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Oh God! It's [Rifts]!

OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
edited November 2010 in Critical Failures
Rifts_Logo.jpg

The Setting; or Why There Are Extra-Dimensional Alien Bugs Occupying Detroit
It's 100 years in the future. Humankind has enjoyed a Golden Age of peace, prosperity and advancement. WE've conquered most diseases, bottled the fountain of youth, extendd our life spans to 200+ years and our toys are nano-technology and the genetic code. Our cities look like something out of a science fiction novel complete with robots, androids and flying cars. Our future appears grand... then it all comes to a crashing stop.

Imagine the end of the world. The movie Day After Tomorrow meets Nightmare on Elm Street.

In addition to the mass destruction and total chaos, lines of blue energy appear across the world. Where two or more lines meet, tears in space and time occur. From these Rifts emerge strange, alien beings. Some seem as mortal, scared and confused as you. Others are demons from the very pits of hell. At other places along the lines, weird and alien wildlife appear overnight. People start to manifest magical and psychic powers, ancient gods appear to claim portions of the land, titans clash and the landscape changes. It is pure and utter madness.

Fast forward 300 years.

And that's where we join our heroes. Or villains. Or psychic cat people piloting power armor and setting mind controlled alien zombies on fire with magic.

Rifts was (is?) the flagship series from Palladium Books. It combines post-apocalyptia with pulpy sci fi, outlandish fantasy, action movie theatrics and not a small amount of existential horror. Humans are an endangered species, aliens/monsters/dragons roam the earth. Magic is real, as are ley lines, geomancy and astral projection. Humanity is defended by a genetically engineered race of psychic humanoid dogs. Vampires rule Mexico. This is the world now.

The human race is hanging on by a thread. Most of us have gone back to something approaching the agrarian existence of settlers in the American West. Others are hunters or gatherers, or actively raid settlements for food and goods. The more enterprising among us make expeditions into ancient cities and complexes to search for technology from our Golden Age.

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Mind Over Matter Technology; All the psionics and twitchiness, without any of that pesky sanity.

For those who want more protection than their squishy fleshbag of a body can provide, there are options, many of them left over from the technology we had before the fall. Bionics, mechanical replacements and reinforcements of limbs and skeletal structure are relatively common, with some going so far as to fully "convert" into terminator-esque cyborgs. Mind Over Matter brain implants give the subjects psychic powers, streamline reaction times and can even program in entire skillsets, with the only downside being eventual and inevitable insanity. Juicer chemical augmentation pumps a cocktail of adrenalin, pain killers and other drugs into the patient's system, making them incredibly strong, fast and tough. It also causes their heart to explode after 5-7 years, but them's the breaks.

juicer.gif
Sure, the uniform is stylish, but the retirement plan is terrible.

If mechanizing yourself is too drastic a step, there is always power armor. Man-sized suits of mega-damage (yeah, we'll get to that), servo-enhanced protection that have their own air, water and food stores and enough armaments to level what's left of any city on the eastern seaboard. Most suits can run at upwards of 60 mph and have strength levels on par with superheroes, and many of them can fly. They are the jet fighters of the setting, and they're priced like it.

The Palladium Verse; or Why That Kung Fu Dragon Has A Bionic Arm
The only limit is your Imagination!

With their *cough* "unified" *cough* rules across their surprisingly wide array of games, Rifts "benefited" from tons of already existant source material that could be dropped directly into the setting. Does your post-apocalyptic wasteland seem less awesome than it maybe could be? Try adding ninja mutant animals or Veritech fighters. Feel like your campaign could use a little more Cthulhu? There's an entire pantheon of dead/sleeping cosmic horrors that would love a shot at your squishy, tasty humanoid brains and/or souls. Tired of augmentation as the only route to human dominance? There's an entire book out there with the means to turn your Bruce Lee rip off into a supernatural megadamage ass kicker who can take a missile to the chest and still roundhouse the head off a glitter boy.

Oh, what's that? Why is Smruce Smee kicking the head off of a particularly sparkly rave participant? That's the other thing about Siembieda and his cohorts; they're not great with the names.

This is a real life glitter boy;
Spoiler:

This is the Rifts version;
Spoiler:

You may notice some subtle differences.

Other notable examples are the Cyber Knight (complete with PSYCHIC combat powers, a PSYCHIC energy blade and a PSYCHIC energy shield), Rogue Scholars (whose glut of 14 free range skill selections never failed to turn them into an acrobatic martial arts master with every weapon proficiency in the book) and the Shifter (who had no shapechanging powers whatsoever and instead focused on summoning unspeakables from the great beyond).

Mega Damage; or Why I'm Invulnerable To Your Puny Attacks

Ever feel like you need to do more damage? Like, if I'm doing damage now, I should be doing Better Damage. No, that's not superlative enough. Super Damage? That's more like it, but still not quite right. We need something more... Mega. Mega Damage. Yeah, that's the civilization leveling ticket.

Regular weapons do Structural Damage. It's roughly equivalent to hit point damage from any number of other systems, including D&D. In fact, most characters will have an amount of S.D.C. (Structural Damage Capacity) that represents their durability and a second pool that is actually called "hit points" that correspond to actually taking wounds and such. It's kind of like the 4E Bloodied system, only completely random and even more pointless. Weapons that do S.D.C damage do hit point damage on a 1:1 ratio. They're the same thing, essentially. Punches, knives, falling, these all do Structural Damage.

But really, punching is for pleebs anyway (unless you're supernaturally strong, obviously). The advent of energy weapons, rail guns, supercharged pyrokinesis and a hundred other means of wiping entire settlements off the map with a stray thought required an extra tier of damage statement. That's where Mega Damage comes in. One point of Mega Damage is equivalent to 100 points of Structural Damage. One Hundred Points. That means that this;

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is roughly the damage equivalent of this;

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It also means that going out without a suit of this;

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is basically suicide. Because if you don't encase yourself in Mega Damage materials you'll be pink vapor pretty quickly. Which basically made all that stuff about SDC and Hit Points completely pointless unless you spent your campaigns fighting unarmed villagers.

But then again, moderation and restraint was never really a strength for Rifts.

The System; or How To Rule The World With One Suit Of Power Armor

The very basics of combat will be familiar to anyone who frequents this forum. Roll d20 to attack, add bonuses, if hit occurs roll dice to determine damage. Some key differences are that everything has an effective Armor Class of 8, Weapon Proficiencies add incremental bonuses to your attack rolls (starting at +1 at first level and going up from there) and unless you're wearing armor a single attack will likely vaporize you.

If you don't like the idea of taking the hit (with potential subsequent vaporization) you can use your next action to instead attempt to dodge the attack. You make a roll, the attacker makes a roll and high roll wins. You either dodge and take no damage or he hits and you accomplished nothing. Did I mention this takes the place of your next combat action? Your choices are to stand there and take the extremely high percentage attack (1d20 + 1 vs your 8 AC is a 65% hit at first level) in order to get a counter attack or try to dodge and do nothing in return.

Unless, of course, you're wielding two pistols, in which case you can dodge and give up only one of your attacks (since you get two per action). Because holding two guns makes you faster, I guess.

Combat in Rifts tended to turn into slugfests, with each side dumping high damage attacks (3d6 mega damage is pretty typical) into the other to try and beat down their 70-90 Mega Damage Capacity armor. Moving took up your combat action, so combatants tend to stand and shoot rather than do anything dynamic.

The only saving grace (if you want to think of it that way) is that some people got upwards of twice as many attacks as others. Combat was divided into "Melees" which were 15 second time increments. Most people started with two attacks. Evil people tended to start with 3. Unless they were in a Man At Arms class, then they got 5. Or 7 in Power Armor, or with a Juicer conversion. Basically what I'm saying is that sometimes you got to go twice while the Dickhead Juicer Assassin in massive power armor got to go 7-9 times. Those were not good times.

Outside of combat the system wasn't much better. There are around 300 skills in 18 different categories, each with a different base level of proficiency that has nothing to do with your character other than being trained in the skill. If you're not trained, you can't try it, if you are trained in it you're just as good (or bad) as everyone else who is trained. Period. Don't have Prowl trained? Apparently you just clomp everywhere and loudly announce your presence every time you enter a room. Have Surgery but not First Aid? I hope your buddy needs a kidney transplant and not a tourniquet. Having Pilot: Military Aircraft but not Sensory Equipment meant you had no idea how to read the dials in your cockpit. Apparently you are some kind of piloting savant.

The class system, very similar in a lot of ways to 2nd Edition D&D, is 7 separate kinds of lopsided. A lot of blame for this falls on option bloat, what with 50+ books introducing new classes and new options for old classes. The initial book doesn't even pay lip service to balance, though. This was a system crafted in the dark recesses of the late 80's and the simulationism renaissance. The fact that one character can start with the ability to read minds and throw Mega Damage fireballs while another has no skills and can fit all his possessions in his bindle is considered a feature, not a bug.

The Appeal; or Why In The Hell Would Anyone Play This Mess?

Did I mention the cyborgs, power armor and psychic dog people? This is a setting where the Rule of Cool is stitched straight into the fabric of the universe. There's a class whose primary ability is mind controlling mutant psychic mega damage dinosaurs and riding them into battle wielding a plasma lance. And that is the sort of thing that will captivate your inner 12 year old for hours on end, let me tell you.

For those (like myself) who have matured somewhat in their RPG tastes, the setting has other things to offer. The post apocalyptic nature alone is a substantial draw for some. For others, the constant overtones of human augmentation hold the seeds of compelling stories. There are tons of points of conflict and it's a game that is literally built around the idea that every single genre of fiction can coexist in some form.

And when you just get down to playing it, it can be damn fun. It's Road Warrior, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, Star Wars and Blade Runner all thrown into one pot and stirred vigorously. It's like being a chemically enhanced ninja assassin fighting vampires in the burned out husk of Mexico City while your buddy tries to open a rift in space time to a hell dimension full of demonic insect people. Really.

It's like this;
Spoiler:

And that's why I love it.

OptimusZed on
We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
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Posts

  • TaarkothTaarkoth Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Ah Rifts. Such a wonderfully crazy setting, with an abysmal rule system. I still have very fond memories of playing Yuri, the zombie-fightin' Russian power armor pilot. My friends and I also got a lot of amusement out the Redstone Arsenal, which we all live near, being one of the last bastions of civilization.

    An the other hand, that rule system. D:

    There's a reason Rifts has been named one of the coolest games you'll never play.

  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Oh god, what have we wrought...

    As noted in the Mass Effect thread (and here in other threads previously), Rifts is a series of great (and shitty) settings mixed with an almost flagrant disregard for anything resembling an attempt to balance the power level across them. One of the most feared militaries in the world is running around with 4d6 MD rifles in one book, and in the next some assholes in south america have apparently worked out how to blow out the side of a mountain with a near miss. It's like at least one writer (C.J. Carella) would look at a design, scratch out the damage and just write "3d6x10" beside it and call it a day.

    While I had experience with D&D and AD&D in my much younger years, Rifts was the game I really cut my teeth on. My first character is where my forum handle comes from, actually; he was an NGR power armour pilot. And an asshole.

    The wide variance in character power levels led to situations where the GM had to either watch heavily what the group was composed of, and judging what they could handle in terms of opponents could be very hit and miss. Let the balance get too out of whack, and you'd have encounters where the weaker foes (for the hobos with pistols) would get smoked in a single volley from the big guns, and the enemy big guns risked wiping out half the party with a steady glare. Overestimate and you could have a TPK on your hands, underestimate and the party would wipe the floor with them, it'd just waste everyone's time.

    Magic was too slow (we house ruled the shit out of that to make it playable), and the system was heavily front loaded, where aside from attacks per melee round, you really didn't improve too vastly unless you found or were able to buy some absurdly good gear along the way. Considering most character classes started with a "weapon of choice" or ten, with a leniant GM that was occasionally all but impossible. SDC was essentially a bad joke; unless the entire group was composed of non-MDC characters (again, more GM handling) you had two states for a Rifts character: alive and fighting (at likely full capacity) or dead (and not enough left to bury in a coffee can). Skills were often a joke, but we futher house ruled them to be a little more sensible (instead of this "98% is the max" crap, we let you go well beyond 100%, which then allowed negatives to come into play for more difficult situations).

    Psionics were pretty awesome. Psyscape remains among my favourite books. I used to own almost every Rifts world book, source book, Rifter 'magazine' and other book they released (along with most of System Shock, Heroes Unlimited, Robotech, Nightbane and a couple PFRPG books), but eventually the group moved apart, I didn't play for years and I got tired of lugging like 90 pounds of books from apartment to apartment, so I ebay'd all but a couple dozen of my favourites. Tempted to relinquish a few others these days, actually. Though I hear there's now a Triax & The NGR 2, which makes my pants tight. (the T-31 is my MVP mech... alongside the Saber Cyclone at least)

    I'd love to play a Rifts game that made at least some semblance of an attempt at balance, but they'd have to blast off and nuke the site from orbit to achieve that (or at least have a giant book or three that basically say "use the settings as you like, but the gear, classes and whatnot can be found here and ONLY HERE!")

    TL:DR: I loved Rifts, but it certainly had its flaws.

    Edit: "Never play!" Son, Forar himself hit level 10, and I think I had a level 9, 8 and 7 character by the time we were done. And those GM's weren't generous with the Exp (who needed to be, a level 1 was often around 75-90% as dangerous as a level 5 or 10 of the same type). Among my group we kept a tally of dead characters. I was the only person to have a character hit level 10, and the only one never to lose a character. [/smug] :P

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Rifts is in the same mental category as GURPS or HERO for me.

    Games that sound good until I actually looked at a rulebook.

    Trogg wrote: »
    Not as positive as AIDS and cancer, but positive nonetheless.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Trying to construct (and balance) coherent Rifts campaigns led me to be the GM I am today!

    So blame it for everything.

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  • TurksonTurkson Near the mountains of ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I think Rifts was the very first RPG I ever played, back when I was 14. I can't remember much about it, except mega-damage and s-damage and the silliness that caused.

    "You. Poet. Be sure to write this down."
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    For me it was D&D, GURPS, and Rifts; I wanted to love Rifts for the absolutely batshit backstory (I was a sucker for crossover-style stuff) but the mechanics... man, that was harder to live with

    Although to be honest, with GURPS and Rifts it was mostly the sourcebooks I enjoyed, we actually played very few games.

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  • NewblarNewblar Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Wow Rifts. I still read the books once in awhile because fluff is amazing. The rules however are not. I would call them broken but that would be insulting to rules systems that can be tweaked to a playable level.

    Even ignoring the ridiculous power creep after the first book, the base game is utterly broken. Want to wreck face? Play a glitter boy, almost one shot most other power armor/vehicles and nothing short of another glitter boy or full out army can stop you. Want to be unkillable (well for about 5 years)? Play a juicer, pick up skills that increase dodge and you can't ever be hit while still keeping all your attacks. The juicer gets even more ridiculous with the power creep in some of the books providing cheese options to make yourself even more unkillable and put out close to the damage of a glitterboy. I'm not even going to get into magic/psionics/skills/sdc, etc..

    Aside from the brokenness of this game my only other memory of playing is calling another player an xp sponge for rolling a techno wizard.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • rucdocrucdoc Crazy guy in the corner ClassifiedRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    man I saw the thread title and thought cool, someone is starting a rifts pbp, that would be cool I gotta get into that. then I was let down when it was just a topic thread :(

    Original Creepy Janitor

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  • PeccaviPeccavi oh... oh my!Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I thought Palladium was the flagship series of Palladium Books. /shrug

    I remember seeing all these references to Rifts in a couple of my Palladium Books, but never actually played in that setting.

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  • WingedWeaselWingedWeasel Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I really wish the rules for Rifts didn't give me such a terrible migraine. That and the fact that the "barren wasteland, post-apocalyptic Earth" managed to have sprawling mega cities with tons of inhabitants and tons of surviving tech in every corner of the world*.

    Still there were advantages. As others mentioned you could basically do any setting you want. Want King Arthur (Arthuru? I forget what they renamed him), head to England. Want to battle ancient Egyptian gods or the 4 horsemen? Africa has it covered. Really there was just about anything you could want.

    That being said the fucking rules kill me inside.

    *granted many were alien but there were plenty of human settlements.


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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Rifts is my first RPG love. I discovered Rifts and AD&D at around the same point and, well, I guess AD&D didn't really have the flash necessary to hold my 13 year old self's attention like Rifts did.

    This was also the RPG that taught me to just change things I don't like rather than laboring under terrible rules.

    I've actually converted Rifts into several other systems at this point. AD&D first (2nd Edition), as basically a straight setting port. Then I tried oWoD, with limited success. The last two iterations were better, one run as a straight Mutants and Masterminds campaign with Rifts fluff and the other a laborious conversion into d20 Modern that actually ran pretty well.

    I'm working on another one that I kind of hope will be the final, definitive conversion. I'm using a homebrew system that is heavily Saga influenced, and borrows from 4th Edition D&D, as well as M&M. Since I'm building it from the ground up as a Rifts-specific system, it's coming out fairly well in terms of maintaining the feel of the setting and the original mechanics without actually reflecting their obnoxious brokenness. I'm pretty happy with it so far, but it's a long way from finished.
    man I saw the thread title and thought cool, someone is starting a rifts pbp, that would be cool I gotta get into that. then I was let down when it was just a topic thread
    If I thought we had enough potential players with the materials, I might actually try.

    I really don't know what demand would be for such a terrible thing, though.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I used to have dozens of the World Books and Source Books and Conversion Books and whatever. Got most of them at used book stores, if you can believe that. I also had the complete TMNT and Robotech series' from Paladium, along with Ninjas and Superspies (which I absolutely adored) and the Mechnoid Trilogy (which may or may not still be at my parents' house).

    Between several moves and generally just not using the system, my collection of Rifts books has dwindled starkly over the years. It just wasn't reasonable to keep them around if there was nobody to play with, and that much material is a pain to transport from one place to another.

    The three I miss the most (in no particular order) are;

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    51fYqG0hmiL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    511OG7qMQ0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    Each of those wound up dog eared, with the covers practically destroyed from thorough rereadings and table referencing.

    One of these days when we finally settle into a permanent place I'm going to have to hit up Amazon and rebuild the collection. Judging from the fact that googling those images turned up amazon pages for $1.50 and $3.41 sales on books, it shouldn't be too expensive to pull off. ;)

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    The stuff they came up with was just so ludicrous in both narrative intent and mechanics, and they just plainly didn't care how new additions balanced and interacted with things that came before... and we all love/hated them for it

    I vaguely remember one book (may have been Rifts Japan, but I think it was a seperate military sourcebook which just happened to touch on Japan) going on and on about how a samurai caste refused to use ranged weaponry and preferred swords, and I recall younger-me being bemused at the historical inaccuracy.

    But Atlantis and Cthulian terrors were fine, apparently.

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  • KayKay What we need... Is a little bit of PANIC.Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    The thing that stands out in my memories of Rifts, is how the sourcebooks insisted that everyone from 'Great Britain' had the Boxing skill. Everyone. We all box.

    I also remember making a Temporal Mage for a game when I knew nothing about the system, just an overview of the setting. Two of the other characters were a Juicer and a Glitterboy. I had a magical sword that I could pull out of a pocket universe. They had 8-million attacks and a giant mech between them. Balance! :rotate:

    I kinda loved it, though.

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  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    My main memory is of trying to balance one psionic character after realising that some stat called "psychic energy" or similar wasn't actually used to power their abilities. Oh, and that everyone was either Good, Selfish, or Evil. What a cynical world!

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  • descdesc raised on the battlefield born as a suffererRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Oh, Rifts.

    I think that's my entire reaction to the system.

    I, like everyone else in this thread, was extremely into the muscley 90s cyberdudes in power armor punching fairies and zombies and whatnot when I was a teenager.

    Actually, I'm expecting to receive the new D&D Gamma World today from Amazon, and that does arise from the desire to do a wham-bam mini-campaignlet with the same kind of post-apoc / every genre and the kitchen sink crazypants approach that Rifts really nailed, theme-wise.

  • HeavyVillainHeavyVillain Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Infinitum, that one game me and philistein made, basically came about cos we wanted to take the rifts universe and make a strategy/research game in it..

    which just reminds me how terrible I am for letting that pbp die after like.. 4 turns.

    Also i never actually played any Rifts at all! Just read the books my friend had. doesnt sound like I was missing out too much though!

  • descdesc raised on the battlefield born as a suffererRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    which just reminds me how terrible I am for letting that pbp die after like.. 4 turns.

    Dude, it's so tough to keep PBPs going. It's enough work to get a biweekly campaign going for a face to face rpg when you have to dedicate a chunk of time every so often, but coming home from work every day and keeping at it without failing is like, running a comic strip level dedication.

  • SteelhawkSteelhawk Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Gawd, Palladium.

    I've got to echo some of the others here. I fell in love with the Rifts settings, and the art. So awesome to a teenage nerd. SO AWESOME. I got into it from the Robotech/Macross RPG side, which I loved even more. Palladium (and FASA) put out RPG products with such great fluff. Great.

    But yeah, those rules systems sucked goat testicles. Just awful.

    Games & Characters:
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Edcrab wrote: »
    My main memory is of trying to balance one psionic character after realising that some stat called "psychic energy" or similar wasn't actually used to power their abilities. Oh, and that everyone was either Good, Selfish, or Evil. What a cynical world!
    P.P.E. Potential Psychic Energy. Not applied to Psionics at all other than some fluff saying that they basically spent theirs learning to use their power.

    I.S.P. Inner Strength Points. Used to power Psionics.

    Looking back, the thing that really sums up the mechanical realities of the system for me is that both M.D.C. and I.S.P. were acknowledged realities of the game world. People living in the world knew about these things. They weren't vague, existential theories or postulates, this was how it worked and everyone knew it.

    That takes a special kind of game designer.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    That was it! Man, that really confused me at the time. I actually thought it was a misprint or something until I read further into the material; I just saw "psychic" and thought it'd magically (psionically?) become relevant to my dude later down the line.

    And speaking of PbPs, only masochistic idiots would dream of setting them up.

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  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Looking back, the thing that really sums up the mechanical realities of the system for me is that both M.D.C. and I.S.P. were acknowledged realities of the game world. People living in the world knew about these things. They weren't vague, existential theories or postulates, this was how it worked and everyone knew it.

    That takes a special kind of game designer.

    The MDC/SDC ratio was so high that it was effectively useless. Most weapons dealt dozens of MDC, which translated into potentially thousands of SDC, but SDC characters (aside from Juicers) could rarely even take 1 MDC worth of damage and survive. I always felt that the scale was a bit off, and should've been a 10 to 1 ratio instead of 100 to 1. Even at 10 to 1, a regular character who took a lot of physical skills, had a 'tough' starting archetype (psionics and magic users just got a couple d6 of SDC to start on top of their HP, "soldier" types got like 1d4x10 + physical skills and whatnot) might survive the remnants of the blast that punched through their armour, or an unprotected shot that happened to roll low on damage.

    Basically, unless you go down between 5 to 1 or 2 to 1, most SDC beings were so vulnerable to MDC weapons that MDC was effectively "get hit and die".

    Now, I always liked the "SDC is Kevlar, MDC is tank armour, SDC guns are colt 45's, MDC guns are anti-tank weapons" comparison, with the extrapolation for the setting that body armour could be constructed to withstand anti-tank weaponry, some creatures had skin that rivalled that of the hull of a battleship, and you could pack a light anti-tank weapon into something hand held. Massive destructive potential in anyone's hands, and incredible armour available at your nearest black market or military outpost.

    And then you have the silliness of the Cyber-Knights personal armour. MDC armour with an "armour rating" (if you roll a natural number high enough, it bypasses the armour entirely). Now granted, this cyber armour was supposed to be a last resort, but the AR was like 16 or 18, meaning that this "last resort" had like a 10-20% chance of just failing outright when it was needed most.

    On an unrelated thought, I had an addiction to playing master psychics. And power armour.

    - the aforementioned NGR Power Armour pilot, who eventually got a cybernetic implant that gave him abilities similar to the Psi-Druid.

    - Psi-Nullifier with Burster implant that rode a Saber Cyclone.

    - CS Zapper/Sniper.

    - Psyscape Astral Lord (Nightbane class).

    We generally munchkined the shit out of the game (one character was a demigod, magic OCCs combined with nasty RCCs were common, etc) but I actually found that as the years and campaigns went by, my taste in character actually drifted towards the less powerful. Possibly because my first couple were so batshit overpowered (even by Rifts standards) despite being otherwise human, I eventually made the active choice to seek less time in the spotlight.

    Edit: that said, our campaigns were suitably high powered for such endeavors. One had us fighting a Vampire Intelligence, another had us committing genocide against a GM adapted version of the Zerg, we ended up on Phase World at one point, in Nightbane Earth on another, etc. MDC technology in an SDC setting gets completely out of hand, especially when the formerly MDC creatures are now SDC themselves. We had one adventure where one player was running a Raksasha demon with something like 6,000 MDC and a fairly ridiculous regeneration rate. So in searching for a low magic world, our test was that my character would punch her each time we arrived somewhere. On a high magic world, that would do 1d4 MDC. Barely a scratch. On a low magic world, it'd do 1d4x100 SDC; a solid hit out of 6,000 sdc.

    I thought that was kind of clever at the time.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    One of the first houserules I ever instituted to any game was a downgrade of the MDC:SDC ratio to 20:1. I think I got the idea from the first Conversion book. At that point my 14 year old brain registered "oh, I can CHANGE stuff" and the game I was running quickly drifted out of what most people would recognize as Rifts mechanics.

    Edit: Cyber armor has an AR of 16, but MDC attacks ignore that and just hit it anyway. ARs only apply to SDC attacks, for reasons similar to this. I know, something written by Siembieda making any sort of sense? How does that happen?

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Hrm, must've missed or forgotten AR only applying to SDC attacks.

    Further in system hillarity. Under a rare but not impossible set of circumstances, an anti-tank weapon could fail to kill such a person, but a single shot from a regular ordinary pistol could do the trick.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Or a laser rifle that, no matter how well one aimed, just couldn't hit that damn Cyber Knight in the head while he still had cyber armor on his torso.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Armour saves are pretty silly whichever way you look at it, really. Still, I guess when you get right down to it virtually everything in an RPG is an abstraction; early D&Ds ACs and hitpoints spring to mind.

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  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    That was another house rule that my group sporadically put to use; bleedthrough damage to SDC/HP. I think I was the only person who used it consistantly (though once my group abandoned the early "No MDC creatures" clause, we saw a lot of non-human characters and I played 4 humans in a row), but it was a minor amount of damage to the occupent of body armour or power armour when an MDC attack connected. It wasn't a huge amount, varied based on the type of attack (kinetic impact vs a fall vs energy, etc) and still was unlikely to cause massive trauma to the pilot/wearer before the armour itself failed anyway, but it added a minor amount of immersion all the same.

    Edit: just can't get it out of my head.

    Hardcore mercenary with a thousand hours on the range and a +20 to strike rolls a 19 with his BFG-9000. Does 10 damage to the Cyberknight. Basically just pisses him off.

    Rogue Scholar with a +3 to strike rolls a 17 with his Colt 45. Knight drops dead.

    What a crappily thought up mechanic.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I had a bleedthrough rule as well. Basically a 1 to 1 MD to SD conversion for the person wearing the armor. Heat from lasers and plasma, shock from ion weapons, etc. I actually had a few PCs that were killed from inside their armor using that rule.

    Another major one was a 20% +2%/level chance on things you weren't trained in, with appropriate penalties based on the situation.

    The idea that a layman has zero chance to tie an effective tourniquet always bugged me.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • ApophatosApophatos Registered User
    edited November 2010
    I too share the love-hate relationship with RIFTS. Such a seductrive, fickle mistress. As a 15-year old GM, I found myself facing the unenviable task of limiting the Glitter Boy and Dragonette (?) or other naturally MDC resistant-classes to only a handful of players. I was always partial to the Headhunter and the Psi-mechanic.

    Awhile back I thought I would try to balance RIFTS using (somewhat arbitrarily) the oWOD system. I liked the idea of RIFTS being a futuristic, post-apocalyptic version of the World of Darkness with vampires, werewolves, magi, and cybernetics. I had intended to significantly reduce the discrepancy between MDC and SDC simply by making MDC "aggravated" damage and using similar damage resistance rules. While it was hardly canonical, I think that some of RIFTS most egregious balancing problems could have been dealt with simply by getting rid of MDC and keeping the damage and hit points on the same scale. I suppose MDC damage among SDC creatues had a certain appeal to early adolescents. A pity that it had such a flaw. There were many stories to tell in that setting.

    -Apo

    - Apo
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    That sounds pretty cool to me, Apophatos; both the mechanics adaptation and the future WoD theme! One of the guys I knew at the local comic score houseruled that MDC weapons bypassed SDC armour completely, but otherwise dealt only double their value rather than *100. I have no idea how that turned out, but it sounds like a pretty extreme tweak that must've shaken everything up. Not that it was balanced in vanilla either, but whatever...

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  • ApophatosApophatos Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Thanks for the kind words, Edcrab.

    If memory serves, I do believe there was a Palladium publication (RIFTS Conversion, or something like that) that provided optional rules that largely eliminated the distinction between MDC and SDC. At the time, I thought it was anathema, having gleefully and thoughtlessly thrown myself into that chaotic soup of contradictions and excess. Now, however, I think it was a step in the right direction.

    - Apo
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt Damn you, eidetic memory! Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Forar wrote: »
    Basically, unless you go down between 5 to 1 or 2 to 1, most SDC beings were so vulnerable to MDC weapons that MDC was effectively "get hit and die".
    The really funny thing was, IIRC, as long as your armor had at least 1 MDC rating of soak left, it would protect you from that shot no matter what the rating. So, if you were wearing a 1 MDC codpiece and humped a nuke into detonation, your codpiece would disintegrate, but you'd be just fine.

    Also, one of the dimensional books had a race of cat warrior people who were able to deal out MDC unarmed, but whose bodies only had a SDC damage rating. Playing 'Bloody Knuckles' was rapidly outlawed amongst that people.

    Origin ID: Null_Cypher
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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    That's right. That suit of armor that was on its last two MDC managed to save you from the incoming plasma missile, then apparently evaporated and left you naked, because even the remaining scraps of an MDC armor apparently can't stop normal small arms fire anymore.

    I just looked this up in my Rifts Ultimate Gold Edition, and Siembieda actually makes a statement about the now-failed armor providing a little protection. AR 7. Or for those of you following along at home, the same as bare skin.

    Couldn't make this stuff up.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Ahahahaha, man. Whenever I feel like I'm terrible at balance and testing, I shall think of how tattered shards of nigh-indestructible magic ceramic are just as resilient as my naked ass and I'll feel so much better.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Edcrab wrote: »
    Ahahahaha, man. Whenever I feel like I'm terrible at balance and testing, I shall think of how tattered shards of nigh-indestructible magic ceramic are just as resilient as my naked ass and I'll feel so much better.
    Some critics have complained that the Mega-Damage system is too uneven. That a human without armor going up against an M.D.C. opponent is dead meat. Um, yeah. Just like you or I would be dead meat going up against a tank or assault helicopter.

    ...

    Is this fair? Yes. Fair and realistic, and it works.

    Neglecting, of course, that this is a setting where every third person you meet could be stripped naked and still be considered the equivalent of a 20th century battle tank.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Fair and realistic? Oh wow. That's, uh, quite a way of phrasing it...

    Still, the fluff was regularly awesome.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
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    The setting I love. The system is bad enough that even my 14 year old self knew it was terrible.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt Damn you, eidetic memory! Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Edcrab wrote: »
    Ahahahaha, man. Whenever I feel like I'm terrible at balance and testing, I shall think of how tattered shards of nigh-indestructible magic ceramic are just as resilient as my naked ass and I'll feel so much better.
    Some critics have complained that the Mega-Damage system is too uneven. That a human without armor going up against an M.D.C. opponent is dead meat. Um, yeah. Just like you or I would be dead meat going up against a tank or assault helicopter.

    ...

    Is this fair? Yes. Fair and realistic, and it works.

    Neglecting, of course, that this is a setting where every third person you meet could be stripped naked and still be considered the equivalent of a 20th century battle tank.
    Once MDC started being available in handheld weapons and HAND TO HAND attacks, things really started getting screwy.

    The real unfortunate thing is that Kevin is off in his own little la-la land. He's gone on record as saying the reason why the system has never been revised because it's fine as it is, but in the intro to one of the source books (I think it might've been the last edition of Palladium Fantasy) he talks about how when he runs games, he uses a heavily house-ruled version - so yeah, the system is perfect, but he doesn't use it himself because...

    This probably pisses me off so much because Palladium was one of my initial introductions to roleplaying in my young teens, and seeing that it still has the exact same problems now as it did then is really frustrating. The settings are great, but I just don't have the motivation to completely retool game mechanics when there are other games out there I can play out of the book.

    Origin ID: Null_Cypher
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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Mega-Damage was really the downfall of the Palladium games. The ones without it (Ninjas and Superspies, TMNT, Heroes Unlimited, etc) were clunky and restricting, and at times frustrating, but they weren't actively broken.

    Even things like Robotech where SDC and MDC existed in what were almost entirely separate arenas worked ok if you were patient enough.

    Of course this could all be rose colored glasses.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • ApophatosApophatos Registered User
    edited November 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Mega-Damage was really the downfall of the Palladium games. The ones without it (Ninjas and Superspies, TMNT, Heroes Unlimited, etc) were clunky and restricting, and at times frustrating, but they weren't actively broken.

    Even things like Robotech where SDC and MDC existed in what were almost entirely separate arenas worked ok if you were patient enough.

    Of course this could all be rose colored glasses.

    TMNT was the first RPG system I ever bought, and continued along with the franchise with After the Bomb and Mutants Down Under. I remember the system having a elaborate character generator. Most details of character creation could be generated randomly, and I always found that process exciting. I had a vague sense that choosing one's original animal and powers to be cheating. While compellingly broad and deep, the character generation process even in those early publications seems to have been unconcerned with balance. Stat modifiers, skill modifiers, natural weapons, armour, and SDC modifiers, and numbers of attacks could vary quite a bit from one to another. The seed, perhaps, that would blossom into a monstrous flower.

    - Apo
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