The following section is a somewhat concise summary of the rules in Rifts that will apply at the table. They are drawn – sometimes directly taken – from 4e D&D, and from Star Wars Saga almost entirely. Anything not included or overlooked will be added for future revisions, please send the author a note about anything you think they missed.
A combat sequence is a series of rounds, where each character takes a turn. Rounds represent 6 seconds in game time. Groups of rounds from the beginning of combat make up an encounter.
The order of combat during an encounter is as follows:
- Determine Surprise. Gm determines if anyone involved in the encounter is surprised. If anyone notices enemy combatants before being noticed the aware combatants gain a surprise round.
- Establish Positions. The Gm decides where everyone is located on the map, and places minis out to represent all the individuals and terrain involved in the encounter.
- Roll Initiative. Initiative is calculated by adding your Dexterity bonus
+½ your level
+any bonuses or penalties you have from effects and abilities. You can change your initiative by delaying your actions.
- Take surprise round actions in initiative order. Surprised peeps get no actions.
- Take turns. Everyone involved in the combat takes a turn following initiative order, which includes various actions.
- Rinse Repeat.
End of the Encounter. An encounter is over when all the members of one side are dead, unconscious, have surrendered or run away, and the other side takes a short or extended rest.
Actions are detailed on a following page. All actions one takes during a turn must happen at the same time. You cannot take your Move action, then delay and use a Standard action.
Each turn each player takes one Standard action, one Move action, and one Minor action. You have the choice to give up all three actions and take a Full Round action. You may not split a Full Round action over 2 or more rounds. You may take your actions in any order you desire. You may gain an extra Standard action by spending an Action Point anytime during your turn.
Free actions take very little time and may be taken during anyone’s turn.
Immediate actions are in response to something happening, and occur during specific situations. Immediate Interrupts take place just before a triggering action has resolved, Immediate Reactions take place immediately after the triggering action has resolved. You may only take one Immediate action per round, and may not take one on your own turn.
Actions during your turn may be substituted for other actions at your discretion; a Standard can be used as a Move or Minor, and a Move may be used as a Minor if desired. You may not use a Move and a Minor action to gain a second Standard action.
Taking Your Turn
Start of Your Turn
At the start of your turn, things happen.
- Take ongoing damage.
- Regenerate HP, if you have regeneration.
- Other effects that occur at the start of your turn happen now.
- Effects that end at the start of your turn end next.
- You may not take actions during this segment.
- Take one Standard, one Move, and one Minor action.
End of Your Turn
- After you act, account for any effects which take place at the end of your turn. The end of your turn always takes place, even if unconscious, and it takes no time in the game.
- Saving Throws. Make an saving throws you are entitled to, to end effects that a save can end.
- Sustaining Actions. If an effect required a Sustaining action, and you did not use it, the effect ends now.
- End Effects. Whatever effects end at the end of your turn end now.
- No Actions. You may not take actions at the end of your turn.
Attacks and Defenses
In Rifts there are many sorts of attacks and defenses whether they be with weapons, spells, psionics, feat and talent abilities, or something else. Most attacks are detailed in the specific description of the ability/effect, but here are the basic rules for using weapons and basic attacks.
This is the most common form of attack in Rifts is a basic attack, from one of the low or high tech weapons available in the game setting.
Basic Melee Attack Calculation:
your Strength modifier
½ your level
any proficiency, class or special ability bonuses.
and are resolved against Reflex defense. This attack can be used against adjacent targets only. If an attack effects more than one target, an attack roll is made against each individually.
Basic Ranged Attack Calculation:
your Dexterity modifier
½ your level
Any cover or concealment penalty
any proficiency, class or special ability bonuses.
and are resolved against Reflex defense. This attack can be used against any target within line of sight and within range of the weapon you are using.
Attacking an Object
If absolutely necessary, you may attack an object as a standard action. Unattended non-moving objects have a Reflex defense of 5 plus their size modifier; unattended moving objects have a Reflex defense of 10 plus their size modifier. If you want to attack an object held, wielded or worn by another, it has a Reflex defense of 10 plus or minus its size modifier + the holder’s Reflex defense. Some weapons are unable to damage some objects, many objects have DR as well.
A critical hit occurs on a roll of a natural 20, or when specified by an effect. The effects of a critical hit are determined with 3D8 and by referencing the table below… that’s right, a critical hit table.
|3D8 Roll||Critical Hit Result|
|4||Double damage +1 die|
|5||Double damage, and bypasses all armor DR|
|8||Normal damage, target is Stunned, save ends|
|9||Normal damage, target is knocked prone|
|10||Normal damage, target is Weakened, save ends|
|11||Double damage, target is either Dazed or Weakened, save ends, critters choice|
|12||Reroll damage, take the higher amount|
|13||Reroll damage, take the higher amount, ongoing 5 damage, save ends|
|14||Halve target’s armor DR for this hit|
|15||Normal damage, target is disarmed, or Slowed, save ends|
|16||Normal damage, target is Stunned, save ends|
|17||+1 die of damage, target Dazed, save ends|
|18||Normal damage, ongoing 4 damage, save ends|
|20||+2 dice damage|
|21||Maximum damage, target is Stunned, save ends|
|23||+10 damage, target knocked Unconscious, save ends|
|24||Triple damage, ongoing 6 damage, save ends|
- Short range attacks (within the weapons listed range) suffer no penalty to hit.
- Medium range attacks (within the second number listed for the weapon) suffer a -4
- Long range attacks (from medium to weapon’s maximum range) suffer a -10 to attack rolls.
Attacks have little chance of hitting beyond long range.
Each attack fired at an individual uses up ammunition. The amount of ammunition fired depends on the weapon, but most guns and bows use one round/arrow per target they attack. Firing a burst from most weapons requires 15 shots of ammunition, and is only possible if the weapon has the burst property, or you have an overriding ability which allows it. Bursts cannot be fired if you do not have 15 shots available in your current clip.
Burst, Blast and Close attacks are used as they are in D&D 4e. Please refer to page 271 of the 4e Player’s Handbook.
Defenses are as 4E & SAGA. With some modifications:
- one adds their Dexterity or Intelligence bonus to their Reflex defense regardless of armor worn (pretty much all armor in Rifts is un-encumbering).
- AC is out only using Reflex, if you are hit, you are wearing armor and it absorbs the damage—usually.
- As is SAGA when not in armor one adds their level to their Reflex defense instead of the armor bonus.
- Only add 1/2 your level to your defenses instead of a ful level like SAGA.
- Like 4e, DEX or INT is always added to Reflex, STR or CON is added to Fortitude and WIS or CHA is added to your Will defense.
- No Damage Threshold & condition track.
Same as 4e, Player’s Handbook page 279. Roll 10 or higher with any bonus or penalty affecting roll, to save.
|Combat advantage against target||+2|
|Attacker is prone||–2|
|Attacker is restrained||–2|
|Target has cover||–2|
|Target has superior cover||–5|
|Target has concealment (melee and ranged only)||–2|
|Target has total concealment (melee and ranged only)||–5|
|Long range (weapon attacks only)||–10|
|Charge attack (melee only)||+1|
Armor and Damage Resistance
In Rifts, armor is key to survival. Wearing armor is as common to Rifts adventurers as wearing clothes is to current day folks. Some armor has environmental filtering capability (FEBA—Full Environmental Body Armor) and is sealed against the elements; some is a collection of padding surrounding the most vital areas; and some is created by magic or sheer force of will. However, as Mega-Damage is a broken system, I don’t use it, and even the unarmored can survive a hit or two from energy weapons.
All armor in Rifts provides a damage resistance or, DR as well as bonus to Reflex or Fortitude. Armor is broken down into simplified classes and can be found on the table in the equipment section. The table is not a complete accounting of all the armor available in the world, just the most commonly encountered sorts.
In most situations, the DR of armor is applied to any incoming damage received from weapons and effects before marking that damage off a character’s Hit Points. There are some cases where damage ignores armor, as in psychic damage (see Damage Types below). Also whether the armor is FEBA or not can make a difference on how much damage passes through.
Combat advantage is used in place of any system of flat-footed or denied dexterity bonus. See page 279 of the 4e Player’s Handbook.
Cover and Concealment
As used in the 4e Player’s Handbook page 280, with only a couple exceptions for the way Rifts technology works, such as lasers passing through wood or other substances unabated. Important details here.
- Cover (–2 Penalty to Attack Rolls): The target is around a corner or protected by terrain. For example, the target might be in the same square as a small tree, obscured by a small pillar or a large piece of furniture, or behind a low wall.|
- Superior Cover (–5 Penalty to Attack Rolls): The target is protected by a significant terrain advantage, such as when fighting from behind a window, a portcullis, a grate, or an arrow slit.
- Concealment (–2 Penalty to Attack Rolls): The target is in a lightly obscured square or in a heavily obscured square but adjacent to you.
- Total Concealment (–5 Penalty to Attack Rolls): You can’t see the target. The target is invisible, in a totally obscured square, or in a heavily obscured square and not adjacent to you.
- Lightly Obscured: Squares of dim light, foliage,fog, smoke, heavy falling snow, or rain are lightly obscured.
- Heavily Obscured: Squares of heavy fog, heavy smoke, or heavy foliage are heavily obscured.
- Totally Obscured: Squares of darkness are totally obscured.
Movement and Position
These rules are the same as 4e D&D, with the exception of allowing the full round Run action to be used and move a character 4 times their speed in a straight line. Withdrawing from combat as in Saga, is an option, and Teleportation has slightly different limitations in Rifts.
Actions in Combat
Here follows all the rules for actions allowed in a combat round for Rifts. These are a mix of 4e and Saga.
Action points are used the same as 4e on page 286, except, with the addition of Full Round actions, one is able to take a full round action, and use an action point for an extra Standard action in the same round.
Full Round Actions
Coup de Grace
As a full round action you can deliver a coup de grace to a helpless, adjacent target. You automatically score a critical hit—see the table above. A target reduced to 0 hit points or fewer dies instantly.
As a full round action, you can make more than one attack with weapons you are proficient with. You must be wielding two weapons, or have an ability which allows a second attack. You may resolve the attacks in whatever order you wish, all attacks you make suffer a -10 penalty. Any penalties to attack rolls for extra attacks apply to all attacks you make before the start of your next turn.
Two Weapon Style. The Two Weapon Style feats reduce the -10 penalty by -2, -5 and -10 to attack rolls when attacking with two weapons. A character with all three Two Weapon Style feats negates the -10 completely.
Double Attack & Triple Attack. The double attack and triple attack feats allow a character to make more than one attack with an individual weapon during a full attack. Double Attack allows a second attack with the chosen weapon, but the character takes -5 to all attacks until the start of their next turn. Triple attack allows for 2 more, total of three attacks with the chosen weapon, but all attacks suffer a -10 total penalty.
You can full out run as a full round action, moving up to 4 times your speed in a straight line.
Attack with a Melee Weapon
You can strike an enemy in a square you threaten.
Versatile Weapons. These weapons may be wielded two handed, if they are add +1 to damage.
Attack with a Ranged Weapon
You may shoot at or throw at any target within you range and line of sight. Ranged weapons have two categories, normal and long range. Long range attacks have a -4 penalty to hit, attacks beyond long range suffer a -10 penalty.
Point Blank Range. Considered to be within 6 squares.
Autofire / Burst fire. Some weapons have the burst capability, and are capable of Autofire attacks, this requires a standard action. This is a special type of area attack, and is detailed at the end of this section.
As a standard action you may aid an adjacent ally’s next skill check or attack roll, perform a medicine skill check, or interfere with an enemy’s attacks.
Aiding a Skill Check. Make a DC 10 skill check of the same type the target will attempt, if successful they gain a +2 bonus to the roll. You can’t take 10.
Aiding an Attack Roll. Chose a target and make an attack against a Reflex defense of 10, if successful, one ally gains a +2 bonus to their next attack roll against that target.
Perform Medicine Check. You may make a medicine check on an adjacent target to stabilize the dying, or allow them to spend their second wind and heal. If Second Wind is used in this fashion, it does not grant +2 to all defenses.
Suppress an Enemy. Requires a gun and 3 rounds of ammunition. Select a target an opponent further than 5 squares away and make an attack against a Reflex defense of 10, if successful that enemy takes a -2 penalty to their next attack roll.
As a standard action, you may make a charge attack by moving at least 2 squares in a straight line, you gain +1 to the attack roll with a basic attack, bull rush, or applicable ability. You may not move further than your speed, and difficult terrain costs movement points as per normal.
You may attempt to make an opponent drop a weapon or item they are holding as a standard action. Make a melee attack roll against an opponent whom you can reach against their Reflex defense +10, or +15 if they are holding the item two handed. If successful, the item falls to the ground in the square they occupy, or if unarmed you may take the item into your own hand.
If your disarm attempt fails, the opponent gets a free basic attack against you as an immediate reaction.
Ranged Disarm. If you are disarming from range with a special ability or a reach weapon, your opponent does not receive a free attack against you should you fail, unless, they are wielding a loaded and ready ranged weapon, in which case, you’re boned.
Improved Disarm. If you have the feat Improved Disarm, you gain +5 to the attempt, and your opponent does not receive a free attack should you fail.
As a standard action you can concentrate more on protecting yourself rather than on attacking. You can take a -5 penalty to your attack rolls to gain a +2 bonus to Reflex defenses. If you choose to make no attacks, (not even opportunity attacks) you instead gain a +5 bonus to Reflex.
Acrobatics. If you are trained in acrobatics, you instead gain a +5 bonus to Reflex to fight defensively, or a +10 when making no attacks.
As a standard action you can make Strength vs. Reflex attack against an adjacent enemy. This attack deals no damage, but the opponent becomes Restrained until they escape from the grab, they may attempt to escape on their turn as a move action.
Move grabbed target. As a standard action, you may attempt to move a grabbed target with a Strength vs. Fortitude attack. If successful, move half your speed and bring the target with you. While being moved, your target does not incur opportunity attacks, although you still might.
Ready an Action
You may ready an action to go off as an immediate reaction. Choose a trigger, and state what you will do when that trigger occurs. After the effect is resolved, your initiative moves to that position in the order.
All heroic characters may use the Second Wind power once per encounter. Gain HP equal to your surge value (or CON if higher), and a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of your next turn.
While prone, you may move up to half your speed as a move action.
You may attempt to escape from a grab or restraints as a move action. Make an Acrobatics vs. Reflex or an Athletics vs. Fortitude against the creature or effect which restrains you. If successful, you may shift one square as part of this action.
You may move up to your speed.
You may move 1 square without provoking attacks of opportunity as a move action.
Stand up from prone as a move action, this does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Acrobatics. If you are trained in Acrobatics, you may stand up from prone as a minor action. DC: 15+1 per creature adjacent to you.
You can withdraw from combat as a move action. If you can move 1 square and be clear of any enemy’s threatened area you may then move up to a total of half your speed. If you cannot be clear of all threatened squares by moving one square, you cannot withdraw.
Activate an Item
You may activate an item as a minor action. Starting a vehicle, turning on a computer, switching a weapon from single fire to burst are all examples.
2 Minor Actions
You can take two consecutive minor actions in the same round to ignore cover bonuses to your target’s Reflex. You must still have line of sight. This does not enable you to ignore cover provided from being inside a vehicle, unless there is a hole or windows which is uncovered, etc.
Careful Shot. With this feat you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls made while aiming.
Deadeye. With this feat you gain +1 die of damage when you have aimed at a target before firing.
Brace a Weapon for Auto-Fire
2 Minor Actions
You may Brace a weapon for auto-fire by spending two minor actions. The penalties are reduced from -5 to -2 directly before firing. You need either a tripod mount or a surface to put the weapon against, or you must take a knee as part of the brace action. Only a weapons with a stock may be braced.
Draw or sheath a weapon
You may draw or sheath a weapon as a minor action.
You may drop your spent clip and replace it with a fresh one for a weapon you are currently holding as a minor action. The old E-Clip falls to the ground, and must be recovered with another minor action or at the end of the encounter. Replacing an E-Canister costs 2 minor actions.
Retrieve/ Stow an Item
You can pull out or put away an item as a minor action.
Take a Knee
You may drop to one knee as a minor action when firing a ranged weapon. You gain +1 bonus to the attack roll, but suffer a -2 penalty to your Reflex defenses against melee attacks. Rising from this position requires another minor action.
Free actions include:
- dropping an item
- ending a grab
- spending an action point
- activating radio communication
- speaking a few sentences
Certain weapons have a burst fire mode as well as single shot mode. Switching a weapon from standard fire to burst fire requires a minor action. An Autofire attack requires a Standard action. Some weapons are burst only, and therefore do not require a minor action to ready. Autofire is a special area attack which targets an 2×2 square within short range of the weapon as a standard action. Roll damage for the attack first, then roll an attack at -5 against each creature in the burst, half damage on a miss. Autofire uses 15 shots, you may not auto-fire if you do not have 15 shots available in the clip.
Burst Fire. This feat allows a character proficient in their weapon to target a single enemy with an Autofire attack at +2 dice of damage. Make the attack at the normal -5 to the attack roll, a hit inflicts full damage, half damage on a miss.
Healing in Rifts is the same as it is in the 4e Player’s Handbook, please refer to page 293.
Damage dealt in Rifts can be one of the following types.
- Acid: Corrosive liquid. This is modified by armor DR.
- Cold: Ice crystals, arctic air, or frigid liquid. This is modified normally by FEBA, non-FEBA is only half as effective as normal.
- Fire: Explosive bursts, fiery rays, or simple ignition. This is modified normally by FEBA, non-FEBA is only half as effective as normal.
- Force: Invisible energy formed into incredibly hard yet nonsolid shapes. Completely modified by armor DR.
- Ion/Lightning: Electrical energy. Metal armor DR is ineffective, non metal armor is fully effective.
- Necrotic: Purple-black energy that deadens flesh and wounds the soul. Armor DR has no effect on necrotic damage.
- Poison: Nerve Toxins that reduce a creature’s hit points. FEBA usually negates poison damage entirely.
- Psychic: Effects that target the mind. Armor DR has no effect on psychic damage.
- Radiant: Searing white light or shimmering colors. Only modified by magically enhanced or magical DR types. Normal body armor does not stop Radiant damage.
- Thunder: Shock waves and deafening sounds. Armor is only half effective.
Death and Dying
Death and dying in Rifts is used the same as 4e. please refer to page 295 of the Player’s Handbook.
Smaller creatures and objects are harder to hit than bigger ones, apply only to Reflex defense.
- Colossal -10
- Gargantuan -5
- Huge -2
- Large -1
- Medium +0
- Small +1
- Tiny +2
- Diminutive +5
- Fine +10
- Diminutive +5
- Tiny +2
- Small +1
- Medium +0
- Large -1
- Huge -2
- Gargantuan -5
Magic is a real and tangible thing on Rifts Earth. One can see the ley lines streaming across the countryside at night, and it is as real as the wind and rain. Magic users have learned to harness this force of nature, and bend it to their will using the power of their minds.
P.P.E. is the numerical system of keeping track of this energy. Each class has their starting amount in each class description, unless this energy is actively grown, it never increases. Choosing the Magical Study feat will increase your P.P.E. by your Intelligence modifier, minimum 1. P.P.E. spent during the day comes back after an extended rest.
Short rests and Extended rests are as per 4e. Regain use of encounter powers and use healing surges during a short rest. Regain all encounter and daily powers and all hit points, P.P.E., and surges during an extended rest. May only take an extended rest if you have not taken one in the last 12 hours.