• Francois DesRochers

Scholar’s Review #54: World Book 26: Dinosaur Swamp


Author: Todd Yoho

Release Date: June 2004


GENERAL


The apocalypse has turned most of the southeastern United States into a massive swamp, marshland or bayou. In its place, alien predators, plant life looking to devour you for protein, and barbarians eking out their existence in remote, shanty-town conditions. Oh yeah, don’t forget the herds of MDC dinosaurs roaming the region, most of which are hunting other dinosaurs or quite capable of protecting themselves from interlopers. The region presented is not like anything else in North America, where the very geography works against you, with copious rules for both the diseases the PCs can contract, and medicine one can equally find in the Dinosaur Swamps.


SECTIONS


Introduction. As one would expect, we get a review of the region as it suffered through the effects of the apocalypse and how that reshaped the geography. Largely dominated by swamps and low-lying plateau, as one could imagine, survival rates were… not good. Old routes out were cut off, and the few who escaped the flooding were able to make it passed the Appalachians. Ruthless savagery and those with the know-how to make a living off the land eked out pockets of civilization. The region has recently gained interest as a possible source to plumb for medicines, livestock for various enterprises, and of course, pre-Rifts artefacts.


Hazards of Dinosaur Swamp. Within the dense vegetation resides a resurged population of dinosaurs, which are now MDC creatures. Here we note the differences between hunting these beasts and those killing them in self-defence. Reviewing dinosaurs described in previous books (e.g. WB 14: New West) leads to the introduction of a series of new species:

  • Allosaurus. Camouflage and Prowl, with notes about turning invisible. Wait, what?

  • Ankylosaurus. A veritable tank, which is impervious to any toxins.

  • Dilophosaurus. A sleek hunting machine, with an unusual amount of PPE and no magic ability

  • Pachycephelosaurus. A head-butting herbivore, whose head could theoretically have 5 times the MDC of the Main Body.

  • Sarcosuchus. Your giant crocodile; by that, I mean *BIG*

  • Sauropod. Herbivore herd creatures with massive size and MDC to match. When harvested, can feed a village for a month; just watch out for those stomps and kicks. Oh yeah, and they can Negate Magic.

  • Scampers. Highly intelligent bipedal omnivores that run around in packs. As the name indicates, small (size of a tom cat).

  • Spinosaurus. Giant crocodile head, large fin across its back and a lightning-quick ambush attack. Target of Federation of Magic and Atlantis for alchemical and magical properties.

  • Stegosaurus. A classic.

Alien Dinosaurs and Beings. Several species that have immigrated to Rifts Earth.

  • Azhures. With come connection to the Steel Trees, has a metallic blue hue. Can be trained as a hunting falcon.

  • Haunting Child. Categorized a Haunting Entity, with a unique draining ability. That and some super-creepy artwork.

  • Iron-Hoof. Described as an amalgam of gorilla, horse and panda bear. Cute! Until you are faced with the claws on their forelimbs.

  • Panthera-Thrinax. A large feline-like predator that can be domesticated and trained.

  • Spitfire Leaper. As the name implies, a lithe and nimble beast that, wait for it… spits fire.

  • Switchback. A wickedly armoured omnivore, with quills for defense and a wicked tail swipe attack.

  • Trysia Fairie. An optional RCC, with a symbiotic relationship to the Lankton’s Knot plant, and sadistic pleasure of luring the unsuspecting to their flora overlords. Wait, this is an optional Player Character?

Man-Eating Plants. Because man-eating dinosaurs and other demons weren’t enough, the Dinosaur Swamp makes current Australia look like a cakewalk.

  • Lankton’s Knot. Wander into its zone and get stuck by an acidic super-glue that slowly devours you.

  • Qink. A radiant plant with spike-tipped tentacles and roots that stretch out to act as diversion and sensory field.

  • Seep Fern. Secreting a syrup-like substance, smelling it knocks you out. Roots shoot up to digest. You know, that same old nugget?

Diseases, Toxins and Medicine. Several pages for GM use on the impact and treatment for various illnesses they can inflict on the Player Characters. Really, this is a take-or-leave section, but has some good background information.


New OCCs. In what is essentially the “ode to the Wilderness Scout,” we get a slew of relevant classes Players can choose from.

  • Swamp Stomper (Frontiersman). Wilderness Scout specializing in the Dino Swamp.

  • Naturalist. Your botanist/biologist-Scout.

  • Pathfinder. Trailblazers with unique region-specialty skills.

  • Legacy Scout. Your archaeologist-Scout.

  • Dinosaur Hunter. Big game hunter-Scout.

Barbarians. With the disappearance of social structures and any form of government, survival via small, isolated communities became the norm. Effectively a “human RCC,” they are rolled using the Wilderness Scout OCC, ignoring whole Skill sections (e.g. Electrical, Mechanical and Science skills). This is followed by Barbarian-specific OCCs:

  • Wild Knives Warrior. Warrior defenders of the Barbarians

  • Barbarian Eco-Wizard. Your magical super-recycler, making implements and weapons from natural materials in the Dino Swamp; part Druid, part Techno-Wizard.

  • Mutant Barbarian. Wilderness Scout with a table of random mutations, and some bizarrely presented special abilities….

  • OCCs from Other Books. Several pages on how to ‘import’ OCCs from other books into a Dinosaur Swamp campaign.

Weapons of Dinosaur Swamp. A vast array of vintage firearms, close combat weapons, and SteelTree weapons and equipment.


Magical Weapons. There are literally reams of Eco-Wizard items, Techno-Wizardry and Necromancy items. Odd the Necromancy is really only first mentioned at this point, but anecdotally this makes total sense; spend any time in a swamp and you start reflecting on mortality after the first sink hole or quicksand bar you find….


Vehicles of Dinosaur Swamp. Some notes on the effects of swamp topography on many of the more famous forms of transportation (e.g. trucks, robots, power armour). Bikes, ATVs and boats play a big role in this segment of North America.


Dinosaur Swamp. We get a state-by-state summary of the region and the key points of interest therein.

  • Florida. Mostly wiped clean and the southern half underwater, the Panhandle is a marshy wetland, as is the northern half, less the KLS Corporation site where a series of man-made dimensional portals seem to be constantly ‘on,’ and we have the ruins of Cape Canaveral. Lastly, we have the ‘Jungle Castle,’ a macabre theme park sitting on the site of a small nexus. So you too, my intrepid GMs, can put your Player Characters in a position to call out… “We’re going to Disney!”

  • Georgia. Bordering Florida, the Eastern Sandy Marsh is home to some of the larger dinosaurs. Around the ruins of Atlanta is the Horror Forest, with a prevalence for haunted ruins and predatory dinosaurs, while the ruins themselves are infested with the remnants of a band of mutant Ratmen recently devastated by a plague, a theocratic group of barbarians, and a group of True Atlanteans looking to establish a base of operations to save Atlantis… from Atlanta, LOL. A few other entries.

  • The Carolinas. All along the coastline, inland for over a hundred miles, is marshland. The remainder on the northern half is piedmont, the southern half is SteelTree Forest. The western expanse of North Carolina is a massive D-Shifting zone, with pages of random encounter tables

  • Communities in the Dinosaur Swamps. Several worldbuilding notes for GMs looking to make any random village or community in this region. This culminates in the presentation of the City of Char, one of the sole real settlements of note in the region, and sitting just north of the SteelTree Forest.


IMPRESSIONS


Initial Assessment (7/10). This Worldbook had always been a bit of an intriguing prospect; not so much for my childhood love for dinosaurs, less so for the influence of the Jurassic Park movies, and certainly not for the number of times I have typed and said the word ‘saurus’ in my head., LOL. The idea of a region completely retaken by nature and presented as a dense swamp, which for most is just as foreign an environment as would be Mars, combined with alien flora and fauna and a whole mess of MDC dinosaurs, and you have yourself one heck of an adventure! As a bonus, you get to fulfill a childhood fantasy of playing with dinosaurs, but now with Rifts. Forget technology, and certainly consider bringing a mobile repair center with you, because if it breaks down in here, the Player Characters better have packed a case of bug spray. I suppose, worse-comes-to-worst, you can always leverage the Jurassic Park films to develop ideas and leverage the same to develop the vibe, which I guess is a bonus. The artwork throughout does a really solid job reinforcing the vibe and giving the reader a sense of the various beasts and plants that are out to get you; personal favourites are the Haunting Child on page 29 and Spitfire Leapper from page 33. And note for nothing, the maps are crisp and clean, with enough detail to work with. The formatting and variety of information presented is certainly worthy of just about any Worldbook out there, with some interesting references back to the Gamemasters Guide. It suffers from regional specificity, in that GMs and Players may not have much interest in the locale. That said, this book provides GMs and Players with lots of details to leverage.

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