RIFTs is both Awesome & Shit – Does it Have to be? (RIFTsPost)

1365356878250RIFTs frustrates the living hell out of me as a gamer. We struggled with the Palladium system even when we were tweens and teens with whole days to spend gaming. It makes little to no sense, Megadamage is an irritating bodge and the whole thing hangs together purely on goodwill and tenacity. I’d go so far as to say Palladium games are some of the only ones that would have actually benefited from conversion to d20 and its odd that it wasn’t. That so many people hobble on with a crippled game system is one of the great mysteries of roleplaying.

Still, the hodgepodge kitchen-sink background is cool, very cool, and it has a great look, feel and post-apocalyptic chic. So what the hell else would work?

A while back I wrote a FATE setting book for Pacific Rim, which apart from playtesting I’d never actually played. This last IndieCon I actually got to play it with a group and it worked very well indeed. Players of different power levels were not left out as they could create tags, observe and otherwise contribute and size differences weren’t too much of an issue either. FATE scales pretty well.

There’s various necessaries you need to consider in doing a conversion though.


The scale rules introduced in the FATE system toolkit are gratifyingly similar to the ones I came up with for Pacific Rim, but a little different. I prefer mine, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I would suggest:

Scale     Description
-4           Mouse
-3           Rat
-2           Badger
-1           Little Person
0            Human/Motorbike
1            Car
2            HGV/Tank
3            Transport Aircraft
4            Airliner
5            Aircraft Carrier
6            Supercarrier

The scale of a thing adds to – or takes away – from its Physical Stress (down to a minimum of 1 and thereafter reduces the effectiveness of consequences by -1 each, starting with Severe and working down).

Scale difference provides armour, if its positive.

Weapons and armour should scale from 1-5 (given superweapons) rather than the usual 1-3.

A pixie is scale -3. Physical Stress starts at 2, but is reduced by 1 to 1, the remaining -2 are taken off Severe and then Moderate, reducing their effectiveness to 5 and 3.

A person is firing an assault rifle against a car. A car is scale 1 and so gets 1 extra armour and starts with 3 stress, on top of any other bonuses it has.

Mega-damage is a huge pain in the arse, but scale provides a means to make it more sane. Against human scale targets and soft targets mega-damage weapons overpenetrate and are less effective. Megadamage weapons at larger scale already have the scaling bonuses and so don’t need to be worried about. Where megadamage can be worked in would be to have weapons that ignore the armour of larger scale, so that a laser pistol – for example – can be effective against a giant robot without blasting away whole villages when you miss in personal combat.

The various special abilities of the classes can be replaced by Stunts, free Aspects and in various other ways, taking away from the refresh pool of FATE points as needed.

Given RIFTs concentration on combat, breaking down Shoot into Pistol/Rifle/Heavy and Fight into Melee/Hand to Hand makes good sense.

The standard 3-5 stunts and 3/2/1 refresh works, in RIFTs more may be needed, allowing 6 stunts for zero Refresh.

A Combat Cyborg character is a pretty damn monstrous combat character.

Stunt: Full Cybernetic Conversion
MI-B2 Armour Shell: +4 Armour – Negative aspect ‘Clanking’. (This is a bolt-on shell, naked cyborgs have +1 Armour and lose the ‘clanking’).

Stunt: Man-Machine
+2 Physical Stress.

Stunt: Bionic Features I
Pick an extra two Aspects related to your cybernetic implants.

Stunt: Bionic Features II
Pick another extra two Aspects related to your cybernetic implants.

Stunt: Augmented Strength
You get a free +2 bonus to any rolls involving raw, physical strength.

Refresh: 1

Cyborgs start with three weapons, each with four clips, as well as the basic starting gear from the main rulebook.

LE-B1 Light Espionage Armour: +2 Armour, Stealthy.
LI-B1 Light Infantry Armour: +3 Armour.
MI-B2 Medium Infantry Armour: +4 Armour, Clanking.
HI-B3 Heavy Infantry Armour: +5 Armour, Clanking, Heavy.




CLICK Pacrim

Review: Pacific Rim Blu-Ray

pacific-rim-victoryI got the two-disc blur-ray edition with the special features bonus disc.

I didn’t get to see Pacific Rim in the cinema, but I’m not that sure that having missed it there is a huge loss. On a 52″ high definition plasma screen and at high volume – albeit without surround sound – you arguably get a better experience than the cinema. It can be hard to track what’s going on up on a cinema screen if you have to turn your head and if you don’t get good seats that can be even worse. You also don’t have to pay a stupid amount, you can avoid the 3D and once you’ve watched a disc 2-3 times you’ve gotten your value for money compared to a cinema visit anyway. You also don’t have to sit in spilled cola or have the back of your seat kicked.

I think, if you can afford halfway decent entertainment devices, the cinema has become redundant. With the internet you can also share your enthusiasm without having to whisper or spoil anyone else’s fun. I’ve felt this way for a while, but I think Pacific Rim cemented the fact that I can now get a better-than-cinema experience at home.

Pacific Rim is a great adventure movie and Del Toro’s love letter to the anime and mecha series of the past as well as the Japanese kaiju genre as a whole. It features giant robots smashing giant monsters in the face and really that’s all you need to know. Going into it you know that the day will be saved, the monsters defeated and humanity will stand triumphant. It doesn’t matter that you know though, this is modern cinematic technology, tried and true storytelling, old-school adventure and all delivered with a sense of joy and excitement that pervades the whole film.

The technology allows the giant robots and monsters to feel ‘weighty’ and ‘real’ while the lighting, style and detail simultaneously make them dream like and epic. The storytelling is age old, coming of age, facing up to responsibilities, facing evil, fighting for the highest stakes. The joy and excitement Del Toro has for the genre and its content – coupled with his attention to detail – brings the whole thing to life in a way that brings to mind a six year old jumping up and down and thrusting toys in your face while reciting endless detail about them – and it’s infectious.

This is apparent from the film, which is beautiful, epic and stirring, despite not treading any particular new ground in its story (other than the female lead not really being anyone’s romantic interest). It is even more apparent from the commentary and the special features in which Del Toro speaks often and at length about his passion for the project and the genres involved and this really comes across.

Visually there are only nods to the anime and kaiju influences, really the designs are their own thing, a new visual language for mecha and monsters taken from nature and from various other sources rather than the obvious ones. Every little detail is thought out and watching and re-watching the film you will always find new detail and new depth in the background.

Striker-Eureka-Australian-Jaeger_jpgThe only real weak points in the film were, for me, the scenes with Charlie Day’s scientist character ‘Newt’ who, despite having really cool tribal-style Kaiju tattoos was mostly annoying and whose scenes played out a bit too much like that 1998 abortion of a western Godzilla film. I could see the need for humour to be injected into the film but it was almost like he was in a completely different film to everyone else.

The best part of the bonus disc is the ‘notebook’ presentation of Del Toros ideas. The film apparently had a many-hundred-page setting bible and even though the film is fast-paced and doesn’t dwell on detail too much you can feel the weight behind it and you get more of an insight into that depth from the sketches, the explanations and the ideas presented in the extras. It’s some of the better bonus material I’ve seen for any disc.

Style: 4
Substance: 4
Overall: 4