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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholar's Review #9: RIFTS World Book 5: Triax & the NGR

Updated: Jan 6


Author: K. Siembieda

Release Date: 1993

GENERAL


Introducing the only other really human technological power thus far, this World Book develops the European continent in some pretty ground breaking ways. Whereas World Book 3: England gave us details on the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as some insight into France (Blood Druids), WB5 is continent spanning, much in the way of WB4: Africa. It goes into a historical summary of what happened right after the apocalypse and how things developed to their current state.


Note: This summary does not take into account any of the information found in SB2: Mindwerks, WB 31: NGR 2, or any other subsequent releases that discuss or influence the NGR meta-plot.


SECTIONS


Erin Tarn Arrives in NGR. Akin to what Kevin was doing with the other World Books, this one goes into much greater depth. Effectively a series of short stories, it provides an incredible insight into the culture of the NGR and the context of the meta-plot that has engulfed most of Europe. From a contextual standpoint, this was a top-notch addition to the book that gives players and GMs an idea for the "feel" of the NGR. In my opinion, it does an infinitely better job of it than in WB4.


The NGR. A brief overview of the post-apocalypse era and how Triax leveraged its escape from the initial death and destruction that scathed the remainder of Europe. With much of their formidable manufacturing sites undamaged, Triax executives, employees and their families created the first pockets of relative safety. These pockets later combined forces and became the blue print for their current human supremacy and the stalemate war they wage with the Gargoyle Empire. This section gives a great deal of detail for a GM and player alike, including the NGR’s request for an alliance with the Coalition States; part strategy, part desperation. To put it anecdotally, they are in a pickle.


Triax Armour, Bots and Borgs. You like weapons, robots and power armour? Well this is the book for you! The blue print for many subsequent books (possibly due to the commercial success of WB5), there are eight body armour types, seventeen power armour and robots, eight drones, and nine cyborg chassis. The artwork is largely driven by Kevin Long, which is beautifully rendered. Some favorites include the X-10A (bulkier cousin of the SAMAS), the X-535 Hunter (Jager) and the X-1000 (Ultimax), reprinted from SB1. Having survived the apocalypse and not recreating from scratch, the capabilities of the armour and robots, as well as weapons’ damage output, reflect their advanced technology compared to the Coalition and Northern Gun.


  • T-Series Power Armor

  • T-21 Terrain Hopper. Lightweight and extremely mobile. Has the unfortunate distinction of misleading people into thinking it has Auto-Dodge. Note: This unit does indeed NOT confer auto-dodge to the pilot.

  • T-C20 Terrain Hopper. Basically an uparmed version of the classic T-21. Not sold outside NGR.

  • T-31 Super Trooper. Man-sized anti-robot unit with the coolest name in the book. Fight to keep that ABBA tune out of your head (you're welcome, LOL).

  • T-550 Glitter Boy. Oh yes, Free Quebec went and did a deal behind Prosek's back. Worse, the folks at Triax let Free Quebec have the design specs as well.


  • X-Series Power Armor

  • X-10A Predator. One-man aerial fighter to take on Gargoyles. Previous version seen in Sourcebook 1 is actually a downgraded mass market version.

  • X-60 Flanker Urban Defender. Specifically designed for riot control and urban combat, which explains some of the design features.

  • X-500 Forager Battlebot. In service for over 50 years. Dependable, durable, with excellent firepower, only now getting phased out and likely flooding the market as used robots.

  • X-535 Hunter. Fast, nimble, all-purpose infantry weapon. Now becoming the mainstay of the NGR military.

  • X-545 Super Hunter. Basically your up-armed and up-armored Hunter. Das ist gut!

  • X-622 Bug. A bizarre infantry support vehicle and APC. Literally a four-legged crab with a chin-mounted gatling gun.

  • X-821 Landcrab. Basically your up-armed and up-armored Bug. Das is wirklich gut!

  • X-1000 Ulti-Max. Originally sighted in Sourcebook 1. No change to this great entry.

  • X-2000 Dyna-Max. The big stompy robot found on the cover. Designed to go toe-to-toe with dragons and giant monsters. Now we're talking!

  • X-2500 Black Knight. The largest robot presented, goes up against the hardest foes.

  • X-2700 Dragonwing. A giant robot that flies. Really sweet design and packs a punch.

  • X-5000 Devastator. So, take your classic 80's anime manga giant robot. Allow some German engineers to play with the ergonomics a bit and voila. Really big stompy robot.

  • DV-Series Robots

  • DV-12 Dyna-Bot. Expendable troops/laborers.

  • DV-15 Sentry Bot. A DV-12 with advanced sensors and heavier armor.

  • DV-40 Hunter/Killer Drone. Find the enemy, destroy them (image on page 88).

  • EIR-10 Gargoyle Drone. Designed to imitate a Gargoyle, spy on the Gargoyle Empire, then help to destroy them from within.

  • EIR-15 Gargoyle (manned). Slightly larger version of the EIR-10 to accommodate a pilot; does anyone else feel this would be a suicide mission?

  • EIR-20 Gurgoyle Drone. Designed to imitate a Gurgoyle, spy on the Gargoyle Empire, then help to destroy them from within.

  • EIR-30 Gargoylite. Designed to imitate a Gargoylite, spy and perform reconnaissance on the Gargoyle Empire, and then fly away.

  • EIR-50 Gurgoyle Android. A little macabre this one. Basically you kill a Gurgoyle, grab the body, replace the brain with a cybernetic, artificial one, and release back into the wild.


  • VX Series Cyborgs

  • VX-300 Striker. Light assault model for recon.

  • VX-320 Cyclops. Another light assault model.

  • VX-340 Slasher (Gold). Espionage or seek and destroy model built for speed and agility.

  • VX-370 Stopper (Blue). Medium assault cyborg.

  • VX-500 Manhunter (Red). Heavily armored and armed, strong and deadly. The subject of the eponymous Red Borg image by Kevin Long.

  • VX-635 Prowler. Special Forces model for espionage and assassination.

  • VX-2010 Marauder. First of a new series, stands over 9 feet tall and could easily be mistaken for a robot or power armor.

  • VX-2020 Monster. Take the VX-2010 and make it bigger and badder.


Triax Combat Vehicles. If the reams of entries for the lists above were not enough, we get just shy of 20 more entries for various hovercraft, jets, and land vehicles.


New Cybernetics and Augmentation & Skills. A small section giving GMs and players a few new options.


OCCs. Given the difference in the scheme for the NGR compared to the CS, it makes sense there should be a list of additional classes. About twenty new classes, including some Gypsy classes (for fluff more than anything) and the Euro-Juicer.


The Gargoyle Empire. Understanding that artwork sometimes drives what Kevin includes, I found the majority of this entry to be a compelling enemy force. They have adapted and started using MD weaponry in their fight, including some power armour and robots developed for them, which I found completely diminished them as an antagonist.


Brodkil Empire. We get a snippet introducing these bad guys again, this time in a more formalized regional power, with hints of more to come in the Mindwerks Sourcebook.


IMPRESSIONS


Upon Release (9/10). After my disappointment in WB3: England and WB4: Africa, THIS is a way to introduce players to a new setting with a compelling war being waged to allow easy campaign tie-ins. The particulars of the NGR society and the influence of Triax in keeping things together are a great primer. The laundry list of technological entries and the background gives us more lore to play with, and the overview of the NGR and OCCs give us a different take on another human supremacist power looking to keep itself viable. The Gargoyle Empire is a convincing major player fighting the NGR, though I instinctively buckled at gargoyle power armour and robots, particularly the G-20 and G-30. As MDC creatures of significant size with a wide range of natural abilities, I never bought into their wholesale acceptance of power armour and robots. The Brodkil, another element reintroduced from SB1, give us something else to whet our appetites.


Current Assessment (8/10). I have yet to look at more recent books that may expound on this one (i.e WB31: NGR2). This introduction to the European continent remains a solid book, with great depth and detail. If you are a gun nut or a tech-book fan, this is definitely a solid buy for you and your Players. I understand that sometimes art drives what gets included; I still don’t “get” the gargoyle power armour. Years later, the G-20 and G-30 seemed like they were included more because of the great artwork (and they are solid) than anything else. The artwork is still a great driving force to this book’s appeal. From a campaign design and adventure source perspective, this book is firing on all cylinders.


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