JP On Gaming

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Giving Love to Rifts, Hate to Palladium?

My previous post on Campaign Fail might’ve come out as a Rifts-bashing. It should not be. I like Rifts for what it is, and still own a number of Rifts supplements to this day. What I was bashing was the stupid way we played the game. It was US. It wasn’t the game. The game only allowed us testosterone-filled teens to vent out all of our frustrations on the world. I mean… Wasting crates of ammo (e-clips) on defenseless civilians and gunning down alien things because we could was a good evening’s distraction.

But it really wasn’t a campaign. It was just a series of Hey dude, check this out! moments. Might be a reason why 4e did not appeal to me… Too reminiscent of that era, I can’t say… That’s worth another post… We could’ve played anything and it would’ve had that level of stupidity. We just happened to have Rifts lying around.

I did enjoy many Rifts and Robotech campaigns over the years. I’m a Robotech guy that played Rifts to change the gear. Get off my planet is pretty much the feeling we shared about the game. My website has a page with a lot of the material my group and I wrote at the time for our Robotech, Rifts, and Macross ][ campaigns. I was never able to find my characters but I had many of them. We played a long into the night and I remember riding my bike home at 3am.

Most of our campaigns focused on us group of low-powered mercenaries trying to make a buck. It was fun. We tried to figure out ways to get our hovertank to handle bigger and better guns (okay I was the operator so I did most of the fixing). We traveled the world of Rifts, mostly Free Quebec (we were mostly Separatist French Canadians).

What’s the problem with Rifts? The power-creep in the first few books was just ridiculous. Just stupid. It’s been out for over twenty years now without any real overhaul. I think the mecha system is fine, but the character system could use some simplification and review. And that’s only Rifts… The Palladium is much older than that.

Palladium, it seems more and more is a game for aging gamers that withdraw into their basement with rulebooks from the 70s. They came out with their "new" Robotech RPG recently… Hoping to see a revamped system for PC skills, I bought “The Shadow Chronicles”, read through it in an evening. I was not impressed. The system is the same. Some classes are tweaked and modified to allow a GM to create characters with varied skillset, but nothing that wasn’t around in Southern Cross or Triax and the NGR. You still have to take the Boxing skill (for the attack). Your attributes matter very little (other than picking your class or if you have a really high score). The campaign/adventure idea section is a random encounter table. The XP system is still a throwback to the early 80s with level requiring different XP totals for each class.

That’s too bad.

I REALLY wanted to like it (and blog about it to the world). But it’s more nostalgia than anything else.

It’s too bad. I’m sure they could get people back in it if they worked on a real Palladium 2nd Edition that WAS a true second edition. Look around, see what’s been happening in the last thirty years and apply it to your game. But I’m not holding my breath.

So I guess that can be considered slinging hate to Palladium Books, but love to Rifts…



  1. My very first RPG was Palladium Fantasy... So its a miracle I turned out semi normal. It progressed from there to AD&D and Vampire the Masquerade.

    My Rifts love is also Nostalgic, however I still love the setting and wish that more could and will be done with it, its too nicely developed. Actually I still get the books cheap off ebay to read the background. Actually waiting on original Robotech book with adventure module right now.

    The idea behind the game is excellent, with having 1 one dice system for every genre, but i agree with your complaint on the power curve. Btw d20 basic roots is in Palladium's multiversal system. atleast thats the rumor probably started by kevin siembieda(SP?)

    I truly LOL'd when I saw the boxing comment :)

    But enough of my adding too much to your latest JP, you've done such a good job with this blog it inspired me to start one of my own hope you check it out and i will try not to make it too much of a clone

  2. I'm the same as you when it comes to Rifts/Palladium. I own a ton of the books including stuff from Palladium Fantasy, Beyond the Supernatural and Dead Reign, but I just can't play the system. I've tried to run it and it is a major headache and my players hate it.
    Any system where the creator flat out tells you that no one plays RAW and kind of need to houserule it to make it work, has issues that need to be resolved.
    Rifts is the game I want to play the most which is why I buy the books. I love the setting, but I know that in its current form I will never be running a game. If someone else runs one I'm there.
    I've heard rumbling for years about revisions. A freelancer even told me that they were working on a Rifts-lite. I also know that they have been asking fans on the boards to tell them what they want changed/revised in the system, so maybe something is being done. If they created an updated Rifts to be comparable with games published now I'd buy it. Although I have to give them credit for being old school when old school wasn't popular.

  3. That's the problem with Rifts: the setting is great, the rules are crap. I can't play the game even when I'd LOVE to.

    What's worse is that Kevin Siembieda LOVES the system it created so long ago and doesn't want to change it (which, in my mind, is just plain ridiculous: he should be trying to get a broader and younger audience for Rifts).

    I can't spend several hours creating ONE PC, much less the entire party. And my player would hang me (literally) if I tried.

    Really sad.

  4. It's true and sad that Rifts will die from people finding it to be an old and outdated system. There are a lot of good ideas in that system...
    Like most of you I have given up on Palladium and just hope that maybe one day...
    That said a few years back I wrote a Robotech adventure. Good fun. Love the setting. Too bad a character sheet takes 12 pages of information you never use! :( Those characters took forever to build, and I don't have them anymore.
    Since KS is not one of those old gamers who haven't changed their game system since the 80s, he is one of the original Grognards...