Irvin Jackson est fan de RIFTS. En plus de composer une foultitude d'illustrations pour mon JDR préféré (le sien aussi manifestement), il a créé son setting à lui: RIFTSPACE. Un setting certifié 100% RIFTS, où l'on retrouve toutes les influences des genres que j'aime: la SF bien sûr, mais aussi la Fantasy, l'Horreur, l'Histoire, les mythologies, le Western, le Post-apo...
Le postulat de départ: au XXIème siècle, des Terriens ont colonisé plusieurs systèmes solaires dans la Voie lactée, dans le Bras d'Orion précisément. À 40 années-lumière de la Terre pour la planète colonisée la plus proche. À l'origine, ils étaient 20 000 scientifiques et ingénieurs et 500 millions d'embryons à avoir quitté la Terre le 15 février 2097. Lorsque le Grand Cataclysme survient sur Terre en 2098, les futurs colons extra-sidéraux sont en cryostase dans le vaisseau -- le Hawking -- qui les emporte vers quatre planètes habitables déjà repérées. Ils n'ignorent pas ce qu'il advient de notre pauvre planète puisque, à leur "réveil", en 2137, ils captent les derniers signaux radio de la Terre ravagée par l'éruption des ley lines. 300 ans plus tard, ces mêmes colons ont prospéré et fondé le Protectorat Terrien (Terran Protectorate).
Le contact avec notre système solaire n'a jamais été rétabli et les humains du Protectorat ignorent tout de la Terre des Rifts et de son devenir. Ils pensent que l'humanité terrienne a été éradiquée. Ils ont rencontré d'autres races intelligentes, certaines pacifiques, d'autres beaucoup moins (dont les Arkhons; Rifts World Book 9: South America Two). C'est un univers où la Magie est extrêmement rare et les pouvoirs psis peu communs. Ce qui apparaît comme du surnaturel est souvent le résultat d'une technologie hyper-avancée.
Irvin Jackson a énormément produit d'illustrations pour RIFTSPACE et la campagne qu'il menait dans cet univers. Je vous les refile, avec, en-dessous de chacune, ses commentaires (en Anglais, désolé, mais un Anglais abordable). Sa technique et son style graphique très particuliers ne plairont pas à tout le monde -- ça pique toujours autant les yeux -- mais moi j'aime bien, ne serait-ce que pour la passion du JDR, et de RIFTS, qui transpire de son travail!
Theseus is a failed world located in the depths of the Free Colonies. Once thought to be rich in mining resources and hydrocarbon fuels, humans settled the planet only to find out that many of the resources which should have been there were mined out eons ago by a long-dead civilization. Unfortunately, their process for removing resources from the planet were non-traditional, making it appear as though the planet had been untouched until it was too late. Now it is a scrapyard, the colonists left behind in economic ruins as the corporations pulled out their funding and backing. Life barely holds on here, and it is thought that a meteor strike in the northern hemisphere prevented the planet from becoming a garden world much earlier in its history. It is littered with fossils of creatures that seem to have covered the globe in its prehistory, but only a few hearty plant species and dinosaur-like creatures are native to the planet now. The planet has no industry to speak of, only one space port and major city and very little to export and no money to import. This has made it a haven for the lawless, with several "shadowports" -- illegal and unlicensed space ports -- rumored to be stationed across the globe, typically serving pirates. Certainly, pirate activity is very bad around Theseus, making the planet's economic future even more bleak. The population now consists mainly of the destitute, the degenerate, prospectors, scavengers and pirates. Recent finds of uranium look promising, and a few miners claim to have struck it rich, but most people decided long ago not to bet their money on Theseus, so it will be a long time before money and corporate interests return.
Cassidy's Comet Command Crew
This is the command crew of the Cassidy's Comet, a lance-class frigate that specializes in covert operations. It's the ship pictured here (you can see the comet emblem if you look close). The officers pictured above include the ship's engineer and demolitions expert, Evette Landham. She's a rarity, an engineer from clan Ares-Draconis, the most militant human clan. Not surprisingly, her focus is on blowing things up instead of building them, but she runs a tight engineering section and sometimes goes on ground missions when something needs to explode. Next to her is Layla Chen, a powerful psychic from clan Hedonis who uses her natural allure and formidable powers as the head of the ship's covert operations and the ship's XO. Ulan Dak is the ship's helmsman, a member of the Mogg'Theran species who specializes in starship piloting. He is known as an "Honored Pilot" among his people, a position of great respect. (this is an older pic, I have completely redone the Mogg'Theran to make them look more alien since I did this). The big cyborg is the tactical operations specialist and ship's weapons officer. He goes by the nickname Bandersnatch, but what his real name is, nobody seems to know. Lastly, there is the captain, Mark Cassidy. A bit of a ladies man, he considers himself a realist. He's in it for the money and requires strict professionalism among his crew. Though they like keeping their nose clean, Cassidy has been known to take less reputable work as long as the paycheck is right, but he does have his limits. For example, he's likely to just shoot you on the spot (or have Bandersnatch do it) if you offer him a slaving job or admit you work for slavers. This is more for one of my role-playing groups. Its an older pic, but I always liked it and realized I had never posted it. They just encountered the crew in their game, so I figured they'd want to see this.
To humans in the mid 26th century, the Nix Novaslayer known as the Justicar claims to have been "practicing the art of war since you first learned to split the atom" making her at least 600 years old, probably 700 or more given the long juvenile period (60+years) of the Nix species. She has taken the Nix natural metaphysical skills and honed both them and her body and mind into a devastating killing machine. Earning her name first as a mercenary and then as a champion gladiator, at some point she was initiated into an ancient interstellar fraternal organization known as the Novaslayers (a human corruption of their actual name which they find amusing). The Novaslayers believe that all actions should be self-serving, even if one allies with others, it is because they intend to get something out of it...even if its their own safety in the future. Many Novaslayers are...well...jerks. But the Justicar appears to stretch the philosophy at times, believing that the safer the galaxy, the better it is for her as she enters her later years. She also believes that the experience of battle makes one grow, and thus conflict with challenging enemies makes her better, and ultimately more prosperous for having defeated them (and looting their ships and corpses pays off too). She rarely travels or fights now, having amassed an untold fortune. She mostly rules as the referee over the gladitorial duels set up on Merc World by Vorga, a Fahreen crimelord. She is only roused to battle by incidents of cosmic importance, though some say she uses the arena as a means of scouting for potential future Novaslayers...at least three champions since she has been refereeing have joined the organization. Vorga, though powerful in his own right, refuses to call her on it. She is probably one of the few beings he actually fears, though he has the resources to overwhelm her he doubts that any of them could stop her from killing him if she really wanted to.
Ronin In Action
The Close Combat Specialist Ronin, is a jack of all trades, who not only has mastered the arts of stealth like ninjas of old, but is also an expert pilot, computer hacker and often makes his own weaponry, making him lethal in almost any situation he faces.
Charon Company is the covert operations arm of the mercenary group known as Grim Reaper Incorporated. Headed by Capt. Chandra Sun, the company is composed of infiltration experts, special forces soldiers and spies. All are extensively trained in Ninjutsu and combine that with cutting edge technology. They never, ever fight fair and pride themselves on being three steps ahead of their target at least. Their leader, Chandra Sun, does not speak about where she learned ninjutsu, but her mastery of it borders on the mystical, which is only aided by the fact that she is a powerful psychic and trained mentalist who can implant suggestions in opponents' minds during the heat of battle, seems to disappear from plain sight, and has a penchant for disguising herself and her team mates as the people who are least noticed in society. They have infiltrated high-security facilities as everything from caterers to sanitation personnel, and are often specifically requested by clients seeking to hire the Grim Reapers mercenary force. It is rumored that Col. Grimm is grooming Sun to take over the mercenary force when he is ready to retire, or if he suffers the fate of far too many mercenaries who push their luck too far.
Red Alert At Merrimac
The Red Alert mercenaries arrive at Fort Merrimac, an anchorage operated by New Huron. It and the colony of Tir Na Nog once got into a skirmish over a resource heavy star system between the two colonies which would set the tone for the use of mercenaries in inter-colony disputes for years to come. On one side were the Red Alert mercenaries and some subcontractors, reinforcing New Huron militia forces. On the other side, working for Tir Na Nog, was Grim Reaper Inc. The resulting conflict highlighted the effectiveness of augmenting relatively inexperienced colonial militia forces with trained, and hardened merc vets...as well as the perils....
Emeralds new clothes
"It's a gift from a friend, an Old Earth costume called a school girl outfit" Emerald explained to a client. "Makes you wonder what school was like back then, doesn't it?"
Say Hello to Mr Green
"Mr. Green" as he is known is a close combat specialist who has had heavy cybernetic work done at some point. He is incredibly strong and durable and surprisingly fast for his bulk. He is also a sadistic killer who seems more concerned with body count than anything else...and he seems to feel cheated when his victims die too quickly. Only the most amoral starship crews and employers will hire him. Sadly, he seems to have no shortage of work. His favorite weapon is a rocket pistol that fires white phosphorous rounds that set his victims aflame. The fire cannot be put out with water, burns through almost anything and is painful and leaves severe scars...if the victim survives, which kinda tells you all you need to know about Mr. Green, really.
Victor the Psi Druid
The crew of the Endeavor came upon Victor living among dangerous nomads on the desert world of Theseus, where they soon learned that he was a scholar and psychic, whose powers allow him to live in harmony with just about any ecosystem and its native inhabitants. He can approach the most dangerous of predators without fear, and feel the ebb and flow of weather patterns and life. Victor's past is one of self-imposed exile, abandoning his clan of scholars after they scoffed at his claims that metaphysical effects (often known as magic) had influenced humanity's past, and will likely influence its future. It is a hard concept for the scientific community to accept, even with other species exhibiting such powers, but Victor was unaware that he has allies even among those who publicly scorned his work...
William the Close Combat Specialist
Serving as a gunner and sometimes pilot on the freelancer transports Endeavor and Aces and Eights, William's true training is as a close combat specialists. These are the gunfighters of the future, trained in the specific form of combat needed to fight in the cramped and often volatile quarters onboard starships. Every close combat specialist has an edge, and for William it is the ancient martial art of ninjitsu.
Nomads of Theseus
If anyone knows the secrets of the forsaken planet Theseus, it is the roving bands of desert nomads, who have walked the wastes for more than a century. However, getting anything out of them without getting killed is extremely tricky. The only thing they hate more than their fellow settlers are off-worlders.
Recon Sniper Toni
Grim and generally unfriendly to friends, Toni is far more dangerous if you are her enemy. Specializing in reconnaissance and a trained sniper, if she's really upset with you, or if you're on the wrong side of her employer, you won't ever know she was mad at you...because you'll never know she was there. When not planetside, Toni serves as a gunner on the freelancer transports Endeavor and Aces and Eights.
Zan the Lord Magus
Zan is a Nix Lord Magus who serves as the navigator and "paranormal consultant" on the crew of the Endeavor and Aces and Eights, two freelancer transports that the crew uses alternately depending on the mission. His metaphysical powers, natural to his species, have been enhanced and honed through years of mystical training. He can use them to turn invisible, survive in space, and even enchant the crew to go without food and water for days. He also can see the auras of all living beings. Since the Nix are a female-dominated species, it is rare to see a male offworld and even rarer to encounter one with such martial training.
Emerald the Sensate
Emerald of Clan Hedonis is a sensate, professional pleasure-givers who believe it is their calling to bring joy to humanity. She serves as comm officer, cook and "ship's girl" on the ships Endeavor and Aces and Eights, which the crew uses alternately based on their mission needs. But her flexibility, grace and undeniable charms can be dangerous when used as a weapon.
Basario is a high-ranking member of the pirate cartel known as the League of Silence and belongs to its prominent inner circle of captains known as The Nine. He is the strategist and tactician of the group, seeing the Free Colonies and all of known space as a massive chess game in which his goal is to always stay three steps ahead. He has frequently steered the League of Silence clear of nonprifitable allegiances and ventures and is said to have the ear of The Prince, the shadowy leader of the League. His ship, the Occam's Razor, is highly feared in the Free Colonies because he fights the same way: always three steps ahead of his opponent.
Occam's Razor is the starship of the pirate Basario, one of the lead captains of the League of Shadows. Deadly, swift and captained by a man who values making every calculation. Basario chose the name after finding out that skeptics of the supernatural once commonly used the theory of Occam's Razor to prove their point. What most didn't know was that the theory was originally used as proof of the existence of God and the supernatural. It is the kind of twisted irony he enjoys.
Roy "Rhapsody" McGovern is the most accomplished explorer in known space. He has taken more forays beyond the Terminus Line than any other known living being and charted most of what is known of the Sea of Dead Stars. Although he is technically close to 200 years old, the vagaries of faster-than-light travel means that he is physically in his mid-50s. During his travels he has collected an array of extremely valuable alien artifacts which have made him a sizable fortune. It is rumored that some pieces he has kept for himself, and they are said to provide him with abilities far beyond his fellow man. While he has won a fortune, he has also lost three ships and at least 120 men. About half of the survivors who have made it back with him have had to be institutionalized due to the trauma of whatever they faced beyond the Terminus Line. Still, men rush to sign up, because even the crewmembers whose minds snapped on the perilous voyages of Rhapsody McGovern came back extremely wealthy.
Eight-Ball is a close combat specialist, adept at boarding actions on hostile starships and close quarters combat. Fighting like a gunslinger of old Earth, his hand-eye coordination makes him one of the fastest beings alive...an attribute only heightened when he climbs into the cockpit of his personalized Duelist Power Armor.
Comida Tech Enterprises Landing Pad
If the planet Harvest is the breadbasket of the Free Colonies, ComidaTech is the company holding the handles. With a monopoly on processing and off-world sales, all of the planets farmers and food production facilities must deal with ComidaTech to get the vast bounty of the planet to its customers throughout the sector. It also controls sales of large-scale farming equipment and massive amounts of the most fertile land. Its massive processing centers and starports are industrial mammoths in stark contrast to the planet's natural beauty.
Carnival of Carnage
The Carnival of Carnage is not the largest or most successful pirate group in the Free Colonies, but it is probably the most well known. The crews are a wide assortment of freaks, mutations and the criminally insane who seem more bent on having a good time and doing the outrageous than making money. Their most audacious maneuver was stealing the Stalwart-class heavy cruiser, Indomitable, by sacrificing their original flagship: the kind of move no other pirate group would dare. They've renamed the ship The Last Laugh. Two Avenger-class pinnaces, Wolfboy and The Bearded Lady, round out the flotilla. The Indecisive also carries four JackJumper light fighters. Their leader, Mercurio, is one of the most wanted men in the Free Colonies.
Hyperia the Seraph
Hyperia is a Seraph, a spirit of light summoned by an alien shifter to serve as a minion in her battle against evil in my Rifts space campaign. She is a bit of a zealot in her quest to purify the universe with justice..liberally applied to the head of evildoers via her flaming sword, and has to often be restrained from assailing people for the slightest moral infraction. She sees things in stark images of black and white. An act is either evil or good, there is little in between.
Reavernaut Assault Ships
Far too often, the first sign of a Reavernaut invasion force is thousands of these sturdy, ominous vessels dropping through re-entry like falling stars. The Reavernaut Assault Ship is, by some reckonings, a billion years old. They hail back to the wars of the ancients, when the Reavernauts were the foot soldiers of vast, eldritch powers. Spotted only a few times over the eons, they have again appeared in large numbers along with their brutish, conquest-minded crews. The ships appear to have a dual role of heavy combat frigate and landing craft. They are capable of bashing their way through heavy blockades, dropping to a planet's surface and dispensing a company of the deadly Reavernaut armored infantry. Often, they remain where they land, serving as a barracks for the enemy troops to return to after a day (or days) of war and carnage. They are armed with an array of weapons from the past which we have little understanding of, but they often also implement weapons and technologies from modern starships as well. It is unknown how they achieve faster-than-light travel. They just seem to appear, but without the gravity disturbance of a space fold or wormhole.
Inari Station Approach
The gunship Nemesis approaches Inari Station, which sits above the corporate-controlled world of Einwold. Highly regulated, the station is a high-tech showcase for the various corporations who take advantage of Einwold's tax free market and non-interference policies. To pull this off I actually made a ring system and placed it almost to scale in orbit. As near as I can tell, this is exactly what rings would look like from high orbit of a planet.
Lurking in the darkness
"We began calling them Vinali Ravagers after their horrific assault on the Vinali colony. The name stuck, but it is a lie. In truth, they have no name. Because human lips and vowels and consonates were never meant to be spoken in regard to such things. They are hard to describe because our eyes never evolved to gaze upon such horrors. Their language, if one can call it that, hurts ears never designed to hear them speak. So yes, I jettisoned the cargo section of the transport when those things got onboard. Yes, I knew there were 200 civilian colonists in stasis. Yes, I know what kind of prison sentence I face. But if you think for one second I'm going to apologize, all that tells me is that you've never seen a Vinali Ravager coming for you in the dark." -- Excerpt from the trial of Capt. Patricia May.
I was going for a mix between an H.R. Geiger xenomorph alien and Rinzler from Tron Legacy, as if imagined by H.P. Lovecraft. That gives you a pretty good idea of what a Vinali Ravager is like.
Biodynamics Front Door
The Bio-Dynamics, Inc. research facility in the mountains of the corporate controlled world of Einwold. Bio-Dynamics appears to have a huge budget despite only modest success on the market with a few trivial genetic improvement modifications, making some wonder where its real money comes from...
Faber and Margolin
Heinrich Faber is an accomplished "Witch Hunter" who chases down rogue psychics and dangerous aliens with metaphysical powers. An expert on the occult and the supernatural, he is more bounty hunter than parapsychologist. His right-hand "man", Margolin, is a technical genius and weapons engineer from a species known as the Xintrin. Margolin was virtually torn limb-from-limb by an alien psychic years ago, and Faber saved him and helped him get cybernetic replacements. Since then, Margolin will follow him anywhere.
Mother Ether is the leader of a Nix cult comprised of strict traditionalists who abhor alien influence or change affecting "pure" Nix culture. She and her Sisterhood of Amber (because they want things to never change) usually achieve their goals through political means, but there are dark whisperings that Mother Ether will not hesitate to resort to extortion and violence to have her way. Old and powerful, there is a healthy amount of fear of her and her sisterhood among the high classes of Nix culture.
A pair of Reavernauts boarding a starship, with nefarious plans for its unsuspecting inhabitants. I originally tried to design the Reavernauts myself, but wasn't really satisfied with their look. However, I found Mestopheles later did his brute x and armor (rendered above). He and I must have been thinking the same concepts. Check out my original and compare:
Order of the Tesseract
The Order of the Tesseract is a group of Mog'Therran monks who are devoted to the study of time and space. They are generally most well known for staffing and guarding the 10 Jump Gates placed strategically around the former Empire of Many Suns, as well as maintaining them. Even after the fall of the Mog'Therran empire, the Tesseractian Monks retain tremendous power. The gates do not open without their say so, and without the stargates, commerce between the former subjects of the empire would be nearly impossible. That is beginning to change, however. The nearby human empire known as the Terran Protectorate has introduced Negative Mass Drives to other species. While they are nowhere near as fast as the instantaneous wormholes created by the Jump Gates, they are so small and affordable that independent spacers can now afford small transports of their own. Still, the Jump Gates can cut months of travel time off a trip within the empire, and are likely to be a powerful factor in commerce for some time to come. The monks themselves are a bit of a mystery. They have studied the motions of time and space on a level few other mortal beings can comprehend...and some say that whatever forces they deal with have somewhat detached them from time itself. Some are even rumored to be able to see into the distant future or past by comtemplating a tesseract, or hypercube, found in an old Vorhasi scout ship. This tesseract, a cube with more than three dimensions, is supposedly what made the creation of the Jump Gates possible. By unraveling its mysteries, the Tesseractian monks learned to manipulate the curvature of space-time itself. Whether that was the extent of their discoveries is unknown. But they've had the tesseract for hundreds of years, and its hard to believe that one discovery was all they made.... The first job of the monks is to defend the gates from anyone who would control or monopolize them. They generally do this by threatening to shut down gate operations, increasing fees, etc. But sometimes they need to get a bit more aggressive in their negotiations, which they seem to be very capable of doing.
Darshanda Star Nagas
Often dismissed as rumor or spacer myth, the Darshanda are a very real and horribly dangerous threat to any sentient creature that crosses their path. Frequently referred to as Star Nagas by humans, due to their snakelike lower bodies, they are highly intelligent but with a complete disregard, and perhaps utter contempt, for the morality of other species. Imbued with powerful metaphysical abilities, they appear to feed on pure intellect or thought. Since they've never been studied by civilized species, no one knows how this could be possible or what, exactly, they feed off. But it is known that they will take prisoners or slaves and over time that creature loses its intelligence, becoming a mindless thrall to be used up and disposed of at will. Those very few who escape their clutches before losing all thought and will are generally never the same. It is known that the star nagas work with other species, offering their immense power and knowledge in return for prey and passage. They appear to have no technology of their own, not even starships. They are most frequently encountered on the ships of others alien species.
Mah Kin Zee the Cybershaman
Mah'Kin'Zee is the first known human cybershaman. Once an order that was restricted to an alien species known as the Arnuban, McKenzie Capella was trained by one of the most powerful of their kind. Using a number of cybernetic implants, extensive engineering and computer programming and hacking knowledge, she employs nanobots, energy projection weaponry and holograms to create effects that can easily be confused as magic.
The First Rectifier
For the powerful, ancient beings lurking at the edge of space and consciousness, the sentient species of the galaxy are an abomination that disturb the order of things. These eldritch monstrosities seek to restore order, their order, to the galaxy and consider humanity and other species to be no more than rats that have infested a house left empty too long. They have many plans to remove such pests, but the First Rectifier is reserved for those particularly troublesome beings that seem hard to kill and threaten to delay the day the return to take up residence once again.
Colonel Grimm is the legendary head of the Grim Reapers mercenary force. His true identity is unknown, but it is believed that he is human, although he has been rumored to perform superhuman feats. This could be due to cybernetics, his custom-made armor or psychic abilities. No one is sure...at least no one who is talking. Colonel Grimm is a master tactician, ruthless, cold-blooded and efficient. Only those who have truly defied the Grim Reapers earn his personal attention on the battlefield...something no sane person wants. In combat, he is accompanied by a hand-picked squad known as the Dead Guard.
Grom the Information Broker
Grom the Information Broker has built a criminal empire of hackers and intelligence experts who gather everything worth knowing in the Empire of Many Suns. Some of this information they sell, some of it they use to extort and some they use to manipulate things in the former empire to their own advantage. While he often sells secrets for money, he prefers to trade secrets for more secrets. As Grom is fond of saying "knowledge is a currency that never truly devalues." Grom has made efforts in recent years to muscle in on the Free Colonies and the Terran Protectorate as well, putting him into conflict with Nikki Fortan, an information broker and pirate radio queen in the Free Colonies.
Nikki Fortran Quantum Queen
"It is time for your daily gamma burst of high energy knowledge from the Queen of the Interstellar Quantum Net, Nikki Fortran! So all you spacers, freelancers, naughtly little smugglers, corporate haulers and mercs doing the bunny hop across the space lanes lean back, tune in and let the Quantum Queen's spooky behavior permeate your cerebral hull. Got some data to upload to my input? Just turn on your Q-Link, slam that data disk into the slot nice and hard and press 'Submit.' Remember, my behavior changes when watched and I'm always on the look out for a spacer brave enough to open my box and pet my little Schrodinger's Cat!"
Nikki Fortran is the queen of interstellar pirate radio, piggybacking on major quantum communication hubs across the Terran Protectorate and the Free Colonies. No one knows where she broadcasts from, due to the very nature of the Quantum Net, which makes broadcasts virtually untraceable. She is constantly broadcasting news and data on things that the corporations, governments and rich and powerful would rather be kept quiet. No one dares to go after her seriously, because she is a powerful information broker and has made it clear that she has the dish on everyone's dirty laundry.
Black Tribe Flotilla
The Black Tribe flotilla is the small taskforce run by the human Zeta Black and her tribe of loyal Sigmari. They work primarily as privateers, although some say they stray dangerously close to being pirates. The flagship is an old modified Venture-class cruiser called the Marrowfire with an enhanced weapons package. There are also two Sigmari Battlerays and four Yumi heavy fighters. The Marrowfire has a Mogg'theran wormhole generator, which allows it to leave the fighters deployed when the ship goes FTL. How Zeta Black obtained one is unknown, as the Mogg'theran do not sell them.
La suite dimanche prochain.