In MERP, Level 1 characters can only cast Level 1 spells, which are quite limited (projecting light, making an object vibrate, and such). This in turn makes the wizard unable to gather XP as fast as the other characters, rendering them progressively less useful relative to the other party members.

How to prevent that?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I tagged Rolemaster as there was no tag for MERP yet. Thanks for adding. It will be my home tag :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Envite
    May 14, 2014 at 13:07

4 Answers 4


Mages in MERP, like many other systems, start off weak and end up able to basically kick reality in the teeth and laugh as they're doing it.

I've run MERP, Rolemaster and a mishmash of the two for levels 1-30+; so here's my advice.

At Level one you're pretty limited in options; background options are things you can really play with to make yourself useful.

  • MERP mages live and die by their power points. You want as many as you can get. And then double that. Get higher casting stats for a first choice, then multipliers or adders (But you can only use an adder OR a multipler in MERP) Got a billion PP? You'll want more.
  • If you're a mage see if you can convince the GM to spend a background point to get yourself a wand of shockbolts, it's ~40 gp (MERP page 45) and it means you can start practising your directed spells early and it's a nice little attack spell.
  • Spirit Mastery is really good. Really really good. It's one of the best spell lists in the game. The level 1 spell allows you to put 5 levels of targets to sleep; it's got a massive range (100') and who has essence resistance except for a mage? Awesome stuff.
  • Flunk out and get yourself a bow; drop a skill rank into it; it's a backup option and it doesn't cost any power points, also it has a decent range. At level 1 not many people have decent attacks anyway.
  • Essence Perceptions is another good spell list. Level one nets you a familiar; useful flying scout? (See idea points below) Level two you get Presence, which is free to cast. Range 10'. Anyone behind that door/wall/etc? Fantastic spell.
  • Light law will be worth it level 2 onwards, and you want to start practising shock bolt as early as you can.
  • Idea points: Now in my games I dropped XP for kills, crits and award general lump sums; but for those that play "by the book" idea points are a saviour for XP for a mage:

6) IDEA POINTS - These experience points are given for ideas and plans that lead to the accomplishment of a goal or a successful event, action or adventure. The Gamemaster should keep track of ideas, plans and suggestions made by player characters that prove to be useful or successful. After an event, action or adventure is completed and experience points from 1) to 5) above have been awarded, the resulting experience points to ALL group members are totaled. The Gamemaster should award half of this total as "idea points", dividing it amoung the characters who came up with the ideas based upon their respective contributions.

And 1) to 5) is Hp taken , crits done, kill points, maneuver points AND spell points. Become the planner and strategist for the group; your XP will rocket!

(From Merp p.25)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note I've answered here for MERP rather than Rolemaster (that you have tagged) but the answers still generally stand. If you're using RM instead, state which type (RMC2, RMSS etc and which books are available) and I'll add more suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    May 13, 2014 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that there isn't currently an existing MERP tag, so it's likely OP simply tagged as closely as possible (I don't know the relationship between MERP and Rolemaster, but I believe they're similar). \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    May 13, 2014 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does MERP include Research XP? If so, playing up the wizard-as-magical-researcher stereotype would be another good way to push ahead of the XP curve. \$\endgroup\$ May 14, 2014 at 11:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no research XP (subject to GM of course) MERP is a cut-down version of Rolemaster, less tables (what sort of crazy game has MORE tables than Rolemaster?!) less professions and spells and fewer options and skills. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Feb 1, 2016 at 11:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Never underestimate a 1st level mage with Spirit Mastery and a +2 Adder, this is at least (assuming 1 PP/LVL) 3 * Sleep V i.e. up to 15 levels of enemies put to sleep with 3 spells. I tend to award spell XP and kill XP in this case, because the enemies are incapacitated unless they are woke up by someone else \$\endgroup\$
    – Myrrdyn
    Oct 7, 2017 at 9:39

I'm currently playing in a hybrid MERP/Rolemaster campaign thats been going on for a while.

In the beginning, I was like you, feeling that I was useless with my crappy level 1 spells.

Like Rob mentioned, my GM kept telling me that I would become much more powerful compared to the other characters at the higher levels. Now, I'm the first player to hit level 8, doing exactly what Rob suggested plus some.

I've helped turn battles with simple spells like Vibration I - make that crossbow in an enemies hand vibrate causing them to either drop it out of fear or causing it to misfire or fire with a penalty of some sort (GM's discretion of course)

Pick up support spell lists, like Lofty Bridge and use them to assist your party members to get to places they normally wouldn't be able to.

Don't focus on just 'combat kills' - you're a mage, think outside of the box!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: I am not the mage, I am the Narrator, seeking for opportunities for one of the players ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Envite
    May 19, 2014 at 7:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 Good advice, and Lofty Bridge is another excellent spell list. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Jun 3, 2014 at 16:06

I had an elven mage that reached level 4. What did I do?

  • With background points I bought a ring that had offensive daily spells.
  • I always carried a loaded crossbow. Being an elf, I had a decent offensive bonus.

Once you reach level 2, there are more useful and offensive spells.

He wasn't very Tolkienesque, but in those days I hadn't yet read the Lord of the Rings.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Seconded on the crossbow, might as well take the +20 OB compared with a bow, unless you're planning to try to get several shots off, and can be carried loaded, as noted (this gives an initiative advantage in RM, don't remember about MERP). \$\endgroup\$
    – ucbpaladin
    Dec 31, 2018 at 21:17

Other options here:

  • Firstly, optimisation: humans get 6 background points in a high fantasy setting. Instead of using the points to roll 9 background options try spending some to get what you want, such as Power (14 Skill at Magic Section, RMCI p50) and Innate Magician (30 Skill at Magic Section, RMCI p51)
  • Preparing for death is also a good idea for any profession. Once again, invest background points in Necromantic Urge (06 Skill at Magic Section, RMCI p50).
  • Use your hobby ranks (13.4.2, ChL&CL, p82) to give you an advantage at the start. Try investing them in body dev, or even a weapon.
  • Learn First Aid.
  • Try opening with an offensive spell; usually (unless the rules have changed from the version I use), the magic users get first attack.
  • Invest heavily in your bolt and ball attack skills.
  • (My favourite secret weapon) Invest background points in Luck (*14 Skill at Arms Section, RMCI p50).
  • Don't forget to leave a couple of rounds distance between you and your target.

All of these ideas are a bit twinkish, though, and may be restricted by the GM.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Most of these suggestions would not apply to a pure MERP game, only if RM rules are in use. \$\endgroup\$
    – ucbpaladin
    Dec 31, 2018 at 19:04

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