Category Archives: Rifts

RIFTS: A Mind Melter and a Juicer meet in a bar…

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Last week we finally started our RIFTS campaign! Yay! While we all had a lot of fun, the Palladium managed to get into our way a couple of times. But let’s start from the beginning.

The group consists of four adventurers: a Mind Melter, a Ley Line Walker, a Combat Cyborg, and last but not least a Juicer. I could have made things easy for all of us by just declaring the player characters already know each other, but this time I wanted them to play out their first meeting.

When the game began the Combat Cyborg was escorting a truck caravan to a remote town somewhere near the ruins of Indianapolis. The town is called Sycamore (like the trees) and has made good profits in the past by supplying adventurers who wanted to explore the ruins or venture further into the Magic Zone. But recently a local gang has taken over the city and started taking slaves and killing locals who were not willing to pay the “protection fee”. Traders and other outsiders are usually not bothered because they bring in the money.

Before the Combat Cyborg and the caravan could enter town, they made a stop near the ruins where they stumbled upon the Ley Line Walker who was overjoyed to meet people to talk to after being in the wilderness for quite some time. The Cyborg grudingly agreed to let her join the caravan on the last leg of their journey.

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Some Ramblings on the OSR, RIFTS, and more

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A couple of years back the OSR was a mystery to me. For me it was strange that people put so much work and effort into reviving such an old game as the original editions of D&D. Back then I was burned out on all things d20 System, and the only old edition of D&D I knew was AD&D 2nd Edition, which I didn’t really like.

Then I started looking into what the OSR actually stands for. I checked out games like Swords & Wizardry, White Box, Lamentations of the Flame Princess and I started to realize that the original D&D was a very different beast from a game like AD&D. Over the years I learned to appreciate the simple elegance of such games. Nowadays a lot of the games I am excited about are actually part of the OSR.

I also admire the creativity in the old-school scene. I am regularly amazed what awesome things you can create using a mechanical base about as old as myself. White Box (especially the version by Seattle Hill Games) has become my go-to game. Whenever I need to run a game without any prep, I can just pull the digest-sized book out of my bag and start running. I am really glad I eventually overcame my reservations for all things OSR.

Recently I had another look at RIFTS, a game which I had a weird love-hate relationship to. On the one hand I love the setting and I have very fond memories of the time when I played in a RIFTS campaign. On the other hand I always hated the rules. I found them confusing, I felt the system had way too many fiddly bits. For years I was looking for alternative rulesets to replace the dreaded Palladium System.

While I was pondering the idea of using one of the OSR games I learned to love over the past few years to run a RIFTS game, people actually reminded me that RIFTS was actually a D&D-based itself. The Palladium System was probably the first successful “heartbreaker”. It’s basically a set of house rules for D&D (or AD&D if I am not mistaken) that were turned into a new game.

So I gave RIFTS another read. While rereading the Ultimate Edition of the core rules I realized that RIFTS doesn’t actually have that many rules as I remembered. Basically it’s a pretty simple game and the fiddly bits (like thousands of small modifiers during combat etc.) can easily be handled by good book keeping. And in the heat of the moment hand waving a few things might work as well.

The rules in RIFTS are also meant as guidelines, you don’t need to follow slavishly. Use what you need and disregard the rest. Make up rulings if needed, and keep the game flowing. I guess this might actually be quite playable if you approach it like the OSR games I mentioned before. My mistake in the past was that I approached it like a more modern game, which it definitely isn’t.

The layout is still pretty pedestrian, the organization of most books is still confusing, but the mechanics aren’t actually that bad if you take the right approach. You just need to play it fast and loose, instead of worrying about the rules too much. But I guess I’ll know more after actually running it again.

Last but not least I want to talk about my ongoing quest to run a SF campaign. For basically forever I tried to come up with an awesome SF campaign which I could run for my friends. I think I already found the perfect system which I can use, but the hard part is making up my mind what kind of setting I actually want. Should it be near future, or rather far future? Is there FTL or is humanity restricted to just one solar system? Should I use our own stellar backyard or come up with stars of my own design? Hard science or space opera. The problem is that I love all the options and I have a hard time deciding what to use and what to throw out. Since a lot of options are mutually exclusive I can’t have both…

Normally I would ask my friends first, to find out what they would like best, BUT this time I decided to take a different approach. I want a setting I am happy with first and foremost and then find players interested in playing in this universe. Over the last years I too often tried to please everyone, which lead to campaigns I was not fully invested in. I don’t want to repeat this with my SF game. Do you guys have any advice how to solve that issue?

So, that were my ramblings for today. We’ll get back to our regular programme next week. Stay tuned. Zwinkerndes Smiley

Let’s Talk Again About RIFTS

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Over the weekend I kept thinking about RIFTS and how I could run it without having to rely on the clunky Palladium system. After some googling I stumbled upon a post where someone mentioned he ran RIFTS using OD&D. At first I was wondering how one could do such thing, but after some more careful examination I came to the conclusion that its not really a bad idea.

If you look at it, Palladium is a lot like D&D (I think it could be most closely be related to AD&D) with a BRP-like skill system thrown in and with all pretenses of balance thrown out of the window. I actually don’t mind the last aspect. Balance in RIFTS or the lack thereof is what makes RIFTS fun. And believe it or not, a simple Operator can easily shine in a group of Cyborgs, Juicers, and Cyberknights.

This might sound a bit weird, but I guess you might take a basic framework like Swords & Wizardry (or a similar D&D retro-clone), add a simple skill system, and build the RIFTS OCCs with it. Isn’t a Ley Line Walker just a Magic-User with some special abilities thrown in for good measure? Mega Damage could be a problem, but you either follow RIFTS’ example and add MD and MDC to the system or you convert all damage to normal damage. In RIFTS 1 point of MD is equivalent to about 100 points of normal damage, but I am sure a ratio of 10:1 or even 2:1 would work fine and actually make it more easily playable.

I haven’t talked to my group of players about this, BUT if they are interested in the RIFTS multiverse, I might try to use OD&D to run RIFTS. If that fails, I can still rely on Pinnacle Entertainment’s Savage World version.

What do you think about my plans? Do you think this might actually work, or do you believe I am as mad as a hatter? Please share your comments below.