Scholar's Review #4 - RIFTS World Book 1: Vampire Kingdoms
Updated: Jan 15
Author: K. Siembieda
Release Date: 1991
Note: This review is based on the original edition, First Printing (1991).
Released a year or so after RIFTS: RPG, the first World Book takes a look at the mystical and violent regions of the Southern US, Mexico and Central America. It covers the vampire intelligences and their dedication to the propagation of misery and aguish throughout the lands, and the legions of vampires that serve them in their claim of the region as their foothold on RIFTS Earth.
Vampires. What is a Vampire Intelligence? We cover that here in detail, including the lore and most importantly, how to destroy them. Vampire Minions, pages of text on their powers and weaknesses, as well as a combat section with tactics and weapons to use against them.
The Vampire Kingdoms. From the southern deserts of Texas down through to Central America, gives GMs a good indication of what players should expect.
Vampire Civilization. Overview of the major sites for vampires and their minions, including several details for each; NPCs and specific background. In contrast, the strongholds of man describes the outposts fighting to contain the plague of undead.
Travelling Beyond the Threshold of Humanity. El Paso and Cuidad Juarez presented in depth, including prominent gangs and a litany of encounters to use. Juarez gets specific details that allow a GM to run an entire campaign in the one city and surrounding countryside.
Vampire Hunters of Mexico. Enter Doc Reid and the Reid’s Rangers. Essentially presented like a Merc company (see Scholar's Review #1: Rifts Mercenaries), high profile NPCs are laid out.
Freak Shows, Circuses and Travelling Shows. Set up just like a mercenary company a la carte menu based on the size, pick and choose what your freak show has to offer. This gives GMs a great avenue to present a variety of new NPCs and adventure ideas.
Mysterious Yucutan. Hidden from the air by some mystical force, this is the domain of the Jaguar People. Some interesting details and monsters from the region that could be used anywhere else really.
Upon Release (6/10). The first release in the World Book series, this did a fair job giving some extra background to the RIFTS world, as well as define one of the major nasties in the meta plot line. The detail utilized to explore the mythos of the vampires as they fit into this game was worth the read, but it never really piqued my interest. The vampire mythos never really drew me in, and it was in a corner of the RIFTS Earth that held equally little notice. The artwork is really something else though. Primarily developed by Kevin Long, a staple artist for Palladium products, the clean black and white pieces really do draw you in. From the cover art, to the Undead Slayer and then that maniacal clown before you even get to the table of contents, this was a really high point for me.
Current Assessment (6/10). WB1 is a good adventure source book. There are great adventure ideas in here, and on a second look I could definitely find something to go with; specifically the travelling circuses and Cuidad Juarez, which is essentially an adventure module in and of itself. I can’t say it was an overwhelming book for me, but something is there for those vampire aficionados. Looking back at the artwork though, this stuff still holds up, largely based on the efforts of Kevin Long. My particular favourite is the full page depiction of Doctor Reid leaning in on a vampire.
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