Review of Rifts Dimension Book 8: Naruni Wave 2

Review Summary
Capsule Review
Written Review

May 7, 2004

by: Jmacq1

Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)

A fairly well-done "new toy" book that offers lots of stylish new weapon and armor options for the Rifts setting. It suffers only from a high munchkin magnet factor and a slightly rushed feel.

Jmacq1 has written 3 reviews, with average style of 3.67 and average substance of 4.00

This review has been read 6883 times.

Product Summary
Name: Rifts Dimension Book 8: Naruni Wave 2
Publisher: Palladium Books
Line: Rifts
Author: Kevin Siembieda, Others
Category: RPG

Cost: $13.95
Pages: 96
Year: 2004

SKU: 9781574571028
ISBN: 157457-102-8

Review of Rifts Dimension Book 8: Naruni Wave 2

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First off, let me say that I'm a huge "Rifts" fan. Sure, the system and setting has flaws, but me personally, I've had tons of fun playing this game over the years, and continue to do so today. That having been said, this review will largely be tailored towards "Rifts"/Palladium System players, because honestly there's not much here that's going to be of use in another game system without heavy conversion.

For those of you that prefer the technological/sci-fi side of "Rifts" over the magical/fantasy side, this book will be particularly welcome. It's essentially a weapons sourcebook, detailing the offerings made by one particular company (Naruni Enterprises) which will likely be quite familiar to longtime Rifts players. What makes this book somewhat unusual is that's largely -all- that it is. Most Rifts releases have sections detailing new weapons and armor, etc... but it's incorporated as part of a larger whole. This book is almost exclusively a 'weapons catalog', and indeed most of the the layout and text is written as though it were an in-game catalog. This makes the book somewhat amusing (and easier) to read, and has the added benefit of allowing a game-master to literally use the book as a 'prop', if he or she wishes.

The downside of this is that the "Dimension Book" tag for this product is really misleading. Aside from a brief section detailing the Naruni and how they work (most of which is paraphrased from the previous "Phase World" sourcebooks), this book is really only a new toys book, not really a new setting, or even really further detailing a previously-existing dimension. While the material here is certainly valid in the "Phase World" dimension, the "catalog" section is clearly written as though it is being distributed on the main Rifts Earth dimension (in other words, the core setting). It's a minor gripe, really, but it seems like the book was kind of shoehorned into the "Dimension Book" line. This could easily have just been a stand-alone book, or even a launching point for a "Weapons Catalog" line of some kind.

Like most Palladium books, this particular volume is a black and white, softbound tome with lots of text and greyscale illustrations by various artists scattered throughout. The cover is a departure from many of the Rifts books in that instead of a painted cover, it's more of a comic-book style illustration. Unfortunately, it suffers for the difference. The colors are very bland, and the title is difficult to read, due to using white text against a light-colored background. All-in-all, the cover really looks like it was 'rushed' and not very well thought-through. The interior art is wildly uneven, and by and large is heavily anime-influenced. There's one or two pretty nice-looking pictures for the robots and vehicles, and the rest is pretty much average. My huge pet peeve with the book, though, is that there aren't -enough- illustrations, particularly in the weapons section. I really, truly dislike weapon compendiums that don't illustrate every weapon and/or vehicle they're describing, especially when they're introducing new material. Most players I know like to have a good idea of whatever "big gun" they're carrying this game session looks like. It helps them visualize their characters, etc... Of all the weapons detailed here, I'd say about half of them have illustrations accompanying. The robots, power armor, and vehicles fare much better, however, as it looks like each new item described in those sections gets it's own illustration. Once again, the lack of illustrations for all of their new weapons (which is usually something Palladium is good about doing, outside of their core rulebook) gives the impression that this product was perhaps a bit rushed.

As for the rest of the layout, it's not particularly different from most Palladium/Rifts releases, though they use a different font for the catalog section that takes a touch of getting used to, but ultimate doesn't really detract from the product. I didn't notice any glaring typos or editorial errors in the text, so on that note, they seemed to have done a decent job.

Now on to the nitty gritty: Rifts has a habit of introducing new toys that vastly outclass those things seen in previous books. It's a common criticism of the system that it constantly seems to be trying to one-up itself. That having been said, this book doesn't really seem to do that, which was interesting. Certainly, the weapons, vehicles/robots, and armor here are powerful, but that's consistent with the Rifts Earth setting, where Naruni Enterprises is the most advanced weapon-maker operating on the planet. Additionally, with a few exceptions (more on that later), these devices don't seem much more powerful/overbalancing than other items that have come before it. The power of these weapons and vehicles are balanced by the exorbitant prices players would have to pay to get their hands on them, as well as general rarity, and the need for specialized ammunition only available through Naruni channels. Additionally, owning equipment from Naruni Enterprises makes the players targets for several powerful military/political factions on North America. All-in-all, the drawbacks balance out the high power of the equipment.

There are a -few- items, however, that are quite mind-bogglingly powerful, but it's made clear in the descriptions that these items are either ludicrously expensive and rare (such as the "Reaper" Assault Robot or the "Star Dragon" Superiority Fighter), or designed entirely to be a plot device, and not for player-character use (such as the "Wrath of God" Destroyer). If one reads between the lines, they make it clear that simply stealing these items is likely to be as daunting as building up enough cash to simply buy them, if not more so. Basically, like all tech sourcebooks, it remains in the hands of the Game Master to control the availability of these weapons, and to determine how prevalent he allows them to be in his campaign.

All-in-all, for those of you who (like me) enjoy the introduction of new technology and weapons in your Rifts games, "Naruni Wave 2" is definitely worth picking up. But if you're a gamemaster with players that give you a hard time with min/maxing and munchkinism, or have a gaming group that prefers Rifts as a more character-driven role-playing experience than purely a testosterone-driven post-apocalyptic action/survival game, you can probably pass it by.

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