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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholar’s Review #74: RIFTS Sourcebook: Vampires


Author: Kevin Siembieda

Release Date: April 2013


GENERAL

 

We revisit the original expansion to the Rifts RPG, diving back into the scorching heat and humidity of the Mexican desert and tropical reaches. This is the realm of the vampire overlords and their human slave stock, the conflict to keep the vampire intelligences’ forces at bay is a struggle of good versus evil. Unfortunately, the shade of grey between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is sometimes a matter of interpretation. This is also the continuation of the struggle of Doctor Reid and his Rangers, as they maintain their violent war to stem the tide of vampires from overrunning North America. While considered a companion piece to WB 1: Vampire Kingdoms at the time, to my understanding, much of the updated information has been incorporated into the updated WB 1 currently for sale on Palladium Books’ online store.

 

SECTIONS


Doc Reid Unchained. The impact of Reid’s Rangers has escalated the overall conflict, but the vampire intelligences and their forces have grossly overestimated themselves, as well as underestimated Doc Reid’s plotting and grand-standing. There are plans by Reid’s Rangers to make moves against the northern vampire strongholds, and the PCs could be a key team supporting a successful strategic move. Do they work with some newly formed Lemurian allies, or go through the tactical battles solo? There is a Doomsday Device, smuggled out of Tolkeen prior to the CS grubby hands getting a hold of it, that could spell the end of the vampires.

Vampire Hunters of Mexico. Covering the various motivations for why one would start hunting vampires, we get into a few new OCCs specializing in this particular foe:

  • Bandit Vampire Hunter. Basically, a Bandit with specific bonus to vampire hunting.

  • Mage Vampire Hunter. Essentially a Ley Line Walker with some bonuses.

  • Native American Vampire Hunters. Leveraging WB 15: Spirit West in terms of campaigning against vampires with Native American PCs.

  • Hero Necromancers. A bit of a twist on the cliché, they use their dark magic to save humans and hunt vampires.

  • Werecat Vampire Hunter. So, vampires have allied with Werewolves, Werecats hate Werewolves, ergo Werecats hate vampires; it’s a grudge match. I’m surprised they did not leverage the Werecats in WB 13: Lone Star.

 

Reid’s Rangers. A revisit of the eponymous group, their war against the vampires, and goal to save all of Mexico. Fort Reid is detailed in typical PB fashion using the City Creation Rules found in the Adventure Guide [insert link], giving the GM details and key locations of a town of over 10,000 persons. This is a great start point for a series of adventures that don’t necessarily have to be about vampire hunting; they could head north and explore the New West.

Leaders of Reid’s Rangers. Character overviews of our hero and the principle leaders of his band. Largely reprinted from WB 1: Vampire Kingdoms with sporadic updates.

  • Doctor Kenneth Reid. Famous leader and megalomaniac. Still one of the best examples of a Cyber-Doc villainous NPC/hero. [link to OCC overview]

  • Planktal-Nakton. Necromancer hero extraordinaire, with an army of thousands of mummies and a personal army of zombies. So, fighting fire with fire.

  • Sir Raoul Lazarius. Cyber-Knight General.

  • Carlotta le Blanca. Dragon hatchling companion of Sir Lazarius.

  • Mii-Tar the Destroyer. Monstrous D-Bee hero.

  • Vyuur Kly. Famour Psi-Stalker hero.

  • Meetal the Butcher. Psi-Stalker hero.

  • Robert “Grizzly” Carter. Legendary hero.

  • Pequita the Faceless One. Mysterious shape-changing mage.

  • Secret Ally. No surprise at this point, Splynncryth hates (*hates*) vampires, considers them scum, and would like nothing better than to invade from the coast and sweep them away. Unfortunately, there are secondary considerations and other dimensional impacts to business that stay his hand.

 

Vampire Fighting Tactics. Another section that is largely a reprint. Goes over the various equipment and vehicles, as well as regular and Techno-Wizardry weapons and their effects in order to arm and outfit. your vampire hunters properly. There is an interesting new section on Gifts from Lemuria.

 

Desert Travel and Survival. Some interesting notes on effects of heat and lack of water (heat exhaustion), how to find water, as well as how travelling across this region is not the same as hitting I-10 or I-40 and moving the family to the west coast on vacation. Details the various regions of desert throughout the New West and into Mexico.

 

Strongholds of Humanity. Really an update to the information presented in WB 1: Vampire Kingdoms. Aside from the vampire fortresses and Fort Reid, there are very few actual settlements of Humans. Trekking from one of these ‘oases of civilization’ to another is no small thing, as the desert is completely uninhabited by settlements and no road networks exist, or provides ample opportunities for the vampire hordes to attack.

  • Tampico. A military protectorate of 4,000 humans/D-Bees set on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, with another 3,000 in surrounding hamlets. Located just 80 miles (130 km) from one of the vampire kingdom strongholds. Key points of interest and details provided in typical PB fashion, including the Fort and oil refinery. Has some interesting connections to the Splugorth, which makes them an “enemy” of the CS.

  • Monterrey. An isolated town of 1,200 humans/D-Bees. A common waypoint for bandit gangs and groups traversing the desert.

  • New Del Rio. On the northern bank of the Rio Grande, this veritable metropolis of 50,000 humans/D-Bees. It is a haven for outlaws (worse than Cuidad Juarez) and often a target for vampire incursions.

  • Cuidad Victoria. The Floating City, situated around 50 miles (80 km) inland from the Gulf of Mexico and north of Tampico. Boasting around 14,000 humans/D-Bees, the majority of structures are built on the river.

  • Cave of Crystals. Around 1,000 humans/D-Bees live here, located around 250 miles (400 km) northwest of Fort Reid. An operational silver mine, the vampires are strategically blockading it.

  • Acapulco. Near 2,000 humans/D-Bees in this Pacific Coast town, with another 5,000 in surrounding communities. Base for the Sons of Quetzalcoatl, a motley group that assail the vampire kingdoms and return with refugees. Not much of a military force otherwise.

  • Ocotlan. Around 500 people, mostly human, with another 2,200 mostly humans in surrounding villages. Benefits from an anomaly that prevents vampires from approaching.

  • Chatarra (Veracruz). A Coalition Outpost with 400 personnel (human and Dog Boys). Formerly a colony of anti-CS mercenaries not taken over by the CS.

  • Durango (The Silver City). Mostly humans, this city of 12,000 and the few surrounding villages are vampire-free but under siege. With a massive silver mine, the Silver Sword Militia protects the people. Presents the Silver Sword Militiaman OCC.

 

Slayers of Vampire Hunters. An interesting addition, these are the mortal humans and D-Bees that have planted their flag within the court of the vampires in order to hedge their bets and increase their standing for the side they believe will ultimately win. Includes a bounty table for various vampire hunters by class and species (e.g. 5,000 for True Atlanteans, 10,000 for Indian Shamans who hunt vampires).


Deathspike. The Mexico, Milta, and Ixzotz vampire intelligences formed a secret alliance to create a group of special forces mercenaries to counter the threat posed by Reid’s Rangers. Pairing mortal humans and D-Bees armed with modern weapons and armour alongside various vampires, they could now fight back both day and night. Details the headquarters and field stations, their tactics, common unit composition, as well as some handy NPC villain classes, including the vampire cyborg (not exactly as it sounds).

 

Soulcraft – The Darkest of Magicks. Essentially an anti-life form of rune magic, the Craftsman rifted into the Yucatan and joined forces with Camazotz, the god of Darkness and Bats. Provides the details on Soul Forges and how to create Dark Weapons and Armour (and the various powers these vile creations contain), as well as the trauma someone rescued from the flames of the Soul Forge must suffer. The Iron Zombie and Iron Guard NPC Monsters provide some truly terrifying enemies to combat, while the character sheet for the Craftsman is also included.

 

Bone Werejaguars of Palenque. An update to the information found in WB 1: Vampire Kingdoms. In the ruins of this Yucatan town, it is the home of a tribe of Werejaguars. Originally from another dimension and benefitting from their unique Hunting Magic, they are anathema to the vampires of the region. Of course, they don’t get along with other Werebeast clans of the region, but have formed a bond with a local village of Native Indians. The Bone Werejaguar RCC also gives detail on the Hunting Magic weapons and spells.

 

Werebeasts in Mexico. Of course, to complete the tropes, a book on vampires would not be complete without a section of Werewolves. Here we reintroduce the Werewolf and Werejaguar/Wereocelot/Werepanther RCCs and their influence in the Mexican arena. I found the Wereserpent to be utterly bizarre, but sure, why not – in for a penny, in for a pound. I had always thought that lycanthrope races were exclusively mammalian (purple Smurfs episode excluded – Gnap! Gnap!), LOL.

 

The Mysterious Yucatan. Much of this is a reprint with some minor updates; still a phase-shifted region only accessible from the ground, and completely disappears from the air. It gives a decent overview, with a plethora of entries over a fairly limited land mass. The information there should be more than enough for a GM to make up a serious campaign of adventures.


IMPRESSIONS


Current Assessment (5/10). I’ll be honest, reading the introductory fiction on one of Doctor Reid’s latest incursions against the vampire forces provided me a wave of nostalgia. This brought back the heady days of Rifts when it was raw, unbridled gaming potential. It expands on the original World Book 1: Vampire Kingdoms, as well as dove tails into World Books 28: Arzno. That said, there is a fair amount of material reprinted outright from the original printing of World Book 1: Vampire Kingdoms, or with such minor updates to not really merit the page space it took. It’s also a difficult one to rate, because much of the updated information that brings the world details from WB 1 up-to-date with the more recent books has apparently been included in the current, upgraded version of WB 1 currently for sale.

 

Since the existence of World Book 1 (Revised) is a thing, it makes this one much less of a draw for buyers looking to enter the Rifts RPG, when all they need to do is buy the current Vampire Kingdoms on offer. For the completionist collector out there, it’s a fine addition to put with the other sourcebooks, or right next to an older (and perhaps a newer) copy of World Book 1, if you were inclined to effectively buy the book 3 times.

 

I only recently acquired this book, and it was more out of a sense of completing the collection than anything else; it wasn’t high on my priority list of purchases. 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). Even much of the art work is largely pulled from the original World Book, with a lot of the evocative Kevin Long artwork that defined Rifts books of that era, new entries supporting the setting’s dynamism. I really enjoyed the vampire horror mixed in with a spaghetti western, which I think is fabulous!


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