Scholar’s Review #45: Rifts Adventure Sourcebook (Chi-Town ‘Burbs: Fire Town & the Tolkeen Crisis)
Author: Kevin Siembieda
Release Date: May 2003
We continue in the post-Tolkeen War period, further developing the Chi-Town ‘Burbs. Tolkeen retribution squads have come to the ‘Burbs to take the fight to the belly of the CS, as well as the refugees from that conflict just hoping to cash in on the opportunities the ‘Burbs represents (either as a way point to something better, or a final destination). The tactics of the retribution squads and the criminal underbelly is further defined. The real gem of this book is the detailed site descriptions and adventure ideas presented in the conclusion of the templated New Town (called Fire Town). For any GM looking to style an adventure in the ‘Burbs, this book and its predecessor are the place to start.
A Few Words from the Author. A small half-page of note where Kevin announces the rights to a Rifts live-action film had been acquired by Jerry Bruckheimer (of Top Gun, Bad Boys II and Pirates of the Caribbean fame) and Walt Disney Pictures (you know, Mickey Mouse). We all know this has yet to come to fruition. We wait patiently. That said, it sounds like a Lone Star conversion of a mutant mouse is in order!
Tolkeen Fallout in the ‘Burbs. Tolkeen is officially defeated, yet the region remains a hot bed of activity as disorganized resistance still fights CS patrols. Some of these patrols have moved into the Coalition State of Chi-Town in order to take the fight to the CS, including the ‘Burbs. These actions include: smuggling of magical items and people; assassinations; acts of terrorism; and, leveraging the remainder of Tolkeen’s demon and monster allies (e.g. Daemonix, Brodkil, Elementals, Gargoyles, Black Fairie). These retribution squads use urban warfare tactics, a series of them covered in some detail. This places Kingsdale and, ironically, the ‘Burbs, as the best possible location to both escape as a refugee, exploit any ill-gotten gains, and plot any revenge actions against the CS. Minions of Splugorth and the Federation of Magic have both infiltrated the ‘Burbs in search of Tolkeen loot, the NPCs of Squad Ragnarok provided as an example, along with several Hook, Line and Sinkers.
Fire Town (Part Two). Continued entries into the ongoing exploration of the example ‘Burb. The same map presented in the last Adventure Sourcebook is further defined, adding an entry for all the abandoned buildings (with adventure ideas and background information), as well as another 29 locations; each gets a fair amount of detail, with adventure hooks provided, several feeding back into Squad Ragnarok.
Initial Assessment (7/10). The second in a series of Adventure Sourcebooks, it is a little beefier at 64 pages. Again, this was also my first read of the product, and for the most part delivers very well. We continue our glimpse into life of the ‘Burbs, in particular the context of the post-Tolkeen conflict; refugees and retribution squads both have come to try to exploit opportunities they see there. The second half of the Fire Town entries are presented, rounding out the majority of buildings in the same map we get in the first Adventure Sourcebook. Quite frankly this is where the money is, and the last half of the book. Taken with the first 19 entries presented in Adventure Sourcebook 1, there is a very well detailed ‘Burb with a significant amount of interplay between the entries. You get a true sense of the community; the general feel that these 48 entries provide GMs a very detailed overview of an adventure setting. It also gives the GM a baseline by which they can generate neighbouring ‘Burbs, be they other New Towns, or perhaps the relative luxury and industrial centres of the Old Towns, or the criminally infested squalor of a Shanty Town. The artwork, once again, supports the text, but nothing stands out. The same issue with Adventure Sourcebook 1, my critique is the obvious halving of a single sourcebook into two products. Could have been an 8 or a 9, but docked due to presentation over multiple books vice a single publication.
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