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Rifts - The Thirteenth Mystery


Proverbs 17:9
Rifts - The Thirteenth Mystery

There will come a time when a prophecy will not come true because interlopers from afar will enter events foretold and break their connection with the Future That Might Be. The changes they shall make from the Future That Might Be will be great, and those who had been destined to triumph shall be the losers, and those destined for defeat shall find themselves Victorious.
Poor Yorick - Coalition Wars 1: Sedition, pg. 45

There's Always An Ending
The walls of Tolkeen have fallen, first in the north, then the east. Skelebots pour through the breaches, followed by Coalition troops. With Tolkeen air defenses and air support destroyed, SAMAS and other Coalition air wing invaders strafe everything that moves on the streets. The fighting has moved entirely to the streets. Defenders make use of the million hiding places within the city itself, exploiting basements, parking garages, secret lairs and passageways to use guerilla tactics. Invading tanks get bottlenecked and broken. Snipers turn squares and plazas into killing zones. Traps and ambush exact a bloody toll on the Coalition invaders.

It's still not enough. You've seen this campaign from the beginning.
  • Maybe you grew up in Tolkeen or joined up to fight the Coalition or perhaps you were just a mercenary looking for a long-lasting paycheck.
  • You were there, way back in the Spring of 100 PA when the King began giving speeches and rallying Tolkeen to prepare for inevitable conflict with the Coalition.
  • You faced uncertainty of unknown combatants when the Skeleton Raiders forged deep into Tolkeen territory in 103 PA.
  • 104 saw General Phineas Chalk unleashing Operation Fullbore and perishing in the attempt. If only it'd stayed that easy.
  • Then Emperor Prosek announced the Crusade for Humanity in the summer of 105 PA
  • Followed by four years of sustained, unrelenting war.
And here you are, at the end of all things. Space and time have gone mad due to Ley line disruption and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. With Tolkeen's magical control and containment systems bombed out of existence, the final fight grew ever more surreal as neighborhoods and army units teleported or phase shifted randomly, even as new Rifts opened to unleash fresh chaos into the ruined, burning city.

That's when an airstrike brought down a nearby hospital, killing hundreds...and the surging energies of the Rifts swept over you.

The Premise
Your character finds themselves in Tolkeen at a speech being given by the King of Tolkeen.
The year is 100 PA.
The last 9 years have vanished but you still remember.
Once more, Tolkeen prepares for a war that may be inevitable.

Can you fulfill the Thirteenth Mystery and change the Future That Might Be?

This is a Palladium Rifts game and will require at a minimum the Rifts Core Rules book and ideally all six of the Coalition Wars books.

Character Creation
  • Characters can be created between 5th and 10th level, depending entirely on player preference based on how old and/or how experienced your character is. This provides the opportunity to play higher-level characters than players routinely experience in Palladium campaigns. The 'lower powered' your OCC/RCC is, the higher the level to aim for.
  • You can play any OCC/RCC from any book, as long as there's a reasonably plausible excuse for them being in Tolkeen in 100 PA and having been in the final fight in 109 PA. I'm even open to non-Rifts characters as long as the Conversion book covers them (or it's not an enormous headache to crosswalk them) and they could have arrived on Rifts Earth via a Rift.
  • No evil alignments please. The premise is based on changing the future of the Coalition War Campaign. Conflict/drama in character around how to change the future is encouraged but characters shouldn't be so intractably different that the party splits permanently over it.
  • Players are encouraged to read all six of the Coalition War Campaign books and decide your character's biography, how they experienced the war, how it affected them and those they knew. This is a free excuse to reread a huge campaign without fear of spoiling things, since spoiling is the point of this game.
  • Plan to work out how you'll know the other PCs, even if you only met at the very end. The only firm requirements there are (A) you were next to each other when the hospital collapsed in 109 PA, caught in the same Rift and (B) 9 years prior, your character attended the speech being given by King Creed. This is mostly to minimize the difficulty of pulling the party together.
  • You do not need to plan what the group is going to do OOCly. The Coalition isn't attacking tomorrow. Sharing what you know with your (new/old) colleagues and deciding on a plan ICly is very much the point of the opening game, which will also be a great opportunity to get into character so you're encouraged not to rush it.
  • I don't have a hard cap on how many players, feel free to ping your buddies (but if it gets to be more than, like, 8-10 people I might have to cry uncle).
  • Actual levels awarded in game will be done via a milestone system.
  • Attributes will be rolled as below.
The Sherwood/Psychie Method Roll on the site or ask me to roll for you if you don't trust the die roller. All stats are determined by a 4d6 roll, rerolling 1's, and taking the top 3. If that comes out to a 16-18, you add another d6 to your total. If that one is also a '6', you add another d6, giving you a potential max of 30 on a straight die roll (or more if you're playing an OCC/RCC that 'naturally' rolls more)

Drop them here. Some remarks:
  • I'll make an OOC and Characters Thread if I get enough interest. Obviously, this is a niche concept in a niche game on a site that's largely diceless so no idea if we'll hit a critical mass for getting started.
  • If there's enough interest, I may set up a Discord but I also know there's a chunk of prospective Palladium players on RPN who don't use it and I don't want to cut them off so...that'll depend on who signs up.
  • New characters and/or new players should be easy enough to drop in as the game goes; clearly the newly arrived character was also in the final fight but they weren't at the speech so the group will meet them wherever they're at in the 'present', which will conveniently be the first time the characters will have crossed paths.
  • While I'm largely retired from play-by-post (as seen by the post on my profile), I recently discovered RPN has Discord integration. Testing it out the last few days has given me some optimism that the new approach may work for my particular brain.
  • I haven't run a game in years. But I'll do my best to bring the level of effort to the game as you see in this pitch. Just saying I'm rusty (so don't be shy with suggestions or feel you're rules lawyering if I get something wrong, I'm pretty easy going about thanking you for the correction and changing things up accordingly).
  • I wouldn't characterize this as a sandbox game, because the world 'as is' will run according to the Coalition Wars Campaign books if no intervention occurs. However, what the plot will be, where the game takes place, areas visited and encounters encountered will depend on player choice. The only railroad is the war and time and it's up to you to decide if/how you'll force time onto a different track.
  • Open to house rule discussions. I have half a dozen penciled down but prefer to get input rather than just impose. Suggestions are welcome!
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Thanks for your interest!

Rifts Products has a decent summary of the system and the setting. Bear in mind, playing will require at a minimum access to the Rifts Core Book (Ultimate Edition is what I'm using) and it's highly recommended to pick up the 6 Coalition War Campaign books.

DriveThruRPG.com - Palladium Books - Rifts - The Largest RPG Download Store! if you like PDFs.
Palladium Books Store: Rifts® Categories if you want a physical book.

If you obtain your books some other way, that's on you. ;)

Happy to help field questions on how to play the system, as I imagine any experienced players will do also. Most of us have been playing this RPG for decades and have some practice explaining things. Feel free to take a look out there and see if this is for you!
I am broke, so I will most certainly be stealing the PDFS. I have played 5e dnd, and am familliar with the Castle Falkenstein system, and I am excited to branch out! I should also mention I dont have discord, so if you would be willing to not-use it, i'd love that.
I'd play Ham Sandwich Simulator if you ran it and Rifts is significantly more interesting ;)

I played it years and years ago, but never read the Coalition Wars books. I'm not sure if you want to give people time to read up before creating characters. What's the plan there?
I'd play Ham Sandwich Simulator if you ran it and Rifts is significantly more interesting ;)

I played it years and years ago, but never read the Coalition Wars books. I'm not sure if you want to give people time to read up before creating characters. What's the plan there?
You say the nicest things!

The six books in question are, of course, sizeable. Given the nature of the game and given I'm wanting to run for well developed characters with good biographies, I'm in no hurry to start. Play by post isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. I figured I'd work out a start date once I (A) knew if there was interest, (B) players had a chance to make a character after refreshing their memories (or just reading if it's new) followed by (C) I had a chance to see what people wanted to play so I could start planning what to focus on.

If folks would like more or less time to read/reread, I'm fine if they do. Folks can just skim the books, of course, but a pitch like this is uniquely well suited to "the more you write into your backstory, the more there is to work with in the game".

This doesn't mean I'm hoping for 10k word count backstories, mind you (please God no). But a lot happens in nine years and the Coalition War Campaign books have both a lot of general detail as well as specific hook/line/sinker scenarios, each of which your character might have gone through already. If your character came into contact with a conspiracy in 107 PA, nothing stops you from finding the conspirators in 100 PA and...well, that's where the story is. ;)
Appreciate those who have shown interest so far.

I've begun to (slowly) create a Lore page for this game. I'll continue to add to it over the next week or so while I see who else is interested in playing. While it's no substitute for the books, it is intended to be an easy point of reference for various campaign details that come up.

I would love to join in this, having been the storyteller of many a Rifts game.

Any thoughts on being able to start the game with a rune blade, since the characters are so high level?
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I would love to join in this, having been the storyteller of many a Rifts game.

Any thoughts on being able to start the game with a rune blade, since the characters are so high level?

I'm conceptually fine with it. Something to think about; The characters in this game are presumably reasonably experienced at the beginning of the war but living legendary veterans by the end. Now they're back nine years in the past.

The intent isn't that there's two sets of the character running around, one who hasn't lived through the next 9 years and the other who is 9 years older and time traveled.
The intent is closer to a singular groundhog's Day style scenario where the characters more or less 'wake up' 9 years ago, 9 years younger, with everything they had then but with the knowledge, memory and experience of living through the next 9 years.
If this were D&D, imagine a group outfitted as 10th level characters with 20th level experience.

But the short answer is yes. 🙂
Damn it...I am in too many RPs already but why not, I am interested in this...I think I have three or four of the Coalition War books anyway. I may end up going with something simple like a Mystic because I love Mystics.
This one isn't starting for at least another couple weeks. I want to get a sense of who wants to play what and then plan my reading around that.

Plenty of time for at least one of the RPs to perish as they typically do here. 😁
This one isn't starting for at least another couple weeks. I want to get a sense of who wants to play what and then plan my reading around that.
It takes time to put together a good character too...so that works well with me.
Oh I am good with either posting here or via discord. I prefer here but can live with discord.
To be clear: IC posts were always going to be here. I like having a permanent history I can go back to. The Discord server was just an offer for those who prefer to do OOC and character building there, as a number of games prefer it. But given not a single person interested so far has expressed an interest in Discord, I don't see that happening at this point.
I don't like using Discord, mostly because I have a graveyard work schedule and while I'm at work, I can pull out my phone and type in a message on RpN where I can't do so on Discord.
And just so you have an idea of what I'm thinking of Epiphany Epiphany I am going to go with an Atlantean Undead Slayer as my character race/class, using a runeblade as his prinary weapon.
I've added more to the lore, particularly the tail end of it. Lots more to fill in the middle still (there's a reason I said this game would probably take a few weeks to get going).

For folks interested in playing, you're encouraged to move to the OOC thread and discuss there.

If it's helpful for deciding what kind of character to play, consider some off-the-cuff possibilities of what this PC group could do:
  1. Decide to infiltrate the Coalition States, get into Chi-Town and assassinate Emperor Prosek.
  2. Alternatively, there's an attempt to replace him with an Auto-G shapechanger in the next year or so. It fails. Make sure it doesn't.
  3. Alternatively, there's a plot to use an ancient artifact to magically enlighten Prosek with wisdom so he stops his war before it even begins. It doesn't happen in the Future That Might Be but perhaps your character was a part of the last try and has another idea for how to pull it off.
  4. Alternatively, set off a nuclear bomb in Chi-Town.
  5. Instead of aiming at the Coalition itself, you might try shoring up Tolkeen's defenses. Even leading military engagements to put the Coalition States on the defensive before it ever mounts an offensive.
  6. Use your foreknowledge to leverage yourselves into senior leadership positions and wage a real war using the Mass Combat rules in Rifter 23.
  7. Or you might look for a way to bring the Federation of Magic into the future/eventual war.
  8. Or you might look for a way to actually convince Free Quebec to make a real alliance, instead of their betrayal in 108 PA.
  9. Instead of infiltration or conventional diplomacy, look for allies elsewhere. Convince Atlantis the CS is a danger to their interests somehow? Go to Phase World and/or the broader Megaverse to look for allies or another army?
And anything else you can think of.

Player characters will be experienced, reasonably well off, and with the connections and/or organizations that make sense for them per their backstory. As I said, this isn't a typical sandbox game because there is an overarching plot that will advance month over month, year over year, along inevitably confrontational lines. But you, the players have considerable freedom to think about what might be fun to play and how your player characters might go about changing the fate of nations.
Also, if six books is a bit much, aim at the first (Sedition) and follow it up with (the Final Siege). (Aftermath) is optional because none of you were around to actually see the fallout.

Cyberknights is required reading if you want to play one, it's otherwise the most optional book out of the group.

Look at the table of contents and read the various hook/line/sinkers in each book. Any of those adventures could be adventures your character lived through and you get to decide how it went (as long as the eventual result trends towards the Coalition pulling off their siege).
struggling with piracy (I am no E-Blackbeard) and on the precipice of finals week, It will be just a bit until i can get a sheet out. forgive me.
struggling with piracy (I am no E-Blackbeard) and on the precipice of finals week, It will be just a bit until i can get a sheet out. forgive me.
Focus on finals week, for sure.

You may have noticed but no one else has a sheet up yet either. I'm still laying out Lore by rereading the books and expect to this week and possibly next. The beginning of June represents the earliest realistic start date I can imagine and it'll likely not be the first of June.

Always prioritize RL. :)
Gears Gears you still interested?

Anyone else, if you've got a buddy who knows the system (or is willing to learn and tackle the reading), ping them over here. 😁

We have about 4 players so far "for sure". Given pbp attrition rates, I'd like to have 6-8.

If you have questions, feel free to ask!
I’m gonna have to pass, I don’t have much experience with this stuff.

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