Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

I’ve got RIFTS on my mind… Let’s talk about characters

I blame two men for my recent obsession with RIFTS and neither of them is Kevin Siembieda. The fault is squarely on Christopher Helton and Luis Miranda. Let’s start with the most recent influence. Chris, of Dorkland! fame, and whom I was lucky enough to meet some years ago at Gen Con and have dinner with (something that needs to be repeated!) has been posting about his upcoming game of RIFTS in Google+ as well as discussing it in the Geeky Voices Carry podcast.

I have not played RIFTS in a LONG time. The last book I purchased for the line was The Coalition War Campaign, and that came out in 1996. (1996, really? It was World Book 11 and they seem to be up to 31!) However RIFTS in never far from my mind. It was my go to game for a long time; I played it all through high school and into college. However back in 96 I really could not deal with the system anymore, despite endless house rules and tinkering with it for years, I gave up.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think about RIFTS, in fact I’ve considered which system to adapt it for years. First I considered d20 Modern with the Urban Arcana, d20 Apocalypse and d20 Future books. I even wrote a little introductory short story to a campaign and came up with an idea on how to introduce the game to reluctant players. I never went through with it. I’ve tinkered with other systems, most recently Savage Worlds with the Sci-Fi Toolkit, the Fantasy Companion, Horror Companion and Supers Companion. I’m currently thinking FATE Core may be the best option.

Regardless, Chris’ posts have made me think about the system and the fact that broken as it seems, the power gaming and power creep I came to loathe in RIFTS exists in other games. True that while some games strive for the perhaps unattainable game balance, cause let’s be honest a creative power gamer can break almost ANY system, RIFTS just throws caution to the wind and embraces the gonzo crazy world where a scholar and a hatchling dragon could be in the same party!

This brings me to the second person, Luis Miranda. Dear friend since elementary school, we played RPGs together for years and actually got the RIFTS books at the same time. Back them I read and reread the books and got most of the sourcebooks as they came out. We played in each other’s campaign, and even when my interest in RIFTS weaned, Luis’ continued. He still is a fan, and my most memorable recollections of the game come from the adventures I played with him.

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Roleplaying in the world of The Elder Scrolls series

Recently I have started playing “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” again. The fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series is one of my favorite computer games and even though some people call it “dumbed down”, I still love it a lot. What I like the most about the game (aside from the open gameplay and the excellent soundtrack) is it’s lore. The Elder Scrolls universe can easily compete with famous D&D worlds like the Forgotten Realms. There’s a history stretching back thousands of years, there are nine playable races with different cultures, there are memorable characters and a vast world to explore. What makes The Elder Scrolls interesting is that while it shares a lot of tropes with “regular” fantasy worlds, most of them come with a “twist”.

As a long-time fan of the series I often mused about running a TES-inspired roleplaying campaign. Of course a project like this can be pretty daunting, but my recent success with my Fallout conversion to Fudge, made me consider working on a TES pen & paper game again. Writing a conversion to Fudge would probably work, but I also see a lot of similarities between the system used in the Elder Scrolls computer games and Runequest. Both are basically skill-based and use percentile values. In both RQ and the TES games you improve your skills by using them. Both magic systems are based on some kind of spell points. Writing a TES conversion for Runequest shouldn’t be particularly hard.

The big question is how closely I want the rules to resemble the source material. If the focus is on converting the setting (and not the rules), you can basically use Savage Worlds, Fate Core, etc. without much hassle. But for some reason I feel that the mechanics used in the TES series are part of its charm. At the moment I am looking into various RQ variants and other systems to find mechanics that closely fit my vision of a TES pen & paper game, so that the work to write a conversion is minimized.

Alas using computer roleplaying games as a basis for pen & paper campaigns also has its share of problems. If your players are avid fans of the series you can’t just recycle quests and stories from the computer games, and they may actually know the lands of Tamriel better than the GM. Especially the latter may cause long discussions with your players. Another common issue is that computer game worlds are often extremely small. I still cringe when I think about Ultima IX’s Britannia. The capital of a whole continent was reduced to a handful of houses. Ouch. In such cases the immersion goes right out of the window! Luckily the world of Tamriel feels almost big enough to not have this particular problem.

At the moment I’m in a very early planning phase because I am still busy running Fallout Fudged! and my other group has expressed interest in Shadowrun. But as I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve decided to start planning earlier. What are your thoughts on this project? What system would you use? Do you think Fudge might work or do I need something a little bit more crunchy? What about Runequest? Please share your thoughts below!

Fudging Battletech

BattlemechWhile I am preparing the XCOM game I have been writing about, I am already thinking about other one-shots/mini-campaigns I could run in the future. One of the games I wanted to run for a long time is Mechwarrior. I love the Battletech universe – especially the 3025 era – and I recently tracked down a copy of Mechwarrior 1st edition and added it to my collection. But there’s a problem: the rules suck. Even if you can look around the fact that the game was written with a clear focus on the people piloting Battlemechs, some of the rules are still pretty clunky, and in some cases totally broken. That said, I still love to leaf through the book. One reason may be nostalgia, but the other is the fact that the Battletech universe detailed in its pages is the one I enjoyed the most. Newer editions just haven’t had the same feel anymore. Your mileage may vary of course.

So I started to think about alternatives. The probably easiest solution would be to just take the attributes and skills from the game and use them together with Fudge rules. For compatibility with the Battletech tabletop rules you just need to come up with a conversion table between Fudge Skill ranks and Battletech’s Gunnery and Pilot skills, which shouldn’t pose any big problems. But this solution implies that everything on a personal level will be handled by Fudge, while Battletech and vehicle combat is run using the Battletech tabletop rules. If everyone at the game table is a fan of the tabletop game and doesn’t mind pretty long combats this should work fine. But what if the players prefer a more cinematic combat experience?

The most straightforward solution would be to convert the tabletop game to Fudge, too. Handle ‘Mech combat just like personal combat in Fudge and find a way to describe a Battlemech in Fudge terms. Alas this is easier said than done. I don’t mind throwing out some of the details, but the feel of Battletech should remain. At the moment I am not sure where I should start. So I am asking my readers for help. Have you ever tried to accomplish the same? How would you convert a Battlemech to Fudge terms? Any advice is highly appreciated!