Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/06/25/tabletop-review-the-rif-
This issue, as with #51, shows Palladium dealing with basically the same issues: the Rift MMORPG lawsuit, the movie, and some personal things with Kevin Siembieda. The meat of the issue consists of News, a huge article about Atlanteans, Sunaj, Nogs (new races?), and all kinds of tattoos (Rifts), a “Cannibal Magic” article (Fantasy), an article on rune (i.e. sentient/sapient) weapons (Fantasy), and then some fan fiction.
The Crusaders & The Black Crusade
This article takes up about half of the entire book! It starts off with about 8 pages containing two short stories that are quite evocative and well-written. They are mostly about battle, so I keep getting this Warhammer 40,000 vibe from a lot of the Rifts material I’m reading. Weapons, weapons, weapons, factions fighting for who knows what reason, but a good read nonetheless. Plus, they highlight things mentioned in the rest of the article.
First, after the fiction, a race called “Nogs” are introduced which some sort of low-intelligence human that look more like orcs. The “True Atlanteans” highlighted in the article are the race that use Nogs as slaves and give them these special, powerful tattoos (mentioned later). The Atlanteans are given some occupations (O.C.C.s) that seem rather social in their leanings: Dilettante, Drifter, Tattoo Master. Another sect of Atlanteans called the “Sunaj” are given several occupations that are almost exclusively related to combat: Assassin, Warrior Thrall, Slayer, Slaver. After some occupations we get some general gear for Atlanteans, and some specific stuff for the Sunaj, like the “’Black Ball’ E-Sphere” which is an energy weapon clip that can double as an energy grenade, as well as several suits of armor and accessories.
The Atlanteans are apparently very big on tattoos. All of the art that shows any skin shows tattoos covering it. This article gives TONS of new tattoos that grant all sorts of powers, from enhancing the power of weapons and deadliness of strikes to healing and detecting. One of the tattoos is a “Black Sphere (Sphere of Destruction)” that can vaporize anything it touches. Sphere of Negation anyone? Even more crazy than regular tattoos are “Flux Tattoos” which are supposed to be very rare and let you do things like summon a swarm of insects. Basically tattoos are like spells that are notated on the skin of the recipient.
This is material for Palladium Fantasy RPG that details certain trolls that have special magical powers that are enhanced by er… eating their victims. After they have been basted with enchantment, preferably. I had to suppress a sigh as I read through the rules for the cooking, eating, and preservation of certain body parts and how things will simply not work right if such and such goes wrong (if the food is not completely eaten). Further sighs were required when I saw that there were eating times listed for body parts. Yes, there are rules for how long it takes to eat a particular body part. Ok, so I didn’t actually suppress any of the sighs.
The body parts will grant the Cannibal Mage different temporary powers depending on what is eaten. Have a liver? It will negate the effects of disease. Eating the appendix will prolong life…possibly forever. The article goes on to describe some more information about trolls and abilities, and then stats out the Cannibal Mage O.C.C.
This article contains more material for Palladium Fantasy RPG, but it is mostly focused on weapons. Not just any weapons though, we are talking sentient swords. Basically this article is about weapons that start out like low-level characters, and then over time become more and more powerful, just like a character. The article details several kinds of weapons that correspond with well-known character classes like a “Cleric R.C.C.”, “Elementalist R.C.C.” (druid or mage), or with certain alignments like the “Lightbringer R.C.C.” which is a weapon specifically for use against “supernatural evil”.
The second part of the article discusses weapons with personalities and gives them stats just like an NPC (or PC for that matter). One weapon even has multiple personalities, each with their own abilities and stats. The article finished with what is, in my plain outspoken opinion, a bunch of crap. The last part of the articles is an O.C.C. called “Weapons Expert”, adapted from Heroes Unlimited. “This character is an expert with virtually all aspects of weapons…” really now? Don’t we usually just call that a fighter? Anyway, besides this last bit the article has some cool ideas in it.
What Do I Think?
I liked this issue more than the previous one, but partly because I am just biased toward fantasy over sci-fi. Overall, the publication is still mostly just adding more gear and character classes, neither of which I am a huge fan of. What I find most disturbing is the complete absence of adventures. Is The Rifter actually about role-playing? Or is it just about killing stuff and being powerful? There are some cool ideas presented, don’t get me wrong, but it would be great if there was some material that provided an environment to use these ideas in.
The fiction is ok…but it just whets my appetite for an adventure. I don’t need pages and pages more of weapons and spells and classes and whatever, just about every major system has tons of source material and anybody who wants to can come up with their own brew of class or special weapon. What would be really great are some adventure ideas to help flesh out the Rifts world. I don’t even know how people who contribute to The Rifter might play the game, because all I am seeing is stuff. It would be nice to see some juicy module to balance all the crunchy stats, that’s all I’m saying.