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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholar's Review #1 - RIFTS Mercenaries

Updated: Jan 6

Author: C.J. Carella

Release Date: 1994


Released roughly four years after the first RIFTS: RPG book game out, the Mercenaries addition to the realm gave a big boost to me a GM. As usual, a bunch of new OCCs, weapons and gear, and a plethora of adventure ideas. Not specifically tied to a single space on (or around) RIFTS Earth, it is an all-rounder that gives both players and GMs a solid boost to their campaigns.


Designing Mercenary Companies. I think this is where the real shining moment happens for this release. The modular point system to help create a mercenary company is a brilliant move. A GM can begin with an idea, flesh it out within the constraints of the points allowed, and develop some premiere campaigns from there; something I have done no less three times in campaigns, a dozen times for kicks, and most recently to flesh out the Massey Security and Intelligence company that my short stories center around.

Mercenary OCCs. Some flavourful concepts on the mercenary occupation. Some of combat oriented one are simply themes of familiar OCCs found in the RPG; with the exception of the Forger OCC, the other adventurers don’t really offer much in the way of specialist skills or OCC benefits.

Designing a Mercenary Campaign. When this book came out, it was definitely a great starting point for GMs to develop a mercenary campaign, or get ideas for their intrepid adventurers.

Mercenary Groups. The good solid chunk of the book, these seven different examples of the ‘design a mercenary concept,’ with accompanying NCP character information gives a GM loads of ideas to work with. It can be just basic background information, a protagonist for players to go up against, or even a pre-made employer for players to join as new recruits. Adventure ideas are many, with several suggestions for each of the companies presented.

  • Demonhunters Inc. Self-explanatory group of humans and D-Bees that, well, hunt demons and other nasties.

  • Crow’s Commandos. A special-forces styled, elite company.

  • Braddock’s Bad Boys. Ex-CS officer gets the boot for alcoholism, gets sober and forms a mercenary company.

  • Robot Control. Specializes in anti-robot and anti-tank ops. Front company for Naruni Enterprises.

  • Armageddon Unlimited. A bunch of humanoid demons looking to make a buck and push their dark god sponsor’s agenda in North America. "Bad Dudes Inc."

  • Larsen’s Brigade. Poster-child for independent mercenary company founded by a number of ex-CS officers, including Colonel Larsen.

  • Shadow Warriors. A Splugorth sponsored group.

New Equipment. A RIFTS book without a plethora of new gear and weapons? I think not! The artwork for these really gives readers a sense for the items; personal favorite goes to the Naruni section (Vince Martin?); Wayne Breaux has some spectacular pieces too.

  • Golden Age Weaponsmiths. Rules for retooling old weapons and vehicles into MDC platforms, a welcome source for GMs and players looking to use a ‘generic’ vehicle that isn’t detailed elsewhere.

  • Northern Gun. Continues its run of adding weapons and armour options

  • Wellington Industries. A direct competitor to NG, with their line of kinetic weapons (bullets/missiles vice las-weapons).

  • Iron Heart Armaments. Gives us a brief glimpse into the Coalition State of Iron Heart and their non-robotic line of vehicles (tanks, aircraft and watercraft).

  • Naruni Enterprises. A mysterious D-Bee run weapons manufacturer and distributor provides a full range of hand weapons, tanks, drones, aircraft and power armour/robots.

  • Angrar Robotics. A brief mention with only vague references to what they are or where from. Just the two power armour entries with a single image.

  • Chipwell Armaments. In interesting idea of el-cheapo models of power armour and robotics.

  • New CS Vehicles. Well, the poster boys needed an updated series of vehicles and aircraft to compensate for all these upstart civilian manufacturers, right? Right?

Scenario Ideas. “Casualties of Peace” is a self-contained adventure module, complete with background, history of the rivalry and setting of Benford Town and Hope City, NPCs and plot twists, as well as the use of two of the mercenary companies hired by the two towns for their own purposes. This is a great introduction scenario for new players to get an idea of the RIFTS setting.


Upon Release (9/10). The release of this book was a great addition to the RIFTS RPG lineup. At that point they had published two Sourcebooks, two Conversion books, a Dimension Book and five World Books (WB 5: Triax and the NGR the latest). Bringing the focus back to North America, it gave me and my players a great new set of tools to use.

Current Assessment (7/10). Decades later, this book still holds up well, if not overtaken by Merc Ops and Merctown. There isn’t a campaign that can’t leverage this book: whether you play an all-Coalition party, all magic-user, D-Bees, rifted in from another dimension, whatever. The OCCs need a serious skills update (categories) and gear can be brought in line by leveraging Rifts Ultimate Edition (i.e. use a similar class and give the same/similar). GMs can salt for flavour, but I find the recipe on this book is solid.

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Nov 07, 2023

Definitely my favorite cover. :)

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