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One of our Rolemaster play groups consists mainly out of spell casters of different schools/classes: we have a seer, mage, illusionist, ... For a while now one of the open questions, not answered by any of the Rolemaster books we own, is how being mounted on horseback influences the ability of a characters to cast spells.

For mounted combat this is 'easy': the offensive bonus of the character is available only as a percentage equal to the riding skill.

For example a base attack 60 and riding skill 75 means:
While mounted only 75% of the 60 attack skill will be availabe, i.e. 45.

But how is spell casting influenced by being mounted?

Different situations come to mind that might have different implications/restrictions for the spell caster:

  • Casting while sitting on a standing horse
  • Casting while riding slowly/fast/very fast/ ...
  • Casting while being mounted and in a melee

Are any of these possible according to the rules? If yes, are the any penalties? (We are playing RM2 in a German translation, but any RM2-valid rule sources would be very welcome...)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Which version of Rolemaster are you using? Standard system, RM1/2, Classic...? \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jun 30 '18 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rob, RM2, as per the tag. I'll also update the question. \$\endgroup\$ – fgysin reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 7:06
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The intricacies of casting spells whilst on a horse seem to have been completely bypassed as far as RM2 is concerned (and the others as far as I can see) likely because Magi would rather use a Fly spell later on than trust a creature that's likely to spook under them if things are exploding nearby. I've checked through all the base RM2 source (Companions 1-7) and so on, but the only book that has any real mention of extra mounted combat rules is Companion III - for extra damage from a charge and the Arms Companion, which again is only for melee/missile stuff.

AL&CL has mounted combat guidelines in 5.3

This states

"Depending upon his training and background, a mounted combatant can use anywhere from 0% to 100% of his normal OB. This restriction is not in effect if the horse is completely stationary." ... Mounted OB = Normal OB x (Riding skill bonus + special bonuses) ÷ 100

The only modifications for spell casting on page 15-19 of Spell Law (ICE 1200) are for cover, level, casting stat, position, armour and the like - there's no mention of being mounted anywhere in the SL system that I can find, the assumption appears to be that the caster is standing still and doing their thing while the target is doing everything and anything they can to avoid it.

However there is one critical part of the rules on page 14 that is useful

Movement for all spell casters is reduced to a maximum of 10% if they are preparing a spell, and 25% if they are actually casting it.

With this and the AL rules we can extrapolate the mounted combat rules (such as they are) for Spell Law, with very little effort - which is how I've applied them in my games of RM2. So the situations:

Casting while sitting on a standing horse

There is no penalty for doing this in AL so no penalty in spell law. The casters isn't moving or doing anything, so all is well.

Casting while riding slowly/fast/very fast/ ...

There are two things here to worry about.
1) Casting while the horse is moving

Since the Magi only has either 10% or 25% of their movement (and therefore skill rolls) this is how much of their skill I allow for any riding checks, making casting while riding quite difficult, bare in mind that some realms (Essence) can allow the caster bonuses/penalties for using more or less hands - which will also affect their ride skill (is the caster trained to steer the horse with their knees?)

2) OB/Attack roll for any spell while riding.

Since the caster is concentrating on their spell I allow a full BAR bonus (stat+skill) for any spells (Sleep, wall of fire cast) however any directed spells like shock bolt, ice bolt are restricted by their riding skill as per AL as this is OB.

An example:

Bob the Mage is trying to ride out of town after a regrettable incident where the local tavern caught fire when he was demonstrating his firebolt skill.

As he gallops for the gate his old enemy Eric the Sorcerer steps out and starts waving his hands to cast a spell, Bob decides to show off his firebolt skill and give Eric something to distract him.

Bob is level 10 and has 10 ranks in ride (50). He has 10 stat bonus for his riding skill and an excellent saddle that gives him a further +5 bonus. Bob's riding bonus is therefore +65.

Bob is going to cast his firebolt spell in one round, so he has 25% of his ride skill as he's not doing any spell preparation (25% of 65 = +16) to make his ride check as he casts his spell.

Bob has +65 bonus in ride, so he gets 65% of his OB with his Firebolt spell to blast Eric.

If Bob had decided to cast Sleep instead then he'd still make his ride roll at 25% but he'd make a standard BAR roll to try and put Eric to sleep.

Casting while being mounted and in a melee

There's not much in Spell law for being mounted and fighting, but the horse is not going to be stationary while someone is trying to smack it or it's rider - or it won't get any DB!

Therefore I apply the same checks as if the horse was moving, but the ride check is Easy as the horse isn't going very fast.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, this is already helping a lot! Can I ask for some clarification for the ride check from 'Bob'? --> Would you always ask for this ride check? Or just to handle special events? (E.g. a child suddenly runs around a corner and ends up directly in Bob's path.) \$\endgroup\$ – fgysin reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 10:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I only ask for ride checks if the character is trying to do something beyond a simple walk or trot - unless they have no ranks in ride - then give them easy checks to see how hilariously they can fail at getting a horse to even move ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jul 2 '18 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the answer is good for you please accept, or expound more info needed :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jul 5 '18 at 10:44
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I also searched all my PDFs and found nothing on spellcasting from horseback - it may still be out there, but lets proceed as if it does not exist.

You have a few options here:

  1. Just assume it can be done without a roll, since there are no rules to be found.

  2. Apply the riding skill modifier to the BAB for casting attack spells as in your example above.

  3. Treat casting spells without a BAB as if they were making a static maneuver and possibly either apply the riding skill modifier as in #2 to the roll result or (imho the better option) modify the difficulty based on their riding skill. See page 45 - 17 of CL & CL for the Static Maneuver table and how to use it.

  4. If the horse is moving, make them roll a moving maneuver using their riding skill. The rules for this are right next to the rules for static maneuvers.

  5. Any combination of 2, 3 & 4.

Given a choice I would probably go with a combo of 2 & 3, with modifying the difficulty on the maneuver.

If you do use option 3 and decide to modify the roll result by the riding skill people with 0 in riding will not be able to cast spells from horseback, and will likely never get a spell off even with a 50% riding skill.

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