Magic the Gathering: Playable by mere mortals?

I’ve played MTG since 1995, almost exclusively online. Magic has always felt pay to win. Since that time I’ve learned a few things.

  1. There are too many fricking cards.
  2.  Rare or Mythic cards can cost serious money.  Enough to fill a deck is expensive.
  3. Real people (like adult with bills) cannot hope to buy enough to be competitive.
  4. To add insult to your cost, those cards are only played in the standard format for a limited time.

My Solution:

Pick a block or mix and match from a few sets, doesn’t matter which, but write them down and everyone will use that.

Pauper: Commons only. Low cash outlay

This creates a limited pool of cards and those cards should cost pennies. (For the most part anyway.)

Your playing group can have it own unique metagame and no one is out hundreds.  Additionally, you can play, wait for it…in person!

As a format, this could probably use a fancy name.

Quick brainstorm:

Copper Commons

Paper Penny

Wooden Nickel

Now to somehow force my friends to build a deck.


Point Buy for Palladium


Both Pathfinder and D&D have a frame work. Since Palladium Stats are roughly re-skins of old school D&D, it is a good place to start. Tiers of play in are mentioned, low powered 10, High Fantasy 20, but this is Rifts, go big or go home as my kids tell me, so how about 25 points?

Assume 3d6 as Adventurer Norm. This is elves, humans, dwarves, etc.

Attributes start at 11.

If chosen race has a different d6 value in an attribute, the chart below:

  • 1d6: Start at 4
  • 2d6: Start at 7
  • 3d6: Start at 11
  • 4d6: Start at 14
  • 5d6: Start at 18
  • 6d6: Start at 21

Without skills or augmentation, hero maximum is 30 on the dice rolling way per Adventurer Norm.  Or Max result on number of dice +12. A six dice stat could start with a 48, but would require the lowering a stat or two.

Spend one point to move an attribute up. Get a point back to move it down.

Example: Someone at adventurer norm, who wanted a 30 in something.

Start Final Cost
IQ 11 14 3
MA 11 11 0
ME 11 8 -3
PS 11 30 19
PP 11 11 0
PE 11 15 4
Spd 11 13 2
Total 25


*Example includes my thought of eliminating PB in favor of a stronger MA.

This is before adding physical skills, so your mileage may vary. First stab at it with zero play testing. GM could certainly do levels as well. 20,25 or 30 points.

House rule, sure but is it workable?

Is Rifts playable?


The world hates the system but is it really that terrible? I asked myself, ‘What would I change?’  After reading the Ultimate Edition, coupled with at least 5 time years playing in the system, I found that I would change very little.

The things I would change:

% Skills.

This is one spot I’d change flat out. The percentile system never felt right.  After a couple of levels, it feels like everyone has 98% in everything and progression just kind of stops. I’d recommend moving to stat based skill ranks, similar to D20. No upper limit. Let heroes be awesome.  If not D20 style, come up with something that gives a benefit linked to the character’s stats.

PB- Dump Stat: Lose it. All social interactions should go off MA. Beauty standards are going to vary from race to race. Rifts can literally have billions/infinite number of distinct races so PB is a waste.

Differences in types of strengths- This never made sense. A 20 PS should be a twenty, whether it comes from radiation, robot arm, or being related to Thor. Currently the system says 20 ≠ 20 ≠20. If one needs to higher/stronger just increase it.

Character Creation: This does take awhile. However, in this day age, I’d bet a program could be created, like in Hero Lab or something. Character creation would be a snap. Technology is our friend. (Except when the machines rise, but that’s a concern for another day.) Plus. If you’ve played Champions, there’s some lengthy character creation.

For those keeping score, not much to house rule.

  • Change skill system
  • Remove 1 stat
  • Ignore a few pages about strength
  • Character Creation Automation


Common Gripes

Some people don’t like these items below but I feel they aren’t really a factor.

Combat. It’s been long while since I’ve played much combat in the system, but when I did, it was a lot. TONS even. Granted, there are a lot of bonuses to keep track of and there is a defense roll, which can slow things down, for the camp that doesn’t care for armor class only mechanics, this is actually better. Most enemies will have a ton of MDC to chew through, but is that any different than a pile of hit points?

Balance: This seems to be a big issue for many, but I think they are missing the point. Rifts is about the inherent imbalance created by the setting. If your average desk jockey in our day and age could effectively square off against anything that jumps through the dimensional rift in St Louis, the threat isn’t that scary. I think it’s up to the GM to temper the scope and encounters to match the party. Session zero is key here. If the party is going to consist of a City Rat, Rogue Scientist, and Wilderness Scout, they probably shouldn’t be going up against battalions of Collation Soldiers. If PC unbalances the party, don’t allow it or be prepared to buff the party accordingly.

MDC:  Many people hate it, but I think it has a lot to do with how it’s presented. I do recommend that MDC creature be in a party with other MDC beings, otherwise someone is going to be paste. Couple option here. Don’t use. Convert everything to SDC. Reduce the conversion.  10 SDC to 1 MDC or 20, or 50. MDC is supposed to be tough but it doesn’t have to be ridiculous.  One thing I would make sure to use, optional rules for taking some SDC damage while in mega-damage armor. Makes sense the eventually, getting hit over and over with a rail gun eventually takes its toll on the meat inside.

That’s my take. I say playable. Game on!

5-ish Things Good and Bad about GURPS


I’ve mentioned that game design is lots of work.  So much, I think I’ll leave it to those with way more free time and the professionals. I still need to find a system that suits my needs. My needs are twofold.

First, I’m looking for a system to place my source worlds into. Game settings need somewhere to leave. Writing a setting that is system agnostic seems to be losing something trying to make it fit for everyone. Plus, I don’t know every system anymore. There was time in the mid 90s when, I’d say I had experience with 95% of everything, now after a long break, not even close.  Second, I’m looking for the go to system for my gaming group, which meets so infrequently, it makes sad pandas even sadder. And that’s pretty sad.  My gaming group, (membership varies from 1990 to present) by and large, played a lot of GURPS.

My next exercise, Five (ish) things I like about a system and 5(ish) draw backs.  I think this might help collect my thoughts and come to terms with what I think is really important.

So…here is 5-ish Things Good and Bad about GURPS.



  1. Spell Components- Plot device only. Game Masters that punish their caster types by making them seek out eye of newt or whatever are doing a great job of not getting people to enjoy/play casters.
  2. Character depth- Characters can be very unique and detailed. This is good and bad. Some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever played have been in this system, and they were interesting with how they were built using the system. I converted my half orc, gruel cooking, low IQ shaman type with Jackie Chan’s fighting style to D&D 3rd at one point, and he lost most of his charm.
  3. Versatile – The system does lend well to almost any genre, without too much tweeking.
  4. Hexes – Hexes over squares, any day of the week.
  5. Magic System – Mostly…I like the spell colleges. Basic fire spells leading up to fire balls and such. Makes sense and is pleasing. I like energy going into whatever spell I want. But see #5 below on bad.



  1. Character depth. While GMing, I also feel like every city guard, merchant and waste sanitation worker needs to be fully flushed out with advantages and disadvantages. I feel point balances have my hands tied at every turn.
  2. Character growth- As player, using recommend experience progression, it feels like the character you had session 0 is the same person at session 20, with maybe a few new skills.
  3. Defense Rolls- A fellow player once coined the phrase “Going into GURPS Tactical” which meant for the next few hours we’d be rolling dodges and parries as the party barely defeats a small group of bandits. Swing for a hit, parry. Swing again, dodge. Etc for the next 3 hours.
  4. Game breaking mechanics- I once was in a party with a really bad ass fighter, than never used his sword. He would grapple and wrestle everyone, and lock them down. After the 15th combat of the same thing, it becomes rather boring and silly.
  5. Magic Users suck. At the point totals recommended and with how character growth goes, these guys never have a chance to be good. I’ve played 4. Warrior types always own you, especially due to some of the casting times. 3 seconds for good size fireball? The fighter from above could grab, pin and incapacitate our poor wizard, before the fireball even formed. Also energy is too low. That wizard after 20 sessions, still can cast only 3-4 energy spells and is spent


Summary:  I think strive for point balance kills this one for me more than anything else. Other drawbacks: support. Steve Jackson games seem to be giving this product line minimal attention and it shows with recent editions. Player base is a concern. I don’t see many flyers for GURPS games at the local game store or on roll20. Would hate to be tied to a sinking ship.

New System creation is a lot of work…



Perhaps some background on what I am trying to accomplish is in order. I have one (or more) game setting worlds in my head that I would like to share with the world. The biggest question is how do I present it? Do I write it as system agnostic? Or Should I grab a system, commit, and write it specifically for that system? I have spoken to an actual game designer and his answer seemed to think both are good. Since I couldn’t pick a system I liked 100%, I figured I’d create one. Trouble is, now I’m spending all my time crunching numbers with system design. I’m back on the fence again. Maybe I should just pick a system? Or just go systems-less and get writing.

Game world would be late medieval gunpowder becoming common, magic common, but rooted in the four elements. Fantasy races optional. Undead are common.  Power/abilities come from birth, rather that profession.

Which way to go?

System X over Y Part 4 Secondary attributes:


Now that we’ve pinned down what the character is mostly like, what numbers are created based off out stats.

I submit:

Mental HP (Can also be used as a sanity level): IQ + ME +WI


Hit Points  Con + Str

Mana/Spell Power: Spirit + Mental Endurance

Speed  DEX + CON – ½ Str

Carry Capacity- Encumbrance:  Str+ ½ Con x 10; It has to be included. Enforceable if the GM feels like it.

An Independent Stat:

Willpower: This mechanic is the ‘get a bonus to anything’ akin to Willpower in the World of Darkness or a ‘Benie’ from Savage Worlds. This is the player or character’s story driving heroic push for anything.

I feel this should  be derived from the character’s experience total or maybe level, if we choose to go with levels at all.

Next week: What should these numbers look like?