PDA

View Full Version : Crazy ideas for Rifts® houserules - For the consideration of Palladium fans



Grynning
2008-12-30, 11:15 PM
Some proposed Rifts® houserules:

Some notes: I do not own Rifts® Ultimate Edition, so I will be using the Game Master Guide (4th printing) as my primary rules reference.

I am only including a few examples and no detailed information on any game rules, in compliance with Palladium's Internet Policy (http://www.palladiumbooks.com/policies.html).

These rules are not meant to work for every Rifts game. Many classes, items, spells, etc, simply will not convert to these rules easily. You will have to tailor these rules to your game, or vice-versa.

I am also basing a lot of this around using Mark Hall's excellent skill system revisions found on his site, The Cranky Gamer (http://rpg-crank.livejournal.com/). Specifically, I would use rules 1, 3, 7 and 8 for sure, and possibly all of the others, with the exception of number 9, as my character creation system below is based around access to the full skill list (you can easily condense skills down on your own though, many Palladium skills overlap and could be folded together).

Playing without O.C.C.s

The basic idea here is that many newer RPG's eschew the idea of classes, and so using a classless, building block style system may be more appealing to some. My idea does not entirely do away with classes, instead it starts with concepts already present in the books and broadens them into workable tools for creating characters that fill the same roles as existing O.C.C.s and R.C.C.s. Also, this revision allows for a sort of multi-classing, which has always been omitted or given only a cursory page in Palladium titles. This system is also inspired by the use of Skill Programs from Palladium's various modern-day settings (Ninjas and Superspies was the first to use them, I believe, but most of the others since have used them as well). I believe, if I get this right, that characters created with this method will be balanced against existing classes and easily mixed in with NPCs or even other PCs created with the O.C.C. rules. Note that these changes do a little bit to balance beginning characters, but are not meant as a sweeping change in game balance, as Rifts characters are supposed to vary widely in "power."

Some O.C.C.s and R.C.C.s will not convert well under these rules due to the sheer number of abilities they receive; these are the kind of R.C.C.s and classes I tend to ban from my games. However, if an existing class has some cool abilities that you can't find "room" for, remember that you can buy things as you level up.


1. Archetype
Rifts (the original edition that I have) breaks up the classes into 5 categories: Men of Arms, Scholars and Adventurers, Racial Character Classes, and Psychic (Racial) Character classes. I will refer to these as Archetypes for ease of reference, since that's basically what they are. Your Archetype will essentially replace your Class, providing a basic framework from which you can customize your character.

2. Skill Selection
Palladium is primarily a skill based system, with a rich combat element handled using a different set of rules. I like that, and have no real desire to change it. However, O.C.C.s as they are very widely in the number of skills they provide as well as the number of features and special powers they grant. Usually, more "powerful" classes will use a slower experience table, but I find, in practice, most players want to level up at the same time (at least in my groups they do). So, my solution is that skills are tradeable for other benefits. This is basically the philosophy behind most of the class design in Rifts anyways - e.g. more class abilities = fewer skills. If you look at the Scholar and Adventurer classes in the original edition of Rifts, ALL they get are skills.

So, each Archetype receives a basic skill program based on their type, and then several "packages" that can either be made into new skill programs, or traded for special abilities. For simplicity's sake, I will say that a Skill Package always consists of 5 skills.

Individual skills within a package may be swapped out for small bonuses to the character. One skill may be traded for +2 to any one attribute or +1 to any two, a +10 bonus to S.D.C (not applicable to characters with natural M.D.C.), +2 to a saving throw of choice, +2d6 to P.P.E., +10 to I.S.P., or an extra piece of starting equipment up to 50,000 credits (at G.M.'s discretion).

Packages traded for special abilities should generally be for those presented with the archetype, however, as I said above, you can use this system to "multi-class" in a way. You can allow players to buy one feature from outside their archetype at character creation if desired, or allow them to buy one from outside their class when they gain a new package later (for instance, if a character undergoes Bionic conversion after several levels, they would spend packages to do so...which leads me too...

Additional Packages: At every third level (3, 6, 9, etc) characters receive a new package. This replaces any skills that would be gained by leveling up. These do not have to be spent, rather, they can be saved to buy new abilities later, as mentioned above. If a character has a lesser version of a feature, they can pay the difference to "upgrade" (for example, going from partial to full bionic conversion, or from minor to major psionic ability).

Secondary Skills: All characters created using this method receive eight (8) secondary skills. Additionally, all characters are know Basic Math and at least one language (though not Literacy, which must still be purchased).

3. Breakdown by Archetype

Men of Arms:
The tough guys, soldiers and mercenaries of Rifts receive a basic military skill program, consisting of any of the normal Hand to Hand Combat skills (Basic, Expert, Martial Arts or Assassin, as suits your flavor), One other Physical Skill, two (2) W.P.'s and one (1) skill from the Military category.

Men at Arms receive 6 additional skill packages, which may either be used for additional skill choices or for special abilities. Skill packages may be created from any of the categories. Men of Arms receive a +10% bonus to all Military and Espionage skills, a +5% bonus to Communications, Pilot, and Physical skills (remember, we're using the generic progressions and the attribute bonuses from Nexx's rules, so the skill bonuses don't have to be as big. If you don't use those houserules as well, you may want to add to these values). Generally, Men at Arms should not have access to "Hard" skills from the Medical, Rogue, Science, or Technical categories. Men at Arms should probably spend at least one of these packages on more skills

Sample class features that may be bought by trading in packages:
Light cybernetic and/or bionic Augmentation (as a Headhunter or other M&M): One package
Starts with light, non-flight capable power armor or vehicle: One package
Minor Psionic Abilities (3 minor powers from any category, ISP 4d6+M.E. or so): One Package
Reputation and Horror Factor as a New West character: One package
Partial Bionic Conversion: Two packages
M.O.M. (Crazy) Conversion (does not include the Psionics, buy separately): Two packages
Starts with Flight capable medium power armor or vehicle: Two packages
Gunfighter abilities (New West™), including Paired Modern Weapons, Quick Draw Initiative, and Sharpshooting as the Gunfighter O.C.C.: Two packages
Full Bionic Conversion: Three packages
Juicer Conversion: Three packages
Starts with Heavy Power armor (Super-SAMAS, Glitter Boy, Ulti-Max) or a heavily armed vehicle: Three packages

Other features (like Bio-borg augmentation from Atlantis™, symbionts from Wormwood™, magic items, etc.) can be gained using these as guidelines. Generally no feature should cost more than 3 packages. I would not recommend allowing any similar class abilities to be selected twice (i.e. no buying two sets of sharpshooting class features from New West). Truly unique classes, like the Cyber Knight, may be hard to re-create completely with this system, so you'll need to adjudicate things on a case-by-case basis.

Note that this does allow you to create things like a Gunslinger Juicer or a Power-Armor Piloting Crazy. This is intentional, but as always the GM will need to make sure things are reasonable.


Scholars and Adventurers:
The worldly, educated, and the roguish folk of Rifts receive a general skill package, consisting of 5 skills from any of the categories other than Military or Physical (this means that they will not automatically start with a Hand to Hand Skill).

Scholars and Adventurers receive 6 additional packages with which to purchase additional skills and features. Skills may be purchased from any category. Scholars and Adventurers receive a +10% bonus to any two categories of their choice, and a +5% bonus to any 3 categories of their choice. Military, Espionage, and Physical should generally be excluded from the bonuses, but certain concepts may be exceptions (Technical Officers or Scouts, for instance). These character should generally not have access to "Hard" skills from the Military, Espionage or Physical categories either, unless making a very specific kind of character as noted above). These characters should probably spend at least two packages on more skills.

Sample class features that may be bought by trading in packages:
Minor Psionics (as above): One package
Cybernetic Augmentation (3-6 implants or so): One package
Triple PPE and ability to use TW devices, scrolls, etc.: One package
Major Psionics: Two packages
3 Minor Super Abilities from HU: Two packages
1 Major Super Ability from HU: Two packages. No more than 4 packages may be spent on Super-abilities (note on Heroes Unlimited abilities: I have a looong list of HU powers that I simply would not allow, which is part of a whole 'nother set of houserules. Suffice to say that Invulnerability is right out, and a lot of others should be subject to scrutiny).
Special skill package: Unusual senses like detecting ley lines, the supernatural, etc - build a "skill" package of these unusual abilities like you would with normal skills, but it costs two packages to purchase. These should always require skill rolls, based on IQ, and be either Hard or Medium in difficulty.
Additional equipment like robots or vehicles as the Men of Arms, above.


Practioners of Magic:
This is where it starts to get tricky. Spellcasters' abilities are much harder to break down into packages because of the vast array of spells and different types of magic available. Basically, to be a Practioner of Magic, one must always use at least one package to purchase magical ability. Magicians in Rifts also have the widest variety of class features in the game. Again, I'll stick to a few general examples.

The wizards, warlocks and sorcerors of Rifts receive one skill package consisting of two "Lore" Technical skills, Literacy in one language, and two skills from any categories other than Military or Espionage.

Practioners of Magic receive 6 additional packages with which to purchase additional skills and and features. Obviously, some of these packages should be used to buy a spellcasting school of some sort (below). Practioners of Magic receive a +10% bonuse to Technical and Domestic skills, and +5% to Science and to any two categories of their choice. Magicians do not generally have access to "Hard" skills in many categories, the only exceptions being Technical and Science, or Mechanical, Pilot, Pilot Related, and Electrical if Techno-Wizardry is purchased. At least one package will likely be spent on more skills.

Note on PPE: Since this is a more generic system of character creation, and since I feel most spell casters have far too little in the way of PPE, all spellcasters who purchase a spellcasting style begin with the same pool: P.E. Attribute times 10 plus 1d6x10. Add 2d6+6 to the base at each level gained. Can be increased by trading in individual skills, see above.

"Intuitive" Style spellcasting similar to the mystic: One package (I'll have to come up with an exact progression since I'm not a huge fan of the mystic, but it would be similar to many of the Magus classes from Federation of Magic, who simply learn spells as they level)
Ley-Line Walker class features 1-7: One package
Magic Bonuses (spell strength and save bonuses, pick one progression from any class): One package
Minor Psionics (as above): One package
Obscure Magic Style (Necromancy, Bone Magic, Conjuring, Herbalism, African Ceremonial Magic, etc., casting only): One package
Obscure Magic Style (as above, but the class features, excluding Magic Bonuses): One package
"Learned" Spellcasting as the Ley Line Walker (the ability to learn any Invocation-style spell and starting spells as the Ley Line Walker): Two packages
Diabolism, Circle Magic,
Major Psionics: Two Packages
Techno Wizardry (includes creation of any devices and ability to learn spells as a Techno-Wizard): Two Packages


Psychics:
Like the Magician, this is a bit tricky. It will basically have to be handled the same way.
I will add these later, because I'm tired.


R.C.C.s:
Many R.C.C.s in Rifts can actually be lumped into one of the other 4 categories, they just contain additional abilities due to race. You should account for these extra abilities by deducting starting packages, as you would for any other special powers. Again, I will add more soon, but right now I have to take a break.

Rifts® is a Registered Trademark owned and licensed by Palladium Books, Inc. and Kevin Siembieda. Nightlands™, Heroes Unlimited™, Villains Unlimited™, Powers Unlimited™, Aliens Unlimited™, Beyond the Supernatural™, Boxed Nightmares™, Dead Reign™, Warpath: Urban Jungle™, Ninjas & Superspies™, Mystic China™, Triax™, Arzno™, MercTown™, Mindwerks™, Vampire Kingdoms™, Federation of Magic™, Juicer Uprising™, Phase World™, Wormwood™, Psyscape™, Cyber-Knight™, Glitter Boy™, Juicer™, Mind Melter™, Psi-Stalker™, Coalition States™, Northern Gun™, Dog Boy™, SAMAS™, Wilk’s™, Erin Tarn™, Emperor Prosek™, Naruni™, Naruni Enterprises™, Splugorth™, Mega-Damage™, M.D.C., S.D.C.™, I.S.P.™, P.P.E.™, O.C.C., R.C.C., ... and many other names and titles are trademarks owned and licensed by Palladium Books, Inc. and Kevin Siembieda.

Grynning
2008-12-30, 11:22 PM
/reserved for my 1/10 M.D.C. conversion idea.

hiryuu
2008-12-30, 11:51 PM
Kevin Siembieda's bellyaching aside (you can't copyright game rules, so their internet policy is moot, and Rifts is not a car that you are borrowing, it is a TV. A TV that was sold to a consumer, and thus while he can void the warranty if you tinker with it and tell other people how to do so, he cannot take your TV away or threaten to do so), your ideas are interesting and you could probably use these to segue into a true point-based system for the "megaverse," or whatever they're calling it now.

Mark Hall
2008-12-31, 12:45 PM
Just a note on how I comment on things: If I don't comment on it, it is probably because it's fine, and not something I need to address. I'll comment where I have questions or suggestions, and delete the rest.


Individual skills within a package may be swapped out for small bonuses to the character. One skill may be traded for +2 to any one attribute or +1 to any two, a +10 bonus to S.D.C (not applicable to characters with natural M.D.C.), +2 to a saving throw of choice, +2d6 to P.P.E., +10 to I.S.P., or an extra piece of starting equipment up to 50,000 credits (at G.M.'s discretion).

I'd make the bonus to PPE static, instead of a die roll. I'd also probably lift the value of the item; 50k is not that much in Rifts terms.


Packages traded for special abilities should generally be for those presented with the archetype, however, as I said above, you can use this system to "multi-class" in a way. You can allow players to buy one feature from outside their archetype at character creation if desired, or allow them to buy one from outside their class when they gain a new package later (for instance, if a character undergoes Bionic conversion after several levels, they would spend packages to do so...which leads me too...

Looks pretty good.


Additional Packages: At every third level (3, 6, 9, etc) characters receive a new package. This replaces any skills that would be gained by leveling up. These do not have to be spent, rather, they can be saved to buy new abilities later, as mentioned above. If a character has a lesser version of a feature, they can pay the difference to "upgrade" (for example, going from partial to full bionic conversion, or from minor to major psionic ability).

Problem here, IMO. Let's say my character is 4th level, with no saved packages. He, however, has just gotten a huge windfall... managed to capture several giant robots, which he parlayed into enough money to go from "no bionics" to "so much bionics that even his bionics have bionics". Is he unable to because he doesn't have the packages? While that works at level 1, when the only real currency they have is character creation thingies... as they get into the game, however, game currency becomes a lot more important for tech-based characters.


Secondary Skills: All characters created using this method receive eight (8) secondary skills. Additionally, all characters are know Basic Math and at least one language (though not Literacy, which must still be purchased).

Clarify WRT language: One in addition to Native, or just Native?



Men of Arms:
The tough guys, soldiers and mercenaries of Rifts receive a basic military skill program, consisting of any of the normal Hand to Hand Combat skills (Basic, Expert, Martial Arts or Assassin, as suits your flavor), One other Physical Skill, two (2) W.P.'s and one (1) skill from the Military category.

What about Commando and the Martial Arts from Japan? I know you're concentrating on RMB stuff, but it's worth thinking about these now.



Sample class features that may be bought by trading in packages:
Light cybernetic and/or bionic Augmentation (as a Headhunter or other M&M): One package
Starts with light, non-flight capable power armor or vehicle: One package
Minor Psionic Abilities (3 minor powers from any category, ISP 4d6+M.E. or so): One Package
Reputation and Horror Factor as a New West character: One package
Partial Bionic Conversion: Two packages
M.O.M. (Crazy) Conversion (does not include the Psionics, buy separately): Two packages
Starts with Flight capable medium power armor or vehicle: Two packages
Gunfighter abilities (New West™), including Paired Modern Weapons, Quick Draw Initiative, and Sharpshooting as the Gunfighter O.C.C.: Two packages
Full Bionic Conversion: Three packages
Juicer Conversion: Three packages
Starts with Heavy Power armor (Super-SAMAS, Glitter Boy, Ulti-Max) or a heavily armed vehicle: Three packages

Just a note: MOM/Crazy conversion should come with psionics; it's a side effect of the process. You might also want to specify types of power armor with the various ones, and allow land-based power armor at one level above flight... so you can have light flight or medium land-based.



Note on PPE: Since this is a more generic system of character creation, and since I feel most spell casters have far too little in the way of PPE, all spellcasters who purchase a spellcasting style begin with the same pool: P.E. Attribute times 10 plus 1d6x10. Add 2d6+6 to the base at each level gained. Can be increased by trading in individual skills, see above.

Personal preference, but if you intend this for distribution, I'd create some rules near the "default" level, and include your option as an aside. As Dave Deitrich noted when he did the Third Invid War setting, it keeps everyone on the same keel.



Obscure Magic Style (Necromancy, Bone Magic, Conjuring, Herbalism, African Ceremonial Magic, etc., casting only): One package

Does this include the ability to learn Invocations as, say, a Necromancer does (non-Necromancy related invocations costing twice as much)?

Overall, I like the look of it. I might have gone with a flat 6 packages, then made certain things required, but your system looks like it would work well.

Oh, and Hiryuu, while you cannot copyright game mechanics, you can copyright and trademark intellectual property, which includes game terms and Palladium's trademark terms. Derivative works created off of someone else's intellectual property, except in rare circumstances (like parody), are not solely the province of the writer, nor are the solely the province of the copyright holder. Palladium cannot use his original creations without his permission, but they can deny him the right to use their IP if he fails to hold to their standards for its use. So, while Palladium cannot take away Grynning's books, they can deny him the ability to publish things that don't adhere to their standards for materials... which includes a copyright notice when you self-publish things.

Grynning
2009-01-03, 12:04 AM
I'd make the bonus to PPE static, instead of a die roll. I'd also probably lift the value of the item; 50k is not that much in Rifts terms.

You're probably right on the P.P.E. - let's say 10 P.P.E. As far as the gear goes, the trade in is only meant for level one characters, and 50k is enough to buy most of the really good energy or TW weapons, so I thought it was a good number.



Problem here, IMO. Let's say my character is 4th level, with no saved packages. He, however, has just gotten a huge windfall... managed to capture several giant robots, which he parlayed into enough money to go from "no bionics" to "so much bionics that even his bionics have bionics". Is he unable to because he doesn't have the packages? While that works at level 1, when the only real currency they have is character creation thingies... as they get into the game, however, game currency becomes a lot more important for tech-based characters.

I am thinking of this from a balance standpoint, and injecting some of my bias that comes from playing more modern RPG's that use point-buy systems. IMO currency should be a resource that can be used for role-play interactions, but shouldn't necessarily be a free ticket to character enhancement. It's something to work out.



Clarify WRT language: One in addition to Native, or just Native?


I meant native.



What about Commando and the Martial Arts from Japan? I know you're concentrating on RMB stuff, but it's worth thinking about these now.


I would say they can be upgraded with skill trades as usual.



Just a note: MOM/Crazy conversion should come with psionics; it's a side effect of the process. You might also want to specify types of power armor with the various ones, and allow land-based power armor at one level above flight... so you can have light flight or medium land-based.


I agree, looking at it now I'm not sure the psionics are worth a package by themselves.



Personal preference, but if you intend this for distribution, I'd create some rules near the "default" level, and include your option as an aside. As Dave Deitrich noted when he did the Third Invid War setting, it keeps everyone on the same keel.

Does this include the ability to learn Invocations as, say, a Necromancer does (non-Necromancy related invocations costing twice as much)?


This was actually my first draft on the magic stuff, I focused entirely on non-casting and non-psionic classes in my original rules (another bias I have, I just like guns and such :smalltongue:). As I said, I'm finding the package system difficult to adapt to magic.

I just purchased Ultimate Edition, and am looking it over to see how the various magic classes have changed. I will re-write the magic rules once I have a good idea as to how their class features work again.