Let’s Talk about RIFTS

RIFTS is probably one of the first RPGs I played back in the day. I still remember the demise of my first RIFTS character, who forgot to wear his MDC armor before trying to dismantle a robot. Unfortunately this robot was booby-trapped and soon after opening its chest, the rest of the party had to clean off my character’s chunks from all over their armor.

My next character was THE Ezekiel Stargazer, Ley Line Walker and Scholar Extraordinaire. Even to this day, I use this name for my main email address. Even though the rules were clunky, I totally loved the game and it was a shame we didn’t play it more often. Even today I often think of the RIFTS setting and try to find ways to run it for my friends. But there’s one problem: I just can’t stand the rules system.

In my opinion it’s just clunky, overly complicated, incomplete and badly explained. It just sucks. As much as I love the world, I just can’t stand the rules. The layout of the books is also an issue. They look like they have been created in the pre-digital times when people still used scissors and glue to do layout. And I fear that’s actually how they are created to this day.

But having said all that, I can’t help but appreciate the awesomeness that is RIFTS. The excitement for the setting just jumps at you from each paragraph and piece of artwork. RIFTS has something for everyone: Huge humanoid robots, high-tech, magic, psionics, cthulhuesque monsters, fairies, whatever you can think of – it’s in RIFTS somewhere.

Recently something happened which I would have never dreamed of: Palladium Books gave Pinnacle Entertainment a license to produce a Savage World RIFTS game. I haven’t checked it out yet, mainly because I am highly skeptical Savage Worlds is the right system for this totally over-the-top setting. Something like one of the various super hero roleplaying games might actually work better.

So, what are your thoughts on RIFTS? How do you deal with the rules? I actually heard several times that even Kevin Siembieda uses a lot of house rules when he runs the game at conventions. Perhaps one of my readers has played in one of those games and can share some of their insights. If you guys have any idea how to solve my RIFTS conundrum, please let me know in the comments below!