• Francois DesRochers

The Bazaar #21: OCC Overview – The Dragon Hatchling


INTRODUCTION


General. When the Rifts RPG first came out, there was a lot of hype over the setting and the range of abilities players could exploit through various OCCs. In the general flux surrounding the powerhouse classes (Juicers and Glitter Boys), there was also some excitement over the ability to actually have a player roll up and role-play an actual dragon – an actual freakin’ dragon! What other game let’s players get away with that? Speaking from a *completely* anecdotal position with no proof whatsoever, from Kevin’s mouth to your ears, “You’re welcome.” They certainly provide a different playing experience from the bog-standard human or D-Bee.


Types of Characters. As an RCC, this one falls outside the normal definitions for the other OCCs we’ve covered thus far. Originally, it was only one that started out as an MDC creature, now it also benefits from over two pages of text to help players and GMs on how to play this OCC or how they can fold into a narrative. This provides the player with a very in-depth analysis for their playing experience that I don’t recall seeing in games at that time. As a creature of magic, is gives players an immediate MDC buffer, as well as an in-depth capacity for magic and psionics, relying very much on those inherent capabilities, vice skills, for which they get a terribly paltry selection. That said, you get to play a freaking dragon!


Key Characteristics of the Dragon Hatchling. We’ve already covered the starting MDC, but it also benefits from some impressive inherent abilities! First and foremost, the prodigious MDC benefits from an even more eye-catching level of bio-regeneration. This is followed with the ability of flight in mph/km, night vision, see the invisible, and either impervious or resistant to fire and/or cold. Two impactful abilities: teleportation, starting at a low percentage with an achingly slow increase per level – neat but not reliable (even at 15th level it still fails a third of the time); and, metamorphosis, which is limited to 2 hours per level (tripled near ley lines) with a notation that adults max out of 48 hours (again, tripled near ley lines). Oh yeah, dependent on the race, they also all get various ranges of psionic powers and spells. That’s….., well, that’s a lot of abilities packaged together. This is countered with a *very* (and I mean VERY) limited number of skill selections available. But who ever took this class to leverage skills anyway?


Relevant Books with Updates. A selection of comparable OCCs of similar design:

  • England (WB 3). Provides rules for the Chiang-ku Dragon, both adult and hatchling. You give up a breath weapon for unlimited metamorphosis, tattoo magic, and an overly complicated magic spell section. The only truly "good" dragon, they made sure this one was super-duper powerful....

  • China (WB 24). The Naga Demon, a distant relative to the dragon. For context, your Hatchling should have no concept of winning in a straight-up challenge with this cousin.

  • Conversion Book 1 (CB 1). Provides information primarily on what each race's adult dragon would look like, but does give Hatchling MDC, forcing GMs to work a little on downplaying the abilities and other stats to match. Some interesting information in the entries for a burgeoning Dragon Hatchling to read up on.

  • Siege on Tolkeen 3 (Sorceror’s Revenge). Another update targeting adult dragons, it does provide a bit of an overview of the Shadow Dragon ability, for which this PC should NEVER have access to.

GAME CONTEXT


How I Would Play This OCC. I have honestly never played this class. After reviewing the overall updates in RUE, they seemed to have benefited from the extra attention, and they certainly make for an appealing diversion from my normal human techno-junkie Wilderness Scout or Headhunter. It offers quite the palette cleanser. I would likely just as well go with one of the newer dragon races, but not because of any power creep – for some reason the Forest Runner and Royal Frilled both really appeal to me. Both offer some non-conventional abilities and playstyle compared to their brethren. Given that these also relies almost exclusively on natural abilities, spells and psionics, one can concentrate on role-playing their way through the scenario. I would leverage the Forest Runner Hatchling’s chameleon scales and gear spells and psionics towards stealth and espionage, or play the Royal Frilled disguised as a Mind Melter. The class has a healthy level of MDC and prodigious regeneration, which presents a buffer to absorb a decent amount of damage before I would have to run away to spy another day.


The Dragon Hatchling in Context

  • All Human. Well, to call it as I see it, the Dragon Hatchling runs the risk of bullying this kind of a group; some of the newer ones come with the ability to turn invisible at will, which can be a thing. With such a heavy amount of possible MDC, MD close combat attacks and a really descent level of PPE to fuel their magic, supported by psionics, they can be very potent characters indeed. That said, scenarios where skill jockeys to shine place these guys at a possible disadvantage. There’s also the whole being a dragon thing and meeting up with CS troops or those that sympathize. But hey, you get to play a freakin’ dragon!

  • With the Big Boss(es). A heavy hitter among heavy hitters, they can soak up a lot of attention and heal it up in the interim of encounters. This is no small boon to the group, but makes the character a magnet for abuse. That said, with other Big Boss characters around, that likely mitigates the impact. They are likely unique in the group dynamic, supporting with spells, psionics, and close combat potential; sort of a multi-kit problem solver. They may not have the greatest impact on the group’s combat capabilities, and certainly don’t offer any skill advantages, but hey, you get to play a freakin’ dragon!

  • With the Demi-Gods. This may be where the class ends up the lower-end of the scale, but the Dragon Hatchling is no slouch, particularly at higher levels where they have ‘grown into’ their spells and abilities. The various capabilities should mesh well with the other PC mega-heroes; they are all very likely relying on heavy amounts of MDC and a healing factor to survive, bashing from one encounter to the next. Given the numerous natural abilities they start with, this certainly sets you up in good stead with the others in the party, be they Cosmo-Knights, demi-gods or supernatural entities. But guess what you have over all those? You guessed it. You’re playing a freakin’ dragon!

Rifts Main Book (RMB, or Grey Book) to Rifts Ultimate Edition (RUE). There was actually a surprising amount of change from the RMB to RUE with respect to this class. One of the biggest and most obvious changes was the addition of additional information for players on what it means to actually role-play a Dragon Hatchling. There are three full pages of information, including dragon instincts and how they relate to one another, which was a sorely needed update. Another nuanced change was skill selection, which basically further limited what skills a PC would be able to select. We went from 6 Skills selected at character generation and 4 additional skills at certain intervals, to 2 Secondary Skills and a “Focus Skill” at level intervals, with a few latent speech and literacy skills, as well as math (because, well, math to count the loot?). Lastly, and most notably, we have a series of new dragon races, each with much the same baseline abilities as the RMB, with some minor additions that can easily translate back to dragons presented in the RMB (e.g. +10 MDC and +2D6 PPE per level, gain HF). The new races provide a player ten different races to choose from, each with a slight variation on their abilities.


Final Thoughts on the Dragon Hatchling. I can honestly say that I never put any stock in the thought of playing this RCC – like, at all. That said, doing this little deep dive has awoken a bit of a yearning to see what this would be like on the gaming table. I don’t have much opportunity to actually conduct game play at the moment, so perhaps in a play-by-post setting in the near future. This is one of those Classes that offers the player something really unique compared to any of the human OCCs. The additional points on Dragon “culture,” for lack of a better term, presents a player with a pretty nicely rounded start-state for game play. I like how complete the class feel, with most of the punch wrapped up in the natural abilities, vice the skills (for which there are *very* few). I can see why this class would appeal to folks, despite the obvious cries of over-powered that often gets associated with Rifts. To those that look at this class as something simply too far over the top or over-powered, you may have a point, but you are playing a freakin’ dragon. So hey, get over yourself, and revel in the fact: you get to play a freakin’ dragon!


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