The Bazaar #2 - What This Blog Will / Won't Address
Updated: Jan 15
I WILL NOT ADDRESS
RIFTS Game Mechanics. One of the constant issues the Palladium Books system faces is criticism of various parts of the rules set. Quite frankly, I agree with some of the criticisms, others I find either pedantic or simply overcome by a house rule or two; something Kevin has long promoted. Long-story short, the aim of the blog is not to deal with the rules. This blog’s purpose is nested in the overall plot, the storytelling aspects and the adventures one can glean from the numerous (like, a lot) of books available.
MDC vs SDC. Pretty much an extension of the Mechanics issue, I’m not interested in this debate. If I can write a great story using the game stats as a guide with a slight tweak here or there, then the storyline overrides the rules. From a campaign design point of view, knowing your players and the campaign level you are playing at is the key to success.
Character Creation. Back in the day this was a past time of mine; just tooling through the books to see what I could find, and make a compelling character. Is it time consuming? Sure. Are other systems as time consuming when you first start them? Absolutely! Debate done. That said, certain points may be raised throughout the Scholarly Reviews segment as we cover each book individually.
Magic Vs Technology. A direct extension of the Mechanics issue before RIFTS: Ultimate Edition was released. If you were to examine the Rifts library, it is clear the technological aspect is hyped up more than the magical; ergo more powerful? Not in the slightest. They are two sides of the same coin as far as I’m concerned, and one that can drive some great story telling! The limits of magic are, quite frankly constrained by the imagination of the GM or player; this same constraint goes for technology as well.
Conversions. Not doing it, not discussing either of them. I was never interested in the conversion of an X-Wing into Megaverse stats or how much MD the Death Star planet killer cannon had. Keeping it within canon, I would rather see how a unique creation could help drive any plot through a great encounter. I've done so once already in A Scout's Honour, introducing a D-Bee race call the Gar-anoth. Their specific stats and abilities in any game mechanics are completely unaddressed and will remain so, for now.
Savage Worlds Rifts. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have no exposure to the Savage Worlds Rifts RPG, nor does it interest me all that much. From a gaming product perspective I have heard some good/positive reviews, just not one I am familiar with. I can only imagine the lore resembles the same you would find in Palladium's version. Stories are told in both systems, but again, the mechanics are the key points of discussion when comparing or contrasting. Not my bag. I want the stories to be agnostic of any game mechanics.
I WILL ADDRESS
Attentive GMs. This system lends itself to a lot of “god-play,” where player characters can pretty much run amok with impunity. I’ve had those players too, and they had fun playing the “demi-gods” or nigh-unkillable characters. The GM is the key to making this work, and that is one of the aims of the blog. Lets see if we can’t reinforce the GM with the tools to keep things in line, but also present a challenging and fruitful adventure for their players. I’ll be posting more things in The Bazaar for this.
The Story. I am much more interested in the fiction that can be produced by the setting, something I think Palladium Books has likely missed the mark on. Looking at intellectual properties like Star Wars and Warhammer 40k, they have copious novel releases that help drive the narrative, which in turn drives product consumption. My personal interest is in these stories; some that may be a direct result of gameplay, but more significantly those that could have a “commercial” direction. This isn’t a direct plea for Palladium Books to give me a book contract (I would love to write novels for Rifts), but I strongly believe this would give them an alternate stream to marketing the Megaverse. The Adventurer’s Notebook is specifically devoted to my unofficial story telling entries into the Rifts RPG.
“Lore: Megaverse.” I am by no means a lore master for the Megaverse. My interests lie pretty much exclusively to the Rifts RPG line. I own very few books outside that. There are several external formats that pique my interest, but largely it is always in the Rifts context. By extension to the Story segment above, my aim is to promote the lore of the RPG, which I think is one of the primary draws. Like the reams of background supporting the IP for Star Wars and Warhammer 40k, Palladium Books has a vast library, but most of the focus is game mechanics. I’d like to see the storyline get more focus, give it more traction. The process of reviewing the library from start to finish in The Scholar’s Review is the mechanism I’ll be using.
It’s the Story. It’s all about the story for me. The game mechanics are what they are; a vehicle to allow players to actively conduct their part in the GM’s story. Love it or hate it, Kevin has said time and again, make your personal changes as you see fit. Lots of people have made their pitch online to see how they could ‘make it better,’ but from my perspective most simply adapt other game systems’ mechanics, diluting that which makes Palladium’s system what it is. I’m sure given enough time I could come up with something too, I certainly have ideas that keep the vast majority of core game mechanics intact (yes, there is still SDC and MDC); maybe call it Rifts: The Storyteller’s Edition. But as the Megaversal Ambassador Program espouses, my intent it to promote the setting, to help GMs and players alike in creating an experience that folks can reminisce over, years after the fact.
A Call to Arms. I certainly agree that the mechanics are an impediment to some players and GMs in how well a Rifts RPG adventure could unfold. I think a good story line helps mitigate that, to varying extents. Fiction, on the other hand, provides an invaluable way to promote the story without "clunky" mechanics getting in your way. So I ask that we collectively start looking at ways to promote great storytelling in games, helping both players and GMs in this fashion, as well as providing the enjoyable diversions of fiction based on the setting we know and love.