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Adders and Multipliers

Copyright Mark Carlson ©2002

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion


Authors Note: The same rules can be used for psychics in Spacemaster: Privateers; to save space I will refer to bonus items in terms of RMFRP.

Authors Note: Power Burnout is described on page 27 of the Arcane Companion.


While reading about Power Burnout in the Arcane Companion, which describes how a character with more power points than his normal maximum takes damage, I began to think: How do bonus spell/psychic items work? Do they allow a character to have more power points than his normal allotment? And should he take Power Burnout if the bonus item leaves his body? The mathematics and game effects are very straightforward; an adder allows a number of additional spells to be cast and a multiplier simply allows the attuned to have access to a multiple of his Power/Mind Points. So I pulled out my Rolemaster 2nd edition [RM 2nd], Rolemaster The Standard System [RMSS] and Rolemaster Fantasy Role-Playing [RMFRP] books to tackle the problem.


From my reading it seemed that all versions of Rolemaster treated bonus items the same. The character had to spend an amount of time with the item before it worked (i.e. gained the bonus effect), the character had to attune to the item, only one bonus item could be used at a time, bonus items had to be held or worn and all seemed to effect the attuner. In other words, the bonus item somehow changes the character's ability to hold power. If the bonus item works this way, then the character would suffer Power Burnout if the item were simply put down or taken away from the attuned. This is a great labiality to any spell caster (let alone the joke possibilities, "Is that a staff in your bed or are you just happy to see me?").

The other way for bonus items to work, which seems contrary to my understanding of the rules, is that energy is pushed through the bonus item. In the latter case the user would not suffer Power Burnout since the power is pushed through the item. It also seems wondrous that should I put in X points, I get a multiple of X back (in the case of multipliers). This multiplication of power breaks the law of conservation of energy.

We shall therefore posit that adders and multipliers work by increasing the character's ability to store power. As a result, when the item is lost or set aside, the character may suffer (dramatically!) from Power Burnout.

New Bonus Items

Recognizing this danger, I know consider new bonus items that do not subject spell casters to these risks. Let us first consider multipliers, and then turn our attention to a new analogue to the spell adder.

In chemistry there are substances known as catalysts which, when added to a reaction, allow the reaction to proceed to completion with less energy. Catalysts work like this; the catalyst makes the energy more effective by lowering the energy barrier for the effect. That is, 1 Power Point now has the effectiveness of 2 Power Points because the catalyst has made better use of the energy needed to achieve the effect (if you have a x2 Power Point catalyst).

Let us know consider adders. A spell adder alters the attuner's ability to hold power. A more valuable bonus item is a spell booster. Its benefit is much more powerful than the typical adder in that it lowers the Power Point cost by a set amount. A 1-point booster lowers the cost of all spells by 1 Power Point, but it cannot reduce the cost of a spell below 1. A 3-point booster lowers spells costs by 3, so the cost for spells of level 14 is a single Power Point. Since this is such a powerful effect you may want to limit its use to a given number of times a day or a set number of Power Points. For example a 4-point booster might be good for reducing 20 Power Points a day, or it might only work 5 times a day.

Editor's Note: Catalysts and boosters should be more difficult to produce than multipliers/adders.

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