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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholar's Review #18: Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star

Updated: Jan 7


Author: Kevin Siembieda

Release Date: 1997

GENERAL


The Coalition State shrouded in the most mystery and intrigue has always been Lone Star. Based on the discovery of an old pre-Apocalypse research facility, the CS has claimed vast stretches of land around it as a buffer for this super-secret facility. This book doesn’t stop at the facility though; it gives an overview of the Pecos Empire and the multitude of D-Bees and mercenaries that inhabit the contested areas, as well as the influence of the Vampire Kingdoms. For those looking to exploit the weird and wacky concoctions of the scientists at Lone Star, either as a player character or enemy of the party, or a setting for mercenaries, this book does a good job in world building for the Texas region that could easily be leveraged much further and wider.


SECTIONS


Lone Star. Introduced by Erin Tarn with some obvious misconceptions due to the secrecy of the site and the disparate nature of the Pecos Empire. In-depth piece about the Northern Quadrant of Texas, with details on the various settlements and CS bases.


The Lone Star Complex. An overview of this cryptic location. Kevin is upfront about one thing, you are not expected or going to ever get all the details. I have no issues with this, it gives the GM a fair bit of latitude and maintains the intrigue for the players. The surface base is given some detail (likely all a PC should ever see) and gives some basic overview of each of the nine subterranean levels.


The Dog Pack. The ode to the Dog Boys OCC. There is some really great stuff to individualize your Dog Boy characters. Includes how they are bred, trained, psychology and revisits the RCC with some added, bonus abilities for various breeds, as well as some Dog Boys specific kit, equipment and weapons.

  • Dog Pack. The refreshed version of the original O.C.C.

  • Feral Dog Boys. Essentially Dog Boys that have "left the pack" and gone rogue. Begs the question why this is a separate O.C.C. instead of just a role-playing element.

  • Free Born. The offspring of Feral Dog Boys. Provides the ability of a Dog Boy to select an O.C.C.

  • Navy Sea Dogs. Dog Boys that specialize in maritime operations.

  • K-9 Sniffers. As one would assume, breeds with higher senses of smell, used to search out for contraband and psychics.

  • Kill Hounds. Mutant canines developed to be shock troopers, guards and escorts. Encouraged to keep predatory instincts alive and well.


Hovercycles. One of the primary forms of travel in the south, several models are revisited and new ones presented. Also the CS Death Wing PA.


GED Mutant Experiments. So here we get to the crux of the Lone Star Complex, the Genetic Engineering Division and the augmentation/experimentation they conduct. Goes into some detail on the modifications they may be searching for and a table for unwanted side effects. This is all presented in a very antiseptic manner, removing any kind of house of horrors element that one might expect from this scale of genetic manipulation. They could have gone much deeper in this direction, which would have provided a much better grounding for the following section.

  • Ursa-Warriors. Mutant bears, pretty much what you would expect.

  • Battle Cats. Take the Dog Boy and make it a cat. No surprise here.

  • Kill Cats. Take a Kill Hound and make it a cat. What did you expect?

  • Mini-Monkey Spies. Basically an NPC class trained to deliver messages and plant surveillance equipment.

  • Monkey Boy Soldier. Insert every Planet of the Apes movie. You get the idea.

  • Monkey Boy Tech. Make an Operator a mutant monkey and, voila!

  • Mutant Rats. Not the most trustworthy and prone to running away.

  • Mutant Bats. Not a grand success, but the CS still employs them as scouts and spies decked out with modern optics and sensors.

  • Xiticix Killer. That behemoth on the cover, designed to seek out and destroy the Xiticix.


Runaway Mutants. Describes the Animal Underground and mutant communities that try to keep away from their CS masters. One would assume there is a certain horror element to the experimentation that these folks have broken free of that was sorely missing. One assumes to keep this from hitting the censor's radar it was toned down.


Other Areas of GED Research. So apparently Lone Star is authorized to mess around with M.O.M. technology, including tables for extra results if mutants (and one could extrapolate D-Bees) were given the conversion. The Psi-X Alien RCC, a result of these extra areas of GED research is provided.


Notable Characters. Some in depth information about the key personas for Lone Star. Includes Desmond Bradford (Head Administrator), General Loni Kashbrook (Head of Operations and Administration), Brigadier General Kalpov (Military Lead for CS Lone Star), and others. They provide an indication on the personalities and the general leadership for this complex and the state overall.


The Pecos Empire. Really the other power in the CS Lone Star is the Pecos Empire and the various disparate bands of criminals and mercenaries that operate the vast arid landscape. Discovers the life as a bandit, ways of the nomad, and bandit organizations.


Leaders of the Pecos Empire. As expected, a series of high level and influential NPCs that drive the major movements of things outside the CS zone of control. Grey Fox (and his Apache tribes), Zimchex (and his Simvan brethren) and Emperor Sabre Lasar (warlord with dreams of uniting the bandits of the Pecos together as one force), among others.


Pecos Bandits. Some new OCCs such as the Pecos Raider, Tokanii RCC and a reprint of Psi-Stalker, Simvan and Brodkil entries.


Geographic Overview. An odd addition at the end of the book that really should have been front-loaded in the book.


IMPRESSIONS


Upon Release (6/10). The Lone Star complex had always been an enigma for players from the outset. The Rulebook only gave vague outlines of some super-secret fortress laboratory amongst raiders and bandits of the south. From a gameplay standpoint, it offered a number of points to exploit and did a fine job of world building for a relatively limited region that could be easily expanded into the greater regional setting. It wasn’t something that really caught my attention as a GM from a regional perspective, but it gave an interesting expansion of the Coalition States that I found worth the read.


Current Assessment (7/10). Better than I gave it credit for at the outset, but missed a few opportunities. As I mentioned, it is a decent piece of world building that expands to encompass the southern states and northern Mexico region really well. The first in what could be considered a trilogy with New West and Spirit West, it does a great job setting up the next two World Books. The story arcs and campaign design potential this book presents are really vast, and as such rates higher than I initially gave it. I found that each entry really had some nuggets to play with, and could keep a group of players fruitfully occupied for years on end; particularly if you are even remotely a fan of Westerns or Firefly. The one aspect I felt was missed was the horror potential of the CS Lone Star genetic manipulation (something akin to the Resident Evil film), particularly following the successful dark imagery and tone they presented in Psyscape. Otherwise this book is a really nice expansion for a fan of the Coalition States or wanting to play a campaign in the Southern States.


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