Friday, September 8, 2017

MERP: Spell Variety

MERP Series
Used MERP collector's edition
Revisiting the MERP round sequence time intervals
Spell Prep time and casting mechanics in d100 games

A general overview of MERP spell content and organization may be beneficial.

In MERP, a character learns spell lists rather than individuals spells. Spell lists are ranked spells that vary in level, intricacy, and potency that share common characteristics or attributes. As a character levels, the spells for that level become available if a character has learned the spell list.

MERP divides spell lists into two realms of magic which are essence and channeling.

Open Essence spells include Physical Enhancement (resistance & vision), Essence's Ways (detect and analyze), Unbarring Ways (locks), Essence Hand (telekinesis & deflect), Spell Ways (store, cancel, rune, dispel), Essence Perception (listen, presence, telepathy), Illusions (mirage, invisibility, phantasm), and Spirit Mastery (sleep, charm, suggest, and hold).

The mage and bard are essence casters. Mages deal elemental, movement, and speed magic. Bards use lore, item, influence, and sound magic.

Open Channeling spells include Nature's Lore (aware, predict, detect), Nature's Movement (walking, running), Spell Defense (protection, neutralize, cancel), Surface Ways (Heal, relief, regen), Protections (prayer, bless, resistance, fa├žade, shadow), Detection Mastery (detect, locate), Sound/Light Ways (project, speech, light, quiet, silence, shock bolt), and Calm Spirits (calm, hold, stun, blind).

The animist and ranger are channeling casters. Animists deal divine inspiration, healing, animals, plants, purifying, and wall creation magic. Rangers use tracking, moving, disguise, and nature survival magic

Friday, August 18, 2017

Spell Prep time and casting mechanics in d100 games

MERP Series
Used MERP collector's edition
Revisiting the MERP round sequence time intervals

In the last post, I specifically looked at the amount of time for each MERP round sequence comparing it with some other games.

In this next few posts, I wanted to begin looking at the actual step-by-step process for resolving actions, specifically the spell casting preparation and casting mechanics of the game. I then contrast it with a few other game d100 systems.

In MERP, six steps are common and resolved in this order.

  1. Prep or cast spell
  2. Ranged attack
  3. Maneuver
  4. Melee attack
  5. Movement
  6. Static
First is preparing and casting spells.
For preparing a spell, two rounds of preparation are considered the normal (+0) for casting spells. One additional round is needed to cast the spell. Spending more or less time preparing to cast spells results in a plus or minus amount, depending on how many rounds one prepares. A few spells may be cast instantly if so marked with an asterisk on the spell lists.

The penalty for early casting is 1.5 times more incrementally than the benefit of spending extra rounds to caste the spells.

Spells use power points which are based on the stat for the type of magic—Intelligence for Essence and Intuition for Channeling. This gives spell points equal to a number based on the stat multiplied by the character level, if the value is 75 or over. The character must have enough points equal to the spell level in order to cast the spell.

To caste a spell, either a direct or base spell attack table roll is required. Certain base spells, such as force spells, require a resistance roll in order for them to take affect.

So, how does this system compare to other spell systems?

RMX (Rolemaster Express) further divides spells into three types of spells based on the characters level versus the level of the spell being cast: these are class I, II, and III spells, in addition to some instantaneous spells.

Class III spells are equal to two levels less than the character level. They require two prep rounds and one cast round.
Class II spells are three to five levels less than the character level. They require one prep round and one cast round.
Class I spells are six or more levels less than the character level

And this means that casting speed is built into the levelling system rather than something chosen.

Spells use power points which are based on the stat for the type of magic—Empathy for Essence and Intelligence for Channeling. This gives spell points equal to the realm stat bonus divided by 10, plus 10, plus 1 per level. The character must have enough points equal to the spell level in order to cast the spell.

The mechanical process is the same procedure as for MERP. Roll and consult either an elemental or base attack table. Some base spells require a resistance roll for the defender.

Classes either prepare spells or limit the number of spells in one's mind.

In contrast to power points, 5e spells use a limited number of spell slots based on one's class or multiclass. This is the primary way of limiting how many spells can be cast, rather than power points. Using higher level spell slots may increase the effect of the spell.

Cantrips are special spells that do not require any spell slots nor preparation to cast.

Spells require either one single action, one bonus action, or one reaction to cast the spell.

Some spells require attack rolls by the attacker or saving throws by the defender.

Star Frontiers
Star Frontiers uses technology rather than spells to achieve superhuman feats. The limits for using the technology are skill levels and computer/technology levels. Sometimes limited resources such as ammo, energy, and doses quantify how many times the equipment can be used.

Equipment cost in credits (Cr) may also limit how much technology a character possesses, since each character has a limited number of credits available for purchasing items.

Game mechanic wise, technology is normally used by rolling under a base chance the character's skill level, minus the opposing level.

OpenQuest uses magic points based on the character Power score for Battle Magic. For Divine Magic, characters acquire Improvement Points through worship and pay twice the Magnitude value of the spell incrementally. Sorcery may manipulate the magnitude, range, and/or duration as well.

To caste a spell under duress, the character must pass a Battle Magic test, successfully Sorcery Cast, or is automatic for Divine Spells (which can only be cast once until next worship).

Legend uses magic points based on the character Power score for Common Magic. For Divine Magic, characters use pact which is Charisma plus dedicated Power. For Sorcery Magic, characters use a Grimoire skill. Sorcery users may manipulate the magnitude, range, duration, #targets, and/or combine spells as well.

To caste a spell, the character must pass a Common Magic skill roll, Grimoire roll, or it is automatic for Divine Spells as long as dedicated Power remains.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Revisiting the MERP round sequence time intervals

This post will try to examine the MERP time that each round sequence occurs and compare it with some of the other games that I have reviewed.

MERP uses 10 second round intervals. While representing a larger chunk of time compared to many games, some games use abstract, variable, or summary time which can represent much larger chunks of time.

Here are some round intervals for several games.

Standard times
MERP and Rolemaster Express rounds are divided into 10 second intervals.
For D&D and Star Frontiers, each round is 6 second intervals.
OpenQuest and Legend use 5 second round durations.
JAGS uses 1 second rounds or segments.

Variable time
Hackmaster uses variable action speed measured in seconds based on each specific weapon, armor, or spell. Weapons range from 7 to 14 seconds per attack. Most spells are 1 or 2 seconds. Some are up to 10 seconds. A few have minutes or hours for casting times.

Abstract time
Dungeon World uses abstract time for moves which varies according the story created from the fiction conversation.
HeroQuest RPG focuses on the outcome  or summary of the story rather than the play-by-play of actions.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Used MERP collector's edition

Finally, I decided to buy a MERP rulebook. With RM core release date stil unknown. And dissatisfied with RMX, I might as well do something with my original preferred system.

This is hardback and hopefully will last long.

Since it is no longer supported, I'll try to mix up some mixed content with 5e x 5, JAGS, and 5e stuff.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Time off the last two months

The blog has been quiet the last few months because of life events. I hope to write up something or continue something soon.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Star Frontiers: Expanded - sample adventure (part 2)

Star Frontiers series
Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn Gameplay (Part 1) Character Creation and rules summary
Star Frontiers Game Play: part 2: first adventure
Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn Gameplay (Part 3) The chase
Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn Expanded character. 
Star Frontiers: Expanded - sample adventure

Star Frontiers is available for free in its entirety from  Or remastered from Also there are Star Frontiersman and Frontier Explorer downloadable magazines.

This is from the expanded rule book on page 58, the Sample Adventure.

I've realized that the rules are much heavier than the basic rules. So I find the rules too cumbersome for solo gaming, I'll default to the basic rules for hopefully quicker resolution.


The river after an area of trees continued to curve up the gentle terrain.

A few hours later, the river turned into a swampy area. The swamp edged north and south as far as could be seen on both sides.  Ahead west however he could see patches of land and what looked like solid land on the other side. The river seemed to continue further on the other side.


Ethest pulled out his pocket computer and checked the map. The swamp would severely add hours to his journey if he skirted the outside.

Ethest decides to try crossing the swamp directly instead of walking around. He also still has a time limit somewhat, and light wouldn't be around forever.

He could see several dry mounds scattered throughout the swamp. He could maybe speed up the travel time by moving from island to island. But who knows what was in the swamp.

He readied his laser pistol, secured his backpack, and headed towards the swamp.

Logic (60) check to see if he can find the best traveling path. +10 since the islands are viewable. 60 + 10 = 70. Roll = 59

After a few observations and some calculations, he manages to figure out a reasonable path. He could see a series of smaller islands off to the left, which seemed to travel in the direction of a few larger islands in a chain going towards the western side of the swamp.

Swamp travel. A little difficult (-5) with a Strength (55) of mediocre. 55- 5= 50. 97 fail.
Almost immediately he found himself stuck in mud. The frogs creaked, insects buzzed, and sounds of movement surrounded him as he realized his boots were stuck.

His heart beat louder in his ears.

He'd better try to get out again. Taking a deep breath of the stinky swamp air, he tried again.

Roll 26. success.
He heard a suction slush as he forced his boot out of the mud at a different angle. Finding a less muddy area, he freed his other foot as well.

After a brief pause, he looked ahead, found his path, and continued on.

This time, the mud was less deep and he made his way from one small island to the next.

As he was approaching one of the islands it began to move.

That wasn't an island.

His heart returned to a rapid pace. He froze on instinct as the rapid movement of two things that he had mistaken for reeds began to flutter.

Soon the head of a Slither turned towards him. He better not move.

The Slither's head moved side to side looking for whatever was moving.

Ethest tried not to move, not a single movement, not even a breath.

Suddenly a sound splashed from over his right in the distance.

The slither sprang quickly, all of its legs and body pushing and slithering towards that sound.

Ethest didn't move a muscle.

He heard a loud chirping sound, a sound of the rushing Slither, and a splash.

Slowly he turned his head. The Slither had caught something.

While it was distracted, he slowly continued on, hoping to create some distance between himself and the creature.

Roll 19, success.

He easily made his way across several of the islands.

At the larger island, he thankfully pulled himself on the the larger of the islands. He drank from his water container, took a brief breather, and then continued on.

Roll 05, success (critical success)
Not only was the  rest of the swamp easily traveled, he also found some edible berries which helped him replenish some of his strength without slowing down his travel and time. He ate enough to fill his stomach enough.

Despite the troubles and surprises earlier in the swamp, he ended up at least cutting his travel time in half compared to travelling around the swamp.

The stream or river continued gently up the valley, more oil streaming down the flow from upstream.

Several hours later, nearing sunset, he spotted something large and metalic sticking out from foliage ahead.

Nearing the object, he could smell the scent of oil, fuel, and something burnt.

It was the engines, buried into a hillside.

First he better report.

He pulled out his computer and found his location. Transferring the map location to his communicator, he recorded the information into his communicator. He checked it a few times, but no one was in range. Having this recorded into the emergency information communicator beacon would be helpful in case something went bad for him, although not as strong as the larger ship beacons, his communicator could signal several kilometers.

Ethest then turned his attention back to the wreckage of the ship

to be Continued

Saturday, April 29, 2017