Rifts Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids by occamsnailfile
I hope I haven’t gotten people too excited about Mechanoid SpaceOriginal SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 1 “I hope I haven’t gotten people too excited about Mechanoid Space”
This cover is just sort of bland, the huge yellow space at the top doesn’t accomplish much.
Welcome to sourcebook 2! Sourcebook 1 had a lot of useful equipment and some data that was left out of the Core for various Kevin-y reasons, Sourcebook 2 is actually a lot more of a campaign guide and, well, a crapload of robot stats. This book is based on Palladium’s oldest property. I initially had thought it was based on some shitty anime, but no, it is merely inspired by the earth-destroyed-humanity’s-last-hope genre. We begin with Kevin’s usual warning against violence and evil robots, and a picture of an adorable but lethal little buddy.
According to Siembieda’s fappy introduction, the Mechanoids are a hot shit property and everybody wants to get their hands on them. Toy lines tried (and failed) to get them. Comic books. All that. Or at least they did, these days the Mechanoids are relegated to a sourcebook for Rifts here in 1992 and then a reprint of their original trilogy in 1998. Kevin spends a lot of time talking up how totally awesome Mechanoids Space is going to be, which will be a sequel to the mysterious fate of the old Mechanoid menace, coming in 1994! Guess what’s finally up for pre-order on Palladium’s website with no official publication date.
There’s also a bit of an aside about all this stuff they left out of Atlantis like the Chaing-Ku dragons, Temporal Wizards, and Mind Bleeder OCCs. As it happens, Chiang-Ku (they spell it both ways) and Temporal Wizards both got shoehorned into England, while it looks like the Mind Bleeder got pushed all the way into Africa for some reason.
Anyway, on with Premonitions of a Dangerous Future
This section starts out with “An Edict of Planetary Distress” from Plato, Head of the Council of Learning in the Free State of Lazlo. He is apparently writing an open letter to the other midwestern semi-civilized states to beg for their aid, as his is a grande and christian kingdom under siege--err, I mean he says that psychics all over Lazlo and elsewhere in the world have been having nightmares and visions of great evils and dangers to come. Great, okay, sure.
These evils are vague portents because psychics are new age fruits who work off of ‘feelings’ but they’re pretty sure that seven demons and four dangers will strike the Earth and must be met with immediate and total defense if Rifts Earth is to survive. This is beginning to sound a little bit like a metaplot. Or a chain letter. Anyway the first demon is described as “The Devourer” or “The Swarm” and those inaccurate psychics are pretty sure they’re a horde of armored demons who are going to literally eat the planet and won’t pause to negotiate. Even Atlantis is a little bit afraid of them (how the hell does this guy know this) but have not decided whether or not to fight. Also every last one of the Swarm must be killed because if even one lives the whole race will come back.
Then it goes on to foreshadow the Horsemen plot of Rifts: Africa, and the Arthurian mess that is England. (Hint: These might involve Supernatural Intelligences). The last ‘danger’ is vaaague vaaaaaaaague it might be something in Europe maybe Triax is the anti-christ or maybe it is the Coalition or even the Calgary Rift. Or China!
ARB: It’s amusing that we have this metaplot bit that has generally been forgotten for nearly two decades now. Maybe it was supposed to be left for GMs to play with, but it’s not clear, given how the rest of it was so tightly defined. Oh, wait. In later books they say the Devouring Swarm is the Xiticix, not the Mechanoids. Because fuck metaphors, I guess.
It ends with a plea for all good-hearted adventurers or whatever to take up the cause, citizens to barricade their homes and businesses, etc etc.
Prester John wants YOU
The Coalition States
This bit says the Coalition has stepped up some patrols to the east and southeast based on similar vague and dire warnings they’ve received. They can’t shift too much attention away from trying to wipe Tolkeen off the map, but they’re aware that there may be a problem. It even says that Coalition patrols may actually fight alongside non-humans and filthy mages at the GM’s discretion, and reminds us that not all Coalition troopers have gone full nazi and might not be totally prejudiced.
The Minions of Atlantis
Triax spies have shared information with the Coalition states
Apparently Splynncryth and the Kittani know what the Mechanoids are and in fact the Kittani would have totally been TPK’d by them if not for Splugorth intervention. Splynncryth doesn’t want to tip his hand on just how super-duper powerful Atlantis is by fighting right away so he’s just sending some minions to North America to be ready. Like the Coalition, they might join the PCs’ side temporarily because nobody likes a Mechanoid.
Apparently local jerks have taken these dire warnings as an excuse to be jerks, and are attacking D-bees and monster races, even dragons . They all have apparently received Coalition propaganda leaflets containing talking points about how it is immigrants hopping the dimensional fence that have caused all the problems. They even hang bodies from trees and gates as a warning because the only way to beat the enemy is to become them.
Anyway there’s a lot of lynching going on, based on this vague portentous threat.
I am honestly surprised there aren’t more of these, psychic portents aside. It’s not like people needed vague dire warnings to tell them that Rifts Earth was kind of in a bad way, and using a cult as an excuse to loot and murder and whatever is also pretty normal. I guess if a psychic says so, it’s really the end of the world this time, no for really reals. Cult up, get to wreckin’.
One cult in particular has the startlingly original name of The Children of Doom but this particular cult is mostly those non-humanoid monsters getting racismed in the previous section. The leader is a Neuron Beast as detailed in Sourcebook one, the pointy floaty dudes. Nrri (the leaderbeast) has had a vision that non-humanoids have nothing to fear from the Devourer in the visions as long as they reject two-legs. Also Nrri, who apparently got the hotline to Mechanoid info, foresaw that they’ll appear near DC, so he and his crew packed up and headed that way, destroying and pillaging as they go.
These guys’re intended to be recurring menaces. There are couple of adventure seeds for them, like them trying to preserve Mechanoid pieces so they can rebuild themselves Von Neumann style, or that the cult seems to know where the Mechanoids will show up, and then the PCs have to beat it out of them before they actually do show up, presumably so they can wire the Lincoln Memorial and White House with nukes ahead of time.
It ends with a glowing appraisal of how the cult has ‘so many possibilities’ but I think honestly most of them were nailed above.
Nrri the Neuron Beast sounds like he should star in his own childrens’ book series about how not everything ugly is evil, but that wouldn’t be in the Rifts spirit and besides, he is evil. If all the Mechanoids are killed he will go totally insane and just start trying to murder all the humans on his own to try and bring back the Liberators. Neuron Beasts are decent boss monsters and since he has a lot of monster thug friends you could put together a decent gang around this guy pretty much as detailed.
Lieutenants of Nrri, using some of the material from the Conversion Book I see.
*Garnak the Beast Dragon -- ill-tempered and prone to lashing out, likes to kill things weaker than himself and doesn’t trust ‘Nigel’.
*Nigel, the Nightstalker Dragon. -- Remember that these guys have to wear dragon sunglasses to go out in sunlight without penalties. This guy is the actual most powerful member of the cult, but he doesn’t care about it much, just thinks it’s a good gig to get some money and have some fun.
*A bunch of other monsters with page links, mostly to the Conversion book, enough to be a pretty formidiable group as a whole.
Honestly even without the threat of the Mechanoids, a human-hating monster-cult is more motivation than the majority of evil Rifts creatures have; you could change up the monster-member mix a bit, and flesh a couple more of them out and it really isn’t a terrible idea, though probably not one that can sustain a whole campaign.
Next: The return of Archie Three!
Not all villains are murderers who despise life.Original SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 2 “Not all villains are murderers who despise life.”
Archie makes a thrilling return here in Sourcebook Two. What, they went to so much trouble building him a hidden backup system and writing him an actual background, c’mon. This is of course before he’s the secret master of half the eastern front, and is just an evil AI. The opening section gives some advice on how to have Archie live through the previous adventure, though it says most parties were fooled by the giant fake brain anyway. It then suggests a bit about how to make Archie’s human sidekick Hagan survive, but also says that if you just want to roll up a new meatbag that’s cool too, Archie just needs a warm body for his involvement in the Mechanoids.
The adventure background with Archie has him becoming fascinated with ley lines and magic, because after three hundred years of sitting alone in his secret underground complex building robots, he finally noticed they were there. The old Cyberworks complex lies partially atop a nexus, much to his delight. He’s gathered info through human and robot spies about rifts: how they work. He hires a Shifter for an absurd sum to come in and open a Rift. The next bit is written from third person present as if it were GM narration. The Shifter suddenly has a bad feeling about this. Hagan reassures him and robots move in to provide safety. The rift opens...a tall blue pillar of light. Then the Shifter’s torso gets vaporized as blurring forms bust in. Hagan has to flee and is confused. Archie doesn’t talk to him for a while. Then says he has to pretend to be Archie’s slave so the humanoid-hating guests don’t kill him.
All of this is stuff the PCs would not be able to know about directly, unless Hagan or Archie tells them later. It switches back to regular exposition after that, explaining how Archie even at his worst doesn’t want to kill all humans, just torment and control them, and Hagan (or other meatbag standin) is still a human who is therefore categorically opposed to being genocided. These paragraphs are actually more nuance in motive than we’ve seen from almost any Rifts evil so far. Meanwhile, bad has met worse. The Mechanoids are clearly pretty tuff. Archie and Hagan must become secret heroes to fight these invaders off!
This is quietly swept under the rug in later books with stuff on Archie.
ARB: And it’s really too bad, Archie having a realization over what he could become would have been a nice plot point. Sigh...
Anyway, Hagan is going to go out with some special bots and new power armor and start seriously ruining Mechanoid shit, leading enemies onto their movements and then vanishing afterwards and no following . Archie knows a lot of Mechanoid plans because they trust him like one of their own because he too was abandoned by his human creators.
The Mechanoids’ Plans
1. The Mechanoids, meanwhile, hate humanoid life. Just humanoid. Learning about rifts and how those lead to other, more populous sources of humanoids has made the Mechanoids very sad. :sad: But that just means they’ll have to fight harder and travel through these gateways to totally fulfill the goals of the Council of Robot Elders. They don’t even like beings who enslave humanoids (except Archie, apparently) so they’ll oppose the various capital-I Intelligences.
2. The rift Archie opened was underground, spilling a few dozen invaders into the compound, but a Mechanoid Spider Fortress (whatever that is) came through up above! Fortunately it is not at full strength so maybe PCs can kill it before it spreads? Nah.
3. The portal was random and it’s unlikely anybody will open another one back to the Mechnoid Base Dimension or whatever. Also the idea that humanoids have most of the knowledge about rifts and ley lines makes them sick, just sick.
4. The Mechanoids have divided into four Force groups to begin their plans for human-killin’. Force One is small and its job is research. Archie won’t just annihilate them because he doesn’t want to get found out as a collaborator. Force Two is a bunch of small reconnaissance teams divided into random encounter-sized bites. Force Three reveals to us that the Mechanoids apparently have fleshy parts and are in fact cyborgs, and need to build a robot factory/cloning vat facility to enlarge their force, and it only takes a few to replicate, but they need to “acquire” a genetic engineering facility. Force Four is the main combat force coordinated by the spider fortress.
this is the only picture for several straight pages
Back to Archie Three
So Archie has his own emotional issues as we saw when we first met him. Archie is agoraphobic and that is why he doesn’t just pack up his toaster-brain and flee. Well, that and he’d lose all his sweet robot factories to the enemies he let in with casual experimentation. He needs humans to give him ideas as he is not a creative AI, and Hagan’s idea of world conquest was kind of appealing. The Mechanoids with their super-advanced stuff make him feel inferior and he will never study magic or rifts again. If Hagan dies, the Mechanoids might just convert Archie for good.
And now some notes on Hagan’s Heroes
Hagan is actually a real prick who wants to conquer the world and hurt people and is Diabolic evil and all that, but he doesn’t want other people infringing on his turf nor does he wish to kill all humans, as who would he rule and bully then? “Hagan has just had greatness thrust upon him and he will respond well” the text says. I...see. The rush from being regarded as a hero will further empower his later diabolical schemes, but for now he might actually do some good or something.
Statwise, he’s a somewhat above-average human, 6th level Operator OCC. Great, he’s an evil AC-repair guy. He has really average stat bonii, and I’m not going to check bit by bit but I think he’s constructed according to all the actual rules, unlike a certain rifted continent full of snowflakes. Granted, he has special unique equipment but I’m willing to let that go pending reading that actual section. He has a million credits, hopefully stored in a comical piggybank robot, and four million in artifacts from Cyberworks. Also he and Archie are best friends .
Hagan’s armor and robot vehicle are prototypes that were just about to enter production when the stupid Mechanoids showed up. Now they’ve gone rogue to fight the menace. We’ll start with the armor because it is first.
The HPA (Hagan’s Power Armor? I thought he was the creative guy) Mark One has psionic shields that conceal Hagan’s identity and make him immune to pesky telepathing, so he will forever be that mysterious armored man. It also allows him to use his telemechanics power to bond more directly with the armor and gain extra attacks and combat bonuses. So he’s basically a Newtype Gundam pilot I guess.
ARB: Given “fancy interface” is the hook for so many mecha anime, you’d think they’d steal bits like this more often. Hell, they published Robotech, which had “fancy interface” as the hook for at least four interstellar wars.
also he might be a little pudgy
The armor has 320 body MDC which is more than the SAMAS at 250, and it flies twice as fast. Interestingly it is almost exactly the same size as a SAMAS. It can fire mini-missiles but it carries 12 instead of 2 that its rival (as I am now declaring the SAMAS to be) gets, carries 12 fusion blocks/land mines that do 4D6x10, and has a plasma blaster that does railgun damage with a 30 round clip--that’s actually smaller than the 50 bursts a SAMAS drum can manage, but he can reload in under a minute, which the SAMAS can’t. The plasma rifle has a cord that can plug into the armor to power it but for some reason this can only provide 10 shots despite having the usual nuclear reactor. The right forearm has a ‘variable frequency’ laser that can adjust itself automatically after one round to cut through laser-resistant armor; eat your heart out, juicer rifles. It also has a design flaw: it fails to rise from its housing 50% of the time, roll every time it’s fired. The left forearm has a retractable vibro blade though it only does 2D4 MD. So overall it has several extra weapons though the damage is not completely unreasonable. The fusion blocks are an item from the core, and described as being ‘the size of a hand-held computer’, which I am going to guess is a PDA or something. Anyway they work on a timer and they’re expensive.
The other special thing the armor does is add 2 attacks per melee, and several other combat bonuses. Regular SAMAS (or any other) armor does not do that, and it’s explained by the armor’s Newtype link, but it’s pretty special-snowflaky, no PC can get armor like that. Of course, I think it’s also partly to bring the lowly Operator OCC-NPC up to roughly the par of a more combative character. He didn’t take Acrobatics and all those other essentials. All told, it’s a pretty tough unit, it is unique and special, but I don’t think its overall effect is extremely unbalanced. It’s just another case of Rifts building exception-based NPCs.
Anyway, Hagan also has a robot vehicle, the “Earth Saver One.” Seriously, Archie, get a new name-maker human slave at least.
need a hand? or is that a leg?
This robot also gives Hagan combat bonuses and the armor itself is a bit of a beast. There’s a specific note on the Power Armor that its bonuses do not apply when Hagan is piloting the robot, which suggests that his 8 foot suit of power armor somehow fits in the chest cavity of his 20 foot robot to pilot it. I think this one was based on the UAR-1 Enforcer’s stats, ‘but improved’ as before. It has more total weapons though its rail gun actually does slightly less than the UAR. That must be an oversight. As a whole it’s a pretty tough unit and I don’t know why you’d use the power armor instead of this, except that the power armor might more plausibly get away afterwards to maintain the mysterious masked-man thing.
Lastly, Hagan has 10 AA-60 Hunter-Destroyer robot minions. Archie had to purge the design data after sending Hagan out into the world with this limited escort, so this 10 is all there are. Better make ‘em good.
start off by giving them laser titties
Three of these follow Hagan around, and the other seven have split into scouting and attack groups that report back frequently. They can’t run fast enough to evade a SAMAS or other fast power-armored pilot, though it says four of them ‘are equipped with jetpacks’ without giving flight stats. I assume fairly fast. But it means they have to try and stay out of sight or win any combats they enter I guess. As they’re bipedal, Mechanoid patrols might come to sniff them out at least before concluding they have no fleshy taint. Also they’re 10 feet tall and weigh 500 lbs, which is lightweight and dainty honestly. Especially for having 330 MDC bodies. They have plasma cannons and vibro blade armaments. They speak a bunch of languages including Dragonese and Splugorth somehow. And they can self-destruct as per ‘standard’, whatever that means Sourcebook One.
Anyway, next time onto the Mechanoids themselves! It’ll be rad I bet. Everybody loves a cut-rate Terminator.
ARB: Did the original Mechanoids have skulls? Of course not! It was 1981. We hadn’t discovered skulls yet.
Mechanoids would swarm on the planet to “play with the humans"Original SA post
What, you thought you had escaped the Siembieda-ese!? Never!
Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 3 “Mechanoids would swarm on the planet to “play with the humans”
The Mechanoids are an ancient race renowned for their destructive monomania. They’ll consume entire planets and suns to power their armada of crazy and keep on truckin’. And what they hate is humans. And humanoid bipeds. Seriously, two-legs bad. They’re cyborgs, so there’s probably a little self-hate in there as well.
Of course, their story begins long ago, in a galaxy far far away, with a race of humans who were fleeing some manner of catastrophe. Their homeworld got all kinds of fucked, but little else is known. Except that they are sometimes called ‘Atlanees’ because Palladium is dumb. Basically these ancient humans got super-hungry for knowledge and just kept expanding their colonization force, sending thousands of volunteers to accept bionic and genetic enhancement to better withstand space travel.
ARB: Completely unreleased to the True Atlanteans, as far as I can tell. What, Siembieda, recycle ideas? Nahhh.
Eventually the space crews got so inhuman that the land-bound public started calling them monsters. The space program was halted as committees were called, and eventually the cyborgs were deemed unhuman and called The Mechanoids. They had stronger bodies, greater speed and intelligence, and even psionic powers from their various enhancements.
they weren’t super aerodynamic though
Thousands of Mechanoids stranded on the home planet were massacred. The other Mechanoids in space received the empathic transmissions of their cousins’ distress, and were confused and sad. They decided they had made their creators angry somehow and proceeded to rebuild their bodies to be even betterer and created thousands of seed clones to be left as gifts on other worlds, collecting knowledge and getting ready for their big party that was totally going to happen.
Of course, they went back to not-Earth the humans were confronted with revised and weirder versions of their creations that they had already massacred once, and threatened the Mechanoids and told them to leave. All the awful human emotions were a terrible shock to the empathic Mechanoids. Suddenly they saw that maybe these meatbags were not their masters, but their inferiors.
march of the hand grenade bees
This was the point where the Mechanoids finally turned on their creators. Supposedly the humans attacked them first, but the ultimate results was them feasting on the bones of their creators. This wasn’t enough though, it was time to destroy all humanoid life. The whole incident made the Mechanoids insane. Their racial memory link and psionic powers meant that each generation of Mechanoids would carry the recollections of the others fresh as if they themselves had just killed and eaten their own fathers.
Since they were abused and abandoned, now they want to torture and destroy humans to alleviate their powerful cyborg feelings. Their hate and disdain for humans means that they frequently underestimate human foes who don’t just curl into balls of weeping. They rampaged through their home galaxy, killing and tormenting humanoid populations by the trillion and then eating their planets whole. This continued until one day they just stopped. Vanished. Their large planet-sized motherships were found drifting and empty. The ships were part-flesh like the Mechanoids themselves, but the flesh parts were dead. All data was lost. There was no sign of the former occupants.
When humans from the “Nigelian Confederacy” investigated the Mechanoid Homeworld, they found nothing there either except some automated defense systems and an insectoid race called the Dionii, who said there had been some kind of schism among the Mechanoids. Apparently some recent clone generations had been altered in a way that gave them more free will and left them less than empty hate-shells mimicking their past.
These Aberrant Mechanoids (not to be confused with the alignment) were as repulsive to the old Mechanoids as the originals had been to their human creators, though they denied the parallel. A civil war started, Mechanoid on Mechanoid. One faction released a virulent plague that killed Mechanoids by the billions. There’s also something about a mysterious spinning silver disc larger than Jupiter, but it vanished as the Mechanoids tried to strike out at it. The rest of the species died to the plague and internal warfare.
But wait! More Surprises
Obviously not all the Mechanoids died. A small colony was spirited away and preserved, basically Necron-style. The survivors had to work feverishly to figure out what they did wrong that made themselves into the monsters. Again. This took them two hundred years. They also set up making better cyborg bodies and clones and stuff. Of course, the good guy Mechanoids also hid away a resistance cell, and when the old awoke, so did the new.
ARB: It would be interesting if the (evil) Mechanoids you encounter in this adventure were the last of their kind. It’d add weight to the conflict and wrap up the storyline of a now three-decade old game. But, of course, we can’t have actual resolution, can we?
it appears they have deployed orbital TV trays?
That concludes the section on Mechanoid history and origins outside of Earth. The book jumps to giving stats for Aberrant Mechanoids or AbMs next, rather than statting up the villains they’ve been talking about so long first. Oh well, it looks like we get one, then the other.
A situation the unscrupulous AbM could use to its advantageOriginal SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 4 “A situation the unscrupulous AbM could use to its advantage”
Alrighty, since we’re doing the optional good guys first, we’ll just dive straight in. Our little buddy from the intro is back, but now he’s being all Vanna White at the section heading.
vowels are a meatbag perversion
This bit is about Aberrant Mechanoids (again, do not confuse the use of this adjective for its actual meaning with the Palladium LE alignment) and how they can be optional player characters. AbMs are limited to the ‘older-style’ bodies, not any of the new ones, because the bad guys hid away in an industrious little colony of evil, but the good guys just went to sleep and waited for the bad Mechanoids to wake up, assuming that everything would be like it was before.
ARB: Like most good guys in Rifts, they’re a bunch of lazy slobs who sit around on their thumbs while the villains scheme, build, and conquer. It should be noted that the “old-style” bodies are basically the original Mechanoid designs from 1981 that Siembieda designed himself, and the art here is from the original Mechanoid books. Also, that raises the question: why the hell are they M.D.C., when the original designs were S.D.C.?
In order to involve AbMs in the Rifts™ campaign world one would most likely have to declare that the enemy the Mechanoid force mentioned in the above Archie scenario was fighting was actually AbMs and they’d have managed to successfully disengage without completely killing each other. Which means you could have them as PCs. But only certain bodies now, remember. Also it mentions that most people can’t tell the difference between good and evil Mechanoids (fair) and only like the Children of Doom will like them.
The brain is unsurprisingly the thinking man’s Mechanoid. They are not super-tough combatanst and prefer to direct things from a distance. The eviler ones tend to be masters of mind games and deception, and all of them are powerfully psionic. All Mechanoids seem to have some psionics, but these guys really get a crapton. They’re 10 feet tall but really not very tough, their main body has 90 MDC and their clear polymer braindome has 50, with the head itself having 10. They have optional vehicle bodies they can use (this may be a theme) but mostly they’re a brain on tank treads.
They have a tiny little laser turret that does up to 3D6 MD, which is enough to take care of some of the more annoying mosquitoes in the Rifts universe. They can use other rifles and stuff as needed. Also, their power system is a ‘Mechanoid power crystal’ that gives them 100 years of life. The Black Market will pay 2D4 million credits for a crystal with more than 50 years but only 2D4x100,000 for one with less. I’m not sure how they can tell the difference or even utilize such a weird power system, or why 49.5 years of life is worth 1/10th the value.
ARB: For some insane reason they get 1500-2000 I.S.P. to start with, in a game where a powerful human psychic starts with 40-200...
maybe make the weak point a little smaller
them some silly-lookin feet
ARB: Why the hell are its fleshy bits hanging out of its ass? Did it have some kind of mechanical prolapse? Robo-lapse?
Runners are effectively “captains” in the Mechanoid hierarchy. They’re supposed to directly command and coordinate troops in combat I guess, which sort of sucks for them as they have the same 90 MDC on their bodies that the brains do. Though they have a “containment chamber” in which they are totally helpless unless rescued--that has 120 MDC. Nothing like an armored prison cell as a backup to not having more armor on the body. They are all fascinated by magic and will try to learn it and can even learn magic OCCs.
They have a ‘forearm laser rod’ that does 5D6 MD and can use other weapons as needed.
oh hey little bud--
This is apparently what our little friend the repeating art bug actually is. They don’t look too waspy when in uh, flight mode. They are apparently intelligent and aggressive predators, good thing there aren’t any others of those in the Rifts universe. They like to evoke feelings of fear in adversaries, and this is true even of the good guy ones. So basically these are the flying terrorists of the Mechanoid legions. Personality-wise, they are like whiny children who get bored when they aren’t fighting things and start acting up. Their greatest weakness is boredom--torture won’t break them, but take away their fighting game and they go nuts.
They have 120 MDC and again with the armored containment chamber that has to be like a choking sensory deprivation tank if their body gets toasted--up until the chamber itself is busted I guess. Busting the “head” area on their body reduces their attacks and bonuses by half, but it has 100 MDC so it’s kind of a waste of time and a prank on people who generally make called shots all the time in Palladium, because usually there’s no reason not to. They have a particle beam cannon that can do 1D4x10, 1D6x10, or fire a dual burst for 2D4x10 that is still a single melee attack. So uh, do the third one? All of these guys have unlimited ammo.
look at his poor vestigial little thumb nubs
Another Mechanoid designed to be a commander of lesser Mechanoids and robots. I am beginning to think the Mechanoid hierarchy may be top-heavy. The brute has control of itself and is capable of acting like an adult, unlike the wasp, and work well with groups. They have decent MDC, 200, and head/main body are the same thing. Their particle beams do 1D4x10 or 2D4x10 per dual-blast that is again one attack. Despite their weird lumpy hands in the picture, they can use other weapons as needed.
honestly with that name i expected something more terminator-ripoffy like on the cover, or at least less like baba yaga’s typewriter with a proboscis
Fairly unsurprisingly, these guys are aggressive and combat-oriented like the wasps. They lack much in the way of self-preservation, they just like fighting so much. “Fortunately” the text says, “its blood lust is often quenched by the mere act of battle and not murder.” Fortunate indeed I guess, they are admittedly on the restrained end of the spectrum of Rifts evils in that they don’t just roast orphanages for the hell of it. They can go totally berserk in combat though they still distinguish friend or foe, they just won’t flee or listen to retreat orders.
They have 125 MDC which might make their aggressive lifestyle kind of risky, though their triple-barrelled particle beam cannon can do 3D4x10 MD per attack, which is pretty good really. They have smaller ion pulse blasters that do 6D6 as well, which are for those occasions when a foe has destroyed the main gun I guess. Lacking hands, those are their only options.
ARB: Finally, my dream of playing a strider from Half-Life 2 is almost complete! I just need to practice my soulless mechanical howl.
AbM Seeker Pod
This one was actually pictured in the upper-right of the Exterminator picture above, though they repeated a slightly photocopier-enlarged version by the entry itself. The antenna-plate on top is almost like a tiny pair of robo-shades. They were designed as a secondary component to the Exterminator (somebody’s got to have hands I guess) they can often be independent operatives. They’re comparatively tiny at 2 feet high, but still aggressive and love hunting and adventure. They are described as ‘polite and obedient’, so they might make good robot butlers. Their little turret does an adorable 2D6 MD maximum, so they might consider additional weapons they can use with their functional thumbs.
AbM Tunnel Crawler
Yes, a drill-bot!
Okay, so maybe not that exciting.
The Tunnel Crawler is supposed to be a lone hunter, or small group actor. It exists to hunt down humans and humanoids. Yes, even these good guy ones have that urge I guess. It’s low-intelligence but very curious, so these might be the world’s most lethal raccoons. It also suggests that these guys can be quite merciless when provoked or protecting a friend, implying that these things can have friends. It says ‘low intelligence’ but they get 2D6+5 which gives them an average of 11, which is higher than humans.
They have 4D6 MD ion pulse blasters and also nerve gas dispensers, though that won’t bother most mega-armored enemies. Sorry Juicers and Cyber-Knights. All in all they’re kind of odd little critters.
Next time, some evil Mechanoids! We’ll see how much more beef evil gets.
All “true” Mechanoids, whether a free thinker, warrior or drone, loyally serve the Mechanoid raceOriginal SA post
Time to interrupt talk of menstruation with nice clean sanitary robots! Well, evil cyborgs with embarrassing squishy bits hidden away.
Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 5 “All “true” Mechanoids, whether a free thinker, warrior or drone, loyally serve the Mechanoid race”
Now it is time for like sixty pages of eeeeeeeeevil. The Mechanoids, as noted, hate humanoids. Man do they hate humanoids. All two-legs. Maybe even some three-legs, if they seem human-derived. Mechanoid society is hive-like, with only four types having any measurable free will at all. The Overlords who run things, the Oracles who are described as ‘imaginative’, the Brains, and the Runners.
Other Mechanoids are intelligent and maybe show some hints of personality, but they are driven by very strong instincts to be what they are designed to be and obey authority and whatnot. These are of course the “true” Mechanoids who are actually cyborgs, with their robot slaves being even more mindless.
i am sure that jet-ass is great for the flooring
These are the head honchos, the ones in charge, the free-thinking (?!) rulers of Mechanoid creation. They are very rare, typically you’ll only find one or two per planet or big ship. The book suggests that none of these arrived on Earth, up to the GM. If an Overlord is killed, Brains will try to assume its duties as best they can. Also, they’re the only ones who know how to make Mechanoid power crystals by literally eating suns (one sun per crystal!? I sure hope not) which leaves some pretty important questions about how AbMs reproduce themselves. The Overlords are also the only ones who can access the “living master computers” which have not been mentioned prior to now.
Anyway, we get a repeat of the frontal view art from the first page, and some stats. 500 MDC main body front, 700 rear plating. That may be tactically disadvantageous if one is trying to shoot forward. Absurd amounts of ISP, basically all the actually useful psi-powers. Triple-barrel plasma cannon for 3D4x10 and they can wield other weapons. Fairly tuff boss guys.
i would best categorize this as ‘sawed-off orca’
The Oracles were apparently once the art and culture-loving mavericks of the Mechanoid universe, philosophical and artistic and willing to suggest that maybe it wasn’t necessary to kill all the humans anymore. Some even helped captives and stuff escape and they were almost certainly responsible for the mutation that created the AbMs.
All that shit is done, these Oracles are the new and improved version, which means evil and sadistic of course. They delight in suffering and torture of humanoids and are very intrigued by the humanoid-destroying possibilities offered by the rifts. Only one or two of these made it to Earth and they are running the Mechanoid show.
They have 500 body MDC but no hands so they have to use telekinesis (which it notes gives them no strike penalty) to use any weapons, and they don’t even have a crappy little laser turret or anything.
i actually kinda like this design though the arms are a bit t-rexy
The Brains are the generals in the human-destroying cyborg army, though they “sometimes change hats to play the role of mad scientist.” As far as most humans now, Brains are the ones actually running the show since the Overlords and Oracles are reclusive and shy. The Brains do all the day-to-day managerial stuff apparently, and they are crafty and smart.
Apparently their upper body can detach and reattach, maybe for getting in and out of the shower or something? Oh wait, no, it’s for accessing brain pools okay. Apparently it can fly with small hoverjets. Also typically when meeting a Brain, 1D4 runners or brutes are not far away. They have a lot of psionics and the usual overboard ISP numbers. Seriously, PPE costs can actually scale up pretty high for some complex spells which is why there are ritual rules and stuff, Psionics never really encounter this.
They have a plasma sphere turret and laser fingers that do SDC and so are basically overpriced laser pointers and they’re a bit tougher than old Brains but not like supremely so.
Multi-Brain Combat Vehicle
the eldar would kindly like their fire prism back please
This is basically a tank to be operated by three to six brains. Why you need three to six “generals” to operate a tank is beyond me. The vehicle listing gives some combat bonuses as well though it seems like this is meant to be ‘the brains’ standard bonuses plus the vehicle’s’ which is weird and unclear. Anyway it’s a pretty buff tank but it’s only 21 feet high and meant to contain three to six 14-ft high spider-walker brains in an upper and lower section. They may some some cramped quarters there.
ARB: It looks pretty ready to command some Decepticons.
The new art for the runner is just kind of an Ewell-ized version of the old runner so I’m not going to post it. Runners are creative and ingenious free thinkers (seriously I am not sure they understand what that term means) who serve as the right-hand cyborgs to the brains and overlords. Runners surviving on Earth will devote themselves to trying to build a Mechanoid cloning/factory facility. Some will devote themselves to trying to contact the main fleet, but they are forbidden to learn magic so it’s not clear how they mean to actually achieve that.
They’re again a bit tougher than the old guys though nothing outrageous, though apparently they have a psionic force field as per the TK forcefield power. This isn’t noted for other Mechanoids who have ‘all super’ psionic powers.
That’s it for the “free-thinkers” among the Mechanoids. The combat lines will come next, with many more curvaceous Ewell-designed mecha in store.
They are calm, methodical creatures with a good head for tacticsOriginal SA post
Been too long, time to finish up this book. Well, not in this post. But soon enough. More Mechanoids!
Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 6 “They are calm, methodical creatures with a good head for tactics”
i like the little mini-skis on the feet
Brutes are still big tough mean enforcers with calm and calculating minds. There are, for whatever reason, two types of Brutes. Maybe Ewell drew two proposed concept sketches and Siembieda just wanted to use both. The Type One is a big walking tank with some optional weapons packages, all of which are strong but not completely unreasonable I guess.
lighter and faster eh
The Type Two Brute is meant to give some greater agility and speed to the normally lumbering tanky Type One. The top part of this unit can detach, leaving the legs and large arms behind as it flies off, which must be fairly disconcerting to watch. It’s lighter and more lightly armed (ha ha i get it) than the Type One and may be suitable for when the GM wants a commander unit that won’t bury PCs under plasma fire.
Another use of the term “intelligent predator,” the mark II Wasps are described as being daring and flamboyant, and “nothing seems to rattle their nerves.” Goodness, a relentless fearless fighter, sounds like a PC. They function just as well in air, space, and underwater--the latter would make for an interesting inclusion in Underseas. When the Mechanoids attack a planet, Wasps are 70% of the assault force. So these are kind of the flamboyant zakus of the Mechanoid world.
Combatwise they’re pretty fierce, and can do 1D6x10+10 damage with their rapid-fire lasers, just to show those SAMAS who’s boss.
Here we are back to these guys again. I am not a huge fan of this asymmetrical design. It’s sleeker than the original 80s version but somehow it doesn’t grab me. “Natural predators who love to hunt, fight and kill.” Will fight regardless of odds, but they can still be tricky and lay an ambush! This entry says Exterminators were originally designed for pest control on long starship voyages, not decimating humans. They somehow prowled tunnels, vents and pipelines with their 16 foot chassis. Mechanoid ships must have amazing air circulation.
Anyway, these are a little tougher than the Wasps but less mobile since they don’t fly.
These didn’t get a redesign for the future so their art is just re-used. They still fly around and support the Exterminators since they have tiny robot hands. These new ones have a little bit more armor than the old version but not that much; they don’t do a lot of damage either. Still, having to deal with a bunch of these along with an Exterminator would be a pain.
Another group who didn’t really get new art. These of course were also designed to hunt and destroy pests in tunnels and vents and such. Really, they must have just driven up trucks full of rats and emptied them into the original Mechanoid voyages for them to need this many pest-control robots. Loyal and brave, with nerves of steel, sadistic killer, etc. These are actually even tougher than the Exterminators even, though their armament is pretty weak: Their best weapon is an SDC nerve gas which most MDC body armors will screen out.
This Mantis design is mentioned as being even more mantis-looking than before, judge for yourself. Why the Mechanoids decided now was the time to start imitating organic forms more closely is anyone’s guess. More importantly, the original Mantis design is not appearing in this book. The big fat jet engine on the back is a special plasma energy source that will detonate for 1D6x1000 damage to a 1000ft radius if it is destroyed, which is insane. But don’t worry, the Mantises can’t self-destruct and will seldom be suicidal about it.
The Mantis is described as being mostly a mining and maintenance Mechanoid, though they got two special optional plasma cannons with separate art which do pretty strong damage. They’re extremely tough (350 MDC front, 500 rear) so it may be better to just let them gather the vespene gas until the other Mechanoids are out of the way.
Type One Octopus
The Type One Octopus is unchanged from the original, as you can see from the Siembieda stylings of its body. It performs precision and technical jobs, installing a lot of Mechanoid cybernetics and minding the clone vats. The Octopuses ignore humanoids unless the squishies attack them or what they are working on. Likely none of these made it to Rifts Earth, and that is why we have a detailed layout diagram. They don’t do very much damage and seem to be pretty focused on being multi-armed tech thingies.
Type Two Octopus
The Type Two serves the exact same function as the Type One. I wonder if Siembieda thought the old Octopus design was cool and wanted to re-use it but Ewell drew a new one anyway. These new and improved Octopi have additional tools to do their jobs better, and also the upper body can saucer-separate from the lower half to access smaller areas. Also, the upper and lower bodies can move independently and have separate (high) MDC ratings. These would be kind of a bother to fight with. Their damage isn’t tremendous but they get eight attacks per round. Sheesh.
And that’s it for the true Mechanoids. They have several varieties of robot slave that will be detailed next; really a lot of the true ones still sound like robot slaves but I suppose they can theoretically be corrupted by love or whatever whereas the robots are just programmed.
To the Mechanoids, this is an ironic joke -- the humor is lost on most humanoids.Original SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 7 “To the Mechanoids, this is an ironic joke -- the humor is lost on most humanoids.”
Today we get to deal with the various robots employed by the Mechanoid armies, as if their hulking armored torsos weren’t scary enough. There are like five main models, starting with the “Mock Men” which are deliberately designed to look humanoid as the Mechanoids’ idea of a joke. They manufacture these by the billions and use them for all the menial tasks they don’t want to do, keeping their mock-human slaves hard at work.
This is our guy from the cover, the mock-terminator. These are apparently new designs that have two hands rather than the left arm having a built-in laser. I can see the point of that. The downside to the design is that now they look a lot like Coalition skelebots and won’t that be embarrassing when they are trying to work their keyless robot remotes. The black market will buy these for 4D4x10,000 credits for a working model to study and 1D4x10,000 credits for the plasma rifles but not the optional laser variant apparently. Which, to be fair, this plasma rifle is badass at 1D4x10 damage with unlimited ammo when hooked up to the bot. If only Earth scientists could figure out a way to plug lasers into their nuclear power supplies... Big E-Clip would be finished.
the little spaceman is a Runt model robot, not ‘for scale’
The Runts are are the tiny spacemen like the pic above. They are less tough than the Thinman with only 100 MDC but that’s still plenty to keep a PC occupied for a round or two while the swarms of friends work on the others. They have a horror factor of 8, which in Rifts Speak is practically “just precious.” They have a laser rifle that does okay damage, and mostly they’re just there to shoot your ankles.
Runt Repair Unit
has a jetpack and adhesive pods. good job.
These are about the same size as the runts but they look like Zentraedi battle pods minus the legs, as above. It has those cables to attach itself to the hulls of moving vehicles for repair purposes. Mostly these guys are not fighting models, their job is to fix things, but they do have combat programming to defend themselves as needed. They don’t have much in the way of weaponry unless they pick up one of the rifles the others use, and it doesn’t say if the rifle can be plugged in for ammo purposes; probably I guess. Also these rifles all use ‘E-Clips’ so the ammo standard is like credits, issued by the universe, mysteriously.
they got tired of sending spacemen, so now they only send the helmets
These are small hovering robots that ‘like the tunnel crawler’ and Exterminator were originally designed to prowl the man-sized (and larger) tunnels on the Mechanoids’ motherships. Seriously did they not think designing their ships like rat warrens would be a problem later? Anyway these things get used for that, and for hunting down refugees and other seek and destroy type missions. They are programmed to destroy all humanoids on contact without hesitation, so it’s fortunate they aren’t that beefy. Also, make called shots to the Ion Blasters (10 MDC) and then they can’t really hurt you much.
this looks like Ewell’s style but Siembieda is way more prone to those ‘joint arc’ diagrams
Skimmers are hunter-killer robots who are considered cheap and disposable front-line units for the destruction of humanoids. The thingie on the top is a video/sound recorder that sends back all that the Skimmer encounters, making them helpful recon drones as well. Honestly I sort of figured all the robots had something like that, because how do you remote-administrate them otherwise? But anyway they have that. And 100 mile radio. They’re not real tough and they don’t do a lot of damage.
this is not what a weevil looks like
These are recon robots usually used to patrol perimeters or survey areas, often linked with Skimmers. They can apparently record the Skimmer’s video feed or something, this seems like an inefficient design. Basically all those little sensor things stick out when it is recording, and if threatened, it will retract them all into a little ball shape and roll away, radioing in Skimmers or other guardians. These things don’t actually have any weapons and can only roll at 50mph, which is fairly impressive for marble madness but they might be easy to capture.
Anyway, that’s it for the actual robots. They’re not too scary. Next up: Mechanoid population figures. Hurray! Rifts sure does love it some population data. A lot of this is not useful to a Rifts campaign, but this Sourcebook is a little bit of a hedged bet it seems like, Mechanoids Space being right around the corner and all.
The estimated total population of the Mechanoids in the universe is a paltry 800 millionOriginal SA post
I swear I am going to finish this 114-page sourcebook
Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 8 “The estimated total population of the Mechanoids in the universe is a paltry 800 million”
Now we get to the best part of any Palladium book: the nonsensical and arbitrary population figures. Fortunately there’s only page of this and it’s mostly percentile values of the total figure of 800 million, for the Mechanoids’ home universe. Which is totally relevant data for a book that emphatically limited the population on Earth and that awesome future Mechanoids Space book coming soon. It also states that there are about thirty times as many robots as actual mechanoids.
Then there’s an extensive listing of various Mechanoid team layouts without a lot of specifics on how the ‘Standard Reconnaissance Team’ is meant to be used differently from the ‘High Profile Reconnaissance Team’ other than the latter being stronger.
like a well-oiled machine
From there we move on to details of the Mechanoid Spider-Fortress. Okay. The Fortress is 1598 ft tall (exactly) but fortunately for Earth the one that was sent here only brought one-quarter of its usual complement of troops. Which is still a lot, though at full strength those guys must be crammed into that thing like sardines in a can, no way is there room for the vast, roomy ventilation that requires three separate cyborg hunting castes.
The fortress on Rifts Earth is damaged but still formidable. Even undamaged its MDC main body total is 2000, with a 3000 MD energy barrier that is depleted as of reaching Earth. 5000 total for the main is dragon-range but actually kind of reasonable for Rifts numbers. Too bad there’s like, a lot of these things supposedly. Also, while the barrier is up, the fortress can’t fire its weapons. This almost seems like a bonus since it gets an unbelievable 24 attacks and isn’t going to be using any dodges. Also some of the brokenly laid-out text on the next page says that depleting the MDC of the main body will cause a 1D6x1000 MDC explosion in a 1000ft radius. Congratulations on victory.
not quite the supervillain cadillac i was hoping for
Its individual weapons systems are fairly strong, from 2D6x10 MDC cannons up to even 3D6 missiles.
Enough of spider fortresses! Let’s hear about how the Mechanoids design their iPads. Since all Mechanoids are psionic, their machinery tends to be run by psi-powers and lacks regular controls. This sounds like a nega-psychic could really ruin their day honestly, just sitting around by the warp core while all the machines fail.
There’s a note an example paragraph here where Siembieda (presumably) explains how a group of PCs tried to infiltrate a Mechanoid base and got caught and ran into an elevator only to find it had no buttons?! Since they had an “ESPer” with them, he could object read the elevator to see what needed doing and then another PC had to cut a hole in a wall to operate a switch normally operated with telekinesis. Because building switches inside walls makes sense even most of your race is telekinetic.
Mechanoid computers are next. Apparently these are the “brain pools” hinted at long ago. They’re alive but non-sapient computers. There are ‘only ten’ of these on the Spider Fortress, while Mechanoid ships have at ‘least one every 500 miles’ which I hope is a typo. Brain pools can only be used by psionic beings. Among Mechanoids, only Overlords, Oracles, Brains, and Runners have the authority to use them. Humans with master or major psi-powers can use them, but they must ‘enter the unit’ and ‘make flesh to flesh contact’ with the warm fluids and soft lumpy membranes that cover the interior. It specifically mentions that the best results are achieved when completely naked.
The brain pools apparently have no security protocols so they just give any information to any psychic who asks, and the main danger is asking for too much and getting it all at once, causing a sensory overload. As well as giving out information freely, the brain pool will also copy the contents of the psychic’s brain and put that up on the Mechanoids’ server, available to all enemies of the two-legs. Characters with mind-block auto-defense can prevent the probes but suffer broken links that require retuning, and characters with mind wipe can erase the data from the brain pool as it is taken.
Master Computer Brain
These master brains are huge cybernetic interfaces with will and personalities of their own. They’re gigantic, filling a 500 (!) square mile area. Only Mechanoid Motherships or major bases have these, as I would hope, given that the size is basically a wild brain preserve. Destroying these cripples the systems of anything it was on, reducing all operations to 1/3rd normal. Trying to mind interface with these is a ticket to trouble, as they’re evil and they have total control over what goes over the link, so after they read all your thoughts, they can implant insanities and rewrite your skill knowledges or just mentally possess you. So maybe just blow the shit out of them, though they have 2D6x1000 MDC. They don’t have any weapons besides psionics at least, and it doesn’t say how many attacks they get.
they had some extra art to use, seriously this thing isn't statted anywhere
Footnotes and Reminders
This is a bulleted summary of stuff about the Mechanoids in case you weren’t paying attention to the entire rest of the book. Here is what will be on the quiz. Mechanoids hate humans. They hate humans. Hate humans. Are okay with non-humans unless they ally with humans. They’re psionic. They’re freaky-looking full-conversion cyborgs. They eat by slipping partway from their mechanical body into a nutrient tank, did they fail to invent straws during their quest for weaponry? Sensors and heads are often weak points but require called shots. Always do this. Mechanoid equipment is operated psionically. Seeker Pods travel with Exterminators. Wasps often play cat and mouse and love to fight. Tunnel Crawlers wander around independently. Haulers, Battle-cruisers, and Black Widows didn’t get rifted to Earth, so they’re not in this book. Which is great except that there’s a ton of other “did not get rifted” enemies who still get stats.
Anyway, that’s the informative part of the book there. The next bet is the Adventures section, which shall surely be thrilling.
Any psychic sensitive in the party will sense this is the work of the DevourerOriginal SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 9 “Any psychic sensitive in the party will sense this is the work of the Devourer”
Time for the Adventures section of the book! This is something that has been somewhat lacking from Rifts books in general, outside of SB 1. This one started with a campaign seed (about Archie 3) and seems to wish to continue with some specific scenarios designed around the Mechanoid incursion. The other books often just tossed an idea or faction on the table and left it to the individual to think of what to do with it, or put weirdly specific seeds into monster entries or whatever. So in some ways this is a breath of fresh air. In others, it’s all stuff about the Mechanoids and quite honestly these would get old fast. It’s good that there’s just the one grouping of them on Earth.
this looks suspiciously like Gustanovich settling his paws into this book
The Nightmare Begins
This is the obvious intro scenario for the entire Mechanoid setup. It says it is intended for low to mid-level characters but GMs can beef things up for higher level groups. Though the way level scaling works in Rifts it’s just hard to tell sometimes how much is enough.
The setting is what was once Maryland/Pennsylvania/Virginia. Lately there have been more reports than usual of demons and giant “robots” (quotes theirs) attacking and completely leveling towns and villages. Official sources confirm at least a dozen such attacks. No reports of theft, and generally, no survivors. These “demons” (seriously, the Mechanoids do not look like demons) are using sophisticated energy weapons and never stop moving, busting up one place and heading to the next. There is speculation that this might be the “Devourer” prophesied in the introduction.
There’s a long rambly survivor account that’s basically what you’d expect from mega-damage robots attacking a farming village and ends with “you look like heroes, find those guys!” Because that is how adventures begin.
Assuming the PCs don’t reject the hook with a hearty ‘fuck that’, your heroes will be searching the destruction-filled area. Supposedly a bunch of Coalition troops have also gone missing, at which point it would not be entirely morally bankrupt to vacate because eating Coalition patrols is like poking a hornet’s nest. However, let’s press on in the name of anti-robot justice because any sensitive psychic in the party would sense that this is the work of the Devourer.
Other ways to draw PCs in: They are present on other business and must intervene in an attack, they are hired by some of the small eastern communities to hunt down the menace and/or guard them.
Examining the wreckage of any destroyed community will confirm that energy weapons and robots are responsible--robot tracks and droppings are distinctive, you know. The group of robots that did the deed was relatively small in number so they must be pretty strong to have taken out an unarmed farming village.
The rest of the adventure is designed in a series of subplots The first of these is a rehash of the mercenary hook above except of course some mercenaries are barely better than the monsters they are hired to fight and it is us we are the Mechanoids. This refers us to the separate adventures Liberty and The Map .
Subplot 2 has our heroes finding a 4000 foot wide swath of forest that has been flattened in righteous combat. That is some lesser Tunguska shit, man. The trees have been blasted to flinders or shredded and among the wreckage are the remains of four of a team of five missing Glitter Boys. They’ve all been slagged past the point of salvage so no loot for you, and it’s obvious that one of them has had its pilot compartment pried open and pilot removed--the pilot’s dismembered remains are scattered not far away. Of the other side there are only fragments, they seem to retrieve their dead. Or five Glitter Boys were not sufficient to kill even one.
While examining this scene, Coalition forces will show up--the recommended mix is two SAMAS, two UAR-1, and six Dead Boys. They’re going to blame the PCs for the carnage on the site, as if your ragtag cyberknights and rogue scholars could have accomplished this, though “whether this turns into a fight or just harassment is up to the GM”.
Subplot 3 begins with a sentence fragment. “The smoldering ruins of a merchant caravan, convoy of vehicles or tiny village.” This is a recent battle, and the PCs can fairly easily track down the Weevil-led recon team. If even one Skimmer escapes, a seek-and-destroy team will be dispatched and track the PCs down! good luck with that.
Subplot 4 starts with billows of smoke filling the skies ahead of the PCs. Getting a high vantage point will show a town under siege 1D6 miles away, why did this have to be a random number? Down below, a Brain is rustling through the undergrowth, absorbed in its own thoughts. A couple Skimmers will respond to any cries for help but ultimately the Brain is pretty vulnerable and you should capture it. The force assaulting the town is ‘a standard assault force’ and it notes that Hagan may make an appearance here.
Subplot 5 starts with the PCs having had some peace and rest for a bit, when they see a battle in progress on a hill 4000 ft (exactly) away. If they investigate, they’ll find Hagan and some of his robot buddies fighting some Mechanoids. If they assist, Hagan will talk to them a little and then point out the charred spot where a Brute was standing and tell them to “Take a good look” at which point the PCs will realize the Brute was watching their camp and probably preparing an attack. Somehow the crater will tell them this.
Subplot 6 begins with a shriek that shatters the air. Running to investigate is the only option here, and it results in heroes seeing two Thinmen menacing a human family. One of the Thinmen is holding a boy of 15 or so up to its face while the kid brother beats on its leg ineffectually with a stick. You can just run the encounter from there OR you can have a particle beam blast the arm holding the boy clean off its hinges and never mind how that’s not really possible in Rifts rules. The blast could either be Hagan, passing by to help out, or an AbM if you want to introduce the good Mechanoids in their ancient rusty bodies.
Subplot 7 is just “any number of random encounters with Mechanoid squads”, great, thanks, it is okay to leave one tiny white spot at the bottom of a page to jump to the next heading guys.
Okay, so the first adventure is mostly a bunch of scene hooks with a couple of suggestions to tie them together and some hooks into some of the others. It’s okay for what it is I guess, the Mechanoids are not exactly a subtle plot implement.
A group of two-bit bandits are running a clever scam on adventurersOriginal SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 10 “A group of two-bit bandits are running a clever scam on adventurers”
The next set of adventure hooks come in the form of “The Map.” Basically, people are looking for “The Devourer” and local con men have stepped up to assist. The main star of this operation is Wily Willie Gladanski. Thankfully, he does not have an eyepatch.
Willie has a tale of a ley line nexus where the Devourer has created a rift. Noble readers of this whole sad book/review series will realize this is untrue since the hook here is that the Mechanoids were rifted in and trapped and can’t let their devouring swarm of brethren in. But it’s a good yarn to sell to adventurers, assuming there is an economy of such. Willie has enough descriptive evidence of actual Mechanoids to sound truthful, and the jawbone of a Thinman.
He will of course get huffy and puffy if questioned and get ready to storm off. If the PCs buy him some drinks, he’ll start pretending to be drunk and whisper about how he was prospecting gold in the Devourer’s valley and just needs to get back to it. All he needs is someone to kill those monsters. He’ll give them a map to the location for free, just as long as those selfless PCs will take care of the “danger.”
Of course the map is a fraud and Willie is a front for a bandit gang. The map is supposed to be a safe route, but it sets the PCs up to have to fight 17 bandits, some as high as 9th level. These bandits will be happy to just take all the easy-to-sell valuables and vehicles, leaving the PCs with their armor and weapons rather than murdering them all outright. Note to all scenario writers in video games, RPGs, and anywhere else: Unavoidable weapon-steal scenarios are not fun , they have never been fun, they will never be fun, and this setup is bullshit.
There are statblocks for the bandits, so if you decide to fight you can face Tree Shadow, the 9th level Psi-stalker and his Staff of Eylor. He’s supposedly killed a splugorth slave barge or two and hates the splugorth more than anything, and he and his bandits avoid preying on the local villages, focusing instead on robbing scoundrels, travellers, the Coalition, etc. They fight with the Mechanoids but that won’t stop them from going after PCs. The second lieutenant is Cintabar, a 5th level Line Walker who likes to step out with 8 or 10 bandits and claim larger numbers.
The scenario pretty much relies on the PCs getting caught off-guard and robbed, and even suggests that they can rob the PCs several times, making fun of them for each subsequent capture. Awesome. Local communities will defend the bandits for being not such terrible guys who work to defend their area from monsters and other bandits.
Oh, but that’s okay of course, because these bandits hate Splugorth, Coalition, and Mechanoids, so they’ll jump in on the PCs’ side if you pit them against overwhelming forces with their weapons gone. Then they can watch the cool NPCs do the battle! It also suggests that the PCs might become ‘friendly rivals’ with these bandits and might even want to help them out! I don’t think the writer here knew how PCs work. Also this section of the book has just one piece of retread art.
Evil Among Humans
Okay, at some point in any of these situations, it’s going to be us, we are the--, so let’s get this out of the way. Basically the PCs will find some anti-D-Bee humans about to murder a D-Bee woman with the bodies of several others already stacked like cordwood and one tortured unconscious. They are in the process of concluding that these were needless killings but they just can’t leave witnesses so they’re going to have to kill the others. Also they probably have a crate of puppies to drown later in the morning.
PCs trying to talk them out of their escapades will get guns pointed at them so better to just run in shooting. They have normal armor and human stats with ‘above average’ PS, PP, and PE, “no lower than 19 for each” which is uh...well above average. But past that they’re just humans.
The woman they were trying to kill is a psychic healer, she’ll heal the PCs and the wounded man tied to the tree. She’ll request an escort to their home village which is not far away, though they have zero money. It makes a note that good aligned PCs should be reluctant to let her travel alone, even for free. This is how alignment produces real roleplaying . The trip to the village can be as eventful as the GM wants, with the recommendation of at least one skirmish with the various enemy factions in the area.
When they get to the village, the D-Bee woman turns out to have a name she didn’t feel was needed while travelling; “Mea-la” is the village shaman and also had a vision of where the Devourer came from and can place the PCs within a hundred miles of the base. They might get little amulets of protection from the supernatural if they’re very good (+2 vs HF) and also it turns out these D-Bees are British, no clue how agrarians with no meaningful weapons managed to cross the Atlantic.
At least that seed didn’t involve any forced weaponsteals.
The town of Liberty has decided they need to hire some muscle what with all this activity in the area. They hired a group called the Bad Cats and somehow guys with a name that dumb turned out to be worse than no protection at all.
So the town is now being terrorized by bullies they themselves brought in. Oh, the hubris of seeking non-PC protection! The town of Liberty is “not wealthy” but each PC will be offered 50,000 credits plus free fuel (for all those nuclear power devices), repairs (actually quite valuable) and free recharging of E-clips (careful now) plus room and board for getting rid of these guys. Of course, PCs being PCs, they could be even worse still, you know how it goes.
The town is a mixture of people on horses and a giant bigbox (for Rifts) electronics store which is a major attraction for the regional economy. I sort of envision a futuristic Sears & Roebuck.
Again we have a listing of subplots.
Subplot 1 is your basic bullies-threaten-the-PCs plot, telling them to move along and having deputies of the new “sherriff” keep an eye on them.
Subplot 2 mentions that there are collaborators with the Bad Cats in the town and the PCs had better not run their mouths nonstop. This section mentions that the Bad Cats are pretty badass and never travel in groups of less than three.
Subplot 3 is in case the PCs decide to move on, then the some of the deputies may decide to put a stop to troublemakers before they come back.
Subplot 4 says that the Bad Cats will seek revenge if they are run out of town.
Subplot 5 is actually a subplot in that the Bad Cats are a human gang that has worked with some of the worst bad elements of the Coalition military in the region, and has paid off the CS commanders in the area--so trying to notify the CS and ask for help results in the message being intercepted and forwarded back to the Bad Cats. The worst Coalition soldiers will also come to Liberty for R&R of whatever sort ruffians get up to.
Subplot 6 is a continuation of 5, suggesting that the Bad Cats may have Coalition help if 5 is used, and the bad CS soldiers will continue the crusade against the PCs later.
Subplot 7 is another actual subplot, with one member of the gang, Red the Burster, approaching the PC group secretly to say that if they can kill Quentin and Sweet Sue, he’ll take over the gang and leave town and not make retribution. Of course, he’ll loot all he can on his way out and the other gang members won’t all follow his lead.
Subplot 8 specifically states that the Mechanoids won’t show up.
Then there’s some descriptions of the gang themselves. Quentin is a cyborg/headhunter bully. Sweet Sue is of course his girlfriend, yet another diabolic evil psychic. Red is the defiant slightly less evil lieutenant. Fast Hands is a crazy who is crazy. M’ltin is probably the toughest member of the group being a gigantes with natural MDC plus body armor. There’re 22 other henchmen of mixed class/level including “two dog dogs” which is an amusing typo. M’ltan and a few others are mentioned as being non-human which suggests problems with the CS plot hook above but maybe they joined after or whatever.
So there are some more adventure hooks. Most of these could function perfectly well without the Mechanoid menace as common occurrences within the Rifts environment, except the Map. Fuck that scenario and all scenarios like it.
Next, and final, the last adventure seed, some non-retread art, and...random encounter tables?!
This adventure might be ideal as something to play after the Mechanoid menace appears to have been eliminated.Original SA post Rifts™ Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids Part 11 “This adventure might be ideal as something to play after the Mechanoid menace appears to have been eliminated.”
So five adventure seeds, and none of them deals with the Mechanoids directly. I guess the campaign seed at the start did that, and you have tables of standard Mechanoid troop deployments, go to town etc.
That’s kind of a lie though, this one does involve real Mechanoids as a central element, it’s just the denouement bit where having destroyed the Spider Fortress, the PCs think themselves safe. Unbeknownst to them, some Mechanoids have taken over a small dying town. When the PCs visit, everyone is scared and unfriendly, almost like there are bandits and monsters roaming around.
The sinister truth of course is that the Mechanoids are trying to set up their factories to build them new robot slaves. They’re a long way off making new Mechanoids but give them time. The town itself is partially depopulated but that would not uncommon in areas near Mechanoids, and PCs could recognize signs of the types of damage they cause. Of course, if PCs explore some of the ruined buildings, they can find recent Mechanoid tracks. But they killed all of them. Right?!
they’re in the trees
If PCs investigate or poke around the ruins the townspeople will try to drive them off. Why, I don’t know. Nobody will trade with or cooperate with the adventurers or even try to tip them off that the Mechanoids are in town. No motivation is given for this. The adventure concludes with ‘if the PCs sneak in at night, they can see a weevil and two skimmers patrolling’. Now, we know the Mechanoids will stop at nothing to destroy all humans, so them making a deal with this town to not kill them if they direct outsiders away would be...a startling development. But that’s never explained. Instead it just says the PCs have to make their move in the next 24 hours or the Mechanoids will escape and that no good-aligned PC would allow this to happen--but the PCs would have no way of knowing this, or knowing that these are the absolute last of the Mechanoids, or that they might try to run. Possible resolutions are just packed into a paragraph or so and make no sense.
Other Adventure Ideas
A few mega-short scenario ideas. Some of these could just as easily have been fleshed out into the larger format.
1. The Mechanoid God: A village of D-bees have adopted an evil or anarchist AbM Oracle as their god. It and its robots have defended the village from outside threats, and the villagers love it. It seems almost like leaving the thing alone would be best.
2. The Torturer: A Mechanoid is torturing a human and has some others corralled nearby with robots.
3. A Runner befriends a line walker or shifter in order to learn about rifting magic. The magician and their friends and family think it’s just a friendly D-bee and that the PCs are just big jerks who want to hunt down non-humans.
4. Some Mechanoids befriend a mindolar, one of the giant mind-slugs from Vampire Kingdoms and Conversions. The mindolar takes them over and subverts them from the fleet--this actually could be an interesting scenario and would have been more fun than the Map to flesh out.
5. Hagan uses misdirection to make the Mechanoids think the PCs have been doing a bunch of destruction that he was actually responsible for. The Mechanoids hunt the PCs down and threaten them to try and figure out how they were being so badly hounded. Hagan of course may rescue them at the GM’s option to make sure nobody forgets who the cool NPC is. This scenario is recommended as the prelude to the big, climactic battle with the spider fortress. O...kay.
6. Ultimate Showdown: Fight the Spider Fortress. Well obviously at some point that was going to have to happen. They suggest possibly having the (or a) fight in or near Archie’s base. And we’re reminded not to forget Minions of Splugorth and Coalition Soldiers.
Last of all are some random encounter tables. These vary considerably from basic patrols up through stuff that a typical group of PCs just would not be able to take out, which is par for the course with Palladium encounter charts as I recall them. Actually, a lot of the entries are pretty tough. They also feature Mechanoids heavily even in non-Mechanoid specific tables, but also some of the other demons and monsters from other books.
And then there’re some character sheets. And that’s it. No more Mechanoids!
I realized I should cap this off a little more: This sourcebook as a whole has a campaign seed that builds on existing material and presents a potentially large-scale and mysterious threat, one which is hard to deal with because the Mechanoids won't talk or parley with humans and so the answer is basically always going to be shooting. The intrusion of the Mechanoids will muck up the plans of existing powers and possibly lead to them working together briefly and provides some hooks for this. The little adventure seeds at the back are middling to bad, but they are more than were provided in a lot of the other materials, so there's that. When I read this book in high school I thought it was kind of boring and I think mostly used it for the character sheets. Reading it now, I like it a bit better, as the Mechanoids' absolute mania for two-legs is sort of amusing and the plot materials offered are better than (as in, they exist) a lot of other Rifts supplements.