Rifts Basics

This article is taken from my previous RPG blog. I will be slowly translating my old articles over in an effort to consolidate all the information in one place.  


This is a brief explanation of the Rifts Rules originally found on the megaversal forum then modified for my use in my current gaming group including some house rules. This is not intended as a replacement for the rule book.

There are 8 stats:
IQ, Mental Endurance (ME),
Mental Affinity (MA),
Physical Strength (PS),
Physical Prowess (PP),
Physical Endurance (PE),
Physical Beauty (PB)
Speed (Spd).

IQ Bonus:
Intelligence. Add the bonus to all mental skills (most skills).
ME Bonus:
Willpower and emotional tenacity. Add the bonus to Mind Saves.
MA Bonus:
Charisma. Add the bonus to all social skills
PS Bonus:
Strength. Add the bonus to damage in unarmed and melee combat. The damage bonus also applies to thrown weapons and bows. If PS is greater than 30, see the Strength Table in the Combat section to determine damage.
PP Bonus:
Dexterity. Add to combat rolls other than initiative, saving throws, and damage. Add the bonus to all physical skills.
PE Bonus:
Stamina. Add the bonus to Body saves.
PB Bonus:
Beauty. Add the bonus to all social skills, Cumulative with MA’s skill bonuses.
Spd Bonus:
Quickness. Add the bonus to initiative. (Spd * 5 =max yards run per melee. Spd * .68 = approx. miles per hour.)
Racial Character Class (RCC)
Occupational character class (OCC)

SKILLS (House Rules)
Skills are granted by OCC. Most Classes grant skills. For ambiguous skills, players may apply the bonuses from any ONE stat only. Roll less than the skill percentage on d% to succeed at skill checks. Skill percentages may go above 100%, and may cancel penalties, but rolls of 99-100 automatically fail. Rolls of 01 automatically succeed.

No Skill / Stat Check: (House Rules with my permission)
If a PC attempts something that is not covered by an existing skill, a Stat Check may be made. Multiply the relevant Stat by 3. Roll below that number with percentile dice. The Stat check modifiers may be applied.

High roll always wins. Ties go to the defender. All combat rolls except Initiative, Parries, Auto-Dodges, and Damage costs an attack, even if unsuccessful. All combat rolls except damage area d20. Bonuses may apply. Go in order of Initiative.

Initiative is a roll + bonuses. Players spend all attacks at once, one after the other, although players may choose to reserve one or more attack for later (useful for Dodges).Some actions may cause a character to be knocked down. If this happens, the character loses initiative and one attack. Attacks must be defended against. If a character fails to defend against a blow, they receive damage. If the character is wearing armor, then the armor takes all the damage. However, some armor is ineffective against some types of damage. Primitive armors such as padded, leather, and chain are ineffective against firearms and better. Plate armor can defend against handguns and assault rifles, but not against rifles and shotgun slugs. Only advanced, sci-fi armor protects against everything (except some types of magic, psionic, etc.).

A combat round is 15 seconds. At the end of the round, initiative is rolled again, and combat continues until one side is defeated, surrenders, or gets away.

Combat Bonus:
PP Bonus + Class Bonuses (to Strike only) + Hand to Hand (HtH) combat bonus. The Combat Bonus adds to all combat rolls except initiative, saving throws, and damage.

Natural Armor Rating (NAR):
A character must roll a d20, plus bonuses, over an opponent’s NAR to strike. Most human-like characters do not have a NAR, but many monsters and demons and true dragons do.

Basic Maneuvers
All of these use a d20 + all applicable bonuses.

A roll of 4 or less with bonuses misses. A natural 1 is a fumble – there are no specific rules for fumbles; GMs should make them interesting.

A successful parry means the target takes no damage and blocked the strike from hitting (with a shield, sword, hand, etc.).A character may attempt to parry a weapon while empty handed, by blocking the arm or hand of the attacker, but gets no bonuses to do so. Gunshots and energy blasts can be parried with shields, but the shield takes the attack’s full damage. Parries are the primary defensive manoeuvre in combat.

A dodge can be attempted if a parry fails or is impossible. Characters can attempt to dodge virtually anything –gunfire, magical lightening blasts, large volleys of missiles, etc.

The ability to dodge without having to spend an attack. Auto-dodge is a rare ability.

A natural 20 is critical success (crit) and does double damage or exactly what the player was attempting, unless the target rolls a natural 20 to defend. Some hand to hand types extend the crit range at higher levels, but a crit must always be the roll of 20 before bonuses. Sometimes it’s possible to get a “double critical” by rolling a 20 on what would otherwise be considered an automatic crit. In those cases, the attack does triple damage.

Pulled Punch
Rolls are a normal attack roll. The player just has to announce that they’re pulling the punch to do as little damages they wish to. This does not require an extra roll, thus it does not cost an attack.

Shoving one’s opponent. May force a balance check, and may move the enemy or allow the PC to get past an enemy.

Balance Check:
Roll against the skill Sense of Balance to keep from being tripped, knocked over, falling, etc. A balance check does require spending an attack.

If a blow lands or a character was otherwise going to take damage from an explosion or blunt impact, the character may attempt to “roll with the blow”. If the character roles as high as or higher than the attack roll, then the character “rolls with the blow” and only takes half damage. If the strike was an attempted knock out or death strike, the blow does standard damage, and the target is still conscious. Attempting to “roll with it” can be made after a failed parry or even a failed dodge.

Called Shot:
A character may attempt to strike an opponent in a specific spot, perhaps where they have no armor. Called Shots are considered Difficult, so they have a -3 or -6 to strike. If the character misses the Called Shot, they miss the target entirely.

Simultaneous Attack
Rolls are made with a d20 + bonuses. In this case, the defender chooses to attack instead of defend. The attacker does not get to defend either, unless he chooses to forgo his planned attack, and switches to a dodge. If that doesn’t happen, both combatants roll an attack with bonuses as normal. Chances are that both attacks will strike.

Advanced Maneuvers
Anyone can attempt these. All of these use a d20. All of these cost an attack. Bonuses only apply if the character has Advanced Combat, OR if he is using a weapon he has a WP in that Is designed for the maneuver (staffs to trip/throw, net or lasso to entangle, sword breaker to break a sword, etc).

May be attempted as an attack or while defending if in hand to hand or melee combat. An Entangle consists of grabbing or somehow locking up an opponent’s limb, appendage, or weapon. As a defensive maneuver, it prevents the blow from landing if successful. When used as a defense, the defender must roll above the opponent’s attack roll. An entangled limb or weapon can be freed with a successful attack roll. If it’s not freed on the next attack (which receives normal bonuses), it automatically becomes a grappled limb unless released by the attacker; (see Wrestling and Grappling).

An attempt to disarm or break an opponent’s weapon.

The Crazy Stuff:
Shooting people while doing aerial acrobatics; parrying arrows barehanded; jumping onto a glitter boy, running up its arm to the shoulder, and firing point blank into its sensors with a sawed-off, pistol grip shotgun… Characters can try it, but it gets a combat modifier as either
Difficult -3 or Heroic -6 Lunatic -10 Suicidal -15