Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rifts Randomized Campaign Setting

Just for kicks (and for the mental exercise), I'm going to generate a random setting for a Rifts campaign. The goal is to utilize various random tables contained in Rifts books. I'll start with the Colony Creation Tables in Dimension Book 14: Thundercloud Galaxy, and incorporate random tables from other books whenever they seem appropriate. We'll see how well I can tie the random results together. Hopefully this will be at least semi-logical, but I won't be sure until I start rolling dice. Whether this turns out to be an incredibly rich setting or one that is insanely goofy, the process will be interesting either way.

Basic Premise: The setting will be somewhere in the Thundercloud Galaxy, on a planet with a colony of some sort.

  • Colony Organization: Independent/Other (94)
  • Colony Size: Colony Outpost (56)
  • General Alignment: Diabolic (97)
  • Trade Policies: Flexible and Pragmatic (51)
  • Environment Around the Colony: Heavy Mixed Forest (34)
  • Notable/Special Natural Resource: Coastal Fishing (23)
  • Buildings/Facilities: Whoah... come back to this... 30+ rolls...
  • Medical Facility: Small Hospital (64)
  • Primary Source of Energy: Satellite Energy Transmission (92)
  • Primary Source of Transportation: Simple & Basic Range of Vehicles (54)
  • Security/Fighting Force: Colonial Soldiers (38)
  • Outside Threats: Demons (21)
So with these random rolls, let's try to fit some of these random facts into a coherent setting. The things that most stand out to me are the alignment, the setting vs. natural resource oddity, and their primary energy source. Hmmmmmmmm...

The book describes a colony with a diabolic alignment as a den of thieves, which immediately makes me think of two things: the thieves guilds from fantasy fiction (D&D, Elder Scrolls, etc.), and the Gangland television show. We also know that the colony is independent, unsupported by any major power. Let's say this is a penal colony, or was at some point, and that it has been either abandoned or it's prisoners fought their way to freedom. We can figure that part out later... for now, it just matters that the original members of this colony were prisoners, and that any other colony members have either been born to the prisoners, or have joined since it achieved autonomy.

It seems odd to me that the environment around the colony would be heavily forested but the natural resource is coastal fishing. However, a quick Google search for "forest beach" yields lots of coastal forested areas (such as this beach, or this one, or this one), so maybe it isn't as strange as I thought. So the colony is located in a heavy forest and close enough to the ocean that fishing is a notable resource.

Their energy source is a little odd as well - a satellite collects solar energy and beams it down to the surface of the planet. Perhaps this was a safety measure taken by those in charge when the colony still functioned as a prison. If things ever get out of control on the surface, you can always cut the power and effectively strand them.

So now that the oddball traits are explained, let's go for a short description of this place and give it a name.

Rhykers Folly is a small colony with roughly 2,000 occupants located in a thick forest near the coast of a large island. It was originally a penal colony, but has since been liberated and is now run by the Boss Council. The leaders of each major criminal organization represented in the colony when it was still a prison are on the council. Although there is some semblance of order, the truth is that the whole colony is run by criminal organizations that manage to cooperate just enough to avoid turning the whole place into a war zone (although it has come to that on several occasions since the colony gained its freedom). 
Even though Rhykers Folly is made up almost entirely of criminals, the Boss Council realizes that in order to survive, they need to be able to trade. Thus, the colony's business dealings have been less shady and underhanded than they normally would be. The colony is attempting to build trust with its neighbors, and the dirtiest business practices are discouraged. Still, it is only a form of self-preservation, not a moral statement, so as the colony stabilizes and needs outsiders less and less, its businessmen will become less and less trustworthy.
Each criminal organization at Rhykers Folly has its share of enforcers, and these function as the colony's first line of defense against any danger. The trouble is that they don't follow any central command, so coordination among different units is sketchy at best. The colony is well fortified, although some of the fortifications have had to be modified to keep people out rather than in. Still, it has been convenient to the colonists that protection from the outside has not been a major concern yet.
The colony was liberated by several of the bosses who decided to lay down their personal differences long enough to kick their captors out. However, what they didn't realize at the time was that their captors didn't bother trying to keep the place because the planet is expected to be overrun by demons in the near future. 

And there we have it... at least the beginnings of a randomized Rifts setting...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oh Zombies, Where Art Thou?

There was a lot of hype around zombies in Return to Ravnica standard, but no version of the deck has won a Star City Games Open tournament yet. Instead, bigger decks are rising to the top, winning with planeswalkers, reanimation targets, and miracles. I don't like the slow grindy game plan of the planeswalker decks or the crazy unpredictability of the miracle decks. I also don't like the narrow focus of the reanimator (or frites) strategies.

Personally, I've been playing this:

Land
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Temple Garden
4 Woodland Cemetery
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Gavony Township
1 Vault of the Archangel
2 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Plains

Creatures

Strangleroot Geist
Knight of Glory
Centaur Healer
Dreg Mangler
Thragtusk
Angel of Serenity


Other
3 Tragic Slip
4 Mulch
2 Oblivion Ring
3 Garruk Relentless


No reanimation here, but plenty of beefy creatures that are really efficient and do a great job of fighting the zombie decks that people claim will be so rampant. I haven't listed a sideboard because I'm currently just playing a hodgepodge of cards that I wanted in the maindeck but couldn't decide what to swap out for them. I love the hasty green guys, and Angel of Serenity provides a powerful late game that is hard to overcome.

I've only played on tournament with this, but I'm currently undefeated (even winning the "for fun" match against my last-round opponent after agreeing to an intentional draw). I'm going to keep running it until it starts losing...

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 Palladium Christmas Surprise Package

I've made a yearly habit of purchasing a Christmas Surprise Package from Palladium Books in the fall, and other than a "never got my package" issue last year (which could have easily been someone snatching the box off my front doorstep), I've been more than pleased with this yearly deal.

Each year, I browse through the online store and jot down a handful of things that sound interesting. Palladium has produced so many books that I never have a hard time finding things I want and don't yet have. This time, my list looked like this:


What did I receive? Rifts Black Market ($24.95), Fleets of the Three Galaxies ($16.95), Armageddon Unlimited ($20.95), Dimension Book 14: Thundercloud Galaxy ($20.95), and Deception's Web ($9.95). That's $93.75 worth of product for only $48.39... and that's just the MSRP. I don't know what the monetary value increase would be (if any), but all of the books (except for Deception's Web) are signed by multiple artists and authors.

I haven't read any of these titles in depth, but these are my initial thoughts:

Rifts Black Market - I love the CGI cover. It's the first Palladium has ever done (to my knowledge, at least), and it's a style that I would love to see more of in the future. While there are some really goofy things I noticed while flipping through (the walker-bike, for example), there are also sections that I cannot wait to find the time to read thoroughly... like the Rift Runner O.C.C. and the Ironmage, a techno-wizard's enhanced glitter boy suit that reminds me of a cross between a traditional glitter boy suit (style) and an Eldar wraithlord (crazy cool runes).

Fleets of the Three Galaxies - I expected a book full of equipment and space ships. Those are in there... but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book also includes a bunch of profiles for notable NPCs in these fleets (all commanders, at least as far as I've read thus far).

Armageddon Unlimited - To be honest, I was initially unimpressed with the Minion War, as it felt like it was blatantly stolen from D&D's Blood War. However, I got Dimensional Outbreak just because there was so much detail on Center, and I'm finding myself more and more intrigued by Palladium's take on this demon vs. devil idea. The only thing that disappoints me is the lack of M.D.C. conversion notes. With this as the only non-M.D.C. book in the Minion War series, I thought there would at least be a section on how these new powers work on Rifts Earth or in the Three Galaxies, but I guess that's something I should be comfortable doing on my own if I ever need to...

Dimension Book 14: Thundercloud Galaxy - Of the books I received this year, this will be the first one that I read cover to cover. I've got to admit that I'm a little bummed that the United Worlds of Warlock seem to have been left out of this book altogether, but I'm still excited to read through the Thundercloud Galaxy book. While I find Center the most intriguing of locations in the Three Galaxies, I think a game on the outskirts of civilization would be a ton of fun as well, and the Thundercloud is the perfect location for such a campaign.

Deception's Web - I struggled through the first Rifts novel, not so much because of the story line but because of the editing (or lack thereof). I've read online that the rest of the series won't make the former English teacher in me cringe as much. If this one doesn't impress me, though, I doubt I'll bother picking up the third.

Even though I don't play anymore, I still enjoy reading the setting information and seeing how the various metaplot unfolds. It's good to have some Rifts reading material lying around again.
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