Welcome to the world of Palladium’s Rifts, a clunky system and a kitchen sink setting where worlds collide and there is a source book to cover almost any possible eventuality. There are demons, dragons, robots, mutants, wizards, powered armor, and even Canadians. This time around we look at the Merc Ops source book and Steve takes Zack and his wheelchair bound elven mercenary with ALS on a thrilling adventure to recover a mystical dragon egg. Will they find the egg? Will they rescue the dragon inside from certain doom or deliver it to evil?
Steve: We’ve been talking about doing this for a long time. I hope you have put a lot of thought into this character.
Zack: What time is it?
Steve: About 2:15.
Zack: Yes, I have put almost 20 minutes of thought into this. Minus the 15 minutes to fill out the character sheet.
Steve: 15 minutes on a Rifts character has got to be some sort of record. It would take me 15 minutes to hunt down all the right books.
Zack: Well, there might be some unexplored corners of the sheet. Let’s just say he will show rather than tell.
Steve: Tell first. Let’s hear about this character.
Zack: His name is Dareel D’Oats and he is a mercenary.
Steve: Is that name Irish?
Zack: How insulting! It’s elven. He is an elf suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS, so he can’t move his arms or legs and he is confined to a motorized wheelchair and speaks with a robot voice by puffing into a straw.
Steve: What is it a hover wheelchair that has a force field and missile pods?
Zack: No, it’s a regular wheelchair. It has 50 SDC and is unarmed.
Steve: So why the heck did Darreel become a mercenary?
Zack: He loves the mercenary lifestyle. Nothing to tie him down, nobody to be his boss, just moving from one job to the next without concern for morals or building a home.
Zack: Also he has a 30 foot tall robot that follows him around that he salvaged from a Russian submarine. It’s called RussMek 66 or just 66. I used the Titan Robot from the Merc Ops book.
Steve: Yeah, that makes a lot more sense.
Zack: He is also accompanied by his Latina nurse, Kitty Ford, who is a werejaguar.
Steve: Is she sexy?
Zack: Yes, of course, like Maria Conchita Alonso from Running Man but she is very neglectful and borderline abusive to him.
Steve: You are at the Iron Bar, a heavy metal bar frequented by mercenaries. Death Thrasher is playing on stage and some of the hardest mercs this side of the Dinosaur Swamp are chugging the worst rotgut this side of, well, Dinosaur Swamp.
Zack: Kitty is holding my nutribeer or whatever and I’m sipping it through a straw, looking through my crooked mirrorshades at the patrons of the bar.
Steve: You recognize a lot of the mercs. There’s Woofers the dog boy, Dole the Juicer, Skull Head the skull head, and Handsome Dan, the Glitter Boy, among many others. A grizzled man in a fedora with a cool leather jacket makes eye contact. He walks over to your table.
Zack: (Talking in my text to speech voice) I. Am. Only. Into. Hot. Babes. Not. Grizzled. Old. Dudes.
Steve: “I’m afraid I’m not interested in a date. You must be Darreel. I saw old 66 standing around outside and I figured you’d be in here. I’m General Smith.”
Zack: You. Are. Correct. I. Am. Darreel. My. Talents. Do. Not. Come. Cheap.
Steve: “I’m sure they don’t. I’m looking for something special. Something I think an experienced merc like you might just be able to retrieve for me.”
Zack: Get. To. The. Point.
Steve: He sits on a chair backwards.
Zack: Oh. Here. We. Go.
Steve: “The last of a breed of dragons. They’re called the ice lords of the Shatter World. Only one egg of their kind reminds and it has been stolen. I fear it has been sold in the inter-dimensional markets of Atlantis.”
Zack: Why. Do. You. Want. The. Egg?
Steve: Protect an endangered species. I made a promise to someone long ago. I promised to take care of the ice lords. This is my last chance to do it. I need that egg back.
Zack: Pay. Me. Bitch.
Steve: I don’t really remember how money works in Rifts, but he offers to pay you an extremely fair amount of money.
Zack: I. Require. Fair. Times. Two. Moneys.
Steve: “It is agreed then, Darreel. I will pay you two times fair money. One quarter in advance. The rest when you deliver to me that dragon egg. Oh… and you must travel with my associate.” He gestures to a man sitting over at the bar who looks like he is a body builder wearing football pads.
Zack: I. Told. You. I. Only. Work. With. Sexy. Babes.
Steve: “Sorry, Sykoslayer goes with you or it’s no deal.”
Zack: Fine. But. I. Want. Ten. Percent. More. Money.
Steve: We were already at two times money and you want ten percent on top of that?
Steve: This is gettin’ to be a lot of money.
Steve: “Fine, deal.” He holds out his hand to shake.
Zack: I glare at his hand over my crooked mirrorshades.
Steve: Sometimes I feel like you’re making fun of people with ALS with this character.
Zack: I am proving that they can be heroes too. I am doing something noble.
Steve: Sykoslayer walks over and introduces himself. He seems pretty cool.
Zack: “So. Pycho. Slayer. Do. You. Slay. Psychopaths. Or. Are. You. A.” *pause to take a sip of my drink from Kitty* “Psychopathic. Slayer?”
Steve: “I slay whoever pays the bills.”
Zack: You. Slay. The. Person. Who. Is. Paying. You?
Steve: “No, I mean when I slay someone, I get paid.”
Zack: Precision. Is. Crucial. When. Communicating.
Zack: I dramatically turn in my electric wheelchair. “Let. Us. Be. Off. Pycho. Slayer.”
Steve: You bump into nurse Kitty as you are turning and she spills most of your drink all over your shirt. She shrugs and follows after you.
Zack: Not a lot I can do about that. I am going to drive out to see 66. I left him digging a ditch just to give him something to do.
Steve: He has dug a trench 30 feet long and 11 feet deep. Several motorcycles have also fallen into the trench.
Zack: Time. To. Go. Sixty. Six.
Steve: Some angry bikers run out of the Iron Bar. “Hey! Those are our bikes!”
Zack: Oh. Well. I. Guess. You. Had. Better. Kill. These. Bikers. Sixty. Six.
Zack: How many bikers are there?
Zack: 66 is going to use his rail gun arm on one, his two chest lasers on another, his belly double-barreled ion ball turret on a third, and his chest mini-missile launchers on the fourth. He is also going to fire his leg grenade launchers to completely saturate the area where the bikers are standing with additional explosions.
Steve: The rail gun explodes one biker. There aren’t even chunks of him. The chest lasers cut another into four steaming piles. The ion ball turret, hang on, what does that even do?
Zack: 1D4x10 Mega Damage for a double-barreled blast.
Steve: Alright well the third guy I’ll just say both of his legs are turned into goop and his upper body is flung on top of the bar’s roof. For the missiles you can fire one or a volley of up to six missiles.
Zack: Six missiles.
Steve: Okay, six missiles streak out of the chest of your giant Russian robot and blast the fourth biker to pieces. Then 66 fires off his leg grenade launcher and destroys all the other motorcycles and vehicles parked outside.
Zack: Good. Work. Now. They. Can. Not. Follow. Us.
Steve: Sykoslayer shakes his head, “You’re a dang psychopath.”
Zack: Having 66 pick me and Kitty up on his shoulders and carry us to the nearest portal to Atlantis.
Steve: Fortunately there is a giant bus stop for the giant bus nearby that will take you and various other giant robots, mechas, and enormous dimensional monsters to the Atlantis rift.
Zack: I don’t really think that’s how Rifts works.
Steve: Most of the time you would have a spacecraft or use some ley line magic, but you’re in a part of the country where there is a nexus to the multiverse. Like a Stargate sort of thing. You just dial up Atlantis and go there.
Zack: I. Hope. You. Packed. A. Change. Of. Clothes. Psycho. Slayer.
Steve: He mumbles something. He still seems a little messed up by the way your giant robot butchered all those bikers for no reason.
Zack: Looks. Like. I. Was. The. Psycho. Slayer. All. Along.
Steve: You step through the Rift and emerge into a wide plaza with various tents and stalls where merchants are selling their wares. Strange aliens and cyborgs mill around the plaza with humanlike creatures. Various airborne vehicles and flying creatures pass overhead.
Steve: Welcome to Atlantis!
Zack: Is the marketplace handicapped accessible?
Steve: Not so much.
Zack: How about 30-foot robot accessible?
Steve: Surprisingly more so, yeah. A lot of the customers at the market are larger than humans. You see a huge treeman, something that looks like a giant metal snake, and several ten-foot-tall frog creatures wearing neckties.
Zack: I guess we’re going to keep riding on 66’s shoulders then.
Zack: At least we have a good view of the marketplace from up here. Is there like a dragon egg district?
Steve: The shops sell everything you could imagine, but you’re guessing a dragon egg is fairly large and probably not the sort of thing that tents and shacks would be dealing in.
Zack: So like a bigger store.
Steve: There is a ramshackle shop protected by some sort of troll creature. It’s called Doctor Monstorium’s Horror Emporium.
Zack: Does it have ramp access?
Steve: No, but 66 can set you just inside the entrance.
Zack: Telling the troll, “This. Is. Completely. Unsatisfactory.”
Steve: You zoom into the shop and find it filled with all manner of horrifying artifacts, dead creatures in jars, live creatures in cages, and pieces of various monsters. There is some sort of rat man standing on a counter.
Zack: Doctor. Monstorium. I. Need. Information. About. A. Dragon. Egg.
Steve: A voice comes from below the counter, “Dragon egg?” An elderly woman with the thick glasses pokes her head up over the counter. She sees the rat man on the counter and screams. “Ahhhhhh! Get out! Ratman! Ahhhhh!”
Steve: She grabs a broom and starts swinging it at him. He starts screeching and scampering around knocking things over.
Zack: I. Would. Help. But. I. Left. My. Mini. Missile. Launcher. Outside.
Steve: She finally smacks the rat man on the head. It screams and runs out of the shop. She straightens up and looks at you, “What was this about a dragon egg? We don’t have any dragon eggs. We have cockatrice eggs and naga eggs but no dragon eggs.”
Zack: Specifically. Ice. Dragon. Egg.
Steve: Now that you mention it, there was a fella in here a couple days ago trying to sell one to me. He wanted way too much for it, had some crazy story about it being from the Shatter World. I had Billy throw him out.
Zack: Do. You. Know. Who. Might. Buy. A. Dragon. Egg?
Steve: Nobody would buy one from the Shatter World, unless… maybe…
Zack: Stop. Trailing. Off. What. Do. You. Know?
Steve: There is an eccentric collector called The Egg Master.
Zack: I. Am. Guessing. That. He. Likes. Eggs.
Steve: To a dangerous degree.
Zack: Where. Can. We. Find. Him?
Steve: Eggland. It’s his own dimension. He rules over all the eggs. He considers eggs more important than any other life form.
Zack: Looks. Like. Eggs. Are. Back. On. The. Menu.
Steve: Kitty interjects, “Oh, not for you. We have to watch your cholesterol.”
Zack: Going to ask this woman, “Do. You. Know. Where. We. Can. Find. A. Thirty. Foot. Egg. Costume?”
Steve: You’re going to get a 30-foot egg costume for 66?
Zack: We all need an egg costume if we’re going to Eggland.
Zack: Because Eggland’s best is about to meet Eggland’s worst.
Steve: Next time!
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