Friday, 9 November 2012

Make A Reality Check

Recent events have set me thinking. Just how real are your fantasy roleplaying sessions?

Now that may seem like a bit of a contradiction but through playing a quick session of Rolemaster recently, I have come to see just how lacking most other combat systems are. Not that other systems are unplayable, far from it in fact. Most other systems, even those with ridiculous amounts of crunch are, in my eyes far more accessible as games go. Where I find that they tend to be lacking though is the depth in their combat systems.

Often you will be doing something like "1D6" or "1D8+1" damage and, more advanced systems may even assign a "type" to the damage such as fire or lightning. Which works but, it's not a patch on what you get with Rolemaster.

During Rolemaster combat you can easily have a limb broken or lopped off on top of the damage! Now that sounds a lot more like the brutality of warfare to me than "you lose 3 hit points". There are of course groups that won't want this level of graphic violence, such as those with younger members to consider but with a group of adults I think this is just the thing.

It need not end there either!

Consider the realistic impact of encountering a zombie. A rotting corpse lurching toward you, an overpowering smell of decay in the air and, the very real horror that it doesn't just want to kill you, it wants to rend you limb from limb and feast upon your still warm flesh. That's the thing that fear is made of!

Also consider the emotional impact of the first time your character takes a life, the long term effects of a life as a "hero" and, the vices that this may lead to. It's very easy to paint all of our characters as stout and resolute in the face of even the most profound adversity but this shouldn't lead us to forget that more often than not, they are human or of goodly alignment.


  1. Good thoughts...I have always used critical hit charts in my AD&D game, but those only come into play with a '20' critical hit.

    Damage from a zombie could be cool to use a zombie wound chart that include broken limbs, fingers, and of course the feared bite (which I currently handle with enhanced spite damage).

    Good food for thought though, especially on the ethics of taking a life in cold blood.

  2. Thank you Jerry. :0).

    It's been something that I have been mulling over for a week or so now. I really like the idea of the "Zombie Chart" and Spite damage that really means something other than an extra hit or two.

    The whole thing has inspired me so much that I have begun putting together my own charts for use with Tunnels and Trolls.

  3. Yup - if you look at my monster designs in Elder Tunnels as well as my blog, I am constantly finding ways to make Spite damage more spiteful...hmmm....maybe the name of a column you and I can put together for the next Trollszine maybe :)

  4. Sounds like a plan. :0). Do you happen to know when the deadline is for submissions?

  5. We can ask Dan in our Stay Alive! game...