An Introduction To Rifts Earth
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Note: Pinnacle now offers a free Intro to Rifts PDF with snazzy artwork that focuses more on Rifts history and less on today's factions.
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 for new players.
Local map is at the bottom of this page. Don't feel like you have to follow the links; they're just there if you want more detail on recent events.
By around 2100 A.D., Earth had reached a Golden Age of technology . . . but sadly, not of peace and civility. Something about one war — the weapons used, the number of people killed, the alignment of the planets — ripped open a metaphysical scar, and magic returned.
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 (the "Dark Ages"), humanity had pushed back enough that society started to reform. Independent walled settlements grew into larger states and nations. Rifts still opened randomly, so the countryside was plagued with D-Bee monsters. Most people 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 a mix of technology, magic, and psionics; a new science, techno-wizardry, even learned to blend these things together.
Today, North America 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.
The Coalition States ("the 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. (Psi can be acceptable, but only if used for the benefit of the CS.) The founding of their capital, Chi-Town is accepted as "0 PA" on the calendar that all of North America now uses. They dissuade literacy in their populace and continue to maintain order via xenophobia, but genuinely keep their people safe and content. Their armed forces infamously use an intimidating "skull" motif, with their jackbooted soldiers nicknamed "Deadboys."
The Federation of Magic ("the Federation")
The Magic Zone is an area with a high concentration of ley lines and nexuses, leading many magicians and D-Bees to form communities there. When the CS declared that magic was evil, Lord Dunscon (somewhat) united the Zone's loose amalgam of cities and states in opposition. 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 magics are practiced openly and regularly — especially in Dunscon's lands.
Other significant North American states and nations
- Atlantis: A new continent in the Atlantic, from which Splugorth slavers send their minions ashore to abduct people.
- Free Quebec: Once a CS state, they recently seceded but the two remain allies. Xenophobic but pro-education.
- Lazlo: The largest non-Federation magical state (now that Tolkeen is gone), in the ruins of Toronto.
- Pecos Empire: The southwest is dominated by several cartels and warlords, a unified empire in name only.
- Shemmarian Nation: Warrior women claim the east coast, but their clans are too sparse to truly hold it.
- Tolkeen: Was a very powerful magical kingdom. Recently destroyed by the CS. Refugees are common.
- Vampire Kingdoms of Mexico: Various vamp-dominated regions, with complex politics between them.
The Tomorrow Legion
Just recently, the Tomorrow Legion was founded in the wake of the CS/Tolkeen war. Initially, Lord Coake and others simply wanted to renovate Castle Refuge to house refugees from Tolkeen, but they later expanded their mission to include making the world a better place. In a default Savage Rifts game, it's 109 PA and the PCs are part of these early Legion days.
The Tomorrow Legion has three nearby neighbors, worth mentioning only due to their proximity:
- Kingsdale: A diverse and accepting city-state, with humans and D-Bees of all types. Many Juicers settled here after the Uprising.
- Merctown: A libertarian city owned by two mercenary groups; the town stiffed them on payment, so they took the town.
- Whykin: Human supremacists who keep D-Bees as slaves. This kingdom is independent thanks to a surprisingly powerful army.
Map Note: Brown is true CS territory. Orange is territory the CS claims but does not actually control.
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