Backgrounder 003: Rifts Survivor States
Rifts is my eternal problematic fave, and also a source of bizarre, contradictory, and confusing lore. However, something that’s easy to let fall through the cracks of the gonzo setting is that there are actually many survivor states in the post-apocalypse. That’s right, places that directly trace their lineage, governance, culture, and dominant populations back to the Pre-Rifts era. And this Backgrounder as an overview of them!
Free Quebec: North America has one nation with a pedigree that transcends the coming of the Rifts, and that’s Free Quebec (FQ). Xenophobic in the extreme, they’re the French speaking, Glitterboy using problem child that reluctantly joined the Coalition States, then ditched them later. Their capital, Quebec City, culture, and democratic institutions have roots in pre-rifts Quebec. Unfortunately, FQ is as, if not more, close minded and fascist than the Coalition States. How close minded? They didn’t even allow Dog-Boys to operate in their lands, or Psi-Stalkers to serve in their military (leaving crucial gaps in their defences, but whatever). So, yeah, that’s Free Quebec.
Rating: Awful. Free Quebec is a fascist nightmare and has few redeeming qualities outside of the fact that they piss off the Coalition States on multiple levels. The aesthetics are cool, but they’re just one more fascist nation in the list of fascist nations on Rifts Earth.
Reference: Rifts World Book 22: Free Quebec (2000), Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign (1996)
Republic of Colombia: A republic in the sense that it’s not a monarchy, the Republic of Columbia (RoC) traces its roots to the survival of four military bases and their commanders, who would establish a new Republic based on a military junta in the post-apocalypse. Surprisingly, as far as human dominant nations go on Rifts Earth, the RoC is fairly tolerant. Dwarves who migrated there via rifts are a component of their society and culture, as are Lizardmen and a few others; albeit as second class citizens at best. They utilize magic and technowizardry, and have a military based aristocracy equivalent. Interestingly, they’re one of the few places that has successfully fought off a vampire incursion.
Rating: Iffy. Rifts South America 1 & 2 weren’t written by Kevien Siembieda, and it shows. While KS’s pro fascist government for humans writing/design guidance is still there, CJ Carella did his best mitigated things. RoC has a lot of issues, but is head and shoulders above the CS and FQ in the Americas.
Reference: Rifts World Book 6: South America (1994)
Melbourne & Perth: These cites are technological marvels of 1984-esque techno dystopia. They survived the coming of the rifts, forted up, and now live lives under democratically elected and computer assisted bodies referred to as The Administration. Melbourne has a fully fledged AI at its core, and Perth has their lost AI’s supercomputer backup. Each city-state is both a socialist paradise and a technological dystopia, with magic, d-bees (dimensional beings), and so on being banned, and psychics being registered. They consider everything outside their cities as “savage”, and actively suppress, destroy, or confiscate technology from the people outside the city walls.
Rating: Dickish. Rifts World Book 19 is a mixmash of Mad Max inspired nonsense, racism, and Rifts grade technological craziness. Melbourne and Perth are literally clones of each other for all intents and purposes, and are legitimately awful. I don’t know why KS thinks that every human dominant nation needs to be violent, fascist/authoritarian, and xenophobic, but Melbourne and Perth take it to a whole new leel with their targeted attacks on technology outside their walls.
Republic of Japan: Unlike most nations in this post who trace their roots directly to pre-rifts institutions or nations, this one is literally from a pre-Rifts nation. Dimensional teleportation experiments as the apocalypse occurred zapped Hiroshima and 160km radius around it into another dimension and dropped them out of it 300 years later. The cultural elites banded together to remake the democratic government that was what they knew, and created (recreated) the Republic of Japan (RoJ). Unlike pretty much every other human dominant nation, any intelligent creature can become a citizen, and magic and psionics are seen as avenues for human development.
Rating: Sweet. RoJ breaks the mould of human populations being inherently fascist and awful in the world of Rifts Earth. Unfortunately, nearly SFA has been done with this part of Rifts Earth, and aside from the Empire of Japan gently trying to coax them into giving up their technology, there are no narrative arcs or plot hooks. The area does run afoul of some racism issues though, so be warned.
Reference: Rifts World Book 8: Japan (1995)
Geofront: What happens when the PLA and Chinese industries build an underground mega-city and it survives the apocalypse? You get a Chinese police state in one of the most problematic books that Palladium has made. Pushing past that, Geofront is a legit operation, open minded towards magic and psionics, but not fans of non-humans. In their case, it’s more understandable since apparently China is now in the Rifts equivalent of Chinese mythological hell complete with Yama Kings, but that’s a post for a different day. Suffice to say, unlike the rest of the world that gets a variety of d-bees, many of which are normal people but with tentacles or extra arms or some such, China got demons.
Rating: Okay. Yes, it’s another authoritarian state, but they aren’t fascist, and at least have roots in authoritarian rule. Geofront is one of the coolest ideas, to me, in Rifts, but it’s overwhelmingly let down by the bulk of the other design decisions that went into remaking China for Rifts World Books 24 and 25.
Reference: Rifts World Book 25: China Heroes of the Celestial Court (2004)
Sovietski: The Cold War very much shaped a lot of the concepts in Rifts, and so a USSR analogue was inevitable. Much like the RoC, the Sovietski traces its pre-Rifts lineage to the New Soviet Union, and more specifically, a large military base. The Sovietski are authoritarian communists, and like the other group that traces their roots to communism (Geofront), are more open to psionics and magic; under observation and limited or controlled by the state. They’re also tolerant of human-looking and non-monstrous d-bees. There’s a bunch of stereotypes going on of course, it is Palladium, but they are also legitimately better than most human centric nations on Rifts Earth.
Rating: Cool. No pun intended, but the Sovietski are cool in concept and not terrible enough in execution to drop them down to “Okay”. It’s more authoritarian action, but by now, that’s pretty much the assumed default for the bulk of human nations on earth.
Reference: Rifts World Book 36: Sovietski
New German Republic: Colloquially known as the NGR, this nation’s roots got muddled between the two books that it was presented in. The long and short of it is that some mega-industrial sites, complete with staff and surrounding areas survived the coming of the rifts, then went on to found a democratic republic based on their lost nation’s. The NGR slipped into fascism during a refugee crisis (because apparently people in Europe are aces at surviving apocalypses, but only if white) where they expelled their longtime d-bee citizens after revoking their citizenship. Since then, they’ve been a “CS-Lite” brand of in-game fascist state, and recently ceased being a democracy, with Triax taking over directly after the president was assassinated.
Rating: Okay. To their credit, some social justice stuff was built into the operation, and the citizens of the NGR aren’t brainwashed completely or completely in the thrall of nationalist fervor. Like RoC, it’s got problematic aspects, but unlike most in the game, they’re actually taking action on them that isn’t exterminating the population.
Reference: Rifts World Book 5: Triax and the New German Republic, Rifts World Book 31: Triax 2
The High Seas
Tritonia: The result of an Australian-American effort and South American genetic research firm, Tritonia is a floating city on an artificial island. Built and occupied prior to the coming of the rifts, it was a lot of “right place, right time” that let it survive the apocalypse and disaster years that followed. It’s roots were as a corporate effort, and that’s where its government comes from; it’s an authoritarian corporate-state. That said, they’re also open to d-bees, magic, and psionics, and have a long history of maintaining civil rights. So needless to say, Tritonia has an interesting location; if you can find it, because it’s somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Rating: Awesome. As far as places go, it’s near the tops on Rifts Earth. While authoritarian, it has better reason than most places for that, and it has serious integration into its co-writer’s, CJ Carella, other works (South America 1 and 2). The only issue it has is that past its appearance in Underseas, not much was done with it.
Reference: Rifts World Book 7: Underseas (1995)
The New Navy: In an effort to show that the USA wasn’t left out of being able to establish its own military based, post-apocalyptic nation, we got the New Navy, which is just the US Navy and US Marine Corps formatted slightly as a military dictatorship. You’re born, raised in one of two hidden bases, then become a member of the Navy or Marines or the small civilian population. Life is led under strict martial law and military justice. It’s functionally impossible in game to visit the bases, but the new Navy can be encountered in any ocean or sea that isn’t landlocked. It’s implied that there are d-bees among them (~9.9% of the population is non-human and non-Sea Titan) but none are specified, and likewise, there’s nothing on how they look at magic or psionics. Culturally, despite the militaristic environment, they have retained civil rights, free speech, and “American” culture we would recognize today.
Rating: Meh. The New Navy has a lot of potential, but there are too many gaps in its canonical info to give it a higher rating. They’re definitely “good guys”, but that seems to be about as far as that went. Interestingly, given their relatively closed population and that Sea Titans (mystically modified humans) 100% pass on their powers, it’s reasonable to assume that eventually normal humans will be a minority, and eventually vanish in the New Navy.
Reference: Rifts World Book 7: Underseas (1995)
Rifts is a troubled setting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the sketchy world building that went into creating it as a gonzo setting. However, it has a lot of potential and a lot of legitimately fun and interesting ideas in it. This backgrounder came into being because of the broad perception that everything rebuilt long after the apocalypse, and that there aren’t strong ties to the pre-rifts world. Canonically it’s hit and miss, but reasonably, there should be. That connection to the old world is slowly being explored in the Sourcebook series, but is often left out of the World Book series. Hence this post, to act as a broad overview of the nations that have these deeper ties to the world that was.
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