Friday, October 28, 2011

Praise for Palladium Fantasy & Thoughts on Palladium Books

I have read several rants on a few message boards that stated the writer would welcome the demise of Palladium Books.  I am not a fan boy nor do I turn a blind eye to any mistakes on the part of Palladium Books but I would like to see them not only recover but make a big comeback.  Their products always felt like the company that made them were a group of fans that got lucky and hit the big time.  I think an RPG industry without Palladium would be worse by their absence.

I started playing Palladium RPGs sometime around the mid to late 80's to the best of my recollection.  My buddy Jamie and I noticed a copy of Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game that looked really cool so we pooled our money and bought it.  Of course, we rushed back to his mother's house and started checking it out immediately. We literally spent hours flipping through the pages and taking turns passing the book back and forth between us.  There were two teenage role-players really excited that summer day about the contents of that one book.

As we flipped through the pages of Palladium Fantasy, there were several things that caught our attention.  First, we noticed the rules were somewhat similar to AD&D so it would make learning this game much easier; unlike AD&D, we played using all of the rules.  Second, there was also an abundance of "official stats" for playing many more races and classes than in AD&D.  Who would not want to try something different from the typical player character options?  Third, the alignment system was a nice touch in my eyes.  There were lists of actions in each alignment description that guided players in the actions of their characters.  Fourth, Palladium had a full blown percentile skill system in contrast to the AD&D secondary skills.  Fifth, Palladium had many small details such as the illustrations of the money.  There wasn't just a listing of the generic gold piece, silver piece, etc. as in AD&D but there were actual names for the coins with illustrations of the respective currency.  Finally, there was the biggest difference between the two games - you only needed one book to play Palladium Fantasy.  It was great to have all of the information required in one rule book.  Granted, supplemental books would add further options and adventures in the palladium world but the fact remained that you only needed one book to play the game.  In contrast, when RIFTS would hit years later we would buy up the latest source books as soon as possible.

 After learning the rules, we played quite a bit of Palladium Fantasy.  We continued to play AD&D but for a time the focus was clearly on Palladium Fantasy.  In fact, our Palladium group was bigger than our AD&D group and shared some of the same players.  One funny fact is that we never bought any of the supplemental material.  I don't know why but we just didn't feel it "necessary" the same way it did for our AD&D game.  This isn't a judgement about either game, just a noted difference in our perspective on the necessity of further material within our group.  That isn't to say that we didn't use any expansion material in our games, though.  We shared ideas and adapted rules between AD&D and Palladium Fantasy and even developed some custom Occupational Character Classes.

We had many successful sessions of Palladium Fantasy over the years.  Eventually, we moved on to play other games. Palladium Fantasy was one of the few besides AD&D and V&V that we would return to play again.  I know many people think D&D when it comes to fantasy adventure gaming but I always think of Palladium Fantasy in the same instant.  I do have the second edition of Palladium Fantasy but I have yet to do any actual play using the rules.  It seems the rules have become a little bloated from first edition but that's just a general impression.  I also noticed that it looks like the complete line of Palladium Fantasy first edition is available on DriveThruRPG.  I may have to buy them and get another Palladium Fantasy campaign up and going.

That's my experience with Palladium Fantasy and why I remember it so fondly.  The other Palladium products I have played include Chaos Earth, Heroes Unlimited, RIFTS, and Robotech; I am interested in picking up Dead Reign to see what they have done with the Zombie genre.  I know that many people have problems with Palladium due to their release schedule snafus and the stories of board room politics that have taken place at their offices.  I understand the release schedule irritation and have no defense for the delays and cancellation of products.  As far as the politics go, all I can say is that there are two sides to every story and I did not witness any of the drama so I have no opinion on that.  The one thing I am sure of is the feeling of creativity that I get when I crack open a Palladium book.  There might be problems with the rules themselves but the story and background seems to be top notch every time.

I admit it - I'm a big time Palladium Fantasy fan even without playing in years.  I also enjoy their other products that I have picked up; mainly Chaos Earth and RIFTS.  While I do enjoy their products and want them to make a comeback, I think there are several things Palladium must do to thrive:

The Palladium system has been around since the 80's. Having been revised and expanded over the years, it is time to consolidate, clean up, and clarify all the rules.  The rules don't have to be completely overhauled but putting all references on a related topic together would be a good starting point.  A further re-organization to the rules would probably helps also.  I've heard that Kevin Siembieda does not even use the rules as published, so why not a look at the rules he does use?  All of these thoughts tie into the thought of a unified main core rule book.

Megaversal Rule Book
After a thorough revision of the rules, they should be consolidated into a nice hardback rule compendium.  I know some of the fans are very vocal about not wanting hardback because of increased prices but I think this is one expense well worth it.  With the Megaversal rules in one rule book then the core book for each game line could include a small section at the beginning about rule differences for that game.  The core rule book for each game could then focus on that game instead of reprinting the entire rule system in every time.  Yes, it would take two books to play a Palladium game but each core book would just be about that game instead of half the rule book being a reprint.  While you're at it, make the core books hardback also and leave the softbound books for source books.

Release Schedule
I completely understand the excitement about a new product and wanting to share the information with your loyal customers.  In doing so, there is no reason to give a firm release date until the actual release date is a short time away.  There are several books that have been announced at several different times with the release date getting pushed numerous times.  Eventually, the book is taken off the release schedule again.  It seems that this is currently happening with RIFTS Lemuria once again.

Simply put, support ALL of the game lines - not just RIFTS.  I know RIFTS is like their stallion product at the moment but you can not grow a game line without supporting it by releasing new products.  It doesn't have to be a flood of new products but just throw a bone to fans of Chaos Earth, Dead Reign, Heroes Unlimited, Palladium Fantasy and the rest of the game lines several times a year.




  1. Strange that I have never played Palladium's Fantasy game, but I do love RIFTS :)

    I wish I had the loots to own ALL of Palladium's stuff

  2. Hmmmm....
    Indeed, RIFTS is awesome! I swear if I won the lottery I would buy ALL of Palladium's stuff

  3. The current edition of Palladium fantasy looks pretty good. I don't own it, but I've looked through it. The section on runes & circle magic for example looks like it actually makes sense, whereas before it was totally incoherent how these worked. I've played Rifts, TMNT and Heroes Unlimited when I was a young'un, but never played Palladium Fantasy. Always liked the way it looked though. I think it would be fun to play a magic-user with circles and rune magic under the original rules and make it up as you go along!

  4. Do yourself a favor and play some Palladium Fantasy - I don't think you'll be disappointed at all! I am probably picking up the current edition pretty soon because I would like to have the game again myself. What you described does sound fun.

  5. Great choice for the letter "P". I have been a long time fan of Palladium Fantasy but did not get a chance to run the system until the newer edition. On the whole it was my most enjoyable campaign as a G.M. and I highly recommend getting this game if you haven't already.

    Right now I just started up a new Rifts campaign for my saturday group, but I have the itch to run some Palladium Fantasy to mix things up.

    1. Thanks! I think Palladium Fantasy is the best game that Palladium puts out. I really need to get a campaign going. I'm going to make an effort to put up some more Palladium stuff here. That would be awesome playing in a RIFTS game on one day and Palladium Fantasy on another.