Saturday, November 1, 2014

House Rules and RIFTS: The Fundamental Rolls - Attributes

RIFTS is still rooted in the traditional tabletop RPG paradigm of yesteryear, and nothing shows this more obvious in the procedure used to generate new characters. Playable races/species, monsters, and so on are often given ranges of possible attribute scores given in the number of six-sided dice (d6) you're expected to roll. This isn't always to the liking of a given user, and it isn't always practical either to roll, so I'll talk about a very common house rule meant to speed this step up.

The idea is to skip rolling. The way to do this is to comprehend some basics about probability. The average roll of two six-sided dice (2d6) is 7; this is also expressed as "7:2", meaning "seven Foo for ever two Bar", and how it works is that the first part give you 4 and the second 3 due to the fact that half of 7 is 3.5 and you round up when you hit X.5.

For Humans (and those statistically indistinguishable from Humans in a given attribute), you roll 3d6; the average is 10.5. As there are eight such attributes in Palladium's games, a wholly average Human will have four attributes at 11 and four at 10. At 2d6, it's 7 across the board; at 4d6 it's 14 across the board; at 5d6 it's half at 18 and half at 17. The pattern extends down (though, in practice, you stop at 1d6) and up (though, for practicality reasons, you rarely pass 6d6) accordingly.

The end result is that you can use these averages as shorthand and create templates. The templates can then be used as-is for NPCs not important enough to merit individual attention, and they can also be used as the base model from which individuation can be applied as needed (and to the degree needed) when you require something notably better or worse than the baseline of a thing. However, there is one more step that some of you should consider: simplifying PC generation through making the process template-driven entirely, cutting out dice roles and other clutter.

This is not out of line. Specific Occupations have requirements, and those requirements favor certain traits; those that don't measure up don't go into that Occupation, or stay in it long if they slip under them. You can simplify the generations of Player-Characters by creating average score templates, merging them with Occupational templates (which is what those published are, really), and then tweaking to suite your taste. (In fact, this is how World of Warcraft does it; the baseline scores are generated by race, modified by class, and then modified further by level and gear- but is it one's race that provides the foundation upon which the rest build upon.)

You can eliminate all chances of a non-viable character by doing this, so I recommend that you consider it for your own usage in your games. I find that what gets people to actually playing the game faster tends to find favor with them, especially new players, so I would not dismiss it out of hand; you can also alter what templates are allowed to suit the specific wants and needs at your table, so this is a very customizable tool. Enjoy.

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