Posted by : David Guyll August 03, 2014

As a way to mix up my answers a bit more I am choosing to interpret this as "the first RPG that I specifically purchased, and not one purchased and/or given to me". That honor, I guess, goes to Rifts, which is also the second role-playing game I played outside of various editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

On one hand this game introduced me to a world outside of the usual sword and sorcery fare. It was a game with no sense of balance, scale, reason, and perhaps identity. It was a game where ordinary humans, dragons, aliens, wizards, and robots tromped about a post-apocalyptic Earth fighting other ordinary humans, dragons, aliens, wizards, and robots. It was a game that people would later claim had a neat setting, but some of the worst rules imaginable.

It was kind of like the Avengers, except that Hawkeye and Black Widow would have had equal chances of being obliterated casually by an enemy or accidentally by an ally. I mean, the attack wouldn't even have had to directly hit them.

On the other hand it also introduced me to arbitrary and toxic terms like munchkin, power-gamer, and "real" role-players, and also marked my first run-in with douche bag players and game masters who were mystified by the fact that we assumed in post-apocalyptic Earth there would be shit to do, like find resources, fight bandits with inexplicable access to big-ass robots, or kill a monster that could demolish an entire car and everyone inside with a sneeze.

I played with people that apparently never read the rules (which may not be entirely their fault, as I recall the rules for various combat actions changing from book to book). I played with players that chose obscenely powerful characters just so they could beat up someone else's character. I played with players that swear they had a "really cool idea" for a game, only to have us wander around a town for a couple of hours while their DMNPC told us that there were absolutely no problems to be found, and then mock and effortlessly kick our asses when we got bored and started looking for trouble.

I had a player that, when I said the game would take place in Maine, tried to roll out a male psychic cowboy from New West that was fitted with a pair of cybernetic limbs, each wielding a pair of artifact daisho from Rifts: Japan, clad only in that skin-tight armor that the blind warrior women of Atlantis wear. He swore up and down that this character was totally legit from another campaign that someone else we didn't know ran, as if that would make the fact he had been cobbled together from every book except that ones I was allowing more acceptable.

Thankfully, mercifully, 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons was only a couple of years around the corner.

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Man, Rifts... I think balance is largely a crock, but... wow, what an amazingly broken game.

    That said, it taught me the difference between min-maxers who were doing it for the challenge and the ones who just wanted to be stronger than anyone else.

    The latter group loved Rifts, making... well, characters like you mentioned. But, at least in our group, the ones who wanted the challenge just wouldn't bother with Rifts. It was so easy they'd just lose interest and slap together whatever sounded interesting.

    Rifts, like the heavily houseruled 2nd edition it was competing against, is a game that I remember fondly but have no desire to play again.

    Cheers!
    Kinak

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    Replies
    1. I expect balance up to a point. Not absolutely across the board so that everything is equally useful, all the time, but close enough where one option (whether a class, talent, weapon, option, etc) is not clearly the best.

      My first character (before buying the books) was a dragon juicer. Not because it was insanely powerful (but oh man it was), but because it just sounded cool: you're injecting dragon's blood into your veins!

      The end result was that in a, I guess normal game, it removed almost all of the challenge: I could tear everything apart effortlessly, dodge almost everything, and heal whatever damage I took incredibly quickly.

      I don't think I'd enjoy the game any more nowadays, but if another game evoked the general concept, just with more sense and substance, I think I'd dig it.

      Delete
  2. Memories / Light the corners of my mind.

    I'll take the heat for some of this. There were times running Rifts where I hadn't planned something in advance, then asked the players what they wanted to accomplish. Alternatively, not realizing what OCC/RCC's I was permitting for a game only to have them walk all over monsters? That was definitely bad on me.

    People building players just to bully and hurt others was really rampant, and it was difficult to tell others to tone it down when these players were also people you spent significant amounts of time with. Worse still, when I would game as a PC, I'd witness the players with short fuses storming off, leaving a vindictive DM to turn their character into a South Park joke (changing sexual orientation, then killing them off). There was always that nagging feeling that I'd be next against the wall if I spoke out of turn.

    Never did get an Atlantean sword. But then again, I recall that page disappearing from the second World Book.

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    1. I honestly only remember you running a couple of games: mostly it was other people that would have various vendettas against each other bringing that into the game, as if beating up someone else's pretend character would somehow validate a real-life argument.

      It would be like watching Lord of the Rings, only instead of Legolas and Gimli having a friendly rivaly, it escalates to drawing dicks on each other's faces when they sleep, shoving shit down each other's throats, and then just outright trying to kill each other because John Rhys-Davies fucked Orlando Bloom's mom.

      Delete

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