The Bazaar #12: OCC Overview – Ley Line Walker
General. One of the iconic classes from the Rifts RPG, and one of the most popularized images based on Kevin Long’s line art and the brilliant colour artwork depicted in the Rifts Main Book (RMB). Basically your baseline mage capable of casting a wide variety of spells and a massive source of PPE to draw from. In the Rifts setting, this guy becomes a fearsome powerhouse anywhere near a Ley Line, more so when close to a Nexus. Until later books provided some further variations on the magic casters, this was basically your go-to OCC for playing a stock magic user. The big downside was the selection of spells, spell ranges and area of effect, as well as casting costs versus time to cast (number of attacks per melee). This saw dramatic improvements over the years, making the LLW more playable and with a greater impact on gaming sessions.
Type of Characters. Stating the blindingly obvious upfront – this is a magic user! Compared to its contemporaries in the RUE, this is the powerhouse caster that packs a boatload of PPE and spells, as well as numerous class abilities for sensing magic and ley lines (duh…). The number of skills for a magic-oriented class is fairly typical, which is to say a limited selection of OCC Skills, but you’re taking this guy for spells and abilities, not slamming skills. Those spells provide the player a dynamic character that can pull out some impressive and ingenious in-game effects.
Key Characteristics of the Ley Line Walker. The real key to this class is the massive battery of PPE to support a wide range of spells; start with 12 spells of choice. The spell choices available allow casters to shape their character’s personality and the way they wish to impact the game. Given the spell list they can start with, this makes for a great caster character. After spells, there are a laundry list of special abilities, enough to fill two full pages of double-column text *before* we get to the PPE and Skills. This class presents as the elite for magic casters in the Rifts setting, with a Zen-like affinity for the ley lines and magic in general. Standard equipment, money and cybernetics are where one would expect them to be.
Relevant Books with Updates. Really the two key other purchases to round out the LLW OCC:
Book of Magic. Quite frankly, this is a must-have for caster characters in general. It collates the various schools of magic and puts them into one book. This is incredibly useful given the piece-meal release of additional spells and different schools of magic over the decades.
Federation of Magic (WB 16). One of the key regional World Books that focuses on the magic caster player characters. Provides contextual information and background. Just don’t bother comparing with the Lord Magus OCC
How I Would Play This OCC. I’ll be honest, the LLW is one class I have not yet played; I’ve dabbled with a few other magic caster OCCs. The LLW is the iconic mage, based largely on Kevin Long’s fantastic line art and the coloured picture in the RMB. That said, this is a great utility caster and character. With a myriad of spells to select and use from the start, I’d be tempted to select spells to off-set other PC gaps, but that’s not my jam. I like to create characters in a vacuum of other players’ selections. One of the things I’ve found unerringly annoying is the idea that playing a mage means eschewing all technology. Not this guy. Despite the relative power of magic, I find combat can often still come down to how many energy guns a party can leverage. I have no problem playing a supporting role character, but unlike the D&D mage hiding behind a wall of fighters, I want my guy contributing to all aspects of the game, so an E-Rifle or E-Pistol is not out of place. I find the idea of the adventuring mercenary that can also sling spells to be rather appealing.
The Ley Line Walker in Context
All Human. With so many spells and PPE to fuel them, this OCC can influence in-game effects to greatly benefit the remainder of the party. That said, it can either be a huge boost to the party, or a huge liability; your GM basically has full control. If you are dealing with Coalition settings, this OCC will attract *all* the attention and force other party members to step up. This can actually be quite an interesting dynamic, allowing other players to really shine in their roles.
With the Big Boss(es). Depending on the setting, I don’t think I would ever consider a Ley Line Walker as a heavy hitter. That said, where you have characters really diving into specific roles, the support character and esoteric boosts from magic can really provide some of the other party characters to do some work. This of course comes down to what level the LLW sits and what spell selection they’re leveraging. Off the top of my head, Carpet of Adhesion seems like a go-to spell; add flavour with others. Bear in mind, not everything is combat, and the LLW has spells that can be used in really unique ways to benefit the party.
With the Demi-Gods. Okay, so a bit of a watered down version of the magic-casters that fit this category; dragons, demi-gods and alien intelligences/monsters all pack more PPE and have spells for days. This is the one category where a LLW player character probably plays second fiddle, at best. Sure, there are some utility spells that can help, but for the most part the demi-god characters are either immune, have MDC to rely on, or natural abilities to resist. Short of playing a higher level LLW, with access to some of the more potent spells and rituals, you aren’t likely going to be any kind of alpha-character here (YMMV).
Rifts Main Book (RMB, or Grey Book) to Rifts Ultimate Edition (RUE). Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way: RMB gave a starting PPE of 2D4x10 + 20, while RUE gives a starting PPE of 3D6x10 + 20. So, right off the bat, we go from a possible maximum of 100 PPE to 200 PPE, which is nothing to sneeze at, like, whatsoever! The other bonus of note from the RUE update is the LLW Concealed Body Armour, which provides the caster some form of MDC protection without having to purchase armour that would interfere with casting. Two other special abilities gained in RUE are the Ley Line Magic spells (most of which require hundreds or thousands of PPE) and the Ley Line Force Field, which makes them (way) more durable when fighting in the vicinity of a ley line. Lastly, the greatest bonus I believe isn’t specifically restricted to the LLW; the casting magic rules changes allowed a mage class to become much more effective during the course of an encounter, casting spells from Levels 1 to 5 as a single action, vice the RMB restricting them to two spells per melee; the same math pretty much follows through to higher levels, effectively doubling the magic spell output from before.
Final Thoughts on the Ley Line Walker. One of *the* iconic classes of the Rifts RPG, this OCC is the pinnacle of a human magic casting character. With is a massive amount of PPE to draw on with the RUE update, the LLW armour adds a much-needed element of durability. Another massive upgrade was the changes to casting in combat, which specifically addressed the number of spells cast per melee; until then, a major limiting factor for any magic-based OCC. Possibly my only issue with the LLW is the OCC has experienced some faded interest in lieu of the more current and powerful classes presented in more recent books. The worst offender I believe is the Lord Magus OCC, which despite its specialization in illusion magic, shames the LLW in terms of magic spell knowledge (that initial spell list is *ludicrous*) and PPE count to support it. I’m not the greatest fan of playing magic casters, but in terms of game design, the LLW is immensely characterful and pretty much defines the standard for the magic user class. It is a relatively easy class to begin with, so long as the player has the chance to really try to adapt the spells to a variety of scenarios (Carpet of Adhesion as an auto-pick aside). Well supported by such releases as the Book of Magic (collects all spells under one publication), as well as the Federation of Magic and Siege on Tolkeen series, provides some great contextual role-playing information. Supported by some truly stunning artwork throughout the series of Palladium Books, this OCC has helped define the look and character of the Rifts RPG, and plays really well in a mixed group of Player Characters.
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