Hacking Palladium Fantasy

(originally posted Sept 6th, 2016 @ palladiumknights.com)

So I have this weird relationship with Palladium Games. I ‘grew up’ with Palladium, with it being the first system that I really got to dig into and it was the first system I played consecutively, and ran campaign play with. Because of that it has a soft spot in my heart. I get nostalgic when thinking of those early games.

After playing Palladium solely for several years, I took a big break from table top games all together. I was reintroduced through new games. These new games thought, and acted differently that Palladium, and through playing them i began to be able to look at games critically, knowing what it was that i was looking for a game to have.

So I thought about it, and want to hack Palladium Fantasy. Non of this has been play tested, and basically is just floating around my head. Let me know what thoughts you might have on. Tell me whats cook, tell me whats rubbish. These are in no particular order.

Palladium Hacks

[*]I want to change the task resolution of the skill set to a conflict resolution. This changes the way that skill checks work, at a fundamental level. Instead of making the roll for a binary ‘pass or fail’, you would now roll for a ‘pass…but’. Another way to look at it would be to think of it as, not rolling to see if your task succeeds of fails, but to see if resolve the conflict at hand successfully. This is kind of the ‘why’ behind rolling for the skill. For example, if you look at the ‘pick locks’ skill, we’re no longer wondering ‘if’ you pick the lock. We’re more concerned with the why; with the conflict at hand. Are you able to pick the lock before the guard sees you, or are you able to pick the lock to quietly enter the Duke’s chambers?

[*] I dont want failure to ever be a dead end. This ties into the conflict resolution above, just a bit. I never want a roll to be, no you dont open the lock. Thats boring. Thats a road block, a dead end. Neither the fiction, nor the game play move anywhere from there, and I dont like playing games like that. Every time the dice are rolled, something should happen. “nothing happens’ – should never happen. Examples would include allowing the character to succeed at task, but perhaps fail at the conflict at hand. Yeah sure, you pick the lock and enter the room, but the guard totally saw you, and he’s sounded the alarm. Now what do you do? Or you could allow them to ‘fail forward’ and take something from them, while they get what they want. Yes you pick the lock, but you destroy your thieves’ tools in the process.

[*] “Let it Ride”. This ties directly into the previous two. When you roll the dice, the results stand. No re-rolling until you finally pass. This protects the players too.

[*] I may want to remove the d20 all together, and resolve everything with percentile dice. That way we can resolve all tests using one die mechanic.

[*] This ties in above, but I would replace WP’s with individual weapon skills.

[*] Add social skills. I dont know why on earth, or on the palladium world there are no social skills. And dont come to me with crap about ‘well if you’re MA’ is supernatural you have like a 20% chance of intimidating someone.’ Thats a bunch of crap. So you cant get someone to see the way you see things unless your supernaturally disposed? I’ll add in Persuasion, Manipulation, Intimidation, Oratory, and Haggling. Having social skills changes the entire dynamic of the game. When you can convince someone with your words, you’re a lot less inclined to have to use your sword to do all your talking.

[*] I’ll remove classes, for a more ‘path’ related option. You could think of this similarly to the skill sets available in Heroes Unlimited. You would pick a ‘path’ related to your parents’ occupation, and open skills from there, then from your current occupation, and then pick from a general pool for remaining skills. This allows more customization.

[*] I want to rework combat in order to do away with initiative. The old school turn order initiative system is archaic and slow, dull, drab, and boring. I’d like to switch it out with an engagement and scripting system. Engage your target, and then each combatant scripts out their moves equal to attacks per melee. Then they resolve each action against each other, one at a time. This leads to an almost ‘rock paper scissors’ or strike vs block, strike vs parry, and strike vs strike. This creates tension and suspense with chaotic, tactical combats.

[*] I want to rework the way armor is damaged. I want different weapons to have advantage against different sets of armor. Also the SDC of most armors is too high, and will be lowered.

[*] I’d like to break down the faith mechanics and add additional effects priests can provide. Many of the ‘miracles’ could be broken down into separate mechanically beneficial abilities.

[*] I’d like to rework magic so that it requires a roll of a Sorcery or Summoning skill to successfully cast.

[*]I’d like to remove HP and SDC and implement a wound system. Something like take a character’s HP as a pool and figure something akin to taking 10% damage induces a superficial wound, 25% damage inflicts a light wound, 50% a severe wound, 75% a traumatic wound, etc. Wounds then would stack and their given penalties would be cumulative. Then for healing each wound would heal individually. This makes combat deadlier and once again gives players reason to solve problems without always resorting to violence as a first step.

[*] Removing levels from the game would mean being able to test unskilled and would mean having to be able to learn skills through play. A way to do this would be to have a player test unskilled a certain amount of predetermined times, and then having the character learn the skill once it was tested unskilled, the correct amount of times.

[*] I would like equipment to have mechanical benefits in game. Say for the pick locks skill. Thieves tools should be required. You could have a penalty that halves percentile chance if the correct tools, or workstation (for smithing and such) are not available. Then having appropriate equipment – like ropes, and pitons for climbing; maps for orienteering (Land Navigation); evidence for debating; poultices for healing, etc – should give a mechanical bonus to the skill being rolled.

[*]Help. Players should be able to have their characters help each other in game through positioning themselves fictionally. This would work two ways. First a player should be able to have his character us Cartography to make the map that will mechanically benefits another player’s Land Navigation roll. Or a player should be able to fictionally position his character to be able to help another character. This should be something like a player with ‘hunting’ being able to describe how knowing the paths and trials of animals in the area, be able to fictionally position his character to help the character making the Land Navigation test, and you should get a mechanical bonus for this.

Like I said before, this is just general musings as to what I’ve been thinking could help the game system. I know more will be required for this to work ( like new advancement systems, because Im getting rid of experience points). This also is not meant to be the ‘end all be all’, but Im only wishing to start discussion.

So please talk with me about game system.

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