General. You could probably be excused for comparing this to the AD&D Ranger Class, because they do indeed line up fairly well. The Wilderness Scout is one of the few classes initially presented that was geared for the vast wilderness zones that was ‘between city-states;’ so pretty much everywhere. Introduced as one who could be originally from the city or would have to crawl out to the boonies for a taste of civilization, they are typically very self-reliant and resourceful in ways most other classes can’t even hope to compete with.
Type of Characters. Very clearly this class falls within the Adventurer segment; I mean, we do find it under the Scholars and Adventurers section after all. Compared to the others of this category, the Wilderness Scout comes out looking really well. They have a series of specialized skills, and with the right skill selections, many more that get leveraged pretty much anywhere the character goes. With a wide variety of really useful OCC Skills and special benefits, they also profit from a slew of Other and Secondary Skills; not quite as many as the Rogue Scholars/Scientists, for sure. It is also the type of character that allows you to specialize through skill selection as to how you will see them through game play. They are truly one of the few classes that could stand to adventure alone, probably more so than any other Scholar or Adventurer, who are keenly specialized in certain fields, most of which are centered on Medical, Science and Technical skill categories.
Key Characteristics of the Wilderness Scout. Equally capable of using SDC and high-tech weapons and equipment, possessing a boat load of skills, this guy very literally starts with everything a party scout and wilderness subject matter expert needs. There are a series of OCC bonuses to attributes, reinforced by a mandatory selection from the physical skills category (twist my rubber arm). The OCC Skills are a tight package of useful choices that a PC can leverage in case the GM gets ideas of stranding a party in the boonies. The Other Skills has a pretty open, with only a select few limited to ‘None’ or very narrow choices. Standard equipment and money are pretty much right where you want to be.
Relevant Books with Updates. A selection of comparable OCCs of similar design:
Coalition War Campaign (WB 11). Literally billed as the CS version of the Wilderness Scout.
Warlords of Russia (WB 17). The Huntsman-Trapper as a more demon-hunting specialization, with the generalized military version of the Reaver Military Scout.
Canada (WB 20). A more shallow-depth skill jockey specialist in wilderness survival.
Dinosaur Swamp (WB 26). The Swamp Stomper (a swamp scout….), Pathfinder with an in-depth, regionally focused knowledge of routes through the area and how to move undetected and the Legacy Scout (wilderness scout meets Rogue Scholar with an archaeology twist).
How I Would Play This OCC. This was the first OCC I tried when Rifts came out. Sure, there were some flashy classes that tempted me (Juicer, Glitter Boy, Rogue Scholar), but this kind of character is my ‘jam.’ I’ve always favoured character classes that could quite literally hold their own, individually making them a multi-tool for party interactions, and source for the odd skill check nobody thought to invest in/could not select. Not incapable of combat, I typically always play them as a supporting ranged combat specialist, geared and skilled more like a sniper than anything else. I would also head straight for some cybernetic enhancements, focusing on things like amplified hearing (plus the sound filtration system), possibly a sensor hand. I’ll likely role-play a fairly laconic character, capable of supporting the group, taking a leadership role when required in the context of the deep wilderness or when required in combat. I prefer to take a situational approach to party leadership, concentrating on what the character does best and taking charge in those scenarios. I’ll let players with the heavy cannons or close-combat monsters shine in their own element of the game.
The Wilderness Scout in Context
All Human. Likely the one scenario where the OCC really has a legitimate chance to shine. So long as the campaign doesn’t *strictly* limit the group to a city/town, they can really leverage their skill sets and provide some real value to the group; they very likely are not the only skill jockey and may play a niche role compared to any others with a healthy set of skills playing to that niche a well. Likely comparable combat capabilities, in particular with ranged combat, they have no inherent capability to soak damage more than anyone else. They are relatively middle of the road in terms of threat in any encounter.
With the Big Boss(es). When played within the context of a few heavy hitters, they end up playing a supporting role, leveraging skills that others definitively don’t have. They can produce some combat capability, mostly ranged, and will likely find a role in support to the group as a whole, perhaps a specific heavy hitter in particular. Their interactions may well be more heavily invested in pre-encounter role-playing and skill checks.
With the Demi-Gods. Okay, so a squishy SDC scout in armour with less MDC than a demi-god’s forearm may seem like an odd mix. At this point though, it becomes clear that the Scout is not there to be the primary heavy hitter (like, at all). What this does provide is an outlet for a player who really wants to leverage role-playing (vice roll-playing in combat) and can use the relative pion-status to concentrate on other aspects of the game. There is still that massive skill set to bring to bear, and even a demi-god level character may need to eat; I’d suggest their aura spooks off more game than would allow them to feed off of and an unassuming scout becomes a literal breadbasket in this case.
Rifts Main Book (RMB, or Grey Book) to Rifts Ultimate Edition (RUE). This OCC only saw several subtle changes between the two publications. The RUE version saw some additions and percentage bumps to OCC Skills, as well slightly fewer choices in OCC Related and Secondary. We also introduced the class skills of Trail Blazing, Cross Country Pacing and Cartography. Aside from some other minor variances, largely untouched, which I appreciated. Despite the new class skills, I actually found that I slightly favour the RMB version because of the extra skill selections; the RUE addition of Cowboy skill category is a moot point at ‘None’ for choices.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE WILDERNESS SCOUT
It is my personal favorite of the OCCs; the one I started with and always seem to find myself returning to. An in-depth expert of survival in the wilderness that can very easily be overlooked or lessened in importance by the GM and other characters. They likely won’t ever be the heavy hitter of the party, possibly comes out as the skill jockey of the party; depending on your selection this can be a boon or a long list of ill-applicable skills. Because this isn’t a ‘monster’ in either close combat or ranged engagements, I’d suggest this is an OCC that very much rewards players looking to do some roleplaying, leveraging skills and character interactions for advancement and application throughout the campaign.