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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

The Bazaar #10: Introduction to the OCC Overview Series

Updated: Jan 5


Generalizations of Classes. For the most part, gamers from across various RPGs will likely differentiate the various character classes by major function. The most common thread would likely default to the D&D schema we likely can all identify with: Fighter/Ranger/Barbarian are the line characters and heavy hitters, Mage/Druid are a spell slinger, Cleric is the healer and secondary beat-stick, the Bard/Thief more likely skill jockeys, et cetera. This is an over-simplification, and the point is that unlike D&D where classes often drive players into specific play styles and abilities, Rifts has a plethora (like, a LOT) of different classes to choose from. I would go so far to say there really are too many of them (LOL), which also contributes to some of the issues in character creation for new player to the Palladium Books’ system.


Types of Characters. So, given the previous “critique” of generalization of character classes, this is something that can be applied to Rifts for the purposes of simplifying how we examine the OCC and compare it with similar ones. For the purposes of this series, I will be using the following system:

  • Man-At-Arms. You combat beat sticks, these are the OCCs you choose to get up close and personal, or pilot myriad power armour/robots to bring your opponents to their knees before blowing them to bits…..! Well, maybe not quite so extravagant an approach, but these are the close combat/ranged weapons specialists, power armour/robot jockeys, or the various combat-oriented classes. We’re looking are Coalition States OCCs, Borgs, Juicers, Crazies, Glitter Boys and the like. Big guns and big beat sticks, this is the group for you!

  • Mages. We’ve all got that stereotypical Hollywood/D&D image of what a mage is; pointy hat, maybe a long beard with a cantankerous attitude, or maybe weird eyes and s staff with a god-complex. Either way, Rifts takes those archetypes and cleanly throws them out with the bath water (we saved the baby beforehand). These guys bring arcane abilities and sensibilities to the game; not necessarily for the player that wants to yell “I cast FIREBALL!” during a game session. Ley Line Walkers, Techno-Wizards and their kind.

  • Psionics. Mental mind games and special abilities tied more to mental thought than skills you learn, magic you develop, or the adaptation of technology. You think, therefore you are taken to the next evolutionary level. Looks like a farmer armed with a simple laser rifle, until you realize he wants to scramble with your brain/light you on fire. Mind Melters, Busters and the like. ‘You feel the need to subscribe.’ Hey, it was worth a try.

  • Racial Character Classes. Your typical non-human entries, ones that typically bring a series of extra abilities, changes to attribute rolls, maybe even a prehensile tail or the ability to bite through an engine block during tea time. There is such a dizzying variety of RCCs it almost beggars the question, why list any? Well, we’ll hit the basic ones presented in the Rifts Main Book/RUE, such as Psi-Stalker, Dragon Hatchlings

  • Adventurer. Basically, your non-combat-oriented character that brings something to the group that doesn’t fit within the previous segments. They (very) likely won’t be dealing the damage Men-At-Arms can produce, nor the esoteric abilities that Mages or Psionics can create, nor the special abilities an RCC brings to the table. What they most likely bring is the skill-jockey and special abilities that are class-specific and limited to certain OCCs; they are very likely the only ones that can access specific skill sets from the OCC Related and Other Skills. We’re talking Operators, Rogue Scholars/Scientists, Wilderness Scouts and the like.

Key Characteristics of the Class. Just like it says on the tin, we’ll cover the major muscle movements of this OCC and what they bring to the game as either a PC or NPC.

Relevant Books with Updates. In some cases, the main OCC has seen some additional material printed that either changes outright or updates the information. We’ll list the books that have those kinds of impacts and dive a little bit into the impacts on the OCC and game play in general.

How I Would Play This OCC. Full transparency, I have not played each OCC this series will cover. I may have played something similar, so I have that experience to draw on; others I have played at one point or another. I will denote right off which ones I have no experience playing, giving more of an idea of what my initial impressions of game play would include, what I would be looking to accomplish with the class, and what support capabilities I think it would bring to the party.

This Class in Context. Some of these OCCs have a (very) wide range of impacts to a party, dependent on who/what else is included. In some cases, a class’s impact is obvious, while others may require some finessing. Not quite a deep-dive, I suggest a few ways to incorporate this class into a campaign or a party with the following generic breakdown:

  • All Human. In this case, we have pretty much all SDC humans and similar classes, whereby it pretty much comes down to MDC armour or (likely) dead once the laser bolts start flying. This doesn’t mean the power level of the campaign is low, just that compared to the other cast of characters, things are relatively similar.

  • With the Big Boss(es). So the party has a few really good heavy hitters. This could be a major beast in close combat with MDC to support a charge, maybe Borgs/Juicers/Crazies, someone flying around in power armour or piloting a robot, what have you.

  • With the Demi-Gods. Some would call this munchkin mode; to each their own. This idea of this comparison is that the OCC is in a group whereby one or more of the characters is playing something of truly meta-changing powers. I call it the demi-god group, but would also include things like Cosmo-Knights and adult Dragons into the mix.

From Rifts RPG (Grey Book) to RUE. This segment will examine the specific sections of the class that gained specific abilities to the archetype with the release of RUE. In some cases these are very minimal, in others there are (very) significant changes.

Final Thoughts on the OCC. I’m not of the mind that rating these on a scale of 1 to 10 does them justice. My interpretation is surely going to be radically different to some (maybe many), but that’s the point. The OCCs are a potpourri of different abilities that any player can exploit in truly zany ways that I may just never think to do.


So there we go, a bit of an overview on the new series that will be slowly chipped away at. We'll be visiting the iconic, classic OCCs that appeared in the Rifts Main Book, and how they were updated with the release of RUE.

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