Tell me about RIFTS

Biohazard

mostly lurking
Validated User
Now with all the hype around SW RIFTS, it might be the right time to ask TRO to tell me about rifts.
I opened an extra thread because my question is (somewhat) SW independent.

So, under the assumption that I know next to nothing about rifts (though I read the flame wars in years past :D), this thread is hopefully a good way to win over rifts newbies (like me) or maybe scare them away.

Can you maybe tell me a little bit about the setting (maybe halfway current if meta plot is a thing) and what example sessions could look like. I know that it seems to be so wild, that a session could be everything, but maybe there is a standard session. Or maybe an adventure everyone ran or played in.

In any case, I'm looking forward to getting some info on the goodness that rifts seems to be. People disliking it -but maybe not on a system basis- should also feel free to join in.
 
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HappyDaze

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I'm not an expert, but basically a bunch of dimensional rifts open up on a futuristic Earth and allow all sorts of stuff to bleed in. Some of it is localized, which is why so many of the different locations (North America, South America, etc.) each have their own flavor of weird. There are combinations of high-tech, magic, psionics, and outright alien beings...and that's just in the PC party.
 

Blackwingedheaven

Crystal Human
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Rifts a gonzo post-apocalyptic setting full of everything you thought was awesome when you were thirteen and (as Sean Patrick Fannon put it) a fully weaponized kitchen sink. =3

The premise is that at some point in the future, humanity entered a golden age of technology, only for it to break down in war. The subsequent nuclear war killed 90+% of the planet's population and actually cracked open reality, letting magic back in after tens of thousands of years. Fast-forward three centuries, and you have the setting's present. A fascist, human supremacist nation called the Coalition States is gobbling up territory throughout the American Midwest, Atlantis has risen from the waves, aliens and mutants are everywhere, magic and psychic powers are common, and the remnants of pre-cataclysm technology are being rediscovered and brought to bear as weapons in an all-out war for survival and conquest between more factions than you can shake a really big stick at.

There is a metaplot in the original game, which advanced the timeline about ten years, from the beginning of the Coalition's big new push toward grabbing territory, up through a horrific war with their closest large magic-using neighbor, which the Coalition won. Savage Rifts picks up in the year or so after that conflict, when the remaining major powers of North America are looking around at the power vacuum left by the war and wondering if the Coalition has gotten too big to ignore any more.

Because of the nature of the setting, world-hopping and dimension-hopping are commonplace, though rarely very controllable, and things from all across the universe have wound up on Earth. The setting strikes a weird balance between feeling gritty and over-the-top at the same time. Player characters tend to be extremely powerful individuals, but death is cheap and life is hard. Back when I was running it, I tended to run games where the heroes were mercenaries trying to earn a living outside the Coalition and striving to at least occasionally do the right thing. (It was all very Firefly before the show was a thing.) The new version of the setting seems to be centered primarily around a new faction, the Tomorrow Legion, who have been put together by several of the big name NPCs to act as a check to the Coalition's power and build alliances before it's too late for everyone.
 
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Blackwingedheaven

Crystal Human
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To expound on the "standard adventure" thing a little, I would say almost everyone running a game in North America has had a "fight a Coalition patrol" adventure at one point or another. They're initially presented as one of the major bad guys in the core book, followed by more black-and-grey interpretations of them, eventually shading a little too close to "well, they're fascists, but they're all we've got!" for my tastes. From that point of view, setting up Savage Rifts player characters in opposition to the Coalition as a default state is a fairly brilliant move. It provides a unifying theme for the game, which often had the problem of "Well, what do player characters actually do?" as well as establishing the Coalition as a villain faction right out the gate. There's room for nuance later, but Rifts has never been that big on nuance, more tending toward the "hand rubbing villains" end of things for their enemy types.
 

The Wyzard

An overwhelming surplus of diggity
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NB: The justification for a lot of the apocalypse is that the ley lines were powered up by the many megadeaths resulting from the nuclear explosion. That many people dying at once produced an enormous surge of magical energy. Also I think nuclear weapons in and of themselves might be powerful enough to create instability in the fabric of reality.

This is why, IIRC, no post-RIFTS nation uses nuclear weapons, even though they unquestionably have the technology to do so.
 

Blackwingedheaven

Crystal Human
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NB: The justification for a lot of the apocalypse is that the ley lines were powered up by the many megadeaths resulting from the nuclear explosion. That many people dying at once produced an enormous surge of magical energy. Also I think nuclear weapons in and of themselves might be powerful enough to create instability in the fabric of reality.

This is why, IIRC, no post-RIFTS nation uses nuclear weapons, even though they unquestionably have the technology to do so.
Several Coalition vehicles are armed with very small tactical nukes for emergencies, but yeah, everyone's a little leery of using them since it's pretty common knowledge that the last time there was a major nuclear exchange, civilization ended and reality itself tore open.
 

SeraphymC

Self-Important
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Blackwingedheaven captures the general setting very well. The artwork in the books ranges from okay to pretty damn good, especially the power armor artwork. The system itself is completely broken. It's an offshoot of the Palladium fantasy roleplaying game, a general D&D clone.

It's D20 to hit, and PCs have HP and SDC (like HP, but less serious), but the big twist of the system is that future technology is so destructive and advanced there is a new damage system called MEGADAMAGE. 1 megadamage is equal to 100 regular damage, and most things that do regular damage can't even hurt megadamage armor. This completely skews the game, and has implications (1 soldier has more firepower than current real world battalions) that are mostly just ignored.

The skill system is percent based, and rather fiddly. There are like 4 different radio communications skills for example. There are also physical skills, like boxing or weight lifting that increase your attributes (but not enough to really matter in most cases, as again megadamage outweighs everything).

I think the SW rifts version is getting so much hype because RIFTS is a mess and is basically unplayable as written. Having a cohesive rule set that can handle the gonzo awesomeness of power armor suits flying around firing minimissiles into a dragon would be pretty awesome.
 

rickjthree

Social Justice Sidekick
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How about this as a starting point - to borrow from other threads, what are 101 things a group of Rifts PCs could do?
 

Blackwingedheaven

Crystal Human
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How about this as a starting point - to borrow from other threads, what are 101 things a group of Rifts PCs could do?
That's... really hard, considering the disparate power levels involved. I mean, the corebook has character options that range from "hobo with a rusty shotgun" to "actual motherfucking dragon." XD
 
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rickjthree

Social Justice Sidekick
Validated User
That's... really hard, considering the disparate power levels involved. I mean, the corebook has character options that range from "hobo with a rusty shotgun" to "actual motherfucking dragon." XD
Okay, so suppose the adventuring party has a hobo with a shotgun and an actual dragon and a couple of other folks in between those two in terms of power. They go into the local equivalent of Munden's Bar and the old quest giving guy says.....
 
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