Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spell Law (for Rolemaster reviewed)

Spell Law is the magic system that “bolts on” to the Rolemaster. Although it does come as part of Rolemaster, the only reason not to bolt-it-on would be because you don’t want magic in your game.

I’m confused by the layout of this book. It opens with Guidelines for using the book, followed by descriptions of the three magical realms and THEN has the Introduction.  Rather an odd way of doing things in opinion, however it’s no more bizarre than the layout choices in the other Rolemaster books.

Wait, whats this coming up next? Another description of the three magical realms! Odd. Anyway, the book goes on to describe the various types of magic using characters, fourteen of them! What other game covers fouteen magical magic user classes, none I can think of.

Next up are the actual rules for acquiring spells, casting spells, armour vs spells and surviving spell attacks.  Also covered are magical research, magical objects and and wole bunch of edge-case  optional rules. This all totals up to 24 pages of small two column layout. It’s some dense stuff. If your used to D+D simple spell mechanics, you’ll find this a quite overpowering amout of detail.

I absolutely have to quote from rule 8.3 it’s a classic.

[size=18]“8.3 Base Attack Spells.
Base attack spells include all spells which are non-attack spells”[/size]


Let’s move on before out brains explode.

Next up in the book are spells lists for the “Channeling” realm of magic.  Spells within Spell Law are organised into lists. Each list has up to 20 spells in it. Each list is themed for such things as Detection, Weather, Fire, Light etc, etc. Each spell on the list has a “Level” and this refers to the casters level. If a character has learnt a spell list they know all the spells on the list but can only cast the spells of their own level or lower.

As an example the “Detection Mastery” list has spells on it for every level 1-20 then has spells for levels 25,30 and 50. The spells generally get more powerful.

Not all lists have spells at all of the lower levels, for example, the “Barrier Law” list does not have level 1 or 3 spells.
Mostly the spells are laid out in three columns but this changes to four at one point and the font size drops from small to tiny!
Then the books breaks into a series of tables that refer to bonuses and penalties to various magic based rolls, and more for the attack based spells.  They’re written in a bizarre olde-world font that makes then darned difficult to read.

There are also some full page critical hit charts. These are brilliant, just like the ones in the “Arms Law” book.  These give some great results, like: “Blast burns both of foes arms and all of upper chest. Foe loses use of both arms and is stunned for nine rounds. +15 hits.”
That’s some pretty cool effect.

Then come the spells lists for the “Essence Realm” and those for the “Mentalism” realm.

There are a metric ton of spells in this book. Most of the spells on each list are variations on a theme and can start to feel a bit samey. Yes there are always those critical hit charts to look forward to.

The book, is an awful mess, and I couldn’t bring myself to read all of the lists, there are just too many. I think this is really for the seasoned gamer with time on their hands.

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