Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Playing Rolemaster With Porn Stars

I've been pretty successful in getting pretty much whoever to play RPGs with us over the last few years--which is nice. One thing I've been miserable at is convincing new people to run games, however.

Mandy wants to run a game--she claims--Ricky keeps saying he'll eventually DM and Connie keeps saying she's gonna run 'Mouse Guard' but it keeps not happening. It's the familiar story: people are busy, plus the level of preparation new DMs think they need is intimidating*. (Incidentally, I am not of the new-DMs-will-necessarily-suck-until-they-get-some-practice-under-their-belts school--I think it's pretty easy for everybody to have fun as long as somebody knows the rules at the table--and that somebody is both sane and helpful.)

Anyway, point is I get real excited whenever anybody wants to run the game and will pretty much play any game as long as I'm not the boss of it. So Cameraman Darren (he of the cogent psychological analysis on display here) is running Rolemaster for us this afternoon.

Yes, Rolemaster--The Game That Even Nerds Think Is Too Complicated.

I, personally, am terribly excited. Darren has done the necessary programming and devil worship, and here are the pre-gen characters that the Deep Blue has spit out for us to play...(I have no idea what half this stuff means.)


1.Priest of Reann - Cleric - Defender
Syreth (Common man)
Equipment: Mace, Shield, and Dagger - Leather Breastplate and Greaves (AT10)
Spells: Communal Ways - Protections - Repulsions

2.Priest of Reann - Cleric - Combat Medic
Lenn-Rak (Beastial Man)
Equipment: Morning Star, Shield, and Dagger - Leather Breastplate and Greaves (AT 10)
Spells: Concussion's Ways - Blood Law

3.Knight of Reann - Paladin - Cleanser of Unlife
Laan (Noble Man)
Equipment: Broadsword, Shield, Heavy Crossbow, and Dagger - Chain Shirt (AT 13)
Spells: Communion - Exorcisms - Holy Healing

4.Eye of Reann - Magent - Infiltrator
Syreth (Common Man)
Equipment: Rapier, Main Gauche, and Dagger - Leather Coat (AT 6)
Spells: Escapes - Misdirections

5.Eye of Reann - Magent - Assassin
Rhamii (Oriental Man)
Equipment: Scimitar, Main Gauche, and Dagger - Leather Coat (AT 6)
Spells: Assassination Mastery - Disguise Mastery

6.Eye of Reann - Rogue - The Blade Master
Mulri (High Elf)
Equipment: Falchion, Rapier, Main Gauche, and Dagger - Leather Breastplate (AT 9)
Skills: Streetwise - Stealthy

7.Soldier of Reann - Fighter - Berserker
Deglari (Nordic Man)
Equipment: Battle Axe, War Hammer, Long Bow, and Dagger - Metal Breastplate (AT 17)
Skills: Can use any weapon - Deadly even bare-handed

8.Soldier of Reann - Magician - The Traitor
Talani (Common Elf)
Equipment: Short Sword and Dagger - No Armor (AT 1)
Spells: Fire Law - Light Law - Water Law - Wind Law

Here's a game--try to match the player to the character...
(we haven't decided yet)

A.


B.
C.D.

E. (The girl who lives across the hall who is not naked on the internet.)

F. Ricky


__________
*Part of the intimidation is probably because DMs (me included) generally try to give the impression that everything the players are seeing during a game was totally thought out way the fuck in advance, no matter how flimsy the backstory or patch rule they are presenting really is--so potential new DMs naturally assume that the DM needs way more preparation than s/he actually does.

29 comments:

  1. Hot woman, hot woman, hot woman, man in front of cheese.

    Artful, that.

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  2. For what it's worth, Zak, if I lived in LA I'd offer to run for you.

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  3. A = Halfling Rogue. That's all I've got.

    I may have missed the point somewhat.

    I've not played Rolemaster, but I played MERP as a teenager, which is almost sort of the same thing perhaps, and I didn't come away from that thinking it was horribly complex, so you'll all probably be okay.

    Also just watched the latest Axe, which was very enjoyable -- the way Satine seems to hang on your every word with wide-eyed wonder is adorable -- so thanks to you all for putting in the time and effort to give us the show every week. I'm not sure you guys get thanked enough, so there it is.

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  4. Oh, I guess I should say something pertinent too.

    The "DM must have planned this for months!" thing was on display in my game Sunday night. Several sessions worth of crawling out an ancient mine infested with skeletal slaves and overseers still mining culminated in panic. The players were trapped at the door out, which required a death in order to open. The typical moral debate ensued - they did have a prisoner handy, and Certain Doom was bearing down on them. Dice were rolled, an NPC I thought was invincible actually died on their behalf, and a big dramatic climax occured. It was compared to the ending of The Iron Giant. Someone teared up a little.

    Later, I told them I came up with the "door needs a death" thing at the last minute because I didn't know what was on the other side yet and I needed to hold them up until next time.

    Man were they pissed. But yeah, as a DM I know about 20% of what's going on when the session starts.

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  5. If I had to know beforehand, I'd never run a game...

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  6. Remember one thing. Rolemaster can be lethal, very lethal. Even a minor hit, with a minor critical can result in bleeding out. Healers are very necessary. Also it seems the characters you showed are missing alot of information. RM is skills intensive. Will you get the full character sheet after you pick?

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  7. @zanazaz

    Yeah,we'll have character sheets. I thought maybe typing out the whole character sheet on this blog entry was maybe not my idea of fun.

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  8. The basic Rolemaster system is not that bad, and the crit tables are actually fun to use. There is an awful lot of accumulated chrome and cruft though if you take everything seriously - esp. in earlier editions. A stripped-down RM is as good a basis as any to run a roleplaying game.

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  9. First, I fainted after the second picture. Sorry. My bad. Mandy sometimes has that effect on me if I'm not in a ready, combat stance at the time I engage viewing her picture directly.

    Second...wow. Rolemaster. The game for people who really, REALLY like charts. As this blog's resident otaku/hippie/new school/indie game fan I'm afraid that even approaching a Rolemaster rulebook would drop me faster than bringing Superman near a bowl of Kryptonite chili.

    That said I did actually play MERP a few times as a kid and its was pretty cool. I've only play RM itself once and it just wasn't for me. I'm very curious to hear your opinion of it once you've played it.

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  10. Heck, even Rolemaster Express is too complicated for me these days, and I use to run Spacemaster back in the days as a weekly campaign for months.

    I'd try to slip Tunnels & Trolls or Swords & Wizardry Whitebox in its place. The old KISS theory.

    Then again, Rolemaster can be a hoot when you forget half the rules ;)

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  11. Rolemaster is not complicated at all in play. A bit clunky if you don't like to look up for numbers in tables, but not complicated.

    However, making characters is a completely different matter, but it seems that you have that part already solved.

    Anyway, I think you'll have a very very good time with the critical hit tables. Is this session going to be in "I hit it with my axe"? I hope so.

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  12. I played a STUPID amount of Rolemaster when I was a sprout-- what else was I going to do when my Middle-Earth Role Playing characters got past 10th level?

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  13. It should be a special. "Tripping on imaginary turtles!"

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  14. I think it's actually "tripping over unseen, imaginary, deceased turtles..." which we have all done - usually while somebody attractive was watching.

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  15. Connie - Mulri
    Caroline - Talani
    Ricky - Deglari
    Mandy - Lenn-Rak or Syreth
    Zak - Rhamii or Syreth
    non-naked girl - remaining cleric

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  16. -10 for tatoos
    +10 for cheese

    And so nature balances itself.

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  17. A: Connie- Mulri the High Elf Blade Master
    B: Mandy- Laan the Noble Paladin, Cleanser of the Unlife
    C: Caroline (She who will play anything)- Rhamii the Oriental Assassin
    D: Zak- Talani the Elven Magician
    E: She-who-lives-across-the-Hall- Deglari the Norse Berserker
    F: Ricky- Lenn-Rak the Beast Man Combat Medic

    As far as advice goes, it’s worth mentioning that, unlike D&D, RM assumes each attack is an all-out attack, with nothing held back for defense. When outnumbered by foes it’s usually better to use some of your ‘Offensive Bonus’ for parrying to increase your ‘Defensive Bonus’, hoping to get a lucky hit that disables a foe, then go full attack on the other one till he’s disabled/killed too.

    Other than that the combat benefits are pretty much the same in RM as in D&D (flanking foes is good, stunning foes is good, criticals are good) and overall far more deadly. Expect to say ‘Disarmed’ and/or ‘Unhand me sir!’ at least once if it’s a combat heavy session.

    And I want to know if Ricky’s cleric converts to Captain Beefheart.

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  18. @wachinayn

    it won't be on 'axe'

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  19. @Nagora
    You're clearly looking a the table wrong, you get a bonus for tattoos, so long as they're aren't of dolphins.

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  20. Ihavetilfive got me and mandy right but kind of cheated by choosing two--she was the beast cleric and i was the secret asian man (i decided he was 8 yrs old, however)

    Connie went for the other magent (the infiltrator) Caroline went for the Blade Master and Ricky went for the Knight. The girl across the hall didn't make it.

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  21. Heh...Rolemaster. That game made me flash back to the worst parts of Warhammer fantasy RPG and the old FASA Aliens game. Then again, we used to play RIFTS, which was a god-forsaken hodge-podge of whatever seemed in vogue that year, and we loved it.
    As for people getting intimidated, I have the same problem. Have you ever suggested they ease into it by running a game like TWERPS or something tabletop? I'm quite happy to be joining a second game soon where I won't be DM, since I miss just playing an orkie barbarian who thinks doors are no match for his head.
    Perhaps when the missus and I end up in LA to visit friends, a game of Cthulhutech is in order (if we seem like ok people to hang with)?

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  22. Part of it might be that you're a hard act for a novice to follow, Zak. I think I'd probably be intimidated a bit being a guest GM. Just sayin'.
    Maybe some sort of "How to GM" session?
    Tap the group here for general advice to new GMs and moral support? (which could benefit other new GMs potentially)
    I have other unsought ideas, but these seem the least intrusive.

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  23. @A GM

    I have given everybody lots of advice on GMing. It's not so much they need more advice, it's more that they need to realize they DON'T need more advice.

    I'm not sure there's an easy way to do that.

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  24. I think that "cheese guy" should be #2, Priest of Reann (with Concussion's Ways and Blood Law).

    The "broken HTML person" could be #4, Eye of Reann (with Escapes & Misdirections).

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  25. Thought-out vs on-the-fly.

    I love world-building and I love constructing epic story-arcs. I obsessively build the infrastructure of the game world, then design the major players and set their plans in motion. I build a story-arc from the end-point back to a time shortly(ish) before the players are introduced to the game. Then I throw our heros into it.

    Every interaction with the players is on the fly. I may map out certain potential or key encounters they may participate in. But I never push the players to do anything, so I end up just making most of the little details up as we go along. That being said, there is always some preparation that goes into the randomness as well. There are several random encounters from a pre-determined list that just make it GMing go faster, or there are some key NPCs that have predetermined idiosyncratic routines. But as Zak says, the 'background scenery' in my games tends not to be a wall that the players can't walk through, but can be full of all sorts of interactive objects that simply aren't useful to the story.

    Until the players actually enter the world, the entire campaign is like a series of novels in my head. Once the players are in it, they are 100% on the fly. The most satisfying part of GMing a game for me is the constant tension and balance between the two. In the end, my games run like a live, interactive version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. I've written Hamlet, and all the major players know their roles and are set in motion. The players enter into a world where they are not the principal characters in the other play, but are clearly the stars of their own parallel story, and whether their fate is predetermined or not is up to them to figure out and effect as they go along.

    I guess that's a REALLY long way of saying my games tend to give the impression that I've totally thought out everything WAY in advance... and it's because I have. But, what's amusing is that none of that matters in the slightest to the game other than to add lots of flavor.
    ;)

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  26. @ darren
    Oh, I thought that was a REALLY long way of saying you should have a gameblog.

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