Friday, May 21, 2010

The Author Displays His Intentions

Palladium Books first published its flagship tabletop role-playing game, Rifts in 1990. Of the many tabletop role-playing games published in the history of the hobby, few of them (that are not Dungeons & Dragons) can boast being not only around but active and vigorously alive for as long as Rifts can. Regardless of what one thinks of the game, the company or the owner (Kevin Siembieda), this is a success story that cannot be denied.

It is my opinion that one of the strongest factors in favor of the game's success is the setting. A significant faction of the game's fans--including myself--do not like, and do not want to use, the Palladium ruleset for reasons that vary widely. However, that setting remains compelling enough to maintain interest, and interest in tabletop RPGs inevitably leads to sales, and that is good enough.

It is also my opinion that another of the strongest factors in favor of the game's success is that it remains open, as a matter of editorial policy, to people making of it what they want. To a certain extent, published support does facilitate this desire; unofficial support goes far beyond that official support, leading to conflicts driven in part due to third parties complaining about Intellectual Property violations and in part due to paranoia about such concerns between the publisher and the fans. I mention this because I intend, here and now, to make clear what this 'blog is about.

This 'blog is about the opinions of one man--me--regarding the setting of Rifts and how I think it would be improved if interpreted and presented different from what is the case at this time. The reason for why I opted to flag this 'blog as Adult Content is that I will talk about things such as gender-based oppression, slavery, drug abuse, social control mechanisms, etc. in no unclear or uncertain terms. Thus, it is adult in the same way that writing about Female Genital Mutilation is adult, or that writing about using rape as a weapon of terror is adult, or how political dogma can produce personality cults that justify Crimes Against Humanity is adult, and not as a euphemism for pornography or other prurient content.

This is not a light-hearted 'blog. It is not a casual thought 'blog. This is about thinking through the premise of the game's setting, and then figuring out how to make that useful in terms of playing at the table. You won't find mechanical expression of anything, in any ruleset, here; if you're reading this, chances are that you already have your own preferences on that matter, so you need no such advice from me. This is about the other half of the hobby, the role-playing half, the part that provides that context necessary for all of the dice-rolling and resource management to actually be any fun (and not an exercise in mental masturbation).

I'm going to start with the focal element of the core North American setting of the game: the Coalition States. This is a dystopia that I think Kevin Siembieda doesn't use to its fullest effect, in part because I don't see evidence that he understands either its explicit inspiration--Nazi Germany--or the traditions that this infamous historical example built upon. In short, I intend to display a Coalition States that is far more in keeping with its premise and not just an excuse for ridiculous artwork; the Coalition I present will actually creep people out and provide that vital visceral reaction that any proper horrific villain ought to provoke from readers and players. Free Quebec will follow quickly due to its close relationship, but Triax and the New German Republic will be a while due to its location in Europe.

I hope that you appreciate and enjoy what's to come, and that it inspires you to take up the game--regardless of what ruleset you use--and play it how you like it.

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