Order of the Iron Crown – Playtesting at GenCon 2014

As you may be aware, this year a couple of members of the Order of the Iron Crown went to GenCon. Below is one member’s (BeggarKing’s) account of GenCon and his playtesting of the new Rolemaster system at the world’s biggest RPG convention.
“I had the opportunity to run a few RMU sessions at gencon earlier this year. It was great to see such excitement about RM. My events came to registration late, and were in out of the way places but I still had full tables.
About the players: The tables were multi-generational, in that each session had at least one to 2 old timers (original RM) and couple that came aboard during RMSS. Most of the attendees had played one version or another. Only 1 complete newbie. Almost all were familiar enough with the system rules that there weren’t many surprises with the beta rules. For both sessions, half the spots were filled by a group the Roleplayed together and wanted to get the gang out to try the new rules. They tended not to be heavy roleplayers – mainly they wanted to get in and try out combat (criticals being the highlight, of course).
I also ran into RM players outside of the events – a couple of us fought over a dusty copy of The Iron Wind found in the exhibit hall. The Good news: There still seem to be many passionate fans. Possible bad news: Most of these players were oblivious to the beta rules. Ones that had been active in the beta generally expressed frustration around the slowpace/lack of updates/lack of transparency into the process.
The play sessions themselves went well – generally the first hour was choosing characters, backgrounds, and asking questions to get up to speed on abilities (note – it takes a while to ramp up even with experienced players and pre-made characters). There were some quick roleplaying opportunities (only a few took advantage) and then into combat. Experienced RMers really fought over playing spellcasters, and wanted to do crazy things with the spells. (1 group fought a bear, and after being told “no” to casting leaving on the bear and using that as a projectile attack, used leaving instead to ‘port the bear into the air above enemies). Everyone seemed to really appreciated spell expertise and combat expertise.
Combat was generally smooth, although I credit cards and mats I put together that makes that experience fairly smooth – everyone was able to leverage the tactical combat rules after the very first round (my own group took some time to get used to this). I used a ton of props – I had figures (wooden meeples I use when travelling) cards I put together for players to set up their phase actions, and tiles I picked up from other games. All these made it easier to handle the finer tactical parts of RM.
The only really fidgety parts in the beta were around calculating movement (“so I’m moving with 25% and I want to run over to the bear that’s on fire, what pace is that and what’s my negative? Wait, how do figure that without a calculator??”). There was one doc-bug we hit where a 64 crit was more damaging than a 66 on the same table (I think the results are switched).
Summary: I had fun running the games and will likely do so again. Players as well seemed to like the rules.”
If you are interested in running ICE games at conventions and becoming a member of the Order of the Iron Crown, get in touch!