I was inspired by the fantastic work below, which is done by the professional, French artist Aube (also known as Dawn) and is used with full permissions. You can check out their works through Facebook, Tumblr, DeviantArt, or their main page on Blogspot (you may have to translate the pages from François.)
The layout is based on the race templates used in Rifts World Book 30: D-Bees of North America, so it should be easy to use, and is complete in that you could use this information to create your own Bear-Centaur player and nonplayer characters. This is a variation of the official Centaur R.C.C., though I’ve made great efforts to differentiate between the two. I tried to keep things balanced; Beartaurs are stronger but not as fast or enduring as Centaurs, and though they are magical, they cannot be psionics and do not interact with technology as often as Centaurs do (according to the text).
If you do decide to create a character using this template, please let me know! It’s what it was made for, and I’d love to hear about it!
Game: Palladium Books’ Rifts RPG
Books Needed: Rifts Ultimate Edition, Rifts: Book of Magic, and Rifts World Book 30: D-Bees of North America for reference.
Recommended Setting: They are generally well suited to outdoorsy, traveling campaigns; not suited for tropical or otherwise hot climates due to their thick fur, but that fur helps them traverse many of the harshest cold climates.
The elderly woman smiled at me as she handed over a smooth carving made out of some kind of tusk, perhaps walrus. She spoke lowly in her native Inuit dialect, describing the odd composition of the sculpture, “Like the arctic bear, white as snow and as large as a snow drift; almost as tall as a fully grown man before reaching their human waist. At first, we were all frightened, for they are big and frightening, but they are not so different and scary as we found out. They dress like we do in parkas and furs and blankets, trade with us, too – their magic impressed our Shaman and their goods impressed the rest of us. Their faces are different, hairy and with a nose like a bear, but not like their legs are. They travel, a whole tribe, and trade with other Inuit peoples, bringing goods we need for the harsh winter and using magic to help protect our people. We call them ‘Bear Friends’.”
Even as she related how peaceful the Bear-Centaurs supposedly are, I cut my mitten on the sharpened spear of the carving, which was held by strong human arms and almost as imposing as the reared up figure’s powerful ursine legs. The sculpted face was mostly featureless, but I had a hard time imagining anything but a snarl or an open mouthed roar upon it. If these creatures are so strong physically as well as magically, I am sure I would not want to come across one on the tundra – much less an entire pack. Regardless of the account of this tribe, and as uncivilized as they are, we seem to still have every right to fear these beings. – an excerpt from the personal journal of Robert Cote, Canadian cartographer and scholar.
Sharing the homeworld of Centaurs, Bear-Centaurs are just one of the subtypes of the race (the Equine family are most commonly recognized, but Ursine, Feline, and Canine types are also inhabitants). Where Centaurs are regularly regarded as creatures of myth, having visited Earth in its long past and since been written in to its legends, Bear-Centaurs have very rarely visited the planet until after the Cataclysmic Event; when they had, they’d either remained undiscovered, were seen as monstrous beasts, or thought to be hallucinations.
Since the coming of the Rifts, however, a number of them chose to emigrate to Earth with their other Centaurian brethren. Many to the North American continent, primarily Canada, though several families pursue a nomadic lifestyle and wander anywhere that they feel the greatest connection to the Spirits and elements. Often, this means that the Grizzly Men form deep bonds with indigenous peoples, such as the Inuit, various Native American tribes, and other spiritual families throughout the world.
They have a natural connection with magic, as all Beartaurs are born with an innate knowledge of elemental spell magic. This knowledge is cultivated and cherished by the race, and frequently sets the individual on a life path as a magic user of one kind or another. They do not, however, believe that magical ability is superior to those who choose other life paths; the majority of Beartaurs are mages, but all individuals and jobs are necessary for the family to function and stay healthy and strong.
Mage Bears are a matriarchal, Elder-run race, and this is due to their belief in “Life Sense”; those who experience the world differently or with great zest or openness to all it offers, good and bad, are the most respected. Female Bear-Centaurs are revered for their ability to bring new life into the world and to nurture it (many family leaders are Mothers with many litters of children), a disabled Beartaur (loss of limb, blindness from birth or accident, scarred, etc.) can often become an Elder because of their perseverance and unique perspective of survival and life, and the truly elderly who have experienced so much of life and can grant wisdom to their juniors are highly valued by the clan. A life lived even through adversity, and still remaining gentle and connected after encountering bitterness and pain is a life that most Mage Bears strive for.
They are well known for their gentleness by those who welcome them, but they are also fearsome and wild in battle. Fiercely protective of their kin, if you harm one member of a family, you have hurt them all – their tribal law in such matters often ends in disowning and banishment for their own people, and maiming or death for outsiders. Grizzly Men that go the life path of the warrior or armsman (for there are some who prefer and have embraced guns and other modern weapons) may also become enraged in combat to the point that they become reckless with their own self or even hazardous to nearby allies. As a race and culture, they have spent centuries tamping down their once legendary bloodlust and battle readiness; most Grizzly Men believe that their size and power is all the more reason to remain peaceful.
While they are typically deeply traditional and rooted in their magical culture, Bear-Centaurs (indeed any Centaurian race) are not completely unfamiliar with technology or modern cultures. It is uncommon to find a Mage Bear that would rather tinker with a computer or use energy weapons than pursue their natural magical talent, but not unheard of; Mage Bears are a very sturdy people, but also adaptable – they would not have survived this long without being so. They value the spoken word and story (some stories span whole generations and take months to tell), but most can read and write; usually those who venture into cities or handle outsider trading learn to write in other languages besides their native tongue. Their places of worship are typically the largest tree, most fertile mountain, or most prosperous field or river over any church or altar; they may even bring offerings of food, song, or stories to the World Spirits and Elementals in hopes of a blessing of luck and longevity for the clan, or to find inner peace in turmoil.
Many whole families are nomadic and travel together – some clans even join together as they follow the trails of World Spirits (some travel along ley lines for this reason) and Elementals. Usually family oriented, unless a Bear-Centaur is embarking on their own life journey to discover themselves or their spirit or unless they are separated from their clan, they are almost always in large groups; the smallest families number between 30 and 70, and the largest between 250 and 350 members (and with cousins in other clans!)
Not as fast paced in lifestyle as their Equine relations, Beartaurs may stay in a safe, bountiful forest or mountain valley for years before moving on. There aren’t many who choose to live in a city or with a more modern lifestyle, but those Mage Bears who do often maintain deep, though different connections with their life paths and modern culture. They are not outcasts because of it, but they typically live in small groups (bandits, companies, etc.) and rarely see other Bear-Centaurs – though they may associate frequently with other Centaurs (particularly of the Canine or Equine variety), some even become honorary members of those clans.
Also Known As: “Beartaurs”, “Grizzly Men”, and “Mage Bears”.
Alignment: Any, but Principled (40%), Scrupulous (35%), and Unprincipled (15%) are most common.
Spd: 5D6×2 (20-25 mph is the average speed for Bear-Centaurs, with 40 mph being the fastest; this is doubled for brief spurts lasting 2D4 minutes or for charging attacks.)
Physical Size: 5 to 7 feet at the ursine shoulders, about 9 feet from the top of the human head to the bottom of their paws; anywhere from 6 to 8 feet in length. Generally very bulky, they can weigh anywhere from 900 to 1200 lbs. Males are typically 10%-20% larger than females.
Physical Appearance: Their humanoid halves are nearly completely human and vary in skin color just as humankind does, though they often have larger and flatter noses, sharper teeth, and thick haired faces, torsos, and arms (often regardless of gender). The Ursine nature of their lower body is of similar variety to Earthen bears, and is often associated with the environments in which their homeworld ancestors resided. There are white, red, black, brown, grey, and even some dappled coats.
Hit Points: P.E. attribute plus 8 (+1D8 per level of experience.)
S.D.C.: 75 plus those gained from Physical skills.
M.D.C.: Only through the use of M.D.C. body armour/barding. This can be specially made to fit their odd body type (which is often very expensive), but is typically a patchwork armour type that covers 30%-60% of their body.
Horror Factor: 12, but this is mostly applicable only due to their unnatural appearance and their fearsome power and wild rage in combat. Indigenous peoples have often met one before, or will at least recognize their peaceful nature from stories and do not suffer a Horror Factor (unless in battle against them, which is unlikely.)
P.P.E.: 5D6, +1D6 per level of experience. They recover P.P.E. at an accelerated rate: 10 points per hour of sleep, rest, or meditation (double that of humans). Racial P.P.E. is in addition to any P.P.E. granted by O.C.C. selection.
Disposition: Compassionate, adventurous, strong-willed, intuitive, self reliant, and gentle hearted. They are very intune with nature and take care of how their actions affect the environment and the people they meet; every decision and action has a consequence, good and bad. Most Bear-Centaurs have a natural urge to explore, and often do so as a family group or a collective slueth.
Average Lifespan: 4D6+76 years. A Bear-Centaur reaches physical maturity by age 16. After a 12 month pregnancy, females can give birth to a litter of 1-2 cubs once per 3 to 4 years, and up to the age of 50. Upon birth, the young are covered in a fine layer of fur on their whole body (they shed the humaboid portion during puberty). They are also able to support their heads and crawl, but are inarticulate and nearly blind; more developed than newborn human babies, but still vulnerable to their environment and dependant upon their Mother.
Natural Abilities: Mighty endurance; a Bear-Centaur can travel at their maximum speed for 3 hours or engage in heavy labor for 5 hours before needing to rest and recuperate for 5D6+40 minutes. They can also leap 8 feet high and 13 feet across; with a running start, 12 feet high and 26 feet across. See Magic.
R.C.C. Skills: (Regardless of chosen O.C.C., all Bear-Centaurs have the following skills based on instinct and racial or cultural memory; all skills increase with experience. In instances where O.C.C. and R.C.C. skills repeat, take the higher bonus.
Public Speaking (+10%, they are natural storytellers)
Prowl at 45% +1%/lvl
Track By Sight at 50% +1%/lvl
Swimming at 50%
Land Navigation (+20%)
Identify Plants and Fruit (+20%)
Wilderness Survival (+30%)
Language: Native: Dragonese/Elven at 98% (maximum)
Literacy: Native: Dragonese/Elven (+20%)
Language: Other: Faerie Speak (+15%)
Language: Other: [Player’s Choice] (+10%, typically American or Native American/Inuit)
Lore: Magic (+20%)
Lore: Native American or Inuit or [Other Indigenous People] (+10%)
Lore: Faeries and Creatures of Magic (+10%)
Available O.C.C.s: The most common non-magic occupations are Wilderness Scout, Merc Soldier, Justice Ranger, Tundra Ranger, Cowboy, or the equivalent of native Tribal Warrior, Mystic Warrior, or Spirit Warrior (see Rifts Spirit West). They may also select any Adventurer O.C.C. (technological oriented O.C.C.s like the Operator are more rare).
While their race is often nomadic, their connection with magic and the spirits encourages a reverence for magic and mages; many Bear-Centaurs study spell casting and enchanting (especially elemental and nature magics). Magical O.C.C.s make up the majority of the race and can include the Mystic, all Druids (see Rifts: England for variations), any Shaman (see Rifts: Canada and Rifts: Spirit West for variations), and the Elemental Fusionist. Note: In all cases, reduce the number of O.C.C. Related Skills and Secondary Skills by half – these are replaced by their natural R.C.C. Skills and innate spell knowledge. In cases when a physical/battle oriented O.C.C. is chosen, see vulnerabilities for the chance to slip into a Blood Rage during combat.
Experience Level: 1D8 or as set by the Game Master for NPCs. Player characters should start at first level. Use the experience table of the chosen O.C.C. to determine level advancement.
Attacks Per Melee: As per Hand to Hand Combat skill and bonuses.
Damage: As per P.S. or weapon. Use Horsemanship: Knight skill to determine damage bonuses with a weapon from a charge attack. They also have the following primal attacks:
Front Leg Slam: 4D6 S.D. plus any applicable P.S. bonus.
Rear Leg Kick: 3D6 S.D. plus any applicable P.S. bonus, ×2 for a power attack (counts as 2 melee attacks).
Power Front Leg Slam: 1D6×10 S.D. plus any applicable P.S. bonus (counts as 2 melee attacks).
Bonuses: In addition to those aquired from attributes and skills; +2 to initiative, +1 to perception, +1 to dodge while running, +6 to damage, +1 to pull punch, +2 to roll with impact, and +3 to Save Vs. Disease and Vs. Horror Factor. No penalties are applied for shooting a gun or bow while running and any Bear-Centaur who is a Men at Arms O.C.C. also has +1 attack per melee.
Vulnerabilities: Free spirited and in such deep connection with nature, Bear-Centaurs cannot survive in forced captivity; just a few weeks in chains or a cage can break them and kill or cripple them with illness and injury. Unfortunately, their half-animal appearance causes some to regard them as lesser beings, this on top of their nomadic roots and magical ability means they are also believed to be “primitive savages”. Those that are captured by slavers are typically sold as hard laborers or for entertainment in gladiatorial arenas. They are also immensely uncomfortable in tropical or hot areas due to their thick fur.
For physical and battle oriented O.C.C.s (those specifically trained in combat), roll percentile dice to determine the hold of the Blood Rage over your character during combat; 01-85% No Blood Rage, combat proceeds as normal; 86%-00% the Bear-Centaur goes into a Blood Rage for 1D4 minutes or until their target is nuetralized, going after that target with a single minded and incredible violence that may seriously injure or kill both the target and possibly others. Penalties: Cannot pull a punch, will not dodge, does an extra 2D6 S.D. to physical attack damage, does triple damage on a Natural 20, and has difficulty controlling/stopping themself or recognizing a friend who gets in the way of their path to their target.
Magic: By O.C.C. (racial P.P.E. is in addition to any P.P.E. granted by O.C.C.); dedicated spell casters are relatively common, and skilled magic users are generally revered and elevated as elders and family leaders. All Bear-Centaurs are born with an innate connection to the elements and magic, however, and are born with the ability to automatically Sense Magic/Elementals (no cost). They may also choose 1 of the following spells at first level (regardless of O.C.C.); Breathe Without Air (3), Thunderclap (4), Ignite Fire (6), Globe of Daylight (2), Throwing Stones (4), Chameleon (6), or Frostblade (6).
Psionics: Not capable of psionic ability, though they admire those who have it; it is like a different kind of magic to them.
Cybernetics and Bionics: It is unheard of for any Bear-Centaur to have them installed because implants immediately cancel any magical ability in this race; most would rather perish of fatal wounds than live their life without magic.
Standard Equipment: As per O.C.C., plus either a bow and arrows or other appropriate weapon, hunting knife (1D6), Vibro-Knife (1D6 M.D., sometimes fashioned as a spearhead), two waterskins or canteens, saddlebag, backpack, utility belt, tent, a “Clan Cloth” (a strip of cloth worn as a head/arm band that was made by their family and is patterned to indicate their clan), and a large sack and two small sacks (or as per O.C.C., whichever is greater.) Bear-Centaurs are a generally peaceful and magical race, so their preferences for weapons are most often bow and arrows, spears, clubs, knives, and sometimes swords or polearms; more technologically inclined Beartaurs may prefer rifles (indeed many clan members may use them for hunting or protection), handguns, and even energy pistols and rifles. Most do not wear full barding, though many physically oriented O.C.C.s wear at least partial M.D.C. armour.
Money: As per O.C.C., though they often barter more in items than credits or currency.
Habitat: Generally, they favor dense forests, mountains, and tundra environments, but can be found almost anywhere that they can still feel close to nature and magic that also comfortably allows their thick furred body (you won’t often meet a desert Mage Bear). A slueth may live in one area for months or even years and then choose to move on, leaving signs of their tribe behind as standing shelters, wells, and worn pathways.
Slave Market Value: 3D4×10,000 credits. They are valued for their magic, as warriors or hard laborers, in gladiatorial arenas, or even as pets for particularly monstrous beings.
Friends and Alliances: They form deep bonds with most indigenous peoples (Inuit, Native American, Mayan, African, etc.) due to their shared connection with the elements, spirits, or nature. Sometimes, they even settle in communities with these traditional groups, but more often they maintain a strong trade relationship and friendship. Many feel a kinship with Earthen bears, who often happily share their territory with the Beartaurs, or are sometimes even taken as companions or familiars. The Faerie Folk relate well with their magical nature, and so are typically instant friends and allies to them and will seldom pester or harm them.
Bear-Centaurs also get along with the other Centaurian races, Elementals, Simvan, Cyber-Horsemen, Sasquatch, Cyber-Knights, Tundra Rangers (Canada), Druids of all kinds (England), Knights (England), Justice Rangers (New West), Elemental Fusionists, and Wilderness Scouts. Initially, they may be suspicious of D’norr Devilmen for their demon-like appearance, but as they are similar in peaceful nature, they usually become fast allies.
Rivals and Enemies: They are naturally wary of more modern humans, as their experience with them in the past has not always been friendly. Humans often have a difficult time seeing past their powerful mass and there are many groups of humans (such as the Coalition) who would harm them on sight. Even with their strong magical ability, they fear the Federation of Magic; some of their kind has been enslaved by members and they have been exposed to their alliances with demons and often villainous nature. They also do not trust those who use summoning magic or that which controls demons or opens rifts. They do not trust demons, and as such have a strong superstition against shapeshifting races – attributing their abilities to that of demonkind. Splugorth and their minions, indeed many native Atlantean races, are feared, as well.
Note: Please keep in mind that this is a fan-made race/class based upon the works and system already provided. This a basic rundown for character creation for this race (originally based upon the Centaur R.C.C. featured on pages 44 and 45 of Rifts World Book 30: D-Bees of North America).
Happy Character Writing,
Any unsourced information provided pertaining to Rifts is the sole property of Palladium Books and any authors therein. I claim no ownership of the related content, nor do I claim ownership of any borrowed fan-made creations as may be sourced above (any other fan material is of my own creation, though inspired by copyrighted content.) The featured image is the sole property of Aube and is used with full permissions. Do not repost this artwork.