Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign by Alien Rope Burn
"As if all this raw excitement wasn't enough to give our fans heart palpitations..."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Violence and the Supernatural
Nazis and Insensitivity
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign 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.
The fictional World of Rifts® contains villains modeled after real people who committed one of the worst acts of genocide in known history. Instead of treating this with any sort of gravitas, these villains, often referred to as the "Coalition", are cartoon villains who ride around in ridiculous vehicles inspired by SS imagery. Racism, genocide, and apologism for fascists are all elements in this book.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Some parents may find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.
Some players may find the celebration of fascist monsters inappropriate for any readers/players. We suggest reasonable discretion.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign 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.
Please note that none of us at FATAL & Friends condone or encourage fascism, racism, genocide, or toyetic Nazis, except for Count Chocula, who has never found an idea so bad he won't try and find some way to excuse it.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part One: "As if all this raw excitement wasn't enough to give our fans heart palpitations..."
So, we start with Kevin Siembieda's introduction:
- He thanks a lot of people, chiefly relatives and old friends, and Wayne Breaux Jr., his "most dedicated and hardest working freelance artist". Kevin Long is just a memory now, I suppose.
- He's been waiting to write this book over a year now. Given they've slipped in metaplot for it in the last two products, that shows.
- This book focuses on the Coalition States and their new army.
- There's art by Vince Martin, Martin McKenna, as well as Jim Lawson and Peter Laird of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. Most of the art is by Wayne Breaux Jr., who replaces Kevin Long as the technical artist... and though he still doesn't have the same precision, this is some of his best work. Vince Martin delivers the new main Coalition armor designs.
So. Being critical of Rifts books has been a little tough lately. When I first started this series, there was a lot of rough material to lampoon, but lately... the books by CJ Carella were, at the very least, filled with a level of rising competence that made it tough. I mean, sure, books like South America 2 and Juicer Uprising were more than a little silly. Mutant time-manipulating capybaras! Deadball! Cyber-gauchos! But, you know, the writing was usually alright, at least. Sometimes even downright good.
Kevin Siembieda posted:
As if all this raw excitement wasn't enough to give our fans heart palpitations, it appears Palladium Books is single-handedly holding down the price barrier for role-playing games. We couldn't believe our eyes during a visit the other day to our local game shop. 96 and 128 page books for $18 to $20 dollars! With prices topping out at $28 and $30 dollars! Holy cow! I guess we've been so busy getting out products and sending new product into production that we missed the price hike of the century. And to think, we worried when we raised our cover price by one thin dollar in January.
That ends here.
With all respect to Zeleznik, glad we didn't get the armor design in the bottom right, at least... but it's still on the cover!
CJ Carella, despite bragging of becoming an in-house employee just a half-year ago, has already left the company. And so Siembieda soldiers on, delivering his vision for the game. And right now, that vision is: skulls. So many skulls. Whereas previously the game line was focused on expanding the Rifts setting, showing us Europe, Africa, Japan, South America, undersea - well, now it focuses solely on the Americas, and that largely means talking about the Coalition for the next two World Books. And while it's probably not the worst Rifts book (my money would be on Africa for that), it's considered the nadir of the line by many fans for several reasons.
- It doesn't tell us a whole lot that's new. The Coalition is already pretty well-defined at this point.
- What is new is enormously back-patty for the Coalition, giving them a serious of flawless, smug victories without much nuance.
- Much of the book is turned over to new equipment, most of which has power creep. The new effect is that the Coalition troops become far more of a grind to take down and far less mooky, and far more deadly to PCs.
- Breaux works very hard on this book, and it's hard to criticize him based on that, but... his work isn't nearly as strong as Kevin Long's yet. In particular, the new armor designs by Vince Martin are almost universally weaker than the original, which is a problem, because they're going to be the new standard going forward.
- While the Coalition "War on Tolkeen" metaplot didn't start here (it actually started in the original corebook, then has slowly crept into books like Mercenaries or Juicer Uprising), it takes center stage in this book and won't be going away for a good long while.
- Metaplot that ham-handedly reverses some of Carella's material on a level that seems possibly spiteful.
- Once again, apologism for genocidal fascists.
Next: Once more across Palladium the spectre of metaplot raises its shrouded head - in agony!
"If my dream of salvation, freedom, and peace are those of a madman, then I welcome my insanity and bid you all to share in my madness!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Two: "If my dream of salvation, freedom, and peace are those of a madman, then I welcome my insanity and bid you all to share in my madness!"
So, those who followed my Rifts Index & Adventures Part One review might remember the Skeleton Raiders, which were a big mystery in that book. Well, they're not a mystery here: the raids and murders done by the Skeleton Raiders were really just a cover for field tests of the new Coalition Army. Of course, the Coalition denied it and tried to shut down any scuttlebutt that they're behind it all-
You know what, Coalition States? You know what, Emperor Prosek? You want to test your secret military equipment, you know what? Maybe don't put skulls all over your secret units! Maybe you take the skulls off for just a bit while you test out. Maybe put smiley faces on, or clown faces, something that would actually throw people off the scent. If you want to make it secret, just- just try, put some effort into your evil schemes.
There's an interesting (false) rumor in both books that the Skeleton Raiders are actually Coalition troops from another dimension, and you know what? That would be a way more interesting twist, and one that fits perfectly with the multidimensional themes of the game. It would be interesting to see a human threat emerge from the rifts. And you could also have PCs take a trip to some horrible Coalition-dominated Earth that makes them go "Oh, this is why we need to stop them!"
But no. No. No, we won't be getting anything that interesting.
Fascist Reed Richards disapproves of you reading this. Or anything.
So, we have excerpts from a "New Coalition War Campaign" speech given by Prosek. The first part is bog-standard Coalition rhetoric about Earth for humans only and driving out monsters and magic. After that, we get to the actual metaplot chunks:
- Arkansas is now a candidate for Coalition statehood under Fort El Dorado and Newtown. D-Bees leaving the area are being driven out or exterminated. We're told their graduation to statehood will take 1d4+1 years, because of course you hinge metaplot on a die roll. Why not?
- The Coalition States now recognize the sovereignty of Ishpeming (aka Northern Gun) and the Manistique Imperium, and have free trade and nonagression pacts with both city-states. They've also agreed with both locations to see about destroying Naruni Enterprises as well.
- The Coalition has strengthened their relations with the New German Republic in some nonspecific way that isn't detailed.
- On account of their use of "forbidden technology" (Juicers, Glitter Boys), as well as speaking out against the Campaign of Unification (not explained yet), the Coalition States not only boot the Coalition State of Free Quebec out, they also declare war on them, supported by Ishpeming and the Manistique Imperium, who apparently just join in whatever fucking war the Coalition ask them to these days (the hell?).
From the Diaries of Erin Tarn
Erin Tarn talks about how shocked and she is as at the live transmission (Wait, how is she watching the transmission? Do they get CoalitionTV or whatever in Lazlo?). She's so shocked at the Coalition declaring war on everything inhuman, but... isn't that something they've always done? Of course, she walks about how horrible it is that he's lauded by the citizens and how charismatic he is. Oh, and he's like Hitler. We haven't mentioned in several books how Emperor Prosek is like Hitler, so we're due to mention it again. Also he's like the devil! The devil and Hitler.
Once again, she refers to the Coalition's Campaign of Unity as if we're supposed to have some idea what it is. She points out that Tolkeen has been building their own war machine, but that Tolkeen "is as narrow-minded, manipulative, brutal and fanatical as their enemy", which I we're supposed to take on faith without any details. The Council of Lazlo will stay out of the conflict, because the book I guess wants us to think that fence-sitting in the face of genocide is the proper moral choice. The Cyber-Knights are moving to defend Tolkeen along others, and it tells us over and over that This War Is Gonna Be Real Bad, Man. Yes! It will be, in more ways than one.
Free Quebec is another story, and will be a tougher conquest for the Coalition, and Erin hopes the conflict between Quebec and Chi-Town will be their undoing. Nope! It won't be. Still, she worries about the harm that'll come to Free Quebec, which is still evil but is at least the lesser evil.
Declared Enemies of the Coalition States
Not a Jedi, just dresses in a bathrobe of wisdom.
Erin Tarn gets a new writeup here, much longer than the one in Africa, and it starts off talking about how well she's known in the Coalition, with numbers like:
- 96.5% of Coalition citizens know about Erin Tarn.
- 3% admit to having seen one of her books.
- 69% of the "educated elite" are believed to have read at least one of her books.
- 23% of the "uneducated masses" have read or heard excerpts from her books.
- 100% of Coalition citizens know of Emperor Karl Prosek.
- 88% of Coalition citizens know of Joseph Prosek II.
- 81% of Coalition citizens know of Joseph Prosek I.
- 98.6% of people in the "Burbs" know of Erin Tarn.
- 92% of rural Coalition citizens know of Erin Tarn.
- 67% of North American residents know of Erin Tarn.
- 61% of Splugorth minions know of Erin-
Siembieda's love of imaginary bullshit statistics continues to fill word count without saying anything meaningful. Who, for the love of Thoth, gives a shit how many Atlanteans have heard of Erin Tarn, and what makes even their creator believe they could possibly give a shit? "I may be a giant floating psychic crab who despises all soft and pathetic humanoid lifeforms, but I read that Erin Tarn, y'know? She's alright, yeah? She's alright." Naturally, it goes on about how her commentaries are so, so famous, like, super-famous, and the Coalition want her as "Public Enemy Number One" because the truth is dangerous to the man, maaan. It also talks about how beautiful she once was, if the book wasn't done stroking a picture of her, and how a lot of the publications use younger pictures or art of her, and she's eternally smug when people meet her oldie self. Because that's what's important about her. How pretty she was.
Rifts World Book 1: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Erin finds great amusement in people's reactions to her appearance. Inevitably, somebody will remark something like, "Please don't take this wrong, Miss Tarn, but ... you don't look anything like what I imagined." Or, "... you just don't look like a philosopher or adventurer." At which point she'll flash that disarming smile and ask, "Oh? And what does a philosopher or adventurer look like, dear?" A question most cannot seem to answer.
See, Erin gets away with stuff because, uh, the Coalition are idiots and don't know she's an old lady, somehow. And also everybody loves her forever (the heads of Lazlo and the Cyber-Knights, particularly) except for bad dudes (the Coalition and Mrr'lyn, namely). Her statblock is identical to the one in Africa, save for the fact her magic scrolls seem to have gone missing (or gotten used up?) by this book.
Erin Tarn is frustrating because the idea of having an female, elderly hero is really progressive for a game like Rifts, but the problem is that she's a faultless ideal rather than a character. She ends up being the moral compass of the game and the authority on the setting - the latter which ends up being an issue when they decide to retcon elements (like in this very book, as we'll see) and so, well, she's wrong! So she's an unreliable narrator at best, and though she's supposed to be competent, the fiction requires her to get into trouble. So instead she's always making uncharacteristically bad decisions that get her into trouble, and relying on others to bail her out...
... it's a mess. Like I said, she should be a great example in theory, but the actual execution suffers.
"It's true, we braid each other's hair."
Sir Winslow Thorpe
Erin Tarn's Cyber-Knight Protector
See above at the subtitle? That's about 90% of what you need to know about this guy. It also says he fought alongside Victor Lazlo and Thoth in Africa, two of Siembieda's other favored man-crush* targets. Of course, the idea that Thoth would get personally involved in that last book wasn't ever indicated, but I guess he was now? Why Thoth didn't just wipe the floor with the Horsemen, I dunno; he certainly could with his ridiculous statblock and army of elite followers. Once again it hints that mmmaybe he's just related to Jim Thorpe and that he's a serious
* Man-crush would be Siembieda's term for it, anyway.
Remember these alien traders with amazing equipment? Well, the Naruni were branded as a menace and then the Coalition wiped them out.
Yes, it seems somehow the Coalition pulled off a continent-wide simultaneous strike on every Naruni facility. Now, I opted to look up how many actual Naruni enterprises are listed in North America, and there are only two: their storefront in Los Alamo and their sponsorship of Robot Control, a mercenary company. So if their holdings are that sparse, it's conceivable, though having Los Alamo wiped off the map and Robot Control would be worth at least mentioning, but neither are brought up here. The Coalition has declared anybody using Naruni equipment to be an enemy of the state to be destroyed, and part of their agreement with Ispeming and the Manistique Imperium to be part of this. Of course, the fact that the Naruni have an entire mercenary company, vastly superior technology, and extradimensional holdings is completely ignored.
That being said, the Naruni aren't wiped out entirely, since they still have holdings off-world, and mostly see it as a clever move by their competition (namely, Northern Gun). They'll still try and support the Coalition's enemies, but won't be readily available for those looking to contact them. Furthermore, the price of their equipment jumps 50% or more where it is available.
What I suspect is going on is simply that Carella's material was seen as heavy power creep or "broken" by Siembieda, and the Naruni impinge most on the core setting that he's working on. As such, they (and more importantly, their powerful equipment) got thrown out after only existing for two years in our time. It would certainly explain the lack of consideration in this chunk of metaplot that doesn't even consider the ramifications for the setting (once again, what happens to Los Alamo or Robot Control, who rely mainly on Naruni tech?). It certainly seems like a stretch that a country that will struggle to defeat one much smaller nation (Tolkeen) could pull something like this off, but it probably has more to do with metatext than metaplot.
Free Quebec, traitors!
So, in response to Chi-Town's declaration of war on Quebec, Free Quebec has naturally seceded from the Coalition States. They were already aware the that "Skeleton Raiders" were probably the new Chi-Town army being prepared against them, and they were very suspicious about "Project Unity" (which, no, still hasn't been explained). They sold their Glitter Boy technology to Triax (as already noted in Triax & the NGR) in exchange for military supplies and money, and have been preparing for this fight. Furthermore, Chi-Town faces morale issues (since they're fighting humans) and... look, it's Germany versus Russia in World War II if you haven't gotten the metaphor yet. Quebec doesn't seem quite so Stalinist, however, so they've at least got that going for them.
Adult Soldier Fascist Humans
The Federation of Magic
Note this is actually the first we're really hearing about the Federation of Magic, for those more familiar with the line. So we'll see how well this all matches up when they get their later writeup, but for now...
We get some history that the Coalition used magic in their early days, but had concerns about its effect on one's humanity and everyday life in general. Part of this was due to the wizardly community that had settled at "Old" Chicago called the Federation of Magic that was like "Hey sorcery is the best, hey let's raise the dead and summon demons, did we mention we're the new superior magic race? Bet you'll think rail guns are lame when you're our slaves, huh?" So the Coalition didn't want any part of that - ignoring the fact it was the practictioners and not the practice that was the problem - and banned magic as a result. Shortly thereafter, the Federation of Magic attacked Chi-Town at the prompting of the generically insane wizard Nostrous Dunscon, and that clinched the Coalition's anti-magic stance. The Federation of Magic, however, was ultimately too disorganized to put up resistance against the Coalition's counterattack, and was seemingly wiped out with a year. While the Federation of Magic and their allied communities were routed. General Joseph Prosek the First, Emperor Karl Prosek's father, pursued the fleeing mystics to try and exterminate them all because they killed his wiiiife, those bastards, they'll pay, they'll all pay, skull rage-
In any case, the Coalition thought the Federation had been wiped out, but fifty years later, terrorist acts credited to an Alistair Dunscon and the Federation of Magic began and have been sporadic but ongoing ever since. The Coalition doesn't believe the claims to be legit, but hey! It turns out they are legit. Apparently, the Federation of Magic is sufficiently decentralized now, and the Coalition hasn't realized they're a united if not organized force. They're split on whether or not to support Tolkeen, but the majority probably won't, seeing Tolkeen as a sacrifical lamb to weaken the Coalition so they can strike it down themselves. We're referred to buy Federation of Magic next year to get more information!... which is a release date that Palladium will barely land in December of '97.
This is pretty much restating that's been stated before, that the Coalition will probably stomp them unless they're able to ally with a nation like Lazlo (unlikely). The Coalition is starting to attack nearby kingdoms to try and cut Tolkeen off and draw battle lines.
"I had to get most of my internal organs removed for this armor to fit, but it was worth it!"
"... they say I have 48 hours to live."
- Archie-Three... has considered allying with the Coalition, but his right hand Hagan is trying to dissuade him despite his love of skull robots, knowing how the Coalition would probably CRUSH THEM.
- Atlantis... is mainly just taking bets on who wins. Their head horror Splynncryth is delighted to see the Coalition eliminate the Naruni, since they're rivals of the Splugorth as a whole. The Coalition will not CRUSH THEM.
- Cyber-Knights... aren't official enemies of the Coalition, but may join with Tolkeen to aid against the Coalition. If that happens the Coalition will CRUSH THEM.
- Kingsale... is likely to see a Coalition invasion as well with Arkansas being formed. The the remnants of the Juicer Uprising will likely help defend them (futilely) as the Coalition CRUSHES THEM.
- Lazlo... is an enemy of the Coalition, but due to its peaceful nature, has been discounted as a threat for the time being. They won't yet CRUSH THEM.
- New Lazlo... has gone mostly unnoticed by the Coalition, which is good, because the Coalition will likely CRUSH THEM once they do get the skullfaces' attention.
- The Pecos Empire... isn't a major concern from the Coalition unless they step up from their banditry, but eventually the Coalition with CRUSH THEM.
- The Xiticix... after the Campaign of Unity is completed, it will be time for the Coalition to CRUSH THEM.
Next: When you ride with Prosek, you... ride with... well, Prosek.
"The Emperor acknowledges that Doctor Bradford is eccentric and temperamental, but he won't consider installing any of the "safeguards" that his son has suggested for fear that they might interfere with the Doctor's creativity and productivity."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Three: "The Emperor acknowledges that Doctor Bradford is eccentric and temperamental, but he won't consider installing any of the "safeguards" that his son has suggested for fear that they might interfere with the Doctor's creativity and productivity."
Those who see genocide, nod slowly, and say "That's cool."
Isheming (Northern Gun) & The Manistique Imperium
So, these are two city-states that have built up largely around manufacturing (notably, weapons manufacturing, because little else is worth Rifts' attention). Due to being generally lower-tech than the Coalition itself and not being overly expansive, they were able to dominate the arms market in the Coalition's shadow. However, now they're too large for the Coalition not to acknowledge, leading to their recent alliance.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
In both cases, Ishpeming and the Manistique Imperium's cooperation with the Coalition States has created an immediate, short term (1D4 years) economic boom for the two independent nations
Because there's no metaplot so tight you can't throw a pointless 1d4 die roll in the middle of it.
Naturally, wiping out the Naruni was in the interest of these two nations as foreign competition. Where this will go after that is uncertain - they see tying themselves to the Coalition as a means to avoid confrontation and increase prosperity, but still don't ultimately trust the Coalition leadership.
Other Allies of Note
- Arkansas: Fort El Dorado turned to the Coalition States thanks to the damage from the Juicer Uprising, and as previously mentioned, are en route to become the next Coalition State.
- CS Iron Heart: Functioning mainly as a puppet state of Chi-Town, Iron Heart has served as Chi-Towns military manufacturing center. Also, ♪ it's time for metaplot! ♪ See, New Kenora, the home of Iron Heart Armaments (not to be confused with the Coalition State of Iron Heart), woke up one day to find themselves surrounded by Coalition soldiers one day and lost the fight roundly even though they make literal bombers and jet fighters and tanks and other kickass military-industrial shit. Don't you just hate it when totally obvious soldiers in skullface armor with no stealth capability just sneak up on you? Me too. In any case, Iron Heart Armaments was absorbed into becoming a manufacturer for the Coalition States, and all of their catalog no longer exists save as part of the Coalition Military. However, their library of weapon plans went missing before the invasion, and it's unknown where they went, so there's at least a out for GMs that want to reintroduce them.
- CS Lone Star: Functioning mainly as a puppet state of Chi-Town, This is less of a state and more just a set of communities around a single Pre-Rifts military complex where the Coalition's most secret scientific work goes on. It turns on the head, Dr. Desmond Bradford, is a dangerous mad scientist nutjob. Emperor Karl Prosek is surprisingly cool with this, but Joseph Prosek II is not.
- CS Missouri: Functioning mainly as a puppet state of Chi-Town (notice a pattern?), the Coalition State everybody forgets about; it's mostly just the breadbasket for the other States. In a shocking turn, the Coalition citizens may actually disagree with Chi-Town on somethig, but it doesn't say what. So just forget about it.
- Triax: They've sent some observers and supplies to assist the Coalition, but nothing more substantial.
"You're under arrest, 'Megaman'."
"Other than some notable and extreme exceptions, the laws of the Coalition States are fundamentally the same as those of 21st Century Earth, only the penalties tend to be twice as severe." Given that century hadn't happened at the time of this writing, that's not a terribly helpful bit of description. Maybe he meant 20th Century? Well, we don't generally make reading or wizardry illegal, so maybe not. As a reminder, reading, magic, not-state-approved media, and not being human are all essentially illegal. Psionics and cybernetics are allowed but heavily restricted and generally militarized. Apparently the death penalty is pretty popular, but I wonder how you make that twice as severe. The firing squad shoots twice?
So, it notes that Coalition prisons and work camps are particularly hellish places where death is common, though expulsion from the Coalition States is considered an even worse punishment. We get a lot of specific crimes, including specific details on cybernetic crimes. There are a lot of punishments for "illegal" cybernetic or bionic systems, but no details on what exactly constitutes illegal cybernetics. Another highlight is that possession of Erin Tarn's books is punishable by 15-20 years of imprisonment - you know, the books that 69% of the Coalition elite have read? Yeah, that makes sense.
It notes that Coalition cities have points of entry guarded by ISS (Internal Security... ?) officers, as well as a psi-stalker or dog boy to "sniff out" the supernatural. They also use undetailed systems to try and sense "unnatural sigantures" and weapons. Anybody who's suspicious is given further questioning or searches, anybody that isn't human or tries to break the rules is generally turned away. Those accepted get short duration passes, around 4-12 hours, and requests for longer stays require a tracking device to be worn. Visitors are also imprinted with a temporary bar code on their forehead to mark them. Usually only humans are allowed, though psi-stalkers or dog boys working for Coalition citizens might be permitted, and augmented humans must undergo special registration and disarmament if necessary.
We get a lot of statistics on crime:
- 90% of supernatural beings who find their way into a Coalition city are killed.
- 2% of supernatural beings who find their way into a Coalition city escape.
- 8% of supernatural beings who find their way into a Coalition city are captured.
- 90% of supernatural beings captured are executed.
- 10% of supernatural beings captured are imprisoned for life for questioning or experimentation.
- 75% of D-Bees are that get into a Coalition city are killed in street encounters with Coalition security.
- 8% of D-Bees that get into Coalition cities escape or remain at large.
- 17% of D-Bees that get into Coalition cities are captured and put on trial.
- 80% of D-Bees captured are sentenced to death.
- 8% of D-Bees captured are put to scientific research.
- 10% of D-Bees captured are imprisoned.
- 2% of D-Bees captured are released.
- 55% of magic practitioners-
"Do I eat it, or...?
Yes, that is Peter Laird's co-signature on that, as in Eastman & Laird of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. He didn't do much art outside of that particular game line, but this is one of the few exceptions.
CS & Chi-Town Slang
Some of these are already familiar to Rifts players and probably don't need to be explained again - 'borg, burbs, dead boys, dog boys, or psi-net. Others are the kind of words that are invented for a glossary list and probably won't see use again - choppers, demon, ghosts, grungers, sludgies, etc. Did you know that a "retro" is somebody that only uses 20th century or earlier technology? No? Well, it gets mentioned here and probably never, ever again. If they get used again, I'll describe them there, but most of it is just stuff for GMs to use and for future books to forget, just like in Juicer Uprising. I guess they thought it was the '90s and they had to have future lingo, but there's no attempt to actually use it so it falls enormously flat.
Next: Of the skulls and for the skulls.
"Personally, Karl Prosek, a pre-Rifts historian in his own right, prefers to think of himself as a combination of the best traits of Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Three: "Personally, Karl Prosek, a pre-Rifts historian in his own right, prefers to think of himself as a combination of the best traits of Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler."
The best traits of Hitler...?
Not the best plan the Coalition ever had.
The Coalition Army
By Kevin Siembieda with additional text, inspiration & concepts by Patrick Nowak
Ah, the good old "Nowak wrote this, I was unhappy with it, so I scribbled all over his ideas and took the credit" Siembieda byline. To be fair, I don't really know if that's the case here... but... I'm just making casual accusations based on past behavior.
So, as a expansionist group of genocidal fascists, the Coalition is centered around its military, and the highest prestige and benefits are available through it. To most citizens, the military is the greatest source of national pride, but poorer citizens get to see more corruption and abuse of power at the hands of Coalition security and tend to have a wider variety of opinions. Those in the 'Burbs tend to see them mostly as a source of harassment and oppression, which is pretty accurate, though the Coalition forces also tend to be the only thing fending off supernatural predators and their ilk. Of course, the fact they'll shoot anything else that could fend off supernatural predators and their ilk is a part of that.
The military also oversees and controls scientific research, approval of technology, education, industry, and propaganda. Most citizens are apparently content with this because things are alright.I have to wonder what's left for citizens to do once the military's done- music, movies, microcode, and pizza delivery?
So, the head of the Coalition States is Emperor Karl Prosek. We get a lot of on him, but we'll get his full writeup later on, so I'll skip covering him twice (or thrice, counting his writeup in Rifts Sourcebook). Instead, we'll move on to the Executive Counsel, his group of advisors, lackeys, and bureaucrats. The most powerful man on the Executive Counsel - in fact, the only one with real power outside of Karl Prosek - is the General of the Army, Charles Reed Baxter.
Now, when I read that, I was puzzled. Here we are, over twenty books into the game line, and here's this guy, Charles Reed Baxter, head of the Coalition Military, who's never been mentioned before. And don't think he gets a writeup in this book, this book entitled Coalition War Campaign, the very book that you would presume would contain at least a scant or passing detail about the guy behind it all. Oh, sure, we get statblocks for General Cabot and General Underhill reprinted, but not a single detail on the guy actually leading the war campaign.
And you may think "Well, certainly by the time they get to their seven-book Coalition Wars series, he pops up." And I'm going to spoil: no. He never shows up in any Rifts book again as far as I'm aware. He's never detailed in any way. And as you know, I've been reading up on these books for awhile, and this is just a whole new level of incompetence. It's as if Darth Vader was only named in the opening scene of A New Hope and then was forgotten about for the rest of the trilogy, save for occasional references to some fellow that works for the Emperor. It's bizarre.
All I can guess is that Patrick Nowak wrote this section and then Siembieda promptly forgot about it and never reread it. Indeed, most of the Coalition hiearchy is listed and then never mentioned again. You'd think internal Coalition politics would be important information for somebody running, say, a war campaign involving the Coalition, but Siembieda pointedly doesn't care. I was planning initially to skip these folks because initially I was like oh my god I don't care, but now I'm curious to see if they show up in future books. So let's go over them.
- Colonel Joseph Prosek II: Head of propaganda at the Department of Public Information and Chairman of the Executive Counsel. Detailed in Rifts Sourcebook and again in this very book.
- General Charles Reed Baxter: Five-star General of the my. Never detailed.
- General Marshal Cabot: Three-bar General. Detailed in Rifts Sourcebook and again in this very book.
- General Loni Kashbrook: Head of Lone Star Operations & Administration and a Three-bar General. Detailed in Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star.
- General Apollo Lucitonis: Head of the Military's Department of Special Divisions (DSD) and a Two-Bar General. Never detailed.
- General Thomas Lopez: ISS Commander-in-Chief, Four-bar General. Never detailed.
- Judge Bradley Martindale: Head of the Justice Department. Never detailed.
- Tyler Wilpepper: Head of Industry. Never detailed.
- Doctor Matthew Fronval: Head of Medicine. Never detailed. He's supposed to be stationed at Lone Star, but is never mentioned in Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star.
- Doctor Victoria Lansport: Head of Science. Never detailed.
- Doctor Thomas Clinton: Head of Advanced Cybernetics Department. Never detailed.
- Colonel L.J. Klonicki: Head of the Food and Drug Administration. Never detailed.
- Professor Carla L. Korehira: Head of Foreign Relations. Never detailed.
In addition, we get details on the military high command - mostly made up of Chi-Town appointments, with the only interesting outlier being General Sean Oulette, a former Quebecois who is loyal to Chi-Town now and helping oversee operations against Free Quebec. Sacrébleu! General Cabot and General Underhill (both detailed fully later), CS Intelligence Division commander General Ford (never mentioned again), and Psi-Battalion Colonel Carol Black (barely detailed later) make up the group heading up the Tolkeen Campaign. Individual regional commands handle most of the support and logistics, though they rarely handle any actual military operations. Though most of the Coalition is made up for their regular army, there are regional state forces that serve for local defense of individual states akin to a National Guard, though they can be reassigned to campaigns and operations as necessary.
There are also some other special groups that get detailed:
- Rapid Deployment Force (RDF): A force of four combat divisions organized for constant readiness to be deployed anywhere in North America in 48 hours. They're likely to be the first to fight in the Tolkeen campaign.
- Department of Special Divisions: This includes most of the Coalition special forces, including the Rift Control Study Group (RCSG), the Juicer Division, and the Cyborg Division. However, Rifts seems to forget that "Special Forces" is a blanket term and doesn't actually seem to have a specific group (like SEALS or SAS) that actually covers. They just call the Special Forces of the Coalition the Special Forces.
- CS Intelligence Division (CSID): Pretty much just what it says on the tin - these folks handle military intelligence.
- Psi-Batallion (Psi-Bat): This is where psychic humans, dog boys, and psi-stalkers are generally organized. It notes that military psychics don't need to get tagged like civilian psychics do (detailed waayyyy back in the original Rifts RPG) since having tracking devices implanted would pose a military risk. It notes that Mind Melters work for this group, which is a retcon of the original corebook, which had Mind Melters be forbidden from all Coalition cities and hunted down otherwise (tag and release!... no, probably to be killed, but it never said). Maybe a Mind Melter made them forget about that whole setting element.
- Rift Control Study Group (RCSG): Dedicated to studying and containing rifts, their HQ is based around the St. Louis Gateway Arch, aka "The Devil's Gate" rift. Apparently, they've constructed a massive complex to enclose it, which is a direct contradiction to the original corebook, which stated they'd tried to contain it for years and failed to do so. Guess Erin Tarn was wrong again.
- Naval Advisory Commission: Originally devised just to deal with piracy and monsters in the Great Lakes, the Coalition is building an actual seagoing Navy under Admiral Travis Fisher (who will reappear in Rifts Sourcebook Four: Coalition Navy). Why? Eh, why not.
- Coalition Expeditionary Force (CEF): This force mainly engages in exploration or observation of other nations, often undercover. Generally, they aren't involved with actual sabotage or military operations, but only intelligence gathering.
Apparently, large armies are rare, generally not exceeding 15,000 or so, and that conflicts are generally between small units due to the destructive power of mega-damage weaponry. The Coalition's new and massive army is supposed to be an exception that will change everything, though.
We get some details on "Coalition Strategies", which aren't so much strategies but assets. Their threefold strengths seem to be the blitzkrieg strategy (because Nazis, yeah?), the general fanaticism of their troops, and the extensive training that troops undergo. Then, we get some notions of what the Coalition Military gets up to:
- Reconnaissance: ... is a hard word to spell. Naturally, they seek and search and patrol and whatnot.
- Search and Destroy: Locate and eliminate hostile forces. I guess they have to do the first part because recon isn't doing its fucking job? Anyway, it says they sometimes do operations in Mexico, South America, or Europe, though who'd they be fighting or why isn't explained. I guess it's supposed to sound impressive without actually making sense.
- Strategic Assault: This like search and destroy only without the search part, presumably because recon did its fucking job.
- Pacification: This is "aggressive peacekeeping" where the enemy has to be identified within a civilian area and captured or eliminated.
"Fire! Shoot it now!" "We know, you're literally not helping, Steve."
Enlistment & Conscription
So, due to the high degree of prestige the military provides and an an ongoing propaganda machine, 1 in 10 Coalition citizens is a soldier. There's the throwaway statistic that half of the Coalition soldiers are 5th-9th level, because I guess the average Coalition soldier just has to be more competent than the majority of PCs. In any case, the percentage crusade continues; 75% of Coalition soldiers are recruits, 20% are mutant animals grown or bred for the task, and 5% are special recruits who are shanghaied or otherwise coerced.
Boot camp is designed for indoctrination, combining a constant barrage of propaganda with exhaustion and depersonalization. Granted, not all soldiers end up parroting zealots, but those that voice opinions or demonstrate disobedience tend to be shipped back for reorientation. Those who make a habit of such things tend to get imprisoned or executed. Training is relatively typical, and new recruits tend to get posted to areas with high incidence of contact with the enemy in order to ensure each new soldier gets actual combat experience. Or dies, I suppose!
Next: Be honest with yourself. Be certain that your so-called reason is not a selfish excuse.
"At least 75-85% of all Coalition troops are anti-human and pro-Coalition fanatics."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Five: "At least 75-85% of all Coalition troops are anti-human and pro-Coalition fanatics. "
"The Emperor said my mustache needs more of a trim on the sides. I wonder why he said that?"
Game Master Tips
Good or Evil?
By Kevin Siembieda
A lot of this is reprinted from Rifts Sourcebook, so you can look at my review of that for the most part. That being said, the fact that this travesty is reprinted and expanded here is worth another quick look.
The main initial change is that he points out is that the Coalition leadership are "fundamentally self-serving villains" who are willing to manipulate and use people to see their Empire built. However, he tries to argue that-
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
They genuinely fear nonhumans and believe these creatures will subvert their civilization and destroy humankind. Many humans have experienced or witnessed attacks by supernatural monsters and evil human or D-bee sorcerers, which only substantiates their worst fears and supports the government's propaganda. Consequently, the citizens are not evil when they notify the ISS or NTSET to capture or gun-down a D-bee. Nor are they necessarily evil when an angry or terrified mob traps and kills an invading wizard or mutant who has snuck into the city. After all, by their perception, these characters are not feeling people like them, but monsters that threaten their lives. At best, the fiend is an enemy spy or scavenger who probably has the blood of countless humans on his hands (no doubt killed in their sleep).
Pretty sure racism is not a "get out of morality free" card.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Stop and think for a minute. Does it matter if the enemy soldier is a bloodthirsty maniac or a person of principled good alignment, a wonderful family man, merciful, and hates war, if he is trying to blow your brains out because he sees you as the enemy? That is the tragedy of war. It's kill or be killed.
Like all good soldiers, theirs is not to question why, theirs is just to do or die! In a life and death conflict one tends to try his hardest to defeat the other. There is little time for thoughts of
morality when one is wrestling with an opponent who is trying to kill him.
Pretty sure war is not a "get out of morality free" card.
Ultimately, Siembieda wants to eat his cake and have it afterwards; he wants an evil faction with skulls run by Neo-Hitler (now with less mustache) complete with toyetic skull walkers buuuut he also doesn't want to demonize an entire group of people so he tries to add nuance on the ground and it doesn't fucking work. If you want to have nuance in a game it has to be all the way through. There's all sorts of ways you could humanize the leadership and still have it be awful, have conflict between extremists and moderates, and have the troops on the ground being like "well I follow the example of Senator Not-So-Bad". It's like shouting in the middle of Return of the Jedi "Those ewoks are monsters, those stormtroopers have families!" That may be so, but as long as they're working for the wrinkly guy who is so evil he can fire pain from his fingers, nobody gives a shit. Finn in The Force Awakens is a good example of somebody who's working for a similar regime, and when he has an attack of conscience, he betrays and leaves the First Order at the first possible opportunity. Coalition soldiers on the ground might do good things, noble things, but they could also be good and noble and not work for genocidal fascists. Yes, the Coalition keeps your family safe... and so could Lazlo... or Kingsdale... or the Colorado Baronies...
Man, I'm gonna need all the italics for this book, I swear.
But hey, as the book reminds use, you can have a delightful time playing a racist dope that might learn to be less racist and less dopey! They may never actually overcome that racism, but maybe they're not that bad a guy after all- ugh. Just... ngh. Nnnnnngh.
A haircut you could land a skycycle on.
Let's run the odds of being allowed to play an officer!
Officers need to have an I.Q. of 10 and a 14 in one other attribute. That's about... a 42% chance. But that's only if you're "from a wealthy, powerful or influential family". If you're not, you need a 10 in another attribute, that drops it to about 27%. But why would you care about qualifying for an officer? Well, firstly you get paid more. Secondly, you're just better. You get small bonuses to Horror Factor, Mental Endurance, and communications skills, and then get extra skills as you level up. Not a big deal, but there's no downside, so qualifying only makes you better. We then get over a page of agonizing detail of if you're a leader you better roleplay that shit right, prole. We also get long sections about what makes you a bad leader (i.e. being Snidely Whiplash) and what makes you a good leader (i.e. being Dudley Do-Right).
Female grunt and officer. male grunt and officer.
Coalition Military Chain of Command
By Julius Rosenstein & Kevin Siembieda
This is a long, long list of ranks, insignia, and pay grades, which is useful for those wanting to play their not-Nazis but about exciting as sugarfree gum. Unlike what it said above, some classes just start as officers, which seems to contradict the requirements to become an officer above... or is it combined with the requirements above? Well, we're back to Siembieda and he doesn't know or give a shit, so we don't either. For some reason the Coalition rank list for various Coalition classes includes "Crazy" as a class, which is incorrect (they're noncoms, for the record). There's bonus pay for combat and hazards, details on rank ceilings (notably, dog boys can only advance to noncoms, and never command humans), "Brevet" ranks used to fill temporary gaps in command structure, mercenaries and service specialists hired outside of the normal command structures, notes on uniforms and insignia (unironic Death Head's usage, hope you don't get sick of that)-
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Because of their number of various ranks (four), Generals are sometimes unofficially referred to by the number of their bars, i.e. "2-Bar General," etc.; just as their pre-Rifts counterparts were referred to by their number of stars. Due to this informal practice (and with soldiers being how they are), a number of jokes have arisen dealing with some Generals' decisions being based on a lack of sobriety. Although these comments are neither automatically meant as (or serve as grounds for) insubordination, how they are received is often up to the General in question. For example, Field Marshal Prosek has generally taken these comments in good humor while the staff of General Underhill has quickly learned to avoid such jokes while in earshot of their irascible commander.
Coalition humor, everyone.
We next get a run-down of qualification badges, medals, and awards; the highest one is the Imperial Medal of Honor, other notables are the Minnesota Cross to be given upon completion of the Tolkeen offensive (which I guess you can earn years from now when they publish the seven-book series for that...), and the Cybernetic Heart for being wounded (but strangely doesn't seem to involve actually gaining cybernetics). The book warns us not to award medals or promotions too freely, but encourages GMs to come up with their own battle and service ribbons: "This is your chance to be creative, so knock yourselves out; we're fairly sure that Prosek won't object." We're given minimum levels for given ranks depending if you're an officer or a private (grunts level faster but it doesn't matter because they're still ranks behind to begin with), as if rank somehow directly correlates with competence. In addition, PCs aren't allowed to rank above Corporal. Can't have PCs becoming important or impacting the setting, after all!
Shell-Shock Rules (optional)
Horror Factor on the Battlefield
By Pat Nowak and Kevin Siembieda
So, now we have rules for post-traumatic stress disorder - and yeah, that term had been out for nearly two decades when this was written, so "shell shock" is more than a bit antiquated. Shell shock is, at heart, treated as a form of insanity to be assigned to PCs at a whim. There's no system as to how or when it should be assigned, but GMs are told to be "fair and reasonable" about it and that it's "less common than one might think".
When somebody suffers from shell shock, they have to make a roll against a horror factor determined by the source of trauma. If the roll is successful, the character gets minor combat penalties (the worst of which is losing an attack) no matter what. If the roll fails, the character loses an entire round, then has to roll again - and even if you succeed there, your combat bonuses and attacks are halved.
And, once again, I'd mention there are no rules for either assigning, avoiding, or overcoming shell shock, so all you can do is hope your GM is nice enough to avoid inflicting it on you. Great rules, guys.
Next: This is the enemy.
"This skill grants a clear understanding of the way the military works, including rules of behavior (when to salute, how to address superiors/subalterns, etc.), military procedures and routines, standard issue of equipment, special ordering procedures, proper display of rank and medals, advancement in rank (and the duties that come with it), proper troop formations, how to deal with military bureaucracy, the chain of command, proper channels, who to contact to get things done, and other useful information on matters of military protocol and bureaucracy."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Six: "This skill grants a clear understanding of the way the military works, including rules of behavior (when to salute, how to address superiors/subalterns, etc.), military procedures and routines, standard issue of equipment, special ordering procedures, proper display of rank and medals, advancement in rank (and the duties that come with it), proper troop formations, how to deal with military bureaucracy, the chain of command, proper channels, who to contact to get things done, and other useful information on matters of military protocol and bureaucracy."
Because sentences don't actually need to stop at any point, technically...
We're ready for some generic action!
Descriptions of New Skills
Like all great Rifts books, we get a bloating of the skill section. If that wasn't enough, they reprint the whole skill list "for easy reference". If you wanted it to be easily referenced, it'd be a hell of a lot shorter...
- Electronic Countermeasures (Jamming): Jamming signal may already be included under Radio: Scrambler! Maybe not! Ask your GM! It's not like we write the rules or anything!
- Imitate Voices & Impersonation: You thought this might be covered by the disguise skill, but you're wrong. See, the disguise skill doesn't explicitly mention changing your voice, so enjoy taking this skill tax for basic competence.
- Interrogation Techniques: Feel sad for the cop-themed O.C.C.s that came out before this book.
- Basic Mechanics: A skill from old games brought back in case you want to be like a less competent Mechanical Engineer in exchange for a 5% bonus chance of success, whee.
- Field Surgery (By Pat Nowak): Yep, apparently being a Paramedic or a Medical or both doesn't cover this. This also has optional rules for rescuing people who normally would die from mega-damage (minus a limb or two), but the base chance is 16%, so don't get your hopes up.
- Armorer: Like a crappy version of Weapons Engineer, but with a 15% better success rate.
- Camouflage: Sure, Detect Concealment may explicitly say it lets you set up camouflage, but forget that, here's a skill that supercedes it.
- Military Etiquette: Hahaha no sir fuck you sir.
- Find Contraband, Weapons, & Cybernetics: I mean, Streetwise already explicitly covers shopping for illegal goods, but this now explicitly says Streetwise doesn't. Guh.
- Fortification: 30% chance to construct the pillow fort successfully.
- Nuclear, Biological, & Chemical Warfare (NBC): Not that we have much in the way of rules for biological and chemical warfare, but just in case.
- Parachuting: Do you care about HAHO, HALO, or LALO are? No? Well, too bad, because you're about to find out. Oh, and if you fail your roll, try again. If you fail it twice, you die! What if you don't have the skill? Well, you just die.
- Recognize Weapon Quality: Normally this just came free with a Weapon Proficiency, but this instead lets you evaluate any weapon. You know, in case you care about evaluating weapons you have no proficiency in.
- Trap Construction: 20% chance of success at such difficult tasks as A) digging a hole in the ground, B) placing a bear trap and chaining to a tree, and C) unrolling a spool of barbed wire across the ground. Granted, doing a log fall or a net trap does take skill, but a lot of these - like stringing a line out to make people trip - could be done by an industrious third grader.
- Trap/Mine Detection: Sure, we have a skill specifically called Demolitions Disposal, but it doesn't let you detect mines.
- Physical: Hand to Hand Commando: Magic bullshit Coalition fu.
- Pilot Related: Radar/Sonar: Yeah, we already had a skill called Read Sensory Equipment which already does this, but how about a more limited version? Why not?
- Streetwise - Drugs: This might be included in the original skill or you might need to ingest it orally, consult your local GM for details.
- Lore - D-Bees, Lore - Magic, Lore - Psychic: You know your wizard you made without this book? Turns out she doesn't actually know that much about magic after all.
- Underwater Demolitions, Pilot: Submersibles, Pilot: Warships/Patrol Boats, and Pilot: Water Scooters: Skills so hot they needed to be reprinted. Oh, there are no subs or boats or scooters in this book. Just FYI.
Of course, the core Rifts book already has seven Coalition classes: the grunt, the RPA Elite, the technical officer, the military specialist, the 'borg, the psi-stalker, and the psi-hound. But that's not enough, is it? No. No sir.
"Is that a D-Bee?" "Who cares? We got guns! bangity bang bang!"
Coalition Cyborg Strike Trooper
Despite thinking ofs full cyborgs as "inhuman", they've done an about-face after doing tests and studies that informed them that cyborgs don't necessarily dehumanize and face to bloodshed. That and they have a lot of wizards to kill in Minnesota. Still, Prosek is hesitant and their numbers are limited. For some reason, the Coalition generally disguises them as normal troops, which has gotta suck for normal troops once their foes learn to take a "nuke 'em all" approach.
This is much like their original package in the corebook, only they get to choose between being "light" or "heavy" models. The heavy models are stronger and more agile and have a lot more combat equipment (including the ubquitious concealed ion rod in the leg) and the light is... faster and has a lot of extra sneaking and sensing equipment. They get different skill packages in addition to the basic skill package 'borgs already got, making them more powerful than the old class and a lot better than non-Coalition cyborgs.
We get a lot of details on decomissioned cyborgs, like any PC would be like "nope, I don't like being a massive machine powerhouse anymore". About the only interesting notion is apparently cyborgs can retire with some of their weapons intact if they're immigrating out of the nation (to, say, be an adventurer), which seems like a good justification for one as a PC. Which is on the rare chance you get to play one, anyway; their high Mental Endurance requirement only gives a 9% chance of rolling one up.
Face skull, chest skull, ... nipple skulls?
CS Commando O.C.C.
Less than a 1% chance to roll up one. Just mentioning that up front.
So, these are supposed to be the Coalition's elite badasses, though they get fewer skills than the generic Special Forces O.C.C. back in Rifts Mercenaries. Their big-deal thing is supposed to be their special Hand-to-Hand: Commando skill they get. It gives them a variety of fancy special moves, like:
- A body block that can be dodged or resisted with a "maintain balance" roll, but the game has no rules for the latter.
- A special sweep kick that does no damage and knocks people down; it can't be parried, only dodged, and even then only at a penalty.
- A special "critical" body flip that causes one to lose two attacks when hit by it.
- An automatic dodge like Juicers get at 5th level. Yes, just through training, you too can just dodge around like a crazy now... or like you know Aikido. (Deep cut.)
- An automatic attempt to body flip people instead of dodging while in melee... at 14th level, so just forget about ever actually getting it.
By Kevin Siembieda and Pat Nowak
So, this is an O.C.C. in the tradition of garbage O.C.C.s like the Forger or Safecracker in that it basically takes on singular skill and tries to make it into a class. The sad fact is that this character isn't vastly better at defusing bombs than other classes - only modestly better. The angle they try and give this class, then, is that they're an expert in making traps and homemade bombs. We get over a page in special homemade explosives, most of which is garbage that barely does damage worth MacGyvering up. The main stuff that's useful of which are debuffs like flash grenades and tear gas, or their ability to increase an explosive's damage by 25% (which we're told increases 1d6 x 10 to 2d4 x 10, because Rifts is bad at math). As such, they at least have a use, though it'd still be better to just have another robot pilot on your team if you want to do damage.
Naturally, they get a bunch of engineering and demotions skills, and their secondary skill picks are slightly under par. Oh, and you have a 0.5% chance of playing one due to their strict attribute requirements. Fuckin' Rifts.
... is just completely reprinted from the last book, Rifts World Book 9: Juicer Uprising, which I might forgive if they were collecting some information from a hard-to-find source, but this information from the previous book in the line. So you can just check my review for that. The only "new" information is that Colonel Lyboc still has a few dozen of these guys after the titular Uprising, so if you want to work for the Coalition's Vic Mackey (only more scummy, somehow), play one of these guys.
Still amazing that they reprint information from the previous release. And not just a little, this is three whole pages. Fuckin' Rifts.
CS Nautical Specialist
By Julius Rosenstein with material by Siembieda
Would you believe, even by the end of this book, we've never had any aquatic craft detailed for the Coalition of any sort? But that doesn't stop them from writing up this class, perfectly placed to twiddle its thumbs until Rifts Sourcebook 4: Coalition Navy, which will go ahead and render this O.C.C. redundant. Look forward to it!
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Although officially designated as "Sea Devils," the Nautical Specialists are better known by their nickname "Naughty Boys," much to their chagrin.
So, the Coalition mainly just is dipping their toes into aquatic operations, but is planning to dive in fully later. Some Coalition soldiers think getting assigned to this is hitting rock bottom, but a few are taking to it like a fish to water. While it's still technically a part of the army, the idea of a an actual navy is being floated around- ugh, look, this is boring. I've got to make my own fun.
The chance of rolling one up is 14%.
"You're not going lock these locks in a helmet like some kind of... cage."
Coalition Military version of a Wilderness Scout.
They're not kidding, this is really just a Wilderness Scout with skulls on, so I don't think there's too much to add. It notes that Rangers tend towards tolerance much more often than their Coalition counterparts, since they come into contact with nonhumans more frequently and often develop contacts amongst local populations... well, those willing to put up with a pawn of a genocidal empire, I suppose. About 28% chance to roll one up.
Hope you're not sick of pictures of action figures saluting yet...
Rift Control Study Group (RCSG)
So, these are scientists, mainly based around St. Louis or Old Chicago, that are dedicated to try and understand and contain rifts. They have a limited understanding of ley lines, but science does not remove the terror of The Gods.
So they have a special lore skills pertaining to ley lines, magic, and enchantment (mind control and curses, that is), and despite being scientists, they can somehow float along ley lines and heal faster on them, though they can't cast spells. They get a god number of lore, science, and computer skills, though they're kind of half-assed compared to a rogue scientist. But they can float! So that's a thing. Their requirements are relatively low; you have a 39% chance of rolling one up. (Yep, those are low requirements in this book, because Rifts is bad at math.)
... there's still more to come.
RPA "Fly Boy" Ace
So, this is like the SAMAS pilot in the corebook, but instead of getting a SAMAS, they pilot skycycles. Sounds like a raw deal to me. They get a special "Pilot Skycycles" skill that can actually be applied to any small aircraft. They also get a "Pilot Death's Head Transport" which literally and explicitly makes any other O.C.C. bad at flying the giant skull ships, since apparently they're the only ones qualified for it and don't get a penalty at it.
They get a ton of pilot skills and... wilderness skills, since those are the caramel filler of any Rifts class. They get a decent number of skills, but hilariously don't come with a skycycle - they have to requisition one.
I'll not make fun, but instead just point out I already miss this look.
Yep, they don't have any special unit name or designation other than "Special Forces", much like the Siembieda uses the word "Black Market" as if it referred to a specific organization. In any case, these are guys assigned to covert teams and long-range assignments. They're apparently one part spy, one part soldier. They get a mix of military, pilot, and espionage skills, but ironically still fall short of the competency of the "generic" Special Forces O.C.C. in Rifts Mercenaries. But despite that, you've got less than a 1% chance to be allowed to play one. Fuckin' Rifts.
Next: They've got the guts - give 'em more firepower!
"Females who can handle the weight and bulk are also allowed to wear standard 'Dead Boy' armor."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Seven: "Females who can handle the weight and bulk are also allowed to wear standard 'Dead Boy' armor."
But really, how could a woman bear an extra eight pounds of weight over the light armor? I can think of no real-world analogue for such a situation.
Coalition War Machine
Intro by Kevin Siembieda
with additional text by Patrick Nowak
Oh, fuck me.
It's time for the longest, most lovingly-crafted section of the book: equipment. We've got 90 pages of this to get through, so let's get started.
Siembieda is like "Oh, sure the Coalition could beat any other military force on the planet, but they just don't wanna." It points out the only rivals for its dominance are the New German Republic and Atlantis (ha ha, I've seen the numbers you wrote for Atlantis, Siembieda, don't kid yourself), with only the Gargoyle Empire being explicitly more powerful on sheer numbers. In any case, this section is the unveiling of five years of secret Coalition preparations, because five years is all it takes to develop a new, high-tech modern army, everyone! Countries just shit new technology and models out of a goddamn mil-spec play-doh set as far as Rifts is concerned.
CS Weapons and Equipment
By Kevin Siembieda
So, it notes that most of the old equipment for the Coalition Army is being passed down to security forces like the ISS, though some outposts may take years to get the new equipment, and some veterans in elite positions may hang on to the old devices, no doubt because they're doddering fools. The new stuff is a big power creep and keeping the old, low-damage weapons is if no real benefit. It also notes that Coalition has discovered Uranium Rounds (despite that explicitly being a huge Triax secret in Triax & the NGR) because of the environment, despite the Coalition never being shown to give diddly fucks about environmentalism previously.
Old corebook pistol, new "improved" design.
To compare the power creep in effect, here's some old Coalition weapons and some new, revised counterparts.
- C-18 Laser Pistol vs C-20 Laser Pistol: The newer pistol does about 50% more damage and has more than twice the ammo. They're both still crap, though.
- C-18 Laser Pistol vs C-30 Laser Pulse Pistol: The new officer' sidearm, on the other hand, does nearly three times as much damage and over twice as much ammo.
- C-10 Light Assault Rifle vs CP-40 Pulse Laser Rifle: The new version does three times as much damage with its pulse fire.
- C-12 Heavy Assault Laser Rifle vs CP-50 "Dragonfire": The new version does 50% more damage with pulse fire and adds a noob tube.
- C-27 Plasma Cannon vs C-29 "Hellfire" Heavy Plasma Cannon The new version does 50% more damage and has slightly less ammo, but can have an extra backpack battery for 50% more ammo.
- CR-1 Rocket Launcher vs CTT-M20 Missile Rifle: The new one has a high strength requirement, but is actually worth it for a change - it can fire volleys of four mini-missiles for damage over that of a Boom Gun. The old one only fires one mini-missile per melee round and is damn near useless as a result.
- CV-212 Variable Light Frequency Laser Rifle vs C-200 "Dead Man's" Rail Gun: If you're wondering where the basis of comparison is, these is the old and new weapons for the Skelebots. The new rail gun does 33% less damage, about one of the only steps down provided so far.
Old and new light rifles.
The original heavy rifle and its replacement.
The old rocket launcher and new missile rifle.
If that's not enough, the Coalition also gets improved missiles nearly across the board, with improved damage on nearly all of their missiles:
- Short Range Missiles: These have their damage doubled.
- Medium Range Missiles: These vary from having about 50% more damage to over twice as much damage.
- Long Range Missiles: These also vary from having 50% more damage to being about twice as powerful - except for nuclear missiles, which now do 1d4 x 100 to 2d4 x 100 M.D.C., enough to murder most things short of a battle fortress or god. That's over three times as much damage, and while that fits what a nuclear weapon might do better, they still only have a blast radius of 40-50 feet.
- Mini-Missiles: These remain largely unchanged.
Fusion Blocks, CS Hand Grenades, Vibro-Blades, and Neural Maces are reprinted; we get flashbang grenades, teargas grenades, and flare grenades added, and a slightly larger vibro-sword to be used by power armor. In general, I understand reprinting some of this stuff, but at the same time this book is entering into a shameful amount of content copied over from the corebook.
Trade out two letters, get a brand new weapon!
But that's not all! We have more more "new" weapons!
- C-5 Pump Pistol: Wait, did I say new? This is literally a cut/paste of the TX-5 Pump Pistol from Rifts Sourcebook and is still the same crummy gun. And once again - how do you pump that thing? There's no slide for the pump to move on!
- CTT-P40 Particle Beam Cannon: This is pretty much like a rail gun, with similar strength requirements and damage. Only it's a particle beam! And totally new!
Sway to the left, sway to the right, shimmy like genocide- that's the Coalition Shuffle!
New CS Body Armor
As might be expected after the above material, the new Coalition armor is, well, more powerful. In fact, it's now stronger than any suit of armor in the corebook - at minimum. We also get the usual laundry list of features, the most interesting part is that the white-parts are light-sensitive and turn a dark grey in low-light. But there's no mechanical effect for that nor any illustrations of it, so fuck it. (Easier solution: don't paint part of your armor white, Prosek).
The normal, heavy, and scout armors.
So, we get the CA-3 Light "Dead Boy Armor", which despite being light, has more M.D.C. than any of the corebook suits. "The helmet is often given a plume or ponytail of hair-like fibers to denote female officers and wilderness scouts; spikes are used for psionic officers." We have the CA-4 Standard "Dead Boy" Armor, which are now twice as tough as they used to be and the equal of Triax armor. There's the CA-5 Juicer "Dead Boy" Armor which is even more protective, but requires superhuman strength. CA-6C Heavy "Dead Boy" Armor is basically as tough as a light power armor suit, but requires cyborg strength, and the CA-6EX Heavy "Dead Boy" Armor is the same but comes with a powered exoskeleton so anybody can wear it. The Special Forces CA-7 Heavy "Dead Boy" Armor is actually just a standard suit with things like punch daggers, a grotte, and attachments for a jet or ammo pack. Finally, Dog Pack DPM Light Riot Armor has been upgraded but is still fairly crap, considering.
I really don't like the new armor design much - putting a skull on your chest works for the Punisher because it's a iconic rendition, but the weird inhuman looking skulls don't really really fit with a faction that's humanocentric. (Also, why is the skull on top of a ribcage?) What's more, you still have a vague skull silhouette to the helmet, which could work if the new armor was more understated so it stands out, but it's not, so the eye is drawn to that goofy chest skull. Lastly, Vince Martin just isn't great at mechanical or armor-looking designs, so it looks less like future skull solders and more like a weird football uniform. I mean, look at those boots! It looks like they're wearing baggy socks, not jackboots.
Special forces armor and the "classic" armor..
I've made my weight about in jokes at Breaux's expense, but look at how much more like armor that looks! How much more creepy is that skull helmet!... though I could do without those skull kneepads, but most of you probably didn't notice them until I brought them up... He's gotten a lot better over time at it, and it at least shows in the designs we'll see coming up. Breaux's designs look like that the Coalition should look - blocky and brutalist, and though he might not necessarily transcend Long's work on the line, it's worth considering.
Vince Martin's designs, on the other hand, will too often look like alien monsters in skull cosplay.
Next: Stop that SAMAS!
"Two to one confrontations showed the pair of PA-300s would devastate a single Glitter Boy better than three out of four times."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Eight: "Two to one confrontations showed the pair of PA-300s would devastate a single Glitter Boy better than three out of four times."
Coalition Power Armor & Robot Vehicles
That sound you can't hear is me slapping my book against my forehead as I steel myself for all the skull-wanking that is is to come in this section.
Thankfully, it's a softcover.
So, we start with power armor, which is explained for what I'm pretty sure is around the umpteenth time. But we can skip that and move on to-
Pretty sure this fought the Savage Dragon at some point.
Mauler Power Armor
Also known a "No Neck", this is a sluggish, middling suit of power armor designed for ground or underwater capabilities (and space, though they can't practically test that). It's designed as a tank, though most actual tanks will run this ugly thing down. It's slow for power armor, and has plasma bobs on the shoulders and blades and lasers from the wrists, but the only thing worth firing are volleys of mini-missiles. In addition, it starts off the Vince Martin designs of Coalition armors that look more like they stepped out of a rift than the assembly line.
Dreadfully dull and powerfully ugly, and not a great start.
How there isn't a mini of this, I don't know.
Terror Trooper Power Armor
So, this is a big, thuggish power armor, which makes it different from the Mauler in that... well, it looks a lot cooler, for one. It's tougher, for two. And for three, it gets a missile rifle or particle beam cannon that does alright damage (and crap lasers on the side).
Nothing too special but I do like the art. One of Breaux's better pics in the book.
Just stick weapons on any which way, who gives a fuck?
Glitter Boy Killer
So this is supposed to be a fast, close-combat power armor designed to counter the Glitter Boy, despite it having around one-third the firepower and about 60% of the M.D.C. The idea is that it's supposed to get in close and blow up the Glitter Boy's boom gun with missiles, and to be fair, if it can manage that the Glitter Boy is ponderous to take out but no longer has teeth. There are some problems with this plan, though:
- It mentions having missiles to take out the boom gun in the description... that are never included in the statblock.
- It has to be able to ambush the Glitter Boy from close range, despite being a distinctive 14' robot. Otherwise, the Glitter Boy will annihilate them at range.
- To take out the boom gun, it has to make 5 or so called shots, which require a higher to-hit number. Meanwhile, the Glitter Boy can just annihilate the G.B. Killer in 4-5 shots. Now, that may sound even, but bear in mind the Glitter Boy will be hitting 40% more often.
- It'll turn out the Free Quebec Glitter Boy forces will often have secondary weapon packages or handheld weapons, meaning wiping out the boom gun doesn't entirely take them out of the fight.
Old-Style "Death's Head" SAMAS
They reprinted material from the core book to add 20 M.D.C. to the wings. Seriously, that's the only change, other than to mention this is based on an old American Empire design the Coalition discovered and replicated, and that now these original SAMAS units are used by law enforcement now that the military has new models for their SAMAS units. They somehow manage to squeeze nearly two pages out of that. Shameless.
Vince Martin Power Armor: a person in tights with a helm and jet pack.
New "Smiling Jack" Light Assault SAMAS
Despite a radical redesign, this is almost a statistical mirror of the "Death's Head SAMAS", save for the fact it has wing-mounted mini-missiles that increase the missile payload from two to six.
Really, that's it. More page filler, doubly so because they're literally just reprinting stats from the previous entry. Doubly shameless.
I shouldn't fat-shame.
New Super SAMAS
Aka the "Grinning Demon", this is where the SAMAS gets a big power bump. It's about 40% faster, about 50% tougher, and has about three times the firepower. In fact, it's just better, save for the fact it doesn't have mini-missiles to do a damage dump. So it gets dual plasma ejectors that do the lion's share of its damage, lasers and grenade launchers that do comparatively crap damage, and vibro-blades (those fins on the arms) that have special rules for taking out propellers and rotors. The blades have about a 45% chance of doing so, otherwise the SAMAS is just flung away looney-tunes style and just feels really embarrassed.
Once again, this continues the "muscle skeleton" style that Vince Martin seems to be going for. Look out, these skulls are pumpin' iron!
Wait, this looks cool again, I'm getting whiplash.
Special Forces "Striker" SAMAS
An enhanced version of the "Death's Head" SAMAS designed for use by the Special Forces, of course, this has modest increases - slightly tougher, slightly faster, same rail gun, and with a few more mini-missiles. Not much creativity on the SAMAS design front, it seems. I like the blocky design by Breaux better, but it's wasted on another cut-and-paste design.
Next: Still more skulls, ribs, bones wanted for salvage.
"Indeed, to stand against a company of Skelebots (let alone an entire division), their black-hued skin reflecting in the cascade of light from the battlefield, eyes glowing red, and making with no sound as they rash forward with weapons blazing, is like fighting a tide of dead risen from the very pits of hell!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Nine: "Indeed, to stand against a company of Skelebots (let alone an entire division), their black-hued skin reflecting in the cascade of light from the battlefield, eyes glowing red, and making with no sound as they rash forward with weapons blazing, is like fighting a tide of dead risen from the very pits of hell!"
Lil' chest skull should be the part that emotes.
Reprinted with updated material from the Rifts® Sourcebook One
As it just says, this is mostly just a reprint of materials from Rifts Sourcebook, which is more forgiveable because there's at least an outside chance a given Rifts player didn't own that book. (It's not likely, though.) As before, these are terminators-minus-the-human-guise, and are being prepped in massive quantities for the campaigns against Tolkeen and New Quebec to be launched on their own to "soften up" targets.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Skelebots are comparatively inexpensive to mass produce, and although they have a high mortality/destruction rate considering their intended deployment, they are seen as the perfect substitute for human, front-line troops.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Black Market Cost: Three million credits for a new, undamaged, fully powered unit complete with an assault rifle.
Of course, even though it tells us they're inexpensive, they aren't. Even if the black market sells it with an extra "0" on the end of the price tag, it still costs more than the entire kit of a Coalition solider and months of basic training. Granted, skelebots don't need benefits, but it still doesn't seem like the height of efficiency.
This is probably one of the few designs where I feel where Martin's more organic designs work.
Now there are two models, the old FASSAR-20 and the new FASSAR-30, but functionally they have the same statblock (which they at least have the "decency" to not print twice) despite their differing aesthetics. Though I've been hard on Vince Martin's art, his skelebots aren't too bad. I mean sure, they have the stupid little skull on their chest, and their spines look like they could be taken down with a particularly hard shove- okay, I'm still gonna be hard on his art.
Both models have gotten roughly a 25% increase in M.D.C., bizarrely. Because you'd think if anything is a mook foe in Rifts, this should be it, but nooope. Not in the Land of Siembiedia. The main difference between the two is that the FASSAR-20 gets the old CV-213 Robot Variable Laser Rifle and the FASSAR-30 gets the new C-200 "Dead Man's" Rail Gun, which fundamentally do the same damage. The former has better ammo capacity, while the latter has better range. Granted, I'm not sure why you'd give robots that are supposed to act autonomously a weapon with a limited ammo capacity, but that just seems like an obvious issue. Perhaps the sight of a dozens of robots coming at you, their weapons clicking and whirring with a lack of ammo is another genius tactic devised by Emperor Prosek.
Speaking of which, this does have the interesting note that ARCHIE-3 (the AI villain from Rifts Sourcebook has captured some skelebots, disabled their self-destruct devices, and figured out how to replicate them. The canny will notice this is the second time this has happened (the Mechanoids pulled a very similar trick in Rifts Index & Adventures 1) and it certainly won't be the last time. It's nice to see the Coalition get a bit of comeuppance - we'll be short on it for the rest of the book.
You don't have to put goofy styling on the chest, stopit-
FASSAR-40 Experimental Heavy Assault Robot
No, it doesn't hunt other skelebots.
So this is designed mainly to exterminate selected monsters or foes in an area, but it's also been used in a pinch by Coalition forces as a messenger for sensitive materials (usually also with a bit where it self-destructs if captured). It's a good deal tougher than your normal skelebot, gets some extra ambush, sneak, and tracking skills, but is still reliant on being assigned a handheld weapon. Nothing particularly special that makes it stand out other than being tougher, really.
Seems so strange I'd think your average Coalition solider would shoot it on sight.
FASSAR-50 Experimental Assault Robot
So, this robot is designed to look like a demon, which seems out of character for the Coalition, but I guess when you make a spider-skull walker, there's no going back. This robot is modestly tough, with its big thing with it being flexible and bouncy. I guess that's supposed to sound cool but mostly sounds kinda goofy, but it does give them an automatic dodge. It doesn't have any built-in weapons, so it has to be handed a rifle or whatever.
It honestly looks more like something that crawled out of Atlantis, but Siembieda is "waste not, want not" as far as concept art goes, so here we are.
"But I thought everybody liked horsies?"
FASSAR-60 Experimental Assault Robot
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
The FASSAR-60 is a centaur design that is completely experimental and not likely to ever see mass production.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
The Emperor, his Executive Counsel and officers of the Military High Command don't want anything alien to become acceptable the human culture of the Coalition States. This design is just too alien.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Only a dozen or so have been manufactured for preliminary field testing. The Centaur Skelebot will not be approved for phase two field tests.
Then why the fuck does it get nearly two full pages of statblock?! Feels like shade being thrown on the artist when you probably should have just canned the art piece instead. Also it has mini-missiles on its butt. And lasers and ion blasters, but it does crap damage. Still, I think they're right in putting this one out to pasture.
Next: Kill the mecha and save the child.
"(Editor's Note: Yes, we know spiders have eight legs)."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Ten: "(Editor's Note: Yes, we know spiders have eight legs)."
And yet, given a chance to redesign the art, it still has six.
Coalition IAR-2 Abolisher Robot
It's a reprint of the robot from Rifts Sourcebook, only now with about 15% more M.D.C., an extra gunner station, and some more ammo, because the power creep's just gotta keep on creepin'.
"Next time, make the guns look like it's smoking cigars, that's just unpleasant."
IAR-3 Skull Smasher
So, does it smash skulls, or is a skull that smashes? Maybe if we get high enough we can figure that out. This is the new robotank for the Coalition army, with nearly 1000 M.D.C. To be exact, 990 M.D.C., because Siembieda is allergic to round numbers or something. Also, it's supposed to be able to do spin kicks and fancy martial arts moves because that sounds cool, and gets a special series of combat bonuses because of that.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Machine posted:
One legendary combat report recounts how an IAR-3 single-handedly took on an adult Great Horned dragon. In the end, the dragon stood triumphant over the battered robot — literally torn limb from limb — but the great beast looked as if it had gone through hell, and respected the valiant men inside enough to spare their lives.
So it's got a middling laser cannon, a mouthy particle beam double cannon that does better damage, medium-range and mini missiles. It also get special ramming and flying kick moves as well. The design is a little generic, but it looks like a proper Coalition design to me, at least. Ultimately it suffers a lot from "can take it, but not dish it out".
"Does my gun have enough barrels? I think it could use some more."
So, this is our cover 'bot, and is supposed to specialize as a "robot killer" that takes out other robot vehicles, mainly due to have a gun that fires an "electronic discharge" that often stuns "unshielded" vehicles and possibly kills their pilot, but:
- It never details what counts as "shielded".
- It never details how long the victims are stunned.
- It doesn't detail what game effect shorting out electronics has.
- It says it has a 33% chance of accidentally killing the target, but then later says "f the damage exceeds the victim's damage capacity, he is electrocuted rather than stunned."
John Zeleznik's design looks like it escaped from Warhammer 40K (space marines? necrons? you pick) but definitely works as part of the Coalition's skull arsenal.
AT-ST (the S stands for skulls)
With a design that seems like it must be a rejected Locust design for Battletech, this is a 14' walker that's surprisingly tough, with double rail guns, a plasma ejector, mini-missiles, and laser turrets so lame it makes me wonder why I even mention them. All of its other weapons are average. This is mainly just another tough slogfester for PCs to focus-fire on for turns at a time until it finally falls over. I don't even like Breaux's design for a change here. Where's the skull fanservice? Nowhere.
Looks kind of smug if you squint at it.
CR-004 Scout Spider-Skull Walker
So, this is supposed to be a smaller, lighter version of the original CR-003 Spider-Skull Walker (which is neither revised nor supplanted by this book) that acts as a scout or support for its larger cousin. Despite being about half as tough, though, its rail guns and lasers do pretty much the same damage, and it also has mini-missiles, which makes it offensively more dangerous despite being under half the size. Power creep? It's in here!
Vince Martin's version is just crazy overdesigned as well, too. Unsurprisingly at this point, I prefer the original's ridiculous skull purism.
Video game boss #42,371
CR-005 Scorpion-Skull Walker
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
(Editor's Note: Yes, we know scorpions have eight legs).
So, this is surprisingly vulnerable, being a death coffin for its pilots. And I can only presume they have to pilot this thing coffin-style as well, given it has two crew positions and its body is only 5' tall. Unsurprisingly, most of its weapons - triple rail guns, mini-missiles, and lasers - are mounted in the tail. It also has passable lasers mounted on its dead, but its triple rail guns actually do very good damage. Either way, whether you're blowing off its tail to cut off most of its weapons or just firing on the main body, this thing will die horribly. Even its pincers are shit. About the only good thing it has is apparently a special ability to sneak for pilots proficient in it.
Also don't like the design, you know the drill by now.
Next: Strange things go into tanks!
"It has a four man crew and is so easy to operate that it's said a child could do it."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Eleven: "It has a four man crew and is so easy to operate that it's said a child could do it."
Beware the Lil' Skullies, coming in Rifts World Book 81: Children of Chi-Town.
CS Combat Vehicles
At this point the I ask the floating mecha-skull next to me: "Why am I finishing this review?"
It says to me, in a cold, pitiless voice, "Because humanity has sinned." A slight pause, and it adds, "And somebody might be curious about the CS Skull Patrol Car."
I laugh and reply, "Oh, skullucination, you're such a kidder. Nobody cares about that. Sins of humanity it is, then!"
Like in Aliens, but now with a skullcatcher.
Coalition Mark VII "Slayer" APC
So, this is a big ol' transport vehicle with a big ol' skull on front, but hey, it has 12' tires you can shoot out, each with a whopping 8 M.D.C. Thankfully, though, it has rules for slowing down as it loses wheels, but at no point actually stops, so it can lose all of its wheels and putter around at 32 MPH. Palladium editing, everyone!
It can carry enough troops to roll over most PC groups (well, 10 Super SAMASes or Hellraisers is going to be a hell of a fight, at least), has a solid amount of M.D.C. as long as you're not smart enough to shoot out the tires and drive away. It has a middling laser cannon and laser turrets, crappy plasma gun, mini-missiles as its main damage dump, smoke dispensers, and can roll around at 80 M.P.H. I like the dumb skully design, but the fact that a few shots will cripple it suggests to me that
Art is reprinted, but I missed it last time, here you go.
Coalition Mark IX EPC
Exploratory Personnel Carrier By Julius Rosenstein
This is reprinted from Rifts Index & Adventures 1, and is supposed to be used for exploration and recon, even though it has no particular sensor systems or facilities that'd accomodate that. It's also supposed to be a way for a unit to hole up while waiting for reinforcements, but it has less M.D.C. than most power armor. It's really just a rolling van with only the most basic of protection, a crappy laser turret and a mini-missile launcher for emergency damage dumps. In general, though, it's pretty bad at anything it's actually supposed to do, and is a relatively dull design to boot. (This is probably because it's intended for a Coalition PC group originally, and is woefully underpowered as a reaction to that.)
How does it fire its own missiles without hitting its own turrets?
CTX-50 "Line Backer" Coalition Heavy Assault Tank
So, do Coalition members play football, then? Do they know what football is? Or do they have a different sport with a linebacker position? Skullball?
In any case, this is the Coalition's answer to all the hovertanks introduced in Rifts Mercenaries, and has comparable toughness but suffers comparatively in the firepower department - together its laser cannons can be deadly but it requires a gunner for each one to do that. Its rail gun and laser turrets are unexceptional, though it's ability to shoot medium-range and mini-missiles remains as deadly as anything else with them. It also has smoke dispensers, a special ram attack that can bowl people over, and dashes around at 150 MPH. I like the return to the bold oversized skull design here, at least. It's their thing and it works.
From this position, no enemy is safe!... as long as they're on the ceiling.
CTX-52 "Sky Sweeper" Anti-Aircraft Tank
You know what makes this anti-aircraft? Fuckin' nothing, because there's no mechanics for that! It doesn't even have more range than the Line Backer, so there's not even that notion to go on. Effectively it's the light version of the Line Backer, with the same laser cannons and a laser turret, mini-missiles, medium-range missiles; the only real difference is that it has a more powerful singular rail gun, only goes 90 MPH, and has modestly reduced toughness. I guess it has "enhanced radar", but we're never told what that entails...
A little short for this section - it's tough trying to break it up into themed sections so I'm not just dumping a ton of vehicles into one update. Next one will be longer. I know, you're all excited and awaiting the CS Skull Patrol Car. I know. It's okay. It's coming.
Next: Every day more skulls, every day more pilots!
"While 'grounded,' the Fire Storm serves as the center of a temporary field base (temporary being as little as a few days or as much as a few years; typically 2D4 months)"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Eleven: "While 'grounded,' the Fire Storm serves as the center of a temporary field base (temporary being as little as a few days or as much as a few years; typically 2D4 months)"
Not pictured: rad-ass swimming pool, cool arcade, and petting zoo.
CTX-54 "Fire Storm" Mobile Fortress — Super Tank
Inspired by art by Wayne Breaux
Because they're Nazis, I guess the Coalition need their Maus or Ratte equivalent- wait, this thing flies? That's not a tank! That's not a tank at all! So, now that I'm done being lied to, this is more like an oversized, slower flying version of the Death's Head Transports from the core rules, and can fly around up to 300' high at 180 MPH. There's a dozen of these things, and they can each carry 4-5 companies of Coaltion troops-
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
... and another company or two of power armor troops could ride on the outer hull.
Oh, fuck off and stop trying to gild the (skull) lily here, the last thing PCs need is to see a bunch of troops clinging on for their dear lives like baby spiders on a momma spider. "You know, this thing carries nearly 900 Coalition troops, but I bet we could break 1000 if we duct-tape them on-" Fuuuuuck thaaaaat.
Still, the mecha-skull says I need to calm down, so let's just try and finish this thing. It can split into a command center and two medium-size skull transports if it needs to, has a farcical amount of M.D.C. (5000), a super rail cannon that does about 1d4 x 100 on single blast or 2d8 x 100 on a double blast, because Rifts is awful at editing, math, or both. It can only do the double blast against large targets, but it helpfully tells us firing at targets over a mile away only imposes a -1 attack penalty, which I guess means this 240' vehicle can totally do a 360 no-scope shot it's a sniper OMG.
It also has rail guns, a laser turret, long and medium-range missiles on the command center, and dinky lasers on all of its - sigh - 24 bay doors. That means if the vehicle splits into three, the command center has all of the sizable armaments. Other than that, it's mostly a and there's not much more to say on it.
Now we're just making boxes with skulls glued on.
Death Bringer APC
The following is an overdramatization of the Palladium creative process:
"So I've got this idea for a new vehicle."
"Get this: it's like a Death's Head Transport."
"But it's slightly smaller."
"I know, right? This is super-essential. It really adds to the Coalition arsenal."
"Gosh, game design like that must be really hard. You're a fuckin' genius, you know what?"
"Of course I know that! I'm going to have a third lunch break, all this game design brilliance is working up an appetite."
So, this has about 1/3rd less M.D.C. than the Death's Head Transport, goes 400 MPH. It has a lighter cannon turret, laser turret, extra sensors and that's that.
Sadly, not a skull space shuttle.
CS APC Sky Lifter
The following is an
"Wait, I just had game design brilliance again."
"Holyyy shit. Bring it on, man."
"So I was thinking of a vehicle like the Death's Head Transport."
"Oh shit. Oh shit. My mind is exploding."
"But it's bigger."
"Wait. Hold up."
"Didn't we just do that with another vehicle? The Fire Storm? Wasn't that really just a bigger Death's Head Transport?"
"Oh, no, that's the brilliance. It's bigger than a Death's Head Transport, but smaller than a Fire Storm."
"I just want to let you know you're more geniuser than I thought possible."
"Well. Duh. I think I've earned a fourth lunch break. This time it's all ice cream!"
So, this is a larger Death's Head Transport designed to carry vehicles, and the fifth APC in this book alone. It's about 50% tougher, has cannons that fire plasma rocket shells and mini-missiles. Its main gun does more damage than the Death's Head Transport as power creep demands, but it's missing the powerful medium-range missiles. It goes up to 400 MPH and that fufills my summary duty here.
"Who are we saluting?" "How should I know, nobody took their helmets off!"
CS Command Car
This is a floating hover jeep (pretty much a technical) with a light rail gun. It has only light protection (and the top / windshields provide almost no protection at all), can fly up to 500' high at 200 MPH, carries four bodies, and that's all. It's noted that Northern Gun and the Black Market make knockoff versions of this (and all the other cars and bikes listed after this), but no word on whether or not they keep the skull stylings.
"Psst! You want some missiles? I got some missiles. Over here."
CS "Scarab" Officer's Car
This is intended for officers as a floating car with better protection (but still not much). So why was the last one called a "Command" vehicle when it wasn't? No idea! It has laser turrets where the wheels would be and mini-missiles, flies 220 MPH at up to 1500' high.
"But why should we bother pasting skulls on boxes when we can just paint them on?"
CS Skull Patrol Car
The following is an
"Got another spark. Another shine."
"Lay that down, brother. Blind me!"
"So, I'm thinking of a floating car."
"Wait. Hold up. You just did one of those."
"Yeah, the CS Command Car, and... the Scarab. Two. You did two of those."
"Well, this one's different."
"It's... a little lighter than the Scarab?"
"That's all you've got?"
"Don't you think we owe it to our fans to devise compelling content with interesting mechanics? To not just have three straight pages of floating car filler? To not just cut and paste the same statblocks over and over?"
"Ha ha, just fucking with you! It's brilliant! Fifth lunch?"
Next: "For skull's sake - send planes!"
"The crash causes 2D4x100 M.D. to a 300 foot (91 m) radius."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Twelve: "The crash causes 2D4x100 M.D. to a 300 foot (91 m) radius."
Maybe the Coalition should give up on lasers and missiles and just crash jets into dragons.
CS Scout Rocket Cycle
Remember the Coalition Sky Cycle from the corebook? Of course you do. Well, this is like that, only it flies a little slower (440 MPH max), is missing the laser turret (but still has the mini-missiles), but is almost identical otherwise. The garbage version of this produced by Black Market and Northern Gun only goes half the speed (220 MPH).
"It's like when you're the restaurant and they're putting fresh oregano on and you forget to tell them to stop... but with guns."
CS Warbird Rocket Cycle
This is supposed to be the middle ground between the Scout Rocket Cycle and the Sky Cycle, but is actually more the glass cannon of the set. It goes 400 MPH, but has triple rail gun that does the damage of a boom gun (!), lasers and particle beams to use when the ammo runs out for that, mini-missiles, and fusion bombs that do ridiculous damage. It's bizarre that it does more damage than most of the tanks and giant robots in this book, but consistency is something for lesser designers.
"Don't take off yet! We put all the fins on the wrong way!"
CS Wind Jammer Sky Cycle
This is supposed to be the "infantry" version of the Sky Cycle, whatever that means. In reality, it's pretty much the power creep'd version of the original Sky Cycle, only with a more boring Vince Martin design this time! It has about the same M.D.C. as the rest, goes 620 M.P.H., dual rail guns that do impressive damage, mini-missiles, and a "concealed" laser in classic Palladiumesese for "there's no laser on the design but I'm gonna stat it anyway". And, thankfully, we're done with sky cycles... until the next World Book...
"Better fueling it than flying it, that's what I say."
Coalition Combat Helicopter
I'm not sure why the Coalition is fucking around with old rotorcraft; apparently it's because it's cheap, but the country is building enough robot skeletons that their army is visible from space, I don't get the impression they actually have to worry about resources or economies in their comic book work supervillain factories where everything is built out of steam and heat. In any case, this is produced by the former Iron Heart Armaments and is in line with their love of copy-pasting pre-rifts war technology.
In any case, this thing is fragile as hell for a war machine, doubly so if you take aim at the rotors. Its nose laser is ignorable, but the double rail guns and mini-missiles can do decent damage. It can also carry things around on a winch if you're willing to bet on this thing's survival despite the fact that an angry stare from a monster could probably bring this thing down. Oh, yeah: 300 MPH. Northern Gun and the Black Market make knockoffs of this thing and the other helicopter, because they'll sell you any goddamn deathtrap they can pirate the designs for, apparently.
"A Hind D? Colonel, what's a Russian gunship doing here? Wait, did we already use this quote?"
Coalition Combat Helicopter
"We're in a helicopter called the Demon Locust covered in skulls... are we the baddies?"
This is the slightly heavier, slightly slower version of the Black Lightning with more armaments - lasers, rail guns, mini-missiles, medium-range missiles. The missiles are about the only notable heavy weapons on here. It has a winch for those willing to take further bets on the survival prospects of these things (not high). No doubt when these things show up the PCs find a rocket launcher conveniently on the ground with a stash of infinite ammo. If they're not intended to be shot down to provide an exciting explosion, I'm not sure what they're here for.
"Drop your altitude, Grey 3." "But they can shoot us down there!" "But they can't see your cool skull stylings. Drop your altitude."
SF-7 CS Talon
Stealth VTOL Jet Fighter
Well, since we have Nazis, I guess we need a Horten Ho 229 flying wing (though the stealth features obviously come from the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit). This is a pre-rifts design being manufactured by Iron Heart. Naturally, it's a VTOL, because Rifts thinks that's just a feature you can put on jets like fuzzy dice or Sirius radio and not a central design feature or anything. It notes that there are only thirty of them being tested prior to the Tolkeen invasion or for use against the Xiticix.
It flies up to MACH 1.5, is decently tough, is loaded down with mini-missiles, long-range missiles, and has lasers if it runs out of missiles. It has fancy radar, and there's zero details about what it's stealth / anti-radar system actually does (other than in the name). It also has special crashing rules that are essentially designed to make sure PCs can't salvage one of these. Only Nazis get cool toys, no takey their makey, heroes!
That's it for vehicles!... until the next world book. And the one after that. And the one after that. And the one after that. And the sourcebook after that. Basically, look forward to more vehicles, but not just yet.
Next: My honour is loyalty (and also probably a skull).
"Often, the techniques and tactics used by ISS Specters border on the level of 'James Bond' or 'Mission Impossible.'"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Thirteen: "Often, the techniques and tactics used by ISS Specters border on the level of 'James Bond' or 'Mission Impossible.'"
Bond was heard to retort "Don't lump me in with these fellows, I'm just a cold-blooded, psychopathic sexist. You know, like any British person in cinema."
Coalition Police & Law Enforcement
By Kevin Siembieda with ideas and text by Julius Rosenstein and Patrick Nowak.
No skull boats? No skull trains? No skull segways?
Well, I think we're safe from the equipment parade. For now. Instead, we've got the Coalition cops to get through. Or...
"I wear black and hide my hands behind my back so you know I don't have any secrets."
The ISS Organization
Sure that's supposed to be an I? Not just SS? Well, it stands for Internal Security Specialists. They have three main divisions:
- Police: Mainly handles basic peacekeeping, patrols, and community service.
- Inspectors: This is the chief investigative unit, aka "Spectres" (
inspectors, get it?).
- Intelligence: Works in intelligence and counter-intelligence, either against foreign powers, dissidents, organized crime, etc.
- NTSet: The "Net Set" department under Intelligence, these are basically in charge of seeking out supernatural monsters and infiltrators and rubbing them out. They're sometimes called the "Nut Set" because you'd have to be crazy to do their job! Get it?
- Psi-Net: Another Intelligence department, they handle registration and psionic crime, but also assist other departments (particularly in regards to the supernatural).
Naturally, given they're part of a fascist state, the ISS is allowed to do surveillance, search and seizure, holding people for questioning without justification, harassment, and general brutality. That being said, they generally are fairly restrained when dealing with most Coalition citizens. This continues the theme of Siembieda wanting to have it both ways - to have them be terrible fascists, but nice fascists. As long as you've got the right genes and are properly patriotic, anyway. Otherwise, the ISS will drop the book on murderers, cyber-snatchers, dissidents and wrongthink, political enemies, d-bees, anybody involved with the supernatural, etc. Naturally, they have a "better shoot than sorry" sort of attitude, particularly towards augmented humans and the supernatural. Specters in particular don't have a lot of rules they have to abide by as long as they can explain their actions. Apparently the ISS deals with those who break regulations severely, but the book never makes it clear what those regulations are.
Enough of all that, it's time for the meat of the section: a parade of marginally useful O.C.C.s!
The face of public trust. *blam*
ISS Peacekeeper O.C.C.
This is your average beat cop or first responder that deals directly the public. They don't handle major investigations, however. They get a special Investigation skill only the other cop O.C.C.s here get, and investigative, pilot, and weapon skills. Their secondary skills get a bonus based on a special training package they pick, and can get a - hold the phone, stop the presses, batten down the fucking hatches - free cybernetic clock calendar! Whoo! Don't get too generous, Palladium, they know their loved one's anniversary every time. That's a superpower.
This and all the other basic ISS classes get bonuses on initiative and against fear, illusions, and mind control as they level up, which is definitely helpful but isn't an exceptional benefit. Anyway, even with their very basic attribute requirements, good ol' 3d6 odds mean you have only a 34% chance of qualifying for this class.
"Yeah, you walk around like this and people think you can read, crazy!"
ISS Specter O.C.C.
No relation to Mass Effect, this predates it by over a decade. These are detectives, sometimes undercover, sometimes thuggish. They get the same Investigation skill only at a significantly higher level, investigative and lore skills, and weapon skills. Like Peacekeepers, they also select a special training package with a better bonus, an and are mostly just better, more highfalutin' Peacekeepers. Once again, they get a free clock calendar. I know! It's amazing!
You have a 25% chance of qualifying to play one of these guys.
You don't have to salute the reader, they don't outrank you.
Intel Specter O.C.C.
ISS Intelligence Officer
This is basically an internal intelligence agent, more akin to the FBI than the CIA, and deal with crimes of the highest order (as the Coalition defines such, anyway). They get to be slightly better than Interrogation, a much more technical set of surveillance and investigation skills, weapon skills, and the same specialty stuff. Clock calendar in the head is free once again. Mostly these are just better classes with higher requirements as we go onward.
Speaking of which, the very high attribute requirements for this class mean you can only qualify as one 10% of the time. And no, none of these classes are good enough to apply such rigorous requirements. They're average at best, solid in the area of their speciality and not particularly good at much else. Besides, how many campaigns can you fit these guys in? Ones centering around Coalition cities, maybe, but that really restricts any other sort of character you'd be playing. They don't even fit in most Coalition games, since those are mainly military.
But we're not even close to done yet here.
"Net Set" Operatives
So, we get a fiction chunk from the perpective of Lt. Jack "Crazy" Cavanaugh, who ha a long diatribe about the NTSet perpective, who finds a the lair of a demonic predator and rescues a child with they help of his Dog Boy companions. And I just summed up a full page, so you know how much is going on. We also get a statblock for him later, appro of nothing, and he's an "8th Level NTSET Inspector" (which is a typo, it should be Protector intead) with stats you're not likely to ever roll. He's generically dedicated, honest, fearless, and well-liked, with no real foibles to make him interesting.
The NTSET Organization
An elite Division of the ISS
So, the NTSET (and no, I can't find what that actually stands for) is the anti-supernatural police force that trains in fighting demons and magic. They also sometimes assist Peacekeepers and Specters against the supernatural. They're known as being jaded against the supernatural, which earns them their "crazy" reputation the book can't stop harping on about. I guess they're all supposed to be Martin Riggs minus Roger Murtaugh. About half of them are mutant dogs or psi-stalkers, or psychics, which can give them a bad rep but it turns out they're generally one of the most loyal and dedicated factions in the Coalition. You know, unlike those unloyal guys I've never heard of.
And now, back to the classes.
"This isn't a salute, I'm just petting myself! Who needs humans anymore?!"
NTSET Psi-Hound O.C.C.
So, this basically an alternate skill package for the Dog Boy R.C.C. from the corebook, it has slightly fewer skills but better overall percentages and the same bonuses other ISS classes get, so it's overall a benefit. They trade out some of their wilderness skills for lore and investigation, but attribute requirements mean only ~25% of Dog Boy players can qualify to play one.
"Look, I only need to armor the one important part."
NTSET Protector O.C.C.
So these are basically just Peacekeepers that trade some street smarts and investigation for extra lore bonuses and tracking. Despite not being that exceptional skill or ability-wise, the chance of qualifying for this class is about 4%, because math isn't something that even enters their heads when marking down numbers.
Next: Loose brains sink planes?
"This examination lasts 1D4 hours, during which the individual is tested for any signs of depression, mental instability/insanity, anti-social tendencies, and unhealthy or dissident beliefs."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Fourteen: "This examination lasts 1D4 hours, during which the individual is tested for any signs of depression, mental instability/insanity, anti-social tendencies, and unhealthy or dissident beliefs."
Fascist basset and sinister scottie strike fear into the enemies of mankind!
By Patrick Nowak and Kevin Siembieda
So, the idea of having psychic divisions is relatively new, having been devised within the past 20 years, and there are really two groups for it in the Coalition: the Psi-Battalion (military) and Psi-Net (civilian). What happened with rampant psychics in the 80 years of the Coalition before that is not discussed. Psi-Battalion is lead by Lt. Colonel Carol Black, one of the few women we've ever seen in the Coalition hierarchy. She's been its sole leader for two decades, and has continuously lobbied for psionic rights and research.
Psi-Net is the civilian side of things, and the book couldn't give two shits who leads it. Technically, it's just a regulatory body that handles psychic registration and ID coding, but that power extends into apprehension and imprisonment of psychic criminals. They generally have absolute authority where psionic affairs are concerned, but also are used in immigration (to detect supernatural and psionics) and occasionally assist the ISS with other investigations. The book can't quite decide if they're part of the ISS hierarchy or not, and seems to waffle on the matter. Not every psychic works for Psi-Net, though, and some work as mundane investigators, bodyguards, or researchers within the Coalition. While some people are wary of psychics overseeing other psychics, Psi-Net has been a successful program so far. They've gotten the heavy weight of the Prosek family behind them, provided they also assist the Prosek family in any way they ask.
As mentioned before in the corebook, psychics of the "major" or "master" level have to be given a trackable ID chip and a tattooed bar code, as well as undergo psychological examination every five years. Any psychic that doesn't pass has to go through a "social conformity program" to adjust them back into society. Anybody that refuses is arrested and prosecuted, of course. Master psychics who can't be controlled are often summarily executed, while others are imprisoned at the Chi-Town Penitentiary. Psi-Net often oversees training of psychics at a young age, which is guided towards eventual recruitment. They also handle research, but it's a relatively low priority compared to control.
The Coalition divides master psychics into several categories:
- Psychic Sensitive: The most common psychic type, gifted with ESP / sensitive powers.
- Eruptors: Psychics with a powerful control over an element (fire, water, electricity, etc.) The Burster O.C.C. from the corebook is a type of Eruptor.
- Dominators: These are those with mental control powers to manipulate others, though the "control" definition seems to include telekinesis and psi-swords for no discernable reason.
- Mind Melters: These are psychics with seemingly limitless potential that can develop any power.
- Nullifiers: The rarest kind of psychic, these have powers strictly focused on nullifying other psionics.
And there's a new class, of course!
Who can just stop at just one belt?
Oh, though it's not mentioned above, this is an O.C.C. for P.C.C.s, FYI. PRP stands for the "Psychic Registration Program", for the record, but these are specific agents that work with the ISS. They get that special Investigation skill at middling levels, and get two skill packages to choose from. The first is the "Tracker", meant to locate rogue psychics, and the second is the "Spotter", who more generally senses the supernatural. Unsurprisingly, their skills lean towards the investigative, but they don't get quite so many as the various ISS classes. Ironically, it's not clear what psychic powers they get - I guess you take an existing psionic class and replace their skills with this one? It's really not clear, and it needs to be. If so, that means Coalition psychics are just better, replacing the thin skill packages most R.C.C.s get with a robust one that's almost equal to the other ISS classes. They also get some minor cybernetics (including, yes, a clock calendar) but don't get your hopes up - the chance of rolling one up is only around 5%.
Next: Work and Bread.
"A Coalition Grunt will step over the dead body of a D-bee without so much as a, 'what happened here?'"Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Fifteen: "A Coalition Grunt will step over the dead body of a D-bee without so much as a, 'what happened here?'"
"I'm in the heavy mechanized armor, why am I drawn as shorter?" "Take it up with the artist, pal."
As mentioned before, these are the communities that surround the major cities and arcologies of the Coalition states - get it? Burbs? Suburbs? Eh, it wasn't funny when Tom Hanks did it... you may wonder "what are the cities and towns of the Coalition actually like?" But Siembieda doesn't, he just wants to talk about the Burbs. Solely. We'll get whole books on them. Plural. But not yet.
In any case, the wait to get Coalition citizenship is long enough that it's gotten these neighborhoods formed around it. Coalition authorities used to try and level the shantytowns and drive off settlers, but it turned out to be an exercise in futility. They also didn't want to just start slaughtering potential citizens (or humans in general), so now they focus on maintaining authority over them.
The Burbs population have none of the rights or priviledges of Coalition citizens, however, and the Coalition will often act ruthlessly to drive off real or percieved insurgents, dissidents, inhumans, magic, illegal technology, cults, and saboteurs. Gangs and other criminal groups often effectively rule these areas, and sometimes hidden monsters run things in the the worst of them. However, there are exceptions. Sometimes Burbs organize under a benevolent leader. For the most part, as long as they're human, the Coalition doesn't care about who's in charge as long as somebody is and some sort of order is maintained. Avoiding the Coalition's notice and persecution is generally the first order of business for these leaders (criminal or otherwise), since-
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Machine posted:
The Coalition Military or government can tear a Burb down and/or harass its inhabitants whenever they want to. Remember, the inhabitants of the Burbs are not CS citizens and their communities are not recognized as any sort of political entity, so they have absolutely no rights! Thus, the CS Army can enter a Burb, burst into a home or business, trash the place, threaten any of its people, beat, rape and even kill inhabitants with impunity.
Wow, Siembieda. You just had to go there, didn't you?
The worst situation is when things get so out of hand that the Coalition imposes martial law of a Burb, and they tend to be particularly brutal when they have to do so, seeking to dominate the community into utter submission. Even at the best of the times, the Coalition patrols, shakes down dissidents, and purges suspected supernaturals. Still, there are some benevolent troops that try and take care of the Burbs - or, at least, the humans in it. D-Bees can still get fucked.
As mentioned, part of the reason the Burbs exist is because of the long waiting period to become a citizen, averaging three years. In addition, those rejected have to wait 11 years before applying again. Criminals often victimize or recruit applicants during their wait. In addition, the communities attract all sorts of undesirables (as the Coalition defines them, as well as genuine criminals and predators) to take advantage of their opportunities. Though the stereotypical Burb is a tent city or shantytown, larger ones become more like boom towns. The largest and best become like cities unto themselves, with their own leadership and services.
And yes, we know know like five times as much about the Burbs than we do about the actual Coalition cities. And I'm 200 pages into this damn thing and we're not even close to done. But that's okay. We can hang in there just long enough.
"Why did you come to where all the Nazis are?" "I'm mostly just a fan of trains."
The Denizen of the Chi-Town Burbs
Yes, the typo above is from the original. So, want to play a persecuted D-Bee of the Burbs? Now's your chance!... though it notes these can be found throughout North America. And I'll tell you straight out - if you want species with developed cultures, nuanced backgrounds, or really anything beyond one-note played repeatedly, you'll be dissapointed. These are "take an occupation, add some traits based on art, call it a day".
"Seriously, do I look like a gorilla to you?"
N'mbyr Gorilla Man R.C.C.
So, it says they're named gorilla men after Earth's apes, but they look more like baboons to me. In any case, they're emotional and aggressive, sometimes going gorillazerk, and are generally jocks and tough guys. Not deep folks. Statwise, they're strong and tough, but not very charismatic, pretty, or fast. They get some basic nightvision, And physical psionic powers (20% get some super psionics). They sometimes go berserk when angry - i.e. when the GM tells them they're going berserk - which gives them minor mega-damage punches and other combat bonuses, but they can't really back down or show caution when doing so. Thankfully, there's no nonsense about them attacking friends and allies.
They generally can take any Man at Arms class except Juicers or Crazies, or play Wilderness Scout. They get reduced skills, though, making them a middling choice - given all their strength is only useful when they turn into charging idiots.
Dammit, evolution, what have you done?
Tirrvol Sword Fist R.C.C.
Yep. Sword fists. Supposedly they're really adept with using them for other things, and have prehensile feet, but... well. Sword fists. Most of them are honorable good-guy warriors, and some of them get cybernetic enhancements to keep up on Rifts Earth. A few have seemingly joined the Cyber-Knights, but it doesn't say if they can have psi-swords on their sword fists.
Hands up for sword fists!
They're strong, agile, big, and tough, but ugly. They're a minor mega-damage creature, with mild regeneration, prehensile feet (they get a small penalty on manual skills), minor sensitive psionics, and a special array of combat bonuses that really beef up as they go up in levels. Their sword arms only do damage based on their supernatural strength (i.e. surprisingly little). They can take any Man at Arms or Adventurer O.C.C., except for Juicers and Crazies once again. It also says "some use magic" but then later says just a few paragraphs later "Most Sword Fist aren't particularly interested in the pursuits of magic, preferring to rely on the their natural physical powers.", so it's not clear if they can or can't be Men of Magic. (Or women of magic, but Rifts isn't the most egalitarian game.)
Removed nose to decrease wind resistance.
"Quick-Flex". I don't know what that could mean? The internet tells me it's a brand of mechanical coupling, though? It's a weird name. In any case, these mostly look like humans minus noses and plus a bit of eye circumference. They're basically super-fast and everything about them is hung on that fact - they're adventurers, they're impatient, they shoot things well, etc.
They sacrifice beauty for speed and agility, and they're and S.D.C. race. They can jump further, get a number of combat bonuses (including a valuable automatic dodge). Their built-in "Quick-Flex Rogue" O.C.C. gives them a number of predictably sneaky skills and an average selection of other stuff. They can take any Man at Arms or Adventurer O.C.C. (including Juicer or Crazy, but those seem slightly redundant) as well, but take a skill penalty to non-Physical/Rogue skills when doing so. They're generically criminal, which makes me wonder what kind of world or society they come from... but this book doesn't care about that, so we're moving on!
Lizard Man #912.
It's intereting that a lot of these don't have a true name. I mean, what do Vanguard Brawlers call themselves, even if it's just a miscellaneous colleciton of syllables? Well, whatever the case, these are vaguely reptilian thuggish sorts who gather into clans and gangs, and use intimidation and violence as their chief means of interaction.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
Despite their strong arm tactics, they are cunning, resourceful, excellent strategists and good leaders (in a mafia kingpin sort of way).
Sure, okay. They're physically adept overall, but aren't charming or pretty. They're minor M.D.C. creatures, with enhanced hearing and smell, infrared vision, can climb around naturally, and get bonuses on a number of saves. They have a Vanguard Brawler Thug O.C.C. that gives them a streetwise package with some physical skills, though they can take any other Man at Arms or Adventurer O.C.C. (with no penalty, for a change) except for Juicer or Crazy. They don't have any sort of aversion to cybernetics, but "most Brawlers who have undergone full conversion become bitter and meaner than usual." because... well... that's what it says.
Generically alien save for their long necks, Trimadore (that's the singular and plural) are mainly gentle people with a talent for tinkering and technology. So, they're uglier than humans, continuing with Rifts usual inhuman = ugly (unless you're a dragon or a cat-person then you're pretty pretty, fetishes revealed). But what else? Well, aside from vague no-rules traits like "good hearing" and "innate mechanical aptitude", they get some basic psionics and telemechanics, and some minor combat bonuses. They have a Trimadore Mechanic O.C.C. that's good at engineering and computing, but you can be a Rogue Scholar, Cyber-Doc, Operator, or Techno-Wizard instead if you like. In general, they continue the basic trait of "take an occupation, generically wrap a D-Bee concept around it" so far.
Just a cape short of being a Sorcerer Supreme.
So, these are a few dozen alien cyborgs who have arrived on a self-professed mission of peaceful exploration and cultural exchange. While they don't seem to be shocked by or strangers to fighting, they seem to try an maintain a sort of neutrality (factional, not moral, you can calm down, Siembieda). However, the Coalition has discovered their bionics are very advanced, thanks to a few dissections, and have an order to shoot the Kremin on sight. As such, the Kremin avoid Coalition territories-
Wait, I thought this was The Denizen of the Chi-Town Burbs? Not sure what these guys are doing here, then. Getting dissected, apparently?
In any case, it marks their alignment as "unknown" due to the psionic blockers they have - as if this wasn't an OOC block of stats. They're strong-willed and overall physically pretty potent (but random for some reason, despite being cyborgs). They get hit locations but have average cyborg toughness, with the ability to regenerate if they can find M.D.C. material for their nanobots to feed on, which would be a neat mechanic if it were actually detailed. They have a cybernetic mind block that keeps people from reading their thoughts and gives them bonuses versus psionics. By charing their fit with energy, they can do added M.D.C. damage, and get wakazashi that does minor damage from swings or blasts, but can do a stun attack that can easily stunlock an enemy indefinitely as long as you can hit them one in two times. They also get a Kremin Cyborg R.C.C., which is just a Coalition Technical Officer minus the racism. They get a variety of other cybernetic systems and are actually pretty decent as far as cyborgs go, but they really need to pack a weapon with more damage than their dinky swords to be effective.
Ha, as if any human can survive a wound in this game!
"Like a playful cat, the monster will frequently toy with its prey, using hit and run tactics as well as hiding, playing dead and lurking from behind concealment or underwater, and so on."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Sixteen: "Like a playful cat, the monster will frequently toy with its prey, using hit and run tactics as well as hiding, playing dead and lurking from behind concealment or underwater, and so on. "
Monsters Common to the Burbs
So I bet you thought they couldn't fit some monsters in this book! That this book was about the Coalition, not monsters! Oh, you sweet strawman summer children. For some reason two of these things are huge predators that'd have a hard time hiding in a shantytown. Maybe all the Coalition patrols are nearsighted or something. "Looks like a big hamster to me, sir." "Oh, that's okay. Hamsters are adorable!"
Not really a devil or a sloth, this is a creature that's part bug, part bear (but not a bugbear) that tends to react violently to perceived threads, and it tends to perceive them anywhere. It also hates supernatural beings because and will lash out at them, too. It can be trained - badly - and are sometimes used by bloodsport arenas or Simvan Monster riders. They're big, strong, dumb animals which can do modest damage with their claws, and can take a ridiculous amount of damage (average 500 M.D.C.) for some reason and have a whopping Horror Factor of 15, making them scarier than gods in some cases.
Casey Jones, nooooo...!
Vampire Flat Worm
This is a large 4' to 10' giant leech, more or less - it attacks people for their blood and then tries to entangle them to keep them still, though it can feed from fresh corpses and animals. It's only S.D.C., though, so it's mostly a thread to Earth's native life. It has some natural sneaking skills and can sense heat; but it generally doesn't do or take much damage. Overall, it's not much of a threat to PCs, but it's at least interesting as a flavor creature to emphasize the crappiness of some Burbs.
Is it coming or going?
This is a large, aggressive predator that often nests near the Burbs and then travels in to raid it for easy prey. Why doesn't it just eat deer?
Anyway, it's a 25'-60' weirdo predator that'll chase down vehicles and will go into a fighting frenzy and- well, it's the sort of generically aggressive monster you have in these sorts of games. It can lean around and also has a tiny sack with arms that are used to tear prey apart as Siembieda desperately tries to find reasoning behind Lawson's oddball designs. Apparently since they have no natural predators, their numbers are exploding and the Coalition is trying to deliberately exterminate them.
Also Simvan like riding them, since no big and scary animal can go by without that mention. Like the Devil Sloth, they're ridiculously tough, can "see the invisible and all spectrums of light", track via scent (particularly bloodbloodblood-), leap around, can't be surprised because of hearing, and actually does solid damage with its bite, a rarity in melee combat. It also has a 80% chance of pinning vehicles and people up to half its size. I like Lawson's design, but the description is woefully generic.
Next: X-Ray Photo of Prosek's Brain: INSANE.
"They are like a pair of master chess players about to engage in their ultimate challenge, and they are ready."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Seventeen: "They are like a pair of master chess players about to engage in their ultimate challenge, and they are ready."
The Prosek Regime
Enough with the Burbs! Let's talk about the Coalition leadership. No, not Charles Reed Baxter, head general of the Coalition army. Siembieda has already forgotten about him. No, it's mostly the Proseks and other guys reprinted from Rifts Sourcebook, only now with descriptive text.
This piece is just reused here from earlier in the book. Palladium does that fairly often.
Emperor Karl Prosek
Circa 105 PA
Still an evil megalomanic, still brilliant, still charismatic, still bereft of any flaws but ambition. It details explicitly now that his wife and youngest son were killed years ago by the Federation of Magic, an event that doesn't seem to have had the slightest impact on him, perhaps because he possibly engineered it for propaganda purposes. He has had no interest in remarrying because
It'd be interesting to see if he was a different person before that, but the book doesn't care, so I guess I don't have to. He's gone up a level to "11th level scholar/diplomat/leader", continuing with Rifts' tendency to give NPCs nonexistent descriptive classes. He still has ridiculous stats nobody on Earth would be likely to roll (presuming the whole population of Earth played an average of one game of Rifts). It refers us back to Rifts Sourcebook for additional information, but honestly this already covers much of the information in that - nearly all of the Coalition info from that book, really, between the mech reprints and the Coalition information reprints. So the shill is unnecessary.
Dressed in the finest '04 skullsuit with alabaster touches and a fanny skull.
Joseph Prosek II
Head of Propaganda
The heir to the throne, Joseph doesn't have any ambitions of supplanting his father ahead of schedule, and he's a capable manipulator and brilliant strategist, but bereft of any flaws but ambition. Mostly he's just a carbon-copy of his father character-wise, but it says unlike his father, he views using power as a game and loves challenges. So he's more of a practical schemer sort, the Lotor to his King Zarkon. Oh, but don't think you can use his ego to make him do dumb stuff, he's too smart for that!
He's gone up from level 5 to 8 since Rifts Sourcebook, no doubt from rigorous XP rewards from backflip rolls. Not much else to add numbers-wise, other than the usual ridiculous stat levels.
The Prosek Family
Next we get the rest of the family members, most of which will be entirely forgotten after this. I suppose that's why I'm talking about them at all; I find this sort of forgotten minutia interesting. They hint at an interesting characterization for the Proseks that could have been, but alas. They are:
- Kenneth Prosek (deceased): Karl's brother, married a "gentle woman named Camellia". and had four children (Edmond, Ryan, Lisa, and Meggan).
- Edmond Prosek: A nephew to Karl and a Brigadier General serving in the campaign against Free Quebec.
- Ryan Prosek A nephew to Karl, he was in the military in six years before retiring to become an idly rich drunkard and womanizer. Sorry, "playboy". That's the nice way of saying it, right?
- Lisa Prosek: A niece to Karl who kept her name even after marrying (because Prosek), seemingly just a housewife? It's not clear.
- Meggan Prosek: A niece to Karl, she's a college student in Chi-Town.
- Quentin Turnbull: A second cousin to Karl, he's a childhood rival of Karl's and they haven't spoken it over two decades. He and his family feel outcast by the Proseks, and are fairly bitter as a result. He has a wife (Joyce) and three children (Martin, Victoria, and Katherine). His son, Martin Turnbull, has started thinking of exploring the world as an adventurer.
- ???: There are rumors that Joseph Prosek I took a "beautiful female prisoner" who was a wizard as a mistress, who fell in love with him and they had a boy together, but Joseph eventually rejected or abandoned her. Thus, there are rumors of a brother to Karl out in the Magic Zone. Karl doesn't find these rumors particularly convincing, and Joseph has investigated them but found nothing. Seems like a hook for GMs, given I don't think anything more follows up on it.
"'Moff' is my middle name."
Military Counsel to the Emperor
A family friend to the Proseks, Cabot loves and admires them for their accomplishments. He's a great military hero (for what, we don't know) and is a brilliant and ruthless soldier, bereft of any flaws but age. He's their unconditionally trusted hand in the military. Given he was a 15th level Technical Officer to begin with and has maxed out, there's no more levels for him to gain. He's exceedingly boring as a character., and there's really no angle on this guy to make him interesting.
"Hey, somebody had to look like a generic Nazi stereotype around here."
General Ross Underhill
Commander of the 4th CS Mechanized Infantry Division
A hero of 94 military campaigns-
Wait, what? The Coalition must define campaigns differently, since that's more campaigns than the United States has had between four of its biggest wars (the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War). I can only guess that Siembieda didn't really understand that "campaign" isn't synonymous with "battle". I understand that the Coalition is military-driven, but that's a bit farcical for a guy that's only 44 years old.
Apparently he fought the Federation of Magic and the Legion of Dragons. Will the latter ever be mentioned again? We'll see. That aside, he's supposed to be a brilliant strategist and gets a lot of PR labeling as such, but he's also a complete Coalition fanatic and human supremacist. Basically, even Nazis think he's a real fuckin' Nazi. He's passionate to the point of foolishness, and Cabot does his best to direct him in ways where his fanaticism serves the Coalition. He's one of the main guys organizing the Tolkeen campaign, but won't be included in the actual offensive because it's a bit of a doof. To keep his ego in check, though, they've giving him busywork overseeing various expeditionary teams.
His level hasn't changed since Rifts Sourcebook, proving he hasn't learned a thing in the meantime, despite apparently multitasking dozens of military campaigns day and night.
Next: Adventure to win, or you'll adventure for him.
"If the CS authorities learn about the stalag, they will shut it down and mercifully execute the poor tortured D-bees."Original SA post
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign Part Eighteen: "If the CS authorities learn about the stalag, they will shut it down and mercifully execute the poor tortured D-bees."
"It's okay to kill D-Bees if they're orcs, right? I mean, genre conventions."
Adventures & Settings Regarding the Coalition
Oh my fuck, how is this tire fire of a book not over yet? Well, we're almost there. We get some rando musings here from Siembieda regarding running adventures around the Coalition. He says not to overestimate the strength of the Coalition, and that there are other forces in North America that might rival him. Tolkeen might be powerful enough to oppose them (big emphasis on might given how the metaplot will go), the Xiticix might attack the Coalition, Archie-3 might take action in their conflicts, Lazlo is an unknown factor, as is the Federation of Magic. There also could be unknown new powers that pop in through a rift at any time.
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
What madness and dark force that exists at the very heart of the Coalition States themselves? Not everybody is content playing second fiddle to the Great Prosek family.
Well, you wouldn't know it from all the fuckin' sycophant Coalition NPCs in the books. Quentin Turnbull is the closest thing we've seen to a discontent, and he not only has no actual power in the Coalition, but he's a footnote at best. In any case, there's a lot of handwaving over anything could happen, you guys, which is nice of them to say until they publish seven Coalition Wars books and tell us in no uncertain terms how it turns out, PC agency be fucked. But we've got a long time before that particular debacle infests the game line and don't need to fret about it. Yet. That obviously wasn't planned out when this book was being written, but it's the future weren't heading towards.
"Super-high tech helmet and I still have to use old-fashioned glass lens technology to sight in with. Makes sense."
Hook, Line and Sinker™
Quick, down and dirty adventure ideas
HLS created by Jolly Blackburn
Rifts® Adventures written by Kevin Siembieda
Just like in Rifts Index & Adventures 1, we get adventure seeds in the Hook, Line, and Sinker format (which also gave us the derivative Challenge, Focus, Strike format in Legend of the Five Rings). I'm going to cover them as quickly as we can to wrap this damn book up.
- The Big One: This is about a group of raiders (maybe with the PCs in tow) attacking a vulnerable Coalition outpost to rob it of its weapons, but they turn out to be uncontrollable and the PCs have to stop them from pillaging or going on a campaign of terror. Alternately, the Coalition blames the PCs and they get targeted for retribution.
- Stalag of Doom: This involves the PCs having to liberate a rogue Coalition work camp for D-Bees. It goes to lengths to emphasize the work camp is run by rogues and that the Coalition would just exterminate them humanely instead, as if that was somehow any fucking better. This goddamn book, I swear. In any case, they can shut it down themselves or alert the Coalition, who will shut it down and murder all the D-Bees in the process. It's a multiverse of choice!
- Resistance: A mercenary company is recruiting people to help in the defense of Tolkeen, but it turns out it's a Coalition trap to ensnare and execute dissidents and enemies.
- The Price of Freedom: The PCs join with freedom fighters against the Coalition, but it turns out the freedom fighters are amoral assholes. Of course, the idea that you might reason with them is out of the question, since they're complete fanatics, and maybe the PCs learn that the truth is somewhere in the middle! (It isn't, but let's go with that.) Pretty much like The Big One in that it's like "Maybe the Coalition's enemies are assholes too, makes you think hm hm." Uuuugh.
- In the Front Door: The Coalition is hiring mercenaries against Tolkeen and the PCs use it as an opportunity to conduct sabotage or espionage.
- The Prophet: There's a prophet that promises villages protection against the Coalition offensive, but he's really a witch trying to build enough followers for his alien intelligence boss to bring it over into this world. I guess the PCs gotta stop another anti-Coalition force that is maybe the real evil.
- Dark Tunnels: The PCs have a fight with the Coalition and an explosion opens up a hole to a underground bunker that might have old pre-rifts relics, or be some undiscovered hideout for the Vallax (from Juicer Uprising. They might have to fight the inhabitants of the bunker, or maybe not.
- Strange Bedfellows: A Federation of Magic wizard is going to cast a spell that creates a blight to destroy the Coalition crops in Missouri and Iowa, but will cause massive suffering and might not stop there. It's up to the PCs to stop him! And rescue the president's daughter! Wait, no, just the first. Man, sense a theme of who the real baddies might be? I get it, Kev.
There are bad guys and we have to fight them to save some people? What, no twist to screw the players over and blow their minds like the finest of Wicks? You've gone soft, Siembieda! Soft!
Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign posted:
To the Rescue
This is a real simple, all-purpose, expand as you want, adventure plot that can be used over and over again.
Hook: A cry for help. The pleas can come from a lone child, woman, human, D-bee, etc., or from an entire community.
Line: Our heroes go to help.
Sinker: The character(s) or community calling for help really is a good guy or innocent, and really is in distress. The problem is the enemy threatening them is a CS squad or platoon! In the alternative, any old enemy of the player group, or hideous opponent the group was hoping to avoid or deal with later, will do.
We get the nonsense XP tables, including one for "ISS Psi-Stalker" (doesn't exist). There's an XP table for "D-Bee Vagabond" but I don't know what they refers to, because it's different from the normal Vagabond table but doesn't have any corresponding class. And that... is... that.
As much as I hate to harp on CJ's absence really affecting the line, the difference in quality since his departure is readily apparent. Coalition War Campaign is loaded with half-baked ideas and realizes very few of them. The editing is embarrassing. It's also loaded with ham-fisted Coalition back-patting, including the excruciating metaplot used to excise material Siembieda doesn't seem to care for. Attempts to humanize the Coalition just come across as apologism for fascism, and it keeps wanting to have it both ways where they're heroes on the ground but villains at the top, and it profoundly doesn't work. Lastly, the whole Tolkeen campaign isn't really detailed enough to use, since we still barely know shit about Tolkeen to begin with.
The line is in a sharp nose-dive and it's going to stay pretty bad for a long while before it gets better. So far as I've reviewed, it's a tossup between this book and Rifts World Book Four: Africa as competition for what I think is the worst book in the line. Africa is still probably the worst for me on account of its ugly art, lack of direction, and faceless stereotypes, but Coalition War Campaign comes close with its appalling editing, writing, and design, which really shows a new low in the game line. And, of course, the excuses for genocide veiled behind the "aren't we all just humans" attempt at shades of grey. I kind of wanted to get to the point where I can review this book because I figured it'd be prime fodder, but I didn't realize how absolutely gross it could be upon just a casual read.
And that's it! We're done with this disaster.Well, the Coalition won't be away long, because the next World Book I'll be covering will focus on them again, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. But before that...
Next: Time for me to get out the mic again? Already?