Savage Rifts: What Books You Need
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Q: "I'm looking to get into Savage Rifts. What books do I need to start playing?"
A: Well . . .
Literally Must Have
Technically, you can run a Savage Rifts game with just these . . .
- Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (SWADE): The various Rifts books aren't fully standalone in that they don't include the core SWADE rules, so you'll need this. You probably already own it.
- Rifts 1: The Tomorrow Legion Player's Guide: This is the "core" Savage Rifts book. It includes the basic character options and gear, new rules for the setting, etc. You cannot run Rifts without it.
But Also These
. . . but in practice, you'll hate running a game without these, too.
- Rifts 3: Savage Foes of North America: The bestiary, with both monsters and the normal human foes you'll be facing. Without this, you'll have to make up all NPC opposition.
- Rifts 2: Game Master's Handbook: Almost as necessary as the bestiary. Full of setting info, additional rules, GM advice, a huge adventure generator, details on how rifts actually work, and more.
Note that the three Savage Rifts books above are available as part of the Adventure Box Set, which also includes the GM Screen and "Garnet Town Gambit," an excellent intro adventure.
That's all of the "needs", so now let's talk about the "wants" . . .
This is subjective, but once you have the above I suggest:
- Rifts 7: Tomorrow Legion Field Manual: New character options and gear, rules for Journeys and Barter that I consider a must to use, and several adventures to run.
Expanding the World
Further books tend to focus on different parts of the setting. (Books 4-6 flesh out parts of North America, while Books 8+ expand to cover other regions.) Each one offers several new character options, new gear, monsters and NPCs, minor new rules, and a ton of new setting info. The latter includes new places and factions, new adventures (including a full Plot Point Campaign), and advice on helping the GM use these regions and factions in the game.
- Rifts 4: Arcana & Mysticism: Fleshes out the arcane parts of North America, including the Spirit West, the Magic Zone and Federation of Magic, and Psyscape.
- Rifts 5: Blood & Banes: Fleshes out the monstrous parts of North America, including the Vampire Kingdoms, Xiticix Hivelands, Mutant Lands, and Calgary Monster Kingdom.
- Rifts 6: Empires of Humanity: Fleshes out the "mundane" human-dominated parts of North America, including the Coalition States, Domain of Man, and assorted areas of the West.
- Rifts 8: Atlantis & the Demon Seas: Covers Atlantis (a continent occupied by the evil Splugorth) and oceangoing factions, including pirates and independent naval forces. Adds Bio-Wizardry and Tattoo Magic.
- Rifts 9: Land of a Thousand Islands: Covers South America, including the warring north kingdoms, Cities of Gold, Silver River Republics, Empire of the Sun, Arkhon aliens, and Megaversal Legion. Adds Biomancy and religious options. Announced but unreleased.
Adventure Box Sets
These combine a "miniature setting book" for the area in question with new adventures, NPCs, handouts, etc. Effectively, each can be a "campaign in a box", a way to supplement a broader campaign, or anything in between.
- Terror on the Dark Frontier: Set in the CS Frontier area, with a focus on the Comanche Preserve, the rivals/threats (1st Apoc. Cavalry, Simvan, Psi-Stalkers, etc.) they face, and something more horrifying. Announced but unreleased.
There are several free PDF downloads that you shouldn't overlook.
- Savaging Your Favorite Rifts Ideas: Consider this Game Master's Handbook Part 2. Advice on adding more stuff to your Savage Rifts games, including some new Iconic Frameworks that work with other Savage Worlds products.
- Welcome to the Post-Apocalypse: A beautifully illustrated introduction to the history, backstory, and setting of Rifts Earth.
- One-Sheets and Character Sheet: Some "One-Sheet Adventures" along with a form-fillable character sheet.
- Palladium Gaming Using Savage Rifts: This is the opposite of "Savaging Your Favorite Rifts Ideas", with advice on using Savage Rifts material in Palladium Rifts. You probably don't need this, but if you swap between systems (or are a Palladium gamer reading this page out of curiosity) it's invaluable.
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