Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Peter Mork © 2013

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Welcome to the 169th edition of the Guild Companion. It's a sparse month for articles; we present a collection of online resources for Rolemaster Rome.

I've spent more time the last couple of months on the other side of the gaming table (i.e., as a player) than I'm used to. Based on those experiences, I've decided that an important GM skill is blending interesting stories with interesting game mechanics. And, of these, it may the latter that's more important.

Blasphemy, I hear! The story is paramount. Well, if you have a game with interesting game mechanics and no real story, you might end up with chess. Now, certainly the d20 combat system is no chess, but even absent a story, Rolemaster combat is an entertaining diversion.

A story backed by poor game mechanics, however, is an exercise in frustration. As a recent example, our party of fey heroes was climbing a storybook castle overgrown with vines. The climbing wasn't hard, just tedious. To liven things up, every round there was a chance that a spider (did I mention that Little Miss Muffet's castle was overrun with spiders?) would hear the party and attack. On the ground we could hold our own against two or three of the buggers; climbing the wall, only one. But the game mechanics (invented on the fly, I'm guessing) virtually ensured that the supply of enemy spiders was ever growing.

The setup was really cool. But, the implementation spoiled the experience. So, if I have any words of advise, it's that the GM needs to establish the game mechanics ahead of time, and run a few simulations to see if the players have a chance. If there's any doubt, it's best to err on the side of PC victory, at least until you have a good feel for the rules.

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