Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIFTS: The Patient Can Be Saved

I spent much of the day today corresponding with my RIFTS GM, Mindy, on ways we can houserule RIFTS to make it more palatable to ourselves and the rest of the gaming group. We have one very rough draft finished. (Actually, I'm hesitant to call it a draft, even...more like a collection of notes) Here are some of the problems one or both of us have identified. I will read over the notes one more time before I post our proposed solutions.

1. Mega Damage: Conceptually wonky, the huge numbers and inability to penetrate armor slow combat to a crawl, and we dislike the consistency of what is MDC and what isn't. (Especially with regard to races)

2. Combat Takes Too Long: This is mainly due to the ease with which you can create characters who can attack six or eight times per round. Also when you have guns that do 4d6 MD and the average CS grunt has a chest plate with 80 MDC... you can do the math.

3. (Mostly my issue) Attacks per round often makes no sense. Being a boxer lets you shoot more times in combat, cast more spells, etc. The skills that grant extra attacks should grant them in more specific instances. Mages who are martial artists shouldn't also be able to cast more spells in a round specifically because of their martial arts training. (Unless they're some crazy ass Chi users or something, but I'm talking about "regular" spellcasters like Ley Line Walkers and Elemental Fusionists.) 

4. Magic is wildly inconsistent (my issue) It takes 5 PPE to be immune to fire. It takes 6 PPE to take half damage from fire. It takes 30 PPE to spoil food and water. A regular Ley Line Walker can start with either of the fire spells or learn them on reaching 3rd or 4th level. The spoilage spell is too high level to be taken by starting characters, and cannot be naturally learned until 8th level. Seriously.

5. Magic Sucks- We sort of fixed this one by allowing spell range to be LOS. Personally I think damage spells cannot compete even a little with lasers and rockets, but that's another issue.

6. Lots of useless skills- Basic Radio. Basic Math. First Aid and Paramedic splitting some serious hairs. We haven't tackled this one yet.

We're on the way to solving several off the issues. The hour is late. once I have a chance to review the first draft in the morning, I shall post some of our houserules and fixes.


  1. Kevin is sending Coaltion Troops to your abode. Do not be alarmed. Do not attempt to flee. The Coalition just wants to... talk.

  2. I took a stab at house-ruling Rifts last fall. There are several excellent MDC fixes out there on the Web. In the end, my house rules were getting so long I realized it would be easier to just go back to using another system entirely and converting "for feel" as-needed. Good luck!

  3. We actually managed to hammer out some changes that address most of our biggest problems with the system. For one thing, we're nixing Mega-Damage and converting to SDC. We're also adopting a style of initiative/variable attacks per round a la Shadowrun 2nd edition. (Which is a little more complicated but should actually reduce the prevalence of characters who get 8+ attacks per round) We're going to test the changes out this weekend. Gods help us.

    ...Mindy, the GM, favors simpler, less sweeping changes. If I were to run RIFTS, there would be a lot more changes... maybe that's good, maybe not.

  4. I tend to agree with 'sirlarkins', I have been seriously looking at Stars w/o Number for a back-up plan. So far, the consensus of the group favors trying to save the Rifts campaign. The PCs are interesting and are emotionally invested in this game. Admittedly, it still has life and story-line left, but between (equipment) power creep and torturous combat complexity...we'll find out Sunday if the game is worth the effort!

    I don't really want to re-write Rifts...simple changes or switch systems.

  5. Hope it works out for you. As a Campaign Setting I think Rifts is great, mechanics-wise not great. Of late I've been tempted to dust off my Rifts books and consider a game. Curious to see/hear how yours goes.

  6. As a former Rifts player (former simply because I haven't been involved in a game of it in some years) I understand the frustration.

    I don't believe boxing applies to magic though. I'm pretty sure that spell casters have a limited amount of spells per round; 2, if I'm not mistaken, and they have nothing to do with hand to hand attacks per round.

    Psionics, on the other hand, ARE based on HtH attacks per melee, and that is certainly a flaw.

  7. Teebs- I must have overlooked that, but then again I'm not the GM and I gave up on playing magic-users in RIFTS looong ago. That rule sounds like a holdover from the earlier version of Palladium Fantasy... in the first edition mages could cast one spell per melee, increasing to two at 4th level. A lot of stuff in RIFTS seems to have come over cut-and-paste from PFRPG. (Often to the detriment of the rules/common sense)

    We've actually changed it so that boxing only gives you an extra attack if your character is fighting unarmed that round.