[SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

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Alrik_vas
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[SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#1 Postby Alrik_vas » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:07 pm

Since some of us are unfamiliar overall with Rifts (other than the generous and pretty spot-on info in the SR books), I thought I'd ask how some of you deploy The Deadboys in your games.

I use capital letters because there is a difference between The Deadboys as in the CS Grunts, and deadboys as a catch-all for CS forces.

Let me frame it real quick.

When you're traveling about as adventurers and you aren't specifically in CS territory, most of what you tend to come across are specialists on recon tasks in the field. Military spec ops, Rangers, juicers, etc. There might be some Grunts mixed in the works there, but you won't find a platoon of Deadboys just wandering around in my experience.

Because when you see the Grunts, that means the Army is near. It means they're in deployment. It means that inside of a few rounds, there will be air support from skycycles or variations of the SAMAS, cyborg strike troopers, a Mark V with full compliment, missiles will come from behind hills fired by UAR-1's you'll never even see. Especially if the enemy (The PC's, hi everyone!) have extreme advantages like magic. The CS doesn't let a few Deadboys go anywhere unless they're off duty in a town getting wasted. They do however send large elements of a Brigade Combat Team of Deadboys and their Armored Vehicles go somewhere and level the place.

(Though historically, the Deadboys were a unit of infantry back from the first Bloody Campaign when old Joe took the fight back to the FoM's doorstep. Wasn't until much later that everyone got the death's head.)

Of course, this is all inferred by the books, but just as much, it's also inferred (and in some cases, clearly stated) that the Coalition sends Grunts out on wandering hunter killer patrols. Which seems...not optimal.

So, how do you use the CS in your games? Ep4 Imperial Stormtroopers or Ep3 Republic Commandos? A roadblock to safe travel, or loot pinatas? A journey into the dangers of nationalism or merciless mooks who don't even get name tags?

I like them as all of the above, personally. Part of what makes role playing games awesome is that everyone tends to do it a little differently. 8)

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#2 Postby rocksome » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:12 pm

I use Deadboys the same way I would use Stormtroopers in a Star Wars game.

Think Mos Eisley at the beginning of A New Hope. The troops on the ground looking for R2 and C3PO aren't Military OPS or recon specialists. They're just basic grunts. I think CS Grunts do most of the heavy lifting with the odd military specialist in charge.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#3 Postby Freemage » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:49 pm

Part of it is going to vary heavily on where they are:

1: Units sent into the 'Burbs to enforce order are going to have serious morale/deportment issues--either they're being worn down by the brutality of their job, or they've embraced it (and thus are prone to one of several flavors of corruption and abuse). However, they also have the most ready support team available if things start going south--a team that radios in for support is going to get it, in spades.

2: Border- and Nexus-Guards*, OTOH, are going to be highly disciplined, even if their morale sucks. Instead of the small patrols, they'll be larger encampments, maybe even with permanent structures with mounted weaponry to provide support. Troops patrol around these bases, but do so according to fairly regimented schedules, and with protocols to call in the heavy guns when needed.

3: They do, however, have WIlderness Patrols, particularly in Pecos and CS Lone Star and El Dorado. These tend to have the highest morale, despite having far less field support, because they are far more likely to see themselves as dealing with true enemies of the CS; even when not on monster-killing runs, they're dealing with political enemies of the state (as opposed to the 'Burbs folks, who are putting the boot to people who WANT to be CS citizens). As noted, though, they're far more likely to be out on their own, so their commanders have to be smart about picking fights, versus observe-and-report tasks.

*: As I've mentioned before, I figure a large portion of CS' over-inflated military is dedicated to Rift-Guard duty. This is a lot like border patrol, except with even less excitement when nothing is going on, and even more pant-crapping terror when it is. The psychological pressure is going to be intense, especially since the commanders of such posts are probably some of the most buttoned-down by-the-book hard-asses in the CS military, because if they aren't--if they allow the troops to slack off even a little--it's a good way to become known as a "Custer". Cowboys and renegades get assigned to Pecos.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#4 Postby Mad Paladin » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:11 am

rocksome wrote:I use Deadboys the same way I would use Stormtroopers in a Star Wars game.


And the SW RPG had a piece of GM advice of "When in doubt, have a squad of Stormtroopers show up."

I see the original point about a regular army not sending single squads so far from support, especially with all the communications equipment and aircraft CS troops have access to. That being said, I can see a remote outposts consisting of a couple dozen grunts, plus a officer/specialist or two to oversee, and then maybe a sky cycle or SAMAS suit or two as heavy support.

Of course, the air support question has another side to it: how far does CS air control extend? Especially with limits on altitude and the lack of satellite communications.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#5 Postby Freemage » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:39 am

Mad Paladin wrote:
rocksome wrote:I use Deadboys the same way I would use Stormtroopers in a Star Wars game.


And the SW RPG had a piece of GM advice of "When in doubt, have a squad of Stormtroopers show up."

I see the original point about a regular army not sending single squads so far from support, especially with all the communications equipment and aircraft CS troops have access to. That being said, I can see a remote outposts consisting of a couple dozen grunts, plus a officer/specialist or two to oversee, and then maybe a sky cycle or SAMAS suit or two as heavy support.

Of course, the air support question has another side to it: how far does CS air control extend? Especially with limits on altitude and the lack of satellite communications.


I suspect that within claimed CS territory, the CS is the dominant force in the skies. Meaning that if some other faction sends in air strikers, the CS can respond accordingly with overwhelming force. Likewise, if they want to engage a large area of ground, they can send out multiple sorties of aerial bombardment first, to soften things up. (I know the Burbs book mentions that Burbs have been leveled in the span of a day when the CS decided a show of force was necessary to restore order.) But they lack the sort of perpetual awareness that modern nations have of their air-space under complete surveillance. Lone fliers (particularly quiet ones like dragons) far from population centers, or flying above the clouds, can likely pass completely unnoticed.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#6 Postby Phasma Felis » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:45 pm

Freemage wrote:But they lack the sort of perpetual awareness that modern nations have of their air-space under complete surveillance. Lone fliers (particularly quiet ones like dragons) far from population centers, or flying above the clouds, can likely pass completely unnoticed.

Hmm. Why would you think so? I would have assumed they'd have pretty thorough radar coverage of their claimed airspace. You may be right--they seem to be spread pretty thin outside the cities (and, I guess, the Rift Guard outposts). How much presence does it take to maintain a radar station, though?

Rifts has always been kind of schizophrenic about its tech levels, mixing ultra-tech with post-apoc in ways that don't necessarily make a lot of sense. I know the lack of satellites and ground infrastructure is a problem, but don't really understand how there's so little long-distance knowledge or communication in a world with supersonic aircraft and short-wave radio. I guess the Coalition has the technology to produce mechs and lasers and flying battleships, but not necessarily the infrastructure to deploy them in the numbers they'd like... I'd also be tempted to retcon (if it's not already official) that EM interference from the rifts limits the maximum range of radar and radio.

...Do dragons show up on radar? I know large flocks of birds do, but I'm not sure how large they need to be. I have a vague impression that flesh doesn't reflect radar nearly as well as metal, so dragons and other living flyers might not be detectable beyond short range. (And/or their signal might be hard to distinguish from a random flock of birds.)

I kinda want to stat up a Coalition early warning/air defense site now. One big radar crawler, one or two AA tanks/mechs with long-range missiles and flak guns, and depending on the zone, a Mark V with Dead Boys to screen off random monsters and SAMAS to intercept if the missiles don't do the job.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#7 Postby Freemage » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:18 pm

Phasma Felis wrote:
Freemage wrote:But they lack the sort of perpetual awareness that modern nations have of their air-space under complete surveillance. Lone fliers (particularly quiet ones like dragons) far from population centers, or flying above the clouds, can likely pass completely unnoticed.

Hmm. Why would you think so? I would have assumed they'd have pretty thorough radar coverage of their claimed airspace. You may be right--they seem to be spread pretty thin outside the cities (and, I guess, the Rift Guard outposts). How much presence does it take to maintain a radar station, though?

Rifts has always been kind of schizophrenic about its tech levels, mixing ultra-tech with post-apoc in ways that don't necessarily make a lot of sense. I know the lack of satellites and ground infrastructure is a problem, but don't really understand how there's so little long-distance knowledge or communication in a world with supersonic aircraft and short-wave radio. I guess the Coalition has the technology to produce mechs and lasers and flying battleships, but not necessarily the infrastructure to deploy them in the numbers they'd like... I'd also be tempted to retcon (if it's not already official) that EM interference from the rifts limits the maximum range of radar and radio.

...Do dragons show up on radar? I know large flocks of birds do, but I'm not sure how large they need to be. I have a vague impression that flesh doesn't reflect radar nearly as well as metal, so dragons and other living flyers might not be detectable beyond short range. (And/or their signal might be hard to distinguish from a random flock of birds.)

I kinda want to stat up a Coalition early warning/air defense site now. One big radar crawler, one or two AA tanks/mechs with long-range missiles and flak guns, and depending on the zone, a Mark V with Dead Boys to screen off random monsters and SAMAS to intercept if the missiles don't do the job.


Maintaining a radar outpost means having the contingent assigned to protect it NOT out killing D-Bees, rousting bandits, etc. As Clint reminded me in one of the other threads, just because Prosek's attitude is "Expense is no object" doesn't mean they have literally bottomless resources. They also haven't had unlimited time in which to build the infrastructure for that sort of thing. And, of course, any stations that do get built are immediate targets if they aren't well-defended. Most nations don't have every airport radar post with a contingent of troops surrounding it, but that would be absolutely necessary in a world where Rifts abound.

And, of course, there's the matter of magic and unnatural creatures. Radar is going to be far less useful than in a strictly mundane world, simply because so many of the new threats are either difficult to discern via radar, or just downright impossible. Investing in the ability to monitor every inch of sky for hostile aircraft, only to have your network brought down from below by giant purple worms, is going to be difficult to explain to Emperor Prosek.

Of greater value are mobile radar towers. A group like you described above is quite likely to have an APV modded with a large radar system capable of spotting anything coming in. These then get moved into any region where the CS feels the need to make a show of strength. Figure a half-dozen were probably involved in Tolkeen, with others deployed in the wilderness along likely reinforcement routes from Dweamor, et al. So the CS can slap a hand down dramatically, declare control over a particular patch of airspace, and reasonably expect to have that claim honored (or to be able to deal with any resistance efficiently).

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#8 Postby Alrik_vas » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:33 pm

This is all very mindful of logic, and I can't appreciate that enough, honestly.

There are a lot of gaps in the CS' air space. Even with their expansive net of detection, there is plenty to slip through the cracks. However, you also have to remember that the Coalition knows their territory the best they can given the circumstances. People take routes to travel to places, and radar coverage often covers those routes, as navigation is largely dependent on older methods because no one else has sat-feeds either.

So while they don't have to meticulously cover every inch of air and ground, there are those who through observation or having an inside source, can determine where the CS will watch for trouble and avoid those areas for a time to accomplish their missions. That's the hook for games, really.

Officer Doubting Debbie: "You can't move a strike force into CS territory, they'll see it coming from miles away."

NCO Know It All: "No, you can. My uncle was a smuggler for the Black Market and used this route back in his day, the CS never discovered it because he was never caught and retired before the heat was on."

General Optimism: "Then we'll find your uncle and scout this old path. We have send our troops through it to raid the CS base, we have recuse Lieutenant Damsel before the CS executes her, she has the intel on their impending invasion."

Or some such.

But operationally, yeah. A bunch of skullheads hundreds of miles from home are seriously fish out of water unless they're attached to a larger operation. That's the line I tow, anyway.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#9 Postby Phasma Felis » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:50 pm

Alrik_vas wrote:People take routes to travel to places, and radar coverage often covers those routes, as navigation is largely dependent on older methods because no one else has sat-feeds either.

...Studying up on 1920s/'30s aerial navigation could produce some fascinating material for Rifts. I read a novel about aviators of that era a while back, and it was full of pilots getting lost in the dark and fog and tensely checking their compass and airspeed against the charts and "what the hell river is that, it doesn't look like the Mississippi but if it's not then we're way off course, do you recognize that mountain?" If the rifts cause radio interference, even over the Coalition heartland there might be patches where you can't pick up any nearby airfields and have to resort to landmarks and dead reckoning. Out in the boonies, it's like that everywhere.

There's places in the US where you can still see the giant concrete arrows they installed in the '20s to guide air mail pilots...
Freemage wrote:Of greater value are mobile radar towers. A group like you described above is quite likely to have an APV modded with a large radar system capable of spotting anything coming in. These then get moved into any region where the CS feels the need to make a show of strength.

Yeah, my first thought was a Mark V or similar with a radar dish replacing the big turrets, supported by a couple of SAM launchers on flatbeds. Then I thought "This is Rifts. They should also have WWII-style flak guns." Then I thought, "This is RIfts. They should have missiles and flak guns and lasers and they should also be mechs. Also mini-missiles. It's impossible to take a mech seriously if it doesn't have mini-missiles."

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#10 Postby Mad Paladin » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:23 pm

Phasma Felis wrote: I'd also be tempted to retcon (if it's not already official) that EM interference from the rifts limits the maximum range of radar and radio.


I don't think it was ever part of the official lore. But I don't think that's a stretch at all, and would in general fit the way the setting has patches of civilization isolated from each other. And it helps explain why the orbital nations continue to ignore Earth (I never quite bought the "quarantine plus intentionally not listening" part, not completely, especially with the New Navy and Archie having access to what should be links and codes to get heard). Also doesn't effect the stats on equipment PCs are likely to have access to.

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#11 Postby Phasma Felis » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:50 pm

Mad Paladin wrote:I don't think it was ever part of the official lore. But I don't think that's a stretch at all, and would in general fit the way the setting has patches of civilization isolated from each other.

Glad it makes sense to you too.

I did a bit of searching, and apparently the official lore says that long-range communication is impossible because of the lack of access to relay satellites. That doesn't really make sense--presumably the author didn't know what short-wave radio is capable of--so the "rift interference" retcon seems to achieve the intended effect in a more realistic way. I'll be going with that, then. :)
And it helps explain why the orbital nations continue to ignore Earth (I never quite bought the "quarantine plus intentionally not listening" part, not completely, especially with the New Navy and Archie having access to what should be links and codes to get heard). Also doesn't effect the stats on equipment PCs are likely to have access to.

Also good points!

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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#12 Postby Hendell » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:53 am

One of the things that is often ignored with long range radio communication is the problem of signal vs noise ratio. While a short wave radio really is capable of broadcasting a considerable distance if nothing else is on its frequency and the weather conditions are good, and nobody is trying to jam it, those things are not really well related to the Rifts world. We know that not just open rifts but also passive ley lines, nexis points, and even minor ley line storms are seriously problematic for delicate technology so it stands to reason even if not printed anywhere in a book that their impact on communication via radio would be significant. Perhaps it is possible to get some signals through some of the time, or parts of signals, or even just conveniently timed bursts of static, but that hardly constitutes a viable communication network. Added to this is the problem of a secure network that anything like a functional military would require, not just encryption techniques but the value of line of sight clear communications that can not be intercepted.

Added to this problem is the general level of chaos going on in even the CS states, they have nothing like an infrastructure as we think of it in the modern (or even recent) world. Only very heavy and frequently reinforced or repaired static defenses of any kind can stand up for even a short period of time, so everything is mobile that is why the CS has such a heavy reliance on mobile command units, and radar systems, and boots on the ground style detection techniques.

All this comes back to the question asked, you never 'send' in the Deadboys because they are already there, they are in every CS town, patrolling every CS trade route, ready to be a speed bump or an amusing distraction, or even some kind of legitimate threat at any moment, but they are never summoned because more of them just don't help. If you need escalation then you need something with a dedicated skill set to focus on the problem as it is known, the Deadboys are the ones who 'detect traps' by stepping on them, they 'spot ambushes' because they noticed the two guys next to them go down from sniper fire, the CS military machine knows this and makes sure the Deadboys are tough enough and numerous enough to always have survivors able to get the information out and backup plans for when squads go dark.

From an GM perspective where any encounter could seem to be 'sent' into the field of battle I would almost never use Deadboys on a battlefield that I intended the players to encounter, they are window dressing, things to be avoided or distracted, or at most the kind of thing you intimidate or outwit with a few quick rolls and move on. What Deadboys do is knit the story together, they make the next encounter with skycycles make sense, they stand at the gate doing guard duty so you can RP with something other than a wall speaker, and they leave a trail of bodies that the real villains of the story will follow directly to your secret hideout if you get sloppy.
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Re: [SR]When You Send in The Deadboys

#13 Postby Severite » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:23 pm

Any time the Coalition is involved, or at least most times. Special teams will have grunts assigned to them for a variety of reasons, to keep the specialists "honest", to provide labor, and, as combat help. Indeed, the only two instances where CS interests will not also have grunts assigned is a PSI-stalker hunter group, which will usually include 1 Psi stalker in charge of a group of dog boys, and a special forces group trying to perform a very specific mission. They are not inept, bumbling fools, though of course you will have varying stages of greenness, hell, they are better trained than todays military, by a long shot. They are not Navy Seals level of good, but easily comparable to Recon :1chaos:


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