Saturday, September 17, 2022

My Life As A Gamer: Filling In The Holes In RIFTS (Part One)

Let's start seeing what needs to be done.

Again, we start at the bottom because this is where most Palladium games operate at and therefore where the rules are mostly functional.

Returning to our Coalition Grunt, we need to know--like a post-Marian Legionaire of Rome--how much can he carry and how far can he carry it. The following is from RIFTS Ultimate Edition, pp. 281 and 286.

  • SPDx20 = Yards Per Minute at a run.
  • SPDx5 = Yards Per Round (per 15 seconds).
  • Yards Per Round/Actions Per Round = Yards Per Action. (Yes, this means higher-level and better-trained characters more in more frequent but shorter bursts.)
  • Physical Strength determines Encumbrance limits. For normal characters, with scores of 3-16, this is a straightfoward PSx10 in Pounds. At PS 17, this jumps to x20. For Robots, this modifier is x25 (Giant Robots, at 40+, are x100.) Supernatural characters at 18+ are at x50. Lifting is double this number, and hold it for for three second per Physical Endurance point (1 minute per PE for Supernaturals). Weaponized throwing takes "W.P. Targeting" and uses the carry limit, not the lifting number.

What's missing? Miles Per Day. Penalties for being encumbered. You have to make a guess, and so we shall here.

We can presume that the run speed is not the march speed, but let's put that down as a point of reference. For a typical Grunt--rolling 3d6 across the board--that's going to be half 10s and half 11s; let's give the poor pleb a break and give him the 11s in the phyiscal attributes. That means this Grunt hauls ass as a pace of 220 yards per minute, and he has a PE score of 11 to fuel that run.

From "Running" Skill, pg. 317: "...the character is able to run at an even pace (half-speed) for a half-mile every one point of PE without undue fatigue. If pushing one self to the limit and ryunning at maximum speed, the character can run one third that distance before collapsing." Plug in our values. He can run at an even pace for 5.5 miles and just over two at a full run before collapsing. We can put a march at below this rate.

"Forced Marching", ibid.: "Practiced training in uniform marching with a full field pack and weapons. This is done at an even pace and rhythm that enables the marchers to cover great distances on foot at a faster than normal pace. Increase the the normal Physical Endurance rate as to how long an anctivity like marching can be maintained by five times; applicable to only to forced marches/traveling. Maximum speed on a forced march is 60% of one's Speed attribute." Plug in the values. SPD 11, at 60%, is 6.6 (rounded up to 7) and at an effective PE of 55.

Problem: There is no "normal" defined. Proposal: We infer it between "Running" and "Forced March". "Normal Pace" isn't much less than 60% because real training is focused on endurance over speed; the training is one long cardio progam supplemented with learning how to pack and distribute carried weight better. Call it 50%, but the real kicker is that you don't get the PE multiplier. So normal would be 5.5 (round to 6) at PE 11 (5.5 miles). With training, this is 27.5 miles.

This also infers the rate while near or at Carrying Capacity, which is 110 lbs. for our Grunt (PS 11), which can be augmented further by gear. If we cut the absolute time of march per day to an 8 hour day (to allow for making and striking camp), we can cut this down by half to 13.75 miles.

Yeah, those numbers seem out of whack. We can revise them as required, but for now let's set this aside.

Recall that our Grunt deals with civilians, and that our Grunt gets into combat situations- both of these involve Morale and Charisma. This means that Mental Affinity is a useful thing, in the form of Charm/Impress, but the straight percentage chance is only specified for MA 16+ and that's not where our Grunt (MA 10) is. The % chance is in 5% intervals until MA 26, so we can infer downward to 0% from 16 to 10 (where we hit zero; this is why Officers have higher MA scores).

Command skills complicate Morale checks, but they can be handled as on-off enablers. Social encounters are also complicated by Language, Literacy, Public Speaking, Sign Language, Intelligence, and Interrogation skills. In short, we can treat the skills as on-off enablers and turn the % to a Reaction Roll. As we can infer that MA is Charisma, and training compliments inherent Charisma, we can treat the Reaction Roll as well as the Morale Check as a variation of the Insanity Save.

Insanity Saves base around a 12+ on a d20. Skills enable the possibility of a successful save; can't command those that can't comprehend your commands, and you can't communicate with those who don't comprehend your inquiries. (Supertech and powers can negate this problem.) Convert the % to Charm/Impress to a + or - 1 per point over/under 10 and make that throw when Morale of Reaction is called upon.

Again, it's enough to get started. We can improve upon this as we go.

Before I conclude for today, let's scale up to the Army. We can count on a unit of Grunts to reliably march 13 miles per day in standard field kit, and so long as they have an Officer they stand a good chance of getting favorable reactions from neutrals encountered and to maintain order under fire. A senior NCO may also be able to pull this off, as they tend to be both higher level and thus more skilled.

We can also intuit rates of Coalition military casualties to trauma, and from there figure out what needs to be done to get them patched up in the brainmeats and back in action- something the Coalition is ruthless enough to do and possesses the means to do it.

We now have Strategic and Tactical Movement, Encumbrance, Reaction and Morale good enough to work with. Tomorrow I'll move on to another hole to patch.

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