This category covers any vehicle designed to stay on the ground, or at a close fixed distance from it (i.e., hovercraft). Due to the general lack of proper roads on Rifts Earth, most of the surviving ground vehicles are very rugged. Ground vehicles are maneuvered using the Drive skill.
Trucks are the most common catch-all vehicle. They are capable of hauling cargo, passengers, and trailers. They come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, and price ranges. The Mountaineer is the most popular model currently available.
ATVs run a close second to trucks, especially in the wilder areas. They are capable of handling most types of terrain well, and are generally designed for long hauls between centers of civilization. Their primary downside is that they rarely have significant areas for cargo or passengers. The Big Boss is the most popular model currently available.
Cargo Haulers are designed to do pretty much what it sounds like, haul large amounts of stuff. They are frequently massive beasts, with many wheels, and heavily armored sides. Given their weight and size, they have to be cautious of terrain, as they can be relatively easily stopped by dense undergrowth or soft ground. Given their rather obvious nature, they are often the targets of bandits, which has led to some extremely effective security measures integrated as standard features. The Jonah is the most popular model currently available.
APCs are primarily used by militaries. Their purpose is to move large numbers of personnel swiftly and securely. Most can carry 15-20 armed soldiers in relative comfort. They very often come with weapons mounted, and are almost invariably well-armored. Salvaged Coalition models are most popular, as no independent manufacturer has found a large enough market to warrant a solid model of their own.
Hover cars are marvelous inventions. They glide smoothly and swiftly over virtually any terrain, easily outpacing anything that requires wheels. However, they are rarely seen, for a number of reasons. First, they are very expensive to purchase. Second, they have significant energy needs, meaning that they are ill-suited to wilderness travel. Third, they have fairly low weight limits. This prevents them from carrying much in the way of cargo, passengers, weapons, or armor. They tend to be seen as toys of the urban rich, rather than serious vehicles.
Road trains are almost entirely limited to well-settled areas, such as the heart of the Coalition. They are simply very powerful trucks, pulling several trailers behind them. Because of this, roads are a necessity, not merely a convenience. But, in areas where they can operate, they are by far the most efficient way to move huge numbers of cargo, and occasionally passengers.
Air vehicles are surprisingly uncommon on Rifts Earth. This is due to several factors, among them the lack of long-range communication, the scarcity of jet fuel, and the fact that most man-made aircraft can be ripped out of the sky by flying supernatural threats. However, some vehicles are still flown. Air vehicles are maneuvered using the Pilot skill.
Crop dusters are a general name given to small, non-military aircraft. These aircraft rarely have significant range, or capacity. Their armaments rarely consist of more than a bolted-on rifle. But, on occasion, the third dimension does come in handy.
Jets are currently exclusively used by the Coalition. No other power has the fuel, the airstrips, or the trained pilots. However, the jet jockeys usually suffer in comparison to the SAMAS, and the Air Corps is small. They are generally only deployed in circumstances where high altitude or high speed is needed.
Transport planes are the most common large aircraft seen. They are able to get from place to place without having to risk the dangers in between. However, they are still rare, and often prohibitively expensive. They are most commonly seen travelling between Lazlo and Tolkeen, and in the far northeastern regions, where they make transatlantic flights.
Helicopters have some strong supporters. They are large enough to carry practically anything, they can be armed and armored, they can take off and land without an airstrip, and they can support an electric or nuclear engine, removing the need for jet fuel. There are some drawbacks, however. Most importantly, skilled helicopter pilots are rare, especially as the Coalition doesn't train any. And flying a helicopter half-trained is very difficult. Also, helicopters are notoriously vulnerable to high winds, which can be conjured far too easily by a warlock.
Sky cycles are unusual vehicles. Very few people really understand how they work. They seem to use engines that are somewhere between hover fans and jets, which enable them to fly up to about 200 feet above the ground. They have excellent maneuverability, good speed, and a very low profile. While they generally are poorly armored, they are often fast enough to avoid being hit. There are currently only two models on the market, salvaged Coalition Sky Cycles, and the Northern Gun Sky King.
Hover trucks are actually poorly named, as they do not actually use hover technology. Instead, they use some strange form of magnetic repulsion technology to maintain altitudes up to about 400 feet. They are extremely rare in North America, as they are solely produced by Triax, and not generally exported. Most of them were obviously originally military craft.
Most water vehicles in Rifts fall into the same sort of categories we’re used to, using much the same means of propulsion. After all, boats were the first vehicles ever designed, and they were largely optimized long ago. Water vehicles are maneuvered using the Boating skill.
Power boats are the basic workhorses of the water world, especially on inland waterways. They generally have a simple engine, that turns a propeller. They can be as small as a two-man fishing boat, or as large as a trawler capable of carrying a cargo hauler. Some are built for speed, but few are built for combat.
Sail boats use the power of the wind. They are rarely large, generally slow, and difficult to maneuver. On the other hand, they’re essentially free to operate.
Submarines operate beneath the waves. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, no matter how large they are, they are invariably cramped on the inside. Subs are essentially divided into two categories, military and exploration. In general, military craft has superior weapons, armor, and communications. Exploratory craft has superior range, sensors, and external manipulation. NOTE: Submarines have an additional statistic under “Range.” The first number indicates the distance they can go before refueling, as normal. The second number indicates the time the sub can remain underwater before needing to resurface to exchange air.
Personal vehicles are characterized by the need for the operator to use their entire body to steer and/or power the vehicle. As such, they are maneuvered using the Balance skill. Also, they typically are small, rarely having significant room for either passengers or cargo.
Motorcycles are preferred vehicles in many areas that are near civilization. They are better able to cope with rough off-road conditions, generally have good range, and honestly just look cool. The Wastelander and Highwayman are popular models. NOTE: When maneuvering a motorcycle, the operator may gain a synergy bonus from the Drive skill.
Hover cycles are much like typical motorcycles, except that they float on hover jets. They are very fast, very maneuverable, and very tricky. Similar to hovercars, hover cycles typically are found in very populated areas, where fuel is plentiful, as their range is relatively short. NOTE: When maneuvering a hover cycle, the operator may gain a synergy bonus from the Drive skill.
Jet packs are one-man flying machines. Unlike what you may have seen in movies, they do not, in fact, shoot flame from their end. That would be very hard on the legs of the operator. Instead, they use small wings and jets of super-compressed gasses. Their range on a single charge is limited, but many models come with a recharge unit that allows you to replenish the gasses from the atmosphere. NOTE: When maneuvering a jet pack, the operator may gain a synergy bonus from the Pilot skill.
Jet-skis are, essentially, water-borne motorcycles. An intake in the front scoops up water, an engine compresses it, and the water is propelled in a jet out the rear. While they can easily outmaneuver most boats, their limited speed and range mean that they are rarely used for serious pursuits. NOTE: When maneuvering a jet-ski, the operator may gain a synergy bonus from the Boating skill.
Bicycles are very common in urban areas. They are cheap to build, cheap to maintain, and free to operate. However, they are generally impractical for long-distance travel, as they tire the rider as much as simply walking would.
There are any number of other specialty vehicles, that also fall under this category. These include skateboards, roller blades, skis, surfboards, and hang-gliders. They often operate in fairly limited environments, and rarely see significant military or travel applications. NOTE: When maneuvering one of these vehicles, the operator may gain a synergy bonus from an appropriate Sport skill.
Power armor is a class of power-assisted exoskeleton, generally designed with military applications in mind. There are a huge range of models and options available, from the extremely cheap Chipwell line to the SAMAS and Glitter Boy. Power armor is maneuvered using the Pilot skill.
Most power armor, in addition to their deadly array of weapons, are capable of engaging in a version of hand-to-hand combat. A trained power armor pilot is able to execute almost any maneuver inside the armor that he can manage without it. As such, any agent with the Power Armor Basics feat may benefit from any unarmed or melee combat feats while in power armor. NOTE: Keep in mind that almost every model of power armor benefits from robotic strength (dealing mega-damage with its unarmed attacks), and most are considered Large or Huge combatants.
Power armor is designed to be used for extended battles. As such, in addition to the standard sealed environment, they generally come with food and water tubes (the feeding tube extruding a nutritional paste, similar to baby food). The pilot’s compartment also comes with amenities such as temperature control and massage centers. However, they are not designed for sleeping. Any pilot who chooses to sleep in his armor gains only half the benefit of the sleep (e.g., 8 hours in armor counts as only 4 hours of restful sleep).
Unlike normal armor, power armor does not pass excess damage to the pilot. Instead, it suffers damage to its body, using the same rules as other vehicles. Note that the pilot can still take damage from extreme events, such as falling off of a cliff, using the standard rules for damage to passengers.
Giant robots are huge, very complicated vehicles. The most important distinction between a giant robot and a typical land vehicle is that a robot moves about on articulated limbs. They come in a dizzying array of configurations, though a surprising number either mimic the human form, or that of a common animal.
Giant robots are crewed vehicles. The pilot maneuvers using the Drive skill. The gunner operates the weapons systems. Depending on the model, there may be stations for reading sensors, communications, secondary weapons, or even a second pilot for particularly involved configurations. At least one member of the crew must have Giant Robot Basics.
Very few giant robots are capable of flight, or water travel (although, as sealed environments, most are capable of walking along the bottom of relatively shallow waters). Those that are require either the Pilot or Boating skill (as appropriate) when operating in those modes.
Many giant robots are capable of striking opponents with their limbs. However, it is very rare to see a robot capable of doing so with the speed and grace typically associated with unarmed combat. Unless otherwise specified, a giant robot may not use any special unarmed combat actions (e.g., trip, grapple), nor may it benefit from any combat feats the crew possesses.
Combustion engines are still the most common, even in the far-flung future. The important difference is that they are not exclusively gasoline-dependent. Advances in diesel technology have allowed the engines to run on virtually any flammable liquid, with appropriate adjustments. Diesel-grade gasoline is still common, especially in the oil-rich southern US. In the vast grain-fields of the midwest, ethanol is most common. In the northeast and northwest, soybean oil is frequently used. NOTE: A successful Mechanics check, typically DC 15, must be made to change the fuel type accepted by a combustion engine. Combustion engines are usually equipped to generate an electrical charge as a by-product of their activity. This is enough to produce 1 DET per hour.
Electric engines are extremely common in large urban areas, where large power plants generate relatively cheap energy. They are somewhat less common in wilderness areas, where it is harder to efficiently generate a charge. However, even there, you will see engines that recharge with large solar arrays. Electric engines run off of essentially the same cells that are used in e-clips, but in a very different configuration. As such, it is very easy to measure the amount of energy left in the system, and to use it for other purposes. An electric engine’s “fuel” rating is the number of DET that the batteries can hold at full charge. A full charge is sufficient to take the vehicle to the edge of its range. Using the DETs to charge e-clips or run other devices drains the batteries at the standard rate (however, the operation of the standard built-in systems of the vehicle is already figured into the range rating).
Nuclear engines are quite rare outside of large power plants, or military vehicles. They are expensive, and potentially very dangerous if breached. However, they will run for twenty-five years on a single allotment of fuel, needing no more than token maintenance. This makes them ideal for wilderness travel. They produce electricity, at the staggering rate of 25 DET per hour for most vehicle-sized systems. The majority of this power is, naturally, used in operating the vehicle itself. Different vehicles consume different amounts of this power. The “fuel” rating is the number of DET left over after normal operation. The engine will produce twice this when the vehicle is turned off.