential stat is less than or equal to 90, I use a simple formula to determine the bonus: ([100 potential stat] / 10). The doubles (interpreted as a d100 roll) must exceed the current potential for the potential to increase (double 10s always allow for potential increase).

If the character's potential stat is above 90, I have the player make an additional open-ended d100 roll. If the roll exceeds a certain threshold, I add one to the potential. The threshold that the player needs to exceed is based on the current potential stat (see below), but, as gamemaster, I allow for small modifiers to the player's roll based on the character's most recent game session. That is, if a character used a skill whose ability modifier was the stat in question and did something very heroic or special I might give the player a bonus to the roll. The base threshold is computed as follows: If a character's potential stat is above 90 the second roll has to be above 75. If the potential stat is above 95, the roll has to be above 90. If the potential stat is above 99, then the player has to roll above 150, and to raise a potential above 100 he must roll 190 or above.

For example, if a character makes a stat gain roll of 8 and 8 and the potential stat is 43, the character would receive a bonus of 6 to his potential stat (since 88 is greater than 43). If the potential were 99, the player must roll double 10s for potential stat increase. Now the player makes an open-ended roll and the total has to exceed 90.

In the spirit of game balance and keeping with the above idea your stat gain roll can also reduce your potential. If your open-ended roll came out in the 0105 range you subtract points from your potential using the following formula:

(10 [(100 potential stat) / 10] / 2)

In simple terms you take the number from the potential stat gain and subtract that value from 10 and divide the result by 2. For example if the potential is in the 90s the potential gain would be 1 and the potential loss would be 4.5. You can round up or down depending on your game.


Potential Value

Doubles Required

Static Addition

Random Addition


33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 00




44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 00




55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 00




66, 77, 88, 99, 00




77, 88, 99, 00




88, 99, 00


0 to 3 (1d4-1)


99, 00


0 to 2 (1d4-2)


99, 00 See note 1 below


0 to 2 (1d4-2)


99, 00 See note 2 below


0 to 1 (d4, 1,2=0 3,4=1)


00 See note 3 below


0 to 1 (d4, 1,2,3=0 4=1)


00 See note 4 below


0 to 1 (d4, 1,2,3=0 4=1)





Note 1: Player roll's d100 (Open) and needs a roll over 75


Note 2: Player roll's d100 (Open) and needs a roll over 90


Note 3: Player roll's d100 (Open) and needs a roll over 150


Note 4: Player rolls d100 (Open) and needs a roll over 190



Level Advancement

My style of gaming tends to result in slow level advancement. To make up for this, I give out partial levels. Between any two levels (L and L+1) are levels L:1 and L:2. So a character in my campaign might be a 3:2 level Ranger. When a character obtains a partial level, I award 30% of the previous level's development points at L:1 and L:2 and the remainder of the points when they advanced to L+1. I only allow stat gain rolls at full level gain. This allows me to make up differences in stat gain or loss (i.e., when a character gains advances from L:2 to L+1, he receives 40% of the previous level's DP, plus or minus any modifiers so that the total received this level equals the DP awarded under the core rules.)

This approach has some hidden benefits for characters in that they get to advance their skills gradually as the game progresses. To preserve play balance I have instituted a simple rule when spending development points: During game play you can only buy 1 rank in a skill or category at each partial level. For example if you have a skill cost of 2/7, at level L:1 you could buy one rank and you could buy the second rank at L:2 or L+1. This prevents characters from focusing on spending the maximum development points on weapons, power point development, and body development at L:1. My players also like this change as it allows them to spend fewer points more often and it seems as if you are gaining levels three times as fast.

One question that was posed to me about the 30%, 30%, 40% system is what if you just give out Development Points (DP) each game. I have played in a game where they gave out experience after or before every game. The system was not Rolemaster but it was similar enough to draw a good conclusion. It becomes a bookkeeping challenge to prevent a character from somehow receiving 300 DPs for some level. Today the GM can solve this problem by using computerized character generators for level advancement, as the good ones don't let you abuse the point system. If you are still doing character generation by hand, you want to be sure to take some time before the game and check how your players spent their points. Even the most careful player can make mistakes that can have drastic effects during the game.

Mark D Carlson

Where am I? Archives Voices of Reason Fellow Travelers Vote for us on the RPG 100 Sponsored by Mimic Media & Data Systems