1 "Maybe the decision not to put the Russian project on the shelf was a bad idea."
2 "However, there is no mistaking their disdain and disapproval (hey, if that looks like spit in the porridge, you can bet that it is)."
3 "Even the association with so-called good spirits, angels, faerie folk, gypsies and dragons is frowned upon."
4 "He works his subjects hard, and provides them with little in the way of luxury or shared wealth, but is fastidious in destroying supernatural beings and evil practitioners of magic, as well as inhuman looking D-bees and gypsies (he can't stand 'em)."
5 "Their aid may also be enlisted in the search for people lost in the woods or stolen by gypsies or fearsome woodland beings."
6 "In fact, 'We are Cossack,' is a frequent answer to the question, 'why did you do that?'"
7 "Rather than a full modulator, this gizmo makes the cyborg's voice deeper, and a bit gravelly to give it a menacing, animalistic quality."
8 "In this combat and machine oriented society, the biggest, strongest, bravest warriors are the most revered and the Shocktroopers are without dispute, the biggest and strongest."
9 "With its M.D.C. wheelgrinder and battery of weapons, a squad (5-10) can 'pulp' the average village, D-Bee tribe or band of demons in short order."
10 "They are cool to the touch and their eyes sparkle with (low) human intelligence (I.Q. 1D4+6)."
11 "Thus, wicked designs have emerged to maximize terror on the battlefield."
12 "Russians especially enjoy flavored vodka; limmonaya (lemon vodka), persovka (with hot pepper), zubrovka (made with certain grasses), ryabinovka (containing ash berries), tminaya (caraway), starka (dark and velvety), ahotnichaya (hunter's) and zveroboy (the only reference we could find said "Animal Killer!"); all cost about 1-3 credits more than usual."
13 "The Thunderstrike and Thunderstorm cyborgs are examples of recent innovations, and are generally unimpressive."

"Maybe the decision not to put the Russian project on the shelf was a bad idea."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:


So, I've got a terminology dilemma.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

These next two books love using the word "Gypsies" and "Cossacks". The latter term isn't really an issue, even if it's misused at points. The former... well... this is a book of the 1990s.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The fictional world of Rifts® is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Other dimensional beings often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigods, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

You won't see me use "the g-word" myself but where the book uses it in quotes and the like, I'm leaving it in. I'll use other terms. It feels improper to call them Romani, because they're such a gross stereotype as to not really be comparable. But it doesn't feel right for me to use the word.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Some parents may find the violence, magic and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

Maybe that's trying to eat my cake and still have it afterwards, but I didn't think it was proper to just erase it from the record, either. This book uses it. The next book uses it a lot.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Please note that none of us at Palladium Books® condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

And that kind of problem isn't going to end with this book, so I needed to set my policy firmly. I'll do my best to use different terminology than the book does, but I won't hide its usage of it in direct quotes and terms. I'd pretty much already did this in Spirit West, but there's your warning going forward.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 1: "Maybe the decision not to put the Russian project on the shelf was a bad idea."

So, as I hinted in my last review, the story of Russia is an old one, as old as Mother Russia:Siembieda expresses regret twice about deciding to write it and even takes time to complain about a week-long power outage inbetween. But, despite his Michiganian kvetching, we have a Russia book to review, don't we? Well... I do, anyway.

You don't get to find out about these cover girls until the end.

This is the first of two Russia books. The second one will be Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia™, which was released very shortly thereafter, at least. This one mainly details cyborg warlords and communists. Even though the Soviet Union had collapsed by the time of this writing, it still exults in Cold War-era stereotypes, because... well, that's what Siembieda grew up with, presumably. Well, it certainly gives this book that essential "Russian flavor", or at least the Russian stereotyping that kept Americans relatively sane during the Eighties. And though Rifts doesn't really have standardized "splatbooks", this book serves as the "cyborg book" in the way that Rifts Sourcebook 3: Mindwerks was the "crazy book", and Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star was the "mutant animal book".

But where is bear? I see no bear in this book. I see ATV that is bear. I see power armor that is bear. I see man that is named bear. I see also alien monster that is kind of like bear but is really no bear. How are you having Russian flavor without real genuine bear? Also faux Russia accent, it is funny! Russia is funny when it is not terrifying and invading and undermining other countries and ruining elections. Where is bear?!

Sometimes Warlord parties get a little rowdy.

Hearsay about Russia from Erin Tarn

So, Erin Tarn has heard some hearsay about Russia! Imagine that. See, after the cataclysm that brought the rifts, Russia was plunged into winter for 80 years. A... highly localized winter, I suppose, given no other regions suffered it. How did this happen?

And so people fled to other areas for the most part. However, then the winter went away, 20 years later, everything was back to Bambi and birches. People returned to Russia in a land rush like you do, but had to contend with local demons and monsters, who had returned to Russia in a victim rush. In turn, some of the settlers would militarize, becoming the Warlords of Russia. Who are sometimes referred to by Siembieda as "Cossacks" whether or not they are actually ethnically Cossacks. And then they fought and fought and fought and fought! Foughtfoughtfought! Foughtfoughtfought!

the warlords of russia shoooow

Also there are mutants because Chernobyl and shit, only now there are more Chernobyls. It's a franchise now. In any case, the Warlords are both good and bad, sometimes saviors and sometimes bandits, but ultimately they have the guns and cyborgs and make the rules. The grand majority of the country is still wilderness, though. But then she hands the mic over to Vladimir Kroslavsky... a surname that, as far as I can tell, may only exist in this book. But it's got that "Russian flavor"! It has both Vlad and Slav! Also he has that curly mustache! So Russian! So Slav!

He's so Pringles.

Hearsay about Russia from Vladimir Kroslovsky

Vlad tells us a lot of the same stuff only with more "Russian flavor".

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

"When the time of the Long Winter came, many of the Russian people — humans — could not endure the cold and hardships that came with it. My Great, Great Grandfather tried, so I know of what I speak. He talked about rich farmlands buried under 10 meters (33 feet) of snow and ice. Only hunters and scavengers had any prayer for survival, but even the wolf struggled and fled to the east.

So, it turns out each Warlord has their own branding and particular cyborgs, since each has claimed different cyborg facilities. But despite the fact they can make cyborgs, they still ride wild animals, because "they are not fragile like men or machines". Ah, sure, sure. Makes sense when you're a half-ton cyborg. You can build a man into a walking death machine, but making a half-track that rides through the snow without breaking is way tougher than that, I guess? Of course, more likely is that Siembieda got fixated on the notion of Cossack cavalry and will clawhammer that in to all of Western Russia no matter what-

In any case, Moscow got blown into a mysterious supercrater, but that's okay! Nearby there's New Moscow, which is home to the Sovietski, who are high-tech, fundamentalist communists. For the record, I can't find any real-life use for "Sovietski" other than a mail-order business that specialized in selling old Soviet Union military surplus around the '90s, so I have to wonder if that's where the authors nabbed the name from. In any case they're the local human supremacist enclave, though not zealously genocidal like the Coalition is. They'll actually turn out to be relatively tolerant of D-Bees once Rifts World Book 36: Sovietski comes around. (Yes, there are at that many, and yes, that just came out at the time of this writing.) Siberia is apparently a hellscape of monsters and cold shit and few go there.

"I'll review another Rifts book, I said. 'What could go wrong?', I said."

We get some teases of stuff that'll be in Mystic Russia, like knock spirits, domovoy, Russian ghouls, ectohunters, demon hunters, and... Gyp... ethnic wanderers. Yep. We're not out of the nineties yet. You may think you learned all you needed to groan about Romani stereotypes in Rifts World Book 5: Triax & the NGR, but they'll be back!

Next: Russia, Russia, Russia!

"However, there is no mistaking their disdain and disapproval (hey, if that looks like spit in the porridge, you can bet that it is)."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 2: "However, there is no mistaking their disdain and disapproval (hey, if that looks like spit in the porridge, you can bet that it is)."

Russian History

Did you miss communism? The hammer and sickle? Five Year Plans? Well, don't worry, in Rifts Russia will decide by 2027 that capitalism is no good and a Communist Party will take over again and hey, it's time for the Soviet Union to return! This works out super-well, though, and it's more liberal and within a decade they're having an economic boom thanks to two things: oil and cyborgs. See, they sell reliable cybernetics at a cheap rate, and I guess there's a big market for cyber-arms or something. Maybe a lot of kids are hanging their arms out the window on the bus, in the big bus arm-hang craze of 2055.

Then, you know, everything exploded into rifts. There was an eighty-year winter, demons ran across the landscape, the usual deal. 68% of the population was lost in the initial disaster, then another 16-20% dead in the eighty years after. Also weirder stuff: the central Siberian Plateau has giant spikes of stone that shoot up out of the ground, or a boiling sea appeared in the southeast, Moscow got made into a crater, etc. This is interesting but won't figure into much.

Other stuff:
Walk, don't run.

Geographic Overview

We get the contents of whatever geography reference Siembieda dumped into this book, so we got of on deserts, mountains, taiga, seas, rivers, steppes, etc. The important changes include: The Barents Sea suddenly being warmed by mysterrrious ocean vents. New set of volcanoes erupted near St. Petersburg as the "Saint Peter's Spine" where gargoyles live. People occasionally experience lost time when travelling near the Volga. A new sea appeared in the Kyzylkum desert that boils at 300 degrees, along with a number of holy healing hot springs. There also "Deadzones" full of mutating and deadly radiation. The Moskva Crater (Moskva is a transliteration of "Moscow") is full of radiation and dangerous ghosts.

"The gun is for people that don't like the hat. The hat is so I can use the gun. Life is good."

Other regions include:

Have some dots.

Next: Warlord is a martial leader class that- no? Oh, those aren't those. Sorry.

"Even the association with so-called good spirits, angels, faerie folk, gypsies and dragons is frowned upon."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 3: "Even the association with so-called good spirits, angels, faerie folk, gypsies and dragons is frowned upon."

The Role of the Warlords

So, we're told that Russians have largely reverted to the "pastoral and agriculture-based simplicity of the old 'Kievan Rus' of the 9th through 13th centuries." Yes, this is just like how England was looking to go back to dryads and knights, Africans were looking to go back to ancient tribal cultures, Japan was looking to get back to daimyos and samurai, Romani were just waiting to hop into caravans and steal from people, Western Americans were looking to get back to cowboys and Indians Native Americans, etc. The world ends and Russians are like, "So, we can do anything, we have magic, we have cyborgs, let's be shit farmers!" In any case, most communities are self-ruled and have their own traditions, just paying tribute to the Warlords rather than looking to them for leadership. The Warlords generally don't worry about individual communities as long as they get their money and their respect. The only real universal law is that no association with the demonic is allowed, whether it be "witchcraft" or having a gurgoyle you trade with over the hill. Other supernatural creatures are tolerated but generally considered dangerous. Generally speaking, the Warlords generally enforce peace amongst their communities, even if it has to be the peace of death.

Happy days of lifelong toil are here again!

As far as D-Bees go, the Warlords often enslave them, though just as often they ignore them. Some Warlords may accept such communities; others might just burn them to the ground. But overall, they're treated as invaders or foreigners trying to take Russian shit farming jobs from good, honest Russian shit farmers.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

To most Russian people, these D-Bee communities are inhabited by monstrous, alien squatters who have no rights. They are frequently raided, raped, and abused by Warlord Camps and common folk alike. The knights and warriors can enter the town and take or do anything they please. Any D-Bee who stands in their way or raises a hand in self-defense or protest is beaten or killed. The worst of the Warlord's Camp will loot, rape, torture and kill these people with wanton abandon, free of any crime or punishment in the eyes of the Warlord or most members of the human population.

I didn't need to know where the Rapine Cyborgs put their e-dicks, but thanks, Siembieda.

Generally when D-Bees show designs of consorting with supernatural evil or generally getting to wealthy or uppity, that's a good sign that a Warlord is going to mete out some form of punishing tribute or destroy the community. Yes, even far from the realm of skull Nazis, anti-immigration policies literally ride high in Russia. Oppression, expulsion, or extermination of D-Bee communities is extremely common. This is where I had to take a break and stop writing for several weeks, and do things that didn't involve Rifts.

"Lost my jaw in battle? No, no. I lost my jaw from sweet tooth."

The Warlords

After all this, in the kind of tone failure Rifts delivers reliably, it says "The Warlords stride Rifts Earth like legendary heroes from epic myth.", but at least points out the truth of their legends may be questionable or fabricated. To outsiders, they're seen as bloodthirsty "savages", but internally the Warlords run relatively coherent military organizations. Though they vary in many ways, they're generally united in wanting to defend Russia from threats real (like supernatural monsters) or imagined (the aforementioned D-Bees). In general, they're Russian patriots in both the great and terrible senses of the term. They protect the people, but some also abuse and exploit them as well. Warlords are followed by clans and knighted warriors, along with a variety of peons known as "Reavers". Reavers are occasionally knighted and brought into the upper ranks. However, anybody in a Warlord's camp essentially is at the top of the overall social ladder. However, we're told that they only abuse their power 1d4 times a year, and most people are content with it. How would they feel if it was 1d6? 1d8? 1d30?

"Look, I don't want to do this, but the 1d4 doesn't come up less than a 1!"

Brass tacks: This is full of handwringing of "Well they abuse and harm people sometimes but really at least people aren't being eaten by demons and gosh, when you think about it-"

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The noble and kind members of these War Camps don't abuse the people or make them run around helter-skelter, but the most arrogant, pompous and cruel will demand that everybody is at their beck and call, and treat them shabbily. The worst will threaten, bully, beat, extort, rape and belittle the "peasants," as well as ignore or supersede local village authorities, elders, traditions and laws. Whichever the case may be, ultimately, the rule of the Warlords is no crueler or destructive than any empire-builders throughout history. In fact, they are probably more just, patriotic, dedicated and humane than many.

... mmmmmannnenanghghghghhhhh...

There's so much wrong with that paragraph excerpt that I don't know even where to start, so I won't. I am dying to talk about guns and robots at that point. It any case, it likens them to old steppe clans and gangsters, which is more apt. They have intense psuedo-familial ties, invented or otherwise, and tend to react strongly to any sort of perceived challenge or disrespect.

Ultimately, a lot of a Warlord's camp is mobile, because... that's the imagery we're working with, okay? Their primary enemy is considered nonhuman invaders and foreigners, but they also are constantly on watch for the forces of rival Warlords and other human foes. Also they hate ethnic wanderers! Just FYI. In general, though, military structure is loose, and warriors are expected to be independent and answer for personal failures. As far as their activities go, they generally focus on guerilla tactics and deception to win the way. Which makes sense for small groups, I guess, but I can't imagine how it works for their huge, unhideable cyborgs and hovertanks.

The Brotherhood of Heroes

So, either you're born or invited into a Warlord's Camp, though those that invite are then responsible for those they invited in. Generally, you spend a lot of your time scouting, hunting, and fighting supernatural evil, and what it isn't you spend drinking and dancing and doing all sorts of folksy celebration shit.


Also you may note the term "Brotherhood". That's not coincidental.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The role of the female. The Warlords and their warriors are predominantly a male dominated society. Thus, females tend to serve as (often crucial) support personnel of the Camp. As "support" personnel, they take on the roles of organizers, accountants, cooks, teachers, nurses, doctors, Cyber-Docs, Operators and Engineers of all kinds, builders, carpenters, communications specialists, and overseers of the Camp and most of its internal operations.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Women can also achieve warrior and knight status if they really have what it takes. About 16% of the warriors in most Camps are female. Women warriors are not given preferential treatment and must be able to perform the same duties as a man in order to be accepted as a warrior. Once they have proven themselves, they are treated like one of the men — a warrior brother whom the men see as a true equal. However, from a young age, women are generally pointed in the direction of support.

We can do it! - but if it involves fighting then maybe don't, laaadies.

Speaking of the relentless focus on -isms, foreigners and D-bees can become Reavers, but they can't become knights and are treated as the lowest of all the members of the camp. Sometimes they conscript dirt farmers to bolster their ranks, but almost always temporarily (presuming they survive whatever task they're put to).

The Sphere of Influence

As nomadic warriors, the Warlords generally don't have total control over their region, and there's a laborious metaphor comparing them to wolf packs.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Likewise, they prey on the cattle-like herd animals (the indigenous peasants) and any who succumb to weakness; food for their slavering jaws.

Yeah, life under them sounds great. Just great. Anyway, they rely on intimidation and the loyalty of locals quite a bit because often areas are days away from any sort of immediate response. However, most Warlords don't enforce any universal laws per se, letting most places live autonomously. We get a long list of potential offenses they might enforce, however, which boil down to "don't cross or disrespect the Warlord's forces, don't do black magic that calls upon otherworldly forces, and don't work with our enemies or supernatural forces or... ethnic wanderers". In particular, when dealing with those who betray humanity to the supernatural, they're slain without hesitation. We're told they "do not falsely accuse innocent people". Thinking they don't do things for faulty reasons seems like a stretch given the litany of awful things they to people for no reason at all, but hey, I'm not a game writing professional, what do I know? Otherwise, offenses are treated in a variety of ways from the fair to the total destruction of a village, but use brutality as a means of making sure "peasants" stay in line.

In a very rare break from the usual lack of references to Christianity, apparently most people Warlord areas are Russian Orthodox, and apparently their religious ethics generally keep them in line anyway without the Warlords needing to step in. Seems pretty convenient! Annual tithes from communities (whether that's money or harvest or whatever) to Warlords is roughly 10%, though some rare ones impose much higher rates, and they're expected to house and feed any camp followers that arrive in town, though most Warlords emphasize to their men never to exploit villagers to the point of hardship. Once again, this seems odd given all the awful other things they're established to do, but sure. Sure. Not playing tribute usually results in violence from the Warlords. If there are grievances from a community regarding camp members getting "carried away" (yeah, we know what that implies by now), it's expected that the grand majority of the time, the Warlords will address it. Lastly, Warlords often raid and rob each other, as well as take hostages, and usually only work together to deal with supernatural threats. Overt war is generally avoided, however, as supernatural threats generally keep them too busy to conduct a full-scale invasion. However, if enough of the monsters are driven out, war between the Warlords will be inevitable.

Rifts = D&D + Cyber.

A Digression

Man, I thought the Coalition is bad. Siembieda loves his "truth is in the middle" nonsense, but these guys might as well have multiple-personality disorder. Are they vile thugs exploiting and abusing their regions, or notable monster-hunters who treat people harsh but fairly? Obviously different Warlords are going to have different policies, but if so, why have blanket statements saying "Oh, they never abuse peasants in this way." It wants them to be humanity's last hope against monstrous hordes (that we have no descriptions of yet) but also have a sickening "maybe it's okay for them to punch your mom as long as she doesn't get eaten by a gargoyle" moral compromise.

Also making them a bunch of gross racist, sexist, specist abusers doesn't help. If this is all humanity can aspire to, where's the virtue in our preservation? And even more confusingly, as we get into the warlords, some of them seem like decent folks that wouldn't put up with this shit. It seems like he wanted to paint all warlords with the same cultural brush when they really, really should be described as individual factions with their own values and goals. There are are at least two Warlords that are unambiguously are good people, but if their bands of Reavers are acting like what's described above, they're really falling down at their job.

Also, there's the general use of the r-word. Siembieda just seemingly throws it in without too much thought, I'm sure, a box on the checklist of horrible things people might do. However, it's aged extremely poorly, and probably wasn't ever really appropriate for the tone of the game he's going for.

Next: The faces of war.

"He works his subjects hard, and provides them with little in the way of luxury or shared wealth, but is fastidious in destroying supernatural beings and evil practitioners of magic, as well as inhuman looking D-bees and gypsies (he can't stand 'em)."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 4: "He works his subjects hard, and provides them with little in the way of luxury or shared wealth, but is fastidious in destroying supernatural beings and evil practitioners of magic, as well as inhuman looking D-bees and gypsies (he can't stand 'em)."

The Warlords of Russia

So, we get one, two... seven paragraphs explaining why the Warlords aren't seen in person (they're all the obvious reasons, FYI) and how, when they are, there's almost always pageantry involved. Also if you give them lip they might try and make you leap a horse over an unleapable gorge and fall to your doom or some other similarly cruel trial. But that horse didn't do anything! Dick move, Warlord.

Not every Warlord paints a picture.

Warlord Alekseyevna

The oldest of the Warlords at 101 years of age, becoming a full cyborg has lengthened Yuri Garald Alkseyevna's lifespan. He used to be really cunning and ruthless, having orchestrated the downfall of two of the original ten Warlords. He's weary of war, though, and finds political machinations tiresome. He does like gardening, though! For the most part, he's content with the kingdom he's built. Generally speaking, he's growing increasingly behind the times. Generally speaking, he's behind the times, and demands hard work of his subjects, but is also extremely dedicated to annihilating supernatural threats. And also ethnic wanderers (yes, that train of prejudice will just keep on rolling through these books). And he's kind of sexist. Generally speaking, the only reason nobody's tried to oust him is that he's far enough the North that anybody who invades would struggle to manage the rough tundra region.

He's a 12th level Dimiye Solati (that should be "Soldati Dimiye") that has no negative attributes and gets to be a cyborg at the same time without abandoning his class, is a bit of a genius, and has no art. He no doubt hates whatever music kids listen too these days.

Can you get cyber-cancer?

Warlord Burgasov

Pyotr Karol Ivonavich, an accomplished "War-Knight", was granted a new surname and position of Warlord thanks to a deathbed proclamation by Mikal Burgasov, the previous Warlord. Mikal's sons didn't truck with this, so Pyotr killed them after the months of ensuring battle. Then he invaded another Warlord, promising no mercy to those who didn't surrender, which apparently broke their resolve due to his reputation for ferocity and honesty. Also he killed anybody who hadn't openly surrendered (Warlord included) because he's supposed to be a mega-ruthless "I'm only gonna say his once" sort. In any case, he's very strict but feared, and runs most of Estonia. He gets the title "The Bear of Moskva" and apparently has a bunch of macho soldiers that love him, and his main concern is dealing with gargoyles threatening from the St. Petersburg volcano. However, he also has rebels in the region where he invaded, and we're told "some will even go as far as to consider an alliance with supernatural evil". Well, whatever, Pyotr's a merciless mass murderer, so everything is relative. Also, he hates fun. I'm not making that up.

He's a 10th level War-Knight that has ridiculously high attributes and gets to a (partial) cyborg without losing his class in spite of how the cyborg rules work. He's strong-willed and immensely charismatic, but this is no doubt balanced by the fact he's slightly less attractive than average.

Absolutely posing for the painting.

Warlord Kolodenko

A "Mountain King" who inherited his position, Kolodenko is the most "noble" of the bunch in more ways than one. He's more of a politician and leader than a general, and doesn't particularly care for bloodshed. Having gone to college in the New German Republic, he was trained as a cybernetic engineer, and he has underworld connections to NGR manufacturers. However, the fact there's a bunch of gargoyles and demons between his land and Germany keeps open trade at an impasse. (Nevermind that the NGR has air transport.) He loves science and manners. Based out of the Caucasus Mountains, Kolodenko's forces are small, but he has strong support from the neighboring and independent Cossack population. And if you guessed the Cossacks have returned to their 18th century ways and are homogenized rather than representing a variety of connected peoples - you earn a point and a drink. His support of the Cossacks have earned him the enmity of Warlord Solokov and Warlord Orloff, both of which would love to kick the nomads out and claim their land. He has an ongoing low-intensity conflict with Solokov that largely seems to be going in his favor, because Solokov is a bit dim.

A 9th level Operator who actually isn't a cyborg, Kolodenko makes up for it with practically unrollable attributes, including exceptional intelligence, affinity, strength, process, and speed. That being said, of all the Warlords so far, he's the only one that's come across as a pretty decent guy worth following. If there's an unambiguously heroic warlord, it's this guy.

"I'm a good guy. This is my good smile."

Warlord Orloff

... is a generic villain who murdered his own dad to get his position, and is an oppressive bully who loves conquest. He tried to conquer the Sovietski, but only got a fourth of the way through before being stymied, and only agreed to a ceasefire under the pressure of Warlords Burgasov, Serjyev, and Romanov. Because of that, he wants revenge against those Warlords, particularly Romanov because she won't marry him. Also his father had befriended some nice D-Bees who gave their country alien technology, but Orlorff killed them because he figured he already had all their technology and fuck those guys. He has one of the largest armies with a high percentage of full conversion cyborgs, and if you're guessing they put their e-dicks where they aren't wanted...

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

They frequently engage in all types of deplorable conduct during raids and against the enemy, from torture and murder, to raping and pillaging.

... well, you earn a point and a drink. He's based out of Donetsk but has a wide slice across Western Russia. He's known as the "Snowdemon", "Orloff the Mad", and "The Butcher". He runs his land on terror, brutality, and giving no fucks, not necessarily in that order.

He's a 8th level heavy 'borg, but unless you think he's following the rules, he gets a bunch of skills he normally couldn't because of "special training.". He at least has a slightly-lower-than-normal mental endurance to go with his genius I.Q. (How the fuck does have an I.Q. of 160? How?!). He's the mostest boringest of all the Warlords.

... and the girl!

Warlord Romanov

"Sonya the Great" claims to be descendant of the Romanov Dynasty, which seems intensely unlikely. Nonetheless, she was a peasant who had psychic powers awaken and have visions of Romanov ghosts who told her to go "make her destiny". She joined the local war camp (I guess she was invited? Maybe?) and worked her way from cook to war-knight to heavy conversion 'borg. From there, she discovered her Warlord had made a deal with a demon, challenged him to a duel, and then stabbed him with a special demon slaying rune dagger that she got from-

- and then people somehow realized that he was really corrupted because I guess a bunch of random observers know what a special demon slaying rune dagger looks like and what it does-

- and they gunned down the Warlord and everybody declared her the new Warlord and a super winner. Thanks, random plot dagger! Either way, she's become a fair and just Warlord, and has rebuffed attacks on her domain. Her dream is to find a way to unite Russia under her special Tsarblood. She's based out of Keiv, and has the best manufacturing center, and most of her troops treat the common folk extremely well. Though she has romantic inclinations towards Kolodenko, they're separated by the domains of Orloff and Sokolov. Apparently, Serijev intended to manipulate her, but has come to like her nonetheless. Ultimatley, she's supposed to be the heroic paladin of the Warlords.

She's a 9th level 'Borg - well, a "9th level Heavy Borg and Warlord, ex-War-Knight", because nothing can be stated simply. She has the most ridiculous stats - a genius intelligence and a maximum possible affinity for a human. But, you know, the "R" and the "G" words haven't come up in this description and that's the low bar I'm content with seeing cleared at the moment. She seems perfectly decent for a warlord.

But seriously, can cyborgs get cancer?

Warlord Serijev

The sleazy weasel of the Warlords, Serijev apparently somehow stole his position, and is basically a master of spies and the underworld. He's willing to do anything, but uses his alliance with Romanov to try and clean up his image publicly as a "reformed scoundrel". He isn't particularly reformed, though, and uses assassins and secret agents to maintain his power, and runs assassination and exortion rings, amongst other things. He's based out of Minsk, and has castle that's essentially a Bond villain hideout. Though he admires Romanov and wishes he could be as straightforward as she is, he essentially doesn't have the spine for it and will likely leave her hanging in the wind at some point. Apparently he has allies amongst the Sovietski, but has to be careful they don't know about his underworld activity there. In general, he handles most of the other Warlords well, save for the pair of baddies - Orloff and Sokolov. In addition, Kolodenko seems to be on to his schemes, and may figure out Serijev's still up to his old tricks.

A 10th level Assassin (not a class) and Warlord (not a class), if you guessed by now he has a genius intelligence, you'd be correct! He's a partial 'borg but never had to switch his class, a special case NPCs seem to continually dance around here. And his attributes are an unrollable farce, starting with 20, 20, 23. You know, the usual. (Sure, it makes some sense for the warlords to be exceptional, but so much more so than PCs...?)

Well, it's the 90s, cyborg-with-an-eyeglint box checked.

Warlord Solokov

A psychopathic "killing machine" that got his Warlordship through a duel, he's basically the more cunning and calm version of Orloff. He believes he's exceptionally lucky on account of surviving this far, or at least did until he started warring with Kolodenko and losing. Right now he's shaken and starting to unravel into paranoia involving Kolodenko, making him more unpredictable and violent. He's also big on exterminating foreigner, and would like to wipe out the Cossacks... because. He wanders around his territory, too paranoid to keep a fixed base. Essentially, he's the head of a tremendously large group of bandits. He's has an alliance with Orloff, and he's clearly the dominant one... despite being the stupidest of the Warlords by far. He's a one-note murderer, mostly.

An 11th level 'Borg, he miraculously has average attributes because I guess even the writers didn't like him very much. A bland writeup for a bland character, but I guess paranoia is a hook to hang an interaction on.

I'm So Glad to Be Done With These

Next: Finally, you can play the shit farmer of your dreams.

"Their aid may also be enlisted in the search for people lost in the woods or stolen by gypsies or fearsome woodland beings."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 5: "Their aid may also be enlisted in the search for people lost in the woods or stolen by gypsies or fearsome woodland beings."

So, we get a trenmendous list of classes you could use in Russia along with book references, so you can get caught up on essential titles like Rifts® Scotland. Oh, that doesn't exist and has never existed? Well, just forget about that one.

Pictured: what you'd like to be when you play a Bogatyr. Not Pictured: the terrible reality.


... O.C.C.s, that is. These are the "Adventurer" classes for this book. As always, the % is your chance of rolling the attributes necessary to play that class as a human character.

"Will you stop rising? I'm trying to read, here."
"Let me tell you about the man who doomed his party by choosing a suboptimal class. That man... was me!"

Wait, wasn't the Ecto-Hunter supposed to be in Mystic Russia? Well, they got here early, I guess.

Next: The Cossacks: a people, an occupation, and a class, all together at last in one convenient package.

"Finally, time to show everybody what I can't do!"

"In fact, 'We are Cossack,' is a frequent answer to the question, 'why did you do that?'"

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 6: "In fact, 'We are Cossack,' is a frequent answer to the question, 'why did you do that?'"

Warlord Troops & Men at Arms

Time for the fightin' classes. We get a long set of details of how they fill out the various forces of the Warlords... mostly just cyborgs, soldiers, and "reavers". The percentages took me a bit to realize that some are supposed to be sub-percentages and don't add up above 100%... editing! It's as difficult as ever.

Then, things get a little weird.

Rad art like this is what you open up a Rifts book for, frankly.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Cossack: An elite cavalry of horsemen who specialize in riding bionic and real horses, as well as exotic, monstrous riding creatures. They are feared more than respected, and often have a mixed (and questionable) heritage that can be Russian, or a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian, Polish and Mongolian.

Aren't Cossacks an ethnicity? Well, they still are, but- well, let's get to the classes. As always, the percentage is the number of average humans that can qualify for the class.

But can cyborgs get cancer?!
Horror Factor 16.
This is how you cyberize D&D the classy way.
WINGRIDER, WARLORD PILOT with AIR CHARIOT (weapons do not shoot)

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

See Rifts® World Book Five: Triax™ & The NGR for other military O.C.C.s suitable for a Russian campaign, including the Communications Officer, Medic/Medical Officer, Field Mechanic, Intelligence Officer, Euro-Juicer and others. These can be NCR expeditionary forces, deserters/rogue troops and mercenaries. Gypsies too.

Oh, don't worry about picking that book up for your ethnic wanderer fix. They'll be reprinted soon enough.

Next: So you wanna be a robo?

"I'll just start ramming machines into your skull, you tell me when to stop."

"Rather than a full modulator, this gizmo makes the cyborg's voice deeper, and a bit gravelly to give it a menacing, animalistic quality."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 7: "Rather than a full modulator, this gizmo makes the cyborg's voice deeper, and a bit gravelly to give it a menacing, animalistic quality."

Russian Bionics

So, cyborgs are more common in Russia as previously established, even though vehicles and power armor are rare. This is because.... HEY! LOOK OVER THERE!... and so it makes sense. Mmmmhm. Oh, did you miss my reason? I'm sure I mentioned it. In any case, they're more accepted than they are in America, being common tools of the Warlords. The Warlords generally claim cybernetic facilities and stomp out any independent bionic merchants, though sometimes cybernetic businesses in the larger cities operate under their authority. There are still "illegals" who operate shady chop-shops and the like, though. Bionics that the warlords grant to their troops are generally considered to be their permanent possession, so you can retire with all of your missiles and plasma leg rods intact. Still, some sell off their own cybernetics for sweet, sweet profit and boat drinks, baby.

Every Warlord has possession of a cybernetics factory, but they also import a lot (particularly parts for fusion reactors). Some are so sophisticated they have robot facilities that can Ghost in the Shell up people in a jiffy. They're some of the best in the world when it comes to bionics, but none of that translates to other forms of technology because... HEY! WHAT IS THAT?!... which is a pretty good explanation that's easy to miss.

Russian Cybernetic Systems

As a reminder, Rifts qualifies implants that don't enhance part of the body as cybernetic for the most part, but the line is blurry. So a replacement arm that is just a replacement is cybernetic. But a replacement arm that has superhuman strength and a diamond drill is bionic. But it's not perfectly clear. There are two main systems detailed in this part, Cyberlink Vehicle Interfacing and Weapon to Cyborg Energy Link.

The Cyberlink Vehicle Interface is what most sci-fi fans would expect, a direct link from your brains to vehicle. This gives an instant readout on the vehicle, but also gives you complete control over it. Unfortunately, it locks you out of doing anything else, and can only be used on comparatively small vehicles like cars or cycles because - LOOK, CHECK THAT OUT! - which really clears things up. It gives some solid bonuses, and adds extra speed based on your Intelligence. Yes, the smarter you are, the faster car go.

The Weapon to Cyborg Energy Link lets cyborgs (why is this "cybernetics" if only cyborgs can use it...?). It lets you do away with pesky e-clips and just charge energy weapons from your fusion reactor (if you have one), but it can be easily destroyed, reduces your speed, and gives greater penalties if used for more than 10 minutes due to the power drain.

Notable Bionic Features Common to Warlord Cyborgs

There's a lot here, so I'm not going to list it all. Robot Strength lets you boost strength further, but the utility is limited because robot strength is inferior to supernatural strength because, OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THAT?! I had wondered what the reason was, but there you have it. It all fits perfectly. A lot of cyborgs have Interchangeable Parts for total toyeticness.

There are a lot of new eye types, but the Panorama Cluster Lens takes the cake, an series of eyes that let you see in all directions. It gives you bonuses against surprise, defense bonuses, bonuses on skills to detect shenanigans, and... a trick shooting skill? However, it penalizes your Beauty (which already starts too low to get any bonuses, so it's not actually a penalty) and drives you to gain Phobias, since being able to see in all directions makes you... more... paranoid? Well, it makes more sense when AHHHH CHECK IT OUT MAN- so I'm glad they explained that!

The Low-Frequency (earthquake) Audio Rig lets you put your ear-sensor to the ground and detect vibrations like some questionable western genre trope. Only more cyber. Of course, with a range of 1-3 miles for most normal troops, by the time you can hear people, you're probably within weapon range. Definitely within missile range.

A Gromeko Friend or Foe Identification Computer has files on a variety of cyborgs, monsters, and demons, and can identify them and provide facts or schematics. It also gives their power level between 1 and 10, but a flashing 10 means it's off the scale. So you can be like "It's over 10!" and then crush your own head. It'd be suicide, but the meme commanded you. You had no choice.

There's a lot for body options I could cover, like a jet pack or tank treads (finally, you can play Eliminators in Rifts). But what I'll focus on here is the Head Collar & Hood, so you can have an armored cyber-hoodie, which protects your head to the tune of 42 M.D.C. More importantly, it's a cyber-hoodie.

We get a lot of new weapons, most of which are just variations on range and damage values. The Electro-Cannon Forearm Blaster shoots electro that will fry S.D.C. electronics... you know, the kind that will explode automatically if you shoot them anyway. Hydraulic Hammer Hands and Hydraulic Ram Arms give flat percentages chances to knock human and "small vehicles" over, for aspiring pusher robots. The "Mekanikal" line of weapon arms is designed so you can swap out any Mekanikal arm for another one, which would be a neat notion if most of them weren't total garbage (a rail gun that does 4d6 Mega-Damage is a good example of failure in weapons design). But there's a Mekanikal tentacle arm so you can cyber-grab stuff like a 90's X-Men baddie.

Russian Bionics

So, we get a lot of that reiterate things we already know. Did you know that the Warlords use cyborgs? Did you know that cybernetics are more accepted in Russia? Did you know that Russian cybernetics is pretty advanced and commonplace? Oh, we've mentioned all that? Well, we will again and again, you can't fill up 224 pages with merely useful information.

One of the weirder parts that I find is the notion that the Warlords or underground organizations will give you a permanent cybernetic body for a decade or two of service, then just let you go. The cost of some of these bodies can run in the 3-5 million credit range. That's like earning a $250,000+ salary on zero requirements other than the willingness to become a badass cyborg. And like the original (cy)Borg class, there are "suggested" attributes, but no requirements - meaning anybody can qualify as a cyborg. Yes, it's easier to qualify as a cyborg than to be a peon reaver. "We don't think you really have what it takes to be a bullet-catching rifle-carrier, have you considered becoming a walking talk instead?"

In any case, we get three new cyborg classes: Light Machine, Heavy Machine, and Cyborg Shocktrooper, all of which are full conversion cyborgs - i.e. only a few essential organs remain of the original human. While we get some new packages for partial cyborgs - a "55%" conversion package and a "70-80%" conversion package, the game rightly presumes that most players will want to play full 95-98% conversion cyborgs. Unlike the corebook cyborg, what you get is largely fixed as part of a standardized package, and you only get a few choices or weapon or limb features as opposed to the "make your own cyborg" package found in the corebook. We do get a footnote amongst them that you can load chemical sprayers with holy water now, for those who want to give vampires a bit of a surprise.

"I didn't kill that guy. He just fell over when I stabbed- shit."

The only real advantage to playing a human-sized Light Machine is that you can still conceivably pass for human if you decide to have synthetic skin over your robobod. They're supposed to be the more social cyborgs, but there's not much support mechanically for that. Of course, they also forgot to include any price or details for synthetic skin, so you'll have to go hat-in-hand to the GM about that. They get a military-grunt style skill package with slightly better skill percentages than the corebook, and are flatly the weakest of the cyborg packages. You get a gunfighting trick shot, however, since this book seems to hand that mechanic out like an after-dinner mint for every other class. Rifts likes to give an obviously weaker option one unique but hardly balancing edge, pat itself on the back, and say "Yep, that's how you provide meaningful options!"

Terminator went weightlifting: the Rifts cyborg aesthetic.

Heavy Machines are 8-12 feet buff cyborgs that are flatly made for combat, which is backed up by them getting weapon proficiencies for pretty much whatever they like (including, once again, a trick shot). It goes on about how proud they are of how badass they are, and see themselves as big Russian heroes, though a tiny minority become maladjusted. In any case, they get more M.D.C. than Light Machines, more weapons, and no real drawbacks other than being completely obvious... and not being cyborg shocktroopers. Also, girl cyborgs often have hair or hair-wires or whatever. Gender coding is a necessity for giant cyborgs, you wouldn't want to be confused about what gender a cyborg was before their bionification.

Randomly, we get a note that the Warlords keep a tight lid on cybernetic technology because they're worried about alien and D-Bee infiltrators using cyborg bodies, and occasionally DNA test any suspect cyborgs. A relevant note!... that probably should have been somewhere other than the middle of an O.C.C. writeup.

In any case, those aren't the biggest cyborgs we get. We can get bigger. Stronger. More filled with redundant armaments.

Next: Russian Army Alien Tech Terminator Robots Cyborgs To Crush US Military. Don't Believe? Watch This.

"In this combat and machine oriented society, the biggest, strongest, bravest warriors are the most revered and the Shocktroopers are without dispute, the biggest and strongest."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 8: "In this combat and machine oriented society, the biggest, strongest, bravest warriors are the most revered and the Shocktroopers are without dispute, the biggest and strongest."

This is the Cyborg Shocktrooper art. No Cyborg Shocktrooper looks like this.

And finally, we have the main focus of this book: Cyborg Shocktroopers. These are the eliteiest of the cyborgs that serve the Warlords, and different from Heavy Machines in that they have special custom designs, unique to the Warlord they serve. They're supposed to be brave and loyal, and most of them stick by their Warlords for life because they do, but people treat them well and apparently that helps them shrug off any mental disconnect they might have form more inhuman bodies. They get officer-styled training, and-

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Boxing (don't forget about the extra attack this provides).

Trust me, that is not something any Palladium fan forgets. Everybody boxes in Palladium games unless their class explicitly forbids it. One issue from earlier custom cyborgs (like those in Rifts World Book 7: Japan) was their inability to wear armor, making them weaker than corebook cyborgs due to massively lower M.D.C. totals. However, these cyborgs can wear armor, fixing that issue. They also gain unique combat bonuses for each model, a big part of what makes them flatly better than Heavy Machines.

Something that's really bugging me, though, as I read through these, is the tendency for Siembieda to add weapons that aren't in the art. Often these are completely pointless - concealed lasers that do so little damage that you wouldn't want to use them over a pistol, much less a rail gun - but this time I'm going to document them all under "Gratuitous Guns".

"Everyone! Initiate formation: copy-paste!"

The signature cyborg for Warlord Alekseyevna, the old semi-retired racist, is the Tempest. It may be based on plans for the SAMAS power armor from the corebook, and by this point there have been so many SAMAS knock-offs in books I can't be bothered to count them call. Here's another, except it's a cyborg. It has a plasma gun that's no better than the plasma rifles anybody can carry, and can breathe fire for negligible damage. Oddly, it's actually slower than a cyborg with a jetpack (240 MPH as opposed to 250 MPH) but can fly for much longer periods of time.

Gratuitious Guns: Laser Beam Eyes, Concealed Forearm Laser, and Mini-Missile Shoulder Launchers ("under armored plates").

The real problem with the Perez cyborg designs is that it's not all Perez cyborg designs. Sorry, Scotty.

The Butcher is one of the two signature cyborgs for Warlord Burgasov, the "The Bear of Moskva". The only really exceptional thing about it is a hood that protects its head from getting shot in the back. It has cool swords (but the usual weak damage) and mini-missiles.

Gratuitous Guns: High-Powered Laser ("disguised as one of the mini-missile launchers") and a W-42 Concealed Palm Laser.

Rifts, where three small saw blades > one large saw blade.

The Ripper is Burgasov's other key cyborg, mainly notable for the highly damaging triple saw-blade arm. Other than that, we've got-

Gratuitous Guns: Mini-Missile Back Launch Tubes (conveniently out of frame), Mini-Missile Chest Launch Tubes ("chest plates open"), Cheek Lasers (seriously?), Chemical Spray (from the mouth), and Concealed Laser Rod (in left leg).

With tentacles, just like tigers you'd find in the wild.

Warlord Kolodenko is the "noble" Warlord, and his specialty cyborg is the White Tiger. Its key system are "electro-tentacles" that wan whip for weak damage, but have a chance to stun targets based on their type (92% for an unarmored humanoid, down to 5% for an adult dragon or other shocktrooper). Well, it's a unique gimmick, at least.

Gratuitous Guns: Mini-Missile Chest Launch Tubes ("chest plates open", again), Chemical Spray (mouth, again), Concealed Hip Plasma Ejector, and Concealed Hip Laser Rod.

Its archenemy: stairs.

There are two cyborgs for the dad-murdering villain, Warlord Orloff. The first is the Holocaust. Classy name, Orloff. Now, I don't talk about hit locations often, but this one has listed:

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

* Helmet Horns (2) — 15 each

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

* A single asterisk indicates a small and/or difficult target to hit. The attacker must make a "Called Shot" and even then he is -3 to strike.

"So, what if I get lucky, do some sharp shooting, and blow off the horns?", you may ask. "What happens?" Well, maybe its headbutt damage is reduced. Maybe. It doesn't say. Even so, its headbutt does the same as its punch. So if you shoot off both its arms, and you shoot off all its guns, and you shoot of its missiles, maybe it'd be worth shooting off the head horns. Maybe. In any case, it has mini-missile launchers (actually pictured!), a plasma cannon, a forearm pulse laser, forearm particle beam gun, and the novel tread locomotion. Also, "like their master", these cyborgs tend to be assholes because they have bad cyborg culture. True story.

Gratuitous Guns: Shoulder Rail Gun (what is obviously an exhaust pipe is actually a rail gun in a non-firing position?).

Great art, bad numbers.

Orloff's other pet cyborg design is the Aftermath. Its big deal is the surprisingly low-damage chainsaw arm. It gave up a whole arm for that, cut it it a break, Kev! It also has a particle beam gun and a rail gun.

Gratuitous Guns: Vibro-Blade Arm (the little bayonet below the chainsaw is pictured, but it supposedly has a retractable arm the pops out to use it slash at people - yes, really), Mini-Missiles (supposedly the chainsaw motor is actually a missile launcher), and a Concealed Vibro Blade (because it doesn't have enough blades already).

The art / numbers disconnect here is particularly fierce.

Warlord Romanov of the magic plot dagger commands the Avenging Angel model. It's a flyer that goes faster than the Tempest at 340 MPH, and gets bonuses to sneaking and gliding silently. It's a very sneaky 1.2 tons. Its vibro-scythe and vibro-talons are really no better than most normal vibro-weapons, sadly, so if you're hoping it to slice through gargoyles like the illustration, that ain't happening. It's the lightest of the shocktroopers because it was made for a girrrl, I suppose.

Gratuitous Guns: Wing Mini-Missiles (not in the illustration, can supposedly be attached), Concealed Forearm Lasters, and Clawed Hands (claws not pictured).

"I couldn't decide which kind of blade I wanted, so..."

Given he's the sneaky spy Warlord, Serijev has the Assassin, which he claims is more of a spy or commando than an assassin. But he called it the Assassin, so take that for what it's worth. Designed to be quiet and sneaky, it's got four arms with claws and vibro-blades and is really just super, super nineties. It also gets a special anti-psionic system that's "extremely rare" which... gives it +1 versus psionics and magic. Yep. Good enough for government Warlord work, I suppose.

Gratuitous Guns: "Forearm particle beam gun" and "Shooting, explosive knuckle spikes". I'll give it a pass on the garrote wrist, drugged needles, etc., based on the design. But I don't see any gun arm or knuckle spikes, nope.

"Opening doors? Not a problem. Uh, you don't need to still have a door afterwards, right?"

Serijev also has the Mantis, but the vibro-blades aren't anything special despite their impressive size. It's almost a copy-paste of the Assassin, complete wih ineffectual anti-psionic bafflers, only minus most of the weapons and plus two suprisingly dinky blade arms.

Gratuitous Guns: None. Not even mantis laser eyes. Amazing.

Sometimes several dozen spikes just isn't enough.

The Demonfist is the product of the generally miserable and cruel Warlord Sokolov. It's supposed to look like a demon!... actually, it looks like it stripped some carapace off of some monster and hot-glued their spikes on, which would have been cooler than the fact that it's supposed to look like a demon so they just added chunky spiky bits to the design. It has shoulder plasma guns, wolverine vibro-claws, and forearm lasers. You'll only ever use the plasma guns, though.

Gratuitous Guns: Concealed Ion Rod (in the leg), two different Chemical Sprays in the hands, a Silver Palm Needle, Laser Finger, another Laser Finger, and a Garrote Wire (because you'd never see it coming, I'm sure).

And that's all. It's hard to say much- since they're cyborgs, most of them are just variations are on the basic cyborg statistics with some added combat bonuses and sometimes - sometimes - a unique weapon or system. Some of the art - particularly Perez's - is hideously underserved by the text. But that's it for cyborgs.

until the next cyborg section ahahaha aha didn't think we were done with cyborgs did you ahewhreahahaahaha

Next: Not enough weapons on your vehicle's art? Siembieda's got you covered.

"With its M.D.C. wheelgrinder and battery of weapons, a squad (5-10) can 'pulp' the average village, D-Bee tribe or band of demons in short order."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 9: "With its M.D.C. wheelgrinder and battery of weapons, a squad (5-10) can 'pulp' the average village, D-Bee tribe or band of demons in short order."

"So what I'm saying is because we both have vehicles, our character types are perfectly balanced."

Russian Vehicles & War Machines

Firstly, it emphasizes most Russians use ordinary S.D.C. vehicles. You know, the kind that explode if a pixie looks at them the wrong way. We even get rules for "broken-down", cheaper mundane vehicles. Well, as long as they're disposable... ultimately, it takes up about two whole pages they could have dedicated to another cyborg or something. Wait, did I just say I needed more cyborgs? Shit. Well, at least there are rules for plastering on mega-damage plates onto your jalopy to make it useful.

An example of the kind of art I'll be skipping.

Russian Combat Vehicles

In other words, mega-damage vehicles that PCs will actually want to use. However, the Warlords restrict a lot of their usage and may seize your cool ride if you're not with them. They get the sort of laundry list of features most Rifts vehicle get like sensors, locks, environmental shielding, and things like cyber-plugs for those with cyber-interfaces if the vehicle is cyber-small enough for it. There's also the Gromeko Battlefield Computer so you can be like "It's over 10!" and smash your dashboard in! Why did you do that? That's dumb.

A number of these are made by "Novyet Vehicles" which is some company that makes vehicles out of Kiev and New Moscow. The New Soviet government uses their stuff, usually tacking on guns- well get to them. We'll get to the Soviets. But first, hoverbikes. I know. I'd rather talk about Soviets too.
Seems stable.

'Borg sold separately.

Please do not snipe.
Fishing for peasants.

This section definitely has some weird whiplash were it was clearly written by two authors, where you have these weird diatribes about the limitations of snowmobiles and other pointedly specific limitations of certain vehicles, while then you have motorcycles dancing inbetween trees. One clearly wanted to make sure you knew what kind of inclines a vehicle could ride up, while another was more concerned with telling you how many wheelies you'll be popping.

Next: Russia rides.

"They are cool to the touch and their eyes sparkle with (low) human intelligence (I.Q. 1D4+6)."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 10: "They are cool to the touch and their eyes sparkle with (low) human intelligence (I.Q. 1D4+6)."


One of the issues back in Rifts World Book 14: New West was that the game really, really wanted to have cowboys on horses, but it turns out horses die when you shoot them with guns, much less with the mega-guns and missile barrages of Rifts. And while it had hovercycles and robot horses, generally the book poo-pooed them because they really wanted things to look like a Marlboro ad with a cyborg. Warlords of Russia solves this issue by having its riders riding "mega-steeds", and it's a much better solution, to the point I'd suggest just retconning these critters into New West. In any case, let's get into this monster manual of terrifying transportation.

Imagine a horse, only more horsish.

Firstly and most prominently, we have the True Megahorse. Is there a "false" megahorse, then? We may never know. In any case, this is a white horse that looks like it's made of white marble with white hair, so you can make all the "on a pale horse" references you like. They're supernatural M.D.C. creatures with fantastic attributes all around save Intelligence (even Beauty is exceptional). They're also psionic and have a variety of Sensitive powers, but also psionic invisibility and limited telepathic communication. We're told "14% of all War-Knights have a traditional Megahorse" and "Most Megahorses are especially fond of genuine heroes, children and gentle or innocent people.", so I wonder what they think when a Warlord exterminates a D-Bee village. Well, it turns out they're an optional character type, so you can play one and find out:

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The Megahorse is primarily intended to be a Non-Player Character (NPC), but is smart enough that it could, in theory, be played as a player character. This might be especially amusing if the Megahorse was smarter than the rider; its partner. Megahorses aren't usually spiteful or arrogant, so they would not snub a character with a low I.Q., provided the individual had a kind heart and/or the heart of a hero.

Dinosaur? Horse? Now you don't have to choose which to ride!

We also have the Horned Steed (aka Devil Horse) that's more of a dinosaur horse than a devil. Thanks for the convenience, convergent alien evolution! Bizarrely, they have an exceptional Affinity on average, so they're very charming dino-horse. Still, clearly they're weaker and less impressive than a true megahorse, so they're clearly just the "my friend won't play a megahorse for me" option.

"Wait, how did I mount this thing, again...?"

The Burkov Mastodon seems like a cross between a camel and a wooly mammoth, with tusks for stabbing. It has the advantage of doing the most damage of any of the mega-steeds - but ironically from its kicks, not from the tusks. It also has the highest strength and can carry a lot, so they're used as beasts of burden. Neat design, but average steed.

Kinda like this.

A lot of people think the Steppe Ostrich is a mutated chicken, but it's probably just an another rift import instead. Many use them, but Cossacks are too proud to use them because they're "unflattering". They have wild flocks that hunt in numbers, but-

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Steppe Ostriches are (please forgive the pun) "chickens" ... cowards who will not battle potential prey who put up too much of a fight...
Never forgive, never forget. These have pathetic M.D.C. values (around 30+) and their only real advantage is running endurance, so they're definitely not (please forgive the pun) top-flight steeds.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Their meat is delicious, and yes, it tastes like chicken (actually, more like turkey, and the meat from wild birds tends to be a bit tougher, but still good).
We get it.

Near bear.

Lastly, we have the Ursan Forest Steed, which is a bear-like animal with a pounce attack used as a steed or beast of burden. Closest thing to a bear in this book, so if you want Russian super-bear, this is your only pick.

"Dead or alive, you're riding on me."

Bionic Horses

While you can get a robot horse imported from Europe, Russia doesn't have the A.I. technology to create them even though Triax sells robots right next door because Y'KNOW WHAT IS ALSO IMPORTANT, DENTAL HYGIENE. Which makes everything make mega-sense. Mega-damage barding is also used by poor folks, but Russia loves horses and cyborgs so sometimes they combine the two! So we get partial cyborg horses (with armor to protect the still-organic bits) and full cyborg horses. However, this reduces or eliminates their sensitivity to the supernatural - a power all animals have dating back to the core rules. They get a bonus against Horror Factor to balance this somewhat. Ironically, despite being a half-ton or heavier, they have less M.D.C. than human cyborgs on account of their inability to wear cyborg armor. We're told Germany thinks these things are "inhumane", but they're probably more humane than letting your horse get et by a random demon.

We also get a reminder that there's a -3 penalty to hit moving horses, a penalty never mentioned before as far as I can recall.

Horse Barding

It's about twice as tough as your average suit of M.D.C. armor, but gets an Armor Rating of 18 (meaning attack totals with a roll of 19 or higher kill horses instantly even with armor, unlike people). Also it reduces speed by "5%". Definitely the last choice you want to have in regards to having a mount.

Anyway, it's kind of neat to have a variety of things to tame and ride, and have a monster section that isn't just critters that consider humans an interdimensional delicacy. They did alright here!

Next: Equipment via Perez.

"Thus, wicked designs have emerged to maximize terror on the battlefield."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 11: "Thus, wicked designs have emerged to maximize terror on the battlefield."

One thing that's noted here is that two Rubles = one Universal Credit, though that most villagers only barter. The Rubles are issued by the Soviets, but that won't get a mention of that until we get to them. Technically, it's still a mystery.

Body Armor

We have rules for Homemade M.D.C. Armor reprinted, which brings to mind the notion of a parent knitting armor carefully together before sending off their child on a fruitful vocation like "Vagabond Non-Skilled O.C.C."

Wait, is this the Red Star or the Battleforge- I'm confused?

Have we talked about the Sovietski? Well, we'll get to them. Meanwhile, we get Sovietski "Red Star" Medium Body Armor (75 M.D.C.), which is surprisingly bad compared to the other great powers like Germany or the Coalition. After all, the Battleforge Body Armor (90 M.D.C.) is much tougher and most characters have no reason to care about its higher mobility penalties.

sphess bearreen

The Bear Body Armor (150 M.D.C) is supposedly only for high-strength wearers to balance out its good protection, but ironically according to the rules, anybody can wear it and benefit from its strength-boosting exoskeleton.

Catlike durability.

Lynx Body Armor (60 M.D.C.) is the standard light suit with built-in vibro-claws; you can swing with both at once for higher damage in defiance of the paired weapon rules because I guess they forgot about those. Cyborg Battle Armor (140 or 280 M.D.C.) is reprinted because they have art for it now, even though it's already in the core rules. Lastly, armor's getting helmet M.D.C. values to accomodate those who want to go for sweet headshots, but it's probably not worth the bother for most characters. Nor do we have helmet values for all the suits that predate that notion...

Just add Ripley.

We also have the Minsky Mekanical MM-61 Explorer Exoframe, which is literally just the power loader from Aliens with a laser and a drill and bitches getting away from things and all that.

Russian Weapons

Let's see, we have... one, two, three... twenty-two new guns here. We're told that most weapons are bulkier in Russia, and that-

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Warlord weapons tend to be of the vicious and destructive nature, very much designed to kill and destroy.
Uh, okay. Isn't that pretty much what all weapons do? "This machinegun was designed to tickle, but it has the design flaw that it mostly just murders you. Ooops."

We also get M.D.C. Shields, which are pretty useless- they roll 1d20-8 (skipping your bonuses) to block any normal ranged weapon fire, or 1d20-3 (once again, no bonuses) to block thrown and arched weapons. Only against melee weapons the have normal effect, but... you can use any weapon to parry a weapon, a shield provides no advantage. I guess getting the automatic parry against shots is better than nothing, but not much more. Granted, Weapon Proficiency: Shields gives a better Parry bonus than most - but you can only actually get that bonus against melee weapons!

The Servo-Harness Rig seems inspired by Aliens, like the Exoframe earlier- it's a harness that basically doubles your strength for the purposes of carrying weapons. Which is handy and welcome. The weird thing is that now, instead of having a Strength minimum or penalty for some weapons, the book just assumes you can use any weapon your Strength can carry - which is actually an improvement and a nice simplification of what was a case-by-case ruling before on each weapon. My compliments stop there though, once we get the actual weapon listings.

Cool guns, bad numbers.

There are also alternate clips called "G-Clips" that have double the capacity. No weapons are listed as using them, but you can buy an unpriced adaptor to use them.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The "G" stand for "gdye." An example of Russian pragmatism and humor in action, because Gdye means "where" in Russian.
Hilarity! (Okay, it is cute.)

Cool guns, bad numbers!

As far as the actual weapons go, the AR-36 "Clenched Fist" Light Rail Gun, the AR-41 "Howler" Rail Gun, the AR-44 "Sledgehammer" Rail Gun, and the AR-60 "Nikita" Super-Rail Gun are all unexceptional varieties of rail gun in increasing levels of weight and damage. the AR-110 Razor Disk Cannon is cool in that it fires sawblades, but not cool in the way it's pretty much just a lousy rail gun in effect. The AR-210 Grapeshot Cannon is actually a rocket launcher and the rockets explode into grapeshot. It's like a rail gun with a blast radius.

How do you hold it, though...?

The AR-M36 Rifle Mini-Missile Launcher, the AR-M45 Cyborg Missile Launcher, and the AR-50 Heavy Missile Launcher only really vary in their mini-missile ammo capacity. The AR-M40 Dual Launcher can fire mini-missiles or wooden stakes separately, I guess for when you're dealing with vampires that wear armor?

And then other artists pick up the weapon thread.

Then we get a variety of energy weapons, almost all of which are forgettable trash- the Belofsky Double-Dealer Laser Cannon, Lynx Laser Rifle, "Homesteader" Ion Beam Rifle, Big Bear Plasma Rifle, G-295R "Steamer" Pulse Laser Rifle, G-294 "Toughman" Laser Rifle, G-21P Laser Pistol, and G-27P Ion Pistol all do average or below-par damage for their weapon type. The G-293M "Fat Boy" Laser is pretty much a reprint of an old Triax weapon with the names changed to protect the writer. Finally, only the G-410C Goldbeam Laser Cannon, Belofsky Heavy Laser Cannon, and the Belofsky Plasma Cannon do damage that rates (that is, 35-45 damage on average).

Bows and special arrows get reprinted. Again. They just reprinted them in World Book 15: Spirit West! Well, here they are again.

Miscellaneous Equipment

Most of these is just reprinted or just minor variations on existing equipment. We get added winter stuff like skits and thermal suits, and the usual camping, clothing, and burgling junk that clutters up any equipment list - tents, wirecutters, five types of jug and five types of cask, etc. The only new device that really stands out is the Ecto-Sensor, which is a backpack-sized piece of equipment that can sense ghosts and similar entities through "neutrino bombardment", though it has a really hard time tracking other immaterial beings.

Sneaking into the grey backdrop.

New Skills

The grand majority of these are not new at all, but reprinted from previous sourcebooks like New West. For some reason they do decide to drill down further and make piloting tracked vehicles and the wingrider flying wing take entirely new skills, though the existing motorcycle skill now covers snowmobiles. Or maybe it's a new skill that doesn't replace the old that's just better? Hard to say.

I think Breed Dog and Falconry are new skills, but they're limited in a world where dogs and falcons are puffs of fur and feathers if any attack bypasses their dodge roll. Also, for some reason, realism enters the fray!

World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

The use of these animals is much more limited than many fantasy gamers would believe.

World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Players take note! For game purposes, let us presume that these avian predators can be trained to pursue and attack any, visible, flying foe or target, strike down other birds, and return them to its master. Let us further suppose that they can be trained to strike at any "moving" target that they are directed at. This means a falcon could be sent to fly in the face of an opponent and slash at him with its claws for up to two attacks before returning to its master or flying into the sky. These trained birds respond to hand signals and whistles. They are trained to strike and return, little more. Under no circumstances can these birds fly alongside their masters or follow even simple instructions — this is a dumb bird, not a dog with wings.

Note: Falcons or any uncaged birds cannot be taken into underground dwellings or inside buildings without panicking. This is one reason they are always blinded with a leather hood. Another reason is that they instinctively attack any small, moving prey and are easily startled. Furthermore, it is impossible to engage in combat with a falcon on one's wrist or shoulder without injuring the falcon or oneself.
Fine, I'll stick to missiles, geez.

"Chinese", Mongolian, and Russian are added to the language list. We get a bunch of Lore skills like "Lore: Cattle/Animal" or "Lore: History of Russia". Other new skills include Prospecting, Rope Use Works, and Dowsing.

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

This is the ability to locate fresh water whether it be with a divining rod or by more scientific and logical means. For some (like Gypsies) it is a mystical ability, while for others (like the Huntsman-Trapper), it is done through deductive analysis and knowledge of nature.
Yes, dowsing works... at 20% to start. That's probably no better than chance, but you can get better! However, it requires two successive rolls to work. That actually makes it a 4% chance of success. 4%! Worse odds than trying to roll tops on a d20.

Next: Do you think we forget Communism? Siembieda never forget Communism.

"Russians especially enjoy flavored vodka; limmonaya (lemon vodka), persovka (with hot pepper), zubrovka (made with certain grasses), ryabinovka (containing ash berries), tminaya (caraway), starka (dark and velvety), ahotnichaya (hunter's) and zveroboy (the only reference we could find said "Animal Killer!"); all cost about 1-3 credits more than usual."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 12: "Russians especially enjoy flavored vodka; limmonaya (lemon vodka), persovka (with hot pepper), zubrovka (made with certain grasses), ryabinovka (containing ash berries), tminaya (caraway), starka (dark and velvety), ahotnichaya (hunter's) and zveroboy (the only reference we could find said "Animal Killer!"); all cost about 1-3 credits more than usual."


The Sovietski

So, as mentioned previously, Russia had returned back to some sort of benevolent Communism. Because if you try something hard enough, I guess it works even when it objectively never really did. In any case, between the apocalypse and the winter, most of that went away, but one "ultra-modern" military base survived for eighty years while being trapped in winter. How'd they find food? LOOK! UP IN THE SKY! And that's how they fed themselves in a sterile military shelter for eighty years.

In any case, once winter ended, they popped out and started reclaiming and scrounging various cities, and returning people often flocked to them for protection. They became the New Soviets, or "Sovietski". They shot monsters a lot and started expanding their sphere of influence. However, they ignored the Warlords for the most part, which has been a problem, because it let the Warlords get strong enough to start mercing their shit. And since the Sovietski's power was largely concentrated at their based, figures like Warlord Orloff and Warlord Burgasov could tear away at their edges. This is exacerbated by their lack of allies, though they have overtures to Warlord Romanov and Germany recently. Most people outside see them as uncaring isolationists, which isn't far from the truth.

Unlike the Coalition or the New German Republic, they don't really have a strict attitude towards D-Bees and other dimensional immigrants and refugees, though they're only a tiny minority. Racism is an issue, but not particularly prominent enough that it's omnipresent. However, gargoyles and brodkil are targeted for death wherever they're found. Which given their conflicts with the Polish brodkil, it makes some sense. In general, compared to a lot of human-controlled nations in Rifts, the Sovietski come across as pretty average folk - arrogant and isolationist, but they don't have any particularly sinister turns to them.


Civilized Russia

Generally speaking, the Sovietski are presented as a near-idealized Socialist state. They're trying to learn from the mistakes of the past, and are trying not to repeat the mistakes of historical Socialist states. People are well-motivated to work through patriotism and the fears of external threats, but everybody is provided for. As a result, class and wealth imbalance is pretty low. Their biggest issue is that the military generally has far more power than the rest of society - only they have access to weaponry and enhancements, and few restrictions on their power. In addition, most of the politicial leadership is made up of military or ex-military forces. This is a similarity they share with the Warlords, but compared to most of them, they're far more benevolent. New Moscow is their new capital, and most of their communities are centered around military bases. They have full utilities for their cities, however, and it's comparable to modern life at the time of this book's writing. Mind, how this is possible without the broader industries we have in the modern day is always a conceptual issue with Rifts books, but that's nothing new. Just shout "technology!" and wave your hands around a lot, I suppose.

We get notes on rubles, which are bronze coins issued by the Sovietski. Refined diamonds are apparently used for high-level purchases. We also get notes on matryoshka dolls, caviar, and vodka, because Russia.

Soviet classes: Helmet O.C.C., Hat O.C.C., Cap O.C.C.

General Katya Nikforov
Current Director of the Sovietski

Oddly for a Rifts book, we have a country being run by a woman, and an older one at that- though the book reassures us she looks like an "attractive and vibrant 40", on account of being a partial cyborg. She's a generically dedicated servant of the people. While she's racist against and suspicious of D-Bees, she holds a firm line against their extermination; she believes it's important to understand them in case of a future conflict (which is likely, she believes). She finds the Sovietski loss in land regrettable, and has bolstered their defenses against Orloff and Sokolov. Eventually, she hopes to take their land back.

Otherwise, she's a 10th level Military Specialist, even though you technically can't be that and a partial cyborg because the class system doesn't work that way. Her Intelligence and Affinity are both exceptional, and though her attributes are as unlikely as nearly any Rifts NPC, in this case they'are at least hedged by most of her attributes coming from being a cyborg.

Religious Enclaves

Suddenly, Catholics! Apparently there are a variety of religious enclaves claiming to be the inheritors of Orthodox Catholicism. The largest is associated with the Sovietski, but apparently every village has a church and enclave now, previously unmentioned. They're apparently one of the first structures you have to build in the Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia 4X game. One of the core roles of the Russian Orthodox Catholic church in the grim post-apocalypse has been to preserve knowledge and art. They tend to restrict access to it, however, and only those associated with the church or its defense are given any access. Otherwise, they often serve as center of the community and provide social support where needed. In general, this is a very careful, very glowing treatment of the church in question. Unlike the Christian preachers from New West, they actually get some very slight supernatural powers. I suppose Protestantism was wrong all along! It's not much - they can make holy water, ward away demons / vampires / faeries with a cross, damage the same by laying a cross upon them, automatically exorcise demons and spirits, and make churches proof against entry by demons and entities. Yes, "Catholic" is the wrong terminology, but it says it repeatedly, it's not just a singular typo.

We get the Catholic Priest NPC class, which is banned to players even in a game that lets you play demons and dragons. If it wasn't, you'd only have a 33% chance of playing one because it has attribute requirements even as an NPC class. Otherwise, it's a deeply middling class with some bonuses against the supernatural and a bunch of lore and homebody skills. And-

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia posted:

Note: This is a very general Priest O.C.C. designed specifically with Rifts Russia in mind. These Priests tend to settle in one community and serve to inspire and counsel people in living good, honorable lives. They are not prone to adventure or war and are not recommended as player characters. This NPC is included because Christianity has played a large role in the lives of the Russian (and Polish) people throughout history. Including modern religions and beliefs in a "game" can be awkward, inappropriate and disrespectful. If played badly, it can offend fellow players or make someone's faith a laughing stock, and none of us want that. We believe that in the context in which it is presented in these pages, there is nothing offensive or in poor taste. Use the Catholic Priest, Church and faith sparingly and as more of a backdrop and good guy helper and advisor rather than an active military, political or monster-stomping force.
Indeed, we have to be careful, lest the Patriarch bring down a new crusade on Palladium Books for your private depiction of a minor local religious figure in the safety of your own home. Now, having Hindu deities being beaten down by the Splugorth and exiled to Earth in Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse? That was fine and sensitive. Mega-sensitive!

Next: Some guns for the road.

"The Thunderstrike and Thunderstorm cyborgs are examples of recent innovations, and are generally unimpressive."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 17: Warlords of Russia, Part 13: "The Thunderstrike and Thunderstorm cyborgs are examples of recent innovations, and are generally unimpressive."

судья Дредд

The Sovietski War Machine
Armiya Sovietski - The New Soviet Army

What would this section be if we didn't have a new set of cyborgs and guns? But first, we get some rehashed information on the enemies of the Soviets (demons, Warlords), and then find out about mandatory conscription. It turns out all men who are not physically impaired or a rare 5% whose academic performance excepts them have to join the military for a minimum of five years at age 19. And if for some reason you are physically impaired, they offer free bionics to fix that if you choose to join. Women have the choice of enlisting or not. Apparently the military loves red, black, grey, and occasionally white for colors. Camouflage is apparently not a thing.

"I am being the law, da?"

The police are actually a branch of the army, and have unlimited search and seizure powers as far as I can tell. While they're nominally civil, their equipment is the same as the military, though training is less strenuous.

Then we get into new O.C.C.s. As always, the % is the average human player character chance of qualifying to play it.

This is one of the art pieces that'll get reused 20 years later in Rifts World Book 36: Sovietski.

Sovietski Military Cyborgs

The main difference between Warlord and Sovietski cyborgs is that the Sovietski are much more hesitant to create nonhuman-looking cyborgs because they worry that such will be damaging to the human mind. However, based on all the Warlord cyborgs that become demonic-looking or buglike and seem to cope just fine, this is an unsubstantiated fear. (Or, most likely, Siembieda just doesn't account for this discrepancy, as it's treated as a very real fear later on.) We get a slightly different set of bionic packages for Sovietski Light Machine and Sovietski Heavy Machine cyborgs. The Heavy Machine gets a series of combat bonuses like the Cyborg Shocktrooper does, making it flatly better than other non-Shocktrooper cyborg classes in that sense. I think it was just designed like the various Cyborg Shocktrooper models were, forgetting that the combat bonuses were unique to that type of cyborg. But, speaking of the Cyborg Shocktrooper, we get some new models exclusive to that class as well. You may wonder: do the Sovietski have special vehicles, too? The answer is- wait for Mystic Russia. Obviously, this book spent too much time reprinting old skill rules and cyborg rules to fit that in.

This art would see a lot of use in Palladium ads at the time.

First, we get the Thunderhammer Shocktrooper, the hammer-and-sickle cover girl of the book. It's one of the few new models of cyborg they've designed (most of their stuff is based on old pre-rifts tech) but is "generally unimpressive", we're told. It's got a sickle and a hammer that can shoot generic energy, but both are... generally unimpressive. And since there aren't many visible non-handheld weapons on this thing, it's time to insert some-

Gratuitous Guns: Mini-Missile Launch System (in the back where you can't see), High-Powered Laser (in the right arm, but I'm not seeing it), Concealed Laser Rod, W-42 Concealed Palm Laser, Plasma Ejector (in the left arm, but I'm still not seeing it), and Vibro-Blade Knuckles ("extendable").

The return of Breaux.

Next is the Thunderstrike Shocktrooper, one of the heavier cyborgs in the book at 13'. We're told the "head has an insect look to it" because it has a Panoramic Cluster Lens, but I'm only seeing the single visor. It has (average) rail guns on each arm, and-

Gratuitous Guns: W-42 Concealed Palm Laser.

Just don't ask them to advance through a doorway.

Finally, the Thunderstorm Heavy Artillery Cyborg is a 15' ape-styled cyborg with big ol' cannons. Though slow, it has ridiculous M.D.C.: 1,240, nearly twice that of other heavy cyborgs. Its cannons do boom gun level damage, making it one of the few models of robot or cyborg that can compete with the Glitter Boy. It also has average rail guns in the arms as well, and mini-missiles clustered around the cannons.. It requires a team to reload its cannons, and often relies on a spotter for artillery purposes. There's no note as to whether or not this is available to PCs, so I'd generally default to presuming it's available - making it easily one of the strongest mechanized PC options in the game at this point. But as with every cyborg, we can't go without-

Gratuitous Guns: Concealed Laser Rods (one in each arm), Head Laser Clusters (concealed, of course), and Vibro-Blade Knuckle Claws (extendable).

Breaux art is near-indistinguishable from Kevin Long sometimes.

Weapons Unique to the Sovietski

The only thing interesting about the S-20-20 "Popper" Assault Pistol and the S-1000 "Thunderhead" Assault Rifle is that they have built-in grenade launchers, but are otherwise fairly weak. The heavy S-500 "Cyclone" Pulse Laser Rifle outclasses even most rail guns with 1d6x10 laser bursts, making it the choice for any discerning Sovietski PC, even if you have to wear a servo-rig to use it.


The Sovietski leave me feeling conflicted. There's an appeal to that hokey Cold-War era Russian nationalism, but it's also a fact that it was a government that was historically brutal to its own people on a level that can't be understated. As such, it seems to go in line with the fascist apologism we see for the Coalition. Mind, after the Warlords section, I found myself willing to cling to any positivity like a life raft, so I'm inclined to give it a pass, but with the awareness that it sugarcoats aspects of what was a horrific regime. At the very least, unlike the Coalition, the Sovietski seem to be aware of some of their potential flaws and are trying to do better. But still, it's something to keep in mind, particularly with Palladium publishing a new Sovietski book in YOOL 2018, which I hold in my hands at the time of this review.

One thing I'll point out is that though I haven't done a deep read of Rifts World Book 36: Sovietski, I'm impressed by how much it covers about them that this book skipped. Need an explanation as to how the Soviets didn't starve? It's in there. Wondering why they reverted to communism? That's in there, too. What are their relations like with Wroclaw? Check, it's in. Brandon Aten, one of the authors, has been doing a good job filling in gaps from earlier books like this in other works like Rifts World Book 31: Triax 2. I considered following up these Russia reviews with Sovietski just to add more positive contrast, but the current lack of an available PDF has put that aside for now, along with my desire to work through the last of the World Books leading up the big metaplot climax.

The Warlords themselves are a further extension of the "terrible things are necessary for humanity's survival" you often see in Siembieda-penned books, even though it's objectively not true whenever another writer gets their grubby little paws on the setting. What's more, it wants them to also be both heroes of the people and brutal Road Warrior roving maniacs - a dichotomy which would make more sense it was framed in the light of the differing ethics of the different Warlords. But as a general description, it just comes across as incoherent.

Still, we've yet to come to the nadir of the the Russia books, which we'll see in Mystic Russia, coming up next. That's going to be a rough one, though. Maybe watch this in the meantime, feel better. Have an upper before some downers.


Oh, did I say upper? Well, stick with it. Takes a bit.