From "The Evolution of Arms Law (1980-2003)" by Brent Knorr:
Second Edition Arms Law is similar to the Fourth printing of First Edition Arms Law, with some changes to the rules. It is printed entirely on regular paper instead of card stock and is 96 pages long rather than 72. It also uses a slightly bigger font, which improves the readability greatly.
The Introduction is expanded from one paragraph to two pages and includes a description of the other Rolemaster products, a note explaining that Boxed text throughout the book is used to indicate guidelines for using Arms Law with another FRP system. The Introduction also includes a much needed explanation on Dice Rolling Conventions in the Rolemaster system.
The Definitions section is also expanded from a quarter page to a full page.
The third section, the Tactical Combat Sequence, is where the biggest change between First and Second Edition takes place. The percentage activity required to make a missile attack is reduced from 75% to 50%. The “Missile” phases in the Tactical Combat sequence are renamed to “Fire” phases and a second Fire Phase (and Fire Result Phase) is added after the Movement/Maneuver Phase. The Tactical Combat Sequence section is expanded from one page to three pages, with more detailed explanations given for each phase, and additional coverage of Movement Conflicts, Canceling Actions and Haste and Speed.
Sections 4 and 5, Defensive and Offensive Capabilities are also expanded and clarified, with the addition of several tables making it much easier to understand.
Section 6, Combat Resolution is expanded, again. The tables referred to are moved to be on the same page that references them. “First Strike Determination” is renamed to be “Initiative Determination” and most of the discussions are expanded.
The Maneuvering and Movement section is also cleaned up and expanded, adding rules for determining the Base Movement Rate including tables with modifications for Stride and Pace. Methods and charts for calculating Encumbrance and Exhaustion are also added.
Section 8 is the index for the Arms Law Charts. The charts themselves are in the back of the book. The charts that are included are the same charts as in previous versions of Arms Law, although the “Crush” table was renamed to “Krush” and the “Bare Fist” table became “Armored Fist”. An error was introduced to the Broadsword table in this printing, a result of 149 against AT10 is listed as “18EK” instead of “22ES”. This error persisted until the RMFRP reprint. The tables did get reformatted to improve readability, the Critical Tables are typed instead of hand written, but the text remained the same.
Section 9 contains Optional Rules for:
- Changing Targets
- Using Missile Weapons in Melee
- Firing While Moving
- Adding an element of Chance for Initiative Determination
- Shield Bash
- Weapon Bonuses for Missile Weapons
- Optional Armor Damage Rule
- Bare Hand Attacks
- Additional Effects of “Stun” Rounds
Section 10 is Non-Rolemaster GM Guidelines, including sections on Healing and AD&D Conversion Notes, and Martial Arts Guidelines (for those not using Character Law).
Section 11 is the index to the Claw Law Tables. The tables themselves are in the back of the book and are the same tables as in the previous printing of Claw Law, again, being reformatted for improved readability.
Section 12 is called Additional Weapon Statistics, and Section 13 is called Animal and Monster Statistics.
The last section, Section 14, is a two-page Questions and Answers section which offers additional clarifications.