Thursday, September 11, 2014

Further Rifts Thoughts

So, JB asked me for further explanation on how I run Rifts with my sanity intact.

1. At the core, you're playing heavily house-ruled AD&D. You have classes, experience points, alignment, levels, hit points, saving throws, attack rolls resolved with a d20, etc. When the rules seem to get all sideways on you, just take it back to D&D.

2. House rules I use: 1 Mega-Damage=10 SDC. Pass-through damage from Rifter #30. If you don't have Rifter 30, just swap this out instead: For every 10 MD your armor takes, you suffer 1d6 SDC. Double it for impact weapons like missiles/rail guns. Half it if you're wearing heavy armor. Close enough.

3. This is meant to be a ball-out, over-the-top game. The Coalition are like the bad guys from an 80's toy line. Juicers are guys who have FUTURE STEROIDS pumped into their bodies and wear mohawks because...metal. Play this game like you're playing a heavy metal album cover from before the 90's.

4. Bring your descriptive and adjudicative A game when running combat. For Pete's sake, the characters are carrying firepower enough to level buildings. Reward them for doing bat-shit insane things.

5. When the rules make something silly happen, make a ruling. Change a number. Do whatever you need to do.

6. Don't feel obligated to include all the books, or even most of them, in a given campaign. My Rifts game takes place in and around Madhaven, which is the ruins of New York City. There's no stuff from Rifts Russia or Rifts Australia or Skraypers or anything like that. The books KS releases detail the entire world. There's more than enough material in the core book and one or two splats to fuel a campaign.

I'm not sure if this is what you were looking for, but they are a few more specific points that I use to keep the game in perspective. The first rule overrides all the other rules. You are playing something akin to Arduin, but with cyborgs. (Did Arduin have cyborgs in it? I confess I am ignorant when it comes to all things Hargrave.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Running Rifts With One's Sanity Intact

I still haven't really figured out how to throw reasonably appropriate monsters at my RIFTS group. I just kind of pick monsters that sound cool. They usually get utterly trounced. Combat is really kind of an afterthought in a game where dudes lug around particle canons and nano-swords made from bio-wizardry and what the fuck am I even talking about juuuuuuuuuuuice!


Right now I'm all about the environment in the game. I try to give my players cool shit to interact with. I think I had some Lamentations-esque rooms in my necromancer tower last night. (Lamentations-esque meaning creepy and unsettling, not pushbuttonruincharacter.) The players also managed to ruin both a "safe recovery" room and a potential source of information though general carelessness. Ooooops.

I play fast and loose with the rules. The Ley Line Walker in the party has managed to semi-accidentally learn two Necro-Magic spells, and I offered a non-spellcasting player the chance to acquire the ability to use Necro-Magic. Both of these things are technically against the rules, but meh. I am constantly hand-waving things in RIFTS, because to do otherwise is to court madness.Wit h Rifts, you pretty much have to go style over substance. I think of RIFTS as more of an attitude rather than a set of rules.

The game is a little horror-ish right now, but hey, necromancy should probably be a little horrifying, right?

Tonight I am filling in for our Deadlands GM. When I fill in, we actually play a different campaign that is also somewhat divergent from "default" Deadlands. My Skype group is also set to resume on Sunday after a month long hiatus, the game being my house-ruled Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death/Gothic Earth game.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Brief But Stunning Confession

I want to give 5e a try.

I predict, at this point, that I will like it more than 4e and 3.x, but that will not like it as much as as BECMI/1e.

I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to try it, or with whom, but I do want to give it a try.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PC Conflict

In my RIFTS game, we have the following characters:

-A good aligned human Ley Line Walker (that's basically a wizard for you non-Rifters.)
-A good aligned D-Bee who uses weapons and armor created by biowizardry (another type of magic.)
-An evil aligned D-Bee whose species hates magic. 
-A selfish aligned* D-Bee whose species hates... well, every other species.

As you can imagine, there are intra-party conflicts. Not only between one another in terms of goals, life-view, etc, but in terms of how they react to the setting and the NPCs.

I have to say that my Rifts group is one of the few groups I've GMed for who manage to do these three things well:

1. Play up their character even when it brings them into direct conflict with other players,
2. Play out that conflict realistically rather than escalating it to immediately into PC vs. PC combat
3. Keeping PC conflict from going OOC.

The players don't ignore or compromise their characters' beliefs, personalities, etc and they manage an attitude of "I don't like you, but we're in this together and we can't survive it without the group."

*The player has refused to pick an alignment, but his character acts in a pretty consistently self-centered fashion, so I've mentally assigned him this alignment.

What about you, dear readers? What are your good experiences with PC-vs-PC conflict? I mean, I could fill an entire blog with the bad experiences I've had as both player and GM, but let's talk about the times when the players made it something that adds to the game and makes it more interesting.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Most Unexpected

So, my wife took me out of the equation and ordered up the PHB for 5th edition. It arrived over the weekend.

I've read the first seven chapters, and so far there is a lot to like.

Some initial impressions:

-There is a palpable design shift from the "Everything is Core" attitude of 4e to an "Everything is Optional" point of view. Multiclassing and feats are presented as optional rather than integral. Also, feats replace ability score improvements, so you can actually have PCs who like feats use them and players who aren't get something else instead. 

-I like what they've done with the paths that classes can take. You can create a great deal of versatility within a single class instead of having to have a million classes.

-The new art style is hit or miss  for me, but I'll give it this: characters have weapons that look like they could actually be physically wielded in combat. Also, armor isn't covered with vestigial buckles, spikes with spikes on the spikes, and twelve daggers strapped to each limb.

-I love the beautiful simplicity of advantage/disadvantage and its various uses.

-The attitude of "many worlds, many campaign settings" that the book espouses. They use a lot of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance examples, but they also mention "your DM's world " a lot.

-Ability scores are capped at 20 for PCs, and the maximum possible score for anything is 30. (gods and monsters included, apparently) 

-I like that task resolution is based primarily on ability scores, with skills as a modifier.

-Backgrounds are neat.

Obviously, it's a brand new release and this could turn into splatbook hell, but I'm pretty optimistic. I'd play this at a convention. I might even run it once in awhile.

One final disclaimer: I'm not to the magic spells yet. That could make or break my opinion.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

On (Not) Embracing Your Fate

I just finished Fate Core. It took me three tries and three months, but I finally sat down and read it in its entirety.

Do not like.

I recall really liking an oooooold draft of Fate I have from like 2004, but this...

I don't know. It's like the Twitter of RPGs. Everything has a goddamn hashtag.

This storm has Really Strong Winds.
This knight Has a Duty to Uphold. 

Like, does all this stuff have to be tagged and explicit?

In all seriousness, it's just a little too narrative for me. They discourage character death unless it's "dramatically appropriate" and talk about setting up "scenes." Just... no, not my thing.

Unless the System Toolkit has some major changes to it, I think I'd just stick to Fudge, maaaaaybe with swiping the base idea of the aspects but using them more along the lines of character race/class in Donjon.