Scholar's Review #24: Rifts Sourcebook 4: Coalition Navy
Updated: Jan 15
Author: Patrick Nowak
Release Date: August 1997
Released relatively shortly after WB 11: Coalition War Campaign, it expands on that book's content with even more plans by the CS to take firm control over their claimed territory, and expand to encompass swaths more. If you are looking to play a nautical themed adventure, be it a blue- or brown-water campaign, this book provides some great insight into the North American continent. The CS is putting major efforts in making their naval capabilities rival all but the Atlanteans, which may be a bridge too far but a laudable goal nonetheless. Provides a good overview of the CS Fleets, as well as scads of technical data on weapons, equipment and vessels.
Introduction & Background. The CS has devoted impressive resources to developing their fleets in order to further support their control over the region. Bearing in mind Prosek's eventual goal of continental supremacy, these organizations and the establishment are strategic assets to reinforce current conflicts and future control over the region. The background is developed on the key elements of commerce, with several pages discussing the trade going on amongst the major players around the CS.
The Coalition Navy. A historical overview of the birth of a Navy, which leads into their current Order of Battle, as well as major ports and naval installations. The First Fleet, based on the remnants of those that did not defect back to Free Quebec at the onset of the Campaign of Unity, is based in Kingston and controls the Great Lakes. The Second Fleet is located in the Gulf Coast of Lone Star, while the brown-water fleet vies for control of the rivers of CS territory. Several NPCs are fleshed out for GMs to use in their campaigns.
CS Navy OCCs. The meat of the book. Covers around 20 skills you’ll find rounded together in Rifts Ultimate Edition. As one would assume, presents several OCCs of the nautical expression; nothing too extreme.
CSN Equipment. Not a Sourcebook if it doesn’t have copious amounts of weapons, armour and equipment, which Coalition Navy has in spades. Small arms and hand weapons leads to power armour and robots, including the cover art Trident power armour. The Spider Skull Walker apparently also learned to adapt to the underwater environment as well.
Combat Vessels of the Coalition Navy. Jet skis, patrol boats, submersible vehicles, missile cruisers and destroyers, ballistic subs and aircraft carriers, oh my! This is followed by the CSN aircraft, of which there are a number of. I really dig the smaller craft, both in design, stats and supporting artwork. The cruisers left me wondering what they were going for in design; based on the illustration, two four-barrel batteries were positioned only a little above the waterline. Of note is the paltry MDC for some of the subs, massive vehicles in the low 300s for MDC.
Monsters of the Deep. A bit of a misnomer as this section has only a couple of beasts you would find in the deep blue. That said, they are an interesting mix of things a GM could throw in for encounters.
Pirates and Privateers of North America. So, Coalition Navy came out in 1997, and Pirates of the Carribean was released in 2003; the film pretty much describes the feel for this section. You get the Pirate, Pirate Slaver, River Pirate and Privateer OCCs, as well as notable sanctuaries for some great NPC fodder. Apparently the pirate-loving Queenston Harbour exists on the ruins of Cleveland – colour me surprised ;). Oh yeah, TW flintlock rifles and pistols. So pretty much all the stereotypes are checked off.
Upon Release (7/10). As it amplified the release of the CWC, I found this book did a fine job providing more information to play with and inject into campaigns and story arcs. It was never a primary for me, but I recall using the Pirates section and the Background to develop some really fun protagonists. Several of the Monsters also made for some interesting encounters, in particular a group of Crab Warriors that plagued my players, until their base of operations was found and obliterated by the PCs. The multitude of specific gear and equipment for naval combat and fleet encounters may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but it gives a boatload (pun intended) to work with. A solid enough sourcebook.
Current Assessment (7/10). As sourcebooks go, it did the job; a small scope but jam packed with information to support a narrow focus without letting itself creep into the size of a more significant publication. There are literally dozens of adventure hooks in here that any resourceful GM can really exploit to add another element to their campaigns. I was really impressed by how well Raymond Perez’s art has kept up, in particular the full-page battle scene on page 6, which is a favorite; the remaining artwork does a fantastic job of upholding the theme and giving a real feel for the nautical aspect. Overall, it holds up relatively well, perhaps not as much now as it did back in the 90s. As a source for GMs to draw out additional adventure ideas that most “land-based” adventures may not think to consider, and for its spectacular artwork, it gets a small bump from a 6 to a 7.
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