Rifts Book Popularity
I ran two polls on the Forums of the Megaverse recently asking opinions about the popularity and ownership of Rifts books. The first question asked “Which Rifts Earth Setting Books do you own? (choose as many as you like, including those you have thoroughly read at some point even if you subsequently sold the book)” The results can be seen below (click for larger image):
While the ownership popularity of Atlantis and Sourcebook One were to be expected given their release at the height of Rifts’s popularity in the early 1990s, the high ownership values of New West and Federation of Magic, along with the relatively low number of votes for Africa and Vampire Kingdoms, seem surprising. Now Africa is well-known for being an inferior product, but Vampire Kingdoms is allegedly something people have been clamoring for every year. Mind you, the range in votes in fairly small (5-10 points).
Apart from my accidental omission of Mercenaries from the first poll, it would seem that the earlier Rifts books have higher ownership, at least among the forum-frequenting population of fans. Later products such as Arzno, Dinosaur Swamp and the China series were put out during Palladium’s slump years and their ownership is quite low.
Finally, it should be noted that a large number of forum respondents own all the Rifts books. The chart above was derived by subtracting the smallest ownership vote value (24) from the totals to get the 0-28 range shown. That’s to be expected from the most active and enthusiastic fans who visit such forums. A survey of all Rifts book owners in the world might have shown dramatically different results (I suspect the first 3 books in the series would have been most popular).
The second question asked was “Excluding the main rulebook (RMB/RUE), the Dimension Books and Chaos Earth, what is your favorite book, if you had to choose just one? And why?” This poll had a few more options than the previous one. Results:
The results here are more straightforward. Mercenaries wins by a big margin, with Atlantis and Juicer Uprising following behind. Many players and GMs cite Mercenaries as their one favorite book because of the many options it provides both of them to populate the savage wilderness with gun-toting sellswords, create bands of mercs and fill out needed equipment lists. In short, it’s a toolset for organizing an adventuring party! Atlantis is widely considered a piece-de-la-resistance of Rifts exotica, showcasing the strange phantasmagoria of the Splugorth empire and tempting players towards attaining great power just so they can one day step into the plaza of the Splynn Dimensional Market.
The GMG is seemingly popular for its utility during games, Cyber-Knights is considered more a sourcebook for the eponymous paladins than a part of the ill-received Coalition Wars series, CWC is noted for its necessity in Coalition States-focused games and Free Quebec is considered a high-quality sourcebook for urban adventures (probably as a close substitute for a real Chi-Town sourcebook which every has been awaiting for 20 years but has yet to arrive).
It should be noted that quite a few fans had difficulty or could not decide at all on a single favorite book; they had too many favorites and decided not to vote at all.
If you have any thoughts about why certain Rifts books are more popular, leave a comment.