Posts Tagged ‘ post-apocalypse

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):

which rifts books do people own?

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Rebuilding Rifts 5 – Kingdoms of North America

Now that we’ve got the chopping block out of the way, let’s add some more detail to the new kingdoms of Rifts Nightfall. The design goals are numerous: we’re trying to maintain the look-and-feel of the game by preserving iconic Rifts locations such as Chi-Town and the Magic Zone, but at the same time we’re trying to denude the number of civilized human locations to introduce more danger and instability into the world. The list below adds a lot of places, though not many of them are hospitable to humans or even human life. We’re not trying to recreate the desolate wasteland of Fallout here but North America could use a little more variety in its locations. Mystery, devastation, horror and alien landscapes are what we’re aiming for.

New Locations:

  • The Wasteland is a vast, generally dry series of irradiated deserts, crumbling ruins and scorched wilderlands which includes most of the Great Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, etc.), Nevada, Colorado, Utah and parts of the West and East Coast, especially around metropolitan areas that suffered the brunt of the nuclear war. The Great Cataclysm is much closer in time now and its effects are still very visible.
  • The Were Forests – were-tribes of shapeshifters, werebears, werewolves, werefoxes, etc. roam these hunting domains which encompass large chunks of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York state and New England. They have formed a number of savage confederations, among them the Leaf Country and Six Nations Confederacies. Read more

Rebuilding Rifts 4 – The Chopping Block

As previously mentioned Rifts Nightfall will focus on the Dark Ages in North America, but it won’t necessarily reduce everything to a barren wasteland nor will it follow the original continuity. The power and scale of the Coalition States may be too much in 109 PA, but that doesn’t mean smaller kingdoms – some of them even stranger than what is imagined in the original Rifts game – wouldn’t exist in the wild. I didn’t just want to slim Rifts down to a knives-and-horses survival game. Rifts is an exotic post-apoc world and I want to maintain the sense of strangeness one gets from alien invaders, gated demons, bizarre magical societies, recovered Golden Age mecha and other weirdness. Rifts Nightfall both subtracts things (the Coalition States as an empire, the Federation of Magic, the Pecos Empire) and adds new locations, usually in the form of small towns and cities with unique characteristics that make for good roleplaying opportunities. This will be an alternate Rifts world, where key NPCs or factions may make anachronistic appearances and familiar places may take on a completely different shape.

Places Removed or Changed:

  • Manistique Empirium – removed because it was redundant with Ishpeming, nothing unique, area too crowded with countries already
  • The Coalition States – slimmed down, population 1/10th of that listed, independent city-states which are in communication with each other and may cooperate sometimes, but not a unified police state. Read more

Rebuilding Rifts 3

Let’s talk about the rules. Palladium Books was once a trendsetter and a genuinely creative force in designing both worlds and rules. During the 1980s mechanics like their revamped alignments, experience point awards for more than just killing things and realistic combat mechanics in games like Recon were outstanding. To this day I vastly prefer Palladium’s alignment system to D&D’s and it’s simplicity makes it great for introducing new players to roleplaying morality in general. Unfortunately, at the height of their success Palladium released Rifts…and that’s when the stagnation set in. Rifts was such a massive bestseller in the RPG market that at some point Kevin Siembieda decided that the Megaversal Palladium rules were the pinnacle and ultimate evolutionary endpoint of RPG mechanics, and decided to never change them again.

Come 2011 and even the most die-hard Palladium fans acknowledge and rant about the shortcomings of the rule system, including but not limited to: basic rules for things like climbing or wilderness trekking scattered across 30 books; 3 different and contradictory mechanics for jumping; an indefinite-and-never-clearly-defined list of over 25 different saving throws; rules for skills, combat and weapon proficiencies that are slightly-different across product lines like Rifts, Splicers or Heroes Unlimited. The rules are simply a mess. That’s not to say they’re bad, as some assume. They have many good points too, mainly in how detailed and exhaustive they can be (for those who prefer such complexity), but also in how set-in-stone they have become over time. Whether you consider it a gross failing ro a massive benefit, the fact is Palladium’s rules have changed very little over the last 20 years. Compare this to D&D, which has changed rulesets quite dramatically 3 times during the same time period. You can pick up a Rifts rulebook from 1991 and have no trouble playing with it using rulebooks from 2011. That kind of inertia is a rare – and double-edged – sword in the RPG industry. Read more

Rebuilding Rifts 2

I’ve tentatively decided to name my Rifts rebuild project as Rifts Nightfall, as it deals with the Second Dark Ages following the Great Cataclysm of 2098 A.D. and is set around the year 2150. This brings the “post-apocalyptic” back into Rifts, something that many people have been clamouring for since Rifts went all space opera on us in the Dimension Books and other high-tech supplemental books. That feeling of desolation, devastation and human loneliness in a world reshaped, which was so eloquently described in the core book and the first sourcebook, really deserves more detail in the Rifts opus.

Dinosaur Swamp, Rifts Canada and Rifts Australia all tried to go back to the post-apoc roots of the game, but probably only Dino Swamp succeeded. This isn’t the fault of the writers but of the setting itself. With so many books describing so many advanced locations, especially in North America, the Fallout-esque sense of desolation gets lost in the shuffle of million-man armies fighting with thousands of dragons; ahem, Tolkeen War I’m looking at you. Rifts Australia made a good job of it, but the Tech-Cities seemed excessive and Australia’s population is still listed as 22m people – about the same as it is now! Not much of an apocalypse if we’re back to the same population level and an even higher level of technology.

post-apoc landscape

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