The GAME SYSTEM
Rolemaster is – contrary to common belief – not a very complex system. It is a very detailed system, but since it’s generally very consistent and intuitive, it is a simple system to understand and use. At the same time it’s a highly customizable system, which, paired with the fact that it’s so consistent, makes it very modular.
The main features of the system are the number of skills it contains and the combat system.
Since Rolemaster is a skill based system, all abilities of a character are recorded as skills with a certain proficiency in each skill. All skills in the system are available to all professions – what differentiates one profession from the other is the cost of developing certain skills. The result of this approach is that characters are more thoroughly described than in most other systems.
The combat system in Rolemaster is often considered one of the most deadly combat systems in role playing games. It is based on the expectation that combatants parry as a natural part of the fighting in order to avoid getting hit. Once hit, damage consists of hit points and often also of a critical that can give various additional effects (e.g. stun, bleeding, penalties to maneuvering or even death) – and it is often said that it’s not the hits that kill; it’s the crits! Thus it is possible for the lowliest peasant to kill the best knight in the realm on an incredibly lucky shot. However, combat is certainly not just arbitrary – usually the most skilled combatant will win – but in the end, skilled characters are never invincible, and unskilled characters are never completely hopeless. The result is that combat is always very tense.