Friday, December 1, 2023

The Business: A Palladium That Survives Through The 21st Century (Part 5)

(Following from yesterday's post.)

It's time to talk movement. This applies at all scales, in all combat situations. Examples are illustrative.

Haul Your Ass!

Remember John, our dead-average man with scores of 10 across the board?

A Speed of 10 means that (per RUE pg. 281) he can run 200 yards/meters per minute (because Kevin can't differentiate between the two; those three inches of difference add up), so 50 yards per 15 second combat round.

As we're doing away with multiple Attacks Per Round as a baseline capability, that means John moves up to 50 yards per round and can still act. That assumes that there are no obstacles, no active opposition, no environmental hazards, or other impediments to movement. This will not be the case more often than not..

Furthermore, this movement will be restricted when John moves as part of a unit due to the need to maintain cohesion- loose or tight, as specifics dictate.

Get To The Chopper!

But John on his two feet is not the only movement that matters. Put John on a horse, or on a bike, or in a car and suddenly his Speed is irrelevant- his vehicle's Speed is what matters now and that's rarely (save for monsters and animals) put in game terms. You like that Mad Max action, right? (Not "Chick Max".)

And how many scenarios have you seen where "run to the escape vehicle" is a thing? Plenty. Does the chase continue? Usually. Mixed Speed types, and multiple parties running around from three or more directions means that who gets where when matters- especially if it means getting Surprise on someone.

Keep Those Fighters Off Me!

All Speeds need to be put down (a) in real world terms, (b) in gameplay terms, and (c) with Scaling attached as appropriate (because mixed-Scale combats happen, especially in RIFTS where cross-Scale interactions are not uncommon) because if you're Grunt John running around on the ground as infantry support to Mecha John as he delivers long range anti-air support against Ace John and the airship run by Captain John.

During the same combat round, Grunt John has to worry about Ace John dumping air-to-ground missiles upon Mecha John. Mecha John needs Grunt John to keep enemy infantry off his mech. Captain John is relying on Ace John to clear the way for his ship's approach so he can support the ground forces beneath him. All of this deals in movement, tactical and strategic, the latter forcing a timetable that acts as a scenario limiter. Like that hasn't been seen before.

That's why this movement question matters. Real combat scenarios are not slugfests. There are three or more parties, so you can't just do relative movement to approximate distance. Fire combat in particular relies on cover and manuever to protect oneself and get the drop on opponents. Be it historical or fantasy, Scaling often comes up because they interact. (e.g. French frigates firing on Russian collums ashore during the Crimean War.)

And God forbid actual attacks themselves have movement to track, y'know like torpedos, or there's some Fire For Effect action going on, because those exist at those speeds because either (a) they are artillery that can be dodged for those too small to be effected easily or (b) they have tracking capability.

All of this matters. You want to play out the War on Tolkeen? ALL of this matters in spades. The Robotech Wars (or their original counterparts)? You bet. That Splicers game relies on this, and the rules as-written are not fit for purpose. Rebuilding from proper wargame movement rules is necessary and proper.


A properly run campaign has multiple active parties, multiple factions on the board, and the ability to interact across the Scales--easily three or more steps at once--and in manners many of you don't even think about. (e.g. Strafing infantry? That's Tank On Man Scale interaction.) Palladium as it is fails to account for this and dumps in the lap of a Referee who, all too often, is unable to handle the matter properly and the result is players being unable to play the game- they instead play Mother May I because they have to play the man, not the rules.

Movement not only matters relative to other actors in a combat scenario, but also relative to tactical or strategic objectives. Got a hostile magician conducting a ritual? That takes time. Can you get there and shiv him between the ribs before he finishes his big magic working? Guess what matters: movement? Especially if you have (a) someone out to intercept you (which you can evade) or (b) someone out to block you from arriving otherwise (whose efforts also take time to accomplish; go fast enough and you can bypass them too).

Movement matters on the individual and the mass combat level. It matters regardless of the Scale you operate it. (Can your fighters destroy their space station before it gets a clear shot at your planet?) Trivializing it like this is a disservice to players across the board, and this lapse of judgement is one of the vectors by which Storygaming faggotry seeped into Palladium game talk- not helped because Kevin is Silver Age Comic Book Guy and thus does not get it.

With the core of combat sorted enough to begin drafing a playtest document, we'll move to skills tomorrow.

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