||"You can pay up and shut up."
||"Prostitutes (3). Ladies of the night who sell sexual favors."
||"Safecrackers of a good alignment will NEVER use their abilities to rob, hurt or endanger good or innocent people."
||"Watch the reruns of Dallas or any daytime soap-opera for ideas and double-dealings."
||"When a monster's got a cult, who you gonna call?"
||"In natural form, she appears as a large jaguar-woman, still attractive in a furry way."
||"He has recently been inspired to seduce and then murder her, but this is a long-term endeavor."
||"For a change, the CS is correct in calling Captain Chen and her mercenaries the "dupes" of a dangerous alien power."
||"Typically, these warriors are up to no good and can be found slaughtering and torturing enemy troops, slaughtering innocent civilians, looting and pillaging, conducting seek and destroy missions, sabotage, assassination, kidnapping, extortion, theft, espionage, dangerous or deadly magic rituals, and more."
||"The man has no fear."
||"He used to love rail guns, but now he's in a missile-launcher phase."
||"The main reason for this is that tanks are obsolete when compared to giant robots or even the power armor."
||"This item is the rage in the Mid-West."
||"The rounds are outlawed in the Coalition States, banned as 'cop-killing' bullets."
||"The Iron Bolt is built on the Iron Fist chassis, but the turret has been replaced with an MLRS-120 Multiple Launcher Rocket System (MLRS) with an internal auto-loading magazine that holds up to 120 mini-missiles!"
||"The CS has issued a public warning that any Air Castles entering CS air space shall be considered hostile and blown out of the sky without any communications or negotiations!"
||"Like the AC-29 Air Castle Bomber, this vessel has been outlawed by the Coalition and, excluding the four Free Quebec vessels, will be destroyed without warning whenever it is encountered."
||"Presently, they are about half as well known, powerful, and hated as the Splugorth."
||"Pod or roughly egg-shaped - resembles a giant mechanical egg laying on its side with weapons and antennas sticking out of it."
||"This is a large combat robot, also built with a fantasy motif (the Naruni Marketing executives decided that these lines were ideal for a world where both magic and technology exist)."
||"Profiteers who try to buy the suits cheap and resell them for more (the suit could go for as much as 40 million in the open market) will be found and killed (remember, the armor suits are partially sentient)."
||"Most experienced adventurers wouldn't be caught dead wearing any equipment with the Chipwell logo - according to conventional wisdom, dead is what you'll be if you trust your life to these suits."
||"Emperor Prosek wants to become the master of the German-style Blitzkrieg ("lightning strike"), a swift attack using air and ground forces that overwhelm enemy defenses and create openings that the rest of the army can exploit."
||"'You have been very entertaining, mortals. In a few hours, I will pay you my respects - personally. The energies released in the upcoming battle will be enough to release me into your world. Soon to be mine.'"
"You can pay up and shut up."
Original SA post
here we go again
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
i know i know
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
Violence and the Supernatural
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
This book may be inappropriate for young readers.
We've done over ten books, you don't have to keep doing this.
shut up shut up
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
The fictional World of Rifts®
is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Other dimensional beings, often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk, and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demi-god, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
Some parents may find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.
If a parent didn't take a look at the core book after seeing the cover image, what makes you think they're going to take a peek at the warning now, over a dozen books into the game line?
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
Please note that none of us at Palladium Books® condone nor encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.
But they do encourage you to think and pretend about it
all the time
, potential maniacs and runaways.
Rifts Mercenaries Part 1: "You can pay up and shut up."
So this is a book outside of the main lines Rifts has set up at this point (World Book, Sourcebook, Dimension Book) for whatever reason. The important part to remember, though, is this is the first book
without a major credit for Siembieda
. Though this is CJ Carella's second book for the game line, it really shows as his baby more than Pantheons did. Siembieda is still credited with "additional text and concepts", which we'll see later.
The art is largely by Vince Martin and Scott Szczesniak, and I'm going to be blunt and say they're probably some of the worst artists in a Palladium book. It's not really clear if one is a writer and one is an inker, but their collective work is a very typical nineties Jim Lee / Rob Liefeld hash, and just looks rough and amateurish. Wayne Breaux returns, mainly to serve up mecha designs, and there are a smatter of other artists.
Carella doesn't do a major introduction, but starts out with crediting David Drake's "Hammer's Slammers" science-fiction stories about hovertank-piloting mercenaries, and it's good that he does, because he's going to seriously rip from it. He notes that mercenaries are grey figures, morally speaking, but they're very important to the conflicts on Rifts Earth.
I like this cover pretty well. What? I do.
First we get a description and short historical notes on what makes a mercenary, nothing too unexpected. Blah blah.
Mercs in Rifts Earth
Now we shift to italics to do something Siembieda almost never does: flavor fiction. We get the story of Pedro, a young prince in some kingdom watching mercenaries roll into town, chatting with Arlington, the king's man at arms. Pedro thinks they look crummy compared to shiny clean Coalition soldiers, but Arlington goes on to point out all their equipment is well-maintained and clean, and that they're resourceful fighters. When Pedro wonders if mercenaries make better fighters, Arlington points out that only some survive to swagger.
Moving out of flavor fiction, Carella points out most towns down't have the resources to field a proper military, so mercenaries are popular. Also, even big nations like the Coalition or NGR hire mercs to do dirty or risky work. However, he also brings up that mercs aren't necessarily cookie-cutter, and may have their own beliefs or goals. And, of course, the biggest merc operations may be multi-dimensional, demanding bizarre or outrageous prices, and that may have no regard for Earth has a whole.
This is weird. The organization, while still a little wonky, is... good. Carella introduces his topic well and thoughtful. I... will I be able to mock this book as mercilessly? Is it good? Well, we'll see.
Mercs in Your Campaign
Back in the world of flavor fiction, we have a Governor Ryan negotitating with a "Larsen". Governor Ryan has built up complicated computer projections on the costs and risks in defeating a group of xiticix (the bug people from wayyy back in the core book) near his community, but Larsen looks it over and jams on the delete key, before typing in his price before turning it back. Governor Ryan freaks out at the price, before Larsen asks a juicer named "Pedro" (an older person of the kid from the first scene) to show the Governor a xiticix head, and points to it as evidence that the xiticix are coming in a mere week. Larsen also brings up that his men are already in position to assault the creatures' hive. Larsen is best exemplified by this:
Ryan curses a lot and promises Larsen his money.
Well, the fiction is a bit rough, but... it's way more evocative than the Erin Tarn travelogues. I wonder what she would have said- wait, no, I don't. I'm happy with a Tarn-free book.
We get some discussion of how mercenaries can be used for PCs or NPCs, and to bear in mind mercs can have personal goals and adventures that don't necessarily involve paychecks. He also points out that being mercs gives the PCs a definite goal, rather than going down what Carella calls "the Road of Random Encounters". He once again covers that mercenary bands will also have their own specialities and goals that make them unique.
This is downright reasonable. Don't worry, there'll be another shoe, and its name is Siembieda.
Next: Why being a mercenary is a lot like being a carny.
"Prostitutes (3). Ladies of the night who sell sexual favors."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 2: "2. Prostitutes (3). Ladies of the night who sell sexual favors. "
Designing Player & NPC Mercenary Companies
Which are referred to as "Free Companies", as in Companies (a military unit) which is Free. Ultimately, though, this is the return of the organization rules from
Ninjas & Superspies
, which we've seen used for circuses in
Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms
. So maybe you can cross the rules and get a merc circus once enough of your folks are freakishly shot up.
Step One: The Size and Orientation
This is what happens when you use action figures for your anatomy references.
This comes in six categories, each bigger than the last, but also emphasizes the GM isn't necessarily bound by these restrictions and can defy them. So why have them for NPCs? I dunno. In any case, we have:
Step Two: Mercenary Company Features
It's important to pose for the enemy crosshairs.
Small-time Company or Squad:
A half-dozen or dozen people. Perhaps a dirty dozen.
A score to two score troops who either have regular work or a lot of resourcefulness.
A hundred to several hundred troops, though "60%" are support personnel. This is considered what you'd need to take on a small city, and often have some supernatural punch as well.
This is about four hundred to a thousand members, with the same % of support. These are the largest groups usually found on Rifts Earth, since resources to support a force like this are scarce. They tend to have big reps and be a political power all their own.
5,000 - 10,000 fighting folks, with air support, wizards, the works. Generally these are supported by major nations and are very rare, though sometimes they are part of transdimensional armies and the like. They tend to get a lot of notice, because these are capable of overrunning most city-states.
Large Mercenary Army:
Tens of thousands of troops, there's no known force this size on Rifts Earth, though they could be here as part of a dimension-spanning force or as part of an even larger force from another world.
The size of your merc rabble grants points, which can be used to spend on features. Of course, these are independent, so it'd be possible to min-max and say, have a group that's famous and legendary but only have a single pair of underwear and a butter knife in their armory, or just put all your points into a grand salary and prostitutes and fuck all else, because who needs to adventure? In any case, our quiz show categories for today are:
This ranges from being totally independent to being backed by a major nation (like the Coalition or Atlantis). Though this has its advantages, you're also effectively paying points to let another organization own your ass.
Starting at Bring Your Own Fatigues to getting James Bond suits and fancy MDC armor.
From just getting basic arms to having a rune swords and an in-house bionic doctor.
This includes horse-drawn carts and motorhomes (at the low end) to jet fighters and heavy robots (at the high end).
E. Weapons, Power Armor & Bots:
From simple ammo refills to top-of-the-line arms and power armor. There's a blur between this and equipment / vehicles, so it's not always clear what provides what.
Walkie-talkies and a language translator at the bottom, to having a communications command and control center at the top.
G. Internal Security:
This ranges from having the yokel guards from most video games to having psychic security, secret hand signals, and constant surveillance.
H. Permanent Bases:
This can be a "soft" office building and tents to a whole city funded by the company (or several such companies).
I. Intelligence Resources:
Starting out with a simple group of wilderness scouts and ramping up to a wide regional network of spies with wizards and psychics in.
J. Special Budget:
This gives increasing amounts of money that can be used to fund operations.
K. General alignment of personnel:
This is an interesting one not seen in other games with the same system, where you have to pay if you want decent and upstanding troops as opposed to Captain Civilian Casualties, though the cost is nominal compared to other upgrades.
L. Criminal Activity:
These are purchased individually, but basically let you purchase underworld experts including con men, prostitutes, thieves, assassins, forgers, etc. Yes, you can have in-house sexsellers. It refers to some of the new O.C.C.s like the upcoming Safecracker O.C.C. Bet you can't wait, huh?
This ranges from being sent to prison for a crime you didn't commit to being so feared that foes have a 25% of bailing when they know you're coming. However, unlike other bits, you can lose this rep if you lose too many fights. What, get your points back if you lose your rep? Ha ha, yeah right, kid.
How much the mercs get paid on average.
It also notes that each company should have a name, a logo, banners, an owner, etc. There's also a breakdown of U.S. army unit sizes so you can know your platoons from your brigades.
Next: Want to play a two-headed giant forger? "No, I swear my height is what is says on the ID..."
"Safecrackers of a good alignment will NEVER use their abilities to rob, hurt or endanger good or innocent people."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 3: "Safecrackers of a good alignment will NEVER use their abilities to rob, hurt or endanger good or innocent people."
New Mercenary O.C.C.s
It notes you can use these outside of mercenary campaigns. We have
permission from the designer
. Unlike previous games, these classes get minor combat bonuses presumably to keep the competitive with the Glitter Boys and dragons out there. It doesn't really work.
Bounty Hunter O.C.C.
by Kevin Siembieda
TIGER FORCE - a special unit within the GI JOE team - is called up for a secret and highly dangerous mission in the remote jungle!
This is a "combination city rat, spy, and wilderness scout" - wait, no the fuck it isn't, people know what a bounty hunter is, Siembieda, they watched
Empire Strikes Back
. In any case, they get a mix of surveillance, wilderness, pilot, and weapon skills. It's kind of low on the skill side, but they get a bonus to
(which doesn't work in M.D.C. combat, really) and to initiative (the have a 10% higher chance of going first, whee). On the upside, they get a choice of badass armor and a jet pack (hmmmm) or power armor or magic armor and a bio-wizard symbiote or a plain vehicle (bad, bad choice) or a robot horse. It's an average class only lifted up by the starting equipment.
By Kevin Siembieda
Sweating over a hot forge.
So, we're in a post-apocalypse game with hundreds and thousands of miles of uncharted wilderness. And so, logically, the guy you'd want on your team is the one that makes fake IDs and false invoices. To be fair, this could be useful in a campaign based around a city like Chi-Town, but even then it's still a niche ability. But that's not even the worst part of it. This class comes with a long, extended set of modifiers, but your base starting chance to make a proper forgery is 20% + 5% per level.
. We've got Al the Mighty Toad Dragon over here, he can turn into any shape, turn invisible, fly, and also
he is a psychic wizard
, but you can make IDs one out of five attempts. Whee!
Oh, the fucking kicker?
You're actually restricted from getting cybernetics.
Getting a cyber-arm drops your Forgery chance by -25%, for no fucking reason. Amazingly ridiculous nonbalancing nonsense.
Freelance Spy O.C.C.
By CJ Carella
Depth perception is for amateurs.
This emphasizes the sneaking mission sort of spy, with disguises and hiding instead of boat chases across the Thames. It also notes that ideally, the spy doesn't want a fight. Unsurprisingly, there's an emphasis on Espionage skills and equipment, and a few cybernetic implants. Oh, and they get a pathetic bonus to initiative and rolling with attacks. Otherwise, it's honestly pretty solid, and can do what it's meant to do.
Master Assassin O.C.C.
By CJ Carella
Palladium Beginner Challenge: What game is this art from?
Like D&D, Rifts restricts assassins as evil, and notes some are more honorable and don't harm innocents, while others just don't give a damn. They do sneaking, sniping, and exploding, some cybernetic implants, and a decent amount of skills. The main issue is that the whole MDC system makes it hard to kill anything other than humans in one shot, and then only when they're unarmored. Ultimately, it's not a bad class, but the system works against its core purpose.
By Kevin Siembieda
Opens every scene with "is there a safe around?"
Well, not just safes, but doors too. So, you thought the forger was a corner case of a class? Look out, here comes the safecracker! There's a long tirade for some reason about how good-aligned safecrackers aren't allowed to steal or at least have to give away their goods to the poor... even from the bad guys or monsters. Yyyeah. Way to make a pretty useless class even
In any case, they work with locks, bombs, and computers... not that they can hack a computer lock, so they may be way out of luck in the high-tech communities of Rifts. They get a decent rounding out of skills and equipment for the job, along with some explosives.
Oh, did I mention there's no rules for safecracking? Good luck with that, intrepid safecrackers!
By Kevin Siembieda
Smuggles empty wooden boxes, mostly.
Continuing the theme of super-specialist characters by Siembieda, we have the smuggler! Now, mind, there aren't a lot of borders to sneak stuff into anymore, but I guess they can slip stuff into cities and communities. Probably the most useful class Siembieda has given us so far, as least, with a focus on the sneaky, but surprisingly short on skills. It's kind of bad, but in a blah, meh sort of way than anything spectacularly problematic.
Oh, and they get a bonus to initiative when palming or concealing things. Too bad initiative isn't used in skill checks, otherwise that bonus might be useful!
Special Forces O.C.C.
By CJ Carella
Knife comes with world's biggest can opener.
This refers to special forces from large communities like Northern Gun, soldiers that are meant to work with a shoestring and gum, like Rambo. Remember Rambo? Like Rambo.
They get piddly bonuuses to initaitve, and a mixture of espionage and military specialities, but get a
selection of skills, on par with classes like the Rogue Scholar. They also may have power armor and cybernetics. If you're just aiming to be a trooper, this actually a really strong class for it, which fits.
By CJ Carella
Everybody's eyes glowed like this in the nineties.
Unlike the Freelance Spy, this is a spy with some sort of super-powers in exchange for being considerably less skilled. They have a lot of spy skills, not unexpected, but don't get many "free" skill picks. On the other hand, they can be a second-class wizard or psychic, a partial cyborg, or even have superpowers from
(if you have the rules). A pretty neat take on the idea for Rifts, and nicely flexible.
This doesn't say who it's by, but judging from the use of all-caps, I'm going to presume it's Siembieda. Never quit using your caps lock, Kev. This is supposed to be the sophisticated spy hanging from the harness reaching down to get the gem and all that.
They get a lot of sneaking, flipping, and picking skills, but are a little low on the free skill picks. They get all sorts of thief equipment, plus forged papers for several local places. Wait... the Smuggler doesn't get those! That... means the Thief is actually a better smuggler than the Smuggler. G'damn.
As with the last O.C.C.s, there are attribute requirements! Strict ones, too, so here are your chances of randomly rolling a human...
Bounty Hunter = 23%
Forger = 6%
Freelance Spy = 46%
Master Assassin = 20%
Safecracker = 1%
Smuggler = 20%
Special Forces = 13%
Super-Spy = 8%
Professional Thief = 8%
Yes, this means a lot of the classes will never show up in any game, and that Forger and Safecracker, arguably the worst classes in the book, are near-impossible to roll up. Usually I'd complain, but who'd want to play them anyway?
We also get a new skill,
, which is used to pilot remote drones. It notes you get bonuses "while inside the machine" which isn't what I think they mean.
Next: Campaign guidelines... I... wait, is Rifts actually going to discuss how to run a game?!
"Watch the reruns of Dallas or any daytime soap-opera for ideas and double-dealings."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 4: "Watch the reruns of Dallas or any daytime soap-opera for ideas and double-dealings."
"You'll rue the day you cross Veiny McPopperson!"
Designing a Merc Campaign
Returning to the world of flavor fiction, we have a talk between Coalition soldiers advancing on Tolkeen, only to be cut off and cornered by Larsen's Brigade. The commander concludes their only option is to surrender, but smugly asserts that siding with Tolkeen will lead to Larsen's downfall.
Dun dun duuunnnn!
We get it pointed out that cities are the best place to find work, since small towns will be very hit-or-miss. However, PCs will often have to do it on the down-low, since city governments are often hostile or suspicious towards mercs. There are some rules for using Streetwise to find work, which can be boosted by being a local or greasing palms, but with penalties for being an unwelcome sort (merc, d-bee, etc.). There's also a random chart of all the drama that could come from a failed roll, some of which could roll into adventures on its own.
It's noted, though, that some places welcome and accept mercs, often with locales connected to mercs, or lawless hives of scum and villainy. The trouble is that there also tends to be more competition for work in locations like this as well, though it's much easier to find. However, it notes a number communities and businesses will likely restrict weapons - "Nobody wants to see what happens when an angry drunk goes on a rampage armed with a rail gun or driving a giant robot."
The Average Town
Some more ideas by Kevin Siembieda
Siembieda reiterates that communities might not trust mercs, and what kind of work they might find. He gives details on how different businesses find information, which is a little odd, because it seems more like details for an investigative game than a merc game, but it eventually links it all back to trying to find work. It's decent stuff, but also makes weird assumptions that healers turn over magical artifacts they find to the authorities.
And now we go back to Carella.
It notes that mercenaries can charge sometimes huge rates, mainly because the cost of equipment like giant robots is so high. It gives some guidelines for the cost of maintaining robots and vehicles, and notes some rare contracts have compensation clauses for damages or lost equipment. In any case, negotiating a proper contract is very important to mercenary companies, because most clients are thrifty scrooges.
"You'll rue the day you crossed the Plastic Man!"
It notes that independent adventurers and lone mercenaries only get a fraction if the payment mercenaries with companies do, mainly due to lack of rep and backup. As for proper mercs, it notes that many communities don't have the cash, and often pay with goods or supplies, sometimes even over a period of time (like free repairs for several years). There are some notes that the payment may be used to hook into adventures as well, such as trying to turn goods into cash (like getting a herd of livestock), or strange artifacts that need to identified. There's a long run of modifiers for a character's salary including their level, what skills they have, if they have power armor or enhancements, psychic or magical powers, etc. It also notes some companies pay supernatural beings and d-bees less, because racism.
There are several sorts of general assignments detailed:
These don't pay well, but are easy to find. These usually include stuff like escorting travellers, slaying a monster, finding a criminal, etc.
Raids and Military Expeditions:
These are more extended assaults or raids against a target, like a group of monsters or a city.
These are extended conflicts with big paychecks, and most wars in Rifts last under a year. Sometimes the mercs are an independent force, other times they're brought into the military structure, depending on the contract.
These are usually just guard or patrol assignments, and through it tends to be less eventful, it's noting mercenaries might get pulled into local affairs and drama in the meantime.
Piracy and Privateering:
This refers to sponsored piracy and banditry, but only small companies and squads generally take up this work. It also notes that this kind of work has a tendency to degenerate into war atrocities, if that's your kind of thing.
We also get a list of other possible assignments, like bodyguarding, bounty hunting, exploration and research, training military forces, and various criminal endeavors. It also notes that criminal work may be ethical in asshole lands like the Coalition, as well.
Hot Spots on Rifts Earth
Here Carella notes these are optional situations, and it's up to the GM to decide if these conflicts are occurring, metaplot be damned. That's nice of him.
War in Minnesota
This picks up on the Coalition's threatened invasion of Tolkeen from the core book, though the thread won't be picked up in earnest until the
series many years ahead. It notes that most of the mercenaries will be hired on Tolkeen's side, and that Larsen's Brigade has already signed on with Tolkeen. However, companies that side with Tolkeen will likely be branded as enemies of the Coalition, and those that side with the Coalition will likely face dire supernatural threats. It also notes the Xiticix and opportunists like bandits or monsters will likely become involved, and that
war is hell
Tolkeen: A Prelude to War
It notes that even without a full-scale war, the Coalition and Tolkeen and likely to have skirmishes and sabotage. Kevin steps in to note there'll be a sourcebook for
Siege on Tolkeen
in 1995, and you may want to wait for it before pursuing this plot thread. However, readers who waited really had to wait, since it won't appear until
. There's also some notes (I think by Kevin) that Tolkeen will start paying bounties on CS equipment, but that the CS will have overwhelming forces to go after Tolkeen-based forces. It notes that if the resistance gets too think, Emperor Prosek may call for a truce if things get to rough (ahahahaha this totally does not happen in the metaplot) because he won't want to get involved in a nasty guerrila war (this is exactly what happens).
"Whatever the outcome, the Coalition's campaign will be proclaimed a military victory and woe to anybody who says differently."
Whykin/CS vs. Kingsdale
This goes way back to the corebook, where Whykin is an anti-magic community, and the nearby Kingsdale is a more electic community. The CS is looking to have Whykin join them, and might try and manipulate them into a war with Kingsdale to put them in a more desperate position for recruitment. The catch for mercenaries is that the better Kingsdale does, the more likely Whykin is to join the Coalition and gain reinforcements. However, the CS isn't likely to throw a large force on account of not wanting to fight a two-front war (the other front being Tolkeen). It notes since both communities won't be fielding large armies, the war should be short and decisive. It also notes that the Coalition might go after Kingsdale itself, which doesn't stand much of a chance against a direct offense by the CS.
Attacks by the Vampire Kingdoms
This notes that this will mainly be a guerilla war between the border communities and the vampires, where the humans try and find the vamps during the day and fight desperate defenses during the night. Mercs will need squirt guns! Pretty much what you'd expect if you've read
"You'll rue the day you crossed Skully Jawless!"
The Coalition vs The Vampire Kingdoms
If the Coalition finds out about the vampires, chances are they'll drop other potential conflits and go to assault Mexico. It notes the PCs might be essential in passing on this info to the Coalition. In any case, the Coalition is likely to hire more expendable mercenaries, and may even do the unthinkable: deals with supernatural creatures to throw them as cannon fodder against the vampires. The war would likely be extremely ugly, and the Coalition is likely to get chumped due to their lack of knowledge and overconfidence. However, Atlantis is likely to aid the CS either covertly or overtly in this war in the interest of wiping their vampire rivals off of the planet.
The Xiticix Problem
The growing numbers of the xiticix mean that conflict is inevitable, and communities are likely to hire mercenaries or even beg help from the Coalition. Though the xiticix son't have the power to really fight off a concerted human assault, conflict is likely to escalate things and force the bugs to become more resourceful.
The Danger of Atlantis
Though Splynncryth has no plans to conquer on Earth, other forces may consider him a threat and sabotage or attack Atlantis. It notes, though, that Atlantis is only part of his forces, and he can call for reinforcements from offworld if necessary.
The Mechanoid Threat
It's noted that if the Mechanoids may have survived the events of
Rifts Sourcebook Two
and threaten kingdoms... who then need mercenaries. They might also ally with supernatural creatures to plug their magical deficiency.
It notes that Rifts isn't a wargame, so you'll have to handwave battles based on the situation and whether or not the PCs have any effect on it. I'd complain, but the very thought of a mass battle system in Palladium is already giving me hives.
Next: The most totally awesome (NPC) mercenaries who are awesomer than you.
"When a monster's got a cult, who you gonna call?"
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 5: "When a monster's got a cult, who you gonna call?"
These can either be NPCs or groups for the PCs to belong to, whatever's cool.
Back in the
world of fiction
, a man named Cutter is sighting in on a neuron beast (from
), and then calls in wizards and psychics on the attack, even though he doesn't trust the supernatural. This because
monsters ate his family
only trusts his gun
and he's gonna
kill this monster in the name of his dead children
. Laying it on with a truncheon, Carella?
In any case, the mercenaries ambush and barrage the monster to death. It's interesting because it's one of the few narratives I've seen that works in the system, where the amount of firepower is logically in line with what you'd need to one-turn kill a neuron beast. Then a elven mage is like "Who you gonna call?"
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
Showing the elf that stupid, old movie had been a bad idea. The slightly modified song was becoming the company's unofficial anthem.
At least the General had stopped Lightdancer from painting that ridiculous logo on the company's vehicles.
DemonBusters is a large company founded by "General" Smith, a supernatural investigator, and they go after anything supernatural that preys on persons, though they always try and make sure the monster can't be reasoned with. They're mobile, travelling from city to city, with scouts looking for potential jobs. They charge fair fees, and only fight humans or d-bees when there's no alternative.
Their tactics are mostly overwhelming force, but also exploiting the weaknesses of their foes, they're supposed to be the elitest monster hunters amongst monster hunters.
General, Cutter, Lance, & Lightdancer. Note Siembieda mutilating Long's Juicer art for Cutter.
Their key members are:
Arson, Zippo, Delgardo, Dreamer, and Konrad.
General Smith (Parapsychologist / Headhunter):
The founder, Smith is extra-mysterious and may come from some time before the Rifts, seeming to have knowledge of the world before. He's apparently a former wargamer
but is generally a pulp action hero sort.
After his family was killed by a giant snake, the man who became Cutter went
over the edge
and became a juicer bent on revenge... but without much sense. Smith found him and kept him from getting himself killed and has mentored him since. Also, he's Coalition-style racist, coming from the Coalition and having a horrible monster trauma as well, and is probably the team member likely to just fuckin' kill a dude, man.
Brother Lance (Priest):
A priest of a demon-battling war god from a distant world named Hyr, he was sent on a quest to find a world where he was needed, and settled on Earth and eventually hooked up with the DemonBusters. However, he doesn't really understand technology, which has almost gotten him killed before.
Lightdancer (Ley Line Walker):
A wandering free spirit sort of elf, he basically fucked with the Coalition for the lulz. When he accidentally released a demon, he helped DemonBusters slay it and he became the annoying team yukster.
Lady Arson (Burster):
A psychic from the mean streets of Chi-Town, she fled when her powers manifested. Zippo rescued her from a small town from a psychic-fearing mob. They became mercs, and were recruited by Smith as a sort of mentoring.
A superhero from another world with a terrible superhero name, his superteam was killed and Zippo fled through a dimensional portal to get help, only to end up on Rifts Earth. He's pretty bummed out about the whole thing. Also, he used to have a version of Merlin on his team, and is interested in meeting the distinctly less heroic Mrr'lyn (from
Rifts World Book Three: England
). Also, he's totally the fucking Human Torch.
Delgardo (Dragon Hatchling)
: Raised by a wilderness scout, he tried to make friends but humans, but they were all like noooo don't eat usss until Smith was hired to hunt him down. However, Smith let Delgardo go once he found out he was a good dragon, and later recruited him for his mercenaries.
The Dreamer ("Lost One")
: A mysterious psychic immortal who met Smith in the 20th century and who's lived for millennia, and was surprised enough when he met her again that she joined up with his group. Smith carries a torch for her, but there's no sign of her reciprocating.
Lieutenant Paul Konrad (Glitter Boy)
: A Glitter Boy Trooper from Free Quebec, he was ambushed by corrupt Chi-Town troopers looking to steal some Glitter Boys, and after he fought back with his unit, he was labelled a traitor and fled. They became mercenaries, and Smith sought them out to hire a heavy armor unit. Though he doesn't particularly care for nonhumans, he's professional in dealing with them.
One thing those have followed our earlier
reviews is the subtle change in tone here. The DemonBusters are decent folks for the most part, and actually effective at what they do. They don't have a secret dark side, nor are they hated unjustly, and even those who are assholes (Cutter, mainly) have obvious reasons and motivations behind them.
We get numbers for the rest of the company, which is about a hundred combat operatives and about several hundred noncombat support members. Also, everybody gets a free water pistol! As a mobile group, they have a wide variety of vehicles to roll around in.
There are also - a new thing for
- adventure hooks to go with DemonBusters. There's
, where some members of DemonBusters goes to investigate monster attacks, only to run into a town full of monsters and get captured. Another is
Doctor Reid, I presume.
, where DemonBusters is hired to go after the Mexican vampires. There, they meet Reid's Rangers, and though the two groups work out, things degenerate on account of half the Rangers being
. Lastly, there's
, where a group of travellers from Wormwood (
Rifts Dimension Book: Wormwood
) are besieged by the Unholy (same book) and need a rescue. This last adventure mainly just seems to be a hook into Wormwood, should you want to go to the world where Fistfights Last Forever.
Next: Tactical Stealth Action.
"In natural form, she appears as a large jaguar-woman, still attractive in a furry way."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 6: " In natural form, she appears as a large jaguar-woman, still attractive in a furry way."
Covert ops and counter-terrorism... wait, does Rifts even have conventional terrorism that isn't literally terrifying monsters? I suppose it must it just feels odd. In any case, this is the surgical strike team that likes to catch folks with their pants down. Because they use black uniforms and armor, sometimes they're confused for Coalition troopers, embarassingly. Not as much discussion or fiction here, so we're moving on to the team itself.
Crow, Leila, Wilheim
Green, Sonya, Kinoshi, Curtis
Lieutenant Damian Crow (Special Forces):
A former member with the Northern Gun military, he was dishonorably discharged for being "involved" with a superior's wife. He got merc experience with another unit called "Illych's Immortals" before being one of the last surviving members. Though he's a great tactician and talker, he often made decisions with his dick until he got a steady lover... but still might.
Leila Martinez (Werejaguar):
Lost and adopted by a city family, Leila has grown up amongst humans. She used her powers to become a troubleshooter, and met Crow during a mission and fell in love with him. However, their affair is kept quiet and not many know about it. Oh, and she's sexy even as a jaguarwoman!... thanks for keeping it
Sgt. 1st Class Wilheim Kratz:
A former member of the NGR military, Kratz took it upon himself to judge and murder incompetent superiors on the field of battle, at least until he got caught in the act and fled to North America (somehow?). He met up with Crow when they were in the Immortals, and was just glad to have a competent command to follow. He's extremely loyal and extremely ruthless (to the extreme, no doubt), lecherous (in a dumb way), and a little racist (subconsciously) towards D-Bees (but is super friends with Mr. Green).
Mr. Green (Tauton):
A Tauton warrior (see
Rifts World Book Four: Africa
), he had an honorable and merciful streak that got him in trouble with his eeevil masters. However, he was badass enough to overcome it, and when sent to Africa on Earth, he murdered the rest of his squad and felt to North America (somehow?). He was hired by Crow, and is pretty nice crocodile guy with a sense of humor, that also has him sometimes to pretend to be man-eating for laffs (it says "cannibal", but that doesn't make sense).
Sonya "The Face" Schultz (Changeling Super-Spy):
A Changeling that used to work with an interdimensional merc group called The Trashers, they tried to rob Splynn (in Atlantis) but were almost entirely killed as a result. She escaped to Africa and Europe and America, presumably? In any case, she heard about Crow and snuck into his camp as a form of resume. She models her self on "the stereotypical female spy of every bad movie ever made in the 20th century", even on the downtime, but isn't a killer. Oh, and she knows a bit of magic.
Kinoshi (Dedicated Martial Artist):
A ninja from another dimension (the one depicted in
Ninjas and Superspies
, he went to a secret temple to find a hidden treasure and instead went through magic doors to Rifts Earth. Working as a merc, he was picked up by Crow, and has become more relaxed with them. "... the teacher in The Karate Kid movies is a good model for his character."
Curtis "The Shadow Man' Robert (Ley Line Walker):
A ley line walker that became a fan of The Shadow books, so he decided to dress like the hero. This got him shunned in Lazlo, and so went on to become an adventurer before being picked up by Crow. They find his act a hoot, but he's apparently good enough at being intimidating that he can actually scare the pants off of normal people. (Evidently, Carella is a lot more enamoured with his pop culture references than Siembieda...)
We also get a series of units commanded by the above characters (Alpha through Gamma), and four squads of combat troops (Omega-1 through Omega-4), and they have around 75 troops overall and about 65 support personnel. The game gives ranges like "60-90", but that just seems unnecessary. They're mobile and mostly rely on ATVs, but have a good number of power armor suits as well.
Then we have adventure "ideas". There's
, where the PCs are charged with protecing a noble from one of Crow's infiltrators (like Sonya or Kinoshi). Or the PCs are recruited to help Crow infiltrate, but it turns out to be a trap laid by the Coalition. Or maybe the noble is possessed by a demon and everything goes to hell!
Then we have
King of the Mountain
, where a daughter of a rich dude is captured by bandits. The bandits are holed up in a well-defended mountain community. One possibility is that the girl somehow related to the PCs and they go to save her, but Crow's Commandoes are also on the job and might butt heads. Or maybe the girl wasn't kidnapped, but fled to her new boyfriend, and her father is lying to get Crow's Commandoes to drag her back.
Next: Bad Boys 3: Ex-Coalition Edition
"He has recently been inspired to seduce and then murder her, but this is a long-term endeavor."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 7: "He has recently been inspired to seduce and then murder her, but this is a long-term endeavor."
Braddock's Bad Boys
For some reason, they get no description or flavor text before going into the characters. We do get the company's stat block, and their main focuses are weapons, vehicles, and having a large operational budget.
So on to the NPCs:
Colonel, Janet, Lars, and Dawud.
Colonel Braddock (Coalition Military Specialist):
A promising soldier with the Coalition, Braddock would be undone by
and drunkenly sent his men to their death by accident. After he was discharged, he was able to fight off his alcoholism off with this help of his daughter, and then became a mercenary, looking for thugs and soldiers that had been discarded by society to build his company. He's anti D-Bee (having grown up Coalition), but has come to see the tactical value of magic and psionics.
Lieutenant Janet Braddock (Headhunter):
An Army brat and tomboy, she looked up to her father and emulated him. She fought to get her father away from liquor, and has stuck with him ever since. Though she's refused promotions from him, she's effectively second in command. She's the head of the power armor unit and is essentially a born soldier.
Lieutenant Lars Richardson (Coalition RPA):
A former Coalition soldier, Lars went mad when he accidentally killed a child, going on a rampage where he murdered a whole town and his entire unit. The Coalition has sought his arrest, but has never revealed the details because of the bad publicity it would cause. After being hired for the unit, he put on a mask of sanity, but is a serial killer who murders in his off time, the company being unaware. He's also plotting to kill Janet, like a serial killer do. (This guy feels awfully Siembiedan in tone...)
Dawud al-Jahiz (Ogre Headhunter):
An ogre from a village that had recently joined the Phoenix Empire in Africa, Dawud and his peers were shocked to find out how monstrous the nation was. They eventually rebelled and murdered the demon that commanded their unit, before trying to join the Gathering of Heroes (metaplot blah blah). On their way there, they accidentally travelled through a rift to America. That's a hell of a wrong turn! They had some misadventures before being rescued by the Colonel and he was recruited... even though he's a D-Bee? Well, wh'ev.
We get a breakdown of their unit and equipment, and are pretty huge at 300-400 troops and 400-600 support personnel, a ton of vehicles and robots and very good armaments.
The adventure idea here is
Braddock's Last Stand
, where the a unit of Bad Boys led by Janet were hired to taken out raiders, only to run into a huge Xiticix nest and get surrounded and cut off. Braddock could hire the PCs to help them break the siege. There could be a mountain man to seek out to find ancient tunnels (or a military complex) to sneak in. Maybe the PCs get trapped with the unit and have to try and sneak out, but might have to deal with Lars trying to off them
because he's generically crazy
It ends with a note that they can be found anywhere, but are generally opposed by the Coalition States. This company feels like it had Siembieda writing it, but there's no clear authorship.
Next: How do you control a robot? By blowing it to hell, naturally.
"For a change, the CS is correct in calling Captain Chen and her mercenaries the "dupes" of a dangerous alien power."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 8: "For a change, the CS is correct in calling Captain Chen and her mercenaries the "dupes" of a dangerous alien power."
A group of mercs that specializes in taking out large and/or mechanized targets, Robot Control is sponsored by Naruni Enterprises, who apparently are a transdimensional group of arms merchants-
(At this point Siembieda yanks away the mic from Carella two paragraphs into his description.)
"So these Naruni guys are trying to take over the world, but the totally awesome Coalition is trying to spread the truth about them! Even like Triax and Northern Gun hate these guys I don't have to tell you why! Even Splynncryth hates their asses. Naruni are a bunch of chumps and Robot Control are their tools!"
(Siembieda drops the mic, which Carella scrambles to pick up.)
Robot Control uses spy drones, magic, and psychics to pinpoint a target's location before usually attacking close-in where a robot can't use its ranged weapons (not true in the rules, but it's a nice thought), and take out its legs or sensors before going in for the kill.
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
The symbol of Robot Control is a simple, cartoon-like drawing of a female figure in combat armor standing over a robot, its eyes crossed and springs and wires protruding from an open wound.
I think that makes this the anime-est of the mercenary companies in this book.
And then we move on to NPCs!
Lucia, Arrak, Luigi, Grunt's Armor, and Joe. Grunt and Eowyna not pictured.
Lucia Chen (Special Forces):
Growing up in a mercenary group, her mommy merc and daddy merc were blown up by giant robots, and so she has waged war on giant robots like you do. She was taken in by her aunt merc and uncle merc, and unsurprisingly, became a merc. When she met "Trader Joe", a Naruni representative, he provided weapons to her, and in turn she lets him tag along as a traveling salesman. They've gotten famous by fighting Mechanoids, a detail left out of
Rifts Sourcebook Two: The Mechanoids
. (Oh shit, Siembieda's yanking the mic away again-)
"Trader Joe is using Robot Control like a joystick, and the Coalition is totally right (also awesome). They don't know the Naruni overcharge people and are like "we're taking some collateral, like your food, your land, and your nation". But if the Naruni try any of that it's gonna be a rumble between Robot Control and the Naruni! Who'll win? Uh, it's up to you or maybewellputitinafuturebookorsomethin-"
Arrak Chrome (Alien 'Borg):
He's a cyborg from another universe who fought against
who are like Mechanoids but even scarier because they want to wipe out all organic life oooo scarrry. Anyway, he became a cyborg to fight them but accidentally got warped from an alien lab to Earth. Robot Control investigated reports of a big robot but found him and then hugged and skipped away as best of friends. At 1000 M.D.C., he's tougher than any PC cyborg even with the ridiculous armor they get, has nanotech regeneration, and a gun bigger than any PC cyborg can use that nearly does the damage of a boom gun.
Sgt. Luigi "Va-Ba-Boom" Grimaldi (Safecracker):
An explosives nerd, Luigi once blew up a Coalition officer in a bathroom, and is always carrying a bomb on him, which doesn't exactly enhance his social skills, but hasn't managed to blow up himself yet. He has "almost supernatural luck", but that sure doesn't show in his rock-bottom saving throws and minimal S.D.C. He also has "souped-up" explosives, which means he gets to do extra damage with explosives even a way a PC with Demolitions at 98% can't.
Grunt, the Giant (Jotan Headhunter):
A Jotan giant and genius, there are rumors he comes from the Gargoyle Empire, but he ain't sayin' nothin', though he has lot of scars implying he was a
. His action figureness comes with the spiky Pulverizer power armor (which is one of a kind), which has plasma guns, a plasma axe, and mini-missiles, but is ultimately just a middling bot.
"Tinker Bell" Eowyna (Silver Bell Faerie):
Hired as a guide through a faerie forest, Eowyna made friends with Arrak and has followed the company around since. She's an annoyance, but assists on operations and though loyal to the company, is fairly amoral in conflicts and likes causing deadly "pranks" with explosives or other shenanigans. A faerie terrorist, could that be a faerrorist? Oh, and she likes old comedy films when they find them.
"Trader Joe" Naruni Sales Rep (Uteni Merchant/Soldier/Other Made-Up Class):
An arms dealer, Joe knows a lot about weapons and is a smooth guy at selling them. He stays out of the way of operations and missions, instead using them as sales demonstrations when he can. He's mainly here to evaluate Earth as a market, and once tried to sell to the Coalition with disastrous consequences. He believes there will be a number of upcoming World Wars, and plans to make sure the Naruni profit from them. There are loose rules for "Uteni", which his race of blue super-charismatic salesmen, in case you want to play one.
Once again, there's a breakdown of numbers. We have 100+ combat troopers and 120-200 noncombatants. Despite being the Naruni poster child, they actually don't have the stronger Naruni weapons. Instead, they have some flying drones and power armor.
Finally, we have adventure ideas. There's
, where an unspecified supernatural force takes over a robot factory and starts to pump out eeevil robots, and it's up to Robot Control (and some PCs) to stop them. Maybe ARCHIE (
) finds out and a tries to investigate, maybe the players are trapped in the factory and have to be a wrench in the works, or maybe it gets taken over by Mechanoids, whatever.
The other is
Spies, Spies Everywhere
where the PCs are hired to infiltrate and spy on Robot Control, and maybe even kidnap Trader Joe. There could be competing spies or assassins after Trader Joe. Maybe if they kidnap Joe, it's a double-cross and they might need to save Joe for secret Coalition or other baddies. And finally, Robot Control is going to want revenge on the PCs, or might team up with them against an evil employer. Basically any
It's weird the way Siembieda editorializes like a maniac in the middle of this, it's breathtakingly pass-aggy. I get the impression he had severe reservations about a company that might sell even the lowliest PC super-weapons and tried to pick away at the very idea from the beginning.
Next: The subtlety of evil: Armageddon Unlimited.
"Typically, these warriors are up to no good and can be found slaughtering and torturing enemy troops, slaughtering innocent civilians, looting and pillaging, conducting seek and destroy missions, sabotage, assassination, kidnapping, extortion, theft, espionage, dangerous or deadly magic rituals, and more."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 9: "Typically, these warriors are up to no good and can be found slaughtering and torturing enemy troops, slaughtering innocent civilians, looting and pillaging, conducting seek and destroy missions, sabotage, assassination, kidnapping, extortion, theft, espionage, dangerous or deadly magic rituals, and more."
Look, there are stories about this company doing war atrocities, driving their employers mad, mass slaughter, and all that. But nobody
those stories! They've obviously being slandered.
It doesn't say, but this is almost certainly a Siembieda piece. So this is a company that's secretly made up of demons that work for Ahriman and their minions, and travel across the MEGAVERSE causing lethal hijinks. More recently, they've been sent to Earth to scout it for invasion. They avoid the Coalition, fearing exposure, but are trying to figure out if they want to seek employment with Tolkeen to encourage an open war against the Coalition.
Anyway, they're fast and overwhelming. Or sneaky and slow. Or they get your to surrender and murder you like the opening scene out of
. They also try and encourage their clients to do eeevil things. Here's some pure, uncut Siembieda for you:
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
"You could ignore it, but I think they'll see your actions as a sign of weakness. I know I would... if I didn't know better. Just the other day, I overheard some enemy soldiers laughing about how they showed you. How you're to stupid (or cowardly) to dare retaliate. They said you were washed up. A has-been whose power is slipping through his fingers, and too feeble to do anything about it. One even suggested that old age has made you soft. A coward. Oh well, you're probably right. It's best to ignore them."
Rifts Mercenaries posted:
"They despise you. They think you're weak! A coward! Destroy them! Show those worthless D-bee swine (or humans, or whoever) your strength. Show them your righteous anger (or justice). Make them grovel at your feet and beg for mercy. See if they mock you when you hold their lives in your hands. Violence is all these vermin know! They live like animals, spreading their filth and pestilence. Destroy them!! I'm with you! Say the word and my legion will ride down upon them tonight!! We'll teach them a lesson they'll never forget. Show them who holds the reigns of power! You must, or you'll never know peace and your people will suffer for it. My god, man, is there any other alternative? No! What do you say? Let me do this for you. It will be an honor."
Whoa, slow down there, Skeletor.
Also sometimes he goes to cause evil and pin the blame on somebody else, and then offers their services as mercenaries to resolve the matter (with murder). It notes that they tend to underestimate mortal foes (essentially all supernatural monsters have this "drawback" in Rifts) and use magic too much (ditto) and draw attention with their body counts (double ditto).
On to the company's directory:
Ursus, N'iall, Urlik, Leon, and Sargon
General Ursus (Dysasha Ley Line Walker):
Ursus is a "dysasha", which apparently the bigger, near-extinct cousins to the raksasha that serve Ahriman. They're described as alternately ursine or canine (it can't decide with). In any case, he's an agent for Ahriman, is demigod-level, and eviil, eeeeviiil! He's enjoying fucking with humanity but knows he's just a small cog in a big conquest machine.
There also rules to play a Dysasha, presuming the GM lets you play a 4000 MDC psychic ley line walker shapeshifting invisible teleporter with a special bear hug attack.
Colonel N'iall (Raksasha Wizard / Mind Melter):
The local Starscream, N'iall is not happy about being second in command or being on Earth, and so always tries to undermine Ursus when he can get away with it. When he can't, he takes it out on innocents in all sorts of horrible ways. He's supposed to be the company's scout, which seems like a
idea. Oh, and he has all psionic powers, which means his power expands with each (rare) psionics supplement. Otherwise, he's got all the Raksasha powers from
Rifts Conversion Book
Urlik Blackhand (Ogre Tattooed Man):
An Ogre from a world ruled by the Splugorth, he fought in a war against Ahriman's forces. He surrendered and switched sides, becoming one of Ursus' solders. He really dislikes the Splugorth and has the magic tattoos from
Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis
that all look like something that came out of a toy dispenser.
Leon Pasquali (Witch):
A summoner that tried to bargain with Ahriman and became his Earthly buttmonkey. He's not thrilled with following Ursus, but doesn't have any choice, and often acts as the good cop and PR man for the group. Conversely, he sucks souls from the battlefield with a ritual to use them to weaken Ahriman's prison (there are no rules for this). Oh, and Ahriman can cast spells through him, so he's potentially top of the pops when it comes to magic as long as Ahirman allows him to be.
Sargon the Hunter (Psi-Stalker)
"... a wild psi-stalker who enjoys killing and torturing. He no better than the demons he works with." Not much else to add, except that has a group of scouts that flies around on stolen Coalition sky-cycles, like some sort of air bikers. For whatever reason, he's loaded down with magic goodies including the rune weapons that are supposed to be rare except for all the villains that have them. Oh, and he has a Beauty of 5. Whee.
They manage to keep 67 demons in line and disguised... somehow... and have about a hundred other troops. Unlike the other writeups, it doesn't have adventure hooks, instead just saying that such is "obvious" and that the PCs might be brought to oppose them in a number of ways, and that they've vengeful and can be used as a recurring foe. (Siembieda
frames villains as recurring foes, on account of taking most of his cues from 80s cartoons, I suppose.)
I haven't picked on the art as much because I've been formatting it for clarity with the character lists, but I have to bring up some pieces here.
That's supposed to be a tiger-headed guy, for the record. I don't know what was actually drawn there, because it looks more like a bearwolf. Maybe this was supposed to be Ursus? It's embedded with N'iall's statblock, though.
Does this guy have a bone through his nose, or is he supposed to have weird scars that somehow skip over the nose or... what's actually being depicted here?
Hopefully the artists here have improved, it looks like John Livesay has gotten a fair amount of DC work as an inker. Scott Szczesniak, the penciller, however, has vanished as an artist aside from a few pieces done for other games like
Next: Colonel Marcus "Sue" Larsen.
"The man has no fear."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 10: "The man has no fear."
This is a jam between Siembieda and Carella, and the star company from the fiction. They're ridiculously expensive to hire at 30 million credits, though they sometimes put out small squads for smaller prices. Their big specialty is armored and mecha warfare, and prefer overwhelming force. Not terribly deep, really.
Marcus, Antonio, Perrin, and Ralph.
Colonel Marcus Larsen (Coalition Military Specialist):
A distinguished soldier for the Coalition, he got in trouble for speaking out for mutant animals and, eventually, refusing to exterminate a village of D-Bees. When he was court-martialed, he broke out with his most loyal men and became
, forming a band hundreds strong. Rather than engage him in a potentially embarrassing conflict, the Emperor gave him a pardon with a warning to stay out of Coalition business. (He hasn't.)
Antonio Giordano (Juicer):
Larsen's bodyguard, he's a
hard cold man
knows no fear
the image of death in his eyes
. No real backstory, just a ridiculous steam of nonsense about how tough he is. Moving on.
Major Perrin (Dog Boy):
One of the original troops that defected with Larsen, he has
which make him less submissive and more wild. He's in charge of sensing and countering magical threats.
Ralph the Destroyer (Holy Terror):
A "Holy Terror" from
Rifts Dimension Book One: Wormwood
, he accidentally was shunted to Earth when trying to rift across his home world. He met Larsen's Brigade when they were fighting a generic necromancer and decided they were good people to fight alongside.
Strangely enough, the Larsen's Brigade characters from the fiction in this book - Pedro, Greg, Crunch - don't get writeups for whatever reason. For being the iconic company of the book, their writeup is surprisingly anemic.
We get a breakdown of their 3,000-4,000 soldiers (!) and 5,000 support personnel and noncombatants. They're ridiculously well armed and supplied with maybe a thousand vehicles and power armor suits. For whatever reason, there are no adventure ideas, not even a peep, but you could probably squeak some out of the metafiction and metaplot stuff earlier, since they figure into the Coalition / Tolkeen conflict.
And if you're not familiar, Larsen's Brigade is a obvious copy of the eponymous
, with Larsen being an analogue of Hammer and Giordano being quite similar to Major Joachim Steuben from the books. And yes, they do use hovertanks, though they rely more on power armor and robots as a whole.
You know, let's just share some the descriptive text about Antonio Giordano.
"Antonio is Larsen's latest bodyguard, a quiet and withdrawn Juicer who is a living weapon at Larsen's beck and call."
"The Juicer has no qualms about murder or torture, as long as his boss thinks it's all right."
"He often defuses quarrels among the troops with a snarl and it's claimed that he can frighten low level foes simply by staring at the enemy with his cold, unblinking eyes."
"Some people, have even claimed to have seen the image of their death in those eyes."
"As long as he is alive, Colonel Larsen will be safe from danger."
"He always stares at people in an unnerving manner, as if he's sizing them up for a coffin or something equally unpleasant."
Next: Secret Splugorth spies sneak suspiciously.
"He used to love rail guns, but now he's in a missile-launcher phase."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 11: "He used to love rail guns, but now he's in a missile-launcher phase."
The Shadow Warriors
secret Splugorth spies!
Shhhh! Anyway, they're fake mercenaries that use their work to scout out North America, and have developed a lot of contacts in the southern regions. It's noted that they're relatively professional and don't engage in unnecessary violence or brutality. It's noted that individually they're some of the bestest soldiers, since they have both magic and robots, but against larger forces they have to rely on guerilla tactics. They've been operating around the Pecos Empire (
Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms
), which plays into most of their subplots.
For some reason their Sponsorship trait is 0, the minimum, and lists their backers as the Splugorth, even though the mercenary company rules specifically call out that requires a maximum Sponsorship trait of 6. Whups.
These characters rely a lot on awareness of
Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis
. So does my review, because
Grey, Myriam, Soll-Thull, and Anaconda.
Commander Grey (Headhunter):
A human slave who was enhanced by the Splugorth's bio-wizardry, Grey is a willing devotee of the Splugorth and practically worships them. He's a pretty decent guy for the most part, but would eat a dish of live assorted babies if the Splugorth ordered him to. He also has super-big eyes that give him magic vision, can shoot lightning, and has knuckle blades that are not at all like Wolverine, I'm sure.
Captain Myriam (Blind Warrior Woman):
An Altarian Warrior, she's distinguished herself by murdering dragons (somehow), but isn't really loyal to the Splugorth in the slightest. Instead, she's gathering her own information to find some means to destroy Splynncryth and Atlantis, and is willing to make deals with anyone or do anything to achieve this. She's also had some clone kids in North America secretly, but has left them on their own, which it notes could be means to introduce Altarian NPCs or PCs.
After the Shadow Warriors were hired to defeat his band of Brodkil bandits, he took their offer to join, and has become their generically loudmouthed thug since. He's super-loyal because... uh, because! "He used to love rail guns, but now he's in a missile launcher phase."
Anaconda (Kittani Espionage Agent):
Yes, she's a spy, despite the fact she's an ape with a giant brain. I'm sure she must wear some really large hats to blend in. She's really on the lookout for Naruni and Mechanoids, since the Naruni are competitors and the Mechanoids nearly wiped out the Kittani.
So we have "255-410" other soldiers, which is quite the bizarrely specific estimate, and 400 support personnel. It notes most of their weaponry is Triax and Atlantis, and for some reason notes that players might work out their Triax weaponry was made in Europe... but I don't know how, since Triax weaponry is also sold in North America. Whups.
Kevin Siembieda steps in to give us some plot hooks. We start out with the Pecos Empire trying to wipe them out... presumably because the Shadow Warriors get hired to take out bandits, but that isn't stated explicitly. The Pecos Empire might summon a monster, harass locals, or... hit Coalition troops... or fight vampires... okay, this is tangenting pretty far from the Shadow Warriors. It notes that if the bandits get saved by PCs from trouble (summoned monster, vampire, etc.), they might get invited to hang out in their huge camps to party. But people might not like them if they party with bandits! What a pickle the PCs are in now!
There's another hook where the Shadow Warriors encounter Splugorth slavers
from Atlantis, but a rival Splugorth, and is looking to drive them out. Vampires also might get involved because fuck it, why not? Also, the slavers may have kidnapped a loved one, like a Splugorth do.
Then there's the Shadow Warriors finding out about Wormwood, so the PCs have to wipe out the Shadow Warriors to keep the Splugorth from invading Wormwood!... well, that is, wipe out a company of 650+ operatives, including at
50 soldiers in power armor, 10 full conversion borgs, 10 wizards, 23 brodkil, 10 crazies, 20 juicers, 20 headhunters, 20 wolfen, 5 psychics... etc. This isn't possible sort of a magical plot nuke or something that wipes out a county-sized area or a Coalition-sized army, but I guess the PCs can die trying!
And that's the last of the mercenary companies! Finally, you have all the NPCs necessary to show your PCs up. I did some rough math to see what it would be like to roll an NPC like Larsen as a PC. The odds are something like
less than a one in ten billion
with conservative estimates. And yet Palladium loves to talk about how random rolls make better characters.
I wonder if they ever random roll any of these NPCs?
Next: The Golden Age was fuckin' dumb.
"The main reason for this is that tanks are obsolete when compared to giant robots or even the power armor."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 12: "The main reason for this is that tanks are obsolete when compared to giant robots or even the power armor."
We get a short fiction bit by Carella where a guy has stolen power suits from Larsen's Brigade, they detective this out, and they're going to kill him!... or maybe not, it's unclear. It mentions that there are a number of new independent arms manufacturers, which this section is about. Well, mostly about the things they manufacture. Organizations and people in
often don't matter beyond what crappy shit they people, we know all about Northern Gun's product line, but we won't find out about the actual company for another
Yes, it's time for the bulk of the book: robots and war machines. It notes that the GM can restrict these if they want! Mother May I?
Golden Age Weaponsmiths
It's noted Carella came up with the name and idea, but Kevin is writing the actual text there. The basic idea is that you have a company that's taking old, out-of-date pre-Rifts military equipment and renovating it to be functional in the world of Rifts. Fair enough, Siembieda's take on it is a little out of touch, which has made this a primary point of mockery when it comes to
See, Kevin notes most countries had S.D.C. military equipment in mothballs... why they would keep that stuff around about a century past its due date, I don't know. It seems extraordinarily wasteful. But they did, and it directs us to Palladium's
Compendium of Contemporary Weapons
for more details. Which is fuckin' hilarious, because that's a 1993-era book, meaning all the equipment would be over a century out of date before the Rifts. Of course, they'd done a new edition of the
a year before, so they have reason to push it even if it doesn't make a world of sense. It also, in random Siembieda fashion, notes that military characters from the 20th century could be rifted in and have all sorts of fun finding out their equipment is
. Wow, that sounds like a
. He notes that a 20th century tank has about 10-20 M.D.C., but looking at the
, that's more like 8-12. But hey, who says you have to know your own system and the very books you yourself wrote? Fascists, that's who!
(Also, bear in mind making old tanks into S.D.C. means a patient crowd of people could beat a tank apart with their fists.)
So Golden Age Weaponsmiths raided National Guard depots and (numerous military bases mentioned by name), and built up in Alabama to give themselves a central location away from the Coalition oversight. They also have strong ties with the
, which we'll get details on about 18 years after this book's release. We get mercenary stats for them, but it reminds us they aren't a real merc company.
Retooling Old Weapons
It notes that most firearms can't be made into mega-damage weapons without magic, but impresses upon us that they're still useful for hunting game or unarmored humans. Also, some places don't allow M.D. weapons, but allow S.D. weapons... for some reason. One would think as long a you're confiscating weapons, you may as well nab them all. In any case, grenade launchers and missile launchers and rocket launchers all can be upgraded with M.D. ammo.
Just like Golden Age Weaponsmiths, this book upgrades old art to M.D.C., too!
Retrofitting Pre-Rifts Vehicles
This consists of bolting on M.D.C. armor and M.D. ammo (or just replacing the guns with new weapons). Then we get this:
Kevin Siembieda, Everyone! posted:
There are very few tanks in service on Rifts Earth. The main reason is that tanks are obsolete when compared to giant robots or even the power armor. Tanks are not as fast, mobile, or versatile. With the collapse of civilization, forests & wilderness have taken over the well-paved roads of the past and there are few places where tanks can operate free of obstruction (the west of the old American Empire is the most ideal for tanks).
In any case, they tend to run on gas, not nuclear power, since it's generally not worth spending that much money on these paper tigers.
So, he brings up some common vehicles that can be converted, like the M48A3 Main Battle Tank... which, uh, was being phased out at the time this book was written. Certainly, you're not going to find many of them in the US as of 2014, given even the National Guard has moved on to using the M60A3 Patton. If you want to find the M48A3 Patton, you'd be better off finding them in the Middle East, where they're still in usage in places like Turkey as of 2014. He brings up the M2 Bradley, which as of 2014 the army is seeking a replacement for. The idea that you'll find scads of vehicles dating back to the 1950s lying around in
is just bizarre. He doesn't even
tanks that were contemporary to 1994, like the M1 Abrams.
We get a bunch of numbers for vehicles, which bizarrely includes commerical jet liners... which would certainly change a lot of things about trade and travel in
if some city-states actually got them running, but are just a statblock footnote in these book. Certainly, getting workable combat jets would do a lot to change the face of
warfare (as we'll see later), but they're barely worth a mention here.
There are prices, since they'll often let folks Bring Your Own Tank (or jet, or whatever) and retrofit it. It also includes "Rush Jobs", but doesn't tell us what sort of time the work takes, and we get "Illegal Customizing", where they're remove the serial numbers and marks from stolen goods, including Coalition weaponry. Because, you know, the Coalition can't totally tell you stole their shit. "Gosh, that Spider Skull Walker doesn't have a serial number and it's got hot pink trim, it can't be one of ours." Of course, the Coalition isn't thrilled with them, but Golden Age makes a point of staying out of the Coalition's way.
We get a lot of prices for small advantages like improved engines, new weapons and weapon mounts, a ram prow (damage values not included), "flashing lights (like the police)", anti-theft, sensor systems, a 75% accurate road atlas (no idea how the fuck they keep
updated), radios, etc. It notes they still make S.D.C. vehicles and sell them super cheap, as well as common parts for all sorts of modern or ancient vehicles. They often don't question their buyers, but if they know the person is a wanted criminal (what that means in Rifts is anybody's guess), they may direct them to the
. You know, that guy around the corner with a tank in his trenchcoat? That guy.
Next: Northern Guns.
"This item is the rage in the Mid-West."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 13: "This item is the rage in the Mid-West."
This gun was made from all the leftover gun parts.
Northern Gun Weapons
These are the manufacturers located out of Ishpeming, who we haven't seen much of since
. We won't get any more detail on them, but we do get new guns! It also mentions that Northern Gun has a new power pack that can be used to recharge E-Clips on the go six times a day, but is... uh... specific to each gun, and goes like 60k+ credits. Because that's just what you need for your 5k credit gun, is a 60k recharging system.
has a fetish for ammo tracking, which is odd because a lot of character types (wizards, psychics, some robots) don't have to worry about guns, so why should people with some of the weakest weapons keep having to scrimp and scrounge? Anyway, on to the guns:
NG-56 Northern Gun Light Ion Pistol:
Remember the Han Solo gun from the main book? This is a lighter, cheaper version that's less effective in every respect.
NG-E4 Plasma Ejectors:
You know the plasma weapons made by the Coalition, Triax, Kittani, and... well, pretty much everyone else? This is the Northern Gun version. In case you're in to brand loyalty or something.
NG-E12 Heavy Plasma Ejector:
This is a heavier tripod weapon, and actually does respectable damage for a Rifts small arm (1d6 x 10, mini-missile damage). It notes there's a variant that can be used as a rifle by power armor or cyborgs, but... doesn't tell us how much strength is needed to use it. Ooops.
NG Hand Grenades:
Like Coalition grenades, but weaker. Which is tragic, because Coalition grenades are already pretty pathetic. But they're cheap, at least?
NG-LG6 Northern Gun Laser Rifle & Grenade Launcher:
It's not particularly effective, but they did drop the price of the
NG-Super laser pistol and grenade launcher
(say that five times fast) as a obsolete weapon at this point since this and a lot of other weapons are just plain better now.
Also, a lot of the weapons in this section use "standard" rate of fire, which upgrades them to being able to dump their clips and do 3d6x14 damage or whatever (unless you miss). It's still unclear, even eleven books into the line here, if energy weapons are supposed to use the burst fire rules.
Somebody watched Aliens, yes.
Then we get rules for plastique (useless), dynamite (also useless), but somehow they've developed Mega-Damage dynamite and plastique. I don't know how. Mega-chemistry, maybe? We also have rules for mines. There are "Anti-Personnel" mines that won't significantly hurt most personnel, and "Anti-Vehicle" mines that won't significantly hurt most vehicles. Maybe if you can get people to run over a bunch of them? Seems like more a deterrent than an actual weapon. They also sell a new survival pack that's mostly a bundled package of tent, radio, survival equipment, etc. Finally, we get the:
NG-EX10 Gladius Light Exo-Skeleton Battle Armor
Can you guess who this looks like? That's right, Orson Welles!
To follow up on their Han Solo ripoff, there's a body armor that's a Boba Fett ripoff. Only, unlike Boba Fett, it isn't particularly impressive. Come to think, Bobo Fett fell into a giant sandbutt, so nevermind that. In fact, it's supposed to be a cheap, inexpensive power armor with a battery that only lasts about four days of continuous use. It basically just gives double to three times as much M.D.C. as a regular armor suit, some super-speed (40 MPH) and very mild strength enhancement. For some mysterious reason, it also grants an extra attack. It's cheap for a power armor at 150K credits, but it's still too expensive to be throwaway.
Next: Wellington Beef. Wait, no, guns.
"The rounds are outlawed in the Coalition States, banned as 'cop-killing' bullets."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 14: "The rounds are outlawed in the Coalition States, banned as 'cop-killing' bullets."
The rubble-based genre of RPGs.
From the city of Wellington... Michigan? Ohio? Wisconsin? Illinois? Somewhere in Canada? It's not clear. In any case, they're fierce competitors for Northern Gun as far as arms sales to Lazlo and other city-states, and it looks like Northern Gun and Wellington may come to blows. The only point of non-competition is that Wellington can't make robots like Northern Gun does. Wellington Industries focuses on projectile and explosive weapons, though, instead of energy weapons, though they do produce some identical knock-offs of laser weapons from Northern Gun.
Naturally, this leads to several pages of guns. A lot of the standard firearms can use depleted uranium or explosive ammo, neither of which does Mega-Damage... where theyr'e getting the depleted uranium is, as with Triax, a mystery.
Using a four-dimensional clip, apparently.
Because you always put the clip right in front of the sight.
WI-10 Caseless Pistol:
An S.D.C. machine pistol. Unimpressive. What's worse, for the price of two of these, you could have a Mega-Damage pistol. Save your money.
MP-23A Caseless SMG:
An S.D.C. submachine gun, and if you put in depleted uranium rounds, it can do 1 Mega-Damage with a 20-round burst. Oh, joy. Only 700 rounds to take down some of the weakest armor suits! And only 5,000 rounds to take down a dragon hatchling! Congratulations, you just bought an expensive irritant.
WI-23 Missile Launcher:
Like the Coalition's missile launcher, only with a bigger clip. Like the Coalition's missile launcher, it does unimpressive damage for something with only six shots.
WI-GL4 Revolving Grenade Launcher:
It fires grenades 1000 feet, but requires near-superhuman strength to use effectively. You know, just like real grenade launchers. It's hampered by the fact that grenades are terrible in
, but it beats a laser pistol. Unless that laser pistol gets to use the burst fire rules, mind.
WI-GL20 Automatic Grenade Launcher:
we're talking. This requires high strength to use outside of a tripod, but it fires bursts of grenades that can do up to 3d6 x 10 damage,
the same as a Boom Gun, one of the deadliest weapons in the game
. You only get four burst shots unless it's on a tripod, but hell, if you're a cyborg, you can actually match up to a Glitter Boy with this goddamn thing.
WI-40M Fire & Forget Super-Heavy Missile Launcher:
This is a disposable rocket launcher that weighs 120 lbs. and files one medium-range missile (with a range of 10 miles). Solid damage, but not worth its weight and strength requirements.
We also get "WI-10" and "WI-20" Ramjet Rounds" or "WI-2E" Explosive Rounds that can do... minimal to fair Mega-Damage. Wait, didn't one of the previous sections state that you couldn't make old slugthrowers into Mega-Damage weapons? I guess it was lying. They also make computerized missile launchers that automatically fire missiles at a predesignated target of any size, in case you need to fire a self-defense "proton torpedo". Yeah, those are in
. I don't know why.
Next: Hearts of Iron.
"The Iron Bolt is built on the Iron Fist chassis, but the turret has been replaced with an MLRS-120 Multiple Launcher Rocket System (MLRS) with an internal auto-loading magazine that holds up to 120 mini-missiles!"
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 15: "The Iron Bolt is built on the Iron Fist chassis, but the turret has been replaced with an MLRS-120 Multiple Launcher Rocket System (MLRS) with an internal auto-loading magazine that holds up to 120 mini-missiles!"
Iron Heart Armaments, Inc.
This is a company that has the same name as the Coalition State of Iron Heart. Why?
We get some boring history about them saving a community from xiticix by making guns and tanks, but it turns out the xiticix weren't much of a threat after all. Sure, wh'ev. They're filling a niche in that they do make modern Riftsian tanks and aircraft that other companies aren't because... well, they're dumb, I guess. Because Siembieda thinks
tanks are dumb
Iron Hammer Main Battle Tank
Try not to think about perspective.
Despite only costing 4 million credits (a Glitter Boy costs 25 million, for comparison), it has nearly as much armor as a Glitter Boy, and can fire HEAT rounds that do as much damage as a Boom Gun. Which is only logical, honestly, and mostly just highlights the ridiculousness of the Glitter Boy in the first place. Sure, the power armor will have a singular crew and fits into smaller spaces, but its laser resistance is relatively useless against a tank like this, and it has to lock down still to fire its weapon. In any case, the tank also has some secondary (dinky) railguns and a vulcan laser that actually nearly does as much damage as the main gun. It also has medium-range missiles, and... fuck, this might be better for a party to start with than a Glitter Boy.
Carella's writing this section. I can tell.
Iron Fist Medium Tank
The diet tank.
A cheaper, modestly weaker version of the Iron Hammer. It has a weaker main gun, a weaker laser turn, and smoke dispensers instead of missiles. It's respectable at a 2.5 million credit cost, but isn't the powerhouse the Iron Hammer is.
Iron Bolt Missile Vehicle
Perhaps the most effective combat vehicle in the game.
This is an Iron Fist with a big set of missiles instead of a turret, and thusly ends up being rather ridiculous... because the missile rules are broken. It can, for example, fire 10 mini-missiles to do 10d6 x 10, or six long-range missiles to do 24d6 x 10, enough to one-shot nearly any vehicle in the game. Its huge drawback is that if you blow up its rocket launchers (150 M.D.C.), it explodes, doing all the damage of all the missles left in the system with a 600 foot radius (normally, that radius is 50 ft. or so). That's right - its missiles are more powerful being
than they are actually being fired at targets.
Iron Maiden APC-10
Hope you're on nice, flat terrain for those side-mounted missiles.
Not the name I'd choose to bolster morale, there you have it. It's modeled after older APCs, and so it's not the rolling fortress that Coalition APCs tend to be, but actually has a solid autocannon, missiles, smoke dispenser, and laser turret. In fact, with the missiles, it may kick more butt than the Iron Fist, but it can't take as much damage. It can carry a 10 man squad, but some people do a camper-style conversion to make it into an actual living space for two people (seriously, envision this thing with a camper shell).
Next: The Unfair Force.
"The CS has issued a public warning that any Air Castles entering CS air space shall be considered hostile and blown out of the sky without any communications or negotiations!"
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 16: "The CS has issued a public warning that any Air Castles entering CS air space shall be considered hostile and blown out of the sky without any communications or negotiations!"
Iron Heart Aircraft
"Some mercenary companies have realized that air superiority can be an important factor in combat." You think? In any case, Iron Heart makes an series of VTOLs. For some reason they all have sonar, somehow...?
Grey Falcon Attack Jet
This is becoming a mainstay of non-Coalition nations, which seems like bad news for the Coalition, given they don't have any major aircraft (they have a transport and the SAMAS flying suits). It can land VTOL-style, but can't actually hover around effectively. Apparently, it's also modular can can be disassembled and reassembled in 10 minutes... somehow! It can go MACH 2, and this is a situation where the ridiculous 1,000 mile range of medium-range missiles really matters. Instead having to deal with the horizon, it can literally bombard ground targets well out of their range. It's got a dinky rail gun, but the missiles can do 8d6 x 10 damage with a volley, so fuck that.
It seems like one nation with a few of these could take over other city-states without air support with relative ease. Granted, the military infrastructure of
is very poorly thought through, but if you have jets and your foes don't, you'll likely win.
AC-29 Air Castle Bomber
"I call it... the Spruce Moose!"
As if to underpin what I was just saying, here's a superfortress-style bomber, and a number of kingdoms (like Northern Gun) have already bought some. Larsen's Brigade, being the special snowflakes they are, already have a fuckin'
. The Coalition has threatened Iron Heart over their manufacture, and tends to blow them out of the sky on sight (or just opportunity). How they do that with their shitty anti-air forces, I dunno, but there you have it. They're already coming up with a plan to murder all of New Kenora (where Iron Heart does its manufacturing), which seems to ignore the fact that Iron Heart has
, and they don't.
It's pretty tough, but not much more than a Glitter Boy or tank, and can go up to 500 mph for short periods of time, and has some effective vulcan and auto-cannon defenses, as well as missiles. The big deal is that it has a guided bombing system that automatically hits stationary targets (and +5 to hit non-stationary targets), and can drop up to 30 bombs a turn, each the equivalent of long-range missiles, so it can do... uh...
120d6 x 10
Also, it has long-range missile launchers in case it wants to shoot you from the
other side of the continent
It's interesting to see Carella bring in modern military notions, and also interesting to see the system creak and then shatter under the weight of them.
Iron Eagle Attack Helicopter
"But does it have enough missiles, really?"
This is a gunship-style helicopter, and has a nautical variant with pontoons and torpedo launchers (rules for torpedoes are in the next section). Its M.D.C. is almost irrelevant, though, since nearly anything can shoot one of its rotors and watch it
Black Hawk Down
. So. Not the best idea Iron Heart's had. However, the broken quality of the missiles comes again, since it can shoot 24 mini-missiles an attack for 24d6 x 10, or do decent damage with its autocannons. Oh, and it can shoot you with medium-range missiles from about 50 miles away. So there's that.
Next: Battle in the bathtub!
"Like the AC-29 Air Castle Bomber, this vessel has been outlawed by the Coalition and, excluding the four Free Quebec vessels, will be destroyed without warning whenever it is encountered."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 17: "Like the AC-29 Air Castle Bomber, this vessel has been outlawed by the Coalition and, excluding the four Free Quebec vessels, will be destroyed without warning whenever it is encountered."
Iron Heart Watercraft
Continuing the Iron Heart military wankfest, we have boats! They have shipyards at Duluth, and a lot of people are buying their boats for self-defense... but so are pirates! Oh no!
We get rules for torpedoes and depth charges, which are basically shorter-range missiles that get wet, and are less likely to have a chain weapon that blows them all up when you shoot down a torpedo during a torpedo barrage. That's all you need to know about the amazing world of torpedoes!
Black Eel Torpedo Boat
Yeah, you an just make a huge aquajet, I guess?
A small hydrofoil, it has a 14mm machinegun that does passable Mega-Damage with explosive rounds, can fire heavy torpedoes, but only one at a time, but still... has a 50 mile range. Boom. Also, it can drop depth charges. Like the Iron Bolt, it self-detonates if you blow up its torpedo bay. A small design flaw, there.
Triton Patrol Boat
Because fuck decks, amirite?
A medium hydrofoil, this acts as a patrol boat and often has a standard compliment of four flying suits of power armor for scouting and defense (power armor not included). It can file sixteen mini-missiles at a time, two medium torpedoes, has two rail gun turrets that almost have the damage of a boom gun, and depth charges. Pretty respectable, all things considered.
Sea King Missile Cruiser
Yep. That's a boat.
This is a full-scale, 10,000 lb. cruiser, and can carry up to forty flying armor suits and a few helicopters. Most of the Coalition has been frowny-faced on them, but Free Quebec has been buying them up. This is one of the largest war vehicles we've seen in the game, with the M.D.C. of three Glitter Boys, tons of missiles, torpedoes, rail gun turrets that do near-Boom Gun damage, cannons that do long-range missile damage, and depth charge launchers. Kind of underwhelming given its size, honestly, I'd expect it to be able to field weapons that did more significantly more damage than the robots and tanks we've seen so far, but... nope.
And that's it for Iron Heart. I'd probably be willing to hire them to outfit my army, they seem to have more sense than nearly any arms manufacturer I've seen in
, including Triax or the Coalition. Carella's clearly a more sensible writer for this kind of thing, though the missile rules make any logical use of missiles something that halts combat while you roll dice forever, and then win.
Next: The Naruniiii....
...iiiiii... iiiiii... iiiiii.... iiiii... iiii... ii... i.
"Presently, they are about half as well known, powerful, and hated as the Splugorth."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 18: "Presently, they are about half as well known, powerful, and hated as the Splugorth."
Naruni is *mysterious* and most people just think it's a normal company, but the Coalition has painted them as a nonhuman threat. A lot of the other arms manufacturers are also suspicious of the Naruni because... they're mysterious? It doesn't really give a "why". You can explain it away pretty easily, but it's just kind of assumed, I guess, that Wilk's and other companies we don't know much about hate nonhumans.
The fact is they're interdimensional arms dealers, and known to the Splugorth, who see them as a rival. Their arms are some of the best in any dimension, though they charge accordingly high prices. Since many of their customers can't afford their prices, they often sell on credit, but then use the debt as leverage to take land or mining rights. It notes that Naruni has taken several entire worlds this way, which... I'm trying to imagine a world actually
that. "Well, bill's due, time to give up
all our freedom forever
." It does note that, of course, the Naruni have a ginormous army with awesome weapons, which probably has a lot more to do with planets capitulating. It tries to make them sound as bad as the Splugorth, but even the book admits the Naruni don't engage in slave trading or biomagical body horror, so they seem more like the interdimensional 1% rather than the baby-munching monsters the Splugorth are.
Right now they're just focusing on putting a few "trading posts" in North America and playing the long game. They approached the Coalition States first, which was a big mistake as it revealed them to be nonhumans, and put them on the Coalition's hit list (a list so long as to be practically meaningless). They're looking to try and pit independent city-states against the Coalition, but it turns out that the city-states will likely wise up and fight Naruni instead. It's a self-solving problem - no PCs required! Of course, with the cosmic level of Naruni Enterprises' forces, it puzzles me as to why the Coalition is even vaguely a threat.
On to the guns!
Can you tell which Naruni gun is which?
NE-10 Plasma Cartridge Rifle:
This fires cartridges that explode into plasma blasts and actually does solid, mini-missile level damage for a rifle, but you can only get reloads from Naruni suppliers. It also looks like the 90est sort of gun.
NE-4 Plasma Cartridge Pistol:
This like the NE-10 but with smaller form factor, same damage, and shorter range. It also has the perennial strength penalty for those not buff and trying to use this.
NE-50 Particle Beam Rifle:
An energy rifle that literally has the same stats as the NE-10, and has been modified to work with Earth's E-Clips. It notes that only Naruni reps carry this item - they don't sell it on Earth yet. Tough luck, PCs! (Unless you're playing a Naruni rep, anyway.)
NE-200 Plasma Cartridge Machinegun:
An oversized, belt-fed version of the NE-10 that does some pretty great damage, but you need (once again) high strength to use it without a tripod. To digress, the problem with all these tripod weapons is that in theory you can't dodge on them, which is an issue since you have no ability to supress or mow down most foes with this or sweep an area or anything tactical like real people might do.
NE-1000 "Modified" Plasma Ejector Rifle:
Just another plasma rifle, really. It actually does better damage in the original Naruni version you can't buy, but this version has the modified E-Clips and sucks.
Once again, a lot of them are listed as "standard" rate of fire, and we still don't know what that's supposed to be.
Katana sold separately.
We also have the
NE-C20 Camouflage Variable Armor
. It lets you camouflage and move real slow, like the lamest Predator, and gives a whopping 40% chance of going unnoticed
you're undercover and
you don't move. When it's cloaked, it gives +5% to your stealth!... and a -5% penalty to stealth due to mobility penalties. Hilarious mechanics, there. It's a decent set of armor otherwise, but overpriced due to the crappy camouflage mechanics. There are also
to hide stationary vehicles, but they have no rules other than how much damage they can take.
"Look out, he's got a pancake generator... delicious!"
More effective are the
Personal Force Fields
, which protect one from harm as you'd expect, and regenerate M.D.C. unless they're "overloaded" by exceeding their M.D.C. value. They only last for hours on those overpriced E-Clips, unless you have a nuclear power source to hook them up to... which will usually only come up if you're using power armor. Oh, and to wear them with armor, the armor has to be specially modified by the Naruni. Still, you can hook one up to a Glitter Boy, so there's that. The fields come in Light to Superheavy, where light is like an average suit of M.D.C. armor, and Superheavy is protection closer to a light power armor suit.
Next: So, uh, the Naruni make vehicles!
"Pod or roughly egg-shaped - resembles a giant mechanical egg laying on its side with weapons and antennas sticking out of it."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 19: "Pod or roughly egg-shaped - resembles a giant mechanical egg laying on its side with weapons and antennas sticking out of it."
This is where shit gets ridiculous.
Defining "tactical boondoggle".
This is a 250,000 credit missile. Oh, sure, it has a brilliant computer brain and can dodge and fly around corners, but it doesn't do more damage or have more range than other
missiles, and it's 7' long, so no aiming it through air ducts
-style. So, do you like burning money? Then you might love the NE-010. You can take any leftover money you have and tie to the drone so when it explodes, at least you'll have learned a valuable lesson.
NE-020 Combat Drone
PA 101: This year, the fish strike back.
It has a dinky-plus laser and a totally unstatted mini-missile launcher! Thankfully, our modern drones are more effective than this, though it does have a variety of combat programs... or you can buy a VR interface for a paltry 500,000 credits. There's no mention of the VR interface making you think you're a god or action junkie or think you're a missile in your off time like in
Rifts World Book Five: Triax & the NGR
, so I imagine Carella's writing this.
NE-030 Spy Drone
Shark + arms = trouble.
This is probably the most usefulest drone so far, just because it's not for fighting, but for looking. It has Prowl at 89%, through the variable camouflage and being silent. Its laser is shit, but that's not the point; it seems really well suited to doing its job, unlike the last two. It also has little t-rex arms for shenanigans. It gets a pass.
NE-300 OMAV Combat Pod
Hopefully, it never needs to land.
This pod holds a pilot which uses this as a platform to direct them, like an RLS (real-life strategy). The pilot can also take VR control of any of them as well, or give them specific orders. "The pilot can switch his control for one specific drone to another as easily as changing channels on a television set with a remote control.", it mentions, the metaphor stretching to its limit. It also requires a specific new skill, Combat Pod Piloting, which is useful for
no other vehicles
It's crazy expensive, and has only middling weapons like a particle beam turret or mini-missiles, and isn't terribly well-armored to boot. It seems like this would be the kind of system that would be better to have in a tank, something less fragile that could take the beating foes give you once they work out the big drone is in charge.
Carnivore Mark I - Light Hover Tank
On Rifts Earth, some guns are square.
Remember wayyy back when I mentioned
? Well, here's the new hovertanks to go with that reference. This is actually isn't that tough as far as tanks go, but does have a particle beam cannon that's equivalent to a boom gun. It also has (ho-hum, effective, but ho-hum) mini-missiles and a decent laser turret. It's pretty damn fast for a tank, but having a mere 200 M.D.C. main turret is a big issue.
Juggernaut - Heavy Hover Tank
On Rifts Earth, it took aliens to devise an effective tank.
This, on the other hand, is one of the scariest things in the book, with a price to match. It has more firepower and armor than a
before you add in the force field, a well-armored turret, is somehow even
than the Carnivore, has an extra middling rail gun, a bunch of mini-missiles, lasers, medium-range missiles, and generally kicks all the butts and takes all the names.
Next: Naruni's armor and air, an affected alliteration.
"This is a large combat robot, also built with a fantasy motif (the Naruni Marketing executives decided that these lines were ideal for a world where both magic and technology exist)."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 20: "This is a large combat robot, also built with a fantasy motif (the Naruni Marketing executives decided that these lines were ideal for a world where both magic and technology exist). "
Naruni Robots & Powered Armor
You didn't think we'd get through a
book without entirely superfluous sets of power armor, did you? Well, to be fair, there are a good number of
books without power armor. But this isn't one of them.
Mecha-Knight Medium Power Armor
"Jedi knight" interpreted literally.
This is supposed to be a superior flying power armor, and has a solid M.D.C. that can be supplemented with the earlier force fields (and if you're willing to drop 25 million credits on a power armor, you may as well spend the extra 0.16 million for the upgrade). Mostly It flies around 300 mph, has a decent particle beam rifle and meh sword (actually pretty great for a sword, but meh as a weapon), and a dinky laser. You get a penalty if you try and use the sword and the rifle at the same time, but since
has no rules for stowing or drawing weapons, presumably it doesn't matter since you can swap them instantly.
Death-Knight Assault Robot
Cleave your foes or yourself!
This as a robot vehicle designed around looking like a magical fantasy warrior (because the Naruni are marketing this robot directly at Earth's market), but the skull sometimes causes people to think it's a Coalition robot. It has a middling particle beam gun, a pretty great plasma axes, short-range missiles, a laser gun and a rail gun that are nearly identical. Kind of a dull bot, but I like the idea of the Naruni marketing a robot with a skull on it because they think Earth digs that sort of thing.
Nomad Scout Robot
Not exactly stoking the fires of creativity with that name, there. It's a 16' tall stealth bot, like you do with giant robots, you make them into stealth scout suits. Logical! It has mini-missiles, a passable laser and rail gun, and that crummy camouflage system from earlier. Not much else to add.
Crescent Moon Delta-Wing Spaceplane
Not known for its looks.
Wait, wasn't this a section on robots? Fuck it, it's time for planes with no transition! This plane can go into space, but "nobody has bothered to try".
In any case, this is supposed to be the fastest and tuffest fighter plane on Rifts Earth at this point. There's a weapons pod with a plasma and laser that can combine-fire for Boom Gun-level damage, medium range missiles which you can dump for 16d10 x 10 damage, a ennnh laser, and can hover around like a UFO. Pretty impressive, and could really change the face of a campaign just by its inclusion.
Boomerang Attack Aerodyne
It'd be even more thematic if it shot itself.
This aircraft got its name for being so maneuverable as to quickly change direction after its first attack sweep, but, uh, there are no maneuvering rules in
m, so that's just flavor. It's a much lighter aircraft that's supposed to be like a gunship that goes up to 300 mph, and has a mid-range rail gun and missiles. And that's it for the Naruni arms show!
Next: Angrar Robotics makes no robots.
"Profiteers who try to buy the suits cheap and resell them for more (the suit could go for as much as 40 million in the open market) will be found and killed (remember, the armor suits are partially sentient)."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 21: "Profiteers who try to buy the suits cheap and resell them for more (the suit could go for as much as 40 million in the open market) will be found and killed (remember, the armor suits are partially sentient)."
Wow, with a name like that, they just have to be bad guys, or a thrash metal band. One of the two. People with ESP feel that their products are evil when they use Sense Evil, and that's because their
products are evil
. Subtle. This is actually a front for Ahriman's forces from
Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse
, as it turns out.
Angrar Mark II Power Armor
Spikes help concentrate pure evil.
This is actually a demon shaped into a fake power armor that can spy on people for Ahriman, and drains the life of the pilot. After a few months, a pilot becomes more eviler and murderier, and gets all hairy, has sharp fangs, and basically becomes a demon or maybe a wolfman (with nards). If they kill too much or spend too long piloting it, the armor eventually sucks the pilot up, though you can exorcise the evil out of them. Trying to take the robot apart causes it to go berserk, and if it's restrained for examination for more than two days, it breaks down into demonic goo. It strikes me as a confusing plan. You put people in the machine, corrupt them into demons, the demons get sucked into he machine, and then they have the experience and knowledge of humans but are his demonic servant... and then are transported back to his demonic prison.
Where they're just as trapped as he is.
I guess that gives him a ready-made force if he ever breaks out, but it's odd that he would just lock them up with himself when he doesn't really have to.
It notes some evil wizards are instead to summoning the the devil robots, getting their minions to pilot them, and then when they get sucked into the robot, the wizard binds them inside the power armor and controls the robot anyway. Clever, but awfully roundabout. You already had a loyal minion piloting it, wizard!
As far as a war machine goes, it's passable, with lots of M.D.C. to take damage, but not much means to dish it out, with only the bare minimum in armaments, like a rail gun and a plasma gun. The only real upside is that it self-heals, so you save on repair costs, but it takes extra damage from silver, rune, holy, and Millennium Tree weapons. In case somebody lobs a stick at it.
Angrar Assault Robot
This is a giant robot made out of several demons, and requires several pilots. If they all get corrupted, they get all culty together regarding the precious, precious robot. Presuming they all fail their saves. Despite the fact it has around eight times the mass of the previous robot, it's only modestly tougher... which still makes it one of the toughest robots in the game. It has a pretty badass hellfire cannon, mini-missiles, and shitty energy claws. It notes, randomly, that people that try and resell these robots for a high price will be murdered by the robot (which is an interesting means of price fixing, I guess). It also has the odd effect that if you blow up its main body / torso, the various bodies will revert to being demons, which get an exceedingly brief statblock.
And that's all Angrar makes, two evil mecha. Certainly, nobody could catch on to this cunning plan. And to think people are worried about the
, but not the obviously and egrigiously evil Angrar? Well, that's
Next: Chipwell, makers of the finest mook fashions.
"Most experienced adventurers wouldn't be caught dead wearing any equipment with the Chipwell logo - according to conventional wisdom, dead is what you'll be if you trust your life to these suits."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 22: "Most experienced adventurers wouldn't be caught dead wearing any equipment with the Chipwell logo - according to conventional wisdom, dead is what you'll be if you trust your life to these suits."
Chipwell Armaments, Inc.
This is the newest and last manufacturer in the book, and they offer rock-bottom prices with rock-bottom quality to match. Instead of using M.D.C., they use plain old steel and have a fraction of the (admittedly bloated) features most power armor suits have. They're known for being cheap death traps, but still get sales because companies and kingdoms can outfit forces on the cheap. Since you can outfit ten troops with Chipwell armor instead of quality armor, it looks impressive to have entire units outfitted with the stuff. Even the Coalition is thinking of outfitting irregular units armed with these, and offering citizenship to the survivors.
It's interesting, because I'm not sure if it's deliberate, but this is a rare way to have "mook units" in
and giving PCs a way to mow down weaker power armor units. But even so, even Chipwell units can take a good amount of punishment. Since they run on batteries, though, it's an example of a unit that's useful to local militia but not suited to cross-country travel, due to their limited range. So you won't see these in the hands of too many PCs.
CAI-50 Challenger Light Combat Armor
something something rivets joke something
This is a light power armor that just gives about double the strength of regular body armor, very mild enhances strength, and piddling mega-damage punches and kicks. It has a very basic sensor package, and that's all. It's the sort of thing that's limited to local militias due to its battery life.
Chipwell Assault Suit
Though not much tougher than the Challenger, this has a nuclear power plant (which only lasts 5 years). It notes the power plant isn't very durable, but it's not a hit location, so fuggit. It has a machinegun that does piddly damage and a laser that's actually a Wilk's Pulse Rifle. Given that's the best Wilk's weapon, that's pretty decent for something that's supposed to be terrible. No sensors or listed, and it's hard to say if that's an oversight or not.
CAI-100 Warmonger Combat Suit
Now you're building with Legos.
This is supposed to be their worst suit, practically a decoy made up of S.D.C. materials, so it can be damaged with sticks and stones. And in defiance of the old S.D.C. rules, has no Armor Rating, so
can hurt it, even kitten teeth. It has 4000 S.D.C., which boils down to 40 M.D.C., but actually has a respectable missile launcher. It doesn't... tell us what kind of missiles, though. They're presumably mini-missiles, but it doesn't say. For all we know, it could have long-range missiles stuffed up its cyber-ass.
And that's all for Chipwell and the arms manufacturers. But that's still not all!
Next: The Coalition keeps up with the mercs-es.
"Emperor Prosek wants to become the master of the German-style Blitzkrieg ("lightning strike"), a swift attack using air and ground forces that overwhelm enemy defenses and create openings that the rest of the army can exploit."
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 23: "Emperor Prosek wants to become the master of the German-style Blitzkrieg ("lightning strike"), a swift attack using air and ground forces that overwhelm enemy defenses and create openings that the rest of the army can exploit."
Not that they're Nazis, or anything like that!
New Coalition Vehicles
It's been a
time since we've seen the old skullies and spikies (back in
), and unfortunately, all we get here are some new vehicles to keep them competitive with the new technology in this book. That's right: their section in here is solely to keep pace with the power creep of the other vehicles in this book.
Coalition Air Defense Systems
This isn't so much a vehicle as a note that the Coalition has air defense radar stations, and tends to lob long-range missiles at anybody unregistered in their airplace. The only way to avoid this is to fly low over uninhabited areas, though if this requires a skill roll or something, it really isn't clear.
CS Grinning Skull Main Battle Tank
Turrets on turrets on turrets...
This is a tank meant mainly to act as a vanguard for the Mark V APC from the core book, and it requires a large crew to man all of its crazy turrets. It has double-cannon turret that's up there with the ol' Glitter Boys, a small laser turret, two dinky other laster turrets, and missiles (short range? mini? it isn't clear). It hovers around, but isn't nearly as fast as the Naruni's hovertanks.
Coalition Mark IX Missile Launcher Vehicle
Where's the skulls?
This is a variant on the Mark V APC designed around lugging around a long-range missile launcher. The fact that it's a variant lets Breaux near-trace it from Long's existing design, of course, which is convenient. Most are being designed for artillery, but there's an experimental one which is being designed to fire anti-air rockets. However, there really isn't any mechanical difference between the two aside from their radar range. It's not very tough, but its ability to fire salvos of long-range missiles... once again, breaks the damage values (24d6 x 10, if you're wondering). It also has dinky lasers, dinky autocannons, and less dinky mini-missiles.
Coalition Nightwing Attack Aircraft
Seriously, where's the ridiculous skull stylings?
Designed as a blatant response to Iron Heart's Grey Falcon, the Nightwing reminds me a lot of the Cobra Firebat, but it doesn't have a rad Terrordome to launch from. Well, it can't be perfect, I suppose. They're supposed to escort the Death's Head Transports and act as ground attack vehicles. For jets, they're pretty tough, and are somehow 60' long even though the art makes them look stubby and maybe 25' at most, judging from the size of the pilot. Pft, details!
They have a pretty powerful laser, medium-range missiles, and long-range missiles. It's clear the art and the description and the art at at odds in terms of the vehicle's size and scope, but forget about it, this is Chi-Town.
Next: Mercenaries' last stand.
"'You have been very entertaining, mortals. In a few hours, I will pay you my respects - personally. The energies released in the upcoming battle will be enough to release me into your world. Soon to be mine.'"
Original SA post
Rifts Mercenaries Part 24: "'You have been very entertaining, mortals. In a few hours, I will pay you my respects - personally. The energies released in the upcoming battle will be enough to release me into your world. Soon to be mine.'"
Casualties of Peace
Finally, we end with an adventure, and certainly the only fleshed-out one
has had at this point. I mean,
had one that just kind of trails off, but this is a much stronger plot. In any case, it starts with an overview of the plot and the description of the two main factions, Hope City and Benford Town.
It notes you should have a psychic PC or an psychic taglong NPC present. This is not a polite suggestion; a party without one will have a much harder time getting a good end out of this adventure otherwise.
Hope City is a fairly tolerant community of humans and D-bees, with a good number of elves (
Rifts Conversion Book
) and wolfen (
Rifts Conversion Book
, again), though they're wary of overly monstrous folk and will bar them from the city unless accompanied by trustworthy sorts (read: other PCs). It's run by a "Guilds' Council" which is a collection of wealthy merchants, and a "Citizens' Assembly", which is a democratically-elected group. We get a breakdown of their military forces, which is only lightly armed for the most part save for some power armor and robot suits, but nothing major.
Benford Town, on the other hand, is a mining town that's almost run dry, and fears the D-Bees, outsiders, and magic in sort of a Coalition-lite fashion, despite having a sizable D-Bee population. It's a lot more old-westy, with lynchings, mob justice, five wealthy ruling families, and that sort of thing. They have to fight off goblin and ogre raiders, and often raid local D-Bees tribes to keep them in line. "Keep them in line" generally doesn't mean extermination, but it can. They have a fairly eclectic military force with Chipwell and Titan (aka Cyberworks) suits, but have a pretty strong air unit. Generally, they're better armed than Hope City, which will be important.
No effective gun in Rifts actually uses casings.
There's a big long narrative, but the long and short is that the two towns are butting heads over mining rights. Benford Town seems to be in the wrong, having made unreasonable demands regarding this, but negotiations seemed to be going well until Benford Town representatives became unexpectedly demanding and belligerent and also has been crazy and racist towards D-Bee representatives from Hope City. Meanwhile, prospectors from Hope City were murdered, and Hope City sent troops to protect them, blaming Benford Town. Benford Town took offense, and claimed Hope City was trying to seize land with their troops. A mining dispute turned to a skirmish with deaths on both sides, and as Winter came, both sides turned to hiring mercenaries... like the PCs!
It notes the player characters can be hired on either side of the war, either as part of an existing company, their own company, or as independents. Hope City has hired Braddock's Bad Boys and Crow's Commandoes, and Benford Town has hired fuckin'
. Things are set for a showdown.
Psychics will have strange nightmares while in the city about a battlefield at war, and then tentacles bust up out of the Earth, and they wake up. Then a
mysterious albino blind old man
shows up and tries to warn the PCs that they have to stop the war, but then vanishes like Batman or a ghost, or a ghost Batman. Mostly, though, this is a period to get the PCs acquainted with the locale and their employer, if any, and maybe get into a scuffle.
Begins the War
Hostilities break out,a nd tthe PCs are assigned with a small unit to scout around in trucks or APCs, and psychics will still have the bad dreams. It gives a random encounter chart which is mostly fights with bandits, the enemy, air strikes, etc., with a few rare encounters with neutral animals or monsters.
News and Occurrences
This dog boy does not appear in this adventure.
A major skirmish away from the players is a victory for Hope City's mercenaries, where the Commandoes and Bad Boys take down some of Benford Town's air support. The only real involvement for the PC are the aircraft that pass overhead, and there's a reward if they shoot any foes down as they pass by.
This is the first major battle for the PCs, in which Larsen starts with an air raid, and Braddock responds with artillery and a counterattack. There's a lot of notes here and opportunities for PCs to take an advantageous hill, spot for air strikes, set up ambushes, etc. It notes that things should be in the PCs favor, with support if they need it, but not so much as to make this a pushover. However, the PCs actions won't change much, as it becomes clear that even though it's largely a tie, Benford and Larsen have the edge.
Oh, and psychics will see a giant evil face laughing over the battlefield. Subtle.
It notes that any PC psychics won't be alone - Dog Boys and other psychics will have been sufficiently freaked out by Bighuge Evilface, and there will be a call for an investigation. Of the people involved, Larsen is most likely to want to find out more, but the governments of our two cities don't particularly care.
While on patrol, PCs will find a comatose man on a hill, who has been frightened into severe shock. There's a cave nearby that radiates Vibes of Evil to psychic PCs. If the PCs go on, they'll run into a mass of six clawed tentacles + two legs. It attacks! Roll for initiative.
It's a pretty badass tentacle flower, and has a special attack when it hits where it can drain Mental Endurance (temporarily) from characters, like the scared guy on the hill. There are mostly just other dead bodies in the cave, and stronger Vibes of Evil.
Commanders of the various mercenary groups will be curious and want to find out more, but won't have a lot of manpower to dedicate to the task. Enter the PCs! Adventurous! Skilled! Disposable!
Going further into the cave reveals a group of miners, or rather their corpses. The miners obviously went crazy and killed each other. Spooky! Then the PCs will encounter an open area where there's an evil ghost eye with evil ghost tentacles, who will taunt them about how it's already one, and that the upcoming battle will cause enough death energy for it to eat and be released on Earth. It'll then try and possess PCs, but the save is relatively easy, even though it can take over multiple bodies, and otherwise it'll try and drain their PPE and ISP. Unlike normal combat, only psychic powers can hurt the thing, or alternately astral projection can be used to engage it in astral fisticuffs. (No, really.) Beating it will only dispel it for a few minutes.
There's a small issue here, because it seems very possible that the PCs could defeat it, march off, and think things were resolved and its plot finished. That'd be very bad, as we'll see in the next scene.
The Last Battle
Larsen is getting ready to seize the disputed land, and is ready for an all-out assault, and Braddock is getting ready to counter it. It doesn't really matter who wins, though it's presumed Larsen is likely to be the victor.
Basically, the players are supposed to be tipped off enough by this point to try and stop the battle. It's open-ended as to how they do that, but generally speaking to Larsen and / or Braddock would be the key, or doing a convincing enough open broadcast. The
albino blind old man
will show up to try and spur them on (he turns out to just be a psychic who foresaw the ghost monster's plans) and try and stop the battle ineffectually; it's up to the PCs to do the heavy lifting.
The Price of Failure
If the PCs don't manage to stop the battle, Larsen's Air Castle planes will break through and bomb Braddock's lines, letting him break though and win the battle... at least until the ground breaks open and it's Tentacles Everywhere. A giant unstoppable eye-tentacle monster will show up with (1d4+1) x 1000 of the tentacle flower monsters, and roll over Larsen's (totally unprepared) Brigade. It's presumed that the forces have no chance and will be forced to flee or die, and the eye-thing will start rifting in another 1d6 x 100 monsters an hour until all 50,000 of its servants arrive. It'll make war on everyone, and likely other city-states and the Coalition will be involved pretty quickly.
The Conqueror Alien Intelligence
... is the name of the ghost-eye-tentacle thing. It turns out to have manipulated the conflict by possessing miners and other agents to stoke the flames of war (boy, it would be nice if that were clearer earlier on in the adventure), and is a 100K MDC supernatural powerhouse that can float around and shoot deadly psychic bolts or cast spells like Carpet of Adhesion. Well, giant flypaper
one of the strongest spells in the game. It gains power from death, and so people dying around this thing is supposed to empower it, but there are no actual mechanics for that.In any case, it's pretty much a Bad End for most groups to even consider facing this thing.
The Rewards of Victory
If the PCs stop the battle, they're likely to have Braddock or Larsen or both in their debt. It turns out the mines weren't that big a deal - the find was exaggerated by the Conqueror's possessed minions. The Conqueror will lose its toehold on Earth without the conflict and fade away. Benford Town will go nearly bankrupt due to war debts, Hope City will be struggling, and some mercs will hold a grudge against the PCs due to the loss of their contracts.
There's a note - which I'm pretty sure is by Siembieda -
"No matter what, the Conqueror will remember the characters. One day, it will try to extract revenge.
I wish he'd just shut up and let the PCs enjoy a victory for once.
Also - and it would have been nice to have this mentioned
the adventure - is that the Coalition was also spurring on the war through Dog Boy and cyborg spies in Benford Town. It hoped to both wreck Hope Town and cripple Larsen's Brigade, and if the mercenaries wore each other out, the Coalition was waiting to march in and take over Benford Town. However, if the Conqueror is stopped, the Coalition will actually be satisfied enough with that and leave its spies around to evaluate Benford Town for a future takeover.
This was used as a piece in Palladium ads, has nothing to do with the adventure, but is in there anyway!
And that is
. It's a bit of a mess, but has some promising bits. The best part of the book is that it's the first book to consider military conflicts in
as something more than just banging two toys together. But the problem is that for every promising concept, there's another that's dull or facepalmy. I hate to jab a finger at Siembieda alone, but classes like the Safecracker or sections like the Golden Age Weaponsmiths are the weakest sections of the cool. It's clear, even though his work in this book is rough, Carella is a more consistent and thoughtful writer than we've seen so far in terms of considering all the implications of various supernatural and technological elements, a strength we'll see in the rest of his