Tuesday, June 21, 2011

RIFTS....Why...Won't....You...Make....Sense?!

Seriously, I have got to put this RIFTS thing to bed. I have too many irons in the fire and my fire needs to be less iron-y.

To review my last beef:
psi and magic don't fit well in combat. Mages need to take advanced Hand to Hand skills so they can cast more than one spell per round while their buddies all get 4-10 attacks per round.

How Palladium used to do it:

*Palladium Fantasy 1st ed: Psi took up regular actions, but you couldn't mix psi with regular combat unless you were a Mind Mage. (That is, if you used psionic powers in a round, you couldn't also attack with a weapon.) If you used spells/magic, that was all you could do in that round, and you got one or two spells per round depending on your magic-using class and level. It topped out at two, but this is back when spells and weapons were in line with one another, and attacks per round topped out at 5 for a 14th-15th level warrior class.

*Palladium Fantasy 2nd edition: Psi powers, being more common, just took up regular actions. All classes could mix psi with normal combat. Magic still took up your whole round, and the number of spells you could use in one round was based on the level of the spells you were using, not class and level. (For instance, you could use two spells of levels 1-8, but only one spell of higher level)

*RIFTS- Magic now uses up melee actions. The number of actions a spell uses up is based on the spell's level. This is similar to PFRPG 2nd edition, only now a mage who studies Martial Arts can sling spells faster than a mage who just has Hand to Hand Basic. This just strikes me as wrong on so many levels... it seems counter-intuitive to my sensibilities that a mage who focuses on combat training would actually be able to toss spells faster as a result. I have heard it argued that a combat trained mage would be able to think faster and thus conjure spells more quickly, but I'm just not sure I can buy into this as much more than a hand wave for a wrong turn in the Palladium rules system. I'm also talking about things as laid down in Rifts Ultimate Edition. I've never owned a copy of old RIFTS, so I don't know if things were different back then.

It was recently suggested to me that I treat RIFTS as an Arduin-esque supplement to whatever iteration of D&D I roll best with. You know... I'm starting to think that sounds like the most sane option, despite this nagging sensation that I can somehow turn this into a game I can wrap my head around without feeling like there has been a train wreck inside my head every time I sit down with the rule book.

4 comments:

  1. RIFTS is a hard nut to crack. I had fun playing in it back in the day, but I was crushed in the end by the large number of supplements.

    I never really understood the amount of attacks rational for any of the classes ;)

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  2. Couple ideas:

    - "...the number of spells you could use in one round was based on the level of the spells you were using..."

    Why not make this literal? Like, a 1st level mage can cast 4 spell levels per round. If they cast four 1st-level spells, they're acting about as often as their man-at-arms buddies. But they can go whole hog and cast a single 4th-level spell. Casting higher level spells takes multiple rounds (so an 8th-level spell would take two full rounds to cast). Increase spells per round at a rate analogous to combat attacks progression.

    - Another option would be to develop different "styles" of magic and psi that progress just like combat. So you have the magical or psionic equivalent of Basic, Advanced, and Martial Arts Combat, each giving X number of spells/powers per round and a little bonus at each level, each costing Y number of skill slots to acquire during character creation. It's a bit of work up front, of course, but it could be a fun option.

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  3. Tenkar- Tough nut to crack, indeed. I don't mind the huge number of supplements, since I can take or leave them, but the rules remain just slightly too wonky for me, yet they tempt me to somehow "solve" them.

    Larkins- I had decided to go a similar route for separate tracking of Hand to Hand and Ranged combat ability... it makes sense to do that with psi and magic, but it seems a little clunky to track all four separately. I do like your idea for spells per round, though... I like it a lot. Maybe I'll create a progression in the vein of spells per round from PFRP, 1st edition. I am also warming up to the idea that you have to be in one combat "mode" for the whole round: melee, ranged, magic, or psi. That's how Palladium used to roll, and that's how a lot of games still do... you can't generally attack and cast spell in D&D, for instance.

    ...this also makes me consider class and level determining attacks per round, as it did in Palladium Fantasy 1st...

    ...dammit, it's like whack-amole... everything I get nailed down is replaced by something else popping up...

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  4. Honestly, we just allow mages to cast as many spells per round as melee actions they had. Unless it's something heavy-duty like summoning a world-eating demon, it doesn't break a game where other guys are laying down 5d6 MDC a round. Go ahead and cast Globe of Daylight, followed by Carpet of Adhesion! It makes your mages a little tougher.

    As to having it tied to their attacks per round, I always figured the "combat casting" idea made sense. Take a puny 1st-level mystic into battle for the first time against a pack of Coalition Grunts, and he's going to have a hard time remembering his name, let alone how to cast. Heck, if it makes you feel better, create a Hand-to-Hand: Mage skill, giving them the attacks/actions they need but little in combat progression outside of some saves.

    Honestly, with all the ion blasts, plasma blocks, and rail gun rounds flying around a normal Rifts battle, your mage laying down repeated gouts of flame is just par for the course.

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