An Introduction To Rifts Earth
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Rifts is an amazing setting with an amazing amount of detail, which can be a bit overwhelming at times. This is why a condensed summary can be handy.
Note to New Players: Read the Rifts Earth section for now. You can skip Important Recent Events — just know that it's here for reference when those events are mentioned in the game.
Some time in our future, Earth had reached a Golden Age — of technology, if not of society. We don't know what the war was about, or even how it was fought, but there was something about it — the weapons used, the number of people killed, the alignment of the planets — that cracked the once-subtle undercurrent of magic wide open. Earth's ley lines powered up, now glowing blue as they cut across the landscape, ranging from a few yards to half a mile wide. And at each nexus where these ley lines intersected, a rift might randomly open onto an alien dimension. When it did, monsters would pour forth, ranging from mindless beasts to sapient raiders and conquerors; we called them "dimensional beings" or "D-Bees" for short, and did our best to fight them with the help of heroes like the Glitter Boys and Cyber-Knights.
After a few hundred years, humanity had pushed back enough that society started to reform. Most areas are still independent walled villages and cities, but larger states and nations gradually came to be. The rifts still opened randomly and the countryside was plagued with D-Bees; most people still considered all D-Bees threats, but some folks were willing to give the intelligent ones a chance to be allies. Battles were now fought with odd combinations of "modern" technology, Golden Age (highly advanced) technology, magic, and psionics. The new study of "techno-wizardly" even learned to blend these things together.
North America today is dominated by the Coalition States and the True Federation of Magic. In fact, about one-third of the populace is part of each nation, with the remaining third in an independent city or state.
Coalition States (CS): This group of allied towns grew into a nation of allied states, thanks to their black & white belief that all magic and all D-Bees are threats. (As something you're born with, psi is acceptable but only if used for the benefit of the CS.) The founding of their capital, Chi-Town (in the ruins of Chicago) is accepted as "0 PA" on the calendar that all of North America now uses. They continue to maintain order via xenophobia and dissuade literacy in their populace, but are genuinely concerned for their people's safety. Their armed forces infamously use a "skull" motif, with their soldiers known as "Deadboys."
True Federation of Magic (Federation): The Magic Zone is an area from the Mississippi River to the Appalachians, special for its unusual concentration of ley lines and nexuses. Many magicians and D-Bees gradually relocated there in response to the growing CS. Eventually, they formed a loose amalgam of cities and states, united only in their opposition to the CS. The Federation welcomes anyone, though magical beings are seen as inherently superior. Their "anything goes" approach is attractive to many, but also means that demon summoning, necromancy, soul binding, and other dark magic are practiced openly and regularly.
Other states and nations worth mentioning:
- Atlantis: Yep, it rose, out in the Atlantic. Slavers known as Splugorth and their blind Altara are a serious threat.
- Free Quebec: Once a CS state, they recently seceded but remain friendly. Equally xenophobic, but more honest and pro-education.
- Great Lakes: Various Michigan corporate nations, theoretically allied with the CS but extremely libertarian.
- Lazlo: The largest non-Federation magical state, in the ruins of Toronto.
- Pecos Empire: The southwest is dominated by several cartels and warlords, an "empire" in name only.
- Shemmarian Nation: The east coast is claimed by powerful warrior women, though their cities and patrols are sparse.
- Vampire Kingdoms of Mexico: Various vamp-dominated states, with complex politics between them.
Finally, there's the Tomorrow Legion, a group that was basically founded in the wake of the CS/Tolkeen war (see below). The Cyber-Knight Lord Coake and a group of Dwarves led by Dhara Hammerheart made Castle Refuge into a place for refugees from Tolkeen. Later, with their numbers bolstered (including famed Rogue Scholar Erin Tarn), they decided to form the Legion as a force for good in a world that needs it. And in a default Savage Rifts game, the PCs are part of these early Legion days.
The Tomorrow Legion has three nearby neighbors, worth mentioning only due to their proximity:
- Kingsdale: Diverse and accepting, with humans and D-Bees of all types. Many Juicers settled here after the Uprising.
- Merctown: Libertarian city owned by two merc groups (the town stiffed them on payment, so they took the town).
- Whykin: Human supremacists who keep D-Bees as slaves. Independent thanks to their surprisingly powerful army.
Important Recent Events
These had a huge impact on the setting and are common knowledge to everyone who isn't newly arrived to North America. Note that the Siege of Tolkeen spanned five years, so the Juicer Uprising and Free Quebec happened during said siege. Here, "PA" refers to years since the founding of Chi-Town (the CS capital); the default start date for a Savage Rifts game is late 109 PA.
104 PA: CS Declares War on Tolkeen
Details below; this is where it started.
105 PA: The Juicer Uprising
With the CS/Tolkeen war in full swing, Ultra-Tech Industries came to the CS with the "Prometheus Treatment," a procedure that would extend a Juicer's life by about two years and secretly add a literal remote kill switch. The CS lied that this could extend a Juicer's lifespan by decades (parading about 7- and 8-year Juicers as "proof") and used that propaganda to recruit Juicers as disposable shock troops to attack Tolkeen. Thousands came to Newton (in CS El Dorado), camped outside of the city, and slowly began receiving treatment.
A case of mistaken identity led to a Juicer fight, which the CS shut down with extreme force, which led to a pitched Juicers-vs-CS skirmish. After the CS pulled back inside the Newtown walls, a captured and tortured CS officer revealed the truth about the treatment. Under leader "Julian the First," the Juicers declared war on the CS, who immediately triggered the kill switch on all treated Juicers (about 10% of them). The Juicers took Newtown and then Fort El Dorado, thanks to the CS deciding to commit to Tolkeen instead of "this Juicer mess."
About this time, the now-dead treated Juicers climbed out of their graves as Techno-Zombies. This led everyone to investigate Ultra-Tech Industries, which turned out to be a plot of aliens (the Vallax) to gradually techno-zombify all of Earth. Juicers and CS forces fought the Vallax together, after which the CS quashed the uprising by declaring the Juicers heroes. All in all, this event was a huge embarrassment for the CS.
105 PA: Free Quebec and the Campaign of Unity
104-109 PA: The Siege of Tolkeen
109 PA: Tomorrow Legion Founded
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