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.
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 ripped open the world's once-subtle undercurrent of magic. 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, advanced Golden Age technology, magic, and psionics. A new science, techno-wizardry, 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.
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 (in the ruins of Chicago) 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 soldiers nicknamed "Deadboys."
The True Federation of Magic ("the 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 had formed communities there; the loose amalgam of cities and states became united in opposition to the CS shortly after the latter declared that all magic was evil. 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 Significant States and Nations
- Atlantis: Yep, it rose, out in the Atlantic. Slavers known as Splugorth and their blind Altara minions are a serious threat.
- Free Quebec: Once a CS state, they recently seceded but the two remain allies. Xenophobic but pro-education.
- Great Lakes: A cluster of Michigan corporate micro-nations, theoretically allied with the CS but extremely libertarian.
- 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: The east coast is claimed by powerful warrior women, though their cities and patrols are sparse.
- 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.
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