Let's Learn Savage Rifts

Much in the vein of my previous Let’s Learn posts, let us now turn our attention to the gonzo: Savage Rifts.

For those not aware, Rifts (made by Kevin Siembieda in 1990 with new books still being published by Kevin to this day) is arguably the original fantasy kitchen sink of tabletop RPGs, where the game takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth beset by the titular interplanar rifts leading to the other worlds where the monstrous and fantastical have flooded through. Magic and high technology exist side-by-side, meaning a not-too atypical party of adventurers in this sort of game can consist of a psychic pyromancer (called a Burster), a baby dragon (a Dragon Hatchling, though don’t let the name fool you, they are still ~15-20 long and weigh around 7 tons), someone in Fallout-esk power armor (known as a Glitter Boy due to the sheen of the armor’s anti-laser coating), and a super-soldier who is three days from exploding in a ball of toxic drugs and violence (known as Juicers). Meanwhile your foes include (to quote the Blues Brothers) Illinois Nazis (the Coalition), the enslaved minions of god-like aliens who have taken over the freshly returned to Earth Atlantis (the Splugorth), literal demons, and anyone who thinks they can take you in a fight and loot your corpse.

To get into the nitty-gritty and why I’m not bringing up playing Rifts, Rifts and all of Palladium’s games are based on a rule set that are themselves based on Kevin’s house-rules for AD&D, and even plays a heavily house ruled version of the game (which he refused to share, which probably means there’s a least some “making it up as he goes,” which isn’t horrible but is telling about the playability of the ruleset). The books are wild are wild with no editor in sight, so delve into whatever Kevin thought was cool at the time. But for all the mess of miss-matched systems, rule-of-cool plotlines, and general weirdness, there is something compelling about the game. It is, as some have described it, an awesome game to read a wiki about, but God help you if you decide to play it. And because I don’t want you all to learn that madness (and neither do I), let us turn to…

In 2016, Great White Games (makers of Savage Worlds, a pulpy TTRPG) licensed Rifts and adapted the game to Savage Worlds, creating what is now known as Savage Rifts. While Savage Worlds has its own flaws (as all TTRPGs do) Savage Rifts quickly became a favorite among people looking to experience Rifts without having to deal with 30 years of kludge.

In addition to a new ruleset, Savage Rifts introduced a player friendly intro to the world of Rifts: the Tomorrow Legion. A much needed addition in my opinion, the Legion is a volunteer force of adventurers, mercenaries, and defenders looking to protect any who need it from the chaotic monsters of the Rifts, the encroaching Coalition, the tyranny of the Federation of Magic, and the hungry lords of the Vampire Kingdoms. An excellent patron for any group of adventurers.

So with all this in mind, let us dive into the world of Savage Rifts and see what it takes to play…

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As we went over in the last post, there are so many options for characters in the world of Rifts. Now I love a wizard and we’ve got many options: the iconic Leyline Walker, the psychic Mind Melter, and if we go further afield, the Battle Magus and Combat Mage. But instead I will be choosing Rifts’ equivalent of a D&D Cleric: the Mystic.

Mystics are enlightened spellcasters, able to combine the powers of magical energies (via their Miracles) and psychic forces (via their Psionics). This gives them a wide variety of powers and the unique ability to swap PPE (magical power) for ISP (psychic power) and vise versa, giving them far more staying power than other spellcasters. They are also driven by their faith, not necessarily in a deity or religion but perhaps in an ideal or concept. To this end, I think our Mystic will cleave to the path of Unity: that cooperation and diversity are stronger than strife and violence. That isn’t to say that our Mystic is a pacifist, Rifts Earth is far too dangerous for such a path, but they hope to make a world where such a concept is possible.

Turning to page 14 of the Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide, we see the nine steps that we need to take in order to make a character.

Let’s start off with the first: selecting a race. I don’t want to get too into the weeds at this point (Rifts has many options to play as fantastical creatures, usually referred to as Dimensional Beings or D-Bees), so we’re just going to pick a Human. Being Human grants us a bonus Novice Edge of our choice. Since we’d don’t know what we’re going for quite yet, we’ll hold onto that and make use of it when the opportunity presents itself.

Next, we want to choose an Iconic Framework. We already know we want a Mystic, so we’re going to note down all the bonuses and hinderances that grants us. If you’re following along, you can already see we’re getting a lot of Edges, Skills, and Hindrances. We’ll worry about the Skills later when we get to that section and focus on the Edges. The major ones are the two Arcane Backgrounds, Miracles and Psionics. Each has us choosing three powers from their respective lists. For Miracles, we’ll choose barrier, bolt, and protection. For Psionics, we’ll choose empathy, healing, and mind link. This should give us a variety of offensive, defensive, and utility abilities and fits the idea of someone who wants to bolster unity between different groups.

While most of the rest of our Edges, Abilities, and Complications are fairly static and don’t require us to make a decision, Higher Standard asks us to pick a Hinderance to represent our faith: either Code of Honor, Major Pacifist, Major Vow, or something similar. I think we’ll go with Code of Honor. Our Mystic is not a pacifist and I cannot think of a good vow to represent our duty to Unity, but a Code of Honor shows that our character is dedicated to the ideal and is looking to teach by example.

Once we’ve finished there, it’s time to roll on the Hero’s Journey tables. These are bonuses to show how our character’s previous adventures have had an effect on them. The tables you roll on are determined by your Framework, so let’s see what the Mystic gives us. Our first roll is on either the Enchanted Items & Mystic Gadgets, Experience & Wisdom, or Magic & Mysticism tables. Let’s go with the Experience & Wisdom table, which gives us a roll of a 3 and the Strong-Willed edge. Our second roll is on any table except Cybernetics, so let’s try Magic & Mysticism. We roll another 3, giving us the Concentration edge. We add both our new edges to our sheet and move on to the new step, Hinderances.

By selecting Hinderances, we can get several bonuses such as increased Attributes, additional Edges, or extra Skill Points. We’re limited in taking up to 4 points of Hindrances, with Minor Hinderances being worth 1 point and Major Hinderances being worth 2 points. Looking over the list, I think we want to go with Loyal, Mild-Mannered, and Shamed (minor). Loyal represents our connection to the concept of Unity, while Mild-Mannered represents our character’s peaceful attitude hinders any threat they might try. Finally for Shamed, I’m thinking about the Federation of Magic: a major faction within the world of Rifts ruled over by Lord Alistair Dunscon. While it once appeared that the Federation was a bastion for magic users and D-Bees, it slowly become obvious that Lord Dunscon is just another petty tyrant and warlord and that promises of the Federation were lies. Perhaps our Mystic was once drawn in by these lies and worked for the Federation for a time before realizing their deception. I like it.

Now with the points from these Hinderances, we can either use them now to boost some of our stats or hold onto them to turn them into Edges or Skill Points. Since we have two different spellcasting abilities, I think we’ll pump all these points into boosting their linked-attributes, boosting our Smarts and Spirit by one die type each (more on this in a minute).

Now let’s dive into Attributes. All our Attributes start at d4 (except where boosted by our race, framework, or from bonuses from hinderances, which is what we took) and we get 5 points to raise them, each point boosting that Attribute by a die size (d4 > d6 > d8, etc). Since we’ve already boosted our Smarts and Spirit to d6’s, let’s boost them again to d8s, and then spend out remaining points making our other stats d6s. This gives us a final stat line of Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6. Fairly balanced, which will help us with Skills.

Much like with Attributes, we spend points to raise our Skills. However, most skills start at untrained, meaning we need to spend points to even have a d4 in the first place. The exceptions to this are the Athletics, Common Knowledge, Notice, Persuasion, and Stealth skills, which all start at a d4 as they are so common that everyone should have them at some basic level. Additionally, our Mystic Framework started us with a d6 Faith and d6 Psionics. We then have 15 points to boost out skills. Raising a skill that is below its associated Attribute only costs one point, but raising it above that threshold costs 2 points. We’re not going to worry about boosting our skills above our attributes, so we take our 15 points and our skills look like this at the end: Academics d4, Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d8, Faith d8, Fighting d4, Notice d8, Occult d4, Persuasion d8, Psionics d8, Research d4, Shooting d6, Stealth d4.

With Skill complete, we’re almost done. We need to select our bonus edge from selecting Human, which we’ll go with Common Bond, which will let us spend our Bennies (a token that grants several benefits) on behalf of our allies. A fitting choice for our Unity-focused Mystic. We then need to note down our gear and derived stats.

For gear, we get the normal starting gear pack, but instead of usual armor Mystical gives us Adventure Survival Light Armor, a Techno-Wizard (TW) item. TW items have special properties when used by people who have PPE (which our Mystic has from their Miracles). This one grants +2 vs. all Hazards, which will be useful on our adventures. Additionally, the armor gives 4 armor and 1 toughness. Both add to our Toughness score, but only armor can be bypassed by armor piercing.

Turning to our Toughness, it’s time to calculate. It starts with a Base of 2, half our Vigor die (3), our Armor (4), and any additional toughness (1 from our armor as well). This gives us a Toughness of 10, not the worst, but we’re going to want to supplement that with our Protection power whenever a fight starts.

We also want to determine our Parry. For our Mystic, it’s simple: 2 + half our Fighting die (2). Other folks will have bonuses from Edges and gear, but our Mystic is not one of them. All the most reason to turtle up when possible.

Finally, we need to give this character a name. I usually make use of a name generator for inspiration and one of the first options was Isaac Best which I just liked too much to pass up. With that completed, we now have a finished character, which you can see here.

Now that we have a character, let’s see about how he plays…

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As stated earlier, Savage Rifts introduced a new patron for adventures in Rifts Earth: The Tomorrow Legion. One part volunteer army, one part explorers, and one part outreach program, the Tomorrow Legion makes good, typical sponsor for adventures. From their headquarters in Castle Refuge (formerly Fortress Ozark, in what was pre-Rifts Southwest Missouri near Branson), the Tomorrow Legion dispatches their forces to supply and support their allies, explore uncharted territory in search of supplies and new potential allies, and (as is important for today’s adventure) make offers of alliance with other powerful forces.

As we start off this adventure, Isaac has been called in by his superiors within the Legion for an outreach mission. Apparently Plato, a great dragon and leader of the allied city of Lazlo, had detected the recent hatching of another dragon. Normally their kind does not make good first impressions with one another and Plato had hoped that the Tomorrow Legion could reach out to the hatchling and offer aid to it until it came of age (which will take a couple hundred years). As a Mystic, Isaac is highly qualified to track down and negotiate with a supernatural creature like a dragon. Since it is dangerous to go alone, the Legion is pairing him with Wilderness Scout named Chawny (Another player character, whose stats you can see here. Chawny is built around the MARS [Mercenary, Adventurers, Rogues, and Scholars] Framework, meaning he starts as a Seasoned character instead of a novice like Isaac).

After getting a bit of information on where the Dragon Hatchling may be, Isaac and Chawny head out to cross the Ozarks and track them down.

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Journeys are a mechanic Savage Worlds uses to handle long periods of travel. During a Journey, members of the party take on roles to help protect the group against mishaps and dangerous encounters. There are two critical roles (Navigator and Lookout) and two optional roles (Pilots, required for each vehicle, and Scouts).

For this Journey, Chawny will be taking the role of Navigator while Isaac will be on Lookout. Their intel points them to a location about 60 miles northeast of Castle Refuge. Each segment of travel is done in 6 hour, 12 mile increments. Nearby Castle Refuge, the pair will be able to travel for 12 hours a day, but once they are outside the relative safety of the Castle (about 25 miles) they will only be able to safely travel for 6 hours day.

During each day of travel, we will be drawing from a standard deck of cards (Jokes included). We’ll keep using this deck of cards throughout the rest of the encounters and it will only get reshuffled whenever a Joker is drawn. During a Journey, we only care if a Face card or a Joker is drawn.

Starting things off at the Castle, Chawny will roll a Survival check to fulfill his Navigator role. An important note, unless otherwise specified the target number for all checks is 4. To roll for this check, Chawny will take a d8 (his Survival skill die) and a d6 (as a player character, Chawny is a Wild Card and Wild Cards always roll a d6 as a “Wild Die” on Trait checks) and take the higher of the two. Additionally, if Chawny rolls the highest number on a die, he can reroll that die and add his new roll to the previous one (sometimes called exploding). This can continue until Chawny no longer rolls the highest number possible.

Chawny rolls his two dice and gets a 4 and 5. Neither explodes, but this meets the target of 4 and so succeeds. By succeeding, Chawny ensures that the group is heading in the correct direction.

Isaac meanwhile will roll Notice for his roll as a Lookout. Like Chawny, Isaac has a d8 Notice and d6 Wild Die. Rolling the dice, Isaac gets an 8 and a 2! Because he rolled an 8, Isaac gets to roll again, getting a 5 and giving him a total of 5 (the initial 8 + the 5 roll). Since this roll exceeded the target by 4 or more, it is said to gotten a Raise. (Get used to the poker terms, folks. They’re going to keep coming.) While sometimes additional Raises matter (in the case, since Isaac rolled a 12 or above he has two Raises) it does in this case. A success here means that we are drawing Encounter cards as normal, while a Raise means that Chawny and Isaac cannot be ambushed during this encounter.

Now that we’ve done our rolls for our group, we’ll draw our Encounter card. It is an 8 of Clubs, meaning no encounter along this segment of the Journey. Since it was not a Joker, we discard the 8 which thins out the possible results we can get going forward.

Pushing on through the day, Chawny and Isaac go for a second 6 hours of travelling before they make camp for the night. Again we roll for the their rolls: Chawny succeeds with a Raise giving Isaac a +1 bonus on his roll, which is good because Isaac rolled a 3 and a 1, upgraded to a 4 and 2, just barely making the target.

We draw the Encounter for this segment, getting a Queen of Diamonds. Since this is a Face card there will be an encounter, and the Diamond suit means that it is Treasure. We’ll say that the pair have run across a downed Coalition air transport, a not uncommon sight in these parts with supplies being shipped back and forth between CS Missouri and CS Lonestar.

Chawny will take the lead here with his Athletics while Isaac supports to see if they can salvage anything worthwhile from the wreckage. Isaac rolls a 5 on his Athletics, giving Chawny a +1 on his roll. Chawny gets an 8 (With Isaac’s bonus. Unfortunately, since he didn’t roll a natural 8 on his d8, no exploding here.) giving his success with a raise. We draw from the deck to see what the find is and get a 10 of diamonds and 7 of spades. We take the highest of these and determine that Chawny and Isaac are able to scrounge 10,000 Universal credits worth of material. Not immediately useful, but still a nice find. By the time they are finished, it is very dark and a good time to setup camp for the night. This downed aircraft should protect them from the elements and give them a modicum of protection from any predators, so they do so here.

The next day, it’s going to much slower going. They are now on the border of Tomorrow Legion and CS territory and one wrong step could put them face to face with a Coalition patrol who will not be too friendly with a D-Bee like Chawny or a spellcaster like Isaac.

Speeding through this part of the journey, they don’t run into any further encounters (getting a 2 of clubs, 4 of hearts, and 6 of spade) eventually narrowing in on where the dragon hatchling was supposed to be location. Chawny leads the way with Isaac’s support, getting success (6, 2). Much to their surprise, they don’t run into a dragon hatchling, but instead a Cyber-Knight and a person wrapped in a blanket.

To see what this pair’s initial reaction to Chawny and Isaac is, we’re going to roll 2d6 and consult the Reaction table on page 33 of the Savage Worlds Adventurers Edition book. Because Chawny has the Bad Reputation Hinderance and for other reasons that we’ll get to later, the result is going to be two steps worse than it normally would be. We roll a total of 8, which would be Neutral, but because of the two steps worse, it’s Unfriendly.

“Hold there,” the Cyber-Knight calls from across the clearing, raising their hand high to call for both sides to stop. “Come no closer and we’ll have no problems. Do not test my patience.”

Thinking something is up, Isaac makes use of his Spiritual Awareness to scan the pair. Since this is an innate ability, it is a Free Action and has its cost reduced from its limitations. Isaac rolls Psionics succeeds (5, 6), spends 1 ISP (19/20 ISP), and clearly sees that the person in the blanket is a supernatural creature. The dragon hatchling they are looking for in human guise? Possibly!

To Isaac’s surprise, Chawny gives him a look that says he wants to take this one. Isaac steps aside and lets the Ogre handle things.

“Oy,” Chawny rumbles in stilted Dragonese, “we mean you harm Atlantean. We are from the Tomorrow Legion. We seek a dragon hatchlin’ on behalf of Lord Plato of Lazlo.”

Because of Chawny’s Charmingly Fluent, he gets a +1 on Persuasion rolls when speaking to someone in their native tongue. Chawny knows Dragonese and, as part of his time as Splugorth slave, recognizes a True Atlantean when he sees one. He also can off-set the penalty from earlier to move the Cyber-Knight and the Dragon Hatchling back a Neutral Reaction before his roll. Since his Persuasion is intended to influence someone, this is going to be an opposed roll versus the Atlantean Cyber-Knight.

Chawny rolls Persuasion and get a 3 and 5. Feeling this isn’t enough, Chawny spends one of his Bennies (players start each session with 3 Bennies) to re-roll his Persuasion and gets a 4 and an 8. If he’s rolled lower than his 5, he still would have kept his best roll, but this should be pretty good.

The Atlantean rolls their Spirit to resist and gets a pair of 5’s. This means Chawny succeeds, improving the Atlantean and Dragon Hatchling’s attitude towards Cooperative.

After a moment’s consideration and a look from their companion, the Cyber-Knight nods and lowers their hand.
”Very well,” they call, “let us speak as gentlefolk. You may approach.”

Introductions are made. The other group are Kiln, an Atlantean Cyber-Knight, and Kazekawa, the newly born dragon hatchling. Apparently Kiln had senses the power of the dragon and, much like the Legion, intended to see them taken care of until they had their legs under them. Kiln has sworn to see after Kazekawa’s safety, but will not stop them from making their own decisions.

Kazekawa, new born that they are despite their adult human guise, is excited at the idea of meeting new people at Castle Refuge and someday, when they are ready, meet the elder dragon Plato.

Just as things are looking like things are coming to a head, there is a disturbance at the edge of clearing.

There is a snap of branches and then a voice shouts “We’ve got a group of D-Bees! Skelebots, waste them!”

It looks like a Coalition patrol has happened across the group and they are unlikely to be friendly with a D-Bee, an obvious Cyber-Knight, and someone who looks to be spellcaster. A fight is the only possible outcome here, which we’ll see next time.

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So we are going to set this fight up on a forest clearing map I got from 2 Minute Tabletop, cropped down to a manageable 27x18 inch grid.

As you can see, we’ve got three groups of enemies: the first (closest to our heroes) is a mixed group of a single Coalition Grunt and five Skeletons, then we have another group of four Skelebots, and finally a group of four Coalition Grunts. We’re going group these for ease of use and call them Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3 (in the same order I called them out).

We also have our heroes. Like Isaac and Chawny, Kiln and Kazekawa both have character sheets. To start off, each of our heroes will be drawing a card from the deck to serve as their initiative. Initiative goes in descending order with ties broken in the order Spades > Hearts > Diamonds > Clubs (which is, as the book helpfully points out, reverse alphabetical order). Chawny gets a King of Diamonds, Isaac gets a 7 of Diamonds, Kiln gets a 4 of Diamonds, and Kaze gets a 7 of Hearts. Chawny also has the Quick edge, which means if he had drawn a 5 or lower, he could have discarded and drawn a new card.

We then move on to the enemies where Group 1 gets a 4 of Spades, Group 2 gets a Queen of Clubs, and Group 3 gets a Joker. The Joker is special for initiative. Drawing it means you can go at any point during the turn you want and you get +2 to all Trait and damage rolls this round! Bad news for our heroes.

Group 3 will decide to go first and will move up behind Group 1. Moving your Pace does not count as an action (important for when we get to Multi-Actions later on), so they will use their actions to fire on the group. As Kazekawa is the only human looking enemy at the moment, the Coalition Grunts will focus on the D-Bees and spellcaster, with two firing at Kiln, and one each at Chawny and Isaac.

The first shot against Kiln hits, but then fails to deal damage. Rolling the weapon’s 4d6 damage dice, they get a total of 13 (2 + 1 + 5 + 3 + 2 from the Joker) which, even with the weapon’s 3 Armor Piercing, fails to overcome Kiln’s 18 Toughness. The second grunt however hits and manages to match Kiln’s Toughness with a 15 (4 + 3 + 5 + 1 + 2 from the Joker) due to the 3 Armor Piercing dropping Kiln’s 18 Toughness down to 15. This results in Kiln being Shaken. While Shaken, Kiln can only take Free Actions and if they would become Shaken again, they instead take a Wound!

The shot against Chawny hits and cause him to become Shaken.

The shot against Isaac, however, hits with 3 Raises! This would cause him to become Shaken and take 3 Wounds, which is all he has. Instead, Isaac will spend one of his Bennies in order to try to Soak the damage. A soak roll is a Vigor roll where each success and raise reduces the number of Wounds received to 0, he also ignores the Shaken condition. Isaac, unfortunately, only gets a 4 which does reduce the number of Wounds from 3 to 2, but he’s still going to be Shaken. This wraps up Group 1.

Chawny is the next to go and, not wanting to be Shaken and miss his turn, spends a Benny to immediately recover from Shaken. Even if he’s taken a Wound, spending a Benny this way removes the Shaken, no questions asked.

Readying his JA-11 Energy Rifle, Chawny knows that Group 2 is going next and wants to try and eliminate as many of them as possible. In order to do this, Chawny is declaring that he is going to take three actions, all of which are to first his rifle. Whenever you take a mult-action like this, you take a -2 penalty on all Trait rolls for each action you declare you are taking after the first. You need to declare all your actions upfront and if you can no longer take one of the actions you declared earlier, you don’t get to change them after the fact. You also cannot take any Limited actions more than once. With this in mind, Chawny is going to take a -4 to each of his Shooting rolls.

Chawny is lucky on the first roll and gets a 6 after his -4 penalty, hitting the first Skelebot. A damage roll of 19 with 4 AP is enough to get a hit with a raise, enough to inflict a Wound. As an Extra, the Skelebot only has three damage states: Healthy, Shaken, and Defeated, meaning this first one has been eliminated.

The second shot hits with a raise, which will give Chawny a bonus 1d6 on his damage roll for this attack. With that he gets a staggering 25 (3 + 3 + 6 +4 +5 + 4) which eliminates another Skelebot.

The final shot hits as well, but with only a 13 on damage he’ll only manage to Shake that Skelebot. This wraps up Chawny’s turn quite successfully.

Group 2 now goes. The first Skelebot who was Shaken will try to remove the condition. This a free action at the start of their round and, if they can succeed a Spirit roll, they can take their turn as normal. Unfortunately, even with a d4 Spirit, their Construct trait granting them a +2 to recover from Shaken manages to put them right at 4 with their roll.

Since Chawny had to move up to target them, he seems like the best target and so both Skelebots will focus on him. Fortunately both manage to miss, meaning Chawny is safe for now.

Isaac and Kaze both draw 7’s but as stated before, Hearts come before Diamonds in the initiative order, meaning Kazekawa will act first. Kaze will move in front of Isaac, drop his blanket, and dismiss his Limited Metamorphosis to return to his Dragon form. As a Size 7 Dragon, Kazekawa is now a 3x3 sized token and provides cover for the downed Isaac.

Also, because all the baddies are bunched up, Kazekawa decides he is going to use his Fire Breath as a Cone Attack against them. Best he can do is all of Group 3 and 3 of the Skelebots from Group 1, so that’s who he’s targeting. Rolling his Athletics, Kaze gets a 7 meaning the attack hits and does not deviate. The seven baddies in the cone all try to Evade (an Agility roll at -2) but only two Grunts and 1 Skelebot manage to do so. Unfortunately, take means they are only taking 3d6 Mega Damage from this attack, as opposed to the other taking 4d6 Mega Damage.

Let’s talk about Mega Damage for a minute. Some attacks are called out as doing Mega Damage. This does two things: first it allows the damage to be effective against MDC (Mega Damage Capacity) Armor, and secondly if you successfully deal damage to someone without MDC Armor with a Mega Damage attack, in addition to Wounds you also roll on the Injury Table (Savage Worlds Adventurer Edition [aka SWADE], page 95) to suffer additional penalties. All this to say is the MDC Armor is very, very good and you should try to get some.

Back with the Coalition Forces, the ones who succeeded are only taking 10 damage and will only be sizzled, but the others take 20! That will eliminate the Coalition Grunts and Shake the Skelebots who did not evade.

Also, because I forgot it earlier when Kazekawa transformed, everyone needs to check against their Fear. Even Kazekawa’s allies are not immune to this (but they will quickly become Jaded to its effect if they continue to travel with the Hatchling) so let’s start with them. Fortunately, all of them make it (even Isaac with a -2 from his Wounds, offset by his Strong-Willed edge). The same back not be said for the Coalition Forces. The Skelebots are immune to Fear from their Construct trait, but one of the three Grunts (the one with Group 1) failed. This means we roll on the Fear Table (SWADE, page 124), getting an 8, which makes them Vulnerable until the end of their turn (Actions and attacks made against them are at +2).

After Kaze, it is Isaac’s turn. He’s going to try and roll against Shaken. Rolling two 1’s, Isaac has two options: either spend a Bennie to remove Shaken and take his turn as normal, or only be able to take free actions this turn. Given the large amount of enemies still facing them, Isaac will spend his Bennie and remove Shaken.

Given how badly Isaac was shot up, he needs some extra protection. For his turn, Isaac is going to take two actions: cast Protection on himself and cast Bolt at the vulnerable Coalition Grunt. Because of his 2 wounds and taking 2 actions, Isaac will be at -4 for both actions. Fortunately, the Bolt spell will get a +2 from the Vulnerable on the Grunt.

As Isaac casts his Protection spell, he has several optional modifiers he could add to it. Since his Toughness is only a 10 and the Protection will only add an additional 2 points of Armor, Isaac is going to go big and add on Greater Protection. This will not stack with his existing armor (only giving him a Toughness of 11) but will be MDC armor, making him immune to the Coalition’s small arms fire. Rolling his Faith, the best Isaac can manage is a 1 (-2, 1), meaning the spell is wasted. Fortunately, this was not a Critical Failure (where both dice roll a natural 1) or else Isaac would have suffered Fatigue (1 from all Trait rolls) and instead of spending all 4 PPE he would have if he’s cast the spell, he only spends 1 PPE.

As for the Bolt, Isaac also fails that roll with a 3 and a 1, just barely missing it. Again, Isaac loses 1 PPE (putting him at 13/15 PPE and 19/20 ISP).

With the rest of his turn, Isaac will move to take cover behind Kazekawa.

Group 1 now goes (since they have Spade, beating Kiln’s Diamond). Two of the Skelebots are Shaken, so they roll to remove. Both succeed. Now presented with a tremendously dangerous foe, the Skelebots, switch their Laser Rifles over to Heavy Pulse mode (decrease Rate of Fire to 1, uses three shots, +3 to damage, adds the Snapfire and Mega Damage qualities) and fire. Because Kazekawa is so massive, each Skelebot gets +6 to hit (the difference in size).

The first hits with a raise, doing 27 damage. Not enough to scratch Kazekawa’s massive 36 Toughness even with 4 AP.

The second hits with 3 raises (17), doing 23 damage (regardless of the number of raises, you only get +1d6 bonus damage total).

The third hits with a raise, getting 30 damage which almost pierces Kaze’s hide.

The fourth hits with 2 raise doing only 19 damage, as does the fifth.

As you can see, it is going to take a massive hit to rock Kazekawa.

Finally it is Kiln’s turn. As an Innate Ability (a free action at the start of their turn; read about those on page 68 of the Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide, they’re cool) Kiln is going to try to boost their Fighting skill with Boost Ability. As a free action this doesn’t count against their Multi-Action Penalty. They roll their Psionics, getting an 11 on their Wild Die, which succeeds with a raise. This both gives them 2 die size increased to their Fight skill instead of just 1 (boosting it from a d8 to a d12) but also makes the ability not cost any ISP due to their Channeling edge!

Unlike most characters, Kiln has a Pace of 8 (due to their First into Battle Cyber-Knight ability) which gives them enough to get up to one of the Coalition Grunts, but not enough to give in with Skelebots, so they will Run. Running allows you to roll your Running die (usually a d6, but Kiln has a d10 from First into Battle) in exchange for a -2 to all actions this turn (just like the Multiaction penalty, but this doesn’t count against your max of three actions during a turn. Using their extra 10 squares of moment (yeah, they rolled max) Kiln will move in the midst of two of the Skelebots and the remaining Grunt from Group 1 and summon their Psi-Sword (a free action). They will then take two attacks against the Skelebots.

While the first misses, the second barely manages to hit, dealing 11 damage. Thanks to the Psi-Sword’s 8AP, this is enough to Shake that Skelebot.

Now that we are at the end of the round, it’s time to deal out a new set of Initiative cards, except we dealt a Joker, meaning we need to shuffle first.

First time we deal out a 4 of Diamonds to Chawny, a 2 of Hearts to Isaac, a Queen of Spades to Kiln, and a 9 of Clubs to Kaze. Because of Chawny’s Quick edge, he’ll discard his 4 and draw again, getting a 3 of Hearts. Fortunately, he can keep drawing until he gets a card higher than a five, giving him a King of Hearts.

On the Coalition side, Group 1 gets a Jack of Clubs, Group 2 gets an Ace of Hearts, and Group 3 gets a 6 of Diamonds.

Group 2 starts the round off, moving to get a better shot at the Dragon Hatchling. Only one will able able to get a straight shot, so the other will target Chawny.

The one firing at Kaze switches to Heavy Pulse mode and hits with a raise, but only gets a 29.

The other also hits with a raise against Chawny, getting 22 damage. This enough to Shake and Wound Chawny, so Chawny is going to attempt to Soak, spending his final Bennie. A bad gamble, as he doesn’t manage to roll a success, leaving him Shaken and Wounded.

Since it is now Chawny’s turn, he’ll attempt to Unshake and barely makes it, allowing him to act but with a penalty from his Wound.

Chawny will once again fire his JA-11 Rifle at Group 2. Since he is not moving, he’ll get a +1 to his first Shooting roll this turn, offsetting some of his penalties. He hits with his first shoot and rolls 20 damage, but that is only enough to Shake his target. Rather than spread his hits, he’ll focus on that same target with his second shot as well. This one misses though, leaving that one up.

On Kiln’s turn, they are going to try and lay waste to Group 1. With their d12 Fighting still up for enough 4 Rounds, Kiln will activate another Innate Ability: Smite. They roll Psionics and get a hit, giving them +2 damage with their Psi-Sword for 5 rounds at the cost of 1 ISP (9/10 ISP).

They will then swing three times with the full Multiaction penalty. The first swing misses, the but second connects. With Smite in place, they manage to deal 26 damage, destroying that Skelebot. Unfortunately the final swing misses as well, leaving 5 enemies around them.

Group 1 now goes. With Kiln in melee with them, the Skelebots cannot continue firing at Kazekawa, meaning the three not engaged with Kiln will move away to continue their assault on the Hatchling. (If they stick around for the rest of the round, they’ll be Group 3 going forward).

The last Skelebot in melee with Kiln drops its rifle and deploys its Retractable Vibroblades. Due to its Two-Fist edge, it can attack with two at no penalty (ignoring the multi-action penalty if its is using weapons in two different hands). Unfortunately for the Skelebot, Kiln is untouchable at the moment, their boosted Fight skill pushing their Parry to 9 (melee attacks being one of the few times the target number is something other than a 4, instead being the target’s Parry).

The Grunt similarly pulls his Vibroknife but can only manage an 8 even with an exploding die.

The other three Skelebots continue to fire on Kazekawa.

While the first two hit but do not manage to deal any damage, the third actually manages to Wound Kaze by rolling a 39 with 4AP, almost inflicting two wounds. Kaze spends a Bennie in an attempt to Soak, and rolls a 9, succeeding with a raise. This not only negates the wound but also the Shaken status.

Ready to return the favor, Kazekawa prepares to unleash their Fire Breath twice.

For the first attack, they target the three Skelebots that broke off from the main group. The Hatchling succeeds on their Athletics check to unleash the Breath attack and only one of the Skelebots manages to evade. With an 18, Kaze can only Shake the two caught in the fire, so aims at those three again.

This time they get a hit with a raise, upgrading the damage to 5d6 Mega Damage for those who cannot evade. Again, one evades though a different one this time, and the damage is enough to Shake the two that failed, which eliminates one of the Skelebots. This leaves two Shaken Skelebots as part of that group.

Group 3, which is just a single Grunt, joins up with Group 1, drawing his Vibroblade. Since it is now 3 on 1, Gang Up bonuses apply (it should have applied before, but I forgot, but looking back it wouldn’t have helped). Outnumbering him 3 to 1, this Grunt gets a +2 to his Fighting roll, but it only nets him a 4 total. Now that their turn is over, this Grunt will be part of Group 1 going forward and the Skelebots that broke off will now be Group 3.

Last in initiative is Isaac. Not wanting to risk his penalties, he only take a single action this turn, casting a single Bolt Miracle at one of the Shaken Skelebots. Unfortunately this doesn’t help and he loses another 1 PPE to the miscast spell.

With this round over, it’s time to deal cards again. Since we did not deal a Joker, we do not shuffle the deck. Chawny gets a Jack of Spades, Isaac gets an 8 of Diamonds, Kiln gets a 4 of Hearts, and Kaze gets a 6 of Clubs.

On the Coalition side, Group 1 gets a Jack of Hearts, Group 2 gets a 6 of Hearts, and Group 3 gets a King of Diamonds.

At the start of their turn, the two Skelebots part of Group 3 successfully Unshake and continue firing at Kazekawa. Both hit, but neither can do enough damage to harm the Hatchling.

Chawny’s turn and he’s again going to take two shots, focusing on the Shaken Skelebot in Group 2.

The first shot hits and deals a massive 30 damage, demolishing that Skelebot.

The second shot hits the remaining Skelebot and Shakes it, but now Chawny’s left out in the open.

Group 1 goes, ganging up on Kiln.

The first Grunt hits, but can only manage 7 damage (nowhere near Kiln’s 18 Toughness).

The second Grunt misses, as does the Skelebot with both its Vibroblades.

Isaac’s turn again and he’ll try the same tactic as last time. This time he manages to get the spell off, sending a bolt of fire at one of the Shaken Skelebots in Group 2. With 24 damage, he destroys that bot.

It’s now Group 2’s turn and the remaining Skelebot unloads on Kazekawa, getting a massive 44 damage! That’s enough to apply three wounds to Kazekawa. Once again the Dragon will try to Soak, and with an exploding 8, another 8, and 7, Kaze completely ignores the hit, but it leaves the dragon with only one Bennie remaining.

On Kaze’s turn, they are going to use their more direct Fire Breath, only targeting a single enemy instead of using the cone. They will also take the Multiaction penalty to use it twice.

The first hits the last Skelebot in Group 3, but only deals 11 damage. Instead of turning to Group 2, they stay focused on this last Skelebot. Unfortunately, the second Fire Breath misses.

In their lane and in the sort of fight they want, Kiln is going to take three attacks again. The first two miss, but the third connects with the last Skelebot in Group 1 and demolishes it with 20 damage.

At this point, I feel our heroes have turned the corner and victory should be easily at hand. Perhaps some more Wounds are dealt and maybe some final Bennies are expended, but I think we’ve accomplished our goal of seeing how combat works in Savage Rifts. Nothing ground breaking, but should be interesting.

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