You are a writer. You are a sponge.
Rifts(R) was huge in the 90’s. I’m surprised you never heard of it.
Rifts(R) is the RPG that all of us wanted when we were 14. It’s got giant robots, killer wizards, evil psychics, demons, rail guns, mutant dog-people, hover tanks, skanky chicks, ninjas, Cthulhu, etc. etc. etc. etc. It’s also famous for having some of the worst mechanics in the entire known Megaverse(R).
If you remember anything about Torg, the setting is a little like Torg. A post-post apocalyptic earth where a nuclear war set of a psychic backlash that caused hundreds of (wait for it) Rifts(R) to open to all sorts of crazy other dimensions. The Midwest is dominated by The Coalition, a human empire of not-quite Nazis ruled by Emperor Not-quite Hitler that are all about genociding anything that isn’t pure bread human or mutant dog-person (because Emperor Not-quite Hitler loves mutant dog-people). Mexico is full of vampires. The southeast is full of dinosaurs. The four goddam-horsemen of the goddam apocalpyse live in Africa for no good reason. Atlantis has risen, and it turns out the king of Atlantis is Cthulhu if Cthulhu had an army of evil monkeys that carry laser guns and hot chicks in one-piece bathing suits fighting for him. Germany is locked in an eternal war with an army of Gargoyles. Everybody rides around in giant Macross/Battletech/Gundam robot suits and shoots something called “mini-missiles” at each other. It is the ultimate kitchen sink setting. Hell, it’s a kitchen bathtub setting. It’s a kitchen bathtub with a kitchen sink dumped into it. Plus aliens.
The mechanics are a kludgy D&D ripfoff from the early 1980’s that were never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever revised. Ever. There are a bunch of ability scores and a weird alignment system. Some PC’s have magic points. Some PC’s have Psychic Points. The difference between the two is crucial! Armor is just extra hit points that you strap on yourself. You can buy a suit of armor that gives you 60 extra hit points. You can buy a suit of armor that gives you an extra 700 hit points. Attacks are roll a d20, anything over 5 hits, except the defender has a chance to roll a d20 and dodge or parry unless he doesn’t because of reasons. There are special rules for fighting with giant robots, shooting missiles, shooting at missiles, shooting mini-missiles, shooting automatic weapons, something called “vibro-blades”, using psychic powers, using stone magic, using time magic, using rune magic, and using regular magic. There is a percentile-based skill system that can give you a 5% chance to operate a radio correctly. There’s a special kind of hit point that’s equal to 100 regular hit points, and that’s called mega-damage, and if you don’t have it you might as stop and go play Street Fighter while everybody else plays Rifts(R). The designer of Rifts(R) actively hates balance, so it is entirely possible for a party of PC’s to include a Baby Dragon, a man in a suit of super-duper Robot Armor with a railgun that has a range measured in actual miles, and a Hobo who knows how to make an awesome stew. These are all literally options in the core rulebook. The later books are where it really gets gonzo.
The formatting and editing of the books is terrible. It is common for entire sections from one book to be copied and pasted (complete with typos!) into other books. A book might reference a table or a rule that doesn’t exist. A column of text might be repeated. A column of text might be repeated. And sometimes the text just stops without
The guy that owns the game doesn’t know how copyright works, so he always, always adds the (R) symbol to the name of the game and to various game elements. It’s worse than Games Workshop (TM). Also, he’s worse than TSR was about sending angry lawyer letters to fans of the game who post about it online.
P.S. I didn’t mention that a later sourcebook — Rifts(R) Underseas(R) — has rules that will let you play a Dolphin, an Orca, a Sperm Whale, or a Humpback Whale. This is not a metaphor. You can play a 70 ton psychic whale that swims in the ocean. And wears power armor.