Scholars Review #65: World Book 35 – Megaverse in Flames
Author: Carl Gleba
Release Date: September 2015 (PDF Edition)
After examining Dimension Book 10: Hades and Dimension Book 11: Dyval, as well as the Sourcebook Heroes of Humanity, we circle back to the book that essentially culminates all the information into something the GM can leverage into their adventures and campaign design. To state this book is strictly a Minion Wars book would be a bit of a misnomer. This title covers a great amount of data in detail that a GM, particularly for North America as it *is* the beachhead for the Minion Wars, but certainly not limited to there. Unlike the Rifts Aftermath, which is largely a normalization of each region of Rifts Earth to the same timeline of post Siege on Tolkeen, this book provides content doing a great job of mimicking a very expansive World Book. There is a lot (I mean, ……A LOT) of information to absorb here.
Classified Coalition States Reports. A series of simple field back-briefs to give a feel for the situation.
The Minion War in Brief. Reviews the Hades’ initial attack against the Dyval, and the infernals’ multi-pronged retaliations that have now escalated. As a Megaversal crossroad, Rifts Earth is in for a significant amount of attention from both sides and their allies. This of course lends credence to the CS assertions of non-human beings from the Rifts, and they quickly establish themselves as *the* force to counter demons and infernals alike. A quick evaluation of the various factions and their position, and how the two sides made initial invasions and Demon Plagues after the Great Cataclysm (vampires in Mexico, Splugorth in Atlantis, Gargoyle/Brodkil in Europe, Yama Kings in China), which was a nice play on words. There is also a nice random table to determine what pops out of a rifts and which side they belong to – nice!
Hell Pits. The foundation of their invasion into Rifts earth by both Hades and Dyval. Once constructed over a nexus point, they provide stable a connection to their dimension. Dimensional anomalies abound, and a table allows a GM to change things up as they see fit. Also provides a method for destroying or spoiling construction of new pits.
Hell Plagues. With so much cross-dimensional travel, disease and ruin come together. Seven specific plagues have been identified, with rules for how they affect PCs/NPCs, as well as how PCs can identify and treat if they come across them.
Mystic Blight. Affects practitioners of magic and supernatural beings. Causes severe cramping when using P.P.E. and eventual permanent loss of P.P.E.! Includes a table of Save vs Pain based on amount of P.P.E. expended. Well, doesn’t it suck that magic users are the best suited to fight the Minion Wars?
Mind Scream. Affects psionic users, less supernatural creatures. Those affected have unwanted anxiety and visions impairing psionic powers with a table of random effects on powers and increased chance of Insanity. Yeah, the Advil Cold & Sinus can’t help you here.
Achilles Syndrome. Affecting supernatural monsters, creatures of magic and MD beings, they are now turned into SDC beings – woah…..! Abilities like regeneration still apply, but immunity and invulnerabilities are impaired. As written, would affect demons and infernals as well, so there’s that at least.
Metabolic Degeneration Syndrome (MDS). Affects supernatural monsters and creatures of magic, turning their regeneration abilities to the “off” setting, including resistance to disease and poison. First one with a limited time of effect.
Mystic Burnout. Affects anything using P.P.E. to fuel magic and their ability to store and fuel their magic. Penalties to Perception, NO Initiative bonus and all combat bonuses halved, -40% on skill rolls. Has a limited duration. When your mage gets a cold and you give them Buckley’s, just to see them suffer, because really nothing helps.
Blood Boils. Arguably the worst and most communicable (including inter-species). Boils develop on the skin, much like the Black Plague. The pain they cause induces lack of sleep, with associated penalties. One of the few that modern medicine could address with heavy-dose antibiotics, but not a guarantee. Not yet hit a major population center, but when it does, panic and death will ensue.
Bone Rot. Affects bone and muscle causing progressive stiffness and pain; there a table for that too. Can last years, but antibiotics work!
Edict of Planetary Distress. We go back to this old chestnut, as originally presented in Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids. Largely assumed that the Minion Wars and their forces represent the seventh demon. Prophecies being what they are, someone hand me the Advil with a whiskey chaser.
Calgary – Kingdom of Monsters. Controlling hundreds of miles around the former city, it is larger and more densely populated than anyone realizes, larger still if not for the Psi-Stalker clans, Native Americans and Xiticix hemming them in. A history of the Calgary Rift leading to the present, where it is just short of being consecrated into a fully operation Hell Pit with a diameter of 4 miles (6.4 km). The Cyber-Knights and champions of good, up until now having been successful in delaying the final stages, won’t stand a chance if this site is completed.
Calgary City. Dominated by Hell Lord Doom’s fortress, this monstrous metropolis still boasts some ruins from the former city, as well as a large slave population helping keep things running and assisting in construction of the Hell Pit. Once finalized, this will be the largest Hell Pit on Earth and likely spell the doom of Humanity. Four other, smaller Hell Pits are being constructed in the region as well, one connected to a nexus at the ruins of Tolkeen, the other to Europe – because, why not? Because, well, demons, there is a gladiatorial arena, an exotic incense store with a backstory, a gambling parlour, a renegade Splugorth’s Bio-Wizardry outlet, and a Simvan monster ranch. There is also a fantastic random encounter table for the outer regions of Calgary.
Hell Lord Doom. Aside from an over-the-top name, the background of this character is an interesting departure from the norm. Still an evil being, the story is compelling.
Dinosaur Swamp Hell Pit. Located in South Caroline, this one is under the direction of Hell Lord Pain (okay, I get the naming convention now). A Baal-Rog captured and experimented on by Dyval Bio-Wizardry, he escaped, his lower body mangled and now tethered to a Splugorth Slave Barge. He’s got big plans for the Splynn Market that Splyncryth probably will take exception to. Lends some credence to Splyncryth’s assistance to the enclaves of humanity.
France, Hell Army. So we finally get some more details on this expansive region on NGR’s doorstep! Unfortunately, it is very little. Under direction of Hell, Lord Heart Ripper, his scheme is to conquer the Gargoyle and Brodkil, which seems a little counter-intuitive, but hey, demons in Rifts, right?
Magic Zone Hell Pit. You’d be excused for scratching your head right about now – I know I sure did! Hell Lord Rune runs this outfit, scaled under a mercenary company that helped/betrayed Tolkeen in the Coalition siege. She and her comrades the Iron Guardsmen, escaped with bags full of magic loot. They are currently in the Magic Zone, searching for opportunities.
New Mexico Hell Pit. Hell Lord Zugard (“Death”), not the Fourth Horseman, is just a mean dude who had a bad turn of events – and Death (yes, that one from Africa) came with an answer, playing a long-con with the demons of Hades.
Canadian Tundra Hell Pit. Hell Lord Fury, perched in his upcoming Hell Pit in the Northwest Territories, plans to exert influence over Iron Heart and Free Quebec. Fury has an interesting background and plans for North America, should he succeed.
Demons In Mexico. In the Siera Madre, near Cuidad Juarez, Hell Lord Siren is plotting to control all the forces of Hades across North America. She has no plans to develop of a Hell Pit just yet. Newly appointed as a Hell Lord, let’s just call this audacious plan for what it is – a Cinderella story with cloven hooves, so likely not going to fit the glass slipper.
The Art of Soulmancy. Blood Magic, of demon magic. Not for the squeamish and warrants a specific warning by PB in the introduction. We get a sort of precis on the magic itself, leading into the NPC Soulmancer and Blood Warrior OCCs. Of course this would not be complete without a list of spells, from first to fifteenth level, plus three Spells of Legend, including the Create Hell Pit (for a cool 8,000 P.P.E.), or my favorite Summon Demon Planet (5,000 to 35,600 P.P.E.), where the P.P.E. costs listed are not a range, but two of three steps – a yeah, the first requires 2,000 P.P.E. just to start the process. I mean, you summon a demon planet, so what did you expect?
Lord Kreelo – Arms Dealer. A demon of some variety, powerful Soulmancer and Necromancer, he is not bound to either side of the conflict and happy to profit from both, stealing technology from the likes of Naruni and the Splugorth as well. He sells under the title of Megaversal Armaments, from a pocket dimension of caves measuring 2,000 miles (3,200 km). His special brand of Blood Energy Weapons bypasses bio-regeneration, so kind of a thing in this war, and a series of armour systems and war vehicles (e.g. chariots, tanks), fueled by HP/MDC of the user.
Wrist Blaster. Mounted weapon that draws on a host as source for its payload.
Shoulder Blaster. Shoulder mounted, heavier version of the Wrist Blaster. Doesn't remind me of Predator at all.... still a cool picture.
Blood Rifle. Forearm mounted, heavier version; hand is still fee.
Blood Cannon. A quasi-artillery cannon for larger hosts.
Blood Armour. So, complete Wild Bill’s project from Silence of the Lambs and add Soulmancy.
Bone Armour. Being efficient in their supply source, uses the bones of likely unfortunates that were also part of the Blood Armour “manufacturing process.”
Chaos Trooper Armour. A form of power armour for the demonic.
Meat Grinder Tank. Imagine a half-track with an old push-style lawn mower on the front. Now make it large enough for beings that stand 12 feet plus. Pretty much exactly like advertised on the tin.
Carnage Tank. Imagine an M1 Abrams with a demonic AI, scaled up for those same 12 feet plus sized crew. Oh yeah, they added a giant teeth-lined mouth to the prow. <snap> Almost forgot, it weighs less than a current Abrams tank too!
Walking Death. Imagine a T-Rex grew its forearms to make it a four-legged creature. Now, combine organic with mechanical, magical, and Soulmancy. A saddle is available, for the discerning demonic rider, while the Blood Pillar (same thing used to create Hell Pits) is standard equipment.
Minion Wars Arms Race. As is apt to occur during war, innovation goes into hyperdrive. Both Hades and Dyval are looking far and wide for new approaches to warfare.
Demon Melee Weapons. Oddly, the only entry is a demon bow, with a variety of spell-infused arrows. Not a knife, axe or club to be found. Odd.
Demon Guns. TW weapons that resemble something you’d consider after watching Mel Gibson’s The Patriot (awful movie, don’t recommend).
Bone Shard Weapons. Okay, now *this* stuff looks truly demonic. Nice!
Demonic Magic Weapons. Gotta say, some of these are really well thought out. Basically, after torturing, using and abusing the lesser rank species of the Dyval, they leverage body parts to create magical artefacts. I think the Omni-Eyes has to be my favorite.
The Dyval on Rifts Earth. Not until two-thirds of the way through do we get to Dyval’s plans. Rifts Earth is vital ground in the war, they are late to the show, and they know it. We get a couple of Deevil-designed small arms before we get into some really interesting gear.
Hell Galleon. Interesting comments that they interact with the Horune, yet hunt other Splugorth ships. Otherwise they are identical to the Hades Demon Black Ships. We now have demonic pirates – yar!
Hell Schooner. Built for speed and manoeuverability, it has some interesting stats for its speed in air or water. The Dyval now have rum-runners.
Hell Battle Barge. A gigantic demonic landing craft with hovercraft capabilities. So, the demons went from pirates to Marines. Still trying to figure how the front and middle sections have around 700 MDC, and then the rear section has 8,600…. Huh?!
Dyval Magic Artefacts. Much like the Demon entry above, the Dyval take captured demons and create some pretty abstract devices. Entries include descriptors like “pureed Demon Fly brains,” “milking Demon Locust poison,” the others involving thematic, if not horrific and triggering, descriptors.
Rifts Cuba. Wiped clean during the Cataclysm, tectonic shifts lifted and broke apart the island; the entire shoreline is now a 100-400 ft heigh cliff, surrounded by deadly reefs (includes a reef collision table). One major piece is a Kittani base for operations against the Vampire Kingdoms and mainland North America, one a Horune Pirate Base (so a D-Bee version of Tortuga), one a Dyval sort of “hunting preserve” of escaped Atlantis slaves and misfits, one exclusively occupied by Harpies, one where the Dyval forces are constructing their Hell Pit, connected to the piece that once housed Havana, now a Dyval fortress called Cuidad de Diablo. The city gets detailed and includes a map for reference. The single Hell Pit is one of four, but the other three are over a year from completion.
Emerging Dyval Overlords. A new rank within the Dyval ranks, these are the up-and-coming generals of the Dyval forces on Rifts Earth.
Shard. The first among equals, he rules the Dyval forces in Rifts Cuba. He has a particularly interesting backstory to his success. Plans on completing the Hell Pits to distinguish himself from his rivals.
Necroskull. After capture by forces from Hades, was subjected to heinous experiments before his decapitated head was discarded with several other beings into a mutagenic soup. His bio-regeneration combined with some of the other detritus and created the being now known as Necroskull. Plans on attacking Calgary head-on (pun intended), then has plans for the Vampire Kingdoms, then maybe Atlantis after. Pretty ambitious for demon that’s just a floating head.
Shade. With one of the lethal armies the infernals have fielded on Rifts Earth, he has a demonstrable fetish with dragons, and wants to become one, or a dragon god.
Dai. An Imp who is a “self-proclaimed” overlord with some Daemonix buddies have assembled a Dyval army called the Tolkeen Avengers and are targeting Calgary.
Sindel. Easily the most popular and power hungry, he is also an excellent tactician that helped defend Dyval from the initial Hades invasion. Aside from Hades troops, he is looking to sweep in from the northern tundra and start with Iron Heart, Free Quebec, and Lazlo, but likely must deal with the Xiticix first.
Sthena. One of the Royal Medusa Gorgons, she is on Rifts Earth to kill demons and serve some of the Dyval Lords. She is deployed into the European theatre and has aligned herself with the Angel of Death and her Brodkil allies.
Queen Marauder. Self-proclaimed queen of all Harpies, she is the result of an experiment to merge a Greater Fire Elemental with the Harpy, transforming her into an angelic beauty the Harpies instinctively acquiesce to. Not quite an Overlord, she is well on her way to achieving it. She’s looking to ally herself with rogue Gargoyles and attack the NGR.
Epilogue. Essentially some guidelines for GMs on how the major nation states will react to the Minion Wars.
Coalition States. Fight the demonic, to the last human! (well, duh…. Expect something different?)
Coalition States – Vanguard. Continued surreptitious support to the CS.
Cyber-Knights of North America. Symbols of resistance and retribution.
Federation of Magic. Dunscon is fighting both and playing each side against each other, looking for a way to further his campaign against the CS.
Federation of Magic – Dwoemer. Automaton production has ramped up. Once the city is secured, will rally heroes and send out armies to fight forces of both Hades and Dyval.
Federation: Stormspire. Massively increasing TW weapons and selling to allies and new clients, they hope to stay neutral and make a massive profit.
Free Quebec. Ready for war since 2005, they unfortunately are geared for the wrong enemy. They will need CS and NG weapons and expertise to level the playing field. Note: I would respectfully beg to differ with the author on FQ's need for the CS. ;)
Lazlo. Geared up since the Siege of Tolkeen, they’ve been sounding the clarion call and upgrading their defenses and list of allies, including fighting side-by-side with the CS.
New Lazlo. Living secluded, idyllic lives, they are woefully unprepared. They’ll welcome refugees/send out forces to assist but will need assistance if directly attacked.
Mercenaries. They will make out like gangbusters, if they survive. Many will volunteer out of a sense of duty and will make a great difference overall.
Northern Gun. Becomes a surprisingly prominent figure in this fight.
Psyscape. A secure location from the direct actions of the factions of the Minion Wars, they are well prepared. They continue their campaign against Nxla as well.
Vampire Kingdoms. Not happy, but see this as an opportunity to ramp up “production” of operations, given the distraction.
Xiticix. An obstacle to each faction. The Cryxon of the Dyval will immediately break rank and fight their insectoid rivals.
Other Notable Forces
Africa – Phoenix Empire. The pharoah is closely aligned with the forces of Hades, but wants to keep arms-length to remain independent.
Atlantis. Splyncryth is not amused, nor does he believe his slice of Rifts Earth is vulnerable. When the demons/infernals strike, he will be… very unamused.
China/Yama Kings. Shrouded from the rest of the world, Yama Kings are unconcerned and much too entrenched to remove, while the GeoFront is ignorant of the Minion Wars entirely.
New Navy. Knows nothing of the Minion Wars but will actively destroy their fleet if they are threatened.
Lord of the Deep. Not concerned and will spank the forces of either side from his realm.
Lemurians. No surprise, have jumped at the chance to fight the demons/infernals.
Russia. Russian demons have sided with one side or the other, in an odd sort of emancipation effort to get out from under the heels of the Warlords. The Warlords themselves have banded together a few times to repel any forces of consequence.
South America. Mostly ignorant of the situation and dealing with the more immediate threat of vampires. We see the Anti-Monster OCC re-printed from World Book 6: South America.
Triax and the NGR. As the Gargoyles and Brodkil duke it out, two new demonic factions that hate all the others is not an immediate threat since they were at war for decades already. If all of them join forces, the NGR is in trouble.
Gargoyle Empire. Ironically an “enemy of my enemy” situation, as they have developed a fondness for their independence. They are not looking forward to servitude to some demon or infernal Lord.
Brodkil Empire. Along with the Angel of Death, have forged an alliance with the Deevil forces.
How to Save Rifts Earth. A few pages that covers the possible outcomes, either of Hades or Dyval winning and what each needs to accomplish it, a draw, or the unlikely effect that pushes both out from Rifts Earth.
Initial Assessment (7/10). So, North America is the beachhead in the Minion Wars of Rifts Earth, with Europe a close second; none of this information precludes a GM starting a Hell Pit in Australia, Africa, what have you. The forces of Hades have a remarkable advantage on those of the Dyval, and multiple other agents are looking to spoil the Minion War from achieving much, if anything. Humanity has several new and unexpected heroes, with possible avenues to deal with the invading hordes before they finalize their Hell Gates and become, well, a really BIG invading horde. Combined with World Books 10: Hades and World Book 11: Dyval, as well as Heroes of Humanity, a GM has a significant set of resources to build on current adventures, or create a whole separate campaign. The artwork is top notch and really reinforces the conflict and action this kind of campaign would generate. Chuck Walton produced some really great full-page pieces, with stand-out illustrations for Kreelo and also the Flesh Armour, but my favorite is the Chuck Walton multi-page image of the Super SAMAS battling the Harpies (pages 176-177). I like that this book attempts to expand some of the gaps that previous World Books have left wanting, though it falls short for most (e.g. France, Calgary). It also forces anyone looking for World Book style information to buy into the Minion Wars series, which may not fit the scope of their campaign. On its own it isn’t as impactful as the two Dimension Books, but there is a lot of information presented herein for a GM to leverage. It paints the picture for the meta-level plots and how to influence campaigns, which means the book is targeted more to GMs vice Players, and ultimately impacts my rating for this book.
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