Rifts is a multi-genre role-playing game created by Kevin Siembieda in 1990 and published continuously by Palladium Books since then. Rifts takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, deriving elements from cyberpunk, science fiction, fantasy, horror, western, mythology and many other genres. Since its creation, over 250,000 copies of the original Rifts rule book have been sold and over 60 books have been created.


Rifts serves as a cross-over environment for a variety of other Palladium games with different universes connected through "rifts" on earth that lead to different spaces, times, and realities. Through Palladium's universal combat and conversion system, characters and elements from different games can interact and combine in new ways, resulting in a completely unique role-playing setting that Palladium calls the "Rifts Megaverse".

Rifts describes itself as an "advanced" role-playing game and not an introduction for those new to the concept. Palladium estimates that "1.5+ million gamers have played Rifts and many times that number have heard of it."

Palladium continues to publish books for the Rifts series, with five published between April and December 2005. Rifts Ultimate Edition was released in August 2005 and designed to update the game with Palladium's incremental changes to its system, changes in the game world, and additional information and character types. The web site is quick to point out that this is not a second edition but an improvement and expansion of the original role playing game.



Rifts is an environment embroiled in conflict between different groups, factions, and interests. It employs many concepts of enormous evil, treachery, racism (or species-ism), and more to tell a story of enormous change. Its backdrop allows for a great variety of storytelling and exchange, giving players a great variety between "hack-and-slash" style role-play against the more cerebral problem-solving or political games, and all shades in-between.

Damage and firepowerEdit

One important note about Rifts versus other game systems is scale: weaponry and combat in Rifts are far more destructive than in traditional gaming systems. For example, in Rifts and other Palladium games, a simple knife inflicts between 1 and 4 "points" of damage. This point system makes sense when considering a small animal killed has between 1 and 4 "hit points," which make it realistic that it could be killed by a single strike. Yet even a basic Rifts-era laser pistol will cause between 100 and 400 points of damage (more than enough to totally destroy a small car in one shot). This means someone shot by such a laser pistol would be literally cut in half without protective armor and trees, bystanders, or anything else in the line of fire would meet a similar fate. Thus, an average player character in Rifts Earth with standard-issue armor and weapons has the effective durability and firepower of a modern tank. Even minimal skirmishes may leave deep craters, level towns, and kill many bystanders.

To accommodate this scale, Mega Damage Capacity or MDC is an important game concept. Each point of mega-damage is equal to 100 points of "Structural Damage" or SDC, enough to destroy a small car. For example most personal body armor in the Rifts setting has on average 40 to 80 MDC, and armored vehicles start around 200 MDC and go up from there. Exceedingly powerful beings such as Dragons, gods and alien intelligences have mega-damage skin caused by the high levels of magic energy present in this game setting, and their MDC can soar into the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

As Rifts has no systematic method of designing weaponry, the game is criticized frequently for severe power escalation; often magic, equipment, and character classes from new books are drastically more powerful than those from an earlier one (Sometimes even with the same character class), requiring players to buy the most recent supplement to keep up with the power curve (This is parodied in an 8-bit Theater episode fittingly titled "Glitter Boy". Rifts Conversion Books are designed to help facilitate the transition of magic and psychic characters into this new landscape, for which many automatically gain increased benefits due to the magic-rich environment. But a pistol that fires projectiles in our time fires the same bullets with the same effects during Rifts times and is effectively useless in most combat situations. It does retain certain value as an antique, and from a survival standpoint can be desirable as a hunting weapon.

Character classesEdit

Character Classes are divided into two categories: Occupational Character Classes (O.C.C.), and Racial Character Classes (R.C.C.). Both indicate a character's training and learned skills, as well as specifying one's initial weapons and equipment. An R.C.C. indicates that the character's racial background prevents the selection of an O.C.C.: some races (such as human) may choose an O.C.C. on top of their race, while some, usually due to culture or other conditions (such as game balance), are a Character Class in and of themselves.


Rifts, like other Palladium games, uses percentile dice to calculate skill success. Each character, based on training, intelligence, and experience level, has a base percentage chance of success. If a number equal to or below a player's percentage is rolled on percentile dice, then the use of the skill is considered to be a success. While modifiers are suggested in cases of unusual difficulty or proficiency, these are rare in the system, usually reserved for special skills. Some criticize this as being more cumbersome than the D&D D20 System while Palladium defends their method as allowing for a wider variety of skills.

However, Combat is determined through the use of 20 sided dice. In its most basic form the combat system is an opposed roll of two dice, with additions and subtractions for character skills and environmental factors. One character will generally be offensive, the other defensive, and the highest dice roll will determine if the defender is struck by the offensive character's attack.

External linksEdit

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