So I was always confused by how robot combat works in Rifts...

Let's say I have weapons on my shoulder, both hands, and chest. And let's say 8 melee attacks per round.

Do I only get to shoot one weapon per melee round? And if there is a gunner, then two weapons? On some robots there are extras like the Abolisher Robot has 2x more gunners for the 6 top turrets (3 each gunner). Or is it that the robot gets to shoot all weapons per round, except for penalties (like in the Abolisher Robot) for not having dedicated gunners for certain weapons?


2 Answers 2


Most of the Palladium books I have seen (I'm looking specifically at Macross II - the Role Playing Game) have a section "Determining the number of attacks per melee and Combat Bonuses" in the Combat Rules section:

"Players will find two skills that exclusively determine the pilot's number of attacks with piloting a high-tech robot or power armour: 1) The pilot's normal hand to hand combat/fighting skill and 2) the pilot's Robot Combat skill. [...] The total number [of these 2] indicates the total number of attacks possible."

The same is done for bonuses to strike, parry, dodge. This means if the pilot has +2 to dodge in hand to hand combat and +1 to dodge in robot combat, he has a +3 to dodge when piloting the robot.

So lets say for the sake of example, you have a character that has 3 attacks in regular h2h combat + some robot piloting training that gives him another 3 attacks. When he is piloting a combat mech that he is trained for, he has a total of 6 attacks with stacking strike/parry/dodge bonuses.

If that robot has 8 weapons, that pilot with 6 total actions could pick the same weapon and fire it (as Strikes) 6 times during a combat round. Or he could fire 6 different weapons. (he'd be forfeiting all of his dodges though against incoming Strikes if he did this though - dodges consume an attack action). Some weapons might be restricted to being useable only once or twice per combat round (like the twin cannons on the heads of robotech Valkyrie) . Note that as he is doing this, in-between each shot, opponents are reacting in order of init (spending their actions returning fire or dodging).

Some weapons can be fired as volleys or bursts. If one of his weapons is a 6 rack missile launcher, he can use 1 attack to fire all 6 missles. Or just 1 or 2 or 4 ect.

Some weapons can be fired as bursts - you get +1 to strike and deal a multiplier on the damage (x2, x5, x10! for short, long and 'entire magazine') consuming 20%, 50% and 100% of the magazine ammo. Firing the entire magazine = 2 actions taken at once. But a regular 'single' shot, short or long burst takes only 1 action) Details on if this can be done with a particular weapon are listed in the weapon description.

Someone with a lot of attacks might be able to have a lot of free 'undodgable' attacks after everyone else has no more attacks left. For example if I have 5 attacks and you have 4, and I win init. We start resolving attacks in order of Init. I use my 'attack action' to Strike and each time I do, you use your 'attack action' to Dodge. I still have my 5th attack at the end of it, you've been too busy dodging to return fire and you can't dodge that last Strike.

If I had another ally (or gunner) with me who also had five attacks, we could be Striking twice each time in order of our init. You could do Dodge,Dodge in response the first time. Then Dodge,Dodge in response the 2nd time. But then you are out of actions completely, and going to be taking some serious hits from our 3rd, 4th and 5th attacks spent as Strikes.

Attacks are made in Init order, and Init is rolled at the start of combat and re-rolled at the top of each round once all characters have used all their attacks.

You may be able to find other specific answers or guidance at http://palladium-megaverse.com/forums/

Basically though - its the same as normal combat outside of mecha except that: Additional attacks and bonuses from Robot Combat are stacking with H2H combat bonuses. Inside the mech, ALL the weapons are effectively 'readied' at all times (once he is in the mechs its as though you had a fantasy RPG character that had a sword and a mace and a bow and a bottle of alchemists fire and 4 attacks per round but all the weapons readied at once - he could hit someone with the sword 4 times or lob 4 bottles or 1 of each etc.) Some mecha weapons may require spending an attack action to reload them or be otherwise limited in their Rate of Fire description.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess the big advantage to a mech is the ability to load it up with an extra gunner / 2 / 3 and have more attacks per round. Meanwhile a lone pilot with access to every system just has more weapons at his disposal without having to take an action to draw the appropriate gun. So a good idea would be to have mechs that can do good single-target, and when appropriate fire some area effect guns without having to do the swap action. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2014 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Definitely extra gunners would help; you'd be getting all kinds of extra strikes in a combat round. One things that confuses me a little is when a mech weapon has a ROF 'useable twice per melee round, may be combined with other actions'. I'm guessing somewhere out there is a weapon that reads 'may NOT be combined with other actions' but I've never seen it. Other weapons usually have a ROF "equal to the melee attacks of the pilot", or "Volley" but I've never seen anything indicating a missile launcher doesn't have "Volleys equal to the melee attacks of the pilot" if he has the ammo. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2014 at 11:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, if you have an extra gunner, the main pilot could burn up to all of his actions on defense/dodges vs incoming fire, while the gunner concentrated all his actions on strike/offense. You would not want to go up against a mech like that as a lone pilot unless you were a real Ace. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2014 at 11:25

Here's What I'd Do...

I'd limit things by character not by vehicle. When it comes down to it, it's a game about characters not their stuff. So I'd have the character designate a suite of weapons he was in charge of and a suite of weapons the gunner was in charge of, and not let them mix unless the the pilot or gunner takes an attack-per-melee to switch control of the weapon back to somebody else.

If an attack with the weapon, as per weapon's Rate of Fire, takes 1 attack-per-melee to use, and nothing says it can't be used multiple times per melee round, then it can be blazed away with, using all attacks per melee with that weapon. Further, if the user wants to switch between weapons with that same Rate of Fire, that's totally okay. Each one fired will take 1 attack-per-melee. By default I'd allow a lone pilot access to all the vehicle's weapons and let him switch between them at will because, sure, why not? He's attacking a dragon or post-apocalypse nazis with a giant robot--take 'em down! Pew pew! Zap! Whoosh!

... Because No Official Answer Exists

Your confusion is not unwarranted. This question has no answer, or, rather, this question's answer is whatever your group agrees it to be.

Palladium's rules are rooted in the late-'70s/early-'80s mindset of GM fiat. The rules are deliberately skeletal--just present enough to start a game but requiring constant GM intervention afterward. In short, players take turns playing Mother May I? with the GM to see what he approves and rejects.

That's not to say that's always a bad thing. Palladium's semi-rules-light approach means the game runs swimmingly with a GM who either A) takes meticulous notes on all his ad hoc rulings and sends them to his players after each session, or B) takes a shot of vodka every time someone uses a game-specific acronym and wings his way through. Those between these extremes--and that's, honestly, most folks--muddle through, trying to make Palladium's games be actual games that can played by, like, the rules, only to eventually discover the game isn't a really a game but a $20-40 collection of settings, ideas, and guidelines on which to hang an entertaining narrative. Characters can be generated (and that can be a lot of fun--Rifts characters specifically can inhabit multiple dwellings in crazy-town), but once any character says he's doing, well, anything, resolving that is in the GM's hands.

The official answer to just about any question about a Palladium game is, "Ask the GM," because the games are designed so that the GM must decide how things work in his game.


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