Sunday, May 8, 2011

Palladium Drops the R Word, My *New* RIFTS Fix, and Miscellaneous

An interesting development over at Palladium. In this week's update (which is sort of like my secret shameful fix, the way some people watch soap operas or Maury Povich on the down low), Super Kev contemplates revisions to the Palladium rules system.

...okay, earthquakes, tornadoes, and revisions to the Palladium rules endorsed by Kev himself...perhaps 2012 is going to be the end of the world...

Anyhoo, the forums have been abuzz with suggestions from the fans (and un-fans) and I have been diligently stealing the best of these ideas. With Mindy also working on a RIFTS-to-SWN conversion, I couldn't help but think that having us develop separate, parallel conversions was a bit inefficient. I also don't tend to play well with others in the design process, so rather than work on a collaboration, I am leaving the conversion to Mindy. I still have this strange desire to "fix" RIFTS, and to that end, I'm gathering together a few rules fixes that I think will get the system up and running. So far, the things I am contemplating are:

-Modified version of the "ranged attacks per round" rules from Rifter #11. The short version: boxing doesn't make you shoot faster. Characters can be better at ranged combat than they are in melee. Being a martial artist doesn't make you a lightning fast shooter.

-Modified version of the skill system, apparently stolen from an older version of Twilight 2000. In a nutshell: you improve skills as you use them. Some times you modify your skill when doing easy or hard things. Skilled characters often don't have to roll to do simple tasks.

-Modified damage system. All damage is SDC, but there are four tiers: tier 1 is everything up to 20th century that is infantry scale, tier 2 is up to 20th century vehicles, tier 3 is future/high tech infantry, tier 4 is future/high tech vehicles. You reduce your damage when attacking armor of a higher scale and increase your damage when attacking a lower scale. Magic conforms to the target's scale, so wizards are actually worth a crap. Thanks to one of the Palladium forum posters for this, which I consider the best house rule of all. 

-Skills now receive bonuses from high attributes, but an attribute related to the skill, not just IQ. Having a high IQ will still give you a bonus to, say, Lore or or Medicinal Brewing, but PP gives you a bonus to Prowl or Acrobatics, PS gives you a bonus to athletics, etc.

-Base hit number in ranged combat is no longer 8, but set by your range increment. (range is divided into point blank, short, medium, long, extreme, expressed as percentages of a weapon's max listed range) This number is modified by the net result of your strike bonus vs. their dodge bonus. (So say base number to hit is 15 for long range, I have +5 strike, you have +7 dodge, I hit on a 17 or higher. If I attack someone with only +2 dodge, I hit on 12 or higher at long range) Dodge remains the same: if you give up your attack, you can try to beat the attacker's hit roll with your dodge roll to negate the attack. I am considering giving auto dodge characters either one "free" dodge per round or nixing auto dodge and just giving them a permanent +2 dodge bonus. (Maybe it will increase with level)

-Attacks per round start at 2 for Hand to Hand Basic or Ranged Basic (level 1), and each level up the hand-to-hand/ranged chart adds one extra attack. Fencing only adds an extra attack if you are fighting with a bladed weapon that round. Boxing only adds an extra attack if you are fighting unarmed. Characters belonging to a "Men of Arms" OCC get one additional attack, regardless of class. (Maybe add one every five levels or so, since levels are pretty slow going in Palladum)

-PPE Channeling from one of the Rifters. (I forget which)

-Spell ranges increased...thinking a x5 multiplier.Most spells would have a range of 500 feet, which I don't consider unreasonable since 1.) RIFTS world is supposed to be totally suffused with magic, and 2.) The game is full of guns and rockets that measure their range in thousands of feet. 

It may seem like a lot, but this is really coming together in my brain. At any rate, even with all these changes, the game is likely to be more playable than it is currently as written. Mindy runs RIFTS in our Sunday group. so ultimately we'll be playing her version of the SWN (plus a little D&D) conversion, but I will tuck this away in my own folder in case I ever find myself running RIFTS outside our Sunday game.

Tonight we played Deadlands: Reloaded. We managed to get through a session without either of Savage Worlds' two quibbles (which I have discussed before): Ultimate Smackdown and The Extra From Hell. If you have played Savage Worlds, I'm sure these two concepts do not need explanation to you.

Next week I run my fourth game of Stars Without Number. I'm looking forward to it and so is the group. I might also be running my first game of Pathfinder next weekend. Looks like I have a busy week ahead of me.

Since our newest player offered to run Marvel Super Heroes for us sometime, I tried to introduce the 4C System (a Marvel Super Heroes retro-clone, complete with adherence to the success color chart that TSR used in Marvel, Gamma World 3rd edition, and I think the original Conan rpg) 4C was not well received by the group, although Mindy seemed to have a strange fascination with it despite her repeated voiced opposition. The group seems to want to play Savage Worlds Superheroes, and Nathan seemed amenable to the idea of running it. We shall see.  I'm pretty much down with any superhero system that isn't Champions.


  1. As much as I'd personally love for Rifts to have a revised rules system (it's the rules, especially skills, that keep us from going back to play it, even though the setting is good), part of me thinks it's sad and will sort of mark the end of an era. It's been comforting to know Palladium is doing things the way they always have been and will never change, even if I don't like the way they are doing it. And after all, changes could possibly make it *worse*.... ;)

  2. I'm optimistic about the revision and have been since I heard about it. I'm still waiting for the "Rifts lite" a freelancer told me they were working on a couple of years ago.

  3. RIFTS Lite would be fan-friggin'-tastic. I'd buy it on concept alone.

    ...of course, concept alone is why I own pretty much any Palladium book on my shelf...