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  • Non-Random Hero's Journey

    One of the few things I dislike about Savage Rifts is the random rolls on the Hero's Journey tables (and the Fortune and Glory Tables for M.A.R.S. characters). Random character creation is just not my cup of tea, and it's one of the things that drove me away from the Palladium System. So even this minor taste of it in Savage Rifts doesn't sit well with me. That said, I recognize that these tables are used as part of the balance of the Iconic Frameworks, so I wouldn't want to do away with them entirely.

    Has anyone else faced this issue? More importantly, have you come up with any solutions to the dilemma? Until now, I've just let players pick from the tables. But this isn't a great solution, since some options are clearly superior to others. I'm not overly concerned about overpowered characters (this is Rifts, after all). But I do worry that certain options will always be chosen, which rather takes away from the specialness of them. Any brilliant ideas?

  • #2
    We had this exact problem. In other systems we would use point buy, and I wanted something similar for MARS/Hero's Journey. My solution was to let people pick, but some of the table choices were either really powerful or granted something that was extremely expensive. I treated MARS rolls as being roughly equivalent to 2 hero rolls. Here is what I sent to my players:

    Characters do not roll any dice, instead they choose what they want (following regular table limits). The following listed items cost two rolls to select (essentially paying the 2-for-1 swap cost in the player's guide), or otherwise have limitations that are specified. This is an attempt to prevent wild swings in power level between characters based on how well they roll.

    MARS
    1 (A Mighty Weapon: Costs one roll, non-TW weapon)
    2 (A Strong Suit of Armor)

    Body Armor
    1-4 (Swap starting armor)
    16-17 (+2 to ranged attacks)

    Close Combat Weapons
    (none)

    Cybernetics
    1 (Extra Arms)
    15 (Nano-Repair System)

    Education
    (none)

    Enchanted Items & Mystic Gadgets
    1 (Magic Staff)
    4 (Shadow Cloak)
    16 (New starting armor: Combat Mage Armor only, CyberKnight armor is still only one roll)
    17 (Draining Blade)

    Experience & Wisdom
    10-11 (Background edge ignoring requirements: Costs one roll, can only be chosen once)
    15-16 (Professional edge ignoring requirements: Costs one roll, can only be chosen once)

    Magic & Mysticism
    14 (raise effect on success: Costs one roll, can only be chosen once)

    Psionics
    11 (raise effect on success: Costs one roll, can only be chosen once)

    Ranged Weapons
    13 (WI-GL20)

    Training
    15-16 (Combat Edge, ignoring requirements: Costs one roll, can only be chosen once)
    18 (Wildcard Edge, ignoring requirements: Costs one roll, can only be chosen once)

    Underworld & Black Ops
    (none)

    Comment


    • #3
      It could be handled by reframing the rules as writ. Remember, you can always do the two-for-one option to take a choice even after rolling. So you make the rolls to see if you get something you want or interesting, and then you can opt for a premium choice after rolling if you want.

      Comment


      • Café Truck
        Café Truck commented
        Editing a comment
        +1 to this. I think the randomness is fun, but I get if it isn't your cup of tea. We handled this in one game by 1) the built-in re-roll rules and 2) the GM being willing to allow re-rolls for things that really didn't fit the character (like if a character who was supposed to be kind of anti-tech got a d8 in Knowledge (Computers), for instance).

    • #4
      I believe the only issue with non-random HJ picks is time. Undecisive player, powergamers and people not familiar wiith the tables (to name only a few) could drag this choice for hours, especially if you have only one book available.

      Since I deeply abhor any système which allows différence in power level between characters based on chance, I much prefer allowing the players to choose, even if it means taking more time. I wouldn't even try to limit the possibilities (although it is a reasonable fix as well).

      Comment


      • #5
        There are no random rolls in character creation at my table.

        However, I also play on www.savagerifts.com and what I see a lot of people do there is make the rolls. Then assign the rolls to tables.

        For example I will see a post with five d20 rolls. Then it will get edited to assign those rolls to tables.

        For me that is okay, if you want some random, but some control go for it.

        However as I said, if it is your home game, just do what you want. We do not roll dice in character creation at my table.

        Comment


        • Freemage
          Freemage commented
          Editing a comment
          This is actually close to an official house rule in my home game. I require the players to apportion their rolls to the various tables (so, for instance, someone with 5 HJ rolls might declare, "Three Training, one Experience & Wisdom, one Cyberware". Then they assign their rolls however they want. It keeps analysis paralysis to a minimum, but also keeps folks from too much angst over a really poor fit. I think we wound up with one player (at a table of 6) who was unhappy with one roll. So roughly 25 rolls, and only one dissatisfied customer; I figure I got the balance about right.

        • Ndreare
          Ndreare commented
          Editing a comment
          I would like your post, but I can only like a base post.

        • steelbrok
          steelbrok commented
          Editing a comment
          That reminds me of how we selected Traveller skills

      • #6
        Originally posted by dentris View Post
        I believe the only issue with non-random HJ picks is time. Undecisive player, powergamers and people not familiar wiith the tables (to name only a few) could drag this choice for hours, especially if you have only one book available.

        Since I deeply abhor any système which allows différence in power level between characters based on chance, I much prefer allowing the players to choose, even if it means taking more time. I wouldn't even try to limit the possibilities (although it is a reasonable fix as well).
        The difference in power level based on random rolls is why we don't use them at my table.

        I hate it with a passion when I see the dice make one character suck and another awesome.

        I love the game SPF Anand The team made, but there in this one design choice they made that does not belong in a modern game.

        Comment


        • #7
          ...
          The HJ results are generally equal. There are some exceptions, but on the whole they are equal, so the "character power" argument strikes me as specious.
          The random element a) speeds up character creation and b) adds those unexpected twists that happen with organic character development. It's not required, and you certainly don't have to use it if you don't like it, but it's not an element "that does not belong in a modern game". Random generation of base stats is a design choice that does not belong in a modern game (AGE system, D&D, etc.), but HJ rolls are equivalent to a free Edge in most cases.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • dentris
            dentris commented
            Editing a comment
            Although I tend to agree with you for the majority of the rolls, some exceptions do exist. In addition, because they are equivalent on paper doesn't mean they have the same value for every character types.

            Combat Edges on a combat oriented characters and Combat Edges for a Scholar usually don't have the same weight. I personally made a Techno-Wizard specialized in powers that boosts the abilities of others with no threatening combat abilities of my own. I was quite lucky with my HJ rolls and only end up with a single roll which didn't suit my taste (and therefore couldn't do the 2 for 1 trick to remove it).

            I deal +2 damage with powers and TW weapons. I don't have offensive powers, a d4 in fighting and no shooting. That's absolutly useless for me, regardless of its value as an ability, and reworking the character for this single ability didn't feel right. Am I underpowered compared to others? No, but that's one roll that could have given me another extra novice power not from my list, or another ability I really wanted and would have used.

            At that point, my character isn't hindered that much by this one bad HJ roll, but it's bothersome and a design choice I do not like. It's your game, however, and many people seem to enjoy this so it's perfect for them. Not for me.

          • Freemage
            Freemage commented
            Editing a comment
            Dentris: Note that you are a TW. You have access to every power on your list, via Arcane Machinist. The following powers all do damage: barrier (fire), blast, bolt, burst, damage field, pummel (situational), smite, telekinesis. They're all on the list, and while a device built with AM can be trapped as a gun (to use Shooting), it's also fairly easy to trap it as a device that operates with your TW skill. So you can build a device on the fly to take advantage of that +2 damage with no trouble whatsoever.

        • #8
          Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
          ...
          The HJ results are generally equal. There are some exceptions, but on the whole they are equal, so the "character power" argument strikes me as specious.
          The random element a) speeds up character creation and b) adds those unexpected twists that happen with organic character development. It's not required, and you certainly don't have to use it if you don't like it, but it's not an element "that does not belong in a modern game". Random generation of base stats is a design choice that does not belong in a modern game (AGE system, D&D, etc.), but HJ rolls are equivalent to a free Edge in most cases.
          I would greatly disagree with this.

          Some are worth 2.5 advances while others are only worth 1. Even worse rolling the same effect twice on education can end up giving you +1 die type which is potentially less than an advance.

          Comment


          • Freemage
            Freemage commented
            Editing a comment
            The counter-argument is that those advances are not, in themselves, particularly well-balanced against one another. The game makes it pretty clear that an Edge is worth more, mechanically, than Skill Points.

            Race Creation rules, for instance:
            Skill at d6 = 1 Race Point (but potentially 2 Advances, if the character has a d4 in the linked Attribute)
            Edge = 2 Race Points (for a single Advance)

            So the HJ tables only continue that particular numerical quirk.

        • #9
          My players like rolling for random stats and things, so they loved it when we used this stuff. I think some of them would roll on tables that risked getting their characters random amputations and things, because they like encountering the unexpected.

          Comment


          • #10
            Originally posted by Ndreare View Post

            I would greatly disagree with this.

            Some are worth 2.5 advances while others are only worth 1.
            And disagreeing is your prerogative, though it has no effect on the facts.
            Of the six tables that aren't about Gear (Education, Experience & Wisdom, Magic & Mysticism, Psionics, Training, and Underworld & Black Ops) there are 67 results. Six of those are "Choose one of the Above", leaving 61 meaningful choices. Those choices average a bit more powerful than one Edge, but they are mostly equivalent to each other (35 that are one Edge or estimated equivalent, 22 that are one Edge plus a half-Edge of bonuses, and 4 that are two Edges).
            That gives four choices that are clearly stronger than most other H&J non-gear results. Experience & Wisdom 5, Training 4-5, Training 14, Underworld & Black Ops 15-16. Procurement (Scrounger & Connections (BM)), Unarmed combat (Str+d4+2), Close combat (Dirty Fighter, +1 Parry), and Procurement (Scrounger & Connections (BM)).

            Education, Training, and Underworld & Black Ops are stronger than the others (I'm a bit surprised how poorly Experience & Wisdom stacks up)
            U&BO - Edge +; Skill and +2 for a specific use; Edge +; Edge +; Skill and +2 for specific use; Edge and three skill points; +1 for specific uses, +2 for specific use, two languages; two Edges; Edge; Edge +
            T - five skill points; two Edges; Edge; Edge +; Skill and +1 for two related skills; Skill and minor gear; two Edges; Edge; Edge +; Edge
            P - Edge; Edge; Edge; odd ability, estimated at Edge utility; Edge; odd ability, estimated at Edge utility; odd ability, estimated at Edge utility; Edge; odd ability, estimated at Edge utility; +2 to two Skills, +2 to one power
            M&M - Edge; Edge; Edge; Edge; Edge; odd ability, estimated at Edge utility; weak version of an Edge, stacks with the Edge; odd ability, estimated at Edge + utility; odd ability, estimated at Edge + utility
            E&W - Edge; Edge; two Edges (non-combat); Edge; Edge; Edge; Edge (background); +2 for specific uses, +2 to two skills; Edge; Edge; Edge
            E - Edge; Edge +; Edge; Skill and +2 for Common Knowledge; Skill and +1 related skill; +2 for specific uses, +2 to two skills; Skill and +2 to related skill; Edge +; Skill and +2 for specific use; Edge +; five skill points

            Regardless, I think we can all agree that the Close Combat Weapons table is nearly useless.
            I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

            Comment


            • #11
              I agree close combat is worthless as they excluded TW gear from the options.


              But the fact that I can randomly roll with two characters twice on Education.

              One of them gets 12 and 18
              +5 Skill points, and lucky him gets d8 Knowledge (battle) and the Command ever. 4.5 advances worth of bonus!

              The other one gets 11 and 11
              d8 Knowledge (politics) and +2 Persuasion and sucks to be him, he gets his knowledge politics bumped to d10.



              This means that once again the dice determine how powerful your character is. The whole point of locking myself to point/build based games is to get away from those crappy situations where dice can make starting characters so lop sided.


              PS: the same thing can happen in the Training table, were one guy gets a useless Wild Card edge, and a Combat edge. Basically 2 Advances and one of them basically only useful 1:27 turns. While another player gets 4-5 and 1-3 or even 8-9. Making them objectively superior.

              Comment


              • #12
                First I'd say it would be +4 Persuasion and +5 skill points is always awesome, granted. However, the relative strengths of these two sets of results would depend on the type of character being built as well as the player's willingness to be flexible when obtaining unexpected results. While I would not consider either set of results fantastic between the two I'd take the latter over the former.

                Having said that the Training table is my go to for almost all my characters so far. There aren't any results on that table I don't like. If I roll on another table I'm generally going to assume that I'm going to end up trading two for one anyway.

                When I first started messing around with the Savage Rifts character creation I will admit I was highly skeptical about all the rolling for the extra stuff. However, after turning out several fun character concepts that probably would have never though of on my own I have become a pretty big fan of the process.

                Comment


                • Ndreare
                  Ndreare commented
                  Editing a comment
                  As a note Clint has ruled you don't get +4 Persuasion, you only get the die increase.

              • #13
                Originally posted by Radecliffe View Post
                However, the relative strengths of these two sets of results would depend on the type of character being built as well as the player's willingness to be flexible when obtaining unexpected results.
                This is my main issue with the tables. It doesn't matter whether the individual results are balanced against each other. Even if they were, they're not balanced for all characters. Certain benefits are vastly more useful to one concept or Iconic Framework over another.

                Comment


                • #14
                  Originally posted by Ndreare View Post
                  I agree close combat is worthless as they excluded TW gear from the options.


                  But the fact that I can randomly roll with two characters twice on Education.

                  One of them gets 12 and 18
                  +5 Skill points, and lucky him gets d8 Knowledge (battle) and the Command ever. 4.5 advances worth of bonus!

                  The other one gets 11 and 11
                  d8 Knowledge (politics) and +2 Persuasion and sucks to be him, he gets his knowledge politics bumped to d10.



                  This means that once again the dice determine how powerful your character is. The whole point of locking myself to point/build based games is to get away from those crappy situations where dice can make starting characters so lop sided.


                  PS: the same thing can happen in the Training table, were one guy gets a useless Wild Card edge, and a Combat edge. Basically 2 Advances and one of them basically only useful 1:27 turns. While another player gets 4-5 and 1-3 or even 8-9. Making them objectively superior.
                  Honestly, on a double-result, most folks I know allow for a re-roll unless there's a very obvious 'step up' (such as an Improved Edge). And yeah, if I did make the player stick with the 11/11 roll, at a bare minimum he'd get +4 to his Persuasion as well as the ungodly Knowledge: Politics. At this point, it's trivial to become a diplomatic powerhouse with virtually no rebuilding necessary--just blow an advance on Charismatic or Attractive at some point in your career, and you're at auto-Raise territory.

                  Comment


                  • Ndreare
                    Ndreare commented
                    Editing a comment
                    As a note Clint has ruled you only get the die increase, not +4 Persuasion.

                    And by allowing a reroll you are acknowledging by deed, if not word the default roll system is disfunctional.

                • #15
                  Originally posted by Pirate Spice View Post
                  This is my main issue with the tables. It doesn't matter whether the individual results are balanced against each other. Even if they were, they're not balanced for all characters. Certain benefits are vastly more useful to one concept or Iconic Framework over another.
                  See, my point was exactly the opposite. Unless you are determined to roll on a table that is going to suck for your character this should never be a problem. I't's not been a problem for me anyway.

                  Comment

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