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View Full Version : [Rifts] - Story/New Campaign Advice



Grynning
2010-01-05, 09:13 PM
So, after many years of my giant collection of Rifts books collecting dust and feeling sad and lonely while we all played newer, sexier RPG's, my longtime 4th edition D&D group has grown tired of game balance and consistent rules and wants some old-fashioned silliness. I happily volunteered to run Rifts, so now I have to come up with a decent idea for a campaign, and I've got a bit of writer's block, so I thought I'd kick off some brainstorming here.

PLEASE NOTE: I'm NOT worried too much about the system; I understand the numerous flaws of Rifts and Palladium games in general and am prepared to compensate for them. My players know that I am house-ruling a lot and won't have a problem with that. I've ran Rifts a couple times and Heroes Unlimited a bit, so I'm not new to the game, but I'm not an old vet at it either.

I am most likely going to have 4 players. They are all very experienced gamers, but only two of them have played Rifts before, and then only once, and none of them really know the setting and story, though I know at least one of them will be voraciously reading my books and will probably absorb a lot of the details. One has expressed a desire to play a Glitter Boy and has come up with a decent back story and agreed to some balancing considerations, and another (the above mentioned voracious reader) has said he's interested in a Techno-wizard, but nothing more specific than that. The other two, who have played before, have not really discussed any concepts with me as yet, but I have a feeling at least one of them will want to be a psychic or a spellcaster of sorts.

My issue is that I originally planned to set the game around Los Alamo (we live in Austin, it seemed appropriate) but I may nix that since I know there will be spellcasters and possibly D-bees in the group and I don't want to spend too much time dealing with the Los Alamo authorities harassing them. I plan to set the game during the buildup to the Tolkeen War, and I plan on using both the CS and evil mages as bad guys at some point.

So, fellow Rifts lore geeks, my requests:

1) Suggestions for a location. I kind of like Kingsdale, but I was thinking of somewhere more remote and further West. It should be a place with a good level of tech, relatively tolerant of magic/D-bees, and not so close to the CS that there would be a major force nearby, but close enough that they would be encountered.

2) Advice on painting a good picture of the world of Rifts. I've been explaining the basic story behind the setting and really building up the aspect that it's a world where anything can happen and you can be/meet anyone and anything.

3) Some ideas for combat encounters that are cool but not too deadly. I'm going to be starting the characters at relatively low level (1-3 depending on what classes they pick). I know I've already got some of them a bit terrified of the combat, because I've explained how unbalanced and random it can be compared to D&D and how stupidly powerful some of the monsters are. I'm looking for stuff that makes for challenging battles but isn't going to cause a TPK with a couple lucky shots. I've never really gotten a good gauge on how tough fights should be in Rifts, so I welcome the advice of more experienced GM's.

NPCMook
2010-01-05, 09:57 PM
Send them to Mexico, yeah, Mexico should work just fine:smallamused:

hamlet
2010-01-06, 08:25 AM
Send them to Mexico, yeah, Mexico should work just fine:smallamused:

You are a hateful and spiteful person.:smallsmile:

Then again, they'd probably clean up the joint with a garden hose.


I'm not 100% familiar with the setting since our group never bothered with most of it, just took the rules and used them in our own fever induced version of it (wherin New Jersey was ruled by a vampiric Hitler . . . it makes sense in context). I recommend at least starting the campaign in a border region, the line between "civilization" and the wasted fronteirs. That way, you have the ability to put them through a number of adventure types without having to deal with geographic lock. Maybe they're being sent out to reclaim a small city, cleanse it of the cosmic horrors that have invaded it, and make it safe for ma and pa settler. You can also do with internal things, like chasing down Tolkeen rebels and whatnot without having to deal with the entirety of the war.

As for Glitterboy, make sure the badguys start learning how to dig traps. Nothing says funny like the multi-billion dollar mech flat on its back like a turtle struggling to right himself.

Mark Hall
2010-01-06, 02:19 PM
1) Suggestions for a location. I kind of like Kingsdale, but I was thinking of somewhere more remote and further West. It should be a place with a good level of tech, relatively tolerant of magic/D-bees, and not so close to the CS that there would be a major force nearby, but close enough that they would be encountered.

Try Houstown. For one thing, you're close enough to day trip for ideas, and can use Los Alamos if you want; Houstown is a hub for Lone Star, since the Pecos gangs can meet there in neutral territory. For another, the CS is over in Beaumont... you can shoot medium-range missiles from Beaumont and hit Channelview. Third, I have some unpublished material on Houstown (they requested it YEARS ago for some theoretical PDF releases that never saw the light of day) that I want to throw out there, giving you a lot of information they won't have, but still compatible with what they would have access to in Lone Star.


2) Advice on painting a good picture of the world of Rifts. I've been explaining the basic story behind the setting and really building up the aspect that it's a world where anything can happen and you can be/meet anyone and anything.

My best suggestion for a lot of these things is find a place where you've got highway construction... bridges that are halfway up, dirt and dust everywhere, but most of the machines out of the way. Look for places that don't just look run down, but look like they've been abandoned for years.

I've also got some introductory stuff written up, for when I was writing their QuickStart rules... another abandoned project. Oh, and rules changes to make attributes a bit more important.



3) Some ideas for combat encounters that are cool but not too deadly. I'm going to be starting the characters at relatively low level (1-3 depending on what classes they pick). I know I've already got some of them a bit terrified of the combat, because I've explained how unbalanced and random it can be compared to D&D and how stupidly powerful some of the monsters are. I'm looking for stuff that makes for challenging battles but isn't going to cause a TPK with a couple lucky shots. I've never really gotten a good gauge on how tough fights should be in Rifts, so I welcome the advice of more experienced GM's.

A lot of it is going to depend on who you have in the group, but a few things to consider.

1) The Glitter Boy is going to want SPACE. He's an artillery piece.

2) Also, recall that a lot of fights come down to slugfests. MDCs tend to be high, and weapon damages low, and active defenses can make things take even longer. This goes all the way out the window once people start launching volleys of missiles.

3) While your GB will want space, your psychic is going to want THINGS. Chances are VERY good that he'll pick up Super Telekinesis, and start throwing people around... or hitting them with large objects.

In describing fights, think about the effects on landscape. If someone misses with a laser in East Texas, that's going to hit trees and EXPLODE. When missiles go off, they leave craters. If your techno-wizard has a flame sword, a vicious parry might set off fires. It's pretty easy, when everyone's MDC, to miss the level of power you're dealing with. Throw in some quick descriptions of things getting ripped to shreds as they fight to remind them that they're playing with significant power, and to add to the action-movie aspect.

hamlet
2010-01-07, 08:27 AM
1) The Glitter Boy is going to want SPACE. He's an artillery piece.

Also, do keep track of where people say they are standing when that GB starts using "close fire support" without care. That's one of the biggest drawbacks of the GB that most players try to ignore, but the GM should never let slip.




In describing fights, think about the effects on landscape. If someone misses with a laser in East Texas, that's going to hit trees and EXPLODE. When missiles go off, they leave craters. If your techno-wizard has a flame sword, a vicious parry might set off fires. It's pretty easy, when everyone's MDC, to miss the level of power you're dealing with. Throw in some quick descriptions of things getting ripped to shreds as they fight to remind them that they're playing with significant power, and to add to the action-movie aspect.

Absolutely. And for added fun, throw a few civilians into the area and watch the more concientious players scramble to protect them from the thoughtless ones. The GB especially should be reshaping the landscape wherever he goes.

Grynning
2010-01-07, 10:13 AM
@Mark Hall - I kinda like the idea of Houstown, and I'd love to see your stuff since the book info on it is so sparse. I may make up my own city somewhere in Lone Star as well, come to think of it (there's a lot of unused real estate here even now, and on Rifts Earth more so). If you get a chance to PM me I'd appreciate it. By the way, I fully plan on using some of your skill system changes that you posted on your blog. Good stuff, and hopefully Palladium will one day get it's financial stuff together and publish everything you've written for them.

On the Glitter Boy:
I will give him some opportunities to use the Boom Gun, sure, but the player and I came up with an amusing twist on the character that means he won't just be able to blast everything they come across. I know that there's never been a printed book cost for Boom Gun ammo, but I decided it's probably pretty damn expensive and rare, and since his suit is inherited, the drum hasn't been topped off in a while and he's down to his last 50-60 rounds. He thought that was great, and decided he should play his character as always being broke, and started cracking jokes about deciding between buying ammo or food, and stuff like that. I think it's a great way to limit the use of the gun for a while, and I'm going to make buying ammo a challenge even when they get a decent amount of money (as most adventurers do from time to time); I'll probably only have him be able to find 2d6x10 rounds at a time or something like that. He wants to use a giant chainsword/knife thing and a rifle of some sort as his main weapons, which I'm fine with (the chainsword knife thing is mainly just to annoy one of the other players who thought that the power armor knife in Avatar was the most ridiculous thing ever).

hamlet
2010-01-07, 11:34 AM
I like the idea of scarce ammo and poor characters.

Maybe an add-in for later games: uncrupulous mercenaries looking to improve their fire power might target the GB for theft seeing it as an "easy target" because it's never fully armed.