Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Peter Mork © 2012

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Welcome to the 164th edition of the Guild Companion. This month we continue our "exploration" of the Forgotten Realms from the perspective of a Rolemaster tourist, with a conversion of Elven races and cultures. This issue also includes a detailed discussion of armor throughout the ages.

This month, I'd like to talk about subsequent maneuver bonuses. The concept has been a part of Rolemaster for decades, although it was RMSS that really formalized the use of these bonuses. The basic idea is that whenever you successfully complete a maneuver, you get a decent bonus to any subsequent maneuver related to the original maneuver. For example, a successful Silent Attack might provide a bonus to a subsequent Ambush maneuver.

I have seen two problems arise with the subsequent maneuver modifiers. First, it encourages players to start every "skill chain" with their best maneuvers. Once you get the first success, you establish a feedback loop that perpetuates the subsequent maneuver bonus. Second, it encourages "show-boating" in the form of turning a single maneuver into a series of maneuvers, each of which keep the "spotlight" on the player involved.

One factor that contributes to the second issue is that subsequent maneuver bonuses are intended to apply to the same character's next maneuver. This assumption is, I think, the root of the problem. Thus, we have been playing for the last several months with the understanding that you can keep the subsequent maneuver bonus for yourself (at half value), or you can donate the subsequent maneuver bonus to another player (at full value).

The experience has been largely positive. Yes, there have been some wrinkles such as the thief's lock lore being less useful (the skill seems to exist largely to give a bonus to picking locks, which is the sole purview of the thief). But, overall we've seen increased collaboration among the players. For example, the Goddess of Research will often use her book-knowledge to give another God a bonus to whatever maneuver that God is attempting. Instead of this goddess assuming virtually any role in the party, she supplements the other gods who have more well-defined roles. In essence, I have found it highly rewarding, albeit somewhat unrealistic, for subsequent maneuver bonuses to apply more to an ally than to one's own maneuvers.

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