Not so long ago, but before many of the current generation of Role Players were born, a young man decided to publish his own Role Playing Game and try to market it. His idea was to make the game about the size of a comic book, using the pulp paper that comics use and sell it himself at the various Conventions (back then, they were Comic Conventions, although the RPG market had already started linking up with them) that passed through or near his home. I must admit, I was a young player myself in December of 1981. I was in ninth grade and far from the massive gamer or experienced Game Master that I am today. In fact, the entire scope of my Gaming activities revolved around the TSR products, AD&D, Gamma World, Judges Guild and similar games. I had GMed a couple of times and had even gotten some ideas for creating my own game based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
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But this isn't about me. This is about Kevin Siembieda, a man with vision and a person who was about to change the face of the Role Playing Game market forever. And it all started with the rejection of The Mechanoid Invasion in 1979 by the major publishing companies. Kevin saved up his money and had the game printed He wound up with three comic sized books of 48 pages each. Each issue had around 6000 copies and he sold them for the ridiculous price of $3.95 a copy! This super low price actually worked against him because nobody would believe the game was worth buying at such a small price. However, the work paid off and Palladium Books was formed.
When RIFTS took the gaming world by storm in 1984 (after Palladium Books had won over the Fantasy gamers with the PFRPG that was released in 1980), Kevin decided to bring back a part of his first published game and thus RIFTS Sourcebook Two: The Mechanoids found its way onto the market in 1992. Six years later, Palladium Books would re-release The Mechanoids Invasion Trilogy as a single volume and the huge following of the company would at last have the mass market version of the first game! I guess I'm a lucky one. Kevin and I had already been talking about Palladium Books publishing my RPG for a year and he sent me a first edition copy autographed by himself, Jim Osten and Alex Marciniszyn as a gift.
Sorry about the history lesson, folks, but for this particular book, it was necessary that you know how it came into being. The volume starts off strong, giving us the updated story line of what has been happening in the RIFTS game recently. This is mostly background info that relates to the events just prior to the Mechanoids discovering Earth.
That is followed by a brief note about A.R.C.H.I.E. Three (from RIFTS Sourcebook One) and what that self aware computer has been doing since last we heard of it. It is at that time that Kevin pulls out all the stops and gives us the origins of the Mechanoids for the first time!
Exactly what is a Mechanoid?
At first, everyone thought they were nothing more than self aware machines that have an unreasoning hatred for humans. Nobody really knew the reason behind why this race of machines were so intent on killing human (or anything that resembles them, for that matter). As it happens, the Mechanoids are the creation of humans! They are Cyborgs, using human brains that have been genetically altered and placed into robot bodies for the purpose of exploring the vastness of space. They were created thousands of years ago by a group of humans who fled their home world (possibly the original inhabitants of Atlantis). The humans turned on their creation, who merely wanted to be accepted, and were in turn destroyed. This left the Mechanoids with a strong loathing for humanity and they dedicated their existence to cleansing the universe of humans.
The book goes on to give complete details about how the Mechanoids society works, their vehicles, the various base forms that the Mechanoids use, and the technology that makes it all work. After that, we get the adventures that can be used within the RIFTS game system.
The adventures are small, fast and dirty write-ups of five different things that a GM can throw at his players. This is a good way to draw up adventures because they leave a great deal of the detail work up to the individual GM, thus allowing a player to participate in the same adventure over and over (as long as it is a different GM) without knowing exactly how things are going to happen. The main adventures is followed up by six adventure ideas. These would later become known as Hook, Line, & Sinkers but at that time they were just the basic idea for an adventure and the GM had to do everything else. A half way competent GM can build an epic adventure from any one of these ideas.
To top off the volume, there are new random encounter tables and character sheets that take into account the presence of the Mechanoids on Earth. This is an excellent product and any player or GM should get all four (currently) Sourcebooks for their gaming activities.