Kevin Siembeida blindsided me with this book. I expected book four in the Siege of Tolkeen series to be just like books one to three; i.e. a book on the progress of the aforementioned siege (which had, at last account, turned into a bit of a rout).
So, imagine my surprise when I get what appears to be a splatbook. A splatbook on the Cyber-Knights. Okay, it’s not that big a surprise (the title should have given it away), but I don’t recall seeing a Palladium book dedicated to describing a single Occupational Character Class before.
The back promises to tell us quite a bit about the Cyber-Knights; we’re promised “The secrets of the Cyber-Knights revealed!” Of course, since this isn’t Deadlands, the sercrets are just deep background. If it were Deadlands, we’d likely find out that Lord Coake, the founder of the Cyber-Knights, is actually a demonic entity that eats babies to survive. Or that he had an evil doppelganger named Lord Pepcy (or at least the foul Dr. Pepper, who lives atop Mt. Dew. Wouldn't that be a Jolt!).
What we are told about isn’t as about-facing as all that, but it does provide insight into the Cyber-Knights.
The most important information delivered by the book is that the Cyber-Knights are undergoing a bit of a schism due to the war on Tolkeen. Coake has ordered the Knights not to join the conflict on any one side. A large fraction of the Cyber-Knights have rejected that order, and have joined the war on the side of Tolkeen.
This is a bad thing for a number of reasons. One of the great strengths of the Cyber-Knight brotherhood is their neutrality; as a group, they’ve never taken sides in a conflict before. As well, the fact that a large portion of the Cyber-Knights are directly contravening their founder and leader’s orders is bad for the unity of the group.
So now, the order is split; some try to fight on the side of Tolkeen, others struggle to keep the refugees from the war from being slaughtered in the crossfire.
They now have a ‘Zen Combat Sense” that allows them to fool sensors in combat. To be honest, it seems to be a somewhat gratuitous toy given to Cyber-Knight players who fork over the $12.95 for the book.
The book starts with the standard Palladium disclaimer that the book’s content is not necessarily indicative of the beliefs of Palladium books, and any similarities are true lies, and they tell their mothers they’re doctors. Honest.
The book also provides a fair bit of useful information. Lord Coake’s background is explored; his extreme longevity (he’s over 200 years old) is considered, but not really explained.
The Cyber-Knights as an organization are explored. We’re given info on the training each Cyber-Knight must go through, and told how they receive their innate Mega-Armour.
The Psi-Swords, which are probably one of the mega coolest (not capitalized) thing about the Cyber-Knights is explained. We see how some of them can use paired Psi-Swords once they reach a certain experience level.
The organization of the Cyber-Knights is also described. There’s four branches of the Cyber-Knight brotherhood: Courtiers, Crusaders, Champions, and Fallen Knights.
Courtiers follow The Code of Chivalry, honouring Fair Play, Nobility, Valor, Honour, and related virtues. I can recite these without referring back to that section in the book because they’re all noted in the Table of Contents.
Quick Digression: Palladium does GREAT Table of Contents’. IF you’ve ever looked into them, you can usually find whatever you need in the book PDQ. This contrasts to, say, the Aberrant:Player's Guide, whose ToC which has 3 listings, and whose index is non-existent.
The ToC in the Pallandium books tend to be sufficiently well organized that an Index is rendered a mildly useful addition, instead of a glaring omission. I do understand, however, that Palladium does provide indexes for the entire Rifts library in a separate book.
Anyway, the Crusaders are the archetypical Cyber-Knights, traveling the land doing good (my grammar checker wishes to say that Crusaders travel the land doing well; hardly a goal to aspire to). Their precepts are Poverty, Humility, Purity, and Generosity.
Champions are a minority in the organization. Whereas the other Knights wish to do good (or at least well), the Champions seek to prove themselves in the field of battle. They also organize tournaments to prove their worth; that seems a bit much for Rifts, but if you’re going to have a group called Cyber-Knights, you might as well go all the way.
Fallen Knights are knights who’ve left the Cyber-Knight fold. They largest group of Fallen Knights are the Knights who’ve left the group to fight in the Tolkeen war. Others are Robber Knights (you can guess what they do), Jucticiars, who dispense justice to Knights they view as ‘unworthy’, and Despoilers, who are… Feh, they’re Anti-Paladins.
The book does a good job of describing the Cyber-Knights and their activities. It wraps up with a number of adventures that are suitable for Knights and their companions on both sides of the conflict and a few toys in the form of various Cyber-Knight armours.
There’s a bit of a layout glitch near the end. Page 109 has an ad for The Palladium Fantasy RPG, which wouldn’t be odd if the book wasn’t 112 pages. The ad just leaps up in the middle of the book’s home stretch. This isn’t the first time a glitch like that has happened in a recent Palladium book. Grammercy Island had a similar error in layout.
Aside from that little glare, the book does a good job of giving the Cyber-Knights a good buff & polish. Rifts Players & GMs should find it useful.