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  • Writer's pictureFrancois DesRochers

Scholars Review #63: Secrets of the CS: Heroes of Humanity

Updated: Apr 26


Author: Kevin Siembieda

Release Date: May 2016


INTRODUCTION


The Coalition States’ reaction to demonic incursions. Here we hope to find the CS strategy to bend the will of the armies of the demon and the infernal to abandon their designs for Rifts Earth. We get a bit more of an idea of who is doing what in support of, or the margin space of the North American conflict. There is a new school of training with benefits and Attribute bonuses for the specialized training delivered. Operation Hellbender has the CS recruiting hundreds of thousands of peoples (including non-humans) in order to defend North America and try to establish a bastion of human control. For those building on adventures in North America during the time of the Minion Wars, this may present some opportunities for you. Of note, this book comes several years after the two Dimension Books that detail the Minor Wars two primary antagonists.


SECTIONS


Battlefield North America. Starting with the Emperor’s speech, we find out that, quite literally, millions of humans, Psi-Stalkers and D-Bees from the ‘burbs and across North America have either volunteered to join the CS military, or at least set aside differences in the fight against the demonic/infernal hordes. This isn’t a sudden kumbaya moment for the CS, nor has the CS easily fooled the peoples those Dead Boys normally harassed. Like them or not, the CS is strategically best positioned to lead the fight in North America. There is a fair amount of text space devoted to expanding the Coalition States worldview, including their perspective on their new allies, propaganda, and how they deal with non-CS communities.


Hell on Earth – Demonic Strategies. We explore the demonic perspectives, including their eternal rebirth when ‘killed’ and how they seek to execute their campaign – basically infiltration, temptation, torture, and threats of violence.


CS Strategies and Tactics. We get a series of overviews for each demon from Dimension Book 10: Hades and infernal type from Dimension Book 11: Dyval, including the specific weaknesses and tactics “observed in game” for Players and GMs to weave into their games. Aside from the specific weaknesses, humanity’s propensity for teamwork, combined arms, and targeting ‘demon’ leadership seems to sum it up. Interestingly, there are specific segments on resource shortages and overtaxed manufacturing that could in and of itself lead to several campaign adventures.


Shadow Allies. Several factions are helping the Coalition States in secret:

  • Splugorth of Atlantis. This seems like a bit of a contradiction, as both the Dimension Books speak of the forces of Hades and Dyval having at least *some* dealing that comes across as copacetic. Hades boasts several Bio-Wizards and their equipment loaned out, the Dyval use the same technology. Then there is their involved with the Phoenix Empire and support to the enemies of the NGR. That said, Splynncryth has no intent of letting either Hades or Dyval get a solid foothold to the world his new home.

  • Lazlo and New Lazlo. Techno-Wizards are really making a splash, but overall, these two nations have a vested interest in keeping demons and infernals off of Rifts Earth.

  • The Vanguard. Secret magic users who owe allegiance to the CS (they might not come out and say it), it should not be a surprise they are helping.

  • ARCHIE-03. After the fiasco with the Mechanoids, why trust anything coming out of a rift? Besides, they're bad for business in a “kill/enslave all potential customers” kind of way.

  • The Republicans. Well, they *did* fight against the invading hordes back before they took over the joint. I *suppose* we can let ARCHIE-03 slide for the moment….

  • Lemurians. Slowly peeking their heads out of the water to help (pun intended), they come across as more “D-Bees from wherever” coming to fight nasty demonic hordes. That said, some of those Lemurian concoctions come across as pretty demonic in their own right.


The Coalition Army. A bit of a primer on the CS military, including some combat slang (I found rather a waste of space), leading into the real meat for Players, the Advanced Training Segment.


Advanced Training. As presented, unique to the CS military. I’ll be honest, looking at several of the training programs, I am dubious as to the justification for some of their Attribute bonuses.

  • Upgrading Existing Characters. There are notes to demonstrate this could be equally replicated in the NGR/Geo-front or the larger mercenary brigades, though perhaps limited to only a few of the options. That said, these take in-game time to acquire, which means sorting out significant gaps in game time. It also sacrifices several future “Other Skill” selections in order to specialize, which should be a no-brainer, given the bonuses achieved. Alternatively, this is infinitely easier to accomplish with “new” characters.

  • Black Talon (12 weeks). Top Gun for flying PA. “Talk to me, Goose…”

  • Close Quarter Combat (16 weeks). I could quibble that it should be CQB (close quarter battle), but basically your urban combat (room-to-room and alley-to-alley style of combat).

  • Demon Hunter (32 weeks). In-depth training on all forms of demons & monsters, not just Hades/Dyval types. A generalist cadre.

  • Field Counter-Intelligence (42 weeks). Expert in plugging security breaches and counter-espionage/insurgency contingency planning.

  • Field Intelligence (42 weeks). Experts in exposing security breaches and espionage/insurgency activities.

  • Marksmanship (12 weeks). Sniper! Queue the Filter tune “Hey Man, Nice Shot!”

  • Martial Arts Expert (20 weeks). So, you say you want to play Wesley Snipes or Jet Li…

  • Nonhuman Studies (32 weeks). They hand you a copy of WB 30, the Bestiary, and DB 10 and 11. You have a test in 32 weeks.

  • Officer (42 weeks). I’m sure there’s a joke in here about using maps and compasses, but apparently, they make you become a history buff and learn to read… again?

  • Ordnance (16 weeks). Making things go boom. For the Sappers out there, nothing about having to carry pieces of a Bailey Bridge “for fun.” LOL.

  • Rescue (12 weeks). Essentially a Search-and-Rescue Technician (SAR-Tech).

  • Salvage Expert (8 weeks). Given resource scarcity, ironically one of the more important ones in the bunch. Likely not something your PCs will clue in on though. Such is the burden of the support trades.

  • Spycraft (36 weeks). So, you wanna’ be a spy….? </whisper>

  • Stalking (16 weeks). So, you wanna’ be a ranger?

  • Stealth (16 weeks). So, you wanna’ sneak and peak? Somehow this sounds dirty….

  • Steel Armor (12 weeks). Top Gun for armored vehicles, and ground robots/PA. Imagine Tom Cruise in a Pacific Rim movie, or the Fast and Furious series, but with tanks….

  • Survival (12 weeks). “So, I hear you like camping….?” Note: This was an actual line when I walked into the recruiting station. I answered yes, and now I am an Infantry officer.

New Coalition OCCs

  • CS Combat Courier. Part intelligence officer, scout, war correspondent and courier.

  • Death Knight. Basically, just another power armour pilot. Includes the actual Death Knight Power Armour.

  • CS Skelebot Specialist. In charge of several personally controlled Skelebots. Includes a new Skelebot Repair Assistant model.


Operation Hellbender. With hundreds of thousands of volunteers from outside the normal scope of CS recruiting coming forward, Colonel Lyboc and some of the more devious senior officials came up with this one. Since they need troops fast, the condensed training occurs. Since humans need help in anti-demonic battles, they are pushing augmentation (e.g. cybernetics, bionics, juicer conversions). Non-CS Humans get a condensed (3 to 4 weeks) basic combat training course, while CS Citizens receive a slightly better (5 weeks) training camp, with possibility for some Advanced Training.

  • CS Juicers. The CS suddenly sees them as an asset, so we get a CS Juicer OCC, gear and weapons that would have gone very well in World Book 10: Juicer Uprising.

  • CS Psi-Stalkers. You drink the essence of demons when they die? Off to the front with you! Oh, and thank you for your service.

  • Psycho-Stalkers. About 40,000-50,000 of these are being created, and the CS likes what they see, so long as they are seeing the backside of them.

  • CS Cyborgs. For those injured to the cusp of death, this is a second reprieve. Of course, you wake up a cyborg, which comes fully loaded with actual psychological trauma, including a randomized table for mental effects on the subject. There is also a note of a Cyborg Army Corps within the CS, which is likely filled more with conversion volunteers. Some additional gear, cybernetics and the new CS Hellbuster Heavy Cyborg Battle Armour.

  • Psi-Battalion. Some specific notes on limitations of Teleport: Superior and Mystic Portal to gain access to Chi-Town, which I always found amusing and rather obvious, but some Players insist it’s a possibility. That said, the Psi-Battalion and NTSET are very much prepared to counter the demonic/infernal incursions, and summarizes their role by OCC in prevention methods.


Xiticix. A small amount of information provided, the CS knows of and is trying to contain the threat and essentially redirect them northwest. There is also a both ghastly and comical plan to subject recently augmented “volunteers.” These “troops” literally wake up to what amounts to a suicide mission, ramming into a hive in a ramshackle vehicle express built to deliver them, with promise of release if they find and kill the Queen. All their actions are recorded and examined by the CS on big flat-screens, no doubt while sipping coffee and complaining about faulty air conditioning.


CONCLUSION


Initial Assessment (6/10). The idea, in principle, allows the GM to now craft the CS response to demon/infernal activities. The strategies are thematic, if not repetitive and rather obvious if the Players have not looked through either DB 10: Hades or DB 11: Dyval or took the Lore: Demons skill. I found the Shadow Allies portion rather dubious, as if they had not considered previous publications. The vast majority of this book is dedicated to the Advanced Training programs, which really only work with newly created characters; GMs would likely have a hard time rationalizing the time gap in game time without a hand-waved solution, which may not work with everyone. The new OCCs were frustrating repetitions of a theme. Operation Hellbender basically posits quantity over quality is a way to victory. Despite the relative sense much of this makes, I can’t help but think of Russian doctrine in WWII. The Xiticix portion was simply exasperating. The interior art is very supportive, with Chuck Walton standing out, my favorite being the illustration on page 54. Of note, this is one of the few without a Zeleznik cover, and Drew Baker’s work really carries the vibe. Overall, this is a fair addition to the Minion Wars, but I found the Advanced Training segment ill-presented, the new OCCs a waste of space, and Hellbender a rather obvious element not requiring such significant page count. It’ll work for some, particularly anyone running a CS Player Character. Otherwise, it hints at some adventure ideas but does little to really to advance the overall plot. It may be worth the shelf space, but I find it’ll probably spend most of its time there, on the shelf.


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