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Words from the Wise (Guys)

An Editorial Rant

Welcome

To the 51st issue of The Guild Companion

RMFRP Mentalism Companion

Mentalism Companion will be back later this month in a Rolemaster Fantasy Role-Playing edition. With the new edition comes stunning new cover art which can be viewed at http://www.ironcrown.com/SneakPeek/5814_MAIN.htm.

In terms of content changes to Mentalism Companion, this was an opportunity for me to arrange for the correction of various minor problems, which have been found in the years since its original publication. As I have not been directly involved with implementing the actual changes, and I have not yet seen the new edition, I'm not sure which alterations have proven practical to make, so I'm not going to raise any expectations here. What I can say is that owing to space considerations, it was not possible to fill the handful of empty slots on the various spell lists in the new edition. So instead you'll find sixteen new spells in a companion article in this month's issue. I hope you find them useful.

GURPS Age of Napoleon

By a quirk of fate and corporate scheduling, Steve Jackson Games is poised to release GURPS Age of Napoleon (written by yours truly) this month as well. If you're interested, you can find details at http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/napoleon/

A very different book, which was long in the writing, playtesting, and editing, but one I'm equally proud of.

Construct Companion

Last month, I provided an update on the progress with Construct Companion, the upcoming Rolemaster sourcebook on artificial life. Since then, I've been working on providing the means by which creators can instill intelligence into their golems and constructs. Some of the methods involve imbedding supernatural beings into artificial entities; an alternative harnesses the alchemist's own mental capacities. The aim is to allow the simulation within Rolemaster of multiple creative paradigms, some based on real-world legends, others on fantasy literature. I've a few odds and ends to tidy up regarding Golems and Constructs, but the end is in sight for that part of Construct Companion.

So what's next?

Despite the title, the remit of Construct Companion is much wider than Golems and Constructs. It also includes what I am terming "automata" or magically enhanced machines. Historically, automata were mechanical objects which were relatively self-operating once set in motion. Examples have been documented and described for more than two thousand years. To some extent, the humanoid Constructs of Rolemaster and other games can trace their ancestry to the humanoid automata of history and legend.

For our purposes, the real distinction between an Automaton and a Construct is that the former is an (animated) machine which can only perform one task for which it is designed while Constructs (and Golems) can be ordered to undertake many different types of tasks. Of course, the machines we're interested in are not twenty-first century computers, jet engines, or assembly-line robots, but the results of isolated geniuses working with wood, cloth, and metal to fashion weird contraptions powered by man, clockwork, or a touch of steam.

Which brings us round to the Italian painter, scientist, and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci. Born in 1452, Leonardo combined artistic excellence with an exceptional brilliance for science and engineering. In the latter fields, he designed weapons and fortifications and planned grand civil engineering projects for his noble patrons. His most inventive work was concealed in his notebooks which vanished into obscurity after his death in 1519, and others reaped the fame of independently rediscovering his insights in the decades and centuries to follow.

In his notebooks, there are a multitude of designs from horse-less vehicles and flying machines through giant weapons to diving suits and parachutes. None of these were actually made during his lifetime. Recently interest in his work has led to several television series dramatising his life and putting his designs to the test. Teams of craftsmen, scientists, and historians have constructed several of his more ambitious devices, such as his giant crossbow, his gliders, and his parachute. The success has been somewhat variable. The giant crossbow demonstrated accurate directional fire, but the team was unable to achieve any significant range. Two versions of Leonardo's gliders were constructed - both flew successfully for significant distances. An even braver soul volunteered to test out Leonardo's parachute (a rigid hollowed-out pyramid of cloth stretched over pine poles). The contraption was attached to the underside of a hot-air balloon which ascended to a great height above the African wilderness - the "parachute" was released and the test pilot made it safely to ground.

Not all of Leonardo's designs are feasible - one commentator noted that the ornithopter (a flying machine where the pilot flies by manually flapping large wings) was "pure fantasy". But in a fantasy game, a little addition of magic can make all the difference ...

So creating weird and wonderful inventions to give Rolemaster campaigns a new dimension is the next stage of Construct Companion. If you have any suggestions for useful or bizarre gadgets, feel free to post on our Discussion Boards.

Farewell (for now ...)

Our next issue will be appearing in June, when we will have a major announcement concerning future Guild Companion products, but until then ...
Keep gaming and have fun!
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion

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