Scholar's Review #27: Rifts World Book 22: Free Quebec
Author: Francois DesRochers & Kevin Siembieda
Release Date: April 2000
Otherwise known as the true mecca of humanity and salvation for anyone wishing to escape the ravages of evil mages and the posturing would-be-king in charge of the Coalition States…… well, okay, seems a little biased. Ahem. The first really good look at the splinter-state of Free Quebec, the home and bastion of Glitter Boys and the small kid that stood up to the big bad bully from Chi-Town….. yeah, sorry, let’s try again. Hey, look everybody, its Coalition War Campaign – Part Deux! Pun intended? Hrmmmmm, having a hard time with this intro! Reading off the back of the book, apparently we’ll cover the Free Quebec military, New Glitter Boys and the V-SAM, combat vehicles, Cyborgs, war plans for the CS and Free Quebec, some background, key figures, Old Bones, and treachery, rumours and conspiracies! Ooh, I love a well spun tale!
The Coalition War. An introduction by Kevin leads into Erin Tarn spinning a yarn about the war. Goes into some of the history that led to the Free Quebec admission into the Coalition States, some of their maverick moves that caused the friction with the Proseks (et al), and finally, the splitting off from Coalition control.
Coalition Fronts. Chi-Town faces a two-front war. Historically this hasn’t ever gone really well. Discusses the Western Front with Tolkeen, contrasting with the Eastern Front in Free Quebec, and detailing some of the major players’ reactions to the escalation of hostilities. Although not very long, it does present some key elements to the CS-FQ conflict, as well as limitations that the CS invaders must overcome or were self-imposed (i.e. scorched earth policy not an option).
Free Quebec – Birth of a Nation. A quick blurb section on the fall-out as the schism occurred between the CS and FQ.
Quebec Military. The meat on the bone, so to speak. We start by getting on overview of the various components of the military, including notable entries like the Recce Battalions, Glitter Boy Legion, Quebec Military Intelligence, the Navy and le Sûreté du Quebec. I wanted to present the FQ military as a collection of Corps/Legions that work inter-operatively. The vast majority of the defense will be the FQ Army, backed by mixed units from GB Legion, Liberty Reserve, Air Corps, etc. The Recce Battalions are essentially a screening force that scours the vast wilderness in and around FQ; I really saw them and the Iron Heart scout/mercs bands fighting a secret war of cat-and-mouse out in the boonies Backed up by some sterling artwork from Perez!
OCC’s Common to Free Quebec. Some general limitations and restrictions on what you can or cannot play in the Free Quebec military (no surprises here: no magic, Crazies, mutants, D-Bees and avoid Psi-Stalkers). Gives an overview of the more common military classes you’d find available. Some of the new OCCs were very much *not* part of the original manuscript (ahem, Glitter Girl, ahem!).
Weapons and Equipment of Free Quebec Military. Your run of the mill stockade of rifles, pistols and body armour. I have to say the esthetic from the artwork really blew me away and gave a particular feel to the Free Quebec military; separate and distinct (some of you that may catch this one).
Combat Vehicles. Lots of Hover Cycles and Jeeps, which I presented as the pre-eminent method of transport over such vast stretches of wilderness that FQ claims. One of the limitations of the GB is mobility. The answer to this came in the form of the GB6-96 Transport, which I designed akin to a Huey in Vietnam; hugs the ground low and fast, comes to an abrupt stop for a quick disembarkation and big booms happen.
Robot Vehicles. No surprises here, they have many of the same stock as the remainder of the CS. Why mess with a good thing, right? That said, they did make a few upgrades to the tried and tested (QR-1/QR-2 Primes) and added the QR-3 Guardian.
Glitter Boys of FQ. What most people likely bought this book for. Discussion of strengths and weakness, as well as a series of blurbs on tactics and specific formations of the (many) many more GBs than the CS even thought possible. We cover the Classic GB, Triax GB (remember those?), the Glitter Girl (ugh), the Side Kick, Tarantula, Taurus, and Silver Wolf models. Other Power Armour includes the Power Trooper, Classic SAMAS and the “Violator” SAMAS (one of my favorite pieces of art in the book).
Cyborgs of Free Quebec. Liberty Reserve is provided some amplification, which is to say FQ never really (ever) stopped cyborg conversions. Several popular models include the Imprimer, Dervish, Slasher and Leviathan as baseline models. One of the reasons for the specific models is to overcome one of the issues with war economies; scale. By sticking to several designs and allowing for individualization, FQ gets to benefit from economies of scale in production, saving time, money and resources. Cyborgs are also a prime supporting element to the Glitter Boys, giving them much needed close support; they along with the Juicers of Liberty Reserve are the trump card FQ is playing to ensure the GBs can keep giving staving off the CS.
The Quebec Navy. One of the stalwart elements of the Free Quebec defence expounds on details provided in SB4: The CS Navy. Jacques Lefevre, first presented in Rifts WB 7: Underseas, gets the nod and promoted from Captain to Commodore. The Navy’s resources are explored, including some snazzy new power armour.
Free Quebec Society. One of the key elements to differentiating Free Quebec to the remainder of the CS was going to be the cultural section. I could have gone on for pages on how the worldview of FQ shaped their history and eventually led to the conflict and friction that developed into their secession. We cover a series of diplomatic relations with major players in North America, the NGR, Atlantis and Others.
People and Groups of Note. Several key players in the FQ society, including the Prime Minister, National Assembly, as well as CFQC (the FQ radio broadcasting network) and les Soldats de St. Jean (your stereotypical ultra-right wing militia types). The intent for les Soldats was always to resemble something similar to the Michigan Militia of the late 90s. In the contemporary sense, there are some unfortunate resemblance to several other ultra-right wing, nationalist splinter groups. That said, I did not want to shy away from the unfortunate second-order effects to the reality of FQ/CS human supremacy policy.
Old Bones. A detailed summary of the ruins of Quebec City and the intrigue that a GM can exploit for their campaigns. The Rumour Mill section has an amusing illustration with Kevin grasping his head in terror as a Death’s Head comes in for a combat landing.
War! Several adventure ideas and NPCs for GMs to draw on to develop their own campaigns set before, during, or maybe even after a full-fledged military campaign. Several really nice Hook-Line-Sinkers (HLS) are provided with some extra world building included.
Upon Release (8/10). In all objective honesty, I was really happy with this release; and not just because my name is on it. Written during my 3rd and 4th year of my undergraduate degree, it was a welcome diversion from school. The book, as published, differs in a few places and presents new concepts and ideas built on the manuscript I submitted; in several respects, I likely had much the same response to many of you. Essentially a continuation of the Coalition War Campaign and tying in Sourcebook 4: The CS Navy, it presented the armed forces on the other side of the CWC civil war equation. It isn’t strictly a guns and gear book though, so it does provide a good deal of world building information for the region, specifically from Free Quebec’s viewpoint. There were indeed some surprises, only a few of which really left me scratching my head – honestly, Glitter Girl? There were some of them that were obviously based on artist submissions that Kevin felt were best suited here. That said, I found that the artwork really stood out; the style and differentiation they provided really set FQ apart, but in a similar light to the CS. As far as supporting a campaign, I think Free Quebec provides a GM with some great details to influence their adventures.
Current Assessment (8/10). Looking back on this 20 years later, the book stands up fairly well. As far as the technical gear, robots, power armour and whatnot, it still has some teeth but does show a bit of age in terms of power creep. The Free Quebec military has always been big on reliance of their Glitter Boy legions to even the playing field, which has always been their calling card. Is it fallible? Sure, a canny player can exploit the tactical deficiencies of a GB, but can they then account for the combined arms and multitude of supporting troops? You never see us US Abrams tank floating around the battle space without supporting arms; the same applies to GBs, and FQ has had the decades to prove this out. The additional information provided to give cultural context in the Rifts Earth environment, in all the tidbits that are scattered throughout (no angels by any contemporary measure), provides that window into the ideals and perspective of the FQ leadership, military and citizens. I am still very impressed with the artwork, in particular the various models of Glitter Boy and Borg models, the V-SAM and the new armour/uniforms, even the updated fleur-de-lys design is sharp! Not a *must have* for anyone running a campaign outside North America, but a pretty solid addition to anyone looking to run something in the north-eastern quadrant of the continent.
Continue to Scholar's Review #28 (World Book #23: Xiticix Invasion) (forthcoming)
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