A theory on the past of Rifts Earth

By: Stan Bundy
Published Date: April 26, 19989

The following is my theory on the connection between the proprietary (non-licensed) RPGs. Pardon my poor stab at Latin. Wayne, if you and Kevin want to use this, I give it to Palladium Books freely, to be modified any way you wish, asking only that I be thanked for the idea in print, should it be published.

Theory: E Uno Pluribum; E Pluribus Unum.

In the beginning, there was but one Earth in the megaversal location where Rifts Earth now sits. This Earth existed, evolved, and reached a high level of development in the use of both magic and technology. This was Rifts Earth, at the time of the Atlantean disaster.

When the dimensional rift experiment went awry, the local area of space-time was shattered. In addition to all the visible dimensional anomalies that occurred, more happened that was lost in the chaos. The once unique universe split into multiple, parallel dimensions - unknown in number. Instead of being a true, parallel split, the dimensional energy surges spread from their ultimate nexus (Earth) backward through time, trying to create a past for the fragments. In the process, each fragment's history was slightly altered from the original.

In one of these sub-universes, magic faded more slowly than the others; this was the universe of Beyond the Supernatural.

In another, the energies subtly altered the laws of reality in it as they spread, giving many races the potential for super powers, and resulting in the birth of several alien star empires, including the Atorian Empire. This was the universe of Heroes Unlimited.

A third universe might have ben one colonized by a clan of fleeing Atlanteans, who abandoned all magic in the pursuit of technology, not knowing that this universe was actually a twisted fragment of their own. This pursuit led to their downfall, as their cyborg creations turned on them after a horrible misunderstanding. This was the universe of the Mechanoids.

Many other sub-universes existed - all varying degrees of closeness & difference from the original. One of these - or even one of the three above - could be the home universe of the Recon game, or even Valley of the Pharoahs. Most likely, however, the Phase World, Nightbane and Palladium Fantasy universes were already seperate entities.

(As for TMNT & After the Bomb, well... It is possible that the universe was a fragment that went its own way, due to the similarities between After the Bomb and Rifts. In fact, the permanence of the seperation may have been the result of the diligent work of the Time Lords of that dimension. Or, it could be a case of true parallelism.)

In the 1980s, several different versions of a researcher named Victor Lazlo camped out at Serpent Mound, in Ohio. A freak cross-dimensional occurence - actually a backwash of dimensional energy from the future - plucked all of him, and merged them into one person, who was deposited onto Rifts Earth, none the wiser.

In 2098, on several Earths, experiments progressed in dimension manipulation with technology. When these coincided with a major PPE rush from a minor nuclear exchange half a world away, and the energies of a winter solstice, the collapse occurred.

In a matter of seconds, the majority of the dimensions created by the split, 12,000 years before, were collapsed back together. The Coming of the Rifts was not a reawakening of magic, as many believe; instead, it was the inevitable, forced rejoining of the universal fragments, causing total disruption of the planet Earth (the nexus of the original disturbance). In space, as one got farther from Earth, less notice was taken - unless one was in a system that had different sentient races in alternate dimensions. In fact, the further away one got from Earth, the less the change was noticed, as the perceptions of the majority (99.999%) of the residents thought the "new" status quo was how things had ALWAYS been, with the 1 in 100,000 exceptions being dismissed as crackpots ("But, I tell you - Yesterday, we weren't servants of the Atorians! I never heard of them until this morning, when I woke up a slave on my own home planet, that everyone says has been occupied for a thousand years!")

Initially, the reformed Rifts Earth was a patchwork of the ruined fragments of the individual Earths that it consisted of. D-shifting occurred often, where fragments of one Earth replaced another. However, slowly, instead of shifting, the actual EXISTENCE of these fragments began to coalesce together, producing a gestalt that, to the inhabitants, had always been that way. It would be almost 300 years later that Victor Lazlo is returned to Earth, not realizing that he was as much a gestalt as the world he mistook for the BtS one (which was part of it).

By 100 P.A., any hints that the Rifts Earth universe had ever been fragmented into multiple dimensions, had been totally obscured by the gestalt effect. The only persons who could possibly notice anything would be the Japanese, who sat out the chaos mercifully displaced as their multiple counterparts were crushed by tsunamis in the merger as the various alternate Japans collided. When they returned, the world was so different, that it would be near impossible for them to find any clue to the past, without travelling to the West. And, they are not interested as yet in such endeavors. Even Archie Three and the Angel of Death underwent gestalt mergers without realizing it. In fact, it may have been the merger of various, highly different Archie Threes, that led to his sentience.

As for the True Atlanteans, almost all of their colonies had been in universes that predated the original accident, and all that they really see is that their home world has had its physical existence restored - and not knowing of the split, would not realize that a merger had occurred.

Out of one universe, came many. Twelve millenia later, many came together, to form one. In the process, some fragments were lost, and unrelated universes got dragged in, to try to fill the voids of the missing ones.

As a result, attempts to time travel to the multi-universe period could put the travellers into one random constituant of the Rifts Earth past, or spread them out among many. The "alternate selves" conjured by some temporal magic in Rifts might instead be actual splitting off one of the mage's gestalt selves, from their merged existence, while the same spell in the multi-dimensional period would pull one of those duplicates from its world in the split.

The fate of Rifts Earth is a mystery. Will the fragments continue to coalesce? Or, will they fragment once more? Only time will tell.

TheoryOfRiftsEarth.php -- Revised: January 27, 2021.