"To see the inner workings of a truly alien life form that has little in common with humans or most other sentient beings."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:


Well, bugger.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

I can't ever say there was much buzz about this book.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

The fictional Worlds of Rifts® are 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.

But time just flies by and before you know it, you've done a swarm of Rifts summaries.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

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

You go, "Hive done that much? How far have I pollen?"

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion 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.

But the thing that really stings is that I'm still not even halfway through the game line. But it's just the way things are going to bee, I suppose.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 1: "To see the inner workings of a truly alien life form that has little in common with humans or most other sentient beings."

Did I just skip Rifts World Book 22: Free Quebec? Nah, see, I generally do them in order of publication save where otherwise noted. And 23 was published before 22. Mind, despite them being both metaplot-heavy books, they don't really reference each other. So there aren't spoilers for Free Quebec, or anything like that. Whereas most books of this era are manuscripts done by an outside author which are then "Siembiedaized", this is pure Siembieda book- the kind we haven't really had since Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia, and won't see again for awhile. So, uh. Enjoy it? Still, this book has a secret origin in The Rifter #3, where Wayne Breaux wrote a lengthy article fleshing out the Xiticix. I didn't cover it at the time, knowing it would be reprinted here. And Breaux wrote Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, so you know we're in for a ... treat?

Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat things. The Xiticix are, in my opinion, dull. Really dull. They have a pretty neat visual design courtesy of Long, and there's some promise to them around the edges. But the version we get is too much of a cipher to intrigue, but too reserved to fully feel threatening. The idea of having an "invasive species" is a neat one, but the Xiticix are nowhere near as threatening as something the Chtorr (of the War Against the Chtorr series) or as nuanced as something like the Invid (Robotech / Genesis Climber MOSPEADA) or the Vajra (Macross Frontier). We'll get a lot more into it, and hopefully I can liven it up... or at least skim really fast through it.

Siembieda gives us an introduction basically gushing how excited he is about the possibilities with the current metaplot events, few of which will actually be followed up on, but he's excited for "the changing face of the world that is Rifts®".

Oh, and it's pronounced "zeye-tick-icks", for the record. Blame Kevin Long. Kevin Siembieda does.

"Nooooo fighting!"

The Seven Dangers Metaplot

As covered in occamnailfile's review of Rifts Sourcebook 2: The Mechanoids, one of the early metaplots in the Rifts line is the "Seven Dangers" plotline. The city of Lazlo, through correlating seer reports, mentions they have prophesized "Seven Dangers" or "Four Demons" - it's a bit unclear. But based on the facts, here's how they lined up in the original prophecy.However, Rifts World Book 20: Canada contradicted that. It hints the "Great Devourer" may be the Xiticix instead of the Mechanoids, though Plato thinks they were right regarding the Mechanoids, but then refers to the Xiticix confusingly as the "Great Devourer" repeatedly. Which is a problem, because:The other big change is that the Four Horsemen are seemingly counted as one threat, not four. That changes things to:"I know.", you may be thinking. "That was so clear initially! I'm glad they declarified it!" Well, it doesn't really matter too much, it's just a shorthand to tell fans that shit just got real, but it also tells fans "You know, we didn't actually plan this all out..."

Prophecies are trash plotting anyway, there, I said it.

In case you didn't know.

An Overview
By Kevin Siembieda & Wayne Breaux Jr.

So, the Xiticix are "extremely alien", and by "alien" they just mean they seem impossible to communicate with, not that they're really hard to understand. Mostly, they're bugs- they have a hive society without individuality, comparable to many kinds of earthly insect societies. Despite their semi-humanoid form and rifles what fire mind bullets, they aren't particularly human in mindset. They build hive colonies that look like towers, and are divided into a number of breeds or castes much like insects. Around a hive they tend to start planting outposts to secure a region, and then move in to reach new hives. Currently, they're based around northern Manitoba, Ontario, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan, but are steadily spreading with increasing speed across Minnesota and Manitoba, after which they'll threaten most of the Midwest and Canada.

The Xiticix, while not heedlessly aggressive, generally have little or no regard for other life. Their hive networks essentially destroy most local fauna and flora, essentially terraforming land to become their own native ecosystem. Without anybody stopping them, they could cover Earth within a few centuries. A even longer-term concern is that, given enough time, they would use rifts to travel to other worlds, where they could continue to spread across worlds without sufficient defenses. The Splugorth and their minions in Atlantis have begun to recognize this, and are trying to figure out if they need to take a direct hand in stopping the Xiticix. That being said, the Xiticix lack malevolence or ambition - they just push out other life as a result of their expansion.

When they decided to expand their border, humanoid communities generally have some warning as they begin to raid and otherwise make their presence known. This is intended to just be a means of claiming their new territory and try and push out any rivals. If the community remains after a few months, the Xiticix will send in a full-scale swarm to destroy them. In general, they tend to regard double-digits worth of traveling humanoids as threats, and will send repeated waves against them. Smaller groups may be ignored or simply harassed if they're low-key. However, large figures like giant robots will definitely get their attention. Similarly, stopping and making camp will be seen as claiming territory, and merit an attack. Some people have figured out how to extract a pheromone scent from Xiticix - mainly local Psi-Stalker tribes - and used that to distract and fool Xiticix and infiltrate their communities.

This is why you never advertise free pizza.

Sometimes, oddly, a single Xiticix will single out a member of a traveling group for a duel. If they win, they'll likely challenge any other single survivor- if they lose, other Xiticix simply carry the dead duellist off. If the would-be Xiticix duelist is ganged up on, the rest of the swarm will join in. It's not clear why they do this, other than to communicate their willingness to fight for their territory.

Many presume the Xiticix just eat anything, but those more familiar with them note that they don't seem to eat anything at all. The truth is that their hives act as farms for an alien fungus that acts as their main food source. What does the fungus grow from?

However, it doesn't grow outdoors well, only within the confines of the hive. They can eat some fruits, root vegetables, and fungi if sufficiently desperate. They don't eat animals, but do break them down to form a special substance known as "Sludge" used in their growth process. Xiticix colonies can grow to 500 million members before slowing down, at which point they spawn new colonies that grow to the same size. Should they conquer much of the world, colonies will split and start to fall into infighting, as their ability to create new colonies will be stemmed.

Those who have paid very close attention (particularly to the audio reviews) will note this differs from some previous interpretations of the Xiticix. Though their characterization has varied, they're aiming to pin things down. This is dry, I know. There isn't much to be done. It's tough to mock or laud. The Xiticix don't really have much personality to them, there isn't any way to interact with them meaningfully, and they expand at a rate where it isn't an immediate crisis. And there are so many on them here, even though a lot could be summed up as "they're bees that do their own honey, fuck pollen". Over half the book is just one long section on them, too. Give me strength.

Next: Killa Bees Attack.

"When an attack is genuine, thousands to millions (depending on the size of the Hive Network) will mobilize to defend the colony, particularly the Queen's Chamber, Birthing areas and Nurseries hidden away underground."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 2: "When an attack is genuine, thousands to millions (depending on the size of the Hive Network) will mobilize to defend the colony, particularly the Queen's Chamber, Birthing areas and Nurseries hidden away underground."

"One day, boy, none of this will be yours."

Hive Cities

Xiticix rely on their warrior caste to patrol the hives and territory- they also respond to any disturbance or apparent damage to the hive. Any major incursion will result in a chain of pheremone signals that can bring thousands or millions of Xiticix warriors to the yard!

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Attackers or invaders will find themselves outnumbered two to one within one melee round (15 seconds) and outnumbered by 10 to one in a matter of 1D6+4 melee rounds (a minute and fifteen seconds to two and a half minutes)!

Good luck running a 40+ Xiticix swarm in a system that strains laboriously under the weight of an 8-combatant combat, GMs!

Examples of encounters nobody should want to run.

Hives are made out of an Mega-Damage resin made from earth and some special sauce provided by the Xiticix. Entrances are 3-5 stories off the ground, which presents a challenge for characters trying to sneak in, who do so at a -60% penalty. Given a group of PCs that might have to roll individually, and the fact that Prowl starts at 25%, sneaking in is practically impossible through mundane means. A single PC might be able to slip if if they're exceedingly skilled at sneaking missions and go alone. Otherwise, forget it. Also, the walls are spiked, so there's a penalty on Climbing rolls and you might cut yourself. Also some of their entrances and bridges are covered with spikes that reduce speed by 75% (!) and give combat penalties and- look, dammit, PCs are going to have a hard time! Roll to see if you stumble! If you bleed that attracts bugs! -55% to fun!

Presuming you get in and don't have a million Xiticix trying to shoot you with mind bullets, you have to go up to the top of the tower to find the way down, likely fighting Xiticix warriors the whole way down. The only way to avoid just aggroing mobs the whole way down is to successfully sneak in (ahahaha, sure) with a small group that will only have to deal with small groups of warriors trying to stop them. Of course, killing a single Xiticix will release their "death scent" and you're in swarm city again. And the swarms will move to cut off intruders, surrounding them from all sides. Similarly, they can add new tunnels to ambush them or collapse existing ones. Generally, they rely on their rifles (that fire telekinetic "bullets") first as they close in before moving in to melee combat. Any they happen to capture alive ("10-20%", it says) will be captured to be converted into Sludge.

Surprise Birthday Parties are the worst.

In general, their tactics are... like bugs but smarter. Warriors use actual tactics, though they tend to focus on using their overwhelming numbers. If the "Elder Queen" is threatened, they're willing to sacrifice just about any of their underlings to make an escape. They rarely ever break unless all of the Queens die, and even then they're try and preserve the eggs and larvae to produce a new Queen. If there are no Queens, eggs, or larvae, they fall into inactivity and eventually starve after a month or three, but will still lash out at intruders.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

One tactic using their weight and sheer numbers, is to pile on top of a dangerous, large or powerful enemy like football players tackling a receiver. This can effectively bury the individual beneath a pile of a half dozen to several dozen (depending on their adversary's size and the level of anger or frenzy of the Xiticix). All the while, they stab, jab, punch, scratch and bite at their quarry. Unless the victim of such a piling attack can squirm, fight or teleport free, the very weight of the crushing mass may do him in (i.e. four Warriors weigh about 2000 pounds/900 kg or one ton). The alien insects also have superhuman endurance and can wait quite some time for extra tough victims to quit struggling at the bottom of a pile-up. Severe battery, broken bones, collapsed lungs, lacerations, suffocation (at least into unconsciousness) and death are all likely outcomes of such a brutal, smothering assault.

The mechanics for that?

There's a lot of general word salad, pointless percentages, dice rolls, and redundant text here.

♫ Xiticix Babies ♫

The Growth & Life Cycle of the Xiticix

So, the Queen directs the activities of the colony and lays eggs by the literal truckload. They never leave - some literally can't, having grown up to become larger than the exits to their chambers. From there, Nannies and Workers move them to "Birthing Chambers" where the Nannies take care of them for three months until hatching, and the larvae are known as "Nits". They're based into a chamber and fed "Sludge", which is a concentration of nutrients and magical energy harvested by rendering down other lifeforms. Sludge quickens their growth process (from about 3 years to 3 months) at which point they become Grubs and start to develop some adult features. Another 8 months and it spins a cocoon, and remains there for a month before emerging as an immature adult. There they remain within the hive, learning what they need to know that's not from instinct, and a year after that, they're fully fledged adults. Once a colony gets to 100 million members, the use of Sludge dies off, as the colony is considered stable at that point.

Theoretically Xiticix can live to age ~80, but most warriors are killed by age 25, while most workers survive to 65. There is an "Elder Queen" that rules for centuries, and lesser Queens are designated just to lay eggs - as soon as they age out of egg-laying, they're made into Sludge. An ailing Elder Queen chooses an heir from amongst the other Queens, and then is Sludged as well. If the Elder Queen dies, one of the Queens will take her place- how this is chosen is a mystery. There can be nearly a hundred Queens at a single well-established nest, though most only have 22-32 within their extended Hive network. If there are no Queens, 1d4 of the existing Nits or Grubs shift to take on the Queen growth cycle chemically. In general, the main goals of the Queens are simply growth and expansion.

"You've gotta tell 'em! SLUDGE IS PEOPLE! We gotta stop them! Somehow!"

On worlds dominated by Xiticix, Queens are far fewer and Sludge not is in common use, and their existence is far more fractious - Queens either have to go into the wild and struggle against other hives that might hunt them down, or attempt coups within their hive. Does any of that matter in this context? Not terribly.

The Xiticix Hives

There are six major hives in North America, not counting outposts:At this point we get a map of the Typical Xiticix Tower, and we're going to get a lot of maps, but to be honest, despite getting a long dungeon-style breakdown of the rooms, almost nothing interesting to PCs (or even GMs, really) is going on here. They're just for defense and farming, after all, and though I suppose you might find somebody's remains and goodies, or a Xiticix cache of weapons, it's not going to be a typical setup where rooms have a specific purpose- most are just basically just growth spaces or hallways, at least until you get underground. Around three "levels" or layers down you'll find the nurseries, and at level four below ground is where you'll find the Queens. Level Five is Elder Queens. And that's the vital information, I don't want to cover riveting material like this:

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Level Three: Main Living Area

9. Living Chamber. Typically 2D4x100 Workers present at any given time.

10. Isolated living area. Typically for Hunters or Leapers; 4D6 present at any given time.

11. Small storage area. 01-95% likelihood of being uninhabited. If occupied, there will only be 1D4 Xiticix, probably Workers.

12. Meeting hall/gathering place. 1-50% chance of being empty/deserted. If occupied, there will be 2D6 Xiticix, probably Workers (01-80%) or Warriors (81-95%). There is only a small chance (96-00%) that some other Xiticix are present; never a Queen.

13. Living Chamber. Typically 1D4x100 Workers present at any given time.

It looks like a mushroom? Yeah, a mushroom. A mushroom is what it looks like.

What even happens if you walk into a room with 700 Workers? Do you start combat with 700 Workers? "Okay, and we'll break for today, at the start of next session I'll have the initiative rolls for 700 workers set out." If a room has 5000 nits, does that number- how does it- I mean- even a modest fight with the Elder Queen will involve an average of 39 enemy combatants to start and have 10-60 Xiticix arriving every four rounds. How do you handle that?

Well, you don't, because this is armchair design at its finest, saying "mmm, yes, you encounter 1100 Nannies*, that seems realistic". And it may be for the concept, but for all the painstaking detail, anybody doing a "Hive Dive" is going to be winging it and having to ignore these specifics. A lot. Or, alternately, just slap the book shut and say "dodge 300 mind-bullets or die".

* I swear these are real numbers I'm stating, no exaggeration.

Next: A bug's life.

"Dat green sum-of-a-gun dropped in an' squirted ol' Rollie wit sumting."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 3: "Dat green sum-of-a-gun dropped in an' squirted ol' Rollie wit sumting."

I do have mercy. I do. I'm not going over Wayne Breaux's attempts to do a rural Coalition informant's accent in full detail right now. Every Xiticix type is opened up with one of his blurbs about him and how scary they are. "From da ceiling, da floor, da walls .. . da place was crawlin' wit dem!"


The rare Xiticix beach party.

By Wayne Breaux Jr. & Kevin Siembieda

We get some details on the Xiticix's abilities, which I'm just going to break down briefly:

Special Senses: 340 degree field of vision, polarized eyes, vision in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges, nightvision, super smelling / tasting / hearing antennae (rated at double dog), "track by sound", motion detection, hearing in the ultrasonic range (with accompanying ultrasonic language), identify objects with antennae, identify temperature, detect wind direction (is this out of hand already?), antennae danger sense, track by smell, recognize scents up to a mile away, remember scents, smell fires, detect incoming rain-

At this point you may as well just write "Sense Adventurers 98%" instead! How does smearing yourself in their smell fool them at this point? "Boy, that Xiticix sure doesn't have the right number of eyes, arms, biology, has no wings, is wrapped in a strange mineral resin, and doesn't seem to notice anything I say. But he smells right, seems legit, move along." I mean, things like that in theory would work with creatures where their primary sense is smell and the others are weakened - most real-life insects have wide-angle but essentially garbage vision, and they rely on their antennae for a lot. The Xiticix have basically no weak senses - hell, some of them have psionic senses on top of this! Moreover, does it matter if they know rain is coming? Do they attack more in the rain? Do they hate the rain and avoid it? I'm just saying this could have been rained in a bit.

Then, we get a variety of chemical abilities that Xiticix have. Dog Boys and other super-smeller characters can detect their pheromones, but they probably don't grok the meaning immediately. Oh, and there are different types of Xiticix; we'll discuss what these are shortly, but bear in mind the book references them before defining them. These include:On a different note, they have slow regeneration:

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Lost hands, arms, feet and wings take longer to regrow but can also regenerate in 4D6+12 months. In all cases, the appendage can be used at half its normal capacity once it has regrown to roughly three quarters its normal, natural size.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

The eyes, mandibles, legs and other body parts do NOT regenerate, once lost they are gone forever.

Palladium editing: it's what's for failure. Those statements are in the same column on the same page, even. I guess they mean it can regenerate arms and feet but not legs? How can it regenerate a whole arm but not a mandible?

and could I possibly care less

"Blowing off its arm is useless, bro! It'll regenerate it in two years!"

Granted, I think the idea is that if you badly injure a Xiticix maybe it can come back and you can fight ol' one-eye? Still, I'm struggling to imagine a circumstance where you have to track how well one of them is regenerating a limb over the course of over two years. We get detailed rules on what penalities they have for subtracted limbs, presumably because it doesn't slow them down that much and so you can have that zombie moment where the bug with one arm and one leg and one wing is still comin' atcha, but at the same time I can't imagine worrying too much about doing anything other than firing at their center of mass (for some reason "head" is not a hit location for them even though their eyes are).

They can also universally fly, climb, get a low-end Horror Factor. And, for the record, all Xiticix that aren't Queens or Nannies are male.

Next: Zoobooks: Xiticix.

"How deez damn bugs git such tings I don' know."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 4: "How deez damn bugs git such tings I don' know."

Then we can get into the different types of Xiticix; M.D.C. given has been averaged. Yes, they for some reason have leveling, even though they come in thousands and have little to no discernible identities.

Dawwww- AAAAAAA-

Meet the beetles.

The right of the Xiticix to hunt humans is a valued part of the Hive's heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good.

And now for something slightly different.


Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: What? I can extract me some poison?!

Alien Rope Burn: Dammit, why do you keep coming up in these books?

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: Let's see your fancy Wilderness Scout extract one of these bad boys! Ain't on that list!

Alien Rope Burn: Huh, I guess a Wilderness Scout... couldn't do that. Weird oversight there.

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: That's because it's a has-been! Trappin' and keepin' is the new hotness! Scoutin' is yesteryear, son!

Alien Rope Burn: Did Siembieda just forget Wilderness Scouts exist, like, at all?

Trapper-Woodman O.C.C.: Aw, don't be sore, here, have some jerky fudge from my pocket, it's nice and warm...

Alien Rope Burn: Get out.

Nobody knows a future scourge upon the Earth like Mom does.

Yes, that is a picture of somebody missing a target that size.

"Wait, why don't we all get six arms?"

Dai pinchi!

The whole writeup is odd where they have all these level-based benefits to combat, but... like, are there really going to be detailed Xiticix NPCs? Is that going to be a thing for anybody ever? It's not like they have names unless humans give them one to identify a recurring threat.

Goo-d weapons.

Xiticix Weapons

So, we can skim over most of this because it's mainly a variety of resin melee weapons that are more-or-less interchangeable. They require Mega-Damage strength to use to their full Mega-Damage effect, though anybody can pick them up and use them. Though there's been an attempt to give them different bonuses to different combat rolls instead of just giving them varying damage values, some are just better. Granted, that's still just 1d6+4 (the Xiticix Spike Whip and the Xiticix Sickle Axe being the ones of choice). While the the two-handed Xiticix Beheading Axe (5d6+4 M.D. with their strength values counted in) sounds badass, it's actually a bad choice for most Xiticix Warriors compared to just two-handing Sickle Axes (8d6+8 M.D., ditto). The Xiticix Double-Dagger is designed to let Leapers inflict their poison with a blade, which is good for them and bad for everybody else.

Dare you enter their magical realm?

They get the new Resin Spike Gun that fires spikes for perhaps some of the worst damage I've seen on a ranged weapon (1d6 M.D... on a burst), but gives a -6 penalty to dodge because it does. The TK-Rifle hasn't changed from the corebook, and is pretty middling- though now it inflicts the -6 penalty the Spike Gun does to dodge when firing spike bursts and- wait, it seems like they just copied the Spike Gun entry and forgot to change some of the traits! Maybe? Lastly, the Resin Spitter is probably the nastiest weapon in their arsenal, because it leaves you out for two rounds trying to clean resin off or trying to make your way around with concrete on your limb... if it doesn't hit you on the head. We get a reminder that only Queens can make the ranged weapons at all, not just the TK-Rifle as previously stated... not that it really matters, we it's not like we're tracking the Queen's schedule or know how quickly they can be crafted. "Oh, they can only field two dozen TK-Rifles because she's got a busy schedule farting eggs." is not something that's going to come up.

Buggy whip.

Next: Would you like to know more?

"Plan C: Let's hope somebody else engages the Xiticix."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 5: "Plan C: Let's hope somebody else engages the Xiticix."


Prelude to War
The Coalition States - circa 105 P.A.

So, the Xiticix aren't exactly getting completely ignored. The Coalition has been slow to realize how big a threat the Xiticix are, presuming they're just one of myriad demons and underestimating their numbers. However, in recent years they've began studying them and have realized what a threat they are, because... well, it doesn't say why. Make up your own reason! It's a multiverse of possibilities!

A proud graduate of the skulltrooper marksmanship academy.

The Coalition States have been distributing information on the Xiticix, even externally, because of a secret plan. Having actually done raids into hives (almost always suicidally), they're aware of most of the major Xiticix types, how Xiticix attacks are typically triggered, and that eliminating the Queens is essential. Their only real mistakes is that they overestimate the current Xiticix numbers and growth, and are concerned male Xiticix may be able to "convert" to females in a crisis. However, their estimates that the current population of 1.6-2 million current Xiticix could explode into 30+ million in four years are only really off by a year, and there's enough to be concerned about either way.

The one time a Xiticix was actually outnumbered by Coalition troops?

As it is, the Coalition have three potential plans to deal with the Xiticix:

A Coalition officer's pipe dream of how the Xiticix Killer works out, no doubt.

The Xiticix Killer, the Coalition's genetically modified predator designed to kill Xiticix (from Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star, pictured on the cover of that), is still being released in large numbers to middling effect. The whole statblock is reprinted here, but really, the notion that these would do anything is pretty pathetic. While it's a bit tougher than a single Xiticix Warrior, the new multiattack rules for Xiticix and their new flying kicks mean two decent hits and this thing goes down. Granted, this can pretty much do the same to to the Xiticix in melee with its stabbing tentacle. However, Xiticix are rarely going to be encountered alone- and they can just hail down spikes or TK bolts if they have ranged weapons from the air, and the energy bolts the Xiticix Killer can fire are a sad-trombone 1d4 M.D.

"I never trained for this in Hufflepuff!"

Lazlo's War

So, Lazlo (the idyllic super-magical democratic city-state) has come to the conclusion that the Xiticix have to be dealt with, as originally revealed in Rifts World Book 20: Canada. And since nobody else is dealing with this, they've volunteered to become the "somebody else" of the Coalition's plan. While they find the notion of genociding the Xiticix abhorrent, all attempts to communicate with the bugs have failed. Why doesn't telepathic transmission or tongues work? It doesn't say. Still, there's a significant minority advocating finding a less violent solution, first spending longer trying to figure out a way to communicate with them, or secondly involving numerous plans involving transporting them to another world.

However, the main plan (called "Plan A") is to locate and exterminate all Xiticix Queens, larvae, and eggs. In theory, if they can halt reproduction, the Xiticix will be allowed to survive to the end of their eventual lifespan as a "humane" solution. Unlike the Coalition, they have the advantage of magic, so in theory, they can use magic and psionic means to locate down the Queens, and then move soldiers in via spells like teleport or invisibility. Similarly, summoned creatures like elementals could be used for scouting or assassination. As such, their losses are likely to be far lower than the Coalition would face for similar strategies.

The main issue is that they don't know how the Xiticix will react to the loss of their Queens. Some of the more hawkish suggest eliminating Warriors and their ilk when possible to limit the retaliatory power of the Xiticix. In addition, they would have to find ways to monitor the hives and make sure new Queens don't emerge.

"DIE CI TIC EIKS or is it DIE ZI TIS ISS or DIE ZI TUCKS eh fuck it."

Plan B is to just to eliminate most of the Queens to isolate and concentrate the Xiticix (as they move to protect the remaining Queens), then aim for "Operation Scorched Earth" where they just go tunnel to tunnel and kill them all. Causalities will be higher, though, and a risk is seen in leaving any Queens alive, even just long enough to wipe out the rest.

But Lazlo isn't necessarily just going it alone. The most significant aid they'll have is from local tribes of Psi-Stalkers who are already fighting a covert war against the Xiticix, as well as companies of troops from the Tundra Rangers. Lesser help with come from the Cyber-Knights and adventurers, but not too much in that regard. Northern Gun may offer under-the-counter supplies, unable to offer overt support due to their alliance with the Coalition, but being too close to the Xiticix to ignore Lazlo's efforts. Similarly, the Splugorth might send covert agents to provide quiet support, not wanting bug hegemony over the planet.

This is what the Splugorth think is "covert", apparently...

The Coalition and Quebec aren't really willing to support the effort, but won't sabotage it in any way. Emperor Prosek is concerned a successful campaign by the mages against the Xiticix will make Lazlo into a respected power that will attract allies, but is more concerned about the Xiticix and would vastly prefer to see them wiped out. Once Lazlo pulls out, the Coalition will likely start their own offensive to try and wipe out the Xiticix once and for all.

Finally, we get a discussion of the impact of Lazlo's offensive. There will be dramatic loss of life amongst the Lazlo forces and their Psi-Stalker allies. Furthermore, the remaining Psi-Stalkers will be robbed of their current "prey", and will need to seek out new supernatural foes to fight. In addition, the Simvan Monster Riders of Canada are likely to make incursions onto Psi-Stalker territories. The "border" that the Xiticix provided will also allow new threats or settlers to cross it. Lastly, the Hive networks still standing will likely be claimed by settlers, Psi-Stalker tribes, or monsters. The Coalition, on the other hand, has a scheme to turn vacated hives into traps, where they could observe the interiors with cameras and release traps like poison gas to eliminate D-Bees and wizards. Chiefly, they want to keep their enemies from making the "hivelands" into their new fixer-upper homes. There's also a digression about how the war on Tolkeen will impact the Cyber-Knights, but there will be time enough for that in Coalition Wars 4: Cyber-Knights.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Ultimately, the Lazlo-Xiticix War contributes to the changing power structure of North America. The future is uncertain.

Next: Arborpunks.

"When I'm going up agin dem Xiticix, I'll take two or three o' dem Spider Warriors ta watch my back, if I have any say in da matter."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 6: "When I'm going up agin dem Xiticix, I'll take two or three o' dem Spider Warriors ta watch my back, if I have any say in da matter."

Killing Xiticix unarmored would definitely be Hard Mode.

A Private War

So, much of Western Canada is home to "Wild" Psi-Stalkers, psuedoalbino, hairless, edgy mutants that feed on magical energy by hunting and slaying magical beings... or, at least, cutting them for a "counting coup" sort of victory that drains magical energy. (And, as a reminder, they're Psis that stalk monsters, not Stalkers of Psi.) As the Xiticix have spread, they've become the primary targets of the Psi-Stalkers, and the bug-men have come to see them as enemies as well. Given that the Psi-Stalkers A) love fights and B) hate bugs, joining up with with the Lazlo offensive is a natural decision for many. Others prize their independence too much to work for Lazlo, and their presence might fuck with well-paid battle plans. Apparently some go as far as to prank or steal from Lazlo troops, because... well, they're dicks, I guess. However, they are highly experienced in fighting the Xiticix, and independent tribes might sometimes come to the rescue of Lazlo forces.

"Spider! He is our hero!"

Most join up with the cause, but that doesn't mean they do it blindly. Siembieda gives a long diatribe about how if they're treated disprespectully, they'll quickly turn to contempt. Pass-agg GMs, that's your cue to leave rude PCs high and dry!- after all, it's typical for Siembieda to include punishments for ill-mannered PCs. Still, largely they're excited to take down their buggy rivals, and will be the most numerous allies Lazlo will have.

An extreme baldness treatment.

It's the nineties, though, and it's time for Psi-Stalkers to have clans tribes! Yeah of these get special Tribe Bonuses, making them flatly better than Wild Psi-Stalkers created with previous books.

"Face the mystic mysteries of my mysteriousness, arrogant bugs!"

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

The middle-aged looking Oriental approves of Lazlo's plan, and will have his men do whatever is necessary to help. Only he, four of his most trusted and high level Necromancer disciples and two dozen Psi-Stalkers stay out of the conflict. If asked why, he smiles and says he must insure that he and some of his disciples survive, so they may prepare for the next great war against demonkind that will take place in the west (Does he mean China or the Calgary Rift? He won't say).

How inscrutable. We get Li's full writeup, an online of his disciples, and details on his disciple Brok Magnil, a... generic sadist and powermonger... who wants his peers to abandon all this fighting monsters stuff and set up a dark kingdom in Canada. Chances are he'll use the war to desert the Deathbringers and do bad stuff. Also he wants people to call him Deathstrike. Good luck with that, Brok.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

G.M. Note: Feel free to develop this malevolent character as a troublesome Non-Player Character and recurring villain.

No thanks, I'm good.

The two Psi-Stalker R.C.C.s ("Coalition" and "Wild") get a second reprint (they were also reprinted in Lone Star, even though... both are in the core rulebook). We get a few extra details on the fact that the Northern tribes are more gregarious than the "savage and murderous" Psi-Stalkers of the Pecos Empire. This book was really having to stretch to fill its 160 pages.

Next: Fishing for content.

"G.M. intervention to 'save a player group' should always have a price or ramifications of some kind."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 7: "G.M. intervention to 'save a player group' should always have a price or ramifications of some kind."

First, we get some Hook, Line, Stinker Sinker adventure hooks! See what I did? I said they were stinkers! Clever. Well, not all, but, y'know. The smell is inevitable.

"Watch my back while I cast Lazlo's Lines of Indistinct Offense!"

Lazlo vs the Xiticix

Well, it's time for the main event, the war against the Xiticix. We get... well, a recap of the whole plan described earlier. And then a % breakdown of the Lazlo forces. The top three groups represented are: Wild Psi-Stalkers, Military Soldiers, and... Wilderness Scouts or Woodsmen-Trap- fffffu-


Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: Dearest Martha, I write to you this day to tell you about how the war agin the bugs is doin'.

Alien Rope Burn: No.

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: I get hired to track some bugs, and it's easy money, let me tell you.

Alien Rope Burn: Nooo.

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: I mean, I don't know why tracking Xiticix is a thing. They fly. Psi-Stalkers is a buncha crooks, you ask me.

Alien Rope Burn: Nooo- wait. Wait. That's totally right.

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: Those Spider Warriors that are supposed to be sweet stuff at trackin' them bugs? How does that even work?

Alien Rope Burn: Huh. Well. Thanks for that insight.

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: I just point folks at the nearest twenty-story tower and charge a sawbuck for my troubles.

Alien Rope Burn: Well. You've been decent enough.

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: I look forward, Martha, to the day I can pack your muzzle with the finest powder, oil your barrel, listen to your sweet crack once again-

Alien Rope Burn: Thanks. Also: GET OUT.

So, their tactics are as follows: kill any patrols if it's deemed safe. Then, find Queens... somehow. Send in "Surgical Strike Teams" to eliminate them. Eliminate any larvae or eggs if possible, but survival is placed before doing so. Queen hit squads are to note any nurseries they find, which are then given follow up strikes with explosives or area-effect magic. When all Queens are eliminated, they're to perform additional raids to eliminate Nannies. Meanwhile, Lazlo forces will be in place to evacuate or defend nearby locales as necessary.

However, they're underestimate just how agitated the Xiticix will become, and the bugs will rapidly broaden the space of their patrols and start killing any humanoids or communities they run across. The cost in life will be massive. Lazlo will be trying to cope, but they simply don't have enough people. They estimate about eighteen months for the campaign, about the same that the Coalition estimates to fight Tolkeen. Hmmm.

Funny, that. Almost as if they were planned to be concurrent! But they're not, so just forget about that. Like, no sarcasm. They're not. Maybe they were? But not.

Followup teams will be sent in to try and eliminate any missed Queens or ensure no new one emerges. It turns out by this point they'll likely be assisted - ironically - by the Coalition pushing into the region. The Coalition will be just as interested in eliminating the Xiticix Queens, even if they don't necessarily cooperate with Lazlo forces.

"I smell Xiticix that wa-" "WE KNOW."

The start of the War

So, Lazlo will launch Operation Queen Check to try and eliminate a bunch of Queens simultaneously, but they'll probably have a harder time than expected. It presumes the PCs are working with Lazlo, but also offers the option of the PCs being... Coalition soldiers engaged on Xiticix containment, in case your players would rather be fascists. Or they could be Splugorth agents sent to secretly aid Lazlo, in case your characters would rather be slaves or slaveowners. It's a Megaverse of possibilities!

Most of the suggestions are "go in do a thing get out of the thing" - scouting, striking, distracting, sabotaging, etc. There are also rescue missions to retake people captured by the bugs, save units or communities under siege, dealing with unrelated disasters, and so on. Then, adventure hooks attack!
"Bzzz bbzzz bbzzz bz bz!" "I don't know what you're asking!" "Bzzzz bzzz bz!"

New Beginnings

After all things, we're reminded that some Xiticix probably survive anyway and they seek...

... revenge. Really, Siembieda? Really? Really? These mindless bugs are out for revenge? Well, I guess once they're nearly wiped out, it's finally time to give them a personality.

Siembieda suggests returning, revenging villains so often I can only imagine his campaigns becoming conga lines of villains tripping over each other for the chance to arch the PCs. That'd be fun, at least.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

The bottom line is that the Xiticix should be hard to completely destroy, and return as recurring villains for years after Lazlo's Great War. A devouring evil that is never completely stomped out and struggles to grow in new, unsuspecting places.

The Xiticix-Men.

The Legacy of the Xiticix Fighter

So, those who survive the war are seen as heroes against an inhuman foe. Yay for you! There are are those that try and falsely claim credit. Boo for them!

Next: Operation Infektion.

"If the heroes wipe out the entire Xiticix population in one adventure, it would certainly be anti-climactic and make this world book pretty worthless."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 8: "If the heroes wipe out the entire Xiticix population in one adventure, it would certainly be anti-climactic and make this world book pretty worthless."

This is the kind of thing that could happen if you ran Rifts with Feng Shui!

A Hivelands Adventure
By Bill Coffin

So, Coffin steps in to give us a full-length adventure where the PCs are approached by a group of anti-Coalition activists called the "Free Thinkers". It turns out they robbed Lone Star (somehow), and though thye lost a lot of folks, some got out alive. They have an offer for the PCs to help deal with the Xiticix. Most of them are bookish sorts outside of a Headhunter and Zapper (the latter being dedicated electrokinetics from Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape). This adventure presumes the PCs are good guys and might be inclined to take their offer.

The Free Thinkers have come to the conclusion that Lazlo's war will stir up the Xiticix to wipe out all humans- not quite true, but it's what they believe. They offer a pretty decent payout - 100,000 credits - for their job. Essentially, they broke into Lone Star to steal data and equipment in order to develop a Xiticix-murdering virus. They're not 100% sure on its efficacy, but believe it should have some negative impact. However, the Coalition is after them for their theft. They're looking to see it used and to make sure the Coalition doesn't just lock it away - or reverse-engineer it for a different target. They've placed the viral agent in a device designed not to release it unless it's at least 200 feet underground. There's a variety of answers to possible PC questions - about two pages worth - but those are the important points.

The Coalition is still working out some bugs with their robots.

Then, the Coalition attacks! The PCs are essentially forced to assist or cut and run at this point. However, even if they flee, the Coalition will presume they're part of the same group and go after them anyway. If they can fight off the Coalition, they have a few (undefined) encounters with Coalition, Xiticix, or other monsters, and make it to a Xiticix hive. They have to get some scent glands from Xiticix to infiltrate the hive, though it suggests having the scent wear off if they didn't think to gather extras. But if they get in real trouble, you could have the Coalition or Lazlo forces attack the hive and provide an unintentional distraction for the PCs. Granted, this all presumes they have somebody with the skills to gather the Xiticix scent in the first place.

Presumably, the PCs get in far enough to set off the viral device and run. But it turns out it probably just gives the Xiticix the equivalent of the flu, and they develop a resistance to it rather quickly.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Design Note: Hey, what did you expect? If the heroes wipe out the entire Xiticix population in one adventure, it would certainly be anti-climactic and make this world book pretty worthless. Biological warfare is just not a viable option against the Xiticix. The Free Thinkers gave it a good try, but they were destined to fail. The important point is that the player characters took the risk, tried to help, and earned some experience points. Not only that, but they are now among the elite few to have ever gone inside a Xiticix Hive and come out alive. That information may serve them well in the future.

Is that the sound of a Siembieda edit I hear? Probably, probably. Either way, the PCs can get their payout, with the Free Thinkers' base and labs being located wherever the GM finds convenient, but probably not too far from the Coalition or Xiticix. Getting there could be another adventure. And maybe the Xiticix...

... will want revenge and remember their smell forever. Yes, somehow that's something they suddenly want. Lots of revenge. Sure. Also the Coalition will think the PCs are part of the Free Thinkers either way and brand them as wanted. It's a intensely predictable writing crutch of Siembieda's that every act of heroism must be counterbalanced by an equal act of vindictiveness. I know he probably just thinks it's another hook to adventure, but seriously, give us some apathetic villains who just don't care every now and then. It wouldn't hurt.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

And finally, there is an excellent chance that if the heroes were not already on poor terms with the Coalition, they will be by the end of this adventure. Congratulations! You are now proud members of a vast legion of adventurers who have crossed swords and traded bullets with one of the most powerful organizations on the planet. Not only that, but you're wanted "Enemies of the State" and probably considered members of the Free Thinkers. Hey, cheer up — there is nothing cooler than seeing your mug on a wanted poster, especially when it has a huge number in the reward caption. Just don't forget to look over your shoulder every now and again, because somebody is taking an interest in you and waving over some Dead Boys, Bounty Hunters, mercenaries or ... well, you get the idea.

No, I don't know either.

We get names and writeups for all of the Free Thinkers (I didn't go over them because their identities and personalities aren't real important to the adventure) and some generic Coalition statblocks. And we get the faceless Coalition group after the Free Thinkers, "Strike Force Durango". We get some reprints of Coalition vehicles from Coalition War Campaign to use, and that's that.

Next: I'm doing my part!

"Hell, I dun been a workin' for the Coalition for purty near thirty year, I tink."

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion, Part 9: "Hell, I dun been a workin' for the Coalition for purty near thirty year, I tink."

CS Operations in Xiticix Territory

So, the Coalition has been trying to gather intel in Minnesota and Manitoba for around a decade - partly to prepare for war against Tolkeen, but also the Xiticix. As mentioned, they have outposts set up to maintain their "Holding Action".

The Xiticix campaign leads to an "exciting" new possibility: maybe a player could play an undercover Coalition agent who's one of the people gathering intel! But remember the Coalition has super-loyal people and you can't just go betraying the Coalition.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Even CS undercover agents who have grown to care about the people they are using or associating with (most of whom would be considered dissidents and Enemies of the States), will remain loyal to the Coalition States. If forced to pick sides, the CS will win 99 out of a hundred times. However, they are likely to bend the rules, make allowances, and even try to help "friends" on the wrong side of the law.

Oh, you want to be like Finn, like in Star Wars? Sorry, that's just not realistic or fun. However, it mentions that the Lazlo campaign will expose some Coalition soldiers to seeing nonhumans and spellcasters being heroic and minds will be blown. However, the Coalition focuses on a process they call "reclamation" for soldiers that show signs of this, and will explain that it's just the result of wartime stress and disorientation. They'll stress that it's perfectly okay... as long as you reiterate the party line. Those who insist in defying Coalition propaganda may be forced to undergo "orientation" to overcome the "trauma". Of course, others will see magic and freak out and decide it needs to double die. Meanwhile, some find new respect for D-Bees and wizards and just quietly tuck that away, and make small differences where they can.

But they don't just walk away from the fascist Coalition military. That'd be troublingly moral.

Fort Barron

We get a writeup of two outposts, complete with maps and point-by-point descriptions of their contents.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

14. Power Armor Storage Bay.
15. Power Armor Storage Bay.
16. Dog Boy Living Quarters.
17. Dog Boy Living Quarters.
18. Psi-Stalker Living Quarters.
19. On-Duty, Flight Crew Living Quarters.
20. On-Duty, Flight Crew Living Quarters.
21. On-Duty, Flight Crew Living Quarters.

Man, this book must have been hurting for content, because it feels like a good third has been filler of various sorts. It's just been flailing since the conclusion of the Lazlo war writeup to just throw anything at the wall, including... maps of walls.

This particular base has bunch of Skelebots to try and counter potential swarm attacks. Largely, this is support for local intelligence operations. The commander also has authority to hire freelancers (i.e. PCs) for various jobs. However, they might screw over the PCs when done, not paying them, particularly if they have a D-Bee or magic-user around. However, they usually are fair to racists, because birds of a feather and all.

One group of magic ethnics they do tolerate locally are Native Americans, mainly because they A) don't take their magic seriously, figuring it's just "primitive spiritualism" and B) they see them as little threat locally. Though this would be frowned upon officially, locally they have less oversight.

We get a writeup for the local commander, Major Samuel Haim, who is apparently a masterful tactician, but decided he hated politics and got a field post to avoid getting promoted into generalship. (The notion of the Coalition soldier who's a soldier's soldier who just wants to stick to fighting with his troops is one we see a fair deal.) He actually doesn't particularly hate D-Bees or magic, but is loyal to the Coalition because he thinks they're the best hope at preserving humanity. It turns out he's so popular and cool that only 2% of this troops don't like him! (Sure, sounds legit.) He approves of the Lazlo invasion, but not cynically - he really just thinks Lazlo has a better shot at pulling it off. He's more concerned about what comes after, which will likely to be him dealing with remnants of Tolkeen, a conflict which he has no taste for.

He's the kind of Coalition guy that gets to be Unprincipled (the loosest "good" alignment) because he's good deep down and is just following orders.

Boomhauer's just following orders too, I tell you what.

Orion Greenfeld gets a writeup, the Coalition informant who has given us so much psuedorural jibber-jabber that you've only gotten a taste of. Now, I'm going to give you the whole plate.

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

"Hell, I dun been a workin' for the Coalition for purty near thirty year, I tink. Dey not as bad as people say, at least not if you ain 't a D-Bee or wizard or sumting. No siree. Not dot I got anyting 'gainst D-Bees or mages. Sum o' my best friends ain't been completely human, an' I met my share of mages who dun alright by me. 'Course, ya gotta watch dot kind of talk 'round dem soldier boys, if ya know what I mean.

"Sure I been huntin' an' 'splorin' an' fightin' in dees woods for my entire life, or close to it. Know 'em as good as any Psi-Stalker, an' dot ain't no lie, ya kin ask 'em. Dey tell you Orion is a wily ol' coot as good as any Psi-Stalker. Yes siree me an' dem are campadres from way back. I know every tribe and done sat with most every chief an' shaman. So you need a guide in dere north country or Hivelands, I'm yer man. O' dat ya kin be certain."

He's a old wilderness guide who tells tall tales and is *sigh* loved by all the soldiers and is mysterious but is a great guy. A real great guy. He's an 11th level... shit.


Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: An 11th level Trapper-Woodsman! Whooooohooo! Yeeeehaaw! Put that in your cup and slug it!

Alien Rope Burn: You done?

Trapper-Woodsman O.C.C.: I'm done.

Also he gets to be Unprincipled even though he's worked for fascists as an informant because it's not like he personally does anything wrong, he just helps prop up the merciless wheel of intolerance, oppression, and genocide. But you can't hold him responsible for that, obviously.

I don't really need to describe the six straight pages of itemized maps that follow. Unless you're doing a siege scenario or something, or playing it as a dungeon where you're just door-to-door killing Coalition, I'm not sure what the point is.

Fort Perrion

A smaller outpost near the Xiticix land that focuses largely on developing and executing small-scale covert ops against the bugs. One of your very PCs could be a secret Coalition agent for these guys? But maybe let's not. There's no particular personalities or history here and half the writeup is just lists of vehicles and percentage breakdowns of troop types. So if you need to know that there are 38.4 EOD Specialists located here, it's got you covered.

Man, you've gotta feel sorry for that .4 EOD Specialist. I don't know what that entails but it must be tragic.

Heroes & Hardcases of the Xiticix Invasion

We then get some small independent NPC groups in the Xiticix area. We are in full filler funtime.

The Wild Pack is a Coalition troop that was sent to capture a Psi-Stalker murderer who led them into Xiticix territory. Though the Psi-Stalker was killed by the bugs, so were a number of the troops' dog boys. Seeking revenge against the Xiticix, they have "neglected" to report the Psi-Stalker's death, instead pretending to be hunting the murderer down while really doing a one-unit war against the bugs. Their leader is Commander Jess Helgeland, a Coalition Psi-Stalker who is... Principled? The strictest good alignment? Am I fucking reading that right? Are there no evil Coalition soldiers in this book? The three dog boys written up who follow her are Principled / Unprincipled / Principled. They also have some associates like two Spider Tribe Psi-Stalkers (Anarchist) and a rogue Kill Hound (Aberrant), who aren't technically Coalition so they're allowed to be ungood, I guess.

Greot Hunter and a Burster. What? I'm out of tiny text jokes.

Manitoba & Company are freelancers for the Coalition who work at performing operations against the Xiticix, but spend their time between missions as bandits. Though feared, they don't get along too well and things will probably end in blood. They have a Hyperion Juicer (the speedster-optimized Juicers), a Greot Hunter, a Burster, and a ex-Coalition power armor pilot. They don't seem to have any particular leadership or direction other than being mercs and thieves. They have names, I guess? They're all just jerks of varying flavors, though.

The Lazlo Triad is made up of three heroes aiming to fight the Xiticix - are they independent? Do they work for Lazlo? ... not much is clear here. Actually, it turns out they have four associates for a total of seven, so they're more like The Lazlo Heptad, but I guess that's not as good for branding. There's a Fire Dragon Hatchling, a Cyber-Knight, and a Ley Line Walker. What are you supposed to do with them? Are there any story hooks or really... anything beyond just having them fight bugs? No. No, there is not.


Well, this book felt stretched to the limit. Though it's often obvious when a Palladium book had fluff shoved in at the end to round out a page count - usually marked by a new vehicle without any specific name, or some redundant writeup, or whatever, this really just felt like Siembieda was getting paid by the word. He wasn't, but trying to stretch an 17-page article from The Rifter into a 160-page book feels like a real mistake. Maybe if they'd used the old sourcebook format, did this as like a 96 page book, it could have been relatively focused and tight. Instead you get chunks of wholly pointless text like this:

Rifts World Book 23: Xiticix Invasion posted:

Scorched Earth

Hook: The Xiticix are on a rampage. Villages and towns are being burnt to the ground, the population slaughtered to every last man, woman, child, livestock and pet. Nothing is left alive in their wake. It is worse than anything imaginable.

Line: Refugees are fleeing the area in droves.

Sinker: The player characters are frantically trying to save one particular town/village/tribe/caravan of refugees before the Xiticix arrive. Can they do it?

Here's the infuriating part, the part I realized as I was thinking about the stretched sections of this book. Is... there something they could have covered that they didn't? Something that would have been more interesting than pages of Xiticix hive layouts? And it came to me. And it's so simple, so frustrating to realize.

They could have covered Lazlo.

That's it! This was a metaplot book about Lazlo. About Lazlo at war. And in case you think you might have missed something, no. Lazlo has never been officially covered in detail, ever. Here we are, talking about a war, where one of the military forces is nearly entirely undefined. We know some things about Lazlo, about their leadership and ideals, but we've never seen the place. Rifts World Book 20: Canada said that Lazlo would be covered in a book soon. This was their chance! And it was blown. To this day, nearly two decades later, it still hasn't been detailed save for some unofficial material in The Rifter.

And the Xiticix are still boring. They have no personality, except when Siembieda wants to indulge his NPC revenge checkbox, then they want revenge. And that's not to say you can't have a story about a faceless horde. You totally can. But don't spend over 80 pages of a 160 page book talking about them and their mandible shapes. If they have no distinct motivation, no distinct identities, no distinct personalities, they're just bullet-catchers, just a disaster like a tidal wave or plague. Like a zombie invasion, the story will come in people's reactions to the crisis. Not the Xiticix itself. Worse yet, while they come in massive numbers and waves, they're strong enough that they're the equal of many PCs - they can even gain levels! No amount of detail can really paper over some of the basic conceptual issues.

It's far from the worst Rifts book, it's reasonably functional and does what it set out to do. It's just what it does just isn't that interesting. And it's not just me that thinks this. I peeked ahead at future books to find out what becomes of this Lazlo-Xiticix Plot.

The Lazlo-Xiticix War isn't acknowledged at all. It's discarded. I figured the Lazlo war was to take them out of commission for the next part of the metaplot. But no.

Fucking seriously, I just read half a book discussing events that don't happen. And it even contradicts the timeline as being "105 P.A." when that'll be a past date within two books! There's a rumor that the extermination of the Xiticix will happen and be considered canon at some point in the plot...

... when the Lazlo book comes out.

Thanks, Siembieda. You keep on failing forward.