What is Rolemaster?
Rolemaster is a classical fantasy role-playing game which started out in the early 80s of the last century and is still present today, having undergone several edition changes during that time. Due to these constant improvements, it stands for remarkable flexibility and richness of detail. The following features are particularly noteworthy:
- A very detailed character creation system where no two characters are alike. Each character can learn anything, the profession merely determines the effort required to learn.
- Many different races and professions, the choice of which can also be broadened easily by the game master.
- A detailed skill system with skills sorted into groups, bonuses from attributes, professions, races etc, leaving the skills to be extremely individual.
- A tactical combat system with detailed tables for critical hits as well as different weapons and attack types.
- A detailed magic system with more than 2000 spells sorted into spell listings
- Detailed hints and guidelines for game masters, pointers towards creation of a world, directing difficult situations etc.
How do you get started?
All beginnings are difficult, as are the choices required from a new player in a fantasy role-playing game. Keep calm, though, as we will take you by the hand to help you.
The first question when starting out in the fascinating world of role-playing games automatically is “what role will I play?” You start to wonder what kind of character you want to portray in the game. Of course, we cannot answer this question for you, but we can help you. Think about books and movies you have read or seen. The first choice for your character is its race. Maybe you want to portray a high men, as you want your character to stand up for the good in the world. Or maybe you'll choose an elven lady, as you “have always wanted to have pointy ears” (to quote Liv Tyler, the actress that portrayed Arwen in Lord of the Rings). You see, the choice is up to you, as is your reason for it. Look through the Rolemaster Core Book. There, you will find pictures of the basic races of Rolemaster, which will surely inspire you. You should not put too much attention to the race's values and rules, but rather get a feel for the role-playing consequences of your choice, that is, “how the race can be played”. If you have a rather gruff, grim character on your mind, with a well-hidden soft core, you might want to choose a dwarf. If you rather want to be playful and pull harmless tricks on the other players, take a look at the halfling. This does not mean that every halfling will constantly play tricks on others – this is just one possibility of portraying that race. There are no limits to your fantasy and creativity.
After choosing a race, you also need to decide on a profession for the character. In Rolemaster, professions determine what the character did before starting out as an adventurer, what he learns easily or with more difficulty. Still, this is no limitation for further development; a character can learn any skill, regardless of his profession. The professions only determine the amount of effort needed to learn a certain skill. A warrior, for example, will find it easy to handle a sword. He has to work harder to learn the principles of higher mathematics, though. A wizard, on the other hand, will learn spells much easier than the warrior, but can't handle a sword as well. As you can see, you can't really go wrong as long as you don't stray too much from a character's original profession during the game. The system will help you there. Thus, the decision about a character's profession should not depend upon which profession seems stronger or weaker. This is, in any case, a subjective opinion, as all professions are in fact balanced. No, your choice for a profession should only depend upon your ability to identify with it later on. For example, you would not like a movie with a main character you find disagreeable. Take a look at the professions presented in the Core Book, look at the pictures and think about what profession you would like your character to have.
Could you rather identify with a likeable rogue or with an inscrutable mentalist? Would you rather have a bard playing in a tavern than a warrior trashing the place during a brawl? Do you prefer playing a solitary ranger who is completely lost when he enters a town, or an urbane trickster using his magic spells to sneak out of difficult situations? Rolemaster offers you total freedom for that choice. Don't worry about having chosen a “good combination” of race and profession – there are no better or worse combinations in Rolemaster. Everything is possible with any combination, just let your feelings guide you. Ask yourself what your character should be like in the game, then you'll know which character you want to play. You can't go wrong, as you can learn any skill at any point during character development. You won't miss anything.
Once you have made these decisions, the biggest hurdles are cleared. Talk about a background for your character with the game master. Maybe you'll want to choose one or two training packs to get an automatic feel for your character's “past life”. The better you know your character, the easier and more convincing you will find portraying him or her at the table. After a while, you will make decisions in the game naturally, as you know how your character thinks. Then, the only thing left for us to say is: have fun!