Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Peter Mork © 2012

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Welcome to the 160th edition of the Guild Companion. This month we are excited to introduce a brand new serial by Charles Morris. These articles provide conversions for races & cultures from the Forgotten Realms setting, which in my experience is an excellent campaign setting for Rolemaster games. The serial begins with a discussion of human races and cultures from across Faerūn.

For the last few months, our Gods have been using the approach I outlined in March's editorial for skill development. Given our experiences, it's time to check in to see how it's going.

As a quick reminder, whenver a PC uses a skill, the player makes a note on his character sheet. At the end of the session, he automatically gains a rank in that skill. These skill acquisitions are drawn from the DP available next level. When the PC levels, the early acquisitions are converted to skill purchases.

The response has been quite positive. From a player's perspective there are two distinct advantages. First, the PC gains a small boost immediately. He doesn't have to wait until the character levels to learn new skills. Second, leveling up is easier because many DP have already been spent.

As the GM, I've also observed benefits. First, the PC's skills truly represent that character's experiences. If the PC takes to the air regularly, he automatically learns Flying. Second, players are reluctant to make maneuver rolls just to get lucky. In previous games, when a Lore or Awareness maneuver was needed, all of the players would roll to maximize the party's chance of success.

The approach has not been without difficulties, though. One PC is very fond of the Spell Prime spell (level 1 Symbolic Ways). He has no interest in the higher level spells (such as Unsymbol). Regardless, the PC now has several ranks in the Symbolic Ways spell list. However, if we are to interpret spell lists as groups of logically related spells, then it makes some sense that the PC is learning the higher level spells. On the other hand, continually casting a level 1 spell wouldn't necessarily mean that the PC is learning more complex spells. I am considering pre-allocating ranks in spell lists only when the PC casts the highest level spell he knows on the list. For example, when casting Spell Prime, the PC would only be able to learn the second rank of Symbolic Ways.

The second challenge is dealing with skills whose use is outside the character's control. For example, the player does not determine when the PC uses Alertness, Sense Ambush, or Body Development. In these cases, I allow the player to decide whether or not he gains a rank automatically.

Finally, in terms of bookkeeping, we have seen minimal impact. The player places a check next to each skill when he uses the skill and I collect these notes at the end of every session. This effort means a bit more work at the end of each session (but less work when it's time to level).

Until next month, may all of your Large criticals be open-ended.
Peter Mork
General Editor