Saturday, June 7, 2014

Playing a Magic-User in RIFTS, Part 19: An Overview of the Megaverse

Aside from the core of North America (i.e. Coalition territory) and a few places with similar attitudes, magic-use is a far more complex socio-political matter and its going to leave its mark wherever it goes.

  • The magical societies of the entire Megaverse, let alone Rifts Earth, are tied together by groups of Ley-Line Walkers (and those with the same power; this is an Atlantean-dominated group) and supplemented by Shifters (and similar practitioners). Massive levels of conspiratorial and operational capability requires their involvement; this is one of the reason for why "major power" and "institutional magic-use" go hand-in-hand, because non-users cannot operate on this level.
  • This includes the dimensions where demons, devils, angels, etc. reside; cross-dimensional schemes require command over ley lines and dimensional rifts, something that only magic-use reliably provides. Because these entities are the top-tier powers in the whole of the Megaverse, their conflicts will encompass and subsume everything else; they operate on scopes and scales that make even the long-term perspectives of god-like intelligences seem somehow subpar- but their motivations are hardly beyond mortal comprehension.
  • Magical societies of any significant maturity will be aware as to the existence of other dimensions. Fully mature societies will possess a mostly-accurate comprehension of what the dimensional connections binding the Megaverse together are, and how they interact; this includes the critical matter of mana flows (i.e. very powerful such as Rifts Earth, moderate such as Palladium, or weak-as-shit like some other dimensions; the latter ones are avoided and treated as useless backwaters, sometimes exploited as a place to dump dissidents and criminals).
  • The gods and similar powers are very powerful, and from a mortal and gameplay point of view might as well be omnipotent, but they are not truly alien in their mentality and not truly omnipotent either; when working at a Megaversal scope and scale, we'll see comprehensible motivations and actions coming out of these godlike beings. The illusion comes from the limited perspective that most beings possess relative to that of the greatest powers in the Megaverse; this means that perspective, knowledge, and paying attention are keys being a successful magic-user regardless of Occupation- it's how magic-users born as humble, ordinary mortals can become viable competition to the most god-like of entities.
  • Operating at this level means that maintaining awareness, and quickly getting up to speed on local conditions, is vital; your man need to be as much a competent scholar and intelligence operator as you are a magic-user (which, given the real world history of occulism and occulist overlap with espionage and intelligence operations, is hardly unusual). Gandalf, returning to a well-known example, was as much a handler and operative as he was a wielder of knowledge often hidden and employed in equally hidden ways (in addition to actual supernatural powers). (There is also the examples of Jack Parsons, for those wanting inspiration for a Techno-Wizard angle, and John Dee for a more old-school example.)
  • Operating at the Megaversal level means that your fiction inspiration starts with the Lensman series and those that it inspired: The Green Lantern Corps, the Nova Corps, and (inside the game) Cosmo-Knights. That doesn't necessarily mean that your man wields such power, but that your man does possess the capability to think and operate on that level and therefore may acquire that degree of power- but it's not strictly necessary to be effective.

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