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Quality in Rifts: Remembering Pete Overton

Quality In Rifts: The Politics of the Coalition Revised

By Pete Overton

Contrary to popular belief, the Coalition is not one large common voice speaking imperatively in total unison. Much like any diverse society, they have a multitude of diverging views and ideas, but the major difference is that there is no outlet for these other views, as a rule. This file will examine the nature of the Coalition government and then provide some sample political groups that can be used to spice up a CS visit. The revision edition includes the process of Coalition lawmaking and an expanded section on politics in your game.

Political Structure, or "How to have an Imperial Senate"

During the Second Dark Ages, Humanity was at best a dust scattered across tempestuous winds. The major instinct for survival grouped together people in the thought that there is more safety in numbers than alone. As these people again came together, a wide variety of methods of leadership were tried on a small scale, and most worked on a smaller scale. However, as the Coalition was forming officially, they realized an important point, that Humanity needed a single, strong voice to guide them through these trying times. From a strictly efficiency point of view, dictatorships are very practical to get things done in, and Prosek I took that a step further and declared himself Emperor, which is another more grand word for Dictator-For-Life. Even historians at Lazlo are forced to admit that at the time it was one of the better moves the Coalition did (one of perhaps few). Humanity without direction offered no hope of survival as alien horrors overtook their planet, but with a single, charistmatic power to lead them, an empire was forged from the ashes, using rediscovered technology to arm itself and the power of words to justify it.

Now, let me be clear, the Emperor is no puppet nor merely a titular head of state. While the Prosek clan has not necessarily perpetuated this view per se, there is a growing idea with the success of the Coalition that perhaps the Proseks are a family blessed, touched by divinity, fate, or whatever higher force you believe in. While not confirming this, they neither deny it as it serves their interests for the time. That being said, the biggest problem with an Imperial line is that each successive heir must maintain that same strength of character and charisma that their elder had. Another large problem arises if the line of succession is ever even mildly unclear, because such a large power vaccuum is bound to cause the empire to tear itself apart. This being said, neither of these is a problem for the Coalition for at least the next 40 years or so, as the younger Prosek is quite capable to replace his father.

I mention this to prelude the discussion of how the CS government works because it is important to understand the hierarchy involved ends *absolutely* at the Emperor. In a very real way, Prosek is the living, beating heart of the Coalition and wields supreme authority over the entire deal. Now, Prosek learned his history lessons well and like Hitler surrounded himself with experts in their fields and generally listens to them, and with good reason -- if the idea works, the Emperor can claim it for his own, and if it fails, a scapegoat for it exists. A problem with any supreme power like that however is that quite often his underlings will tell him what he wants to hear rather than how things actually are (which could be a good game justification for why the Tolkeen attack will go forward). The Emperor need not trust his advisers, only their advice. This is arguably where the major error of the Juicer Uprising was, and you can bet the Colonel is paying for his recommendation currently.

Obviously, access to the Emperor dictates importance, as a rule. All laws, edicts, and so forth come from the Emperor himself, although they are often delegated to underlings to carry out. This quite often means that surprising people are caught up in the web of politics that makes the Coalition run. Primary is the Emperor himself, and to catch the eye or ear of the Emperor is considered a great boon (unless you screw up). Second to that would be his advisers, or at least his core advisers, including his Military Council, Civil Council and Ministry Heads. All of these top-level people form the advisory panel to the Emperor, although they have no power to enact anything but the most basic parts of their ideas without Imperial approval. Between the Civil Council and the Ministry Heads exists all the power to literally run the empire, while the Military Council exists for the obvious purpose of preserving the empire (defensively only, of course, uh huh, right? :). The Civil Council and Ministry Heads wield all of the bureaucratic power that exists outside of the military, which makes up a sizeable part of the deal in and of itself. Finally, the Senate forms a buffer of sorts between the scores of policy ideas and the Emperor.

The Civil Council is basically a collection of top-level governors from each Coalition state. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Emperor has little interest in the day-to-day affairs of his empire and delegates that power to state heads, typically referred to as Governor-Generals. The Heads of the Ministries refer to governmental agencies that oversee specific parts of the Coalition, including such things as Education, Foreign Affairs, Finance, and so forth. Both these groups have their own respective bureaucratic hierarchies stretching from the Deputy Minister all the way down to the clerk in the local state building. Any politician worth anything learns very quickly to listen to the bureaucracy, or at least appear to, because they are quite often the literal cogs that turn the wheels of government. The Military Council is understandably considered separate from the rest (ie. there is no Ministry of Defence) and operates as its own entity, including top-level members from each branch of the armed forces. The military bureaucracy is notorious already and suffice it to say that where civilian agencies are given slight leeway (*very* slight), the military agencies are given little slack except where defensively speaking. But again, very little gets done without the Emperor's seal of approval.

Fig.1: Tree of Coalition Policy Process

As shown by Figure 1, the policymaking process of the Coalition is fairly direct in its method. Committees are generally formed by Ministries in response to an idea for policy of theirs. So for instance, if the Ministry of Energy wants new regulations on reactor production, they would form a committee to study it, made up primarily of the bureaucracy. They study the idea and its impact and generally do what governmental committees do today. Sometimes they will bring in civilians with knowledge of the area they are looking at to sit on a committee as well, although this is not standard practise, as there is a thriving bureaucracy to draw upon. However, Prosek has said that he wants a thorough review of policy before it reaches the Senate.

From there it gets sent on to the Senate. A recent construction, born only in late 96 P.A., it was created due to the overwhelming necessity to buffer the Emperor from endless audiences of people with ideas and the access of the bureaucracy to the highest power in the land. The Senate was created as a sober second look to items that are seeking the Emperor's attention, and it stands as the make or break arena for policy. Generally an item gets three readings in the Senate, and if it is voted down at any step, it must return to the committees for further improvement. If it fails all three readings, it is considered a dead item. When it finally passes all three readings, it goes on to the Emperor for Imperial approval. Senators are appointed by the Emperor himself, and there are 100 of them at any given time. Most are specialists in one field or another who lend some of their time to their Empire, and the Emperor tries to keep the number balanced from each region.

It goes without saying that the Emperor has to in the end finally sign all items into law. In the end he has the final authority to approve or kill the item. Quite often he will kill something that is expected to be signed, and most of the peons can only assume he has some great reason for it, but he rarely states why. With Imperial approval stamped on, it goes on to the bureaucracy, whose job it is to implement the policy.

The Emperor's advisers are often kept appraised of policy within their purview and are involved in the Senate readings and sometimes add some items before the reaches the Emperor but after it is passed in the Senate. The Military Council and Civil Council both have full time members in the Senate and both tend to be fairly powerful members of the fairly equal Senate. Because both have the direct ear of the Emperor, they are considered Advisory for all nominal purposes.

A surprising entry into the political circle tends to be the Emperor's family, both literal and extended. When dealing with an Imperial form of government, influencing the Emperor is of prime importance to achieve your agenda, and quite literally anyone who has the Emperor's ear can be used for that purpose. While wackos always exist who claim to be the Emperor's long lost brother, actual blood relatives of the Emperor can be powerful tools if used properly. The Prosek clan has always tried to keep their offspring out of the political loop but such is impossible when dealing with such an important family. Politicians trying to influence the Imperial family are best urged to use utmost caution since like any family raised in the spotlight they tend to be aware of such maneuvering, but if done correctly, you can skip the entire chain if bureaucratic process and possibly impress the Emperor himself.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

So, you ask surely, how can one have any sort of politicking in an authoritarian environment? Ah, I reply, you'd be amazed. The key here is to picture the CS government like a big circular maze, with bureaucracy maintaining guarded doors on each level closer to the center, where the Emperor resides. Some people may walk by all the gates without blinking and others won't ever pass the first, and adept politicians know how to quietly slip in or to find alternate ways in. The prize? The Emperor, at the center of everything, orbiting around him like his own little universe.

The politician walks a fine line in the Coalition. Openly displaying greatness will usually get him hated and make him enemies, while displaying incompetance leads to the same result. Wise politicians learn to listen and not to speak unless spoken to, because showing that you know more than you rightly should is a dangerous thing, while openly broadcasting your great ideas is likely to get them stolen and credited to anyone but you. Allies are best gathered and kept in reserve, but too many allies could result in unwanted attention from your own government, and the wrong kind of allies will definitely lead you down the wrong path. It's not easy, but those who have mastered the political game are influential people indeed and worthy of more respect than current politicians who more or less fall into their positions.

Targeting the correct people is the key to working the CS political game. If you have an idea about water management and you talk to the Minister of Education's wife about it, don't expect much in the way of results. Wise political creatures learn quickly that usually the top level is out of reach to begin with and the bottom level is useless. The mid-level bureaucrats are often the best place to start, having enough pull to pass along something good and hopefully take you with him. Most mid-level bureaucrats will eventually fade away but some advance and finding those ones who will advance is a good skill to have and getting in on the ground floor with them, so to speak, will take you up to the top when they go there. Patronage positions are not yet a dead concept and the buddy system remains in full effect in the CS hierarchy.

Of course, shameless self-promotion never hurts, either. Being at the right parties and talking to the right people is always a big bonus, and squirreling away potential allies is highly recommended if you plan to spend any time at all in the CS political arena. Just as pointing out your own highlights can be useful, so can pointing out your opponent's weaknesses. Of course, needless to say this will garner you some enemies in the process, but no one ever said life was fun. Capitalizing on an enemy's weakness is a key to politics (and arguably the whole basis of the Parliamentary Democracy ;). However, the usual caveat is in place, because the guy you just humiliated in front of his Minister probably has his own set of friends in high places too and you can bet he won't let that slight slide for long. Which of course brings us to the most important rule of all, watch your back. Politicians learn to have many fronts and if they are lucky no backs so they can see it all coming, but the nature of politics is that it could all change in a moment, especially under the auspices of an Imperial form of government. However, as a rule, one usually has friends in high places OR friends in low places, not both. The nature of politics is such that the politician only gets to align with one or the other since keeping everyone happy is totally impossible.

There are some old standbys that still work in the Coalition, including every gamer's favourites, bribery and blackmail. Political compacts are created on the promise of reward for support, but bribery goes above and beyond this, offering direct, literal material or social goods in exchange for a mild change of opinion. While the CS is by no means a corrupt bureaucracy, it certainly is willing to make a little extra on the side for a relatively painless agreement. Blackmail goes a step further and holds incriminating or damaging evidence on someone else and is waved over their heads to either force them to comply with your demands or the evidence will be released, usually ruining said person. Quite often thuggery can be involved, which is also known as sending a "goon squad" over, perhaps threatening, perhaps kidnapping family members or what have you. Such tactics are considered VERY gauche if discovered, though. A relatively new twist is psychic compulsion and while very rare tends to be highly effective. Character assassination goes two steps beyond pointing out the weaknesses of your opponent and takes things out of context and/or creates entirely false things about someone to weaken their image. The list is endless of white, grey and black means by which politics can be played out.

Of course, the inclusion of the Senate changes things immeasurably. The Imperial Senate wields much of the power to control who and/or what goes on to Imperial approval, and that is a lot of power concentrated in few hands, especially few non-elected hands. Senators tend to be very jealous of this power and yet at the same time extremely easily influenced, which is how the political parties (so to speak) can operate. Of course, you need a fair number of Senators (about 51 of them) to vote for your proposal, and this is where the major politicking comes about. With a number of contra-influential groups trying to influence them, Senators tend to be quite rich and quite sought after, although most manage to maintain some sense of foresight with regards to the Empire. After all, if too many bad items make it through, the Senators know they can be replaced almost as fast as the trigger would be pulled. This is not a traditional liberal-democracy Senate but rather an extension of the Emperor himself, given the task of guarding him from frivilous policy that he has no time for. Each is patriotic to the CS itself and that comes first, while the rest is mostly perks. Yet the jockeying for Senatorial approval is a vicious game still, full of passionate near-fanatics. Senators must walk a fine line for one day they will be called to account for their lifestyles and voting the wrong way at that time could be fatal. Still, a Senator is an immensely powerful person in the CS. Most are known by name as well as their political leanings, although it tends to be a degree of greys more than anything. Most can ask to see the Emperor and see him within a reasonable amount of time. The populace as a whole are quite loyal to their Senate and most are treated with a celebrity status that few know in the Coalition.

This all being said, it must be restated that the Emperor is the ultimate figure over which this whole thing is fought. He sits like an objective judge, awarding favour and taking it away as he sees fit. The whole ordeal is a play to the Emperor and his relative applause or lack of it results in men being made or destroyed. However, it is a game of influence, and those who get counted out today may be back tomorrow even stronger than before. It also needs to be said that virtually everyone who gets caught in political games is a patriot at heart (since if you didn't care you wouldn't get involved), but there are degrees of patriotism. American militia groups are ostensibly patriots of the highest order while bleeding-heart liberal groups are the same. It's all done for the best of the Coalition, or at least so they believe, and that arguably is the best definition of CS politics of all.

Political Parties

Now, you must understand that the phrase political parties isn't used in the traditional, current context, but in the context of Rifts Earth. The Coalition is essentially a single-party government of the exclusive kind (ie. no opposition), but its single party is divided into a great deal of camps, and it is these varying groups with like-minded opinions that I have labelled political parties. They are merely collections of citizens with similar outlooks and agendas that they want enacted and they actually resemble more closely a lobby organization of today than an actual literal political party. The methods of doing this are as wide and varied as the arsenal of political methods, but in general word of mouth is the way they spread their ideas the most, followed by rallies and seminars. On very rare occasions they will demonstrate or even protest but these are very, very few and far between due to the generally lack of a governmental sense of humour about it all. Membership is usually unofficial but some have created actual headquarters and issued membership cards. Technically anyone can walk around proclaiming to be a member but they better be able to defend their alleged views if confronted. Also, contrary to popular belief, the political parties of the Coalition are no more violent or radical than our own lobby organizations. Take that with as little or as much salt as you wish, but as always, you have the final say on them in your game.

Their primary methodology is, of course, to influence the Senate, which is where many of their ideas are killed prematurely. They act much like an interest group does today to influence a lawmaker, expect they have to be a little more subtle about it because a great deal of attention could be gained from their activities which are not technically illegal, but are certainly not what the Emperor envisioned.

As most of you know, I don't spoon-feed you folks much. I generally create broad outlines and let you all fill in the details on your own. However, I came up with a handful of sample political parties that you are welcome to use, abuse or discard completely as you see fit. Note that many of these are what the Coalition would define as "dangerous" but all political parties that survive for any time learn to camouflage their core philosophies. After all, they are all essentially out to improve the Coalition, they just have different visions on how exactly to do that. Considering their net influence is nearly zero, the CS tolerates them as a sort of "venting system" for undemocratized citizens. It makes more sense than it seems when you actually think about it. These are *samples* and by all means stock your own game with your own parties.

Libertarians: Freedom is always an issue for any political society and the Coalition is no exception. However, before you get the wrong image in your head, this party believes only in personal freedom -- in the government staying out of its citizens' lives. They have only a little difficulty in dealing with deebs but are in general a human supremacist group in that they believe humans are the most important of the races and therefore need to enjoy the most freedom. They have no issues with the government except where the government interferes with a citizen's freedom to live and they are often the first ones to point out cases of just that.

Democratic Alliance of the Coalition States (DACS): Actually a true multistate phenomenon, this quiet group emphasizes the fact that the Imperial system of government has done its duty and gotten Humanity back on its feet and that now it is time to give the citizens a voice in their own government. They feel the Coalition would be far superior if it were a democracy and try to demonstrate this daily, although as you can imagine they rarely prove just that which is about the only reason the whole party has not "gone missing" in the night. They are actually well organized but given their lack of a single, solitary leader, they are often caught in squabbles of their own, which just seems to prove the Coalition's point.

Neo-Americans: A surprisingly misunderstood party, most educated people who hear the name assume they want a return to the pre-Rifts American style of government, which would seem to make them an offshoot of DACS. However, the Neo-Americans are something of a grassroots organization, which is to say, rather uneducated, and they actually preach a release to an anarchic society. They labour under the belief that America before the Coming of the Rifts was essentially a "might makes right freedom fest" and they seek a 'return' to that. They have some radical ideas about decentralization of power however that make some wonder if they are actually as harmlessly ignorant as they appear.

Order of Progressive Might: This party is what would traditionally be called ultra-right, even for the Coalition. They seek a totally militaristic society (not totally unlike Heinlein's Starship Troopers society) where those who fight have the rights. While observers from the outside of the Coalition wonder how it could get possibly MORE militaristic, OPM is serious when it calls for radical policy changes regarding the elimination of civilian police for military patrols, elimination of civil rights for all but soldiers and other ideas that are more scary to ponder than anything. They feel -- honestly -- that the Coalition has softened up and seek a return to the good old days of the mass purges and lusty battle of the Federation of Magic war.

Society for Social Equality: The SSE is a surprisingly reasonable party which seeks to revive the old socialist traditions of pre-Rifts Germany and Japan, where the state takes care of the (productive) citizen from cradle to grave. They feel that corporations should be nationalized and that a high rate of employment is possible under that nationalized system, along with a healthy social benefits package and a generous welfare package if unemployment was to actually occur. They are also for additional support to the often-ignored hinterlands of the Coalition and rural areas to equalize all social conditions.

Humanist Alliance: While their name suggests they would be in line with the Libertarians, they are in fact another extreme right group who believe that Humans are the chosen race of the Megaverse -- the rest of the Megaverse just doesn't know it yet. They firmly support and unapologetically push for policies of genocide of nonhuman races except those that can be made to serve. In their vision, the Coalition lords over the Earth as the master race with a whole pile of slave underlings to serve their whim. As you can imagine, this group is a little radical for most citizens although the OPM has been known to shack up with them from time to time.

Green Party: Yes, the environmentalists. Hear me out on this. During the Second Dark Ages, there was a small percentage of the population who actively enjoyed this seemingly poetic justice of nature and were equipped to live off the land again. While the majority of these kooks are still out in the distant wilderness hills of Rifts Earth, some joined up with the forming society of the Coalition with their self-mandated purpose of making sure that humans don't screw up Earth a second time. With the environmental damage repaired (or at least stabilized again) over 300+ years, the Green Party acts as a watchdog on the Coalition government, ensuring that no gross environmental disasters happen. The Coalition actually tolerates this party as long as they don't get TOO curious and to some degree Prosek actually sympathizes with them, as he feels Earth is a birthright and they shouldn't mess it up (hence the uranium round ban by the CS & NGR).

Theocratic Assembly: This curious party doesn't promote a theocratic society as one might suspect but pushes for religious freedom within the CS while maintaining the precept of separation of Church and State (hence why Prosek isn't rushing to enact it). Recently a small faction of this party has started to refer to the position of Emperor as a divinely appointed servant and a minor civil war is brewing in the party. Those who venerate Prosek will probably eventually leave and form their own party.

Utopia Alliance: Quite often taken as a joke, this party preaches the usual fact that humans have a second chance at existence, but their twist is that they should take this chance to create the perfect society, which they just happen to have a blueprint of. Their society would involve benevolent castes all in harmony with lots of parks (I kid you not) and generally a sacchrine sweet view of the world.

Worker's Union: This party on the other hand is taken fairly seriously, and with good reason. While not a union in the traditional sense (that would be far too much power in the hands of CS citizens), it does represent the working class and brings their requests (they never demand, of course) to various Ministers. They push for typical union things (better wages, better working conditions, more days off, etc.) and generally speaking they have the unique power to seriously negoiate with the CS government. The Union is aware of their special status and take their position seriously, sparing the government the more foolish and silly requests while allowing the government to address the working class without actively campaigning for them (since they don't really have to).

Societé pour Quebec Libre: The Society for Free Quebec used to push for Quebecois rights in the Coalition. As one can guess, they spend a lot of time on the run these days as the CS hunts down active members, but the Free Quebec party continues to exist as a mostly illegal political organization which quietly lobbies politicians to fight the strange order about Quebec being traitors.

Politics in Your Rifts Game

Yeah, I can hear a lot of you already. "But Pete, why on Earth do we need to add politics to Rifts?" Well, I'm always right, that's why, so shut up and don't question your dark overlord. :) No, no, it's a fair question.

Ever since the Rifts Main Manual came out, we were given so very little information on the Coalition except what was clearly needed for Palladium's vision of them, which is to say, lots of evil devices and locations that we could go purge them from. A contributor to the Inconsistencies page one said that Palladium seems to draw cool looking power armor first and then give it statistics to fit the cool picture, and I get the idea that this must be how they handled the Coalition -- created a vision of this evil empire and created the details to fit it without considering the actual logic of their creations. Without getting into a huge politics debate, I would say that an Imperial system of government would not exist in a highly technological society, but it exists in Rifts because of the external horrors that batter the world and require strong leadership. But worse is the fact that Palladium continues to issue orders, ostensibly from CS High Command, which boggle the mind as well as generally ignoring the logistics of running the Coalition.

Politics gives the Coalition a context to be used in. This is even more true when the Coalition is forced to work outside of Palladium's vaccuum it created for the CS -- which is to say, the politics of the CS are best used in a game which has contact with other kingdoms, such as the NGR or Quebec. Interactions between the CS and other kingdoms can be as easy as countries interacting today in our own world. The absolute best source for political ideas for Rifts is the daily newspaper. I read the Toronto Sun daily and I see at least 12 good game ideas a day (about eight of them for Rifts). The fact is that politics provides the REASON behind the Coalition's actions.

Let's say that Ishpeming is having a really bad day with the Xiticix and they request a little garrison in town by the Coalition to help them out. Hey, shut up, it's an example. :) Ishpeming maintains an open-sale policy on its Juicer technology (I said shut up, it's an example!) and the CS unsurprisingly doesn't like this. The CS responds with a negative answer noting that their Juicer equipment could handle the Xiticix easily. Wise Ishpeming politicians realize this is a ploy by the CS to make them get rid of their Juicer technology, or at least limit its sales, in return for a garrison of CS troops. Ishpeming responds by saying it will dismantle its Juicer bands but will continue to sell the conversion. The CS replies that they can't trust the safety of their precious troops to such a dangerous potential for a crazy Juicer going nuts (hey, SHUT UP, it's an EXAMPLE :). Ishpeming realizes it is caught and can either petition another empire (ha ha) or comply with the CS's wishes. This sounds much better than the GM saying, "Ishpeming doesn't sell Juicer conversions anymore, sorry." Plus this opens up a whole variety of options for the PCs involved. Perhaps they are contracted by Ishpeming to go out and try to find a mercenary band to fight the Xiticix, or are sent to Chi-Town to try and lobby a garrison for a lesser political cost.

Politics can also retroactively explain some of the most bizarre decisions Palladium has ever made. The declaration of Quebec as traitors boggles my mind but irregardless, if you assume that Quebec was politically speaking getting too dangerous (threatening separation *again*, providing too much freedom to its state, whatever), then it makes a lot more sense as well as adds an interesting backdrop to the PC's stories. I guess what I am getting at is that it adds a sense of *depth* and consistency to the campaign. It doesn't even need to be right out front, but can be in the background. Ask a CS troop why they aren't attacking Tolkeen and you might get a spit and the answer, "Pah, politics." Skelebot divisions? Politics. Hellfire Bots? Politics. Even some of Palladium's bizarre technologies can be explained if the cousin to a General happened to run a factory that made Skelebot chips and wanted his contract in full. Uno momento, the program continues despite reservations.

On top of this, the inclusion of the Senate in this revised edition opens up a whole new world of political plays for you. The Senate is a powerful entity and entire political campaigns could be done about PC Senators, or PCs who wish to become Senators. Dancing the corridors of CS power is not as easy as you might imagine, nor they for that matter. An interesting game might be to try to infiltrate the Senate as a non-CS citizen, either as a Senate aide or perhaps even trying for a full Senatorial seat. This also opens up the upper echeleons of the Coalition to gameplay and could lead to more of a strategic sort of game as opposed to an in your face tactical game. Or to be more straightforward, to play on the decision making side, rather than the carrying through side. Playing bodyguard or Senate guard would be interesting too, as it would give both a dose of politics and a dose of action at the same time. Senate allies would help immensely for PCs who find themselves in hot water, although what they might have to do afterwards to repay the debt would be interesting. On a similar note, the Senate is not a homogenous body and PCs could be hired for "darker" operations against each other, including scare tactics, blackmail, thuggery, or even assassination. All of these games would take place in the corridors of power and be very difficult but extremely rewarding at the same time.

On a more practical note, the Senate may explain why many so-called great ideas don't get through to the Emperor. Sure, it sounds good to get a CS space program going again, but the Senators probably decided it was too impractical and would waste money, so it got voted down. A lot of the common sense and practical ideas we as players have for the CS probably wouldn't make it through the Senate, either due to outside influencing on them or by their own simple hubris. Those folks can fall to pride like crazy because of their self-important positions, and many frequently do, acting shortsighted and foolish over issues of pride.

I'm not saying you should turn your game into Vampire: The Masquerade where no one can look at something without getting paranoid. I'm just saying that when dealing with a technical game like Rifts (or Heavy Gear, or Twilight: 2000, or whatever) it helps to have a number of political levels (municipal, state, national) in mind to provoke game ideas or to explain errors or to just create a lush world that Palladium failed to give us.

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