Take an Adventure in Dystopia with RIFTS: Vampire Kingdoms

I’m not much of a RIFTS player, but I love the lore, fluff, story—whatever one chooses to call it—surrounding RIFTS. Sometimes, I’ll incorporate some material from the RIFTS World Books into my D & D campaign. That’s precisely what I’ve done recently with a homebrew Castlevania game I’m working on. I’ve used some material from this book for the upcoming campaign.

The book opens with the customary disclaimer, molded to fit the content of the book—vampires. Then, there’s a picture of a vampire clown. That’s right, the first RIFTS world book—the second bit of game expansion for the RPG—starts with a sinister, grinning vampire clown, sporting a goofy haircut. Creepy.

At a hearty 176 pages, the book is detailed, packed with content. Diving into the book, we learn about the three types of vampires—Master, Secondary and Wild. Master vampires run the show. Secondary vampires are standard residents of the vampire world—creatures from legend and literature. Wild vampires are almost as zombies, shambling around in tattered clothing, barely coherent, appearing insane.

Vampires in this world are not only the human-herding, humanoid blood suckers we know and love, but psychic as well, feeding off the nourishing blood and delectable psychic energy of their victims, so that’s a bit different.

Next up is the introduction of the monstrosity known as the Vampire Intelligence, which typically acts as a virus seeks a host. The physical embodiment of this thing is grotesque and frightening. Alien, powerful and malignant, the creature can take over an entire rift for its own use. I liked the ideas here: a clear departure from the usual vampire lore. I probably won’t use much of this in my homebrew D & D game.

I’m impressed with the next section Exploring Central America. Presented as a travelogue narrated by sworn enemy of the Coalition. Erin Tarn, it explains each region as they relate to the world of RIFTS. Tarn breaks down the history of the region, provides information on vampire legends, discusses vampire lore and tells of how her party is armed with squirt guns—filled with holy water, of course. Castlevania has nothing on the Central America region in this game!

The book wraps up with a sociological exploration of vampire civilization, customs and behavior, followed up with excruciating details about their kingdom—cities, villages, seats of power and the like. There’s a killer map at the end.

Highlights of this section include the scary/creepy gangs of Jaurez—a purportedly vampire-free stronghold of man—and what happens when man integrates with the vampire kingdoms. I recommend checking out the book to find out. I particularly like the characters presented as Reid's Rangers, a diverse group of highly respected and powerful warriors, given near complete freedom to do as they please, with little opposition. Ostensibly the good guys, the Rangers are legends of their time.

Led by the charismatic, almost bionic, Clint Eastwood-styled hero type, Dr. Kenneth Reid—whom has a rich and deeply interesting backstory himself—leads this group of Rangers in a crusade against the vampires and represent something I love about RIFTS—a mix of dystopian comic book style characters with amazing abilities and sheer variety. There’s a necromancer, a few warriors and an alien, to name a few. Seriously, what's not to love?

Overall, the book is a great read, with superb writing and stunning visuals throughout. It’s going to be interesting to see how I can incorporate some of this material into my Castlevania D & D game!

This article was contributed by David J. Buck (Nostalgia Ward) as part of EN World's News Columnist (ENWC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!

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David J. Buck

David J. Buck


It is one of my favorite Rifts books. I especially like traveling shows and the Yucatan.

Many plots and ideas to use from Rifts setting books, such as "True Rune Weapons" from Atlantis.


Rifts I feel like is the only game to truly get the sci-fi/fantasy mash up right, and there is a ton of material out there that people can get inspired by. The Palladium game system itself can be a little challenging to use, and my opinion is that most folks should steer clear of it. I was hoping that Savage Worlds getting involved would help, but I was ultimately disappointed in came out of that venture. Like I said, check out all the books and lift what you want. There are some ideas in there that have yet to really show up in other RPGs out there!


I've always liked the RIFTS setting. The game mechanics were a bit much but how do you go wrong with juicers, glitterboys, and psydogs! The Palladium books always had amazing artwork which really brought the world to life.


The setting of Rifts was always a lot of fun. Each book, including this one, were just jam packed with ideas. I still remember many of the books and their contents and I haven’t looked at one of the books in years.

It’s too bad that the mechanics were not good, and the way they were presented was abysmal.


The setting of Rifts was always a lot of fun. Each book, including this one, were just jam packed with ideas. I still remember many of the books and their contents and I haven’t looked at one of the books in years.

It’s too bad that the mechanics were not good, and the way they were presented was abysmal.

I bought the Savage Rifts books. I think the fluff should be compatible.

One of the issues with Palladium is that they aren't so great with numbers. Sometimes they over-estimate what a reasonable number would be (like when they give the Coalition 3.2 million suits of SAMAS power armor), and sometimes the under-estimate by quite a bit (like when they say that the Glitter Boy's boom gun fires projectiles at a speed of Mach 2).

I'm curious as to how all of those vampires on the cover of the book are able to find enough food. I'd think that they'd exhaust the psychic energy of any humans in quick order, and then starve to death.


I haven’t had a chance to play that yet. Is it any good? Does it capture the Rifts feel?

I had fun with it, though I've played only one session of Savage Rifts (and none of Palladium Rifts). What I can say is that the GM of Savage Rifts was a friend of mine and he had played quite a bit of Palladium (mostly Fantasy but some Rifts). He said it is a good approximation and that it made Rifts "playable."
That was good enough for me. Haha

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