Today I’d like to discuss one of my all-time favorite science fiction RPG supplements, the Manhunter Megaverse Source Book for the Rifts setting.
Produced by Myrmidon Press in December 1994, this book was under license with Palladium Books and goes completely bonkers on art and content. In fact, the book is so good it certainly outclasses the core Palladium Rifts books it is supposed to support! I have to say, I’m sad Myrmidon Press didn’t last because they do both beautifully rendered and incredibly thought provoking work, but understanding the financial side of the business, there is no way a garage company can do supplements like this and hope to survive. Far too much content, especially in the level of art involved. Sad but true, yet as gamers we get the gift of an outstanding product that would never have existed without the undying devotion of the gaming enthusiasts who produced it. Really, if this book had come out in 2014 instead of 1994, it should have been Kickstarted, and therefore Myrmidon might have survived.
For me, I’ve cannibalized more of this book than should be legally allowed [assuming you could be brought in for questioning about why your homebrew has so much Myrmidon content in it!]. There really isn’t much I haven’t stolen for my long running Robotech: Apocalypse setting, and I’ve got an entire space sector devoted to the Manhunter universe I call the Kirn Frontier. In fact, the only thing I didn’t use from the book were the Manhunters… now how is that for irony? If you are a science fiction gamer, and you are looking for incredible content that you can easily show to players with great explanatory art, then find this product now!
Ok, so down to the art. The book begins with a Terminator inspired cover by Jerry Bingham that isn’t the best piece of art I’ve ever seen but it is quality enough to get you interested. Jerry needed at least three to five more years of industry experience to be doing a cover of this magnitude, but sometimes small companies need to settle and in this case I feel they did well enough, as did Jerry.
Inside, we find the real treasures of the Manhunter setting. All artwork is black and white on non-glossy pages. Again, this is ‘my kind’ of feel for a product, and there are half a dozen artists who contribute to the overall essence.
First among these is a very young RK Post, most notable for his career once he found his way to the final version of the TSR ‘pit’, along with Todd Lockwood, but Manhunter is a fantastic proving ground for his evident talent. I love Randy, and have been lucky enough to work with him here at AotG, so seeing what he did when he was 26 and just graduating from Northern Illinois University is a thrill. As they say, ‘the kid had talent’, and the RPG industry is lucky enough to have been witness to it for the past 20 years. Well done, my friend, well done!
S. Clarke Hawbaker adds another fantastic level of b/w illustration inside as well. I’d not heard of him either before or after the product, but I hope he continued to work in the industry because his raw skills are that good. After finishing this blog post, I’m going to try to find Samuel because if I don’t have an original ink of his I think I might perish. Fingers crossed he’s still got that original female Kirn! His inks take the book up another level without question.
Dave McKay also tag teams some great pieces with fellow artist Darryl Elliot. At this point, Elliot didn’t have ‘it’, but with McKay on the assist, the two bring out the best in each other’s work and I’m very taken with what they had to offer. To me, they have aspects of Tim Bradstreet, and I hope everyone knows what a compliment that is.
As stated above, there are a couple of other additions, but the above really make the volume content and have the greatest amount of overall art.
On the whole, this book gets great marks all around, and I give it a hardy thumbs up to add to any gamer’s collection.
Artistic Rating: 4.5 [out of 5]