Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Supernatural of Rifts and Its Fueling of Coalition Paranoia

As stated in the Rifts rulebook, supernatural power works around Potential Psychic Energy (PPE) and Inner Strength Points (ISP)- respectively, they power magic and psionic abilities. These powers are augmented when on or near a Ley Line, and moreso at a Nexus Point. Likewise, recovering of spent energy is greater at these points than normal. This means that magic and psychic entities shall appear with greater frequency at these sites or along those lines than elsewhere. Furthermore, magicians have the option of using auspicious times and ritual sacrifices to enhance the gathering and use of supernatural power- an option that applies before the effects of Ley Lines or Nexus Points apply.

To use magic, a magician has to have the required PPE on hand at the time of working the spell. Psychics must have the required ISP. Once spent, it can be recovered by rest, again accelerated if on a line or at a point. Spells can be learned, imbued by another entity or spontaneously brought about depending on the tradition in question; psychic powers are usually handled along similar lines, with the caveat that psychic powers are genetic somehow (usually) and such abilities can't be taught like magic can.

Yes, that's right, some forms of magic can be taught just like one can teach science and make damn near anyone into a scientist. The two most iconic forms of magic use in the game--the ways of Shifters and Ley Line Walkers--are wholly teachable traditions of magic and require no inherent ability aside from the intelligence to comprehend the ideas and the mental fortitude necessary to handle the strain of working magic (as you are wielding the raw power of Creation bare-handed, as it were). This, predictably, makes magic use in some traditions not much more than another form of science- and that is a fact that has would-be tyrants and those terrified of the supernatural everywhere scared shitless.

Now, why does this matter to Rifts North America? That's because of the Coalition States (and its fellow travelers), the notoriously xenophobia and manaphobic empire of human supremacists, because in order for the Coalition to succeed in its desire to kill all extra-dimensional entities and supernatural forces they need to divorce their bases of production (including human ones) as far from these places of power as they possibly can. Magic can do mind control, possession, traffic with demons (or worse), transform victims into monsters or beasts, and so on; psychic powers are comparable in their potential for abuse. In an environment saturated in fear, uncertainty and doubt like Rifts North America--where one can count on one hand, with digits left over, the number of places where one may live without such an atmosphere weighing down on you--it is not surprising to see many people use whatever power they have to promote their own security at the cost of the freedom and autonomy of others (if not their lives) due to the significantly greater predation present in the world.

In short, the Coalition is an evil totalitarian empire that uses its milieu to justify its oppression. In the coming posts, I will go deep into the Coalition States and how to best execute the premises upon which this fictional empire is based.

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