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A technique for Rifts rules/balance drift

Started by Callan S., April 29, 2004, 06:52:46 AM

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Callan S.

Recently I've found myself thinking of enjoying Rifts again (probably something on AIM). Naturally this brings up the issue of house rules (at least it does for me) that are on many pages and the politics of these. The politics of it shoot my desire down.

But an idea stemmed from a thought that I could play GM'less solo rifts by myself. It'd be diablo like, but obviously unlike diablo I do the paper work. Primarily just to get some of the urge out of my system.

After awhile of thinking of the pro's and con's of this, I realised something. If someone is playing solo, balance issues and rules interpretation problems don't exist any more. They set their own balance and run with whatever interpretation they want. Zero problem.

Finally this clicked into one more idea. You can actually do this at a table with others. You can have zero problems...if you just isolate everyones combat actions. The basic way you isolate them is that they can only attack opponents allocated to them in the combat. Sure, in the game world everyones fighting a foe and that old thought of realism suggest that onces the calvinballing, uber PC has done with his foes he can move on to everyone elses.

What if you just say no? He can't, unless that player (not the PC, the player) gives him permission, which he isn't obliged too. This goes for everyone equally. You can't attack those foes (cook up whatever color reasons for it, but it doesn't need any reason. You just can't)

So essentially everyone can do their own balance thing and rules interpretation thing without stepping on everyone elses toes, interpretation wise.

But what about the teamwork and competition, you might say?

* Well, buffing others directly, althought requiring permission (someone might not like what they consider a BS buff being placed on them) can still be done.

* The GM can still place certain tactical problems in front of the character (though he may get around by twisting rules), which others can suggest ideas for.

* Tag team attacks are possible if permission is granted too.

* If someone is taking too long to defeat foes, if others get bored (everyone else is finished for example) there's a certain peer pressure/withdrawal of credibility unless they let someone help them and wrap it up. So your in a bit of a race with your fellow players.

Well, is it too heretical to suggest the technique of players being able to take on others challenges/foes after they finish with their own, to be removed? Will it all crash and burn? Have I even written enough?
Philosopher Gamer

Mike Holmes

I'm not quite sure that I see what it is you're proposing in the first place. And I'm absolutely certain that I have no idea what problem it is that you're trying to combat. Sorry, maybe I'm being dense, but can you try again?

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I think he's having a problem with scale, and Rifts is particularly bad about it. There are guns that auto-kill normal-scale people, normal-scale people's guns that can't injure mecha (nor mecha scale spells, body armor, etc.)

By separating the combats, each person can fight at their own scale. The mecha can fight enemy mecha (and people using mecha scale weaponry, spells, etc.), but can't fire off one blast to clear all the unarmored policemen that the normal-scale people want to fight.  

I don't think it will crash and burn IF everyone buys in. It'll definately have to be part of the pregame discussion, and it could be hard to phrase. (People who pilot glitterboys, etc. are probably predisposed to hearing the discussion as insults of twinkery).

Hope I understand you correctly and good luck.
-- Scott
Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.


Regarding the isolating characters bit, while I haven't played the game, doesn't TROS effectively do this? Combatants square off, and then fight until someone is either wounded or killed, and then the spotlight changes to another pair. That's how it works, right? So what I guess I'm saying is that the isolation bit isn't neccessarily as radical as it might first seem.

As to the balancing bit, could you expand on thatt? What specific issues are to trying "balance?"

[edit: cross-posted with Scott]
--Timothy Walters Kleinert

Mike Holmes

Ah, simple GNS incoherence, IMO. If the Palladium system gamism is making it hard to reconcile the simulationism inherent in Mega-Damage weapons (and MDC, etc, etc), then there is a problem. This has always been the problem with the system in general - gam/sim incoherence. It's why you hear the term "munchkin" bandied about around Rifts and the rest so often. Because the system is informing players that they have to be as powerful as possible, and that, realistically, there are scales for lethality. So either you choose to be a character with access to "mega" or you're accepting a huge limit.

Sure, one way to "balance" would be to just "part" the combat via metagame. This brings it back into very standard coherent gamism. Tell them it's like playing a videogame - you don't get to choose what bosses to go up against, they're preplanned. Player skill is not in target selection, but instead in how well the player engages the target.

That said, I'm on record as saying that RPGs make crummy gamism platforms, and palladium is no exeption. So I'd consider twice trying to reinforce the gamism ideal on it.

Of course, now Callan will come in and say that it's entirely another issue than the mega-problem.

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Callan S.

Of course! :)

Actually Scott got the majority of it with scaling problems. In addition he covered the important parts of pre game discussion over this and proper phrasing too, which I whole heartedly agree with.

Not that it matters too much (the scaling is a big enough prob to warrant this suggestion of mine), but rules incoherance comes into it as well. For example, one player might think that super telekinesis means they can also grab and slam around a foe until they are dead. Another might not think its that easy a choice to make, a roll to hit or something might be needed. In a similar vein, we have powers like biomanipulation: paralysis, which can just be wonders and the interpretation isn't really open to a more challenging reading, leaving it at quite a high scale unless a player is REALLY willing to have it disadvantaged.

So essentially different scales don't just exist, but differing rules interpretations mean those scales fluctuate between individuals, as rule interpretations by those individuals differ. You might think character X is at a certain scale, only to find that player is convinced of a certain rule interpretation. The politics of this numbs me.

Mike, it's a bit disenhartening that you think RPG's make cruddy gamism platforms. Certainly RPG's carry other expectations with them that can clash with gamism, but a careful pre game discussion that says exactly what expectations will be used with the campaign, should help with that.

TimFire, that is true. But I think that's more a matter of practicality as there is no seperation made in the rules. But it is a solid example of people being able to fight seperately and still have fun together and I'll keep it mind, thanks! :)
Philosopher Gamer

Andrew Martin

Quote from: NoonMike, it's a bit disenhartening that you think RPG's make cruddy gamism platforms. Certainly RPG's carry other expectations with them that can clash with gamism, but a careful pre game discussion that says exactly what expectations will be used with the campaign, should help with that.

I'd agree with Mike. I've found from personal experience in playing wargames and RPGs that most wargames are far better "games" than RPGs played as games.
Andrew Martin

Callan S.

For some time myself I couldn't see RPG's doing a game very well. Only recently did I seperate a win/loose type of game (like table top war gaming) and mental puzzle/sparing with the GM or others not to win but to hone skills. Certainly before the seperation I didn't think much of gaming in RPG's. But that's just how I used to feel.
Philosopher Gamer