Books for Roleplayers: Matthew Clements – Rifts Path of the Storm


Rifts Path of the Storm
Rifts Path of the Storm is a complete screenplay about the Rifts universe written by Matthew Clements and published by Palladium Books.
By Aaron T. Huss

Rifts Path of the Storm is a story set within the midst of the Rifts universe on Earth. It is written in the style of a screenplay as one writer’s vision of the possibly upcoming Rifts movie. It is completely laid out and formatted as a screenplay would be and lacks much of what you would expect to find in a novel, novella, or short story. However, the story itself is the equivalent length of a short story and even without the standard fiction details (such as describing what someone or something looks like), it’s an awesome story and really gives you a taste of what the Rifts multiverse has to offer.

The story centers around the life of a the main character David Lange. David was saved by coalition soldiers when the village he lived in as a child was set upon by demons coming through a rift. His life changed forever as he turned to the path of the coalition becoming an elite soldier. While this is a large part of his life, it is only half of the plot (you learn this in the first several pages so it’s not really a spoiler).

There are three important factors about Rifts Path of the Storm that are important enough to point out. The first and possibly the most prevalent is the setting. Throughout the story you get an excellent understand for what makes the Rifts multiverse so unique in all of its aspects: sci-fi, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and even cyberpunk (partially). The feel of the setting really shines through and you learn how these aspects mesh together in harmony (in fact, the cover illustration pretty much sums it up in one stunning, visual stimulus).

The second is certain events that lead up to the current setting. You learn why the world has come to be what it is along with what the people are turning to (and into) to get by. How do they survive? What do they learn or know? What do they really look like? The story is filled with elements that go into creating the aforementioned setting and what makes it so interesting.

The third and final important factor of the story is the characters. These are definite Rifts characters, through and through. Every characteristic and ability they possess can be visualized and translated into in-game purpose (especially since character stats are included in the back).

One thing that really lets down due to the screenplay format is the lack of descriptions for the characters’ surroundings. This is to be expected with a screenplay but I would really have love to seen this converted to liner notes or illustrations to better explain what the environment looks like, especially the cities. It makes for tricky reading, but you just have to visualize it a bit more.

OVERALL

Rifts Path of the Storm is a story that can easily (and quite easily at that) be translated into a mini-campaign for Rifts and non-Rifts players. As the story is written without any stats, it makes translating to other systems and settings that much easier as you are simply picturing the action and not worrying about the crunch. For Rifts Game Masters, you get all the character stats in the back so you can quickly and easily slide the characters in as NPCs. Even if you don’t play Rifts, this is an awesome short story to read. If you’re unfamiliar with the Rifts setting, then this is a definite must read so that you understand how cool the setting is/can be.

RATINGS

Style: 8 out of 10
I like Matthew Clements’ take on the Rifts setting and I like the way the action develops. I’m not a big fan of the screenplay style, but I understand why it was done this way. The only part of the style I didn’t like was the lack of character development. It seemed like some of the characters changed their views too quickly and seemingly with very little hesitation. Instead of the characters developing into a different personality, they sort of simply became that new personality without the development you may expect.

Storyline: 10 out of 10
The storyline of Rifts Path of the Storm is well-developed and holds your interest. It really does a great job of representing the Rifts setting and what it’s capable of doing. I never got lost in the story due to confusion or lack of direction and everything moved forward nicely. It’s a well-paced storyline, considering again that it’s a screenplay, and really makes you want to visualize the action and effects that occur.

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