Sovietski Review

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Sovietski Review

Postby Orbital Master » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:08 pm

It's that time again, another new world book and another new review. Here's what you're going to expect.

The very beginning brings us back to the Golden Time of man and the history of the new Soviet Union (One they won back in 2067)and continued up to present day Rifts. Some things to note include the revolution (for those who play a historian), the Army of Goll (A broodkil General who under the orders of the Mindwerks Angels) and even a new alliance with 3 of the Warlords. It then continues on with life within the Sovietski, where the State is All. There is only one political party, the Communist party and the entire nation has a military-esque government, similar to the Coalition states, although with illusions of elections and 1 holiday where all the strictest rules on censorship are thrown out the window. Foreign relations are then revealed, with a note that there has been very little contact with the CS but there is some contact thanks to the NGR.

After the next section, the notable cities, there is a new set of tables, the Bunkers. Given the number of underground bunkers in Russia from nuclear silos to doomsday bunkers, these tables are designed to help create one you accidentally find. This could lead to bunkers armed to the teeth with vampires living in them (that's the first entry in the inhabitants section) to broken down bunkers exposed to the elements. And now, in an oddly placed area, the life in the Sovietski. Incidentally, they have no real laws against magic users, only types of magic. Being a ley line walker who doesn't use his/her magic in city limits will find that there are no problems. Even being a Necromancer but not wearing obvious Necromancer clothing and not practicing magic other than normal spell invocations will not cause you any problems. That's because you're smart enough to hide your true nature and pass off as a regular mage. But walking in with several skeletons, wearing bone jewelry, and proclaiming the village elder to be beneath him will result in being shot on sight, and if you survive that, there's the interrogation, torture, and then execution to follow. The Sovietski and regular people despise Nercomancers, Witches, and those who associate with Supernatural forces. Smart players who have these specialties will have to work very hard not to be found out.

Interestingly, there is an entire section dedicated to the various Religious Enclaves within the Soviet areas. Each has bonus skills or bonuses to those skills if selected. While there is no official religion in the Sovietski, the Russian Catholic Orthodox Church is the most well known but does not provide bonuses. But if one becomes a member of the Church of Synthetic Movement, a religion for borgs, they gain cybernetics basic and knowledge of a program that allows for the cybernetic and bionic parts to "Wander" and these wanderings are seen as signs from the divine. For those who play a Sovietski character, some of these religions would be great for character backgrounds, but some GMs might feel uneasy with the thought of introducing religion, even fake religions, into their game.

One section which I believe could be of use in all parts of the world is the section on Dead Zones. A Dead Zone is an area that is uninhabitable for human (or animal) life. For example, an area could be filled with Carbon Dioxide gassing, in which a layer of carbon dioxide is trapped below a non pourus layer of rock. Once something disturbs the rock, carbon Dioxide is released up to a mile diameter. Anyone who has taken basic science knows that this is a very bad thing.

Another oddly placed section is the holidays and festivals section and the Veterans' organizations of the Armiya Sovietski. Both of these should have been placed earlier with the rest of the life within the Sovietski. Given that the military is pretty much life within the Sovietski, there is a small talk table, which could be adopted to all other regions and could be potential for NPCs in MercTown. Some selections include knowing someone on the Night of Unseen Fire (A military campaign of terror by the Broodkill) which could be reworked to be of any other major event in EU history (Halifax? Tolkeen?) to as simple as both danced with the same girl at a party but the girl didn't go home with either of them. I would recommend these for GMs who need a reason for a NPC and a player to talk before a mission is revealed.

There are 3 new D-Bees and all three are allowed to be Sovietski citizens. The Gridgitz, which appears mostly human but possesses a greater chance at having healing psionics, the Grey Dwarves known as the Shu-Shuum who enjoy being middle management, and the Wolverine People, AKA the Russian Yeti. There is a fourth D-Bee, the Yaganar, but they are more akin to elementals. They appear as frozen corpses now alive and in control of elemental powers. They are not however undead (as per game stats) but the prevailing theories on their origin include elementals being tied to human corpses, experiments with elementals, or elementals being punished for losing an important battle. Their advancement, stat wise, is similar to that of a Song Juicer from Australia, as each level gains specific abilities. In fact, as they gain levels, they gain unique elemental abilities and slowly becoming more elemental than human as they grow. That is until level 15 when the vanishing approaches. As they are not controlled by Warlocks, nor have that special kinship as elementals do, the mysteries of the Yaganar may never be known.

The meat and potatoes of the Sovietski is finally spoken of, the Red Army. Anyone familiar with the CS military will recognize much of the same style with less of the prejudice.

NEW SKILLS! That's right, there is a section for new and revised skills. Skills such as skiing, ice skating, and Falconry have all been updated. New skills such as Ballet (I see a number of physical type players trying to pick this one up for that extra +1P.P.), Biatholon, and Law-Loopholes can all come in handy. I would almost recommend every black market character picking up the Law - Loopholes to stay one step ahead of the law if caught.

New O.C.C.s continue the trend, including introducing the Cold Born, the Cryokinetic specialist. Unlike the Soaker from Lemuria, the Cold Born is more akin to the Burster, only with Ice rather than Fire. The additional character classes include Tankers (Those who drive the tanks, basically a 19K from the U.S. Army), standard Cyborg soldiers, the specialized Spetsnaz, the expanded police and military infantry, and the interesting Vedmak, a specialized Cyber-Doc that can be best described as a Russian cyborg Doc Oc. Two additional civilian O.C.C.s are available. What's important to note is that Bionics and Cybernetics are so common, all military O.C.C.s (except magic in the way of Spetsnez or psychic like Cold born or additional Spetsnez) have cybernetics and many are light or heavy machine cyborgs (Partial or Full conversion for those in the other regions of the world). What follows are multiple versions of cyborgs one could be, including one I facepalmed because it appears as a 4 armed Cyclone rider, complete with transformation to bike mode. Not my cup of tea. Also, the original "Shock Troopers" have been designated as Super Heavy Machine, both to not align themselves with the warlord's designation of Shock Trooper and to fit with the new model of Light, Heavy and Super Heavy Machine designations.

Cybernetics are so important, they even put them into animals. Yes, there are now enhanced animal cyborgs. Bionic Birds of Prey, canines, horses, and BEARS are all available. Additional cybernetics and bionics are included after this section including the NAMC, the Neural Aggression Modulation Control which is placed in the animals for safety reasons. Really, who would want to have a bionic bear tear them cybernetic limb from limb?

The rest of the book from this point on contains additional equipment. Tanks, armor, weapons, you name it, there's more variety for players to choose from. Given that they are mostly cyborg oriented, there are no additional power armors. But they have Virbo-Scythes, with the right cyborg enhancements, you can make yourself into the Gundam Deathscythe. Oh crap, my anime nerd is showing isn't it?

All in all, the book does contain a lot of good information about the area and life among the Sovietski, although it was not easy to get to as the placement of information made things rather difficult to navigate in the beginning. Classes would fit well in the Europe game as Sovietski soldiers on the other side of the Broodkill empire either trying to get home or trying to destroy the empire from the other side. Equipment has a Russian feel to them, and even the Cyborgs even out the power scaling against the other warlords.

Overall, I give the book a B-, with most of the penalties going towards layout issues.
Orbital Master

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