1 "This should make for a fun read (I sure had a blast writing it) and provide more material from which Game Masters can weave exciting adventures."
2 "The Native American Indians I encountered during my short visit, call Lone Star, 'The Land of a Thousand People.'"
3 "'Before the horse was domesticated, it was the dog who pulled the plow and wagon.'"
4 "The keen olfactory sense of these canine mutants can locate cancerous cells in skin cancer, lung cancer and malignant tumors."
5 "They are especially fancied by adventurers, mercenaries, spies, thieves, assassins, vagabonds, and people living outside the borders of the Coalition States."
6 "Chimpanzees represent 95% of all Monkey Boys."
7 "Felines, rodents, and those bonded with alien organisms, are among the coldest and least likely to trust humans — rats are downright evil."
8 "Desmond Bradford is himself a human aberration with a brilliant mind and imagination the likes of which the world sees only once every thousand years."
9 "200 Ibs. (90 kg) of muscle, metal and hate."
10 "This is a menacing woman with the soul of a demon, the mind of a cold, calculating machine, and the face and outward appearance of an angel."
11 "Psi-Stalkers, Simvan and some American Indians settle disputes in combat, often to the death, and/or scar, disfigure or cripple the perpetrator for wrongdoings, such as amputating a hand for stealing from the tribe or clan, or castration for the rape of a group member."
12 "King Macklin has tried to make a few shady deals with his CS contact (whom he knows only as Mr. Gene), including them throwing in together to usurp control of the Northern Quadrant and ruling the State of Lone Star as partners (yeah, right)."
13 "This may affect the credibility of the entire player group — guilt by association, leading to conclusions like, "if so and so is a friend/comrade, then they all must be bandits and cutthroats" (and can't be trusted and may not be wanted)."
14 "Its official name, "The Board of Culture," has given rise to many less than humorous comments, primarily based on the obvious pun ("culture, what culture?" "Well, you know how they grow cultures, don't you ...," etc.).."

"This should make for a fun read (I sure had a blast writing it) and provide more material from which Game Masters can weave exciting adventures."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:


You know...

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

... I'm not sure my mother ever read one of these warnings.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star 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.

I'm pretty sure she saw the first Rifts cover with the Splugorth slave barge and everything.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

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

I'm guessing she was just fine with letting me explore this kind of thing on my own even after banning me from playing D&D, maybe she saw me getting over my issues with horror as a good thing.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star 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.

And thankfully, I never became a wizard, junkie, or hooligan. Then again, I never became crazy TV movie Tom Hanks, which may not be the best Tom Hanks, it's still Tom Hanks. Which is a slight dissapointment.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part One: "This should make for a fun read (I sure had a blast writing it) and provide more material from which Game Masters can weave exciting adventures."


"I am totally going to see what that thing smells like... you know... there!"

So, it's time for Rifts, Texas-style. This continues Siembieda taking up the reigns of the game line, with Julius Rosenstein doing small contributions. Lone Star is part of a "threesome", as he puts it, of books detailing the American West (the other two will be Rifts World Book 14: New West and Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West), and it also helps further detail the Coalition. And though Rifts doesn't do splatbooks per se, this serves as the Dog Boy and mutant animal sourcebook, much like Rifts Sourcebook Four: Mindwerks had a bunch of material for Crazies and Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising was the Juicer book.

Those reading these as they're released may wonder why I'm not reviewing Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape first. As mentioned previously, Psyscape was badly delayed, most likely due to the departure of staff writer CJ Carella, who was originally slated to write it. As such, I'd have to get to World Book 16 first before doing 12, presuming I'm not hit by a sudden bout of good sense first. But with that in mind...

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Lastly, I want to apologize for many of Palladium's products being chronically late by 1-3 months (and a few completely rescheduled in the last year). There are three main reasons for these delays. One, events beyond our control such as artists or writers (sometimes both!) missing deadlines, manuscripts that don't meet our expectations, mechanical failure of equipment, illness and similar. Two, overreaching. We have so many great ideas and projects that we want to do, that we sometimes overload our schedules. Third, none of us at Palladium Books can bring ourselves to sacrifice quality just to bang out product. We care too much about Rifts® and all our game worlds to diminish them with rushed and second-rate products. More importantly, we care about our fans. We pride ourselves on the knowledge that our fans expect the best from Palladium. Consequently, we feel the disappointment of a delay followed by an excellent product is better than releasing rushed, hacked-out junk! Believe me, product delays cause Palladium more headaches than just disappointed fans. We love knowing that Palladium consistently produces some of the most exciting, enjoyable, fun and best selling role-playing games on the market. I think Rifts® Lone Star is another sourcebook that fits the bill. Enjoy.

This is the first book of 1997, which will see probably the most Rifts books in a year. There was seven books in total that year, mostly written by Siembieda, which means he was really bangin' them out... or there's a lot of delayed books coming to fruition. Either way, it's downhill from here to Spirit West, one of the real lows of the Rifts line...

... but it's not all bad news. This sees the introduction of a number of newer Palladium art contributors like Brandon C. Clark, Mark Dudley, or Scott Johnson in addition to Breaux's continued art on the line. But it also introduces-

Ramon Perez

- possibly my favorite all-time artist on the line and one of my favorite RPG artists of all time. His work can be a little rough in this deput, but he's one of the few that can manage three important artistic merits for Rifts. First, he has a very dynamic style, and does a lot of exciting action scenes instead of the staid concept art you often see in Rifts products up to this point. Second, his characters often have the wear and cobble you'd expect of people living in a rough, post-apocalypse society. Lastly, he can do both mechanical designs and magical SFX with equal ease. Dudley will also really grow into his own as time goes on.

A wild Perez appears!

But we've still got a lot of Kev to get through, so let's get started. If you thought the Coalition's presentation before was a disaster, you ain't seen nothing yet, um... pardner?

Next: Erin Tarn! Patrotic! Cowboy hat!

"The Native American Indians I encountered during my short visit, call Lone Star, 'The Land of a Thousand People.'"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Two: "The Native American Indians I encountered during my short visit, call Lone Star, 'The Land of a Thousand People.'"

"Dammit! If only the artist had used the rules, this could never happen!"

Lone Star
An Overview By Erin Tarn

So Erin Tarn first emphasizes that though the Coalition "claims" the state-previously-known-as-Texas, in truth they only dominate about the top third of it. Their territory is centered around Lone Star City, home to the "infamous" Lone Star Complex where the Coalition cooks up mutant animals (dog boys, mainly). The Lone Star Complex is a pre-Rifts military complex designed to focus on genetic engineering, mostly located underground and to be self-sufficient. It was apparently controversial at the time of its construction for nonspecific reasons, though it seems likely it was a tremendous pork barrel project. The Coalition keeps what exactly they've discovered quite secret, or at least secret from Erin Tarn.

She reports that she's heard of other animals being experimented with and mutated, but also that there are rumors of the Coalition creating terrible mutants to bedevil non-Coalition communities. In addition, she brings up the "Xiticix Killer", a creature that was believed to be some kind of d-bee hunting the bugs, but instead may be a cybernetic / genetic creation of Lone Star. In addition, she brings up the so-called Psi-X Aliens, which claim to be failed experiments in genetically engineering psionic humans. Tarn is shocked by this, and doesn't believe Emperor Prosek would sanction such, concluding he must be unaware (and not reading his Erin Tarn, apparently). The Coalition denies any involvement, naturally.

Tarn reports most of the old cities have been raided or stripped for stuff, and most of the state is a motley collection of tribes, gangs, monsters, and other things. The Pecos Empire actually turns out to be a large group of loosely affliated tribes and clans of which only a significant minority raid - others herd, farm, etc. Of course, the "most peaceful and 'civilized'" of its members are apparently the "Indians", presumably because they are genetically inclined to noble savagery. She also apologizes for her previous estimates about the Empire's size being based on Coalition information, and that the actual Empire is actually two to ten times as big as popularly reported.

Also she's heard something about vampires in Mexico, but that goes back to Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms to find out what she discovers about that.

SAMAS really let itself go.

CS Northern Quadrant

So, it turns out the only reason the Coalition gives a shit about the Texan region at all is because of Lone Star, and most of their presence there is military. Though there are farms, mines, and frontier towns, most of it is in the economic orbit of Lone Star City. Though it could become a full-fledged Coalition State eventually, it's unlikely to happen in the forseeable future. We get a variety of details on various locations, like:
I may not like this design, but a better artist can make it work.

The Lone Star Complex

But enough about that, time for the thing the book really wants to talk about : mad scientists making mutant abominations!

The Lone Star Complex was built in 2092 A.D. (the rifts occurred in 2098), but when found seemed to be entirely abandoned. The Coalition uncovered it when searching for oil, and it remains their greatest find, catapulting their technology forward by decades of where it would otherwise be. Most of it was fully intact, complete with documentation and research. Nobody knows what happened to the original staff, only finding a few skeletons.

Desmond Bradford - he's the head of research at Lone Star, but we haven't actually been told that yet - discovered that Sub-Level Nine of the facility was dedicated to trans-dimensional research. He's locked nearly everybody out of it as a result, but he believes some cross-section of the rifts opening and their research transported the staff to another dimension. He doesn't have any hard evidence, but it's probably the strongest hypothesis. (The book says "as good a theory as any", which is probably the wrong term when it comes to a scientist.) Also, he's going to be get a looot of love from the book, so get ready for it slather praise on a psychopathic madman.

"Don't worry! You'll be safe outside the wall! Look at how many pouches you have!"

An Overview of the Lone Star Complex

It's noted this section is kept as brief as possible, and it could fill a whole book by itself (dear Siembieda, please never do that, thanks). Let's go level by level:0
"Party in the secret monster lab! Woo!"

Sector 357

We get a fiction chunk where mutants are running amok in Sector 357, but Bradford keeps Coalition troops from killing them, instead walking in himself and mysteriously resolving the crisis. When a Coalition trooper questions him, he has him sent to the Tolkeen frontline. That's supposed to be a punishment, but it seems better to me than working for Bradford. Everything I poke at here at Bradford may be premature, but by the end I think you'll see what I'm talking about. In any case, this is Bradford's "private monster factory". When he reveals information about it to his underlings, it's usually as a sort of blackmail, making them complicit in his questionable experiments to make them hesitant to try and report him to other Coalition authorities.

Basically it goes on about how clever and cunning Bradford is and

Next: Man's Best Slave.

"'Before the horse was domesticated, it was the dog who pulled the plow and wagon.'"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Three: "'Before the horse was domesticated, it was the dog who pulled the plow and wagon.'"


The Dog Pack

Originally introduced several decades ago in 77 PA as "Psi-Hounds", the name "Dog Boys" has stuck as more popular and even the military has largely given up on the Psi-Hound branding. That's probably because "Dog Boy" is a really diminutive label and allows people to think of them as harmless lessers- well, the book doesn't get that insightful into the racial politics or anything, I just made that up because I thought it would be more interesting than what the book says.

So we're doing to talk about mutant dogs all of a sudden! Fuck it, this is Palladium, no time for organization or chapter breaks. Well, okay. Bradford's going to talk about mutant dogs, not us. And by Bradford, I mean:

"Everybody, formation: cool pose! Let's see the enemy stand up to this!"

Why Mutant Dogs?

So, we drop into fiction again, because this is Bradford, and he gets fiction. Siembieda's doing... fiction now, I'll point out, seemingly having picked up Carella's habit, or just the habit of the '90s. But you only get fiction if Siembieda really, really likes you as an NPC. And no doubt, he loves writing Bradford.

So, Bradford is giving a straw man Inspector Emerson (a forgettable toady of Joseph Prosek II) a tour of Lone Star, and we get a conversation:I'm going to zoom in on the most cringeworthy part:

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Doctor Bradford paused and smiled mischievously, his eyes shining with personal satisfaction over his little dissertation, confident that Inspector Emerson had been put in his place (he didn't like the man).

Yes, it's important that the obvious be delivered to the reader with all the subtlety of a punch to the face (I didn't like the writing).

"I'll call this one... Duke Skybarker."

Dog Boy Creation

So, they have two ways of making dog boys: created and grown in a lab or naturally bred. Or-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Dog Boys can be created and grown in the laboratory via genetic manipulation or born and raised through a normal birthing process; usually under strict CS supervision. In the latter case, there are females who are used as "breeders." They are typically artificially inseminated to avoid any bonding and emotional attachment to a male partner. These breeders are pampered and cared for by their human masters. Most mutant canines consider it a privilege to help the Coalition States by bringing new, strong defenders of humankind into the world.

Look, Siembieda, if you ever read this, which I'm not expecting you'll ever get this far, but this is wrong. It is an excuse slaveowners make for rape. Oh yeah, it should be mentioned that dog boys who are given the "privilege" of mating with a peer have their children taken away to avoid family units from being created. We also get details that "wild" dog boys are generally exterminated unless they're under one year of age, in which case they're brought in for raising and indoctrination.

Fuck, this is gonna be rough to get through. I thought Africa was bad, with its faceless indigenous peoples. Triax & the NGR gave us no-shit magic criminal gypsies. Coalition War Campaign was awful, with its hamfisted metaplot. But this... this...

So, most female psi-hounds (the term "dog girls" will never be used in the book; the game only begrudgingly admits they exist here) are involved with the rearing and education of dog kids. Only 30% of dog boys are female, but why the gender disparity exists is unclear. While it's implied the Coalition wants more males, only 10% are tube-grown (aka "tube dogs" or "hot dogs", get it?), so there's no reason why the disparity should be so far in favor of males. In fact, since the majority of... female... dog... boys... get domestic administrative tasks, while males get military roles, things should be bent towards a higher female population even if you presume most "hot dogs" are male, because the males are bred to die in droves fighting wizards or Brodkil or Xiticix. But that level of consideration isn't occurring because this is Siembieda writing and Rifts is Rifts.

Most dog boys draw from German Shepherd, Doberman, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Rottweiler, Akita, Malamute, or New Foundland DNA, and they mainly focus on working dogs otherwise. We get a lot of detail on litter counts and-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

A female reaches full physical maturity by age three, but the CS usually does not allow breeding to start before age five to allow for emotional maturity.

siembieda no

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

The typical breeder female will bear young once every 18 to 24 months. This rate of birth offers minimal wear and tear on the mother and maximum longevity of the female (average life span, 50 years). However, a female can give birth as often as every 14 months, but this will reduce her skill/work productivity by 40% and her life span by 30%-50%.


Well, at least that's over.

The boys who loved Prosek.

The Program
Dog Boy Nurseries and Training

Fuck, it's not over.

It goes on how affectionate and wonderful their indoctrination and enslavement is an astonishing lack of self-awareness. They bring in human teachers are soon as is viable, and it mentions that they learn faster than humans because faster maturation means faster learning! Makes sense, that's science.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

The human (and Psi-Hounds) who raise these cuddly, energetic balls of fluff show the animals an immense amount of affection and attention in both play and education. In fact, Dog Boy pups enjoy more tenderness and personalized attention than most human children — but then human children don't reach physical maturity by the age of three and mental/emotional maturity by six.

"Here you will learn to load and fire a gun with a fursuit on. Questions?"

Military Dog Pack Program

Naturally, as picture perfect slaves, dog boys love to obey and adapt to military hierarchy well. The only issues is when a leader looks weak or indecisive, as they naturally respect strength and outward authority, even if it's abusive (though they can be pushed too far). We get a lot of on "obedience training" but most of it is pretty much what you'd expect from a military training what are (at best) second-class citizens. About 6% wash out and are sent to a farm upstate where they play with all the other dog boys in games of euthanasia or dehumanizing experiments. (Well, dehumanizing for the humans, at least.) 10% go AWOL during their time of service, which we're told is a "outstanding success ratio", but is actually pretty bad for a desertion rate in a modern army. The Vietnam War saw American desertion rates peak at around 5%, for example, and the War in Iraq has been less than 1% for the most part. But, as always, Rifts is bad at math.

Wolfman vs. the Creature.

Canine Psychology & Instincts

So, the Coalition believes that Psi-Hounds are fundamentally animals and not equal to humans, justifying their treatment of them. Ironically, Desmond Bradford would disagree, but he's a psychopath and doesn't really give a fuck what feelings dog boys might have. In the end, they are sentient and equal to humans in that regard, but have pack and loyalty instincts that give them a different outlook. They're more easily contented and amused, and tend to react to danger with aggression more often than flight. Most will only fight until their opponent flees or surrenders, however, and aren't given to bloodthirstiness. However, they can turn nasty when cornered, either literally or metaphorically.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Loyalty or Brainwashed Slaves? Many rogue scientists, philosophers and humanitarians outside the Coalition States, argue that the Coalition's use of mutant canines is nothing more than slavery. They insist that Dog Boys are not "animals" and should enjoy the same rights as any sentient being. Of course, this argument is a moot point, considering that the Coalition States don't recognize the equality or rights of any nonhuman race. In fact, by comparison, Dog Boys are treated with unprecedented kindness and compassion by these murderous bigots, although the mutant canines must serve the Empire or be destroyed.

Huh, that's a surprisingly nuanced point to make for this book. Wait, there's more-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Most Dog Boys don't feel enslaved or brainwashed. Nor do they feel equal or even near the equal of humans. According to Lone Star GED scientists, this is neither brainwashing or genetic manipulation, but the very nature of the animals and their relationship with humans. It is widely known that the geneticists select, enhance and combine the most favorable genetic traits of the canines, with loyalty being of extreme importance. One can also find arguments that the Dog Pack training program is a form of brainwashing. However, it has been impossible to produce evidence that the mutants are being somehow controlled or forced to serve the CS against their will. In fact, most Psi-Hounds, when given the opportunity to leave the CS and join other humans or nonhumans as equals, decline the offer and return to their Coalition masters.




So it points out that dog boys, even outside of the Coalition, are usually loyal to whoever they attach to as human "masters". They also sensitive to the supernatural, as discussed back back in the corebook, and see it as competition or a natural enemy. Randomly, we get a note they can "dog paddle" for a free 50% swim skill, that they're attracted to rapid motion (so you can make those Up references, I suppose), and that they like physical activity. The last random bit it gives is apparently because dog boys are based on dogs, it allows humans to trust them without fear, even in the otherwise genocidal Coalition States.

It keeps wanting to waffle and handwring and be like "Well, they want to be slaves." and "They're not treated like slaves." when for all effective purposes they've slaves. It's not like dog boys get to choose their occupation, create families, travel freely, earn equal pay, or obtain rank that provides authority over a human. They're literally treated as expendable subhumans, are expected to obey orders on pain of torture or death... but they're not literally property, so they're not slaves! (Even though the corebook literally pointed out that they're slaves. Ooops.)

Next: New dogs with old tricks.

"The keen olfactory sense of these canine mutants can locate cancerous cells in skin cancer, lung cancer and malignant tumors."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Four: "The keen olfactory sense of these canine mutants can locate cancerous cells in skin cancer, lung cancer and malignant tumors."

"I'm just saying, it's easy to pee in these, but I really wouldn't mind pants..."

Dog Pack R.C.C.
Dog Boys or Psi-Hounds

So, it's time to reprint a corebook class. To be fair, there are modest updates. It talks more about the role of dog boys largely as watchdogs against the supernatural, along with psi-stalkers. In addition, they're used as recon or first assault by the military. Sometimes they're sent undercover as fake "runaways" to gain intelligence, though naturally this kind of operation has the greatest AWOL rate, though the Coalition sees this as a way of testing to see what dogs stay loyal because... science? Ah, the classic Coalition mustache twirl- "Even when we lose, we win! Somehow! Trust us on this!"


Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

A human might feel a bit of a loss over the death of a favorite hunting dog killed by a wild animal, but one simply discards the dead body and goes out to purchase a new dog. This is the general attitude of the Coalition military and most citizens. The mutant canines are just big doggies that walk on two legs, sport arms and hands, and talk instead of bark. If a job is too dangerous for a human, send in a mutant animal. If it dies, a new one can always be purchased, bred, or grown.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

As noted previously, most Dog Boys don't see anything wrong with how they are treated, and tend to concur that they are expendable, rather than jeopardize valuable human lives. This also means that they rarely feel cheated or abused, and are happy to be part of the human pack.

Always battling the boundary of the art.

Their abilities are largely the same as in the corebook, but have been simplified a little in some cases and complicated in others. We also get some detail on their vision (they can see color, though it's muted compared to humans), they now have an ineffectual bite attack, and a note that they're twice as likely to be struck by ley line energy during ley line storms, though what the base chance of that is unclear. There's also an obscure rule that dog boys take penalties from ley line storms, so if you happen to have a copy of Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis and the rules for now, you can reference the shit out of that. The breed table is sadly not expanded at all breed-wise, though it gives a few very slight extra bonuses to some breeds. The mutation table has been expanded modestly. As as before, if given the chance there's no much reason not to roll on the mutation tables; the chances of getting something negative are very small and any penalties are matched by consummate benefits.

There's also an error where they're given the old dog boy armor with lower M.D.C. values instead of the new armor from Coalition War Machine and this book because I guess they just copy-pasted it from the core book, whups.

Free to stand up perfectly straight, for a change.

"Feral" Dog Boys

So, "Feral" is a Coalition term for dog boys who escape, and naturally the Coalition does their rugged best to exterminate them, since they're a bad example and often have knowledge of Coalition operations. It notes, though, that they have some forgiveness for those they think just got lost or young pups out on a lark, though those they think are making repeated efforts are sent to the dog boy farm upstate. Same goes for those suspected in helping a dog boy escape.

However, there are those that get loose and even build communities of their own, and these "Free Borns" tend to have more individuality and a general dislike for the Coalition. However, they still often attach to human communities and a few have regrets and want to return to the Coalition. However, since the Coalition doesn't accept rogues back in anything other than a body bag, the joke's on them.

Stat-wise, they're just like normal dog boys except that they can select from a variety of O.C.C.s instead of just the dog boy soldier skill package. It notes a lot of them still have the same soldier skillset since it just gets passed down from parents to children, or become wilderness scouts or vagabonds. Otherwise, it notes that most males tend towards headhunter, or mercenary classes, while females tend towards classes like operator, body fixer, scientist, or scholar. Of course, this comes from the author's notion of sexual dimorphism, since both sexes of canine are aggressive in different ways, and the fact that males are larger doesn't necessarily make them them more aggressive or dangerous. That digression aside, they rarely taken up magic or augmentation classes, but there are a few dog boy cyber-knights. Bizarrely, dog boys get a fixed number of secondary skills regardless of their class, which means they'll often get more skills than usual, since Rifts has generally reduced the amount of secondary skills classes get over time (giving classes more fixed skills and less skill picks). Honestly, they're pretty solid and straight-up better than humans other than the general "and the Coalition shoots you on sight" drawback, but that's the majority of Rifts character options anyway.

"Well, Wile E. had to buy it sooner or later, considering his lifestyle."

Dog Boy Special Forces R.C.C.s

But enough about freedom, time for some specialty slaves.

"The worst part of being a wet dog is always smelling myself."

Navy "Sea Dogs"

So, the Coalition Navy mainly uses Newfoundland dog boys due to their swimming talents and- wait. There isn't a Coalition Navy at this point in continuity. Well, there will be soon enough when that supplement comes out, so I guess it's close enough for Palladium. They're pretty much just dog boys, but wetter. Bizarrely, they get vastly better stats than any other dog boy so far, including a very high Affinity, mental Endurance, and are as tough and strong as Pit Bulls. The only real drawback is that their natural scent and tracking is reduced. They also get saddled with bunch of vehicle and sea skills, with not many other picks.

But Ralph was the wolf, not the sheepdog!

K-9 "Sniffers"

These are dog boys bred for their sense of smell and then trained at the heretofore unmentioned Cabot & Dog Boy Training Grounds located on the runs of Lackland AFB in San Antonio. You know, right smack dab in the middle of the Pecos Empire where everybody shoots Coalition soldiers more-or-less on sight. Makes sense! Speaking of things that only make sense with sarcasm included, they have a Intelligence requirement, but... their I.Q. uses a different roll, so you don't know if you an qualify to play one until you roll it, but you don't know what you roll until you play it.

It's a bit of circular nonsense. In any case, their Intelligence and physical Endurance is a little higher than humans, and they get all the benefits of the dog boy class plus special powers, but slightly fewer skills. And what are those special powers?

Well, the first power is to smell cancer. That is not a typo. This is clearly based off of studies that have suggested that dogs may have some ability to smell cancerous tissue, but the methodology of the studies is a little questionable. Of course, this goes along with the similarly Siembieda-penned dolphins with their ability to sonically detect diseases and track UFOs. What the fuck, Coalition? You have dogs that can smell cancer! Certainly you can lend one or two to hospitals, but no. They also get the ability to sniff for less unusual stuff like for drugs, explosives, or bionics. But they also get the ability to "Sense Impending Natural Disasters"... electromagnetically. Mmhm.

Cujo works for us now.

Kill Hounds

May not want to let these ones around the kids.

So, these are recently engineering dogs from fighting breeds aimed at performing war crimes. No, seriously - they're trained as murder machines and sent against D-Bee villages and being told to kill everything. They're described as "aggressive, dominant, self-oriented and murderous", but only "possibly with an evil alignment". Somehow 20% of them are "Unprincipled" even though " they never hesitate at a chance to hunt, track or kill" and "The mutant has just one goal: kill!" and-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

In this regard, they are more animalistic: narrowly focused on their purpose (i.e. fight and kill), aggressive (be alert, fight and kill), and reasonably strong-willed (don't back down, fight and kill)!

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Natural, instinctive hunters and killers who love to give chase, intimidate/bully, torture, fight, maim and kill (by tearing apart their opponents).
And yet, somehow the majority are "selfish" and not "evil". That aside, they're dumb, abrasive, and mean, but they're strong, agile, and tough... for S.D.C. creatures, anyway. They get some modest combat bonuses and can lift and leap a lot, but their sense of smell is reduced. They get some basic cybernetics like a clock-calendar, so they know when it's time to reap. And they get a few drawbacks:I bet you're just burning to play an genocidal S.D.C. Scrappy-Doo that goes nuts on some gargoyle they can't even hurt only to be torn limb from limb, right? Are you a roleplayer or a rollplayer?

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

"Don't worry," snarls the Kill Hound Alpha Dog with a grin, "we'll get those D-bee terrorists. You just stand ready to take care of any that happen to slip past us. You never know what you might flush out when you raid one of their nests." And chuckles, eyes sparkling in anticipation.
Next: Ride to Live! Live to Ride!

"They are especially fancied by adventurers, mercenaries, spies, thieves, assassins, vagabonds, and people living outside the borders of the Coalition States."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Four: "They are especially fancied by adventurers, mercenaries, spies, thieves, assassins, vagabonds, and people living outside the borders of the Coalition States."

basically everyone

Time for piles of equipment!

Give the dog a bone skull.

Dog Boy Equipment

It notes that dog boys are now getting better equipment due to being a proven commodity, and so, shamefully, the book reprints C-18 Laser Pistol, C-14 "Fire Breather", CP-40 Pulse Laser Rifle, C-27 "Light" Plasma Cannon, CS Hand Grenades, Vibro-Blades, Dog Pack Spikes and the Neural Mace. Most of that equipment is already in the corebook, and what wasn't in the corebook was in the previous World Book printed, Coalition War Campaign. We get a variety of Vibro-Blade Vambraces, all of which are illustrated but the only ones you want are the Hooked (bonus to disarm and parry checks) or the Sabre (highest damage and bonus to parry). In fact, I don't see any reason why you couldn't wear one of each and reap all the benefits as necessary.

CN-1 Net Gun.

We do get some more notable new equipment, including:

Soldiers, officer / special forces, and sea / recon helmets, respectively.

Dog Pack Body Armor

Dog Pack DPM Light Riot Armor has been upgraded from 30 to 50 M.D.C. Dog boys can now wear old-style "Dead Boy" armor, DPM D1 & D21 Dog Boy Armor, which is the corebook Coalition armor retrofitted for them (which seems a lot more work than is practical, but there you have it), complete with doggy-style helms they don't particularly like.


What could be more appropriate to a section on mutant animals than suddenly hovercycles. Not even Coalition hovercycles. Just a section on hovercycles. It notes that dog boys like them, I guess? It's very random. It notes that though these are Northern Gun designs, the Coalition has been buying them up and adding an (unstatted) laser or (unstatted) mini-missiles and painting them blue-black with a skull on the front. It seems like a desperate attempt to justify this section, given that the Coalition already has hovercycles. Better ones, too! Coalition equipment: just add skulls.

I'm not going to go into too much detail here because this section is unbelievably repetitive. Most of the bikes are the same save for mild differences in M.D.C. values or top speed, not that any of them are even as tough as a suit of personal Coalition armor, so all of them are soft targets. They also can be purchased with electric, combustion, or nuclear engines, because Rifts has a world where you can just plug in any power source into an engine and get the exact same performance. Lastly, they detail an extra price for each bike to have an "armored" option which generally just adds about 20-30 M.D.C. So we have:

Big ol' cyclebutt.

NG-300 "Speedster" Hovercycle:

The most popular model, goes 220 MPH up to 120' high, gets a bonus to piloting checks, and the description reads like an ad blurb:

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

The Speedster, produced by Northern Gun, is one of the fastest,
most maneuverable and affordable hovercycles on the market.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

... handles like a dream.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Northern Gun's masterful sales campaign, the vehicle's unique styling, excellent handling and frequent (typically 2-4 times a year) special promotions offering the vehicle at a 10-20% discount (for a limited time only!) and/or with an easy payment plan have made it common throughout the North American continent, outselling the nearest competitor 4 to 1.

Fine, I'll buy one already, can I move the fuck on now?

Hovercycle or hobby horse?

MI-3000 "Firefly" Hovercycle

This is the Manistique Imperium competitor to the NG-300, goes 190 MPH up to 60' high, gets a bonus to piloting, but can wallride and gets lasers and mini-missiles at an upcharge. The Coalition doesn't use these Manistique Imperium bikes, despite being an Imperium ally.

Perez makes me interested in hovercycles!... momentarily. Rad!

MI-2010 Desert Fox

These is their low-maintenance model designed for use in rough and desert landscapes. It gets a smaller bonus to pioting, and goes 170 MPH up to 80' high. One weapon can be added at an upcharge. Ho-hum.

Breaux is alright but this these look like just motorcycles - wheels = hovercycles.

NG-220 Rocket

This is a high-speed bike that goes up to 340 MPH up to 1000' but has a bunch of surprisingly massive piloting penalties, and is considered to be an outmoded model. In the Siembiedan fashion of making random bits and bobs into weapons, he explains some of the directional jet ports are actually disguised ion guns! Mmhm. Some are just directional jet ports, though. Extra weapons can be added at an upcharge. The Coalition doesn't like this bike. Do we care? I don't.

Well, some of them look like mini x-wings. Or is that Battlestar Galactica...?

NG-230 Prowler

Mainly notable for its "whisper quiet" feature, this doesn't make much noise at low speeds and can be used to sneak for those that might not notice a 7' flying bike. It goes up to 190 MPH up to 700' high, comes with a terrible laser, and can have weapons tacked on. The Coalition kinda likes this bike. If you care.

Others just look like mecha-Snoopy to me.

NG-400 Stinger

250 MPH, 200' high, has a piloting penalty that increases the more weapons you add. It doesn't seem anything is too special other than you can add more weapons than usual? The Coalition likes this a lot, which I'm not sure why, it's a bit crap.

Insert clever blurb here I guess, ugh.

NG-480 Turbo

Goes at 220 MPH up to 400', can slap on weapons, this is one of the slowest Northern Gun bikes. You shame the name of Turbo, Northern Gun. It does give a piloting bonus, though, as Siembieda uses the term "handles like a dream" as if it had any meaning after its constant numbing repetition across constant vehicle descriptions. How do you know what my dreams are like, Siembieda? Maybe I'm really clumsy in them. You don't know me!

"How do I land with this weight on my back? I'm not a Juicer! Um... shit!"

CS Death Wing
Air Assault Armor

Wait, this isn't a hovercycle.

But not one to be bound by his chapter headings, basic organization, or not using up random art left over from the last book, we get a VTOL (because every aircraft in Rifts is a fuckin' VTOL) jet pack... armor... thing that's just a mess of intakes and thrusters pointed in completely perpendicular directions. In any case, the "Wing" was originally used as a recon craft that flew high and used sensors but has weapons added on, so now it's the "Death Wing"! So clever.

Like its toyetic design suggests, the wing can detach and the pilot can cybernetically (it's presumed pilots will have the requisite cybernetics) control it. The armor is special power armor that locks, which is presumably how you can lug something that looks like the size of a small car on your back and don't flop around like Garry's Mod when flying around. It's retconned that the Vallax aliens stole this design to make the Icarus Flight System back in Juicer Uprising but-

why, why would you need to retcon that

So this is about as tough as a SAMAS (but you can directly target the pilot on a called shot) but much faster at 600 MPH, and the special power armor is needed to take the speed. It has a battery of wing lasers that actually do really solid damage, arm lasers you'll never use, a rail gun or mini-missiles on top (pick the missiles), and can carry hand weapons. The only really fancy part other than the speed is the sensor system which has pretty much every vision type Siembieda could think of except for x-ray.

And the equipment section is mercifully over. Time to get back to...

Next: The Mighty Mutanimals.

"Chimpanzees represent 95% of all Monkey Boys."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Five: "Chimpanzees represent 95% of all Monkey Boys."

Not slavery.

GED Mutant Experiments

So, the Coalition doesn't just do dogs, they've done other sorts of mutants in vastly smaller numbers. They have a harder time controlling them and creating them, however, and generally use them in even more disposable ways than dog boys. As with the dog boys, the Coalition just considers them animals on two legs.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Although outsiders and enemies of the CS contend this is nothing more than cruel arrogance and slavery, the CS asks, one, how can one enslave an animal, and two, if the animal is happy and does not consider itself a slave (if they are even capable of such a distinction), is it a slave or a willing partner? The vast majority of Dog Boys (over 85%) contend they are willing and happy partners. A paradox that may never be unravelled.

I'll unravel it for you: it's still slavery.

They note that thanks to genetic engineering, they only really need one sample of an animal (since they can alter the sex of the creature). It's noted that genetic engineering is a highly restricted science in the Coalition, and heavy secrecy arounds it. Of course, that shield of secrecy is also what allows Bradford to get away with ridiculous bullshit. It actually states directly that if Emperor Prosek realizes everything that's going on at Lone Star under Bradford, he'll have the whole facility purged.

It also refers to Coalition psychics as "CS Mind Mages" because apparently Siembieda forgot for a hot moment that he's not writing for Palladium Fantasy, since that's the class name for psychics there.

"I haven't been guarding this door so long that I've gone insane! Have I, 02?"

Practical Genetic Engineering

Most of the Coalition's knowledge of genetic engineering was taken from the Lone Star Complex, and the dog boy program was mostly taken from US military research. Over time, they've worked out basic genetic tweaks for dozens of animals. However, they don't generally use it for civilian usage, because they're concerned that enhanced GMOs will just be replicated by their enemies, so they keep a tight lid on those. In general, they're paranoid fucks that are too worried to make the most of what they have. In addition, they're inclined to ensure that other communities have resource shortages so they're tempted by the Coalition's offers of membership. Most Coalition citizens don't even know that GMO-enhanced food exists.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

How could the citizens of the CS have let this happen? Get real. The separation of fundamental knowledge and the average person who uses it occurs to varying degrees in every advanced civilization. Let's take a look at ourselves for a minute. Probably half the people reading this book know how to use a computer, but how many know how to program one? Probably a third as many as users. Now, how many actually understand how the computer works, well enough to fix hardware? Probably less than 5%. Okay, how many know how to make the microchips and processors and could build a computer? Probably zero. Along those lines, how many know how electricity works or even think about it when we turn on a light? Probably only when you loose electrical power and must wait by candle light until somebody else restores it. This can be said about almost everything. Do you know how your refrigerator works? How about your TV, or wristwatch, or the preservatives in your food? I don't. Probably 90% of those reading this book can drive (or plan to drive) an automobile, but probably less than 1% know how to repair one. If our car breaks down, we go to a repairman — we count on somebody else to fix our things or buy a new one. If there was nobody to fix the car and no way to buy one, we would walk or ride a bike — a sudden and dramatic drop in technology, and infinitely less efficient (more time consuming, tiring, etc.). This same basic principle applies to the world of Rifts Earth.

Oh, reactionary writing, I never asked that. But now you have me questioning everything you wrote just to be contrary. Mostly, this feels like the usual "and no, the PCs can't have any!" reaction about genetic engineering that we also saw with the Gene-Splicers. I don't know why Siembieda seems concerned that PCs will get their hands on this in a game where you can play dragons, wizards, or literal gods, but for some reason genetic engineering is a real sore spot. Do they seriously think PCs are going to pop out some super-creature and wait years for it to come to adulthood and then- what? It'll still get et by a baby dragon. Probably.

That aside, the Coalition also uses gene therapy to control or prevent genetic diseases and cancers... and AIDS, for some reason AIDS is name-dropped. They've cured that. Also they've developed treatments for aging to the point people live as long as 130 years of age. (It also randomly notes that Lazlo has it as far as 140, the New German Republic is up to 140, and that Japan is up to 200.) However, mental deterioration is inevitable around 90, which means that Japan has to have some doddering fuckers out there. We get some extremely loose rules for having your skills drop due to aging and dementia, as if any PC in Rifts is gonna make it age 50, much less 100. The Coalition has cloning, but mainly only use it for scientific or GMO purposes, and human cloning is forbidden... which isn't to say it doesn't happen. But it's forbidden.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Even obesity and dieting is a thing of the past, at least for citizens of the Coalition States.

In general, they can only modify genes around the embryo stage, and we get a laundry list of modifiable traits from enhanced stats to things like modifying aggression or "dislike of the supernatural" which is apparently a natural instinct animals have. Sure. It refers us to Monsters & Animals for Palladium Fantasy if we need more animal stats, but honestly the statistics for non-M.D.C. animals is more than a little academic.

"Run more tests, Siembieda needs some filler percentages for the next section."

Other Notable CS Mutant Creations

Some of these are officially sanctioned Coalition creations, and others are not. But before we get to them, we get the "Mutations Gone Wrong" table which 1 in 10 of non-doggie mutant creations have to roll on, which can result from anything from supernatural strength to passivity to having animal brains. "Sorry you rolled bad on your character, but now you're basically just a bear with thumbs. Have fun."

How many pictures are there of mutants breaking loose and attacking Coalition personnel in this book? (A lot.)

The Ursa-Warrior

These are various mutant bears. They're supposedly lazy, dumb, and easily distracted, and rely on others for guidance a lot. Despite the fact that factually bears aren't dumb, they're supposedly childlike idiots, because this is a big ball of human preconceptions regarding bears. 80% of those created are female because they're "less aggressive", speaking of which. And, of course, when cornered, they can go bear-serk. They've tried to enhance their intelligence, but run into the problem that this apparently correlates with them being more independent, which the Coalition naturally doesn't want.

As a class their Intelligence, mental Endurance, Affinity, and Beauty are low, with a high Strength. There are four different types (Black, Brown, Grizzly, and Polar) that get varying bonuses. They can smell the supernatural like dog boys, but not as well, but can climb and swim and sprint very well. They get some minor physical psionics, and a rather paltry stack of skills. They're not terribly impressive, but have the same issue the Kill Hounds have is that their main strength is... well, their strength, but it's no good against supernatural or robotic foes, which are the main super-strong enemies to face.

Puma Man.

Battle Cats

So, these are much like dog boys, but fall into all the cat stereotypes - aloof, blunt, snide, but with a heart of gold - you know. Garfield. However, unlike that cartoon cat, they're slim and trim and there's nary a mention of lasagna. Ultimately, though, the Coalition doesn't consider them particularly useful like the dog boys because cats actually expect respect, rewards, and action. It should be noted that these are based on large cats - lynxes through lions - and not housecats.

Sexy cat girl, check.

They get similar psychic abilities to dog boys, though, and specific bonuses based on breed. They need to be agile and fast regardless of the breed, and lions and tigers can be "genetically improved" to do mega-damage because... cats are cool? Doesn't make any sense, but we'll roll with it. They get cat vision and cat hearing and cat climbing and cat running and cat... swimming? Yeah, sure. They have a similar weakness to ley lines, but not to ley line storms, because... cats are cool? Oh, and their stats are just better than dog boys, with modestly better-than-human charisma, strength, prowess, physical endurance, and beauty (yeeeep) because... cats are cool. (I wouldn't be surprised if Siembieda just straight-up forgot dog boys get baseline human stats outside of breed bonuses.) It notes most of them get a basic Coalition training package with a lot of physical and wilderness skills, though some of them are fascinated and get to become wizards unlike other mutant animals because.... well, you know by now.

Got prosthetic claws on his real claws.

Kill Cat

Loner badasses made from the toughest of tough cats, and are just assigned a territory and directed to kill all nonhumans "who are not CS personnel". So that refers to mutant animals, I guess. Though apparently it's okay for them to let people through if they "seem completely harmless", but in general they're scouts that keep an eye on a given area as badass loners, though sometimes they operate in small groups.

Stat-wise they're almost just like battle cats except they're stronger and not as personable or pretty. Note that battle cats were listed as 6' and 200-300 lbs., making them bodybuilder types, I guess, but kill cats are listed as 6' and 500 lbs., which I guess does make them Garfields. That fits the weight of a large cat, but not the accompanying size. Ooops. There's a one-third chance of them having supernatural strength to do mega-damage with but not mega-damage capacity, making them literal paper tigers. However, they have the same brain issues kill hounds have. They're a little better than kill hounds, but have most of the same issues. Unlike "normal" battle cats, they have no interest in wizardry, presumably because they're big jock fatty footsball cats.

Also they're super-loyal to the Coalition, with only a 2% defection rate, with no stated reason other than irony.

Mini Monkey Spies

These are Monkeys that have been uplifted - only barely - to low human intelligence with no change in their physical bodies. They can only speak sparingly in toddler talk, which isn't helped by the fact that the Coalition doesn't even give them a grade school education. You'd think you'd want spies to be smart, but apparently the Coalition just sees these guys as delivery systems for cameras and listening devices. (I say "guys", but most are female because they're "less aggressive", once again. Mmhm.) I'm not sure how you keep these guys given that they're pretty much monkeys. One would think they'd run off at the first sign of apples.

They're dumb and weak, but are agile and healthy, and usually only around 2' or so minus the tail. They're very good climbers and acrobatics, though their stealth is only modest. They also get a bonus to dodge, moreso in trees, and can "identify edible plants, fruits, nuts, leaves, and roots"... though, you know, only edible to themselves. They get shit for skills, mainly surveillance tech knowledge (they know to take the lens cap off). It notes they're too small to effectively use most human weapons, with associated crippling penalties, can't drive vehicles, and are vulnerable to cold weather.

Rifts World Book 12: Lone Star posted:

Mini Monkey Spies can be fun to play, especially as a Non-Player Character (NPC) for the G.M., but they are not ideally suited for most player characters, especially hack and slash players who are used to combat and action.


"We just let them break out every Tuesday to keep the poindexters on their toes, actually."

Monkey Boys

Chimps, orangs, and gorillas, these are another attempt at creating dog boys, only... "monkeys". Though they have the same kind of PR cache that dogs do, they're too curious and aggressive for the Coalition's tastes to see wider use. Most are chimpanzees used as soldiers. Though Desmond Bradford thinks they'd be better suited to technical jobs, the Coalition higher-ups have banned any notion of giving the monkey boys higher education. Nonetheless, Desmond has several dozen that have been trained as scientists that work in his lab, and figures he can use them to make his point later.

This one is literally named Heston.

So, monkey boys are pretty much superior to humans in nearly every way save for looks (slightly lower) and willpower (pretty much the same). They're mainly just stronger, but it's worth noting they're smarter, too. Somebody, chimp + human = double the brains? They're good climbers and gymnasts, and can identify all the fucking edible roots they want, as well as some decent compbat bonuses. Gorillas get lower bonuses but are slightly tougher, for that that's worth in a world where a pixie's pinky will tear either one equally in half. Unlike some other critters, they just get psionics at the same rate as humans. In any case, they get a general soldier program, or can take the illegal technician program that makes them even smarter, wiser, and more charming than humans. I guess that's science for you. It also notes that rogue ones can become wizards, if you're into that sort of gimmick.

There's also an error where 40% of Monkey Boy technicians become psionic, "roughly the same as humans". 25% of humans are psionic, so... not so much.

"Let me tell you how much of a genius Desmond Bradford is-" "NOT NOW."

Mutant Rodents

Though the idea of having fast-breeding mutant cannon fodder appealed to the Coalition, but the rats pretty much recognized the intent the Coalition had with them early in their development and didn't care for it. Of all the mutant animals developed, rats had the highest degree of desertion and defiance, and are "naturally anarchist" and show "no allegiance to others, even fellow members of their own kind".

This is about as accurate as dolphins being able to track UFOs in Underseas, and falls in line with Siembieda relying more on his preconcieved notions than actually doing research. So rats are basically opportunistic scumbags who'd sell you out for a scrap of cheese and are greed and power-hungry and stupid. Other words used to describe them: "vile and treacherous", "foul, vengeful", "maniacs", "incredibly cruel", and that they "torture, rape, murder"-

Wow, Siembieda, did a rat gun down your parents in a dark alley or something?

"My knife... carries a terrible sting."

So a bunch of them escaped through a rift from Lone Star, which actually turns out to be an accident relating to Bradford experimenting around with the dimensional technology in the bottom level. A lot of them have infested the sewers and unfinished areas of the complex, if the stereotype wasn't complete.

They're smarter and way more agile than humans, but weak-willed and not charming or pretty. They have your usual animal senses, climbing, swimming, sneaking, etc. and 1 in 4 gets minor ESP powers. Their soldier package is mostly weapons and sneaking skills. They can take other adventurer or mercenary O.C.C. but with half skills because they "tend to be less educated". Well, I bet it's because they're so busy torturing, murdering, and raping. They've got a full schedule!

"I am the night! Unfortunately, it's still the day."

Mutant Bats

This seemed like a cool idea, but it turns out that having a slow-moving flyer who shows up like a beacon on most sensor systems isn't as hot a notion as it sounds. They made a batch of them but don't plan to make any more once they've passed on. Also the bats hate the rats for some reason. There isn't much on these guys.

Weak-willed and ugly, they're at least really agile. They can fly, climb, and sneak, and get scent and echolocation, but require sunglasses to see very far in the day. They get a scouting skill package and that's that.

Thinking insecticide might have been simpler.

Xiticix Killer

The cover girl of this book, this is a uniquely designed mutant using an unknown d-bee found to prey on Xiticix (the insect-like invaders from the core) as well as a melange of DNA from dinosaurs to cats. The goal was to create an anti-Xiticix predator that looked alien: they didn't want others to know just how far along they are in genetic engineering or that they were going to such lengths against the Xiticix. It has a bionic claw with a tentacle in it used to pierce the exoskeleton and then do a blender impression on the Xiticx insides, while its other arm is a tentacle used to snare with a energy blaster that fires P.P.E. blasts-

Wait, isn't that basically techno-wizardry? Something the Coalition doesn't want, use, or understand?

That aside, it's about 13' tall and can leap around like crazy. However, it can only survive by feeding on Xiticix, which is intended so that when the Xiticix menace is ended, the Coalition doesn't have to worry about these critters anymore... but it also means they so frequently get into fights and die trying to feed that their numbers are dying out and the Coalition needs to keep pumping them out. They're just big dumb animals, though, so they're not a PC option. Of course, you're not likely to encounter them around Lone Star, given the Xiticix are up towards Canada, but they have to justify the cover pin somehow. Also, they've been breeding, but it doesn't explain how new ones get all the cybernetic geegaws in that case. Not real well thought out.

Next: The Next Mutation

"Felines, rodents, and those bonded with alien organisms, are among the coldest and least likely to trust humans — rats are downright evil."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Six: "Felines, rodents, and those bonded with alien organisms, are among the coldest and least likely to trust humans — rats are downright evil."

It's hard trying to leave the furry community.

Runaway Mutants

We get a fiction chunk about a mutant cat kid fleeing the Coalition-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Another leap sent her tumbling behind a giant boulder amidst bolts of searing light. Chunks of rock and dirt flew all around her as the Dog Boys on the other side of the ravine let lose with their C-14 laser rifles. It didn't matter now. They should have gunned her down when they had the chance. The boulder could take a hundred blasts before being pulverized by their onslaught (they'd give up long before then).

Wait, aren't C-14 "Fire Breathers" mega-damage? Doesn't that mean they'd just slice right through a boulder? Well, apparently not, since she survives and flees.

It's revealed that very few mutant animals escape on their own, but that most are allowed to escape by Bradford so he can essentially have them tagged and observed "in the wild". These mutants are labelled "feral", but aren't really, with most building or joining communities. Apparently Native Americans tend to accept them as "god's children" and make them full tribal members (like you do), and Simvan and psi-stalker tribes often do the same because they're in tune with nature. Hippies that'll eat your face, more or less.

"Wait, I'm confused, are you a D-Bee or a mutant?" "Which one gets you not pull the trigger? I'm that one."

The Animal Underground

So, this is a disparate group of mutants and non-mutants alike that try and help mutant animals escape the Coalition - though the Coalition also has agents that pose as underground members to find and execute escaped mutants. Most attempt to escape westward, though some have migrated to Tolkeen or the Pecos Empire for the opportunity to strike back against the Coalition, and both welcome the talents of mutant animals. Most underground members can provide supplies and try and direct mutants to find a new life rather than throw it away against the Coalition.

But they're not slaves!

Mutant Communities

Sometimes mutant animals congregate, typically amongst their own type, though some are more accepting of others-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Rats never join mixed groups with any sincerity and only associate with other races to get something from them or to use or kill them.

We get some numbers (killhounds are loners, rats go in swarms, etc.) and can move on.

Mad dog.

Other Areas of GED Research

M.O.M. Technologies

So, Bradford has been mucking about with crrrazy technology on dog boys as test subjects to try and reduce the side effects of them on humans, in addition to using them to try and modify personalities (it doesn't say exactly how). This has been disastrous and most dog boys go insane and become a threat to themselves or others. But maybe they'll work someday? It's the work of a genius!

Mutant Humans

The Coalition explicitly bans genetic experimentation on humans, but Bradford gives no fucks. He's basically trying to find ways to enhance human talents with some success, but can't create specific psychic abilities. If the GM allows it, you can play one of these enhanced humans, but enjoy a random roll for a special talent. In fact, any human character can roll on this table, buried as it is two dozen books into the line in the middle of a book. And with a 40% chance of getting a special ability, it's worth rolling on. Mutants can get between 1 and 3 special abilities, such as...
E.T., flee home!

Psi-X Aliens

These are the result of Bradford attempting to enhance the psychic genes of humans over decades, but he considers it his greatest failure. Because they were children, apparently, he couldn't bring himself to destroy them (given he's a megalomanical sociopath who experiments on humans, this seems like a fishy excuse to me). He gave them the name "Psi-X Alien" because of the test subjects screamed about being turned into a "bug-eyed, Roswell alien". Wait. He's a future kid, what would he know of Roswell or 20th century mythology? Well, apparently somehow he did. We'll see this kind of notion in spades in the next book (New West) where people model themselves after cowboys and gunfighters despite having little or no seeming access to westerns.

So, these are basically humans mutated into grey alien-styled forms - a similar notion to the earlier Palladium book, Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Wujcik, which had human mutants gaining psychic powers but regressing physically into more fragile alien-like forms. Predictably, they're highly intelligent, but aren't particularly charming (but are more charming if they're good, in a rare alignment-based mechanic). Their physical capabilities are below normal across the board, from strength to beauty, and they barely even get any S.D.C. They do get pretty much all the special types of sight (but need to wear sunglasses in daylight or be blinded), some sensitive psychic powers, can float (but not fly) instead of walk, bonuses against fear and illusion. They also get double damage and range on bio-manipulation or empathic transmission, but only one of those does any damage (now you can do 2 points instead of 1!), so mostly just double range. Also you only have a 15% chance of getting access to those powers, good luck!

Because - yes - they roll randomly for their other psychic powers, which range from the pretty useful (getting all the kinesis powers) to nearly useless (immune to most mind-affecting powers). They have a miniscule chance of getting a boosted version of the mind melter (somewhere around 1%) but nothing to really justify all the drawbacks this R.C.C. takes. They also get one skill category at a significant bonus but almost no other skills. In general, their niche effectiveness doesn't really offset the plethora of drawbacks they get and the randomness of their powers.

"Put more alien stuff around, I'm not sure they get what we're going for."


"Desmond Bradford is himself a human aberration with a brilliant mind and imagination the likes of which the world sees only once every thousand years."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Seven: "Desmond Bradford is himself a human aberration with a brilliant mind and imagination the likes of which the world sees only once every thousand years."

Twinkling eyes.

Desmond Bradford

We return to the amazing adventures of Administrator Desmond Bradford and Inspector Louis Emmerson, already in progress... okay. They're not amazing. And there's no adventure. There's three straight pages of Bradford being smug - the guy gets over six pages of details in fact, a level of focus that hasn't been given over to an NPC since A.R.C.H.I.E. He has more detail than most of the other Coalition leadership combined. Let's get a emoji than summarizes-

- yeah. That'll do.

So Inspector Emmerson is bored as he waits to meet with Bradford for the last time. He's done inspecting and is pretty sure Bradford is insane and is just waiting to report that as he reads a magazine. What kind of magazines does the Coalition have, anyway? Most of the population explicitly can't read. Seems like a limited market. Maybe it's all just pictures and emojis.

Emmerson gets called into Bradford's office and is effusive about how awesome Lone Star is, but pointedly avoids approving of Bradford's methods. Bradford switches the subject and asks Emmerson what the perfect predator is- Emmerson answers maybe the lion, or sharks. Bradford points out that humans dominate the animal kingdom. Emmerson gives the usual reasons, that humans are smart, that they have thumbs and can use tools, but Bradford is like dolphins are smart and apes use tools, checkmate, son!

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

"I can see you are an educated man. You must have paid attention in Officer's School and even read some books, eh?" The Administrator rises from his chair, winks and continues.


Emmerson continues on to point out that humans build more sophisticated tools than apes, but Bradford is like shut up, science is wrong, only I know the truth. Emmerson is like wut and Bradford just goes off on how humanity is the ultimate predator because animal behavior is controlled by instincts genetically and can only do things that guide them towards survival, but humans aren't controlled by instincts and thusly can murder whoever they like for no reason. See, humans love confict - and more notably, winning conflicts, according to Bradford, and are willing to sacrifice anything for that. Civilization, in Bradford's mind, is only a means of controlling and directing humanity's violently competitive nature.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

"You," he coos like the cat who just ate the canary. "You, Inspector are a prime example. You find these little talks disturbing. Even hateful. I know. If you were a dog or even a Dog Boy, you wouldn't be stirred by these emotions. You'd simply accept me as your leader, and assume your position within the pack without anxiety or feelings of anger or resentment. But you're not a dog. You're human. And being the pathetic soldier boy you are, you look for direction ... 'words' and 'reason' to make sense of your actions. 'Slogans and patriotic sentiment' to justify your aggression and the killing. But that's okay. You cannot stop what you feel, it's part of human nature. In fact, I'd hazard to guess that if you did not have your self-imposed military code and protocol, and,... well, the fact that you fear me, you'd leap from your seat and try to tear my throat out."

Emmerson stews, and Bradford points out that though civilization is useful for that, he's in touch with his inner killer caveman and can go full sociopath when necessary, hint hint, Emmerson. Emmerson's like "well, I really should kill this guy, but I guess I'm a weak-willed dolt after all" and meekly ends the meeting.

We then get a report of how Emmerson and his transport were murdered by Juicer terrorists, with all sorts of evidence pointing to them. Then we switch to Joseph Prosek II reading the report, revealing that Emmerson was a agent of his all along. Prosek correctly assumes that Bradford is leaking illegal genetic experiments into the wilds, and sees right through Bradford's bullshit. Emmerson was supposed to help provide evidence, but the report of his taken from the wreckage is fairly obviously ghost-written (getit) by Bradford or one of his flunkies. Prosek is pretty frustrated at not having anything to pin on Bradford, but at least is able to come to a number of (absolutely correct) conclusions about what's going on here - that Bradford faked the Juicer attack to eliminate Emmerson and his findings.

Desmond Bradford
Administrator of the Lone Star Complex;
Doctor of Genetic Engineering and Cybernetics;
Head of the Genetics Engineering Division (GED) at Lone Star

So, it turns out Desmond considers himself above right and wrong and is a megalomaniac who considers Emperor Karl Prosek to be his only equal (and even that's a matter of debate). He thinks he's a god... no reason for this given... and mostly is just thankful for the position and authority that Karl Prosek gave him... the positionthat he constantly abuses. Mind, apparently he did an amazing job of getting it all up and running, as well as developing the first psi-hounds. If you're wondering why he's nuttier than a peanut farm, well, keep wondering, we just get to hear how crazy and brilliant he is and on and on and on-

-and on and on-

-and on-

Desmond has plans, we're told. He wants develop new mutant animals for the Coalition army that are as useful as the dog boys. He wants to understand genetics better and use it to improve human longevity. And lastly, he wants to develop M.O.M. and bionic technology further. Understanding human genetics - in Bradford's view - requires lots and lots of expendable test subjects, so he uses transients, criminals, and Indigeneous Americans... as fodder for his experiments. He knows that the Proseks wouldn't approve, but the "success" (ha ha, yeah, not exactly) of the Xiticix Killer has apparently ramped up his ambitions to create life because... he thinks he's a god... because.

There's another half-page on his "Disposition", let's see, he's the most brilliant man of the millennium and who doesn't have patience for those less intelligent than him (which is every unenhanced human on the planet, as it turns out). He's crazy and thinks he's a god, and if he's ever condemned by the Coalition he'll rebel against it, since about the only thing keeping him in line is the delusion that Karl Prosek is a godly peer. He can read and understand people on a level better than anybody "with the possible exception of some Mind Melters and psychic sensitives" and can second-guess people "nine times out of ten".

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

He is truly a master villain who is likely to avoid capture and return frequently to thwart his foes and extract vengeance. His only weakness is that all other mortals are beneath him and he sometimes underestimates them or overlooks the obvious.

Well, we get a statblock, and if you might guess that it's some fuckin' bullshit by now, you'd guess correctly. Desmond has an I.Q. of 27 - the maximum you can roll is 24 - and no, he doesn't have anything that enables that. He's a 20th level Cyber-Doc (this class exists), a 20th level Genetic Engineer (this class does not exist), and a 10th level Administrator (this class does not exist). All his attributes are above-average except for his Physical Beauty (which is precisely average). He's strong-willed, charismatic, and... ripped? Well, Physical Strength of 19. He's ripped. Oh, and he's 69 but looks 35. Why? Well, he is. I mean, I guess after him having 50 class levels (well, maybe Cyber-Doc and Genetic Engineer are supposed to be the same class, so only a mere 30 class levels? maybe?), two classes with levels only immortals can normally obtain, and being more intelligent than any human on the planet that's just nitpicky to bring up, but fuck it, my patience is out. But we're not done!

Next we get adventure notes on how to include him in your game, but-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Administrator Desmond Bradford is a nefarious character who the player group may never meet or confront directly (although it could happen). The reason is that Bradford rarely leaves the confines of the Lone Star Complex and because he is a mover and shaker from behind the scenes.

You did not just spew six pages of self-congratulatory garbage just to tell me-

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

A direct meeting (confrontation) might occur...

Oh, good. We can actually use Desmond Bradford, supah genius. Wait, is that a good thing? Well, good or bad, we get some suggestions. First, PCs might run into him out in the field (either operating with a heavy military escort or operating incognito). He might be looking up mutants, D-bees, or the Gene Splicers (remember those untouchable GM wank toys from Mindwerks?). He might actually look to recruit the PCs for some scheme to eliminate an enemy, capture a creature, or destroy a creature. Of course, Siembieda has to rub in that the creature he's looking for is probably some waifish innocent to give the PCs googly eyes and be seen healing a child when they find it (seriously that is a suggestion). In case of the PCs not cluing in on Desmond's alignment, the idea should be rammed home at them between the eyes with a rocket hammer, apparently.

Somehow, we're not done! They might run into them if they raid or break into Lone Star, which is of course nearly impossible, we're reminded. But if the PCs pull it off "by miracle or magic" they can meet him. They are more likely to run into his schemes, though, and they might fight or aid escaped experiments. We are reminded at length what a great recurring villain he can be.

And I could stop there.

But let's get into the my scientific theory of Bradford. I'm pretty sure half of him comes from this guy-

- wait, no, wrong version, this guy-

- no, this guy-

Baxter Stockman, the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain featured in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness RPG. Unlike most of his animated counterparts, the original was a psychopathic megalomaniac focused on using tunneling robots to hold buildings hostage. From this we get most of Bradford's personality, though Stockman even at his most dangerous was never that competent. (Well, there was that time he got a near-invincible robot body, but generally speaking.) But in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness, we have another supergenius villain-

Handsome, ain't he? Doc Feral here is an upstanding citizen who gives to charities and is a really nice guy if you're human, and on the other side, he creates genetically mutated animals which he uses as slaves or worse. A profound specist, he sees mutant animals as just animals to be used and abused and uses slave collars to control them. Sound familiar? Bradford really just feels lie a melange of those two characters, which shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Lone Star is a throwback to Palladium's earlier After the Bomb RPG, a spinoff of - once again - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. In After the Bomb, you have the Empire of Humanity, a fascist empire that uses technology and mecha to oppress the mutant animals (i.e. nonhumans) of the setting. In other words, they're a direct precursor to Rifts' Coalition. In addition, they have the puppet state of New Kennel, which is populated by mutant dogs... which are direct precursors to Rifts' dog boys.

I've talked about how Rifts really is just a pile-up of Siembieda and Wujcik's old ideas, and so it shouldn't be shock that Siembieda is now just going back to the well that he's the main writer on the series. We'll see some more... original stuff from him in the near future, but that'll be another fine kettle of fish.

And, geez, I could go on about the issues I have with the ideas of Nazi science exceptionalism and the stereotype of the Nazi regime being a collection of utter lunatics (the fact that they weren't is, if anything, the worst part). But this has gone on more than long enough for one part of a book. Yes, I know Bradford is black, but the Coalition is a deliberate parallel to various Nazi notions. Like Erin Tarn, he could be a fine character under a better writer, an example of the how little control the Coalition actually has at its edges, a dyed-in-the-wool Coalition monster to oppose. But... a lot of the unfortunate media stereotypes still apply, and Siembieda's writing on this section I find absolutely insufferable. Speaking of which, though-

Next: A Nazi parade in Texas.

"200 Ibs. (90 kg) of muscle, metal and hate."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Eight: "200 Ibs. (90 kg) of muscle, metal and hate."

Helmet hair.

General Loni Kashbrook
Head of Lone Star (the State) Operations & Administration

Bizarrely getting second billing, Kashbrook is head of the actual Coalition State of Lone Star... not to be confused with the Lone Star Complex. Instead, the Lone Star Complex is part of the Lone Star state. Clear? Well, whether or not, we're going on.

Kashbrook is a military adminstrator who's been working for the last decade to ensure the defense of Lone Star and to maintain an illusion of force in the state. Her primary goal is just to make sure it looks like a model Coalition state from the outside, without letting outside forces aware that it's actually more of a token territory. Oh, and she uses kill hounds and others to "rid the world of vermin", where vermin includes d-bees, bandits, native Americans (yeah, really), and pretty much anybody not with the Coalition. And she's somehow "Aberrant" and "defender of
the weak, innocent and downtrodden" and "not a bloodthirsty zealot". No, Siembieda, I'm pretty sure slaughtering people for being on the wrong patch of land or having the wrong batch of genes is unambiguous fascist psychopathy. She's generically no-nonsense and brilliant and in the Prosek's pocket, and even Bradford begrudgingly acknowledges her competence. The people being casually slaughtered by her probably don't, though.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

The General likes Doctor Bradford, but is acutely aware that he teeters on the edge of insanity. Accepting the faith Emperor Prosek has in Bradford, and the fact that there is often a thin line between genius and madness, she tries to stay out of the affairs of the Lone Star Complex. Instead, she focuses on the defense and security of the Complex and other military matters in the State.

Yeah, I don't think he's on the edge anymore. I'm pretty sure Bradford leaped off into crazy gulch decades ago.

We get stats for her - she's a 12th level Military Specialist with nearly all of her attributes at exceptional levels in a classic Palladium "you could never roll this" sense, with only her Physical Prowess and Endurance only being merely above average. She has some basic cybernetic implants (headjack, compass, etc.) and is wealthy and well-armed but nothing worth digging into.

Like with Bradford, she has "adventure notes", which I'll come out and say is actually a good idea. Most of the time Palladium has powerful characters like Prosek or Thoth or Splynncryth where there's not much reason for PCs to bump up against them, and so adding in reasons to justify their existence helps a lot. There's a metaplot bit where she's poised to wipe out the Kingdom of Worth (more on them later) that will be forgotten and never followed up on.


The first bit is how PCs might ally with her against a greater foe in a number of circumstances, in case you're up for having PCs ally with a fascist monster. After a decent amount of text on that it begrudgingly admits she's more likely to be used as a foe where the PCs might be trying to fight off Coalition expansion or keep them from discovering some dangerous secret Indiana Jones-style. Siembieda really, really wants her to be in some sort of grey area but when you're gunning down civilians, you're pretty well on the dark side.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Most heroic characters who believe all intelligent life forms have a right to life and the pursuit of happiness will find themselves at odds with the CS and the Coalition's primary henchman in the State, General Kashbrook.


CS Military Divisions & Departments

Randomly in the middle of the NPC section here, we get a full listing of the various branches of the Coalition military. You may say "surely, this is repeated from Coalition War Machine, right?" And the answer is no, they didn't think to include it there. But there it is, so you can tell your RPA-AAC from your RPA-MC, your SDF from your RDF, and your KH-Bat from your K-9 Bat. And it's all conveniently located in the middle of the NPC section in an unrelated book!


Can you tell which parts are photoreferenced?

Brigadier General Ivan Kalpov

The "bad cop" to Kashbrook's "good cop", as it were. And considering Kashbrook will exterminate villages of rogue dog boys without batting an eye, that's saying something. He's an old, cranky, bitter veteran nicknamed "Old Blood & Circuits" by his soldiers. Having been through numerous campaigns, he has obvious bionic prosthetics to replace lost parts of himself. If it was up to him, the Coalition would just go to war against the Pecos Empire and murder everything without a skull logo in the Texas region, and damn the casualties. Compared to him, Kashbrook is downright reserved in her genocide. Thankfully, he doesn't get a say. He'd rather be off throwing troops away against Tolkeen in the upcoming war campaign, but for whatever unstated reason has been stuck "baby-sitting a kennel". Probably something to do with him having the same regard Kashbrook and Bradford both essentially consider him to be a brutish lout. Considering he goes out and hunts D-bees and sorcerers for sport, and enjoys torture as a pastime, this is relatively true.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

Weight: 200 Ibs. (90 kg) of muscle, metal and hate.

In any case, he's strong-willed, charming (What? Nobody likes this guy in the description.) partial cyborg, with only his Beauty being below average. He gets a horror factor for some reason (12), and is a 14th level Military Specialist. We get a very short chunk of adventure notes for him that, naturally, mark him and his men as direct antagonists for PCs.

Eyeball a fella.

Colonel Roger Collins
Intelligence Corps

Mentored by Kalpov, Collins is the head of the SS Intelligence and has all the charm you might have from a psychopathic Coalition hardliner. He doesn't even particularly worry about justifying the means, and is all about maintaining security and human supremacy. He won't use the term "dog boys" because he thinks "boy" anthropomorphizes them too much. He's got a sharp eye for noticing deception but is thin-skinned with a hair-trigger temper.

He's physically fit as hell and strong-willed, but pretty average otherwise. He's a 10th level military specialist with minor psionics (psychometry and danger sense). It notes that he is "almost certain to escape any confrontation to return" with no justification, and is likely to be highly vindictive against any PCs that foil him. But if you kill him, it emphasizes at length how Kalpov and the Coalition will chase his murders to the ends of the Earth, and it all feels very passive aggressive in a "don't kill my snowflakes kinda way", even though Collins feels like he's just set up to get knocked out of a window and have a slow-motion plunge toward the Earth before cutting away to somebody's wincing expression.

"The Rocketeer? Who's that?"

Colonel Buck Murphy
Commander of the 93rd
RPA Airborne Armored Cavalry

The head of the Lone Star air cavalry, Murphy is regarded as a heroic flying ace and is well-liked by Coalition high command and likely to be promoted. However, he's secretly burnt out, struggling with having lost a great deal of men fighting the Xiticix and generally being bothered by his conscience over having had to slaughter relatively helpless nonhumans. He's the first sympathetic - or at least nuanced - Coalition character we've seen, but there'll be at least one more amongst the parade of psychopaths coming up.

He's an eighth level Coalition RPA Pilot, and has with all these writeups, has ridiculous stats - his charisma is the highest a human can have, and his prowess is close to it, his beauty is similarly near maximum, etc. It notes that PCs are likely to first meet them on the battlefield, but if they show honor or mercy he's likely to let them go ot demonstrate the same. He also might go incognito to try and find himself in the outside world and meet the PCs, where he might be impressed by their valor - or, if they turn out to be bad dudes, reaffirm his loyalty to the Coalition. Alternately, he could get hit on the head with a coconut and lose his memories and... well it doesn't really have an obvious route for that hook, so we can leave things there.

Next: The skull parade continues.

"This is a menacing woman with the soul of a demon, the mind of a cold, calculating machine, and the face and outward appearance of an angel."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Nine: "This is a menacing woman with the soul of a demon, the mind of a cold, calculating machine, and the face and outward appearance of an angel."

"The frustration of my hairline will be visited upon you."

Major Winston Claval
Head of Mutant Containment and Retrieval

A mean, nasty bully, Claval returns us to the parade of psychopaths. He is apparently devoted to his job of retrieving or murdering stray Lone Star mutants, though, and Bradford actually respects his relatively transparent lack of ethics and devotion to his work. He used to be Special Forces, but managed to get transferred on account of his antisocial nature. In general, he's supposed to be a tough-as-nails misanthropist.

Is it just me, or does the way Claval dresses his mutants have... implications?

He's a 9th level Special Forces fella with exceptional physical attributes (save beauty), and we get a lot of detail on his retrieval team known as the "Quiet Hunters". Of the ones illustrated, Bat is a human commando, Crackshot is a dog boy sniper, Claw is a bloodhound tracker, Lady is a mutant cat hunter, and Big Bear is a bionic... bear. Really, that's about the most characterization we get, and we get a bunch more including (sigh) a wolf named Ralphie Boy, because of course.

We get a lot of hooks based around the fact that the Quiet Hunters might go after a rogue mutant animal PC (or anybody they suspect of being a rogue mutant), or the PCs might get involved with the mutant animal underground and go up against them as a result. We get a lot of hooks based around two mutant rats, Mitch and Glitch who might try and sell Claval out or alternately try and draw the PCs into a trap, since they have no consistent characterization other than "dishonest". And, of course, if you kill Claval, Bradford will try and kill the PCs forever, which doesn't really make sense given his general psychopathy. Oh, so now he cares about someone? Give me a break.

I have no break, though. We've got Bradford's science personnel to go through.

"Don't draw me now- shit, I look all sinister. What will the PCs think of me now?"

Doctor Frederick Alexander

So, this is a "brilliant surgeon, cyber-doc, and genetic engineer" who no doubt graduated from the school of genre fiction science. He's actually revolted by Bradford and his work, but has had a bomb put in his head to ensure his loyalty. As such, he doesn't aim for outright sabotage, but definitely tries to slow certain projects and Bradford is starting to notice. As such, he might be a subject for experimental personality modifications soon. However, if convinced he might be able to perform an act that'll lead to Bradford's downfall, he'll do it - he just hasn't seen one yet. He's afraid of death, but even more afraid of being brainwashed. Exactly how he ended up in this sorry position is a mystery.

He's a 12th level "cyber-doc and genetic engineer" (the former is a class, the latter is not) with a high intelligence, will, and prowess. No adventure hooks are given but he's an obvious deep throat candidate.

"These aren't my crazy eyes, these are my normal eyes."

Doctor Laura Cunningham
One of Bradford's elite and super-secret scientists

On the other hand, women be crazy, amirite? Well, at least the women in Desmond's lab certainly are. Cunningham is a fanatical assistant and believes in Bradford's work to the point of murder or self-sacrifice. No reason or justification is given for this and her description is irredeemably lazy.

Another 12th-level "cyber-doc and genetic engineer", she has an extremely high intelligence and prowess, but shockingly actually has a low attribute (she's weak-willed). Her adventure notes mainly just detail that she'll seek revenge against anybody who kills Bradford, likely by trying to turn the people responsible into some kind of freakish experiment - mutant, cyborg, personality modification, "an altered state on a molecular level that changes the mind and emotions as well as deforms and/or hurts the physical body". How she'd perform the latter without magic I have no idea, but "she is not a nice lady." Thanks, Siembieda. The only point to her writeup seems to give us somebody to harass the PCs if Bradford is killed, since they're not likely to encounter her outside of the lab. And if they encounter her in the lab, she'll likely rush them with a vibro-scalpel and get murdered for her lack of characterization.

Just draw a baby and paste on a photoreferenced dog head. Instant dog tot!

Doctor Amanda Santiago
One of Bradford's elite and super-secret scientists

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

This is a menacing woman with the soul of a demon, the mind of a cold, calculating machine, and the face and outward appearance of an angel. Her sweet, gentle disposition is so disarming that many an opponent has found a knife in their belly before realizing its handle rested in the hand of the smiling angel before them. Then as they lay bleeding, Santiago whispers vengeful words in their ears (sweet sounding yet filled with venom) while stroking her victim's brow with one hand and twisting the knife with the other.

is this fetish

I mean, seriously, after the Angel of Death in Mindwerks, I have to wonder. Anyway, Santiago is another psychopathic devotee of Bradford's, but her fandom is more stalkish and she's obsessed with trying to figure how he turned out. She's supposed to be sadistic and manipulative... because... um... you know. Science. Science does that.

With a very high intelligence, affinity, and prowess, she's once again another character you'll never roll up. She gets a long series of involving around a number of children she goes around and looks after in the area around Arkansas and Missouri. It's revealed all of the children are secret clones of Bradford she's planted in different circumstances to try and understand how nuture might have affected his nature. It's an legitimately interesting hook for a relatively uninteresting character, but it's not clear on how to involve the PCs with it. If Bradford finds out, he'll just have her and the clones killed in anger because... well, who knows. Otherwise, one of them might become a leader or Coalition member and overthrow or outshine the original Bradford. A more interesting note is having one turn out to be something wilder like a tattooed slave of the Splugorth or an apprentice wizard in the Federation of Magic. While it doesn't make Bradford any less insufferable, it's at least an interesting notion to play around with, much more than Santiago herself.

Seriously though look at that art again, what the fuck?

And that is fuckin' it, we can escape from the Lone Star complex, I'm free, I'm free, I'm free.

But we've still got about a fourth of the book left to muster through...

Next: You won't find Judge Roy Bean here.

"Psi-Stalkers, Simvan and some American Indians settle disputes in combat, often to the death, and/or scar, disfigure or cripple the perpetrator for wrongdoings, such as amputating a hand for stealing from the tribe or clan, or castration for the rape of a group member."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Ten: "Psi-Stalkers, Simvan and some American Indians settle disputes in combat, often to the death, and/or scar, disfigure or cripple the perpetrator for wrongdoings, such as amputating a hand for stealing from the tribe or clan, or castration for the rape of a group member."

The Pecos Empire
By Kevin Siembieda & Julius Rosenstein

Presumably named after the Pecos River (though it's never actually stated), we start with a population breakdown, of course, but this time we're given an official census-taker, the Coalition. Which makes me wonder how they did that. "Hey, it's one of those skull-guys at the door!" "What does he want?" "He wants us to take a survey!" "Oh, well, I really should just gut him and display his helm on a spike, but what the hell. I love surveys!"

So humans are the dominant race, with the second tier being psi-stalkers, simvan monster riders, quick-flex aliens*, vanguard brawlers*, and vampires. The third tier is brodkil, tokana, mutant animals, and... others. 1 in 3 people have the profession of "bandit", which must make for a rough life, given most of the other people they're robbing are bandits. "This loot again? This is the shit they robbed from us last week! Of course, we stole it from them the week before that. Pretty sure they got it from the bandits over the hill, too..." Seriously, "80%" of the communities are regularly robbed or harassed by bandit gangs, though a lot of them at least prefer it to skull-faced Nazis. "Well, she beat my pa to an inch of his life, but at leasts she believes in the equality of the face-beatings she provides." In general, the Coalition exaggerates the lawlessness in its propaganda even further in order to justify military action against them.

* Hope you picked up Coalition War Campaign for those!

Who Rules the Pecos Empire

Nobody; it's mostly just a notion. One warlord, Sabre Lasar, has proclaimed himself Emperor of the Pecos Empire and some gangs even take it seriously. In general, unity only comes up against major threats where a "War Chief" is designated by a group of bandit gangs. Lasar has been the most commonly elected one due to his popularity and success, so he's the closest one to a leader. There are a lot more but that's what it boils down to.

"One of these days I'll get a D-Bee writeup!... not today, though..."

Life as a Bandit

It notes that bandits don't necessarily just rob, but that often they find other work as mercenaries or troubleshooters, or just life a life of rough leisure when they hit it big for awhile. Essentially they're "criminal mercenaries", though they vary wildly on personal ethics. It notes that outright Robin Hoods or slavering murderers are both rare, and most are just uneducated unfortunates who have gravitated to the only easily profitable work available in the Pecos Empire. There are also often wars, disputes, feuds, and competitions going on, and rarely are two bandit groups in lockstep. Different laws and social values amongst different D-Bee and social groups can be a source of friction as well. Generalities!

The Ways of the Nomad

There's more than one, I suppose. A lot of bandits are nomadic to avoid the Coalition or rivals, ranging outside of the Pecos Empire. Still, they probably have some regular stopping points and haunts. It notes a group of PCs might just be presumed to be a wandering gang if they're going around in force.

"Hey, look, you had to fight an orc in this game one of these days."

Modes of Transportation

Bandits prefer hover vehicles, motorcycles, or riding beasts, and don't like trucks or cars because... well, they don't fit Siembieda's vision of vandits, more or less. (See also my Dead Reign review. It notes that power armor and robot vehicles are relatively rare. For some reason we get eight paragraphs on ostrosaurs, the not-quite-velociraptors ridden by Simvan monster riders and how amazing they are. Yeah, they can leap real far! So can a hoverbike, so I feel comfortable giving it a skip.

Now time to play the classic game of mistaken identity: "Psi-stalkers or Skinheads?"

Bandit Organizations

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

The term "tribesmen" will be used generically for men, women, and D-bees. No chauvinism is intended, this is just for ease of description.

Okay. So, this breaks down Pecos society by group types.

So, tribes are groups united by a common culture, like d-bees or "American Indian tribes". Some are bandits, some aren't. Some may take in outsiders, and some may not. Some may feel like a nut, some don't. We get a lot of , but to sum up these tend to be 100 to 10,000 people wide, 50% are nomadic, and oddly only 20% have permanent settlements. What about the other 30%?

Then you have clans, which are family-based communities - though the extended family may be very large. Usually rulership is done by the eldest that set rules and mediate disputes, and violators are usually slain or banished. Those who are banished are generally considered to be persona non grata amongst all clans as traitors. 40% are nomadic, but the grand majority are bandits "for one reason or another". Sure.

Bandit gangs are small groups based around a criminal enterprise, and are always nomadic because... shut up, they are. They often have subgroups based around different families or cliques, with the gang as a "fraternity" that ties them together. Gangs tend to be ruled by force, and the leaders determine the policies thereof. Most are egalitarian, joined more by their enterprise than any species or culture. Which... that's not quite how most gangs work but... sure.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

If the leader turns a blind eye or encourages, torture, rape and murder, then his men will engage in all sorts of cruelty and atrocities.

Many Pecos Bandits avoid killing and hurting people if they can, though, recognizing they want to keep people around to rob twice, and that vengeful survivors are a PitA. We get tables for tribes, clans, and gangs so you can determine what meaningless population numbers they have as well.

Of course, a lot of bandits make their own settlements which are scums of villain and hivery, often with iniquities of den, and bad hombres all over. If you're an obvious good guy (lawmen, cyber-knights, etc.) they'll sneer at you and pick fights and raise prices because that's how alignment works, everyone. They generally see large groups of nomads as dangerous threats, naturally.

"Vampires? No, we haven't seen any."


One again, it notes that while fractious, the groups of the Pecos will unite against outside forces - usually under Sabre Lasar, but it notes that another guy, King Macklin, is scheming to gain power. The Coalition is hesitant to wipe them out because it doesn't see them as a major threat and lets the Pecos serve as a buffer against the vampires (with 200k to 300k vampires in the Pecos Empire, that doesn't seem to be working too well). The CS thinks they can just work to sabotage or assassinate Lasar and keep them destabilized, and they have a secret partner in King Macklin, who's willing to sell the Pecos bandits out for... well, it doesn't say. Probably Charleston Chews. Bandits can't get enough of that delicious taffy taste!

Los Alamo (from Juicer Uprising) has opened its doors to the Pecos Empire as a "neutral" faction to try and gain their aid against the inevitable Coalition threat. It notes that in the near future Sabre Lasar will visit and make a trade agreement and offer to defend Los Alamos, which we're told will ward off the Coalition for at least several years. Metaplot? Well, not really, it'll be mostly forgotten. There are a number of metaplot-like elements in this book, like the Coalition invasion of the Kingdom of Worth, but they won't come to anything.

Reid's Rangers (from Vampire Kingdoms) are generally regarded as heroes and welcomed throughout the Pecos Empire for their vampire-fighting ways. Bandits usually don't go very far south of the Rio Grande on account of all the damn vampires, of course.

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star posted:

The Indian Nations. Dozens of Native American Indian tribes have arisen in the American West, Southwest and Northwest. Most have resumed the "old ways" and use magic and mysticism, although some also use high-technology. Bandits, scouts, and adventurers who know enough to respect the Indians, their culture and gods, and avoid antagonizing them, can travel the Western Wilderness and peacefully associate with them without fear of danger from most of the tribes and clans. Those who attack, molest, cheat or endanger the people of a tribe can expect fierce resistance and deadly retribution. Most Cyber-Knights, rogue Dog Boys and other mutant animals are counted among most tribes as friends and allies. Strangely enough, many tribes of Psi-Stalkers and Simvan consider the American Indians to be rivals and enemies.

Not surprisingly, the Coalition States consider all Indians to be savage, retro-tech humans who have been seduced by magic and evil supernatural forces. As such, they are traitors to humanity and marked for genocide. However, currently the CS has no campaign against the Indians and greatly underestimates their mystic strength and numbers.

Some days you just have to draw a low-riding porcupine girl.

Next: Faces of (Moral Ambiguity).

"King Macklin has tried to make a few shady deals with his CS contact (whom he knows only as Mr. Gene), including them throwing in together to usurp control of the Northern Quadrant and ruling the State of Lone Star as partners (yeah, right)."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Eleven: "King Macklin has tried to make a few shady deals with his CS contact (whom he knows only as Mr. Gene), including them throwing in together to usurp control of the Northern Quadrant and ruling the State of Lone Star as partners (yeah, right)."

Leaders of the Pecos Empire
By Julius Rosenstein & Kevin Siembieda

Native American + Old = Like, Double Wise, or Something.

Gray Fox

A cyber-ninja that formerly worked as a soldier for Big Boss- wait- no- start over-

The leader of the largest Pecos tribe, the Apaches, Gray Fox once took over the Pecos Empire for two years during a time of plague before stepping down once the crisis is over. While himself an Apache by blood, his group of the Apache tribe seems to accept outsiders and d-bees in addition to indigenous Americans. (This will not be entirely true of the Apache later on.) He is, of course, wise and peaceful and more wise and even more peaceful and everybody respects and loves him him except pure jackasses like Macklin. In short, he's the wise old chief stereotype writ large. About the best thing it can be said is that though the Apaches follow the "old traditions" and "live off the land" (of course they do) they use a mixture of purloined and purchased technology in addition to magic.

"It's a heroic goatee."

King Macklin
The Legend

Since he's being set up as the villain of the Pecos Empire, Macklin gets a lot of about his life story. Essentially, he was a warlord's son given as a hostage to a rival tribe as part of a treaty as an adolescent, and was treated like crap but eventually returned. However, when his home tribe celebrated, the nameless rival tribe killed all of his home tribe's potential leadership except for him. And so, he lead a guerrila war that slaughtered the rival tribe, using his inside information against them and building an elite army. He became their King, and started raiding other tribes, like you do. As time has gone on, he's started stating an intent to take over the Pecos Empire and unite them against the Coalition and other threats.

But then we get "The Truth - GM's Eyes Only." and "Players who read this section about King Macklin may ruin some of the enjoyment and mystery surrounding encounters with this character." This next part is a Gamemaster Klubhouse- players keep out! But most folks I think will be able to guess the truth - in reality he was working with the rival clan to eliminate any rivals to his kingship, then double-crossed them and killed their unsuspecting leaders during a peaceful meeting and took control of the rival tribe as well. He's also made a deal with Bradford (he doesn't know it's Bradford, just a "Mr. Gene" - get it?) to basically use his troops as hitmen against Coalition targets (Bradford's internal enemies). His troops have never faced a major Coalition force and probably are in for a surprise when the skull-jets come screaming in. But he gets by on being a demagogue and blowhard calling for war against the Coalition to try and unite the various tribes.

Naturally, underneath it all, like almost every Siembieda villain, he's a megalomaniac. He's paranoid and pretty much nothing is beneath him to achieve his ends of conquest. Oh! And he's sadistic too! Like so many other Siembieda villains. For all the talk of him building a legend and being charming and deceptive, his only exceptional attribute is strength (though his attributes are, as with every NPC in this book, still unrollable nonsense). He's a 10th level Pecos Raider and we get a summary of his immediate henches. We're pointed to the Kingdom of Worth to learn more. Thanks, I'm good.

Orpheus the Titan

No relation to the actual Orpheus, as far as I can tell, but instead just a generic good guy "9th level warrior / mystic" (dear Rifts: please stop using Palladium classes and presuming Rifts players will just go out and buy that game, thanks) who is somehow dual classed and is a generic good guy - a paladin in all but name. He used to hang out with Gilgamesh and Endiku (as detailed in Pantheons of the Megaverse) after arriving on Rifts Earth, but went forth on his own and came across the community of Houstown, where most of their warriors had been killed by unspecified sea serpents. Orpheus rallied them to build more defenses and helped fight them off, after which he was welcomed as their new Mayor (though he prefers the title "Lord"). He's been trying to teach them that raiding is wrong, but they aren't particularly convinced.

He's physically exceptional across the board and beautiful, and is is a skilled fighter and a middling spellcaster and psionic (as a mystic). He has silver hair and "dark eyes" so he might be a little anime.

It took us over twenty sourcebooks to get a named Simvan, here you go.

Zimchex - Simvan

The leader of the Percic Simvan tribe, Zimchex's older bother was slain by the Coalition during a peaceful trading journey, and so fucking with them on the regular is a hobby of his. His tribe works in breeding horses, ostrosaurs, and other odd creatures, and they often raid Coalition forces or release dangerous creatures near them to cause havoc. He's also big into accepting runaway mutant animals, and so his tribe has a tiny minority of mutant animals in addition to Simvan. They also have a bloody rivalry with the "Long Knives" tribe of psi-stalkers - not that Zimchex hates psi-stalkers in general, but sure as hell hates the Long Knives for reasons that are probably long forgotten. His tribe also has a tradition of vampire hunting he upholds.

Surprisingly, he's a perfectly decent guy who listens to his people and only really acts insensibly when it comes to the Coalition or Long Knives. There's no mention of the Simvans' usual "eat humans" policy and they seem to be largely just traders and not raiders. Bizarrely for a leader, both his affinity and beauty are the pits, with his prowess and endurance being his major traits as a 8th level Simvan Monster Rider. Also, he gets to use hand to hand: assassin without having the usual evil requirement, because well, that requirement's only to mess with PCs, no doubt.

Looks fine.

Lianna the Wild

Kidnapped and taken to be a raider chief's mistress as a teenager, Lianna pretended to become loyal to him in order to learn how to ride and shoot. When the raiders had a hard spot and was being jeered, he challenged somebody to try and take his place. Lianna took up the challenge, killing him in the resulting pistol duel, and took over the gang. Leading the gang on successful raids after that, she managed to silence opposition with further pistol duels, and renamed the raider gang the "She-Devils". Despite the name, the gang doesn't have any particular feminist theme - most of the gang is still male. They raid nomadically through Texas, Arkansas, and Louisana. Though she puts up a hard front, she has a heart of gold and doesn't allow her gang to victimize innocents, despite her Aberrant alignment, or raid a community to the point of starvation or hardship. We're told that she's famous enough that three (inaccurate) films have been made about her exploits.

She's a 9th level Gunslinger (class not included in this book) with exceptional prowess. She's a minor psionic with just the ability to resist hunger or thirst. Honestly, she's interesting enough, all things considered. After the Coalition section, the bandit leaders feel like a breath of fresh air.


As in Sundance Kid, this guy claims to be the real wild west outlaw, who randomly got thrown through a rift when he leapt off a cliff to escape the Bolivian army. I guess that could happen? And he popped out safely? In any case, he's adapted to the new wild west well enough, though he's amazed by magic and hates vampires, like you do. Though a lot of people doubt his bonafides, he has rebuilt a Rifts version of the Wild Bunch. Some people in the Coalition want to try and catch him to see if his physiology might prove him to be an genuine pre-rifts human. But Bradford, bizarrely bereft of scientific curiosity, could care less. Still, some Coalition officials are worried he might become famous enough to unite the Pecos Empire.

Sundance is convinced Butch Cassidy also made the journey, but got separated somehow, and is offering a bounty to anybody who can locate him, which is offered as an adventure hook. There's a joking hint that he might actually be Robert Redford reprising his role, but it's not expanded upon. There's another cute note that part of the reason a lot of folks take him seriously is that if he really was a wild west hero, he'd know of other famous "historical" figures like Clint Eastwood or the Lone Ranger. He's a 10th level Gunslinger, and has a high affinity, prowess, and endurance. He generally seems like a neat hook GMs could take in several directions.

Warlord Grange

Allen Grange is head of the Pecos Riders, one of the Pecos' most powerful gangs. As a young man, he was often discontent with raider leadership, and would often make up his own tactics and plans. He was a tactical smarty guy who went on to form his own gang, and built a rep he organized his gang on, as well as a small "kingdom" (though it feels more just like a town to me). Though his gang is large, his ability to organize other gangs to follow him is what makes him more of a contender as the leader of the Pecos Empire, and he acts as a rival to Sabre Lasar.

He's a straightforward raider, though he's not vindictive and seems people fighting back against them as just something to be expected. He tries to innovate tactically and not rest on his laurels. Despite being a "genius" his intelligence is only above-average, and his mental endurance and affinity is where his strength lies. He's an 11th-level wilderness scout, and doesn't get a whole lot more than that. Oh, and this is a reprint from the last book, in case you missed him there, I supose

Guest starring Ladytron.

Emperor Sabre Lasar
The man who would be Emperor

Head of the strongest gang in the Pecos Empire, and often able to gather other gangs under him, we don't get much background on Lasar. Which is weird given how much he's been played up so far. It turns out he's a young dragon (that is, to the tune of 3000 M.D.C. in disguise as a human), and the fact that he's more than human isn't a secret, though the fact that he's a dragon is. He's often merciful and has a strong sense of humor and is generally kind of idealized and flawless. As a 10th level fire dragon, he's got exceptional attributes all over, a shit-ton of spells and minor psionics.

We also get a detailed breakdown of the Sabre Warriors (mostly humans, psi-stalkers, and simvan) but no real useful details other than a lot of numbers and percentage symbols. It's kind of surprising after all this buildup we get what amounts to a dry fart of a writeup.

"Haircut? No, I really did get my ears lowered."

Warlord Don Marco
Leader of the Silver Dagger Gang

More akin to a criminal kingpin, the Silver Daggers have taken up the tactic of setting up permanent communities throughout the Pecos Empire that cater to nomadic and bandit needs and vices, and also act as central ports for organized raiders under his command, or for smuggling. Wait, where they smuggling to? It's not like anything is technically "illegal" in the Pecos Empire... in any case, they seem to be outdoing the Black Market (TM) in the Pecos Empire. Since he doesn't raid the Coalition much, they see him as a useful destabilizing force, and have infiltrated a psychic into his group of advisors to try and influence him to act against Sabre Lasar... and if he should be able to deal with Lasar, they plan to kill him and put a Coalition puppet in his place.

Don Marco is another natural leader and genius (okay, these are starting to get a little old) who's a master organizer (though his intelligence is, once again, only above average). His big strengths are his mental endurance, affinity, and prowess. He has a nasty temper that reveals a sadistic side. Hey, sadism, the villainous Siembieda standby. Out of nowhere (not mentioned in his description) it turns out he's a 9th level mind melter with a lot of mental and telekinetic powers, and that he already knows about the Coalition spy... but hasn't decided what to do with them. The psychic twist puts him over into interesting, at least, though the Silver Dagger gang, like the Sabre Warriors, only gets a lot of % symbols without much detail.

Next: Classes without class.

"This may affect the credibility of the entire player group — guilt by association, leading to conclusions like, "if so and so is a friend/comrade, then they all must be bandits and cutthroats" (and can't be trusted and may not be wanted)."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Twelve: "This may affect the credibility of the entire player group — guilt by association, leading to conclusions like, "if so and so is a friend/comrade, then they all must be bandits and cutthroats" (and can't be trusted and may not be wanted)."

Making an awful class look alright.

Pecos Bandits
O.C.C. & R.C.C. Notes

It notes that despite there being a Pecos Raider class, Pecos Bandits can be any number of O.C.C.s, the most common being the various Man at Arms classes, Vagabonds, City Rats, most of the Mercenaries classes, and a number of classes that will supposedly appear in Rifts World Book 14: New West, like gunslingers (yes), wired slingers ("wired gunslingers" in the actual book), psi-slingers (yes), gunmen ("gunfighters" in the actual book), saloon bums (yes), and saddle tramps (yes). Yes, saloon bums. Prepare yourself for some shit classes in that book. Of course, given we've had probably the three worst classes in the corebook listed already... grunt, city rat, and vagabond, if you're wondering.

We're reminded that most people in the Pecos Empire are jus' folks, and that banditry is widespread but the minority of actual people. Like 60%, guys! That's... huh, that's still a fuckton of bandits when you count in "people who can't easily engage in banditry" (like children and the elderly). Then again, maybe babies grow up with lord humongous masks already attached. We're told that only 15% are "career outlaws". Which is a little more sane. Of course, to most in the Coalition, everybody in the Pecos is shit and probably worth shooting over saving.

Pecos Raider O.C.C.

So, these are supposed to be poor folk turned raider to escape poverty. The majority, we're told, are male, and "less than 1% are even partially literate". We get a finger-wag that if a player wants to play one of these, they're probably treated like the scum of the earth and are wanted, and have bounty hunters or lawmen after them and- okay, Rifts, you're laying it on kinda thick.

They get some basic riding and fighting and surviving skills, and shit secondary picks. The only consolation they get is a tiny S.D.C. bonus, which is pretty useless. Ultimately, they're barely a step above the Vagabond O.C.C. and this class seems mostly to give people mooks to shoot.

The Tokanii is the one on the far left.

Tokanii R.C.C.
By Julius Rosenstein & Kevin Siembieda

Spooky scary skeletal-lizard people from a dinosaur-ish world, the Tokanii had gotten to their Bronze Age when a meteor more or less destroyed their world, and some shamans with their powers combined opened a rift to refugee out of their doomed world. They popped into Coalition territory in Lone Star a half-century ago, and the skullguys set to work slaughting them, but the Tokanii fought back, fleeing East and fighting bandits and monsters and more. However, abut 10,000 survived, and they've somehow become 50,000+ in 50 years, because... Palladium is bad at numbers. We get a note that there are three tribes present in America:In general they're big on vendetta, and we're told most outside of the Ronii are evil. Leadership is decided by duels without rules, so sometimes leadership can literaly go to the biggest gun. It's kind of interesting to actually give a D-Bee race different societies, but not much is done with it.

The Tokanii are modest M.D.C. creatures, though they have a odd mechanic where both age and level increase their M.D.C. They can regenerate, and also completely regrow hands or feet (but not arms or legs). They have claws and teeth and horns that can all do M.D.C., and are mainly strong and tough, but ugly (the typical D-Bee tradeoff). They come with their own Tokanii Warrior class that's your generic riding / wilderness / weapons layout we see a lot from any "primitive" race, with crummy selections of other skills. They can take the Mystic O.C.C., which gives them magic and psionics, and Ronii can select any Man at Arms O.C.C., any Practitioner of Magic O.C.C., or Wilderness Scout. Taking a O.C.C. is generally a hilariously good upgrade for them - Wilderness Scout being the funniest because it's very similar to the "Tokanii Warrior", only better.

But will we ever get art of them stalking psi...?

Psi-Stalker R.C.C.

These guys get a lot more but this is mostly a shameless reprinting of material from the corebook. The main new notes is that there are wild psi-stalkers throughout texas and tend to congregate around supernatural hotbeds for prey, or feed on vampires. They also supposedly like and help out the cyber-knights but don't become them because "balance reasons" they lack discipline. Moving on.

Riding a- well, it's in the next book.

Simvan Monster Rider R.C.C.

Another reprint, this time from Rifts Sourcebook. Not much new other than the fact they're all around the Pecos Empire and are feared because they eat people and ride dinosaurs (who, presumably, will also eat people). Moving on.

The Brodkil
A Demon from the Rifts

Reprinted for the third time (they were in both Rifts Sourcebook and Rifts Sourcebook 3: Mindwerks) and for no apparent reason, because they aren't particularly common in this region, though some few are Pecos raiders. Moving on.

And that's it for classes. Embarassingly, we have about eight pages of reprinted material compared to three to four pages of new material. Well, at least the new art is quite nice.

Next: Mess with Texas.

"Its official name, "The Board of Culture," has given rise to many less than humorous comments, primarily based on the obvious pun ("culture, what culture?" "Well, you know how they grow cultures, don't you ...," etc.).."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star - Part Thirteen: "Its official name, "The Board of Culture," has given rise to many less than humorous comments, primarily based on the obvious pun ("culture, what culture?" "Well, you know how they grow cultures, don't you ...," etc.).."

It's cute, but what the hell is it?

A Geographic Overview of the Lone Star State
By Julius Rosenstein & Kevin Siembieda

And to finish the book, actual details on Texas! Thought we'd never get here.Experience Tables

Lastly, we get the usual dart-board of experience tables. For some reason, the Xiticix Killer gets an XP table even though they aren't listed as a class (or are available to the PCs).

If you read all of this, have a drink of some sort.


Lone Star does a lot more to vilify the Coalition - unintentionally, it feels like. Siembieda still wants them to be in a grey area, but it becomes more and more clear that the dog boys are effectively a slave class. They may be well-indoctrinated, but they're still effectively slaves. Desmond Bradford is a maniac willing to see his own men murdered for machevellian ends or is willing to release monsters into the wild for the "science", and essentially no level of scientific progress is worth cutting him a paycheck. The parade of psychopaths that work for him doesn't make things much more charming.

Conversely, the Pecos Empire section is actually pretty alright! Though it waffles back and forth between wanting the Pecos Raiders to simultaneously be secret good guys and a den of scum and villainy, in general most of its personalities are legitimately interesting and it seems like it'd be a interesting mini-setting to mess around with. Maybe it's Rosenstein's influence on Siembieda's writing, but it comes off much better than the front half of the book. Unfortunately, it's saddled with less attention that the Coalition military maniacs.

Ultimately, though, since most of it is the Coalition section, Lone Star ends up being a mess. The Coalition section is dire and insufferable, and Siembieda's love affair with Bradford is just miserable to read through. If he wants the Coalition to be a moral grey area, Lone Star puts that shit to rest real quick, featuring the most cartoonish depiction the faction's had so far. It'll get worse.

That's all, Lone Star's done and we can ride off into the sunset. But not for long, because...

Next: I wanna be your cowboy.

"The book's done! Get out before I roll into a ball at you!"