Resisting the Effects of Sleep Attack Spells

Copyright R. J. Hansen © 2005

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Is he dead? No, but he will soon wish he were."

King Arnorr looked down upon his kingdom from the balcony of the utmost tower of his fortress. The sky was obscured by pink clouds as the sun slowly began to retreat behind the shoulder of the valley, decorated by the cultivated fields of his people. Unaware of the figure slowly advancing behind, King Arnorr breathed in the rich aromas of the meals being prepared over the cooking fires from the many small houses of the village below and it made his appetite grow. The silent figure was now in striking distance to the king; a long dagger appeared from beneath the assailant's black cloak. Oblivious to the danger the king closed his eyes and thought of the peace and prosperity that his kingdom has enjoyed these long years and the hopeful prospect of the many years to come. The sudden clatter of steel upon stone awoke him from his tranquil thoughts, and he turned to see the hapless figure sprawled upon the floor. The realization of what was about to happen became apparent when he recognized the assassin's dagger lying nearby. He reached down to pick it up, but a voice from the shadows stopped him. "It is poisoned my lord!" The king recognized the voice and stood to meet his councillor and court mage, Balmier. "Thank you for saving my life, Balmier," he said and gave the mage a small nod of his head. "As my duty demands, my lord," Balmier replied, bowed slightly and then walked over to the assassin.

"Is he dead?" asked the king.

"No, but he will soon wish he were," Balmier said with a tone that sent a shiver through the king's body.

Irrespective of what version of Sleep spell is used in Rolemaster it is always one of the most powerful spells in terms of a player character's outcome and influence in an adventure. Although it can be used for subterfuge or as an attack, it can become a devastating unbalance to a game and a headache to any GM that has a player character that often relies upon its potency to overcome challenges that could be resolved otherwise. The GM's purpose is to provide a challenge for his players and the skills that a player develops for his characters will in turn provide a role-playing environment and not just roll-playing. If most situations can be resolved by role-playing then it is in the best interest for GM and players alike, but if it is resolved exclusively with mind spells then both parties are being cheated of the true enjoyment of role-playing. To balance Sleep spells (and perhaps similar m spells), the GM can establish the potency of a Sleep spell based on the target's situation.

Using these guidelines, the caster's level is no longer the attack level of the spell. To determine the attack level the GM must determine which situational modifiers from the table below are relevant. The sum of these modifiers is cross-indexed with the RMSS Resistance Roll Table. (Note that no more than two Attack Level modifiers should be used).

For the first round, the target is magically asleep and cannot be awakened by normal means. After the first round of sleep, the target makes another RR; failure indicates that he remains asleep (but can be awakened by another person). Continue this procedure until the target is awake (either by making an RR, or by another's actions).

Attack Level +1. Target is engaged in hand to hand combat, performing an Extremely Hard or higher difficulty Manoeuvre, or concentrating 75--100%.

Attack Level +2. Target is not engaged in melee but is participating in a battle, performing a Hard or higher difficulty Manoeuvre, or concentrating 50--75%.

Attack Level +3. Target is in a dangerous/hostile area (i.e., enemies are close by), performing a Medium or higher difficulty Manoeuvre, or concentrating 25--50%.

Attack Level +4. Target is in a treacherous/untrustworthy area (e.g., a discrete campsite, on watch, or at a thieves' guild), performing a Light or simpler Manoeuvre, or concentrating 01--25%.

Attack Level +5. Target is in neutral territory (e.g., in an unknown but reputable inn/tavern, on a well travelled road, or in unknown company), or stunned 1--2 round(s).

Attack Level +6. Target is in a festive/rowdy but safe surroundings (e.g., in a well-known inn/tavern, or at a wedding or holy celebration), stunned 3--4 rounds, or has lost 01--25% of his concussion hits or power points.

Attack Level +7. Target is in quiet and safe surroundings (at home, or in a templeor library), stunned 5--6 rounds, or has lost 25--50% of his concussion hits or power points.

Attack Level +8. Target is drowsy/intoxicated, stunned 7--9 rounds, or has lost 50--75% of his concussion hits or power points.

Attack Level +9. Target is exhausted, stunned 10+ rounds, or has lost 75% or more of his concussion hits or power points.