Scholar's Review #9: RIFTS World Book 5: Triax & the NGR
Updated: May 7, 2020
Author: K. Siembieda
Release Date: 1993
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.
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.
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.
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. I understand that sometimes art drives what gets included; 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.
Continue to Scholar's Review 10 (Sourcebook 4: Mindwerks)
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