What is Riftspace?
Riftspace is a fan supplement to Rifts®. Unlike Phase World®, which takes place in another dimension, the events in Riftspace happen in the Milky Way Galaxy, in a region of space several dozen light years from Rifts Earth. Earth is believed to be destroyed, and all that is (erroneously) believed to be left of humanity are the descendants of the first attempt at interplanetary colonization. Known as the Terran Protectorate, the human intergalactic government covers several star systems and has had virtually uninterrupted growth and scientific advancement for the last 300 years. They stride the stars with faster-than-light starships and futuristic technology, completely unaware of the struggles of their brethren remaining on Rifts Earth. But they have problems of their own: The Arkhon™ Empire, a race of cat-like beings that have ruled the local star group for three thousand years. Their empire is fading, and their only hope is to take by force what humanity has developed through blood, sweat, tears and bravery.
This is a setting for an epic space campaign inspired by great space opera war stories such as Battlestar Galactica, Space: Above and Beyond, and the Wing Commander video game series. Player characters are fighter pilots, mecha pilots, Protectorate marines and Special Forces: Their goal is to ensure mankind’s survival, and victory over the Arkhon Empire.
However, there are also the Free Colonies, filled with independent traders, pirates and mercenaries. Great for games where players are independents trying to make their way in a large, hostile universe. It’s a perfect setting for campaigns similar to Firefly and Farscape. And then there are the great unexplored reaches of the galaxy, where terrible dangers and unimaginable riches await the brave beings that tread beyond the boundaries of known space.
What you need to play
You essentially need four Palladium Books to play this game:
Rifts Main Book or Rifts Ultimate Edition is needed for the core rules of the Palladium Rifts role-playing game system.
Rifts World Book Nine:
Rifts Phase World has rules for space dog fighting, skills useful for space faring species, and other cool goodies like alien creation tables.
Rifts Phase World Sourcebook has rules for large-scale ship-to-ship combat in space.
These are all good books, some of Palladium’s best, that you’ll enjoy having whether you use the information on this site or not. And, from what I understand, most Rifts gamers tend to own these books already. If not, go buy them! They’re quality products.
Mankind Leaves the Nest: A brief history of Riftspace
Since the birth of the space age, scientists urged the world’s leaders to take colonization of other worlds seriously. Mankind was limited to one planet, one star system. All our eggs were in one, cosmic basket. But for decades, even if the world had heeded those visionary astronomers and physicists, there was nowhere else for mankind to go and no way to get their quickly.
Two scientific breakthroughs would change all that. The first was the development of the Unified Theory of Physics. A Holy Grail of physicists since the early 20th Century, the Unified Theory applied one set of physics laws to every thing in the universe, from super massive black holes to quantum particles. It opened the door for new sciences and technological advancements; from fusion power plants to anti-matter. These technologies changed life on earth, virtually eliminated energy shortages and the use of fossil fuels, and opened up all new avenues of technological development. But one new science, one that was relatively obscure, would eventually have a profound effect on the human race.
Since man first harnessed fire, the human race has relied entirely on manipulation of electromagnetic forces. The other scalar laws of science (gravity, strange force and strong force) were known to us, but manipulating them was more or less out of reach. With the Unified Theory, that last hurdle was jumped, and in the late 21st Century, gravity manipulation was the new frontier in science. Though in its infancy, one of the earliest breakthroughs of gravity manipulation was the first workable faster-than-light engine design.
The question was: what to do with this technology? There was nowhere to go that was worth the trip. Even a voyage to the nearest star system was an eight-year round trip. But in 2078, astronomers developed a new method of detecting new planets around distant stars, and in short order had discovered four earth-like planets around three different stars right near each other. They were 40 light-years away, but astronomers were certain that humans could live there, grow food there, and prosper. Even so, sending a crew of explorers that far was not practical. But scientists, who wielded an amazing amount of political power during the Golden Age, pushed for an attempt at colonization. While most of the world dismissed such a venture, they eventually got their wish through a program funded by rich venture capitalists and assisted by ambitious world governments playing a game of technological one-upmanship.
With the Golden Age had come a boom in genetic engineering,
and specialized fertility sciences. Many people got fertilization treatments
along with genetic manipulation that allowed them to have perfect children free
from disease and birth defects. However, the fertility process required the
creation of several, sometimes dozens, of embryos per person. And only one or
two were actually implanted within the mother. The rest were put on ice, their
fate delegated to the next generation. In the early 21st Century, there were
400,000 such embryos in storage in the
The scientific community convinced world governments to give over these unused embryos for an ambitious plan. Along with 20,000 of earth’s best and brightest, these embryos would be put into the first FTL-capable space craft and sent to the nearest of the earth-like habitable planets. There, they would be raised in large groups, breed quickly and efficiently, and colonize that world and the others nearby, ensuring that whatever happened to earth, mankind would live on.
Building the vessel, the Hawking, would take 15 years. But by 2097, it was ready to go.
Ironically, its departure was low-key, as the public had lost interest in a
project that took so long. It left earth orbit on
When the crew of the Hawking awoke from stasis in 2137, the last transmissions they recorded from earth were those from the Coming of the Rifts. It was obvious to them that earth was destroyed by forces they could not begin to comprehend. Landing on a beautiful world they christened Terra, the crew began the long process of raising 400 million humans who had never seen earth.
Over the next several centuries, through programs aimed at increasing the population exponentially, the population of the new Terran Protectorate and its colonies would blossom to billions of souls spread across dozens of worlds and moons. The negative mass drive would be improved, and with the advent of anti-matter reactors would reach a staggering speed of a light year per day. Attempts to send survey teams to earth were futile, as the entire star system was dimensionally unstable, trapping (and usually destroying) any negative mass drive-equipped ships that entered the star system. Earth was written off for good.
Then, the Protectorate made contact with the Arkhon, a species that had tried, and failed, to conquer earth in ancient times. Surprised to find humans out among the stars, the Arkhon attempted to finish what they started. The Protectorate defeated them, just barely, forcing an uneasy treaty.
It’s been 60 years since the last war between the
Protectorate and the Arkhon Empire. The Arkhon, under new leadership, realize
that soon humanity would outbreed them and surpass them technically. For three
millennia, the Arkhon have been the dominant force in this part of the galaxy.
They are not about to let their position at the top of the heap go without a
This time, there is not likely to be a peace treaty. This time, it’s a war to the finish…
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2008 Kevin Siembieda; © 2008 Palladium Books©, All rights reserved world
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by any means, without permission from the publisher. All incidents, situations,
institutions, governments and people are fictional and any similarity to
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