Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rolemaster Scenarios

The best thing about Rolemaster is that it was crafted for novel storytelling play (yes, I say novel as in Darkwalker on Moonshae or Hart's Hope or even A Darkness at Sethanon). Rolemaster characters are designed to be rich, strong, and alive. Whether it is Rolemaster Classic (1985-1989 edition); or Rolemaster the Standard System/Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying; you are participating in a living novel.

The combat system is as gritty as it gets because it is crafted for a Living Novel. So Rolemaster scenarios are actually the start of campaigns. Lets take a look at some to get our creativity flowing.

Invasion of the Orc Horde: simple, direct, and to the point. Take a horde of orcs and have it invade the Empire of Man. Orcs and Humans have been done in the Warcraft Universe. But if we take a look at the invasion through the eyes of characters and not through the eyes of a general ordering armies to march under the banner of the Humans or the Horde, you have lots of opportunities for roleplay. (In Lord of the Rings, Man was seen as a threat to the Dark Lord Sauron's power, so the Dark Lord mounted an army of orcs to destroy Gondor).

Lost City of Ophir: This is an Indiana Jones' type Scenario (Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Ophir!). The Player Characters are hired by an adventuring company to go explore a lost kingdom in the desert, jungle, or mountains and have them bring back any artifacts they find. The GM can go hog wild with this: competing adventuring companies (Belloque not withstanding), elaborate traps, hidden dangers, and monsters' lairs. Exploring an ancient ruin gives you an opportunity to relive the excitement of Indiana Jones, all seen through the eyes of a PC group!

Consequently, the scenario can be worked for Dungeons and Dragons, an Ancient Ruin is a dungeon after all. But it is the Roleplaying before you get the job, interviewing for the job, what the job is, getting there, meeting your competitors on the way, and finally getting in to get the Lost Gold Idol of Shakti or whatever. . . . and the consequences afterwords.

The D&D scenario usually starts like the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, get in, face the traps, get the idol, set off the traps in the process, get out, only to be accosted by a small army of gnolls and your competitor. And then lose your artifact to your competitor. "Alas, Doctor Jones, we see again that there is nothing you can get that I cannot take away."

Ladyhawke: This movie is a classic Werewolf story. By night, Nevaar is a wolf, and by day Isabel is a hawk. The two were damned by the Bishop of Aquilla to live as human beings either by day or by night, and as animals by day or by night. Although it too can be retooled for D&D, Rolemaster can be used to recreate the movie's passion. The player characters are represented by Nevarr and Mouse; with the NPCs as Isabel, the friar monk, the Bishop of Aquilla, and the captain of the Aquillan guard.

Tying the three together and you might get:

An Orc Horde is threatening the Empire of Tyrannus. The Empire of Tyrannus is ruled mostly by the Church, although the Kings ruled over small kingdoms in the Empire and were often competing with the Church for State power (this is often when nobles leave their lands to the Church or the State, and the Church would often use guilt to get what they want: while the State could use the lands to pass on to another feudal lord young and loyal to the State).

The Orc Horde are a bunch of barbaric neanderthals led by a competent leader. Their ancestral lands themselves are failing and the Empire of Tyrannus -- decadent, failing, decaying; is a source of gold, silver, and prosperity. The horde is Mid-Iron Age technology and they are going up against a kingdom of Crusades technology. But they have magic on their side: Shamanism, evil warlock magic, as well as axes and swords.

The City of Aquila is a city that is ruled mostly by the Bishop of Aquila. The bishop has his own guards and his own army. The City is a prime target for the barbarian Orc Horde and there were skirmishes and small battles between the armies of Tyrannus and the Orcs outside the city. However, in a twist of fate, the Bishop of Aquila had cursed the Captain with Lycanthropy and his lover (whom he had wanted) with therianropy (she changes into a Hawk). The captain his lover swore revenge and were never seen again.

With the Captain gone, Aquila doesn't have competent leadership. So the city hires a company of Adventurers to go to a lost ruin to find an artifact of great power, or a relic of faith to turn the tide against the invading heathen. The city hopes to use the artifact to turn the tide of battle, using firepower or faith to repel the Orc horde. The relic or artifact must be obtained before a competing kingdom, the City of Berlogue, obtains it since they are also facing invasion from an orc army.

That is where the PCs come in. :)

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