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Friday, July 10, 2009

Rolemaster vs Tunnels & Trolls

T&T wins again!

But really, this is more on Rolemaster.
I apologize that my writings here tend to be somewhat meandering.

One thing about Rolemaster I always found interesting was that it was something of a toolbox right from the get-go. It was acknowledged in the books that there was so much being presented that most referees would want to not-include everything (sort of reverse house-ruling...sort of). Then, once the Companion books started coming out and the options proliferated, this observation took on new weight - for example, there were three or four systems presented to deal with initiative in combat, and you really couldn't use ALL four of them.

When it come to kit-bashing, house-ruling, etc, the idea of building complexity to a desired level from a simple foundation has great merit. My early experiences with Rolemaster, however, may have really developed in me a tendency toward the opposite - to begin with complexity and pare it down to desired level of simplicity. Or rather, to begin with comprehensiveness and reduce reduce reduce.

Both approaches have their pros and cons. I feel that I am at odds with general OSR-ness when my yang side of overdevelop-then-reduce comes out. Oh well. Different strokes for different orcs.

Now, I have a hard time imagining two RPGs farther from each-other on the dirt-simple <-> over-blowed-out number line than T&T and Rolemaster - the two games that have had the most telling influences on my 'gaming philosophy'. (This may have produced a certain schizophrenic
tendency in my gaming...I refer to the orcs mentioned above). In the privacy of my notebooks and hard drive, I still attempt to write over-arching structures, comprehensive systems, exhaustive lists, rational categorizations and such - but in play, I am coming more and more to appreciate beginning with simplicity, and generally staying there.

I think though, that there's a lot of grey-area between the two extremes. And I think also that I will not be able to stop this series until I've plucked the various gems out of Rolemaster to put them here on display.

Oh yeah - the Castles & Ruins supplement for Rolemaster is magnificent!


Timeshadows said...

I think we feel the same way on all the points you have listed.

there's a lot of cool stuff to read in RM, but I do think it is best used in its original form, as a bolt-on toolkit, rather than a behemoth of a rules-set.

I still run to T&T to ease me off the ledge, so to speak, before taking a plunge into an unnecessarily complex game-design.
--It has just enough bones to build off of, but most of the golden text is utterly devoid of crunch: Aces!


Andreas Davour said...

MERP was my first game to game master. I jumped into the deep end. I still have a very soft spot for Rolemaster.

Yesterday i managed to find a bunch of MERP books in the discoun bin at my FLGS, for $3-$5 each. W00t! I drooled, and payed up.

I'm another of those "split mind" gamers, who love both T&T and RM...