Welcome back to Edition Wars:Rifts where we are serving up the first of the four new characters as we explore how Rifts has changed over the Editions and years. This week, you have a Cyber-Knight in the form of Lady Siegline. Now, I will be the first to admit that a strapping tall female knight could well have been influenced by Brienne of Tarth played by Gwendolyn Christie on Game of Thrones, but if you can’t find inspiration for characters in popular culture, where will you look?
Cyber-Knights are one of the iconic classes for Rifts, and act as a synthesis between the fantasy and futuristic aspects of the game. They are the class that rode horses, created a psionic sword, and had cybernetic armor implanted on them . . . but as the power creep happened the Cyber-Knights seemed out of place and underpowered. When the Ultimate Edition came out, the Cyber-knights were given the full updates slipped out into the world in the Coalition Wars 4: The Cyber-Knights. Now, the use of the horses made sense, and the ability for Cyber-Knights to gain the reputation they were given arrived. The Cyber-Knights history and tie to Lord Coake was more clearly spelled out, but mechanically they were provided new abilities to make them more formidable. The bonuses, psionics, and skill lists stayed mostly the same, but the Cyber-Armor and the addition of the Cyber-Knight Zen Combat added quite a bit. The Cyber-Armor, previously a static item now, unknown to non Cyber-Knights, would regenerate and increase in strength starting at 4th Level. The Cyber-Knight Zen Combat allows the Cyber-Knight to combat technological foes – a psionic or mystic ability to fight in a way that negates opponent’s technological bonuses as well as granting additional bonuses to the Cyber-knight including Autododge starting at 5th Level! It is hard to overstate just how much this can tilt the odds in the Knight’s favor when the sensor locks are gone, the computer assisted aiming is negated, and the Cyber-knight has a Psi-Sword in each hand opening up the powered armor foes. This even extends to just a single weapon and as it is written the simple +1 Bonus from the well balanced Wilks Laser Rifle would be negated against a Cyber-Knight.
Along with the Psi-Stalker, the Cyber-Knight received the most significant updates and it is probably my favorite. It fits the concept of the Cyber-Knights and provides enough class based power to stand up against the powered armor of the world. Additionally, negating bonuses provided by gear and equipment is a good way to focus on how the Cyber-Knight’s training is what provides this ability – their dedication and training in beyond what others receive. It does add to some record keeping, especially for the G.M., but that isn’t a surprise for Rifts
To start with our stat rolls, we have IQ – 12, ME – 15, MA – 15, PS – 17, PP – 16, PE – 16, PB – 14, and Spd – 10. WIth our bonus rolls, the P.S. becomes 21, the P.P. becomes 18, and the P.E. becomes 20 before we apply the potential bonuses for being a Cyber-Knight and Physical skills. Cyberknights have a special chart to roll on for Psychic power since they are partially chosen to exemplify that and Lady Sieglinde is a Minor Psychic so she gains three Psionic powers aside from the standard list for Cyber-Knights. Rifts also includes Structural Damage Capacity, or S.D.C., to reflect non-life threatening injuries and unless otherwise noted, Ultimate Edition characters start with 12+2d6.
- Cyberknight bonuses – 6 of the 8 Attributes receive an additional 1d4 bonus from the Cyber-Knight training with only I.Q. and P.B. left untouched. Our resulting stats before Physical skills are: IQ – 12, ME – 15, MA – 15, PS – 23, PP – 20, PE – 21, PB – 14, and Spd – 11.
- Psionics – Cyberknights all have the Psionic powers of Psi-Sword and Psi-Shield. The Psi-Sword is the iconic and essential part of their class with even the otherwise non-psionic Knights able to summon this mega damage extension of their will. As a minor psychic, Lady Sieglinde also has three additional powers selected from a specific list (on page 67 of the Ultimate Edition) – See the Invisible, Mind Block, and Resist Fatigue work well.
- Skills – Cyber-Knights are clearly martial characters with their skill list including four Weapon Proficiencies and Hand to Hand Martial Arts amongst the Lore and Languages. While Cyber-Knights have 12 O.C.C. Related skills, two must be physical and three must be Weapon Proficiencies. The remaining, though have few limits as well as the six Secondary skills available. Sword and Staff are pretty easy choices for Weapon Proficiencies and the addition of Boxing and Wrestling to the Physical skills already granted are easy choices as well for their overall utility. This isn’t a quiet or sneaky sort of knight, so I opt for O.C.C. Related skills like Basic Radio and Public Speaking as the latter reflects being a leader in a lot of ways. Combined with Wardrobe and Grooming, Lady Sieglinde can certainly cut a good appearance and lead and inspire warriors. Her Secondary Skills are where you see her life before training as a Cyber-Knight – Lore: Cattle, Animal Husbandry, Whittling, and Carpentry are all things she learned on her family’s farm that she carried through. After we account for all of the advancement skills, I’ll show the final Stat line or just click the link below to the sheet.
- Gear and Armor – First, I give her a revamped version of the Crusader Armor. What was a light and comfortable medium armor in the original edition is now Heavy Armor that makes sense for a Cyber-Knight to have in the Ultimate Edition. I pair this up with the Urban Warrior lighter armor for less combat specific tasks. Weapons start with the Psi-Sword, obviously, but then I add a pair of short staves and a bullwhip for more unusual weapons as well as a good number of throwing knives. Importantly, while Cyber-Knights certainly focus on the knightly combat they do not overlook the need for modern weaponry and so I start her off with a L20 Pulse Rifle. She’ll get more as she advances below, but that is where she started. The assorted gear also includes a first aid kit that will assuredly be needed and a Geiger counter. Otherwise, the equipment is straight forward – until the mode of transportation! While mentioned in the original book, and able to be built if you spent the time in the Sourcebook 1, Robotic Horses came into their own in the World Book 14: New West and since that is an option for Cyber-Knights, you better believe I gave Lady Sieglinde a robotic horse! Specifically, the Bandito Arms RH-1004D Heavy Robot War Horse.
Looking at Page 18 of the Rifts First Edition book, here are the results of the Optional random tables to round out the character:
- Birth Order: Last Born;
- Weight: Average (probably a lot stouter once all those physical skills are applied);
- Height: Tall;
- Disposition: Gung Ho. Guts and glory type who sees himself [herself] as a hero and enjoys tackling obstacles, challenges, and participating in combat; Family Origin: Earth native. Character is human;
- Type of Environment: Agricultural; farm or ranch (perfect!);
- Sentiments towards Coalition: Dislike and Distrust the Coalition. Well informed and know a lot about the CS’s philosophies, laws, and activities, and they seem to be pretty unjust if not outright evil;
- Sentiments towards Non-Humans: Treats all sentient beings with the utmost respect and courtesy until they prove undeserving of it. Has a high regard for life and personal freedom.
Advancement in Palladium is a straightforward affair as a level and class based system. The main improvements that occur are in the skill percentages and Hit Point increases. Additionally, as a character advances, additional skills may be learned as both the Other Skills and Secondary Skills, though they start at 1st level when they are acquired. There is some expectation that gear and equipment will also increase in power, especially as the books that come out do have better equipment, but there is not a mechanical measure of the “level” of equipment like some other games.
- Class Bonuses – I’ve already talked about the Cyberzen combat against technology that the Cyberknight has in the Ultimate Edition and the increases that came along with it to 7th Level. Additionally, the Cyber-Knight sees an increase in their Cyber Armor. As you may have noticed, power creep increased a lot of the armor and damage values over the years and with the expansion of the Cyber-Knight Lore the armor now grows with them as they increase in experience starting at Fourth level adding 1d6 M.D.C. per level. It also regenerates so long as the Cyber-Knight stays alive.
- Skill Advancements – As I’ve got Lady Sieglinde written into the War on Tolkeen, a lot of her additional learned skills will revolve around how she advances as a Knight surrounded by soldiers. At 3d Level, she learned Military Etiquette and Electronic Countermeasures while working with an organized military force. At 5th Level, a Cyber-Knight adds 3 more Weapon Proficiencies as well as 2 Secondary Skills. With Fencing already a skill acquired, W.P. Quick Draw, Grappling Hook, and Military Heavy Weapons seem like good fits. She has gotten better and radying her weapons, having to get over fortifications instead of just charging through them, and offering support to her fellow troops. As far as Secondary Skills, I think a Lore: Magic pick up is appropriate for nearly anyone who fights in the Coalition War of Unity/War on Tolkeen and since as a Cyber-Knight she already has Lore: Demons & Monsters, I add Astronomy & Navigation for staring at the stars. Finally, at Level 6, I add Physical Laborer from the work fortifying the Tolkeen areas against the Coalition and the Trap & Mine Detection!
- Gear Additions – Cyber-Knights are not likely to add much in the way of gear, especially as their Psi-Sword gets more powerful as they advance but that doesn’t mean Lady Siegline lacks some additional equipment. I have added a Kittani Plasma Sword from World Book 2: Atlantis that she will have taken off of a Splugorth reconnaissance party as well as a fancy suit of Technowizard Armor. The armor is a plate as heavy as the Crusader Heavy Plate, but weights magically less, has mystical optics that can be turned on like See Auras and Detect Concealment as well as Breathe without Air enchantment. Also, a missile launcher for big booms.
Some things still hold true, even on Rifts’ Earth, and the midwestern farm girl is one of them. Lady Sieglinde was born Martha well after the cataclysm and on an area of the North American continent far enough away to avoid the rise of the Coalition to the East, the Xitixic to the North, and the Vampire kingdoms to the South. Pure luck that a strong and strapping girl was born as the youngest of her family. A lot of siblings was normal, as the more people to work the farm and protect the area against monsters and bandits the better. It just so happened that Martha was someone who wouldn’t back down and tended to jump up first when her brothers were in trouble.
It should come as no surprise that this exceptional and daring young lady would be so exceptional as to be drawn to the Cyber-Knights, or perhaps they were drawn to her. When Sir Callum saved her homestead from a bit of a monster incursion, she had taken up arms to help as little as she was. This caught his attention, and so the storybook tale continued. The young child with a heart and potential is taken from a farm to train as a knight, and so Martha trained. Over the next 6 years she was a squire learning the training of the Cyber-Knight in the physical and the mental – her mind was steeled even further than her body. She became the example of a Crusading Cyber-Knight – her Psi-Sword awoke and she was a full Cyber-Knight trained in the precepts of honor and Chivalry; able to care for not only herself but her mount; showing respect to all who she found in her life.
While Callum may have been a bit of a Courtier, as his kind of knights are called, Lady Siegline was a Crusader through and through – she saw and required a challenge and goal to quest after. She rode a robotic horse given to Callum when they had ventured south to fight Vampires and had seen parts of the world she never knew existed. Her name was taken from old pre-Apocalyptic lore of a Valkyrie swooping down to avenge the fallen, as she was want to do – something Callum called a ‘Vagner cycle’, but that matters not. She found meaning in her ability to save people from the predations of a monster from the Rifts, their fellows, Vampires, and the Coalition. She saw the Coalition embody everything that she had come to revile in her fellows – the fear, close mindedness, and aggression left little beautiful behind. This is why she followed other Cyber-Knights to break with Lord Coake’s advice and side with Tolkeen as the Coalition States bore down.
In the war, she was broken in many ways. Her Crusade and quest to fight against the Coalition had led her to fight on a side that called and used the same demons she fought. She saw the Sorcerer’s Revenge, and the scorching of the Earth and surrendered troops, and it filled her with fear. She was afraid she didn’t know what to fight for anymore. She had spent years fighting for people and for their freedom and life together. She had fought against tyranny and wanton death. It was all she could do to not give in a Fall.
On the precipice of becoming a Fallen Knight, she witnessed F’arlum’s turn to the darkness within while T-Ball and the rest fought a Coalition Patrol. She saw a Juicer give his life, how little and intense was left, for his friend. She saw the humanity of the rest and it moved her. She came riding down a hill, swooping in once more, to save the day and turn the tide of the battle after Audacious was dead, T-Ball all but blown to smithereens, and F’arlum turned on the rest. She and Mikal shared a story about the Neemans and the Republicans who may yet live in the land called DeeCee.
If anyone can help find a way to right a moral compass, and help accomplish the greater goal of stopping the Coalition’s ride, these would be the people or creatures who could. She knew where Annie, a proud Dog Boy, would lead half this pack – to the land of Lone Star and the Pecos Empire. She wanted away from the Coalition States for now, and knowing what Augustus is, left the Vampires to them. T-Ball came along towards DeeCee, similarly shaken in herself as Sieglinde was shaken in her cause, with Mikal leading the way and Carpaneus for no reason other than “It Amuses Me to See You Strive So, Mortals”. Mind Melters … what are you going to do?
In this quest East, can Sieglinde find a way back to her Crusading ways, or will she lose hope and become another Fallen Cyber-Knight who saw the world break her hope.