|This is the twelfth of our scheduled Briefings.Now that there’s been a little bit of time for the ICE community to digest the news of our Rolemaster Briefing, this is a good juncture to answer at least some of the questions that people have been asking.|
Qu 1: What is the status of the new unified Rolemaster products?
There’s been a lot of speculation about this. The facts are as follows – a complete draft of the new Arms Law has already arrived fresh from core playtesting to my inbox. Copies have been provided to selected individuals for their commentary and their independent second-round playtesting. The new Character Law and the new Spell Law will be the next to appear, but I don’t know which will materialise first. The fourth and fifth books, namely “Creatures” and “Treasures” will turn up last.
Qu 2: Is this a new edition of Rolemaster?
In some ways, it is a new edition. In some ways, it is very much a “best of” drawing upon the best ideas of the past three decades. It is not a cut-and-paste job. It is definitively and definitely Rolemaster.
The RPG industry and the hobby have been around a long time now with a myriad mechanics explored in games mainstream and indie. For a game to survive and to flourish, it needs quality and stability in order to attract and maintain the interest of players and GMs, and it needs to be supported by its publisher.
Of course you as fans have to give unified Rolemaster a chance and support it in turn as that support enables us to produce more products for it, encourages software creators to develop high-quality virtual tabletops and support tools, and so on. Living, growing rpg systems attract more players and GMs, which means more opportunities for existing gamers to find new folk to game with. A win for everyone.
Qu 3: What happens next? How can I become a playtester?
After the first three of the vanguard products have arrived and have survived my editorial scrutiny and that of our specialist commentators, we will then make them available for a public beta playtest. The expectation is that this public beta test will kick off in August. Copies of the drafts will be available for purchase in minimalist formatting from the OneBookShelf network and paid-up beta testers will be able to comment and discuss their playtesting results on the ICE forums.
This will be a strictly time-limited beta test and it will end once our crack team of artists have finished the illustrations and covers, so that final editing and layout can occur. Anyone who purchases a beta version of one of the new books will be able to update their pdf copy at no extra cost to the release version as soon as they become available. PDF release of the final versions will be followed by print-on-demand and mainstream distribution.
We are determined that unified Rolemaster will be the best it can possibly be. With the feedback from the community, we are certain that together we can create a new edition of Rolemaster that will stand the test of time and be a new classic.
Qu 4: Why five books? Why not one?
Our assessment is that while many fans would like an introductory, lightweight or streamlined version of Rolemaster in one book, many more will want a full-blooded, full-featured version of Rolemaster. From the publishing perspective that we want to support Rolemaster through new Shadow World and Cyradon material and adventure/campaign modules, we need the complete unified Rolemaster now.
There will be a “Lite” one book edition of Rolemaster in due course, but it will be fully compatible with the full version. It will not be a conflicting or variant edition – the voice of the community is very clear that multiple competing editions are a major problem.
Qu 5: So what is happening with Shadow World?
Shadow World will continue to be the premier fantasy setting for Rolemaster, and there will be a Rolemaster Handbook for Shadow World that provides the necessary additional rules material (e.g. Loremaster and Navigator spell lists) for gaming in the perilous lands of Kulthea. Depending on when Terry finishes his latest masterwork, Emer III, this may become one of the first sourcebooks to be a unified Rolemaster product. What is certain is that new Shadow World material beyond Emer III and books written by third-party authors will be written for unified Rolemaster. In addition, we will be updating and refreshing existing sourcebooks such as Emer I, Emer II, Eidolon, Cloudlords of Tanara, and more, to be compatible with the new Rolemaster.
As an aside, there will also be a HARP Handbook for Shadow World.
Qu 6: What about Cyradon?
In addition to being the premier setting for HARP Fantasy, we will be providing a unified Rolemaster conversion of Cyradon, enabling future Cyradon products to support both HARP Fantasy and Rolemaster gaming. Once again, this will not be a variant of unified Rolemaster; it will be a straightforward conversion with appropriate additional material.
Qu 7: Is a new version of Spacemaster being worked? Will Spacemaster be unified?
Spacemaster is not currently being worked on. There are limits to how much even our teams of freelancers can cope with at the same time. But in due course, there will be a unified version of Spacemaster and it will be compatible with the new unified Rolemaster. Meanwhile we are continuing with our rebranding and rerelease of the existing Privateers line – five of the seven books are now available on the OneBookShelf network.
Qu 8: What’s happening with the HARP Fantasy line?
It’s full steam ahead for the HARP Fantasy line. As I write this, I have an email from Eric with the latest complete HARP Fantasy draft layout and covers to review. I finished all of the extra material for Martial Law and so it is ready to hand over to Eric. Virtually all of the new artwork for HARP College of Magics is already here.
We don’t see HARP Fantasy/HARP SF as rivals to Rolemaster/Spacemaster but rather complementary systems addressing different gaming needs and this will become more obvious as new products are developed and released. Due to the larger pool of freelancers that GCP is able to draw upon, we have the capability to maintain a stream of substantial products for multiple lines at the same time and this keeps everyone in the community happy.
The next scheduled Director’s Briefing will be in early August, but I expect to be announcing the release of HARP Fantasy in the interim.
Director, Guild Companion Publications Ltd.