Saturday, February 25, 2012

RIFTS this weekend...

Mindy is starting up a new RIFTS game this weekend, giving our wayward Stars Without Number campaign a much-needed rest.

I made two RIFTS characters this weekend, and, because I was bored, two characters for Heroes Unlimited. Here are my three main gripes with character creation:

1. The skill system easily adds and extra thirty minutes or more to the character creation process, and leaves your character with a billion skills that he is never going to gooddamn use.
2. Munchkiny stat inflation brought about by physical skills. You get stronger, tougher, and faster by lifting weights, boxing, and training in gymnastics... you do not, however, get smarter for studying Advanced Math or Chemistry. You do not become more charismatic by practicing public speaking.
3. IQ affords the only possible addition to your skills. Yes, a high IQ will make you better at scientific stuff, but at piloting? Bartering? Meanwhile, the stats that should help you be a better pilot or trader (PP and MA, respectively) do not help at all.
4. Math: Basic.... really? I also managed to create a character who is better at Advanced Math than he is at Basic Math. See also the myriad other skills that should really not be skills. (Speak Native Language?)
5. Keeping track of all the little bonuses is aggravating. (Skill bonuses, combat, bonuses, and save bonuses)

Now, I've seen two interesting solutions to the skill system. The first was something I ran across at The RPG Site, which essentially used the skill categories as the skills. (So, rather than having a billion Technical skills, your character would just have a skill called Technical) The solution reminds me somewhat of the WEG/d6 approach to skills. My gripe with this solution is that a lot of the skill categories could be seen as somewhat redundant or poorly named. The category of Technical skills, for instance, covers a wiiiiiiide variety of things in Palladium, from Jury-Rig to Lore: Demons & Monsters. Do we want all our occult scholars to be able to pull a MacGuyver? Do we want all our Gemologists to also be History and Philosophy experts? Also, since when was philosophy a "technical" field? This is more a fault of the skill system than the proposed solution. I actually dig this solution; it would just require a reshuffling of skill categories.
...which would sort of necessitate a rewrite of all the game's hundreds of character classes, since a big part of the class write-ups is the skill bonus list.

Eeek. I find it endlessly frustrating that this game has such an interesting setting and such crap rules.

I think the best advice I was ever given about RIFTS is to treat it like an after-market mod of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Someday I might have to listen to that advice...


  1. Math: Basic.... really? I also managed to create a character who is better at Advanced Math than he is at Basic Math.

    It's a common joke among mathematicians that they can't add.


  2. I keep getting drawn back to the setting but quickly run away from the system!