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Tabletop Tuesdays: Why You Shouldn’t Plan Your Party Composition



Hey there, ladies and gents. Today, I’m gonna try something a little different - I’m starting up a new, weekly ‘mini-blog’ of sorts on Tumblr. As you’ve likely already guessed, I’m going to be rambling about tabletop gaming in all its forms (but primarily D&D, because fifth edition is awesome). 

Let’s get started, shall we? 

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Ran Death Frost Doom with a Fighter, Halfling, Specialist, and Magic User. One of the deadliest dungeon modules (supposedly) ever, and not a cleric in sight. Ran it by the book, too. Everyone lived, although the Fighter was comatose and level drained (or was it attribute drained?) before the end and had to be dragged out by the other PCs.

When all else fails and hope seems lost…

Make a deal. You know you’ll regret it later, but at least you’ll live to see another day.

Speaking of Death Frost Doom, I like it because the party is very likely to all die, but not slowly through Hit Point loss. More like suddenly, and because of their own actions. And if they don’t die, they may wish they had, because to live through it means they’ve set into motion the possible end of all life on the planet.

Filed under Death Frost Doom LotFP rpg

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Upon further review

I think these rules would work even better for Robotech/Macross. Which, unfortunately, makes me want to play that game again, but no one in any of the groups I play with is interested.

I don’t own any of the new Robotech books, but going from the original:

Veritech/Valkyrie Pilot:

OCC skills are the same, although I’d downgrade HtH Expert to Basic, and add WP Rifle. All have a 30% (or +6) base.

Original Robotech didn’t have Secondary skills, so instead of picking 14 additional OCC skills, I’d make it 6, and gain another 1 every 2 levels. Once again, 30% (or +6) base.

HtH Combat and Mecha Combat are kept separate and do not combine.

HtH is already augmented by attribute scores, Weapon skills, and physical skills.

Mecha Combat is augmented by attribute scores, Weapon Systems skill, and Piloting skills.

For humans/Zentraedi, combine Hit Points and SDC into a single HP pool. MDC in Robotech wasn’t a contentious issue like it was in Rifts, because only military grade equipment is MDC, so I would leave that unchanged.

Get rid of the “can’t dodge 4 or more missiles” rule.

Convert speed in space: Mach whatever is changed to Acceleration whatever. Meaning, if it says, “goes Mach 8 in space,” that now means, the mecha has an acceleration factor of 8 in space. If a valkyrie is traveling at AF 6 and launches a missile with an AF of 7, That missile travels to the target at an AF of 13. Shifts in course or changes in direction negatively affect the AF value. A 180 degree turn would drop that missile’s AF back to 7. Mechanically, AF adds to the defenders Dodge, and the Attackers Strike rolls.

That last bit I came up with while writing this post, so it’s probably not really workable. I can see it putting the defender at a severe disadvantage, but that’s why a high piloting skill and countermeasures are important.

Filed under Robotech Macross RPG

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I may have went overboard

on my Rifts home rules.

My goal was to simplify and streamline the rules (basically putting them in a logical order, which is the main problem with Rifts - the rules are spread out all over the place)

Instead I made a new game. Which is cool and all, but wasn’t the goal.

Rifts simplified in a nutshell:

Ditch MDC in favor of HP

Ditch SDC weapons like revolvers, machine guns, recoilless rifles.

Make all OCC and OCC related skills have a base of 30% and increase 5% per level

Ditch Secondary skills completely.

Ditch Boxing Skill.

Ditch the “two for living,” attacks per melee bonus.

Just doing that cuts character creation time in half, makes combat way faster, and streamlines the game unbelievably.

Of course, I’ve been working on much bigger revisions, which still make it possible to make any class or species right out of the 100 books.

What’s funny to me is just how much WotC/Paizo took from Palladium rules-wise. It’s totally obvious when you break down the rules. Palladium has been the D20 system since 1991, with the exception of skills, which are d100. And that’s ridiculously easy to translate into d20 - every 5% is one skill rank.

The only rule from Rifts that I would change completely is the Dodge rule. I would/will make it into a penalty against an attacker’s to-hit roll, rather than an opposed roll.

For example: Assuming your character is stationary, an attacker has to roll above a 4 on a d20 to hit you with a ranged weapon. You have a +3 to Dodge. That would mean that instead of rolling to dodge against the attacker’s roll to hit, the attacker would simply have to roll above a 7 to hit.

It’s a lot like Savage Worlds.

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I generally hate these things

But it’s my day off work and why not?

Zak’s GM Questionnaire from 2 years ago.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

Currently, I’m proud of my skill rules for Palladium that are easily compatible with Pathfinder and Savage Worlds.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Three weeks ago.
3. When was the last time you played?
This past Wednesday.
4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
A vast armada of 50 foot tall aliens surrounded the planet. You and your bad ass giant transformable robot are the Earth’s last line of defense.
5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
I ask them questions. I roll random encounters. I don’t like to waste time in a game session and get bored quickly, so I try to keep things moving.
6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Homemade pizza, homemade burritos, an entire Thanksgiving turkey, store bought pizza, chicken wings, fancy mixed nuts.
7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
No, I find it can be mentally exhausting.
8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
A first-time player, in his very first session, ran into a random NPC. The NPC thought he was her husband and chastised him for never being home. The PC played it out perfectly, apologizing, smoothing things over, and convincing her to bring him his musket that he had hidden prior to the game. Of course, this was his first game and there was never any musket, but I let it go and ruled that there was one because the whole thing was played out so perfectly.
9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Certain situations within a game session, sure, but if we’re playing Call of Cthulu, the overall atmosphere of the game is serious.
10. What do you do with goblins?
The last time goblins were in a game I ran, it was a PCs-as-monsters Castles and Crusades game. The PCs were goblins, orcs, troglodytes, and kobolds living happy lives in the Happy Goblin Woods until the dreaded human/elf/dwarf adventures started pouring into the valley. One of the players wrote and published a children’s book based on it.
11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
I am always writing game material using photos and pictures I find. Most of the very first posts on this blog are pics that I was inspired by and used in-game.
12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
All of them. We have a lot of fun. But for something specific, one of the PCs is always adopting children, whether they’re orphans or not, and showers them with attention and gifts. Then she forgets about them and they walk into traps, get eaten by monsters, run away, etc. It’s become a running gag. Another PC has a pony name ‘Taboo’ which always makes me chuckle.
13. What was the last game book you looked at—aside from things you referenced in a game—why were you looking at it?
Mutants in Orbit - has nothing to do with my LotFP campaign. I was looking at it because… it was there? I’m not sure. I flipped directly to the KLS Corporation section to read up on some history.
14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Ramon Perez. His style is very comic book-y, maybe because he also draws comics. I tend to think of game sessions and adventures like story-arcs in comics. Plus Ramon Perez is very good at telling a story within a single panel. His characters are interesting and not the same tired tropes of everyone else.
15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Doubtful. Unsettled maybe, but never afraid.
16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
I ran The Grinding Gear for two different groups. Both experiences were rewarding and fun for me.
17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A large, well ventilated room with one of those $10,000 rpg game tables, and a projector hooked up to my laptop.
18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Pathfinder and TMNT.
19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Pathfinder and TMNT
20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
One who is on time, enthusiastic, creative, and brings beer.
21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms?
I can’t think of anything specific, but atmosphere and mood have certainly transferred from real life to the game.
22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
Decent giant mecha rules for Savage Worlds
23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
I guess? Weird question: how often do people talk about things they aren’t interested in? I only do this when I think someone would enjoy playing an rpg and I want to invite them to play. Most of the time they are interested.

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Rifts Basic Juicer

Lets see how it looks with the new rules. This character took me 20 minutes to create, including equipment and special abilities. That’s less than half the time as the rules as written.

Juicer Class, 1st level


IQ 8, ME 11, MA 7, PS 25, PP 21, PE 12, PB 11, Spd 49

Hit Points: 246 conventional damage

Armor: Juicer Plate 45 modern damage, -5% physical skills


Attacks 4 per round, Initiative +4, Strike +3, Parry +3, Dodge +3, Roll with punch/fall/impact +6, Auto dodge, Melee Damage bonus +10

Non Combat

+4 vs Psionics, +6 vs mind control/possession, +8 vs gas/poison/drugs, +4 vs Horror Factor

OCC Skills: 30%

Prowl +20%

Climbing +17%

Radio Basic, Pilot Motorcycle, Pilot Jetpack, Language English, Language Spanish, Language French, Demolitions, Swimming, and Gymnastics all at +10%

Wilderness Survival, Land Navigation, Intelligence, Detect Ambush all at +5%

Hand to Hand Expert: level 1

Secondary Skills: 20%

Communications, Domestic, Basic Electronics, Escape Artist, Detect Concealment, Automotive Mechanics, Military, Physical, Pilot, Pilot Related, Rogue, Basic Math, Technical, and Wilderness

Non Skilled: 0%

Electrical, Espionage, Mechanical, Medical, and Science

Weapon Proficiency

Knife, Sword, energy pistol, energy rifle


JA-11 Rifle: laser 2d6 or 4d6 modern damage, Ion beam: 3d6 modern damage, 7.62mm: 5d6 conventional damage

NG Super laser/grenade launcher: laser 2d4 modern damage, grenade 2d6 modern damage

Vibro Knife: 1d6 +10 modern damage

Knife: 1d4 +10 conventional damage

Mace: 1d8 +10 conventional damage

Longsword 1d8 +12 conventional damage

Filed under Rifts Basic Rifts rpg Rifts

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Rifts RAW Juicer

This took me 42 minutes to make, and I know the system pretty well. This is reason number 1 why I’ve made a new and simpler system. I’m posting this so it can be compared to Juicer made with my new rule system, which will be in the following post.

There is so much bullshit you have to write down! I didn’t even include equipment or special abilities in this because the post would be 8000 lines long if I did.

Juicer OCC, 1st level


IQ 13, ME 6, MA 13, PS 28, PP 21, PE 19, PB 15, Spd 55

Hit Points: 45

SDC: 152

Armor: Juicer plate: 45 MDC, -5% Prowl


Attacks 7 per melee round, Initiative +4, Strike +3, Parry +5, Dodge +5, Roll with punch/fall/impact +9, Auto dodge, Damage bonus +13


+2 vs Magic, +4 vs Horror Factor, +10 vs gas/poison/drugs, +6 vs mind control/possession, +4 vs psionics

Special Abilities:

Not going to list them. Mundane for the most part, and a reflection of attributes more than anything else.

OCC Skills

Radio Basic 55% +5% per level

Wilderness Survival 35% + 5% per level

Land Navigation 41% +4% per level

Pilot Motorcycle 70% +4% (already got tired of writing “per level”)

Pilot Jet Pack 52% +4%

Language(s) English, Spanish, French 60% + 5%

WP Knife, Sword, Energy rifle, energy pistol

Hand to Hand Expert

OCC Related Skills

Intelligence 37% +4%

Detect Ambush 35% +5%

Prowl 45% +5%

Demolitions 70% + 3%

Climbing/Repelling 57%/47% + 5%

Swimming 60% + 5%


  • Sense of Balance 60% +5%
  • Parallel bars and rings 70% +3%
  • Climb rope 80% +2%
  • Back Flip 70% +5%

Secondary Skills



Body building

Basic Math 45% + 5%

WP Blunt, Heavy Energy


JA-11 energy rifle: Laser: 2d6 or 4d6 MD, Ion beam: 3d6 MD, 7.62mm: 5d6 SDC

NG Super laser pistol/grenade launcher: laser: 2d4 MD, Grenade: 2d6 MD

CR-1 Rocket launcher: Plasma: 1d6x10 MD

Browning GP-35 9mm pistol: 2d6 SDC

Vibro-Knife: 1d6 MD

Knife: 1d4 + 13 (PS damage bonus) SDC

Mace 1d8 + 13 SDC

Long Sword 1d8 + 15 SDC

Other Equipment:

Not necessary for this example

Filed under Rifts Basic Rifts rpg Rifts RAW

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Rifts Basic part 5


Leveling up

Rifts is a class based game with experience points and a leveling system.

Experience points are the same as in the original, as well as the number of XP it takes to go up to the next level.

What is different is what happens when you level up!

When you achieve a new level of…

That’s why I’ve overhauled the rules! I used Savage Worlds and Pathfinder as inspirations, but instead of maling a time consuming and ultimately unworkable conversion, my update is completely compatible with everything Palladium has published, making it much more playable and simple.

3 notes

Rifts Basic part 5

Leveling up

Rifts is a class based game with experience points and a leveling system.

Experience points are the same as in the original, as well as the number of XP it takes to go up to the next level.

What is different is what happens when you level up!

When you achieve a new level of experience, a few things automatically happen.

  • Hit points, PPE, ISP, Chi (if you use it) increase at the listed rate for your character’s class or race.
  • Add any new OCC Related skills that may be available at your current level.
  • Add any new spells, psionics, or other powers that may be available at your new level.

For everything else, you have options to choose from. This gives the player more control over how their character grows and evolves, and makes them unique compared to other characters of the same race or class.

So, when you achieve a new level of experience, after increasing the previous stats, choose two of the following (each can only be chosen once per level, except as noted):

  • Increase all OCC and OCC Related skills by 5%.
  • Increase all Secondary skills by 5%
  • Increase Hand to Hand skill by 1 level
  • Increase Robot/Power Armor combat skills by 1 level
  • Increase the damage/range/duration of your magic spells by one level
  • Increase the damage/range/duration of your psionic powers by one level
  • Increase the damage/range/duration of other special abilities by one level.
  • Increase a single attribute by 2 points. This may be chosen twice, but the second time must be for a different attribute than the first.

Filed under Rifts Rifts Basic Rifts rpg