Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rifter 4

It was a wonder and a joy when Palladium Books created a 'horror' issue in the wonderful month of October. 1998 was coming to a close and like clockwork, Palladium Books was releasing a magazine on time and with colorful impacting content. Rifts: Warlords of Russia and Rifts: Australia had not come out yet but was being advertised. Also along this time was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more strangeness was advertised (but never released because of a low pre-order numbers). A book that would later be released as After The Bomb by dearly missed Erick Wujcik. It’s hard to believe that Palladium has changed so much yet stayed the same.

In this edition we got to touch on all of our horror games and show the dark side of all our games. I recalled prior to the release Chief Editor Wayne Smith wanted the most halloween'ish articles that we could write and when it came time to deliver, he did.

When you think of the works of Bill Coffin it is a wonder that we know the name so well. We have had his work since 1998. That's right, almost a whole 15 years and though you may have a difference of opinion on the man you cannot deny that he has contributed quite a bit to our RPG lives with a savoir faire to it that can be added to the great talent that has gone in and out of Palladium's doors. Then again that's for another day...

In September of 1998 Bill was published with the Western Empire and a bit of his writing excellence was cut from the book and here was the avenue that the 'Gods of Palladium' saw fit to add Bills work and I am glad that he did.

Through a series of HLS's Bill introduced a lot of great ideas that were cut from the book outlining some great adventures that I hope that everyone have taken some time to read. Bill focused on the very material he had been working on in his 'new' book (keep in mind it has been a couple of years now) Western Empire and the great material cut was worth the wait in the Rifter.

The next article is also by Bill called Long, Strange Trips: Writing Epic Campaigns for Palladium Fantasy. In this article he shows how a simple adventure that could have been planned for a night could span into something bigger than itself. Starting with something small and letting it grow to epic proportions. He used Lord of the Rings as an example. I know that for myself I have run into moments where I expected a simple adventure and it turned into a several months long adventure with all its twists and turns all because I had the right players for the adventure.

Now during the next article by Randi Cartier had material turned dark (as the Halloween edition magazine should) with an article called Death is Not Always Final and if you read it, its also listed as official rules for Palladium Fantasy RPG, 2nd Ed. In it was a whole slew of baddies that were perfect for all your favorite horror games Palladium makes. Seriously some creepy stuff was created and it was worth the ink.

Because Nightbane is a horror (suspense) RPG there was an article by Steven Trustrum (you remember him from previous Rifters) called The Tribes of the Moon. Steven wanted to recreate a series werebeasts that were truly Nightbane and he certainly did. The article is so big that it is cut in two bits for two great Rifter articles (the second piece is in Rifter 6). One of the things that caught my eye about these beings was Steven kept them from being Supernatural all the time and basically said if they got close to someone or something with supernatural element that their attacks became supernatural. I thought that was fantastic and a clear element of Nightbane.
In his article he has new OCC's, skills and he split the werebeasts in tribes instead of factions (perhaps too many for my taste). There is so much flavor there that I was sure that this article was going to be a Nightbane book. Alas that didn’t (or hasn't) happened but who knows.

A.R.C.H.I.E. Three vs. the World was the next article by Mark Sumimoto (again from previous Rifters). This 'official' Rifts RPG material further expands the world of Archie the living robot brain from Rifts Source Book One. Archie has himself involved in the politics and production of the world through his own front company Titan Industries. Great article with new enemies who are as smart as the Mechanoids (see Rifts Source Book Two) or the Manhunters (a RPG book created by Palladium Books and Mymidon Press discontinued though a great read if you have a copy (check This is a great article of robots, power armor, guns and great villains. There is something every GM can use.

The Evolved by David Ransom was next. Here a creature is created for our use and entertainment that could make a great hero (for players) or a great villain or henchman for GM's. It had five stages of evolution and man was it fun to read how it just got nastier and nastier.

Siege on Tolkeen and Hammer of the Forge was the last two stories continuing a saga of great literature that I would love to see in a independent book someday concluded the magazine and man it was worth it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Insight on the Review

I realize that I have not done Rift 4 (yet) but I really want some feed back. Do you want some deeper grind on individual articles in the various great Rifters or are you enjoying the current format where the whole individual Rifter is discussed?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rifter 3

I know that some of the excitement has worn off from this review and mainly that is my fault for not writing more frequently so I apologize. I have been dreading writing this review because I fear that I will not give Chi the awesome review it deserves. But I am going to put that aside and going to make it happen. 

The magazine begins with a great review of game mastering by Apollo Okamura who points out the various points of a story and how we can use it in a RPG setting. So many parts of a great story are discussed and he really dissects how to make sure that the game turns out great.

After Apollo’s article comes one from Randi Cartier. In this article they created a barrage of little things that could really add to your campaign or adventure; monsters, jewelry, weapons and herbs; fantastic stuff.

Now we are going to discuss the thing that got my goose; martial arts and chi. The magazine went through a series of articles written by Wayne Smith, William Muench, Lee Casebolt and Andrew Smith. Each guy had so much information on great forms of kung fu and karate across the world.  Wayne started with an article about the integration of martial arts in every setting. He showed us that it could be used in Rifts and other games. William took it to Nightbane so that we could not just be a bunch of supernatural creatures but there could be some human heroes who could hold their own without a gun. What was missing was the supernatural nature of martial arts but any good GM could rectify it with some notes from Heroes Unlimited. Again, who could not enjoy some change with some serious Bishoudo or Chi-Kung; fun stuff; what I liked about his article was that there was a use for particular weapons with your martial art and it sent me back to a time when I was playing Teenage Mutants Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (also known as TMNT) and thought hey, I could really go for some serious martial arts. Now this article came out after Mystic China with all the expectations that I wanted for TMNT (now replaced with After the Bomb). 

Now while the first half was about martial arts (mainly) the second half (or at least a large chunk) was the article by Wayne Breaux Jr., all about the Xiticix, a creature that I could not pronounce then nor now. I read what Wayne wrote and though I didn’t do a lot of Rifts at the time I really wanted to and this article just increased the desire. Instead of just being a picture or brief description this article gave a full description that I thought could not be filled more. I was wrong when Xiticix would be fleshed out in a world book (23). This introduction article covered queens, workers, warriors, nannies etc.

Following that article was the Spatial Mage by Steve Trustrum (I didn’t realize it but this guy was a real regular in the early years). This character was like a super ley line walker (not that the ley line walker needed help). That being said there was a bunch of cool new series of spells. Perhaps there was some influence by Rifts: England (see temporal wizard on page 66 - 71). 

After that great article was the article on the Amoeboids by Rodney Stott (again another regular) who created a world that was composed of gelatinous creatures with their own government, technology and maps. Scott had O.C.C.s , vehicles and whole cities in a brief description. A fun world that could make for a great visit; perhaps this was inspiration to Splicers RPG that would come out 15 years later. Who knows?

Siege on Tolkien and Hammer of the Forge were the capstone for this great magazine. Who knew that there would be some much pack in such a small package? The next post will be sooner. Again I apologize.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rifter 2

I am still geeking out from my initial article that I wrote some weeks ago. I am still attempting to find a way to portray the Rifter with the best light and really encourage fans of Rifter Magazine to get a copy of every Rifter available. 

Rifter 2 did everything just as as Rifter 1 did in my opinion. When it was released I was blown away by the great art and articles that we as fans and Palladium staff would produce. We started with some rumors and such but I feel the real meat started with Erick Wujcik’s article called Thinking Big. For years I had been doing small adventures, little one night shows but Erick had big plans and he wanted to insure that fans would catch the vision he had. In his article he mentions that he accidently thought too big for his campaign with a dungeon called “KiddieDungeon”. He had caught an idea that blossomed into some great suggestions for gamers everywhere. He had us think not just about something like Coalition occupied territory but the whole Rifts world and what our one pebble could do in the Rifts world pond. A friend of mine has a campaign that reflects just that, a world impact on a group of adventurers.  Erick gave us ideas that we will never forget.

In this Rifter, I don’t know how he did it but Kevin got Jolly R. Blackburn to give us stories that we could all relate to with his Knights of the Dinner Table. Eight magazines his genius graced us and I really wished that it was more.

In the Palladium news that came next I have forgotten how young Palladium was in that we didn't have Rifts: Warlords of Russia (that’s a great world book) with it came hints of future books like Rifts: Mystic Russia and a sneak peek of this newly created book. Again I was geeking out when it came out. I found out later in an interview that the book wasn't even supposed to be an idea but when a manuscript came to Kevin's desk the wheels started turning and we got two great books.

Kevin, who doesn’t do a lot of articles in the magazine, had a real good article called The Rifts Connection where he showed the various game lines that were produced by Palladium Books and how they were they tied to the world of Rifts. I know that dominated their sales so it would make sense that this article would come out. Kevin wanted to show a parallel that tied all the worlds that we played in together. Rifts: Conversion was already out so we knew what the stats looked like but I think that this article ironed out some of the loose ends as to why such people like Lazlo had influence on the world that by itself seemed to have no ties. I’m just surprised that there is not more influence of Heroes Unlimited (than again there was an advertisement of Skraypers in the same magazine).

I'm not sure that is was put in for space but there is an article by William Muench about Imps but it was a creature that could be used in almost any setting so I am glad it was included. Here was some fantastic creatures that could slip into society and leave a message or assassinate people etc without really getting caught. They were both the magic creature and the insider at the same time. Love those changlings!

Palladium Pirates by Shawn Merrow was next. Fantastic piece as it went over the concept that there are good pirates, the various codes of honor and a few NPC’s that we could use in our Palladium: Adventures on the High Seas. There were also Hook, Line and Sinkers that we all could have for use and really enrich our game play. It’s funny how I used the combination of this article and an article in Rifter 13 together to create an adventure that carried for several nights about the Cards of Fate and in the end it turned out that the chasing pirates were the guardians of the box and they were attempting to keep it out of other people’s hands. Fun adventure.

Wayne Breaux a frequent artist in the various books that we enjoy from Palladium wrote an article called Hacking, Cyberjacking and Supernatural Data Theft Across the Megaverse. I know that it’s a long title but the content was so rich I had to read it over and over. I still read it occasionally (mainly because I am attempting to capture the spirit of the article in a net-source book that I am scratching out). In it Wayne explored the rich tapestry that is cyberspace and what kind of crimes, discoveries, and all around mischief that players and villains could get themselves into. What magnified its influence was he didn’t just stick to Rifts or Heroes Unlimited but went into nearly every world that had technology and how this could spand over perhaps worlds or dimensions. He touched on magic, psionics, superpowers and even talents (of the Nightbane). He gave a great base that everyone could work with rules, penalties and bonuses; pages and pages of what I consider gold.

The next article I thought was awesome but incomplete because I would come into the picture in Rifter 17 to add to the ‘magic’ of the world of the Blood Shaman. This article by Steven Trustrum talked about the world of Wormwood (Palladium Books’ first world book) I was intrigued by the idea that a world that had no rifts on the surface (I know that they are underground) that would, like Rifts: Australia, create an alternate means of magic. Steven’s article gave us a full fleshed out O.C.C. and some serious magic. I thought that the spells were deliciously horrific; quite a visual spectacle.

When Rifts came out we didn't fully understand the Techno-Wizard but we loved what they could do. Mark Sumimoto and Jayson Richards both had do fill that void and what came of it was a beautiful conglomeration of the two melding into one. Jason and Mark had figured out a way to make something convoluted into something concrete so that GMs everywhere could ask their players to do the math and not go crazy on creating tons of weapons and armor for their team without recourse. The amount of time, energy and components were nailed down by these two geniuses and they even gave some great examples of their weapons (some that would make it into the book Rifts: Federation of Magic). There was a subculture and a history that was created that really made the character fun to play (not that it wasn't before). With new O.C.C.s, weapons and armor we could dive right back into the world of cyberknights and dragons and really do some more discovery. One of my favorite creations was by Mark called the Ice sword (page 93).

Finally, like I said in Rifter 1, there were two stories that carried from Rifter to Rifter and Siege Against Tolkeen continued as did The Hammer of the Forge. As a side note I really enjoyed the stories because like an old beat around the table we could imagine the stories and the O.C.C’s that we played had a place to come to life. I have really loved the stories.

I feel that between the first two Rifters I would say that as a fan of the Rifter and Palladium Books this magazine has really encouraged us fans all to really push the envelope. We have gamed and imagined the endless possibility; some of us even have put it to script and sent it to Palladium Books for publishing. Great stuff, I hope that we continue the tradition. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rifter 1

Rifter 1 came out in the spring of 1998. In that year I had just met the woman who would agree to be my wife of over sixteen years and to see it was so awe inspiring that I was set to be in this magazine. It had so much talent pouring out of it but you all know that so let’s get to the beef.

In the first article was Rifts City rules by Eric J. Lind a.k.a. Tungsten Avenger. At the time I recall we didn't even have rules for what Chi-Town looked like nor any of the burbs. The possibility of creating towns controlled by the Coalition was fascinating as I really didn't know now they defined their boarders. At the time I thought the Coalition was an all consuming parasite that was just pushing the limit. The War on Tolkien was yet to come in novel form (published in 1999, written by Adam Chilson) as well as RPG format (Coalition Wars; published in October of 2001).  But I digress, This first article had everything that was embedded in the spirit of Rifts and what we knew of it. The article covered everything from the past of the town, racism, to the available resources and technology of the town/city. I admit that I built at least six towns before my wife told me to stop geeking out.

Those that have a copy of Lemuria (written by Greg Diaczyk) The new Roman Republic written by Rodney Stott was a big add to the world of Rifts covering a place that had never been really discussed which was deep south Europe. Some years later Bill Coffin would write Wolfen Empires (a rewrite of a classic of Adventures of the Northern Wilderness and More Adventures of the Northern Wilderness written by Kevin himself). The adventure showed a new format of empire that I am sure followed a Roman-esk format and was quite enticing because it involved creatures that we all had thanks to the Rifts Converson book or various Palladium Fantasy books. The incorporation of technology and magic was a nice blend. I am sure that if where it ever revisited that it would have to show their relation to the empires mentioned in the book Rifts Underseas. I really could see a new Europe book about France, Italy and such. What was nice is that they had new O.C.C.’s, armor, weapons and robots. Magic was briefly mentioned in passing but we had so much to pull from that we could fill in the blanks.

Next was the Knights of Kamnos witch I thought initially was just a story for Phase World but it turned out that it had a bit of new bits for our adventurous mind with a new O.C.C. and armaments and equipment.

The real surprise was James M.G. Cannon Hammer of the Forge a novel that was put into the Rifter like a periodical that you had to get the next Rifter just to see what happened next (still hope that they make it a novel). This story would carry on for 50+ Rifters.

Like I said, we had a real taste for the war on Tolkien because the next story after was the Siege Against Tolkien by David Haendler; a fine short story that carried in the second Rifter.

Heroes Unlimited had to be mentioned of course and at the time we had only Heroes Unlimited first edition and by the looks of this Rifter we were hungry for more. With over twenty powers by several authors we unknowingly saw a preview of the next version of Heroes Unlimited. Great powers were in the magazine with some powers that would not be in the new edition but man they were really thinking. One particular power Alter Physical Structure: Putty was actually put in a Powers Unlimited later because.. well.. it was left out of the great book of Heroes Unlimited. Aaron Oliver a.k.a. DreamFox and Steve Trustrum were big contributors of this article though I don’t think that there was another article that was compiled like this one as far as I can remember.

In 1995, C.J. Carella wrote my absolute favorite dark roleplaying game and it was not forgotten in the Rifter. Again Aaron Oliver a.k.a. DreamFox added more viewing pleasure with new Morphus Tables that were wild and zany. I mean for heaven sakes he had armadillo tables for the Nightbane. I admit that the tables that C.J. had made were diverse but the Rifter showed us that we could make a ton of tables of our own and sure enough we would in the following Rifters of the first one.

The one thing that still catches my eye was the following article y William R. Muench about the new faction called the Inlustris. Here the author showed us all that there were more factions and fighters in the war on the Nightlords. He had history, R/O/P.C.C.s, characters, and with Aaron Oliver a.k.a. DreamFox and Shawn Merrow, new adventures called Hook Line Sinkers. Now we had new ways to stimulate our ideas in a short quick way that other G.M.’s could share without stifling the creativity that each group created. Holy Cow, GENIUS.

The last article was for Beyond the Supernatural creating in my opinion O/P/R.C.C.’s that we could use in a number of avenues. The new classes were darker and created a new way of looking at your psychics and introduced a way of thinking of how we fought the unknown. Again this was a culmination article which has not been seen much since but I liked this magazine.

So this is the first Rifter Review of the first Rifter. We had comics, creativity and a I had to say that it took a while to put out the fire of excitement but the fire kept going with Rifter Two. Awesome!!!

(To be continued with Rifter Two…)

Cover art by Kevin Long