The Bazaar #8: An Author's Perspective of Rifts World Book 22: Free Quebec
I thought I’d do something a little different, now that we’ve made our way down through maybe two-thirds of the way through the World Books. My proposal and manuscript largely formed the body of the publication, so I thought I’d do a bit of a review from an author’s perspective on the final product. While the Scholar’s Review followed the similar review format, this will provide you the insight of an unsolicited author and what my intent for each segment entailed.
Written to Artistic Presentation. One of the first and obvious items is the differentiation between the artwork and the written portion. The manuscript I wrote was literally just the text involved in the final product. There are certainly elements to the World Book that were not my original works, very likely because that isn’t how the process works. Artists have a piece to play, submitting (likely) reams of artistic creation either at Kevin’s direction and/or allowing them to draw on their creativity. This drives possible further text, changes to submissions and develops overall world building for the region in question. Case in point would be the Glitter Girl – I don’t recall ever conceiving it, nor do I necessarily agree with it. That said, the artwork and art direction that Kevin selected really shone through, providing what I thought was a distinctive feel to the book.
Components of the Quebec Military. In thinking how Free Quebec would have developed, the core of it was always based on the Glitter Boys – the poster boys that their military was based on, and then how they developed around this core to deal with the inherent weakness (more on this later). My vision was mostly mobile/mechanized infantry, supported by robots and power armour, as well as a few GBs. The Quick Rapid Deployment Force (QRDF) is the elite, massing to meet heavy incursions and thwart any advance. Of note is the Liberty Reserve, which I always had in my head as something Free Quebec was never giving up on, and how well Borgs and Juicers fit the support role for GBs.
The other forces, Army (infantry, robots, power armour), Air Force (flying vehicles and jets) and the Navy (ships and power armour) formed the home-front military, but the battle is keenly sought outside their borders. They know the CS does not was to risk the capital infrastructure and the people of Free Quebec (read: humans), so they are playing that dangerous game of forcing the CS to make difficult choices in how they prosecute their war; there may well be that tipping point when all bets are off. To do this, they have pushed far outside their borders in an effort to limit the fighting in the vast wilderness, a place Free Quebec forces are more familiar with (home turf advantage, so to speak). This is the role of the Expeditionary Force, supported by the Army Recce Battalions, which scour the vast wilderness expanses for enemy movement and help drive pinpoint counter-strikes, information that is fed into the Quebec Military Intelligence. I should also clarify that the Quebec Navy, the premiere force of its kind in North America, was the one force not designed around supporting the GBs. They can function together in Joint Operations, but that’s about it.
Vehicles. Some may note that the majority of vehicles are smaller hover jeeps and the like. This was on purpose, primarily to support the Recce Battalions and traverse the wilderness with greater ease and to demonstrate how raw and vast the territory is. The Glitter Boy Transport was literally conceived as a GB transport/rescue chopper, akin to the Huey in Vietnam. These craft would skim the treetops and provide the mobile platform to both insert and extract GB task forces to strike hard and fast against their foes. Most were designed with an eye to getting GBs and their key supporting assets, into and back out of battle.
All That Glitters… I purposefully leveraged the Liberty Reserve idea for Juicers and ‘Borgs to also reflect the GB Legions. I wanted this to be a true gut-punch reality for the CS, yet also reflect that, despite how powerful they are, GBs aren’t infallible. As any military mind worth their salt would conclude, they needed to offset those disadvantages, just as modern warfare compensates for main battle tank vulnerabilities. I wanted Free Quebec to be a small in stature, highly mobile but highly effective force that could best exploit the under developed landscape. So, building from small teams of 4-8 GBs, I added forces from Liberty Reserve: Juicers formed the elite screens and a mobility/agility aspect, and ‘Borgs shock troopers could keep up in both speed but also compensate for the debilitating effects of the Boom Gun and provide close-in support. Adding in SAMAS and other power armour to the mix helped defend against the air. These little Joint Strike Forces were basically the key elements to the power of Free Quebec. This isn’t to say that the CS doesn’t do the same; the GBs just have a much smaller footprint, combined with their durability and lethality.
I also explored different models of GB to compensate for the direct fire capabilities the “classic” GB was limited to. It was always based on the Classic and Triax models. The Side Kick is the Free Quebec “Super SAMAS,” which is to say they provide covering fire and perimeter control to the GBs. The Tarantula is an attempt by Free Quebec to develop other weapon systems for a variant model and is more suited for closer-in combat and supporting Classic/Triax GBs. The Taurus looks to provide a key capability in any war, indirect fire, be it the rocky forested terrain or within a cityscape. The Silver Wolf is the “commando” version of the GB, armed with a weapon that does not project a sonic boom and sent in small packs with supporting units to perform seek and destroy or reconnaissance missions.
Cyborgs. The Imprimer, Dervish, Slasher and Leviathan provides standard baseline configurations to answer the possible production limitation Free Quebec may face during the daunting task of defending against the CS. By keeping things largely limited to the four models, this does mean there are methods for the CS to design/plan around them, but the CS would be hard pressed to counter the variable make-up of each unit and the personalities of each cyborg shock trooper. I saw the use of these soldiers as the first major step in countering the major weaknesses a GB faces, in particular infiltrating troops and power armour that get within the effective engagement ranges of the GB Boom Gun. The “big shiny” remains the obvious target, but supported by teams of these guys, they provide a level of independent security that can still add to the overall battle.
Quebecois Worldview and Culture. One of the key reasons I wanted to provide the first crack at the manuscript for this book was to ensure something of a francophone Canadian’s heritage and perspective was included. Some context though, is this was written and published around the height of Quebec nationalist epoch; there was a virtual tie in the 1995 Quebec referendum and a constitutional crisis in Canada. On a personal note, I was very much against separation and thought it a massively ill-thought out exercise, but I didn’t live in Quebec so this perspective comes from a spectator. What I was keen to influence was that modern day idiosyncrasies did not permeate the world book and somehow turn it into a flashpoint product here domestically. The name itself evokes some issue, but this was a thing since the Rifts Main Book came out. Could I have gone much more in depth in this segment? Sure, but there is only so much world building a GM needs.
People and Groups of Note. This was one segment that I allowed myself a significant amount of latitude for the submission, much of which was in the final product. This provided the opportunity to do some world building through development of key characters and leadership. One of the first and foremost organizations was CFQC, the state-run broadcasting network; no human supremacist and tightly bound culture like this would not have a propaganda wing to spread their message. Combined with my post The Bazaar #5 (specifically Mechanisms of Influence), it gives perhaps a better idea on thought control and propaganda the CS/FQ uses. Lastly, les soldats de St.-Jean was an amalgam of ideas from news reports of Michigan Militia and other ultra-right wing groups that would be prevalent in the boonies and forested landscape outside the more developed core of Free Quebec. That the contemporary examples have bled into current events (Capitol insurrection, et al) is not lost on me, and an unfortunate reflection of life resembling fiction. To have some fun with this, most of the characters in this book are actually named after friends of mine back in the day (all with permission).
Several key factors adhered to with the submission were to ensure this was not just another laundry list of technology, robots and power armour, but to be a great adventure reference tool for GMs from a world building perspective and develop how the FQ military is organized and would fight.
First and foremost, a good and varied reference for a GM: to create and develop adventure ideas in or around Free Quebec, be it before, during, or after the hostilities with the CS. I tried to lace into the submission as much world building as I could for a GM to grab on to. Some of this is deliberately placed within the HLS at the tail end of the book, but a lot of the rest is part and parcel throughout the major segments. A detailed perspective of the culture isn’t the purview for any of the World Books, but to give a flavour that GM’s can then apply to their campaigns. Admittedly there is a bit of nuance in the approach, but from the adventure hook perspective and trying to demonstrate my vision for the cultural perspectives, I think the job was accomplished.
The other element was emphasis on the military of Free Quebec: Different from the remainder of the CS by virtue of their key assets (GBs and Navy) and the wild, expansive terrain. Whereas the CS is formed around Army Groups, the FQ uses smaller Brigade Groups with clearly defined supporting arms to compensate in truly Joint Operations. The FQ military is all about leveraging smaller groups of highly mobile units, based around GBs, to deliver a wallop and then withdraw to favorable positions. If and when the CS made it into the heartland, where formations would have more clear terrain for manoeuvre warfare, the GBs would mass and deliver a massive salvo in defense of their heartland. To use a more contemporary example, the CS military is equated to the American military, the FQ forces to Canadian.
I had a lot of fun writing the manuscript for this World Book and was certainly happy to see my name officially associated with my favorite RPG. The hope and the dream is that those of you who bought the book either enjoyed it enough as a standalone read, or that as a player or GM.
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