• Francois DesRochers

The Bazaar 22: Fixing OCCs - An Example

INTRODUCTION


General. One of the benefits of playing Rifts is the multitude of publications to support GMs and players. There are so many sources for adventure, literally no way to run out of ideas. That said, this is also one of the greatest failing for Palladium Books and Rifts; there is an overwhelming number of publications and source material to look at and choose from. In one of my previous posts, I discussed several Game Mechanics changes I would suggest to Palladium Books (read: Kevin Siembieda and Sean Roberson), not the least of which is rationalizing the copious number of OCCs. This is particularly true for new GMs and players, who can literally feel overwhelmed by the crushing weight of OCCs available, most of which are scattered across a multitude of publications. Herein is my suggestion for one of the character classes moving forward.


Which Class to Start With? Starting with my all-time favorite OCC, the largely overlooked and hidden gem of the Wilderness Scout. I love this laconic character that could, for lack of being an offensive powerhouse, survive on his own in the vast forested wilderness between small pockets of humanity. That said, there are a few pockets of related OCCs published throughout the World Books and Sourcebooks that really could be brought together under (what I call) a Baseline OCC. Specialization is then done through MOS selection, which provide additional skills and MOS-specific abilities, which may or may not replace the Baseline MOS Special Abilities. I also selected this OCC because it is a cross-setting OCC that could be equally played in any continental setting of Rifts Earth.


Note: This isn't a groundbreaking approach to OCC design, as the suggested methodology is already pretty much in place. The Merc Soldier, CS Technical Officer, PA/Robot Pilot and a few others already have the MOS approach. This is further reinforced by some of the OCCs out of World Book 25: China 2, where a lot of the Geofront OCCs are presented simply as additional skills to a previously presented OCC, in some cases replaces certain OCC Skills, and otherwise defers to another OCC for Other and Secondary Skills selections (e.g. Whack Job OCC refers to the Coalition States RCSG OCC).


Methodology. Taking a few books, I pulled several classes to compare them. The OCCs included the Wilderness Scout (RUE), Ectohunter, Explorer and Reaver Scout (WB 17), and the Swamp Stomper, Legacy Scout, Pathfinder and Tundra Ranger Scout (WB 20). I did a simple Excel table listing of Special Abilities, then OCC Skills, finalized with just the number of Other/Secondary Skill selections the various OCCs provided. Normalizing the data, I placed skills that repeated across on the same row and found rather quickly that several skills readily fit into a starting list of OCC Skills. Thereafter it was just a matter of rationalizing the remainder of OCC Skills to fit into applicable MOS packets.


THE WILDERNESS SCOUT – REDUX


General. So, having done a bit of a selected deep dive and OCC Skill comparison, I thought I would present how I would manage the OCCs under a revamped system. There would always be a Baseline OCC, which would be a more generic version, with relevant but not hyper-specific Special Abilities, and an expanded MOS Skills list to give it a bit of a Skill selection edge. As one of the more Skills-heavy OCCs, I’ll try to format this post so it doesn’t turn into an overly long piece to scroll through.


OCC Skills. These would be common to all Wilderness Scouts, regardless of MOS.

  • Speak: Native Language (88%)

  • Speak: Select one (+15%)

  • Speak: Select one (+15%)

  • Athletics (general)

  • Climbing (+20%)

  • Land Navigation (+20%)

  • Pilot: Select one (+15%)

  • Pilot: Select one (+15%)

  • Track & Trap Animals (+20%)

  • Wilderness Survival (+20%)

  • WP: E-Rifle

  • WP: Select one (ancient or modern)

  • WP: Select one (ancient or modern)

  • HtH: Basic

 

Wilderness Scout MOS (Baseline from RUE). Your jack-of-all trades Scout, there is enough flexibility to make this character into a specialist, be it long-ranged combat, survival skills, or tactical combat.

  • MOS Skills. In addition to the OCC Skills above.

  • Radio: Basic (+10%)

  • Cooking (+15%)

  • Swimming (+15%)

  • Fishing (+15%)

  • Outdoorsmanship

  • Horsemanship: General (+20%)

  • Hunting

  • I.D. Plants & Fruit (+20%)

  • Skin & Prepare Animal Hides (+20%)

  • Prowl

  • MOS Special Abilities

  • Trailblazing. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Cross Country Pacing. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Cartography. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • OCC Bonuses. No change to what was presented in RUE.

 

Legacy Scout (WB 26: Dinosaur Swamp). The more educated of their kind, this class resembles a sort of mix between Wilderness Scout and Rogue Scholar. They are capable of working in the wilderness, but are more concerned with the acquisition of artefacts and history.

  • MOS Skills. In addition to the OCC Skills above.

  • Detect Concealment (+15%)

  • History: Pre-Rifts (+20%)

  • History: Post Apocalypse (+20%)

  • Salvage (+15%)

  • MOS Special Abilities

  • Cartography. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • OCC Bonuses. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Lore Expert. Gains an additional +10% on Lore Skills

  • Lore Expert. Change Other Skills for Science category to Any (+5%)

  • Lore Expert. Change Other (2 from Physical and 1 from Wilderness) to (Other (2 from Science and 2 from Technical)

 

Pathfinder & Explorer (WB 26: Dinosaur Swamp and WB 17: Warlords of Russia respectively). Both of these OCCs are so similar in skill choice and Special Abilities to wonder why the second ever got published. I would just as soon suggest they get lumped together.

  • MOS Skills. In addition to the OCC Skills above.

  • Anthropology (+15%)

  • Archaeology (+15%)

  • Astronomy (+15%)

  • Detect Concealment (+15%)

  • Camoflauge (+15%)

  • Running

  • MOS Special Abilities. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Trailblazing. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Cross Country Pacing. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Cartography. No change to what was presented in RUE.

  • Land Navigation (Regional). No change to what was presented in WB 20: Canada

  • Roadwise. No change to what was presented in WB 20: Canada

  • OCC Bonuses. No change to what was presented in RUE

 

Ectohunter (WB 17: Warlords of Russia). This wilderness professional is concerned with the hunting, tracking and destruction of the supernatural and demonic. A more militant version of the class, they are specifically trained in combating the monstrous, but face significantly higher risk to their mental stability.

  • MOS Skills. In addition to the OCC Skills above.

  • Lore: Demons & Monster (+20%)

  • Lore: Select one (+15%)

  • Lore: Select one (+15%)

  • Surveillance (+15%)

  • Intelligence (+15%)

  • MOS Special Abilities. No change to what was presented in WB 17: Warlords of Russia.

  • Sense & See Ghostly

  • Recognize Ghostly

  • Communicate with Ghostly

  • Ghost Killing

  • Sense Supernatural Evil

  • Resistant to Horror Factor

  • Resistant to Possession

  • Vulnerability: Insanity

  • OCC Bonuses. No change to what was presented in RUE.

 

Tundra Ranger (WB 20: Canada). To be honest, I view the Tundra Rangers not as a group of distinct OCCs, but rather a group of Baseline OCCs and some of their MOS variants collectively keeping the peace in the wilds of the Canadian vista and northern reaches of the United States. The OCC, as presented in WB 20: Canada, presents only a minor variation of the Wilderness Scout and is more importantly part of what I would present as something created using the Mercenary Company Creation Rules (Rifts: Mercenaries or Adventure Guide) with a strict code of conduct vice a list of discrete OCCs.

 

Other Skills. Select 9 Other Skills (with 2 from Physical and 1 from Wilderness). Bonuses to categories remain the same as the Wilderness Scout OCC as presented in RUE.

  • Communications: Barter, Language (any +15%), Literacy (any), Performance and Public Speaking

  • Cowboy: Lore skills only (+15%)

  • Domestic: Any (+15%)

  • Electrical: Basic Electronics only

  • Espionage: Any (+10%), except Forgery, Pick Locks and Pick Pockets

  • Horsemanship: General and Exotic Animals only (+10%)

  • Mechanical: Automotive or Basic only

  • Medical: First Aid (+10%) or Holistic Medicine (+20%, counts as 2 skill selections)

  • Military: None

  • Physical: Any, except Acrobatics (+10% where applicable)

  • Pilot: Any, except Robots, Power Armour, Military or large, noisy vehicles

  • Pilot Related: Any

  • Rogue: Gambling, Imitate Voices & Sounds, and Tailing only (+5%)

  • Science: Anthropology, Biology and Botany only

  • Technical: Any (+15% on Lore skills, +5% otherwise)

  • Weapon Proficiencies: Any

  • Wilderness: Any (+20%)

Secondary Skills: Select 6 Secondary Skills, as presented in RUE.


CONCLUSION


So there we have it, a suggested baseline heuristic to refresh the OCCs across this game. No small project, to be sure, and there are likely other classes I could have folded into this project. I firmly believe there is a need to rationalize the sheer bulk of various classes across the system. This would ultimately allow better refinement of the core rules to support any new mechanics, or changes to existing ones (e.g. multi-classing), make the character generation process simpler, and allow shorter entries that concentrate more on the specific MOS abilities that differentiate them from the Baseline OCC we can already find across all the various regions of Rifts Earth. In this small, incomplete example, I hope I demonstrated not only the capability of such a project, but perhaps the need to climb out from under the bulk of OCCs in some manner moving forward.


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