Rifts Earth is the core of the Palladium Megaverse. It is important the same way Earth is in the Marvel Comics universe. While most Marvel Comic RPGs focus on New York City, Rifts Earth has a lot more options. Much of North America, parts of Central America, parts of Europe, Africa, Russia, China, Japan, and Australia have one or more Rifts books. The default setting is arguably the upper Midwest of the US, home of Chi-town, center of the Collation States.
Of course, what kind of Megaverse would be limited to Earth. It has a major outer space option forming a parallel to Marvel’s space empires (now brought to movies with Guardians of the Galaxy) in Phase World and the Three Galaxies presented over six books. Two books feature other planets. Wormwood describes a weird living medieval type world of the same name. Skraypers presents the world of Charizolonf which has a huge superheroes population fighting alien invaders. The last big official Rifts setting still available covers a pair of hell dimensions and their war which spills across the Megaverse over five books. The setting of the game Manhunter by Myrmiddon Press was presented as a Rifts setting in a long out of print book licensed by Palladium*. Finally, any other Palladium setting can connect to Rifts Earth via the titular dimensional rifts. The universe of the Mechanoids is an interesting case as it has both a separate game and a Rifts Sourcebook.
For a long time my stock Rifts setting was the Connecticut River valley. It’s a nice location in terms of potential opponents and society. Free Quebec is both a threat and a trading partner, the Splugoth will be raiding the coastal area, and Archie Three can be a threat without much work. The key thing for New England was realizing you just couldn’t use the population numbers from Rifts Sourcebook or the combined human/DeeBee population would be lower than even the lowest estimate for native North Americans before Columbus by a factor of three. If you do the math (which I will in a future post) there aren’t enough people left to have adventure.
However, I’d like to try something different. I’m a huge fan of Phase World. I’d also like to do something around the place I did most of my growing up, Casper, Wyoming. One place I want to avoid is the original US Upper Midwest of the US setting. I’m not a big fan of the Collation and would rather avoid anything that makes
them the good guys. That’s what is keeping me from doing a Federation of Magic game.
The biggest advantage now of Phase World is I could sell the campaign as a Guardians of the Galaxy style game. I’ve always though of Phase World as
several setting ideas or perhaps just as something that could be expressed in different way. Traditionally I’ve thought of it as the best BESM setting book
for space and mecha games. As a longtime fan of the Legion of Superheroes I’ve also seen Phase Worlds as a super’s setting. The biggest downside of Phase
World is it’s harder to get a tight initial focus. At least, I think it would be.
Casper, Wyoming is actually mentioned in the book Spirit West:
Casper Preserve (Wyoming): This Preserve is built on the ruins of Casper, Wyoming and is manned and controlled by the Cheyenne/Sioux Coalitions. It is one of the best defended of the Preserves in terms of the skill and determination of its warrior, shamans, and spirit allies, but then it needs to be. It is located on the edge of the Black Hill Nexus and is a land besieged by supernatural horrors.
Sounds great except an Indian preserve might be limiting in terms of the types of characters. This is especially true as 90% are Traiditionalist, Native Americans who have rejected tech in the years since the apocalypse.
That said, this conflicts with the original core Rifts book to a degree. It’s entry for Wyoming says:
The American sector once known as Wyoming is a range of grassland and dense forest where faerie folk abound. There is a feeling of magic about the entire place, although there are no apparent mystic or supernatural forces at work.
This brings up one of the great strengths of Rifts for an old school type GM that has hurt Palladium in the contemporary market. Rifts is often a contradictory mess especially over the course of multiple books. For an old school GM the lack of an official answer gives me a lot more freedom to make the game mine.
I’m going to work on a game set in what was Wyoming and western South Dakota. As we’ll see tomorrow forests, snow, and active ley lines are a huge
part of what drew me to Rifts. This seems the perfect place to take advantage of them.
*We’ll have a review of that book somewhere along the line during my Friday Buried Treasures reviews.