After a catastrophe activates the Earth’s ley lines rifts open to other dimensions. These rifts allow all sorts of beings to travel from their own realms to Earth. Demons, vampires, Dragons, and all nature of alien life forms cross over changing the very face of the world. Players assume the roles of characters trying to live in a world that is no longer their own. This is the basic premise and appeal of Rifts.
Rifts is a fabulous and original setting that seems to incorporate the elements of every roleplaying genre. If you want to play high fantasy one night and sci-fi the next you can. Pretty much any style of game is possible with Rifts. There are countless races (R.C.C.’s), and character classes (O.C.C’s) for players to chose from. This not only leads to but encourages players to be as
creative as possible.
Palladium uses the same system in all of their games which allows players to jump from one system, such as Rifts, to the next, like Palladium Fantasy, with little trouble. Which is one of the more appealing aspects of the entire system. The books are a great read and even if you don’t play the system, the background and setting itself can inspire tons of great ideas to use in any campaign. The books are a great resource for every gamer.
Rifts has been accused of having a large learning curve, but I disagree to an extent. An experienced gamer would have little trouble figuring out the system. While character creation does take some time, it’s fairly cut and dry. This approach to character creations results in detailed PC’s.
The book Rifts: Ultimate Edition is billed as the only thing you need to begin playing, which is sort of true. While you can begin playing with just this book don’t expect to get much out of it.
R:UE contains only one alternative race, Dragon. While there are numerous O.C.C’s to start they are very unevenly matched, a common complaint about the system as a whole. Making a party with a Ley Line Walker, a Rogue Scholar and Glitter Boy will lead to a party where many adventures will leave one or more members with little to do. Unless the GM takes the time to make each PC shine, but that means a lot of work for the GM. This holds true for enemies as well, some are just too powerful for an average PC to handle.
The system uses two different damage systems depending on how powerful the characters/races/weapons are, which also lends to an unbalanced game. Which is one of the primary complaints I hear over and over about the Palladium System. Though the argument again can fall back on it being the GM's job to create the balance. After all people are generally not evenly matched in real life, but instead a group can compliment each other based on their skills and abilities. The Glitter Boy won't be much good sneaking into a tight area, and the "Theif" won't be much good going up agains a Mega Damage Cyborg.
R:UE also has little information for the game master to work with in terms of enemies. There are no NPC stats, and no monster stats. Instead you will need to buy more books to get these things or else stat everything yourself. If you just don't have the time to do it yourself you will have to buy more books. None of this information, NPC or Monster stats, is contained in any single book, but instead spread out over many books. There is no monster compendium, and the Game Master’s book is pretty much a list of equipment, and skills.
The book is also not well organized. Part of the reason character creation takes so long is trying to find all the things you need. This is very frustrating for newbies. Poor organization is probably my biggest complaint with the book. R:UE also doesn’t contain character sheets. Instead the back of the book is filled with a product catalog so that you can buy more Rifts books. Which you will need to do if you actually want to get the most out of the system.
All in all a great setting with something of interest for nearly any role-player. Definitely something that should be picked up if you have the cash and don't mind investing it in the game.
While I enjoyed the game, this is fair warning that you will need to invest a lot in books and
time to truly enjoy it. Which may be too much for some gamers.
Rifts is undoubtedly one of my all time favorite settings and despite the fact that things such as character creation are incredibly time consuming, I really do like the game. My primary problems are with what I feel is poor organization in the core books and the fact that so much information, a lot of which is pretty important and useful, is spread over so many books.