Is Rifts playable?


The world hates the system but is it really that terrible? I asked myself, ‘What would I change?’  After reading the Ultimate Edition, coupled with at least 5 time years playing in the system, I found that I would change very little.

The things I would change:

% Skills.

This is one spot I’d change flat out. The percentile system never felt right.  After a couple of levels, it feels like everyone has 98% in everything and progression just kind of stops. I’d recommend moving to stat based skill ranks, similar to D20. No upper limit. Let heroes be awesome.  If not D20 style, come up with something that gives a benefit linked to the character’s stats.

PB- Dump Stat: Lose it. All social interactions should go off MA. Beauty standards are going to vary from race to race. Rifts can literally have billions/infinite number of distinct races so PB is a waste.

Differences in types of strengths- This never made sense. A 20 PS should be a twenty, whether it comes from radiation, robot arm, or being related to Thor. Currently the system says 20 ≠ 20 ≠20. If one needs to higher/stronger just increase it.

Character Creation: This does take awhile. However, in this day age, I’d bet a program could be created, like in Hero Lab or something. Character creation would be a snap. Technology is our friend. (Except when the machines rise, but that’s a concern for another day.) Plus. If you’ve played Champions, there’s some lengthy character creation.

For those keeping score, not much to house rule.

  • Change skill system
  • Remove 1 stat
  • Ignore a few pages about strength
  • Character Creation Automation


Common Gripes

Some people don’t like these items below but I feel they aren’t really a factor.

Combat. It’s been long while since I’ve played much combat in the system, but when I did, it was a lot. TONS even. Granted, there are a lot of bonuses to keep track of and there is a defense roll, which can slow things down, for the camp that doesn’t care for armor class only mechanics, this is actually better. Most enemies will have a ton of MDC to chew through, but is that any different than a pile of hit points?

Balance: This seems to be a big issue for many, but I think they are missing the point. Rifts is about the inherent imbalance created by the setting. If your average desk jockey in our day and age could effectively square off against anything that jumps through the dimensional rift in St Louis, the threat isn’t that scary. I think it’s up to the GM to temper the scope and encounters to match the party. Session zero is key here. If the party is going to consist of a City Rat, Rogue Scientist, and Wilderness Scout, they probably shouldn’t be going up against battalions of Collation Soldiers. If PC unbalances the party, don’t allow it or be prepared to buff the party accordingly.

MDC:  Many people hate it, but I think it has a lot to do with how it’s presented. I do recommend that MDC creature be in a party with other MDC beings, otherwise someone is going to be paste. Couple option here. Don’t use. Convert everything to SDC. Reduce the conversion.  10 SDC to 1 MDC or 20, or 50. MDC is supposed to be tough but it doesn’t have to be ridiculous.  One thing I would make sure to use, optional rules for taking some SDC damage while in mega-damage armor. Makes sense the eventually, getting hit over and over with a rail gun eventually takes its toll on the meat inside.

That’s my take. I say playable. Game on!


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