What is RIFTS?
Well too avoid reinventing the wheel, why don’t I let Mr. Kevin Seimbedia tell you:
A World Overview
Through the eyes of Erin Tarn
What follows is a brief world overview written by historian and explorer, Erin Tarn. It is an excerpt from the most recent book that bears her name, Traversing Our Modern World. The book is an unauthorized collection of letters and notes from Erin Tarn to various colleagues, and several recountings from people who spoke to her at length on world subjects. The correspondences span the last two decades and include several dozen missives that are as recent as three years old. Without a doubt, it is the most accurate and inclusive journal/atlas of the Rifts world available on the black market. Unfortunately, that is not saying much, as even the intrepid historian Tarn has vast gaps in her knowledge of the world. It is this lack of complete knowledge that made her refuse to write the volume herself, or personally endorse the much sought after publication.
The excerpt which follows is a world overview commissioned by the Council of Learning at Lazlo. It is also the Council at the Free State of Lazlo who have published the tome. Traversing Our Modern World is forbidden in all Coalition States and affiliates. It currently ranks number one on the list of outlawed books (several of her other books are among the top 20). The Coalition has just recently denounced the 63 year old historian as demonic and a criminal of the Coalition States! Her whereabouts are not known.
The World, Circa 100 P.A.
I still can not believe that I have let you rascals buy me (or more to the point, my services) for the price of safe passage to England. I again blush at my shameless behavior in my quest for knowledge and adventure. Still, I must console myself in the knowledge that your hearts are good and that, at worst, I help noble minds reach out to discover a world that I have barely glimpsed. But enough of my schoolgirl musings, let me set about to the task of chronicling my journeys. I will begin with a summary outline and elaborate on the places and points which seem to most deserve it in other chapters.
A Global Side Note: Before I go into my overview and discuss specific lands, I feel that it is important to point out a few generalities I have observed. The entire world is mostly wilderness with scattered little towns, villages, and outposts. Cities are fairly uncommon, generally speaking. The environment, regardless of the level of technology or magic, is feudal-like, with kingdoms rather than cities, states, provinces, or nations as thought of in the 20th Century.
The majority of these feudal kingdoms are ruled by, or appoint, or employ; a protector or group of protectors, much like the knights of old. The protector(s) is always a powerful warrior, frequently armed with power armor or giant robot vehicle. Men of arms seem to be the norm among these champions, but they can be mages, psychics, mutants, and even monsters. If a stranger or invader threatens the kingdom, the champion/protector(s) rises to meet the threat. In many cases, an invader who wishes to rule the kingdom, or who seeks to replace the protector as the kingdom’s champion, challenges the individual to personal combat, the winner takes all. A battle involving only the champion(s) and the challengers) prevents large-scale death and destruction to the kingdom. Of course, it does leave the community vulnerable to the whims of their new lord or champion. These contests of combat are not necessarily battles to the death, but often end up that way when the stakes or emotions run high. However, defeat followed by public banishment and/or destruction of the loser’s power armor or main weaponry is often an acceptable alternative.
In some cases, depending on the people involved and the circumstances, a kingdom may refuse one on one combat between their champion and challenger. In this situation, the champion leads the defense of the kingdom, directing its army as a general. The concept of a champion who serves as protector and peacekeeper has been adopted by many towns and villages as well. Unfortunately, this has often led to establishing tyrants as rulers or high officials. Some of these tiny communities suddenly find themselves in a worse position than they were in before they found their despot protector. The only way to remove such a powerful person(s) is to attempt an assassination (usually beyond the morals and capabilities of most peasant towns) or enlist the aid of mercenary or new, hopefully more benevolent champion to challenge and defeat the present tyrant. This is often where the valiant cyber-knights can save the day, although very, very few will ever stay on as champion.
The cyber-knights remind me of the Pre-Rift Texas Rangers of the American ancient West (especially the heroics of the famous Lone Ranger and his Indian companion). The knights roam the land looking for bandits, tyrants, and evil in all its forms and destroy them. The stories of a lone cyber-knight riding into an insignificant town and dethroning maniacal champions and evil lords must number into the thousands. The knights will also fight off D-Bees and mages, rout bandits, and slay dragons. The knights rarely ignore a plea for help. The wandering hero, like the cyber-knights, presently seems to be a phenomenon limited to our North America, although I know of knights who have travelled to The Land of a Thousand Islands (South America), Atlantis, and the Euro/Asian continent. Now on to specific lands. I will start with home, the Old World North American Continent (it is a pleasure to be writing to learned students so that I do not have to stop to explain some forgotten American term or place).