Review: Rolemaster Character Software Companion

Copyright Brent Knorr © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"23 USD ... that's about the same price as buying a supplement and I think it is well worth the investment."

The Rolemaster Character Software Companion is a new character generation program from Roleplaying Software.com (www.roleplayingsoftware.com) created under licence from ICE. The initial version was released on Feb 17 2004 with an update to Version 1.5 released on Feb 26 2004. The software allows you to create Fantasy Characters for the Rolemaster Standard System (RMSS) and Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying (RMFRP) games. The software will run on Macintosh and Windows PCs.

The Character Creation process consists of 8 steps, each step must be completed before the next step can be done, but a lot of the information entered at each step can be modified later. You can also save the character part way through the process and return to it later, a handy feature.

Step 1 is "Initial Choices". This is where the information like character and player name is entered, Profession and Race are picked and basic character appearance information is entered. 60 professions are available and 22 Races are available. Race and Profession can be modified while on the initial screen, but once you proceed to the next step they are not changeable, which makes sense since so much of the later information depends on these selections.

Step 2 is "Generating Stats". This supports the game's various methods of assigning points by giving a base of 600 and having a field where you can enter additional points, which can be the standard 60 or a number that is rolled. The program tracks how many points have been used as you set up your stats and shows you how many development points your character will have. Once you are happy with the assigned points, you click a button to set your Stats at their Temporary values. You can then either click a button to assign values to your Potential stats based on the Fixed Modifier method, or you can use the option of rolling for Potentials, either manually or using a button to have the program roll for you.

Step 3 is "Languages", where you can assign the Languages that you get as part of your Race information. You can add ranks to existing languages, or you can select new languages. None of the selections made need to be permanent; they can be adjusted again later.

Step 4 is "Adolescence", this is where you select what Development costs are assigned to what Weapon Categories and you can assign the ranks you get in Weapons from adolescence to your weapons of choice. The program displays the weapons that are appropriate for your race, but you are free to choose other weapons as well. You can also select an Open Spell list on this screen if one is appropriate for your race.

Step 5 is where Hobby Ranks are assigned; there are three tabs, one for Categories, one for Skills, and one for Spells. You can jump around between the screens and juggle the assigned hobby ranks until you are happy with them. By default the Skills and Spells screens only show items that have already been assigned ranks, but you can easily add additional items. The Spell tab also has a handy filter feature that allows you choose which spells you wish to see in the selection lists, such as Own Realm Open and Closed, or Other Realm Base, or any combinations you wish. Once you are happy with how the hobby ranks have been assigned, then you can click the Add New Ranks button to assign the ranks and move onto the next step.

The number of Hobby ranks that are available are calculated according to your race selection, but this value can be overridden to allow for customization.

Step 6 is "Background Options". You have access to two main variations in this step, the Standard Rules option that uses Background Options, or the Talent Law option where you can purchase Talents and Flaws. The Radio button to flip between these options is a little hard to spot at first, it's on the left hand side of the screen under the "Previous" and "Next" buttons. There is a small glitch here that should be fixed in the next update, -if you want the "Talent Law" option, you need to click on the "Standard Rules/FRP" button, then reclick the "Talent Law" button.

These screens for both methods are loaded with options and choices, and descriptions of all the Background options, Talents and Flaws can be viewed. The different types of choices are all handled very well. There are die rolling options, selection options, screens for entering items, and screens for handling stat gains and special bonuses. Unfortunately, it appears that the program uses the Talent and Flaw Lists and costs from RMSS Talent Law rather than the newer lists and costs from RMFRP Character Law. There currently isn't a method of changing the costs or adding new Talents but this should be available in the next update.

Step 7 is "Apprenticeship", this is your character's first level where you spend your Development points on Training Packages, Categories, and Skills. The program is set up to handle rolling for equipment and other special options that you can get along with Training Packages, as well as allowing you to select skills when the Packages give you choices of where ranks are assigned. Currently you are limited to selecting three Training Packages, which is probably enough in most cases. Also, you can only select Training Packages at the Apprenticeship level; there isn't an option for choosing Packages at later levels, but this has been promised for a future update. There is an option off the main menu that allows you to adjust Training Package costs which can be quite handy since the costs can vary depending which book you are using or if you are using the recalculated costs that are available on the ICE Website.

The program keeps a running total of how many Development points you have spent, but doesn't prevent you from assigning more points than you have available. This is good because it allows for customization and additional ranks that the GM might grant the characters.

Step 8 is "Equipment". It's a handy screen for buying and assigning equipment for your character, costs can be varied depending if you are in a Rural, Town, or City location. There is an option off the main menu that allows you to customize the equipment that is available from the drop down lists for purchase. You can also add items manually to an individual character's equipment.

Once a Character has been created, it can be edited and printed. When it comes time to level up your character, it can be accomplished in four easy steps. Experience points are entered, the software calculates your level, next you Roll for Stat Gains and Losses, Add your new ranks to your Categories and Skills, purchase whatever equipment you want, print out the new pages and you're done. If you want to keep a copy of your character at each level, there is a handy "Duplicate" function that you could use before doing the level up.

The software allows you to override many of the values that are assigned to allow for customization. Costs for Skill Categories, Skills, and Spells can all be overridden. The Everyman/Occupational/Restricted value can also be overridden. Race bonuses can be overridden. Any field that has been overridden turns red to make it noticeable. The default value can be easily restored by deleting the value that was typed in.

Overall, the software works quite well and is easy to use. The author, John Cardinale, frequents the ICE Forums and has been quick to respond to questions and appears very open to suggestions. Features planned for the next major release include the ability to add custom Races, Professions, Training Packages, Spells, and Skills. Additional categories from the Martial Arts Companion will be added and an import/export function will be available. There will also be the ability to create templates for characters where certain skills, spells, and equipment can be assigned to particular professions in advance to make creation of new characters even quicker.

The software sells for $23.00, and a demo version is available that will allow you to create 6 characters and expires in 30 days. That's about the same price as buying a supplement and I think it is well worth the investment.