As I read through the conversion for Rifts® for Savage Worlds, I wanted to write down my thoughts on the product. As some background, in the 90’s I bought and had a number of books for the original setting that were produced by Palladium Books, but over the years they have all left my possession. I remember loving the idea of the setting, but I have much vaguer memories of the rules, and even the setting details. In addition I did not follow the product line for long, I only ever got the first four world books, the first two conversion books and the first dimension book beyond the main rules. So since this book is set pretty close to the current time line in the setting, there will be a number of things that are different from what little I remember.
So far I have only finished reading the Introduction and Chapter One, and so I will start with the Introduction.
The introduction for this book is a stratospheric level overview of the setting. It doesn’t cover much in the way of details, and things are mostly the way I remember them. This is where we also set up the default player character organization from which the book takes its name. We also get two pages on some of the design decisions that were made as part of the conversion and a brief blurb about how to convert characters from other Savage Worlds settings for use with this one.
In Chapter One, we get most of the information needed to create characters (there are additional bits in Chapter Six that most of the characters get). For this setting, there is a new pre-build step that is choosing an “Iconic Framework”. There are several to choose from and they are broken down into groups (Lords of War, M.A.R.S, Psychic Powerhouses, Masters of Magic, Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling). The Lords of War covers everything that is a super powerful physical threat such as the Combat Cyborg, Juicer, Glitter Boy, Cyber-Knight, and Crazy. M.A.R.S (Mercenaries, Adventurers, Rogues, and Scholars) cover those that are not physically powerful, but they do have extra skills that give them a broader scope of abilities and extra experience. The Psychic Powerhouses cover the Burster and Mind Melter. In the Masters of Magic section, we get Ley Line Walkers, Mystics (one of the two groups that can have two Arcane Backgrounds Miracles and Psychic), and Techno-Wizards. The Techno-Wizards lose the ability to cast spells directly and now must tie their powers to devices. So instead of casting an armor spell, they must activate a broach that activates the power. Techno-Wizards also get the ability to as an action cobble together whatever parts they have to create an item that can perform any power available to a techno-wizard (the more I think about this, the more powerful I realize it is). The last Iconic Framework is the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling, and it changes the process of character creation the most. First off, it gets special powers that are taken like edges, but not included with the rest of the edges, it also gets what is in effect the young hindrance without the bonus benny. They also do not get to pick any disadvantages to start with. They get to pick one disadvantage after each session for the first three session until they get their full complement of disadvantages, and only after they choose their full complement of disadvantages, do they get to spend their bonus points gained. They are also the second Iconic Framework that can have multiple Arcane Backgrounds (Magic and Psychic). Overall, the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling feels the most tacked on to the book. I feel like the special powers should be in the edges section just so things are more consistent.
After the Iconic Frameworks, we get some basic rules on how to create your own custom races including a couple of pages of positive and negative traits to pick from. After that we get the pre-built non-human races which include the Dog Boys and the Psi Stalkers among others. The Dog Boys also get a custom edge in this section for advantages based on breed, and the Psi Stalkers get a couple of new edges in their section.
Following the races we get a section on traits with a discussion on super strength (the dragon hatchling starts with a d12+4 and no maximum) and we gain a new secondary trait called Strain which determines how much cyber ware you can have before death. We also get a list of knowledge skills that are useful for the setting and information on the languages for the setting all nine of them (American, Spanish, Dragonese/Elven, Chinese, Gobblely, Japanese, Euro, Techno-Can, and Faerie Speak). I don’t like how the number of languages are so limited, but maybe there are more languages in other regions not covered by this book (since it is focused on North America). There is also a paragraph on the survival skill in this section.
After this, we get the sections on Hindrances and Edges. There is a brief statement that since some hindrances can be fixed with cybernetics (one-leg, one-arm, blind, etc.) that if these hindrances are fixed, that the game master might require you to buy it off with an advance. There are only three new hindrances, one specific for Juicers, and the other two are available for anyone. Those last two are not terribly exciting to me and I think that they could be easily left out. Two edges have been removed (No Mercy since it is a setting rule here and Noble is not relevant). Then there are a number of new edges added a bunch of edges for the Iconic Frameworks called Iconic Edges, we get one new background edge, seven combat edges (some of which look familiar from other settings). We also get some new power edges to allow those who use arcane powers to have some cybernetics (without these edges, you take penalties if you combine cybernetics with arcane powers). There is also an energy control edge, an edge to get a psi-blade, a new level of rapid recharge. There is also a sixth sense edge, and an edge that allows you to use your telepathy powers on machines to get bonuses when using them. There are also some professional edges including two for increasing the power of your Arcane Background (Psionics) and one to increase the power of your Arcane Background (Magic). The professional edges section is also where the edges needed to pilot power armor and robot armor effectively and an edge to be able to pilot a craft and fire weapons without a multi-action penalty. After that there are two social edges, one to know someone anywhere you go once per session and the other to be able find gear in any large city with a successful streetwise skill roll.
The edges are where I first start to get nervous about things. The Iconic Edges, especially the Burner’s edges some of which allow them to increase the damage of their flame bolt power. This power starts off at 4d6 (+ 1d6 on a raise) which is on the high-end of the number of dice I would like to roll/add, and one of the edges (Improved Flame Bolt) raises that to 6d6 (+ 1d6 on a raise). It just seems like the number of dice getting rolled is going to be much higher than I am used to for Savage Worlds, and I am not sure how I feel about that. I know I don’t mind and actually like the exploding dice, but all the extra dice just mean that the toughness value of things are going to be so much higher to balance that out and that is what I am not sure about. When I went back to look at the dragon hatchling, their starting toughness was without spending any points on vigor (6 + 6 (for size) + 4 (for armored scales) for a total of 16.
Anyway, I will reserve further judgement on this until I finish reading this book and the others once they come out.