1 "Something more than, 'Yep, he is an Indian,' followed by a physical description and old cliches."
2 "By the time the Great Ghost Dance was attempted, not even the combined energy (P.P.E.) of scores of our people could muster the spirits to action."
3 "And while the white scholars ponder the reappearance of dinosaurs in Georgia's swamps and the Western Plains, the Native Americans know the answers to how and why."
4 "They ride horses and/or monsters, while those not 100% devoted to tradition will use hovercycles."
5 "They live exactly the way they have always known, and consider the "trappings" of the modern cultures, even something as simple as a steel blade knife, to be a corrupting influence to be avoided."
6 "This means that the Tribal Warrior might be considered the Indian equivalent of a 'grunt' while the others are more like Special Forces because of their special powers and orientation."
7 "The Native American Healing Shamans are some of the most powerful healing psionics on Rifts Earth, rivaled only by the Gypsy Gifted of Germany."
8 "Regardless, the Mystic and Shaman should remain distinct and separate, so the full range of shamanistic magic is only available to Native American Shamans."
9 "The Traditionalists and Pure Ones/Ancients counter with the fact that Modern Native Americans have lost or abandoned many of the old ways and reliance on technology has closed them (at least in part) to the spirits and a closeness with nature and their ancestors —and that they are closer to the white man and other races than "true" Native Americans."
10 "According to tradition and creation myths, all Native Americans began life as animals and went through this transformation process."
11 "All Man-Monsters, regardless of their totem or appearance, are the embodiment of evil, depravity, and insanity — abominations who loathe and destroy goodness, innocence and life."
12 "Players familiar with Palladium Books' Ninjas & Superspies™ may recognize the similarities of this attack and its effects to that of a Negative Chi attack combined with Dim Mak!"
13 "Inexplicable link to Native Americans: For reasons unknown, perhaps even to the spirits themselves, they are concerned only with the welfare and prosperity of Native Americans and the forces, plants and animals of the North American continent."
14 "Nurturers are tiny, elegant, Native American women with long black hair."
15 "An intruder or enemy can pick it up, shake it, stab it and throw it to the floor without eliciting the slightest reaction."
16 "It is known that at least one faction of Nunnehi (along with the Chiang-ku dragons) once advised and tutored the ancient Atlanteans and helped them unravel the secrets of magic and dimensional travel — the result of which ultimately led to the destruction of Atlantis and the rapid loss of magic on ancient Earth."
17 "Many extremist Traditionalists credit Uktena with the arrival of the Europeans to the New World and the subsequent destruction of Indian Nations."
18 "When fighting non-Indians, Strong Eagle will fight them the way they fight, which means not only using high-tech weapons, but in the case of the Coalition States, often killing every man who isn't on your side."
19 "The only name that seemed appropriate was Uktena, the Death God and Destroyer (something this dangerous god found both amusing and satisfying)."
20 "Most Traditionalists live the way their ancestors did centuries ago, before the coming of the white man."

"Something more than, 'Yep, he is an Indian,' followed by a physical description and old cliches."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:


Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West 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.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

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

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West 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.

Well, it's time for a book with some small issues. Maybe, if you pay attention, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 1: "Something more than, 'Yep, he is an Indian,' followed by a physical description and old cliches."

Wayne Breaux posted:

Dedicated to Shamanism and Wicca for teaching me tolerance, freedom of choice, and confidence in personal knowledge of right and wrong when a close friend tried to convert me to his religious beliefs. He and I are still friends because of them.

The primary writer on this book isn't Siembieda, for the record. It's Wayne Breaux, who you'll primarily know if you're reading my reviews as one of the game line's main artists. Chiefly, he's known as an artist obviously inspired by Kevin Long's style and delivering art similar to - but much looser - than Long's.

Wayne Breaux posted:

This book is different than most Rifts® supplements in the sense that it focuses on a group of people instead of a specific location or government.

Yep. Despite the "World Book" title on the cover, this the book for the indigenous peoples of America, or Native Americans as Breaux at puts it, avoiding terms that Siembieda has used like "Indian" or even (deep breath) "Red Man". However, Rifts has some bad history with representing other cultures. Rifts World Book Four: Africa. Rifts World Book Five: Triax & the NGR. Rifts World Book Eight: Japan.

Wayne Breaux posted:

I hope to have provided sufficient material to let G.M.s and players create bold, unique characters who, in some small way, are Native Americans traveling through Rifts Earth, instead of cartoon caricatures of Hollywood or comic book "Indians."

So, with this I have to mention the notion of the "noble savage" to keep in mind. I've glibly referred to it before, but it's worth bringing up in earnest before we go too much further. In brief, the notion of the noble savage is that humanity is, inherently, innocent and in tune with nature, at least until civilization / colonials / Coca-Cola bottles come along and muck everything up. A lot of it is built on guilt for slavery and colonialism, which is as regrettable and tragic as human stories can be, and I don't mean to diminish that. But the noble savage erases the historical and cultural identity from figures shamefully, and reduces them to symbols. You'll notice that we don't get a lot of characters in this book.

Wayne Breaux posted:

Since this book is intended as part of the New West® trilogy (Lone Star, New West and Spirit West), I have focused heavily on the beliefs and culture of the Plains Indians. The size of this book and the wealth of information it presents may seem pretty inclusive, but so much more could have been written. Unfortunately, that would have made this a set of encyclopedias, and it would have still been impossible to cover all the people, cultures, beliefs and histories completely.

Breaux is a little more thoughtful than Siembieda, but he's still going to fall into some of the same issues that plagued books like World of Darkness: Gypsies. The indigenous people of America will be clumped together, generalized, and portrayed as supernaturally and racially exceptional. There's some more nuance and research than, say, Africa, but the problems remain.

Wayne Breaux posted:

For example, imagine the clash that might occur between Coalition Reclamation Armies looking for lost military bases and the well-armed Native Americans who simply want to keep the armed invaders out of their land. It would likely be a replay of the Vietnam conflict for the Coalition (or not). Although it is probably a cliche, (and obvious) by now to say this, remember, the possibilities are endless.

So it's time to go into this aware of all that. Even I know I can't cover the breadth of cultures that had settled America long before some infamous Italian washed up there. Reviewing this is going to require me to sit down and actually look shit up in a way I haven't since Pantheons of the Megaverse. Even so, it's hard for me to figure out where some of this stuff comes from for several reasons. First off, often the names have been changed, which makes it very difficult to research. Secondly, they're mashing together things from dozens of cultures - some of which blend together, like the peoples of the Southwest or the peoples of the Plains regions - and trying to separate that out is a nightmare. Lastly, completely original stuff has been mixed in without any obvious note of what's new and what's actually mythical.

Hoverbikes? Lasers? They shame their people... well, you'll see.

And now it's time for Kevin's take:

Kevin Siembieda posted:

Not only have we homogenized a number of different Native American cultures and beliefs, we have extrapolated, twisted and warped many aspects of those beliefs, myths, magic, gods, legends and people to fit into the world of Rifts®. So while the culture, beliefs and myths of the Native American people were a source of inspiration, the material presented here is not intended to be a true or accurate portrayal of the people or their real culture. Besides, no matter how many books we may have read as part of our research, we don't pretend to be experts. This is a work of fiction — science fiction and fantasy, at that.

You know, as much as I start to cringe at Breaux, Siembieda just makes me implode. A lot of jokes are made about cultural appropriation these days, but this is an admission of it as literal text. "It's okay for us to plunder your culture and use it as fodder for our game because it's all in fun, right?" And mind, Siembieda isn't alone, it's something RPGs do almost as a matter of course historically. Even games I've enjoyed like Legend of the Five Rings can be real, real bad about it. And to be fair, cultural appropriation is not in and of itself a wrong. Cultural fusion can be a very positive thing with the right circumstances, and I don't think every Caucasian fellow who tries to write on another culture is necessarily going to get it wrong. But you have to be aware of the pitfalls and be willing to correct when you get it wrong, instead of just being like "Well, we know we're getting it wrong, but getting it right is just too much effort, so meh." Being part of the society that nearly annihilated the cultures and peoples of the Americas means you have to, at the very least, tread carefully, and they don't. They really, really don't.

"... don't pretend to be experts." I'm pretty sure that's Palladium Books' unofficial motto.

Kevin Siembieda posted:

Furthermore, we hope the term, "Indian" used in this book and others, is not offensive. It is meant as a familiar, general, descriptive term. Furthermore, in the setting of Rifts Earth and the New West™, slang (and cruelty) is commonplace, and much of the (fictional) culture is based on bits and pieces of America's past. A flawed and distorted view of history, often based on old Hollywood movies, TV shows, fictional novels, and comic books that are misinterpreted as "real" accounts of the past, and where the words "Indian," "Red Man," and even "Injun," are commonplace and adopted by the people of Rifts Earth. No disrespect is intended in the words or portrayal of any people or culture. Enjoy.

I feel like I need to make a joke here. Let's see.

... the Aristocrats! Nope, I got nothing.

One might wonder why I might go into more serious brass and tacks where I didn't in Africa or Japan. The point of the matter is that it's because Spirit West goes into more serious and earnest detail itself. A book like Africa painted with a broad, inaccurate brush, and that was easy to identify, notice, and sigh at, and most of that book didn't bother focusing on the indigenous people save for what magic powers they got. Spirit West, on the other hand, goes into far more cultural detail, and the attempt is to be lauded, but the results are... well, far less laudable.

One other thing I'll bring up is terms like "Native American" or "American Indian". I don't personally like them, but I'm going to be using them a lot because the book doesn't often zero in on specific cultures. It's not that I can't be bothered, but every time I say "Native American" in this text it means that's the book painting with a broad brush, not I. When it's possible and practical, I personally much prefer to refer to individual name for a tribe or culture. It's my personal belief that often these generalized terms can evoke stereotypes more than reality, and that they're a key point in othering pre-Columbian cultures of North America. I do admit to a great ignorance regarding them - as I imagine many Americans are - but I'll be working to try and research when I think it's relevant and do what I can. I won't be able to address any, or even most of the inaccuracies in this book. I simply don't have the time to do that on a mere review. But I'll do what I can practically do.

Next: Dare you enter our magical realm?

"By the time the Great Ghost Dance was attempted, not even the combined energy (P.P.E.) of scores of our people could muster the spirits to action."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 2: "By the time the Great Ghost Dance was attempted, not even the combined energy (P.P.E.) of scores of our people could muster the spirits to action."

"Thank you, great Thunderbird!... now we can found a natural history museum."

The Return

So, we get a fiction chunk narrated by an Ani-yun-wiya (Cherokee) named Many Horses. He says his people were approached by spirits called Nunnehi who claimed that the white man would come and destroy the buffalo (they mean bison) and all the tribes that "lived with the great animal", and were asked to fast to demonstrate their willingness to get evacuated off to the spirit world. Many Horses and his family left, even though their chief ignored the warning.

We fast-forward, and Many Horses talks about living in a timeless hunting ground with the buffalo (they mean bison). He becomes elected chief, but the Nunnehi come back around and then give him the all-clear to return back to Earth with the buffalo (they mean bison). And so they return to Earth, see their first ley line, but then they get attacked by a giant pterodactyl (a leatherwing from New West, we're told). However, they've still just got structural damage weapons, so their arrows do nothing against the creature. (Thanks for the heads up, wise Nunnehi spirits!) However, their shaman prays and a giant thunderbird comes down and smites the hell out of the flying dino.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Thunderbird was happy that the Pure People had returned.

Culture Notes: First off, the idea of Cherokee getting evacuated by the Nunnehi is part of their mythology, that they spirited away some faithful before the Removal (part of the Trail of Tears). While the myth of the Thunderbird is broadly held across a number of tribes, it's not a Cherokee belief as far as I can tell - they instead had myths of "Thunderers" or "Thunder Boys" that were storm spirits that existed in human form, which was a counterpoint to the more typical bird depictions of animals like eagles, hawks, or turkeys. As for "Pure People", I see that sometimes cited as a translation of Ani-Yunwiya, but "Principal People" seems to be the more accurate translation. Also, a friend is pointing out to me that the Cherokee originally lived in the Southeast, and at the very least, bison likely weren't as central to Cherokee culture until after the Removal. (They've found old Cherokee songs about bison, but those were only found recently, long after this book was written.)

A World Overview
By Philip Dream-Speaker, Native American Storyteller (Historian)

So, Phil is the Erin Tarn of this book - and I'm not just making that comparison, he all but begs an apology for writing in her place, explaining that there are things that even she has likely not heard about! He starts off with talking about how the Nunnehi approached all the indigenous tribes of North America in the 16th century, telling them doom was coming and to fast for a week if they wanted to be taken to the Spirit World. Those who did were taken away, and those who were subjected to the tragedy of European and American invasions.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Decades later, the people would regain some of their autonomy, but their culture would be shattered, and their spirits forever tainted by their exposure to the society, customs, and beliefs of their conquerors.

While the erasure and loss of indigenous culture is undeniable, I'm really uncomfortable with the notion of "spirits forever tainted". Because as we'll see, that notion is not just figurative, but literal. Now, it could be that Phil here is just an prejudiced narrator, but I don't get the impression that such is the intent. This is why I brought up to the notion of the noble savage right off the bat, because we're about to slam into it headfirst.

See, before the cataclysm, some people dedicated themselves to the "old ways" which allowed them to "shed the impurities" of the culture around them and "once again attain the status of Pure Ones" (emphasis theirs). Because they had thrown off modern culture, they were able to get in touch with the spirits and the Nunnehi, and the Nunnehi warned them the rifts were coming. The rest of the people were, of course, left to die. (Thanks for the heads up, wise Nunnehi spirits!) However, a number of people on reservations were able to survive just becuase they were away from major population centers where things were the worst. The irony of this is pounded in with all the subtlety of a iron mallet. Some "city Indians" arrived at the reservations with technology that would help them survive, saying they figured the people of the reservations would be survivors. However, their "spiritual brothers" claim that they were guided there by the spirits.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Regardless of their reasons, a number of them survived the dangerous treks through a ravaged Earth to join their people on the reservations (perhaps further evidence that they were guided and protected by greater powers?).

However, some traditionalists amongst the tribes rejected the notions of science and technology, believing (mistakenly, we're told) that those were the causes for the "white man's" impurity and loss of magic. Many perpetuated this belief without necessarily acting on it, begrudging those who used it, but a few abandoned the others to abandon technology... except for spears, canoes, firebuilding, etc., presumably. However, for the most part, both technology and magic worked together to carry them through. However, their knowledge of magic was still fragmentary and the spirits weren't willing to really lend them a hand.

Then, one day, hundreds of thousands of buffalo (they mean bison) busted out of the rifts, along with other endangered or extinct animals like bald eagles or manatees. (Hopefully, the manatees were guided to aquatic rifts and weren't just dumped unceremoniously on land.) The traditionalists then called to the White Animals, and apparently the White Animals "sacred to each tribe" showed up along with a number of that tribe in tow, having been secreted away by the Nunnehi. These exiled indigenous people were called the "Ancient Ones" or "Ancients", and brought the old magic with them, along with as significant numbers. A number of them turned to just let the Ancients lead them, because letting your (great x 6d6) granddad show up and boss you around after being gone for over half a millennium seems like an excellent idea.

Many tribes returned to their old homelands (yes, even the homelands already covered by existing material, so there are magical Native Americans in the Coalition's relative backyard now, apparently). The Nunnehi guided them along until they didn't and just went away. Ulimately, once the spirit beings left various tribes lost their unity and the time of cooperation ended, though outright war was rare. Many Ancients and Traditionalists went off to form their own "Preserves" free of technology... though they did take use some simple devices like flashlights or lighters, because a little hypocrisy never hurt anyone. Others remained with their more modern cousins. As such, they're split between those who reject and those who accept technology, because this is Rifts and lines must be drawn. Of course, they also have monsters to fight, and while most haven't actually encountered the Coalition, they know enough to fear and dread them.

Culture Notes: Ooof, got a lot of shit to unpack here. First off, I don't think "Pure Ones" is a term outside of Werewolf: the Apocalypse, aside from general references to racial purity (for what that's ever worth). The Nunnehi are specifically a Cherokee belief and they spirited people away in the 19th century, not the 16th. The White Bison is probably the most well-known white animal myth but there are at least a fair number of "white animal" myths, or albino animals being associated as sacred - but seemingly overblown by some modern New Agers who want to hold up any pale animals as a sign of a return of something something.

Phil isn't given an apparent tribe. He's generically indigenous. I don't know if "Dream-Speaker" is a legit surname, given the main references I can find for it go back to Mage: the Ascension or the young adult novel by the same name. But maybe after the Rifts it became legit?

The sinister boxes of civilization.

The Deadly Cycle
As told by Philip Dream-Speaker

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

In the old days, Native American children were not told what was right or wrong; instead they were shown through stories the consequences of the actions they had taken, or would take. This approach is similar to the white man requiring history lessons in higher education before the Coming of the Rifts. The whole point is that people should learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.

So, Phil describes how everything was great and that the indigenous peoples of the America lived in harmony with the land and spirits until, of course, white guys showed up and introduced the continent to new forms of warfare, atrocity, and disease. But the point of order he's focusing on is that, according to him, the magic seemed to dwindle in the face of the European arrival. He believes that Europe had a good number of "nega-psychics" (a term coined by Victor Lazlo, previously seen in the corebook and Triax & the NGR) that were able to disbelieve away magic. For those less familiar, the Nega-Psychic is a class from one of Rifts' progenitor games, Beyond the Supernatural. It's your professional skeptic sort of class that explains why psychics can't do their stunts in public, because it turns out James Randi is using his secret psychic powers to cancel out Uri Geller's psychic spoonbending, and not just by providing him with undamaged spoons.

So as the indigneous peoples of the Americas came into conflict with the Europeans, their spirits and magic allies became less and less responsive. Apparently, the Great Ghost Dance was supposed to work, but apparently their magic had been eroded. Somehow, these Nega-Psychics somehow destroy magic as a whole... or that's Phil's theory, at least.

The book then switches out of Phil's explanation to point out that Phil could be wrong, but that it might be possible that disbelief and rejection of magic might be what forced magic into dormancy. However, Nega-Psychics are seemingly rare and the idea that they might be able to either somehow channel their power through others or cause major effects as a group doesn't have any known basis. Plato, the dragon leader of Lazlo, claims that magic is just cyclical and that the timing was just conicidence. However, Phil and others that listen to him worry that the Coalition's efforts may one day undo the return of magic.

... except the problem with this explanation or retcon is we know the cause of why the magic faded away in Rifts' past, as it's been laid out fairly clearly. Or rather, you know if you remember Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis, which explained that the Atlanteans created a ritual that damaged Earth's magical structure and resulted in magic fading away. So it doesn't seem that Phil has the cause of the issue right.

Culturewatch: Using the Ghost Dance as an example of shit that really should have worked feels like it's in exceedingly poor taste, IMO, rather than a just a desperate symptom of tragedy. Also the whole disbelief theory isn't really referenced again, which is fine with me because we don't need this going the way of Changeling: the Dreaming or Mage: the Ascension.

Next: A round peg in a square hole.

"And while the white scholars ponder the reappearance of dinosaurs in Georgia's swamps and the Western Plains, the Native Americans know the answers to how and why."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 3: "And while the white scholars ponder the reappearance of dinosaurs in Georgia's swamps and the Western Plains, the Native Americans know the answers to how and why."

They come out of Spirit Caves, not Rifts, totally different things?

"Finally, I can work on my moontan."

The World Around Man

So, now we get into massively generalized Native American cosmology that doesn't really square with the rest of Rifts, but it gets clawhammered in anyway:We're told that trees are respected because they touch three of the realms (Middle Realm, Near Sky, Deep Earth). They have a big theory that the cataclysm caused the Spirit Caves to become overloaded and for excess souls to flow out into the world and increase ambient magic. Apparently, most don't believe white people can master or use magic, even though there are innumerable examples in the setting itself.

Culture Notes: As far as I can tell this mythology is largely based on traditional Tsitsistas (a tribe in the Cheyenne nation) beliefs.

Though it's a slight tangent, one thing you won't see in this book are the various religions and sects that blend Christian belief with the beliefs of indigenous American groups. Though some are fairly notable, it'll just be ignored in favor of the "locals vs. invaders" narrative this book holds onto - not to discount myriad historical injustices, but it's a simplistic viewpoint of the ways the different cultures have met and blended.

Switching suddenly away from talk of metaphysics, we're told Native Americans don't generally fight to the death "like the bloody wars of the whites" "although not always". Captives are apparently considered "prizes" to be adopted into their captive clan. It tells us they aren't prisoners, but it sure sounds a lot like it... we're also told tribes have suffer deaths at the hand of another tribe will typically try to seize young people from the offending murders to replace them.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Another case is when a tribe needs women. To remedy this, they will raid and take females from a rival tribe that has an abundance. Once the prisoners are adopted or married into the tribe, they are considered full members, as if they had grown up there from birth.

It says this is a cultural thing and that because of that, they're not slaves or prisoners, they're just... kidnapped... and not allowed to return home. It points out those who are totally intractable with their new tribe are killed or released depending on how dangerous they are.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Also, note that "uncooperative" and openly "hostile" are not the same things. Hostile captives pose a threat to the lives and livelihood of the people, while uncooperative ones are simply an annoyance, and with time and patience are likely to be swayed.

Ah, yes, "uncooperative", not "prisoners".

I'm having a hard time finding a matching source for this stuff, and it's an extremely simplistic view (simplistic is a nicer word than "ignorant") from what I can tell. Warfare varied as much as the people all across North America did, from the famous nonlethal (but not nonpainful) "counting coup" to vicious and neverending cycles of vengeance with some groups. Also, treating taking captives unwillingly as some natural thing that white folks just don't understand feels pretty uncomfortable to me as somebody who believes in the dream of universal human rights. Also, it's all blending together in this thing where people somehow roll back eight centuries of cultural change - which might make sense for those returning from the Spirit World, but not for those surviving the American Empire + the apocalypse.

"American Empire" is the Rifts term for the United States, I'm not just being blunt about it. But if I nitpick and research everything we'll be here forever, so let's move on to-

"Feathered headdress? Peace pipe? Boxes checked."

Tribal Background

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

By most non-Indian standards, Native Americans have strange names.

Tell us more about The Other.

It describes that children get their names during a Naming Ceremony based on recent events in nature or a particular locale, but notes that the details vary a lot and that some groups choose a new name upon adulthood (a... simplification, again). It notes that some take on a second European name "to be used outside of his family group" even though there's not much logical reason to take the name "Strong Jim" aside from that it's an Old West trope, as near as I can figure... it also sounds a lot like how many Native Americans were forced to take on European surnames as part of their assimilation.

There's a section giving us various divisions, like:Man. I don't know I'm more bothered that it's just trying to mash Native American cultures down into an indistinguishable mush or that it's so dull about it. There's so much rich mythology and history to draw on that could be evocative, maybe it wouldn't be perfect, but there has to be something better than this.

Maybe just don't make RPG books trying to sum up real-world cultures as magical factions or at least be egalitarian about it or...

Next: Throw a bunch of tribes in a bin, shake until indistinguishable.

"They ride horses and/or monsters, while those not 100% devoted to tradition will use hovercycles."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 4: "They ride horses and/or monsters, while those not 100% devoted to tradition will use hovercycles."

So, we're told that traditional Native Americans live in the wild, where-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Most "modern people" of all races and advocates of science and high-technology discard these people as "primitive," "backwater," "retro," and low-tech or even anti-technology societies. Some, like the Coalition States, consider them primitive, "retro-savages," either beneath their concern or dangerous because they call upon and worship supernatural forces (or just because their belief system and culture is too different).

And then we get a laundry list of regions and lists of tribes that live in them. Nothing about those tribes, just lists like:

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Northeast Tribes

Abnaki (pronounced ab-nah-kee)
Algonkin (pronounced al-gon-kin)
Cayuga (pronounced ki-yoo-guh)
Chippewa (pronounced chip-uh-wah)
Huron (pronounced hyur-on)
Kickapoo (pronounced kick-a-poo)
Mahican (pronounced muh-hee-cun)
Malecite (pronounced mal-uh-seet)
Menominee (pronounced muh-nom-uh-nee)
Micmac (pronounced mick-mack)
Mohawk (pronounced mo-hawk)
Mohegan (pronounced mo-hee-gun)
Montauk-Shinnecock (pronounced mon-tawk-shin-uh-cock)
Narragenset (pronounced nah-ruh-gan-sit)
Nipmuc (pronounced nip-muck)
Oneida (pronounced o-ni-duh)
Onondaga (pronounced au-nun-dag-uh)
Ottawa (pronounced aht-uh-wuh)
Passamoquaddy (pronounced pah-suh-muh-kwod-ee)
Pennacock (pronounced pen-uh-cook)
Penobscot (pronounced puh-nob-scot)
Pequot (pronounced pee-kwot)
Potawatomi (pronounced pot-uh-wot-uh-mee)
Powhatan (pronounced pow-hat-un)
Sac (pronounced sack)
Seneca (pronounced sen-uh-kuh)
Shawnee (pronounced shaw-nee)
Susquehannock (pronounced sus-kwuh-han-ock)
Tuscarora (pronounced tusk-uh-roar-uh)
Wampanoag (pronounced wam-puh-no-ag)
Wappinger (pronounced wop-in-jer)
Winnebago (pronounced win-uh-bay-go)

How useful is that? Boy, I'm glad I can pronounce a bunch of names I still don't know terribly much about! Well, time to power through this section even though I know it will thrill noone and irritate some.Please note I haven't done nearly enough research on the above to nitpick it, if I did I could probably make this a weeklong series of updates but please, no.

Next: Rejecting the modern.

"They live exactly the way they have always known, and consider the "trappings" of the modern cultures, even something as simple as a steel blade knife, to be a corrupting influence to be avoided."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 5: "They live exactly the way they have always known, and consider the "trappings" of the modern cultures, even something as simple as a steel blade knife, to be a corrupting influence to be avoided."

Native Americans of Rifts Earth
A bit of history

We're given a very broad-strokes history: tribes were pushed west, people forgot their traditions and heritage, and many were assimilated into American culture. Others lived on reservations and maintain bites of this culture! The two groups came together and survived the rifts, but there are now several different factions. These are: Modern Native Americans "or Modern Indians", Traditionalists, Pure Ones, or Renegades.

Once again, RENEGADES.


"Wearing a bone breastplate over armor doesn't make much sense, but it does make me look more ethnic."

Modern Native Americans
- Circa 105 P.A.

So, these are sometimes known as "Tech-Indians", which are those indigenous people who prefer technology, guns, and giant robots. It kinda focuses on how these are often those with impure blood to a point I'm not entirely comfortable with, but points out some have full Native American ancestry and just happen to like bang bang shoot shoots. They have "lost sight of their Indian heritage, although they are proud of it" and don't care about customs and magic and reject both because we can't have nuance. (Nobody tell Forge of the X-Men.) Many grow up around the Coalition states. Some are even Coalition citizens!


Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Modern American Indians are just like any other humans in Rifts®, the only differences are they have colorful relatives living a very different way of life, and have, with a long, rich history in North America as a people, connected to nature, shamanism and spiritualism.

Yes, you can be special magical people... adjacent! We get a long-ass laundry list of O.C.C.s they can have, which mostly boils down to "any, except the new classes from this book because they don't respect the ancient ways." and can't get any of the special spirit gifts later on.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

However, all greater spirits and gods can sense whether a person has Native American blood coursing through his or her veins.

Yes, being Native American is special enough that any god can tell. Or do they just mean Native American gods specifically?

Including such ancient traditions as horse and rifle use.


So, these are indigenous tribes that have rejected technology to go back to some vague Golden Age back before iPhones and cotton gins. We've seen it in Africa, South America 1, and Japan, but let's do the time warp again. They rely on magic and the guidance of "spirit-beings"... which must be different than all of the entities and ghosts we've seen so far which tend towards "insane", "asshole", or "insane assholes". Any Native American can join up by renouncing technology, but what do they mean by that?

Well, they can use bows (and arrows), stone axes, knives, and simple dwellings. Most accept using guns prior to 1901 but if you pick up a Colt M1903 Pocket Hammerless I guess the spirits forsake you. But a Colt M1892 is hunky-dory! Spirit-approved! They can also use things made of steel or "simple" Techno-Wizard items, whatever "simple" might entail. They specifically can't use energy weapons, vibro-blades, shock weapons, power armor, self-propelled vehicles, or sealed M.D.C. armor. However, it's apparently acceptable to use unsealed M.D.C. armor.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

They believe to do otherwise is to again lose sight of the spirits and customs that give them a special place in the world and the ability to live in harmony with nature.

Because I know when I use a toaster, swing a wiimote, or ride a segway. I forget what those hideous brown pillars stuck in the ground with all the green shit on top are and am like "What are those? Those are horrible and ugly, we should burn them." I see a fuzzy-tailed tree-climbing thing and I'm like "I feel nothing for you, beast!", and I try and try to brain it with a rock. And then I see a bizarre scented colorful thing planted in the groundand feel nothing for it, so I just urinate all over it. So this seems pretty true to my experience!

In any case, as far as their shamanistic magic goes, it turns out to be a legitimate ban, because the spirits are a bunch of conservative luddites. Once again, only their spirits are so fussed about machines, African rain makers, British druids, and Lazlo mystics don't have to worry about this. But this legitimizes their concerns with technology. It tries to emphasize that they don't hate those who use technology, even as the text undermines notion at every turn.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

While the Traditionalist Indian strives to live in harmony with nature, those who use (worship) technology tend to bend or even break nature to fit their desires and needs. Technology has a long, tragic history of destroying and spoiling nature rather than finding a harmonious union.

We get a list of O.C.C.s they can choose, including plenty that don't exist, like "Healer" or "Wiseman". It notes that if the O.C.C. has a non-tech equivalent (like changing Motorcycle for Horsemanship) players can do that. Other skills that don't have any non-tech equivalent, like some Radio or Computer skills... just aren't replaced. You lose skills. Yep, unless you're playing a shaman, there's not much of an upside to playing a traditionalist. You can even end up without an M.D.C. weapon to use, which is a real issue. Oh, and if you're not a Native American, whether you're human or a D-Bee? You can be a traditionalist but can't ever get the full benefits or become chief-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

However, no matter how dedicated to the old ways these Non-Indian people may be, they do not share the bond with the spirits and gods as the "Chosen People." This means they cannot select any of the Native American O.C.C.s, or ever hope to be a Shaman.

However, they can use fetishes and gain an animal totem. Native Americans who aren't traditionalist can become them, but they have to revert to 1st level even if they aren't changing classes or anything like that because they're starting "a new life". Oh, and if you break from being a traditionalist and return to it as a lifestyle, you have to go back to 1st level and you can never use major or legendary fetishes, and can't select any of the shamanistic classes later on ever again, even if you were previously one. Uuuuugh. Okay. Fuck this book. Want to have a personal plotline where you lose and reclaim your faith? No, fuck you, this book says. Get fucked.

Fuck it so much. Fuck. Fffff-

"No, we're not going to explain clothing like this, try and figure it out yourself."

Pure Ones & Ancients

These are descendants of those who fucked off to the magical realm and returned. It reminds us repeatedly they're of 100% Native American heritage despite being back for two centuries (and being seven to nine generations removed), and are still dedicated to the ancient ways. They even consider using a steel knife or riding as a passenger on a hovercycle to be forbidden. It emphasizes they don't hate those who use technology, they just totally judge them and think technology leads to "ruination". That being said, they often hate psi-stalkers, simvan, or xiticix as enemies or rivals. (Why psi-stalkers? Aren't they au naturale, too?)

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

From the perspective of many "civilized," high-tech cultures, including the CS, these so-called "Pure Ones," are "retro-fanatics" who live a simple, primitive life with few of the luxuries and amenities offered by technology. Some, like the CS, even consider them savages or barbarians. However, such people are fools, for the lifestyles and ways of the Pure Ones, Traditionalists, and those who try to emulate them (to varying degrees) have simply chosen a different way of life. It is no more difficult or less sophisticated than any other culture. Ironically, these "retros" and "savages" have a broader, more advanced view of life than many of their detractors, for they tend to respect all other cultures, magic and technology, acknowledging only that these people live differently, and believe in and possess different types of magic and power, whether it be psionics, Techno-Wizardry, sorcery, or science and technology.

So, the Pure Ones an only take the new O.C.C.s and a small selection detailed later for classes. It specifically notes they'll never take bionics but other forms of bionic augmentation, but may take bio-systems. They aren't allowed to use techno-wizard devices or ride on vehicles in addition to all of the restrictions for traditionalist. These guys seem like a PitA to have in an adventuring party.

"We have to get to Kingsdale and warn them the Coalition is going to attack, hop on!"

"Oh, I can't, I have to use a horse."

"That nag goes like 40 miles per hour, tops. The Coalition is going to murder everybody. We need to do at least a hundred miles an hour if we're going to get there before nightfall."

"You have to understand my pure Navajo blood bans me from using your abomination of science, nothing personal. It would offend the spirits."

"Well, you don't have to drive. Hop on."

"I cannot, my people have not needed hovercycles for millennia, and today changes nothing."

"For millennia your people did without horses! They were introduced by the Europeans before your people even fucked off to another dimension! You're okay with them! A hundred thousand people will die at the hands of skullfaces unless we-"

"- no."

"Okay, okay. Okay. I respect your religion, but what if we have Mentos the Mind Melter levitate you next to his hoverbike, then we drive off."

"Oh! That would be acceptable."

"Ugh, I'm so tired of- wait, what?"

"I'm allowed to be moved by Mentos' psychic powers. The spirits are cool with that."

"I seriously don't think I'll ever understand your religion."

"I try not to think about my religion, it just messes the whole thing up."

"Yeah, I'm a stereotype... on the edge... TO THE EXTREME!"


So, these are Native Americans that have taken up technology but also believe in their heritage. What makes them different from "modern Native Americans"?

All I can guess is that they pay more lip service to tradition than the former, so they can take a totem animal and use minor fetishes. They also are advocates of telling their spirits straight-up that technology isn't bad, but the spirits aren't hearing it yet. I guess their big deal is that they're trying to be a fusion of technology and magic even though their spirits specifically forbid that. Some "fanatical" traditionalist or pure ones see them as traitors (I guess the rest see them as fools).


We get some smaller extremist groups here:General views on the Coalition

In general, the Coalition States are regarded as the heirs of European invaders, and are seen as dangerous and aggressive.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

This does not automatically make the CS an enemy or evil...

Huh? But aren't they?

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

The Coalition States are the antithesis of the Traditionalist movement and represent all the evils and misuses of technology — the "white man's magic." people and places to be avoided and feared.

Oh, good, I was afraid Rifts was losing its ability to contradict itself within a single paragraph. Editing! However, apparently only "militant extremists" attack or raid the Coalition, and most just "chase" the Coalition from their territory. I don't get it. Are they seeking to just avoid conflict? It actually doesn't say. However, as most live a fair distance from the Coalition States, contact is uncommon. Except for those that aren't that far from the Coalition at all but shhh we're talking about the West. The Coalition, on the other hand, considers them to be traitors to humanity but not of much consequence - they apparently have no idea how widespread Native Americans actually are in the West, despite having nuclear-powered planes that could reach the West Coast in an hour, taking pictures all the way.

Next: The noble, sacred, traditional roles of learning to kill stuff real good.

"This means that the Tribal Warrior might be considered the Indian equivalent of a 'grunt' while the others are more like Special Forces because of their special powers and orientation."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 6: "This means that the Tribal Warrior might be considered the Indian equivalent of a 'grunt' while the others are more like Special Forces because of their special powers and orientation."

Guest starring Mortal Kombat's '90s token stereotype, Nightwolf.

Spirit West O.C.C.s

First, we start with notes on traditionalist O.C.C.s which require you to be a Traditionalist or Pure One and avoid all the technology associated with following either path. You also have to be Native American blood if you actually want to use new magic, but it says some other indigenous people on Pacific Islands, Australia, or Africa can use these classes if they have similar beliefs. Except all the classes have the text:

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

The character must be of Native American descent. Other races do not have strong enough spirit potentials to have totems or use fetishes.

Other than the new classes, they can also be bandits, highwaymen, professional thieves, bounty hunter, healer (not a class), rogue scholar, vagabond, wilderness scout, or saddle tramp. They can also take men at arms classes that don't rely on technology or augmentation, which is pretty close to none of them. They specifically can't be Cowboys, Gamblers, Safecrackers, or corebook magic classes. We also get a guide on what skills they can't take, and in exchange for losing skills and equipment the GM has the option (recommended strongly) to let them have an extra major fetish.

Lose sight of the spirits, gain 1001 other sight modes.

There's a long section on how no Traditional or Pure One won't get bionics for predictable reasons, though a minority might consider bio-systems. If they become cyborgs, juicers, or presumably crazies by hook or crook, they lose contact with their totems and spirits, even if it's involuntary. The spirits will still judge you, I guess. Modern Native Americans can become whatever they damn well like and use whatever they want, but can't get any totem bonuses no matter how much respect they pay to their heritage. What are totem bonuses? We'll have to wait, but it's the 90's and it's time for totems in RPGs. What's your spirit animal?

"You know you lose class features by using that gun...?" "I'm just posing with it! Don't tell the spirits!"

Traditional Warrior Classes

So, it emphasizes these warriors work like guerrilla fighters... well, it compares them to ninja, saying they gather in generic "warrior societies" that are like "brotherhoods of knights". We get a historical note that apparently only the tribal warrior is a traditional warrior, while the rest are actually shamans, but are called warriors because... reasons? Also, I'm pretty sure the role of literal magic people is of questionable historicity. Of course, it informs us only 12% of the warriors are female. We're referred to New West for old-fashioned guns, and-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Other notable Palladium reference books that may be of value to players and G.M.s alike are Monsters & Animals, 2nd Edition™ and The Compendium of Contemporary Weapons™. The Compendium of Weapons, Armor and Castles™ might also be of some use and great interest to players looking for one excellent reference on ancient style weapons from around the world (over 700), armor (over 40 types) and castles (European and Asian).

Yes, that's exactly what I need to portray an indigenous spirit warrior, details on katanas and European castles. Makes sense.

We also get some details on who they fight. Firstly, simvan and wild psi-stalkers are often fought in skirmishes. Brodkil, worm wraiths, and xiticix are wiped out whenever possible. Contrary to presumption, though, they don't often clash with settlers.

"Welcome to my fetish club!"

Tribal Warrior O.C.C.

So, this is the magic-enhanced hunter and warrior, and are mostly like a Wilderness Scout with less skills but more geegaws. They get an animal totem (to be detailed later), two minor fetishes and two major fetishes, a special initiative bonus and paired weapon usage for tomahawks and knives only (but they're still just S.D.C. unless you blow a major fetish slot. Oh, you want to use two magic M.D.C. tomahawks to use that paired weapon ability? Then be prepared to blow both your major fetishes to get that! Congrats, now you can do 2d6-4d6 damage, around the damage even the lowliest Coalition Grunt will have on his rifle.

Oh, and you can play one of these as a renegade, but you basically just don't get any fetishes. I'd say it's a crap punishment, but then I realize you can jump into a power armor or use a rocket launcher (once you can obtain either, anyway...) so YMMV. Seems mostly like a garbage class - it's good at wilderness stuff, but right now classes that are good at surviving in the wild are available by the dozen. Maybe you could do some interesting stuff with creative fetish picks, but otherwise it's singularly unimpressive. Oh, and you can lose your animal or fetish powers if you offend the gods, so they get a paladin clause! Lastly, there's only about a 31% chance of rolling one up.

But you get a free horse, there's that. Mind, it's got no armor so it'll die in its first fight but at least the spirits prefer a dead horse to a rad hovercycle!

(No, I'm not letting that go. Sorry. This message has been brought to you by the Hovercycle Manufacturer's Association.)

"Oh, you make fun, but this is the only illustration in the book where I've armored my horse."

Mystic Warrior O.C.C.

So, this is a psychic warrior with an... er...

... psi-tomahawk.

So, somehow they get psychic powers from the spirits, and are highly feared due to it. Many become war chiefs but some go afield to become random adventurers agents of the gods that go around being guided by omens and visions. And if you're wondering if there are any mechanics for those, of course not!... but I guess you could use precognition in a pinch if you actually select it as a psychic power. So, they get some basic sensitive and mind defense powers, two picks of physical or super psychic powers, the ability to create "psi-tomahawks" and "psi-spears". Psi-tomahawks do crap damage compared to psi-swords, but you can throw them! Psi-spears are the same, but do more damage. Why would you ever use psi-tomahawks?

Seems familiar, though.


They get an animal totem, two minor fetishes and 1 major fetish (armor only, so they they have solid M.D.C. defense). They're slightly less good at wilderness stuff than the Tribal Warrior, but overall they're just flatly better. While psionics aren't massively powerful, they do have some creative tricks. Unfortunately, if they offend the spirits their psychic powers are reduced by half and they lose the other effects. Ironically, they're easier to qualify for than being a Tribal Warrior at a straight 50% chance. Once again, renegades can be these, but they don't get any fetishes. Given they didn't think to give renegades M.D.C. armor to compensate for the lack of fetishistic protection, this is a real problem for a starting character. But, you know, it's the price of being as '90s as possible.

Free horse.

Wait, why is it a leopard? Why is it a leopard?!

Totem Warrior O.C.C.

So, this is apparently a person who trades part of their spirit with an their totemic animal spirit to-


- yeah, that. Not sure what the spirit gets out of the trade, or how the trade is done (maybe at Totems-R-Us), but you get to become an animorph and can change into an animal. Some people presume that the totem warrior is enslaved by the spirits, but it turns out that they're actually completely free to do as they like. In fact, there's no "if you're bad at Native Americaning like we've stereotyped your totem goes away" blurb, so that seems to be the case. (What does the spirit get out of the trade, again?) This one seems to be Traditionalists and Pure Ones only, but it doesn't mention Renegades one way or the other, so it's not clear. If Renegades are playable as these, they don't get fetishes as usual. But it's not clear.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Totem Warriors are the most free-roaming of the O.C.C.s which has led some non-Indians to call them "Indian Knights."

Uuuuugh, please stop comparing shit to knights, Palladium. Europe is not the be-all-end-all of wandering fantasy heroism. Hey, maybe knights are the "White Totem Warriors"!... okay, that doesn't work, but the converse doesn't make much sense either. In any case, this means they get your usual license Rifts loves to give for a class to be a wandering do-righter.

As a class, they get super-strength, mega-damage toughness, heightened senses, and regeneration (even as a human). They can turn into their (one) totem animal or turn into a giant version with more strength and size. (Yes, you can turn into a super-strong "giant mouse" at like six to twelve inches, if that's your totem...) They can sense the supernatural like dog boys do, and mentally influence examples of their totem animal. They get a minor fetish and a major fetish and your usual package of wilderness skills. Once again, there's no punishment for doing bad things. You have about a 39% chance to qualify to play as one of these.

Free horse? Free horse!

"Sorry, our nature called dibs before your nature."

Spirit Warrior O.C.C.

So, this is supposed to be a new, post-cataclysm only tradition that's supposed to be a "monster hunter and ultimate defender of the Pure Ones". They trade part of their spirit with multiple spirits to devote themselves to protecting all Native Americans, totem animals, and "the Circle of Life". However, they apparently respect all people and that sometimes makes them outsiders even amongst their own tribes.

As a class, they get to choose "three realms of power" out of six realms: earth, air, fire, water, animal, or plant realms. Each one gives different powers:Regardless of what powersets they have, they can regenerate lost limbs (slowly), get a minor fetish, major fetish, and a legendary fetish, making them probably the best of the warrior classes despite their anemic skills. Well, except for the fact you only have 5% chance to roll one of these up.

Horse? You bet!

Next: The power of androgyny.

"The Native American Healing Shamans are some of the most powerful healing psionics on Rifts Earth, rivaled only by the Gypsy Gifted of Germany."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 7: "The Native American Healing Shamans are some of the most powerful healing psionics on Rifts Earth, rivaled only by the Gypsy Gifted of Germany."

"Headdress? No, a bear is eating my head. Help."

Shaman O.C.C.s

So, these are people who devote themselves to being mediums between a tribe and the spirit world, and also maintain all those vaguely undetailed traditions. Unlike most wizards, they don't actually understand magic theoretically and instead get most of it by dealing with spirits. They're also in charge of Spirit Walks and Spirit Quests, whatever those turn out to be in this game. They also see the the needs and desires of whatever spirits they're connected with, so a Animal Shaman of bears might protect bears, or Elemental Shamans fight Captain Planet villains or whatever. Given there aren't that many evil polluters left in this setting, it seems like an relatively easy job as long as Northern Gun or Wilk's isn't building a steam-and-sparks factory in their backyard.

You don't get to choose to be a Shaman, for the record, you get chosen by the spirits who offer contact. Oh, and you have to be Native American, all other races can fuck off, as if you had to ask at this point. That's despite what it said earlier about Pacific Islanders and the like being able to take these classes, yes. Consistency, pffft. Specifically, you have to be a Traditionalist or Pure One - Renegades need not apply.

Just because the spirits choose somebody to be a shaman doesn't mean they just get easy street, though, they have to go on a "Spirit Journey" and nearly die in some fashion, and on the brink of death the spirits contact and judge whether or not you're worthy. If they find you worthy, you're healed up and become a 1st level shaman!... if not, uh, good luck with being on death's door, chump! Alternately, a shaman can teach one of their children to become a shaman as well, which doesn't necessarily involve a Spirit Quest, but a symbolic ritual all the same. The spirits are fine with nepotism.

The gifts and powers provided by spirits can't be taken away, but if you misuse them, the spirits might kill you. "This is known as 'Bad Medicine'." Oookay. As far as I know, "Bad Medicine" in the context of popular Native American spiritualism refers to any evil curse or negative spiritual influence, but here (and throughout the book) it refers specifically to a punishment levied by the greater spirits on those who misuse shamanistic power. What counts as misuse?

All shamans get specific powers- they get:It should be noted that none of these classes have attribute requirements, because apparently the spirits choose only due to their own mysterious reasons. So anybody can play one!... well, as long as you choose to play a Native American Traditionalist, anyway. If you've been paying attention to Rifts so far, you'll know that one class for one archetype will never be enough, so let's start with the:

"Finally, life will turn to this land." "We have thousands of miles of forest?" "Yes... but... over here."

Plant Shaman O.C.C.

They take care of plants because plants have real spirits it's just that their bodies are different than animals but yet nobody takes corn as their totem spirit and what on Earth do I type about this, they take care of the "balance of plants and animals" and prune shrubs and are completely unsuited to most groups of murderhobos.

We're instructed to pick up a Farmer's Almanac to get an idea of what these shamans know "instinctively".

So, they're immune to disease and allergies (that'll keep all the allergy monsters at bay), can sense danger to plans, talk with plants and plant spirits (apparently plants can see and listen in all directions but have short memories), identify all plants and their traits, gain bonus potential psychic energy (but only when helping to "protect the plants or ecology"), can live about a millennium, get bonus strength and durability (not supernatural / mega-damage), are potential friends with Millennium Trees (not there are any known ones in America), can search for specific plants, heal plans, and get special plant shaman spells. They also can select from a very limited number of regular spells under a nature... ish... theme. If you have Rifts World Book Three: England they can learn mystic herbology, making them hilariously better than druids at the druids' own chosen vocation. Outside of some wilderness skills, though, they get to be hilariously uneducated. However, if you want to do shit with plants or interrogate dandelions about Coalition troop movements, this is an amazingly robust class.

Free horse.

"Bambi will never lose another family."

Animal Shamans

So, these get their powers from a totem spirit but are dedicated to helping animals. They apparently wander around, sometimes following their totem animals and helping them. They respect hunting for food but not for sport or trophies, and may seek retribution or instead just scare and lecture hunters. Also, sometimes they fight man-monsters. More on man-monsters later, comin' over the hill.

So, animal shamans are immune to diseases, can autoamatically diagnose ailments and injuries of animals (humans too?), they can talk + walk with animals, heal animals and cure their diseases, attempt to resurrect animals killed "not for food or self-defense" (the chances aren't hot, tho), and they get some shamanistic animal spells. They also get a totem plus all the totem bonuses (though not shapeshifting), though it's easy to miss because it's in the descriptive text and not the rules text. They also get a list of regular spells similar to the plant shaman. And like the plant shaman, their skills are slim. Kind of shit because animals are just S.D.C., so their potential aid is limited.

Bonus horse, of course, of course.

"Well, I had to wait for the thunderstorm, it looks silly during the day!"

Mask Shamans

So, the mask shamans create special fetish masks they grow from trees using magic rituals and the mask "drops from the tree like a ripe piece of fruit". No word on whether or not the masks smell of delicious apples. Each mask basically gives them a different selection of spells they can use, and is only used by the shaman. The only exceptions are minor masks with only one or two spells can be used by anybody who has enough P.P.E. to cast the spells in question, and masks created by the gods can be used by anyone (or only one person, if the gods choose).

Making a mask takes one day for each spell in it with only two hours of sleep a day, making it essentially a test of endurance to see how many spells you can stuff in - it requires a physical endurance above 22 to add more than seven spells to a mask, and you can't do more than ten total (unless you happen to be a god). If the shaman dies, their masks stop working. Each mask has a different type, which determines what spells you can select for it when creating one - animal, death, healing, protection, stealth, trickster, spirit, and war are the main ones available. There's also an animal totem mask that lets you gain the totem powers of a specific animal. They start with one spirit mask and one healing mask with 5-7 spells each, and can only make one "major" (4+ spells) mask for each level they have, and two "minor" (1-2 spells) masks for each level. Masks are M.D.C. Mostly, they're just mystics with odd limitations, but they get some of the new shaman spells on their available spell lists.

But that's not all! They get some healing psionic powers, are immune to fires... for some reason, are immune to disease and sickness, get an animal totem (as long as you're cool with the spirits), and they get two minor (non-mask) fetishes and one major (non-mask) fetish. For some reason they take double damage from wooden stabbing weapons (but not blunt weapons). Unlike other shamans, they get decent spread of skill selections.

And also they have a horse.

"Here in the lodge, we don't sweat death."

Healing Shamans

Look at the title quote. Yeah, seriously. The only people more magical and special at healing than these shamans are... gypsies. They'll heal anybody!... unless the spirits tell them not to. Whenever that might happen. Usually, they service a community, unless they go wandering aimlessly. Aimless wandering is the cornerstone of adventure, after all.

They start with a few healing psionic powers but by 2nd level get access to all of them. They also can choose a variety of others as they level of, if not many. They also get a very limited spell selections for healing and recovery spells, and a few shamanistic spells. They also get some specific fetishes: Healing (minor S.D.C. healing), Porcupine Quill (used to make tattoo fetishes), and Medicine Bundle (gives minor bonuses to all tribe members within 50 miles, and contains a number of extra-powerful other fetishes that can only be used during ceremonies). They get access to "Sweat Lodge (a.k.a. Medicine Lodge)" which is not only a lodge, but a "Legendary Fetish" maintained by the spirits and I'm trying real hard not to make fun of the term "fetish" but it's real hard when you have phrases like:

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

... "Legendary" Medicine/Sweat Lodge fetish...

See, only "one in 10,000" healing shamans have their own personal sweat lodge... wait, there are more than 10,000 healing shamans? Given a PC can gain access to up to 7 different sweat lodges, that means there's at least 70,000 healing shamans, then. That should have a lot of impact on the setting, but mostly I think the math wasn't considered, as usual.

But I keep disgressing. Ultimately, the sweat lodge lets a healing shaman regenerate lost limbs and organs, and even bring the recently dead back to life with a surprising success rate of 80% (-5% per day since death). However, it takes a lot of P.P.E., so you probably need other spellcasters to fuel it, but it's the most reliable version of ressurrection so far. However, you specifically can't teleport to a sweat lodge because...

You can only teleport "within 1d4 days travel" of a lodge. What's more, only Healing Shamans can remember the location of the lodge, everybody else forgets the location after leaving. It's hinted the spirits move the lodges around and reveal the location to the Healing Shaman other than there being a set locale. They get a descent amount of skills and that's that. Oh. And a horse.

Now, the idea of a sweat lodge as super-healing is fairly bizarre; as far as I know it's mainly a form of purification mainly only along the indigenous peoples of the Plains, though it's known elsewhere and others have adopted it in more recent centuries. (There are similar traditions around the world.) Yes, traditionally, it's supposed to have healing properties. But the idea that it can resurrect the dead doesn't quite square with what I know. Also, scientifically, it's generally more likely to exacerbate medical issues due to the strain it puts in the body, and badly-constructed lodges have legitimately injured or killed people. As far as I can tell, most of these stem from bastardized New Age or "detox" versions of the ritual (science tip: sweat glands can't purify the body). Of course, it's also become an attempt to prove one's "manhood" with some as well, with similar risks.

The picture of androgyny.

Paradox Shamans

This is the '90s and so we can't skip the notion of androgyny and shamanism, so here goes. So, these are shamans that are supposed to embody both male and female aspects and thusly become the most powerfulest shamens. They call get a legendary spirit bow to defend against otherdimensional threats and get time-affecting magic, putting them at odds against temporal raiders and their disciples (from Rifts World Book 3: England). Most of the time they wander the wilds to defend Native American people, protect "the space/time continuum", and maintain the "cosmic balance".

So, the Paradox Shaman's major ablity is to view the "Memories of Earth", which means if they want to find out something about history, they can call it up 25% of the time. We then get a litany of things you're not allowed to use this for:So do the spirits punish them for breaking these rules? Well, no. Are they somehow restricted in what information they can access? Well, they can't get fine details. Nope, they're just presumed to abide by an unwritten code that the information only be used to help people. Except historians. Fuck you, Erin Tarn, you get nothing from us!

So, they also get access to all paradox shaman spells, some temporal magic (better hope you picked up a copy of Rifts World Book 3: England!), and have a spell list of arcane / dimensional / time spells they can choose out of the corebook. They can sense rifts within 50 miles, dimensional disturbances within a mile, see "dimensional effects" including the fairly useful ability to just spot invisible alien intelligence bullshit, and teleport along ley lines. They have the drawback where they can't create fetishes like other shamans, but get a variety automatically as they level up, most notably a "great body fetish" that makes them into M.D.C. creatures, a "heritage & self fetish" (lets you review your tribe's values), and at 2nd level you get a "legendary bow fetish" which is a bow that does really solid damage against M.D.C. targets and S.D.C. against anything else. Overall, it's a really versatile spellcasting class with an unreliable mystery-busting power that they can spam the GM with, since it has no cost. You just have to adhere to being a deeply, deeply '90s shamanistic trope.

Yes, you may think of all the talk about androgyny as an end-run about discussing the actual LGBT issues involved in this trope, and that'd deeefinitely seem to be the case here. Palladium at this point in time (maybe ever?) doesn't acknowledge their existence. Maybe they just remember that time they screwed up on every angle regarding it, but a lack of discussion of that in regards to this class really seems like trying to eat your cake and have it afterwards. Also just because spiritual power and some LGBT roles were associated in some cultures... making them into powerful cosmic powerhouses seems like a bit of a leap. Just a bit.

They get middling skills and a horse.

"I'll summon water at myself! This is my power!"

Elemental Shamans

How are we not done with shamans yet? FINE.

These are like warlocks (from Rifts Conversion Book) but instead of being tied to true elementals, they're tied to elemental spirits. Totally different, folks. They get their spells from gods and spirits and see the world as a bunch of interlocking systems, except not like a scientist, like... you know, let's just get to the powers.

So, they have to select one specific element. Oh, in case you're wondering, it's still just the classical Greek shit, so we have:But there's more, of course. They get elemental warlock spells of their chosen element (better hope you have a copy of Rifts Conversion Book for that), can maybe speak with elementals (but probably not), sense elementals and elemental-ish creatures, get treated respectfully by elementals, and can maye summon an elemental in 2d6 minutes (but probably not, your chances are pretty lousy). Also we get some handwringing about how the elemental shouldn't help too, like saving the character's life. That sounds too troublingly useful!

Also for some reason they're vulnerable to stone weapons. :WTF:

They get a surprisingly solid skill spread... and a horse. Of course they get a horse. Everybody gets a horse!

Did you know: bison are too dumb to know when they're dead! It's true!

Fetish Shamans

uuuuugh must not make jokes

It's my fetish shaman.

There, that's out of my system. These are shamans that are pros at entreating spirits to make magic goodies. These are also known as war shamans because they apparently supply all the weapons, and apparently often take the role of war chiefs. What exactly does a war chief do? How are they appointed? I didn't elect this fetish shaman!

Not my fetish shaman.

Let's do a bit of math. See, every 5 levels, they can make a legendary fetish. This costs them some of their Potential Psychic Energy, (1d4 x 10) + 20 worth of it, in fact. Let's see how this works out, given their P.P.E. ratings by level.

Level		Average P.P.E.	Average L. Fetish Cost	Resulting P.P.E.
5		46		45 (1 fetish)		1
10		63		90 (2 fetish)		-27
15		91		135 (3 fetishes)	-44
That's right, they have the ability but not the numbers to create all three legendary fetishes they have access to because somebody didn't do the math. And bear in mind P.P.E. is still needed to activate fetishes! So if they create any legendary fetishes, they're crippled in their ability actually use any other fetishes. Mind, it specifically says they can't even keep the legendary fetishes they create! They're required to give them up to other people.

This fuckin' game, man.

The legendary fetishes they can create are:So some solid stuff, but probably not worth permanently crippling your character over. They also get three major fetishes, two of which are fixed tattoos - "Steady Hand", which gives a tiny bonus on some skills and attacks, and "War", which gives a bunch of modest combat bonuses. They also get a legendary fetish of their choice to start with. Unlike other shamans, they can have up to four minor fetishes and seven major fetishes. They can also sense magic items and automatically identify fetishes, as well as sense if "greater spirits, demon lords, or gods" are inflicted in a conflict (no details, though). They also get a bunch of sensitive psychic powers, a psi-sword at 3rd level, and... are vulnerable to fetish weapons, rune weapons, and techno-wizard weapons. Ironically, aside from creating legendary fetishes, they don't create any more fetishes than other shaman types, but can only hang on to more.

They get a variety of lore and wilderness skills and are excellent dancers. Also, they have a horse. I know. You were expecting something different. Look, it turns out Native Americans just get a free horse. It's part of equality. White people get all the political power, money, and country clubs. Native Americans get a horse. It evens out.

Well. That's it. I'm all out of shamans. Finally. We can move on.

Next: Shamanistic magic.

...mother fucker

"Regardless, the Mystic and Shaman should remain distinct and separate, so the full range of shamanistic magic is only available to Native American Shamans."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 8: "Regardless, the Mystic and Shaman should remain distinct and separate, so the full range of shamanistic magic is only available to Native American Shamans."

Shamanistic Magic
By Wayne Breaux Jr. & Kevin Siembieda

So, first off this book points out the shaman rules are supposed to be an expansion of the Mystic O.C.C. from the corebook, even though they're drastically different from many ways. It says that kind GMs might let the Mystic do a little cultural appropriation and take a few shaman spells, but that the Mystic shouldn't be allowed to too much and they have to have similar beliefs to the Native American stereotype / hodgepodge on display here. It insists despite all the advantages and boost shamans get, Mystics still can A) use whatever technology they want and B) I guess not having to be Native American is an advantage? I dunno, it's not the best argument, but tech is a decent advantage, so there's that.

Shamans apparently have to undergo a vision quest every time they get a new spell, which sounds like an utter pain in the ass for classes that get free spells as they level up. However, it's at least nice enough to say it occurs in a dream, and the GM can choose to play it out each time or handwave it with a brief description. It highlights these can be used to give foreshadowing for an upcoming adventure or the like, as well.

It brings up that the spirits, though they can't rescind their gifts, will inflict "Bad Medicine" on those who misuse them. What qualifies as misuse? Well, it's extremely vague, but examples are:Wait, I started this list thinking I could find more examples. Huh. So, if you somehow get "Bad Medicine" however you offend the spirits in a way that's not terribly well defined, the spirits will cause illness and misfortune to everybody around the shaman. This is supposed to make the shaman feel real bad, but some are, of course, too evil to care. In this case, the spirits instead enlist some fodder heroes to deliver the punishment to through dreams or visions - generally other Native Americans, but also people on the rosy side of the alignment scale like Cyber-Knights. Of course, the Cyber-Knights might not understand these dreams, but the gods give no fucks. That's on the Cyber-Knights for not being indigenous enough.

Shamans also get a specific and long-winded mechanic where they can burn their Structural Damage Capability and Hit Points if they run out of Potential Psychic Energy. This comes with all sorts of fingerwagging that it should be a last resort only and with extra special wound penalty rules and inability to heal magically if you do so. I guess that's there because this is a Mega-Damage game, so who cares if you burn your Hit Points down? There's also a mechanic where you can sacrifice your life for magic (no special benny other than getting that extra 1 Hit Point that separates life and death), and have to make a coma/death roll at penalty or you die and resurrection magic and the GM can arbitrarily rule you don't have the willpower to go through with it (no saving through).

We also get some reminders that magic that enhances S.D.C. weapons or creatures won't enhance M.D.C. items or people in the same way. Basically, you can't make something Mega-Mega Damage (look to Synnibarr for that sort of mechanic, or The Rifter 9 1/2). It also handwaves that some S.D.C. weapons have their damage reduced before becoming M.D.C. weapons but there are very few guidelines for that other that anything that can inflict M.D.C. (no matter how little) can't be enhanced. Yes, this means an enhanced bow (2d6 S.D.C. = 2d6 M.D.C.) will do more than an enhanced rocket launcher (1d10 M.D.C. = 1d10 M.D.C.). The spirits are fickle and hate cheap rocket noobs, I suppose.

Shaman Spells

Yep, now it's time for a laundry list of Shaman spells by category (spirit, animal, plant, and paradox). It also reminds us temporal spells can be found in the England world book, while elemental spells are found in the Conversion Book. Don't got a copy of those? Well, you can't use the Paradox and Elemental Shaman classes! Also, later on in a small note you're likely to miss (and not listed under the actual class...) Plant Shamans can use Biomancer spells from South America. Pay up, kids!

"Time to summon the mighty buffalo!" "You mean bison." "THAT TOO."

Spirit Magic usually covers contacting totem spirits and animals, with some spells having a fingerwagging that you better call them for an important thing or they can just fuck off. On the other hand, you can summon a mega-damage mole if that's your totem. Create Arrow lets you create a barrelful of arrows, or a handful that do pathetic single mega-damage if you're interested in annoying your mega-damage foes without running the risk of actually defeating them. There's Spirit Paint that gives infinitesimal bonuses on combat. Spirit Quest is practically an essential spell, as it lets you do Spirit Quests for new spells without having to go physically seek out a "sacred spirit cave" (whatever that entails) to perform a Spirit Quest.

+2 to initiative, strike, pull punch, roll with impact, and save vs horror factor

Animal Spells includes summoning animal friends and chattening with them and turning into a animal, most of the things you expect. You can even become a "Totem" mega-damage version of an animal, so fuck off, Totem Warrior, who needs you? Spirit's Blessing can make any animal temporarily a mega-damage creature (I suggest importing a rhino), and Ears of the Wolf and Nose of the Wolf give their respective super-senses. No Eyes of the Wolf, Paws of the Wolf, or Tongue of the Wolf, though. Sorry, furries.

Slightly uncomfortable Disney song optional.

Plants Spells of course, let you animate or call plant monsters because plants are way less useful unless they can do the things that animals do. (Not many spells in an RPGdom to make an animal drop seeds, though.) This also lets you make mega-damage weapons out of wooden weapons, dowse, make plants grow better, teleport through trees, and teleport to the realm of the gods through a tree. Basically, plant magic rules because it just has random bullshit while animal magic has an actual theme, those poor animal shamans.

Paradox / Temporal Spells can apparently be learned by Temporal Raiders and their byblows in addition to Paradox Shamans, in a throwaway note. This has weird stuff like Absolute Darkness which is what it says on the tin (but what does that have to do with time?). There's Little Force which is a Glitter Boy buster because it automatically reflects any physical blow back at the attack with no defense and double damage (but what does that have to do with time?). There's Will of the Earth that lets you reduce or increase gravity on an area (but what does that have to time?). Sphere of Negation negates all attacks / damage in its area (but what does that have to do with time?). And Universal Balance lets you convert a creature from M.D.C. to S.D.C., and before you get too excited, that's a literal conversion, so a 1000 M.D.C. Dragon becomes an 100,000 S.D.C. dragon, so all it means is you can use a machinegun against it (which can be harmful, but you have specifically set up the combo and hope they don't save against the magic - and what does it have to do with time?!).

Next: Exploring fetishes.

"The Traditionalists and Pure Ones/Ancients counter with the fact that Modern Native Americans have lost or abandoned many of the old ways and reliance on technology has closed them (at least in part) to the spirits and a closeness with nature and their ancestors —and that they are closer to the white man and other races than "true" Native Americans."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 9: "The Traditionalists and Pure Ones/Ancients counter with the fact that Modern Native Americans have lost or abandoned many of the old ways and reliance on technology has closed them (at least in part) to the spirits and a closeness with nature and their ancestors —and that they are closer to the white man and other races than "true" Native Americans."

What do I write below pictures like this? Make suggestions.

By Wayne Breaux Jr. & Kevin Siembieda

Just to be clear, we're not talking about sexual fetishes, but-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Fe-tish also fe-tich Vfet-ish ...\ n ... 1: an object ... believed to have magical powers ...

Oh, okay, that clears everything up, it's not about sexual fetis-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

2. An object of unreasoning devotion or concern ...


Well, at least I can get on with this without any more outrage, right-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

The following perspectives and beliefs are from the point of view of Native Americans on Rifts Earth. This is what they have come to believe and how they see the spirits. This perspective is based on, but is not meant to accurately duplicate, the spiritual beliefs of actual Native American tribes. Additional details on Indian spirits, gods, and magic are found elsewhere in this book.


just let me catch my breath will you

So, apparently Native Americans have a special relationship with animals and are "closer to the animal spirit world". Apparently animal spirits have sponsored the return of Native American nations after the return of magic. Apparently according to myth, all (emphasis theirs) Native Americans were originally animals who were given human forms by the "gods and great spirits" by giving them a human "toma-ta" (form). So that's why they respect animals so much! Because they might be literal relatives (which they kill and eat sometimes, like you do with relatives, welcome to the family, son).

But it's okay for them to kill their relatives, because they kill them with respect and perform a ritual to thank them and release their spirit down into the spirit caves into the spirit world. Apparently, there's a big divide between the moderns and traditionalists where the moderns think raising livestock in imprisonment is okay as long as they do the same rituals while the traditionalists think that letting an animal live free until you make it live in sudden agonizing terror for its last moments is more important.

Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle!

ahahahahaha no. It turns out that the traditionals are objectively correct and that the animal spirits really do prefer being hunted and are just choosing not punish the moderns for their faults as not to alienate them because they'll come around, bless their hearts.

So everything has a spirit but requires a physical body or "toma-ta" to take actual form, which is usually matched up with the spirit. So a tree spirit has a tree toma-ta (form), and a bat spirit has a bat toma-ta. But when you kill an animal, you can ask its spirit to use its toma-ta and retain some of its power for magic. That's a fetish, it is!

A similar process is used to empower Totem Warriors and Spirit Warriors where they trade a significant amount of their own human spirit for an animal or elemental spirit. However, it's possible to trade more of your spirit for more power (over "three-quarters") but you become an evil monster filled with "bad medicine". Powerful spirits don't need a toma-ta themselves, though, and just get to make their own forms because reasons, I guess.

Not like the bloody wars of The White Man. Totally different.

Magical Fetishes

As keeping with the above, fetishes are made of dead animal pieces-parts imbued with the kickass magical energy I bet they wish they had in life before they caught an arrow. Fetishes made from predators are rarer because you're not supposed to hunt them. And no, because Rifts only accounts for "natural animals", there aren't fetishes based off of dinosaurs, fury beetles, or rhino-buffaloes, even though in theory they should be as natural as anything else, M.D.C. or no. In keeping with indigneous exceptionalism, only Native Americans who believe in "Indian traditions and spirits" can use them - otherwise they're just rabbit skulls and wolf paws. There are three "levels" of fetish - minor, major, and legendary. We're told non-shamans can only use one of each type (so no more than three), but the character classes already contradict that - even the Tribal Warrior breaks this limitation, and it's very explicitly not a shaman.

I know, you're thinking "bad editing - in a PALLADIUM book?!" But it's true.

Also, you can use fetishes and technology at the same time, but fetish items won't benefit technology - so if you have a stealth fetish, it won't silence your laser rifle. Wait, I forgot Siembieda said laser rifles are silent, maybe it's a plasma rifle or pump gun or whatever. This is because-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Advanced technology is the magic of the white man.

Contents of Medicine Bag: one (1) thingy, one (1) whachamacalit, one (1) doodad.

Minor Fetishes

These are lesser effects that usually only effect the user.

Rifts World 15: Spirit West posted:

Nearly all Native Americans will have one minor fetish...

Must not... can't... joke...

Most of these have decent utility. The most useful fetishes in my opinion are the Armor Fetish, which acts as mild M.D.C. armor, Luck Fetish, because you never turn down a Dodge bonus in this game, and Speed Fetish, which allows you to run at 35 MPH. A number of them give mild skill bonuses, in the middle of the road. Some of the worst are those that boost useless S.D.C. values, like Body Fetish, grants extra S.D.C., Damage Fetish, which doubles S.D.C. damage. The absolute worst is the Heritage & Self Fetish, which "serves as a reminder of your heritage and values" with no mechanical effect. Yeah, sure, let's put that on the same level as being bulletproof, why not?

Tattoo Fetishes: no relation to Magic Tattoos. Different things!

Major Fetishes

So, these often can tap into major effects provided by elemental spirits or totems, or create effects beyond the user. Higher-level characters can "share" the effects of a major fetish with two other characters temporarily with a short handholding. These are supposed to be pretty rare and only owned by accomplished warriors, hunters, leaders, shamen, etc. (Curiously, though, PCs generally start with at least one if not two or three.)

So, my picks for best are the Great Armor Fetish, because the armor is pretty great, the "War" Tattoo Fetish that gives permanent combat bonuses, and the Wing Flight Fetish that lets you fly. Some of the worst are the Great Body Fetish, because it's like the Great Armor Fetish but almost always worse, "Steady-Hand" Tattoo Fetish, because a miniscule bonus to attacks and a few skills really feels like a minor fetish, and the Great Song Fetish, because though a bonus to singing and making animal calls isn't the worst thing, it's pretty niche. Overall, though, there aren't a lot of really bad fetishes in this category (though all of the offensive - er, offensive in terms of attacking - ones are pretty weak and weren't even worth mentioning).

How do you tell a fetish axe from a normal axe? You can't! Just draw them both the same.

Legendary Fetishes

... are not actually legendary, but using one supposedly makes you capable of forging legends. That sounds much more clever than how they actually phrase it, though. They're supposed to be only for the best of the best, once in a lifetime achievement... or for the few classes that get one automatically. (It says only the Fetish Shaman gets access to them, but that objectively isn't true.) Conversely to all the other times it's harped on only Native Americans using these, it's said that great spirits or gods have very rarely granted one of these to members of other races to the chagrin of Native Americans, but only after great services.

The best in my opinion would be the Cosmic Awareness Fetish, granting combat bonuses, super-senses, resistance to death, and a number of skills at 90%+. Next up would be the Spirit Weapon Fetish for the only worthwhile amount of damage you'll see from a fetish, and the Sweat Lodge that lets you resurrect at a success rate otherwise unseen by similar effects in Rifts. The worst legendaries for my spirit dollar are the Life Fetish, which grants a turn dead effect and modest healing, Serpent Fetish, which lets you befriend normal snakes and get bonuses against poison, and the Wind-Rider Fetish, which lets you ride the wind but when there are both major and legendary fetishes that let you outright fly, it's a bit weak by comparison.

That's my speed-run through the fetish section, and now time to '90s it up with-

Next: Wear wolf.

So very, very sick of typing "fetish" with a relatively straight face.

"According to tradition and creation myths, all Native Americans began life as animals and went through this transformation process."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 10: "According to tradition and creation myths, all Native Americans began life as animals and went through this transformation process."

So totems should be evocative spiritual- nah they just look like regular animals.

By Wayne Breaux & Kevin Siembieda

As detailed under fetishes, Native Americans have "animal spirit potential" (their words) and dress with symbols and preserved parts of their totem. Not all advertise their alleigances, tho. Those with totems are obligated to protect and care for their chosen aimal, though those with totems of a game animal can still hunt it, but only for practical purposes.

Then the text gets... odd.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Only Native Americans and members of a few other peoples and societies draw power from totem animals (most shamans worldwide, some druids, and others). Most races have lost the ethnic purity and/or strong beliefs needed to do so. By living with 'other cultures and borrowing and sharing their beliefs, ways, habits, and speech without actively maintaining their own ways, a culture slowly gives away its "spirit potential" until it is lost. The result is that their spirit potential is no longer pure and many little parts of the spirit have been replaced with what it has traded to others. Left with so little spirit potential, it cannot be recognized, shared or accepted by the greater spirits and totems. This is why most white people cannot interact with or understand the spirits around them. Only Pure Ones and Ancients those untainted or who have forsaken other cultures and strive to relearn and restore their inner spirit — can have totems. Likewise, many of the people of Africa, bushmen, aborigines, and some island peoples have remained close to nature and spirits and still draw upon them for power and wisdom. This is why the Native Americans commonly refer to themselves as the "Pure Ones," because they are among the few peoples of the world who have not cluttered their spirits with hundreds of little bits of other cultures, beliefs, religions, science and technology.

Yes, that's right, it's saying that miscengation and cultural diversity reduces one's "spirit potential". I don't even know where to start with this, seriously, I, wait, I know. I know how to start.

Throughout this book we've gotten all sorts of overapologetic racial and cultural superiority nonsense hedged with "well the White Man has his own way". And while white Americans are often the last folks that need defense, when you bring genetics into it, things turn into a stupid slurry real quick. Claiming one's magical potential is basically tied to race is... well... race... something... racish? It's racish. Can you imagine a setting where the mixing of races can be measured as the potential destruction of the human spirit? Well, you don't have to, Rifts already did it.

So, thankfully moving onward from that tire fire, we learn that that each animal has a special totem spirit that watches over that species. Humans in theory (and by "humans" I think it just means "Native Americans") are watched over by totems based on what "animal spirit potential" they have. Those closely aligned will have some of the animal's personality traits. There's a lot of handwringing about how characters should have a spirit animal aligned with their feels and personality rather than just selecting a cool animal. Maybe you'd like a hummingbird or crawfish or dead parrot* instead of a wolf or bear or eagle? Think about it, players!

* Well, okay, that totem was from Human Occupied Landfill.

So after all that, what do totems actually get you? Well, three main things. You get a free set of skills (or a small bonus if you already have the skill in question). You get small bonuses to attributes or combat rolls. Lastly, Totem Warriors (and those that use the equivalent shaman animal spells) get a special set of attribute bonuses when shapechanging. A "paladin clause" is included - if you don't embody the animal's theme, the GM can take this toy away.

Lookin' as cock-eyed as I feel after reading that.

Not gonna cover all of these, I'll just cover the three that seem most likely to get chosen... and the three that seem least likely. Let's start with the most likely:And possibly the least likely:Nothing too thrilling, but the book plays it up a lot. It's better to have a totem if you can get one because the only cost is having to ask "am I really being ferret enough?" But it isn't a game-changer that has to be carefully regulated by the fun police like this game seems to think. So what if a PC has a few extra skills and a +1 to a few attributes? That's not much in a game where you can play a godling who is also a triple wizard, y'know.

Next: 'Murican Monsters.

"All Man-Monsters, regardless of their totem or appearance, are the embodiment of evil, depravity, and insanity — abominations who loathe and destroy goodness, innocence and life."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 11: "All Man-Monsters, regardless of their totem or appearance, are the embodiment of evil, depravity, and insanity — abominations who loathe and destroy goodness, innocence and life."

Monsters, Gods & Spirits
By Wayne Breaux Jr. & Kevin Siembieda

Bestiary time!

Steve had some issues with economy seating on his airline.

Black-Winged Monster-Men

So, the Nez Perce went to turn a city into a Preserve (more on those at the back of the book) but ran into 12'-20' tall, flying, black-shaded "sub-demons" similar to gargoyles. They enslaved humans, and the Nez Perce were able to liberate many of the slaves, and a guerrilla war between the two has continued ever since. They're pretty generic "we like to fight and murder" bad guys who apparently either like nesting in buildings or building termite-style tower-mounds.

They're physically powerful and have a surprising amount of M.D.C., similar to gargoyles, which means they're real damage sponges for something that's suppose to come in groups of 4-12. They're immune to and can shoot lightning, but are weak to pure iron weapons. The iron thing seems weird because it's not exactly something you'd likely find in Native American myth - not that I could find anything like this in Nez Perce mythology. They're not treated as playable, and are just kind of generic guys to fill your post-urban dungeon with. Not sure if they're actually related to any myths. About the closest thing is I could find is a huge flying head with bat wings and claws, which... seems like it would have been more entertaining, at least.

Had to get our skulls in somewhere!


So, these are eagle guys who are sadistic edgelord baddies who like causing suffering because suffering is a thing they like and liking suffeagering is like suffering like suffer like um-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

They have an unexplained need/lust/desire for mortal women and often kidnap maidens, whisking them off to their home in the sky. When they tire of the woman, she is beaten and used as a slave, or tortured and thrown back to the Earth.

Oh, fuck this book so much.

Sometimes they work for bad guys, a typical trait of monsters in Rifts when you need a wall of meat between the heroes and a villain. They seemingly live in the clouds but it turns out to just be a dimension of solid clouds with stone buildings, and you have to search around on the tops of mountains to find the secret magical gate (you'll probably fail a lot before you succeed).

They're not that tough but have flint armor that can make them a bit more damage spongey (wait, they fly around with rock armor, how does that work?). They're your usual "ugly but tough" enemies, get a sixth sense and the ability to turn into mist, and some basic air spells. Other than the weird cloud dimension they have going on, they're very generic and we can move on.

Oh, NPC only, if you care.

Examples of excessive spirit potential in humans

So, sometimes evil shamans trick or force spirits to give up too much power, which is taboo but some people do it anyway. This is "Bad Medicine" in that it gets you blacklisted by the spirit world, but some seek to become more powerful for whatever. Hope you're not vain, though, because you'll quickly look superfreaky no matter which route to illicit spirit power you take. It notes sometimes non-Native Americans can become these with the right rituals, including some human-like beings like True Atlanteans, Elves, and Ogres. So, let's get to the specific types.

Nothing scarier than this.

Animal Man-Monsters take too much power from animal totems and look like freakish animal-human hybrids. They often become "man-eaters" and are increasingly driven by their "base instincts". Also, they go insane because their senses are too sharp and it drives them mad. They become, in order as they level up: sadistic > bloodthirsty (literally) > "man-eaters" > megalomanical. After that they roll on a random chart for each and get random stuff from pyromania to the Siembieda-beloved "Jeykll and Hyde Syndrome" that I'm pretty sure pops up as a possibility on half the insanity tables they devise.

But with all those issues, what do you get from being a man-monster? Well, your affinity and beauty drop like rocks, but you get modest physical increases across the board and supernatural strength. You become mega-damage, can live for a millennium if somebody doesn't kill you first (good luck with that!), you get a variety of generic animal abilities (nightvision, climbing, regeneration). They can become human-looking for short periods of time, become giant animal totem with boosted M.D.C. and stats over the normal animal form, can sense the supernatural, extremely keen senses (enough to sense "anger/hate" amongst myriad other effects), and magical powers to summon and control their totem animal. Notably, the senses are actually given mechanical backing and provide penalties for those using ambush or prowl skills to slip up on them. However, they get extended penalties against any attack against the senses (so flashbangs, pepper sprays, etc.).

The evil power of shrubbery.

Plant-Monsters are those that, for whatever reason, stole power from plant spirits and are now plant people.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

A Plant Man-Monster can be a hauntingly seductive maiden with leaves and flowers growing from her hair and body, with hard bark-like armor covering her arms, legs, and chest or belly, while Plant-Monsters from swampy areas in the south often have thick vines or roots entwined around their bodies or replacing their muscles.

So, being part plant dampens their emotions, and it's only hate and edgy sadism that keep them from falling into lassitude. Apparently they like complex, sinister schemes and backup plans because... they do, don't worry about reasons. Sometimes they can get stuck roleplaying a plant and falling into trances for days if they lose focus.

Like the others, they're mega-damage monsters with supernatural physical traits, but they get boosted affinity because, unlike animals, plants are sexy. They live two millennia, sense water, can live on plant food, always sense the sun and moon (which somehow gives them perfect direction) and can see "all spectrums of light" but have "poor vision at night". They can turn into a human briefly, turn into a giant monster tree, regenerate even after being mostly destroyed (but not totally), and can cast some plant magic. They have the drawback that they need sunlight and water, but generally get a pretty good shake if you don't mind being automatically eeevil.

"Am I too late to fill the book's skull quota? Some bird got here first? Shit!"

Spirit-Monsters steal power from ancestor and "other" spirits, which makes them into megalomanical people whose bones show through their skin. Basically, they become skeletors. They often float around because walking is for chumps. Not as many on these ones, but they're supposed to be extremely rare.

Though they become mega-damage like the others, they're more aligned towards being magical powerhouses. They get bonuses against magic and energy attacks, can sense "energy auras" (i.e. magic), are fearless, can create an astral form or can enter people's dreams, turn temporarily human or into an energy being, shoot awful energy beams, self-resurrect (losing permanent magical power), has a few super psionic powers, and can choose magic from nearly any category (except Techno-Wizardry or Rune Magic, and the latter doesn't have any rules for it anyway). Yes, this means you have to kill them like ten times for them to die. But they take damage from anti-magic or negate magic effects, so there's that.

And that's that! We get the usual thug / schemer / overlord division of Siembiedan monsters, and move on to other monsters.

Next: Monster-American Manual II.

"Players familiar with Palladium Books' Ninjas & Superspies™ may recognize the similarities of this attack and its effects to that of a Negative Chi attack combined with Dim Mak!"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 12: "Players familiar with Palladium Books' Ninjas & Superspies™ may recognize the similarities of this attack and its effects to that of a Negative Chi attack combined with Dim Mak!"

"Nitpickers said I look more like a croc crossed with a chicken, so I ate them."

Plumed Serpents

These are near-dragons that look like oversized flying dinos, and are highly territorial. They often drive "invaders" out or charge tolls, depending on their mood, but rarely actually attack those that are polite and cooperative. "Native Americans are viewed with neutrality" and aren't harassed because, as established, they're the magical exceptions in this setting. Unlike a lot of monsters here, they're optional PCs but get a noted reduction in toughness and damage when they do.

Then right after it says that, it brings up that sometimes they'll just ambush people without warning. Sure, we just established that they don't, but I guess GMs might need a license to make them into wandering damage?

Stat-wise, they're exceptional overall except for beauty, and get a pretty solid M.D.C. count that's better than hatching but nowhere near an adult dragon. PCs get even less, making them little better than armored humans for the sake of "balance". They get some wilderness skills, regeneration, bonus against prowl checks (sharp senses), flight, breath lightning (solid damage unless you're a PC, then it's crap), turn invisible for short-term, and minor psionics, can learn (but not start with) spells, and can turn into a human form but are stuck that way for a full day when they do. They're not bad, but their M.D.C. is low enough that you may as well play a proper dragon instead - their long-term ability to take on human form is the only thing that really stands out.

As far as I can tell these are based on depictions of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god that had depictions as far North as the American Southwest. And by "based" I mean "are also feathered serpents".

The teeth don't ungrit.

Stone Giant

So, these are eeevil big people with stone skin that like hunting and eating, and aren't particular as to whether or not their prey is sentient.

They're big and reasonably tough without being immensely so, but have some weird abilities. They can breathe on their hand and then make people sick on contact or attack, but their big ridiculous ability, taking over a half-page of text, is their Death Ghost Attack, where they barf up ghosts from their teeth that attack people. They get to keep attacking for two to five melee rounds as if the ghost swarm was its own character, but there's no actual number of attacks per round listed for them, so you'll just have to make up a number. And no, you can't kill the ghost swarm. What happens if the ghost hits you? Well, you lose PPE. If you lose all your PPE, you get a spirit disease that keeps you recovering PPE or healing. Also you get cumulative penalties and exhaustion. This is supposed to be like the "Dim Mak" attack from Ninjas & Superspies in that it's a near-incurable death curse, and one you're likely to be hit by (given that they'll get at least 4-10 chances to hit you with it). The only cures are to can either get the stone giant to cancel the curse, get healed in a major ritual at a medicine lodge, or restoration magic (which is a massive ritual). But if you have an armor fetish active, you're completely immune to it.

It's a massive fuck-you attack and there's not much way around it other than... being Native American and having special magical protection, or by running your ass off as soon as it attacks (since it's got a limited range).

And no, you can't play one of these, because they're generically evil.

Culture Notes: Stone giants aren't exactly rare in myth - I found Seneca and Iriquois myths, amongst others. I couldn't find any that barf ghosts on people, though.

"What, no, I'm totally a scary monster! Everybody's gotta judge."


These are armored, carnivorous, death bison. They have a "lust to hunt and kill" and have low but apparently cunning intelligence. Mind, given it's 20'+ feet long and weighs 8+ tons, I don't think we'll get any "clever girl" moments.

It's pretty damn tough and can deal a lot of damage with a ram or trample. Randomly, it can blend into the background like a chameleon. Apparently Native Americans hunt this thing for food when they can, and it's delicious. Killing an animal about as smart as an ape is no doubt balanced ethically out by its generic bloodthirst.

Fingertip jewelry is all the rage in his home dimension.

Two-Face Star-People

"Man-eaters" that can shapeshift their appearance to hide amongst normal people, this was an otherdimensional race that apparently somehow came onto Earth over a millennium ago, but the fading of magic apparently locked them into human-looking forms. Apparently they laid low, hating the Cheyenne people for some undefined reason, and when the magic returned regained both their shapeshifting powers and "thirst for human blood". Apparently they're aliens from a planet in the Three Galaxies (in the Phase World setting) where the Cosmo Knights busted up their empire and tried to genocide them. You remember Cosmo Knights, those folks cosmically empowered by a force of good (and benevolent genocide, apparently)? Yeah, they're pissed at the Cheyenne instead of those guys for some reason. Anyway-

So they're still just S.D.C. beings, but are superior to humans in most ways except for their looks. They can do surface-level shapeshifting but perfectly mimic human and D-Bee DNA by eating them and get their powers (but nothing learned or granted). They have psionic powers mainly just to defend themselves from psychic attacks, and that's most of that.

Nope, can't play one, because evil.

"What do you think of the new arms? More scary? Less scary?"

Ukt Water Serpents

Werewolf: the Apocalypse players will recognize these, which are basically just evil lake sea serpents / "lesser dragons" that evil schemers that visit evil upon everybody because... look, most everything's just boring and evil in this section. They like torturing people because everybody's gotta have a hobby, right? Apparently they work for the Splugorth sometimes or their eeevil god Uktena, but the seemingly good thunderbirds hunt and eat them because eating sentients is okay if they're evil enough. They also fight the Coalition because the Coalition doesn't cotton to big evil magic snakes.

They're apparently 60'-100' long but only "stand" up to around 12'. They actually dust off the entangling rules to grapple people with, have a venomous bite, have all low-level water elemental spells, and get a selection of psychic powers. Oh and I guess they're modestly tough I'm so bored with this you don't even know, it's just a parade of evil creatures that do evil because that's what's in their alignment block.

These seem to be more based on the Sioux Unhcegila, varied water monsters that were wiped out by the Thunderbirds. However, there's a lot of back and forth and Uktena and the Unhcegila can be synonymous or not depending on what story or translation you're reading.

Wait, Dr. Zaius? I thought you were an ape of science!


So this is an evil cannibal monster what does evil because once again psych, no, it isn't, it's actually just a benevolent bigfoot, not sure why they call them wendigo. It turns out this is a sapient race native to Earth (!) that has hidden away from humanity and is allied with Native Americans. This is because the wendigo can recognize what side of the bread the author is buttering up. They get to be about the only character type that isn't Native American that can take on some of the special Warrior and Shaman Classes in this book. Much like their D&D counterparts, they can teleport short distances, and get generic animal senses, a variety of minor wilderness spells, and may or may not have psionics just as humans do. Oh, and they're better at humans at everything except intelligence and prowess (even their beauty is 0.5 points better on average). They're minor MDC creatures, too. Mostly it's just a relief to have a playable race that isn't a huge bag of rotten buttmeats but they're just kind of generically peaceful Native Americans + more magic + bonus fur.

Next: It's the '90s, time for your mandated dose of RPG animism.

"Inexplicable link to Native Americans: For reasons unknown, perhaps even to the spirits themselves, they are concerned only with the welfare and prosperity of Native Americans and the forces, plants and animals of the North American continent."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 13: "Inexplicable link to Native Americans: For reasons unknown, perhaps even to the spirits themselves, they are concerned only with the welfare and prosperity of Native Americans and the forces, plants and animals of the North American continent."

Inexplicable indeed. Like, I said to friends the other day that the book has a cosmology only centered around the behavior and well-being of Native Americans, and then I'm reminded that statement isn't exaggeration, it's literal truth.

Put WESTERN CIVILIZATION on the demon, and it's a Rifts political cartoon!

The Spirits
By Wayne Breaux Jr. and Kevin Siembieda

So, there's a Spirit Realm now! It's never before mentioned in Rifts and likely to rarely be mentioned again, given that it only really applies to Native American characters. It guesses that it might be related to the Astral Plane, but we don't know much about that either, even after all these books. To get to the Spirit Realm, you have to find secret entrances within caves or forests that are "sacred to Native Americans". It notes that spirits are different from gods in that they're immaterial and comprised of "energy" or elemental forces. Though gods might take on different or even exist in multiple locations at once, they're still physical beings. So they're different! Except not, as we'll see later

The Spirit Realm is essentially just more dramatic wilderness with spirits there. Humans don't age while there and are infertile unless the gods grant the ability to have offspring (which explains why you didn't have hundreds of millions of Native Americans bursting out post-exile). There are spirit animals but also normal animals that have been imported either for preservation or for the hunting convenience of human guests. There are apparently a number of animals here that are extinct, but seemingly not every extinct animal (there's no mention of dinos, for example). However, humans have to ask permission from a spirit to hunt, otherwise "the Realm itself will strike down the offender.". Technology doesn't work here unless augmented by fetishes. If that wasn't enough, magic or psionics directed at spirits only have half effect. In addition, spirits can draw upon extra power here, so this is basically a big fingerwag about being a good guest, lest the spirits smite the fuck out of you.

We're referred to Nightbane World Book 1: Between the Shadows for more on the Astral Plane, and then told that nobody has found a connection between the Spirit Realm and and the Astral Plane. But hey, maybe if you buy that book, a connection exists...? It's feels like a very, very labored attempt to pitch an extra sale without being like "Well you need to buy this."

We've given a few ways to get to the Spirit Realm, even though there's seemingly not much compelling reason to do so yet. Apparently the caves under Bear Butte (snort) have an entrance, maybe with our fetishes, we could penetrate the Bear Butte, and enter the Spirit Realm! ... That aside, there's apparently an entrance in the Black Hills and another at the Wyoming Medicine Wheel. The portals are invisible and hard to locate, and are hard to locate again because... that's they way the myth goes. The other way to get there is via the guidance of a spirit or god, or by using a Spirit Quest spell.

Oh, and if you try and force your way in or attack you'll be warned and then "1d4 x 100 lesser spirits" will attack (more if you have an army "which has never occurred"). If that doesn't work, 2d6 greater spirits or 1d4 gods will show up to throw you out, and if that doesn't work, they'll summon another 1d4 x 100 lesser spirits or 2d6 greater spirits every five minutes.

Just say "YOU LOSE", geez, but no, they have to put ungamable numbers behind it.

Spirits that enter our realm have to create or possess physical forms within a few hours to remain. It's pointed out this means not all animals or plants are necessarily actually related to a totem spirit or the like, but that's the form this spirit manifests in. For some reason spirits have to manifest in forms similar to those that exist in nature, which is treated as a big mysterly.

Features Common to all Spirits

So:Yep, in case you haven't realized, almost none of this matters to non-Native Americans / Wendigo. They just don't give a fuck about immigrants.

Next: The spiritual hoi palloi.

"Nurturers are tiny, elegant, Native American women with long black hair."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 14: "Nurturers are tiny, elegant, Native American women with long black hair."

Sparkleferret despises your cold, heartless civilization.

Lesser Animal Spirit

These are basically the citizenry of the Spirit Realm, most of which stay there and don't visit our world.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Why they help Native Americans and other people who are close to nature and who seek a (relatively) peaceful co-existence with the natural world is also a mystery.

uuuuugh I get it

It notes they might help out Native Americans but generally won't fight their battles for them and tend to make themselves scarce when needed most. It's not recommended to have one as a PC because they tend to be passive and not remain long on this world, and apparently have a alien mindset of immortal playfulness.

But you can play faeries, because pixies are hot.

Their mental stats are pretty average and everything else tends to vary based on what they're materialized as. They tend to have a few minor spells around a nature theme, a few shamanistic spells, all sensitive psionic powers, and one physical psionic power. Nothing too devastating - most of their weirdness is covered by the general spirit rules.

Those with allergies to magic motes may want to steer clear.

Lesser Plant Spirits

So, these are like animal spirits, but even more passive and secretive... and we don't get much else on them. We get some rules for S.D.C. plants, as if that matters. Did you know a mushroom has 1d4 S.D.C.? You do now! Because of the weirdness of these rules, a tree spirit that manifests in physical form will often have an average of over 1000 M.D.C. Possessed plants can't move or announce if they are or are not Groot, but manifested plant-spirits can move around very slowly. They get some healing and sensitive psionic powers and well plant / elemental shamanistic spells as well. No mention of their suitability as PCs, but it seems like playing a magic mushroom would be relatively limiting. Still, I kinda like the idea of a little mushroom hopping after the other PCs... at least until getting hit by its first mega-damage attack and dying instantly with its 10 or so MDC. Man, you were almost cool, mushroom spirit!

Side Murphy: This means 1 out of 6 times a perfectly natural mushroom can withstand a .22 bullet.

Lesser Elemental Spirits

These are essentially the agents of greater elementals and gods.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Most Elemental Spirits are friendly and helpful as long as the Shaman or Native American they are associating with is honest and has a genuine need for them.

yes yes yes I get it please stop

So, these are spirits tha can possess some equivalent to their element (breeze, campfire, rock, etc.). It's still the classical Greek air / earth / fire / water elements, of course, because this is fantasy RPG. They can also take on specific forms like a bird (air spirits), predatory animal (fire spirits), "Female Native American" (water spirits), and "Male Native American" (earth spirits). They aren't immediately notable as spirits but the psychically sensitive, warlocks, elemental spirits, and other elementals can suss them out. These can't be summoned by warlocks unless uuuugh the warlock is Native American uuuugh but they'll treat warlocks kindly unless given a reason not to. Warlocks can't command them like they do normal spirits, though. They particularly see Elemental Shamans as sibilings as well.

They're exceptional in every attribute, and fire and earth spirits get more MDC than they others. They get regenerate, can "speak the language of true elementals", and sense other elementals. Air spirits get various weather and air senses and immunity to weather effects. Earth spirits get mineral identification, resistance to kinetic damage, and can predict earth-based disasters. Fire spirits can identify temperature and locate fire, and are impervious to heat and fire (but vulnerable to cold). Water spirits detect water stuff and are immune to electricity, pressure, and cold. All of them get minor warlock magic for their element and vaguely themed pisonic powers (air = sensitive powers, fire = mind-controlling powers, water = healing powers, earth = physical powers).

Ramon Perez at least helps ease the pain.

Great Little Ones

So, these are spirits that resemble tiny Native Americans about a foot tall, so they're akin to faerie folk, only... vaguely Native American themed. Unlike other spirits, they're purely physical, because... we wanted to write them that way. But they're still spirits, or something?

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

The Great Little Ones are steadfast friends of Native Americans, and supporters of humans in general, and often try to help and protect them whenever appropriate.

i knooooow wait what

Wait, did you say "in general"? You're okay, Great Little Ones. You're somewhat less racist than the rest of this spirit world!

So, these at times apparently took the "Pure Ones" into the Spirit Realm along with the Nunnehi. They have three tribes: Hunters, Stone Throwers, and Nurturers. Some think they're ancestor spirits, but this notion will not be followed up on. Instead, their role seems to have been to teach Native Americans necessary survival skills, and so they have the special power to teach somebody a skill (at base level) in only 48 hours, but can only teach somebody a skill in this fashion once per year.

So, despite their size, they're physically capable MDC creatures that are better at humans in everything but reaching for the top shelves. They're not very durable for MDC creatures, but will self-resurrect unless they're reduced below -60 MDC. They're naturally skilled at all wilderness things, can use bows, melee weapons, or tiny repeating rifles or flintlocks. They have some defensive psionic powers, a variety of spells (mostly sensory and concealment), and get a weapon table all their own (but the weapons aren't vastly different in damage compared to their full-size counterparts). And we get three types and three statblocks.

We have the Hunters, which are sneaky hunters whose weapons can harm anything, even things that would normally be immune to their damage... but they don't do that much damage to begin with. Apparently they often go around secretly helping heroes by causing rock-slides, sabotaging or distracting enemies, and so on. They also apparently avenge animals injured or killed by careless or wasteful hunters, though their vengeance seems to amount to little more than harassment.

The second type is the Stone Throwers, who are basically mighty mites (usually as "tall, muscular males"). They like throwing rocks and other large objects or hitting things with axes, and it specifically notes they can defy the laws of leverage. They tend to be more silent, serious, strong types. They have higher strength but aren't as universally capable as hunters, though they get over twice the MDC. They effectively can tame and ride any wild animal, have various spells (usually around concealment and defense), and some physical psionic powers. But they have the weakness that they lose their strength if lifted from the ground.,

The last type are the girls Nurturers who take care of plants and are apparently the friendliest of the three.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Nurturers are the most friendly and personable of the three tribes, even seeking out the companionship of inoffensive humans who are not of Native American ancestry and D-bees.


They are curious, kind, gentle and compassionate, especially toward children, the elderly, baby animals, small animals and butterflies.


They're much like hunters, but have the same animal affinity as the stone throwers. However, they get access to empathic and defensive psionic powers, all plant shaman spells, a variety of other spells, and can make a number of fetishes. They're weakened if they lose access to sunlight for more than a day. They also "have a great tolerance to alcohol equal to that of the Saloon Bum", which is a thing.

These all seem to be based off the Iroquois Jogah or Jo-gä-oh, very loosely, with the Hunter tribe replacing a tribe that lived underground and protected people from poisonous snakes and things like that.

Next: A culturally questionable rendition of Toy Story.

"An intruder or enemy can pick it up, shake it, stab it and throw it to the floor without eliciting the slightest reaction."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 15: "An intruder or enemy can pick it up, shake it, stab it and throw it to the floor without eliciting the slightest reaction."

Greater Spirits

The Great Kachinas & Lesser Kachina Spirits

So, these are supposed to be "Greater Earth Elementals" who work for the gods "Standing-Mountain" and "Hard-Woman-Dancing". Apparently there are some independent ones, as well as even some evil ones, but only those who work for the gods are venerated by the secret society of Kachina Dancers. Supposedly members of the Kachina Dancers keep their identities secret by wearing masks, and they worship Kachinas directly since the gods forbid worship.

(I can find no sign of this secrecy taboo being an actual thing, but somebody can enlighten me if I'm wrong. Also, the Earth elemental thing seems to be born from Kachina residing in an "underworld" and nothing else. Also the thing about gods forbidding worship also seems wrong? Pretty much presume this whole thing is inaccurate, just to be safe.)

Therefore, Kachina Dancers are only revealed during rituals where they wear their masks, and nobody actually knows who they are in the community. Though within the size of Rifts communities, I can't imagine it would be hard to work out - if Cheveyo or Lapu never shows up to watch the dancers, that'd seem like a bit of a clue, wouldn't it? But apparently Kachina Dancers can only use their shamanistic powers with their mask and costume on, though they're apparently more likely to get direct spiritual aid at any time. Even if another Native American works out who a Kachina Dancer is, they're supposed to keep it secret. If a Native American reveals a Dancer's identity deliberately, apparently a number of Kachina spirits kidnap the offending person to the Spirit Realm where they remain forever. Only the Kachina Dancer who was revealed can make a request for a pardon.

Non-Native Americans, on the other hand, can shout the identities of Kachina Dancers from the hills, spray paint them on walls, or broadcast them on 107.9 (your station for the hottest Kachina Dancer secret identities), all with zero spiritual consequences.

Kachina Dancers

Of course you can play one! But they don't get a whole class, this is more like a template of bonus powers you get for being one. Apparently most dancers are Earth Elemental Shamans, but anybody can be one. Then you get special powers when you put the costume, such as: summoning spirits, create some lesser fetishes, bonuses against fear and mind control, reduced fatigue, and bonus PPE. However, the costume gives minor penalties to speed and physical actions.

Really, since you can put on or take off the costume, there's really no drawback or requirement to playing a Kachina Dancer, so you may as well play them as long as you're playing a Hopi Zuni Pueblo Native American. (Yep, even if you're from a tribe with no Kachina tradition, I guess you qualify... and suffer the same punishments.)

A CGI movie about the secret life of Kachina dolls is basically an eventuality.

Kachina Spirit Dolls

So, one of the summoning powers of the Kachina Dancer is to put a Kachina spirit into a small doll, which then asks as an assistant and defender. Which would seem to be a giveaway... "Uh, Lapu, why is a Kachina doll bringing you dinner?" "Oh, nothing to do with being a Kachina Dancer, I assure you." "You're a Kachina dancer!... fuck..." "ALRIGHT, OFF TO THE SPIRIT REALM WITH YOU." Well, actually it goes Toy Story instead when it might threaten the identity of its master. It also has a special power to hide its magical nature from magic-detecting powers. Convenient! They also give away powerless Kachina dolls to help keep the mystery safe.

So, the spirit dolls are minor mega-damage helpers, and they get some basic sensory and healing psionics, as well as a some Earth warlock spells. Outside of their spells, they're not much direct use in a fight, though they can beat up a normal unarmored human real good if they gotta.

Lesser Kachina Spirit

These are spirits that take the form of 5' Kachina dolls, and are all-around competent, get some physical psychic powers, get a broad variety of basic Earth warlock spells and that's that. They're bigger versions of the above.

Great Kachina Spirit

These are supposed to be "greater elemental spirits" who work directly for the gods. But not all of them do.

World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

One such spirit, Dark-Hand (aberrant evil, 8th level) sees the white-man and all other non-Indians as invaders and despoilers to be forced off the North American continent or destroyed. He is constantly instigating war, slaughter, treachery and conflict between the red-man and all other people. Dark-Hand is also a regular enemy of the Kachina worshipers and the Great Spirits and gods they follow.


So, these can be of any of the four elements, not just Earth. They're essentially lesser gods with over a thousand MDC, elemental powers to talk with or sense other elementals, the ability to summon other Kachina spirits, a broad variety of powers copy-pasted from the Lesser Elemental Spirit section, psionics like Lesser Elemental Spirits (but a little more), knows all Warlock spells of their element, and that's that. They can take on the form of humans, 10' kachina dolls, or possess willing Kachina Dancers. We get some specific names and attribute lines for the four that directly serve the gods, and that's that.

So, the Kachina here are a bizarrely simplified version of the original as far as I can tell. The real Kachina can be patron spirits of just about anything, and aren't just Earth spirits. There are literally at least dozens of named ones representing different aspects with their own myths, and even evil ones that act like ogres or oni. Moreover, the Hopi have a rich mythology about the world ending in a cyclical fashion that you'd think would be rich with ideas for a post-apocalypse games... but no, let's laser-focus on the part that's popular with tourists.

Next: The snowflakes of the spirit world.

"It is known that at least one faction of Nunnehi (along with the Chiang-ku dragons) once advised and tutored the ancient Atlanteans and helped them unravel the secrets of magic and dimensional travel — the result of which ultimately led to the destruction of Atlantis and the rapid loss of magic on ancient Earth."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 16: "It is known that at least one faction of Nunnehi (along with the Chiang-ku dragons) once advised and tutored the ancient Atlanteans and helped them unravel the secrets of magic and dimensional travel — the result of which ultimately led to the destruction of Atlantis and the rapid loss of magic on ancient Earth."

Cross-dimensional cultural appropriation.


So these look like greys or aliens carved out of wood - as opposed to mythology, where they just look like Cherokee, only more vaguely mysterious. They're about the only non-spirits that call the Spirit Realm home, but nobody knows why the gods put up with them. They're partial to Earth, but nobody knows why. They're particularly fond of North America and Native Americans, but nobody knows why that is, either. Basically they're supposed to be big "M" Mysterious so there's a lot of flat statements with no explanation... you know, like many other sections of the book, but this time it's deliberate.

So they seemingly randomly show up to give advice and help before then wandering away, while others have worked as patrons to different clans or tribes. They foresaw the destruction of the indigenous peoples of America, which is why they spirited many of them away as detailed earlier. Their relationship with the Native American spirits and gods is supposed to be a big secret, but even some of those gods are like "seriously, why do they get to sleep on our proverbial couch?" Also, the Nunnehi didn't ask the gods to kidnap a bunch of people and keep them hidden away for centuries. And they helped Atlantis develop magic, retroactively! Also they have a special territory in the Spirit Realm only gods and godlings can enter without permission. It's hinted they're preparing for some great danger admist a swarm of question marks. The Nunnehi, of course, aren't saying. They're a big black hole of self-congratulatory mysterious nonsense that would make a Chiang-Ku dragon sneeze.

No, you can't play one.

They're brilliant and strong and have thousands of MDC, have ridiculous amounts of magic power on par with gods, can teleport, enter people's dreams, have all sensitive psionic powers and some healing powers, can sense supernatural evil, can "see into people's souls", and get a choice of about ten different magical specialities (generally top-tier or all-encompassing in their speciality). Curiously, they can't access Shaman magic but can make lesser and major fetishes, somehow. Also they're vulnerable to fire due to being scarecrows, and dragon breath does double damage to them for some reason... but with thousands of MDC, vulnerabilities tend towards the academic.

Breaux spirit art that actually looks spirit-ish? Whoa.

Ondi Thunderbirds
The Great Spirits

So, these are supposed to be lesser Thunderbirds compared to the big god Thunderbird. They're giant 20'+ tall eagles made out of golden lightning and are supposed to be some of the most feared and sacred spirits. Most are dispatched by the god or summoned by shamans, but some are apparently evil!... this is not elaborated on. Unlike other spirits, they can interact with the world while in energy form, but still have all the immunities that provides.

So, they have MDC on par with dragon hatchlings, see "all spectrums of light", regenerate rapidly, take half damage from non-magical energy (convenient, because that's one of the only ways to hurt them), can turn into lightning to either go MACH 4 or to strike somebody. They have a few light and fire spells, empathy, and sensitive and physical psychic powers. For some reason, they're vulnerable to iron because they need some weakness other than magic and hey! Iron! Why not? Why give them a weakness that relates to their mythology or theme! That would be too obvious.

"Yes, motherfucker, I have a light."

Greater Elemental Spirits

Um, these are like Greater Elementals, but they're... Spirits? Warlocks can't summon them unless they're Native Americans. Unlike Elementals, they can take on animal form that isn't obviously magical... or take on the form of Native Americans.

Do you know how sick I am of typing "Native American"? Well, you can guess, I'm sure.

It notes that Warlocks can't summon these unless they're Native American , though they'll be friendly with Warlocks just like the lesser ones. They're basically just bigger versions of the lesser elemental spirits, with 1000+ MDC and access to more spells and powers. You know the drill, and if you don't, you don't necessarily need to.

Well, back to Breaux photo-referencing an animal, calling it a spirit.

Totem Spirits
Greater Animal Spirits

So, these are the animals spirits that actually grant totem powers and who taught the original fetish (magic) to humans. We are - in a copy-paste from the Lesser Animal Spirit entry - told that there are hundreds of totem spirits of the same animals. So there are basically tens of thousands of these things, by extrapolation. Not sure that's intentional, but we'll roll with it.

Each one easily has over 20,000 MDC (more than most gods, and once again, there are tens of thousands of them) and can summon their lesser versions, get a bunch of psionic powers, some basic spells and shamanistic spells, and... that's most of what they get. Because of their hilariously low damage values, if Moose and Squirrel get into a fight, it'll take hours upon hours of combat time for them to resolve their fight (given they regenerate) and thousands of combat rounds. To be fair, their MDC values are probably just a big middle finger to any PC that thinks they can box with (Bear) god.

Meanwhile, Perez draws shit that actually looks spookynatural.

Greater Tree Spirits

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Tree spirits will come when summoned with the proper spell or when called upon by the gods, but they are more likely to appear when the woodland they have adopted as their home is threatened. They may also secretly or subtly intervene to protect a favored animal, lost adventurers, children and the mentally handicapped.

Good to know, I suppose.

So, they protect the forests, and often take on humanoid form to entreat people to leave the forest alone! And when people don't, they'll use their magic to sabotage logging attempts and the like, or try and start rumors about the woods being haunted. (I must have missed the Scooby-Doo episode where it all turned out to be a Native American tree spirit.) However, they'll eventually give up and move to another forest if people are persistent enough. I guess they're not terribly dedicated to their work. They only really put in effort to stop supernatural evil in their forest, though usually only in an indirect fashion. I mean, sure, they have thousands of MDC, but humanity has to make its own way or something. Sounds like a big fat lazy excuse if I ever heard one!

So these are the bigger versions of plant spirits, with around 5,000 MDC, various sensory powers, psionic powers, low-level Earth Warlock spells, all Shaman plant spells, and they can make fetishes. Not too much to add here. I wonder what happens if one of these meets a Millennium Tree?

Next: What, no, not more spirits, what would be silly, I mean, you couldn't possibly be sick of these things, could you...?

"Many extremist Traditionalists credit Uktena with the arrival of the Europeans to the New World and the subsequent destruction of Indian Nations."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 17: "Many extremist Traditionalists credit Uktena with the arrival of the Europeans to the New World and the subsequent destruction of Indian Nations."

The only thing I could really identify as being based on anything is Uktena. Time for some ridiculous statblocks!

Burning for you.

Old Flame Dancing
Great Fire Elemental Spirit

So, often a giant flaming snake or giant... giant, Old Flame Dancing is the embodiment of fire and is supposed to be passionate but quickly burns out and do you get the metaphor? He is, of course, fond of Native Americans just like 90% of all the spirits we've had so far. Mind, he's racially equitable and doesn't support war on people just based on their racial or genetic makeup, which earns him some enemies amongst the more extremist Traditionalists. He particularly doesn't like the Coalition, either. With over 15,000 MDC, he can summon elemental spirits and "true elementals" alike, cast any Warlock fire spell, cast some dimensional magic, and "Mega-Pyrokinesis" that has six times the normal effect.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Vulnerabilities: Cold and water based attacks and magic do double damage.


Another weakness is food and alcohol, which he consumes to excess, as well as parties and festivals which he throws himself into and which consume his complete and total attention (making him, other people, places and secrets vulnerable to intruders, thieves, assassins and entire armies lurking in the shadows). Women can have a similar effect on him, although it is he who is known to be a seducer.

"I know, you're thinking 'he's a giant two-story flaming snake skeleton, I'm flammable, this will never work', but I assure you my boner is very real. Because I'm made of boners. Hot boners."

Open your hearrrt.

Ever Tide
Great Elemental Spirit

A 150' long water crocodile that constantly changes shape into different forms... wait, is the end boss of Sonic Adventure?... Ever Tide believes in the survival of the fittest and can be fickle and often changes alignment. Basically, he's chaotic annoying, whats the book terms "schizophrenic" without literally meaning schizophrenia. He has nearly 20,000 MDC, can talk with water, ooze around, can be immune to physical attacks while in water form, and actually does decent damage for a godwith his bite or "tail slash". He can also summon elemental spirits or regular elementals, gets powered-up electrokinesis and hydrokinesis, all Water Warlock magic, dimensional magic, etc., etc., etc. Also he hangs out with Splynncryth the Splugorth (of Atlantis) because apparently Splynn is sooo cunning he can exploit Ever Tide's dumb chaotic nature.

"I am the great elemental mountain of stone and- what? Breaux just drew a stern-looking dude? Dammit, Breaux!"

Standing Mountain
Great Earth Elemental Spirit

Generically stoic and relentless and earthy, he's mostly upset by those who "misuse the land", whatever that might entail. But he usually doesn't act other than to send pass-aggy messages, figuring those kind of mistakes fall back upon those who perpetrate them. (Tip to Standing Mountain: they often don't.) Apparently this guy dances to cause earthquakes to punish those who anger the gods. The gods are, apparently, cool with the Coalition, judging by the seeming lack of earthquakes in Indiana. He's around 14,000 MDC, senses earth stuff, can possess a hill or mountain (but not move around or anything, just... be a hill), summon earth elementals, has all physical psionics, all earth magic, all plant and paradox shaman spells, and a bunch of other stuff besides. Water based magic does "50% more damage", but water magic rarely does damage outside of the occasional ice spell.

I started counting the spikes in this picture and literally got too bored to finish when I rolled past 100.

Great Dark Serpent

Apparently Uktena as the original water elemental spirit big boss, but "slowly succumbed to evil and insanity". Why?

So yeah, he's sadistic and greedy and generically destructive and only doesn't get kicked out of the Spirit Realm because his access is grandfathered in. Also there's some lip service about him being necessary because he represents darkness and death, but neither of those godly domains necessarily involve him being the slavering monster he apparently is. Apparently he has portals to Earth through lakes so he can boss Ukt serpents and demons around and fuck with people nessie-style. He particularly hates Native Americans because "they are the favored mortals of his peers" but generally acts through catspaws. This apparently lets him get away with things despite being around a bunch of relatively omniscient beings. He apparently uses the Coalition States, Xiticix, and Federation of Magic as tools, even though the former two subjects seem like they would be hard for him to easily manipulate, being either A) decent at noticing the supernatural or B) impossible to communicate with. Also, apparently he might have manipulated European settlers into coming to the new world or starting the wars that caused the rifts - wait, how would he do that if the magic was mostly dead around that time? Well, apparently somehow he may have did that. Yeeep, the evils of American colonization and the apocalypse, all him. Apparently he went to war with Thunderbird at some point for whatever lost reason and that's why the Ukt and Ondi Thunderbirds hate each other and conflict to this day.

In any case, he's a 20,000 mega-evil nessie, can dowse (all the better to find evil water, I guess), shapechange into nearly anything, summon water and air elementals, summon ukt serpents, has all psionic powers (except physical), knows all regular spells (except legendary), most water elemental spells, and all shaman spirit and paradox wells. He's vulnerable to fire and his insanities are listed as a weakness as if this were the Champions RPG or something. He hangs around all sort of eeevil baddies, because they may as well have a worker's union in this setting.

In Cherokee mythology, Uktena is a water serpent with a crystal that hypnotizes / blinds / drives insane / kills witnesses and has a poisonous breath, and is generally just an evil monster. Also, it's killed in at least three legends, but it may have had offspring suitable for a monster manual... but nothing like this. There are dozens of similar "great snakes" amongst various tribal mythologies, mind. Bizarrely, Ugaya, an spirit that hides in caves and hates light and decency, would be a better fit for this role.

The most bored / boring of the elemental spirits, apparently.

Whispering Maiden
She Doesn't Get a Subtitle

So, given we only have one element left, this is the air elemental spirit head honcho. Apparently many think she's "aloof" but apparently she's just "elusive". Glad we could establish that. Apparently she's often spying on things curiously and sometimes repeats things she overhears to a "champion", sometimes through an elemental intermediary. She likes to appears as a "attractive Native American woman in her late teens or early twenties" or a falcon and causes bad weather when she gets upset. She's a 13,000 MDC creature (making her the weakest of the elementals), she can fly around at the speed of sound, turn invisible, "possess the wind" or birds, summon elementals, has all sensitive psionic powers plus some mental stuff and kinesises, knows all elemental air spells, shaman spirits spells, and a variety of other regular spells. Her "weakness" is that electrical attacks can stun her (but don't actually hurt her). Not much of a weakness...

Next: More overpowered meddlers.

"When fighting non-Indians, Strong Eagle will fight them the way they fight, which means not only using high-tech weapons, but in the case of the Coalition States, often killing every man who isn't on your side."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 18: "When fighting non-Indians, Strong Eagle will fight them the way they fight, which means not only using high-tech weapons, but in the case of the Coalition States, often killing every man who isn't on your side. "


Yep, all we just did was cover the most powerful spirits. Gods are different because they're purely physical... kind of. As to why these gods A) inhabit the Spirit Realm despite not being spirits or B) favor Native Americans...

Apparently this gods can open their own rifts to travel between worlds. It's completely unclear whether or not this is a general power of gods that's now being established (like they need more) or just specific to these gods. Despite them being "gods" they still use the spirit rules, even though gods were supposed to be a different sort of creature? I'm confused.

And because we clearly need another pack of powerful patrons to the Native American peoples, here we go again. And yeah, these are presented like your standard Greco-Roman-Norse meddlers, because that kind of polytheism is really the only way Rifts seems able to parse religion aside from animism. Take any culture, irregardless of how it fits, slot in humanoid gods with specific domains and call it a day. Not that we're just aping D&D here or anything...

Prepare your cool ice puns, kids.

Beautiful Rock Dancer
The Goddess of Ice and Valuable Minerals

Yep, it's not enough to have elemental spirits who are effectively gods, here's some gods that cover the elements. Totally different thing! Specifically, Dancer is in charge of earth and water. See, ice is beautiful, like her, but also strong and deadly, and she apparently favors mortal women (implied to be just Native American women, for the record) and will teach them arts or give them gifts. She can either turn into a - yes, inhumanly beautiful (score is 30, tops) - Native American woman or a 30' ice / crystal giant. With 12,000 MDC, she's not the strongest god but that's all academic. Apparently she can shoot ice blasts that do hilariously low damage, possess birds / mammals / gems, summon earth or water elementals, has all psionic powers except the physical sort, cast a variety of regular, earth, and water spells, and cast any shaman spirit spell.

Getting pretty tired of these and we've only started on them.


Bright Sky
The Sun God

The son of Spider Woman (not Jessica Drew) who may be the named "father of all Native Americans" which would mean a lot of fucking, I'd presume. So he's supposed to run across the sky and be the sun looking for trouble to smite, but that only seems to be true in the Spirit Realm. If the Earth has trouble, he doesn't care quite as much. He's the other half of Beautiful Rock Dancer's elemental - so earth and fire. Also, I guess he's her husband and lives in a mountain cave with her, but they never mentioned that under her profile. Unlike the other gods, he has a more universal view and has worshippers on other dimensionals, making him a bit distance as he keeps plates spinning. As such, despite his Scruplous alignment, he generally doesn't actually help earthly followers in trouble unless there is a "great imblance and/or tens of thousands of pleas for help". Otherwise, he lets Splugorth and vampires chow down on his people unless they chow down too much. He can turn into a Native American warrior or a burning clay giant.

With 15,000 MDC, he can shoot better blasts than his wife can (fire, this time), can possess elementals, birds of prey, bats, or willing worshipers, summon elementals of fire or earth, has all psionics except healing, has a variety of fire and air spells, all regular spells, and all shaman and plant magic.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Bullets, punches, rail gun rounds, missiles and explosives all do normal damage to the god.

That is not an actual weakness, Spirit West.

"Welcome to the farmer's market... of the gods!"

He Who Gives Life
The God of Agriculture and Fertility

So this is apparently the god who creates the totem spirits to perpetuate the "Circle of Life" and People turn to him to ensure fertility in its myriad forms. Apparently he oversees a village of humans in the Spirit Realm where he keeps thousands of seeds of every plant that has ever lived. Kinda think that'd need a facility larger than a village, but I'm no god. He apparently is quite pleased with nature reclaiming much of Earth (fuck highways) and often will give people food that never spoils. He'll never kill any living thing but will occasionally beat the crap out of them.

He has 10,000 MDC, can talk with elementals, has various plant powers, can summon any elementals, take on human or (small nonpredatory) animal form or turn into a bush, so look out for that bush, it's a 10K MDC bush!... he can possess some stuff. and gets a bunch of ridiculous custom fetishes (including one that lets him create ley line storms), has all psionics except physical, can cast any non-paradox shaman spell, mid-level warlock spells, and a variety of normal spells.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Some argue He Who Gives Life's pacifistic nature is a detriment to others and a personal weakness.

Reallly stretching to include something in the "vulnerability" part of the template.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

He Who Gives Life spends as much time as possible on Earth. It is a joy to him to see the abundance of life that fills Rifts Earth once again.

Well, that seems like a major part of his characterization, certainly you wouldn't forget that two pages later-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Habitat: The Spirit Realm and elsewhere in the Megaverse. He seldom enters the mortal world.

"Owl punish you!"

She Who Walks the Circle
Goddess of the dead and bringer of bad medicine

So, this was originally a shaman whose people were slaughtered by the Two-Faced Star-People, and prayed and danced for seven days and seven nights for revenge, and the gods apparently decided to fulfill her request by making her into a god of vengeanges. She apparently goes around delivering bad luck and misfortune to those who break the trust of spirits or "violate the Circle of Life". "Because of her mortal origins, she remains fond of Native Americans..." Well, at least that's an explanation for a change. Usually she draws out the punishment she's supposed to deal out to maximize suffering.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

As a Native American and spirit of revenge, she resents the white man for what he has done to her people over the centuries, but does not strike against them because they have done nothing against the Circle of Life.

(What the hell does a crime against the Circle of Life entail then, anyway?)

Being a young god, she has a mere 7,500 MDC. So weak! She has all the powers of a Spirit Warrior, can take the form of a human or owl, or possess owls, summon animal and totem spirits, inflict a variety of curses with no apparent save, a bunch of psionic powers, all shaman spirit / paradox spells plus a variety of normal spells. There's a throwaway line about the Federation of Magic trying to enslave greater spirits in a plot beat that will likely not be remembered later.

"Let us celebrate this victory over a creature with 1/200th of my Mega-Damage Capacity!"

Strong Eagle
The War God

Like it says above - he's apparently the front line of defense against invasions into the Spirit Realm with 24 greater elemental spirits, 1500 animal spirits, and 500 totem spirits as an army. He generally does not seek to start wars himself, but will make war back on attackers. Apparently sometimes he wanders the Earth finding plucky underdog sides in wars to bring to victory. He prefers not to kill and never tortures, but-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

When fighting non-Indians, Strong Eagle will fight them the way they fight, which means not only using high-tech weapons, but in the case of the Coalition States, often killing every man who isn't on your side.

He has about 15,000 MDC, turns into any animal (usually eagles), can turn into a "normal" SDC human form to go have RL iron man fites (but he still has a Strength of 55, so normal is relative...), turn into a "giant Native American warrior", and he can possess animals, willing worshippers, and the comatose. He has all non-Healing psionic powers, can summon animal and totem spirits, can cast all shaman animal and spirit spells, all low-to-mid level normal spells and a variety of others, and-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Strong Eagle can use any of the white man's energy weapons, body armor, and related equipment like jetpacks, hovercycles and explosives, especially when in disguise, as well as magic weapons and items and Techno-Wizard devices.

Um. Note to Breaux and Siembieda. You do know other people invented technology that aren't white, right? That happened.

You know that, right?

Culture Notes: Not sure what this is from. The golden eagle is symbolic of war agmonst the Cherokee and some other groups, but couldn't find a specific god that resembles this one.

Shortly thereafter, the eight legs emerge from her mouth.

Spider Woman
The Deep Earth Goddess

Supposedly the oldest and first of the (Native American) gods. "Some legends
say that all Native Americans are descended from her children, the Sun God and the Goddess of Gems." Keepin' it in the family, then, yuck. Spider Woman (not Julia Carpenter) is, of course, a kindly old woman, but sometimes she'll turn into a tiny spider to hide upon somebody while giving them advice. She moves like a slow, doddering old woman but it's mostly just an act because she prefers to act through magic or indirectly or something. Apparently she's the best fetish maker even though Giver of Life invented fetishes.

She has about 12,000 MDC, can turn into a bunch of crap or possess a bunch of crap but mostly just turns into humans or spiders. She gets all psionics except for physical ones, all shaman magic, all spell magic, and almost all of earth elemental magic. She has the crawlback that if she's captured as a animal or insect (like being put in a jar) she can't user any of her powers.

Culture Notes: This is supposed to be Sussistanako / Tse-che-nako, mainly found in (but is hardly limited to) the myths of the Choctaw Hopi, Zuni, Pueblo, and Navajo peoples.

*cue Colbert Report theme*

The Great God of the Air

Apparently there were thousands of beings like Thunderbird (not diet Thunderbirds listed earlier) that died in some cosmic battle, and Thunderbird is one of only "less than a dozen" left. The Native American gods recruited him, and when he found the Ondi Thunderbirds first found him they're like "Oh hey you're our god-king" with apparently no prompting and have followed him ever since. Thunderbird lives on a mountain called Thunder Peak, where he no doubt plays Thunder Cards and has Thunder Drinks with his Thunder Bros. He fights Uktena a lot but apparently respects the wishes of the other gods and doesn't just murder him. I'm sure the seemingly millions or billions dead because of Uktena's schemes understand.

... is go.

He has about 8,000 MDC, and despite being some foreign being to the pantheon still works like all other spirits do, outside of the fact that he can attack while immaterial. He can do all the things Ondi Thunderbirds can do with bigger numbers (turning into a lightning bolt does 1d6 x 100 MDC now), does damage even just being touched while in energy form, can shoot lightning as an area effect which can disable electronics, can summon ondi thunderbirds or elementals, gets all sensitive and healing psionics, can cast low and mid-level normal spells plus some weather-related stuff. He takes double damage from cold or water-based attacks, because that's the way pokemon gods work now.

Culture Notes: Mainly from the mythologies of the Algonquian, Menominee, and Ojibwe people, but hardly limited to them, Thunderbird or thunderbirds usually go around battling one form of horned serpent or another.

And that is that for the parade of nonsensical deific statblocks. That's fucking done, son.

Next: Maybe you thought we'd get out of this without some giant robots? A vain hope, you.

"The only name that seemed appropriate was Uktena, the Death God and Destroyer (something this dangerous god found both amusing and satisfying)."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 19: "The only name that seemed appropriate was Uktena, the Death God and Destroyer (something this dangerous god found both amusing and satisfying)."

High Technology for Modern Indians

So, these are build by Native Americans who run Preserves. What are those? No time to explain that, time for some cool robots! It notes they also get a lot of tech from the Black Market. You may wonder who builds these! Well, many of them are really vague and it's not clear. The SAMAS obviously come from some communities that captured old military facilities, there's no obvious source for these other than "Modern Indians". Make up your own story, I guess?

By "robot" they mean "robot vehicle" or "mecha", by the way, with multiple pilots / gunners... not an autonomous robot.

"Maybe if we name a robot after it, it'll want to kill us all... less."

Uktena Combat Robot

Yep, why not model a robot after a real monster that wants to annihilate your people? Makes sense, man. So, this is supposed to be a 62' giant robot with four legs that can submerge underwater. It's supposed to be used for long-term searches and patrols, and the Coalition has encountered a few as a result but hasn't connected them with the "retro-savages". Yes, that's one of their terms for the Native Americans, and those who have gone over my Dead Reign review might note it was used for an entirely different Amish / Memmonite-themed cult there.

So it's pretty tough, in line with other large robots (but still more vulnerable than a Glitter Boy). It has lasers, but it's main worthwhile weapons are its plasma cannon, particle beams, and mini-missiles. It has a special "charging underwater ram" it can use for surprisingly decent damage, but no idea why it doesn't work on the surface (it's not like it goes particularly fast in water, so...)

Big bird.

Thunderbird Assault Robot

Well, if you had an Uktena robot, this was inevitable. It's used to patrol large areas or for rapid-response, of course. It's supposed to be one of their main air support craft.

It's surprisingly vulnerable for a 26' robot, not being too much tougher than many suits of power armor. It has an average rail gun and plasma cannon, and most of its firepower would come from mini-missiles and its medium range missiles. However, it has a "LAWLO" (Laser All-Weapon Lock-On) system that lets it perform an attack with a targeting laser - and if that laser hits, all of its weapons will target and auto-hit the target, but it burns all the attacks it has for the round. So it's useful for alpha strikes, but if you don't kill your foe, then you won't have any attacks for defense (nor it is the most efficient way to burn up one's attacks). So it's interesting, but it often won't be the best option.

Don't aim those turrets forward.

Wolf Assault Robot

This is supposed to be a heavy ground assault robot that uses mobility to try and overwhelm foes... no rules for that, but you can imagine it! It's a giant 24' robot-wolf with about average durability. Let's see: crap lasers, mixed particle-beam/laser turrets, and mini-missiles, of course. It can also do claw attacks and pounces for descent damage, with an 80% chance of knocking equally-sized and smaller targets over.

So a 24' robot has the same chance of knocking over a giant 'mech as it does a tiny person. Just FYI.

Native American Power Armor

We get a fiction chunk where two Coalition officers - since we can't have one of these books without some skull-faces - discuss having seen a robot that looks like a SAMAS, and both of them turn out to have seen the rare confidential files that show the original, pre-rifts SAMAS design, and they conclude it must be a pre-rifts SAMAS.

It's a lot of to get to that point, though.

Even the non-skull version here looks a lot like a skull.

U.S.A. SAMAS Power Armor
By Kevin Siembieda with additions by Wayne Breaux Jr.

So, a group of "Modern Indians" found a pre-rifts SAMAS automated production facility, and started it up. Apparently it had enough supplies to produce "hundreds" of SAMAS suits before it ran out of supplies. However, they've become aware of how wary the Coalition is of them using "their" design and so generally try to avoid Coalition entanglements. For some reason, we're told the Coalition is blithely unaware of these suits even though we had a whole fiction chunk earlier that implied otherwise.

The SAMAS stats that follow are essentially identical to the Coalition models, save for the fact it has a heavier rail gun and some models have a few extra mini-missiles. It also has an optional extra mini-missile launcher that replaces the rail gun ammo drum (and thusly prohibits the rail gun if it's used). Overall, it's just better, because we always know, the original prototype surpasses the production model. It's mecha law.

Yes, it has a... robo-headdress.

War Chief Power Armor

But that's not all, they had to develop a SAMAS with a faux-feather headdress. Yeah, this happened. It's lighter and faster but slightly less armored, and replaces the solid rail gun with a crappy ion gun instead. It still has the mini-missiles, but overall it's a step back. It's supposed to have the advantage of having a more reliable weapon system (since it doesn't require ammo), but that's a very situational advantage.

Sadly, not wearable by actual bears.

The Iron Bear Power Armor

So, this is designed for urban combat, which seems kind of limited for a group that lives largely in areas reclaimed by wilderness. It's supposed to be a Glitter Boy Substitute, but... it it isn't in any sense. It doesn't have the firepower, durability, or range. It's a pretty average suit of power armor - it's pretty tough for one, but slow. Its main weapons are a set of dual ion cannons, mini-missiles, smoke / gas dispensers, and vibro-claws. None of it is too lousy but none of it is particularly devastating, either.

Next: Laser Bows. Seriously.

"Most Traditionalists live the way their ancestors did centuries ago, before the coming of the white man."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 20: "Most Traditionalists live the way their ancestors did centuries ago, before the coming of the white man."

Weapons of Note

We're directed to New West and Lone Star for more equipment, so look away!... and then back again, because there's some new stuff.

The first is the NA-LB1 Laser Bow, which...

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

This bow looks very much like a modern compound bow, complete with pulleys and multiple strings, but the area where an arrow is normally fired has a short barrel and metallic laser discharge mechanism. A cable attaches the mechanism to the bowstring (which is really a cable, not a string). When the string is drawn, the cable pulls on a plunger type generator in the mechanism and generates enough energy for a single laser shot.

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

A strength of 12 or higher is needed to draw this bow because of the power needed to cycle up a charge in the generator.

My head hurts. But if pulling a string with modest human strength to generate enough power to destroy a tank is just too much trouble, then...

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

... a port is located on the weapon for an E-clip (20 shot) in the event of a broken string or jammed plunger.

Oh, good, I can just use it as a very clunky pistol instead. It does a garbage 2d6 for damage either way.

There's the NA-SW4 M.D.C. Bow - wait, does "NA" really stand for "Native American"? Oookay. Anyway, it lets you fire mega-damage arrows if you have superhuman strength. All the high-tech arrows are reprinted from Rifts Sourcebook One. Bows are given prices but not ranges, so work out the difference between then yourself! Lastly, there's vibro-tomahawks and vibro-spears if you need them.

The Preserves

... come in delicious boysenberry, gooseberry, or other berries you wouldn't even look at outside of a jar.

The sea levels have risen dramatically, but there's still plenty of glacial ice in Alaska. Sure, why not?

Domains of Technology

Oh, these are something else. Basically, these are places where "Modern Native Americans" reclaimed technological facilities and learned how to reproduce technology. Most of this comes from a KLS factory "in the Northwest wilderness" and various military facilities. However, they lack raw resources to produce a lot. They don't share their technology much, but have traded warily with Bandito Arms. Naturally, a lot of the Traditionalists make frowny face or shed a single tragic tear over this.

There Should Probably Be a Header Here

So, areas "dominated by Native Americans" are called Preserves, regardless of their position on the spirits vs. mecha spectrum. This is because they "preserve" the land and "many of the old traditions" and "people live in harmony with nature". Sure, okay. We're told "most Traditionalists and Pure Ones have migrated to their old homelands", which seems like a slight stretch for groups of people that have been seperated from them by centuries in some cases. While the Moderns and Traditionalists originally worked together on these, apparently they've grown apart over the heads. There's an implication that-

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

Some say the gods or even the Nunnehi had used some form of magic to foster the early cooperation between the tribes, later lifting it when the Indians were strong enough to stand on their own, but no one can prove this theory.

Ah, benevolent mind control, that always works! In any case, there are about fifteen large Preserves and 30+ smaller ones. Outside of Preserves, clan chiefs and the like run things. It notes that by the time the Coalition pushes west, the "Indians may be strong enough to stop the CS or at least give them pause."

However, they generally conflict with Simvan Monster Riders, Brodkil, "some" clans of Psi-Stalkers, Xiticix, Worm Wraiths, and a variety of monsters. Part of this is territorial, others are the objection to being eaten (like with people such as the Simvan and Brodkil who eat humans on the regular). They're generally too far from the Coalition to conflict them outside of the occasional 'bout with a scouting party or skeleton extermination patrol. The Coalition knows there are organized communities out there but not nearly their number. (This, of course, conflicts with the fact that we learned earlier that there are Native Americans in the Northeast - right on the Coalition's doorstep - but never mind that. This is Spirit West.)

Notable Preserves

Bullet points, away!

I... what? What... I... what?

What? How does that- I- what?

We're done here.


Don't write RPG books about ethnicities. Writing them about locations or times were an ethnicity is dominant, sure, fine. But don't do World of Darkness Gypsies, Kindred of the East, or GURPS Irish Travellers... wait, that was just GURPS Traveller. Well, don't do the first two. It's just a bad idea. At best, you flanderize an entire people. Here, we've got the drum beaten of how Native Americans are favored by an entirely new cosmology and are literally more magical due to their ethnic purity. No. Don't do that. Doing this book was a miserable chore that took a ton of work that pretty much killed me. Let my ghost warn you: it's a miserable book despite trying to be kind. Breaux is well-intentioned, but that doesn't make it right. About the best I can say is that it's inspired me to look more at mythical material of the Americas independently of the book because there's so much interesting mythology that... isn't used here.

Not that they've learned from books like this. I have a recent issue of The Rifter that has the optional Tinkers, who are basically not-Irish Travellers for Nightbane with special access to the "mirror world" of that game that they use to travel around. Yes, it's very similar to Ravenloft's Vistani. Lessons are not learned from Spirit West, even though this is probably one of the most rarely-referenced books in the line going forward, even where it would be obvious. The Native Americans supposedly omnipresent in this book will largely retreat into the background going forward, for better or worse. Even in the land of their birth, they more often than not become a footnote. It's as if they were as distant as South America or Japan. There's some more racial insensitivity in the near future of the line should I get that far, but thankfully I don't think they ever put out a book as bad as this one since its publication.

Doing this book finally serves as an endcap to the current set of books, and wraps up the "western trilogy" of Rifts tomes. I stuck with the current format so they'd all fit together, but I'll be making some serious changes to how I do Rifts reviews going forward. Namely, they'll be much shorter and "deep dive" a lot less. The new format hopefully will be more punchy and allow the books to continue at a quicker pace, but I'll be taking a break for a bit after this. After Spirit West, I'd say I've earned it.

Next: Fascists have a boat party.