"Ain't like killin' a yuman child."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:


The two power sources in this game are named P.P.E. and I.S.P.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Violence, War, Magic & the Supernatural

Somehow, I haven't made fun of this very much.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

The fictional World of Rifts® is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Other-dimensional beings often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigods, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

So, let's make up for lost time: the power sources are: Pee-Pee-ee and Ay es Pee.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Some parents may find the violence, magic and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

Also consider that, though previous books have had mention of outhouses, there's no such mention in the Coalition War books.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Please note that none of us at Palladium Books® condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

I guess what I'm saying is there's a reason the folks don't pee in Tolkeen. There's a reason the folks don't pee.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 1, "Ain't like killin' a yuman child."

No introduction in this book, it goes right into the fiction.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:


To Bill Coffin. A heck of a writer. An asset. And my friend.

— Kevin Siembieda, 2000

The notion of Dog Boys being psychically "leashed" would make a lot more sense.

We get an "uncensored video letter" from Sgt. Deon Canton, in which he drunkenly explains to his wife that it's okay to kill civilians and children in Tolkeen because they're monsters in a painful phoenetic weepy-drunk accent.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Half of em' eat da sholdiers dey kill. Jush rip 'em up, like a cat does a damn bird. And god ... oh god, help those who git demshelf captured! God, Baby, I seen whad's left of our boys who git captured.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

If dat means blashing an entire town, sho be it. Murder chil'ens. Dem D-Bee kids ain't yuman. Dey jush baby monshers thaz all. Monshers dat hate us. If dey grow up weez be fightin' dem next. Da horror would jush continue. Sho 'sterminate dem now. Ain't like killin' a yuman child. 'Sides wadda you do win ya sheen kids, I mean little Chil'ren ... five, shix yearz ol' turn out ta be a friggin' monsher or magically 'guised mage or shumthin' worst. Better ta shoot it down. I... I ain't proudda whash we gotsha do haf duh time, but it's neshessary to shurvive ... ta win. Somebody hazta die. It's war.

We also get a report to General Drogue from Ike Flint (both from the previous book, Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkil) who tries to warn the General that something bad is coming from Tolkeen, though it's largely just a gut feeling. However, a Colonel McDaniels has it wiped before it ever reaches Drogue.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

"... The Coalition Army operates on fact and science not gut feelings, superstitious hunches and odors carried on the wind..."

"About friggin' time we got some cool art."

Tolkeen's Heroes

We get told that the forces of Tolkeen are getting a second wind in terms of hope, and are willing to engage in any war crime in the feeling that it'll lead to an end to this.

But enough of that! Instead, we get New D-Bees. Only one of these, the Auto-G, will be relevant later, but we've got a book to fill, so let's dump in some filler on early!

This looks neat, but I'm not sure it sells "shapeshifter" in any sense.

The Auto-Gs are rare shapeshifters who claim to originate on Earth, and are powerful enough to literally imitate a humanoid race or individual down to their biometrics, DNA, P.P.E. levels, and psychic aura, if not the mind, memories, or bionics / tattoos / scars of anybody they duplicate. Mind-readers might be able to suss them out, but Dog Boys and Psi-Stalkers won't notice them (any more than they'd notice the individual being duplicated). Most people have never heard of them, and those that do largely consider them to be mythical. Chi-Town was the first to discover them, and is terrified of their existence- though such knowledge is highly top secret. The Coalition can detect them by running a test for an enzyme Auto-Gs can't hide, but generally believes the Auto-Gs to have been destroyed in purges a century ago. Most believe that they're human mutants like Psi-Stalkers. Some think they were created, either by pre-cataclysm science or by the Gene-Splicers. However, they're not known to exist in other dimensions, pointing them to most likely not being true D-Bees.

However, a recent attempt on Emperor Prosek's life discovered an Auto-G as one of the attempted assassins when running an analysis on their corpses, who apparently intended to copy and replace one of the Proseks. As such, security around the Emperor is now at an all-time high.

Most Auto-Gs look like humans, and can only shapechange by eating a genetic sample from the target they seek to duplicate. They can generally only duplicate "mortal" humanoids, though they can copy M.D.C. beings as long as they're not "supernatural beings" or "creatures of magic" - a vague definition, but keeps them from copying dragons, vampires, or the ilk. They can just become a member of the race whose DNA they consume, or copy the specific individual. They also get any specific powers or psionics related to that race, though they can't learn magic. They're smarter, stronger-willed, more healthy, and prettier than humans with no real weaknesses, though they can't become more than 40% bionic without dying (whatever that means), or develop psionic or magic powers (save for psionic powers they duplicate). They get some basic psionics, mainly to mask their powers and block mind-reading, and can take any O.C.C. that doesn't involve cybernetics, magic, or psionics.

"Babylon 5 was cancelled, and so was Deep Space 9, so... only thing left for my bumpy head was RPG supplements."

We also have the D'norr, aka Devilmen. No Go Nagai inspiration here, so don't worry about that. They're generally seen by humans as demonic tempters, but truthfully they're more peaceful and benevolent than most Earthlings. Those that get past their appearance discover a generally gentle and scholarly people. Cyber-Knights are generally familiar with them and like them. It's ironic do you get it, they look monstrous but they're not did you get it the first several dozen Rifts pulled this twist, going back to the Zembahk in Rifts World Book 2 and many, many times since, here it is again.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Also known as "melonheads" by the Coalition and "Horned Red Brother" by many Native Americans.

Oh, good to know. They're more charming than humans, but slightly less pretty, and get a horror factor "at least until one gets to know one". I'd like to think it'd take more than just some horns and Star Trek bumpy-head to inspire fear in the jaded folk of Earth, but I'm no veteran world-builder. They get some free knowledge of math, art, and anthropology, and can take pretty much any scholar or magical O.C.C., though magic is new to them.

Don't worry, his chin is worse than his bite.

Lastly, the Larmac are detailed.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

This D-Bee has appeared in the illustrations of various Rifts® books including the RPG and Psyscape™, but as never been described. Well that ends here.

Yep, it's time to take an old D-Bee pic from the core and make it a race!... and to be fair, they do get new art. Largely, they're lazy lizard-looking folk who are actually mammals. They're willing to work hard or take dangerous risks for a "big score", but only if they can be assured that they're earn time to party and relax. To be frank, they feel like a lot of classic racial stereotypes - one wonders how they ever crawled out of their dimension if they're so lacking in ambition or drive.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Also known as "lard butts" and "lazy lards" by the Coalition and others who find them to be worthless, obese miscreants.

In any case, they're strong and tough mega-damage humanoids who lack in charm and beauty. They can roll for psionics like humans, but have a reduced chance of them. They can take a variety of classes, mostly from Rifts World Book 14: New West, and their class list is a who's who of non-magical, non-combat garbage classes, from the Vagabond to the Saloon Bum. It's not clear if you have to roll psionics to take a Psychic O.C.C., but... some can. Probably the best non-psionic classes they get access to include the Highway Man, Wilderness Scout, or Trapper-Woodsman.


Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: I-

Alien Rope Burn: Nope.

Many become Psi-Cola addicts (a drug from Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape) in order to get access to psychic powers. They get a nickel penalty on initiative and a penalty against illusions, for those rare times illusions come up.

Lastly, there's a weird rules "clarification" that comes up in these race descriptions. One of the unanswered rules questions is if nonhuman attribute scores get the "bonus" attribute die humans get. See, humans roll 3d6 for attributes, and if they roll a 16+ plus, they get to roll and add a 4th die. But what about races that roll 2d6, 4d6, or 2d6+5 for an attribute? Well, some of these races note they get a bonus die - for example, D'norr get a bonus did on Affinity if they roll an 18 or higher on their 2d6+12 score. It's not clear if this is a general rule or only for specific races and attributes - Auto-G get a bonus die if their Mental Endurance of 2d6+8 rolls a 17 or higher, so it's not even a consistent number to hit.

Well, it's another Palladium® mystery!

Next: The Coalition's Most Somewhat Wanted.

"If Sir Bokobo or anybody else learned he had a genuinely appreciative thought running through his head, it would ruin his reputation!"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 2, "If Sir Bokobo or anybody else learned he had a genuinely appreciative thought running through his head, it would ruin his reputation!"

Tolkeen's Most Notorious
By Bill Coffin

So, the Tolkeen side has attracted many independent adventurers and mercenaries, particularly because many D-Bees and other groups relish the idea of striking out against the Coalition. In essence, they've been benefiting from waves of highly experienced combatants motivated by a shared distaste for skull robots, which has made things increasingly difficult for the the Coalition. And so, in turn, the Coalition has authorized bounties for "volunteers" aiding Tolkeen - both for soldiers and Coalition-allied bounty hunters. However, this has had the ironic effect of making most Coalition soldiers and contractors more reluctant to take adventurers on, since it it gives the adventurers a rep and makes the whole thing seem even more risky. With that, we get started on a list of groups that bear some of the higher bounties.

Alpha Fight.

The 1st Calgary Volunteers are a group of newly-united Canadian D-Bee adventurers, who named themselves after Calgary because of it having a really big rift. They also have a habit of vengeance, and like "revisiting" Coalition troops that trouble them to wipe them out. Each has a 100,000 credit bounty on their head. All of their species can be found in Rifts World Book 20: Canada, and they're pretty much a laundry list of most of the D-Bees from there. They include:

Fool, I'm the kinda D-Bee the little homies wanna be like.

The Caliber Street Irregulars are a gang and resistance force that fought the Coalition in the 'Burbs. More recently, they surrounded and eliminated a whole Coalition platoon in an ambush, and decided to high-tail it to Tolkeen when they were singled out for elimination after that. Even with that, many of them were slain by Coalition pursuit on the way to the war. Similarly to the 1st Calgary Irregulars, this group is basically a laundry list for the D-Bee species introduced in Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign.

"I may be a cannibal, but I'm a equal-opportunity cannibal. I ain't no racist."

The Vultures of Tolkeen are a group of Simvan Monster Riders (as detailed in Rifts Sourcebook and Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star) and bandits who have raided the Coalition States out West, and are famous for giving the Coalition a hard time. The group as a whole has a million credits in bounties split between them, though the present group in Tolkeen is only part of the larger group out West. As such, they're opportunists, and prefer to attack supply convoys and retreating forces. Though the Coalition has tried to taunt them by accusing them of being cowards, they couldn't care less- they just see it as fighting smart, and will be glad to answer the insult by killing more Coalition soldiers. They don't pay too much heed to the Tolkeen military or their operations, just sharing reports and intelligence when they feel like it. If things seem to be going well enough for Tolkeen, they'll invite the rest of the tribe to join them up North to put down roots.

Their leader is Lord Murgesh (9th Level), who's supposed to be the prototypical Simvan Monster Rider - ruthless, daring, warlike, and psychopathic. He likes murder and power in about that order, and rides a Fury Beetle (as detailed in the corebook). We get statblocks for "Heska", (Simvan lieutenants that ride Rhino-Buffaloes from Rifts Sourcebook), "Guress" (sergeants that ride psuedo-velociraptors and similar creatures), and "Throka" (privates and grunts without mounts).

And so, we're supposed to see Tolkeen get more shady, but the fact they have good guys at all is still a contrast to the Coalition forces which are either A) farcically monstrous or B) party to the aforementioned monsters. Let's see how the rest turn out!

Next: Then, everything changed when the Fascist Nation attacked.

"And remember, the potential for these things to critically unbalance a campaign is very high, so forget killer satellites even exist and do not include them in your game."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 3, "And remember, the potential for these things to critically unbalance a campaign is very high, so forget killer satellites even exist and do not include them in your game."

And we continue on with the Tolkeen allies the Coalition really wants to kill, but not their most wanted. Their wantish.

The first wizarding boy band.

The Jorukeva are fraternal quadruplets who are all 9th level Warlocks - elemental spellcasters. The work in preternatural concert impassively, seeming somewhat detached from the rest of the world. Also, they've murdered lots of Dead Boys and give no fucks about much else. And yes, thir group name is just the first two letters of each of their names mashed up.

Average Rifts PC Group #261.

Kado & Co. is a group of rogue Tolkeen soldiers lead by Jara Kado seeking to outrace the Coalition towards getting access to a "killer" satellite. It turns out Operation Falling Star is the name for the Coalition's top-secret attempt to find an orbital energy weapon. Though the Coalition doesn't consider it likely, they're getting desperate and willing to take chances trying to dig up anything that might end the war.

Jara, having found out about those, is searching Minnesota trying to find a secret bunker with access to the satellite, but it may just be hokum. However, if there is even a one percent chance, she has to take it as an absolute certainty. Naturally, Tolkeen considers it nonsense, and so she and her compatriots have gone rogue to seek this out. Granted, even if she finds it, she wouldn't use it on Chi-Town or the like - instead, she'd make a warning shot, then try and threaten the Coalition into submission.

Then, since Coffin has dared to offer a means to resolve the war in a single plot, it's time for some Siembieda shade!

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

G.M. Note: For more information on the dreaded killer satellites of Rifts Earth, please refer to the Mutants in Orbit™ sourcebook. But before you introduce killer satellites into your campaign, keep in mind two things. One, that both the Coalition and Jara Kado really are on a big wild goose chase. There is no way for them to contact, much less control a killer satellite. It is just the very thought of such power that keeps them going on this quest despite its obvious futility. Two, if any killer satellite were taken over by anybody on Earth, the space colonists in orbit and on the moon would either usurp that control or destroy the satellite. And remember, the potential for these things to critically unbalance a campaign is very high, so forget killer satellites even exist and do not include them in your game.

Proud Graduates of Keldor Memorial University.

The Dark Cabal is a group of eeevil spellcasters who have joined Tolkeen in fighting the Coalition, mainly because they're seeking out artifacts in the region and having a bunch of spider-skull robots marching around is just really bothersome. Tolkeen doesn't care for them, but it'd be more trouble to deal with them than it's worth... but we're reminded that Tolkeen's leaders are becoming as evil as these guys, which... no? Not really? Not as a whole, ultimately. But then, I have the foresight of knowing their eventual writeups, which these authors might not have penned at this point. These are at least slightly less "spill D-Bee contents of sourcebook onto page" than the previous ones, but only Kado & Co. really stand out of these three.

Next: Protecting a fatherland that hates and fears them.

"This means even if the Vanguard made itself known to the CS, they would NEVER accept their help, trust them or work with them."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 4, "This means even if the Vanguard made itself known to the CS, they would NEVER accept their help, trust them or work with them."

It's time for the last group the Coalition wants. Not most, not least. Somewhere in the middle.

"Power exudes from every orifice!"

The Vanguard
By Bill Coffin & Kevin Siembieda

Once upon a time, nearly a century ago, Chi-Town accepted magic, if begrudgingly. The Chi-Town Magic Division of the military oversaw that research, but with the war against the Federation of Magic, public panic turned against them. Joseph Prosek, the farther of Karl Prosek, would ban all magic use. All Chi-Town mages were forced to either undergo severe (psychic?) indoctrination to eliminate their ability to cast spells, or be exiled. A good number of mages were simply killed when they resisted this new edicts.

By now, the Coalition has erased public knowledge of this event, and the "destruction" of the Chi-Town library eliminated most precise records of it. Meanwhile, the exiled mages formed their own society based on most of the same notions of the Coalition, save for the acceptance of magic as a tool. They would call themselves the "Vanguard", dedicating themselves to eliminating supernatural and magical threats to humanity before the Coalition ever saw them. Because that makes sense. However, as staunch human supremacists, they see communities like Lazlo and Tolkeen as corrupted by the extensive presence of the nonhuman. A number of Vanguard have infiltrated both communities, and with the Tolkeen war on, Vanguard mages have at times worked to subvert and sabotage Tolkeen's war effort. All that Tolkeen knows so far is occasionally having to deal with pro-Coalition dissidents, but are shocked and confused whenever these mages are discovered. After all, pro-Coalition mages don't make a world of sense.

Coalition intelligence has gotten reports of the "Vanguard" but largely dismisses them. Even if they do exist, to the Coalition's thinking, wizards helping them out would have to be insane and would be as dangerous as any other spellcaster. As such, the Vanguard would be subject to the same lethal prejudice any other spellcaster would be. The Vanguard dreams that if they aid the Coalition, one day they might be accepted back, but it's extremely unlikely.

"We won't stand for your forced cultural diversity!"

The Vanguard is rumored to be led by Ernst Vinien, a highly decorated mage from when Chi-Town tolerated magic who faked his death and fled into exile. He was one of the few responsible for founding the Vanguard, and is said to lead them to this day - but that would make him over a century old. There are myriad rumors about how he might have lived as long as he did, or perhaps that he had successors take on his name to keep the legend alive.

Right now, the majority of Vanguard is in and around Tolkeen to assist the Coalition war effort. They have a military hierarchy that boils down to operating as 5-person cells designed to limit the damage that can be done by exposure and interrogation. In Tolkeen, they generally focus on undercover operations. They pass on intelligence to the Coalition anonymously, steal supplies and money, insert false intelligence and rumors, character assassination, and more rarely the assassination of key figures. We get a long detailed list of their axioms, but they're largely what you'd expect at this point for fanatical undercover operatives.

Vanguard characters can be Ley Line Walkers, Mystics, Techno-Wizards, or Conjurers (the last one being from Rifts World Book 16: Federation of Magic). They see spellcasters like Shifters, Warlocks, and Witches that contact alien powers as being corrupted - only magic that comes from purely human power can be trusted. Ironically, Vanguard spellcasters are just plain better than other spellcasters skill-wise, gaining increased access to hand-to-hand and various skill groups related to technology and espionage. Their "limitation" is that they can't reveal themselves no matter what - they can work with and manipulate outsiders, but never be open with them. Of course, you can play a runaway Vanguard member, and get that increased access to skills, but you're likely to be hunted down by the racist mages.

The Vanguard are clearly an addition by Coffin to further explain why mages don't run roughshod over the Coalition, though the idea they've kept up their ideology and secrecy over most of a century is hard to swallow. Particularly, it feels like we need a better idea of their culture and how it's been maintained - we get how they operate, but not much on them as a people other than "well, they're mysterious!" Still, they're at least an interesting villainous addition to things, but definitely feel shoehorned in as a heavy-handed retcon.

Next: Rustbuckets.

"Conventional medical treatment and care will make the individual more comfortable, but does little to save his life."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 5, "Conventional medical treatment and care will make the individual more comfortable, but does little to save his life."

Iron Juggernauts
By Kevin Siembieda

So, following upon on the Iron Juggernauts in Rifts Coalition Wars 1: Sedition, we have new aerial and naval Juggernauts. If you're hoping for more details on what the Juggernauts are, exactly, or how they're created- keep waiting. There's no real details like that here or during the rest of the series. Most of them continue being huge damage sponges with weak offensive output, having to rely on their innate spells to properly muck with their enemies.

The ineffable lightness of iron.

The Warhawk Iron Juggernaut (770 M.D.C.) is fire and air themed, leaving a trail of steam behind- wait, wouldn't that mean water? Well, whatever. They use a "Heaven's Light" polearm that lets it do middling damage or fire lightning, energy, or fire. It's also skilled at disarming, in one of the rare times Siembieda incorporates that mechanic. It also has Silver Blades for it ever fights Coalition werewolves, I guess. (To be clear: no such thing.) It also can vent steam and gets a variety of air and fire spells, and for some reason gets an automatic dodge with a huge bonus when flying, making it really, really hard to damage effectively. We also get specific anti-missile rules where it can attempt to shoot or parry missles, and guidelines and vague rulings on how it can use spells to deflect missiles. The most effective is apparently the fact that a shockwave or wall of wind casting can counter any missile barrage short of larger long-range missiles entirely- but how you time the casting of that is just left completely vague given how slow spells are to cast now. Also wind rush can be used to give missiles a -1 penalty to hit. Sure, seems like a worthwhile use of half your actions...

The Spruce Goose of mecha.

The Iron Dragonfly Juggernaut (1210 M.D.C.) is essentially a flying tank with air elemental effects. Its scythe-hands actually do solid damage up-close, particularly charged with electricity, but its lightning blasts are more underwhelming. It also gets mini-missiles and the steam-venting attack, automatic dodge, and a variety of air-themed spells. We also get a similar set of anti-missile rules. Mostly, though, it's a hideous damage sponge designed to take SAMAS missile barrages over and over and over. Also, there feels like a missed opportunity to call it the "Iron Butterfly".

The amazing buoyancy of iron.

The Sea Viper Iron Juggernaut (690 M.D.C.) gets a note that Tolkeen has held back on these models to "surprise" the Coalition. Wait, they didn't think they they could hold off the Coalition this long and planned this years in advance? Okay, sure. They're intended as amphibious ambushers, and uses cool spinning blade hands that don't... actually do that much damage, but they look cool! They also have blade feet and an automatic dodge when underwater (similarly to the Warhawk, this'll make it ridiculous to try and wear down). As water elemental-based Juggernauts, they get a bunch of water and ice spells.

Robo from the Black Lagoon.

The Earthwake Iron Juggernaut (1187 M.D.C.) is earth and water themed, leaving the burning smoke of sulfur behind- wait, wouldn't that mean fire? Well, whatever. It can shoot lava from lava fingers, shoot magical spears that do fairly solid damage, and has mini-missiles and steam again. They also get automatic extra damage underwater, but a lower bonus.

In general, the addition of automatic dodges for the Iron Juggernauts is hilarious- they're already damage sponges that rival or exceed Glitter Boys, so adding in the fact that half or more of the time, enemies will straight-up miss outside of missile barrages (that they can also try and counter... somehow) is a real issue. If that wasn't enough, on a one-on-one fight, either the Iron Dragonfly or Earthwake are big enough to do a body block attack that only takes them one attack and has a very good chance of eliminating two of their opponent's attacks, allowing them to quickly stunlock a single enemy and just keep them knocked on their ass repeatedly. It's like one of the old bad Mortal Kombat infinite loops, only now in RPG form!

Also by this point you can start spilling the beans on what the Iron Juggernauts are, Siembieda. We're over 350+ pages into this, there's no value to the mystery. If it turns out some evil means or methods is used to create them, it'd only help the attempts to demonize the Tolkeen side, but keeping it vague just leaves open the door to the possibility that it might not be entirely evil. Obviously, people are required in their creation, but then it goes on about how if you try and rescue from it they're super-dead and no secrets revealed. Thanks! Way to close off that story hook like a pro!

Next: The ______ has been kidnapped by ______. Are you a bad enough ______ to rescue the ______?

"Think karma!"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 6, "Think karma!"

Adventure Generation Possibilities Tables
By Kevin Siembieda

Then, we get seven pages of random tables for kidnap plots. Sometimes when I write stuff about Palladium I feel like I must be making up things, but no. Like, you'd think if you want to drill that far, it'd be battles or random enemy operations or something directly related to war plots, but no, we have nearly setting-neutral kidnap plots all of a sudden. This definitely feels like something Siembieda shoved in to shore up a flagging page count, but it's hard to say for certain. We get about a page of going on about all the different possibilities and rewards possible for these kinds of plots.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

The most savvy adventurers (villains and criminals among them) have a keen sense of what "good will" can do for them. Game Masters are wise to remember that "rewards" for a good deed can come in many forms, sometimes months or years after the fact. Karma, man. Think karma! Furthermore, player characters who see themselves as "heroes" should find gratification in doing the good deed in and of itself — no monetary reward necessary.

Yes, even if you're playing a villainous character, you should do good things! Because karma! Makes sense.

"If only there were some military force dedicated to protecting humans from nonhumans!"

So, the tables break down into who is missing and where they were last seen. When looking into what happened to them, we get a number of possibilities. Maybe they were kidnapped, so that goes into rolls on who has been kidnapped?, who may have them, and why kidnap the character. It's possible that it could just be a random incident or foul play, both of which just get single tables. Lastly, they were "taken captive for hostage" - wait, isn't that same as kidnapping? Well, in that case you just roll on the random villain encounter table to see who grabbed them.

So I'm here are some sample rolls:

Nobody deserves this, but genocidal fascists come real close.

Since it's really hard to hit the kidnapping or foul play tables, I'm going to force some results to demonstrate those. Yes, despite this being a self-described section about kidnap plots, you only have a 10% chance of hitting the tables that are explictly about kidnapping- and those are the most detailed tables! So, let's force some rolls:

More tentacles means more hugs.

If you're not totally burnt out on people going missing, we have guidelines on soldiers and mercenaries going missing in action. We're told D-Bees under Coalition care usually are executed within 8d4 hours of capture, where wizards are held for 1d4 weeks before being executed or being mutilated with cybernetics to hamper their magic. Non-magical humans will be kept for up months, most likely. While Tolkeen soldiers will likely take soldiers to prison camps, they only execute the most notorious Coalition operatives (generally publicly). We also get suggestions that MIA soldiers could be injured and in hiding, they may have deserted, gone native, or gone rogue.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Going Native. Soldiers suffering from mental or emotional trauma (once known as "shell shock" and "traumatic stress syndrome") may "go native," i.e. live like a primitive savage or adopt the enemy or unallied group of people (tribe or village of Native Americans, Psi-Stalkers, Simvan, etc.) and live with and like them as one of their own.

We also get a table of of MIA: who has 'em? Let's roll!
But we're far from done with tables. Let's roll on the Random Discovery Table...
... Random Villain Encounter Table...
... Random Encounters with Coalition Forces ...

"Eat generic energy, fascist dogs!"

... and, lastly, Random Encounters with Tolkeen's Magic & Supernatural Forces.
Palladium: when in in need of filler, just add tables. Granted, Palladium tables are often fun little toys, even when (or especially when) they produce self-contradictory or confusing results. Weirdly, the kidnapping tables have two different tables for who was kidnapped if you roll a kidnapping result, and it's not clear if they were developed independently and folded into the larger structure, or what. Also, as true to the history of our hobby, some of the encounter tables can produce results the PCs just have to flee from if opposed, like a fully manned Coalition APC, a literal company of troops, adult dragons, etc. There's no attempt to keep the encounters "fair" or "gameable" in the slightest.

Next: Meet the new Prosek, same as the old Prosek.

"Unbeknownst to us, we were Rifted to a parallel world where the enemy captured the Emperor."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 7, "Unbeknownst to us, we were Rifted to a parallel world where the enemy captured the Emperor."

Adventure Outline
Emperor Prosek lost behind enemy lines!

"Adventure Outline" actually just feels like it means "Unfinished Adventure", doesn't it?

In any case, a Death's Head Transport was downed by a group of Shadow Dragons (we'll see them in the backmatter) and flying Juggernauts, falling behind enemy lines. The rumor is That Prosek was on the skullplane, though Chi-Town denies this. Though Emperor Karl hasn't been seen after the crash, the Coalition claims that he's been secreted away for safety after an attempt on his life. However, the player characters (somehow) intercept a radio transmission from the Black Skull Down claiming to have the Emperor and that they're trying to escape to meet up with Coalition troops. Meanwhile, Coalition troops are battling to meet up with the survivors of the transport while bounty hunters start to swarm the area.

Conveniently, all the SAMAS armors on the transport were all destroyed or no longer flyable, so if Emperor Karl is there, he's not flying away. The radio message mentions this so the PCs don't jump to that conclusion. Thanks for giving that away on an open channel, skullbros!

The adventure presumes that Tolkeen-sympathetic PCs (somehow) run across the escaping Coalition troops. Even with heavy losses, though, the Coalition troops are too numerous to easily attack, with over a hundred soldiers, some with power armor or giant robots. They'll have to observe, locate the apparent Emperor Prosek, and then sneak in to find him. Mind, it's going to require "the cunning and teamwork of the players, the discretion of the Game Master and a bit of luck" because outside of invisibility and similar powers, using the Prowl skill is extremely dicey with a group involved. Of course, once they get the Emperor, the Coalition troops will be out for revenge and the PCs will be on the run. Other bounty hunters and mercs may bedevil him to grab the reward and prestige of bagging Prosek. Similarly, Karl will do everything he can to try and escape.

Note that it assumes that they try and capture Emperor Karl- the notion of just sniping him from afar and calling it a day isn't really an option it addresses. It does momentarily address that you could be Coalition soldiers who find them and aid Prosek's return, but it seems to forget Emperor Karl has a company of troops with him and any combat with Tolkeen forces will require some serious handwaving.

Of course, if you haven't guessed by now, Emperor Prosek isn't the real deal. He's a fake - an Auto-G assassin brainwashed to get close enough to a Tolkeen leader to kill and replace one of them, and then try to eliminate as many of the others as possible. Why the Prosek ruse? Well, presumably that'll get them close enough, but one would think they'd be extremely cautious regarding Prosek. It feels like it'd be harder to break free as Prosek than to say, have the Auto-G infiltrate normally like any assassin and not go through this bizarrely elaborate ruse that is costing them at least thousands of troops for the sake of the illusion. Moreover, most of the Tolkeen leadership are powerful mages and the idea of an Auto-G assassin taking them down with Prosek's hamburger hands seems relatively laughable. It notes that the the assassin could change the course of the war if successful, but has no real details on how that would actually fork from the existing plot even if the shapeshifter could manage it.

None of this happens in the adventure.

Oh, and if the Tolkeen-allied PCs succeed and presuming the Auto-G fails:

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Even if the assassin is unsuccessful in hurting anybody, Tolkeen's leadership will realize they have been tricked, and those who played a roll in the deception will be demoted, any rewards taken away, they will become laughingstocks (earning themselves historical infamy rather than fame and glory), and probably forced to undergo interrogation to make certain they are not Coalition spies or traitors.

Whatever the outcome, the player characters will have earned themselves a pile of experience points, may have acquired some minor valuables and helpful contacts during the process, and will have experienced, first-hand, the ingenuity and treachery of the Coalition States and its Emperor.

Yep. You can only "win" the adventure by "losing" it. What a twist!

But don't worry, if Coalition-allied PCs succeed, they... "succeed", and the assassin is never delivered into Tolkeen's hands. If they fail, though, we get a full page of overwrought glee about how they might feel bad or think they're insane, since their leadership will tell them Prosek was never there and has been in hiding the whole time. It explores the possibilities of them going rogue to prove their beliefs.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

If the player characters insist they "know" they had the Emperor and that he's fallen into the clutches of the enemy, the officers they appeal to are likely to see them as crazy or bewitched. This may lead to their being arrested and placed under guard for their own good. In either case, they are obviously suffering from some type of psychological breakdown and the entire group will be rotated out of the Tolkeen theater of conflict within 1D6 days.

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

As a result, authorities are likely to try to convince the player characters that if there really was a "real" person, that it was some sort of "enemy plot," and they should be glad it was foiled. If the player characters don't seem to buy this explanation, they may be committed to an asylum for the rest of their lives!

Siembieda is super jazzed by the idea of Coalition soldier PCs losing their minds over this, including 12 different possible insanities they could be inflicted with by the idea of being responsible for the loss of the totally awesome and important Emperor Karl Prosek. Thankfully, we're reassured:

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge posted:

Remember, not all characters will go crazy over this. Many will be able to accept that they will never know what happened or who was responsible. They are able to put it behind them and move forward. They may always wonder about it, and may even distrust or dislike those they suspect were responsible, but for the most part, they are okay and live normal, productive lives. This means it should be the individual players who decide if their fictional character suffers from emotional and mental trauma, not the G.M.

That's downright gentlemanly of you, Siembieda.

Next: Give him a whiff of his own B.O.*
* Blitzkrieg Offensive

"Although their own losses were a staggering 53%, they are flush with victory and celebrate with song, dance and drink."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts Coalition Wars 3: Sorcerers' Revenge part 9, "Although their own losses were a staggering 53%, they are flush with victory and celebrate with song, dance and drink."

It's time to finally talk about how the war is going! I thought we'd never get here.

Tolkeen becomes the aggressor

Realizing they're going to eventually going to be ground down by Coalition forces, Tolkeen decides to go on the the bold strategy of an complete, all-out attack. The notion is that the Coalition will never expect such a costly and risky strategy, and that they'll be able to break the fascists' offensive. However, it'll result in a high cost of lives, as well as a heavy risk to local civilian communities. However, they can't risk playing their hand by organizing and evacuating beforehand. Moreover, it's claimed that local civilians are dedicated enough to the war effort that their loss of lives and livelihood is something they'd volunteer anyway.

See, that's how you introduce a grey area, Siembieda! That's the way you do it! Showing, not telling!

Ultimately they might not have decided with this were it not for the Shadow Dragons. See, the dragons of Freehold have a secret: a magical trick that lets them create magical duplicate shadow-selves by "fragment(ing) their life essence" like alien intelligences do (Zazshan being the most notable example in Rifts World Book 3: England). Only a few amongst Tolkeen's leadership are aware of this, and have gotten the dragons to agree to use this for one definite chance at victory.

The big drawback is that only a relative skeleton defense will be left behind (metaphorically, not literal skeletons, though it might have some). The hope is that the offense will succeed in a few days, not enough for any other enemies of Tolkeen to organize a major assault. The plan is to have the Shadow Dragons teleport in and perform an air attack without warning, followed by a full-scale aerial attack. Then, hidden aquatic forces emerge from bodies of water to attack Coalition naval forces along the Mississippi and then flank the enemy. Finally, powerful Daemonix and Juggernauts will lead the charge, followed by infantry and mages of all sorts. After, they split their forces between annihilating Coalition fortifications and chasing fleeing troops. They're also hoping to drive one group of Coalition north and into Xiticix Hivelands, where they won't have any place to safely retreat.

After the apocalypse, rugby became way more intense.

Moreover, there have been several attempts on Emperor Prosek's life, though none have succeeded (including the aforementioned attempt involving an Auto-G). There are several teams left trying to infiltrate Chi-Town but with no luck as of yet.

They've made overtures to Free Quebec by offering information, as well as providing a plan to assist a Quebecois attack by ambushing Coalition forces from behind and other coordinated attacks. In addition, they've gone as far as to suggest they could provide aid in a Quebecois attack on Chi-Town itself, and help their lead a coup on the Coalition States as a whole. Ultimately, they're trying to make sure the Coalition is strained on both fronts and encouraging Quebec to weaken the Coalition States as a whole.

The final plan is to try and encourage a Xiticix attack on Chi-Town. Though this seems like a stretch, they believe that by driving a Coalition force into the Hivelands (as aforementioned), they can key the Xiticix to see all Coalition units as enemies, and then perform a false-flag operation to lead the Xiticix all the way to Chi-Town. It seems unlikely - the Xiticix could see through it, but it's believed the could potentially teleport the swarm right over Chi-Town. The thought is that if Chi-Town is attacked directly, most Coalition citizens will want to see an end to the war.

The eyeliner of evil.

Blitzkrieg Epilogue

The Tolkeen offensive will occur in the metaplot, ending likely in late 108 P.A., and shatter the attacking Coalition forces. One half of the Coalition army is, indeed, driven into the Hivelands. Led by General Jericho Holmes, the Coalition retreat in the North becomes known as "Holmes' Folly" as they're swarmed by Xiticix and Tolkeen leaves them to the bugs. Though Tolkeen loses about half their forces, the Coalition loses three-fourths and retreats. General Drogue survives and demands revenge, as Emperor Prosek maintains that the war is still very much on. Meanwhile, the rogue Cyber-Knights working for Tolkeen are shocked by the ruthlessness they see, as Tolkeen forces slaughter Coalition soldiers and allow their allied monsters to feast on the bodies. Though many see their resolve shaken, they prepare for the eventual Coalition retribution.

Because dragons weren't powerful enough, clearly.

Shadow Dragons

The Shadow Dragons are a mystery to most - they seem to the Coalition like dark "warrior dragons" that are more brutal and bloodthirsty, only really relying on directly offensive magic and close-quarters clawing. However, they're at least aware enough to flee when badly injured. When any are slain, they seem to dissipate into mist. Some believe them to actually be draconic ghosts or demons of some sort, but officially the Coalition believes that they somehow are escaping to another dimension. Those aware of other worlds haven't heard of these creatures before, however.

As aforementioned, Shadow Dragons are basically duplicate dragons created from a piece of an adult dragon's soul as a sort of "shadow-self" or "id-self" through an undetailed magical process or specll. They represent the dark side of the dragon that creates them, and have a corrupting / evil-ing effect on dragons who use this magic. Apparently these were once used by the Dragon Kings of Freehold to dominate a whole world, before being overthrown. They had seen this magic as their folly and failure that led to that, and had tried to reform themselves somewhat. However, like addicts, they have felt the call to use this dark magic again, and the war has given them the excuse to do so.

Hatchling dragons can't do this magic - so forget about using it yourselves, PCs! However, it weakens and drains the user, and they often sleep or rest while using it. The strongest dragons can make up to four shadow-selves, but are entirely crippled by doing so. They're also permanently weakened if any of the Shadow Dragons are slain- so they usually just end the magic and cause their shadow-self to "dissipate", creating the effect that Coalition soldiers often see upon "slaying" one. Lastly, it pushes their alignment towards the evil end over some vague period of time. We're told about half the Dragon Kings will become addicted to the power and go full evil during this conflict.

Each Shadow Dragon is a damage sponge, having between 500-1100 M.D.C. depending on the dragon. Their spellcasting and melee damage, however, isn't that impressive, with only their fire breath approaching passable damage. They can't teleport like normal dragons, but only travel back to the creator, and can't shapeshift or turn invisible. They're essentially like weaker dragons without psionics, and are mainly useful for just having lots of mid-level dragons.

"Don't be jelly because you can't fight the war while taking a monster dump."


That's that, Tolkeen beats the Coalition back and the war is over... wait, what, we're only halfway through this series? Well, shit.

As before, the whole attempt to demonize Tolkeen - literally - falls largely flat. While Tolkeen definitely does some shitty stuff and employs some awful, sadistic monsters, they haven't gotten down to the level of concentration camps and civilian extermination the Coalition has deployed. Tolkeen is in a morally compromised area, to be certain, but they're just not on the level of Drogue and his flunkies yet. They could easily be bombing Chi-Town with terrorist teleport attacks or the like - but they're not.

Moreover, this feels a lot like wheel-spinning. About half of the added Tolkeen NPCs don't really add much in terms of plot hooks, and the whole missing person tables seem appro of nothing. We could really use more details on Tolkeen or Tolkeen's forces (other than just the unit layouts back in Coalition Wars 1: Sedition) instead of just lots of new characters that, at best, demonstrate the spread of alignments amongst Tolkeen's forces. Moreover, some seem particularly uninspired - the D-Bee groups in particular just seem like Coffin just attached personalities to D-Bees from Canada or Coalition War Campaign and whammo, instant filler. The adventure hook is decent for Siembieda, but runs into the issue where it outsmarts itself. While the metaplot bits in here aren't bad as far as metaplot goes, better hooks to incorporate how the PCs might be involved or influence the war would be welcome.

Still, after the steaming dump of a book that Coalition Overkill was, this is definitely better. It really brings into question how overlong the series is, though. This could have been easily narrowed down into three books or so: one with Coalition stuff and NPCs, one with Tolkeen stuff and NPCs, and one detailing the war and giving different conclusions or possibilities. And if this book felt like filler... prepare for a complete detour coming up.