RMFRP Simplified

Copyright Jörg Jahnke © 2015

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"The first change with the new system is that developing ranks in skill categories, introduced with RMSS, gets removed."

Introduction

As outlined in a previous article, the older Rolemaster 2nd edition core rules contained a list of 28 “primary” skills plus 40 optional secondary skills, while later versions of Rolemaster expanded this list to over 200 skills. In addition, character creation in RMFRP now requires developing skill categories plus individual skills, which again require more decisions from the player. Overall character development takes considerably more time than it took for a Rolemaster 2 character – especially when played without optional skills.

This simplified version of RMFRP aims at again reducing the time it takes to create a character while at the same time maintaining the core concepts of Rolemaster and offering players the full range of weapons presented in Arms Law and the full range of spells presented in Spell Law. The simplified system actually only implements six of the many Rolemaster FRP professions, but “converting” also other professions by applying the same guidelines that are presented in this article would not be difficult.

Overview of the simplified system

The simplified system introduces the following changes, which will be outlined in more detail in the next sections:

  • Developing ranks in skill categories gets removed. For weapon skills a simplified handling of weapon similarities is included in the rules below.
  • As a result of this the progression for the former Standard Skills changes to -30 • 5 • 3 • 1 • 0.5
  • The number of skills gets significantly reduced, close to the number of skills used in RM2.
  • The number of Hobby Skill Ranks gets halved.
  • Training Packages get adapted and a couple of example TPs are presented.
  • The way Everyman / Occupational / Restricted skills get handled gets reworked.
  • The number of DPs is now a flat 40 points. If most the optional skills get used then 50 DPs can be used for every level of development instead.
  • The number of professions gets reduced to six. More professions may be added by applying the same principles as explained in this article.

For the reasoning behind the first six changes, please have a look at the article Simplifying the RMSS skill system. The last two changes were added for further simplification and too keep the number of choices small for new players.

Developing ranks in skill categories gets removed

The first change with the new system is that developing ranks in skill categories, introduced with RMSS, gets removed. In order to represent similarities between different weapons, a similarity perhaps most often used in FRPGs, the following simplified rule can be used:

If a character has learned skill with a given weapon then he can wield all other weapons in the same weapon group with -20 to his OB. The weapon where the character developed skill in is considered his Primary Weapon in this group. Changing the Primary Weapon can be achieved by practicing a few hours. All other weapons in the same Weapon Category (e.g. 1-Handed Edged) can be used with -40 to OB.

(If you own the old RM2 Character & Campaign Law, then you can use the Similar Weapons Table on pg. 79 for determining how weapons can be grouped. Otherwise I suggest using the weapon groups from pg. 26 of HARP Lite.)

Example:

Rowan the Fighter has developed skill in wielding a broadsword with 80 OB. Since a longsword belongs to the same Weapon Group, he may wield a longsword with 80 – 20 = 60 OB. A dagger, which is also a 1-Handed Edged weapon, could be used by him with 80 – 40 = 40 OB. During an adventure Rowan finds an enchanted longsword and decides to make this his new Primary Weapon. After practicing one afternoon with the new weapon, Rowan can use the longsword with 80 OB and his old broadsword, now no longer the Primary Weapon in the group, only with 60 OB.

Restricted, Everyman and Occupational skills

The modified advancement rules for Restricted, Everyman, and Occupational skills get removed. Instead these categorizations now translate into a flat bonus as follows:

  • Restricted skills get a modification of -20
  • Everyman skills get a modification of +20
  • Occupational skills get a modification of +30

If a character has a skill fall into one of these categories through his race and into the same or another of these categories because of his profession, then simply add the two bonuses.

Character creation using the simplified system

List of steps

Most parts of the character creation work in the same way as in the normal RMFRP rules. Here is the complete list of steps:

  • Choose a race
  • Choose a profession: The list of available professions was further reduced to contain only Fighter, Thief, Ranger, Dabbler, Cleric, and Magician.
  • Record the profession bonuses
  • Choose a realm of power
  • Determine temporary stats, potential stats and stat bonuses
  • Adolescence skill development: This is slightly different from the RMFRP handling. See the chapter on Adolescence Skill Development below.
  • Choose Background Options.
  • Develop Apprenticeship skills: This part is again a bit different from the usual way in RMFRP because only skills now get developed and categories no longer. See the section on Developing Apprenticeship skill below.
  • Flesh out the characters role.
  • Finalize the character.

Adolescence Skill Development

Use the Adolescence Rank Table from the last section of this document for determining the skills ranks the character gained in his early life. This table now only lists gains in individual skills and no longer for categories ranks. A player should of course only write down the ranks for those skills that get used in their group. So if e.g. you decide to not use the list of skills marked as optional, then you probably won't use the three ranks in Region Lore that are listed in the Adolescence Rank Table.

Hobby Ranks listed in the Adolescence Rank Table work just as before. Since category ranks have been removed these ranks of course can now only be spent on individual skills, which is why the number was reduced.

Starting languages, the additional language ranks and the number of Background Options listed in the Adolescence Skill table work just as before.

Apprenticeship Skill Development

As outlined above the character now receives a flat 40 DPs, 50 if the optional skills also get used, for developing skills in a level. The character can use these DPs to develop skills individually, obtain TPs, or obtain extra stat gain rolls.

For developing individual skills consult the Development Point Cost Table in the Appendices section to get the skill costs. Only individual skills get developed. All these individual skills that use the Standard Progression in normal RMFRP now use the Combined Progression -30 • 5 • 3 • 1 • 0.5. Skills using a special progression, like Body Development, keep this special progression.

Training Packages get used quite differently than in RMFRP. A TP is now only a collection of skills you can use for your character in order to flesh out his background and assign some typical skills for this background. It is also a means for new players to more quickly get their characters done by picking one or two TPs, thereby assigning a majority of their DPs, and then only having to decide on some few skills to develop. A character does not need to develop all skill listed in a TP. Sometimes it is not even possible, because e.g. a Magician cannot develop more than one rank in a weapon skills while the City Guard TP lists two ranks.

There is also no longer a discount on buying a TP, no items of money associated to a TP and no costs for TPs are listed. You now have to calculate the needed DPs manually. The TP is really only a suggestion on what skills a character could develop if the player desires a certain background for him. The ranks from TP also count against the number of ranks developed per level. On the other hand these changes also mean that a character can develop as many TPs per level as he likes and also not only during apprenticeship. The only limitation per level are the number of DPs available.

Extra stat gain rolls can be purchased normally, as explained in section 6.4 of the RMFRP rules.

Creation of an example character

We are using the same sample character, Varak, that gets used in the RMFRP core book as example for the character creation. In the first step we do the same as explained on RMFRP pg. 13, pick the High Man race for Varak and record stat bonuses and resistance rolls for the race on the character record sheet.

Next step is choosing a profession, and Varak again should be a Ranger. We then record this information plus the corresponding professional bonuses for a Ranger on the character record sheet. We also note Channeling as a realm, which is the realm for a Ranger.

Next is determining the temporary and potential stats for Varak, which is exactly the same as explained on RMFRP pg. 16-17. Stat bonuses also work just the same as before.

The first change comes with the Adolescence Skill Development, which is the next step. The first step to do here is copying the ranks for the Adolescence Rank Table below into the character record sheet. For a High Man like Varak these are the following skills:

  • Rigid Leather: 1 rank
  • Chain: 2 rank
  • Swimming: 1 rank
  • Perception: 1 rank
  • Body Development: 3 ranks
  • Languages: 12 ranks, to be distributed on the individual languages
  • Region Lore : 3 ranks, but it's an optional skill, so we ignore this
  • Rising: 1 rank
  • Read Runes: 1 rank
  • 1 Handed Edged Weapon: 2 rank, we pick the Broadsword here
  • Missile Weapon: 1 rank, we pick the Composite Bow
  • Two-Handed Weapon: 1 rank, we pick the 2-Hand Sword
  • Pole Arms: 1 rank, we pick the Spear

According to the new Adolescence Rank Table a High Man has 5 Hobby Ranks. We are trying to create a similar character as the Varak in the RMFRP book and assign the 5 ranks as follows:

  • Broadsword skill: 2 ranks
  • Stalking skill: 1 rank
  • Power Point Development: 1 rank
  • Body Development: 1 rank

We can then copy the starting languages a High Man gets to the character record sheet and will assign the 12 additional language ranks – whose amount and handling is unchanged – on the sheet.

Next are background options, which work exactly as explained in the RMFRP rules.

Apprenticeship Skill Development is again slightly different. First thing to consider is the number of DPs. For the example we are only using the core skills and no optional skills. Therefore the number of DPs we have available for Varak is 40. Next the variable DP costs for weapons should get assigned, which works exactly as described in the normal RMFRP rules.

Now we want to determine the skills to develop for Varak. In the RMFRP book Varak decides to develop the Adventurer TP, so we will do the same. The Adventurer TP suggests the following ranks to be developed for a typical adventurer:

  • Body Development: 1 rank, which will cost Varak the first 4 of his 40 DPs. If he wants to develop another rank during the Apprenticeship Skill Development, be it from another TP or normal skill development, then this would cost him 12 DPs, because it would be the second rank for this skill within one level of development.
  • One weapon skill of choice: 1 rank with his broadsword, which will cost Varak another 3 DPs.
  • Climbing: 1 rank, which will cost Varak 3 DPs.
  • Swimming: 1 rank, costing 1 DP.
  • Perception: 1 rank, using the Awareness- Searching costs, so 1 DP.
  • Attunement: 1 rank, costing 5 DPs.
  • First Aid: 1 rank, but it's an optional skill and therefore will ignore it for Varak.

In total this is 4 + 3 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 = 17 DPs of the 40 DPs Varak has available, leaving him 23 DPs to spend on further skills.

To keep the character similar as in the example in the RMFRP core book, we will invest these 23 DPs to develop the following skills individually:

  • Broadsword skill: 1 rank, since Varak already developed one rank via the Adventurer TP, this second rank during the Apprenticeship Skill Development will cost him 7 DP.
  • Composite Bow skill: 1 rank, which will cost Varak 4 DPs.
  • Path Mastery Spell List: 1 rank, costing 3 DP.
  • Nature's Way spell list: 1 rank, costing 3 DP.
  • Inner Walls spell list: 2 ranks, costing 6 DP.

In the RMFRP book example Varak had developed one more rank in Body Development and one rank less in the Inner Walls spell list than in the example above, but, with TPs counting towards the number of skill ranks developed in a level, this would have been too costly.

Next comes fleshing out the character's role, which works exactly as explained in RMFRP pg. 28-29.

Final character preparation, which comes after that, is a bit different because the skill progression is now different and a bonus from a skill category does no longer exist. Stat bonuses stay the same. Since TPs no longer may come with additional bonus items, the +5 broadsword that Varak received via the Adventurer TP will also no longer be part of his equipment. So let's go through Varak's list of skills:

  • Rigid Leather: 1 rank +5, Stats +22 => 27 total
  • Chain: 2 ranks +10, Stats +26 => 36 total
  • Swimming: 2 ranks +10, Stats +25, Professional Bonus +5 => 40 total
  • Climbing: 1 rank +5, Stats +12, PB +5 => 22 total
  • Perception: 2 ranks +10, Stats +5, PB +10 => 25 total
  • Body Development: 5 ranks +30, Stats +18, PB +5, Special +10 => 68 total
  • Riding: 1 rank +5, Stats 0, PB +20 => 25 total
  • Broadsword: 6 ranks +30, Stats +26, PB +5, Background +10 => 71 total
  • Composite Bow: 2 ranks +10, Stats +22, PB +5 => 37 total
  • Two-hand sword: 1 rank: +5, Stats +26, PB +5 => 36 total
  • Spear: 1 rank +5, Stats +26, PB +5 => 36 total
  • Dagger: 0 ranks, but same Weapon Category as Broadsword => 61 (Broadsword skill bonus minus the 10 bonus from background options) – 40 = 21 total
  • Stalking: 1 rank +5, Stats +11, PB +5, Item +10 => 31 total
  • Power Point Development: 1 rank +6, Stats +5 => 11 total
  • Read Runes: 1 rank +5, Stats +6 => 11 total
  • Attunement: 1 rank +5, Stats +6 => 11 total
  • Path Mastery spell list: 1 rank +1, Stats +5 => 6 total
  • Nature's Way spell list: 1 rank +1, Stats +5 => 6 total
  • Inner Walls spell list:2 ranks +2, Stats +5 => 7 total

I have excluded Varak's languages in the list above, but it works in the same way. All in all the results deviate only slightly from the example in the RMFRP book. Skill in Body Development and Broadsword is now a bit lower than in the example in the book, due to one rank less in the Body Development having been developed and the +5 broadsword from the Adventurer TP missing. Dagger skill is also different because of the different handling of the weapon similarities. Skills with no ranks, like Jumping or Hiding, have the biggest differences in bonus, because we have no similarities rules for these. The rest of the total bonuses deviate by 2 points or less. So we are getting almost the same character but with less work :-).

Conclusion

So where are we now? We have dropped the feature of category ranks, lowered the number of available skills significantly, and have reworked the handling of Training Packages. Overall this should lead to a (hopefully also significantly) reduced amount of time necessary for creating a character, but without a significant change in number of skills and bonuses in these skills that a character has – except for optional skills, if these are not used.

How can this system be used? In my opinion the target audience for this change in the system would be new players who want to create their first Rolemaster character. The simplifications introduced in this article are reducing the amount of detail in the game, so that a new player can better handle it and more quickly can create his/her first character. Such a character will have all the core skills of a “normal” Rolemaster character and will thus be fully playable.

Once a player has mastered this first step, the next step would be adding the optional skills. Characters created using this system including the skills marked as optional would look very much like character created using the normal RMFRP rules and should give a gaming group 95% of the system with a still noticeably reduced amount of time necessary for character creation.

After mastering this step a group could switch to using RMFRP as written in the rules and thereby get access to the last few percent of the details that Rolemaster offers, like better skill similarities and the full list of skills.

The Appendices

Development Point Cost Table

Category Fighter Thief Ranger Dabbler Cleric Magician
Armor - Heavy 2/2/2 4/4/4 5/5/5 11 11 11
Armor - Light 1/1/1 2/2/2 2/2/2 5/5/5 2/2/2 9
Armor - Medium 2/2/2 3/3/3 4/4/4 10 10 10
Artistic - Active 2/5 2/4 2/5 2/4 2/5 2/5
Artistic - Passive 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5
Athletic - Brawn 2/5 3/6 3/7 3/9 5 6
Athletic - Endurance 2/6 2/7 1/5 2/7 3 3
Athletic - Gymnastics 2/5 1/3 3/6 2/4 3 3
Awareness - Search. 2/5 1/3 1/4 2/6 2/6 3
Body Development 1/3 3/6 2/6 3/7 5 8
Combat Maneuvers 2/4 2/6 3/6 3/7 5 9
Communication 3/3/3 3/3/3 3/3/3 2/2/2 2/2/2 2/2/2
Crafts 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5
Directed Spells 20 20 15 5 3 2/5
Influence 2/7 2/5 2/6 2/4 2/4 2/6
Lore - General 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3
Lore - Magical 6 5 3/6 2/6 2/4 1/4
Lore - Obscure 3/7 3/7 3/7 3/7 3/7 3/7
Lore - Technical 2/6 2/4 2/6 2/5 2/6 2/6
Martial Arts - Striking 3/5 3/7 4 4 6 9
Martial Arts - Sweeps 3/5 3/7 4 4 6 9
Outdoor - Animal 1/4 2/5 1/5 2/6 3 3
Outdoor - Enviromen. 2/5 2/6 1/3 2/6 2/7 3
Power Awareness 8 6 5 2/7 2/5 1/4
Power Manipulation 9 9 3/6 3/6 2/5 2/5
Power Point Devel. 10 8 4 4 2 2
Self Control 2/6 2/6 2/7 2/7 5 6
Special Attacks 1/3 1/4 2/4 3 5 8
Special Defenses 13 13 15 15 15 15
Spells Other - - - - - -
Spells Own Base Lists - - 3/3/3 3/3/3 2/2/2 2/2/2
Spells Own Closed 20 18 5/5 5/5 2/2/2 2/2/2
Spells Own Open 13 9 4/4 4/4 2/2/2 2/2/2
Subterf. - Mechanics 3/8 1/3 4 2/6 7 7
Subterfuge - Attack 3/5 1/3 3 3/6 8 8
Subterfuge - Stealth 2/5 1/3 1/5 1/5 5 5
Tech./Trade - General 3/7 3/7 3/7 3/7 3/7 3/7
Urban 2/4 1/2 3/6 1/5 3 3
Weapon - first 1/5 2/7 3/7 3/9 6 9
Weapon - second 2/5 3/8 4 6 7 20
Weapon - third 2/7 4 6 7 9 20
Weapon - forth 2/7 4 6 8 9 20
Weapon - fifth 2/7 4 6 10 9 20
Weapon - sixth 5 6 9 15 20 20
Weapon - seventh 5 6 9 15 20 20
MA Combat Maneuvers 3/6 3 4 4 6 9

Adolescence Rank Table

Category/Skill Common Men High Men Wood Elves Dwarves Halflings
Armor - Light
    Soft Leather 1
    Rigid Leather 1 1 1
Armor - Medium
    Chain 2 3
Athletic - Endurance
    Swimming 1 1 3
Athletic - Gymnastics
    Climbing 2 1 2
Awareness - Search.
    Perception 1 1 1 1 1
Body Development 2 3 1 3 2
Communication
    Languages 8 12 12 8 6
Lore - General
    Region Lore 3 3 3 3 3
Outdoor - Animal
    Riding 1 1 1
Power Awareness
    Read Runes 1 1
Spells Own Open 2
Subterfuge - Stealth
    Hiding 4 5
    Stalking 4 5
Weapon - 1 Handed Conc.
    Weapon based on race 4
Weapon - 1 Handed Edged
    Weapon based on race 1 2 1
Weapon - 2 Handed
    Weapon based on race 1
Weapon - Missile
    Weapon based on race 1 1 3 2
Weapon - Pole Arms
    Weapon based on race 1 1
Weapon - Thrown
    Weapon based on race 1 1 2
Tech./Trade - General
Hobby Ranks 6 5 5 6 6
Background Options 6 4 4 5 5

Example Training Packages

Adventurer

Skill Ranks
Body Development 1
One weapon skill (choice) 1
Climbing 1
Swimming 1
Perception 1
Attunement 1
First Aid 1

Amateur Mage

Skill Ranks
Spells - Open Lists 3
Lore Magical - one skill 2
Lore Technical - one skill 1
Attunement 1
Reading Runes 1

Burglar

Skill Ranks
Subterfuge Mech. - up to 2 skills 2
Climbing 1
Weapon - choice of one skill 1

City Guard

Skill Ranks
Weapon - one skill 2
Body Development 1
Streetwise 1
Perception 1
First Aid 1

Hunter

Skill Ranks
Missile Weapon - one skill 1
Survival 2
Tracking 2
Hiding 1
Stalking 1

Knight

Skill Ranks
Melee Weapon - one skill 2
Plate Armor 2
Riding 2

Scout

Skill Ranks
Survival 3
Riding 1
Perception 2
Tracking 1
Weapon - one skill 1

Soldier

Skill Ranks
Weapon - one skill 2
Armor - one skill 2
Body Development 2

Traveler

Skill Ranks
Climbing 1
Swimming 1
Riding 1
Perception 1
Survival 1

The reduced skill set

The list of skills gets cut down again to roughly 70 skills, of which most are marked as optional. In most cases these are the skills that already existed as Secondary Skills in RM2. If you can't find a skill that your characters used to develop very often and which you won't miss, then simply add it to the list. Putting in a handful of skills again won't hurt the balance.

A few skill categories have been removed completely: Awareness – Perception, Awareness – Senses, Science – Basic, Science – Specialized, Technical/Trade – Professional and Technical/Trade – Vocational. Some skills formerly listed in these categories have been moved to other categories, most have simply been removed.

The skill list now looks as follows:

Armor

Soft Leather, Rigid Leather, Chain, Plate

Optional: Artistic

Acting, Dancing, Music, Singing

Athletic

Climbing

Optional: Acrobatics, Contortions, Diving, Rowing, Skiing, Swimming, Tumbling

Awareness

Perception

Optional: Tracking

A note on Perception: This skill replaces all other skills in the Awareness categories except Tracking and uses the DP cost of the Awareness – Searching category. So spotting a hidden enemy in a forest now uses Perception to resolve the maneuver as well as detecting a trap in a dungeon corridor. A special rule applies to all Perception maneuvers which a player did not explicitly state. These maneuvers get resolved using a special -50 modified. So if a character walks down a dungeon corridor without looking for traps he still has a chance to detect a trap, but it is far easier for him if he actively looks out for them.

Perception Adolescence Skill Ranks: Use halve the number of ranks listed for the Alertness skill for the character's race (rounded up).

Body Development

Body Development

Optional: Combat Maneuvers

Two-weapon Combat, Weapon Styles

Communication

Languages

Optional: Signaling

Optional: Crafts

Cooking, Fletching, Leather Working, Rope Mastery, Stone Carving, Smithing, Wood Carving

Add other crafts as you see fit.

Directed Spells

One for each directed attack

Influence

Influence

This one skill replaces all other influence skills previously listed in this category, be it Interrogation, Trading or other skills.

Optional: Lore

Culture Lore, Region Lore, Artifact Lore, Circle Lore, Spell Lore, Symbol Lore

Add other lore skills as you see fit.

Martial Arts

Striking, Sweeps & Throws

Optional: Martial Arts Style

Outdoor

Riding

Optional: Animal Handling, Survival

A note on Animal Handling: This encompasses tending animals, healing them as well as the former herding skill.

A note on Survival: This skill replaces all former skills from the Outdoor – Environmental Category, be it Foraging, Caving etc.

Power (Magical)

Attunement, Channeling, Power Point Development, Runes

Optional: Spell Mastery, Transcend Armor

Optional: Self Control

Adrenal Balance, Adrenal Landing, Adrenal Leaping, Adrenal Speed, Adrenal Strength, Meditation, Stunned Maneuvering (= Stun Removal)

Optional: Special Attacks & Defenses

Adrenal Defense, any kind of special attack

Spells

Open Spell Lists, Closed Spell Lists, Base Spell Lists, Other Spell Lists

Subterfuge

Ambush, Disarm Traps, Hiding, Stalking

Optional: Pick Locks, Trap Building, Trickery

Optional: Technical/Trade

First Aid, Gambling, Mathematics, Navigation, Sailing

First Aid Adolescence Skill Ranks: Use the number of ranks for the Technical/Trade – General Skill Category for the character's race.

Optional: Urban

Streetwise

Streetwise Adolescence Skill Ranks: Use the number of ranks for the Urban Skill Category for the character's race.

Weapons

One for each weapon. Different costs apply to the different weapon categories.

Abbreviations

DP
Development Point
FRPG
Fantasy RolePlaying Game
HARP
High Adventure Roleplaying
PB
Professional Bonus
RM
Rolemaster
RM2
Rolemaster 2nd edition
RMSS
Rolemaster – The standard system
RMFRP
Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying
RMX
Rolemaster Extended
TP
Training Package