The Bazaar #46: OCC Overview – Dog Boys
General. The Dog Boy was one of the original Classes that allowed a Player to bring a lot of plot points to the table. Typically played as an escaped member of the Coalition States. The majority of the updates to the Class are very much in keeping to the rich context of their creation and use by the CS military. There have been numerous conflicts, nothing more demonstrative than that of the Invasion of Tolkeen. Here, the Dog Boy has truly found itself the beneficiary of both military and civilian sympathies for their loyalty. The world is also a smaller place since Rifts first came out. There are a number of ways to gear up your Dog Boy in character generation, with some really nice tables and benefits based on breed and play style. There are also a number of books with additional material that support the Class overall and benefit from some a series of really impactful imagery.
Types of Characters. The Dog Boy is a bit of an interesting Class. Originally one of the Psychic RCCs, which meant you could only select it as a “closed” class (e.g. no Human, Atlantean or other D-Bee could become a Dog Boy), it is now listed as a Psychic OCC in RUE. More a systemic evolution, the Dog Boy is rather a combat-oriented Class, with one foot in the Men-At-Arms sand box, another in the Psionic sand box. I find it odd that in neither the RMB nor RUE are the Dog Boy characters listed among the other Coalition States OCCs, as they are clearly a subject of the CS overlords. They are saddled with the Psionic OCCs, though I could equally envision them among the Men-at-Arms. They are a combat focused class with several psionic sensitive powers, with obvious physical attributes that advertise what and who they are.
Key Characteristics of the Dog Boys. As a class that has variable traits based on the different breeds of dog available, the malleability of the Class provides Players a wide range of characters they could develop. In fact, despite being an “Optional Character Table,” I think this is one of the most interesting and compelling reasons to play the Dog Pack, even more so if you have an affinity with canine breeds. Aside from this, each Dog Boy comes with a series of sensitive abilities: despite the somewhat limited ranges, sense psionics, magic and supernatural pretty much covers everything. This is supported by a series of psionic powers and additional bonuses to save versus enemy psionic powers. There are a series of physical bonuses and other dog-related abilities, such as sense of smell, keen hearing and instinctive hunter/pack animals. Lastly, something not explicitly mentioned, the Dog Boy is a Coalition States OCC, which means this can play into the role-playing aspect of character generation and how this plays out in the adventures.
Relevant Books with Updates. In addition to the background provided throughout Siege of Tolkeen 1 through 6, the following provides additional OCCs or more information (links to my review of each book):
Coalition War Campaign (WB 11). More so for fluff and background, demonstrating how Dog Boys are employed within CS military of in society (Psi-Div and NTSET).
Lone Star (WB 13). Possibly the greatest addition of fluff and variant material to character generation. Provides a few alternative builds (OCCs).
Coalition Navy (SB 4). The Navy “Sea Dog” OCC (oh…. the puns) and some more fluff on how Dog Boys are used in the CS Navy.
Coalition Sourcebook: Heroes of Humanity. There are several Advanced Training Schools available to the Dog Boy, each of them giving some significant boosts to a CS Dog Boy.
Coalition Sourcebook: Manhunters. A very thematic book that expands the Psi-Division and the Dog Boys’ place therein. Playing a huge role in the Minion Wars, the OCC gets a significant refresh: I consider the Attribute adjustments alone a huge improvement, and they benefit from a host of other ones. Lastly, they introduce the Corgi Dog Boys, a special anti-magic breed. Pretty much a must have for any Player looking to run a Dog Boy.
How I Would Play This OCC. From a role-playing perspective, this Class has a lot of legs. If playing with a CS-sympathetic group, the Dog Boy can become the best friend to the majority of the PCs, even those that by their disposition, do not favour them; this doesn’t mean they blindly accept punishment without recrimination. For the escaped Dog Boy, this provides a great story arc for both the Player and the GM. How did the PC become a runaway, and how well are they eluding the CS? Will they ever catch up with the PC and the remainder of his “gang” (e.g. the other PCs)? I would have no problem playing either way, though I imagine more would gravitate to the party composition that favours the latter over the former. Sure, no problem! With the various breeds available, I would probably favour the lithe and quick over the brawny and aggressive breeds (e.g greyhound, terrier or setter). I like to pick skills that allow my PC to function relatively well alone in urban or rural/remote settings, so my skill choices would be a wide-range to support this. From there, he is likely a mid-ranged weapon specialist, so energy rifle and personal armour to support his natural abilities and skills. After that, let’s see where our intrepid runaway’s adventures take us!
The Dog Boy in Context
All Human. The Dog Boy can become really impactful in this group dynamic. With a plethora of boosts to their physical attributes and sensitive capabilities to warn the remainder of the ‘pack,’ the Dog Boy would typically be more than willing to fight for and protect their fellow party members, particularly the humans. They can be a bruiser in hand-to-hand combat, and/or provide fire support with heavier mega-damage rifles. They are a definitely a combat role, but also bring some incredible sensitive powers to the table that most other PCs will not have. A solid add for any group.
With the Big Boss(es). Typically, parties at this level will start to include more robots and power armour or equivalents. The Dog Boy is very much a non-participant in the mechanized game, unless it involves them jumping out of an APC right into the enemy lines. With aggressive abandon or part of a disciplined tactic, the Dog Boy adds some ferocity and capability. Just don’t expect them to have the tactical options of a power armour pilot. They are more likely best suited for sectional defense of the remainder of their party, they play a role in allowing the Big Bosses to really influence the battles. They may not make the biggest impacts for the group’s combat capabilities, but they sure will make themselves a known factor.
With the Demi-Gods. Like many OCCs in the RUE, when placed next to a demi-god or some of the more powerful OCCs out there, the Dog Boy tends to defer the action. Like a supporting actor, they can definitively provide some of their abilities to the game, but at that point we are talking about beings that can affect the action from outside the Dog Boy’s sensitive ranges. What you don’t want if the PC to literally be relegated to the party’s pet; without significant MDC armour and powerful energy rifle, they will find themselves contributing much less to the action. Despite the disparity of the two (Dog Boy to demi-god), it does provide some role-playing opportunities, but this may or may not fit the Player’s vision for the game.
Rifts Main Book (RMB, or Grey Book) to Rifts Ultimate Edition (RUE). Oddly enough, this OCC did not get collated with the other Coalition States OCC into the same segment; they remain under the Psionics section, alongside the Buster and Mind Melter. It now boasts an eight-page spread in RUE, almost twice as much as the RMB version. How much more benefit could this class have received? Well, first off it suffers from the unconscionable habit PB demonstrates in changing the font style halfway through (seriously PB, it’s a doofus move and we notice it). Much of the added content is text background, as the use of this Class throughout the meta-plot has been extensive. They do gain the Recognize Psychic Scent, which I personally would have made a side benefit to the Sense Psychic and Magic Energy. The Psi-bonuses get a huge glow-up, with the +5 tp Perception certainly catching the eye (pun intended). A few other very minor changes or flavourful abilities are laced here and there. The OCC Skills saw improvement, but nothing worth barking at (hah, another pun).
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DOG BOY
The Dog Boy is a Class with a lot of legs for both Players and GMs (pardon the pun, I swear I’m done). The background of this PC can either be a secretive double-agent (less likely), a devoted companion to fellow CS members and sympathetic adventurers (more likely), a party with a mix of humans and D-Bee (less likely), or a runaway from the CS (most likely). Each of those dynamics provides the GM with a ton of material to play with and lace into the adventure. The tables allow for a great amount of malleability and can make for a very fluffy character (oops, slid that one in there). The update in Coalition Manhunters does a lot for the Class, though I would have liked to see a better bonus to the Physical Endurance and Prowess Attributes – something like 2D6+8 or 2D6+10. I personally have a Dog Boy character I use as a companion NPC for my daughter’s Super Spy character, based off the family dog, and find he is super fun to play, keeping tabs on his “pack mate” in order to keep out of too much trouble. It is one of the iconic Classes of the game, with a deep set of books enriching the background. With options galore in character generation and game play, it is one of the few Classes that just keeps giving to both Players and GMs alike.
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