Rifts World Book 9: South America 2 by Alien Rope Burn
"I know that 1996 is going to be a tremendous year for Rifts, and firmly believe you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
Violence and the Supernatural
This is not similation.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 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 demigod, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.
Get ready to destoroy the enemy.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
Some parents may find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.
Target for the weak points of f##kin' machine.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 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.
Do the best you have ever done.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 1: "I know that 1996 is going to be a tremendous year for Rifts, and firmly believe you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!"
So, there's something about another Rifts book that feels like a looming boss, large, nonsensical, and unable to maneuver well on vertical screens- okay, so it's time to let that metaphor die there.
The intro by Carella is short, and mentions he's proud to complete the last South America book in this series, and become a full-time employee of Palladium Books. That's right. This is Carella's ninth or tenth book for Palladium Books, and he's finally hired on! The sad fact, though, is that his employment would only survive two or three more books, with twelve total between Rifts and Nightbane. He notes here he's going to work on Juicer Uprising (true), Psyscape (false), New West (false), Lone Star (false), and The Coalition States and Chi-Town (false, and released as Coalition War Campaign instead). Yes, that's right, Carella was supposed to be writing at least four more books before he parted with Palladium. So what happened? It's not clear, but Carella would walk off to write for Steve Jackson Games and then Myrmidon Press, which also had other Palladium refugees like Kevin Long and Vince Martin. Something happened where a number of Palladium employees would jump ship to Myrmidon in short order after this book, but what, exactly, is unclear.
This is also Kevin Long's last major work for the line. There'll be one more book with his art in it... but I'll have comments about that when we get to it. This is the last book with new art, let's say. After that, he'll actually go on to draw and write the Villains & Foes book for the rather obscure Cosmic Enforcers (also by Myrmidon Press) before going off to work for Raven Software. There he'll go on to do work for video game franchises like Soldier of Fortune, Wolfenstein, Quake, and Call of Duty. Maybe you've heard of them?
"I will write again..." "It's not your time, back in the coffin, Kevin!"
1996 would be a good year for Palladium, indeed. What followed, though...
Next: The Incan Unpocalypse.
"The pantheon arrived through a giant Rift that opened over Lake Titicaca, one of the most powerful nexus points in the world."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 2: "The pantheon arrived through a giant Rift that opened over Lake Titicaca, one of the most powerful nexus points in the world."
*snicker* "Now we have arrived at- they call it that now? Really?"
Enjoy this map, because it's all the art we get for awhile.
The Empire of the Sun
So, we start out with some notes about early civilizations about Peru-Bolivian civilizations, but reveals the truth: apparently the oldest South American civilization was really influenced by Atlantis, and it was...
The Lost Nazca Civilization
It turns out archaeologists were super wrong in thinking the Nazca existed around the early post-Jesus centuries! It turns out that the Nazca actually existed ten millennia ago! Stupid professors! And their books! They didn't even know the Nazca drawings were line magic! Fools! The Nazca existed alongside Atlantis and Lemuria, which those foolish academics denied! The unmitigated arrogance!
So anyway, Nazca was ruled by mage-kings that used magic drawings to promote good weather, prevent disasters, and cure illness. But when Atlantis fucked magic up for everybody (thanks, Atlantis), the Nazca civilization all but collapsed, with only the remnants becoming known to the (imbecilic!) later historians (morons, one and all!). But even though the magic waned, some mystics remained, and they sensed great danger and began preparing ancient magic drawings to prepare. Which was good, because then aliens invaded.
Now, this is a little unusual, because for all of its weirdness, Rifts hasn't otherwise had alien invaders from space. Aliens from other dimensions? Sure. Aliens from other dimensions from space? Yeah. Humans from space? Kinda. But this is different, at least.
So the Nazca line drawings allowed them to summon giant spirit animals and blasts of psychic powers, and the aliens were a little surprised by magic, which they didn't know about. Their shit was wrecked, and they opted to go home, but in doing so the Nazca exhausted their remaining magic, and many of the mystics died fueling their own rituals. The remaining Nazca wizards went to a pocket dimension to hide out until magic finally returned to Earth, and presumably were very bored in the meantime.
Some Imaginary Nazca Wizards posted:
"What's up, Wayra?"
"The same thing that has been up for the past nine thousand years, Auqui! Nothing! Nothing is ever up!"
"... how about now?"
"You're lucky our enlightened culture keeps me from hurting you."
The History of the Old Inca Empire
Yeah, it says "old", implying there's a new one. Foreshadowing.
So, the Inca claimed to be descendants of the gods, but nobody believed them! The fools! The Inca were really born of gods! The Pantheon of the Sun (part of the Pantheon of the Light), academic assholes! Victor Lazlo knew! Kinda! The gods were actually interdimensional refugees serving Viracocha, who was powerful! And interdimensional! And entity... al! And they were running from the Mechanoids! That's right, the Mechanoids kicked Incan god ass! Somehow! And they came to Earth because they'd heard of the Nazca, Professor Know-It-All! But there wasn't enough magic left so they went into god comas! Explain that, science!
One of them, Manco Capac, united people by impressing him with his godliness and had them build temples to contain his sleepy brethren. Why wasn't he asleep too?
It turns out they formed the Inca Empire and a lot of the early rulers were godlings or demigods. But eventually they figured out the magic wasn't coming back and left for greener dimensional pastures, or to help out other members of the Pantheon of Light against generic evil, or whatever. The Inca had it pretty good then the Spaniards came along and gave them smallpox, the end. And without the worship from Earth, the Inca gods lost their faith supply and took a nap again. They're the nappiest gods.
The Return of the Gods
The Great Cataclysm & New Empire of the Sun
So the rifts happened, no big deal, except the Pantheon of the Sun woke up and they came back and organized survivors in South America like the decent gods they are. They were benevolent, but were also pretty happy to have access to their faithly supply again. When they ran into some people that still had tanks (who attacked because gods are freaky and shit) the tanks managed to kill some demigods and godlings. The Incan pantheon realized that maybe machines were serious business. Meanwhile, the Nazca cities were rebuilt now that their magic batteries came back online, and the Nazca wizards busted out of their dimensional prisons, hungry for magic like Superfiend at a crack convention. The Nazca wizards and the Inca gods had tension for awhile, not fully trusting one another, but then the Larhold barbarians showed up, activated their daily rage or whatever (I dunno, these guys are later in the book), and rolled over the Nazca. The Nazca appealed to the Inca for aid, and the Inca saved them. But in return, the Nazca become their vassals. The, a group of transdimensional slavers called the Dakir attacked (the third group of transdimensional slavers in South America, for the record), and though the Inca weren't weakened per se, it slowed their expansion.
Then aliens invaded.
The aliens from Nazca times, known as the Arkhons, showed up for round two, and came fully prepared to fight magic drawings. Unfortunately, when they warped into orbit, they immediately got into a fight with surviving orbital communities and their satellite defenses. (A plot point not mentioned in Mutants in Space.) Between that and random rift plot magic, the fleet was pretty crippled. Still, they managed to break through and attack the Nazca, taking the wizards off guard- wait, I'm confused. When they were weakened and diminished, the Nazca Line Makers could foresee the first Arkhon invasion well in advance. But at the height of their power, they're taken completely by surprise?
Plot holes aside, the Arkhon were able to bust through and land in post-Ecuador, annihilating or enslaving human villages, and their new colony came into conflict with the Inca pretty shortly thereafter. Using Line Magic and a few gods, a small Inca force was able to hold off the Arkhon invasion, albeit with massive casualties. The aliens have taken some ground, but right now the Incas are holding off on unleashing their full godly might, because they're worried the aliens might freak out and launch nukes or the like. Why are the aliens invading? I dunno, it doesn't say here. Seems like a daft idea, though. Positively daft.
Government and Society
We get population percentages here, but no actual figures, but we can extrapolate from there being 300 godlings and 10,000 demigods that the population must 1,030,000 people. Their leaders are the Pantheon of the Sun, though the gods don't generally dictate policy; they leave that to their priests. Their priests are lead by a high priest (presumably not high, just high) who's a human priest that acts as the executive branch of gov't. The legislative branch is the "Parliament of the Sun" (it's a theme) which is made up of a certain number of seats appointed by the high priest and a larger majority which are elected representatives.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
There are no political parties in the Empire of the Sun; each representative has to convince the local population to select him or her.
Why not? There has to be a reason why not. Maybe they're just really bad at political organization.
We also have nobility! But it's not based on heritage, instead it's a merit-based system involving tests where they test various skills strenously, and if you pass, you're a noble. Nobles get to wear big earrings and wear more money (hence them being called "Orejones", or "Big Ears"), and are "allowed to accumulate wealth", which apparently commoners aren't allowed to do. Seemingly the Empire of the Sun gives out property on a communistic sort of basis otherwise. Sounds practical. But they still don't get as much prestige as priests or wizards. It also notes that rural folk, due to lower education standards and having to travel to a city to take tests, are less likely to become noble than city folk.
There are specific rules behind becoming a noble, which is that you have to have a skill at 80% or higher, or have more than +5 to strike with any attack. Which means we can murphy's that. It's time to present the easiest ways to become a noble in the Empire of the Sun!
- Everybody speaks their native language at 98% in Rifts. Show them you speak words and you're in. They don't even have to understand the language you're speaking in! "I don't know what he's saying, but he says it very well."
- Acrobatics teaches you how to backflip at 80%. Show them the nobility of the backflip.
- If you have a Physical Prowess of 24 or higher, learn any ancient weapon proficiency. Hey, you know what's a good way to improve that stat? Become a Juicer. "Hey, taking drugs makes me pretty noble."
- A Rogue Scholar gets a +50% bonus to Literacy, giving them a bonus of 80% at 1st level. "Reading. Check it."
For most people, though, towns are pretty rustic, relying on "holistic" or psychic healers. However, each village has communal computer terminals, or public display televisions that broadcast news and educational programs. "Outsiders find Inca television to be excruciatingly boring." They also have a civil militia that is required of all adult males, though there is a rotation so that only a tenth are actually serving at any one time.
Inca cities are closer to what we would think of as a modern city. They have high technology and live much more comfortable lives. However, the government regulates entry into the cities and those who sneak in usually end up in shitty slums that are worse than their rural lifes. Take that, immigrants! Understandably, there's some friction between the rural and city sides of Inca life, and there have been some local revolts, some of them even successful. Oh, and there's a pre-rifts terrorist group, The Shining Path. No shit, those guys made it through centuries of the apocalypse. We'll get to them in a bit.
The Sun Priesthood
Priests are selected in their teens from groups of volunteers, and those chosen are given a religious education. Most of those just become "priests minor" who don't have any divine power and act as servants, guards, and other "honorable but low positions". Those who are "gifted" become full priests with all the political power and favor listed above.
The Nazca Line Makers and Other Magicians
Incas like wizards, due to the Pantheon of the Sun having made a habit of working with Atlanteans in the past. Not recognizing their horrendous mistake there, they're still cool with wizards. It's generally assumed, though, that wizards are servants of the state when needed, and will serve when requested. In turn, wizards get to enjoy a higher social stratum, as well as access to arcane universities. They can learn any low-level magic there, and petition for higher-level spells. However, "black magic" like necromancery and witchery is banned, and summoners and shifters are given the hairy eyeball. Summoners aren't in this game, though! They're from a different Palladium game. Which one? It doesn't say and it's not important, so fuck it.
This is the third Palladium book I've seen this art piece in.
So after the Inca gods went away on vacation, some of the Mayan royals were like:
Some Imaginary Mayan Royals posted:
Royal #1: "Hey, I bet we're gods too, because people like us a whole lot, but for some reason we're aging and dying like everybody else. This second fact would seem to contradict the first, but work with me here. What if we trapped our souls in our own bodies?"
Royal #2: "So, we'd become undead horrors? That sounds pretty rad."
Royal #1: "Oh no, we don't become undead horrors. We just lie there. In eternal agony or something, hungering for the blood of the living but never being able to sup."
Royal #2: "Eeeegh. That... that sounds bad."
Royal #1: "But if for some reason there was a huge surge of magic we'd come back as undead horrors that feed upon the lifeforce of the living."
Royal #2: "Wait, are we living in a time where we have any awareness that magic rises and falls?"
Royal #1: "Not at all! So I guess we'd just be tortured, trapped within our own skin, denied any sort of afterlife."
Royal #2: "Well, what the fuck, I do get to live forever. Can you put a TV somewhere near my body?"
Royal #1: "TVs haven't been invented yet. You live in a tomb of complete darkness."
Royal #2: "I'm going with this plan for no discernible reason!"
So yeah, some Incan kings and queens and associated detritus became evil undead mummies and woke up when the rifts came because maaagic. They're working against the Empire of the Sun, which seems a bad idea because it's run by gods of sun and light, but these guys are bad idea pros, so I guess it fits. The worst amongst them is "Emperor Yahuar Huacac, the Blood Weeper". It turns out Yahuar Huacac was a real Incan ruler, but we'll get to him and his demonization later.
Naturally, the Incans have a low-intensity war with the Archons going. The Archons are worried about being smote by gods, and the gods are worried the Archons have nukes (there is no evidence of this concern in the book), so neither is escalating things too far. Well, except the time the Incans tried to assassinate Warlord Enno, whoever he is, but the Arkhons foresaw it with psychic powers.
The Incans aren't in touch with most of the Silver River Republics, but do have some peaceful trade except for Cordoba. Cordoba has attacked them but since both the Incans and Cordobas are both at war with other folks, it's a low priority. They get along famously with New Babylon but aren't formally allied. Some bad blood which isn't detailed here keeps them from getting along with The Megaversal Legion. They don't like Manoa because they think Atlanteans are dicks. They hate the vampires of the Kingdom of Haktla (something about drinking blood and tormenting the living) and have had some minor friction with Columbia but nothing serious.
Cities and Places of Note
A few other cities are mentioned, and then we get villages that have 1d6 x 100 people, but we don't care about those, because the book sure doesn't.
Cuzco, the Imperial Capital
With about 300k folks, this was the original capital of the Inca Empire, then a Peruvian city, then annihilated by the rifts, then rebuilt by the Incan gods. They have the "Great Temple of the Sun" which glows with magical sunlight that makes it daytime all the time. The interior is hollow and can host 50k people, which sadly is not for power armored tlachtli games, but instead is for large religious ceremonies with or without divine presence. There's also the "School of the Arts" which was was an attempt to retain all the human knowledge they could gather, and it also have a notable magical school which occassionally has accidents where monsters bust out and run amok before being wrangled. Wizards are, as you remember, rich and powerful and respected and would never let a fire elemental loose on poor little Joaquin, so I guess they can get away with that shit.
The Great City of Nazca
Speaking of irresponsible wizards, the Nazca build a city out of green and red glowing magic, having learned nothing from the past. But at least it looks like Christmas in July, I suppose. It has six towers made out of magic that act as watchtowers and are overseen by powerful "Line Makers", and they can erect a 700,000 M.D.C. shield, one of those meaningless numbers that for some reason gets totaled up. Why not 800,000? Or 900,000? 1,000,000 would be a nice round number.
Still, they are wise enough to make 60% of their buildings out of good old brick or concrete, and there are magic signs that can give you directions, and wards and circles designed to fire energy bolts at attackers or raise walls. The Arkhon have done the math and found out any attempt to attack the city will fail with 90% casualties. How they can do the math when all the calculations are based off a subject of which they have little knowledge - magic - is anybody's guess.
The Free City of Arequipa
A Pre-Rifts city that survived the apocalypse (there sure seem to be more and more of these as the books roll on), they worked to maintain and rebuild themselves industrially. When they met the Incas, in a bizarre turn that could only be Carella's writing, the Incas were like "oh, tanks and guns, we need those". And so rather than conquer it, they offered Arequipa "free city status", allowing it to self-rule for the most part while still being under the ultimate authority of the Incan Empire. Though there's been some friction, for the most part it's worked pretty well.
They have the best standard of living, which of course attracts immigration and its associated issues, including an underclass of migrants. There are supernatural predators and criminals that exploit these people, though the local authorities do their best to root them out.
The former capital city of Peru, on the other hand, was completely wiped out by tidal waves. However, there has been an attempt to rebuild by Arequipan colonists, and a major shipyard has been built there to house and build the nation's navy.
The City of the Dead
Despite being listed in this section, this isn't part of the Incan Empire, but instead is a mysterious dreaded city where the Emperor Yahuar Huacac and his Blood Weepers rule, along with a group of vampires birthed from an off-world vampire intelligence (and his vampire ambassador). It's location is unknown, since it's surrounded by magic mists that hide it and confound travellers. One would think those would make it more noticeable, being surrounded by mist 24/7. Why? Well, maybe it's a dimensional anomaly! Or maybe not. The book is vague and we'll never know why.
Next: Whiteness is next to godliness.
"Inca Warriors are traditionally men, but in latter years dedicated females have been granted the same privileges and special weapons; their conduct and performance have been outstanding so far."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 3: "Inca Warriors are traditionally men, but in latter years dedicated females have been granted the same privileges and special weapons; their conduct and performance have been outstanding so far."
O.C.C. and R.C.C.s of the Empire of the Sun
We get a long list of applicable material from other books, along with - strangely enough - an Inca Soldier O.C.C. that's intended for NPCs only (being very short and underpowered) and suggesting you somehow go about converting the Coalition classes to fill in for Inca soldiers PCs. It doesn't tell us how, though.
The RK Post art in this is actually really good.
True Inca R.C.C. Demigods
So, these are "transdimensional beings" (which means they travel between dimensions, I guess?), led by Viracocha, who's an actual god. They look like Andean natives but are slightly taller and lighter-skinned, which is why the Spanish invaders were mistaken for them! That's true history, folks.
(Actually, the whole idea of the Incans associating whiteness with divinity is probably an invention of the Spanish, and there's no real evidence for it.)
So, there are different types, though only a few are mentioned in the descriptive text:
- Viracocha Inca (all-father): These are your general all-purpose demigods, with super-strength, magic spells, and exorcism powers.
- Inti Inca (sun god): Flight, glowing, and crappy sun-lasers fill out this demigod package. Oh, and they can put out flames, just like the real sun.
- Pachamama Inca (earth mother): Earth magic, healing, endurance, and charisma.
- Illapa Inca (god of thunder): Speed of sound flight, storm summoning, awful lightning bolts (1d4 M.D. per level, plz stop embarrassing the gods) and water magic and water psionics.
Stat-wise, they're awesome at just about everything, though they're tops in strength and endurance. Their M.D.C. is based on their endurance, so you might want to stock up on every physical skill that provides it. We're told their lifespan is "40,000+" years, an idea with staggering implications that are not explored at all. They can see the invisible or in dark, regenerate, get minor psionics, and bonuses against fear. Skill-wise, they mostly get a bunch of languages, survival, and combat skills. Their skill picks are pretty average, which isn't bad given all their other powers. Also, you get a magic club and spear, and additional magic items as you level up poached from the Inca Warrior class. Though they don't excel at anything, they do a lot of things really, really well. They're not nearly as awesome as vanilla demigods, though, who get to pick an O.C.C. and just generally bust the system that way.
Inca Warrior O.C.C.
So, this is a magical holy warrior that has"the magic to equal any power armor solider or any squad of infantryman". Wow! That sounds pretty badass. What do they get?
Well, they get a magic sling that fires magic fire, a holy axe that can heal tiny amounts, magic body armor, and an amulet of protection that gives them 100 M.D.C. six times a day. About the only thing that's notably more badass than a Coalition soldier is the amulet, which can make them pretty unstoppable as long as they aren't overwhelmed... but nothing that'll stop a squad of soldiers of power armor. The book describes them as a "magical juggernaut" but the Coalition gets better arms than they do by far, doubly so in the case of power armor troops. Not sure why they're tryign to sell them so hard. They do get a bunch of bonuses on saves and physical attributes, but a +2 or a +3 on a d20 isn't a game-changer.
Anyway, they go through intensive training, though they generally don't understand technology so well unless they're from Arequipa. Which is weird - you'd think they'd study it a little harder, given their key foes are steeped in technology. (And, unsurprisingly, it describes this as their sole weakness.) They're supposed to be the elite of the elite, mainly just because their equipment is expensive and rare. Speaking of which, they can get a suit of Incan power armor "when going on dangerous missions", but I'm pretty sure "dangerous missions" covers anything a PC does, so who knows.
They get wilderness and weapon skills, chiefly, along with power armor training. Their other skill picks are pretty robust, and they get an array of Incan weapons... including a rifle that's way better than the elite and rare magic weapons they're gifted above. And thanks to attribute requirements, you only have about a 38% chance of playing one. So much for the ways of the gods, then!
You don't know how long I stared at this before realizing that's a snake on the ground.
This is a specialist priest, to borrow a term, who's part of the "most prestigious organization in the Empire". Presumably they mean "aside from the actual pantheon of the gods", but details are details. So mostly they're more actual priests than mace-swinging clerics, and serve as bureaucracts, academics, and doctors - but this class specifically describes the initerant priests that go around healing people and hurting monsters. Sometimes they act in secret, especially outside the Empire where aliens are likely to shoot them.
Firstly, they can select three priest abilities from the Priest O.C.C. in Rifts Conversion Book 2, but if you don't have that book, they get bonus spells instead. (Having the Priest powers is way better in the long run.) They get second-par spellcasting (they don't have much P.P.E. to play with, minor save bonuses, a holy symbol that has a few defensive spells and also burns anybody that helps the pantheon, a middling number of academic skills, and powers based on their god:
- Viracocha: You get the ability to cast spells from any two warlock elements, and once per day have a chance to cast any spell that Viracocha knows, which starts out at pretty lousy odds (20%) but eventually becomes crazy; when you have a 50/50 chance to cast spells that take thousands of P.P.E., it's a potential adventure-buster.
- Inti: You can get elemental fire spells. Now, you may say "Wait, doesn't the last god get any two elements? Surely you get more spells!", but no, Inti followers get the same amount of spells with a more limited number of choices, only slower. But they get to cast globe of daylight as an at-will, if you really want to ward off vamps.
- Pachamama: "Surely," you may wonder. "at least Pachamama gets more earth sells than Viracocha can." And the answer is yes!... once you hit 13th level, you'll have more Earth spells than Viracocha priests get. Still, you get a weak healing touch that's an at-will, which makes it one of the better out-of-combat heals in the game, and one of the worst in-combat heals in the game.
- Illapa: "Well,", hopefully you can say now, "I bet despite only getting water spells, these priests have a worse progression than Viracocha." And yep! It's the worst of any. But at least they can predict the weather, though not much better than a regular meteorologist, and can cast thunderclap once a minute, which is mainly a good way to annoy people inside the house. Basically, they suck. Worship Viracocha instead.
- Worship the wrong god (o'course).
- Aid or abet evil supernatural monsters.
- Refuse to help or attempt to help the needy.
- "similar dishonorable behavior"
I don't know they don't just say "spray character sheet with lighter fluid, then apply flame", because that would be a lot more succinct.
"And now I have summoned whatever this is!"
Nazca Line Maker O.C.C.
So, it gives us the whole story of the Nazca over again, to where they fled this world and then returned now that magic's back in fashion. It notes they almost claimed Atlantis, but they didn't and instead it gave the Splugorth open season on the old continent. Way to go, drawmancers! Unlike normal wizards, they focus their will through drawings, though they can sketch magic lines in midair, and if you have a crazy high will, you can do it without a drawing implement. However, considering only 0.38% of normal human characters will qualify with the necessary mental endurance, I'm not even sure why they bother mentioning it.
What can they do? Well, sense ley lines and rifts. They can sense if they're a ley line within 5 miles, but can tell the exact distance once they're within 3 feet, which has to be a typo given they're giant blue glowy lines. "I'm 23.452156... inches away. Roughly speaking." You get line rituals, and about a 1/3 chance at base to recognize other line drawings. You'd think it'd be easier, given they're obvious symbols... but I'm going into nitpick overdrive. They also get a number of warding-type spells from the normal spell list as well. They get skills like art, astronomy, math, and demon lore, and get a good spread of other skills (but don't have many default skills).
And I'm going to skip slightly ahead, because it fits here, to give examples of:
So, some line magic takes minutes to case, others take just an attack. There's no unified language, so time for me to see what looks interesting:
- Feast Sign: This lets you make magic wafers that sustain people, only they don't give any nutrients beyond basic sustenance, and can lead to undernourishment. So, basically magic corn puffs without the orange dust?
- Lesser Animal Drawing (Animal type): This takes 1-4 actions depending on the size of the creature. We get two pages giving statblocks for various S.D.C. animals, meaning the best you'll get out of them is for them to act as bullet shields. Oh, and you have to buy it separately for each type of animal. There are 23 types listed here. So if you learn how to make "Bovine: cattle:, you have to buy it again to learn "Bovine: deer".
- Greater Animal Drawing: This is where you're in business - any animal created through this is M.D.C. Sadly, most are pretty pathetic combatants, the cost is still really high, and you still have to buy each category separately. Some of the larger ones get a useful knockdown chance, but at the same time they're going to make you blow most or all of your magic to cast them- if you even have enough to begin with to cast them at all.
- Monster Drawing: This lets you create nonintelligent monsters, and takes 3-8 actions depending on their size. This is potentially pretty useful, but still has a long casting time and cost, and each specific monster has to be learned separately. And looking at the Rifts Conversion Book for examples of M.D.C. animals, I see: gryphons, pegasi, perytons, silonar (riding theropods), unicorns, or various worms of taut. The only ones that really stand out in a fight are the worms; otherwise you can get some decent mounts out of it.
- Entryway: Literally make a Looney Tunes doorway through a substance no less than three feet thick. Takes 2 actions, but think of the shenanigans you could get into with vehicles and robot vehicles.
- Line Blast: It's a crap attack, and guys with guns laugh at you. It also notes you can weave this into a blanket and roll that out instead of having to draw anything. You'd think they could do that with just any old line drawing!... but no. Still, the foes of the Inca will learn to fear my battle blanket!
- Pattern Armor: This gives the subject M.D.C. armor and superhuman strength!... with awful damage.
- Pattern Wall: This is the magic used to make the Nazca magic cities, but you have to learn the Permanency spell for it to last.
- Power Symbol: Literally just a bargain-version, faster-to-cast version of Pattern Armor. This is how you fill page count, folks.
- Wield Lightning: By 8th level, you'll do 10d4 damage, which is too bad, because rail guns that do 1d4x10 are plentiful for various 1st level characters. At least it makes you immune to lightning!... but not rail gans.
These are the super-special secret ones that the Nazcans will teach you only if you're 6th level or higher (how do they tell?) and have performed a valuable service. So, basically quest rewards. A lot of them have to do with fucking with ley lines - making ley line storms, opening rifts, or making a crappy energy warrior that's only modestly better than your average soldier. The standouts are:
- Make Ley Line: This is actually a really cool idea, though it does cost you a permanent loss of 1d6 Potential Psychic Energy points. The thing is, the Earth itself gets to save against your spell, and for the record it has a +3 vs. magic. So there's a 40% chance you just wasted a shit-ton of P.P.E. (300) and some permanent P.P.E. all for nothing. Try again! There's an "extend ley line" too, but I had no idea ley lines ever ended...? I thought they just looped around the world. Hm.
- Permanency: This makes another line drawing permanent, but you have to pay 1/10 the cost of that drawing in permanent P.P.E. loss. So to make a permanent magical weapon, that's 4 P.P.E., for example.
"I will fight evil with whatever the hell this is!"
Rune Warrior O.C.C.
Rune Warriors are soldiers imprinted with permanent line drawings, originally to fight a race known as the "red people", which mercifully refers to a race of demonic giants. We won't get to unironic use of the term "red man" until later in the game line. So, anyway, this makes them into the supernatural elite of Nazcan warriors. Apparently they go around with spears and loinclothes wo that they're clothing-free to "power up". Some few use guns, but most snub the idea.
So this makes them into super-strong M.D.C. warriors, but not really enough M.D.C. to justify running around unarmored, so there's a mechanic where if they try and put on sealed armor, the magic eats away at it until it's unsealed (about 10 M.D.C.). Basically they have powers that last a minute or so and cost them power, like armor, sensing evil or invisible creatures, boosting strength or speed, getting awful combat bonuses, or regeneration. They also get a "pattern staff" that's tied to their own line magic, where they can drain M.D.C. from the staff or shoot energy bolts. The bolts are actually a big deal, because they can do 1d6 damage per P.P.E. spent, with no upper cap. That means if a 1st level character dumps their entire reserve of power, they can do 1d6x100 with one shot. Better not miss...
They have a very general soldier layout (and despite being described as poo-pooing technology, know how to use their radios perfectly well), and their kit comes with rocket or energy weapons. Editing! Psh!
Next: Neon kaiju hummingbird.
"Furthermore, once per melee the monkey can fire energy bolts from its eyes, inflicting 2D4x100 M.D. (small vehicles and robots who dodge the beam's main cone suffer only 2D6x10 M.D.)"Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 4: "Furthermore, once per melee the monkey can fire energy bolts from its eyes, inflicting 2D4x100 M.D. (small vehicles and robots who dodge the beam's main cone suffer only 2D6x10 M.D.)"
The Secrets of the Nazca Lines
The book notes the old UFOlogist trope that the Nazca Lines were somehow landing strips or signals for aliens. Or maybe just directions for ancient Nazca balloons. But wrong! It turns out they were a "magical defense grid" used to fight the Arkhons. Yes, the Nazca lines make giant kaiju energy animals used to battle alien invaders. However, they require a great price to use, and can temporary or permanently destroy ley lines or the casters themselves. The Nazca plateau has a "Super Nexus Point" (been a long time since we've heard of those). The drawings are powerful enough they actually dampen local magical energy even when not active, though.
Because they're so powerful, the drawings are regularly patrolled, mainly because the Arkhons have tried to blow them up a number of times, but also a few times evil line makers have used them "for their own nefarious purposes".
So the kaiju constructs are godlike forces that are immune to a lot of effects (it specifically calls out the OP spell carpet of adhesion, proving Carella actually paid attention to the rules, for what it's worth) and though energy protection can shield from their eyebeams, it doesn't protect from their phsyical attacks. They tend to be around 100'-300' though a few are 600'-900'. Their physical damage values are scaled for size, so that while they're pretty deadly to normal-sized people, they do damage in the hundreds to thousands of M.D.C. against things like ships or buildings. And, naturally, they have M.D.C. from around 3,000 to 12,000 M.D.C. In any case, we have:
- A hummingbird that can fly in space and stun people with supersonic wingbeats (though presumably not both at the same time). There are several of these and so it comes in three different power levels.
- A lizard that can exhale hurricanes to knock things around (including robots and tanks) or teleport.
- A monkey that's a grappler that can shoot eyebeams or teleport. It's probably the best melee combatant of them.
- A spider that can fly around even into orbit, and spin energy webs that can snare things on ground or sky. Apparently it can snare large ships with multiple webbings, but there's no rules for this.
- A "tree of life" that can control the weather or shoot energy blasts, exactly what I think of when it comes to trees or life.
- A "energy line system" that can be used as a enormous anti-ship cannon, and it'll automatically hit large targets, even as far away as orbit. But how do the line makers aim at things they can't see...? I guess it's just magic.
The Pantheon of the Sun - not to be confused with the Pantheon of Light from other Rifts books - is was born from Viracocha and Inti, two energy beings supposedly similar to alien intelligences. However, unlike most alien intelligences, they cared for living beings... because... reasons?... and learned to take on humanoid form. They allied with the elemental deities Pachamama and Illapa and defended worlds from the Splugorth and a bunch of other baddies, at least until their main world of worship was overrun by the Mechanoids™. They tried to establish themselves on Earth, but their home realm came under attack by Ahriman (of Zoroastrianism), and they escaped into a limbo realm to hide. Once they felt the magic return to Earth, they left to set back up on Earth, and see this as their last stand. As such, they plan to help out the Inca for centuries until they feel capable of expanding across the multiverse again.
Those who have read these reviews before know that the deity blocks in Rifts books are hideous, overblown messes. And it's time for another set.
"I'm not the sun god, I just... have the sun on my forehead, and... yeah, it's confusing..."
Viracocha, the All-Father
Apparently he appeared during a "chaotic period of the Megaverse, an apocalyptic war known as the Shattering". Well, this the first time it 's mentioned. Apparently there were "The Shatterers", "beings of evil related to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse" who blew up worlds and slew the Old Gods (not to be confused with The Old Ones, the Lovecraftian evils from Palladium Fantasy). Viracocha was part of a new generation of gods that defeated them, but he might be a renegade Shatterer that turned on his brethren. Most people don't believe that, though, because he's such a swell god. He's an orb of energy that often takes the form of a tall man with glowing eyes, and apparently was originally Caucasian, but reshaped himself to become Andean and wear Incan clothing. So he's literally the White God's Burden...? In any case, his powers relate to magic and ley lines, and he's a shadow of what he was compared to when he ruled multiple worlds.
15K MDC, 75K in the Incan capital, apparently he used to have 150K. He's a 20th level ley line walker and shifter, can turn into energy, can see invisible, through darkness, regenerate, resist energy attacks, heal and exorcise, close rifts, open rifts, create ley line storms, has dimensional blasts that do weak damage but have random effects (aging or deaging, sending people short distances in time or space, etc.), healing and ESP psychic powers, energy swords, 2k MDC plate armor, and he's vulnerable to evil rune swords, which is too bad, because every third named villain in this game carries one.
In real life, Viracocha was a creator god of sun and storms, not magic, who created a race of giants, didn't like them, flooded the Earth as a do-over, and made humans instead. He's real big on travelling dressed as a beggar for divine gotchas, and actually is supposed to be pretty tubby in line with the standards of beauty at the time. Don't weight-hate, Rifts!
Putting Siembieda's art right next to Post's art is... definitely a choice one can make.
Inti, the Sun God
Another energy being, Inti only kind of approximates the human form and mostly tends to glow no matter what. He's Viracocha's bro... or son... one of the two, anyway... and fights for what's right. It turns out he fought the Nightlords at one time (a shout-out to CJ Carella's original-ish Palladium RPG, Nightbane) but barely survived and escaped. He wants to return to defeat the Nightlords once he's powerful enough for round two. This desire to become more powerful is making him more imperialistic, and he might start slipping on the moral scale. As it is he's talking about just genociding the Arkhons and going on berserker rages, and Veracocha is starting to worry. Oh, yeah, and there's a gogua (the unsubtle sluglike Wormtongues from Rifts Conversion Book) and an ancient temporal raider who he's listened to as advisors, but they just might be trying to turn him to evil! Why? I guess what's just what they do.
10k MDC, 50k in the capital, but once had 100k. He's a 15th level ley line walker and generic "psychic", and has a lot of the same powers as Viracocha - but instead of rifts and dimensional flooey he can create energy fields or just fry vampires in proximity with his sunniness. He has all the ESP and physical psionic powers.
The mythological Inti is also a sun god (who has a duality with his sister who isn't in this, the moon good Mama Killa), and has a court that features a rainbow god and various star gods which sounds pretty cool, but you won't find that here. Also he filled his torso with gold dust and the ashes of dead Inca kings, which sounds like a detail worth including!... but give it up, this is Rifts.
Man, how can you skip Mama Killa? I mean, that name... Mama Killa... the jokes we could... oh well.
What's amazing is finding photo references of the gods.
Pachamama, the All Mother
So, Pachamama was a spirit of a living world (like Wormwood, from Rifts Dimension Book 1: Wormwood) and everything was happy and light and then the Dominators (from Rifts Dimension Book 2: Phase World) showed up and she fought them and everything was cool!
Ha ha, just kidding, have you read any of these divine writeups of good gods in Rifts? They're always getting their shit wrecked. So she was able to actually fight off the Dominators and kill one of them, but in turn, they dropped an antimatter bomb on her world, destroying it. Viracocha and Inti heard her scream for help (somehow) and came to wipe out the rest of the Dominators, then "in a unique feat of psychic surgery" they separated her out from the planet. And at first, she resented them for it, but eventually fell in love with Viracocha. It turns out she has the power to link with worlds, and was most traumatized when the Pantheon of the Sun lost their worlds, but has linked with Earth and has resolved to keep this one alive. She's naturally a mound of earth that creates limbs, but has learned to take on human form like you do.
12k / 60k MDC, is a 20th level warlock and mind melter, regenerates, senses the invisible, resistant to all nonmagical attacks, and can link with a world and sense anything through it, track people, and sense natural phenomena... though can't see through anything manmade. For some unexplained reason, though, she specifically can't find the Blood Weepers. Convenient for them! Oh, and she can increase crop yields or possibly bring back the dead, has all the non-"super" psionic powers, a psi-sword, summon earth elementals, including "5,000 minor earth elementals and 500 greater ones". Well, that could kick the Arkhons right off the planet, but... you know...
The mythical Pachamama was a fertility goddess of the Incas, and was originally something a cruel goddess that caused earthquakes, but eventually linked up with Virgin Mary imagery and chilled out. Along with Inti, she's an example of another living religion being represented here along with the Hindi gods from Conversion Book 2.
Illapa, God of Thunder & Storm
A small-time fertility god, he struggled with demon invaders on his world, but when he met Viracocha and the other members of the Pantheon of the Sun, they teamed up and went to the demons' home dimension and wiped them out, and he's been with them ever since. Oh, and if you're an Incan born within an open field during a thunderstorm, you qualify to be one of his priests. That seems to be a random way to hand out titles, but gods, whatareyagonnado. In any case, he's kind of an elemental god that often takes human form, and gives priests and heroes visions during storms. Apparently, he takes special offense to gods that abuse weather control, and as such is likely to come into conflict with Tlaloc (of the Aztec pantheon). One would think he'd be more upset about Enumu, the goddamn Lord of Drought (from the first South America book) who's pretty much on his doorstep fucking with weather patterns on the regular, but no mention of that here.
9k / 45k MDC, 20th level warlock, can turn or see the invisible, regenerate, immune to electricity and resistant to energy, fly up to Mach 10, teleport, dimensionally travel, control the weather, control air and water elementals, travel to the astral plane (why not?), has all the ESP powers, and a magic club made from millennium tree wood, which may be the only effective millennium tree weapon in existence. Also, he can manipulate the weather with it, because... well, why not just be redundant. He also gets a sling that shoots lightning, sure.
Illapa is harder to track down information on, but he was a weather god who is said to keep the starry sky in a jug which he used to make rain, and did have a sling for lightning. It probably did more damage than 2d6 x 10 Mega-Damage in mythology, tho.
Legendary hero, or guy across from you at the gaming table?
Manao Capac, the First Inca
Hello, god which hasn't been mentioned previously in the setting! Apparently he was the first amongst the True Incas, but even after 20,000 years, he's still a godling. Huh, I wonder just how long it takes to become a god if he's still sheleping around as a sub-god after twenty millennia? In any case, he's Viracocha's primary agent, and keeps a low profile, often hiding his identity. With his superhero team, the "Chosen of the Sun", he's been going out and scouting the outside world. Recently, he barely escaped a fight with Tlaloc (the eeevil Aztec god of rains), and really wants to see the Aztec gods taken down a notch. But he admits the time isn't right yet. He's supposed to be a big hero and really has no nuance beside that.
In any case, he's a 14th level True Inca of Viracocha with crazy high stats even for one of them, extra psychic powers, and the "Sword of Manco Inca[/i], a Spanish greatsword taken by the Incas and apparently blessed by their sorcrers and priests. After the rifts came, he found it and it'd become super-magical. It does decent damage, senses evil, and can cast magic armor over him.
Manco Cápac may have been the real founder of the Inca people, and his likely history doesn't mesh too well with being a 20,000 year old godling. In fact, he was supposedly mummified upon his death, which seems like it could be an interesting hook. He's also the subject of legends regarding the founding of the Inca Empire, where he unites the tribes and then turns his evil brothers to stone, which seems like one way to clear up matters of succession.
The Heroes of the Sun: Manco Capac's Chosen
This is Manco's ~200 member group of heroes who are basically the Incan super-elite who have pretty close to absolute military authority. Given, they've supposedly only used it sensibly so far, which is a good record for a group hundreds wide. It has dragons, cosmo-knights, true incas, anti-monsters, true atlanteans, godlings, demigods, cyber-knights... if a character class is overpowered in Rifts, the chosen probably have a representative from it. This group is actually presented as a hook to base a campaign around, giving the PCs focus and missions. Alternately, they might be rivals for a group of PCs heroes, though given they're organized, have near-absolute authority, and have crazy powerful members, I can't imagine them not outshining most player characters.
Next: Mummies alive.
"When he returned, his eyes wept bloody tears whenever he was saddened, enraged, or joyous!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 5: "When he returned, his eyes wept bloody tears whenever he was saddened, enraged, or joyous!"
Forces of Darkness
So we have Incan mummies and evil red giants.
"It's my casual hoodie."
The Ancient R.C.C. Incan Undead
So, these are Incan nobles that, as mentioned earlier, tried to mimic the sleep of the Incan gods by having themselves mummified. While there wasn't enough magic to make their rituals work initially, they were trapped in their bodies and went cray-zay, though some learned to project themselves astrally and learned magic or psionics that way (but how?) and taught it to the others (but how?). Then the rifts came back and they woke up, and hated all living things (but why?). And then they went around slaughtering or seeking worship, like a mummy do, but then the Incan gods showed back up and sent them to death or flight. A lot of them rallied around Emperor Yahuar Huacac, the "Blood Weeper" in the "City of the Dead", where no doubt they decorate everything with skulls. Not robot skulls, like a certain fascist state. Actual skulls.
Of course, it starts out the statblock saying they're not PC material, just in case you were dreaming of being a life-draining mummy. Their stats are overall superior to humans except for beauty (living standards of attractiveness, amirite?) and they've really strong. They get thousands of M.D.C., nightvision, regeneration, reduced damage from non-magical weapons, a touch that withers as a nasty (and potentially lethal) status effect, can control the undead (including lesser vampires), a ton of spells (common or necromantic, pick your flavor), super psionics including a psi-sword, and a magic poncho with 120 M.D.C. Magic poncho. They have weaknesses, though - they have to drain somebody once a month (doesn't sound like much of a weakness) and ordinary fire will hurt them and mega-damage fire will hurt them lots and magic/psionic fire will hurt them bunches (that really is a weakness, or it would be if they didn't have 2500 M.D.C. on average). Oh, not that you can set them on fire until you wreck their flameproof magic poncho anyway.
Magic flameproof ponchos, everybody.
Blood out the eyes, like a horny toad.
Yahuar Huacac, the Blood Weeper.
So, it says there are no records and only a few myths about this ruler, and that's... not quite true. It turns out in Rifts, though, that the Incan people erased their history of him, so nobody learned any important lessons from it... like those mummies above. So, he was a prince was kidnapped by an evil wizard who took him on a astral voyage to the Realms of Death. Wait, they have those in the astral plane? Well, they do now, and we don't get to hear anything more about them! Instead, we find out that because of that he was cursed to weep blood instead of tears. Also when he became ruler, he would go into erratic "rages" in which he "laughed maniacally" and went on murder sprees. Also he became an evil wizard himself and made pacts with supernatural intelligences (Wouldn't that make him a witch as per this cosmology? Oh well.). When he died, they mummified him, but his spirit lived on after death, and he came back as a mummy just like the rest. Oh, yeah, and he still cries blood, in case you had to ask.
Nowadays he rules the City of Death where everybody is suffering and crying, and his court is adorned with skulls and corpses (called it!), and he courtiers who are all vampires, demons, or zombies. His main adviser is Sinchi Yahuar, a gogua (one of those slug-like manipulators again, I guess they get around), who wants revenge against the Incan gods because they slapped him down for his relentlessly generic evil (and didn't kill him... why?). Of course, Yahuar hates the gods too, because he knows what side his bread is buttered on, and it's the one covered in blood and skulls. The metaphor doesn't quite work but I'm sure you get the idea.
So he's much like the other mummies with all their other powers, except he has blood weeping that causes fear, and the tears burn like acid. How? Well, he shimmies his face to spray out blood tears! He has also has all the powers necromancers do, which if you may remember includes such terrifying sights as attaching a chicken claw, in case you need such terrifying sights as a guy who flings blood from his face while trying to scratch people with his giant chicken claw. Nyahahaha! But he does have every necromancer spell and all spells of 10th level or less, mind control psionics, a bunch of evil minions (Including several dragons? Really?), and a magic poncho. Also, I rarely bring up whatever wank-number is assigned in terms of money, but this guy has "over 10 billion credits in gold, jewels, captured equipment and other treasure", which is more than most gods. Also, who cares about rubies and jewelry in an age where there are flying manta rays trying to suck your blood? That should be 10 million credits in canned food and shotguns.
It turns out the real Yahuar Huacac was a real Incan prince who was kidnapped at a young age by a rival ruler who was not a wizard, and was the "blood weeper" because his predicament was so sad he supposedly wept blood, not because he was evil. Or so the historians say. Eventually he was returned as a peace offering and was named the successor, then went on to conquer a bunch of places, but was never an wizard. Or so the historians say. But he was a real history guy who really was part of the real Incan line of emperors. Or so the historians say.
That thing on the right? Supposed to be a Glitter Boy. Siembieda art!
The Pucara, or Red Giants
So, the Red Giants are a mystery to modern inhabitants of Earth, but it turns out they were inhabitants of the Andes who actually predated the arrival of humanity in that part of the world. Whether or not they evolved on Earth or migrated here is unknown, but they felt threatened by humanity because they didn't breed or spread nearly as fast (evidence by them being only in one part of the world for millennia, I guess) and felt threatened by Nazca's spread. Fear took over, and they decided to go to war against the Nazca, and they started slaughtering village after village. This led the human wizards to make the rune warriors, and there was a huge Battle with a capital B between the human sorcerers and the psychic warriors of the Pucara. But the humans were more loyal to their cause, while a lot of the red giants were opposed to the war and fled the field of battle. But the Nazcans pursued and slaughtered the Pucara, and they only escaped by tunneling underground and hiding in caves until the time of the rifts, which opened up their tunnels via earthquakes. The Pucara were once again split between those who wanted peace and those who wanted revenge. Those who wanted revenge acted first on their person-slaughtering plans, and those are the Pucara most humans know of. They also don't like the Arkhons or the Megaversal Legion (why?) and fight them too, but they may seek to ally with other non-humans, particularly if they're giants. Because the Pucara are heightists, I suppose.
Pucara Red Giants R.C.C.
So, these are 20' tall red giants with six eyes. Though they're strong, they can also psionically manipulate or swim through rock. It notes here that not all Pucara want to destroy all humans, but the ones that do have given then a really bad rap. Apparently they've trained for war for thousands of years, you know, like you obviously do when you have millennia of peace, and so a lot of them do want a chance to fight.
They're as tough as a (larger) gargoyle or dragon hatchling, and have high endurance (both mental and physical) and strength. As usual for this sort of race, though, beauty is low. Apparently they only live 600 years, but some rare mutants live 10,000 years, but become sterile. They can see in the total dark, apparently don't need to breathe or eat, instead feeding off of ambient magic, can't be mind controlled, and they've got a good save vs. magic. (I have to wonder why a race would involve to sponge up magic like a tree but still be able to run around and do things.) They can reshape stone, fire stones like missiles, make stone into M.D.C. substances, and get basic psychic powers. Their skills mostly have to do with weapons and fighting, and they get a broad swath of other skills. Apparently they also have stone armor made for a 20' body that's somehow just 100-200 pounds, because editing.
Pucara Mind Mage O.C.C.
This is a variant on the above, which are the elite warriors or leaders of the Pucara trained intensively in psychic powers. So, they have all the powers above, plus they get more psychic powers, including super psionics, and also get enhanced psionic power, and more skills, and better fighting skills, and...
... huh. There's no drawback to playing a Mind Mage. They really are just better. But they have Mental Endurance requirement of 15, at least, so not everybody can play one, right? Well, no. Pucara start with a Mental Endurance of 15-24, because editing, so there's no way you can't qualify for it. There is literally no reason not to play a Mind Mage if you're playing a Pucara unless you just want to eat humble pie.
Sometimes I feel like I'm the first person to actually read this stuff all the way through, or at least just that nobody at Palladium bothered to.
Next: Traditional hand-crafted Incan power armor.
"In an attempt to find a technological equivalent of the Armor of the Sun, the armorers of Arequipa worked for years trying to develop a flame-covered suit of power armor."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 6: "In an attempt to find a technological equivalent of the Armor of the Sun, the armorers of Arequipa worked for years trying to develop a flame-covered suit of power armor."[
This is a rocket weapon or a laser weapon. Can you tell which one it is?
Weapons and Equipment of the Empire of the Sun
So even though they're magically-dominated, the Incans recognize the need for guns. So yayyy we get another gun section, yayyy I'm so excited. Yayyy. They get most of their weapons from Arequipa or from New Babylon (wherever and whatever that is). They also like glitter boys because "they look like homages to the sun god", which having gotten to see the art for the sun god, they look nothing alike. Maybe this book assumes (like I once did at a young age) that GBs are golden, when actually they're silver, since they've rarely been seen in color art? Hm. Also, sometimes they steal Arkhon weapons, but that's another equipment section.
This is the opposite of the other gun. Can you tell which one it is?
- Inti-10 Variable Laser Pistol: This was originally designed to beat Arkhon armor, but actually is a failure in that regard. Though it can be used to beat laser-resistant armor, about the only thing that packs it is the glitter boy, and their enemies don't use those. It also doesn't do much damage, so it's really just a failure. But they use it anyway!
- Inti-20 Variable Laser Rifle: Like the above, but with genuinely decent damage, so it's okay!
- Illapa-1 Rocket Pistol: This is shorter range than the above pistol, but does better damage with its rockets. It's "rather clumsy" but there's no penalty to hit with it or a strength requirement, so why even have that in the flavor text?
- Illapa-5 Rocket Rifle: This actually does great damage and is good against the Arkhon armor, but for some reason isn't their mainline weapon. Maybe they just think lasers are cooler? Hard to say.
"Wait, did I pick up my rocket gun or laser gun today? Well, I'll figure it out."
There's also Gilded Body Armor, which is an suit for elites that's designed to have a fancy sun-god headdress and facemask. It's tough for armor, but not immensely so. Then there's Sinchi armor which looks more like riot gear and is firmly on the low end of the armor tiers. Apparently wizards and priests like to paint it bright red or yellow and attach feathers, and maybe paint a target on themselves to make the effect complete.
"Don't worry, I'm the good kind of Sauron."
Nazca Power Armor
This kind of makes you look like Sauron or a sith, but in actuality is a techno-wizard suit designed to fight glitter boys, and we get a crazy amount of details for a suit of armor, like:
- It has special fiber-optic cameras throughout the suit so you can't blind it by blowing off the head (isn't the pilot's head in there anyway?).
- It's only designed for Inca heights (1.7 to 1.75m) so larger people have penalities using it.
- Nazca magic gives it a force field and lets it shoot "pure ley line energy", whatever that is.
- It also has laser-guided rockets, but that the lasers are visible, which is an issue.
- It can beat up Arkhon Death Cyclops and Stormwind suits, but it's vulnerable ot air attack.
- There have been 250 suits made, 65 destroyed, 30 are missing, and the Arkhons have captured some but don't really understand the magical components.
- blah blah blah blah blah
Everything described as a "glitter boy killer" is bullshit and this is no different. If the rules actually supported using tactics other than Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, it could get creative, but they don't, so it can't.
Conveniently placed flames.
Armor of the Sun
So this isn't a proper power armor per se, but magic talisman that surrounds the wearer with a flaming sun golem. It glows with sunlight and can toast vampires and set objects on fire (do not activate while pumping gas), and only lasts for short periods (two hours at a time, upt ot six times a day). But if it's destroyed, it can't recover for 24 hours, thereby avoiding the dumb Armor of Ithan loop you see with a lot of magical items in this game, where once your M.D.C. is depleted you can just reactivate it and heal back up to mostly full.
The damage this can take is actually based on your Mental Endurance, which is actually a neat mechanic, so it's around 200-500 M.D.C. depending. It does decent automatic damage just from proximity, modest flame blasts, can blind people with surprising effectiveness (but it doesn't play favorites, so try not to blind your allies), and is a decent melee combatant. It doesn't have a radio or sensors, but it does protect from environmental hazards, can see the invisible, sense magic, and send telepathic messages over a mile (but only to psychics, wizards, and priests for some unknown reason).
It's not bad, really, the damage it does is a little underwhelming as with many Rifts vehicles, but it's at least an interesting and different design, which you don't see very often in these sections. So kudos to that.
Nipple guns... fire!
Atahualpa Combat Suit
Unlike the other suits, this is Arequipa's attempt to make a purely technological suit of armor, and though it's pretty dinky, it's cheap and has seen regular usage in Empire forces. It isn't very tough, uses one of the infantry rocket rifles with a bigger clip (still a great gun, but a little underwhelming to see), has mini-missiles, and crappy machineguns that don't even do mega-damage without special ammo. There's nothing more to say about it other than it being the power armor equivalent of a red shirt.
It's important for armor to be on fire!... so the enemy can target it at night.
Solar Combat Armor
So, not to be content with designing disposable cannon fodder, Arequipa decided they wanted to make a real flaming suit like the Armor of the Sun, only without magic, but they couldn't put it off. So they asked New Babylon for assistance, and now with their assistance, can make power armor suits that are literally on fire. Apparently it uses um... a magnetic field to project plasma outward and it really doesn't make a lot of sense, just take it as writ that they can make a suit of flaming power armor.
So it's moderately tough for a suit, and does solid damage but shooting plasma from foes. It has a rail gun that does passable damage, and crap eye lasers. It also can do plasma damage to anything in contact with it (punches included.) and tends to set everything around it on fire. The whole obsession with setting suits on fire would seem to be an issue around tropical forests and grasslands, but hey, who am I to criticize their willingness to set the world on fire for the sake of being super rad?
Like Mini Coopers, only for tanks.
Slinger Light Tank
This is a mini-tank and while not it's not the blatant copy of Dominion Tank Police's Bonaparte Mini-Tank that the XM-300 "Terror" Mini-Tank was, the similarities are notable, and feels like the same inspiration channeled through a different writer. It's a two-person tank that runs on gas or electric, has a cannon that somehow only does less or marginally more damage than the rocket rifle (depending on ammo type), and has two machineguns (one front, one coaxial) that do nearly as much. Oh, and it's somehow even weaker than most power armors.
Sorry, Leona, it's a death trap.
So that's the end of the Empire of the Sun. Honestly, they're kind of neat and it's interesting to have a large, benevolent, and capable nation, though they suffer in that magic is often given a short shrift in terms of combat capability. It's good to also have a civilization that brings back the "old ways" for comprehensible reasons, and yet still allow themselves to wear slacks when necessary. Still, this isn't Rifts, and so there's a lot of handwaving going on to make it work, as much as it does work at all.
Next: Space invaders.
"His plans for the Empire of the Sun include mass executions of all Inca nobles and demigods; he has a list of specific targets to be assassinated or capture, and it runs into the hundreds of thousands!"Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 7: "His plans for the Empire of the Sun include mass executions of all Inca nobles and demigods; he has a list of specific targets to be assassinated or capture, and it runs into the hundreds of thousands!"
As detailed before, the Arkhons are invaders who attacked Earth back in olden days, but now the came back, and we get to hear more of their story.
So, the Arkhons were contemporaries of the Atlanteans and Nazca, at least in terms of time, and were interstellar imperialists, and occasional genociders when there was too much resistance. They saw Earth as primitive and lightly populated, and Earth's magical defenses took them off guard. They realized they'd have to study Earth before giving it another go. Exactly why they're fixated on conquering Earth is not really explained. Lots of planets out there, guys!
The second invasion thirty years ago was solely orchestrated by one of their major clans, the Tlo-Arkhon, who had fallen on hard times and saw the invasion of Earth as a means to regain land and standing. So they warped into Earth orbit, and then thanks to the rifts, one third of the fleet never showed up and hasn't been seen since. Then they were assaulted by the orbital stations' defenses (from Mutants in Orbit) and they took some hard losses on the approach into Earth's atmosphere. There, they tried to bomb the Nazca lines before making planetfall, but the Nazca were able to defend the lines, and they crash-landed largely in the Andes, though it's said other survivors may have made it in parts of Asia, a plot point I'm pretty sure is forgotten by the time the Russia and China books are released.
Arkhons in Orbit
It quickly notes here that the Arkhon's arrival adjusts the Rifts Space (from Mutants in Orbit) setting with metaplot, and that GMs running campaigns in it can feel free to change or omit the information provided here. That's surprisingly thoughtful for a Rifts book!
Remember those ships that went missing during their invasion? Well, they finally showed up, having been warped forward three decades. Freedom Station and the Moon Colony opted to cease their hostilities to have it out with the Arkhons in an "epic space battle". There were heavy losses on both sides, and the Arkhons discovered their FTL tech was all burnt out. Led by Lord Tarris, the Arkhon in orbit are largely cut off from their leadership on Earth. Ironically, Tarris disagreed with the invasion in the first place, but plans to at least make the most of a bad situation. Mainly, they need to secure a base or run out of supplies in several decades. Their general goal is to raid and weaken the colonies before attacking and seizing the CAN Republic (the moon dudes, for the record). They've also established a small base on Mars, but are still contending with the mutant insects and rifted monsters that call the planet home.
The Arkhons in South America
The majority of the Arkhons, though, crashed in the Andes. And enough about that, time for a tangent!
We get some history: the Arkhons evolved parallel to Earth, just with a several millennia head-start. They were headed up by various clans called the Great Families, who eventually formed a World Council and then the clans got into space and started conquering like you do. However, once they ran into their first technologically advanced target, one of the families was forced to request aid from the others. After that, the World Council started to expand its role into one that oversaw conquered worlds.
When the Tlo-Arkhon massacred a million rebellious aliens, the Great Families were like that's going too far which is odd because didn't they genocide whole races just two pages ago? Well, maybe they mellowed out or something. Anyway, the Tlo-Arkhon were stripped of all their holdings, so they took their spaceships and grumped off to Earth.
It switches over to talking about culture, describing the Arkhon are a warrior culture, but with a sort of "winner take all" sense of "honor", and they don't sweat the necessity of fighting dirty. But the Tlo-Arkhon were even too backstabby for them, and Overlord Enno, the head of the clan, is a machevellian psychopath. He's pretty bitter about this current situation. It notes the Arkhons probably can't conquer the Earth like they plan, but they haven't figured that out yet and are likely to kill "thousands before they perish". Only thousands? That feels surprisingly optimistic, given the situation...
The Arkhon Freehold
The Arkhons build most of their communities around their fallen starships, which it points out are still too dangerous to attack directly, due to them having intact energy cannons that do 1d4 x 1000 M.D.C. It does point out that their mountainside location makes them "relatively short ranged", since though they could shoot through nearby mountains, this would probably create avalanches and destroy the ships themselves. Most of the ships have been refitted into citadels, and they have aerial patrols watching the mountain passes which often come into skirmishes with the Incas, Megaversal Troopers (?), or soldiers from the Silver River Republics. Also, they often try and raid any surrounding communities, murdering anybody who doesn't flee, or to send forces out to commit terrorism to intimidate locals. Basically, they're bad at friends.
We get a lot of details on their military breakdown, including noting submersible vehicles not detailed in this book.
- A Fireteam is equivalent to a squad with 10-12 infantrymen, 3-5 power armor soldiers, or 1-3 aircraft, thanks, or robots. They're commanded by a Swordbearer
- A Triangle is a company which is three fireteams lead by a Knight and four Swordbearers (one of which acts as a direct assistant for the Knight).
- A Shield is four triangles commanded by a Duke and two Knights and four Swordbearers.
- A Shieldwall-
So, Enno took over the clan hen his predecessor was ruled by rivals, and may have just be persecuted because he was threatening to become too powerful and take over the Arkhon Dominion and not because of the genocide. That's the way he sees things, but whether or not that's the truth is confusing. In any case, he's a generic tyrant villain who will murder a mama for giving him lip.
Rifts World Book Nine: South American Two posted:
His plans for the Empire of the Sun include mass executions of all Inca nobles and demigods; he has a list of specific targets to be assassinated or captured, and it runs into the hundreds of thousands!
Wait, there are only like a million people in the Empire of the Sun. He has like the names of 10% or more of them? Specifically? Does he just write down any name he learns?
- Overlord Enno: "Angel Jose Castañeda, you will pay for your crimes against the Arkhon Empire!"
- Underling Bono: "What are his crimes, his most terribleness?"
- Overlord Enno: "He serves as a shoeshine to the Inca nobles!"
- Underling Bono: "Really? He goes on the list?"
- Overlord Enno: "He goes on the list!"
- Underling Bono: "Seriously? He just shines footwear!"
- Overlord Enno: "THAT'S IT! YOU'RE ON THE LIST!"
Do we have to mention that the Empire of the Sun and the Arkhon are at war again? Well, they are. They skirmish and raid a lot around mountain passes. The Megaversal Legion, who are apparently transdimensional mercenaries, were attacked by overconfident Arkhons and slaughtered them, because as we'll find out, the Legion is pretty badass, and has kicked the aliens' ass whenever they step their toe over the line. The Republic of Cordoba is occassionally subject to probing attacks from the Arkhons, with the aliens hoping to invade if Cordoba shows weakness. They don't really care about Columbia or Haktla but will blow either up all the same. And they've found out about Atlantis and consider it their major rival for world domination, even though Atlantis could probably smite the hell out of them. Lord Splynncryth, the head tentacle of Atlantis, knows about the Arkhons and couldn't care less.
"Dog boys? Never heard of them."
So, the Arkhons are supposed to be reptilian and feline combined, but they really look like humanoid cat-dogs to me. They're big on military garb that has one central eye (which will actually get explained) but some have taken to wearing Earth clothing as a fashionable new trend. "Behold! For I now wear the human pants!"
Sorry about that reference, it's all I can think of when I read that.
Anyway, their world is like Earth, only with a thinner atmosphere, as a result they like mountains and hate humidity, using environmental armor to overcome the accompanying penalities. In general, they value results over any other factor, whether it comes from skill or luck. As a result, the Tlo-Arkhon have a huge burden of shame they're trying to overcome. The other big factor is that their society emphasizes obedience to a fault; it's expected that a leader's equals will overthrow them, but never their underlings. As a result, most have evil alignments, but there are some outcasts that have fled to the far south to escape the war.
They're mainly strong and agile, and bizarrely (for Rifts) have a Physical Beauty average of 16.5, even though they look like a panther fucked a bulldog. But we can't judge them by our standards! In fact, they're more capable than humans in nearly every way, but they have some lower potential in some areas, mainly being strong and agile. However, they're still S.D.C. creatures. They live 200 years naturally, and 500 with their medical advances. Bizarrely, they can't see in the dark or the invisible or hear well or anything like that!... but they do have a bite and tiny claws. They can't learn magic, but get a small bonus against it, and are more likely to be psionic than humans. Their training is mostly in electronics, piloting, and weapons.
There's also a footnote that they use a credit system that's like, but not compatible with, Earth credits. Thankfully if you play an outcast, they give you a small amount of Earth credits instead.
Vulnerable to Danny Glovers.
Arkhon Spectral Hunter O.C.C.
So, it turns out the Tlo-Akron are pretty advanced cyberneticists... which hasn't been brought up previously, but they've got an O.C.C. to justify now! So, these are fancy cyborgs created some plastic / ceramic hybrid called "Cerasteel" which apparently looks organic and sometimes people have confused them for biomancers. I don't see how; biomancers cover themselves in magic wood and these guys look like a robot fucked a Predator. In any case, these have a fancy chameleon system that's not that big a deal, but we're told it's a big deal and that's what matters. They're mainly assigned to eliminate enemy scouting groups and to do "Morale Adjustment" which is a euphemism for "doing fucked-up terrorism to freak out the enemy", and many of them get savage urges to kill! Kill! KILL!... instead of PTSD. They prefer to fight "worthy" opponents, though, even though it just said they like to just decorate trees with villager sinew. Annnnyway.
Like default 'borgs, they have crazy amounts of M.D.C. between their bodies and added armor (up to 700), and they can run around at 120 MPH. They have fancy visual systems, translators, radio, and their much-vaunted chamelon system. (You can tell Siembieda didn't write this because they don't have a plasma phallus in their leg.) But what does the chameleon system do? Why, it gives them +5% to Prowl! That's right! +5%!... though I guess that makes up for the fact that 'borgs usually can't Prowl at all, maybe? It also does grant a sizeable penalty to people using Detect Ambush and Concealment against them, and mostly hides them from thermal systems. They get some electronics, ambush, and weapons skills, and a slightly reduced number of skills otherwise. Overall, it's pretty decent if you want to be an nigh-invulnerable Predator expy.
"Behold my nonspecific psychic might!"
Arkhon ESP Specialist O.C.C.
Another Arkhon variant, these are master psionicists who are brought in and trained for military or interogation. The Arkhon rely on them using their ESP to detect supernatural threads and counter them, or to find out secrets from prisoners. So! They get a basic package of ESP powers, and can then get some powers from other psionic categories, including super. However, their general progression is pretty slow and they don't really compare to human psychics very well, though they're pretty good at their role. They get electronic, intelligence, and weapon skills, and a slightly reduced number of other skills. However, with their high mental endurance requirement, you only have a 9% chance of playing one, because Palladium doesn't understand dice curves.
When a Klingon and an ape really love one another...
Wait, who? These guys were only mentioned in the population breakdown, the fact that the Arkhons have this slave race should have probably been mentioned at some point in their description. Chances seem likely this is leftover art that's been repurposed with these guys tacked on at the end of the writeup.
So the Fallam are a race that was conquered by the Arkhons and essentially live as second-class citizens. They're basically big hunks of muscle and are minor M.D.C. creatures... because.... and mostly look like humans with apish builds and bumpy heads. They were originally treehugging peacelovers, but have been coopted into the Arkhons' culture of war. However, sa small group has fled all the way to Tolkeen in a shuttle, and are hiding out there there. There are also malcontents that engage in sabotage to work towards the Arkhon's defeat by the Inca. Many of them are just mechanics and technicians, despite their strength.
Predictably, they're strong 'n tuff 'n ugly, with only mild M.D.C. and a variety of minor combat bonuses. They get a variety of combat, fixit, and military skills, along with a free suit of armor that's actually pretty tough at 110 M.D.C. Nothing really stands out about that, they're particularly generic tough guys with a tragic backstory.
"Welcome to the undersea kingdom of- what, that's not our thing? But I got the trident..."
Fallam Battlemaster O.C.C.
3% of Fallam have the ability to channel a Battle Trance which is your standard kind of zen fightin' mode, but it leaves them exhausted. Concentration is tiring, I guess? Apparently they had practiced martial arts before being conquered, but their fu had waned in a long period of peace. The Arkhon have revived these arts and - wait, you said it was a genetic kind of thing, but now it's taught? Guh, make up your mind, Rifts. Anyway they're treated as elites even amongst the Arkhons, but they have a rivalry with other elite Arkhon units. Also there's a rumor that there's a secret cabal of them that's looking to overthrow the Arkhons one day, but certainly that's nonsense, right? Right.
So, they get some minor bonuses to their phsyical attributes and combat, the best of which is an extra attack. Their fancy-pants Battle Trance gives them a bunch of bonuses. But the only ones that really matter is that they get two more attacks and immunity to mind control and fear. However, they have to concentrate for a full melee round to activate it (pretty much forever in a Rifts fight) and it only lasts for a melee round per level, after which the Battlemaster turns into a Wimp... Master. They have a more directly combat-related set of skills, including martial arts, and are probably just a straight-up upgrade unless you were really wanting to play a Fallam greasemonkey or engine- no, okay, they're just a straight-up upgrade.
Next: Spiral power.
"This motif is due to the existing of a semi-intelligent predator on the Arkhon homeworld, a large, heavily muscled one-eyed creature larger than an Earth gorilla and with the ruthlessness and thirst for blood of a leopard."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 8: "This motif is due to the existing of a semi-intelligent predator on the Arkhon homeworld, a large, heavily muscled one-eyed creature larger than an Earth gorilla and with the ruthlessness and thirst for blood of a leopard."
Arkhon Weapons & Equipment
So, some facts about Arkhon weapons.
- A lot of their designs are modeled after the Un-Mertak, aka the "Death Cyclops", who was a terrifying predator on their world (until they killed most of them, anyway).
- Their guns use a "tri-beam" that combines a laser, ion, and plasma beams. You know, like you do in the kitchen. They do double damage to most materials, but normal damage against force fields and their own armor. The beams also wind around one another in the animest spiral way.
- They use a special material called "cerasteel" for their armor that takes half damage from energy weapons, normal damage from tri-beams, and double damage from physical impacts.
- They use a different e-clip technology, but adapters can be devised for normal e-clips (and they already have them on their weapons sometimes just to use human e-clips).
- Their grips are designed for Arkhon hands, and deal a small penalty to humans who try and use them until they acclimate.
Contains 200% more rays than your average ray gun.
- TB-3 Tri-Beam Energy Pistol: Yes, that's "TB" for Tri-Beam, not TuBerculosis. It does only token damage, but is at least crap against normal armor.
- TB-9 Auto-Pistol: It notes that this weapon can be used two-handed like a submachine gun, but that manly Arkhons only fire it one-handed. Good to know. Average damage with the usual Arkhon Tri-Beam caveats.
- TB-Prime Tri-Beam Energy Rifle: Average rifle with a grenade launcher. Grenades are weaksauce like they bizarrely are in Rifts, but the average damage means the Tri-Beam is really good in its element.
- M-100 Tri-Beam Crew Served Gun: Wait, what does the "M" stand for? So, this is their rail-gun equivalent, and usually has one bearer and another Arkhon lugging ammo. Because this is a Tri-Beam, it's towards the top end of person-portable weapons in its element.
- BM-2 Backpack Mortar System: So, this is a computerized mortar you wear like a backpack, and then verbally activate. They're actually pretty low-damage, but you can fire bursts of them for decent damage. Of course, it seems a little problematic to have a mortar firing bursts right next to your ear, but Rifts runs on action figure logic for the most part.
- BRL-3 Backpack Rocket Launcher: Speaking of self-inflicted concussions, this fires rockets, once again, with the barrel resting inches from the firers' head. There are a lot of about how it can fire its rockets in guided or unguided (guided lets you fire over the horizon, unguided lets you hit better). It does pretty good damage, but since it can't fire volleys, it actually does functionally less than the mortar.
- Tri-Blade Energy Sword: It lies, it's really just one blade made from three wires that energize and form a blade that has the Tri-Beam effect, but is pretty average for a melee weapon in Rifts (read: bad).
- FR-5 Fletchette Rifle: This basically fires fletchettes in shells like a gauss shotgun. But its slow rate of fire means it kinda sucks.
- FRA-1 Fletchette Auto-cannon: This is the railgun equivalent of the above, and it actually does boss damage (approaching the boom gun), but requires high strength to use.
It's kind of interesting to see Carella try and justify another gun set by making it at least have new mechanics and some interesting interplay where it's going to be weaker against their magical foes and make the Incans rely on magic more than technology for their defense. It's something we'll see onward in the book, where he has different kinds of technology for different cultures which have different mechanics. It's not a huge game-changer, but it's at least a modest justification to have detailed weapon sections like these... as opposed to the rather interchangeable weapon statistics we've seen previously across a lot of the game line.
Next: The aliens' side of the toy line.
"Captured Wasp pilots are usually called 'baby killers' and summarily executed."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 9: "Captured Wasp pilots are usually called 'baby killers' and summarily executed."
Robots & Power Armor
First off, there's the everyday Arkhon Body Armor, which is on the level of Triax body armor, but is made out of cerasteel which has some issues. No art for it, surprisingly. Humans can wear it but then they have exposed areas that can be shot. It notes that humans that capture the armor tend to repaint it from red to keep from looking like alien invaders... which I guess works until the Arkhon get around to painting their own suits. Movin' on.
"How do we get our troops to pilot this shit?" "Just add spikes 'til they think it's badass."
Stormwind Assault Exoskeleton
So, it says one-third of all Arkhon soldiers are equipped with these. It's a light suit of flying power armor that:
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
Although it's it is less well armored than most suits of power armor, and does not have the enhanced speed and reaction times that most power armor systems have, (no Power Armor Combat bonuses apply), the Stormwind is still a near-match to most light and medium suits.
No it's not, for all the reasons stated in the run-on sentence above. A SAMAS will fuck this thing's shit up. It can't even do M.D.C. damage with its punches. All it has is a integrated TB-3 and grants flight, which while not bad, puts it in the utter bottom tier of power armors. It does use an antigravity system than human nations are trying to crack (they've captured suits, but haven't puzzled out the technology yet), which means despite its modest flight speed off 200 MPH, it can fly into orbit.
And then get disintegrated by the nearest killer satellite that gets a whiff of it, since it can't dodge for shit, but it's kind of interesting that Carella would basically design this as a mook-plus suit, in defiance of the usual Rifts design philosophy of all mecha being bullet sponges.
When you pilot your alien death machine just right-
Ghost Wasp Aerial Power Armor
This is a far more robust suit, the equivalent of the Coalition's SAMAS, only with a passive clocking field that lets it turn invisible to sight and radar when it isn't actively fighting. They've been used in terrorism acts against the Incas, targeting civilian populations; as a result, any Arkhon Ghost Wasp pilot who gets captured can expect to get executed in short order as a "baby killer".
They get one of the FRA-1 Fletchette Guns, which-
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
When sent out on terror missions, the pilots "hose" an area with flechettes; the result is like hard rain on soft sand - except the "sand" in question includes concrete sidewalks, buildings, and unarmed civilians.
Arkhon military strategy, folks. It also gets a "Tri-Beam Stinger" that actually rivals a boom gun when a force field isn't in the way, mini-missile launchers that can fire 16 (!) missiles at a time, or instead of mini-missiles, it can have a long-range missile launchers (which doesn't make any sense, a power armor probably can't fit ballistic missiles). And it has a stealth system that gives a -50% (!) to detect skills trying to notice it. It's basically one big PC-murdering alpha strike waiting to happen; a squadron could easily do nearly 5000-9000 damage with an opening missile strike and murder a lot of low-to-mid rank gods if they don't have the sense to teleport away. Missile barrages are basically Rifts breaking point, and there's no reason for baby-murdering NPC villains to hold back other than the kindness of the GM's heart.
"Why does a death machine need a belt?" "For the fanny pack! Obviously."
Death Cyclops Assault Suit
This is their tanky power armor, and those spikes it has have "vibro-fields" to do damage close up. Since they have more armor than the Incas do, they tend to use waves of numbers with these things to wear their foes down, along with distance barrages of missiles.
While it's tough for a suit of power armor, it's no glitter boy. It can use either a flechette rifle or a tri-beam rifle, but the flechette gun has better range and damage, so it's the superior choice. It has "torso tri-beams" that are underwhelming, and can do missile barrages like the Ghost Wasp. It can replace the mini-missiles with:
- An anti-air package with a dinky flak cannon and medium-range missiles.
- An anti-air package with a long-range radar array and long-range missiles.
- A mortar package that's essentially just like the person-portable mortar. Used for killing civvies! Whee!
Stilt-Man got real weird.
Great Cyclops Assault Robot
This is the upsized robot from the cover, and unlike a lot of robot vehicles, it works basically like a large power armor with only one pilot. Let's see... it's pretty damn tough, easily in the upper tier of villain suits. It can fly through anti-gravity, can do some pretty massive damage with palm tri-beam blaster, five fuckin' medium-range missile launchers that'll easily dish out around 1000 mega-damage with a full barrage, fletchette, tri-beam guns in the lower torso serving as the obligatory shit weapon, mini-missiles in case you need a second barrage of about 500 mega-damage, and... smoke dispensers and a searchlight. Except it can see in the dark multiple different ways, what the fuck does it need a searchlight for? Drama, I guess.
Just throw spikes on it until it looks evil enough.
"Porcupine" T-10 Assault Tank
Sure, let's just start naming shit after Earth animals, why not? That was a cool idea of naming them after alien species, but fuck it. So it's called the "Porcupine" because it has a lot of guns, how clever. It's a hover tank that mainly only sees use in open battle, since it's not really effective in the mountainous guerrilla actions that make up a lot of the Inca-Archon conflict.
It's pretty damn touch, has double cannons that are just... actual cannons... that do high damage, a dinky fletchette gun in the cupola, mini-turrets that fire tri-beams or fletchettes respectively for passable damage, and mini-missiles, because why the fuck not? I suspect mini-missiles are like the breath mints at the end of every mecha dinner in Rifts.
"It's safe to poke my unarmored head out, right?"
"Evil Eye" APC
It's a hovering troop transport called the "Evil Eye" because the eye portion is now an energy weapon! How clever. It has about average M.D.C. for a vehicle of its size, an average tri-beam, mini-missiles, and... a radiation gun that penetrates normal body armor by heating it up, and even can effect power armor about 30% of the time, which seems like a good way of cooking glitter boy pilots. Wait, why don't all if their vehicles field this shit? The Incas field glitter boys, so it'd definitely be worth their while. I guess it's still a little too dodgy to be effective, but still, put a bigger version of this on a tank and make boom gun bbq.
Some artist learned a few things from the Invid designs.
So, this is an "ugly vessel", but I dunno, I think it looks fine. It's their all-purpose air/space fighter, and it conveniently makes a howling sound when it dive-bombs despite having an anti-gravity system. In any case, it's a bit fragile, has tri-beam cannons, medium-range missile barrages, and can zoom around at MACH 2, or MACH 8 in space. Though it isn't very tough, it probably has some of the heaviest firepower we've seen on a high-speed fighter.
Aliens vs. Incas
So, just as a last word before we move on to the other sections of the book: we have these two factions at war and it's hinted that the Incas are winning, but stat-wise I just don't see why. The idea, I think, is that the Incas have force fields and that counteracts the Arkhon advantage with their tri-beams, but the fact is that the Incas don't actually field many units with force fields (the elite Inca warriors, the techno-magic armor, and the energy line animals, but that's about it). In addition, the Arkhon can just missile barrage any unit with a force field well past oblivion. The only way I can see the Inca actually standing a chance stat-wise is through magical shenanigans, but that's not enough for a stand-up war. The only real explanation why the Arkhon haven't completely just rolled over them is a fear of the Inca's heavy hitters, but outside of the Inca capital, the Incan gods are actually fairly vulnerable to a combined Arkhon attack. It just doesn't seem thought out very well - I suppose the Incas have a numerical advantage of about 2 to 1, but that wouldn't be enough to make up for the face that Arkhon forces hit harder, generally take more damage, and have things like high-speed flight or cloaking devices the Incas just don't. Of course, Pachamama could just summon a ridiculous amount of earth elementals with thousands of M.D.C. apiece and just knock over the mountains the arkhons live on, too.
I actually pretty well like the ideas in play here, magic Incas vs. alien invaders is pretty rad, I just wish the numbers bore out. Oh, and this is about the midpoint of the book: the Incas are about a full third of the book, while the Arkhon get about a sixth. Now we start getting weirder. Yes, odder than Aliens vs. Incas.
Also, this has the last new designs we'll see from Kevin Long before he leaves the game line. He'll have a few pieces in the next book, but it'll clearly be old repurposed art that probably wasn't intended to see print...
Next: Militaires Sans Frontières.
"Who would have thought that the Turks would become the next 'evil Empire?'"Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 9: "Who would have thought that the Turks would become the next 'evil Empire?'"
No art on these pages, only . Well okay, there is this one piece of art:
I have no idea why they decided to copy a slice of RK Post's ninja art in this section.
The Megaversal Legion
An Independent Mercenary Force
So, it turns out the Legion is an advanced mercenary army set up in the mountains of Bolivia made up of two main groups: the Ojahee, giant alien not-Klingons, and former U.S. soldiers from another Earth. Apparently, they were formerly a slave army that overthrew their masters, but we don't get more on that yet. They're similar to Metal Gear's Diamond Dogs or Militaires Sans Frontières, only they predate those particular games by well over a decade.
In the Beginning...
Ohajee Jungles, M'korro, Year of the Black Dragon:
So we get a lot of about a Warlord Okarr of the Ojahee fighting some race called the Talians, who will not be important. The Ojahee are clearly presented as imperialists with superior technology while the Talians are clearly indigenous "savages", when mysterious spaceships show up and demand an Ojahee surrender, proceeding to laser the Talians to death as a show of force. (It's worth noting the distinctions here are national, not racial, in a turn of nuance.) The Ojahee, awed, surrender on the spot to the invading spaceships.
Iraqi, Desert Earth
(one of many Earths?), 2004 A.D.:
Next we move to a future, possibly alternate Earth (considering this book dates to '95) to a group of U.S. army troops led by Colonel Arthur Savage leading a push into Turkey. Apparently, they're actually having a tough time due to the fact apparently America's cut its military budget (this really must be an alternate Earth) and so Turkey is actually on par with them. Still, they have air superiority, despite the reports of UFO sightings which no doubt is just silly superstition, then there's a bright abduction light. They wake up and have a bunch of cybernetics grafted to them, and they're freaking out in body horror for a moment, but an alien voice announces that they've been "improved" as servants. Colonel Savage silently vows revenge against their captors, like you do.
Many Years Later
We catch up with Savage and Okarr having won a battle against the Brodkil, the generic demonic adversaries of Rifts Sourcebook and Rifts Sourcebook Three: Mindwerks. Interestingly, there's a throwaway line about the Brodkil being "a plague on a thousand worlds" that will no doubt be forgotten, even though it's probably the most interesting facet ever given to the Brodkil. Raises lots of questions about the guys. In any case, it notes they won through tactics rather than force, having been badly outnumbered, and that they're working for some mysterious race called the Dakir. Okarr then tells Savage offhandedly that hey, the microphones and bombs the Dakir have planted into their head no longer work, thanks to the efforts of some scientists they liberated from the Brodkil. The two agree that hey, it's time to revolt against the Dakir. And they do.
The Dakir Race
The Darir race are a mystery race known around the Megaverse as the foremost weapons engineers, trumping even the Naruni, but for some reason they never sell their weapons. Instead, they outfit slave armies and rent those out, instead. Which turns out to be something of a bad idea, because slave soldiers don't make the finest fighting forces. Why they do so is a mystery, but it's said that they might be dedicated to some deity or supernatural intelligence of war, or that they might just be culturally paranoid.
The Megaversal Legion was the Dakir's cross-dimensional slave army provided though Dakir Military Services (I have to wonder, would there ever be a company called "Human Military Services?") for the past millennium. The first iteration of them was able to fight off a Splugorth / Kittani invasion, and though they suffered massive casualities and a partial rout, they fought the Splugorth forces off. That was enough for them to build a rep, but the Megaversal Legion has always suffered morale issues. To try and alleviate that, they try and diversify their forces with small groups from different races to make group revolts less likely. The Ojahee and captured humans, however, were able to ally and formed the most effective force the Dakir had. They even fought a holding action to help evacuate a world from a Mechanoid invasion (see Rifts Sourcebook 2: Those Darn Mechanoids) with a kill ratio of 30:1. The Dakir eventually relocated them to Rifts Earth, hoping to use it as a staging ground.
The Mutiny (68 P.A.)
So, as mentioned in the fiction, the Megaversal Legion was able to disable their loyalty implants through the help of scientists who had previously been enslaved by a the Brodkil. The scientists were remembers of the "Men-Rall" race, who have a natural ability to manipulate technology, and sought to help the Legion overcome their own role as slaves. The grand majority of the Legion joined in on the assault; most of the loyal Legion members weren't veterans like the humans or Ojahee and were slaughtered. It was only the Dakir themselves that were a threat, as they had devastating personal weapons systems, but the Legion was able to overcome them through superior tactics. However, despite the fact they had won the day and seized the Dakir's dimensional portals, none of those portals went home. As a result, most of the Legion opted to stay together and remain a mercenary organization. And they've stayed that way for the past four decades, led by General Savage. However, they haven't taken up much work on Earth itself, instead generally fighting in conflicts across the Megaverse.
Seriously, I don't think that's been pointed out, but that's what Rifts calls its setting. The Megaverse.
Government & Society
It notes that the Megaversal Legion is now practically a small country with a notable civilian population of retired soliders, families, and support staff, and as a result they've developed their own government of the "Joint Chiefs of the Staff" led by the Commander-in-Chief-Megaversal Legion (they have a lot of CINCs I won't bore you with) General Savage. Civilian communities are led by a mayor that has no authority over military affairs, nor does the military over civilian affairs, though there is a CINC-Civilian Affairs that gives the mayors a voice on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Military service is volunteer-only but quite popular, partially due to a snowballing pension that builds with longer periods of service. Most new soldiers come from the families of soldiers or the civilian population, but they also recruit from worlds the Legion serves upon. Bionic reconstruction is optional for soldiers, but the majority opt to take it because, hey, free Robocop duds. Their communities on Earth are very well defended and are largely peaceful on their own. As mentioned, their mercenary work is contracted off-world, though they tend to have a heart of gold. As such, they won't slaughter civilian populations, but they certainly like being contracted against forces that do.
The Empire of the Sun and the Legion had conflict back from when they were run by the Dakir, who sent the local ex-Bolivians fleeing and attacked a number of Incan cities. Though the Legion sought peace from the Incas after their revolution, that's pretty much all they got, and then only due to the Arkhon being a common threat.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
The Legion does not trust the "gods" that are said to rule the Empire, and the Incas' followers still have bad memories of American intervention, and see the human legionnaires as "gringos" not to be considered friends.
Wait, what? We've had over a century and at least one apocalypse since those times. I'm surprised the Incas remember what America was, though I guess they didn't necessarily lose their textbooks. It still seems a little incongruous, though.
The Arkhons have fought the Legion and lost over and over, and so turned to trying to hire the Legion, who told them to fuck right off. They've generally stopped trying to push that front at this point. The nation of Cordoba from the Silver River Republics has attacked the Legion, seeing them as alien invaders, also to be chumped. The Achilles Republic has a sort of loose alliance with the Legion, and has hired it to train its units. New Babylon has hired them as mercenaries, but is frustrated that the Legion refuses to share its weapon technology. The Legion has heard of the New Navy and a small group has gone to try and seek them out as fellow Amurricans. And they've heard about the Coalition, but have come to the rather correct conclusion that they're a bunch of racist facists who aren't worth their time.
... are divided into six armies, at least one or two of which are stationed locally for defense, while at least two of them are off-world at any given time, which are divided into divisions. We get a lot of numbers, but the net effect is that they're a smaller force than Arkhons (and the Arkhons are a smaller force than the Inca).
This is their main military base and city, and it's here that they produce the majority of their weapons. It's surrounded by bunkers and anti-aircraft weaponry, and is surrounded by more vulnerable farms and neighborhoods, but nobody's seriously attacked in the last few years. They also have access to the "Dimensional Dome" which contains the "DGS" (Dakir's Dimensional Gate System, no, the abbreviation doesn't match) which looks like a giant cannon that can transport up to a football field-sized area across dimensions without using rifts. (How they get back isn't clear.) It also has a transdimensional communication network they use to keep in touch with their forces far afield on other worlds.
Peace City (La Paz)
I remember that teenager who can't shut up about nature and how peaceful Bolivia is and then turns out to be this extremely problematic charac-? No? Oh, this is a Bolivian city instead. To be fair, they probably can't shut up about how peaceful they are, either. It was once just a mining town, but has expanded into industry (mostly civilian) and entertainment. It has an area called "The Strip" which has all sort of restaurants, clubs, casinos, and "pleasure houses" which is to say we're talking about prostitution. Local security is handled by the Legion.
The Dakir Slavers
... are still around somewhere. It notes that no member of the Legion actually saw a Dakir, since they generally communicated remotely, and the few times they were actually seen they wore robes and cloaks and had obscuring force fields (shades of Babylon 5's vorlons, given that had started airing about the time this would have been written). Apparently they saved all the best guns for themselves, since though we don't get a statblock, they dealt about 100 M.D.C. per shot with their energy blasts and took 1000 M.D.C. before detonating. Though the Legion has been trying to find out more about them, they've mostly come up short. There are rumors that the Dakir are run by a renegade Splugorth or Naruni, that they're somehow connected to the Gene-Splicers, or that they're at war with some beings called the "Techno-Gods". The Techno-Gods rumor seems the most likely one, given "Techno-Gods" is printed in bold text, a clear giveaway. But as far as I know that thread is never followed up on by later authors, like much of what Carella writes. I generally presume they're just an interdimensional version of Kraftwerk.
Next: The 7th Robocop Cavalry.
"The VR system allows the 'borgs to live out any fantasies and temporarily escape their grim reality."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 10: "The VR system allows the 'borgs to live out any fantasies and temporarily escape their grim reality."
Common R.C.C.s & O.C.C.s of the Megaversal Legion
First it notes any race from other Rifts books can be found here. Looking forward to playing my 100' tall, tentacled, splugorth legionnaire here, then, it's canon! They don't flinch from recruiting psychics or wizards, who apparently are formed into their own units, but you're required to pick up some basic skills to with your skill picks to represent Legion training.
Camouflaged perfectly to blend in with zip-tone.
Megaversal Trooper (Human) O.C.C.
So, these are cyborgs, even though they mostly look like people in armor rather than obviously cybernetic. Like Robocop. A lot of the older ones also underwent genetic treatments to slow aging, and will live an extra century or more. Becoming a trooper means your life is basically dedicated wholly to your unit, and it's common for romantic relationships to come out of service. Discharged veterans have the choice of using bio-systems and cloned organs to recover their mortality, or just kick back as Robocop sans armaments for the rest of their years. "Dead or alive, I'm relaxing with drinks!"
So they get the benefits of being a partial cyborg: a shit-ton of sensors, super-strength, mild M.D.C., and a special antimatter power system that obligingly melts down when you die so nobody can recover it. They also get a surprisingly high Initiative bonus (+6). Other than that, they're mostly just better trained than most cyborgs, with a broad range of military and combat skills and the fancy Legion weapons... and the surprisingly underwhelming armor compared to normal cyborg armor. It also refers us to Rifts World Book Eight: Japan for the whopping four new military skills. Military: Camouflage (base chance: 20%) is definitely worth $20.95!
Toptail: the sign of a true '90s warrior.
Megaversal Trooper O.C.C./Ojahee R.C.C.
So, these are warriors from a "natural M.D.C. dimension". They had just gotten up to black powder and steam engines when they were kidnapped by the Dakir, who used them as flexible skirmish troops. They're big on courage, creativity, and honor, not necessarily in that order, and respect humans even though they're so tiny. Cue boisterous, patronizing laughter and a hard slap in the back and knocks some human over.
Oh, like I have to repeat the statblock by now: high strength and endurance, low beauty. They have modest M.D.C., supernatural strength, and an aversion to magic and a poor potential for psionics. It's hinted they can take another O.C.C. (based on the title above), but it's not clear; their one listed here has a lot of a combat skills and an average selection otherwise. Other than that, they get the fancy Legion weapons and that's that.
beep boop bub
Destroyer 'Borg O.C.C.
If being Robocop isn't enough, you can become a Terminator instead. Ba-bum-bum-ba-bump. Ba-bum-bum-ba-bump. So, these are full conversion cyborgs used for long-term or long-range missions in small units due to their self-sufficiency, often setting up patient ambushes or attacking behind enemy lines. They look like skeletons because it's more stealthy, somehow, and often use scary face paint to be scary skeletons. They also have an entertainment VR system built-in that's mainly used as therapy relief from their cold metal existences.
They get to be full cyborgs, but can't wear normal cyborg armor - they at least get a force field that makes up for them pretty well. They can also parry any projectile (and specifically only projectiles) with little point defense shields, stealth systems (that boost prowl and penalize opposing skills), fancy sensors, oversized Wolverine claws, and super-strength. They get to be trained as special ops badasses and otherwise get fancy Legion guns as they like.
Not Reinhardt's best skin.
Ojahee Cyborg O.C.C.
Unlike other 'borg troops used by the Legion, the Ojahee (partial) cyborgs are fielded like walking takes. They're actually crazy tough, with the usual overload of sense enhancements. They get a "Gatling I-Gun" and Particle Beam in their chest that do decent damage, mini-missiles in the shoulders, and decent combat bonuses (including that initiative bonus, again). They get a bunch of fighty skills and a pretty average spread, otherwise. Mostly just dull tanky types, but they're at least pretty good at being dull tanky types. Also they find VR offensive, so they don't get that particular system installed.
God help them if they need prescription eyewar.
Men-Rall "Tech Master R.C.C."
So, this is an unusual race that can only communicate through electromagnetic emissions, so they need voice boxes to speak with humans.. Actually, this also means they can shoot lightning and manipulate matter, too!... but only if that matter is a machine. Apparently they're a very old race that may have suffered some kind of cataclysm, and it hints they may be the creators of the Machine People (of Rifts Dimension Book One: Phase World). For some reason related to this disaster, they refused to invent or develop technology, but only maintain it. No wonder they're dying out...
In any case, some of them instrumental in freeing the Legion stayed with them. Though they despise conflict, they serve as skilled technicians, and maintain a lot of the Dakir technology essential to the Legion's operations.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
Shortly after their joining the Legion, a human soldier jokingly gave a Men-Rall a human lab coat, explaining that the lab coat was, in his words "a ceremonial robe given to our men of science to honor their skills". Since that day, the Men-Rall make and wear similar coats with pride.
So! They have high intelligence, low strength, and very low beauty and speed. They get "Mecha-Kinesis", which allows them to understand and memorize the workings of machines, as well as repair or destroy machines by touch (but at a rate too slow for combat). They also have some minor psionics, token M.D.C. and minimal M.D.C. lightning blasts, and get a shit-ton of science, mechanical, and electrical skills. It also notes some live and work in New Babylon, too. It's honestly an interesting race, though one-note, since they could be instrumental in decoding all sorts of strange technology across Rifts Earth. I'd like to see more races like this.
Next: Another guns section? I... okay... sure...
"Even Arkhon warriors feel it's no dishonor to flee from a company of these land leviathans."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 11: "Even Arkhon warriors feel it's no dishonor to flee from a company of these land leviathans."[
Weapons & Equipment of the Legion
Well, you knew this was coming. Like the Arkhons, though, they get special technology, which I'll bullet-point below:
- I-Beam (Inertia Beam): This is a technology that reverses the forces of friction and momentum, allowing a bullet it fires to go faster the farther it travels, which isn't really too sensical. One would think a beam like that would wreak havoc on anything it hit, and wouldn't necessarily need a bullet, but physics is hard.
- RD-Field (Recoil-Dampening Field): This is a technology that redirects the energy of recoil into the shot, allowing soldiers to use radical oversized weapons. For every action there must be more action, I guess.
- I-Shield (Inertia Shield): These are special shields that nullify physical projectiles like bullets, fletchettes, etc. The wearer gets an automatic parry at +3 against the attack, and even if that fails, it only does half damage. It doesn't have any effect on energy weapons, which makes sense. It doesn't have any effect on explosions or punches, which doesn't make as much sense.
A Calico M960 minus the stock or an IAR-20?
Enough of all the explainins, It's time for the grand march of guns to continue!
- IAR-20 Inertia Rifle: This is their standard rifle, and it does really good damage, like two rail guns taped together. It also has a grenade launcher for when you need to do shitty damage, but in a radius.
- IAR-2 Auto-Pistol: Like the rifle, but garbage. Seriously, the rifle does an average of 25 points of damage, 71 with a burst; this does an average of 10.5.
- HIAR-22 Heavy I-Beam Rifle: This is identical to the IAR-20 for the Ojahee, only it has a vibro-axe instead of a grenade launcher, 66% more ammo, and inexplicably weighs three times as much.
- ARP-1 Plasma Assault Rifle: No doubt in the 40-watt range. This fires bursts for damage that, while not as good at the IAR-20, is still pretty solid.
- HRP-1 Plasma Heavy Rifle: Another Ojahee variant, this time of the ARP-1. This has the axe attachment, 33% less ammo, and somehow weighs nearly four times as much, because nobody edited this.
- H-11A Howitzer: This is a mortar or cannon that uses the RD-Field technology to allow it to be hand-fired, though you need superhuman strength still (huh, gues the RD-field isn't that big a deal after all) and uses a harness to brace it. Fopr all that, it actually does around the same damage as the IAR-20, only in a radius. I feel like I need some clever name for this, like "projectile dysfunction". It's so big, but it just can't put out.
An ARP-1 Plasma Assault Rifle, or a M41A Pulse Rifle covered in boxes?
We also have the Mark I (for humans) and Mark II (for Ojahee) Body Armors that are probably some of the best body armors in the game on their own - they're about as good as the Triax armors, but also get the I-Shield built in. The drawback is that for some reason they also assign these armors to their cyborgs, when the vanilla cyborg armor in the corebook is a lot more effective with 50% to 200% more M.D.C.
"I swear it goes faster if I flap my arms!"
Counterstrike Power Armor
This actually looks like a rejected Coalition design, given how the head stylings resemble future designs we'll see in Coalition War Campaign. Speaking of that head styling, though-
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
The helmet/head has a spike in the center, reminiscent of a World War I Austrian helmet.
No it doesn't.
Art foibles aside, this is the main power armor used by the Legion, and uses the I-Beam technology, but apparently is limited to a practical limit of 600 MPH as to not to harm the user. Not sure why this speed would hurt the user as opposed to a jet fighter, but whatever, sure. In any case, these things are pretty damn tough, with a powerful gatling gun, less powerful plasma blaster, mini-missiles, torso lasers, grenade launchers, and wrist blades. Though not as tough as a glitter boy, this is... about 2/3rds as tough? Figure in that it's got flight, and it's not a bad 'bot.
A lot of these are Dakir designs meant for human use. It's kind of an interesting idea that they gave their slave armies designs that would be familiar to them faciliate their use. Hence the ojahee mostly got powerful 'borg enhancements to match their infantry tactics, and now we have U.S. army vehicles enhanced by alien technology.
Wouldn't a hover vehicle take hits like an air puck?
Neo-Abrams M10A1 Main Battle Tank
So, this a hovertank loosely based on the M1A1 Main Battle Tank, and is good competition for the Naruni tanks of Rifts Mercenaries. It has one of the higher-damage weapons we've seen in the game as as far as "vehicles PCs might feasibly pilot", and though it only is marginally tougher than a glitter boy, it has a slowly regenerating force field that upgrades its durability by about another 50%. It has a "120mm I-Beam Cannon" that-
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
The three main types of ammo used in the Neo-Abrams include an armor-piercing solid round, basically a metal dart traveling at 1,000 miles (1600 km) per second!
This is 120mm round that travels Mach 4500+ and does 5d6 x 10 mega-damage. Compare and contrast with the Glitter Boy's Boom gun, which fires a (rough guess) 80mm round that travels Mach 2 and does 3d6 x 10 mega-damage. Now, CJ Carella has complained about how illogical the damage values are in Rifts, but this is a nice counterpoint of that. Oh, and it can fire 3d6 x 10 explosive founds, or piddly canister rounds that fire in a cone for... 1d4 x 10. Stick to the first two types of ammo.
Also it has a grenade launcher that does bizarrely light damage for 10-grenade bursts, a modest plasma machinegun, mini-missiles, and medium-range missiles. In an actual awareness of the missile ranges that Siembieda doesn't have, there's a note that they often do artillery barrages with their missiles, and then quickly move in at 300 MPH to attack. Granted, there's not a vast benefit to that kind of tactic in Rifts, but it's at least an interesting acknowledgement that tactics exist. Given this is a game filled with war machines, you wouldn't expect such to be rare, but...
Neo-Bradley M6 IFV Scout Vehicle
So, this is a fairly tough APC with a force field, 300 MPH speed, plasma cannon, grenade launcher, and medium range missiles. It's meant to lug 10 human or 6 Ojahee troops around and there's not much to add. No art, either. Presumably it looks like a Cybertronian take on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, but it's not actually described.
Neo-Apache AH-50 Attack Aerodyne
Though similar in appearance to the Boeing AH-64 Apache, this is actually a contragrav vehicle, since helicopter rotors are bad in an age where mini-nukes can be man-portable. It can fly around at Mach 3, and has been used to counter the Arkhon's Spikefish fighters effectively. It's probably one of the toughest high-speed aircraft in the game with its force field, and actually one-ups the Spikefish's firepower, so forget about what I said about that. It has a plasma gun that approaches the boom gun, long-range, medium-range, and mini-missiles. It also has a machinegun that does alright damage which is used for dogfighting supposedly, but given it has inferior range, damage, and ammo compared to the plasma gun, I'm not sure why you'd bother.
And then Kevin Siembieda drew a picture of a llama.
The Legion is an amazing bit of rah-rah-rah backpatting, with some of the toughest vehicles we've seen in the game up until this point. This is well before Call of Duty became a thing, but this is clearly riding high on the military's rep after Operation Desert Storm a few years before the writing here. Still, it's a good hook for a bunch of PCs, since you can be nearly anyone and get hired on with the Legion as long as you can make a sufficiently decent impression.
Next: El Presidente For Life.
"Like the CS, Cordoba is a human supremacist culture, rejecting all D-Bees (called Dimensionales in Spanish)."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 12: "Like the CS, Cordoba is a human supremacist culture, rejecting all D-Bees (called Dimensionales in Spanish)."
The Silver River Republics
So, the SRR (because writing "Silver River Republics" out is going to get old faster than a lickety-split) aren't really a nation or even an alliance, but is more just a regional name that comprises a number of countries, and the four largest are:
- The Republic of Cordoba, a human supremacist monarchy.
- The Republic of Santiago, a limited democracy that's more diverse.
- The Achilles Republic, a mutant-dominated democratic republic.
- New Babylon, a human / Amaki meritocracy.
... are at war, or at least a cold conflict. Cordoba wants to "unite" the two countries and isn't hesitant in using guns as a negotiation tactic. It's really only the threat of the Arkhons and groups like the Larhold Barbarians (we'll get to them) that keep things from escalating into all out war.
But who are these folks?
The Republic of Cordoba
Now, the first thing I'll point out is that despite though this section is extremely short, Cordoba is actually significantly larger than any nations we've seen before. It's got about five times as many people as the Incas. We get a lot of words about fishing, raching, and industry, but the highlights are that they actually have technology comparable to the Coalition, including a Glitter Boy factory, which makes them a real threat. However, they's often dealing with the Larhold Barbarians, who slip into their country for raids on a pretty regular basis.
Though the pre-rifts city of Cordoba was generically devastated, it was rebuilt by the survivors. This included an asshole named Manuel Borges. He soon had a small army of gauchos, and thanks to time in the military, he had tactical experience that allowed him to keep the city alive. His descendants have continued on as the city prospers, though a lot of them have turned out to be dolts and villains. The current ruler is Manuel Borges III, who is a competent soldier, but otherwise leans towards a mixture of dolt and villain. He wants to make war in the interest of unifying humanity under him (by law or by gun), but he doesn't really get that the Arkhons and Larhold are just looking for a chance to pounce.
This is all the art I have for this update. All of it. This is the art.
Government and Society
The word "Republic" in their country's name is a sham, with it really being a monarchy with succession through the male line to the position of "President for Life", who appoints ministers. There's no representative body, but some powerful ranchers can get the president's ear. A lot of powerful people aren't thrilled with this arrangement, but nobody's been able to overthrow the Borges yet.
Most folks, though, work as tenant farmers or gauchos. D-Bee communities are sometimes tolerated, but might readily be expelled at the whim of the local military. D-Bees, apparently, are called "Dimensionales" in this part of the world. Cities tend to have more educated workers in technical and industry- and it's all a bit dull. This is alright necessary world-hacking stuff and you get the idea.
We have the Republican Army which answers directly to the Borges. It's exclusively male and volunteer-only, but pays well enough they're not lacking for recruits. It's suggested you use the Coalition classes with literacy and computer usage tacked on to represent them. The National Guard, on the other hand, is required conscription for young adults for at least two years. It assists the Army and also works as a police force. Lastly, there's the Internal Security Agency used to eliminate government opposition, criminal or otherwise. It also serves as the espionage agency against enemy nations (which I think is every nation).
Everybody hates Cordoba! Well. There are a few exceptions, so I'll just skip all the ones they aren't seeking to destroy or conquer, which includes Santiago, Achilles Republic, the Arkhons, the Empire of the Sun, Columbia, Maga Island, Bahia, and Lagarto. Other than that, they trade with New Babylon, but there's lingering bitterness based on Babylon being an ally of Achilles. Lastly, Cordoba has contacted the Coalition and is becoming the Mussolini to their Hitler (seriously, that's how the book puts it), with letters going between Borges and Prosek where they no doubt cordially share tips on the extermination of the lesser races.
The creatively-named capital of Cordoba, this is also its main trade center, being located on one of the Amazon tributaries. You can buy all sorts of things here, but they restrict visiting weaponry to a "light energy pistol". Though there are D-Bees here, they live largely in the slums as third-class citizens. Oh, and this is where the Borges set up shop in a fortress on a hill marked do not attack, PCs, with a litany of powerful defenses.
Republic of Santiago
So, Santiago is a mostly-human nation with a population just low enough to make them the underdog against Cordoba. Though wealthy and more tolerant than Cordoba, I guess people like it better under a vicious dictator. Culturally, they've very similar to Cordoba, but more progressive... if not quite progressive enough.
This was a nation mainly formed by a merger of human survivors and D-Bees, which at first helped them, but their compassion cost them in terms of starvation and scarcity. There's actually not much in the way of details here, it's vague, originally consisting of allied fortress towns. How'd they form a government?
Government and Society
So, Santiago has a legislative and executive branch - a Senate and Presidency - though only wealthy natives are allowed to vote. As such, only 20% of the population can actually vote, though the government works to try and satisfy the masses in order to avoid riots or revolt. Somehow, it isn't totally corrupt despite being a oligarchy of sorts. Bizarre, I know!
The president is Yolanda Morales, who is apparently Santiago's first female president (but unlike Borges, has no art), and pushes for tolerance and acceptance of D-Bees. However, D-Bees still often suffer from prejudice and attacks, though the majority of interactions between them and humans are harmonious. Most of the D-Bees are lizard men, jungle elves, goblins, and... I guess mutant animals aren't really D-Bees, but they get lumped in with them anyway.
The Santiago Defense Force is the country's main defense, relying largely on Glitter Boys and other forms of power armor and robots, though there is also the "Special Phalanx" below. There's also a the Citizen's Militia made up of local part-time volunteers who are activated in times of emergency, which are hardly uncommon.
The Special Phalanx
Aka "La Falance de los Espaciales" or "Los Especiales", this is a force made up largely of Santiagans (Santiagese?) who have magic or superhuman abilities, and superpowers seem to be their main edge against Cordoba's numbers.
When Cordoba tired to pressure Santiago into fighting the Achilles Republic, Santiago instead defended Achilles, leading to a presently tense stateof affairs. They may ally with New Babylon or Achilles for defense, but pro-human factions within Santiago have been wary of such efforts. The Arkhons sometimes raid them and so Santiago rightly assumes that the Arkhons plan to make war on them sooner or later. Finally, they view the Coalition with concern due to their alliance with Cordoba.
Next: "... machismo is alive and well in the SRR."
"Typically the 'cyber-gauchos', as they are called, hide their metallic forms with capes, ponchos and hats, sometimes fooling the unwary until they are within arm's length."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 13: "Typically the 'cyber-gauchos', as they are called, hide their metallic forms with capes, ponchos and hats, sometimes fooling the unwary until they are within arm's length."
Common O.C.C.s in Santiago and Cordoba
Both countries use soldiers and Glitter Boys, though only Santiago uses magic and is starting to develop techno-wizardry.
Draw an art of a thing, regular art. Add a cyber-arm, it's now Rifts art!
This is akin to an Argentinan cowboy, though with more bolas and baggy pants then ten-gallons and chaps. The need to go back to cattle ranching has, of course, revived this tradition with no changes in tools or style, because Rifts means people just ape their ancestors. However, often they use high-tech weapons and vehicles, like motorcycles, cyber-horses, or robo-horses. Some take their skills and use them to become adventurers! Because the world will die if you do not know how to shoe this horse.
In any case, they get a number of tiny bonuses, particularly when mounted and / or using knives. They get a variety of horse, wilderness, and weapon skills, but an almost shockingly anemic selection of other skills. Other than some basic equipment, randomly they get to select some cybernetics and/or bionics, which I guess is one way to make up for the general crappiness of this class otherwise. Oh, and strict attribute requirements mean only 14% of characters can select this class, as if it were worth walling behind random chance.
"Since I'm a cyborg, I run real fast, and... I don't know why I need the horse..."
Plains 'Borg O.C.C.
So, these are bionic gauchos. Well, more bionic than the other gauchos. Sometimes they get this kind of technology because of an accident or raider attack, while others are enhanced by ranch owners to act as defense. Apparently they've frequently used to defend against the Larhold Barbarians; in turn, the barbarians have a habit of torturing gauchos to death by slowly removing their cybernetic parts. Needless to say, a lot of them go for death before capture. Oh, and they ride cyber-horses or robo-horses too, or sometimes "dinosaur-like mounts".
So, this is pretty much the gaucho with full bionic conversion and more skills and lower requirements. Hilarious, I know. Fuck balance, this is Rifts! A modest mental endurance requirement means about 37% of characters can play one of these.
Trimming the beards of giants can get intense.
a.k.a. the TW Crazy
Drawing upon the obscure fact that Argentina was the home of the original inventors of the Mind Over Matter or "Crazy" implants, researchers in Santiago have revived the technology, and with the help of the techno-wizard Professor Nostradamus Cervantes (I'm calling fakename) worked to develop a Crazy that could go into hand-to-hand with supernatural monsters.
It's a secret even to the Santiago government how many people died in perfecting this technology, which probably would be an issue if it were ever found out. As it is, they found out a way to supercharge the brain with magic energy, giving the subjects superhuman strength. However, they're no less crazy, and often have the "Popeye Syndrome" that Palladium books always include where you can't use your powers unless you've consumed a particular substance or have a particular condition occurring (like nighttime).
In any case, they get decent but not great M.D.C., boosted physical capabilities and combat bonuses, nightvision, can see the invisible, enhanced senses, regeneration, and psionic powers. They also have the special weakness that when confronted by a phobia or not fulfilling a "power by association" (if they have one) condition, they lose their powers and half their M.D.C. unless they save vs. insanity. So that sucks. They get a number of physical and wilderness skills, and generally how good they are is really dependent on how badly the insanity tables randomly fuck you. They aren't vastly more compelling to play than regular crazies, but there isn't much in the way of additional drawbacks, so I'd call this roughly an upgrade. However, crazies still kind of suck.
Havok always got pretty bad costumes.
Blood Rider O.C.C.
These are tribes of humans who bond with telepathic dinosaurs known as "blood lizards" - well, as long as they have psychic powers, which apparently most of them do. Because they have to raise bonded blood lizards from birth to ensure domestication, only they really have luck with them (except for those 'borgs earlier, because editing), and even so they occasionally have a young rider getting dino-mauled.
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
The Blood Riders can do anything from lizard-back, including eating, shooting, reloading and even sleeping!
Yes, once you start riding a dinosaur, why ever stop? Mostly they live in Santiago, since Cordoba has largely driven them out, and they are generally expect to be recruited for local militias. Naturally, they fight those nasty Larhold Barbarians, whoever the fuck they are. Not unexpectedly, they get a psychic link with a singular blood lizard, minor psionics, can also draw extra psychic power from their lizards, and get a number of generic physical conditioning boosts. They get riding, wilderness, and weapon skills, but not much in the way of skills otherwise. They get a unique "Claw" set of armor that matches their art but is otherwise thoroughly average and a blood lizard companion, of course. Some basic attribute requirements mean only 25% of characters get a crack at playing one of these. They're not too amazing, but are kinda flavorful, at least.
"I only carry this damn fool on my back because he looks even sillier walking.
Master Blood Rider O.C.C.
So, these are a rare 1% of blood riders which get extra powers, and since they have the exact same requirements as a blood rider, there's no reason not to just play the master version except to shout "role-play, not roll-play!"
In addition to all the things blood riders get, they get powerful telekinetic and telepathic powers, the ability to telekinetically boost the speed and leaps of the lizard, and a telekinetic defense shield that starts at suck and gradually goes to alright with enough levels, and improved bonuses. They also get a random chance to get an expensive techno-wizard item (only 30%, so don't get your hopes up). In general, they're a hilariously better upgrade to the Blood Rider, which seems to be a habit with this book with Battlemaster Fallam, Plains 'Borg, and Ultra-Crazies all being straight upgrades on their original versions. Well, it's a way to fill page count, I suppose.
Blood Lizard R.C.C.
Yes, you an play a blood lizard. It turns out they're perfectly sentient even though they can't talk normally, and despite their training being described like domestication, they work with humans willingly. Because of this, they can use weapons and shoot lasers along with their rider for double lasers. Apparently if you kill their bonded rider, they tend to crack and go on a one-dinosaur campaign of vengeance against whomever responsible.
So, as a race they're passably tough M.D.C. creatures about 8'-10' long, and are a naturally strong, fast, agile, and tough, but not very smart, charismatic, or pretty. They regen slowly, see in the dark, can track by scent, get unimpressive melee attacks, solid combat bonuses, and the ability to "psychically track" anybody they've met before, but their chances of successfully doing so aren't too hot. Finally, they get some basic mind-reading powers but can't actually communicate psychically, and need a blood rider or other psychic to speak for them. Naturally, they get wilderness skills, but in general their skill selections are pretty crap, and due to an oversight don't get a hand-to-hand skill or can't select one. This seems to be an intentional hack at versimilitude, but it actually makes them lousy combatants as a result. Even though they start with good bonuses, they'll eventually be outpaced by other characters as they gain levels. As a result, they're pretty damn lousy as far as a class pick goes.
"Many of the human citizens are very apathetic (less than 50% bother to vote) because they think the government is firmly in the hands in the mutants, and that there is nothing they can do to change it."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 14: "Many of the human citizens are very apathetic (less than 50% bother to vote) because they think the government is firmly in the hands in the mutants, and that there is nothing they can do to change it."
The Achilles Republic
This is where CJ Carella loses his goddamn mind. It starts out normal with mutant animals, but - you'll see. You'll see. So, like Omagua, this is the result of mutant animal experimentation from before the rifts, namely a "Project Achilles" created by the Argentinean government. Yes, not only did Argentina invent the Crazy human modification process, they also gave us mutant capybaras that-
- no, no. I have to wait. Be patient. We'll get to the capybaras soon enough.
So, it turns out ShaperCorp - the guys who made the Amphibs in Rifts World Book Seven: Underseas - were based out of Argentina. Remember the amphibs? Some of them look like normal people with webbed feet, some look a little froggy, some look like people with literal trout heads?
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: "So, for murdering hundreds of people to create horrible fish-frog-human hybrids, you're under arrest for, well, forever."
- ShaperCorp CEO: "Leading the cutting edge in creating humans with fish heads required certain... sacrifices."
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: "Yes, I'm sure. But. We're looking for some shady assholes to help out with our super-soldier program. It hasn't been going so well. They created something called a "Crazy", which you know, which sounded pretty badass at first, but it turns out they're literally crazy. It's not just a codename. That was pretty uncomfortable to discover."
- ShaperCorp CEO: "Well, we don't have any experience in making super-soldiers, we mostly just make abominations of science, mashing humans and animals together. Most of them just have gills in their lungs or scales in their brains and die. So. Not really super or soldier. I guess they could catch bullets if you stacked up their corpses like sandbags."
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: "That's okay! That's just where we're starting! We can move you on to creatures far deadlier than frogs and trouts."
- ShaperCorp CEO: "Well, what have you got? Like, Tigers? Bears? Jaguars?"
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: "Tigers, no. Our bears... are not so large. Jaguars... well, another project called dibs on jaguars. So no jaguars."
- ShaperCorp CEO: "Oh, well, that's the kind of thing I'd use for a super-soldier. What've you got?"
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: "Well, we have snakes... and condors... falcons..."
- ShaperCorp CEO: "Hey, that's a start, but what else have you got? C'mon, lay it on me.
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: That's pretty much it. I mean... cows... horses... capybara..."
- ShaperCorp CEO: "A human... with all the capabilities of a capybara?! Sir, you'll have those super-soldiers!... as long as I'm not arrested anymore."
- Argentinan Bureaucrat: "Sure, why not? Also have a bunch of money. This is going to be totally ethical this time, right?"
- ShaperCorp CEO: "Oh, yeah, sure, whatever. Where can I score some LSD? It's for the innovation process."
A different Argentian lab (from Rifts World Book 6: South America) specialized in cats, but this one specialized in a bunch of random crap instead. See, they found out some animals had latent psychic powers. Now, this isn't new - the corebook mentioned that animals have the psychic ability to sense the supernatural, giving a justification for the standard horror movie trope of animals freaking out when something terrible approaches. But it turns out crossing them with humans enhances animals' psychic powers... because. And so they created various
Speaking out of other arbitrary background elements, it turns out that when the rifts hit, Argentina went to murder all their mutant animals, because... um. Doesn't say. But they literally had a plan written up that included: "In case of apocalypse, terminate the furries." But it turns out that Cordelia Valdez, a researcher at one site, was a bit appalled by the final solution, and opted to free a number of the mutants, and they escaped. The rifts turned the mutant animals into super-psychic mutant animals, and she also carried some embryonic superhumans she'd created with her own genes. Once they settled in and formed the town of "Cordelia" to honor her, she impregnated herself with a superhuman embryo and carried it to term, creating the first "neo-human". Well, three, because the embryo formed triplets. Sure, why not? (And presumably those triplets fucked, because there are a lot more of them now.) They started to expand and took in a human kingdom in order to protect them from Cordoba in the "Battle of the Red Storm", apparently so named because the Achilleans used their powers to ravage the Cordoban forces with a ley line storm. How did they do that? Well, capybaras.
Government and Society
So, the Achilles Republic is really a republic, where representatives are elected to the "Animal House"-
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2 posted:
... some historians believe that the name was some sort of inside joke by the founders...
The House elects a Director, who moderates the Animal House, and also elects a Commander In Chief, who runs a Military High Command designed to run independently during emergencies. Though there's the possibility that these emergency powers could be abused, they seemingly haven't been yet. Generally anybody can vote, though there's a perception that the mutant animals are in charge, and many normal humans and d-bees don't act politically as a result. So baseline humans are a severe minority in govenement. Though discrimination against humans isn't overt, it does exist and mutant animals have an easier time getting jobs and government positions than humans. Though most humans are content to just live in a place where aliens aren't trying to blow them up or demons aren't trying to eat their face, there is growing discontent and human revolutionary groups are starting to emerge, including some supported by the Shining Path.
A mix of mutant psychics and soldiers armed with foreign technology (most from New Babylon), the Achillean forces are somewhat backward and rely a lot on the prevalence of psychic powers, since their forces are chiefly made up of mutants. Neo-humans are rare enough that they're formed into elite squads. There's mandatory military service; four years for mutants and two years for anybody else. Due to their alliance, New Babylon often provides military advisors to assist the Achilles Republic.
As we know by now, Cordoba wants to wipe out mutantkind and is firmly in a state of cold war with Achilles. The Southern Federation (who?) trades with both Cordoba and Achilles, and is the only real point of peaceful contact between the two countries. It turns out that Achilles is actually aware of the Coalition and has been sending agents to Lone Star for some time to try and liberate mutant animals there as a sort of underground railroad called the "Freedom Riders", even though it's an extremely dangerous journey and many Achilleans don't make it back. It actually presents the Freedom Riders as a possible setup for adventures or even as a campaign basis. Meanwhile, the Coalition fistshakes and has offered to help wipe out the "dangerous mutants", which seems fairly unlikely given the distances and danger involved. The Arkhons have generally let Achilles be, since their main aggression is aimed at humans. And they fight the Larhold Barbarians, but we won't find out more about these guys until the end of the book.
R.C.C.s & O.C.C.s of Achilles
It notes that you can use mutants from other books, like dog boys or killer cats, or animals from Lone Star, a book that once again wasn't out at the time of this printing. In addition, it notes you can port over mutant animals from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, ignoring the fact that mutant animals created with that system are almost always going to be woefully underpowered compared to their Rifts counterparts.
So, because the research team at Project Achilles were huge weirdos, they wondered if the human aversion to serpents was due to the fact that snakes had psychic fear powers. And, instead of turning out to be kooks, it turned out they were right. So these are largely humanoid snake-people with legs and a tail, and it turns out those who are naga-like are pretty rare (and also unstatted, to boot). And it turns out most of them are affected by the "alien mindset of a reptilian" and are basically just sociopaths who develop a code of honor to let them function in everyday society. Still, they don't have much empathy and give no shits when they hurt or murder people.
Waitasec, we already had mutants with literal fish-heads that had no weird psychological hangups, but reptiles are particularly unhinged. Sure, makes sense.
In any case, they're smart, willfull, charming, strong, agile, enduring- they have pretty much no drawbacks statwise. The lowest thing is their beauty, which is just equal to humans. They also get the natural psychic powers of a snake: that is, a psychic force field that gives them M.D.C. protection and superhuman strength, a hypnotic gaze, the ability to project psychic fear, and venom charged with their psychic energy that does mega-damage to mega-damage beings. Oh, and they get a smattering of other psychic powers. They start with some basic and weapon skills, and get a decent number of other skill picks. Overall, though not overwhelming, they get a broad spectrum of abilities and tend up being pretty strong as long as you don't mind being a psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est, fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better, etc.
Mutant Capybara R.C.C.
Part rat, part human, part capybara, these hybrids are good swimmers, but their main power is to manipulate time and space, which implies this is a latent psychic ability of normal capybaras. Sure, Carella, sure. This makes them into a wise, patient dimensional wandering rodent jedi.
They have solid attributes overall, with mental and psychic endurance being the top, but beauty being the only subhuman trait, and they're just S.D.C. creatures. Still, they can send messages or teleport on ley lines, create psychic waves that knock objects over and stun people, sense ley lines and rifts, and warp time. The time warp is a very strong ability that allows them to speed up or slow people down, which means at mid levels they can speed up on all their buddies with one action, then slow enemies down with another action (though they get saving throwa), and create something like a 4-6 action differential at least within a single round for each combatant. So, while not busted by themselves, they are definitely a game-breaker when assisting a party of adventurers. But that's not all! At higher levels, they can create rifts back to their home dimension, close rifts, create ley line storms, or dimensionally teleport (all at very high Inner Strength Point costs). They also get a smattering of minor psionics, wilderness and healing skills, and a modest selection of other skills. Though they're fragile, their game-bending abilities really help make up for that.
To me, they're one of the oddest classes in the game since they're such a non sequitur, even after flame panthers, the pyrokinetic mutant cats. Capybaras! Time manipulation! Sure! Why not? Why not go mad?!
Never give a horse a rat-tail.
a.k.a. the "Psi-Taur"
So, there was one researcher called Leon Garcia that was obsessed with trying to create mutants that duplicated Earth myth, like mermaids or minotaurs. The book doesn't say it was his fetish or anything, but I think we can read between the lines. In any case, he got found out, and even though Project Achilles was full of the kind of people who thought snakes were psychic terrors or that capybaras would make great super-soldiers, he was somehow seen as crazy and eliminated by his higher-ups. Well, I guess he did murder people in the course of his crazy fetish experiments, but sometimes you just have to break a few eggs to make a wemic.
The one successful result was psychic centaurs, or... yes... "psi-taurs". It was the '90s. They lived on and now most of them serve with the Achilles military. They're strong, tough, and don't really have any drawbacks - they're even prettier than people, which fits with my fetish theory. Psychically, they can run though the air, create a "psi-bow" that shoot "arrows of pure psychic energy" (they can just shoot bolts too, but they think bows are cooler), a force field that protects them and gives them superhuman strength, and a smattering of other psychic powers. They also get a variety of minor psionic powers, wilderness and weapon skills, and a average selection of other skills. Nothing too exciting about them, honestly, though you're at least stronger than a normal centaur or even the cyber-centaurs. So we have centaurs, cy-centaurs, and psi-centaurs. A natural progression.
So, these are bird-people with both wings and arms, and though they can't fly through science, they can fly due to psychic. Like the condor of myth, they can create a telekinetic force field (which at this point they admit is just a common power of Achillean mutants), fly over Mach 2 on a ley line, or turn invisible. They often work as scouts and commandos for the military, but there have been rogue condoroids that use their powers to turn to a life of banditry and prey on foreigners.
So, they're really one part human, one part bird, one part Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk. They're generally agile and enduring, but aren't people birds (not charming, also ugly). Still, they can fly up to 500 MPH, Mach 2 on a ley line, cloud men's minds, baffle sensors (yes, they are literally radar-resistant), and a weak force field that does give them superhuman strength all the same. A psi-sword, psi-shield, some minor psionics, and some scouting and hunting skills round them out, mostly. They're pretty dece if you want to play a stealth bird, but they run into the issue of being fragile and vulnerable compared to a lot of the other mutants.
"Yes, I just have normal goggles. No, they don't fit over my eyes- they were a gift, okay?"
So, like a Condor... oid, but a Falcon... oid. If the Condoroid is part F-117 Nighthawk, I guess these guys are part F-15 Eagle. After all, they fly Mach 2 anywhere and can shoot psi-blasts from their eyes (crap damage, but gives a very minor stun effect). They get a more potent force field and minor psionic powers, and basically are the fighty version of the Condroid.
Glam. As. Fuck.
Achilles Neo-Human R.C.C.
So these are the children of Cordelia Valdez, and they look human but with "near god-like physical perfection" and a "fountain of psychic power". However, early on they became divided as to whether to... basically be good or evil, and the good ones became known as "Neo-Abels" and the bad ones became "Neo-Cains". They're near-immortal, but apparently using their powers too much causes them to age normally until they recharge, so many of them are hesitant to use their mighty powers. Apparently many mutant animals reject them for being human-looking mutants, and a number of them have left Achilles to wander the Earth like Cain from Kung-Fu, but not like the Neo-Cains, these ones are Neo-Abels. Clear? Some are apparently trying to form a society of "Young Gods" but given they're already godlike I'm not sure what the difference would be.
What happened to the Neo-Cains?
So, their attributes range from "impressive" to "through the roof", but they're normally just S.D.C. creatures. They can temporarily dedicate part of their psychic power to become M.D.C., if only temporarily, with a decent amount of it. They also get "Hyper-Telekinesis" (lifts more weight), flight (100 MPH), a "Mind Wave" that knocks people into a euphoric haze (glam as fuck), or a "Touch of Health or Death" that can heal or knock people out (even M.D.C. creatures). They also get a bunch of psionic power picks, including super, and a frankly ridiculous amount of Inner Strength Points (1d4 x 100). They mainly get espionage skills, oddly enough, and not much in the way of skill picks, but who cares? This is easily the most powerful straightforward psionic class so far with powerful save-or-suck effects and great stats, ability to throw power armor around with teke, putting it easily in the top ten most powerful classes in the game so far. Though they're a bit vulnerable, being able to kayo a dragon with a lucky poke definitely changes things.
Next: Stony goatees.
"The supreme leader of the Shining Path goes by the name 'Mao Hernandez'."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 15: "The supreme leader of the Shining Path goes by the name 'Mao Hernandez'."
So, this is actually the largest nation detailed in this book, just barely bigger than Cordoba. Known for its wealth, Babylon earns a lot of hate because they're both rich and they super fucking smug about it. A union between humanity and a race of D-Bees known as the Amaki, they've actually built high-tech cities complete with skyscrapers and trade widely. They're big into techno-wizardry, parties, and powdered wigs, not necessarily in that order.
The Amaki have a very advanced civilization built on "gizmoteering", which is a mix of psionics, techno-wizardry, and bonafide science. Somehow they've survived without getting blown up by the Mechanoids, Splugorth, or other assholes that roam the Megaverse, and so the Amaki that arrived here are actually just interdimensional colonists and explorers. They came for the rich resources, but were moved to help humanity, and it became an unprecedented success for the Amaki. Though there were great losses and a war with Cordoba, they've flourished. The Earth-Amaki hybrid culture has become a renowned pace on the interdimensional music scene, and humans were also allowed to not only become part of the Guilds that lead Amaki on Earth, but actually lead them.
Oh, and they're called "Babylonians" because the Amaki apparently look like old carvings and depictions of Babylonian and Assyrian warriors, which is random enough. Oh, and they're decadent, too.
Government and Society
So their government is "House Rule", which refers to the rule by the trade houses of the Amaki, which include:
- The House of Arms makes weapons and armor.
- The House of Sailors makes ships and transports.
- The House of Engineers makes buildings.
- The House of Magic dominates magical and psionic endeavors.
- The House of Health runs health care and medical research.
- The House of Money deals with banking and currency.
- The House of the Sword which runs fencing schools.
Each House has its only military force, though they vary widely in numbers and efficacy. The House of the Sword also has Duellists, who essentially serve as the country's shady shit agency.
Though they're unofficially allied with Achilles, most of their contact is only commercial. The Babylonians have a embassy in the Empire of the Sun, and the two nations trade both culture and goods amiably. Though there's technically a peace treaty between Babylon and Cordoba, neither country cares for the other. Most of their contact with Santiago is also just trade. They're worried about the Arkhons, but probably won't go to war with them unless prompted. The Amaki fight the Larhold Barbarians fairly often, like everybody else, it seems. They're helping build a nuclear reactor for Columbia, boycott trade with Lagarto, and the House of the Mind is looking for a mysterious place called Psyscape (soon to come to a World Book near yo- okay no it'll take forever for that to come out).
Amaki Stone-Man R.C.C.
Amaki look like they're made of stone, but are mostly just tough, and often use paint and makeup regardless of their place on the gender spectrum. They also have a elaborate fashion scene ranging from multi-layered dresses to skin-tight jumpsuits. They find humans to be appealing and the most "Amaki-like" race they've met, and sometimes humans and Amaki become involved romantically. Though they can't have children with humans, it's traditional for such couples to adopt.
Oh, yeah, they have numbers too. Though they don't technically have M.D.C., they're tough enough to take 3d6 mega-damage before dropping. All of their physical attributes are pretty solid (get it) with no real weaknesses. They have sharp senses, nightvision, heal quickly, can punch for mega-damage, and have a slightly higher rate of psionics than humanity. They also get a few weapons, language, and musical skills as a bonus on top of whatever class they choose.
So yeah, unlike most of the R.C.C.s in this book, they can choose a O.C.C. as well. They have the unique Duelist and Gizmoteer classes, and can take almost any other class. They can also take classes that are the "equivalent" of psi-stalkers or mind bleeders, but what those "equivalents" are is never explained. Ultimately they're a straight upgrade over humans in most ways, as long as you don't care about having a broccoli-beard.
Apparently, they have unusually flexible spines.
Even though all Amaki sword-fight, these are the best bestest sword-fightin'est Amaki. They're raised by the House of the Sword, which publicly is just a swordfighting school that develops duelling celebs but privately contracts its students out as assassins and secret agents. As undercover agents, they usually use ordinary weapons rather than their duellist blades amongst other weapons. Their lifelong dedication generally wrecks their sense of humor, apparently, since they have no time for a valuable education in jokes.
A character has to beong to the House of the Sword to take this class, restricting it largely to Amaki and humans, but because of the way attribute requirements work, it's pretty much Amaki. About 31% of Amaki rolled up can take this class, but 0.6% of human characters will qualify for it. But what do you get for your trouble, then? Well, you get a slightly boosted psi-sword (still crap damage), a "psi-field" that gives you a very minor M.D.C. value, and a smattering of other psychic powers including a psi-shield. You also get "psi-swordsmanship" which lets you use dual weapons (but not two psi-swords at once, even though they badly need the buff), a special disarming move, and a bunch of pretty solid bonuses when using swords. Unfortunately, swords still pretty well stink unless you have a greater rune weapon or the like. Other than that, some combat and physical skills round this out and some below-average skill picks. It's a nicely flavorful class, but the fact that psi-swords require you to max out your level to match up to simple small arms from these books is a big issue this doesn't address.
"Yeah, I'm made of stone, but why take chances?"
Psychics that muck with machines, gizmoteers are similar to techno-wizards, but from a psychic end. They're a backbone of Amaki culture, and do everything from mechanics to CSI investigations. And, of course, despite them being vital to the race, they go off on adventures because.
It's not really clear if you can play this class as a human, but Amaki have about a 50% chance of qualifying for it. They can modify machines to give them bonuses to damage, speed, maneuverability - and the rules for these are quantified pretty well, a rarity for Rifts. The higher your level, the bigger the bonus, but... the higher your level, the higher the chance that the item breaks and is destroyed. At really high levels, it just automatically breaks! Given the cost of most technology in Rifts, this is a huge drawback - weapons easily cost upwards of 5-6 figures, and even a modest suit of power armor will run into the millions of credits. Granted, there are ways around this - keep a stock of salvaged equipment from high-tech foes, or use it on disposable weapons like missiles or grenades, but it's still a really stupid, overly punishing drawback for a core ability.
Otherwise, the can make some psychic devices like guns powered by psychic power, armor boosted with extra shields, or "gizmos" that duplicate psychic powers they have, all of which is pretty damn handy. They get some psionic powers like electrokinesis and telemechanics, and a selection of powers they can't use normally, but can build into machines for other people to use. They even get to start out with some free gizmos based on their powers, which is a nice touch. Skill-wise, they get some basic electronics skills and a great selection of free picks. Ultimately, this is a pretty cool class that does unique stuff - a rarity this many books into the line - and only the dumb "stuff breaks" mechanic is the only thing holding it back.
These are small groups and countries in the Silver River Republic that
"We believe in diversity in architecture."
The Southern Federation
Aka "Le Federacion del Sur", this is a small collection of a few cities that were warped in from other worlds... right on top of existing cities, devastating them. Still, a few of them banded together and fought off the Larhold Barbarians, including:
- A small castle town run by "High Wizards" who apparently have incredible power beyond that of other wizards.
- The "Experimental Arcology of Patagonia" which is a very high-tech human city.
- A city warped in from Wormwood (from, unsurprisingly, Rifts Dimension Book One: Wormwood).
"Mega-damage armor and weapons? I mean, that's nice if you can afford it."
The Shining Path
It notes that this was a Communist group of guerrillas from the 20th and 21st century, but were pretty wrecked by the rifts and the return of the Incas. The Incas have had basically no patience for them, and have driven them into the mountains where many live as bandits with a Marxist veneer. Or so Rifts says, the real ones are Maoists, but so it goes. They're led by a "Mao Hernandez", who claims to have survived since the coming of the rifts and may be some supernatural creature.
This is, of course, based on the real Shining Path, Peruvian Maoists that strive to create a true communist state, but in reality mostly just deal cocaine and murder people. Given the setbacks they keep having, it seems surprising they'd survive for centuries, but then, it seems surprising they keep on even after several decades of repeated failures and defeats in real life.
A company founded by weapons engineers from Cordoba, this company basically runs San Luis as a company town, and sells to practically all the Silver River Republic nations. Thanks to New Babylon, they've become "... the first Earth company that directly exports to other dimensions!" They support both sides of the Cordoba-Santiago conflict, like Destro, and even brag about it, like Destro.
Nuevo Peru (New Peru)
A small paranoid military junta run out of Iquitos, this is nowhere near the size of Peru, but claims to be the successors of that nation. Mostly, they have made it through mainly by their discovery of a cache of nearly a hundred Glitter Boys. A human supremacist nation, they are a minor ally of Cordoba, but make Cordoba look relatively relaxed by comparison. The Arkhons have considered wiping them out, but the cost seems too high, and so have actually sought a temporary alliance with Peru against the Empire of the Sun. The Junta is actually considering this offer due to the Arkhons' strength, but it seems unlikely they'll agree to it due to the Arkhons' "destroy all humans" policy.
The Local Caudillos
This refers to many small warlords and leaders who lord over a town with high technology or superhuman abilities. Some exist within other nations like Cordoba or Santiago, where they are generally tolerated as long as they don't defy the central government. Many can be quite brutal, but they're often at risk of being toppled by larger forces.
The South American Devil's Triangle
... can be found to the Southeast of the continent, and works like the Bermuda Triangle (as detailed in Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis. The southern mouth of the Amazon is known as "La Peninsula Infernal" or the "Hell Peninsula" as a result.
Not a country, as it turns out, but a subject. Some of this was covered in Rifts World Book Six: South America, but we get a refresher:
- Spanish: Yup, it's still a language. Spoken in the Silver River Republics.
- Creole: A mix of Spanish, Portuguese and indigineous languages, with no official written form, though some people write it phonetically. (Technically, a Creole is any mixed language; this is most likely inspired by Haitian Creole.)
- Quechua: An Andean language based on the Incan tongue; it's the official language of the Empire of the Sun.
- Aymara: A variety of indigenous Andean languages that serve as the secondary language of the Empire of the Sun.
- Arkhon: Unsurprisingly, this is the Arkhons' language, though most races have a penalty to speak it other than Arkhons and mutant felines and canines.
- Larhold: The language of the Larhold tribe, this has a penalty for any non-Larhold to speak it.
Next: A farewell to arms.
"As a result, female pilots were able to pilot Glitter Girls, robot suits with a female silhouette."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 16: "As a result, female pilots were able to pilot Glitter Girls, robot suits with a female silhouette."
Weapons & Equipment of S.R.R.
The last set of guns in this book. I'll divide these up by country, even though they're all mashed together in the book itself. It's our free gift to you!
- NP-10 Plasma Net Launcher: This fires a metal net loaded with plasma charges that ignite, trapping the target while it sets them on fire. It's actually pretty busted, because unless your strength is really high it knocks you effectively out of the fight for at least about a full round and sets you on fire.
Bullpup? More like boxpup.
- Equalizer Combat Shotgun: A very durable shotgun that can be loaded with APE (Armor Piercing Explosive) or FG (Fragmentary Grenade) and probably some other official-sounding ammo. Pretty average otherwise. Also used by Santiago, and Cordoba makes an inferior knockoff.
- Lightbringer Laser Rifle: A small burst-fire laser rifle actually comparable to some Triax weapons with its solid damage output.
- Amaki Blast-Sword: By using plasma "held in place by a magnetic field along the blade", which can cut for low damage or shoot plasma for lower damage. Wooooo.
- Amaki Blast Rifle: A particle beam weapon comparable to heavy plasma weapons in a bunch of other books. Nothing exceptional.
- Amaki TW Psi-blade: If you can make a psi-sword, you can focus it through this and add +2d6 damage to your attack. Be still, my heart.
Breaux is getting better at aping Long's shading style, at least, breaks up the boxy profile.
- IP-7 Ion Pistol: Another lousy, low damage pistol like we see commonly throughout supplements. Used by Cordoba and Santiago.
- I-9 Heavy Ion Rifle: A perfectly average rifle. Used by Cordoba, Santiago, and the Shining Path.
- I-11 Long Gun: A sniper rifle that, in an anomaly for Rifts, actually does decent damage (1d6x10). Though it's supposedly pretty heavy, there's no actual strength requirement. Popular with cyber-gauchos.
One of the deadliest boxes in the game.
There's also the pre-rifts ATL-7 Anti-Tank Laser Rifle that fires off all the energy in one shot for more damage than a boom gun, making it probably the deadliest man-portable weapon in the game, though it's pretty expensive to fire as a result. In addition, having to reload after every shot limits its Damage Per Attack. And we have the Gaucho Combat Armor, a very generic-looking suit that offers middling protection, but can offer very heavy protection through extra plates designed to be used while mounted, but that weigh it down. Cordoba has Battle Infantry Armor, Santiago has Armored Fatigues, and Blood Riders have Blood Rider "Claw" Armor, but they're all almost functionally identical and perfectly average. The Achilles Republic's Customizable Armor for mutant animals is a little more impressive, but the best suit is the Amaki Combat Armor, complete with a special helmet designed to accomodate beards.
Gaucho combat armor. I like typing "gaucho".
"Oh, hey, didn't see you there." "Didn't we already make that 'joke'?" "That was last book." "Oh, alright."
Power Armor & Robots
Fixing these double-page spreads is a pain and sometimes I just have to say 'good enough'.
Mecha-Lizard Power Armor
A Santiago design, you may look at the art and go "Oh, power armor for dinosaurs! Awesome!", because that's what I thought, but no, it's instead power armor for people who want to cosplay as dinosaurs, which is way more lame. Still, it's also used by Cordoba, who apparently purchased a hundred dinobots from Santiago during a time the two countries were at peace.
It's got about average durability, trucks around at 80 MPH, carries a rifle-like weapon that fires a passable laser or crappy grenades, a sonic pulse weapon that save-or-sucks and does alright damage to boot, mini-missiles, ion blasters you'll never use, and claws that are supposed to be a big deal but really aren't. It's sonic pulse "roar" is the deadliest thing it has, since it can just stunlock foes with it given average rolls over and over. So it's a nasty piece of work, but mainly because it has one dirty secret Arkhons hate!
Toro "Minotaur" Power Armor
A Cordoba design, this is designed as an assault suit, and apparently it's usually split into teams where one group assaults with energy axes while the other shoots from afar. But I'm not sure why you would, tho, its ranged attacks are all more powerful. Ranged attacks are almost always more powerful in Rifts.
So this is pretty damn tough for a power armor, with ion blasters in the arms that do solid damage, mini-missiles, laser horns (because nothing is ornamental in Rifts), and an energy axe stolen from Amaki designs (but is somehow way better). It's mainly notable for being pretty tough, but is a fairly generic design other than its styling. And its horns suck for jabbing or ramming, don't even think you could do the obvious thing.
Glitter Boy Number 7
It's literally the seventh model of Glitter Boy we've seen in the game, so... number 7? But the designers would have no way of knowing that, given some of the models are in space or Japan. An alternate design from before the rifts used by Cordoba, Santiago, and the Empire of the Sun, this is a lighter suit designed with a variety of weapons. And what do you design a lighter suit for? Why, women! And you give the suit a curvier silhouette. And so this suit is also called the Glitter Girl by some.
That being said, it isn't actually bad, thankfully. It has about 10% less toughness, but has a gatling rail gun that does as much damage as a boom gun at shorter range, but reloads vastly faster. It also has a variable frequency laser cannon that does about half that damage, hip lasers which are bad, and a broader spread of combat bonuses. It can also try and use both shoulder weapons at severe penalties, which is generally a bad idea but there might be some point at which it's useful. It's a minor downgrade but doesn't have as big a weakness as the regular Glitter Boy (that is, blow up the boom gun and it's helpless) and the differences are so slight that it probably evens out.
Look, the book associates the symbol of the Republican Party with fascism, not me! I didn't do it!
Mastodon Battle Robot
A Cordoban design, this is officially called the "Hannibal", so why is it called the Mastodon above...? So this is a giant elephantine battle robot that's supposed to be super badass, you guys, you don't even know. It has Death Mirrors. Well, unless it falls into a pit, at which point it's pretty well fucked, as it turns out, because you designed your robot like a elephant, whups.
So this actually has nearly a thousand M.D.C., actually goes 70 MPH, has long-range missiles, a boom gun in a turret, "laser tusks"-
- wait, laser tusks are you serious-
- a "particle beam belly gun", mini-missiles (up to 32 at a time), a morningstar at the end of a trunk, and Death Mirrors.
What are Death Mirrors? Why, they're flashy flights that cause epileptic seizures. "But", you may wonder, "my character isn't epileptic!" Well, tough. They are now. Now, when this book was written, there were probably a lot of overblown claims about strobe weapons. They can blind and disorient, but the idea of a "paralysis light" is looking to be closer and closer to being debunked. It should also be noted that the idea of putting a boom gun on something that wasn't a Glitter Boy was actually really controversial at the time, because fans were really upset to see its special snowflake weapon made less special and slightly less snowflaky.
Experience the awe of a giant robot modeled after the deadly, terrifying turtle.
Galapagos Submersible Robot
Based on a pre-rifts design used by Cordoba, Santiago, and to a lesser extent Achilles, this is a massive robot used for war or exploration, but mainly the former. They're used as mobile bases against pirates and raiders, and the legs are retractable for water travel. It can be hampered by bad terrain and it's sluggish and a big target, but it's devastating in that $100 toy playset kind of way.
So it's got about 1800 M.D.C., has dual laser cannons that match a boom gun, a less impressive quad rail gun, medium-range missiles, ion-gun turrets that do passable damage, a turret with a craplaser and mini-missiles, and it can step on things. Oh, I guess it can fly like Gamera, that's a thing. Well. It probably doesn't spin, sadly. But close enough.
how does it fly anyway
Puma-class Medium Battle Tank
Looks more like a Warthog to me.
It's a tank used by Cordoba and Santiago, and is... yeah. It's a tank. So this has... solid M.D.C., a main gun that does laughable damage for a main gun, medium-range missles, an automated laser weapon that looks like a disco ball that does pretty much blah damage, but at least it's free damage, a rail gun in a cupola and in mini-turrets, and lastly mini-missiles. There's really nothing much more to say. It's a tank.
Cordoba or Santiago? Well, turns out their equipment is so similar even they get really confused on the battlefield, so it's both.
Yet another Cordoba / Santiago design (we're told they developed weapons together in the past), this carries a quad of troops but doesn't actually offer much protection. So it's pretty risky. Other than that, there's a rail gun... and mini-missiles... and... for some reasons costs 1 million credits because all vehicles are vastly overpriced because they're based on our modern military costs even though the tremendous first world budgets that allow those costs don't generally exist in this world, presumably... yeah... bored ellipse... yeah. On to the home stretch!
Next: Barbarians at the end of the world.
"The one exception are children; although Larhold discipline is harsh, the barbarians cherish their children, and mistreatment or abuse of their young is punishable by death, even if the abuser is the child's parent."Original SA post
Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 17: "The one exception are children; although Larhold discipline is harsh, the barbarians cherish their children, and mistreatment or abuse of their young is punishable by death, even if the abuser is the child's parent."
The Larhold Barbarians
Finally, after hearing about the Larhold over and over, just what are they?
Oh, orcs, pretty much.
I kid! But it's your standard numerically superior barbarian horde. See, they're magical, savage nomads that herd cattle and raid for a living, not necessarily in that order. Their wizards keep opening portals to let more of their kind onto Earth from... somewhere... and so they threaten to overrun the Silver River Republics through plain old numbers.
Early in the Larhold's development, they discovered advanced magic called the "Blue Flame", though some think this may have been gifted to them by some dark power. From there, they learned to open rifts and were off to rob the land of milk and honey. Though a lot of them have run into advanced civilizations that can fight them off, they have a tendency to overrun any place that isn't capable of doing so and are kind of like a interdimensional plague in that sense. They worship all sorts of dark forces like the Gods of Darkness, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or the Old Ones, and often develop witchery in addition to their fancy flame shenanigans.
They weren't great at technology, but they learned to steal it, as well as enslave technicians and others to help maintain or build it. As they enslaved more and more races, some showed promise as raiders, and some slaves became "honorary" Larhold. Their reputation grew, and a lot of transdimensional civilizations started to put bounties or erect defenses against them, as they became the "scourge of ten thousand worlds".
The Larhold in South America have settled down for... some reason... instead of travelling on when fought off, and often raid or tax communities in their territory. At times, they even fight amongst themselves between different tribes, but if somebody could unite them, they could threaten entire nations. Maybe like, a big fiery eye could do it.
Government and Society
The main leadership of a tribe consists of a chieftain and a shaman. Chieftains (who are patrilineal) lead in war, and shamans (who can be either sex) lead worship and ritual. Other than that, status is determined by one's rep for being brave and brutal, the size of one's hoard, and how badass one's mount is. A war bison is the traditional mount, but a truck or APC is more prestigious, and tank would be even more prestigious. Many warriors take on retainers, particularly if they have a collection of mounts to lend out. Of course, the ability to prove one's prowess in battle is important. Heart-eating and sacrifice are other ways for a Larhold to advertise their badassedness.
"I am Larhold! Of the hill people!"
Larhold Barbarian R.C.C.
Traditionally, the Larhold like facial hair, leather, and suede (maybe they're not orcs, maybe they're bikers?). Their traditional armor, though, is made of M.D.C. leather crafted from their war bisons. They also are skilled at ambush and terror tactics, and pretty much will fuck anything up on the slightest pretense, even each other. Their only exception is children, and child abuse is generally punishable by death. They also have a habit of adopting children of other races and raising them as raiders.
The Larhold themselves get their numbers here, though. They have modest M.D.C., and you know the drill for a raise like this - they're strong, tough, and ugly. They get a variety of combat bonuses, and though they get their own Barbarian O.C.C. here, they can instead taken a magic O.C.C. or psionics if they actually want to be effective. All Larhold get the skill of riding war bison, however, as well as bow and arrows. Their own class focuses on skirmishing, survival, and combat, and get a solid skill selection. They get a special bow that lets them use their supernatural strength and a saber that does mega-damage... because... well, there's not much space left in the book to worry about why. Their leather armor gives average mega-damage protection.
Pretty sure this is copy-pasted from a Palladium Fantasy book.
Larhold Human Renegade O.C.C.
This is the class for non-Larhold adoptees, and they tend to be even more savage and tryhardish because they've got more to prove. However, humans and other "soft" races tend to get weeded out by the lifestyle, with many of them dying young, though many that survive become supernatural due to exposure to Larhold... magic? Food? Cuss words? It's not clear.
In any case, they get boosted physical attributes, and can temporarily turn themselves into M.D.C. creatures, though, and otherwise their skills and equipment are pretty much liker Larhold Barbarians, only they can't use those super-bows. Oh, and their attribute requirements mean only 3% or so of humans will qualify for this class. Not to balance it out - it's pretty shit - just, you know. Because.
It's probably okay to extinct these bison.
Not an O.C.C., but a large evil cow that eats people. They're actually really tough, on par with gargoyles or dragons and can do decent damage with a buffalo headbutt. Buffalo! Head! Butt! Seriously, that's all there is to them.
"Look, skulls aren't about just looking cool. It's about branding."
Larhold Shaman O.C.C.
The shamans of the Larhold have access to the "Blue Flame", and even other Larhold spellcasters can use it, but the shamans are the best at it. Their rituals involve burning themselves with the fire, which results in them often being hideously burned or scarred, and wrap themselves in bandages or cloaks to hide this. They like sacrifice and torture, and are pretty well hated by all other races as a result. As such, they have a tendency to fight to the death and explode to avoid being captured or tortured. It notes, though, that the Blue Flame, whatever the fuck it is, isn't evil and is more like an elemental force. Some other races have at times mastered it, but using it puts you at risk in most of the civilized lands of South America.
Powers: they can sense the blue flame (which means the effects of just other blue flame casters, I guess), get some normal and Blue Flame spells, summon Blue Light (like light, only blue), the ability to self-detonate (only once), and a minor bonus to M.D.C. Their spell training is limited by their level, like most specialist spellcasters, and whenever they learn new spells they have to reduce their beauty with burns to do so. They get survival, demon, weapon, and mathy skills (why math?), and a weak selection of other skills. They also get a "Demon Mask" that gives them a really weak Horror Factor, but otherwise get normal Larhold stuff. At third level, their tribe gives them a magic item, but since the only magic item we tend to see in these books are Millennium Tree items or Rune Weapons, no idea what they might be referring to.
Stock art of fire you see reused a lot, I think we last saw it in Rifts Conversion Book.
Blue Flame Spells
This isn't a long list, but here's a respresentative example. Most of these aren't a big deal despite this magic being played up as a Big Deal, and are honestly just kind of dull and utilitarian, but they no doubt look cool airbrushed onto the side of a van.
- Burning Light of the Blue Flame: Shoot a crappy blue laser that's slightly less crappy against vampires!
- Flamehalo: Gives you a flaming halo that makes you immune to psionic probes, disease, and possession.
- Healing Flame: One of the less usual effects: a healing spell. Can revive the dead on a very lucky roll.
- Whip of Agony: Creates a whip of guess what that does practically no damage but can be used to torture, and those tortured by it have to save vs. insanity or gain a permanent insanity.
And after that, we get some experience charts, which sometimes I wonder if they're assigned via dart throw. For example:
- Larhold Barbarian and Neo-Human use the same XP table.
- Inca Undead get an XP table, even though you can't play one.
- Blood Riders take more XP to level than Master Blood Riders.
And that's all! In my opinion, his book is the most CJ Carella of the books Carella he did for Rifts, with a wide smattering of oddball ideas he just got to cut loose on without much apparent interference by Siembieda. But even so, Siembieda would later write:
Rifts Game Master Guide posted:
When C.J. Carella wrote the South America books (and a few others), I foolishly gave the author too much leeway and latitude in his writing. I was trying to give the new guy freedom and let him run with his own ideas.
Well, C.J. is a heck of writer and has come up with some excellent ideas, characters, places and gizmos. HOWEVER, the power level of his early books (the two South America titles included) is unbalanced and overpowering compared to the rest of Rifts Earth. While these items are pretty limited to isolated geographic locations (namely South America), they can still be a problem, especially if the G.M. brings South American weapons, armor, vehicles and magic into North America or other parts of the world.
To resolve that, I suggest the following modifications: Reduce Mega-Damage by 25% (i.e. a die or two less), Range by 20%, Bonuses by half, and Payload by 20%. That evens them out nicely.
Oh, now Siembieda cares about game balance? I'm thinking he needs to turn that pointed finger a hundred and eighty degrees. Bear in mind the Game Master Guide reproduced the stats for all of the South American guns, too, so there's no reason he couldn't have just updated the statlines to match what he wanted, but...
South America 2, though, is one of my favorite books for the line. It mixes up some things you'd expect with a lot of new ideas, and I think that's where Rifts works best, when it's taking the kernel of a few familiar things and then mixing them with a number of original ideas. That's why the core setting remains popular, since it has a number of recognizable American elements together with new ideas like the Coalition or the Xiticix. Conversely, that's why books like Japan or England are more dull, because they're mostly just regional stereotypes run through a exaggeration filter.
CJ Carella would mainly just contribute with one more book before leaving, Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising. In addition, some of his Nightbane work would be adapted to Rifts in Rifts Dark Conversions. But before we move on to the next world book...
Next: South America is complete! And so we return to North America and... what is a Rifts adventure supposed to be like?