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The Rolemaster Files

The post below is written by UbiquitousRat, a guest blogger for The Iron Tavern.

The Rolemaster Files

Some time around 1985 my friends and I discovered a new fantasy RPG which would very quickly replace D&D in our regular gaming slot. Then a school boy gaming most nights at a friend’s house, I was a player of a character named Goriel Swiftfoot, a Halfling Thief. We immediately fell in love with this new set of rules because of two major innovations it presented to our gaming: flavourful critical hits and totally open character choices.  This game was Rolemaster.

Now in 2012, after many years of confusion about which edition of Rolemaster might be the best to own (and consequently having collected all of them), I have been delighted by the news from Iron Crown Enterprises that there is to be a new edition of the game.

One Rolemaster To Rule Them All

Rolemaster is about to be reborn for the 21st Century. A new edition is imminent for release into a Beta Playtest, open to anyone willing to pick up the eBooks from OneBookShelf. To save you the time and money, and given that I will be getting involved in the playtest myself, this post is the first in a series aimed at opening up the system for a closer look.

Our home RPG group is planning to launch a whole new campaign in our own home-grown setting of Heroic Mykenaea using these new rules. This series will also reflect on our struggles and joys in adapting the new Rolemaster to fit with our setting.

What are we expecting?

Rolemaster is promised in the form of five core books, each of them providing the tools for a different aspect of fantasy roleplaying. Initially the game will go into playtest using the first three tomes: Character Law, Arms Law, and Spell Law.

Character Law will present the core rules of the system along with extensive details allowing the players to create their heroes. In the grand tradition of Rolemaster we are expecting a large selection of Professions, representing the early training of a character, allowing us to customise and build heroes which will fit our setting in just the way we envision them. Tired of the restriction of “classes” or the woolliness of a skills-based system? Welcome to the best of both worlds.

Arms Law will provide the detailed but easy-to-play combat system for the game. Those gorgeously entertaining short epitaphs for the creatures unlucky enough to receive a critical hit (or “Crit”) will be back. Whether with combat or spell-slinging, there was always a certain joy to be had in sharing such classic moments as delivering an E Critical, the most severe form of damage, and reading the pithy description of events, for example: “All that remains of foe are charred bits of teeth and bone. Add +20 to your next roll.”

Spell Law will give us the classic and original Rolemaster magic system. We are expecting the Spell Lists, in which mages and other spell-casters learn related spells ordered into lists, allowing them to cast increasingly potent effects. Want to sling a Firebolt? Well, Mister, you need to learn Fire Law and master lighting candles first. As you gain levels you will eventually develop the skill with fire magic that you need. Focused on providing spellcasters with roleplaying options as much as raw power, Spell Law is a much-anticipated return to meaningful choices in spell play.

All-in-all this version is promised as both a new edition and a blending of the best from the past. The idea is to unify the disparate past editions into a version for modern gaming. Our challenge to Rolemaster will be to adapt it to fit our own fantasy setting.

Want to know more? Rolemaster is imminent and as soon as the books hit my iPad I’ll be bringing you an overview of what is actually in the game… and what it means for our campaign in Heroic Mykenaea.


UbiquitousRat is a long-time roleplayer and gamesmaster who has a history with gaming going back to 1979. In 1994 he joined Games Workshop, spending 12 years in the gaming industry at the coal-face of tabletop wargaming. In 1998 he founded the Friday Night Roleplay group at his home in suburban Nottinghamshire, UK, and ever since has been the primary GM. The group was involved in the playtest of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition and Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay, as well as giving air to the development of 6d6 RPG. The core five players are all looking forward to the new Rolemaster and everyone is excited to be sharing the story in The Iron Tavern. Oh, and he’s also a high school teacher during the daytime.