Sunday, September 1, 2013

Classes and Stuff

I'm looking over my Rifts Core book (The original, not the Ultimate Edition) trying to get a sense of how the classes are balanced. And I'm realizing that there are some interesting balancing factors involved.

One of them that is of particular interest to me is the use of stuff as a balancing factor, as in having classes that are designed around items. The Glitter Boy is an obvious example, as the primary feature of the class is the unique and special Glitter Boy powered armor. Juicers and Crazies are also in this category, as their powers are more or less purchased.

On the one hand, this sort of thing doesn't seem worthy of a class. There's nothing that really says "This is my guy and this is what he does." But if you want to prevent players from piling stuff onto their characters, putting them in mutually exclusive classes is an effective way to do it.

I'm designing BTR to be a classless game, so the ability to incorporate that sort of pigeonholing is rather limited. So how do I go about letting one guy be the big mecha guy without letting everyone be the big mecha guy?

1) Money. Even if the options aren't mechanically mutually exclusive doesn't mean that players really can have them all. Your starting money might be enough to purchase a badass set of power armor or the Juicer upgrades, but not both. Or you can be a dude with a really big gun, or a Crazy with a smaller gun.

2) Make it part of their character. Even though all this stuff is technically gear, it is also part of the character. So find a way to give it a cost in terms of character ability, skill picks or whatnot. While there's a temptation to make this a generic rule (trade x skill picks for y credits), I think it should be reserved for specific cases. Just to prevent a player who trades in all of their skill picks for gear, tools and computer-assisted systems that compensate for their lack of ability in any area. Also, what items can be acquired with skill picks should set up the flavor and feel of the setting.

On the subject of power armor and mecha, one thing that's bugged me with the current Rifts system is that there's no system for creating your own mecha. I'm not saying you can't. I'm not saying people haven't. I'm just saying that there's no system for it

To my understanding, that makes it unique in the mecha genre. While a mecha RPG will generally include some "standard designs" that are intended to mesh well with the setting and get you playing faster, the rules that were used to create that design can usually be found in that book.

But this is par for the course when it comes to Palladium. Whenever stats for something are needed, they are generally pulled out of thin air. While there may be some attempt at internal consistency ("This thing is tougher than a Glitter Boy, so make sure it has more MDC than that."), it's never really consistent.