Monday, May 4, 2009

[Rifts:2112] The Coalition

Amidst all the sweeping changes I'm making for my Rifts:2112 setting, the Coalition States remain largely intact. From my very earliest involvement with Rifts, I thought the CS were one of the elements that the setting got absolutely right. Other than limiting existing equipment to what's in the Main Book, Sourcebook 1, and Mercenaries, the following two items are the only real changes I'm going to be making to the CS.

* First, I'm creating two levels of the Coalition military machine. I think that in a harsh, deadly environment such as this there would be a mandatory term of military service for all Coalition citizens. Something analogous to Switzerland, for example, or Nazi Germany's Volksturm; a People's Militia. To that end, I'm envisioning the CS Army as presented in the rulebooks as a sort of elite branch to the much more numerous National Guards. In effect, it's a port of the Warhammer 40,000 concept of the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines. The Army gets the high-tech, cutting edge armor (the Dead Boy suits--and incidentally, in my setting the "new" suit designs don't exist; it's classic Kevin Long-era Dead Boy armor all the way!). The Army gets the mechs (mostly), the Spider Skull Walkers, the Skelebot scout troops, and so forth. The Guard wears mostly pre-Rifts armor (Kevlar vests, helmets, so forth), wields mostly chemical slug throwers (there's maybe one laser cannon per squad), and has access to the older mech designs. I'm thinking of a whole "U.S. Army circa 1972" vibe for the Guard. The imagery sprang from this picture in particular, which I'm now imagining is a shot of a squad of hapless Guardsmen about to find themselves in a world of hurt:

Incidentally, the Dog Packs would technically be a part of the Guard forces, although a separate branch that often works with the Army as much as with the Guards (and so enjoys slightly better resource allocation).

* The other change comes about from my desire to include some sort of tip of the hat to that other 2112. It's a subtle change, but one that I quite like. First, let's take a look at the lyrics from the "Temples of Syrinx" portion of the eponymous song:

We've taken care of everything
The words you hear, the songs you sing
The pictures that give pleasure to your eyes
It's one for all and all for one
We work together, common sons
Never need to wonder how or why

We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx
Our great computers fill the hallowed halls
We are the Priests, of the Temples of Syrinx
All the gifts of life are held within our walls

Look around at this world we've made
Equality our stock in trade
Come and join the Brotherhood of Man
Oh, what a nice, contented world
Let the banners be unfurled
Hold the Red Star proudly high in hand

We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx
Our great computers fill the hallowed halls
We are the Priests, of the Temples of Syrinx
All the gifts of life are held within our walls

The lyrics-sheet also includes this bit of prose:

...'The massive grey walls of the Temples rise from the heart of every Federation city. I have always been awed by them, to think that every single facet of every life is regulated and directed from within! Our books, our music, our work and play are all looked after by the benevolent wisdom of the priests...'

Substitute "priests" for "Emperor Prosek" and you pretty much have the Coalition right there! No changes necessary, save one: in the original setting, every Coalition city-state has a massive arcology rising up at the center. Within the arcology live the Coalition citizens. Outside sprawl the 'Burbs, filled with hopeful applicants wishing to be admitted as citizens. A nice concept, to be sure, but one I'm going to monkey with. In my 2112 setting, the arcology will be much smaller. Think instead of the Tyrell Building in Blade Runner. Within these smaller arcologies reside the apparatus of government for each city-state. The data banks, the high-tech manufactories and design labs, the palatial living quarters for the society's elite. Surrounding these arcologies are high-rise buildings and industrial parks, home to most of the citizenry of the Coalition. Surrounding those are the 'Burbs.

This change puts the citizenry of Chi-Town out in the world, which I rather like. They can still be insulated from the world around them, lulled into a false sense of security by Orwellian propaganda, television, and round-the-clock military protection, but it allows for a bit more "edge-running", to borrow a term, on the part of the disaffected youth of the city-state. It lends the whole prospect of a Rifts city campaign a distinctly more Cyberpunk feel, which can only be a good thing, and opens up the boundaries between the city and the outside world.

Oh, and one last thing: I've decided my overt nod to 2112 will come from renaming the A.R.C.H.I.E. project as the S.Y.R.I.N.X. project. Just don't ask me to come up with the new acronym stands for!

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