Friday, October 31, 2014

d20 Rifts - Weapons. Lots of weapons.

Melee Weapons

Melee weapons are typically SD. The exception to this is a weapon made of MDC material, wielded by an individual with supernatural strength.
Vibro-blades are MD weapons. The forcefield around the “blade” will cut through SDC material, including flesh, with ease. Note: If a strike is made with a vibro-blade that deals mega-damage in excess of its hit point value, the vibro field will collapse. The excess damage is typically enough to destroy the relatively fragile physical component of the blade.
Neural maces are generally made of strong SDC material. They also produce an effect on contact that disrupts the neural system of the target. This effect is very similar to a cattle-prod, with a Fortitude DC of 18 to resist the paralyzing effect.
Unarmed attacks follow the standard Spycraft rules. They are considered SD attacks unless the attacker has supernatural strength.

Ranged Weapons

Laser weapons are favored for small arms. They are efficient, silent, and accurate. They also have exceptional penetration, punching through most materials with relative ease. However, they do not have exceptional damage values, as they often over-penetrate, instantly cauterize the wound preventing significant blood loss or hydrostatic shock, and generally only make small holes. Also, lasers do not cannonize well, losing penetration as they gain diameter. Lasers count as fire damage, for purposes of resistance/vulnerability, but cannot actually ignite items. Lasers are MD weapons. 1d6 – 2d6 damage. Long range. 1 DET per shot. +1 accuracy.
Ion weapons tend to suffer from middle-child syndrome. They don’t excel at any one thing, but are solid all-around weapons. Ion weapons work by creating a tunnel of charged particles in the air with a low-power laser. The weapon then discharges a significant amount of energy down that tunnel. This creates a visual effect remarkably similar to the beams in Ghostbusters. The damage of the weapon is limited solely by the quantity of energy that can be discharged, meaning that ion weapons scale up very well. Ion weapons count as electrical damage, for purposes of resistance/vulnerability. Ion weapons are MD weapons. 2d8 – 4d8 damage for small arms. Medium range. 4 DET per shot.
Plasma weapons are an interesting anomaly in Rifts. They are, in essence, highly advanced flamethrowers. Using a rather complicated interplay of microwaves and particle streams, plasma weapons create super-heated gases from the atmosphere. Even as super-heated as it is, it is still just fire. Rather than doing modest amounts of mega-damage, as most modern weapons do, plasma weapons deal out tremendous amounts of standard damage, frequently enough to overwhelm mega-damage protection. They tend to be iffy as larger weapons. The damage scales up well, but the range does not. Plasma weapons count as fire damage for all purposes, igniting most flammable materials instantly. Plasma weapons are SD weapons. 5d6 – 6d8 damage for rifle size (pistol sized plasma weapons are not generally available). Short range. 3 DET per shot.
Projectile weapons, or “slug-throwers,” are generally disdained by serious adventurers. This is for the simple reason that they only deal standard damage, which is generally ineffectual against modern armor. The fact that they are cheap and reliable, though, makes them favored among simple farmers and city rats. (They are also favored by hunters, as ion and plasma weapons tend to destroy the target.) There are also a couple of special rounds that even jaded headhunters find useful.
HE — High Explosive rounds deserve that name in Rifts even more than in modern times. These babies are equivalent to modern grenades, but pack a punch in a much tighter area. This allows them to deal 2d4 MD per hit (note that the weapon used does not affect this damage). However, HE rounds are very touchy. The GM can activate an error involving an HE round with 2 less action dice.
DU — Depleted Uranium rounds are also a bit different in Rifts than their more familiar modern counterpart. Mostly because the uranium is not so depleted. In truth, most of these bullets are actually made out of radioactive waste, rather than true uranium, encased in lead. As dangerous as this can be to the person carrying these bullets, it serves a significant purpose. Most magical forms of regeneration are significantly slowed, or even halted, by radiation. When fighting demons, these bullets ensure that your enemy stays down.

Tactical Weapons

Grenades are the simplest tactical weapons. In Rifts, they come in two flavors. Rifle-propelled grenades are designed to be fired from a grenade rifle, which gives much better range and accuracy than throwing. Rifle-propelled grenades, by default, have a safety switch which allows them to only be armed by a rifle. This switch can be overridden with a successful DC 15 Demolitions check, but that increases the error range of the grenade by 2. Thrown grenades work in a manner much more similar to what we’re used to. The primary difference is that they are shaped more like large metal test tubes than pineapples, and can be armed with one hand. See the combat section for special rules on grenades.
Rail guns operate by magnetically accelerating small pieces of steel to speeds several times that of sound. They are loud. Given the laws of preservation of momentum, they also produce one hell of a kick. But, there is no disputing their effectiveness. A single round can penetrate three feet of stone. As they are generally fired in bursts, they tend to rip very large holes in armor, and in the flesh beneath. The sheer intimidation value of a rail gun makes them a favorite among mercenaries. However, most mercenaries cannot actually carry and fire them. To fire a hand-held rail gun without penalty, the gunner must be at least Large sized, must be stationary (taking no move action that round), and must have superhuman strength (supernatural, robotic, etc.). If the gunner fails one of those conditions, he is at a -4 to hit, and his error range is increased by 2. If he fails two conditions, he is at a -10 to hit, and his error range is increased by 5. If he fails all three conditions, he automatically misses, and the rail gun immediately sends him sprawling. As such, rail guns are most often used by power armor or vehicles. Rail guns are MD weapons. 1d4 for single-shot. On autofire, deal 1d4 for each point by which the attack beat the Defense of the target, up to the maximum set by the gun. Medium range. 1 DET per shot, plus ammunition. If a piece of armor is damaged by a rail gun burst, it suffers one additional point of Wear.
Mini-missiles are the Rifts equivalent of LAW rockets, but better. They are small, generally a bit larger than a human’s forearm. When combined with a radio guidance system, they have an effective range of close to a mile. While technically they can carry a variety of warheads, they almost always carry a multi-explosive system that virtually guarantees penetration of any man-portable armor system. The only downside to them is that there is no room left to make the missiles smart, meaning they must be either radio-guided by the shooter (if the option is available), or used in fire-and-forget mode (which has a considerably shorter effective range). Well, that, and they have a very high cost-to-damage ratio. Mini-missiles are MD weapons. 4d6 – 3d10 damage, plus special. Long range. Ammunition only. Radio guidance system requires linked system in shooter’s helmet.

Vehicle-Mounted Weapons

Missiles are the simplest and most common vehicle-mounted weapons. They come in a wide variety of sizes, and with a wide variety of warheads. They come in three primary flavors. Guided missiles use radio guidance from the vehicle to correct their flight path, homing in on the target. Seeker missiles have sensors that will track some particular energy signature (typically heat, but variants exist to track other energy signatures, and there are even TW seekers that track magic sources). Programmed missiles have a precise flight path entered into their system, and will (almost) unerringly impact at a given set of coordinates (the downside, naturally, being that the intended target may no longer be at those coordinates). All three flavors are generally configured as “smart” missiles, that will dodge to avoid obstacles and evaluate possible distractions.
Cannonized weapons are also very common. These are nearly identical to man-portable weapons in effect, simply scaled up to take advantage of better firing platforms and increased available energy. As noted in the descriptions, neither lasers nor plasma weapons cannonize particularly well, making ion cannons and rail guns most common.
Particle beam cannons can only be used when vehicle-mounted, due to their extreme energy requirements, and need for significant heat sinks. Particle beam weapons are one of the few weapon types common on Rifts Earth that can be said to be definitely of alien origin. They take the theory of rail guns to the next logical level. Instead of firing finger-sized flechettes, they fire streams of individual iron atoms, accelerated to near-relativistic speeds. Against hard targets, these lightspeed needles do tremendous damage. Oddly enough, however, they do little damage to soft targets, due to over-penetration. There are even stories told of unarmored humans suriving a direct hit with little more than severe bruising and minor burns, while the earth behind them exploded from the impact of particles that had barely slowed at all during the trip through their bodies. PB cannons are MD weapons. 2d10 – 6d6 (+40) damage. Medium range. 15 DET per shot.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

d20 Rifts - Armor Up!


SDC (Structural Damage Capacity) is the amount of damage any item (including living things) can withstand. This is the sort of hardness we are used to in everyday life.
MDC (Mega Damage Capacity) is the result of advanced materials and/or mystic enhancements, to raise the hardness and durability of an object by a couple orders of magnitude.
Mega-Damage attacks (and other effects) are classed as those with the capability of damaging MDC materials. Standard SD attacks (such as a normal person punching a wall) have a completely negligible effect on MDC materials.
Conversely, MD attacks pretty thoroughly ignore the hardness of SDC materials.
In game terms, every object will have two hardness stats, SDC and MDC. They will also have a number of hit points, indicating how much damage they can take. The standard notation for an object is: SDC/MDC (HP). SDC objects will simply have ”—” in the MDC place.
SD vs. SDC—Subtract the SDC from the damage (as per standard d20 damage reduction rules). Any leftover damage is applied to the hit points of the item (or to the hit points of the wearer, in the case of armor). If the damage exceeds the SDC, the item also suffers one point of Wear.
MD vs. SDC—This is the case in which the MDC value is ”—”. No damage reduction applies, and the full damage of the weapon is applied to the hit points of the item (or wearer). The item automatically suffers one point of Wear.
SD vs. MDC—As per SD vs. SDC above. All MDC items have an SDC value, which is generally 10 higher than their MDC value. However, this damage actually represents incidental damage (such as the wearer of the armor getting severely shaken), rather than direct damage to the item. As such, MDC items never suffer Wear from SD effects.
MD vs. MDC—Subtract the MDC from the damage (as per standard d20 damage reduction rules). Any leftover damage is applied to the hit points of the item (or wearer). If the damage exceeds the MDC, the item also suffers one point of Wear.
Multiple layers of protection can be had. However, they must be of different types. For instance, a soldier (with 2/—from the class ability) wearing medium armor (16/6 of armor protection) and benefiting from Armor of Ithan (14/4 of forcefield protection) would have an effective protection of 32/10. However, a fixer with light armor (14/4 of armor protection) that puts on a MDC trenchcoat (12/2 also of armor protection) would only benefit from the better armor, having an effective protection of 14/4. There are two important notes, though:
When benefiting from multiple layers of protection, the damage effectively penetrates each layer in turn. This is important for determining whether or not the armor suffers wear, or the forcefield collapses.
Additional layers of armor may be important for coverage. For example, adding greaves and a helmet to a trenchcoat may not improve the total protection of the armor, but it would increase the CSM of the ensemble. By default, the armor value of the torso is used for piecemeal armor, except in cases where a specific body part is targeted.
Forcefields do not accumulate hit point damage as usual. Instead, their hit point statistic is simply used to indicate their breaking point. If a single attack does enough damage to exceed both the MDC rating (SDC effects cannot typically collapse forcefields) and the hit points of the forcefield, the field will immediately collapse. The field will absorb the damage from that attack equal to its MDC rating, as usual, but the damage used to collapse the field is also passed on to whatever is inside the field. Note: This rule also applies to the field around vibro-blades. If a strike is made with a vibro-blade that deals mega-damage in excess of its hit point value, the vibro field will collapse. The excess damage is typically enough to destroy the relatively fragile physical component of the blade.

Called Shot Modifier

All armor has a Called Shot Modifier (CSM). This essentially represents the percentage of the body covered by the armor.
-0 to -10 — This number is subtracted from any Called Shot attempting to bypass the armor.
@— This represents that the armor completely covers the wearer, making it impossible to bypass.
@@ — This represents that the armor is environmentally sealed, protecting the wearer from most harmful effects.
Most armor values indicate the protection of a complete suit. However, piecemeal armors are also common in Rifts. If a wearer has multiple armor items, add together the CSM of each piece to get the total CSM of the ensemble. If two items cover essentially the same area (e.g., breastplate and trenchcoat), use the greater CSM of the two. If the total CSM exceeds -10, the ensemble is considered to have a value of @. In most instances, the DR of the ensemble will be equal to that of the torso protection. Finally, it should be noted that piecemeal armor can never be environmentally sealed (though it can, naturally, have a sealed helmet with an independent air supply).

Other Modifiers

ACP — Armor Check Penalty. This modifier is applied to certain skill checks when wearing the armor. Masterwork armor reduces this modifier by 1.
DB — Defense Bonus. This modifier is added to the wearer’s Defense. Typically, this indicates armor that is more or less restrictive than the standard Defense penalty would indicate.
Dur — This is the Durability rating of the armor. See the rules on Item Wear for details.
Caliber — This is an overall measure of the quality of the armor. See the rules on Gear Selection for details.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

d20 Rifts - Gear, Durability, and Wear

One of the realities about any society on the ragged edge of civilization, is that things wear out. A laser shot here, a night left lying in the rain there, and just general wear and tear add up. Under this system, we track that with the stats of Durability and Wear.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

d20 Rifts - Gear Selection

I happen to be really happy with the system I came up with for gear/wealth. But I'm concerned that it is a bit too complicated. I actually think that it's more complicated to explain than it is to use. Most of the complexity is up front, in placing points during character creation or leveling up. This then allows the group to hand-wave a lot of bookkeeping during actual play. I'd be very interested in comments on this section.

Monday, October 27, 2014

d20 Rifts - Races pt 2, Augmented Humans

Augmented humans, also known as Modified Men or M&Ms, are ordinary humans that have been “enhanced” through the power of technology. They come with a number of advantages, but also several drawbacks.

Friday, October 24, 2014

d20 Rifts - Races, part 1

Humans: Humans are the most prevalent and wide-spread race, being native to Rifts Earth, and to most of the closest dimensions. As such, they are considered the baseline. Humans get no standard benefits (i.e., no bonus skill points or feat a la D&D). However, they are able to choose a department, which indicates their original training. Any of the Spycraft 1.0 departments are available (though, obviously, the names of many of them are meaningless in this setting). (Ed note: In re-posting, I think I'd drop this. Adding the departments does good things to encourage people to pick humans, but adds a lot of complexity. I'd probably just go with no stat adjustments, +1 skill point per level, +1 to all action die results per 4 levels, and an open bonus feat.)

Near-human D-Bees: There are any number of D-Bees in the world that, except for cosmetic differences, are essentially the same as humans. For each of these, you may also select a department, as usual. However, instead of the standard department ability score adjustments, you use adjustments based on the race. Also, you will drop one of the abilities of the department, and replace it with a standard ability of the race. Some sample races include:
  • Coyle: Coyote-like humanoids. +2 Wis, -2 Int. Has the scent ability.
  • Lizard-man: Reptilian humanoids. +2 Con, =2 Int. Cold-blooded.
  • Lone Star Escapee: Cross between human and animal. +2 any, -2 any. Psion level +1/5 levels.
  • Elf: Similar to Tolkein elves. +2 Int, +2 Dex, -2 Str, -2 Con. Caster level +1/5 levels.
(Ed note: as above, drop the department aspect. Draw heavily on the departments to create half a dozen or so races. Which, of course, gets to the root of why I dropped the project. The d20 system requires a whole bunch of fiddly bits to get created.)

High-powered D-Bees: Some D-Bees and creatures of magic are just plain better than humans. These are represented using the following modified ECL rules:

  • Each race is assigned an ECL (Equivalent Class Level) adjustment. This represents the number of levels that must be given up to take this race. These levels are used at the beginning of the character’s career, essentially like their first class. Hence, if an Ogre has as ECL of 4, and also has 2 levels of Faceman, his stats would look like Ogre 4/Faceman 2. However, do note that, unlike standard classes, you take a race as an entire package. It is not possible to “class out” of Ogre before you have finished the levels, e.g. as Ogre 2.
  • Those levels count as normal agent levels for gaining feats, attribute bonuses, action dice, and for abilities that depend on agent level.
  • Races do not gain bonuses to their base attack bonus, saving throws, defense, initiative, budget points, or resource points. Instead, they start with enhanced attributes (typically a net +2 per level).
  • Characters with an ECL race do not get to select a department.
  • You will gain skills during your racial levels. By default, races gain 4 skill points per level. Each race will list their “class skills” in their description. You do not get the standard x4 bonus skill points at first level. Rather, when you take your first non-racial level, you will get the 1st level bonus skill points for that class.
  • All ECL races, unless otherwise noted, gain d10 vitality per level.

Do note that, with some particularly high level ECLs, it does become possible to create a character with a prestige class, but with no base class. This is strongly discouraged, as it is just plain wrong.
Some sample high-powered D-Bees include rahu man, dragon hatchling, ogre, and vampire.

Cannot take caster levels
+2 Wis, +2 Con, -2 Cha
+1 to Will saves, +1 for every 4 levels
Can use the Psionic Sensing skill with 0 vitality cost
Has minimal need for food and water
“Feeds” on PPE:
The psi-stalker is able to draw the magical energy out of a person, and gain sustenance from it. To feed on a person, the target must be within 50 feet, and currently bleeding (i.e., have vitality or wound damage from a slashing or piercing weapon). As a full-round action, the psi-stalker consumes all of the PPE from the target (with a successful DC 30 Concentration check, the psi-stalker can opt to draw only part of the target’s PPE). The target is then rendered fatigued for the remainder of the scene. The psi-stalker must feed on a minimum of 50 PPE per week, and prefers 80-100. As a note, it is possible for a psi-stalker to survive by drawing energy from ley lines, or fetishes. However, this is like surviving on sour milk and rancid meat, and is not only unappetizing, but risks disease.
Feat: Sensory Basics
Skills: Climb, Concentration, Escape Artist, Handle Animal, Hide, Intimidate, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, Survival

Cannot take caster levels
+2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Int
+1 to all Listen and Survival skill checks, with an additional +1 every four levels
Feat: Either Sensory Basics or Wild Talent: Psionic Sensing
Feat: Track
Skills: Balance, Concentration, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, Sport, Surveillance, Survival

Dragon Hatchling:
Caster level 2 + 1/5 levels
+4 Str, +6 Int, +4 Con, -2 Wis
Size: Large (5’ x 10’, no Reach)
Fly: Speed 90
Nightvision 90’
Natural Armor:
The dragon is able to take on appearance of any mammal, bird, or reptile. The creature can be up to two size categories smaller, or equal, to the size of the dragon, but not larger. The dragon does not gain or lose any special abilities, except for size modifiers. The transformation can last for a maximum of two hours per level.
A dragon is capable of teleporting to any known location within 5 miles. Doing so requires simply an act of will, and a Concentration check. The check itself takes one half-action, and a successful teleport leaves the dragon flat-footed at the destination. Failure of the check simply indicates the teleport did not happen. A critical success indicates that the dragon is not flat-footed. A critical failure indicates that the dragon did teleport, to a random location of the GC’s choosing. The dragon can make a check only once every other round.
  • DC 20 - Within direct sight
  • DC 25 - Within indirect sight (e.g., through a camera or scrying)
  • DC 30 - Location currently unseen, but previously visited
  • DC 35 - Location never visited, but previously indirectly seen or well-described
  • DC 40 - Location only known by direction and distance, or poorly described
Breath Weapon:
Dragons are known for their ability to breathe destruction upon their enemies. The dragon is able to generate a 25’ cone, plus 5’ per 4 levels. Everything within that cone, whether friend, foe, or innocent scenery, will take 1d6 points of megadamage, plus an additional 1d6 points every 4 levels. Those in the area may make a Reflex save (DC 15 plus 1/4 levels) for half damage. The exact nature of the breath weapon varies with the species of the dragon (see below).
Gains 6 skill points per racial level
Skills: Balance, Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Hobby, Intimidate, Knowledge, Languages, Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Spot, Survival
Drawback: Childlike mentality, -4 to all Will saves
  • Great Horned – Gains Feat: Any Psionic instead of Breath Weapon; +1 caster level
  • Fire Lizard – Breath Weapon is fire; DR 15 + 5/4 levels versus fire
  • Ice Lizard – Breath Weapon is cold; DR 15 + 5/4 levels versus cold
  • Thunder Lizard – Breath Weapon is sonic; Size: Huge (10’ x 15’, 10’ Reach) instead of Fly; Feat: Great Fortitude

Thursday, October 23, 2014

d20 Rifts - The Source of Magic

Magic works pretty much as described in the Rifts sourcebook. That is, magic infuses the world, and is drawn primarily from the power of life. The surging, teeming forces of life in the ecosphere tend to flow into rivers of energy, known as ley lines. On most worlds, these ley lines are only able to be detected by those very sensitive to magic. On the hyperactive world of Rifts Earth, however, the ley lines are giant rivers of neon blue light, nearly half a mile across and half as tall. Where two ley lines meet, the energy surges together into a nexus. There are about a dozen locations in the Americas where scores of ley lines come together to form a super-nexus.

However, much of this is of only academic interest to the spellcaster. The most important thing to consider, for the purposes of this discussion, is how to convert the magical energy into practical results. To do this, we need to examine where the energy comes from, and the methods of casting it into a spell.