One of the greatest strengths of Rifts is the way that the game has leaned fully into the gonzo options and setting. Simply put – you can play anything! While in some games, I can get frustrated with player options that are too broad and off the wall but in Rifts, that is a big part of the game itself. It’s been a while, but if you want to go back and refresh yourself on the general character generation write up at the main Edition Wars: Rifts post click the link.
When we first talked about Rifts, I mentioned the Rifts Conversion Book, now Conversion Book 1, that provided a Rifts set of stats for all sorts of species and creatures to play and fight. I thought I would go with a fun species not often used as a player character option in most games and settled on Minotaurs! We’ll get to the why later, but it involves Rifts and whatnot. Since Ozzie is going to be hanging out with Annie and that crew heading West, they needed a heavy to do some direct combat and I decided to try my hand at a Gunslinger from the Rifts Worldbook 14: New West. You may have noticed that I don’t tend towards the Weird West and Western settings – they just don’t appeal to me – where I am more likely to look at Steampunk and Victorian Fantasy settings like 1879 and Castle Falkenstein. In a trilogy of books, Palladium games deeply expanded the stub of information for the west: Worldbook 13: Lone Star; World Book 14: New West; and World Book 15: Spirit West.
I took the Gunslinger O.C.C. from New West because I wanted to use one of the classes specific to the West that had the special gunfighting Weapon Proficiencies to make him stand out even more than just being another Headhunter, Borg, or Power Armor pilot. The Gunslinger is one of the more reviled of the options compared to the gunfighter and the Marshal both of whom also have access to these abilities but not the feel I want. I also liked the idea of juxtaposing the close quarter urban specialist with the large Minotaur. The Gunslinger O.C.C. is a profession that combines the mercenary tendencies of a bounty hunter with the singular focus and skill on the pistols and one on one shootouts of the Gun Fighter with a nice dash of the seedy underbelly you find in the Gamblers of the West. They are seen as hired assassins and duelists without remorse, which isn’t an unfair view of many of those who follow that profession. Besides, a 9’ Tall bull-headed D-Bee with a Cowboy hat and a blade of wheat between his lips is a pretty *cool* image which fits right in with Rifts’ gonzo everything goes design ethos.
Because Ozzie is Minotaur, the Stat rolls are a bit different this time! Looking at my Conversion Book from the 90s, I.Q. is only 2D6+1 and M.A. 2D6, but P.S. is 5D6, P.P. 4D6, and P.E. 5D6. While the 16-18 result on a 3D6 gets an extra die and 11-12 will get a 2D6 an extra die, I don’t see any written rules and am not comfortable giving 4D6 and 5D6 rolls extra dice even if they max it out. To start with our stat rolls, we have IQ – 8, ME – 17, MA – 7, PS – 20, PP – 23, PE – 25, PB – 16, and Spd – 13. As expected, Ozzie isn’t going to engender a great deal of trust with his low M.A. and isn’t the brightest but he is stout and deceptively quick for his size with that P.P. The Gunslinger O.C.C. just barely qualified because there is an I.Q. of 8 requirement. With the bonus in M.E. and P.B., they become 20 and 21 respectively so that Ozzie is a strikingly good looking humanoid with the head of a bull. As a Minotaur, 2d6x100S.D.C.is a good amount to start (and from internet research, the updated version of the book turned them into minor M.D.C. creatures but I don’t own that version…yet) and a few additional bonuses added in on the sheet.
That gets us the start of the character, but physical skills can modify the starting Physical Attributes. Now let’s look at what the Gunslinger O.C.C. provides in way of Class abilities. The trio of Western books all make some good use of the tropes of the West, and the GUnslinger is no exception. The class abilities are similar to the Gun Fighter in that there is Weapon Proficiency with all handguns, a Quick Draw like additional bonus to initiative, additional attacks per melee as advancing in level using the weapons, and the full suite of 6 Sharpshooting tricks! These include things like a ricochet shot, no penalties when …. Finally, there is a Horror Factor, or Fear Factor, as Gunslingers can intimidate by their very nature and their reputation. I am going to make a call here that since a Minotaur has a Horror Factor to begin with that is higher than a Gunslinger’s, that will apply and I’ll add any bonuses to that number.
The O.C.C. Skills reflect this combination of bravado and mercenary tendencies including skills like Find Contraband and Prowl with Interrogation and Recognize Weapon Quality. Considering Ozzie’s rather larger size, I was not planning on taking Horsemanship for an 800lb Minotaur, but if the Horsemanship skill applies to a Robot Horse then I think that’s the best option! In the Ultimate Edition book, the W.P.s for Revolvers and Automatics were combined into Handguns, but that doesn’t matter for our purposes. For his final two W.P.s, I will select W.P. Axe, because a Minotaur with an Axe is pretty much required until I have a few more of them already floating around, and a longer range weapon even if he doesn’t feel the need to use it often – W.P. E-Rifle.
Now, with only a handful of “Other” skills, we need to be both tactical and character driver because there are very few Secondary Skills. With only 6 to start, I look first to picking up Gymnastics because it will provide a P.P. bonus which also adds to the ability extra Initiative Quick Draw bonus! Looking at his background, I want to make sure I can let him do what he is supposed to do, so Wilderness Survival is appropriate, as is some Gambling and a smattering of related skills like Tailing. For Secondary Skills, the Gunslinger gets only two, and to play up his Minotaur nature, I take running while Wardrobe & Grooming plays into the `Slingers being a bit of a dandy.
The starting equipment in Rifts is rather set in each class, but the choices I will make are going to keep revolving around the New West book and the look and feel from there. As far as armor goes, the Branaghan Armor with M.D.C. Duster is going to give a nice look overall (and let’s be honest – most people who play a wild west, weird west, or related setting want duster armor of some kind). It provides a good amount of protection, layered to over 100 M.D.C. which was an excellent amount before the Heavy Armors got heavier after the Coalition’s War. For weapons, I need to find some derringers, some revolvers, some automatics, and some energy pistols plus one or two more. The Wilks Company is given a major expansion in the New West book with more of their history and products, so the Two-Shot Wilks Derringer is an easy choice. The retro designed “Remi” line also has a 150 “Volcanic” rifle modeled after the 1850 weapon complete with a hoop cocking mechanism to eject the E-clip for an Energy Rifle. Not being a brand loyalist, Ozzie also starts with a Bandito Arms Bandit BigBore Revolver which does a base amount of 1D6 M.D.C. but can also knock down human sized opponent costing them melee actions and initiative. Since Ozzie can dual wield revolvers and energy pistols, this could be a great combination attack using this and the Bandit IP-10 Ion Pistol! While short range compared to other energy weapons, the Ion weapons pack a much bigger punch.
I have the chance, so I am going to give Ozzie a Robotic Horse! WHile it isn’t clear whether you need any skills to actually handle the Robotic Horse, I still give Ozzie Horsemanship even though most horses wouldn’t be able to carry him.
Looking at Page 296-298 of the Rifts Ultimate Edition book, here are the results of the Optional random tables to round out the character:
- Birth Order: Second
- Weight: Average(I’m going to put it a bit on the higher range considering Ozzie’s physical stats)
- Height: Tall (For a Minotaur that means 9’)
- Disposition: Wild man, cocky, overconfident, takes unnecessary risks (as all good Juicers are)
- Family Origin: D-Bee. Parents came through a Rift from another world or dimension 80 years ago (Selected)
- Type of Environment: Wilderness Tribe. A nomadic people who hunter, gathered food, grew some crops, and lived off the land (That actually works well with the whole cow/Minotaur thing going on)
- Sentiments towards Coalition: Suspicious and Fearful of the CS. Sees them as a nation of misguided zealots who hate, fear and destroy what they fear and don’t understand. Wishes that would change
- Sentiments towards Non-Humans:Hates demons, but will give other non-minotaurs the benefit of the doubt. Still, tends to be wary and suspicious of non-minotaurs.
In the Character notes section, these will be worked into Ozzie’s story, but first let’s finish some mechanical work by advancing Ozzie to 7th Level.
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 – Gunslingers get a handful of class advancements, but they are mostly just continued improvements on their starting abilities. The Horror Factor/Awe Factor continues to increase, additional attacks per melee show up when using handguns, and that is about it. Because the Gunslinger starts with a really powerful set of abilities we touched on earlier, especially in a Western setting, there is little additional class abilities they get besides teh incremental improvements already noted.
- Skill Advancements – Gunslingers also have a pretty slow skill advancement compared to some other classes, so this will be both easier and harder to work out! First, there are additional “Other” skills at levels 2, 4, and 6, and two additional “Secondary” skills at levels 3 and 6. Ozzie has a bit of a story before he goes East and ends up in the War on Tolkeen and joining with T-Ball’s Pack, so I will reflect that first few levels of adventuring out West as well as the eventual involvement in the War on Tolkeen in the East. For the Other Skills, I want to add Detect Concealment, Cardsharp, and Boxing. Detect Concealment is an obvious use while learning how to gamble better was “useful” but Boxing is mechanically one of the best skills since it adds another Attack per Melee. The 4 “Secondary” skills I am looking at for character and personality purposes are Lore: Monsters & Vampires from his early time in the West and Mythology and then Whittling & Sculpting as he had little to do but sit around and I.D. Undercover Agents as he had a knack for sniffing out spies. A well rounded set of skills that certainly give a lot of personality!
- Gear Additions – Now here is the fun! What sort of gear can we add to Ozzie to really make him a fun and standout character? I mentioned already that I was going to give him the K-1000 Spider System Rifle but he isn’t the best with it! Instead, he can let it scurry around and use it’s AI to take its own actions, so now the Minotaur Gunslinger in a cowboy hat and duster had an energy rifle that scurries like a spider onto his shoulder. The K-1000 is an impressive piece of hardware mostly because of the A.I and provides a good higher damage option for the longer range as a weapon. Then, with it’s A.I., it can run around on its own and I can see the Robot Horse with the little spider like K-1000 Rifle on its back running around. I also am going to provide him with a CN-1 NetGun from some early tangles with Lone Star – the chance to take someone in alive with a handgun is a great challenge. Ozzie’s Gear is pretty standard, though he does get some additional fancy clothes along the way in different styles but also get some custom upgrades to his armor and to his Robotic Horse including giving the Horse a voicebox! Talking robot horse and the minotaur gunslinger should be easy to imagine a picture for you. If not, take a moment and imagine this.
Ozzie wasn’t born on this Earth. As a Minotaur, Ozzie was born on another Earth in a place called Baalgor where herds of Minotaur would roam. While that world’s future would see a great slaughtering of the Minotaurs, Ozzie’s parents and their small herd ended up being Rifted away to the Earth of Rifts about 80 years ago. Ozzie never knew why his parents insisted on calling him Ozymandius or why the rest of the herd followed his parents – all he knew was what any 40 year old minotaur calf would know. While hiding in the West of the North American continent, the Minotaur parents mostly kept to their old ways, but the few calves that had come through found a new world of potential. Ozymandias was drawn to the settlements they found here – the metal and the clothes were so different from what he remembered from Baalgor … and he liked being big and strong compared to so many others.
The hardest lesson learned was that Minotaurs’ were not trusted by the species here, even worse than at home, and that while they were strong there were demons and monsters that far outpaced the ability of a natural Minotaur. Ozzie saw their herd dwindle but he showed an affinity for not only being a bit of a standoffish and confrontational person, but to do so with a handgun in his hands. The thrill and rush of getting in close to a Rhino-Buffalo before taking the shot and the speed with which these firearms worked left him in awe and his future as a Gunslinger was all but assured. Perhaps if they had not been so feared, he may have become a Gunfighter instead but they needed the money and bounties were easy for him … its a surprise that a 9’ tall Minotaur can sneak up on someone in a town, but lots of people don’t look up. He was making a name for himself when he fell into his first group of adventuring companions.
When you see a Gunslinging, varmint shooting Minotaur Gunslinger roll into town with his Cybercentaur of Ixion friend and their Wendigo Shaman friend, trouble inevitably follows. It was then that Ozzie got his first hand knowledge and experience with Vampires, even having a run in with the legendary Reid’s Rangers while rooting out some Vampire expeditions into Lone Star. They lost a few friends, made some new enemies, but before long they were just run out of town. Again.
Ozzie saw his family one more time, as they continued their nomadic life. By 400 Minotaurs generally settle into a pattern, but at 100 it was time for Ozzie to spread his wings. He had heard that the Coalition as a whole was having some good fights East, as Lone Star had been ramping up their activities and those mutant varmints that looked like they came from the same place he did were getting sent East. He figured it was time to go somewhere new, while the rest of his friends went West out of the reach of Lone Star and the Pecos Empire Warlords’ they had so unceremoniously embarrassed.
Life was hard in the West, but Ozzie discovered a new level of suffering when he rode, quite literally, into a war zone. The Coalition’s War of Unity, as they called it, or the Siege of Tolkeen, as everyone else called it, showed him that the depravity of the Lone Star humans was not limited just to that CS State. It was part and parcel of the ethos of the Coalition States. Being a Gunslinger, the idea of making some credit was high on his mind, but so was doing the right thing. He followed the Code of the West, mostly, and so threw his hat in on the side of Tolkeen. That’s when he met T-Ball, F’arlum, and the rest of the Pack. Without an inclination for military etiquette, Ozzie became a good part of the Pack as they went on different missions for Tolkeen and their allies, but nearly all of them began to feel uneasy as Tolkeen’s arrogance and consorting with foul summoned Demons and Monsters became more apparent. The Sorceror’s Revenge left them all with a bad taste in their mouths, and Ozzie saw it start to break his newfound companions.
As Tolkeen was falling, and the Coalition triumphant, Ozzie got a message … his parents and their herd were in danger. Vampires, you see, were chasing them down – looking for him no doubt. With F’arlum’s turning and Audacious’ death, Ozzie thought it a good time to head home and save his family from marauding vampires. To his surprise, a new herd was coming with him. Annie had seen the Lone star mutants in the field during the Siege on Tolkeen, and Ozzie’s stories drove home that she didn’t know enough about where she and her kind came from so she wanted to head West. Her surrogate father Jorj came along, and a tech head was always useful even if Jorj could get a bit long winded and finally, the Shifter Augustus, who held her own secrets seemed intent on helping use her summoned creatures to destroy these Vampires. They set off, splitting from the remaining pack, and rode West into the setting sun to find new adventures away from the heartache and hurt left at the Siege of Tolkeen.