|1||Opening New Dimensions In Role-Playing|
|2||...elements of the so-called cyberpunk science fiction genre.|
|3||Generally, 100 S.D.C. (or hit point) equals about one M.D.C. point.|
|4||Sorry, no neutrals.|
|5||M.D.B in Cybernetics|
|6||Do not roll for each individual bullet.|
|7||You think: 'Who are all these lunatics in this example and why are they beating on my tank?!?'|
|8||This person might be a cross between Daffy Duck, Errol Flynn and a stand-up comic on speed.|
|9||Only the demented mind of a rogue scientist (or scholar) could have conceived of anything so diabolical.|
|10||Almost always an evil force!|
|11||Even a friendly dragon's knee-jerk reaction is to strike to kill.|
|12||Many of the life forms, both human and non-human, possess psionic powers.|
|13||However, lord, high priest Vish-taal assured me that he could help me achieve the reputed state and lead me into the astral plane.|
|14||They then asked themselves how could these super-men be used and the answer frightened them all. War!|
|15||A mystical druid far from her home in England.|
|16||It is a pleasure to be writing to learned students so that I do not have to stop to explain some forgotten American term or place.|
|17||It is also a constant and ever present energy, like electro-magnetism.|
|18||Sudden movements, bumpy rides or high speed chases (50mph or faster), have a 60% chance of inducing vomiting or diarrhea.|
|19||These inconsequential acts of self preservation have increased the landholdings of Chi-Town by 12% and have increased manufacturing and political strength by as much as 35%.|
|20||It looks like a cross between something out of World War II and the Jetsons.|
|21||Recent fashion has provided a traditional knight's surcoat and even the helmet is often designed to resemble the European knights of old.|
|22||Regardless of who manufactures the robots, they are of excellent quality and are of a more general, all-purpose design.|
|23||The super-dense chrome armor is constructed on a molecular level and can withstand more mega-damage than any other robot created since.|
|24||Critics of the weapon complain that it is not a general purpose weapon, but a gun designed for augmented humans and D-Bees.|
|25||The most famous and popular combat vehicle created by the kingdom of Ishpeming (aka "The Northern Gun") is the heavy assault hover vehicle called the Sky King.|
|26||The perfection of the artificial heart implant, with a 40 year life, was a mega-success.|
|27||The tail can be used much the same way as a monkey uses his tail; i.e., to pickup or grasp items, for climbing, and, unlike a monkey, to attack.|
|28||This is the kind of high rate of fire, easy to hide weapon favored by terrorists.|
|29||Like many of our games, Rifts is a thinking man's game.|
|30||The setting in Rifts is a crucial element of the game and the story we are trying to tell.|
Let's take another crack at it.
RIFTS™ Part 1: "Opening New Dimensions In Role-Playing"
It rises its shrouded head in agony, kept alive on a drip of published supplements since 1990, its flailing claws at the periphery of the RPG industry. Only a modicum of good taste, love of useable rules, and a semblance of maturity have kept it at bay. Dare I let it in? Inside my own home?
I dare .
It's 1990. The Simpsons has just begun. The Hubble Space Telescope enters orbit. Some people still actually think "Pretty Woman" is a good movie. And the roleplaying game industry is revolutionized! With Rifts™ !
You may say, "didn't that fellow Captain Hats already do Rifts™ "? Well, yes, but he tragically died¹ trying to complete it. Two, he was too kind to himself and you - the version he was doing was Rifts™ Ultimate Edition , which, for all its flaws, improved on the original Rifts™ .
I'm doing the original Rifts™ book published in 1990, as God and Siembieda gave to us. Also, it's the copy I have on my shelf.
So, let's start by briefly explaining what Rifts™ is. Basically, it's a post-apocalypse Earth where magic has been reborn in the form of "Rifts", big magic portals to other dimensions that open up randomly at the intersection of magic lines that were there all along. Now, thanks to a lot of magic, they glow.
There's a lot of fighting between technological factions and magical factions, a ton of monsters, classes, and equipment, and a system that remains largely unchanged since its origins in 1981's The Mechanoid Invasion™ . It is, in general, a mashup of influences from Palladium's previous games - the Mechanoids even show up from their titular game in later books. It mixes up elements from previous games like Palladium Fantasy™ , Beyond the Supernatural™ , Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™ , Robotech™ (different mechs, same bad mech rules), Heroes Unlimited™ , etc. Its mechanics are literal cut-and-paste of the above, with very little consideration for balance or functionality. It is essentially a remix of all that Palladium had done up to that point, thrown together messily and with more neo-neo-Nazis added than any game might require.
I'm going over all this because once I start the book, none of this is presented clearly. It literally starts with the introduction, character creation, the rules, the classes, psionics, history, an art section, and then the setting. It constantly refers to material and terms that haven't been introduced, much less explained on a straight read-through. And, even though I know the setting, I'm going to put on some blinders and pretend I'm trying to read this with fresh eyes. The reason I'm going to do this is to give you Something Awful™ readers the proper perspective on how bamboozling this book can be.
Also, I want to apologize in advance. Yes, I'm doing the chapters in order, which means we start with the rules. Yes, the same rules from Beyond the Supernatural™ and Heroes Unlimited™ , covered respectively by Forkbanger and Captain Hats (who is sadly no longer with us). Get yourself ready.
This is fucking Palladium Books® , after all.
¹ It's true because I wrote a goddamn footnote for it.
First, let's look at the cover.
RIFTS™ Part 2: "... elements of the so-called cyberpunk science fiction genre."
There's a robo-tentacle monster, and... women with guns in crass swimsuits and dorky helmets, and.... floating holographic skull things? If you look real hard at the bottom you can see there's guys in armor in the background. Or maybe they're monsters or just really deformed, you can't tell. Either way, I'm not sure I want to have this book showing in public. Certainly not around adults.
The front cover advertises " A complete new role-playing game compatible with the entire Palladium Books® Megaverse™! "
I have no idea what a Megaverse™ is or why you'd trademark it, but I'm willing to be it's cooler than a crappy old universe. The age of the universe is over! Viva la Megaverse™!
The back cover advertises "30 character classes". I don't know what a character class is yet, but cyborgs and dragons sound cool... and... juicers? Crazies? Psi-stalkers?
Is this some game involving horrible hobos?
It also promises "Super-science and high technology" and "mega-damage weapons". Well, that sounds better than just plain old science or normal damage. I am starting to suspect the author is just adding "mega" and "super" to words at this point to make them sound awesomer. I approve.
On the first page I find the following quote:
The fictional world of Rifts is quite violent and deadly. It is an exotic realm where magic is as real as technology, and demonic creatures plague humankind.
Some parents may find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.
Note that none of us at Palladium Books condone nor encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.
It's time to
RIFTS™ Part 3: "Generally, 100 S.D.C. (or hit point) equals about one M.D.C. point."
Step 1: The Eight Attributes and Attribute Bonuses
Well, you get eight attributes. Roll 3d6 and add 1d6 if you get a roll of 16 or higher. There are bonuses for high attributes - except for Speed - and no penalties for low attributes. So if you have an IQ of 30, you're just as capable in the system as somebody with an IQ of 130. I guess it's just a role-playing guide? I'm not sure what all these bonuses do yet, but I can guess.
But... wait. IQ goes up to 300 on this chart? I'm pretty sure the test only goes up to 200. Maybe they have different IQ tests in the post-apocalypse future. It also doesn't explain how you can have attributes above 24, but it has bonuses for them.
It also tells me how much I can lift. Apparently supernatural creatures can lift even more. I'm not sure what counts as supernatural, but apparently it includes dragons. Oh, there they are. Dragons again.
Throwing distances are the same until you get into the high strength regions. It's weird that babies and grown adults throw the same distance, but hey, I guess it's just an abstraction?
Wait, an adult can only throw a football about 25-50 feet? I thought the record was 300 feet. But to do that, they'd have to be a supernatural creature with a Physical Strength somewhere between 18 and 150.
I'm starting to wonder if these rules haven't been thought out much. Either than, or football players are supernatural, which I guess is possible .
There's rules for fatigue if you push yourself for a full hour, regardless of your stamina. Maybe in the future, humans are hardier. Well, and babies, too.
Step 2: Hit Points and S.D.C.
Hit points measure the damage I can take! Okay. You take your P.E. (that's an attribute) and add 1d6 and add your attribute. It also tells me how much S.D.C (Structural Damage Capacity) I can take, too, which is like hit points, only representing flesh wounds and nicks. Apparently different character types get different S.D.C. values, except dragons, which get none. It also mentions O.C.C.s and R.C.C.s, but I don't know what those are yet.
But dragons must be pretty fragile! Ouch.
Characters who have negative hit points go into a coma, and how characters can recover. Apparently you can lose permanent attributes! Obviously, don't get knocked into a coma, those are bad. Apparently there are also extra damage effects when a character takes "a great amount of hit points". It doesn't say how many is a great amount. It also mentions these conditions aren't permanent, but doesn't say how quickly they heal.
There's another table for when you lose 75%-99% of your hit points, and impairment lasts 1d4 weeks. Well, at least the second table knows what it's doing. Why didn't they say something like that for the first table?
Step 3: Mega-Damage and M.D.C.
Next, Mega-Damage. Well, this is a special feature of the game, it even says so! So, 1 M.D.C. (Mega-Damage Capacity) = 100 S.D.C.? Apparently, if something does S.D.C. damage, it doesn't even scratch something that has M.D.C. Things that have M.D.C. include high-tech vehicles, armor, bionics, supernatural creatures, and force fields.
It also has an example where a Coalition SAMAS Power Armor and soldiers in "Dead Boy" armor face off against bandits. Wait, who are these Coalition guys?
Wait, what's the maximum amount of starting hit points a character can have that's listed so far? 30? And... S.D.C. for a "Man at Arms" is as high as... 40? So. No character can apparently survive this as far as I've seen. Mega-Damage weapons are instant death, unless you have armor or cybernetics or... are a dragon or a vampire? Oh. I guess dragons are super tough . You can fire a million zillion normal bullets at a vampire and vampire is like
Wait. If most combat devices in the setting do M.D.C., why keep track of S.D.C.? Why not just say 'humans die?'.
Apparently you can get bounced around inside armor when taking M.D.C. to take S.D.C. damage or get stunned. Ouch.
Generally, I guess being a human sucks, and this is why they get augmented. I've got to get me some of that M.D.C.
Step 4: How to Determine Psionics
Oh, hey, R.C.C. = Racial Character Class. This is a start at unlocking the mystery of classes. You get powers by selecting a Psychic R.C.C.! I guess you get to choose that later. But... then if you don't have a Psychic R.C.C., there's a table to roll on to see if you have psychic powers. But I don't know what to roll - I haven't selected an R.C.C. yet! (This should probably come later in character creation - note to Kev.)
It tells you what categories and how many psionic powers you get, if you roll well. If you don't, screw you! No psionic powers, ha ha. Reminds me of some older game, in that way. We also learn about Inner Strength Points (I.S.P.) which are used to fuel psionic powers.
Step 5: Selecting an O.C.C. or R.C.C.
Well, finally . O.C.C. = Occupational Character Class. Okay, these are the Character Classes the back cover was talking about! Apparently those Juicers and Crazies are "high-tech soldiers". Okay. And it introduces D-Bees, or Dimensional Beings, creatures from other dimensions. (This doesn't seem to have much to do with classes, but it mentions it anyway.)
Some O.C.C.s require you to have certain attribute ratings. I guess this is the one part where it stinks to have low attributes. It also mentions you get certain skills from your O.C.C. (but not R.C.C.?) You also get P.P.E. (Potential Psychic Energy) from your class.
Wait. Why don't psionics use P.P.E.? Are psychics something different?
No, there's no listing of these classes. That's still 34 pages ahead! (And no, it does not provide page references for things like classes or psionics or, well, anything.)
Step 6: Money and Equipment
Money, cash, and equipment are determined by O.C.C. It isn't clear on what you get if you have an R.C.C. Does R.C.C. = O.C.C.?
These pages don't have much art, but here's a piece from 'Selecting an O.C.C. or R.C.C.':
I guess she's a "Man at Arms"... I guess women can be Men at Arms, too.
Next: Step 7: Rounding Out One's Character! Character creation is done in two sections! That's just the kind of game Rifts™ is! You can't tell it what to do!
Character creation and diatribes combine in:
RIFTS™ Part 4: "Sorry, no neutrals."
Step 7: Rounding Out One's Character
Every character must choose an alignment. Then it goes on to proclaim there's no such thing as neutral people, for some reason. I'm not sure why. The subject wasn't even a big deal until the author started going on about it! But apparently it is very important to the author that there are no neutral people in Rifts.
Each alignment has specific rules it must follow. It doesn't say what happens if you break the rules of your alignment; I guess you can't? Nor are there are any guidelines on alignment changes. There are nine alignments: Principled and Scrupulous are "good", Unprincipled and Anarchist are "selfish", and Miscreant, Aberrant, and Diabolic are "evil". It mentions that supernatural evil has a sort of stench that psychic sensitives and psi-stalkers can sense. (No, we don't know what a psi-stalker is yet.)
The experience system has a lot of justifying its existence, proclaiming that it's better than other experience systems because it doesn't just concentrate on murdering things. (But you still get XP for murdering things.) It's kind of vague on who determines it, though it seems to imply the gamemaster does. It also has a list of how each class progresses through levels. If you're a "City Rat", you level fast, but if you're a "Dragon", you level slow. There's all sorts of classes here that haven't been mentioned yet. "Glitter Boy". "Dog Pack". "Techno-Wizard". Huh. I guessss the more powerful you are, the slower you level! That's balance, folks. Right here, Rifts is trying to balance character types.
Except... it doesn't quite work. The differences are very slight. It's not until 8 or so levels - of 15 levels - that the faster advancement classes start to outpace most of the others. At best a weaker class might end up 1 or 2 levels ahead in the later part of a campaign. The only exception are dragons, which level very slowly, and might be 2 or 3 levels behind the quickest-leveling classes, instead.
Optional Ways to Round Out Your Character
Next, we get all sorts of optional tables! Birth Order, Weight, Height, Disposition, Family Origin, Type of Environment... apparently you can come from the "Burbs" or "Coalition City", and there's a whole chart about "Sentiments towards the Coalition". I guess the Coalition is a country? It's getting mentioned again, but we still haven't had it defined. There's also "Sentiments against Non-Humans". All in all, handy enough if you want a chart to determine your character's personality and background.
There's a bunch of "Random Insanity" charts, I guess if you want to start crazy or alcoholic. This... randomness... flies in the face of my psychology degree, but I'll roll with it. At least the causes and recovery rules are detailed, this time around. Rules for addictions are much the same. It's really hard to go cold turkey, almost realistically so. But all characters have the same chance of recovery, whether their Mental Endurance or Physical Endurance is 4 or 24.
Apparently 10% of people who are addicts are more competent while on drugs. Who knew?
Player Characters in the World of Rifts™
It's mainly emphasizing that your characters are supposed to be heroes, whereas most people are everyday and a bit lousy. Though your characters may have a bad rap for doing good things. Fair enough.
Once again, not much art, but here's some grim post-apocalypse hoboes. Maybe they're cyber-hoboes, or something. D-Bee cyber-psi-hoboes.
And that's all for character creation steps!
Next: Skills! There's a bunch of them, but we don't need rules for rolling them! Work out your own goddamn rules! Percentiles! PERCENTILES!
% + % = ?
RIFTS™ Part 5: "M.D.B in Cybernetics"
Okay, time to enter the exciting world... of percentages. Every skill has a percentage rating. Skills increase with level! But some situations are harder and lower your percentage.
Huh. At no point does it say how you actually succeed or fail on a skill. Higher is better, I get that, but... well, who needs to understand the skill system! On to skills!
There's a variety of skill categories, which has some oddities. "Wilderness Survival" is an "Espionage" skill and not a "Wilderness" skill. "Sniper" is an "Espionage" skill and not a "Military" skill. Okay. Well. Not so good on the categories, but let's see the skills!
Each skill has a description but very few have actual rules. Physical skills give permanent bonuses to attributes, which seems abusable. They're even cumulative! Huh. Some skills, too, seem better than others. Locksmith is like Pick Locks, only better. Paramedic is like First Aid, only better. Boxing is like Body Building, only better.
Most skills are at 60% or lower, which means... despite all the heroic talk, I guess most starting characters are at best, a little more than competent half the time? I'm an everyday person, and I'm pretty sure I can drive better than these bozos.
There are no social skills. It turns out to get people to trust you or intimidate them, you need to have a Mental Affinity of 17 or higher. If you want to charm or impress somebody, you need a Physical Beauty of 17 or higher. You cannot get any better normally, you need to have natural talent.
I guess the dark future has really, really bad levels of education overall. People are tough and hardy, but generally incompetent.
Boy, there sure are a lot of vehicle skills? Are all these covered in the game? Sailboats? Commercial jets?
I expect to see a use for these by the end of the book. You're on watch, Rifts™ .
A lot of weapon skills, too! Apparently you can use any weapon you like in this game, but if you're skilled, you get bonuses. Good to know that anybody can use a rail gun or mortar. Yee-haw. They don't have percentages except to identify weapons; mostly they just give bonuses to hit.
Once again, not a lot of art. But here's a guy on the motorcycle! He's wearing armor and it has a machinegun on front. Let's hope his success chance of 60% + 4% per level does not lead to him flipping out and breaking his neck.
Next: Shooting guns! Yeah! Now that you've slogged through boring skills, time to shoot your high-tech super-science mega-damage weapon! It's what you bought Rifts for, not all this wussy talk about becoming a professional post-apocalypse cook!
There are only 27 character classes. We apologize for the misreporting. The back of the book says "nearly" 30 character classes. We are all victims of a deception.
RIFTS™ Part 8: "This person might be a cross between Daffy Duck, Errol Flynn and a stand-up comic on speed."
First off, the Borg O.C.C., which are cyborgs. Being a cyborg is a full-time occupation, apparently. And I'm not going to make a Star Trek joke, you all can reply with one if you really need it.
It has statistics! 89% of cyborgs adjust well to being a cyborg. No idea what happens to the other 11%. Also, apparently evil people sometimes convert slaves into cyborgs so they have super-strength. There seems to be a flaw in this plan. Only 32% of those are content, while 21% of them try and commit suicide repeatedly. I guess it just be really hard to kill yourself when you're a borg, if 21% try and fail .
Useless statistic count: +3
The Coalition uses Borgs too, it turns out! We still don't know who the Coalition is yet, but it mentions them being "human purists" who are reluctant to borgify. But they do now, anyway, on a limited basis. 40% are those are crippled soldiers, 20% are healthy volunteers, and 40% of them are mercs who signed up with the military for free borginization.
Useless statistic count: +3
First, there are partial bionic cyborgs! They're cyborg'd except for the body, neck, and head. However, 70% of sickly organs are replaced in the process(roll per organ, I guess?). Military borgs get fancy sensors, slave borgs get fucked.
Useless statistic count: +1
Then there are full bionic conversions. They're over 90% machine! Generally you just keep the brain and sometimes a face. Military borgs get a bunch of weapons, slave borgs are fucked, again.
Useless statistic count: +1
Apparently being a borg wrecks your psionics if you have any. Partial borgs keep half power, full borgs keep none.
Next, borgs get skills and equipment! See, I told you it was an occupation. If you're a military borg, you get more skills, more equipment, more money, and a salary. If you're a slave borg, you get less skills, less equipment, less money, and no salary.
I am sensing a theme.
The section also mentions that military borgs don't get cybernetics. They "tend to avoid implants in favor of natural powers."
I've rolled with a lot so far, why not? I guess cybernetics and bionics are different (earlier in the skill section there are different medical skills for cybernetics and bionics).
Also, old men can become cyborgs too. Grandpa! Noooo!
Total useless statistics regarding cyborgs: 8
Coalition Soldier O.C.C.s
Next, the Coalition Soldier O.C.C., aka "Dead Boys". Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but in the dream of being a soldier for this nebulous "Coalition", I do not want to be referred to as a "Dead Boy". It just seems like I'm asking for it.
Apparently the term comes from the use of skulls as a motif for the Coalition, which they use because it's scary. Or... did they just refer to the symbol as the "death's head"?
Next it just interrupts that section for "Coaltion Soldier O.C.C." as a header. Wait, didn't we just start on that?
"It is important to understand that the Coalition States (CS) is a political entity that governs a group of people." Uh, okay. It goes on to point out that the heads of the Coalition, including "Emperor Prosek" (who I guess is in charge) are absolutely evil. But most of the citizens are dupes. Propaganda is used to make them racist and isolationist, and... Emperor Prosek is mentioned again with his "Nazi-like views".
Well, that explains the Death's Head. Apparently their citizens are brainwashed to kill any non-human. I think we've crossed the line from "Nazi-like" to just "Nazi". Citizens are treated well, but are kept ignorant. They hate magic and love war. Wait. Why are we going on and on about these bad guys in the middle of a character creation section?
Next, there are details on Coalition soldiers. You can play one! I thought it was kind of weird that they were going on about these guys at the start of the character creation section when they're obviously the villains. But apparently some go native and learn to be tolerant-ish. Which is good, because we know from the optional tables earlier that a given character is about 40% likely to be a D-Bee, have D-Bee heritage, or be a mutant or alien. Kind of makes of an awkward party balance, you know? But, of course, being partial to non-humans can get you in big trouble with the Coalition. So I guess it's still pretty awkward.
Wait, I just realized those tables can apply to Coalition characters, too. Whups. You pick your O.C.C. first, then roll on the optional rounding out tables. What a way to wash out! "These are my human antennae, sir, honest!"
Next, Coalition Grunt O.C.C.! Three O.C.C. headers in and we finally get to see an actual] O.C.C. They get more skills than Borgs, but not many more. However, they get no cybernetics or bionics. They can ask for all sorts of things for thei higher-ups, but mostly just get guns and armor.
Here's a "Dead Boy", designed with the classic o-ring construction:
The many faces of the Coalition! With all the frills!
Then, the Coalition Elite RPA (Robot Power Armor) O.C.C.; "Sam". Apparently they pilot power armor and generally pilot the "SAMAS" Power Armor. I guess that's this thing with the butt-rockets we've seen before:
It's pretty intimidating aside from the butt-rockets. Anyway, they get more skills and power armor. Seems like it's better to be an Sam than a Grunt in just about every way. They even get paid better. Sure, a Coalition Grunt levels faster-
- wait, no. A Coalition RPA actually levels slower than a Grunt for levels 1-3. For levels 4-10, an RPA levels faster than a Grunt! And that's even counting the extra XP they needed for levels 1-3! After level 10 they slow down again, but... huh?
Next is the Coalition Military Specialist O.C.C., who are higher ranked than the Grunt. They get more skills than the Grunt, and cybernetics or bionics. Once again, better than the grunt. They level like the RPA! They also get a Spider-skull Walker, too, which sounds cool.
Then there's the Coalition Technical Officer O.C.C. They're like mechanics, and get to buff and repair all the skull-gear. They get to have a few skills really high, but generally get few skills otherwise, no fancy equipment, no cybernetics. Ho-hum.
The section also mentions the Dog Pack R.C.C. & Psi-Stalker R.C.C., but those are found in the psychic Racial Character class section. I guess this is those, even though they aren't covered here:
Anyway, play a RPA Elite or a Military Specialist if you want to play Coalition. They get the fun toys. The other two classes get left out, for some reason. Also, they get paid in credits! That must be the Coalition's currency.
Next, Crazies O.C.C.! Apparently, they have implants in the brain that make them into supersoldiers. It was developed in "South America". That's vague. Apparently the treatment works better on humans than on animals or mutant animals. Wait, mutant animals? Like... Teenage Mutant? Apparently a lot of Crazies get their implants by working for a feudal state and indentured servitude. So we have feudal states now, too. I guess all the D-Bees have to live somewhere, not that we know where the Coalition is , yet. Apparently the process costs 350k credits. Apparently these feudal kingdoms use credits, too?
Anyway, Crazies are super tough, but it's S.D.C., so blah. They get super-senses, bonuses against psionics and drugs, heal faster, get some minor psionics, and go crazy over time. They also get a decent amount of skills and basic equipment. Like Borgs, they hate bionics because "They take great pleasure in their supposedly natural abilities."
Also they look like this:
"They let me have a gun after I did this to my head! I love America!"
Next, a section on "The Crazy Hero", aka a "wacko character" who gets "wacko characteristics" on the "Random Crazy Element Table". This is how you determine some of the Crazies' insanity, others refers back to the earlier insanity table. Anyway, the crazy hero stuff has more to do with cartoon madness than anything resembling reality (see the top quote). It seems like the Crazies make for really potentially annoying folks to be around. It's like Deadpool: the class. Enjoy having him in your party, folks!
Cyber-Knight O.C.C.s are mysterious guys who come from some group called the Defilers, who were good guys. And a tall, dark-hailed male by the name of Coake stayed behind to form the Cyber-Knights, who are like jedi with psychic swords, powers, and cybernetics who going around doing hero stuff.
They get special bonuses to attributes. 80% of them get psychic powers and and a special psychic sword. Sucks if you roll that 20% and don't get the psychic sword. Having a S.D.C. sword doesn't seem like it's going to cut it, literally, but that's the alternative. They also get a shit-ton of skills and built in cyber-armor, that for some reason has an armor rating despite being M.D.C.
Also, they wear really dorky helmets, which some many remember from WTF, D&D?!
Glitter Boy O.C.C.
Next, Glitter Boys! It's time for the Glitter Boy O.C.C. They don't have actual glitter, but instead pilot shiny robot armor with "Boom Guns" that fire 200 projectiles simultaneously out of one barrel. But it's not like a shotgun, for some reason. And only people with this O.C.C. can pilot them. But for some reason, they get paid less than Crazies. Apparently a lot of them are good guys that fight for good causes, though it's not clear why. They get a decent spread of skills and equipment, and Glitter Boy armor.
It is the height of shiny subtlety:
Then there's the Headhunter O.C.C., or mercs and bountyhunters. They like fights and have a bit of cybernetics or bionics. Some are good and some are bad. They get a decent spread of skills focused on the fighty, and some bionics and cybernetics. Boring, mostly, but if you want to be like a Borg, only half-assed, have at it.
Hell, he even looks bored:
The Juicer O.C.C. are on super-drugs, and have a special computerized harness to get roided up. They also have nanobots to heal them. You can only survive five to eight years "juiced up", though. A lot of them are psychopaths, foolish, or desperate. Just like real junkies! Like Crazies, nebulous feudal states give these out in exchange for a short term of service.
Mostly, they just look ready for paintball:
I wonder what keeps a Juicer from running away, though? Apparently they're super-fast. It's not really clear. Anyway, the Coalition hates these guys too. The system costs 300-400k credits.
They get to be super-fast, tough (just S.D.C., who cares), super-strong, and heal fast. They also get bonuses against psionics and drugs. Apparently once they die, even psionic or magic restoration can't help them. Trying to detox early means you switch to another class, but suffer a lot of permanent penalties. I guess it's possible, though, if you were a weakling to start with, your attributes will end up higher . Also, the process has you reduce your Physical Beauty to 8, roll 1d4 and add that, then roll 1d4 and subtract that. Not sure why, but okay. I think they wrote two overlapping penalties.
That's all the fighting men we get in this book. And true to form, there are no apparent women depicted in this section.
Next: Scholars and Adventurers! In other words, wusses! Rifts doesn't judge, though, you can play a doctor or lawyer! You can do anything, wuss!
It's time for the nerds of the
RIFTS™ Part 9: "Only the demented mind of a rogue scientist (or scholar) could have conceived of anything so diabolical."
Next section here is "Scholars and Adventurers". These are those who focus on skills and mundane professions. And most of them are total nerds.
Body Fixer O.C.C.
The first is the Body Fixer O.C.C., aka doctors. A lot of them are outlaws because the Coalition, apparently, hates people who do no harm and are willing to bandage elves. They have a lot of skills are are good at medicine. Yep. That's pretty much it.
It must really, really suck to try and be a doctor in the Rifts™ universe. "Well, he's been grazed by a laser pistol, he's dead. She's been nicked by raptor, she's dead. He got looked at funny by a psychic guy, that's why he hasn't got a head. I wonder what it was like to live in a time where people could survive an injury."
Either way, I'm not sure these guys are real doctors.
City Rat O.C.C.
The next is the City Rat O.C.C., who are streetwise city folk! We didn't know there were a lot of cities yet, or even what nations there are yet, but hey. Obviously there are cities and they have City Rats on their Down Side, which apparently means lower side, because these cities are built upwards. Some are good, some are bad, and they love the eighties (hey, it was 1990). Check it out:
Anyway. They get a ton of skills and some cybernetics.
The Cyber-Doc O.C.C. somes from the Down Side of most cities, too! Some will run "Body-Chop-Shops" where they specialize in black market cybernetics (fresh from the corpse), but players are assumed to be playing good guys who install machines in people for the right reasons. They wear Cyclops goggles for some reason, an average amount of skills, and get some cybernetics. I'm going to presume they install their own cybernetics in a desperate attempt to pretend they are not boring.
"Let's try installing an arm here and see if he can tell the difference!"
There's the Operator O.C.C., which are mechanics. Apparently, the Coalition hates these guys too. Apparently a lot of these guys are like Robomasons and form secret societies. 40% of them get to be psychic (including the super psionic power of telemechanics), but if you roll badly, no psychic powers!
I wonder why some classes get automatic psionic powers, and others have to roll! It seems pretty lousy to get screwed out of powers just because of a bad roll. Wait, that reminds me of some other game...
They get decent skills and fixit equipment, and even a suit of power armor if they want. (This is a thing they want, since they don't get M.D.C. armor otherwise.)
Here's a picture of one in his speed suit:
Rogue Scientist O.C.C.
Next is the Rogue Scientist O.C.C. Sadly, they're not scientists who are also thieves, but instead are hated by the Coalition... because... smart... they know The Truth... blah, do I still have to say any more? They have a lot of skills and presumably are voiced by Hal Robins.
Actually, I think Hal Robins is the actor, too:
What I'm trying to say is Hal Robins is pretty cool.
Rogue Scholar O.C.C.
There's the Rogue Scholar O.C.C., who reads a lot but is hated by the Coalition for... reading a lot... and I think you know the drill. They're basically the Indiana Jones to the Coalition's Nazism. They get a ton of skills, and a pretty neat pic:
"Oh shit, they know I'm reading! Oh shit! Oh shit!"
"You'll never take this book alive, fuckers!"
"Those bastards took the legendary Golden Books! You have to get them back! You have to- save- Poky- Little- Puppy-"
Magic: the balancing factor is in that you don't get a robot suit to start.
RIFTS™ Part 10: "Almost always an evil force!"
Practitioners of Magic
What it says above. That's what these are.
Ley Line Walker O.C.C.
They draw power from Ley Lines! Has the book explained Ley Lines yet? Nope! But that won't stop him from walkin'! They're the basic wizards of the game.
"This is my casual outfit!"
Apparently they can "Sense ley line and magic energy", which is "somewhat similar to the psi-stalker and mutant dogs". Well, given we haven't see the psi-stalker or mutant dogs yet, so that's some useless info. Generally, they've got crazy powers when next to a "Ley Line", and... mildly less crazy powers when not next to a "Ley Line". They get a bunch of spells, otherwise. But they've got some of the most powerful abilities we've seen so far - they can teleport nearly anywhere in the world and sense all sorts of information when they're around a ley line.
Or you could play the Non-Skilled Vagabond O.C.C., you know! Just saying!
Mystic Magic O.C.C.
They get psionic powers and magic naturally, which is to say lazily, which really makes them . They also get the ability to sense evil and basically a bunch of lame-ass "sensitive" and "healing" powers that basically make them big sissies who get pushed around by bigger mages. But they're psionics and magic in a blender.
They also get gets stakes and mallet with which to hunt vampires (even though there are no vampire rules in this book) and they can get a fury beetle, which sounds pretty rad but is totally stolen from Nausicaa.
They clearly think they're pretty rad, anyway:
Shifter Magic O.C.C.
It's similar to the Summoner of the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game™ , we're told first off.
Way to break my immersion, Rifts™ .
Anyway, Shifters seem really evil to most folks, but not all are, because they can... contact supernatural evil and make deals for power. Well. That certainly seems evil! Also some sacrifice people for power. But not all! Bit they're not necessarily evil. Really! It says so.
The bonuses for making a deal with an evil power are actually pretty good, letting you get all but the highest-level spells at level 1. Seems pretty unbalanced, but we haven't seen spells yet.
Best plan ever!:
Also, they can sense rifts, are really hard to scare, do magic, and can take on animal familiars. However, if your familiar dies, you lose 10 hit points, permanently. Considering a shifter is likely to have 14 HP at Level 1, this is a problem.
These wizards can make devices powered by psionic or magic power. Finally, an environmentally friendly energy source in this post-apocalypse, nuke-ravaged land! (No, really, the book brings that fact up like it matters to anyone.) It doesn't really talk much about Techno-Wizards, mostly just their technology.
Also, they're all about bomber jackets and goggles, basically they're the annoying retropunks of Rifts™ :
They get some pretty basic spells focused on item creation, psionics focusing on mechanics, and mechanics skills. Their big deal is being able to convert devices to use magical energy - which is relatively quick and cheap for them to do for basic items. But converting weapons or vehicles - much less enchanting them, seems insanely expensive, at 30k-600k. (The techno-wizard starts out with 11k.) Other enchantments are available, but are similarly expensive. They can also make special vehicles, once again, really expensive, or special weapons and armor. They also can get gliders they totally stole from Nausicaa:
Once again, these are really expensive. I have to wonder how one is supposed to earn that kind of money. If they earn as much as Crazies (75k a year roughly), they'd only get enough money to invent one item every half-year to several years.
And that's the quadrilogy of magic. We've got to wait a while to see the actual magic rules.
Next: Racial Character Classes. Finally, Rifts™ gives us what we need: a way to judge characters solely based on their race!
Yeah, there are dwarves, elves, and orcs, but what goes in the corebook? Dragons!
RIFTS™ Part 11: "Even a friendly dragon's knee-jerk reaction is to strike to kill."
First, the book describes that R.C.C.s are dependent on natural powers and only "limited human-type skills". Noted! The first R.C.C. is... dragons! Or more properly, the...
Dragon Hatchling R.C.C.
Dragons are attracted to magic, are generally indie, and are super-powerful as adults. Apparently, some may have been gods from Earth's past. (But it goes on to mention they aren't really gods.) There are both good and bad dragons.
Player dragons are young, only about 20' long, and apparently get basic language and math psionically from their parents, as well as knowledge of their magic powers. Dragons never sweat math lessons. They are aggressive, territorial, loners (except for mating).
Whew! This book sure goes on about dragons, I'm skipping details... PC dragons are 6 hours to 48 days old. It takes six centuries for them to grow to maturity, but no rules for it. Most start with the anarchist alignment, and are described as selfish and whiny, only need to eat magic, very few starting skills...
Loner? Selfish? Aggressive? Territorial? Seems like a perfect fit for any party, I'm sure.
Let's see... they get better attributes than humans in every way, great P.P.E., wow-mazing M.D.C. (1d4x100), flight, nightvision, regeneration, ability to change shape, teleportation, breath weapon, psionics, knowledge of magic and ability to learn spells...
... and these are hatchlings?
Also, classic dragon accessories like monocles and pouches:
There are four types of dragon, Great Horned, Fire, Ice, and Thunder Lizard.
Uri Geller sez:
RIFTS™ Part 12: "Many of the life forms, both human and non-human, possess psionic powers."
Psychic Racial Character Classes
We don't get classes right away, instead, some description of how psionic powers work in the world. Which is nice. It's nice to know anything about the setting at this point.
First off, it seems psychic powers are linked with magic in some mysterious way. Also, a lot of folks hate psychics, much like people hate the X-Men, because their powers are invisible and spooky. Apparently the Coalition has added psychics on their list of hate, and tag them with bar codes. Which are not tattoos. They're bar codes. These bar codes let people always know when they're around and generally make psychics into second-class citizens. But they're not tattoos. If you're a psychic visitor, you just have to carry around a ID card that does much the same.
Apparently those Psi-Stalkers and Dog Packs always watch at city entrances and patrol the city for psychics! Which must be tricky, because as character creation taught us, 1 in 4 people are psychic . One would think they'd be getting false signals all the time...
There's a lot more detail on how the Coalition deals with psychics. We still don't know where it's located, or what it is, but Rifts™ isn't going to wait for us to catch up. It's time of the last set of classes!
There's the Burster R.C.C. They're basically super-buff pyrokinetics that can fire M.D.C. flame (and thankfully are immune to their own flame).
They can also manipulate and extinguish fires, get a couple of minor psychic powers besides like "Resist Thirst", and... well, shoot fire in a lot of ways. There's not much else to them, the book doesn't even give them much of a description. Apparently these guys are some of the most fearsome psychics aside from the Mind Melter. Well, that's a confusing name, since we already know Bursters are doing all the melting.
These are mutants that can sense and track psychics and mages, and kill them and drink all their P.P.E. They're hairless! They wear eyeliner! They love to hunt!
The Coalition States (those guys again) actually like Psi-Stalkers and use them to hunt down magic and psychics, but forbid them to kill. (A class the Coalition doesn't hate? Heavens to Betsy!) They make them wear spiky helmets that say "PSI" so everybody knows who they are. They also get mutant dogs called a... wait for it... Dog Pack ... which are trained to seek out the supernatural.
Wild Psi-Stalkers who aren't with Coalition are usually cannibals (50%, the book says), even though they don't need to eat much. Apparently, it's instinctual. They might be a evolutionary response to the rise of magic, but...
They generally don't know how to read, and are usually pretty savage barbarian-types. They can sense magic and psychic powers, get bonuses against psionics and magic, a couple physical boosts, a couple psionic powers, ability to befriend animals, and have to feed on 50 P.P.E. a day. (The average person has 7 P.P.E.) Apparently they don't have to kill to get this P.P.E., but many like to since they get double their prey's P.P.E. this way. Still, that's like... they have to find a mage every day, or feed off about ten people a day . Wild and Civilized Psi-Stalkers get different sets of skills (wilderness and military sets, really).
That's way more detail than Bursters got. Poor Bursters, Kev just didn't love you as much.
Dog Pack R.C.C.
They get a lot of detail! Apparently they were developed before the "Time of the Rifts" by American "gene-splicers". Apparently people were upset by this because the new intelligent mutant animals being developed were intended for use as slaves, so the government stopped public development of mutant animals, but kept up experiments at the "Tex-Am Complex", a military base in Texas.
But the Coalition State known as Lone Star got their hands on the Tex-Am Complex and now pop mutant animals out of their science bin like crazy. Now half the complex's population is mutant animals. This is seems like a good plan.
The Coalition uses mutant animals as expendable soldiers. Apparently they could do more with it, but basically want to make sure anything non-human is kept under their thumb, so they mostly use dumb dogs. Apparently, dogs can be more readily trained, work well in packs, see humans as masters, have superior senses and strength, and can sense magic and the paranormal.
Wait, what? Okay. Sure, Rifts™ . Whateeever you say.
They work under Psi-Stalkers and hunt psychics blah blah we've heard this before. Some are used to hunt in the wilderness, but some rare sorts abandon the Coalition and strike a bid for doggy freedom. Most are treated like big, talky animals, though, and even most mutant dogs see themselves as inferior. Oh, and they walk and talk like humanoids and have opposable thumbs and all that. That's what makes them mutants. Like Adult... Mutant... Soldier... Dogs.
"Get them, my witless minions!"
Anyway, as mentioned, they can sense magic and supernatural beings, get some minor sensitive psionics (like Sixth Sense), some physical bonuses, enhanced smell and tracking, enhanced hearing, etc. There's also some optional tables to determine their height (which is more detailed than what humans get), dog type (you want to roll on this, most get good bonuses), and mutation abnormality (worth rolling on, it's mostly just weirdness or great bonuses).
Sadly, there are no pugs, bichon, or poodles on the table, it's all tough dogs. Goddamn it, Rifts, if I want to play a deadly mutant chihuahua, that's my business. So the Dog Pack section really falls down, there.
Mind Melter R.C.C.
Last class, I swear: the Mind Melter R.C.C., the most feared of all psychics! Wait. We've had two psychic classes, really - the Burster and the Mind Melter - and they're both fearsome death machines. Well, I can see why people are worried about powerful psionics!
Apparently they're so powerful the Coalition stops them at the gate and is like "you can't come in!" (Bursters get a pass, though, for some reason.) They get powers to form a psi-sword and psi-shield and can manipulate minds. They get a bunch of psionic powers including Super psionics. Well, those sound impressive. And they keep getting more psionic powers as they level up, unlike most psychics. They don't get much in the way of skills, and it emphasizes their equipment is generally stylish and rad.
Spoiler: there are no psychic powers that make you look pretty.
Optional! Mutant Characters from Other Games
Oh, and as an addendum, it mentions you can bring in mutant characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness™ or Heroes Unlimited™ . If you're from the Rifts universe, you can take the Coalition Grunt (with less skills) or Non-Skilled Vagabond O.C.C. Otherwise, you generate the character like they were from the original game, including using "BIO-E" and "Animal Psionics", whatever those are. Apparently you can create a mutant animal character from these games and just choose the Burster or Mind Melter classes, if you want free benefits and no cost! Well, the cost being a furry, but I understand some people consider that an upside.
Plus, it gives an in to create your mutant iguanadon pyrokinetic you've always wanted to play. Yeah. Don't act like you haven't.
But... those games are without M.D.C. Uh-oh. Apparently, full rules for converting those characters will be in the Rifts Conversion Source Book.
Finally, the R.C.C. term is confusing. Psionics are human, but... they're not? Are they mutants, muties, mutoids or humans? It never gives us a solid answer. It really just seems a fancy and horrible term for "people or not-people with natural powers".
And that is goddamn all of the classes.
Next: Psionics! Screw magic, you'll just have to wait! Rifts™ does things the Rifts™ way!
RIFTS™ Part 13: "However, lord, high priest Vish-taal assured me that he could help me achieve the reputed state and lead me into the astral plane."
First, Inner Strength Points (I.S.P.) are used to power psionics. Meditation is required to regain I.S.P. Psychic characters have an easier time making saving throws against psionics. Ley Lines enhance psionics. Psionics get attacks based off your hand-to-hand skill (so much for mind over matter). All logical enough for an illogical subject.
The Horror Factor
Next up, the psionic section introduces the concept of Horror Factor, a special saving throw against scary things. If you fail, you're kind of stunned for a round. That's all. It does let a monster get a cheap shot on you. But it's not that big a deal otherwise, you lose attack and initiative and recover after one round.
Psionic Abilities in Animals
Next, animals have psionic abilities too! Dogs, cats, and horses can "See the Invisible", "Sense Evil", "Sense Magic", have a "Sixth Sense", and can read emotions empathically. Wow. All of this to to help animals avoid the supernatural, and only highly trained animals will avoid fleeing. This is why mutant dogs get mojo.
It gives us a list of animals and their hit points, as well as their P.P.E., in case you're a wizard and like sacrificing animals for power. If you want to sacrifice a badger, an iguana, or a mackerel for power, these rules have you covered. Of course, this pertains to mages, so I'm not sure why it's under this section. Mages take note.
Animals are bad at saving against magic or psionics. Also, if you want to sacrifice an incapacitated animal, you don't have to roll! Well, I know how embarrassing it can be to whiff in front of the acolytes during an important sacrifice, so that's good to hear.
Descriptions of Psionic Abilities
There are three types of psychic powers: Healing, Sensitive, Physical, and Super. The latter is apparently only available to Mind Melters, which we already know is wrong (Cyber-Knights get psi-swords, Operators can get tele-mechanics, Techno-Wizards algo get tele-mechanics, etc.).
Most Healing powers deal with healing yourself or others. For some reason "Detect Psionics" is a Healing power and not a Sensitive power. Physical Powers let you do various telekinetic effects, block energy effects, block aura reading, block mental powers, and enhance your endurance. Sensitive powers let you read objects, sense supernatural things, see remotely, read minds, etc.
In particular Astral Projection, first of the sensitive powers, gets a lot of dealing with now it works. You can travel invisibly around the material realm in astral form or you can go to the astral plane, which seems like a really bad idea because there are four things to do in the astral plane:
And now, how everything exploded.
RIFTS™ Part 14: "They then asked themselves how could these super-men be used and the answer frightened them all. War!"
Next we get the "Time Before Rifts"
And to think it's on page 128 of a 256 page book. This is the half-way point, folks! We're goin' home!
The history is from Erin Tarn's book HUMANKIND'S RISE FROM CHAOS (their caps)! It was written circa 63 P.A. (Post-apocalypse?)
Apparently in the past, there was no magic, juicers, crazies, monsters, etc. It was all humans, and they had big cities and tiny forests. It was a "Golden Age", and you know whenever somebody mentions a "Golden Age", that age is righteously fucked .
Then people got into the idea of human augmentation! And people started racing to make the better human. A lot of science was done. And after awhile some nations realized their science sucked compared to other nations, and that meant they had a serious power deficiency. Really, it was embarrassing. Suddenly, some realized that this knowledge was dangerous, and nations started get all paranoid about the other nations' dangerous science. First they tried to talk it out. But that didn't work. So they agreed not to use human augmentation in war. But the agreement had a lot of holes in it.
So trade stopped because people were paranoid about everybody else's superfolk. Some nations got really poor because trade had stopped. Everybody blamed each other. Then an empire that was probably America had some rebels. It went over to the (southern?) border where the rebels were and blew them up with a dozen suits of their pretty new Glitter Boy armor. Also, they blew the amazing hell out of a bunch of Mexican (?) people. Everybody was pretty upset. Science started being used for war.
Then everybody blew the fuck out of each other, and the Time of Rifts occurred.
You know, we still don't know much about these rifts...
Next: The wild and confusing art of Rifts™! Vampires! Druids! Bugs! COLOR!
Now, if they could only get that
moving picture going...
RIFTS™ Part 15: "A mystic druid far from her home in England."
I'm going to skip forward slightly before I get into the setting to talk about Rifts™ ' art and artists. There are two color art sections, but I'll be covering them both here. Now, looking back at Rifts™ with hindsight, it looks kind of dorky - as I and others have chronicled - but I want to mention it, because it's one of the keys to Rifts™ success. Nowadays, painted color interiors are taken for granted, but back then, having painted color inserts was a new thing. Only TSR could compete visually, really. There has been some deserved mockery of Rifts™ art, but it was still way ahead of many games of the eighties.
Kevin Long basically feels like the face of Rifts™ to me. He designed all the original Coalition forces, and a number of early monsters and classes. His work is a bit stiff sometimes but his designs are really striking. He pretty much made his name through Palladium Books® and has since moved on to do videogame art in 1995. There are rumors of a falling-out between Long and Siembieda but I don't know if that tale has never been told.
Keith Parkinson also did a lot of Rifts™ covers, and was an accomplished artist for TSR before doing freelance work for Palladium Books® , and has done quite a bit of fantasy art out there, including the cover art for Everquest. He passed on in 2005 due to leukemia. Looking at his art, I have to wonder if it was ever originally intended for Rifts™ in the first place, it seems more like generic genre art that Palladium purchased. His art is also on the cover, seen earlier.
Oh, you thought I wasn't going to nitpick this time? Guess again! Those vampires? They're mentioned but never statted. The druid? Mentioned but not statted. That demon? Yep, no details on it. And that doesn't look much like a "cyber-knight" to me. It looks like a regular knight.
I think a lot of Rifts™ was more artist-driven than it gets credit for. I wouldn't be surprised if a many of the game concepts come from clever sketches and incidental designs.
Next: Rifts™ has more Erin Tarn for you! It's time for the setting information! You've come this far. You are worthy of Rifts™' time.
Erin Tarn watches while you sleep.
No, we still haven't been told what a
RIFTS™ Part 16: "It is a pleasure to be writing to learned students so that I do not have to stop to explain some forgotten American term or place."
Next comes a "World Overview" written by Erin Tarn . Remember her? Apparently this was commissioned and printed by the Council of Learning at Lazlo, whatever that is (I bet it thinks it's pretty important) and is the best atlas of the world. But Erin Tarn didn't write it exactly (huh?), instead it was pieced together from her letters, circa 100 P.A. (Post-Apocalyptic Calendar!). She's 63 years old and is quite the biddy.
Also, the Coalition hates her. Man. Let's get the Coalition to try this new cereal. They hate everything . They're a regular hatervania.
Most of the world is wilderness, with scattered communities, and there aren't many cities. Most of the world is "feudal-like". Folks are ruled over by local badasses with magic or technology. Generally scores are settled between rulers, because rulers are the only ones with badass power armor or badass magic. Also, apparently, rulers have no idea how to delegate. But this keeps the super-mega battles between rulers from wrecking all their shit.
Wait, don't feudal rulers have borgs, juicers, and crazies created for this shit? What are they doing during these noble battles? Twiddling their mega-thumbs?
Also, sometimes if a ruler gets out of hand, the cyber-knights ride in and kick their asses. But the cyber-knights won't rule or take responsibility, they just ride on. There are other wandering heroes, too, but mostly just in North America. Though Cyber-Knights have gone to South America, Atlantis, Europe, and Asia. (Presumably, these places have no home-grown heroes?)
Also this Erin Tarn is from the "Old World", aka North America. She starts numbering locales, so I will too. These numbers do not correspond to anything - there are maps but they use a different number set for some reason. I'm not going to cover every location listed in the book; I'll spare you the "minor feudal kingdoms", and "it's a wasteland!" entries.
Please Note: Throughout this section, magic is treated as a real, existing force, complete with theories and history. This is done for dramatic purposes. We must again express Rifts is a purely fictional work and has absolutely no bearing on the real world.
You don't need to know how to spell to know spells!
RIFTS™ Part 18: "Sudden movements, bumpy rides or high speed chases (50mph or faster), have a 60% chance of inducing vomiting or diarrhea."
Now we get the spell list. I'm not going to get too in-depth here, because you'd be bored pretty quick if you've looked at any long list of spells.
Then there's two lists of spells, Alphabetically and by Spell Level. There's a few spells missing on the alphabetical list, but that's par for the course at this point.
Sense P.P.E., a spell which Shifters are supposed to have, does not show up.
RIFTS™ Part 19: "These inconsequential acts of self preservation have increased the landholdings of Chi-Town by 12% and have increased manufacturing and political strength by as much as 35%."
Coalition State Weapons & Equipment
These guys again?!
These guys again.
Time to find out about the Coalition's arsenal.
The recollection of Erin Tarn
It starts with another piece from HUMANKIND'S RISE FROM CHAOS again. Well, I'm starting to understand why the Coalition hates her so. She's even interrupting their chapters to editorialize.
Erin Tarn is back, and apparently she isn't educated! She's just learned a lot. (Huh?) We get the names of "old Empires": Japan, Korea, China, Canada, and USA. She has a bunch of books and "vid-discs" but says the library of Chi-Town was way, way better and had a bunch of information from the Smithsonian. She got to look though it and it was super amazing.
A Study in the corruption of the soul
From the diary of Erin Tarn; Circa 78 P.A.
Karl Prosek is in charge of Chi-Town. And he's a huge jerk. He's using the excuse of "security" to start authoritarian acts of aggression. Erin thinks it's a lot like . She even thinks Karl Prosek is basing his stuff on , and is worried because hardly anybody knows about anymore. Prosek is giving speeches of the superiority of humans over mutants and non-humans.
She admits she might be wrong, but found an essay by Prosek where he totally fan-gushes about . She hopes she's wrong. Because was bad.
No transition, time for equipment! There's also a picture of Karl Prosek. He totally has horns on that helmet. Like the devil. Also he sits around with armor on and a cape, because. Well. He's evil.
And what is that loincloth hiding, anyway?
That's Karl Prosek's son in the picture there to the left. He does not have a name yet.
Coalition "Dead Boy" Body Armor
Anyway, you can see this armor on the right above. It was originally developed by the U.S. Military, but obviously has had extra skulls added. It comes in heavy (CA-1, 80 M.D.) and light (CA-2 50 M.D.). CA = Coalition Armor? It has complete environmental protection, radio, AC, loudspeaker, sunglasses, knife, utility belt... the heavy version is harder to sneak in.
Dog Pack DPM Light Riot Armor
Not clear what DPM stands for. Dog Pack Mutant? The Coalition loves their initialisms! It's lousy protection (30 M.D.) and has no bells or whistles but is very sneaky. Some Dog Packs get the CA-2 armor above, but presumably the helmets don't fit.
It should be noted that though Dog Pack armor doesn't cover the whole body there's no rules for firing at the exposed areas per se (maybe you can do called shots?).
Coalition SAMAS Power Armor
You've seen this thing with the butt-rockets. (The section reuses the same art.) It can fly. It makes the user strong, has a rail gun, mini-missiles, and has a sensor suite like in that Predator movie. It's pretty tough.
It should be noted every power armor or robot has hit locations and a variety of things to shoot at with their own M.D.C. value. It also bears mentioning that all the Coalition power armor, vehicles, and robots run off of nuclear power. There are no rules for this going awry. There are black market costs for all the vehicles in the millions of credits ranges.
Coalition UAR-1 Enforcer Robot
There's been a bunch of models of this since the war with the Federation of Magic. It's 20' tall and can have a pilot and a gunner, or just a pilot. It's bristling with missiles, lasers, and a rail gun. Look, it was the nineties and you could never have quite enough guns. This is a theme you'll see going forward. It's like a plus-sized terminator.
Coalition Spider-Skull Walker
( Editors Note: Yes, we know Spiders have eight legs.)
"Got some rare things on sale... stranger."
RIFTS™ Part 20: "It looks like a cross between something out of World War II and the Jetsons."
The Black Market
Levels of Technology
Hey, look, this part? Has nothing to do with the Black Market.
Basically it's a rough description of how technology is spread out. Most small towns will only have bits and pieces of technology, a lot of which is lousy S.D.C. stuff. A factory town will have a lot of whiz-bang shit. Then there are wilderness people of varying tech. You can go far and wide without encountering anyone for wide spaces, a lot is still unclaimed wilderness.
If you have mega-damage weapons you can go take over shit because you can blow up houses with even a plinky M.D. pistol. A lot of places get taken over by "mean natured rogues" this way. People are wary regarding adventurers with high technology because of this, but some might look to them as saviors. People, you know?
The Black Market
Again? Well. This part is actually about the Black Market. They sell illegal stuff in Coalition Territory. They're well-organized and financed and do a lot of other illegal enterprises. They even sell giant robots! But the price is hiked up from what's listed in the Coalition section, supposedly. Which is confusing, because the Coalition vehicles list "Black Market Cost" already.
They also provide illegal Coalition documentation! There's a lot of on this I'm skimming over, you can get visitor's passes and various IDs, from 6k to 10 million credits depending. I guess if you're a PC and not a Coalition O.C.C. this is how you can muck about inside the Coalition, but there are percentage chances of getting caught.
There are a lot of random costs for various Pre-Rifts artifacts and goods, books, recordings, vehicles, radios, S.D.C. weapons, metals, art, clothing, etc. Basically this is your loot section.
The Black Market doesn't deal with magic much because it brings the fuzz down on their asses.
Selling to the Black Market
Or turning loot into credits. (We still aren't clear where the fuck credits come from, if they're a physical currency or an electronic currency, or... seriously, what the hell?)
Apparently sellers and buyers outside the black market are highly unreliable, and the black market is the best bet. But they're still unreliable jerks, or possibly Coalition plants, or... let's move on. They only buy stuff for a pittance compared to its actual value, like 40% to 5% of the actual value. It covers rough ranges of values but there are no rules for determining if you get a good or bad price.
That's the Rifts economy, folks! That's all you get! No art in this section! You were spoiled with all the skulls last time!
Dammit, Where the fuck are all these credits coming from? My verisimilitude!
Next: Armor down to your undies! Everybody's bulletproof! Take a rocket right in your face! Armor up - the Rifts™ way!
It's important to wear protection.
RIFTS™ Part 21: "Recent fashion has provided a traditional knight's surcoat and even the helmet is often designed to resemble the European knights of old."
There is no transition, we go straight into armor. Most of the armors don't detail where they're manufactured or built. Presumably they come molded onto PCs like action figures.
Mega-Damage Capacity and Armor
Most armor has the same benefits as Dead Boy armor, we won't repeat that. We get black market values for Dead Boy armor here, for some reason. I guess they fit it in here after forgetting it earlier.
It looks like ren faire ran headlong into a biker rally, has 70 M.D.C., is good for sneaking, despite the chain skirt.
This also looks like chain mail knight-type armor, only moreso. We only have their word for it, there's no art. It has 50 M.D.C. and is best at sneaking, just like the ancient knights of old, aka "the ninja of the west".
It looks as bad as it works. It's cheapy-cheap armor and has 35 M.D.C.
The Urban Warrior
Looks like riot gear or Laser Tag, you decide! Has 50 M.D.C.
Special Juicer armor used in all the Juicer pictures, hairgel optional. Has 45 M.D.C., only provides partial coverage, but is good at sneaking.
"Two different lenses provide a level of disorientation and challenge I'm looking for!"
A Juicer figure mint in package:
Plate and pads provide only partial armor for 40 M.D.C. boring next-
Bushman Full Composite Environmental Body Armor
Composite armor that makes you look like a video game baddie, 60 M.D.C.
Bushman to the left, Hunts(woman) to the right:
Unless you're concerned about style, most O.C.C.s just get to choose one set of armor. Go for the Gladiator (if you care about stealth, 70 M.D.C.) or the "Dead Boy" heavy version (if you don't care about stealth, 80 M.D.C.). There's not much purpose for a PC behind these varying models, unless you're really concerned about your post-apocalypse fashion.
The whole problem of being a human in M.D.C. armor is severe, it's a binary existence. Either you have armor left and are alive, or die instantly once losing all your armor. The window of actually surviving a defeat alive seems pretty slim. And since attempts to subdue don't work against M.D.C. armor...
Next: Time for more power armor and robot vehicles! Northern Gun! Titan! The robots of Rifts™ are ready to rock!
Mighty robots, mighty vehicles!
RIFTS™ Part 22: "Regardless of who manufactures the robots, they are of excellent quality and are of a more general, all-purpose design."
We finally get a definition of power armor. it's a human-sized robot exo-skeleton. Anything below 12' is power armor, above 12' is a robot vehicle. It makes you super-strong and is powered by nukes, has radar, computers, laser targeting, radio, and environmental protection. Well, good to know the post-apocalypse has standardization.
Northern Gun Samson Power Armor
Made in Michigan. Can't fly. Basically the Boba Fett suit from the missile section. Has a super rail gun. And, yes, missiles. It's generically impressive!
Flying Titan Power Armor
"The Flying Titan power armor is manufactured by the same mysterious source as the robots." What robots? It flies up to 400 MPH, and has lasers and rockets. Also, apparently, it's for relaxing:
They're like power armor, but taller! They have nuke engines, radar, computers, laser targeting, radio, super-hearing, spotlights, ejection seat, self-destruct (hey, this has a chance of causing radiation, no there are no rules for radiation), voice encoded locks, super-strength, and environmental protection.
Titan Series of Vehicles
The black market sells these but nobody knows where they come from, maybe Germany or Atlantis. They're pretty good robot suits. Oh, these are the robots they were referring to a moment ago.
Titan Combat Robot
It's 28' tall and is loaded down with weapons. Looks ready for the robot football league.
Titan Exploration and Light Combat Robot
Its 20' tall, but the only thing that makes it for "Exploration" is an improved running speed over the Titan Combat Bot. Less weapons, but still pretty well armed.
Titan Reconnaissance Robot
It's 16' tall, barely has any weapons (laser and claws) but is crazy fast compared to its counterparts.
"Ah got guns on mah belly!"
Behemoth Explorer Robot
This a is a huge 60' robot dating before the Rifts, which is confusing, because it's totally for science exploration for a society that totally goddamn explored everything. But! It has a lab, ten rooms that can accommodate 30-80 people, dining area, and a storage bay. It has huge arms for picking stuff up and a bunch of spotlights. It's really tough, has mini-missiles, sensors, and can punch things pretty well. Apparently some people add more weapons but it's unsuited for combat, the text tells us. There is no mechanical basis for this; even a giant robot like this dodges just as well as a wee suit of power armor.
And that's all the robots, except one...
Next: Glitter Boys.
I'm a star, how could I not shine?
RIFTS™ Part 23: "The super-dense chrome armor is constructed on a molecular level and can withstand more mega-damage than any other robot created since."
Finally! This is what the Glitter Boy O.C.C. pilots. It's 10' tall and was built by the U.S. of A. It's designed so you can sit in it for weeks at a time with yummy nutrient paste and water reserves. I can't imagine why some paranoid PC would sit in their armor all the time, but apparently they did. If you stay in it for weeks at a time you start getting penalties to some attributes, but you can recover with an exercise program. It's also a power armor but is in the robot vehicle section, for some reason.
Free Quebec is the only Coalition group that uses these, but Emperor Tromm isn't happy about that. Wait. Who the fuck is Emperor Tromm?!... flipping back to the world section... nope. Still Emperor Karl Prosek. Emperor Prosek better watch out for this Tromm guy, he's trying to steal his seat.
Anyway, only Free Quebec secretly builds these, but they also suspect there's a factory out West that's cranking them out.
This suit gets more fucking love than anything else in the book, it gets two half-page illustrations, three full-page diagrams - just look at this shit:
It has 770 M.D.C., and takes half damage from lasers. Well, no wonder people want to hang around inside this thing. It has a rail gun called a "boom gun" that fires 200 bullets at MACH 2 (which is a big deal, I guess?) and is so powerful it needs a special stabilizing system including laser drills and ass rockets, or it would get knocked on its ass and back 30 feet. It has a sensor system and no other weapons, but it should be noted that it does 3d6 x 10 M.D.C., making it the deadliest weapon in the core game by far. They make a big deal out of it. Also when it's fired people within 200' are deafened and have penalties, and it breaks glass within 300', and
It is ridiculous in every sense. There is nothing more symbolic of Rifts. It's broken, overpowered, overwritten, overdesigned, farcical, and silly. There's a reason it's half the Rifts logo:
And it's kinda cool. The creators loved it to point where it's like "fuck all else in the game, we have a favorite child now".
Next: Yes, it's that time for Rifts™ to give you the gift that keeps on taking: guns. GUNS. GUUUUUUNS.
RIFTS™ Part 24: "Critics of the weapon complain that it is not a general purpose weapon, but a gun designed for augmented humans and D-Bees."
Other Weapons & Equipment
Which is is Rifts™ese for "weapons".
First off, the game gives us prices for "E-Clips", which are universal ammo clips used by handheld energy weapons. They can be recharged and there are Long E-Clips that hold more. There are CE-Clips (canister E-Clips) that hold more shots but only a few Coalition weapons use them.
Time for a curious system effect! Yeah, that's right, I'm going to point out a problem with the game system. I know. Who would have thought? Because burst attacks are based off a percentage expenditure of your clip, if you're big on firing at full auto, just buy regular e-clips, because you're just wasting money and extra shots otherwise!
Also, if for some reason you're using an old-fashioned chemical reaction tube that shoots metal slugs, there are armor-piercing and explosive bullets. Old-fashioned bullet guns are not covered here, though, we have vehicles, cybernetics, and bionics to cover first.
It should be noted that most of these weapons use the "standard" rate of fire, which, to sound like a broken record, still isn't defined.
On to the guns!
Wilk's 320 Laser Pistol & Wilk's 447 Laser Rifle
It's durable and made by some people known as Wilk's. In standard Rifts™ fashion, we don't know who these people are. They make a lot of laser pistols. It's extra accurate but does shit damage. The rifle has more damage, is less accurate, and has more range. Also, they look like Laser Tag weapons:
Wilk's Portable Laser Torch, Laser Wand, and Laser Scalpel
The portable laser torch does good damage and has a lot of settings so it can be used to safely cut through a variety of materials. It's supposedly not a weapon but there's basically no reason why you couldn't use it as one, even if its range is abysmal. Wilk's Laser Wand is a smaller version for use in electronics work (mega-damage electronics work?). Wilk's Laser Scalpel is the smallest version meant for surgery. This is all the "equipment" they meant earlier, but all of it can be used for the hurty.
NG-57 Northern Gun Heavy-Duty Ion Blaster
Oh that's a lot of words for a
gun. It does serious damage for a pistol and is made by Northern Gun. It can have a variety of scopes attached but they are not detailed.
NG-Super Laser Pistol and Grenade Launcher
This is supposed to be a badass oversized pistol only super-strong people can use without penalties. Yes. Even the laser part. It's a laser with kick? It's a laser with kick. Which does... shit damage? Shit damage. The grenades aren't much better, but you can burst fire them for some reason, even though it doesn't correspond to the burst fire rules. It can carry six grenades for some reason, and another eight in a top-feeding clip (not depicted in the art).
NG-33 Northern Gun Laser Pistol and NG-L5 Northern Gun Laser Rifle
The pistol is a sleeker
gun that does crap damage. The rifle is a durable weapon that does decent damage like the
gun with better range. At least, it says its durable, no mechanics reflect this.
NG-P7 Northern Gun Particle Beam
A durable weapon, does great damage. Supposedly awkward but this is not reflected in the mechanics. If there is a "weapon you want to use" in this section this is it. It does damage equal to the later rail guns, only without requiring a ridiculous several-person crew to lug it around.
L-20 Pulse Rifle
This is "manufactured by the black market and several kingdoms". So, the AK of the Rifts™ world. It does middling damage but can fire a triple burst shot that does good damage. Decent gun.
JA-11 Assassin's Energy Rifle
This is a German Pre-Rifts weapon made for Juicers! It can fire a laser beam, an ion beam, or... a single 7.62mm bullet. Even though there's practically impossible to one-shot a person in Rifts. It has a laser targeting system, fancy scope, and a integrated extra clip. The ion beam does less damage but can fire bursts, while the laser can only fire at a "standard" rate.
It also mentions in the middle of the text that the Juicer armor's helmet provides "passive nightvision and other optical enhancements." Well, that clears shit up! And then goes and vagues it up again.
JA-9 Juicer Assassin Variable Laser Rifle
This a German Pre-Rifts Juicer weapon that can adjust its frequency to compensate for laser-reflective armor. It has a fancy sight and laser targeting too. It was designed to take on the Glitter Boy; it will take 110 shots on average from this thing to take down a Glitter Boy. It holds 30 shots in a Long E-Clip. A maxed out starting Juicer can fire about one shot every five seconds. So said Juicer only needs to survive twelve to twenty minutes of combat with a Glitter Boy. The Glitter Boy can murder them in one shot. Good fucking luck with that, Juicers!
It's a magnet that launches metal really fast. They're cheap to make and popular! (They are not actually cheap but it says so for some reason.) They're generally used by power armor or on emplacements. They're super loud and some people who use them get cybernetics just to protect their ears from the sound. You need to be super-strong to slug them around on their own, or sometimes multiple people work together. They use a nuclear power supply that can leak radiation if breached. There are rules for breaching it but no rules for radiation, still.
It should be restated that these rail guns do equal or less damage than the particle beam above and cost two to five times as much and weight roughly ten times as much. But they have a better range!
Also, they use burst fire effects that have nothing to do with the burst fire rules.
C-40R SAMAS Rail Gun
The gun used by the SAMAS. Apparently, it's pirated a lot! It does shit damage but is fired in bursts that do respectable damage. These bursts use different values than the regular burst rules for some reason.
NG-101 and NG-202 Rail Guns
No details on these Northern Guns, but at least we know who makes them. The NG202 is heavier and fires bullets faster.
That's not the last of Rifts™ guns - not by far - but this the the list that matters, since it's what most PCs will be lugging around and firing.
Next: Vehicles! Tragically, we still have things with wheels and don't all just ride around in robots. Vroom!
This section is dedicated to all you road warriors out there...
RIFTS™ Part 25: "The most famous and popular combat vehicle created by the kingdom of Ishpeming (aka "The Northern Gun") is the heavy assault hover vehicle called the Sky King."
Vehicles Commonly used by
No intro here, just vehicle descriptions!
A.T.V. Speedster Hover Cycle
Common, no details on who makes these things. They fly 220MPH, can have weapons added. Not clear if it floats or flies, but based on the illo I'm going to say flies. Some of these run on nuke, some on gas, some on electric. No idea where you can refuel or recharge.
The Wastelander Motorcycle
It's a rough terrain motorcycle, no manufacturer listed, and it goes 120 MPH. Oh! And the tires have 1 M.D.C. each. Gas, electric, or nuke engine. Can have a machinegun or laser added. What part of this cycle do you aim for? How can you decide?! At least it's M.D.C. so it's immune to collisions (the rider may not be). Not that there are rules for collisions, anyway...
The Highway-Man Motorcycle
Pictured in the skills section, above. Pretty much like the Wastelander but faster (180 MPH) and more durable. Has achilles tires as well. Looks like that 60% driving chance hasn't wiped out the rider yet! But then, it looks like he's still standing still.
The Big Boss A.T.V.
No idea who's making this stuff! This can have up to three passengers and a driver, comes with a sunroof or laser. It can go up to 150 MPH, but for some reason is less durable than a Highway-Man. Uses combustion or electric. The tires are tougher but still the part to shoot at (5 M.D.C.).
The Mountaineer A.T.V.
Another A.T.V. of mysterious origins (A.T.V.O.M.O.). Goes 120 MPH. The tires can actually take a hit (25 M.D.C.). Uses combustion, electric or nuke blah blah. You can add a radio or radar but there is no cost provided. You can add additional armor at 30 M.D.C. per 10K and apparently there is no limit. You can add infinite armor!... if you have infinite money, anyway.
The Northern Gun Sky King
Aka the NG-A70, is a large hover vehicle that doesn't look like it can land, ever. The pilot is exposed and can be hit with a called shot. It can fly 500 MPH and is loaded down with weapons and sensors. Runs on nuke.
"Seriously, how the fuck do I land this thing? Hello?"
Wilk's Jet Pack
Yay! Jet Pack! Flies at 120 MPH, uses gas, electric, or nuke, but is pretty fragile. Has a radio, compass, helmet, and... neck support.
That's the last of the vehicles in this book. And there's no M.D.C. sailboat for my sail profiency! I want to see the sailboat. But yes, it turns out a lot of the vehicle skills have no supported vehicles - no boats (even though there are three boat skills), no helicopters, no rules for horses, no jet fighters.
Oh well, not all games can have equipment lists like Spycraft 2.0, I suppose.
Next: Cybernetics! If you want Cyber- in your name, this is the section for you! I'm Cyber-Alien Robo-Rope Mecha-Burn, good to meet you.
Cyber-Knight, Cyber-Doc, Cyber-Longshoreman-
RIFTS™ Part 26: "The perfection of the artificial heart implant, with a 40 year life, was a mega-success."
Cybernetics is the science of bio-mechanics, or combining mechanical systems with biological systems. It started in the 1960s and they got much better once they figured out how to grow artificial tissue that got rejection rates way way down and geez they just go on and on-
Okay: the Pre-Rifts gov'ts developed cyborgs using cybernetics, even started on robots which are detailed in the next book , and mutations to improve standards of living. Then they came up with bionics, which instead of mixing flesh and machine, tried to make superhumans by replacing flesh with machine. So that's the difference between cybernetics and bionics. Educational!
If you have a copy of Ninjas and Superspies™ this section will start to seem rather familiar, though to be fair it's at least adjusted to the setting.
Cybernetics in the world of Rifts
The Coalition has access to cybernetics, but it's controlled by the government and military, and they only provide it to trusted servants of the state. But there's a black market, too, though the prices are high and services are done by "cyber-docs" (remember those?). They also mention that it "may require more than a credit card". There's post-apocalypse credit companies?
Player Characters and Cybernetics
It talks about how some characters start with cybernetics, but how getting implants is a big decision, young one, and you would do well to consider how that tattoo implant would look on you for the rest of your life, what would employers think, etc.
Modified Men (M & Ms)
Yes it does call then "M & Ms", people who have more than 20% or more of their body parts replaced. In other words, a limb or two. Some people think it's unnatural and bad! Others think it's practical and good.
Cybernetic Augmentation Implants
These are implants that make you better. They're usually purely mechanical, unlike later Bio-Systems. They're separated out by type.
Clocks! Compasses! Thermometer! There's also things like motion detectors and radar. If you want to be the human Swiss army knife, this is a start.
Ear and Head Implants
Headjack! Radio! Camera! And things like super-hearing or sound muffling. Yes, you can have cyber-earplugs .
Mostly requires you to have a obvious cyber-eye. 90's eye glint is go! And the usual, thermal, telescopic, night sight, "Old-fashion infrared eye" (like momma used to make), and even cyber-shades .
Breath longer, filters, and atmosphere analyzers. Nothing really humorous here.
These are cybernetics that use both biological and mechanical systems. They look really real! However, they're much more expensive than their cybernetic counterparts, and are more often used for medical or cosmetic purposes. Basically, if you have one of these, you are an effete jerk.
Artificial Bio-System Eyes
Built-in shades! Goggles! Infrared and ultraviolet!
Artificial Bio-Systems For The Head & Internal Organs
Mostly just replacement parts or cosmestic alterations. Nothin' fancy.
They're kind of lousy, and have low attributes when using that limb, but it beats being armless, I guess. Pretty vulnerable to mega-damage and can fritz out or leave you stuck with a dead limb. Bio-system limbs are more natural-looking but weaker, and cybernetic limbs are cheaper and stronger.
Black Market Cybernetics
Crime lords can provide cybernetics, but they're bad guys, and often exploit their customers, etc. Sometimes they'll let people who can't pay the asking price die on their floor! Which seems like a bad business practice, but hey, I'm not in the body-chop-shop butcher business. Sometimes they'll make customers turn to crime, or obtain parts forcibly from others. Prices tend to be a little higher than legal routes.
You can save money by going to a disreputable body-chop-shop, but there's s chart of bad crap! You have an 80% chance of something crummy happening to you, and a 40% chance of something permanent going wrong. Is it safe?
Black Market Specialties
However, there are illegal items you can only get through the black market, including finger cameras, finger guns, finger jacks, finger claws, finger... grenades... uh, okay. (Yay, I tore off my finger and threw it for 3d6 M.D.! So worth it!) There's a bunch of other concealable weapons, disguises, and tools. Oh, and the cyber-armor used by the cyber-knights. It turns out it's a special armor that has an armor rating even though it's M.D.C. So it's a bit crummy, but beats nothin' all to heck.
Wait, does this mean the cyber-knights have to get their cyber-armor through the sinister cyber-black market? I'm so disillusioned!
It's not the cyber-eyes that worry me, it's the cyber-forehead:
Next: Bionics! Look like a monster and punch like a robot! Yeah, becoming a borg was talked about 188 pages ago, and now we're getting around to the rules for it! We better hurry, we're almost out of room in this book!
It turns out the Six-Million Dollar Man should have looked like a skull-faced abomination! I was surprised too.
RIFTS™ Part 27: "The tail can be used much the same way as a monkey uses his tail; i.e., to pickup or grasp items, for climbing, and, unlike a monkey, to attack."
Only the Borg O.C.C. is allowed to get a full or partial bionic reconstruction. Other classes just can't take it. Why?.... because! That is why. Only Headhunters, Coalition Military Speciality, Coalition Dog Packs, and Cyber-Doc O.C.C.s. Other classes can't get bionics otherwise. Why?... because! That is why. Oh, but occasionally Coalition officers and citizens can take bionics. Why?...
You get the idea.
Also magic and psychic folks really avoid bionics, because it screws up their powers. Because.
Bionics is designed for fightin'. You can get bionics through the black market but they tend to be expensive and lousy. There's isolated bionic augmentation, which is just one limb or so, then partial and full as listed under the Borg O.C.C.
It finally lists some of the enhancements you get for getting borginated, mostly strength and speed, penalties to Prowl, and sense of touch is reduced to 52%.
Sense of touch is 52%? When do I even roll that? What does it mean?
Full borgs can have more strength and speed, and... sense of touch at 43%. They barely can Prowl about at all! (But giant robots, for some reason, get no Prowl penalties. Rifts™ , everyone!)
Prosthetic Weapon Limbs
We get M.D.C. values and costs for bionic conversions. Limbs are pretty piddly, and partial and full construction get very strong amounts of durability. Attributes can be purchased with creds as well.
Also there are no weapons in these limbs yet, unless super-strength is enough of a weapon for you. See below for that stuff.
I'm going into super-terse mode because this shit is just lists of shit and gets boring instantly.
Cameras, finger jacks, and... a lot of concealed weapons.
Bionic Hand & Arm Weapons & Tools
Extra arms, tentacles, tails, wires, weapons. And this piece of art from Heroes Unlimited™ , from back in the kickin' eighties:
Bionic Leg Weapons & Accessories
Secret weapons, compartments.
Head & Throat Features
Filters, Radio, translators, funny voices.
Bionic Eyes & Sensors
As per cybernetics. Cyber-shades pt. II.
Cyborg Body Armor
This is where things get crazy. Borgs can have 250 - 700 M.D.C., once they get their special armor, making them one of the toughest classes in the game. The heaviest armor imposes combat penalties, so there is some thought to what you might equip, but a kitted out borg is more durable and destructive than a dragon hatchling, as it turns out.
Oh, and apparently it's popular in borg armor to look monstrous. I guess truth in advertising...
Next: Conventional Weapons and Miscellaneous Equipment! This is the last of the stuff! It won't help you murder cyborg cyclopes, but some jerks want it anyway! Rifts™!
Guns that aren't useful!
! It's the bizarro game!
RIFTS™ Part 28: "This is the kind of high rate of fire, easy to hide weapon favored by terrorists."
There's a large table of melee weapons without details. I admit, I don't know what a hippe or a voulge is off the top of my head, but it's here. All of them do S.D.C. damage, and so are essentially either toys or hunting tools, effectively.
There are some rules for guns that aren't anywhere else, puzzlingly enough. It says you can fire a full clip every turn due to quick reloading mechanisms, but it doesn't say how long it takes to reload. Older weapons like revolvers take a full melee turn to reload.
The rules for firing ranges are here. Apparently, beyond range you instantly get a lot of penalities, which leads to situations like "I have +3 to hit with an AK-47 from 850 ft. away. At 950 ft., I have a -6!" It needs work.
There's a penalty to hit moving targets, and... wait, when using a gun, only Weapon Profienecy bonus counts? Really? While more realistic on the face of things, at the same time, dodge bonuses are not negated at all, so guns are easier to dodge than arrows or swords.
A lot of mundane modern guns that do S.D.C. damage are detailed even though they're largely inconsquential. There are explosive weapons, too, like grenades, that do mild (1d6 or 1d4) amounts of M.D.C. Most interesting are tranquilizer rifles, dart guns, and gas guns, expecially since there's no rule that excepts them from working on M.D.C. targets.
Time to take on some "Dead Boys" with tranq darts!
Here's where you have special goggles and optics, sensory / spy equipment, medical equipment, miscellaneous equipment, and surveillance equipment. Notable interesting pieces include robot medical kits (nanotech healing), language translator, bio-scan device, and a fancy multi-optics helmet (M.O.H.). A lot of things players find useful, but it could be expanded a bit. It's also not clear how these items interact with skills (if I have a Compu-Drug Dispenser, can that help my Paramedic skill?).
There was no art to share from these pages.
That is the motherfucking end of the equipment section. Now you have all the information you need to make a character, finally! It's time for the GM section.
Which is nine pages of a two hundred and fifty-six page book.
Next: Game Mastering - the Rifts way! (By which we slap you on your ass and tell you to work it out yourself.)
"Aahahahahahahahahaha... you're serious?"
RIFTS™ Part 29: "Like many of our games, Rifts is a thinking man's game."
Game Master's Section
Okay, he talks about character creation taking awhile... but says not to worry, people will be satisfied with their characters. Don't be too intimidated by the complexity, this isn't a beginner's RPG... don't be overwhelmed, but the richness of the world can be demanding. But do what you like with the game.
That is, essentially, a summary of the whole GM section. It takes up a half-page if I'm generous. It's not very useful.
Quick Roll Monsters
These are here because... well, they didn't have much space and didn't have room for monsters. There's some rough advice on what a monster is like (yeah, I think I got this one).
First set of tables is the "Animalistic Predator". Let's roll one up! I'm going to spare you the rolls, but I get a monster with this. Description is mine, I'm making the most out of what I get; the creatures it rolls up are actually pretty wimpy! (And if you're wondering what effective level it has for its spell-like... effects, good luck, not mentioned.)
"You'd tell me if I've been putting on weight, right?"
The Toluca Lake Stalker
This monster from the Rifts prefers lakes and rivers, and seeks out helpless victims. Often watching from the water, it tracks those who come to quench their thirst or travel. It is intelligent enough to avoid those who are obviously armed or supernatural, instead focusing its predations on the weak or isolated, and prefers human flesh. If faced with anything threatening, it immediately flees to the nearest source of water. It sometimes uses its Call Lightning power to sink boats and then feed on the crew. It hates fire and will avoid any source of fire or heat. It always hunts alone, and two have never been seen coinhabiting the same body of water. Though it moves quickly on both water and land, it relies more on its surprise and strength, and is a comparatively poor combatant.
It looks like a large, dark green, emaciated humanoid with webbed feet and hands, and its body is bisected by a large pair of jaws. Atop its body is a skull-like face, with a bisected lower jaw that opens up like a pair of mandibles.
Horror Factor: 12
Height: 12 feet tall
Attributes: I.Q. 7, P.S. (strength) 20, P.P. (prowess) 19, P.E. (endurance) 20, Speed 70, all others N/A.
Combat: one attack per round, +1 to Initiative, +3 to Strike, +2 to Dodge and Parry, has a 1d6 M.D. bite (head mouth) and 2d6 bite (belly mouth)
Natural Abilities: Can Track by Sight 44%, or Swim 90%
Magic: Once per melee turn, it can Call Lightning or See the Invisible, as per the spells.
Weakness: Takes M.D.C. damage from normal fire and double damage from M.D.C. fire / plasma.
Next, there are tables for intelligent supernatural monsters. They're basically rules for sneaky demon-types. Let's roll one up!
The Grey Thing, Psuedo-Vampire
This grey humanoid is featureless save for its mouth, which has tiny, needle-like teeth, and needle-claws on the tips of its four-fingered hands. It prefers to dress in heavy clothing gathered from its victims, however, and disguise itself as a humanoid in order to hunt prey. Once disguised, it uses Alter Aura to hide itself from other psychics and sorcerers, and Presence Sense to avoid other supernatural beings and sorcerers. It isolates victims, then uses its powers over the mind to incapacitate them and drag them to a location like an abandoned building or cave, where it binds them and feeds upon their blood, using its Healing Touch to force them to recover. It uses Mind Wipe to destroy their memories, and then abandons them if any threats come near. If confronted, it uses its powers to sow confusion among its foes while fleeing. Despite its sinister nature, it is curious about humanoid society, and often asks its victims incessant questions about local customs and laws.
Horror Factor: 14
Height: 6 feet tall
Attributes: I.Q. 9, M.A. (affinity) 19, P.S. (strength) 21, P.P. (prowess) 14, P.E. (endurance) 16, Speed 30, all others N/A.
Combat: three attacks per round, claws 1d6 M.D., bite 1d4 M.D.
Skills: Prowl 27%, English 50%, Dragonese 50%, Tracking 30%, Climbing 40% / 30%, Singing 40%, Wilderness Survival 30%, Hunting, Lore: Demons and Monsters 25%, Anthropology 20%
Psionics: Bio-Regeneration, Healing Touch, Alter Aura, Nightvision, Presence Sense, Mind Block, Bio-Manipulation, Mind Wipe
Magic: Can cast the following spells: See Aura, Sense Magic, Mystic Alarm, Heavy Breathing, Invisibility: Simple, Paralysis: Lesser, Charismatic Aura, Trance
Weakness: Takes M.D.C. damage from silver weapons.
Then we have a rough conversion table between speed and MPH. Given that the game uses Speed for characters and MPH for vehicles, this is handy. (It would have better to settle on one, though.)
These are the bug-people from another dimension mentioned in the setting information. Theyve been around for about several decades, but have been swarming in from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There could just be twenty thousand or maybe hundreds of thousands. They're really territorial and jump on any large group of humanoids or obvious threat within about 10 mi. of their hives.
They have hives with tall towers that are M.D.C. and have the troops up high and the workers down low and the queen somewhere deep within. Those are also the three types of Xiticix. They're not that tough, but they have special telekinetic rifles and numbers. They can do mega-damage bare-handed, but also use S.D.C. weapons because... they're dumb? They also have a poison bite and enhanced scent. The workers are weaker but have M.D. pincers. Lastly, the queen is a lot tougher and has a number of psionic powers.
They're giant beetles that move erratically and tend to go berserk at the drop of a hat. However, some hunt them to make them into armor, or to use as riding animals! They're actually really tough, scary, dangerous (they bite hard) and totally stolen from Nausicaa.
A Typical Dinosaur
And there's a sparse handful of statblocks for predatory dinosaurs. They do M.D.C. for... some goddamn reason.
Rogues and Other Antagonists
A coalition grunt, SAMAS pilot, and a "bandit (headhunter)" are given some very basic combat stats to round out the page.
And that's the book. That's all of it. We're motherfucking done .
The final word.
RIFTS™ Part 30: "The setting in Rifts is a crucial element of the game and the story we are trying to tell."
I knew this would be a lengthy project, but it ended up being a lot longer than even I expected. I've been rushing through these final parts, since the game pretty much reaches the climax with the Glitter Boy and it's pretty boring from there on out. Updates were quick because, honestly, I did roughs for about half the book well in advance, and if I do another, it'll wait until I'm well along on posts again. I didn't and don't want to risk adding to the abandoned page.
Ultimately, I ended up going into more detail than I needed to, hopefully I'll find a way to tone it down in the future. But really understanding how sloppy and rushed Rifts feels required me to just go over with a fine-toothed comb and pull out all the knots.
I have a love-hate relationship with this game, like many. It's got almost a childish glee in which it throws ideas at the wall, but it has no patience to sit down and work out decent mechanics. Even for its time, and even compared to other Palladium Books® games, it's awfully incoherent, like a grab bag of cool shit thrown into a note binder. We're lucky it has headers, as far as I'm concerned.
Palladium continues to publish books for the Rifts series, with about 80 books published between 1990 and 2011.