Mass Combat For the Palladium System.


As a gamer of many years (and many more lives) it has been my experience that sometimes within a campaign a war or other form of "mass-battle" occurs, often much to the chagrin of the presiding GM. Mass scale combat has many inherent traits that make it almost impossible. The number of die rolls that are required along with the record keeping will easily make this a job for that "dedicated gamers' computer" you have all been discussing(this plan is on my bench!), assuming you have a dedicated operator for data entry. While this would indeed be amazing, the cost and complexity of such and undertaking is beyond the scope of most gamers(myself included). There are many mass-battle rule templates out there but, they all require often-alien combat methods and typically do not have the realism and efficiency that gamers today demand. So, after a few centuries of research (and a few sacrificed souls), voila, the Universal Battle System for Rifts.

The main difference between this system and the next is simple, number reduction. Reduce the core numbers to smaller more manageable numbers. You take the damage capacity and attack damages as well as a few others and you simply divide everything by a set number and, poof! instant armies, and they play with the speed and feel of characters! The key is that you divide everything by the same ratio that keeps the relationship between the things in your game in tact. (You will find that the attack damages are not divide by the same number, that is because the attack damage is not only reduced but a realistic average has also been figured in.)

This system is designed to allow you to play your units rather than just roll dice to determine their' fates. The system, as well, allows for mixed units instead of the usual "all-the-same" units as in other systems. Keep track of all branches of a unit as if the unit was one being, for purposes of defense, attack, etc. If you want to break-up the unit, simply make smaller units out of the larger unit.


First you need to locate the Unit Character Sheet (one should have come with your set), use this sheet as a template to follow the conversion process. You may photocopy this sheet with impunity, and we suggest you have a few copies with you for the conversion.

What you will need:

Unit Character Sheet(s)

A copy of Universal Battle System for Rifts calculator, pencils, scrap paper, dice (always people) the statistics of what you want to convert, and time (but not long until you play)

Please refer to the Unit Character Sheet for the following: Type: This is the unit designation such as armor, medic, suicide, etc. feel free to make them up as necessary but keep track of what is in them.

Example: Bill has control of a squad of eight explosives

experts, so Bill chooses to write "demolitions" in the

"Type:" category. Bill then makes note that this unit

consists of eight explosives experts.

Symbol: This is any symbol that you wish to use. The symbol on the Unit Character Sheet will correspond to a game-piece on witch the same symbol will be placed.

Size: This is the unit's operating dimensions (length, width, and height). Note that these numbers are not merely the dimensions of the members added together but must account for the space between them.

Example: Bill's explosives experts are on foot at a "six meter spread". That means there is around six meters between any one of Bill's men. So, Bill gets his calculator and finds the square root of the number of men in his unit(8) and then multiplies that number by his "spread"(six meters). The resulting number is the length and also the width (square) of the unit. The height however, is the same as the tallest member of the unit.

Speed: This how fast the unit can move. The speed is the slowest member's speed or speed attribute.

# Attacks: This is the total number of actions per round that a unit may make. This number is equal to the mathematical average of the unit member's individual attacks.

Initiative: This is a bonus to initiative for the unit. This is the mathematical average of the individual's initiative modifiers.

PPE: This is the average ppe of the units members.

ISP: (see PPE)

Defensive Points: This represents the units damage capacity. To find this number add together all the hps and divide this number by one hundred ( do the same with the SDCs and MDCs). If there is more than one of these the keep track of all of them separately. The rules of MDC VS. SDC still apply!

Offense Points: This number represents the damage by attack type, which this unit will do to another unit. Find this number by calculating the maximum damage of any one attack type, then divide this number by 141.4 to find the "Bell-Curve" average. Finally multiply this number by the number of members in the unit. Do this for all attack types that apply (usually by weapon) and make note of the numbers and attack types on the Unit Character Sheet. Also make note of the weapons ranges and payloads.

Skills: These are any skills that and at the mathematical average of the unit's members all posses, those skills. Some applicable skils are:

Detect Ambush, Intelligence, Mining, Salvage, Tracking, Maintenance, COMMUNICATION(except TV/video and surveillance systems), Demolitions(including disposal and undersea demolitions), Armorer, Camouflage, NBC Warfare

Spells and Psionics: This is a list of powers applicable (at GM's discretion) to mass combat. These usually include most direct damage type and area effect type powers. The Offense Points of a spell or psionic is found through the usual method for any attack. The cost to the unit is as listed in the book with the power. Spells are considered to be used As a group spell. Area of effect is the spell's area multiplied by the # of members that are capable of casting the spell.

COMBAT: How to resolve it?

Now that you have made your armies you want to go to war don't you? Well, here simply, is how to war:

During a combat round the following things will happen in this order:

1. Initiative will be determined. Find initiative by making a normal initiative roll and adding your bonuses, the side with the higher number wins initiative.

2. Action Phase: any of four actions can take place now attack, move, cast a spell or psionic, or perform a skill. One action can be preformed each turn. An action can only be successful if within the proper range.

3. Damage is assessed by subtracting the number of Offence points that the attacker is directing from the defender's Defense Point number (MDC or SDC first then Hps). Any Unit whos Defense Points (MDC or HP and SDC) are zero or below, that unit is dead and removed from the game there may be some scavengables(GM's option). Note that 40% of all of a unit's members will actually still be alive but, all will be dying or severely injured and will have little or no defense.

4. From here you go back to the Action Phase(2) and repeat this process until all units are out of attacks or are dead or retreating. When all actions are resolved the process starts over at the beginning with Initiative.

NOTE: There are no strike, parry, or dodge rolls as they could not apply to whole units of men and machines. When two or more units clash there is damage associated with both sides, unless some extremely bizarre circumstance where to occur.

THE KILLING FLOOR: What do I play on?

Get some graph paper and a ruler. Now pick a scale such as: one inch = one mile or one centimeter = ten-thousand kilometers, etc, whatever is most applicable. Create some game pieces by cutting various sized squares out of paper, (I like to use 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, and so on, but any sizes will do. Choose a size according to the size of the unit (see size) and the scale you are using, Put the necessary symbols (SEE SYMBOL) on them and establish the starting positions (usually done in play). Now begin!

Range and movement can be found with ratio.

Example: if 1 inch = 1 mile then what is a 4000 ft laser blast in inches?


1 inch

------ * 4000 = X in inches

5680 ft

Terrain as a modifier to movement(speed):

The GM can impose a penalty to speed and thus movement this number is due to the harshness of the terrain. Any negative percentage to speed is applicable depending on the situation. (GM's, use available data if in percentage). Water can only be crossed by amphibious, hover or naval units if over 150 feet deep, and by men or wheeled vehicles if under 10 feet deep. The sky is limited to only those units that fly (such as aircraft), but may be attacked by ground units if within range. Shear cliff faces cannot be moved across but can be bridged or flown over.

Weather as a modifier to movement (speed):

The GM can impose a negative percentage to speed due to the weather. This modifier is identical to the terrain modifier in design and function. GM's use your discretion.

Click here for a copy of the Universal Battle System's Unit Sheet (use the "back" button on your browser to get back to here.
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