Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rifts House Rules - My Combat Cheat Sheet - 2015 Edition

Having settled the ability score issue, I decided that initiative was getting to be a problem as it's not unusual for characters to start with 4 to 6 attacks and for creatures and NPC's to have just as many. If you just cycle through them one after another then having multiples doesn't really make a difference. If each character gets all of their attacks at once they can explode for horrendous amounts of damage before some characters get a chance to act. Plus either approach can get fairly chaotic with an 8-player group which was what I was running for at the time.  This was unsatisfactory and demanded a better solution.

I looked through my numerous books and decided that the minion of splugorth had the most attacks of any creature they were likely to run into at 15 - that's 15 attacks per 15-second melee round. I dusted off the Hero system Speed Chart, extended it from 12 segments to 15 and there I was. For my Rifts, # of attacks was now = to Hero's Speed stat and I had a nifty chart to go along with it. Since I was going to have to hand it out to my players anyway I decided to go ahead and make it a full-blown combat cheatsheet, which is what you see here.

By section:
  • Initiative is just explanatory
  • Movement is 100% Rifts, I just added the formula for figuring MPH vs. in-game speed
  • Attacks is a checklist to make sure no modifier is left behind
  • Other Actions is to remind players there are things to try besides pulling a trigger
  • Attack Actions spells out the process for Melee, Single Shots, Bursts, Missiles, and called shots, because sometimes it's nice to have a clear list of these kinds of things and people tend to forgo them if they aren't sure how they work. 
PDF link is here.

There is more to the cheatsheet - more on that tomorrow.

2015 Update: There's not much here I would change if I was still going to use the original system. Like any set of house rules this is seasoned to my personal taste and I'm sure additional playing time would have generated some additional changes. That said it puts just enough sanity, or enough "system" in place over the base Rifts system that it was comfortable for me and my players to use. 

I had considered going even further into the Hero system adjustments and incorporating specific combat maneuvers with set modifiers  (Block, Move Through, Haymaker, etc) but I decided not to at that point. For anyone interested in adding more "system" to the game, that might be a direction to consider. 

Main sources here: d20 SRD, any Hero rulebook, and Rifts Ultimate Edition.

One note from experience - you can use a grid to show relative positions in combat but much like a superhero game the speed and ranges involved in a typical Rifts combat mean that heavy/tight usage of the grid is pointless. 

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