Monday, July 18, 2011

[Rifts:2112] Europe Again

Apart from the occasional playtest one-shot, I've yet had a chance to really take my alternate version of Rifts for a spin. That's going to change this week as I fire up a casual pick-up game with a couple friends who have voted on a Rifts Europe campaign.

Although sessions will be sporadic, this still represents a real shot at putting some of my BRP conversions (yes, after a brief flirtation with Savage Worlds, I'm back on the BRP bandwagon for the time being) to the test and further develop my version of Rifts Europe, which long-time readers will recall differs markedly from the canonical setting. Expect a couple more posts on this topic as I make hay for the new campaign: some fleshed-out details on the British Archipelago and (finally) filling in some details on the long-neglected Mediterranean with much material courtesy of a couple readers hailing from that region.

I spent some time today assembling a document of vehicles commonly found in the Neue Deutsche Republik (NDR) and other inhabited regions. It's sort of the steampunk answer to the original Triax and the NGR sourcebook: lots of nifty tech. My inspiration came in the form of a treasure trove of Lego steampunk vehicles on the net. There's a whole subculture of Lego steam engineers sharing their creations online, it would seem. Who knew, right? I have yet to stat anything out, but selecting the various creations got my brain working in terms of how transportation in post-apocalyptic Europe works. Here's what I came up with:
As nearly all of Europe's roads lie in impassible ruin, the NDR has sunk a considerable amount of time and effort into building a network of rails across its interior, linking all the Member Cities as well as important mining, farming, and commercial centers. The tracks are always built in pairs, allowing two trains to move along any given stretch of rail simultaneously (usually in opposite directions). This configuration has also led to the development of the NDR's justifiably famous "Railships" - massive rolling fortresses, the largest of which run on both sets of tracks. The Railships are used to protect and patrol the rail network, serve as convoy escorts, or transport important parties in maximum security.

All other vehicles in the NDR, civilian or military, tend to be built with rugged off-road travel in mind. Accordingly, non-tracked vehicles as a general rule run either on tracks or on articulated legs capable of clambering on and over even the most untamed wilderness land.

However, given the choice, when rail travel isn't available many travelers both within and outside the NDR prefer to fly. Gargoyles and other flying monstrosities still pose a threat, of course, so most airships are well-armed for defense, but by and large air travel is much safer, faster, and more comfortable than roughing it overland.

Due to the limitations of steam power, flying machines in Europe are almost always built as dirigibles. The NDR's military airships are rigid in construction, sporting thin armored casings over their gasbags. Civilian ships are non-rigid as a general rule. Rigid or not, most airships sport sails for use when winds are favorable. This helps extend the range of the ship and its fuel.

There is a type of airship increasingly found around the British Archipelago that does not fall under the category of dirigible: sky riders. These ships gain their lift through magic and rely on propeller engines to provide thrust. Because they do not need large gasbags, sky riders are generally sleeker and faster and are much prized by air pirates when they can get their hands on them.
Gotta have air pirates, you know?

Here are some of the inspirational creations in question, the first five courtesy of the amazingly talented Raillery:

All this steam-tech stuff has got me going in an even steamier direction (although not in the carnally interesting sense, sorry) for my European tech. Today reader Reese F. sent me some modified digital mock-ups of steam-tech guns.

Reese explains:
The weapons fire solid projectiles propelled from a reservoir of compressed steam. A recent thought that I had was that you could easily make these weapons inflict the necessary damage by giving them the same types of rounds as with the TX-5 Pump Pistol.
I love this idea. For those of you unfamiliar with the weapon in question, it's sort of like a hybrid grenade-launcher/shotgun; it fires small cartridges that explode on impact with a blast radius of about a yard. It only stands to reason the NDR would have developed this sort of technology to combat the "gargoyles" and boosted Brodkil that press at their borders. It also introduces a uniquely European gun technology to contrast with North America's more advanced chemical slug throwers and laser weapons (not that those won't be present in Europe as well, just in much smaller numbers methinks).

I'll leave things off here with some more inspirational pics in the vein of my first Europe post. These pics have been culled from around the Web, often from secondary sources. If you spy your art here and would like credit, please don't hesitate to drop me a line and let me know and I'll make the appropriate changes. On with the show then:

Sea Gypsy settlement in the British Archipelago.
New Camelot
Further details will be forthcoming in my post on the British Archipelago, but I'm turning The Eternal City into a trans-dimensional trading port run by Dickensian Goblins in the vein of those presented in the criminally underrated GURPS Goblins sourcebook.

A Millennium Tree
The City of Ys 

A manufactory in the NDR.
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All art is copyright its respective artist.
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