Each Dimension Pocketbook follows to a general format. This is largely due to my own neurotic need for order, which is actually a bit rich if you've ever seen where I live.
Introduction: A short section of fiction providing flavour for the setting.
History: In brief, the major happenings which have shaped this reality and those who dwell within it.
At A Glance: What is this reality like? Who are the major movers and shakers? What do you absolutely need to know about it? What are its major themes, problems, potentials, expectations?
Culture: A reality is defined by the major cultures at work within it. This section briefly describes notable traditions, customs, and religions of the dimension.
Lists: This section describes what the general technological level of the dimension is. The Rifts rulebook provides a good cross-section of ancient, contemporary and futuristic weapons, although players may wish to see the Palladium FRPG for ancient equipment and Heroes Unlimited for contemporary.
Rifts: The general state of magic and rift activity on the planet. Major rifts which permanently link to notable places are detailed here. Whether or not the population as a whole, only certain individuals, or no one at all knows of and understands the meaning of Rifts and the existence of other realities is also described.
Threats: What is going to get you. Things to watch for; useful enemies for player characters, from vast nations and conspiracies to wild animals and street thugs.
Races: The people of this reality. This section includes race descriptions and where required, O.C.C.s and R.C.C.s.
Unique Gear: Is there anything here, technological or magical, which might come in handy?
Adventure Ideas: Each Dimension comes with a section describing
why this reality is useful. Potential threads, motivations for characters
originating in this reality, and ideas for one-off adventures to complete
campaigns are suggested.
In the multiverse, our Accessible Dimensions are not alone. They live, fight, love and die on their own worlds or venture to others, separate dimensions interacting or acting alone. Yet they are not alone.
When an adventurer makes the decision to go adventuring, his life is forever different. He may be shaving himself in front of a mirror, or walking down the street, or cleaning his sword/rifle/plasma cannon, as the case may be, when suddenly out of nowhere appears a Guardian.
The adventurer suddenly looks at the being which has sprung to life at his side, which would not look out of place in a modern office building. Totally human in form, of varying ages, but always between mid-twenties to mid-forties, clean and well groomed, dressed in a conservative business suit (whatever the viewer's expectation of normal, conservative business attire might be). The Guardian carries a dark briefcase, and has in her pocket a small cellular phone.
The Guardian calmly looks about herself (this one is female, though there are both male and female in equal numbers), and sights a spot to sit, be it a rock, bench, stump, or hovercar bumper. She calmly seats herself, her briefcase set on the ground beside her, and looks up at the adventurer with a calm, unruffled patience.
The adventurer stares for a moment, then seems to shake himself out of his amazement. Realizing she is waiting for him to do . . . something . . . he stammers for words.
"I . . . I . . . That is . . . ."
She smiles, and he notes her perfect white teeth.
"You are no doubt confused. Perhaps I can explain."
"Please do," the stupefied adventurer manages to say.
"You have decided to embark on exploration and adventure in the dimensions. Well, you aren't the first and you won't be the last. However, you must understand that we simply can't let adventurers and explorers meander across the Dimensions unchecked."
The Guardian gives him a confused look. "The Guardians?" His look of continued incomprehension dismays her, and she begins to rub the bridge of her nose. "The Guardians. That's us. We look after the dimensions?" Her hopeful question brings nothing but his blank stare. She sighs. "We look after the dimensions. If you want to spend your time in the dimensions, you will have to learn a few ground rules. We keep the flows clean, so that it all can continue."
The adventurer decides he had better sit down, and tries to look as if he knows what she is talking about -- and fails miserably. The Guardian continues with unshakable patience.
"Before you can go into the dimensions, you will have to learn and agree to obey to our rules. You will be assigned a Guardian Liaison Officer -- that's me, in your case -- who you can call to ask for help when you get into trouble. You will receive a Guardian I.R. Commission Adventuring Permit, with the Guardian Laws clearly printed on the reverse."
With that she reaches into her breast pocket and pulls forth a small laminated card, the size of a credit card. She hands it to him, and he holds it with a strange, detached fascination. It is dark blue in colour, covered with businesslike white text, and marked with a strange logo. He tried to remember where he had seen that sign before . . . .
"On the reverse are the laws. If you break them, you will be apprehended and disciplined. Continued and flagrant abuse of the Laws will result in harsh punishment, in accordance with Section 14, Paragraphs 45-57, Guardian Inter Reality Commission Charter."
He flipped the card over and read the two laws, written in
very legible white text.
1. You will not proliferate technologies in dimensions where said technologies are unknown or overly futuristic.
2. You will not transplant any item(s), material or otherwise, which could have a predictable detrimental effect on the transplantee environment, save in the case of a sentient being who has signed the reverse of this card as a licensed Adventurer.
3. You will not willfully attempt to reduce any Civilized dimension to a state of Anarchy.
4. You will not willfully attempt to reduce any Anarchic dimension to a state of Civilization.
5. You will not willfully begin new religions for the purposes of gaining personal or otherwise wealth, fame, glory, honour or excitement.'
"If you meet up with someone provably Sentient according to Section 23, Paragraphs 121-139, Guardian Inter Reality Commission Charter, and they want to join with you as a licensed Adventurer, call for your Guardian Liaison Officer and have me certify him before -- before -- he signs."
The adventurer grunts. Now, he remembers where he saw that sign before -- it was that triangle, in a book of optical illusions. The bent triangle that cannot exist in 3-D space. He looked at the businesswoman before him. Much like her.
"If you need to --"
She is interrupted by the insistent trilling of her cellular phone. "Just one moment." She reaches into her suit to pull it out, flipping the mouthpiece open and raising it to her ear.
"Kell . . . yes, I'm here . . ." she sighs " . . . look, Donald, I can't come now, I'm in the middle of the Introduction . . . yes, Section 12, 55-59 . . . look, I'll get there as soon as I can."
With that she closes her phone and slides it back into her suit. "Donald couldn't even moderate a Trader selling his grandmother," she mutters under her breath; at least that's what the Adventurer thinks she said.
"When you're adventuring across the dimensions, you will no doubt need to call on me. If you do, just ask for Susan Kell."
The Adventurer raised his hand. "How do I call on you?"
She sighed, a sigh of eternal patience. "You say, 'Susan Kell, Please'."
"Just like that?"
"Yes. Just like that. And I will be notified, and I will come. But, you aren't my only Client, so please try not to call me over every little quibble, hmm? Sign the card."
She produces a pen from her suit pocket, a nice blue one marked with the silver words 'Guardian I.R. Commission' and a little silver twisted-triangle. Shaking his head in disbelief, he actually manages to make a legible autograph on one of the twelve spaces. He noticed that she had already signed it in the place labelled, 'In case of trouble, call for: '. He went to stuff the pen and the card in his shirt pocket.
"Don't steal my pen," the Guardian said. Sheepishly, he gives it it back. Putting her pen away, she smiles. "Well, I have to be going now, but if you need any further assistance, you know who to call. And remember . . . Don't Break The Rules!"
With that fairly stern admonishment she picks up her briefcase and winks out of existence.
The adventurer stands up and looks around, finally noticing
that a few people are staring at him. He catches a few mutters
of 'talking with air' before he shakes his head and firmly
decides to go get drunk.
The Guardians are a strange and mysterious race. Almost everything which is known about the Guardians is assumed, and that isn't much. What is known is that they are far from human, despite their appearance, and that they look after the dimensions.
There is no such thing as an adventurer who travels without the knowledge and certification of the Guardians. A Guardian Liaison Officer appears at the exact instant that the Adventurer decides to go inter-dimensional, as is illustrated by the story above. The Guardians do not let people get away.
The Guardians impose five rules on all who would Adventure across the Dimensions.
The Guardians are Omnipresent; nothing and I mean nothing happens that they do not know about, on any of the Accessible Dimensions or, for that matter, any of the other dimensions scattered in pockets of accessibility. If it happened, they will know it; the Guardians' credo is practically 'Thou Shalt Not Get Away With It'. If you are caught breaking one of the rules, or have broken one by accident, they will be lenient; if the damage is repairable, they will only confiscate possessions. If the damage is irreparable, then they will most likely deposit the character on his/her homeworld, revoking his license and preventing him from ever going Trans-Dimensional again. If the damage is irreparable and the intent deliberate, the Guardian Liaison Officer will arrive and take the offender with him/her. The poor soul is never seen again, and none really want to find out where he went.
Why the Guardians do this is totally unknown, as is how they can travel without using Rifts, and for that matter just about anything else about them.
A Guardian in a Dimension is only seen by his/her Client(s). The Guardian will never do more than verbally help the Adventurers; it is as if he/she is restricted (prevented?) from physically interfering with the Adventurers or the Dimension. A Guardian in a Dimension cannot be hurt by any force known to man or God. A Guardian walking into the path of a car will be saved by another car slamming into the first, knocking it out of her way; a Guardian walking through a firefight will be continually and constantly narrowly missed by the gunfire; a Guardian standing in the way of molten lava will be saved by the lava flowing to one side, the heat pulling down into the rock, so that the rock he/she is standing on is untouched. The lava will even pull aside so that she can walk unrestrictedly. No one involved even realizes what is happening; to the people involved, it will seem as if for some reason they don't know, they suddenly reacted. The person in the second car won't even realize why she careened into the first car to knock it aside. This is all the subtle power of the Guardians at work.
Guardians are considered to know all skills at 98% and to have knowledge of basically everything. Guardians do not seem to age, though an Adventurer may know one for his lifetime, and they never give thought to the temperature or conditions around them; a Guardian will maintain his/her cool, unruffled calm whether she is talking to the Adventurers on a quiet city street, in the midst of a roaring firefight, or standing on the surface of the moon. Guardians never even get dirty; a Guardian will walk on the surface of water or mud, dust of deserts on alien worlds not even being disturbed by their presence, rain sliding aside before hitting them.
Guardians will immediately appear when summoned by an Adventurer, although they may be engaged in other activities. A Guardian may appear making complaints of how they cannot step into the shower without having the Phone ring, or make references to domestic life, but they will always appear in their conservative business suits (or suit and skirt, as the case may be). Guardians always appear more or less as illustrated in the story, and will always have their briefcase, cellular phone and pen. Guardians never leave these objects behind. Guardians are usually able to answer an Adventurer's questions, though they may well be irritated that an Adventurer cannot figure it out themselves, and will almost always answer the question in a roundabout way, leading the Adventurer's questions until he realizes his own answer. They are always possessive of an almost inhuman calm. There have been times when a Guardian has become upset, but those present rarely survived.
Guardians take impertience from no one, and will treat the lowest human or elf to Tanama or Bakara with equal calm -- as if they were talking to a three year old, usually.
It is worth pointing out that, for all their power, the Guardians obey their own rules. They never take a life, never alter anyone or anything unless they have no other choice, and usually will allow people to do what they must, so long as they do not violate the Five Laws. The Guardian position on interdimensional civilizations is, however, obscure. Surely, one would reason, Guardians would prevent the Splugorth, among others, from doing what they do? Rumours circulate that the Splugorth, the Naruni and several other civilizations presented a case to some sort of Supreme Court of Guardians for adjudication, and that the case has been in debate for the past twelve thousand years. No one knows for sure, but a great many people point at the as-yet unexplained disappearance of the Mechanoid fleets and their flagrant violation of the Five Laws. Appeal denied?
No matter what else is known, one thing is always for
certain -- if you only believe half of what you think you know of
Guardians, you'll only be half wrong.