Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rifts House Rules - My Combat Cheatsheet Part 3

Most of this page is taken up with the two critical hit tables - one for humanoid, one for vehicles. I spent a lot of time working these out and tried to come up with some concrete effects that could be fun in the game and give players a chance to decide when enough was enough and it was time to retreat. It also gave a parallel path for driving off NPC bad guys beyond just mowing through hundreds of MDC and many minutes of playing time. If you can blow out the power plant or kill the fire control or the main weapon systems, then the fight may well be over. It also gives a chance for some characters to shine by getting damaged systems back online - "Scotty I need warp power in 3 mniutes or we're all dead" just made the fight that much more interesting than yet another session of shaving down 500 MDC on that Northern Gun Explorer Bot.

The E-clip section is there because I don't like the pricing structure in the main book. I also wanted options for bad things to happen in combat and some specificity in charging up e-clips in the field. 

The Armor Goop is my own creation from back in my first campaign in the early 90's. In a mega-damage world, your body armor effectively becomes your hit points, as no normal character can withstand even a single point of MD. Considering that a typical rifle does 4d6 MD per attack and a fairly standard set of MD Body armor has 50 points, with 80 being a "heavy" suit, it only takes one firefight to shred your armor. The armor repair rules in the book are limited and ridiculous and make no sense as far as field repairs so I decided we needed a "healing potion" for body armor, ala D&D. Thus, armor goop: It comes in a 1-meter tube (like a toothpaste tube)  about 6 inches in diameter and there's a spreading tool attached to the cap. After opening the cap the user can squeeze out the goop and spread it around with the tool. It takes about an hour to fix one suit of armor and the goop sets in about 4 hours. It fixes all but 1d6 of the damage to the armor, so the 50-point suit will have from 44-49 points after being "gooped" If it's gooped again before being repaired in a shop, it loses another d6. 

The whole point of this is to allow players to have more than one combat before heading back to town to buy new armor, or having to haul around multiple sets of it. It does still put a clock on the players in that it's not a 100% fix, so they will eventually have to get some work done, but it prevents the momentum-killing post-combat regroup and retreat - instead the party just patches up overnight then continues.

Anyway that's the end of the Rifts bit for now. If anyone is interested I can put them up on a file site if they need a better copy. As you might guess I really do like a lot of the ideas in Rifts I just don't like the mechanical execution and expression of some of those ideas. Even when I'm not running or playing it, the ideas never stop for long. I've recently been re-reading the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG (FASERIP) thinking about using it as the introductory supers game for the apprentices, and it struck me that it might  be worth a shot at converting RIFTS to FASERIP. I'll let you know how that goes. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rifts House Rules - My Combat Cheet Sheet Part 2

Page 2 of the Cheatsheet covers the ranged attack modifiers, size modifiers (something else Rifts really needed), then the Defense and Damage process and tables.  So someone shooting will mainly look at page 1 while someone being shot will mainly look at page 2 - the goal was to not have to flip back and forth a whole lot. 

A lot of this is purely my own addition to the game, and it can look like a lot but it's really not bad once a player has been through the sequence one time. Plus it's a lot more organized compared to the by-the-book system. Additionally my players like to know where they hit that giant robot - cockpit, gun, arm, leg. I have also found that hit location sometimes helps a fairly lethal game - it's better to lose an arm than the whole character most of the time, and in a world of magic and super-tech replacing it isn't all that hard. 

I will say that looking at it now that the DR/armor piercing thing might be a little more detail than I would want if I started a new campaign tomorrow. It is cool, but it is one more step in resolving combat that might be better left out. I wanted vehicles and robots to have more to them than a big gun and a 500 MDC main body, so detail was what I was looking for at the time - it might not be everyone's cup of tea. 

There's also the system damage section it makes more sense with page 3 which has the crit charts. More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rifts House Rules - Ability Scores

Rifts and house rules are inevitable in my mind. It feels a lot like the old days for D&D when systems were much more malleable than 4th or even 3rd edition. There are several areas where I feel  some changes make for a better game. One of the changes I have made is to ability scores.
Rifts has always been confusing as far as stats, bonuses, and when they apply, plus the method for rolling is odd. Humans roll 3d6 for each stat but if they score a 16,17, or 18 then they get to add an additional d6. I scrapped this for 4d6 drop the lowest. Rifts actually has some skills (Physical Skills) that can be selected to add to certain attributes, so if you want a Physical Strength of 20 it's easily accomplished by rolling a decent score and then choosing weightlifting, boxing, etc.during skill selection. One problem solved.
Nonhuman races roll differing amounts of dice  - Ogres might roll 4 or 5 dice for strength, Orcs might have 4d6 for Physical Endurance, Pixies might only roll 2d6 for strength - I'm fine with that approach and leave it as-is.
Now that stats are a little more "regular" let's get some decent modifiers for them. I pretty much adapted the d20 ability score modifiers wholesale. My players and I were familiar with them and they do make the full range of scores count for something. So PS of 10-11 = +0, 12-13 = +1, 14-15=+2, etc. A Physical Strength of 40 now has a +15 modifier - but to what?
Rifts has a somewhat arbitrary division when it comes to combat, the infamous "Mega-Damage".  The ideas is that some super-high-tech weapons and powerful magic just operate on a while different scale than conventional weapons like guns and swords. It's an important part of the setting as characters cause superhero levels of damage without technically having superpowers.
For some reason though it was decided that mega-damage guns don't work the same way as regular ones so the Physical Prowess bonus doesn't count when using MD weapons. This makes little sense to me and additionally it makes character abilities like a high Prowess  less important than equipment bonuses like a +1 for a laser sight. The game also forbids adding character strength bonuses to MD melee damage, instead referring to a chart for punching damage based on strength number and type - yes there is "regular" strength, "augmented" strength, and "supernatural" strength - which all kind of matrixes together to tell you whether you do 1d6 or 2d4 or some other slightly different amount of damage.
I scrapped all of that. PS (Physical Strength) adds its modifier to all HTH combat damage. PP (Physical Prowess) adds its modifier to all to-hit rolls and dodge and parry rolls. There, I fixed it.
IQ (Rifts version of Int) and PP both affect initiative rolls.
IQ adds to the base percentages for skills
Mental Endurance (ME) adds to saves vs. fear and magic
Physical Endurance (PE) adds to saves vs poison etc.
Mental Affinity (MA) [Charisma] adds to reaction adjustments
Pretty much what you would expect them to do based on D&D style modifiers.
One reason for adding the strength bonus to all damage is that a mega-damage sword does about the same damage as a D&D sword but the MD armor you have to cut through starts at about 50 points for almost anything and rapidly scales up from there. Rolling 1d8 to beat down 50 points takes a long time. Considering that many PC's will be in the 20+ strength bracket, adding a +5 or +10 to that really helps keep the game from dragging and actually promotes the more frequent use of HTH combat that the game background seems to suggest. It's also one less fiddly rule to worry about.
Adding the PP bonus to all to hit rolls also ensures that hitting isn't much of a problem when you have the 30 PP Juicer going against the 10 PP mercenary. Rifts uses opposed d20 rolls in HTH as the attacker rolls to hit and the defender rolls to parry, high score wins. Classes, skills, equipment, and race can all add various bonuses to attack and to parry so adding in one more bonus from PP doesn't really upset things.
In the end it was more natural to my (then) 3rd edition D&D crew to use these modifiers and it kept combat flowing a little more smoothly. I still wasn't satisfied though as combat  still confused some people as all PCs end up with multiple attacks and hit locations were still causing trouble. More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rifts - An encounter sheet

Here's a sample of how I was handling encounters in my last Rifts campaign. Rifts beasties have a lot of fiddly bits as far as attributes and modifiers, plus the added complication of a hit location system. I used to keep stats on an index card (which I do for a lot of my games) nd then track hit points on my spiral notepad page for that session. This can get confusing however, especially when monster #1 has been shot in the leg, monster 2 has been shot in the head, etc. This doesn't happen in every encounter but it came up often enough that I wanted to get ahead of it this time. This was the result. It allows me to run 12 ghouls on one sheet without having to refer back to other books, and hit locations are covered with ease. I used these guys in one of the early encounters in the campaign and it was much easier than before. Now granted, it was some work up front but I just thought of it as prep time for that session. 

System-wise, this is why I like D&D's monster presentation better in every edition over Rifts. For Rifts I have to know the creatures stats and its attacks, and its HP value for all locations. For older D&D it's something like "8 HD, Bite 2d6, AC7"  for a useable stat block. Even newer versions will have something like "Bite +3 (2d6)" for the attacks. 

Additionally I have come to think that hit point and hit locations are a tough mix. The main advantage of hit point systems is simplicity, giving up some realism. Hit locations give some realism at the cost of simplicity. I liked the approach in both Hero and GURPS where hit locations can give some modifiers but do not require tracking of separate damage totals. Rifts gives totals for some locations but doesn't really give effects tied to those locations other than losing your head = dead. This is the kind of opening that leads to house rules and eventually to conversion.

Anyway, I have a few more like this including a minion of splugorth so if anyone is interested I can post them up too.