Movement Rate Anomalies

Copyright Richard Runyan © 2012

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"Olympic class sprinters could possibly be capable of reaching a maximum pace multiplier of up to 8."

Movement Rate Anomalies

Article Notes:

  • Refer to Rolemaster (RMFRP, 1st Edition), page 35, Base Movement Rate. Alternatively, look for "Base Movement Rate" in the version you have.
  • This article is quite different than the one written by Tim Taylor, "Movement Pace Anomalies," originally published in RoCo4 (1st Ed), p. 8, in 1990.
  • This is a revised edition of the original article I wrote about 8 to 10 years ago.
  • This article refers to movement on smooth, even terrain that is optimal for best movement. Rougher terrains will modify these results accordingly.
  • Unless otherwise noted, "BMR" by itself refers to "Walk BMR" with a Pace Multiplier of 1.

Normal Standard BMR Equations

There are two different Base Movement Rate Equations in Rolemaster, depending upon the version you are using.

Rolemaster Version BMR Equation
RM, RM2, RMC 50 + Q + S
RMSS, RMFRP 50 + (3 Q) + S

Where, in both, Q = Quickness Stat Modifier, and S = Stride Modifier.

Since the increment/decrement is the same for the same range of Height in inches, I summarize below the Stride Modification Chart. Additionally, both systems use the same Pace Multiplier chart.

Stride Modification Chart
Height (inches) Modifier
each additional +6 +5 per
82-87 +10
76-81 +5
70-75 +0
64-69 -5
58-63 -10
each additional -6 -5 per
Pace Multiplier Chart
Pace BMR Multiplier
Walk 1
Fast Walk/Jog 1.5
Run 2
Sprint/Fast Run 3
Fast Sprint 4
Dash 5

The two versions, however, have a much different Stat Modifier system, as shown below.

RM Stat Modifiers
Stat Mod Stat Mod
100 +25
98-99 +20 25-39 0
95-97 +15 15-24 -5
90-94 +10 10-14 -5
85-89 +5 5-9 -10
75-84 +5 3-4 -15
60-74 0 2 -20
40-59 0 1 -25
RMFRP Stat Modifiers
Stat Mod Stat Mod
100 +10
98-99 +9 26-30 -1
96-97 +8 21-25 -2
94-95 +7 16-20 -3
92-93 +6 11-15 -4
90-91 +5 10 -5
85-89 +4 8-9 -6
80-84 +3 6-7 -7
75-79 +2 4-5 -8
70-74 +1 2-3 -9
31-69 0 1 -10

OK. Now let's look at some of the resulting movement rates. For the Average Joe NPC, his BMR will be 50 fpr (feet per round), in either system. This is also equal to 5 fps (feet per second).

RM: 50 + 0 + 0 = 50 fpr (5 fps)
RMFRP: 50 + (0 3) + 0 = 50 fpr (5 fps)

In a dash, this calculates to 250 fpr, or 25 fps. Since I do know, off the top of my head, the best time I ever sprinted the 100 yd dash (back when I was 15) was 9.88 seconds. The World Record for the 100 yd dash at that time was 9.00 seconds. My sprint works out to a speed of 30.36 fps, and this was when I was a top class athlete (for my age). The above 25 fps for Average Joe NPC calculates to sprinting a 100yd dash in 12 seconds. That seems a bit fast in my opinion. More later.

Author's Note: When I was 15 and participated in school sports, we were still using the 100 yd dash in Track & Field. I don't think it was until 1980 (while I was in the US Navy) that public schools adopted the metric versions.

How many people out there actually know the average walking speed of normal people? When I was in college, I had to take a class called Mathematical Models as part of the curriculum. A strange class, but it was interesting. During the class, we had to create a project where we modeled a mathematical question. My Question: What is the walking speed for normal people? My Model: Measure a distance and measure the time it takes each person to walk that distance. Of course, the distance I measured was actually marked by two expansion joints (those cracks purposefully put into sidewalks) on a sidewalk. I measured the times of about a hundred people. By doing this, you get the time it takes a person to walk a set number of feet, thus you can easily calculate feet per second (fps). From that, one can easily calculate miles per hour: (fps 3600) 5280; OR fps 0.68182.

The average walking speed for a normal person is 3 miles per hour. Not the 4 miles per hour I had been taught while in primary school. Three mph calculates to 4.4 fps ((5280 3) 3600). In Rolemaster, either version, this equates to a BMR of 44 fpr (feet per round). This begs the question, where did Iron Crown come up with 50 feet as the basis? Perhaps because they wanted a nice, even number?

Now let's go back to the 100 yd dash. My time was 9.88 seconds. My speed was 30.36 fps. This time I am going to use the 3 mph or 4.4 fps pace of a normal person walking for comparison. At this BMR, a dash (5 BMR) works out to 22 fps, or a 100yd dash in 13.64 seconds. This is closer to normal. Since most normal persons are not athletic, but they are fit, I feel a 13.64 to 14 second 100yd dash would be normal.

Now let's look back at my best time in the 100yd dash. We know it averaged 30.36 fps (300 9.88). Working backwards from that Dash BMR pace to the Walk BMR ( 5), we get 6.07 fps walking. However, since I already know most normal people walk at a pace of 4.4 fps, so this is actually a bit high for a walking speed. Using the normal 4.4 fps Walk BMR and dividing it into the 100yd dash 30.36 fps, we get a Pace Multiplier of 6.9. More later.

Now let's look at a PC/NPC (of average height) with a Quickness score of 100. Using both equations we get the following BMRs:

RM: 50 + 25 + 0 = 75 fpr (7.5 fps)
RMFRP: 50 + (10 3) + 0 = 80 fpr (8.0 fps)

Now let's plug these into the calculation for the time it takes to sprint a 100yd dash (300 (fps 5)). With the 7.5 fps, this works out to 8.00 seconds. With the 8.0 fps, we get 7.50 seconds.





No one out there will ever convince me that any character could be capable of such speeds. The only exceptions I may make are for superhero campaigns, gods, Elves, Idiyva, Vulfen, and Mazhaat - BUT NEVER humans! Especially humans.

Author's Note: I know I am definitely wrong about the World Record for the 100m dash below. Accuracy for such matters NOT for the point I am trying to make. The last time I did watch the Olympics was to see Michael Phelps win those 8 Gold Medals. Before that was the 1980 "Miracle on Ice." I am assuming that the World Record would be 9.00 seconds by now. In addition, I am going on the fact that the World Record for the 100yd dash was 9.00 seconds back in 1976, if memory serves. The difference between 100yd and 100m is about 28.1 feet. I figure some athlete has been able to go those 28.1 extra feet in the same amount of time.

As far as I can remember, the World Record for the 100m dash is 9.00 seconds. That works out to a rate of 36.46 fps and a Pace Multiplier of 8.29 (36.46 4.4) if he is of average height. Remember, that is with a World Record Olympic (WRO) sprinter. Do you really expect me to believe that an adventuring/swashbuckling PC/NPC would be capable of a Dash BMR speed of 37.5 to 40 fps? Look at those four words above?

I ain't that stupid. Really think about it. Yes, adventuring/swashbuckling PC/NPC will be quite fit due to his lifestyle. It is my honest and humble opinion, however, that such will never be capable of WRO sprinter abilities (especially with gear). At best, I might allow an adventuring/swashbuckling PC/NPC a maximum pace of 25 fps. Never higher.

Then there is another thing to contemplate. Not all normal persons will be capable of achieving a maximum pace multiplier much greater than 4. Maybe 5 at best. WRO class sprinters could possibly be capable of reaching a maximum pace multiplier of up to 8 (see New Movement Pace Multiplier Chart below).

Additionally, these WROs focus almost exclusively on the Sprinting skill. By the age of 25, they might easily have 30+ ranks (possibly more) in the Sprinting skill. They would also probably use the rank bonus system discussed in one of the RoCos where skill rank bonuses go 0/5/4/3/2/1 (RoCo3 (1st Ed), pg 35, 5.5 Level Intensive Combat).

Furthermore, I feel the Stride Modification Chart is a bit off. The modification should more closely vary with the height of the PC/NPC, than +5 ft for every 6-inch range of height. One solution I devised was to set 70 inches as the +0 normal modification. Subtract 70 from the PC/NPC height in total inches and divide that result by 155, to get the decimal amount by which to multiply the standard BMR (44 fpr). I chose to use 70 inches as the +0 normal since the average height for all male humans is 5' 10" (70 inches). Yes, you have your Shaquille's, but he is an extreme. Besides, I did say average height for all male humans. Additionally, the 155 divisor is less than it should be. In actuality, it would be 158. Reasoning: An average male, 6'0" (72 total inches), has an average stride of about 32 inches. Dividing this out (72 32) gives a result of 2.25. Multiplying this by 72 gives us 157.5. This is information I still remember from Boot Camp Training. Stride Modification: 44 ((H - 70) 155)

Additionally, I also devised a new BMR Stat Modification equation where one subtracts 50 from the Temporary Score for Quickness, then divide the remainder by 25.

Quickness Stat Modification: (Q - 50) 25

I will be the first to admit that these methods make calculating BMR more complicated. However, they are more realistic. On the other hand, one can simply say of the existing rules, "But it's magic." I will concede that point. Of course, these optional rules are not for everyone. I only offer this as guidelines.

New Base Movement Rate Calculation Method

As just mentioned, this is not for everyone. However, for those who want more realism, I offer these guidelines.

BMR Equation: ((44 ((H - 70) 155)) + ((Q - 50) 25) + 44) + M

Where H = Height in total inches, Q = Temporary Quickness Score, and M = Quickness Species Modifier.

Since that is a rather complicated equation, I have provided a JavaScript applet below to do the calculation for you.

Example 1
Suppose you have a PC whose Height is 6'3" for 75 total inches, is Common Human (+0 Qu), and he has a Temporary Quickness of 94. Plugging those numbers in, we get a BMR of 47.18 fpr, or 4.718 fps. In a Dash, that would get us a 100m dash of 13.91 seconds. Now that seems much more realistic.

Example 2
You have a High Elf, male, height = 80 inches, Qu Temp Score = 93, Qu Stat Mod = +6. BMR would equal 54.56 fpr (5.456 fps). In my wife's and my world of Udava, Elves were capable of reaching a Pace Multiplier of 12, provided they trained in Sprinting like an Olympic athlete. Using the above BMR and equation (328.1 (5.456 12)), that would give a 100m dash of 5.01 seconds! Normal Elves could still reach a Pace Multiplier of 7 (using above BMR, 100m dash = 8.59 seconds). IMHO, even normal Elves should be able to almost beat or actually beat human World Record sprinters. That is, however, my opinion.

Default values are the norm and will generate a BMR of 44. Normally, I round BMR values to nearest hundredth.

Temp Qu Score
Species Qu Mod

Base Movement Rate

Here is the Pace Multiplier table I created back in 1991 to help explain why two persons with the same height and same Quickness (using 44 fpr standard) can have one run a 100m dash in 10.65 seconds (7 BMR) while the other takes 14.91 seconds (5 BMR). Simple, one has the Sprinting skill to use to increase his maximum pace multiplier.

Think about it.

Suggestion: Make the maximum Pace Multiplier equal to 4.5 for humans, then use Sprinting skill to modify. Complementary skills would include: Distance Running and Adrenal Speed.

New Movement Pace Multiplier Chart
Stance Multiplier Pace (MPH) 100 m Dash Time (seconds) Notes
Stand 0 0 ? Guess what? You're going nowhere fast.
Crawl 0.25 0.75 298.27 This would be a normal crawl. For a plastered drunk crawl, make pace multiplier 0.1 (0.44 fps), equivalent to 100 meters covered in about 745.68 seconds (12m 25.68s).
Slow Walk 0.5 1.5 149.14 We call this a "mosey" where I come from.
Walk 1 3 74.57 This is normal walking when going from place to place and not in a hurry.
Fast Walk 1.5 4.5 49.71 This is a hurried walk, perhaps in a situation where you cannot run but are in a hurry.
Jog 2 6 37.28 This is a normal pace for those who "jog" for exercise, not training for the marathon. This is also equivalent to that "funny" walk in the Olympics.
Fast Jog 2.5 7.5 29.83 This is the average pace of a slow marathon runner (about 3.5 hours).
Run 3 9 24.86 This is the average pace of a normal marathon runner (about 2.9 hours).
Fast Run 3.5 10.5 21.31 This is the average pace of a quick marathon runner (about 2.5 hours).
Sprint 4 12 18.64 This is the average pace of an Olympic marathon runner (about 2.2 hours).
Fast Sprint 4.5 13.5 16.57 This is the average pace of a superhuman marathon runner (about 1.9 hours). This is also the suggested maximum pace multiplier without use of the Sprinting skill.
Dash 5 15 14.91 This would be the maximum equivalent Dash for most normal persons. Also, this is the 4-minute mile.
Fast Dash 6 18 12.43 This would be the absolute maximum movement ability for a normal person.
Dart 7 21 10.65 This would be the maximum movement ability for a world class athlete. This would break the 3-minute mile (2m 51.43s).
Fast Dart 8 24 9.32 This would be the maximum movement ability for an Olympic class athlete.
Bolt 9 27 8.29 This is starting to get into superhuman abilities and SHOULD be the normal absolute maximum movement ability for a human World Record sprinter.
Fast Bolt 10 30 7.46 From here on, we are into superhuman abilities.
??? + 1 +3 per Beyond the 10 above, these paces are normally impossible. However, some species may be able to obtain pace multipliers of 10+.

Note: The time listed, in seconds, for 100m Dash is the time it would take to move 100 meters at THAT pace based on 44 feet per round.

To calculate the time it takes to do a 100m Dash: 328.1 (4.4 P); where P = pace multiplier.

Here is the extension of the above New Movement Pace Multiplier Chart with the pace difficulty level and exhaustion point expenditures. Included is the Difficulty Levels I have used since about 1988. I just renamed the levels to those I found in RoCo4 (1st Ed), pg 11, when it was published two years later (1990).

Extended Pace Chart
Pace Multiplier Difficulty Exhaustion Point Expenditure Difficulty Modifier
Stand 0 Mundane None Mundane [1]
Crawl 0.25 Mundane 1/90rnds Trivial +50
Slow Walk 0.5 Mundane 1/60rnds Routine +30
Walk 1 Trivial 1/30rnds Easy +20
Fast Walk 1.5 Trivial 1/12rnds Light +10
Jog 2 Routine 1/6rnds Medium +0
Fast Jog 2.5 Routine 1/2rnds Hard -10
Run 3 Easy 1/rnd Very Hard -20
Fast Run 3.5 Easy 2/rnd Extremely Hard -30
Sprint 4 Light 6/rnd Sheer Folly -50
Fast Sprint 4.5 Light 10/rnd Absurd -70
Dash 5 Medium 15/rnd Insane -100
Fast Dash 6 Hard 20/rnd Phenomenal -200
Dart 7 Ex Hard 25/rnd Virtually Impossible -300
Fast Dart 8 Absurd 30/rnd Impossible [2]
Bolt 9 Phenomenal 35/rnd
Fast Bolt 10 Virtually Impossible 40/rnd
etc. + 1 per [3] +5/rnd per etc. + 1 per

[1] = no roll is needed, automatically succeeds.
[2] = no roll possible, automatically fails.
[3] = Normally, Impossible; however, some species may reach these higher multipliers.

Maximum Pace Multiplier
Species Max Multiplier
Human 4.5
Elf 7
Gnome 3.5
Dwarf 4
Halfling 3
Lesser Orc 4
Greater Orc 5
Idiyva 6
Vulfen 6
Mazhaat 6

Note: The above are only guidelines. They are also the normal maximum pace multiplier before use of the Sprinting skill.

Final Note

Before you ask, yes, the above has been playtested for 7 years during my wife's and my Udava campaign (1991 to 1998), and another 2 years during another campaign (2001 to 2003) ran by another GM who found the above to be "better than the standard version in Rolemaster." His words, not mine. It is also currently playtested with my Spacemaster campaign for the last 4 years (2008+). Those players have all said it is "much more realistic than the Iron Crown version." Again, their words, not mine.

Finally, I say, "Enjoy, or curse it."