Scholar's Review #28: Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion
Author: Kevin Siembieda
Release Date: November 1999
This World Book presents a unique opportunity for Rifts players. In addition to providing some basis for GMs and players to use the world building, we do a deep dive into the monstrous Xiticix race and their place within the Rifts RPG setting. These nasty gribblies were a staple in Rifts games right from the very start, with the stunning, coloured artwork, supported by the bit of data on Xiticix Warriors in the back of the Rifts Main Book (RMB). Presented herein, we have a (much) more detailed look at them, including how their Hive Networks are established, various sub-classes and their caste system, how they interact with each other, and ultimately their biological imperative to take over Rifts Earth. If you like squashing bugs underfoot, then read on dear adventurer! Watch out though, these bugs pack a bite…
An Overview. A xeno-biological review of the beings that are the Xiticix. Discusses their motivations, sustenance, and how the hive cities are organized. There is a lot of information presented here, and in a very good way to provide a GM a clear indication how they could use the information in their campaigns. Xiticix combat and tactics, more specifically within a hive network, is explored. A really good overview and one of the most in-depth D-Bee/Monster analyses presented thus far; really well done.
Growth and Life Cycle. Details the life of a Xiticix from Grub to end-state form. There are clear parallels to the insect kingdom, but with significant nuance and distinctions that make them a fully fleshed out protagonist.
The Xiticix Hives. A quick summary of the current six major hive networks, as well as some friction points between some of them, as well as their expansion plans and copious maps to support. We then (literally) explore the Xiticix Towers and Tunnel Network, seeing how the interiors are typically laid out, as well as typical numbers of beasts (by type) would be encountered where.
Xiticix. The meat and potatoes of the book, we get into the details of the race and how they’ve been updated so long after their initial exposure to players in the RMB. A very detailed summary of their senses and how they play out, specifically the chemical scent abilities and how this applies to alarms, battle, etc.
Xiticix Diggers. The builders and maintainers of the race, as well as crafters of the resin melee weapons and the material that creates the massive towers, as well as lining the tunnels throughout the network.
Xiticix Hunter. One of the true loners of the species, they act as scouts and forward vanguard commanders for small groups of Warriors. Always on the look for individuals and beasts with high PPE to feed to the Nannies to make “sludge.”
Xiticix Leaper. An unusual bug, even by Xiticix standards. Basically, your assassin/ambush bug in support of the Warrior-types.
Xiticix Nannies. The only one without wings, which is fine; these stay underground caring for the little gribblies. Makes “sludge” to accelerate growth of little gribblies into the nightmarish terrors we know and love.
Young Queens. The layers of eggs and makers of “sludge,” they wait their turn to elevate to Elder Queen.
Elder Queen. Your supreme power in the Hive, and a true monster at that. Lays eggs, makes “sludge” and generally plots the Hive’s future through blatant expansionist policies supported by a brutal form of negotiation.
Xiticix Warrior. The most notorious and well known, these seven-foot bugs are every entomophobe’s nightmare (yours truly included).
Xiticix Super-Warrior. The Generals of the Hive, they direct Warriors and coordinate tactical responses to incursions and lead expansionist negotiations with neighbours. Not great negotiators in the classic sense, they still seem to get their way more times than not.
Xiticix Worker. The general labourers of the Hive, they stay within the confines of the Hive Network and do what they’re told.
Xiticix Weapons. A more fulsome array of weapons for the additional types of Xiticix, including a wide array of stabby-slashy type resin swords, spears and more, as well as a few new ranged weapons.
Prelude to War. Set as of 105 P.A., essentially goes over the initial responses to the Xiticix threat, from the CS perspective. Includes a reprint of the Xiticix Killer from World Book 13: Rifts Lone Star.
Lazlo’s War. I suppose, ironically, they have come to the same genocidal conclusion as the CS. Here we cover the various political rivalries and allies that could and likely would combine forces to fight the threat – hint, none includes a CS-Lazlo “coalition.”
Psi-Stalkers. These guys have been fighting the war with the Xiticix for generations. Does a deep dive into some of the tribes, including the Spider Tribe (great little back story included), the Pony-Tail Tribe, and the Deathbringer Warriors necromantic cult that have taken it upon themselves to fight the Xiticix at every turn. The Psi-Stalker R.C.C. is reprinted with some minor additional text.
Avenue of Adventures. One of the most comprehensive and varied inclusion of adventure ideas. There are a series of Hook-Line-Sinkers, a complete adventure module (The Hivelands Adventure), as well as a detailed section on Lazlo’s response and CS activity in the Xiticix regions (Fort Barron detailed with internal maps, NPCs, the works).
Upon Release (8/10). This was a solid book. Finally answering many of the questions players had about this iconic D-Bee monster from the RMB. More an in-depth study of the Xiticix and who they are, how they operate, what makes them tick, and just how expansive the threat truly is. This was a great GM resource, providing not only another great element for use in a North American campaign, but plugging a hole in the North American context that was going unanswered for some time. We dive into the additional classes of the race, and the truly ponderous task ahead for the CS, Lazlo, and the players; heck, even Atlantis is ready to do some of the heavy lifting if the opportunity arises! Some of the best artwork to date rounds out this great addition to the library. The adventure modules in the back of the book are more than generous and give GMs a great set of resources to work with or exploit to work with their current campaigns.
Current Assessment (9/10). If one was to look through the Rifts library for books that provide complete details for a player or GM on how incorporate the information therein, look no further than World Book 23. This thing is a real gem that has more than stood the test of time! It fill in a gap that has been persistent since the RMB came out; a long wait, but certainly worth every minute. In what I believe is the first to break from the introduction of a forward by Erin Tarn, the flavour text throughout is delivered by an old coot of a ranger, Orion Greenfeld. The in-depth demonstration on how the Xiticix operate as a species, motivations, and a fairly detailed response to the question on how Xiticix deal with various levels of invaders, made for an immersive read. As a major campaign setting, the Xiticix provides a GM with a plethora of adventure ideas, something backed up heavily with the Adventures section. The variety of Xiticix also assists in keeping things from getting too repetitive or cliché. Add in the various other forces at play, such as the CS (Chi-Town and Iron Heart), Lazlo and the Psi-Stalkers, you could spend years of real-life adventuring in the Minnesota/Manitoba hinterlands. Backed up with an absolutely superb lineup of artwork, the feel of the insectoids is complete; this coming from someone with an abject fear of insects (yeah, this book gave me the heebie-jeebies). For the topic it covers and the manner in which it was executed, easily one of the most complete World Books you will likely find. Finally, the artwork. Some absolutely SOLID artwork from all the artists that really give a sense of the race, starting with the stunning cover art by Dave Dorman, and some spectacular entries by Breaux! I think the full-page Young Queen on page 63 probably wins out as my favorite; a truly dynamic and textured piece.
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