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Rolemaster

Rolemaster is a table-top role-playing game published by Iron Crown Enterprises. Rolemaster has come in four separate editions. The 3rd edition, first published in 1995, is also known as the "Rolemaster Standard System" (or RMSS for short). Since 1999, the current edition is called "Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying" (or RMFRP).

Note: This article is based on the 3rd and prior editions. Need info about Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying (RMFRP).

Rolemaster differs from the better known Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in that only two ten-sided dice are needed to play it (compared to well over a hundred of various shapes that can be found in a typical AD&D player's briefcase), and more importantly in that Rolemaster strikes an optimal balance between realism and playability in its skill, magic and combat mechanics.

RMSS uses a percentile dice system and uses both classes and levels to describe character growth. Character generation can take quite a long time if a player doesn't know the rules well, and even experienced RMSS players can take over an hour generating a new character. Often derisively called 'Chartmaster' for it's dependence on a truly bewildering number of different charts for determining quantity and quality of success. Skills are very detailed, sometimes taking multiple skills to perform a single action.

Rolemaster is also renowned for (others might say 'infamous for') its use of 'Critical Hits'. When in combat a person will find on the weapon charts primary damage as well as secondary damage in the form of a Critical Hit. By rolling on (yet another) chart a player can determine this secondary damage, which can be anything from your opponent laughing at you if you roll poorly at you to instant death of the target if you roll well. The fact that opponents also roll on these same charts makes RMSS a very deadly game since at any given time an opponent can get lucky and then a completely healthy character is instantly dead.

The rules for RMSS don't come so much in a single base book as they come spread out among many source books. It's easy to tell which books are called this as the last word in the title is always ...'Law', thus the book on magic is called 'Spell Law' and the book on weapons is called 'Arms Law'. This spreading out of required material with the dependence on charts can make the game burdensome if a trip to the nearest copy machine isn't made. This also leads to an additional derisive name for the system: 'Arm Slaw'.



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