At the most recent event at my local gaming store, the owner handed me a copy of Rolemaster Express by Iron Crown. It is essentially a boiled-down version of their famous Rolemaster system, which I encountered mostly in the form of MERP.
Having read through it, my response is basically “Yup, that’s Rolemaster.” Its free, so if you want to get your hands on it, check out the Iron Crown link above and get a copy for yourself. Your generous local gaming store may also have a few copies to hand you if you ask.
There’s enough in this slim book to get you acquainted with the rules. Its actually pretty thorough, with a sampling of races, spells and monsters as well as things like basic equipment and the combat rules and so on.
What really struck me, oddly, was the comparison between this free book and HARP, which is about twenty bucks as I recall. First, some of the art in HARP was also in this book – but what appears clearly pixellated and faded in HARP is dark and fresh in Rolemaster Express. It actually makes the HARP book look a bit like a zine that someone made by cutting out art from xeroxes of this Rolemaster book and blowing them up with a scanner or something. But I’ve already really talked about my frustration with a book that has unprofessional-looking art.
Its just that art is a major expense for the production of any book – and the art in the free book is better than the art in the book they’re charging for. That’s just weird.
If you want to convince some stingy friends to try out Rolemaster, though, this is the book to use. Its free and contains the basics of the system, ready to use. I’m not going to give it a rating, really, but I recommend it for that purpose.