Friday, November 30, 2018

Aw, Jeez...

[sorry...contracted a bit of a cough and my wife made me sleep today; this should have been up in the morning]

So, as I spent some time going through the Palladium hand-to-hand combat tables the other day in anticipation of re-working them to function a little better. Unfortunately, I found that...despite Palladium's well-established reputation for cut-n-paste rules text...there was no universality to the tables. Yes, each system I checked (and I compared all three editions of Heroes Unlimited, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1st ed.), and Ninjas & Superspies) included the standard four HTH systems (basic, expert, martial arts, and assassin), but each edition tweaks the individual entries on the table.

What a cluster.

I don't say that simply due to irritation with my inability to come up with a stable operating baseline for streamlining the system. I say that because it's a goddamn cluster for anyone who plays in the Palladium multiverse and who has bridged the gap between editions and systems, which (I suspect) is one of the main draws to keeping fans of this rot. I mean, what the actual f***?!  Consider:

  • Characters created/advanced in one system will have their combat stats (kind of a big deal in these games) out-of-whack for any other system (or edition!) they're 'ported into.
  • NPC write-ups in various games and supplements...who knows which system/edition is being used to generate their stat blocks and whether or not they're even correct for the specific system/edition they're supposed to represent.
  • When actually sitting down to play a session, folks are going to need to decide which particular system/edition is the actual one that's going to stand as the house rules of the game...never mind "taking the show on the road" (bringing characters in from other campaigns, allowing characters to migrate, convention play, etc.).

'Oh, JB! You're just pissing and moaning again! Who cares whether a roll with punch bonus if off by +1 or +2? Who cares if one character's write-up gives her a critical strike on a 17+ and this other character needs to roll a 19+ despite having the same level and HTH style? Who cares if there's an extra melee attack gained or lost or if a character's kick attack does 1D6 or 1D8 damage? Isn't all your bitching and moaning just nit-picking?'

Hey, pal, how about I just write some fucking random numbers down for my own character's (or my NPC's) stat block without even looking at the rulebook? What? You object? I mean, it's just all arbitrary, subjective yada-yadda, right? Let's not nit-pick rules...just throw 'em out the window, yeah? I mean, it's all just about having fun, after all, so why stress about getting stuff right?


Folks, rules matter. They're not the end-all-be-all of RPGs, but they still matter. There are games that have too few, there are games that have too many, and there are individuals who have subjective tastes on where exactly the poles are for those two extremes. Regardless, though, rules still matter. It's why we are playing a game rather than just sitting around telling stories or "playing pretend" without the benefit of textual instructions.

Anyway...fact of the matter is I never actually noticed this about the Palladium systems. I (like many others I'm sure) simply assumed all the HTH tables were simple cut-n-paste jobs, just like the experience section or the alignment section or the SDC/HP section or all the other stuff that IS simply copied from one rulebook to another. They're not...which unfortunately makes my idea a little tough to execute.

Or perhaps it makes it easier...since now I know I just need to scrap the whole HTH concept and come up with something different so as to make the game work in a nice, logical, streamlined fashion.

All right...cough medicine is starting to kick in. Will post something other than Palladium thoughts tomorrow (if I have a chance).


  1. I don't own any Palladium games, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've played a Palladium game, so I sure as hell didn't realize that the tables were so out of whack.

    But it seems to me that a good starting point for simplifying the system overall is to use the average of the tables for the new table. Either add up all the corresponding entries of each table and divide by the number of tables, or rank the tables from least beneficial (from the attacker's point of view) to most beneficial and choose the table right in the middle.

    1. @ subhuman:

      That’s not a bad idea, but I’m not sure I could stomach collating that much data just to rewrite the system.

  2. How far down the road of neglect are we when you have to make an argument that "the rules matter"?