“Fast” Rolemaster Character Generation

One of the biggest things that trips up people new to Rolemaster is the character generation. Rolling up your character involves endless page flipping, consulting of arcane charts and a remedial course in high school algebrae. It can be daunting and I think it’s fair to say that most people give up at this point. They chalk it up to the common perception of Rolemaster being difficult and walk away.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you know the process and have some understanding of the rules you can “cheat” at this and generate a good character is less than 20 minutes! Read on to see how you can do this.

I’m going to layout some of the processes on how to achieve this very easily. I believe in the concept of explaining why things are they way they are. Once you know why, you can work around roadblocks – or make them work for you.

Let’s begin with an overview of the process. Rolemaster has a couple of concepts about your character and how it relates to society. First of all, RM assumes that your character had an adolescence. It further assumes that during that adolescence your character picked up a few skills along the way. Now, all of this is history that has happened before you actually play the character. Rolemaster refers to all of this as Level 0. Rolemaster also considers any untrained NPC or non adventuring NPC/PC to be Level 0. This reflects that the character, PC or otherwise has no adventure experience whatsoever. Now, in general, the character you are going to play is said to have adventuring experience and it’s at that adolescent level 0 that you get enough training/experience to advance to be starting level.

Compare this to most other games (AD&D for sure) where your background is explained as pre-history but it’s not part of the actual generation of your character. We will see in a moment where this comes in to play.

Another thing about Rolemaster that trips people up is the “complex” stat system. Really, this is very simple. You have a Potential stat and a Temporary stat. Your potential stat is simply a measure of the best you can ever hope to achieve (barring magic or some form of alteration) in that stat. Your temporary stat tells you how far away you are from achieving that potential. It’s not hard to grasp, but most people are used to single stats when it comes to a category.

The third concept to grasp is that your temporary stats determine your experience and training. Rolemaster does this via a point system. Add up your primary stats (CON, AG, SD, MEM and REA) and you get a certain amount of DP (Development Points to spend each level). The better your temporary stats the more DPs. The more DPs, the more you have to spend on skills. The more you spend on skills, the better your character is at doing things. The better at doing things your character is, the more succes the character has and THAT is reflected in Experience Points. EP, which of course advances you and thus enables you to spend DPs again when you have enough to level.

OK. So, that’s the basic concepts you need to grasp. Let’s run through the generation process. I will lay out what typically happens and then explain how you can shorten the process up.

One of the very first things to do is roll up your character. Now, see what most people here don’t realize is that Iron Crown Enterprises is already very aware of Rolemaster’s “reputation.” So, they have built some time saving things in to the creation already. So. go ahead and make those 2d10 rolls for your temporary stats. Got anything less than 20? Yeah? Well, discard it. Re-roll.

So, now you have a set of temporary stats. Have you determined the class of character you want to play yet? If you have then here’s where this gets good. Every class has what are called prerequisites. You have to have no less than a 90 in certain stats (prime reqs) to be a certain class. So, find your class and find your prime reqs. Now. Take a look at the stats you rolled. Are any of them (or all of them) less than the minimum you need to be the class you want for your character?

Here’s what to do if this is the case. Basic Rolemaster says assign to your prime req stats either the minimum or higher so you can be that class. Simple right? Except if you don’t meet the mins. Well, there is a little known optional rule here and my group uses it all the time. If you want that class and you don’t meet the mins, take your LOWEST SCORES and MAKE THEM 90 in the prime reqs. That’s right. Easy enough. Of course if you have higher stats and want a more successful character by all means assign the higher stats. But this is a legit way to meet the prime reqs and knockout two (or more) low stat scores in one go.

OK, so next follow the chart to determine your potential stats. After that pull out the chart that gives you your DPs. Add them up. This is where things diverge. In Rolemaster, anytime you gain level there is a stat gain roll. It determines if you have learned anything or not during the level you have spent adventuring. You should roll it even if you have maxed your temporary stats because there is always the chance that you could go back down.

Anyway, at this point RM usually has you spend your DPs. You do that and then you make a stat gain roll to go to level 1, refigure your DPs if there are any changes and thens spend again. But hey, you want to get this done fast right. So, take the DPs you just added up and double them. This represents spending for both level 0 and level 1. I can hear you thinking. You just avoided the possibility of going down in a stat. Well, yes, but you also are missing an opportunity to go up in a stat. It balances out. There are some compromises you have to accept to get this done quickly.

So, now. Spend your DPs. Buy your skills. But you aren’t done. Every character has background options. Take a good look at those options. See anything you like? Good. Spend. One tip though to do this quickly. Burn Background Options to purchase bonuses in high cost skills. Those are skills that the player can only buy one of per level and the cost is really expensive. So, use your options to put bonuses in those skills. It will balance out the high price and give you a fighting chance to use those skills when necessary.

OK, but you still aren’t done. Still this is fast though if you know what’s going on. Rolemaster has what is called Hobby Skills. This is an optional rule in Rolemaster 2nd Edition. It was carried over from the 1st Edition. I’m not sure if it’s present in the other systems, but as it’s optional you can use it if you like. You get two hobby skills. One primary and one secondary. The primary hobby gives you 4 free ranks in a primary hobby and the secondary gives you two free ranks in a secondary hobby. These may be any skills you choose. Now, it’s generally frowned on to give yourself hobbys in say weapon skills if you are a fighter class or magic skills if a magic user and so on. This is called “cheesing” out your character. But, in the interest of time and survival, do it. Six free ranks in skills is nothing to sneeze at. The only caveat. You can’t have a primary and secondary hobby in the same skill. There’s a limit to the “cheating.”

OK. Almost done. Now, if you have done this right you’ve given yourself skill ranks in skills that will keep you alive. Add up your ranks, get your bonuses tally the scores, roll for your money, buy your equipment and you are pretty much done. Note that a quick way for equipment buying is to make one assumption. Your character is assumed to have clothes, equipment for daily life in his region and the weaponry/items to do the dutys of his/her class. So, when you roll for money you are just buying the stuff that is extra. Just write down what you think your character would have/need for the assumption above. Free of cost.

One thing I did not mention is languages. It’s not necessary to determine those right at the moment, so you can get to that at a later time. Now that you have your character you are good to go and all in less than 20 minutes.

One final thing. One of the biggest problems most people have with Rolemaster is that they spent SO MUCH TIME generating their character and because of the deadliness of the system they get killed in the first 5 minutes of play. The advantage of this quick system is that it gives your character a better chance of survival. And in Rolemaster, surviving is winning!

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