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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholar's Review #17: Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape

Updated: Jan 7


Author: Kevin Siembieda

Release Date: 1997

GENERAL

This was a World Book that had been a long time coming. The ode to the psionics classes, there are a great number of amplifications to the psychic classes and a number of ways to boost your player characters into something more formidable than originally presented in the Rifts RPG. It also introduces a truly macabre and Cthulu-esque entity that the folks of Psyscape are battling, and goes pretty far into a horror-style entry. It provides a good bit of world building for a GM to use, in particular to how the setting fits within the Magic Zone, as well as something for everyone using a psychic or a GM wanting to implement one of the multiple entries as a bad guy.


SECTIONS


Legends. A historical perspective as presented by none other than Erin Tarn about the mysteries and marvels of Psyscape. I found it’s a fun enough read.

Dark Harvest. Well now, this is where the book goes full on macabre, which is a refreshing twist to some of the previous books. Soulharvest is explained, along with the Harvester OCC (makes a great necromantic magic user antagonist) and Soulless Xombies. There is some great horror atmosphere drawn out of these entries. Then we have the powerful alien intelligence, Nxla; feared even by the Splugorth, Nxla may or may not be a dreaded Old One? Then I looked at his MDC and PPE; Nxla in the blue corner, Lord of the Deep in the Red corner for most outlandish alien intelligence in Rifts. I place even odds on who would win in a fight.


Enter Psyscape. The Yin to the Nxla Yang. The Psynex entity is a benevolent psychic being co-populating the astral plane as well as a nexus point, which it manipulates much in the same way as a Millenium Tree. The city of Psyscape and its Astral equivalent are covered in detail. I am left wondering how a beacon of light and goodness such as this could survive the predations of the Magic Zone, particularly in the shadow of Nxla and its minions....


Psychics and Psionic Powers. An overview of terminology and then the laundry list of psionic powers overall, with some new ones presented. I was never drawn to psychics; if you are, this may be your jam.


New Psychic Character Classes. Many of the older classes are revisited, such as the Burster and Mind Melter. New classes include:

  • Burster. An update to the classic.

  • Mind Bleeder. An import from World Book 4: Africa.

  • Mind Melter. An update to the classic.

  • Nega-Psychic. Disbelief in magic and paranormal is so intense that they defiantly disrupt the magical and psionics.

  • Psi-Druids. Master psychics that commune with animals and nature.

  • Psi-Ghost. Master psychics geared for stealth, espionage and thievery.

  • Psi-Nullifier. These individuals have the reactive power to negate psionics and magic directed at them. They are basically a null-zone that can still use psionic powers.

  • Psi-Slayers. Basically your psychic assassin with some unique psychic powers; functions like a Psi-Stalker in terms of feeding on P.P.E.

  • Psi-Tech. Mechanical whiz-kids using psionics to concentrates on mechanical and engineering principles. Essentially the old Operator with psionics ramped up to 11.

  • Psi-Warrior. Formidable warriors leveraging psionics and a series of specialized powers unique to the class.

  • Zapper. Basically the Burster, but substitute fire for electricity.


Psi-Cola. An interesting (if optional) narcotic drink for psychics, with tables for addiction to the effects.


Monsters & D-Bees. An amalgam of good guys, bad guys and in between entries. There are some really interesting ones, others less so. There is a clear necromancy vein running through the book.

  • Monsters

    • Blood Hawk. Hunting in packs, these monsters can become a real threat.

    • Dark Behemoth. Gigantic demonic dog that will attack anything that moves. Thankfully they are solitary beasts.

    • Darkhound. Bearing a fleeting resemblance to Dog Boys, they are officially on the CS list if dangerous monsters. Comes with a long series of abilities.

    • Dragon-Ape. Wicked, cruel and self-serving, this being has dragon wings and body with two legs with prehensile feet.

    • Dragon-Cat. A six-legged feline monster with the heart of a Cyber-Knight.

    • Land Ray. Resembling a manta ray, develops and uses psionics to allow it to thrive as an amphibious beast.

    • Necrophim and Soul Snakes. Horrible, bloodthirsty, necromantic nightmares that are a mix of Mind Bleeders and Mind Melters.

    • Psymbiote. Originating from an oceanic world, these beings have become primary sources of Splugorth Bio-Wizardry as P.P.E. batteries.

    • Shadeling. Found throughout the Magic Zone, they are malevolent beings that use psionics to terrorize people.

    • Sun Demon (Lipoca).Powerful supernatural creatures that are pretty much demi-gods. Masters of seduction, they are cruel, brutal and murderous.

    • Vyarnect. Hulking brutes with long, oversized arms, they swarm enemies and feed on the flesh of the dead.

  • D-Bees

    • Amorph. Sentient beings of ectoplasm indigenous to the Astral Plane. Naturally inquisitive, they have a manic need to remain active and interested in something. The ultimate shape changers, can morph into absolutely anything.

    • Demon-Dragonmage. Humanoid being with bony skull ridges that travel the Megaverse that seem to have a mortal hatred with dragons.

    • Lanotaur Hunter. Cunning and fearsome predators that live for the thrill of the hunt. Your Predator-clone.

    • Power Leech. Short, scrawny beings with oversized heads, they feed on and leech P.P.E. energy at an amazaing rate!

    • Psi-Goblins. Brought to Earth by Lord Alistair Dunscon, these servants of evil are very much akin to the Brodkil, without the cybernetic augmentation but with a list of psionics.

    • Yhabbayar. An unusual D-Bee with a unique series of powers and Bubble Magic.

    • Zaayr Crystal Dragon. Entries for both a Hatchling and Adult Dragon of this new sort.

    • Zenith Moon Warpers. Often confused with werewoves or Dog Boys, they are natural shape changers, they prey on humanoids without remorse. Make excellent con-artists, thieves, spies and assassins.


The CS and Psionics. An interesting amplification on the CS use of psychics and the Psi-Battalion expansion into a full-fledged Division of the CS Military. Psionic technology, impacts to abilities and several devices of note are presented; a follow-up section includes some CS anti-psionic devices and some TW devices.


IMPRESSIONS


Upon Release (5/10). I was never really a fan of the psychic classes and found psionics didn’t offer much for me in game; my personal cross to bear; YMMV (your mileage may vary), but for players who like psychics, it was a fresh boost to the game. The world building was well presented, finally able to get more in-depth into the collective and city of Psyscape. I have to admit, the first time didn’t really give me much to work with and thought there could have been more pages devoted to the city of Psyscape and their place in the grander scheme of things, other than fighting the good fight against Nxla. Then there is the ridiculous amounts of power Nxla has as well. The atmosphere really drove home the nastiness and horrific power at play within the Federation of Magic. The artwork did a really good job supporting the entries.


Current Assessment (7/10). Having re-visited Psyscape, there are a number of entries that can really boost a player character’s background and/or a campaign. The Cthulu vibe from the Nxla entries are actually really interesting, much more so this time around. From a storytelling or campaign design perspective, this book has legs, as well as the endurance to translate across all player character backgrounds: CS and psychics and how they use the class, expansion on psychics (duh!), additional information on the Magic Zone and players from the Magic Zone (mages), or mercenaries/unaligned groups operating in the region. When I re-examined Nxla’s entry, a Lord of the Deep sized facepalm occurred, but I have to grudgingly admit it supports the Cthulu vibe. The artwork of this book really supports it well, my absolute favourite located in the two-page spread on page 142-143. The one issue with many of the psychic entries is that some were superseded by vastly better options for the classic OCCs in Rifts Ultimate Edition, which I thought was a shame. A new edition rendering upgrades across the classes in general would be nice, but ultimately not necessary.


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