Grading the Rolemaster/Spacemaster System

How do you feel about the Rolemaster/Spacemaster System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 11 13.1%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 21 25.0%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 18 21.4%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 13 15.5%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 2 2.4%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 19 22.6%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%


I voted for hating it. That's not because the system is bad or I don't understand why people like it, it's just not for me. I'm not a fan of tables even though I understand why they exist in Rolemaster. If your GM isn't really well versed in the rules and has a bunch of tables handy I found it drags so much at the table. I appreciate the criticals and fumbles but for me it's a bad game where my heroic character can trip on their cloak and die and I'm left with nothing to do for the rest of the session.

I loved MERP's supplements and still own several. I played some ok MERP games in the 90s but I didn't feel the rules really made the game so much as the specific setting. Rolemaster without Middle Earth doesn't hold much attraction for me.

I'm full willing to concede that my opinion, now 25 years old, is/was influenced by bad GMs or groups. But nothing about Rolemaster has made my want to try playing it again in the intervening years.

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I'd almost forgotten about Silent Death. Another one that I own but unfortunately haven't had a chance to play.
It's still got a solid grass-roots fan base, although I think we've all given up on them ever finishing the new edition they've been promising since the last century. The most recent (90s) version has some warts in the design-your-own-ship system and the alien "grub" rules are wonky, but other than that plays nicely IME, with a good variety of pre-made ships in many sizes to keep things fresh. Also has a bajillion factions, and while it doesn't actually use the RM/SM game engine it does move the canon timeline of SM forward to well past the collapse of the Empire ad into a more Balkanized political setup - which is neat for roleplayers.


I'm full willing to concede that my opinion, now 25 years old, is/was influenced by bad GMs or groups. But nothing about Rolemaster has made my want to try playing it again in the intervening years.
I can imagine that something as intricate as RM would "live or die" by the GM's familiarity (or lack thereof). Floundering through the system can suck all the air out of the experience.
Nevermind! I misread your post! :)
Now I'm trying to come up with the most humorous misinterpretation possible... ;)

Now I'm trying to come up with the most humorous misinterpretation possible... ;)
I confess I'm curious myself, considering he seems to have been replying to me.

Worth mentioning that even ICE seems to have had some qualms about using the RM/SM engine for board/minis games. They started off with Armored Assault and Star Strike (both under the SM imprint) board games using lightly-modified mechanics from the RPG, and even did a few supplements for them adding more ground vehicles and ships, but those didn't last long. Then we got 1st ed Silent Death with a streamlined, faster-playing game engine that worked well for a starfighter game, still set in the SM universe of the RPG and with a couple of supplements drilling down into some details of a corner the setting (which helped roleplayers as well). That sold well enough the Star Strike never got mentioned again, and led to a second edition ("New Millennium") that blew up the RPG setting and moved the timeline way into the future into a recognizable but very different setting, and that version is still on sale today. They also adapted the SD engine to Bladestorm, a fantasy minis game that falls somewhere between man to man scale, warband skirmishing and small rank-and-file army clashes, depending on scenario and how much you want the setting to break up your fight by dropping a hurricane made of swords on the battlefield.

It's an interesting design evolution, if nothing else. SD:NM is arguably the prize of the litter, but there's something weirdly appealing about Bladestorm simply because it's so ambitious about what it tries to do.

EDIT: Come to think of it, one of the announced but never released things from ICE was a starship boarding combat game set in the Silent Death: New Millennium universe, which sounded like it would use a similar engine (ie much like Bladestorm with guns and power armor). It would probably have been some kind of Space Hulk or Mayday-style game, with the main aggressors being the alien grubs' bioconstructs boarding via worm pods and trying to eat the crews of larger ships. That was how the grubs/Night Brood beat the Imperial capital ships in their war, since they didn't build combat vessels larger than a gunboat themselves.

Don't think it even reached open playtest, but I can remember seeing teaser announcements.
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Played quite a bit of MERP and some Rolemaster back in the day. And MERP wasn't a good Middle Earth game but was a good Rolemaster lite (which improved Rolemaster). As for what I thought, by the standards of the 80s and 90s I found it good - but hopelessly clunky and dated by the standards of the 2010s


Are we counting "Against the Darkmaster" as part of the family? Because it looks like a pretty succesful re-imagining of MERP, with some Rolemaster bits and some modern make-it-up-as-you-go mechanics (I love the healing herbs mechanic, which is basically: Defince what your herb is supposed to cure, make a roll to find it, and if you're succesful, give it a name and write it down for further reference. Puts the MERP/RM herb lists, where you could never find what you needed, from it's head on its feet).
In General, I used to like MERP, but more as "Monty Python's search for the Holy Grail" RPG than as anything truly related to middle-earth. We tried to switch to RM for a while, but weren't really motivated enough to see it through and retuned to MERP, before playing other RPGs. So I guess they were okay.

aramis erak

Have you played or run the Rolemaster/Spacemaster system? Did you play one of its offshoots such as MERP or Cyberspace? If so, what did you think of it?
I've run all 4.
I've not run the later HARP, which is a more generic version of the MERP/CyberSpace reductions.

I've loved each system save Cyberspace (not well organized, poor fit, especially given CP2020 and Shadowrun)...
with the Caveat that MERP absolutely sucks for Middle Earth, but is a great tool for D&D dungeons...

My players, however, were never as fond of them.

I did spreadsheets in Appleworks 3 (Prodos 8 version) for SMRC's, vehicles, and ships in SM 1e...

I've also got SM 2e, but it lost some of the charm....

I don't know which edition of RM, but it was in print in 1984...

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