Scholar's Review #7: RIFTS World Book 3: England
Updated: Apr 29
Author: K. Siembieda
Release Date: 1992
Released a couple of years after the first RIFTS: RPG, World Book 3: England dives into the Anglo-Saxon and Irish mythos. There are myriad myths, legends and traditions to draw on, and this World Book certainly taps into it. It gives an introduction into the greater setting of continental Europe, but more to whet your appetite for forthcoming books than anything else.
Millennium Trees. Great arboreal beings with some intelligence and intent to assist humanity and creatures of good against the befouling existences of evil plaguing the world. Gifts of magic such as healing powers, armour of MDC tree bark, as well as a multitude of wands and staves, were well done. An interesting concept.
Herbalists, Druids, Herbs and Magic. A series of new magical OCCs, as one would expect. Herbalists and their unique (and copious) herb magic, are followed by a series of differing Druid classes. The Chiang-ku Dragons are presented anew, with some interesting plot ties, including into the upcoming World Book 4: Africa. Earth Child and Star Child RCCs get mention, allies to the Druids and those fighting evil.
Intelligent Life Forms. A trio of D-Bee RCCs.
Aliens, Insects and Monsters. Some creepy-crawly type insectoid monsters.
Temporal Magic. Some new time/phase manipulation based OCCs and a new magic system.
Dark Forces at Camelot. So Mrrlyn (Merlin) is back, and in a bad way. After waking from a long slumber through the age of low-magic, he wakes up to a veritable buffet of PPE that even he can’t satiate himself on. Lady of the Lake and Guinevere are detailed as NPCs as well. Since it is Camelot, we have to have King Arr’Thuu (Arthur) and his Knights (no round table), so understandably they are represented, along with an OCC for players to be junior knights. The twist (spoiler alert): King and knights are the good guys, unknowingly working for the diabolical entity Mrrlyn.
The British Isles. Overview of the isles, including all the “henges” in and around Stonehenge, as well as the key settlements. I really enjoyed this section and how it was presented. There are a number of National Geographic documentaries that you could watch on the henges that reinforces the mystique of these structures. As one could easily imagine, they magnify and concentrate Ley Line powers. Make no mistake, humans are the minority on this island; fairies per square kilometer top the list. The Splugorth have an outpost atop the ruins of London, England, basically a wilderness preserve for hunting; and a thorn in Mrrlyn’s side as a long-time rival and enemy. Basically a 'more evil' entity on the island that keeps perchance keeps Mrrlyn’s worse instinct in check as a power balance.
Scotland & the Celtic Gods. Not your benevolent types; they have some seriously outlandish stats to back up some mean-ish attitudes. There is not enough single malt scotch in the world to make me want to live there as depicted.
Ireland. Few humanoids live here at all (less the mixed D-Bee/human city of Tarramore at the site of Old Dublin). This is the land of Faire Folk, no mistaking.
Adventures. Includes a random encounter chart, as well as the canned adventure Well of Wisdom.
France. Blood Druids, headquartered out of Geneve (Geneva, Switzerland). Very little detail other than the new NPC OCC.
Upon Release (6/10). The follow-up to WB1, I was hoping for something that got away from the super-MDC villains and gave us more of an in-depth portrayal of the islands. To some extent, this gave me what I was looking for. The islands are, as expected, rife with magical energies. The Celtic and Anglo-Saxon lore was used to create a neat little setting. The inclusion of Camelot was no surprise, and the twist that a malevolent super-being is driving the narrative was a neat twist; but is *is* another super-entity.
Current Assessment (6/10). I’m still not quite sure how to rate this one. I re-read it a few times hoping to find something really compelling. The introduction of Millennium Trees and the different magical OCCs were intriguing, as was the temporal magic. The idea Fairie Folk have reclaimed much of the lands certainly matched my initial expectations. The execution of the Camelot legend, despite it being an expected trope, didn’t really grab me. The lack of detail for the Splugorth influence at London was something I felt was an oversight, something that could have really added to the Camelot storyline; I could easily see it having hit the cutting room floor to save space. There are some excellent chances for adventure ideas and storytelling here. My inability to get swept up in it doesn’t negate its potential. The artwork is solid, supported ably by Kevin Long, Newton Ewell and others.
Continue to Scholar's Review #8 (World Book 4: Africa)
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