• Francois DesRochers

Scholar’s Review #41: Siege on Tolkeen – Chapter 6 (Final Siege)


Author: Kevin Siembieda

Release Date: August 2001


GENERAL


General. First off, comments on the Siege of Tolkeen series as a whole will be covered in a follow-on post, and trust me, there are things to talk about. As far as this particular book is concerned, it culminates the Siege, providing the GM with the final pieces of the puzzle to complete the campaign, both from the CS and Tolkeen perspectives. It also provides us with a launching point for future campaigns and ideas to perhaps dove-tail into existing ones. As the Campaign of Unity comes to an unexpected close, the forces of the CS now concentrate on the one magic city-state to dare oppose them. In the aftermath of the Sorceror’s Revenge, the Tolkeen defenders have seen most of the mercenary forces withdraw, leaving mostly the native residents, truly fervent, or the monsters and demons that truly want to cause more bloodshed amongst the CS. Along with the typical equipment and weapons of war entries, we get detailed entries on the City of Tolkeen and Freehold (City of Dragons).


SECTIONS


Scenario Set-up. A series of smaller entries that provides the reader an overview of what occurred shortly after the Sorceror’s Revenge, all with heavy implications to the overall meta-plot:

  • Tolkeen Success. The majority of fervent soldiers and humanoid mercenaries-for-hire have taken the massive victory as reason enough to call the end of their contracts and ‘get while the getting’s good,” leaving Tolkeen with a slew of demonic and monstrous allies more interested in blood-letting CS troops than Tolkeen survival. This makes the defenders more than anything, exactly what the CS would have been claiming these defenders to be.

  • Campaign of Unity. A secret pact proposed by Tolkeen with Free Quebec would have thousands of monstrous Tolkeen forces sent to assist FQ in destroying the advancing CS armies. Free Quebec’s double-cross comes with a heavy price, and the CS joins their human FQ brethren to fight off the Tolkeen contingent (tripled what was intended).

  • Coalition Operational Intent. An overview of the layout for the armies surrounding and advancing on Tolkeen.

  • General Jericho Holmes. With a serious (I mean, like, a *really* big) dose of Deus ex Machina, General Holmes and army finally emerges from Xiticix territory. Tolkeen believes the flank secured, because, well, Xiticix; the CS mourned General Holmes and army lost, because, well, Xiticix. He comes back an announces to the CS his commitment to the attack on Tolkeen itself.


Siege Layout. Several pages of depictions and maps for the layout of what CS armies are where, general campaign plans and objectives. For the GM, it breaks the CS plans into four main regions (objectives): the Southern front (Magestock); the Eastern front (Freehold, city of dragons); the North-Western front (City of Tolkeen); and, Aerial Superiority/Control (diversion and distraction/harassing). We also (finally) get a map of Tolkeen itself.


Tolkeen: City in Chaos

  • Random Effect Tables. General Holmes has identified the infrastructure supporting the majority of Tolkeen’s magical defenses. When those fail, a series of tables provide impacts a GM could apply (really nicely done).

  • Tolkeen Defenses. An overview of the geography and how Tolkeen will exploit them, along with a series of military defenses.


Tolkeen Army. An overview of the Tables of Organization and Equipment for the defenders. All-told, about 195,000 humanoids/dragons/D-Bees/monstrous beings. Of note

  • Eastern Army: 80 dragons, 640 warlocks and elementals, ~3900 Daemonix, ~17,000 various Juggernauts, and 46,000 various soldiers/mercenaries

  • Northern Army: 40 dragons, 660 warlocks and elementals, ~1900 Daemonix, ~8,500 various Juggernauts, and 34,500 various soldiers/mercenaries

  • Southern Army: 80 dragons, 840 warlocks and elementals, ~1920 Daemonix, ~12,000 various Juggernauts, and 57,500 various soldiers/mercenaries

  • Western Army: 10 dragons, 130 warlocks/65 elementals, ~160 Daemonix, ~5,500 various Juggernauts, and 23,000 various soldiers/mercenaries

  • Air Corps: 160 dragons, ~5,800 gargoyles, ~7,800 various Juggernauts, and 23,000 various soldiers/mercenaries/TW flyers

  • Engineering Corps: 1,920 warlocks/960 elementals, 260 various Juggernauts, and 11,000 Operators/various engineers


Tolkeen Warlords. Just the usual collection of NPCs that command the various armies and overall Tolkeen Defenses.


Weapons. A series of entries for Tolkeen forces to utilize in their defence against the CS forces.

  • Portable Bunker. A dragon-portable bunker (ugh….) with anemic weaponry but good range

  • TW Volcan Wing & Saucer. A dual-vehicle system capable of connecting/detaching, much like the Alpha/Beta from ROBOTECH. The comparison ends there though.

  • TW Sling Scout. Very oddly shaped design, but with the ability to Prowl, works well as a scout vehicle. Despite its 50 ft (15.2 m) height, this can be mitigated through use of terrain (trees, mountains, under water) and use of the chameleon spell.

  • TW Demon Barge. Effectively a flying tank/patrol boat with limited transport capabilities.

  • Dynamo Armour. An experimental suit of armour for magic users, augmenting the user with 333 PPE and spells to use. There are some defects and side effects.


Iron Juggernauts

  • Wing-Blade. An insectoid shaped anti-armour and robot killer, it employs a series of massive blades in swarming attacks to immobilize or render weapon systems inoperable, or targeting pilot compartments and leaving the remainder of the robot intact. No ranged weapons except for spells… okay?

  • Millipede. Huge, front-line assault transport vehicle that looks like an armoured Fury Beetle. Has 12 ranged weapon attacks, and two nodes in the back that act similar to a pair of Juggernauts; if the front is destroyed, these two break off as separate entities.


Beasts of War

  • Role Gargoyles Play. Notes on how these monsters are integrated into the overall defenses.

  • Earth Ground Mobile Missile Bunker. Essentially a harness borne by an Earth Elemental or suitable monster with an array of missiles and other modern weapons. I almost wonder if this wasn't something added in because of the gonzo-for-missiles artwork.

  • Weapon Throne. A mobile artillery piece.

  • Lightning Fortress. Standing roughly 6 stories tall, another mobile artillery piece. Let me stress this point; 6 stories tall....

  • Beast Tank. Saddle-mounted weapons platform for quadruped monsters. Your monster horse now have "big guns" attached. What I've always wanted for my pet Rhino-Buffalo.

  • Various Monsters. Includes the Chatterling (dragon-like with insect head), villainous Threno Bat-Things, Wind-Water Sail Rays, Craaphery Demon Snakes, and a special note limiting any possible use of vampires (like, none - is this really a surprise?).


Tolkeen NPC’s

  • King Robert Creed and the Circle of Twelve. All of the very powerful personas leading the Tolkeen political and military decision-making; includes Siege notes for GM use within a campaign.

  • The Atlanteans. A group of runaways from the Splynn Dimensional Market.

  • The Hackers’ Consortium. Dedicated to discovering a technical weakness in the Coalition’s arsenal, in particular hacking into Skelebots.

  • The Timewalkers. A Temporal Wizard and his three Temporal Warrior bodyguards.


Freehold City of Dragons. We finally get a clearer idea of this mythical locale, with its approximately 270 dragons and up to 104 transients (mostly Hatchlings). Details how the city is laid out and will defend, notable dragon/monster NPCs, including the Freehold Megaversals. Given than the armies have 370 dragons accounted in their numbers, one can assume one of the following:

  • 700+ dragons reside in and around Tolkeen (not the line I personally buy);

  • Freehold is largely devoid of any dragons as they serve in Tolkeen’s defence;

  • The army numbers are dragon ‘allocations’ (most likely in my opinion); or,

  • The numbers just don’t make sense (second most likely).


City of Tolkeen. We finally get to see what the City of Tolkeen looks like. A city overview provides details on the mega-TW infrastructure in play (transit, power, teleportation, etc). The city is suffering from the impacts of diminishing resources. We do a deeper dive into the four major quadrants, with nicely done maps and great ideas for campaign use:

  • Western Quadrant. Highly industrialized; 36 locales detailed.

  • Northern Quadrant. Parks, college campuses, residential zones and open spaces; 26 locales detailed.

  • Eastern Quadrant. Seat of government, downtown and commercial district; 15 locales detailed.

  • Southern Quadrant. Densely populated residential regions; 22 locales detailed.


War Stories. Provides some detailed notes for GMs who want to play out the Siege in detail, broken down by major groups (e.g. Coalition characters, or characters from Tolkeen/Opposing Coalition). Some really key pieces of information and campaign design notes.


Hook, Line & Sinker Adventures. Several campaign adventure ideas for GMs to use and abuse.


Final Thoughts from the Author. Kevin provides a few final thoughts on the Siege on Tolkeen series and the impacts this will have on North America overall. As the beginning of 109 P.A., this event provides a pretty succinct delineation for the Rifts RPG.


IMPRESSIONS


Initial Assessment (6/10). The grande finale in the series, setting up the massive meta-defining event in Rifts Earth. We finally got a view of the infamous City of Tolkeen, and specifics on the personas and layout of the one city-state that challenged the combined might of the Coalition States. I recall one of the principal thoughts on this book was, ‘Why wait until now?’ The detailing of Tolkeen and their key personnel and defenses seemed, information passed-point. I am sure there were a lot of players and GMs alike that wondered why we only saw these details in the final book. Starting with a series of story entries and overviews, they lead the reader from the Sorceror’s Revenge through to how the overall Campaign of Unity effects the Siege, and the events that lead to the eventual fall of Tolkeen. There was a lot of information to process at the time, and it culminated what I took as a rather disjointed presentation of the material meant to sell books for the sake of making a more GM/gamer applicable series. I keenly remember thumbing through this once or twice just for the artwork; some of those battle scene shots are superb. I never used the Siege books for the purposes of running a meta-campaign, but the material presented herein did help produce certain adventure ideas.


Current Assessment (7/10). This book, at 220 pages, has a lot (like, really lots) of information packed in, which really is the saving grace for this book and the series writ-large (more on this in another post). The size of most of the more detailed World Books, this finalizes the Siege and (finally) presents the City of Tolkeen and the City of Dragons (Freehold) among a relative hodgepodge series of entries. The introductory segment’s sweeping impacts on the Siege, namely the cessation of hostilities against Free Quebec and triumphant appearance of General Jericho Holmes, follows the set narrative. The cities and their quadrants are really well defined, in a way any GM can make good use of. We find the final Juggernauts and a number of other TW weapons of war. A solid breakdown of the campaign plans for CS invasion forces and Tolkeen defenders gives GMs a plethora or background. This is backed up by a solid cast of NPC characters; Tolkeen’s King and Council of Twelve, as well as dragon and monster characters from Freehold and other NPC groups. All of these come with a series of Siege notes to fold them into your campaign or build an adventure around, which really gives this book an edge, and frankly the only reason I gave it a bump from a six to a seven. One of my favourite elements is the random tables under the City in Chaos segment. One of the stand-out elements is the artwork; there is lots of it, and it really adds to the product as a whole; spectacular Zeleznik cover aside, the Perez image of the CS troops over the dragon carcass (page 138), character art and scenic art entries by all the artists really punches through.


Post-Script. I will compare the TOE of Tolkeen versus CS in a further post, going over the numbers and how they were applied through campaign plan / strategy. There will also be a Siege Overall analysis to come in the near future as well. More to follow.


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