Scholar's Review #25: Rifts World Book 20: Canada
Updated: May 14
Author: Kevin Siembieda Release Date: August 1999 GENERAL Following the two Russian World Books and Australia, Rifts Canada provides a very generic overview. To be fair, this is a very complex geography, spanning a massive land mass. It provides the reader with a vast wilderness to develop for their adventures, much of which will be visited in forthcoming books in greater detail; for this fact, it is a little light on specific information. What it does provide is an update to the Headhunter OCC and a solid series of beasts, monsters and demons.
SECTIONS A Bit of Rifts History. The standard prelude to all World Books at this time, narrated of course by Erin Tarn. It does give a very general overview to locales of note, more in the style of a travelogue recollection than anything really definitive. Presents a climate-by-region piece with several maps of questionable value. Dangers of the Cold. So, to keep with the clichés these books sometimes falls into, Canada is cold – grab y’er touques! There is about 15 pages of stuff here that I could never quite find any objective use for as a GM. Eastern Canada. Starts with some notes from Free Quebec, detailing the town of Mechanicsville; bustling place of 1,875 residents and 1D4 x 1000 transients. After Japan and Russia, seems like a letdown. It does provide some adventure ideas for the region and ties into the Island Kingdom of Montreal (how is this not submerged again?). Develops the Atlantic Provinces with some detail, giving enough nuggets for a GM to play with. Central Canada. As luck would have it, all roads in the post-Apocalyptic future *still* lead to Toronto (ahem, I mean Lazlo) without actually developing Lazlo. Instead we get the Cartier Fury Ranch (Chatham), The relic (Hamilton ruins), Trapper’s Cove (Guelph), Perez (Brampton) and Fowlerville (Bronte). Note sure how, but Mechanicsville is looking pretty metropolitan at this point. Manitoba Hivelands. Here be Xiticix; not much to see here with an upcoming book. Le sigh. Northern Canada. We pick up in gear and introduce the Tundra Rangers with some OCCs that basically are different takes on the Wilderness Scout. Really, that’s it? Southwestern Canada. A couple of pages on Saskatchewan and Alberta, with a few notes on exotic and alien life. Because cowboys are popular, so are knights, because, horses? Calgary is a wasteland run by demons, but civilized enough for a gang of highway bandits. But hey, here there be Fadetowns too. British Columbia. Apparently sheltered by the Rockies, the Cyber-Horsemen of Ixion are finally fleshed out – for all of four pages and a full page illustration. You get a Centaur and Cyber-Horseman of Ixion RCC though. Headhunters Defined. This really is the meat of the book. Five new OCCs that bring the lowly Headhunter class from the Rifts RPG into the current setting. After the Headhunter Techno-Warrior, the others are all double-downs on specific aspects. The Momano is particularly tricky one that I haven’t quite grasped; a psychic that goes for implants….. D-Bees, Monsters of the North and Demons. A combined collection of usable RCCs and fodder for encounters. Includes a section of SDC bears and other animals…. Then there is the Sasquatch. Rounds out with a series of various demons based on regional myth and legend. IMPRESSIONS Upon Release (5/10). When this book first released, I was hoping for a lot; my dissatisfaction had been pretty palpable. There really was not much in here for me as a GM, little more as a player. Sure, the update at the time for the Headhunter class was a welcome addition, but the overview of the regions of Canada, particularly that upcoming books would provide *much* greater detail, was a significant let down. I wasn’t quite sure why so much space was devoted to SDC creatures; then there is the Sasquatch and Demon Beaver to contend with. The artwork provided a great atmospheric to the book, adding to the sense of adventure, but ultimately was too little to provide something worthwhile for use other than some marginal background material for setting purposes.
Current Assessment (4/10). This book felt like it was trying to imbue the reader with a feeling of grand expanse, with very few and small pockets of civilization. I suppose from that perspective, the book is a slam dunk; I found the publication lacked any substance and provided a lot more filler material than I was willing to accept. I felt the amount of detail spent on material for cold-related adventuring and injury was really lost space. The upgrade to the Headhunter class seems a lacklustre effect as most of the principle efforts were superseded by Rifts Ultimate Edition. An effort to bridge from previous North American books into the more details ones published shortly hereafter, Rifts Canada did little to add to the whole feel for the region, even less so for the GM looking for something substantive to use in their campaigns. There were so many missed opportunities, not the least of which was Lazlo (now getting its own series of books), but more importantly something like Iron Heart, or even the Cyber Horsemen of Ixion! The Calgary information was near insultingly sparse. Again, Sasquatch and Demon Beaver…… Unlike most other books in the North American setting, this World Book leaves no lasting mark and makes no real case as a mandatory buy for your library.
Continue to Scholar's Review #25 (Sourcebook #4: Coalition Navy) (forthcoming)
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