If Rifts were a place, it would be Florida. And Rifts has decided that if Florida were in Rifts, it would be a Dinosaur Swamp. Because of course it would be. Join us as we get in our giant fan boat and buzz through Rifts World Book 26: Dinosaur Swamp. Along the way we’ll meet dinosaurs, barbarians, faeries, carnivorous ferns, and a whole arsenal of useless weapons no one will want to use in Rifts under any circumstances.
Zack: For the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about Rifts.
Steve: Dinosaurs are generally underwhelming in RPGs. Like, normally a dinosaur is the coolest thing out there, right?
Zack: Yeah, as evidenced by Dino Dan, the show about a very annoying child with dinosaur-related schizophrenia, which the millennials can’t stop trending.
Steve: In real life, dinosaurs are awesome because they’re like the coolest most dangerous thing that ever existed. The problem with dinosaurs in D&D or something is that compared to a Beholder or a Dragon, a dinosaur is boring. No magic, nothing unpredictable like a fungus man or a mimic or something, it’s just a giant lizard.
Zack: Yeah, I can see your point, and Rifts is even wilder than D&D with the creatures and beasts. But we should give Rifts a chance to prove us wrong. Maybe they’ve cracked the dinosaur code.
Steve: Dinosaur hackers. That could be it. Cybersaurus.
Zack: Theodore Rex 2020. In the neon haze of Neo Jurassic City, one t-rex dared to go against the zaibatsus that rule over the raptor grid.
Steve: Oh, dang, that just makes me realize how close 2020 is getting.
Zack: We’re old men, Steve.
Steve: I don’t know about that, but I regret selling my katana.
Zack: Whoever put this map together is going to font jail for multiple offenses.
Steve: Jungle Castle would be such a badass place to be born. Imagine that on your birth certificate. Or in your obituary.
Steve: “Steve Sumner passed away Tuesday at the age of 125 years. The genius billionaire was born in Jungle Castle, Florida and died in the Erotic Hospital of Tokyo surrounded by his family and 8-10 busty nurses.”
Zack: Unfortunately, you’re more likely to be born in Erotic Hospital and die in Jungle Castle. Which is definitely Disneyland.
Zack: Or ya might jus’ fall outta them there Time Holes up north.
Steve: I like that the Panhandle is still just the Panhandle. I’m picturing the same rednecks with trucker hats and camo tank tops still gigging frogs or backyard wrestling or whatever they’re doing over there in 2016.
Zack: They’re probably still hating the gays in Miami even though the gays in Miami are apparently mermaids.
Steve: So where are the dinosaurs?
Steve: I guess that answers how many micro-missiles from a SAMAS suit it takes to destroy the forelimb of an Ankylosaurus.
Zack: The question that has plagued the scientific community since the dinosaurs were first unearthed.
Steve: They’re a lot tougher than you would think. I mean, let’s just do the math here with some modern weapons.
Zack: Math is fun. Everyone loves hilarious math.
Steve: First off, bullets will never hurt a Rifts dinosaur. Not even a .50 caliber machine gun. Not enough damage per shot.
Steve: So according to 2nd Edition Heroes Unlimited, 2 ounces of C4 plastic explosives does 1D4x10 SDC damage. That means that to ensure it would do 1 mega damage when it blows up you need at least 20 ounces of C4.
Steve: So the Ankylosaurus has 150 MDC in its head. Blowing up his head would kill him. So if you’re going to use C4, one of the most powerful explosives available today, it would require 3,000 ounces of plastic explosives. That’s 187 and a half pounds of C4.
Zack: Or one shot from a Glitter Boy Gun.
Steve: Sure. But we don’t have those now. I was trying to explain that according to Rifts, to kill a dinosaur, you would need to strap a human-sized wad of C4 to its head.
Zack: That’s why those Dinosaurs Attack! cards were so brutal. Our weapons were useless against them.
Zack: It’s like asking Monopoly to tell us a story about PTSD.
Steve: I drew the wrong card from Community Chest and now I’m in the shit.
Zack: Yep, gonna save up enough combat pay to buy a little one-bedroom on Mediterranean Avenue for me and my teenage wife, the iron.
Steve: You’re going to be paying rent to the guy who doesn’t follow the rules and built hotels on the railroads.
Zack: I wonder if this is a veiled Casey Anthony reference.
Steve: The book says it came out in 2004, but child ghosts are a pretty common occurrence in Florida anyway. Lots of hot cars.
Zack: Meth to get you baby-shakin’.
Steve: It’s really not funny, dude. We’re talking about the deaths of innocent little kids.
Zack: It turns out we are the worst-equipped to convey the horror of vampiric ghost children.
Steve: This is a sadistic little a-hole faerie that hangs out in future Florida. Which a generous GM will let you play.
Zack: Because, sure, why not? Introduce faeries to the dinosaur swamp. It will really improve the setting.
Steve: It says they use their Object Read power to sort of do some psychometry stuff on objects they steal from people. Then they taunt the people with whatever they see.
Zack: “Oh, looks like you stuck this bottle of gun oil up your butt. And this brush. And also these shotgun shells. And the handle of this vibro knife. Everything. Everything you own has been up your butt.”
Steve: “This half a heart necklace. This photograph of your sister. All butt stuff.”
Zack: It’s like a Spanish Prisoner scam that relies on the greedy mischief of the faerie to trick them into handling your ass pennies.
Zack: It’s a plant.
Steve: But get this.
Steve: It eats blood.
Zack: According to the description, it secretes bloodlike juice from its fronds and then some animal comes over and tries to lick it up, only it’s a sedative and the animal falls asleep and then the plant eats their blood.
Steve: Is that like a Spanish Prisoner scam?
Zack: None of these are actually how that scam works, but it does rely on blood greediness.
Steve: This plant is probably the best at catching vampires.
Steve: But then in a 180 it probably can’t even eat a vampire.
Zack: Vampires are not biodegradable. It’s why almost 40% of our landfills are sleeping vampires.
Steve: Huge piles of them drifting around on the Pacific Ocean.
Zack: Sharks choking on vampires they swallowed.
Zack: All because of the Seep Fern.
Steve: Now we’re talking!
Zack: I like how they reference all these other political factions and goings on in the former USA that were covered in previous books. They’ve described all these cities and wars and everything else and then this book comes along and it’s all, “Nobody noticed this, but, by the way, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are a giant swamp full of time portals and dinosaurs.”
Steve: I mean, they explain it some because there is so much jungle. This area has reverted to a primitive culture of scavengers and barbarians. There are like ley lines everywhere disrupting stuff.
Zack: Yeah, okay, but clearly not disrupting the Coalition from having jet planes and submarines and even aircraft carriers. Are you telling me they can fly around in supersonic skulls but they can’t see a dinosaur from above?
Steve: I don’t know, but maybe they’re jaded. I mean, yeah, maybe dinosaurs are just no big deal to them anymore. They’re like, whatever, we got a war with elves and dragons going right now. No time to try to lasso a T-rex.
Steve: But who cares? Because there are barbarians now. And not just regular barbarians. They have multiple types of barbarians.
Zack: Looks more like a sasquatch than a barbarian.
Steve: What if that’s what sasquatches are: the last American barbarians.
Zack: Are you calling Native Americans barbarians?
Steve: What? No! I mean, they could be if they wanted, but barbarian is a class, not a race.
Zack: So you think it’s more like a career, where barbarianism was replaced with automation? Like the Internet getting rid of travel agents.
Steve: There are still travel agents. My mom used one to book a trip to Cancun last year.
Zack: How did that go?
Steve: She got bit really bad by bed bugs and then fell for a handsome grifter who tried to move in with us.
Steve: But that’s not my point. My point is barbarian is more like a class not a job. Like upper class, middle class, and lower class.
Zack: So where does a barbarian fit in on the income spectrum.
Steve: Sometime they’re really rich and become barbarian kings, but mostly they’re poor and just barely getting by, you know? Chopping orcs and rescuing hot babes who are very thankful.
Zack: Like hobos with an axe instead of a bindle.
Steve: Pretty close.
Zack: Maybe we hunted the orcs to extinction and the hot babes lost all their gratitude.
Steve: Could be. That’s what happened to the saber-toothed tiger.
Zack: Oh, bummer, looks like no Red Sonjas in the sexist Rifts barbarian culture.
Steve: I guess someone has to stay at home and take care of the kids.
Zack: At least she is allowed to use staplers and pens.
Steve: Gun is on there too.
Zack: I feel like once you are using a gun you are no longer a barbarian.
Steve: It’s like Batman, dude, it’s just waiting for that darker twist where barbarians are packing heat.
Zack: Yeah, but Batman is the Dark Knight not the Dark Barbarian. Knights can clearly use technology. Barbarians are all about the simpler things in life.
Steve: Fair point, but where do we draw the line? Can a barbarian wear a watch? Can he use a lever? Can he have a blanket?
Zack: A pelt, surely.
Steve: I am going to have to disagree and I tell you why: Turok. It’s an example of a man who had one job of being an elite commando and he becomes a dinosaur hunting barbarian out of necessity. He is a barbarian and he uses guns.
Steve: I don’t support the sexist no-girl-barbarians culture, but who do you want taking care of the kids? A hot babe. A hot babe should raise the kids.
Zack: Are you saying that Red Sonja and other female barbarians can’t be hot babes?
Steve: Hot Babe is a class. Barbarian is a class.
Zack: Okay, now this prompts two more questions: can a man be a Hot Babe and can someone multiclass both Hot Babe and Barbarian?
Zack: And can a Hot Babe use a gun?
Steve: Under the right circumstances, the answer is yes to all of those questions.
Steve: There is so much wrong with this character class. First of all, the big problem is she is a wizard. Barbarians hate wizards. You can’t be a barbarian wizard.
Steve: Also common misconception that barbarians care about the environment. Just because they have a small carbon foot print, doesn’t mean they care about conservation.
Steve: Third, you heard me argue in favor of barbarian women, so I’m not sexist, but no barbarian woman is wearing an ankle length dress.
Steve: It’s topless with loincloth or battle bikini. Those are your two barbarian woman choices.
Zack: So no fun tops? Not a cut off shirt or something? Maybe a tube top? Tanky blouse with spaghetti straps?
Steve: No! I don’t even know what hose are! But no!
Zack: Oh, sure, I get it. She can use a stapler and a gun, but barbarians don’t wear gowns?
Steve: No! Of course not!
Zack: We’ll see how many barbarian girls want to go to prom with you, mister!
Zack: Dinosaur Swamp introduces a bunch of weapons that do not inflict mega damage. There are lever action rifles, weird swords, and lots of barbarian weapons that are basically useless in Rifts.
Steve: But still cool.
Zack: That’s up for debate. Let’s look at some examples, like the tooth war club. It’s a club with teeth in it and the teeth break off in the wounds they will absolutely never cause because this is Rifts and everyone is a walking tank with ten different types of missiles and lasers.
Zack: Another favorite is the Horror Mace. It’s basically the tooth club, but it’s magical so that when you attack with it instead of a barbarian it seems like they’re getting attacked by the dinosaur that the teeth are from.
Steve: That one is even more badass. Imagine, you’re taking a dump behind a bush, and suddenly a dinosaur attacks you. Only it’s a barbarian.
Zack: Which you would realize instantly, because if it were a dinosaur you would be dead in a split second from mega damage.
Steve: Yeah, but maybe the club kills you in a split second because you took off your powered armor.
Zack: I’m imagining like a whole gang of barbarians attacking a guy in power armor and they’re all wailing away with these clubs. So for the invulnerable guy in the power armor it’s kind of like the ultimate 3D movie experience. He gets to see all these cool dinosaurs but there is no risk of being harmed.
Steve: Okay, dude, I get it. A lot of these don’t do mega damage. But there are exceptions. Like Stegosaur Vengeance. That one shoots magical fire bolts.
Zack: Oh, this one is cool. Based on one of those grabby hand toys, clearly.
Steve: It shoots magical fire. How much cooler do you want?
Zack: I thought barbarians hated magic?
Steve: Uh, yeah, but when you’re facing off with dinosaurs sometimes you have to use some magic.
Steve: Or a gun.
Zack: Or 187 pounds of C4.
Steve: This guy knows what’s up. If you want to hunt some dinosaurs you have to go full cyberpunk commando.
Zack: He looks like there should be three other guys in matching outfits singing R&B in the early 1990s.
Steve: Dinoz II Men
Zack: *extremely Jan and Dean voice* “Two dinos for ev-ery boyyyy…”
Steve: I’m not sure how we went from Boyz II Men jokes to Dino Surf City.
Steve: Yes! Now we’re talking.
Zack: In the world of Rifts, women can’t be barbarians, but half-animals can be barbarians.
Steve: It’s the cimmeriarchy at work.
Zack: I thought we were playing Rifts, not Gor.
Steve: Is there a Gor RPG?!
Zack: I do not like the way you managed to sound excited with text.
Steve: We should totally play a Gor campaign where women barbarians overthrow the slave rulers of Gor and establish voting rights for women.
Zack: That’s a bad idea, Steve.
Steve: Oh, okay, I get it.
Steve: You don’t want the kajiras to have the vote.
Zack: You are literally the worst.