Scholar’s Review #31: RIFTS World Book 28 – Arzno – Vampire Incursion
Updated: Apr 15
Author: Jason Richards
Release Date: March 2006
What is essentially a companion book to World Books 1 and 13 to 15, we now revisit the New West and Vampire Intelligences; one could accurately call this a massive adventure book expansion to the aforementioned. The setting is primarily centred in northern Arizona, expanding to include the 'four corners' region in the United States; Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. We get a great overview of the region and the major players, and a refreshing adventure setting involving both locations and personnel that does not revolve around the Coalition/Tolkeen narrative. Despite the cover not really giving me any indication on the contents, there is a lot to unpack in this book.
Regional Overview. Discussion on climate and topography of Arizona and some of the neighbouring states, focusing on the ‘four corners’ and revisiting Mexico. I really appreciated the regional approach and the ability to get into more detail on the specific locales that set up this book's narrative. It builds nicely on the overviews presented in WB 14: New West.
Notable Places in Arizona. The Grand Canyon, Arzno and several other towns.
The Great Trade Road. A trade route that winds from Phoenix up through Arzno and into Colorado. Includes descriptions of major stops with key economic concerns.
The Waste. The barren wastelands around the still active volcano that erupted in Flagstaff; ghosts, monsters and demons.
Ghosts of the Waste. Stats on the Ghosts, Screamers (these things can truly mess up a PC group) and optional RCCs for the Thumper and Waste Monkey.
Arzno. Taking a good chunk of the book, this section goes over the city-state of Arzno, located along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Includes overviews of the surrounding townships, and very nicely detailed overview of this city of ~24,000 persons. Arzno Mercenary Corps and Weapons Manufacturers became a well-known TW manufacturer for Tolkeen’s war. In the post-war setting, there are hundreds of battle-hardened mages and warriors returning, with several thousand refugees. Provides heavily detailed maps and places of note in typical Palladium fashion. Of note technology is about 1930s level, augmented by Techno-Wizardry, which has become one of their greatest exports.
Arzno Mercenary Corps. Shows the notes from the Mercenary Company Generation section, first presented in Rifts Mercenaries. Vampire hunters extraordinaire, with detailed breakdown on the sub-units, how one comes to be part of the AMC, and persons of note presented as NPCs.
New TW Weapons. As a source of unique TW items for the Tolkeen forces, it would have been (really) odd not to have this section included.
Weapons. A laundry list of TW weapons, equipment and armour (if that Exterminator armour image isn't a Games Workshop Space Marine, I don't know what is….). Includes a slew of more mundane but interesting TW creations, such as TW reading glasses, security scanner, and a translator.
TW “Imitator” Power Armour. Interesting take on TW-powered power armour, including a PPE battery as source of power. Faces certain limitations for regular mages, but certainly has its applications with a Techno-Wizard! Jack Rabbit, Lone Wolf, Raging Bull, Thunderbird, and Guardian Angel models.
TW Aircraft. TW powered helicopters and planes.
TW Ground Vehicles. TW powered jeeps and such.
Vampires. As the book has the sub-title referring to a vampire incursion, it would have been (really) odd not to have this section included. Gets into the politics and shenanigans at Fort Tombstone. Led by Xavier Stuart, a former CS Military Specialist and now converted vampire. Details the town and how things are run, as well as a detailed map of the vampires’ lair.
Brief Introduction to Vampires in Rifts. A lot of material reprinted from World Book 1: Vampire Kingdoms, with some amplification for Xavier Stuart’s cabal. Provide’s Xavier’s NPC stats, as well as other key personnel and the Blood Cult with Blood Priest OCC.
The Black Swords. A group of disgruntled Cyber-Knights that did not agree with the way things were going over at the Tolkeen conflict. Amazingly enough, they are allied with Xavier Stuart’s cabal. Goes over the tactics and provides NPC statistics.
Current Assessment (7/10). I only recently acquired this book, and it was more out of a sense of completing the collection than anything else. With the apparent direct tie-in with World Book 1 – Vampire Kingdoms, it wasn’t high on my priority list of purchases; I didn’t catch on with the setting for the Vampire Kingdoms. I can honestly say, I was pleasantly surprised. As far as World Books go, this one hit all the right notes: detailed background with interesting locales and setting; well fleshed out NPCs with more background to support the narrative of the region; a few OCCs/RCCs to expand on what a player may choose; several new entries into the weapons/equipment/power armour/robot realm, even if they are TW-based. There was definitely enough in here to tie into the ‘Western trilogy of World Books’ (WB 13: Lone Star, WB 14: New West, and WB 15: Spirit West). The artwork throughout isn’t the greatest (in my opinion), but what is there supports the dynamism of this book and the maps are really well done. I get the impression of a vampire horror mixed in with a spaghetti western, which I think is fabulous! The only reason I didn’t rate this an eight was the lack of HLS or adventure components. This is a niche book for North American-setting campaigns, but from a GM perspective, if you are playing in this setting, it is definitely worth the investment! Otherwise, you could probably wait until later to purchase or bypass altogether.