posted by Captain Hats Original SA post


You knew this was coming at some point.

Ok, so, Rifts. Many have heard of it, few have played. Hell, I own this book and it's become a running joke in my group that I'll run it if people don't stop misbehaving. Its reputation as a stupid, backwards system precedes itself.

But just what is Rifts? Well, let's start with the setting. See, 100 years in the future, Humanity has entered a golden age. Technology can do everything, disease is conquered, everyone has a personal robot manservant, and baseball averages have never been higher. Then, quite naturally, everything goes to shit. Not due to some global atomic war, but due to the re-emergence of The Rifts. Ley lines appear all over the planet as physical manifestations, blue curtains of magical power. Where they intersect, dimensional rifts open up and out come things from other dimensions. Some are simple, honest entities confused and scared by the dimensional warp. Some are literally demons from the bowels of hell bent on conquering the world. These Rifts can open up to any other dimension, allowing any possible character or race to come through into the world. In practice, this means that you can play anything from any of Palladiums other RPGs (Universal system, you see) and have it fit. Kind of. Not really.

300 years after that incident is when the game is actually set. The ley lines are still there, but have calmed down and aren't so dangerous any more. The earth was shattered, but is now healing slowly. For the most part it's a set of badlands, ruled by warlords whose kingdoms reach as far as their guns can shoot. All of the setting is exposited in the form of articles by Erin Tan, a Rogue Scholar. She seeks to find the true history behind the world and uncover the mysteries that the coalition states seek to keep under wraps from their citizens. There's then an extract from a trial, conducted by the Coalition States, of a scholar who reads Erin Tans work and disagrees with the Coalitions view of things. He is then very publically shamed and humiliated, his views mocked by the judge and coalition historian before being executed.

The Coalition States: Really, they aren't Nazi analogues at all.

So, the world as it stands in 109.PA. PA is the dating system used, I assume it means Post Armageddon, it's not explained here. This time, the bits of the world that are Not America:

England is full of faeries and druids and shit, also they have a thing called the Millenium Tree. It's a really really huge tree. Like, so huge, you wouldn't believe it man. Also there is a dark secret there maybe, and loads and loads of ley lines. No mention of Wales, Scotland or Ireland, just that England and British Isles are used interchangeably.
The New German Republic is a bastion of technology, civilization and culture. It's under siege from all sides by gargoyles and so on.
Poland is like Mad Max, only in pine forests instead of deserts, and with Brodkil everywhere (it's never explained what they are, just that they are like Gargoyles. What Gargoyles are like is again, not explained.)
France is full of demons and witches and necromancers and shit, apparently people don't go there much.
Russia is ruled by several warring tribes of cyborgs, who keep humanity and Dee Bees (Dimensional Beings, entities from other dimensions) safe from demons and other monsters. Apparently the Warlords of Russia have more extensive and advanced bionics available than normal, including tank tread legs and huge demonic faces.
China is surrounded in a white mist and is apparently ruled by the Yama Kings, who brought their 13 planes of hell to Earth. People don't tend to go there, or if they do, they don't come back.
India is full of gods warring at each other, mortals are just used as pawns by them.
Japan has apparently returned to the feudal samurai era, apart from one future city that managed to survive the armageddon.
The entire rest of Asia is wilderness and monsters and shit. Maybe they have an actual technological civilization there, who knows really?
Australia has two "Tech kingdoms", everyone else lives like savages.
Africa is full of tribal people, also demons and monsters.
Atlantis has risen up from the ocean bed and is ruled by Splugorths, who are Cthulhus that enslave people, as far as I can tell.
South America is fractured up into thousands of islands by the newly branching Amazon River. Humans are few and far between here, mostly it's jaguar men, lizard men, dragons and all that kind of thing.
Space is blocked off, most likely by orbital weapons platforms that shoot anything trying to leave earth orbit.

Next time: The bits of the world that Are America


posted by Captain Hats Original SA post

Rifts Part 2: The bits of the world that Are America
So, last time we had a whirlwind tour of the rest of the world, ignoring most of Europe, the Arctics, Greenland and probably a bunch of other places. But that doesn't matter son, because the default setting for Rifts is the Americas (The northern ones at least) and there is plenty of fertile ground for adventuring to be had. The rest of the world got two pages of the book, America gets sixteen. So we'd better get started.

First off, a reminder that civilization has broken down, small villages of humans tend to be living on the knifes edge of survival, the wilderness is dangerous for mere men when monsters stalk it, you know the drill. We then get a big list of the locations of America, with lists of monsters that dwell there that get no description (Seriously, this is the third time that Brodkil have been mentioned and all we know about them is "Gargoyle posers"). Things of note:

The southeast is now Dinosaur Swamp , a giant swamp full of barbarians, mutants, carnivorous plants, and wizard dinosaurs. One thing I will say about Rifts is that it's never boring. Uninspired, sure, but there's always something going on.

From the Allegheny Mountains (now called the Eastern Wall) to the Mississippi River is the Magic Zone , an area with a very high concentration of ley lines and rifts. Consequently it also has a lot of monsters, including Zenith Moon Warpers, Psi-Goblins, Necrophim, Demon-Dragonmages and Lanotaur Hunters. We are helpfully told to buy World Book 12 to find out what the hell any of these interesting sounding things actually are.

Finally, beyond the Rockies (now called the Forbidden Barrier or Sharp Cliffs) there be dragons. In the classic mapmaking sense rather than the literal sense (Though there are probably also literal dragons there, this being Rifts and all)

The rest of the US is about as you'd expect it, forests, mountains and plains where they are right now, only with a sprinkling of dinosaurs, DeeBees, Splugorth slavers, demons and so on. We then get some descriptions of the races that live in The Americas.

Dragons are immensely powerful, and go from greedy power hungry tyrants, to benevolent scholarly types. Precisely nobody is surprised by this.

Faeries are annoying magical bastards who play "charming" and harmful pranks on humans, and regard the "bigfolk" with a mixture of wonder, confusion and indifference. From this paragraph it sounds like they should all get eaten by a redcap.

Demons are Evil. They destroy and torture and so on. Some are bestial, some are warriors, some are tempters. Apparently they envy humankind because we can be emotional and smart, so they destroy us out of fury.

Monsters are animals and animal men. Werebeasts, evil Faeries, dinosaurs and mutant bears represent some of the diversity of this category. There isn't much more to say, they're monsters, stick their heads on spikes and use their skins as capes.

Humanoids are boring. Bandits and barbarians basically, living like animals in the wilderness.

Tribal People are apparently romanticized by city-dwellers. The three groups are Native Americans (Why would they still be called that after a gigantic armageddon?) Psi Stalkers (No explanation as to what they are yet, other than they stalk monsters) and Simvan Monster Raiders (I guess they're like the Native Americans but more savage and bloodthirsty?). Also the wilderness is a safe haven for magic users of all stripes, particularly the users of the dark arts and shamanistic types.

After this is a more in depth description of everywhere, but honestly the text is just so dry and boring that I don't think I can make it through it all. Basically there are magic cities and techno cities, the two sides hate each other, the techno cities are Nazis, the Magic cities are more enlightened, everyone else lives in the wilds and tries to scrape by as best they can. Unfortunately Dinosaur Swamp is not given much more fleshing out. Also the former largest city of magic (I guess the CS destroyed it in a war? There's lots of references to refugees) was called Tolkeen, seemingly without irony.

Next time: Giant robots! That's what you want, right?

Men At Arms

posted by Captain Hats Original SA post

RIFTS: Characters Part 1

We've had our brief history lesson on RIFTS Earth. Now it's time to get to the meat of the system, characters. The section opens with one and a quarter page screed on how RIFTS came to be. Apparently people wanted a universal system and one wasn't being made, so Kevin Siembieda set out to write one. A system where characters came first, where the rules would be simple, flexible, and support many different styles of play. RIFTS is apparently the culmination of this, "A single environment where all these elements and ideas - many of which seem contradictory - fit snugly together."

"Snugly" isn't quite the word I'd use. Let's take a look at the first few classes, shall we? The classes are helpfully grouped into sections covering their general area of expertise. First up is the men at arms.


Giant skull faced samurai combat robot with a chainsword larger than he is, rotary machine gun as a built in armament, and power high heels? Must be RIFTS!

The Full Conversion Combat Cyborg (A name that I find oddly satisfying for reasons I can't quite explain) is a man or woman who has had most of their body replaced with bionic bits. Their brain and spine generally remain intact, but the rest of them is gradually removed and replaced, including synthetic internal organs. The game points out that the individual in question must also undergo psychological tests and conditioning to make sure that they will be happy and healthy in their new metallic body. After all, their sense of touch is greatly reduced, small children will run away in fright, doors are too small for them now... it's a hard life.

All combat 'borgs have several basic systems that they get for free. They get a body, with legs and feet, arms and hands and a head. They can purchase cyborg body armour to make themselves even more ridiculously armoured, and get assorted resistances and immunities to certain forms of magic while being unable to be casters themselves. There are also penalties. Bionic combat fingers are clubby, designed to crush heads rather than do fine manipulation, so there are penalties to such tasks. The fact that you now weight 1000 lbs or more can cause problems with fragile floors. Oh yeah, and primitive tribes fear you as a mechanical demon. This is not a major concern for you, for reasons that I will now delve into.

See, all the cyborgs body parts and armour operate on the Megadamage scale. You may remember my posts on heroes unlimited, and how armour in that had Structural Damage Capacity? Well, the combat borg and many other classes in the book operate on Mega Damage Capacity, which is just Structural Damage Capacity multiplied by a hundred. If an attack does less than 100 points of SDC, an MDC structure or creature can just shrug it off. MDC was introduced in the Robotech RPG put out by palladium, and there it works. SDC is the damage and armour used by infantry and small vehicles, MDC is used by mechs and battleships. An infantry guy firing an M-16 at a destroyer is clearly going to do jack squat, while a Valkyrie shooting an anti-armour rocket at a jeep is clearly overkilling things a little. Both scales were used, but were clearly separate and defined. In RIFTS, they decided to introduce personal sized MDC armour and weapons, and so the entire system breaks down.

Take for example the Combat 'Borg. Mr. Samurai Murdermachine up there has a total of 180 MDC in his torso, and that's assuming he's going without body armour and hasn't upgraded his basic chassis armour at all. That translates into 18000 SDC. A bank vault door? 5000 SDC. Jet airliner? 2000 SDC. Cargo freighter? 8000 SDC. This is a dude maybe one and a half times taller than the average man, and you need more firepower to take down him than a modern day battleship. And apparently having primitives armed with non-supertech (which means megadamage is much harder to come across, keep in mind) being scared of you is supposed to be a significant downside? Keep in mind, this is a standard starting character with absolutely no upgrades spent on being tougher at all. If we max out basic armour and opt for the heavy combat body armour? That brings our torso to a staggering 520 MDC. Keep this number in mind down the line in future posts, it provides for some interesting comparisons.

Of course, basic features are nice, but combat cyborgs also get a fund to upgrade themselves with. There's all kinds of fun little toys that I won't bore you with here. The weapons do bear mentioning though. The bottom of the heap is the knuckle spikes, which add 1d6 SDC to punching attacks. For a mere 1800 credits more (you start with a 15,000 plus 3d6 x 1000 slush fund) you could get a vibro-blade, doing 1d6 MD per swipe. Considering that to someone who can't do MDC you're an indestructible robot with superhuman strength, I'm not sure why you'd opt for the knuckle spikes over the vibro blade. And this is before getting into the assorted mining drills, jackhammers, lazer welding torches and even larger vibro-blades available. You're also going to want a ranged weapon. You could cheap out for the machine gun (variable MDC and SDC ammo feeds) or save up your cash and grab the pants wetting Forearm Mounted Particle Beam (6d6 + 6 MDC per shot, doesn't need reloading). That's an average of 27 MDC, or enough to blow up a Boeing with damage to spare. It's a bit beyond the reach of a starting character, but save up and one day it could be yours.


The Crazy finds his origin in South America (Not a specific country, just South America) where scientists tried to cure brain tumors and so on by implanting nanotech devices into peoples brains to control their electrical impulses. They rather rapidly found that tweaking these implants in the right way could result in enhanced strength, speed, reaction times, even minor psionic powers. Unfortunately, it also makes anyone who has the implants put in stark raving mad. You remember the insanity system from heroes unlimited? Well, the "How to be a Crazy" section was apparently edited and used as the "How to be an annoying dickwad Crazy Hero" section in Heroes Unlimited? Forget how it went? Well, here it is again:


The crazy-man type hero is a wild, flamboyant and jocular character. This person might be a cross between Daffy Duck, Errol Flynn, and a stand up comic on speed. Zany, dynamic, caustic and hyper. This guy is the wisecracking daredevil who seems to be as cocky and carefree leaping into the jaws of death as he is at a tea party. He will batter his opponent with sarcastic quips, bad jokes and silly observations while he's socking it out with him or facing down the barrel of a gun.

These characters are always fidgeting. Tapping fingers, cracking knuckles, tapping feet, wringing hands, pacing, rocking, standing on ones head, doing cartwheels, suspended by a rope, bouncing a ball, flipping a coin, juggling etc. They are extremely hyper and can't seem to sit still. In combat, they are usually the one bounding into a group of baddies, hanging out of the window, or displaying dazzling footwork.

The crazy-man heroes seem to have a consistent habit of laughing, giggling or snickering at the most unusual times. Usually this occurs during combat, under high pressure situations, and triumph. Sometimes this can be extremely effective in rattling one's foe. Other times it is downright annoying. They also tend to come up with inane battle cries.

In combat, the crazy-man hero usually appears to be fearless, leaping into the foray with a joke on his lips and armed with his bare hands and a crowbar (That's a joke, son). They tend to be reactionary, believe themselves to be indestructible, take needless risks, and have a complete disregard for personal safety, especially when an innocent life is at stake.

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to having one of these guys as a player! Keep in mind that at second level, third level, fourth level, then every even level, you get a random insanity! All this in exchange for less combat and physical ability than an un-upgraded combat borg, three minor psionic powers (and you'll see how that compares to a full psionic later on). Oh yeah, and they have super senses (again, less effective than a combat borg with even minimal upgrades) and can heal themselves. To be fair, they do get MDC body armour and a weapon as standard, but it still seems a little... underwhelming compared to the combat borg. And with those insanity gains, after level 6 most of these dudes are going to be pretty much unplayable.


Cyber Knights are basically Paladin Jedi Cowboys. They ride hither and thither across the land with their energy swords and psionic powers, obeying their code of honor and good behavior, writing wrongs, and all of that stuff. They can potentially also be psionic, with varying strengths of psychic cyber-knight. They also all get some nifty inherent abilities.

First off, they can summon a Psi-Sword. This is an MDC melee weapon that starts out doing 1d6 MD, and gains an additional dice of damage every third level (Capped at 6d6 at level 15). Each Cyber-Knight gets to shape their weapon according to their personality, including non-sword weapons if they so wish. At level three, they can double up on Psi-Swords and dual wield. None of this costs them any power points at all. They can also all use the create Psi-Shield power at half the normal power point cost (Short Version: MDC shield that can parry any melee attack from anything forever). Also they can meditate to regain power points quicker, and get cyber-armour, a layer of skintight metal that eventually fuses to the characters body and becomes a part of him. They still wear exterior MDC armour, but it gives them a second chance, and it heals on its own, something normal MDC armour doesn't do. Also they get special combat powers, mostly to do with confusing computers and robot sensors. Overall I actually like this class, at least in concept. An order of post apocalyptic knightly wizards running around on motorbikes and robot horses (Yes, they're specifically stated to prefer these for transport) dealing with problems across the land is a solid, if generic, idea.


Glitter Boys

posted by Captain Hats Original SA post


Look at this fucking armour. God damn, you know you want it.

The Glitter Boy, in many ways, is emblematic of RIFTS. It's a ridiculous suit of robot armour, most certainly the most powerful combat class in the core book, though not in the entire system (Ask a long time RIFTS player about the Cosmo-Knight some time, I dare you), and despite being ridiculous and stupid, has a certain allure. It does look cool and the helmet is distinct, as is the mirror plating. And there is a certain appeal to running around as a ten foot tall railgun wielding doom machine.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First off, a brief background lesson. According to most denizens of RIFTS Earth, the Glitter Boy was invented by the Neemans, heroic supermen who fought against the incursions of the rifts, and the Glitter Boys were their greatest weapon, left behind to aid mankind when it needed defending. What actually happened is that the Glitter Boy (Official model designation: USA-G10 "Chromium Guardsman") was invented by NEMA, the Northern Eagle Military Alliance. They did indeed fight to protect the earth from the rifts, and the Glitter Boys were indeed their greatest weapon. Let's take a look as to why.

Remember the Full Conversion Combat Cyborg? And his maxed out main body armour of 520 MDC? The poor little Crazy and Cyber-Knight couldn't really compare. Well, the Glitter Boy rocks up to the party with a main body armour of 770 MDC. Oh yeah, and because of the shiny shiny mirrorlike finish? It takes half damage from laser beams, just cuz.

But surely the combat cyborg wins out in terms of damage? That particle cannon that he could scrimp and save for was doing 6d6+6 MD per shot! And hell, the Cyber-Knight could wander around with 2 6d6 MD weapons at level 15. The Boom Gun, the huge shoulder mounted cannon that our boy is posing with up there? It's a rail gun that fires 200 flechettes at a time at Mach 5, doing 3d6 x 10 MD per shot. That's an average of about 90 rounding down, enough to take out a cargo freighter with room to spare. Each time it fires, the suit fires pistons into the ground and activates rockets mounted on its back to compensate for the recoil, otherwise it flies backwards 30 feet. Oh yeah, and this shot also generates a sonic boom that deafens everyone within 200 metres for a short time. And you can fire it as many times per combat round as you have melee attacks, no need to let it cool down or anything. With the bonuses you get to combat as a Glitter Boy Pilot, you can easily squeeze off 6 shots a round at level 1 when most people who've maxed out combat ability have 4 attacks. And it has a belt feed with 200 rounds, and the fluff section says that most settlements will donate you ammo free of charge, as Glitter Boys are universally regarded as heroes (and most of them really are).

There is helpfully a designers note at the end, which opens with this gem:


At some point, someone somewhere in game-design-land must have decreed, "All characters must be equal" and a bunch of game companies jumped on the bandwagon to even out the power level of every character. How tragic. That's like expecting every opponent in a video game to offer the same level of difficulty. Talk about boring.

Of course, there has to be game balance, but complete equality for all characters, never. Every character in RIFTS is deliberately designed to have unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Those unique abilities may be awesome and powerful under one set of circumstances or environment, or a liability under another. That emulates real life and, in game terms, is deliberately designed to encourage creativity, ingenuity and role-playing.

I want this done up in fancy calligraphy on vellum and mounted on my wall. The ideas are sound, even if he misunderstands what most people mean whey they say "Equality for all characters", but the fact that this is put in the Glitter Boy section comes with a huge dose of irony. The section goes on about how players have come to him over the years saying that Glitter Boys are too powerful or too weak. It says that yes, Glitter Boys are walking powerhouses, but this is balanced by low speed (Top running speed: 60 MPH) and poor manuverability (Jumping distance: 80 feet with rockets, short term hover capabilities, bonuses to parry and dodge). They can also be ambushed (suit comes with built in radar with a 40 mile range, a ten mile range targeting computer, and assorted vision modes including thermographic, night sight, ultraviolet and infrared) and can't give hot pursuit (maximum range of gun: 2 miles, projectiles travel at Mach 5)

The worst part? The sourcebooks naturally introduce variants, some of which are even more powerful than this one.

More Classes

posted by Captain Hats Original SA post

RIFTS: More goddamn classes

Hey guys, I'm back. Sorry about the extended delay, but suddenly having work really eats into your free time. Unfortunately, I suddenly find myself lacking work and so I have plenty of free hours to post stupid crap on the internet with. When we last left RIFTS, we had covered the Glitter Boy and some of its silly, broken areas. This time, on to some more classes (these take up most of the book. Seriously, the book says we can fight brodkil and gargoyles and dragon demon wizards and whatever, but does it give stats for these things? Does it shit!)


The Headhunter is the Steve Austin to the Full Conversion 'Borgs Robocop. They have cybernetic limbs and eyes, but the core of their body remains human. The book also notes that vat grown artificial limbs are possible, so that when a Headhunter retires they can shed their cybernetic augmentations and return to being a fully normal human, an option not available to those who took the Full Conversion option. Mechanically, Headhunters are like FCCB's but with less implants and more skills. On the surface of it it seems like a pretty fair tradeoff. Partial Cyborgs get more noncombat utility and aren't exactly slouches in a fight, while Full Cyborgs are indestructable walking doom machines and not much else.


There are some classes that are iconic to RIFTS. The Glitter Boy and Crazy are the two leaders in that regard, and bringing up third place is the Juicer. The Juicer augmentation was invented in eastern Europe. See, chemical injections could be used to push human bodies to peak performance and beyond... but without regular maintenance and monitoring performance didn't stay that way for long. So some bright spark invented a computer controlled drug dispenser harness, complete with a needle studded collar to deliver the goods. This is not only the Juicers supply of yummy yummy steroids and drugs, but also medical nanites that swarm about the body and do monitoring, conditioning and internal surgery. The downside is that Juicers die young. Once you put on the collar, you have an average of just over six years before you just shut down. Your body operates at a superhuman level, then one day your heart explodes with no warning. Also you need tranquilisers to sleep.

Juicer bonuses are superhuman physical attributes in all areas, including augmented strength, extra attacks and saving throw bonuses. (Remember, strength comes in normal, augmented, superhuman, supernatural and robot flavours, each with different rules on what a given strength value do for unarmed damage and lifting and so on.) They also get a bunch of skills, megadamage armour and weapons, and a note that they tend to be outspoken, brash, cocky and live for action. There's also rules for detoxing as a Juicer. This reduces your physical attributes by a big chunk, removes all bonuses from being a juicer, a permenant side effect. Oh yeah, and the chance for withdrawl and addiction to kick in afterwards too. The longer you've been a juicer, the higher a chance to relapse. When you do relapse, you either become addicted to some other drugs, get struck by chronic depression that basically halves your effectiveness in all areas, a burning desire to be a juicer again despite that this will most likely kill him, or your character just commits suicide because he can't bear to live life like that. And there is nothing you can do to modify this roll.

Merc Soldier

You're a professional mercenary. You get some skills and guns and shit. Really it's a very boring class and kind of sucks compared to everything else we've seen thus far. No crazy superpowers, no special rules. They don't even get lots of skills to compensate for the fact that you're just a dude with military training in a party composed of a dimension hopping wizard, 10 foot tall unstoppable cyborg and a dragon.

Robot Pilot

Glitter boy but worse in every concievable way, apart from the fact that you could have a truly flight capable robot suit. Which the Glitter Boy will then turn into confetti with his gun.

Next time: Adventurers and Scholars

Adventure Classes

posted by Captain Hats Original SA post

RIFTS: Finally, someone who's speciality isn't punching things

All the previous classes we've looked at have been "Men at Arms", the combat classes of the book. The next lump of guys are the "Adventurers and Scholars", kind of like the pre-4e rogue for D+D if you removed sneak attack/backstab. Skilled but not much use in a fight. Oh, by the way, every class thus far has been an OCC, or Occupational Character Class. This is a class in the traditional sense, a job that your character does independant of his race. The book contains no rules for playing anything other than a human, apart from one exception that we'll get to when we get to it.

Anyway, the Scholars and Adventurers. These guys all get basic megadamage weapons and armour as standard, unless I note otherwise.

Body Fixer: You're a medical doctor. You can treat injuries and put in cybernetics, kind of. Also you have a bonus to perception for no real reason.
City Rat: Street thief and general underworld type. They know how to talk to people, sneak around, steal things, find contraband... all that good stuff. And you start out with some basic bionic implants.
Cyber-Doc: Like body fixer, but better at putting in bionics. They can install and find cybernetic implants better than anyone else. They can also tune up bionics to get more performance out of them. Again, they begin with some bionics. Bionics and Cybernetics are apparently different, but the terms seem to be used relatively interchangably.
Operator: You're a tech dude. You can repair and upgrade mechanical equpipment. Also you can have technological psychic powers at the cost of some of your skill choices. We'll get to those when we get to the actual psychics chapter.
Rogue Scholar: You want to know about before the great cataclysm. Kind of like post apocalyptic Indiana Jones, a bit. One of your class features is to restore antiques, making them more visually appealing by "8% per class level". How exactly do you make something %8 more appealing?
Rogue Scientist: See above, only with more test tubes.
Vagabond: You're a hobo. No, seroiusly. You're a goddamned hobo whos class features are minor stat boosts and the ability to size people up after a few minutes of concentration. You can tell if a person is educated, how wealthy they are, their profession, their current cash situation (Which is separate from whether they're wealthy or poor), if they're being honest or decietful, and whether they're looking to get something out of you or not. Also you're the only class in the game that has a sturdy plastic bag to carry extra things in. And some candy, nobody else gets candy.
Wilderness Scout: D+D ranger but without the animal companion. Also you can draw maps.



posted by Captain Hats Original SA post


Magic. Magic Magic Magic. Magic is cool to have. Face it, the ability to set shit on fire with your mind is fun and useful. RIFTS being RIFTS, it has magic. It has so much magic. Let's take a look at some of it, shall we?

Elemental Fusionist This class opens with a paragraph saying that it's one of the things created specifically for RIFTS: Promise of Power, the video game released for the N-Gage. Yeah, there was a RIFTS video game. And it was on the N-Gage. Now, from what I've read the game itself is actually pretty good, one of the N-Gage's stand out titles. But still. Who here actually remembers the N-Gage? I didn't until I read this class.


Elemental Fusionists are wild shamanistic fellas who take the power of two opposing elements into themselves (Fire/Water or Earth/Air) and use this to do stuff and be balanced and shit. They get resistance to their elements, physical attribute bonuses, the ability to speak to, detect and have their magic replenished by elementals of their flavours (Who are usually friendly to them, the book says) and they can cast spells. They also get unique powers that cost PPE (Personal Physical Energy. They're Magic Points.) and are spells by any other name. The best one is the fire/water fusion power of Steam Bath , where you spend a PPE and turn the surrounding area into a pleasant, steamy environment that washes people and cleans and presses clothes. Sure, you could be hurling blasts of superheated steam that can melt through tank armour or flying around on a chunk of earth, but an at will magic trouser press? Sold. They get a bunch of wilderness skills and basic equipment including a wooden cross (???), and they get bonuses and penalties to assorted things based on how wild or urbanised the environment around them is.

Ley Line Walker
These guys are a wizards wizard. No messing around with gimmicks or unique powers, no. Just goddamn magic everywhere, 24/7, no bullshit. They can detect magic including the distances to ley lines (Surprisingly useful, given that replenishing PPE varies depending how close the nearest ley line is.), read information about ley lines, send messages along ley lines, send themselves along ley lines, fly in the presence of a ley liine, heals faster near a ley line, conjure an Eye of Kilrogg from Warcraft II (As long as they're standing in a Ley Line), they automatically learn spells relating to ley lines, so long as they're on a ley line they can generate force fields, and all this in addition to skills and their magic spells (And they get quite a few spells). There's also a variant, the Ley Line Rifter. Almost identical overall, except that instead of generating force fields, they can piggyback along with any teleport they can see.

One form of spellcasting not enough for you? How do you fancy being able to do both magic AND psionics? That's what this class does. And that's about it. Oh yeah, and in character creation it's entirely possible to wind up with psychic powers anyway, purely by chance. Also magic uses PPE, psionics use ISP (inner strength points). These are entirely different resources, and cannot be turned into each other (Except when they can via spell). Also the mystics starting gear is noted as having "six wooden stakes and a mallet (For vampires and other practical applications)".

Summons extradimensional beasties. They can sense dimensional stuff, hop around to other dimensions, talk to other dimensions, detect rifts, get familiars and bind creatures to their will. Also they can cast spells like a normal wizard. You can also have a pact with a suepernatural being. This gives you more power, but you're expected to act in a certain way. Most of these beigns are very very evil, but you could luck out and have Thor backing you up. Best pieces of equipment: hammer and stakes, garlic (2d4 cloves, not even a full head or anything) and dark hooded robes.

The Artificing class. They can cast spells and build magic items. Extensive rules are given for constructing whatever variety of flaming sword, golem power armour or hoverboard you might wish. Also they can instinctively pilot vehicles that are designed to ride ley lines and get some normal magic too. Choice pieces of starting equipment: One hoverboard, one magic car, a magic suit of armour, and 1d4 small sacks and one large sack.

Next time: Psionics!


posted by Captain Hats Original SA post

RIFTS: Psychic characters

Psychic powers! They're like magic, but different because. This seems like something that's expanded upon in one of the sourcebooks, but I don't have those so I'm a bit lost really. The book even says that magic and psychics are linked somehow and their powers are eerily similar. We learn that in the Coalition, psychics are regarded as a mutation. In the coalition, this is a Bad Thing. Also we're really not given any reason to believe that they aren't mutants as players. Also, according to the Coalition, psychics are dangerous to average people. And honestly they're pretty much spot on correct about that. I'm beginning to see why people defend the coalition sometimes. Minor psychics in the Coalition just have their name put on file as being minor psychics.

Major psychics have to get registered, in a manner not dissimilar to what was proposed in the first X-Man movie. They have a barcode and chip implanted in their neck, and owners are alerted when they enter buildings. Also many establishments in the CS will then kindly ask them to leave because we won't have any mutant psychics in here, no sir. Why, you might go crazy and murder people! Those who DO go crazy and murder people (or at least commit crimes with their powers) get their chip modded once they get out of prison so that when these alerts go off, they're flagged as being psychic criminals. Aaaaand we're back to the coalition being evil dicks again. Oh yeah, the coalition runs massive propaganda campaigns go control its citizens if you hadn't worked that out yet. Also in Chi-Town, all visitors get temporary tracking implants. They get removed when you leave the CS, but there are rumours that the coalition is leaving in permenant tracking devices and stealing DNA for experimentation. Of course the CS is doing no such thing citizen, and you would be wise to stop asking so many questions about things that do not concern you.

Bursters are masters of pyrokinesis. They tend to be passionate and have extreme alignments because fire powers. They're immune to fire and heat, can put fires out with their mind, can set themselves on fire similar to the Elemental Fusionist, are able to shoot fire out of their hands, summon fires, detect fires, and enhance fires. They also get some non-fire related powers from the generic list that they can pick as they level up.

Dog Boy
You're a mutant dog man that the coalition breeds to hunt down psychics. There's like three pages of backstory detailing how dog boys came to be, what they do, why people accept them and not other mutants and so on. Basically dog boys are really loyal, being dogs and all, and also can detect psychic and magical shit. Their class features are... well, detecting psychic and magical shit for a start. Also they can smell psychics, detect supernatural beings of any stripe, some minor sensory psychic powers, are really good at saving against psychic powers and physical bonuses you'd expect from being a dog, with optional charts to determine a breed with bonuses, and mutations

Mind Melter
You're a psychic. Holy shit you're psychic, with powers all over the place and hundreds of ISP to spend on powers. That's about it, but millions of psychic things everywhere isn't bad. Also there's a note that the characters wardrobe should be exotic and attractive.

These guys tend to be in charge of CS Dog Boys. They're psychics who can track down other psychics, get other sensory powers and survive by leeching PPE from people. Also they get animal empathy and when they fight supernatural creatures their natural SDC temporarily turns into MDC. A mage hunter kind of dude.

Next time: Dragons!

Suck my dick, I'm a dragon!

posted by Captain Hats Original SA post

RIFTS: Suck my dick, I'm a dragon!

Dragons! Let's face facts, they're cool. And RIFTS, being the smorgasboard of power fantasies for 14 year olds that it is, lets you play as one. Yes, today we cover the Dragon Hatchling RCC . All the classes that have been discussed so far have been OCCs , or Occupational Character Classes. This means that they're classes in the classic D+D sense. RCC means that this is a Racial Character Class, or in D+D terms advancing by hit dice. Unlike in 3.5 D+D however, it's acutally somewhat worth it in RIFTS.

We start out with two pages describing dragon psychology, history, biology, mating habits and all kinds of spergy shit about a fictional race of magic psychic flying giant lizards. Then there's the basics of the class. First off, since the dragon is a hatchling it's young and slightly naive about the world. Therefore, they start out as Unprincipled or Anarchist (TN or CN, if you want to be simple), and once they reach level 3 they have to pick a definitive alignment. Also, while levels 1 and 2, the player is encouraged to play the dragon as a 4-7 year old child, being whiny, snotty, selfish, helpful only when it suits them... again, I'm led to wonder what Kevin Siembieda thinks makes a good RPG.

Dragons also instinctively know about magic. They don't start with any spells like proper magic using classes, but they do automatically learn them upon levelling up and can learn them from scrolls and tomes and stuff. They also mostly have psionic powers. The one downside of being a dragon is crappy skill selection. They start out with four skills trained. That isn't a lot at all. However, they do get access to the truly badass skill of "Hand to Hand Combat: Dragon". Dragons don't start out with any equipment or money, and their bodies regenerative properties reject any and all implants. Also, roll randomly to determine starting age! (It's possible to play a dragon who starts out as 6 hours old). All dragons can also shapeshift (Any animate form from as large as its regular body down to the size of a cat) and teleport at will (5 mile hops, level based % chance of working), they're naturally Mega Damage creatures, get boosted stats, night vision, most of them can see invisibility, and they have MD claws and bites. And then they get special powers based on their breed.

Cats Eye Dragons are dragons that look a bit like cats. Still scaly though. In addition to normal dragon powers, They can turn invisible themselves at will, fire and cold resistance, the ability to hypnotize people with their gaze, breathe fire, and get some psychic ability in one category of powers.

Flame Wind Dragons are your common or garden big red firey guys. They have thermal vision, turn invisible at will, immunity to all forms of fire (Including Megadamage fire, something that usually bypasses fire resistance), they can immolate themselves with megadamage fire at will, breathe fire and also some minor psionic powers.

Forest Runner Dragons are dragons that live in forests and are poor at flying. They have enhanced senses, fire and cold resistance, chameleon scales that means they can turn effectively invisible in forests or other earthy backgrounds (even bumping into one, you're only %20 likely to realize you've just run into a dragon), breathe blinding poison, and get lots of non-super psionic powers.

Royal Frilled Dragons are really the only one to be. They get shadow meld for 20 minutes at a stretch at will (more on that when we get to spells), impervious to paralasys, resistance to cold and fire, paralyzing poison breath, they start out with spells and get all kinds of psionic powers including super ones. And then they get bigger physical stat boosts, more damaging claws, more reliable teleportation, longer shapeshifting durations and more PPE to use powers with.

Snow Lizard Dragons are really uncreatively named. Impervious to cold (Including MD and magic, like the Flame Wind) frost breath, minor psionic powers and the ability to shapeshift into a blizzard at will. While a blizzard any physical or magical attack does no damage, apart from fire which has its effectiveness doubled.

Whip Tail Dragons are sea serpents. They can swim, fly, see in murky water, turn invisible at will but only underwater or in the rain, breathe fire and get a fair whack of psionic power. They kind of suck really.



posted by Captain Hats Original SA post


Ok, so, actual psionic powers... aren't very well explained. Each power has a listed ISP cost (It never actually tells you that you have to spend your ISP to use the power) and some of them have a length of trance line (We are never told what a psychic trance is or how it works). So overall not very helpful. Powers come in four categories:

Healing lets you heal and refresh people. Also perform exorcisms and detect psychic energy
Physical lets you push your body past its normal limits, resist the elements, blah blah. Also telekinesis.
Sensitive lets you sense wierd shit around the place and also mask your power.
Super Is a broad umbrella that generally lets you do stuff from the other three categories, but better. And the ability to remote operate machines for some reason.

And now Magic.

We get a big writeup on the mystic rules and regulations. There are several principles of how to be a magic user. The first is that you have to believe in magic (not hard in RIFTS earth given all the magic shit just flying around everywhere) and then believe in yourself with a will like unto iron. If you have even a sliver of doubt in your ability to do magic, then you can't learn magic at all. After this, you have to choose a mystic art (class) and build up PPE. PPE (Potential Psychic Energy, different from ISP or the Inner Strenth Points used to power psionics. You'd think it'd be the other way around...) is something all beings have, spellcasters just learn to store more of it and use it. It's recovered through rest and meditation, or pulling it from artifacts, people, or ley lines. Ley lines also give more power based on all the usual calendar and celestial suspects (Dawn and dusk, solstices, eclipses, planetary alignments and what have you)

After all of that you have to understand magic, which explains all the terms and so on used by the spells, area spells and range and all of that. Magic can be cancelled by interrupting the caster or the casting of the spell in the case of ritual magic, or using countermagic. There's a bit on magic and technology. Bionic implants cut your PPE pool in half and halve all gains of PPE. Any body armour that's made of unnatural materials and covers more than half your body will increase the cost of spells. Spellcasters have to lean out of vehicles to shoot spells out of them (I guess to stop you casting in robot suits) and mages tend to use technology as a backup to their magic, even in the case of gods and demons. Then it tells you how to cast spells (Spend PPE, take the actions, roll any effects that need rolled) and how magic works in combat. There's then a fluff section about mages guilds and how to actually buy spells from the magic shop. There's then a lengthy section on ley lines and how they affect magic, and charts upon charts for generating random rifts and what's on the other side, including "Plot resolution world". Seriously, you can roll on a chart and just have a world spawn that contains the exact solution the group needs to their current problem. Oh yeah, and the spells themselves?

Basically just this only changed around a bit.

We also get a complete list of spells for RIFTS Book of Magic. yeah, an index for a supplement in the core book, handy.

Next time: The Coalition States can be played as good guys or bad guys. Also their leader thinks Hitler was a genius and their army flies around in giant black robotic skulls.