This is the completion of the series on my thoughts on the new Rifts® conversion to Savage Worlds. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 here. It covers chapters 4, 5, 6. These chapters discuss the Setting Rules, more information on the Earth in the setting, and the Hero’s Journey tables that everyone gets at least a couple of rolls on. At this point I have seen all of the information on creating a character for the book, but I am still unsure how powerful the average monsters should be or what an adventure should look like in this setting from an opposition point of view. These issues should both be resolved when we get the next two books in the set ( GM’s Guide and Monster book) hopefully in the next week or two.
In chapter four, we get the setting rules that are used in the game. Several of these rules come from the core list of setting rules (Blood & Guts, Born a Hero, Critical Failure, Joker’s Wild) and are not more fully explored here. The only problem with that is we should get something added to the Born a Hero rule to clarify how it interacts with the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling Iconic Framework. There are also several new setting rules that are introduced in this chapter to make the setting feel more like the original Rifts® system.
The first of the new setting rules is Blaze of Glory. This setting rule is all about making sure that when your characters die, they die in a meaning full way and go out with a bang not on a flat note. I like this idea in concept, especially with the Juicer Iconic Framework characters that have a limited lifespan, but I don’t know like the implementation of it. I don’t like that the rules suggest that you should stop the game in the middle of the session to negotiate the death scene. I would much rather have any discussions like that take place outside of play, and figure out how to adapt that to the current situation.
The next new setting rule is Draining PPE/ISP. This rule describes how many points of these types you can get from characters that do not have the arcane backgrounds. This is fairly important for the setting, but I don’t know that it is terribly useful outside of it.
Another new setting rule is Death & Defeat. This rule handles the opposite case for Blaze of Glory, in that if your character dies according to the standard Savage Worlds rules, you can choose to roll on a new table in the book and apply the results to your character. Some of the options do still include death, but others included permanent damage, fatigue levels, or if you are really lucky finding out that you are actually unhurt (though the character is changed in some way such as memory loss, or cosmetic changes).
The next setting rule is Extra Effort which just allows you to spend a benny to get an extra d6 that explodes added to certain trait rolls.
The last setting rule is Technical Difficulties which is how the setting emulates the post apocalyptic nature of the world where things break down. Whenever you roll a critical failure, you roll on the technical difficulty table which reduces the effectiveness of the tool used, until it breaks completely, or is repaired. I have seen a lot of concern about this particular rule, especially where the Combat Cyborg and Glitter Boy Iconic Frameworks is concerned, but really the odds are against this causing too much damage, and as long as the GM is not trying to be an ass and screw up your character, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Chapter Five covers in more detail what happened to the Earth when the rifts started opening. It has a little detail about the history of the setting (mostly focused on recent events), and more details about the different regions. It also provides a bit more detail about the North American continent and Castle Refuge (the home of the Tomorrow Legion). It is still a very high level overview even for North America which gets by far the most coverage, but there was only so much that they could include in the book while talking about the different regions. To be fair, I didn’t expect anything more than what we got on the setting in this book, but maybe future books will have more details.
Chapter Six is the last in this book. This chapter includes the bonus tables that the players get to roll on to further customize their characters during creation. The first table in this chapter everyone gets to roll on and is to provide a jumping off point for how each character might know the others. After that is a list of benefits tables that depending on which Iconic Framework you choose determines how many rolls and which tables you can choose from. An example is the Combat Cyborg can roll on the Magic & Mysticism table because they can’t use any of those results. The list of tables are Body Armor, Close Combat Weapons, Cybernetics, Education, Enchanted Items & Mystic Gadgets, Experience & Wisdom, Magic & Mysticism, Psionics, Ranged Weapons, Training, and Underworld & Black Ops. Each of the tables have some really interesting options, and some less interesting ones and will definitely make it so that no two Ley Line Walkers are the same. This chapter also has the option (if the GM agrees) of allowing you to trade two rolls for picking one option. My only real complaint about this chapter is that it is so far away from the rest of character creation (I wish it was chapter two).
And that is it. Overall I liked what I have read, but I am still reserving judgement on the dice pool sizes for things until I see the rest of the rules. I can’t wait until we get the next batch of books (though I figure Pinnacle Entertainment Group will be more cautious with the release this time around since this book’s release crashed their servers for days).