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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholar’s Review #70: The Cyberworks Collection



GENERAL


The second part of the Titan Robotics Kickstarter, the Cyberwork Collection is an omnibus of most other ARCHIE-03 publications into a single reference source. One of the more popular and referenced antagonists within the Rifts timeline, you could be excused for perhaps thinking that ARCHIE-03 is favorite of Kevin Siembieda, and it certainly has a favored spot in my repertoire of Rifts adventures. What’s included is the information from three Sourcebooks, as well as relevant information from Rifts: Aftermath, normalizing all regions to the same period of a Post-Tolkeen War. The fact they put these books together in one source presents a somewhat unique dilemma for the new Player or GM looking to start a campaign in North America, something we’ll cover. This particular version was the foil hardcover, a splurge that I gifted myself at the time of the Kickstarter campaign.


SECTIONS


Sourcebook 1 (Revised). The original one that started it all, it was first released in 1990 and was an indispensable companion to the Rifts Main Book (RMB). This publication went through a glow-up in 2007: the outdated Frequently Asked Questions, updates about civilization across North America, and Coalition Skelebots were removed, overtaken by recent publications; Coalition States NPCs were removed (updated in later books anyways), while the typical CS squad composition tables were removed (a real shame). Once a vague reference in the RMB, the addition of the Republicans are a kind of Illuminati level organization, and gives a bit of a foil to ARCHIE-03. They are the one group that knows about and actively fights to control the super-computer and his manufacturing facilities. The Republicans also provide a gap to overcome some continuity issues and give some tasty morsels of world building for the Coalition States and North America writ-large, and make a nice tie-in with the Chaos Earth books.



Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids. Basically a reprint of the information in SB 2, which provides a better sense of the machinations of ARCHIE-03, within the context of the arrival of a splinter group of Mechanoids. Initially welcomed as fellow presumed fellow artificial intelligences, the maniacal plans of the Mechanoids are a clear and present danger to the super-computer and his human ally, Hagan; not to mention humanity in general, regardless of the fact ARCHIE-03 looks down on them as protected little pets to be "saved." We get the history of the Mechanoids, how they came to arrive on Rifts Earth, and an overview of ARCHIE-03 and Hagan's plans to eradicate these inter-dimensional invaders. Very little noticeable changes from the print run of SB 2.



Sourcebook 5: Shemarrian Nation. It seems unusual to think this sourcebook was originally printed almost 15 years ago. I only recently received a copy and reviewed the Shemarrian Nation, so things are relatively fresh and seem much less likely to need any updates. As predicted and much like SB 2, this is pretty much a page-for-page reprint. It is a great resource for expanding information hinted at in earlier publications. Shemarrians are a great world building plot point, and provide some added details on the wilderness east of the Appalachian Mountains, where humanity has yet to create any major footholds. From an GM perspective it serves as a fantastic random encounter resource for anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard.


Note: Please see Scholar's Review 68 for Review of Sourcebook: Shemarrian Nation.


Rifts Aftermath Excerpt. I like that Palladium Books included this information. It helps round out the background information and presents a new reader with the baselining that Rifts Aftermath does for the whole world. It is a great dovetail that leads into the Titan Robotics book, which is the public, commercial face to ARCHIE-03’s efforts to keep an eye on things across North America.

Remastered Effect. The new layout throughout the publication does a great job of presenting the information in a consistent and clean manner. One of my absolute pet peeves is the use of font size changes or different fonts to make things fit (Sourcebook 1 had a fair few of these). Nothing stood out to me in Cyberworks, the few uses of sans serif font rare and justifiable. Possibly the greatest upgrade is in the image quality, most notable with the Russel images for Monsters in Sourcebook 1. Despite my preference for the original Larry McDougall versions of the Black Fairie and Witchling, the refreshed images and shading come through crisp, clear, and unblemished. This is in counterpoint to the pixelation Russell’s images suffered in Dimension Book 10: Hades and Dimension Book 11: Dyvaal. I’m not sure if it was the scan of the original images, file formatting issues, or something at the printer for DB 10 and 11, but it seemed to have worked out brilliantly in this book. What you may have noticed is the inclusion of S.D.C. statistics for each Monster as well.


Note: Please see Scholar's Review 69 for Review of Rifts: Aftermath.


CONCLUSION


Initial Assessment (9/10). As this is a rather new approach for Palladium Books, the Cyberworks is an omnibus of several previous publications, benefitting from a remastering. The original books are still available, and for the collector they make great additions to any Rifts library. For the newer GM, this book is an absolute gem, placing all the relevant information into one tome – individually the three Sourcebooks run over a third more than Cyberworks, Rifts Aftermath adding another 50% on top of that. The contents are near identical, but the eagle-eye will find certain tweaks and upgrades in layout, but most notably with the artwork. Several images were changed, specifically those of monsters found in Sourcebook 1. to newer versions, and the shading quality of the print job is a real treat compared to some older versions (gone are the pixelations of Russell’s images, phew!). For a new GM running a North American campaign that has any intention of heading East of the Appalachians, this is a must have. It provides great background and some fantastic antagonists/beasts to pit against your Players, even if they stay away from the East Coast. With three whole Sourcebooks and added information in one spot, definitely a solid buy.


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5 Comments


thecounterpoint
Mar 14

Sorry, but it's not entirely clear to me: it includes SB2 and SB5 in their entirety, and it also includes SB1Revised in its entirety? Or was something cut from these (especially the SB1 part is a bit confusing)?

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thecounterpoint
4 days ago
Replying to

Great, thanks! I guess it will be on my wishlist for my next Grab Bag then. :)

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Keith Hunt
Keith Hunt
Mar 08

This collection is a great bang for your buck, versus buying them all separately, especially if you got it through the Titan Robotics KickStarter campaign. Totally agree on the image swaps for the Black Faerie and Witchling, but Russell gave us refreshed artwork for a bunch of monsters in the back section of Sourcebook 1, so the swap made everything feel more cohesive. Though different, the new artwork looks great in its own right. It was probably for the best.

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Francois DesRochers
Francois DesRochers
Mar 14
Replying to

Definitely a bang-for-buck purchase, given that they (thankfully) didn't strip some of the content out. Just a straight compilation, which I appreciated, despite having picked up Shemarrian Nations a week before, LOL. I personally MUCH preferred the original MacDougall art; so much more compelling!

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