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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

The Tale of Palladium Books

Palladium Books is one of the oldest companies in the RPG industry still under the control of its founder, Kevin Siembieda, giving it very few peers*. When it was founded, games like Dungeons & Dragons and Champions ruled the roost. Chaosium had just put out Basic Role-Playing, the first generic system, and Games Workshop had just founded Citadel Miniatures. But before we even get to that part...



Back in 1969 or 1970, middle school nerds Kevin Siembieda and Alex Marciniszyn printed a "mimeographed monstrosity" fanzine named Megaton. Later, in 1973, they would revive the Megaton name under Megaton Publications** to publish their sci-fi and comic fanzines like Nightspawn and A+ Plus. In 1979, Siembieda was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons by fellow nerd Julius Rosenstein, and began working on his own settings and rules some time hereafter. Already used to self-publishing, the idea of making his own game seemed natural. Siembieda also submitted art to a number of companies, and was published in a wide variety of RPG publications.



Armed with $3,000, half of which was borrowed from a friend's mother, Siembieda founded Palladium Books with its first publication, Mechanoid Invasion, which dealt with a space colony being invaded by robotic aliens, inspired by recent science fiction like Star Wars. It and its two supplements (Journey and Homeworld) are pretty profound in having one of the first metaplots in an RPG, beginning with the initial invasion and ending with the defeat of the mechanoids in Homeworld. At this point, however, Palladium was really a small-time publisher, and Siembieda continued to build capital by producing sourcebooks on weapons, armor, and castles, which were intentionally system-agnostic (but functionally designed for Dungeons & Dragons and its derivatives). These generic supplements were small-press hits, selling around 100,000 copies apiece, and pushing Palladium Books towards becoming a much larger publisher.



Siembieda's hard work modifying the Dungeons & Dragons game for his "Defilers" campaign would be published in 1983 as the The Palladium Role-Playing Game, and it was the first full game that really established Palladium as an RPG company. Compared to Mechanoid Invasion, it was a more conventional Dungeons & Dragons "heartbreaker", though with some more unusual races (like the self-explanatory wolfen and changelings), magic classes that used different magic systems, and having one of the first detailed fantasy game settings. Though the Palladium system is now generally derided for its mechanics, it's important to bear in mind when it was released, The Palladium RPG had yet to develop much of the cruft that would later plague Palladium's house system, and so stands up better than one might expect.



Their first big hit wouldn't be until 1985, however, with the publication of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. A licensed game about anthropomorphic animal vigilantes (it was a thing), it was based on the original Turtles comics. It preceded the Turtles cartoon by two years, and is notable for launching the career of long-time Palladium contributor Erick Wujcik, as well as featuring original art by Turtle creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It's also memorable for being one of the first games to truly cement the "copy-paste" nature of the Palladium house system, borrowing rules heavily from the earlier Heroes Unlimited, their superhero game.



Palladium's luck with licensed properties would continue in 1986 with the Robotech RPG, written by Siembieda, based off various Japanese robot cartoons adapted to American TV in 1985. Kevin Long would provide striking art of the Robotech giant robot suits, though would also run into plagiarism accusations that would follow him until the end of his work with Palladium Books. It would also produce some of Palladium's more infamous game systems, like "Mega-Damage", a means of simulating the higher damage scales of giant robots, and overly complex missile rules inspired by the missile swarms of the original cartoon.



Rifts
, released in 1990, would change Palladium's fortunes forever. Rifts was a culmination and combination of every game Palladium had released at that point. It had magic rules from The Palladium RPG, psionic and horror rules from Beyond the Supernatural, giant robot and occupation rules from the Robotech RPG, post-humans from Heroes Unlimited, and even mutant dogs from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Siembieda wrote it, and artist Kevin Long's toyetic robot and armor designs stood out as distinct for their time. It also provided power levels rarely found in RPGs, where characters carried pistols that could atomize buildings or cast tank-melting fireballs.

While it was not the first broad multi-genre RPG***, it is perhaps the most successful one. It has continued to be supported for the past 20 years, and has gotten an "Ultimate Edition" as well as scores of supplements. Though Palladium has produced new games since Rifts, none have gotten anywhere close to its success. For better or worse, Palladium Books lives in the shadow of its most successful creation, and the majority of their output as of 2013 still largely consists of Rifts and its tie-ins.

* As far as founder-run companies Steve Jackson Games predates it by a year. Flying Buffalo is the real dino, predating both by half a decade, but is a far smaller developer.
** No apparent relation to the later Megaton Publications that launched the career of comic artists like Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Gary Carlson, etc.
*** Worlds of Wonder (1982) and Lords of Creation (1983) predated Rifts by nearly a decade. Torg (1990) was released earlier the same year, though it didn't enjoy the same long-term success as Rifts.




Palladium's Famous Bouts

As is inevitable with any company of its age, Palladium Books has various notable legal and personal conflicts. However, Palladium Books has a reputation for being particularly fractious, and its most famous bouts are chronicled here.

Palladium vs. Time: Though publishing late books is far from unusual in the same industry, Palladium is particularly famous for announcing books that are published late, hardly resemble the promised product, or never materialize at all. It's as if Siembieda is inclined to mention any passing whim for a book as an upcoming product, and only more recently has begun filtering himself. A lot more detail on late books and publishing woes involving Palladium Books is available at Kevin Siembieda: J'ACCUSE...! maintained by rpg.net's Geshbourn.

Winner: Time
Loser: Palladium Books

Palladium vs. White Wolf Magazine: In 1990, Kevin Siembieda sent a letter to White Wolf Magazine, accusing it of not covering "small-press" publishers like Palladium. They published two such letters from Kevin, and explained that their coverage was dependent on submissions received, and that they had never received submissions for Palladium material. A Rifts adventure was sent by a writer, however, and White Wolf Magazine agreed to publish it. However, Palladium immediately sent a C&D letter, threatening to sue White Wolf Magazine if the article was published. Confused, White Wolf Magazine pulled the article from their next issue, and avoided attempting publish any Palladium-based articles thereafter.

Loser: White Wolf Magazine
Loser: Palladium Books

Palladium vs. Wizards of the Coast: In 1992, Wizards of the Coast would start working a book entitled The Primal Order, a book on deities in RPGs that would contain rule conversions. Though they were certainly aware of the potential legal issues, Wizards of the Coast went ahead and published without seeking permission for any of their conversions. Palladium Books, in turn, sued Wizards of the Coast. Though they went to settle, Siembieda sought an admission of guilt, something Wizards of the Coast could not agree to (since that would make them potentially liable for every conversion in The Primal Order). Though Wizards of the Coast was able to settle for a large sum of money instead, they were nearly put out of business by the lawsuit, and only a little product called Magic: the Gathering would later pull them out of their dire financial straits.

There's history more on the lawsuit by Shannon Appelcline here or by Rick Marshall here. Oh, and Palladium FAQ maintainer Stan Bundy said: "The seriousness of these events exists only in the minds of a few crazed WotC fanatics", so maybe it's not such a big deal after all.

Winner: Palladium Books
Loser: Wizards of the Coast (but cardboard gold healed those wounds)

Palladium vs. Todd McFarlane: After publishing Nightspawn in 1995 (a thinly-disguised adaptation of Clive Barker's Nightbreed), Todd McFarlane threatened a lawsuit due to a superficial similarity with his comic and media franchise (well, it was back then) Spawn. Though Palladium Books believed they could win a lawsuit (given the publication of "Nightspawn" in 1973), the estimated legal costs were too high to consider. Palladium Books complied, and future printings would instead use the title "Nightbane" instead.

Winner: Todd McFarlane
Loser: Palladium Books

Palladium vs. Players: Palladium is also well-known for sending cease & desist letters to fanzines and websites that use any element of Palladium Books' output, particularly for conversions (no doubt encouraged by the above lawsuit), adaptations, or original work. I've never seen one of these purported letters, but here's a few testimonials. Got others? Share!
Winner: Palladium Books
Loser: Players

Palladium vs. Freelancers: In 2002, Bill Coffin, a freelancer for Palladium Books, wrote a long diatribe at rpg.net detailing his "creative differences" with Kevin Siembieda. Steve Conan Trustrum and CJ Carella, other former freelancers, had already joined in the chorus, concurring that the situation at Palladium Books was fairly dysfunctional and having found writing for Palladium quite frustrating. The result was quite a bit of bad publicity for Palladium Books, even though Bill Coffin would later apologize for his words.

Winner: Freelancers (sorta)
Loser: Palladium Books

Palladium vs. Palladium: In 2006, Palladium revealed that it was the victim of embezzlement by long-time employee Steve Sheiring, Palladium Books employee and contributor from 2002 to 2004 to the tune of around a million dollars, and as a result the company was in dire financial straits. By holding his hat out to fans in a variety of ways, Siembieda was able to recoup enough money to keep the business afloat, and would refer to it as the "Crisis of Treachery" to put the onus of blame strictly on on Sheiring. The idea that long-term mismanagement may have contributed to the issue is, of course, ridiculous and need not be considered any further. Kevin's official comments on the matter can be found here. More on this at Wikipedia.

Winner: Palladium Books
Loser: Palladium Books

Palladium vs. Trion Worlds: In 2010, Palladium Books got legal again when they went after Trion Worlds and their MMO Rift: Planes of Telara, which, to be fair, does include rifts. http://www.livingdice.com got the legal docs, listed below:
The lawsuit was ended later that year to go to a settlement. The details of that settlement aren't public, but there are some clues. First, Rift: Planes of Telara shifted its name to plain ol' Rift and Palladium Books suddenly managed to shift a good number of reprints at the printer. It seems Trion Worlds most likely provided restitution for legal considerations on the part of Palladium Books.

Winner (seemingly): Palladium Books
Loser (seemingly): Trion Worlds

Kevin Siembieda wrote a lengthy post in 2004 rebutting or acknowledging a number of issues above (lateness, Coffin, etc.). And here's a more more recent interview explaining some things from 2009.



Other Fine Palladium Games

Not all Palladium games have been huge megaversal hits; here are some of the games that aren't Rifts.
  • Valley of the Pharaohs (1983): Perhaps the most obscure Palladium game, this is a boxed historical game set in Egypt written by Matthew Balent. Its ruleset differs from later Palladium material.
  • Heroes Unlimited (1984): A broad, if inflexible, clunky, and deeply flawed superhero game. The best thing that can be said for it is it has the most fun random superhero tables in the biz.
  • After the Bomb (1986): An alternate setting for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness where post-apocalypse animals mutate into anthropomorphics* and fight fascist human holdouts. It became its own line of supplements and eventually a standalone game; it was a thing.
  • Revised Recon (1986): Originally published by RPG, Inc. in 1981, this is a game largely centered around a thinly-veiled version of the Vietnam War (though it has nods towards mercenary campaigns as well). Notable for being the only Palladium game with a completely divergent system that largely relies on percentile dice. Originally written by Joe F. Martin, and later revised by Erick Wujcik.
  • Beyond the Supernatural (1987): Investigative horror with occultism, psychic powers, and monsters that are often more bizarre or goofy than scary. Can be seen as a setting precursor to Rifts.
  • Ninjas & Superspies (1988): Martial arts and James Bonds with cyber-fingers that are actually bullets. Hint: the ninjas loving win the poo poo out of this game, as illustrated on the cover. Usually just mined to give the other games martial arts rules. Written by Erick Wujcik.
  • Macross II (1993): Once out of Robotech material, Palladium produced a new game for Japanese sequel Macross II. It was true to its source material in that it felt entirely unessential.
  • Nightbane (1995): Ever see Nightbreed? Of course you did. This is like that, only it has a different name. Better than it sounds, but still hobbled by the Palladium ruleset. Created by CJ Carella.
  • The Rifter (1998): Not a game per se, but a house magazine that continues to be published regularly to this day, as well as being a "clearing house" for new writers and artists, and really has helped the company in that it's provided a means to vet and hire new freelance talent. A Palladium anomaly in that it's published like clockwork four times a year. One of the very few single-system magazines still being published in 2013.
  • Systems Failure (1999): A post-apocalypse game where giant bugs that can travel through power lines wreak havoc on Earth. This Y2K-inspired setting will, of course, be eternally dated at this point.
  • Rifts Chaos Earth (2003): An alternate take on Rifts where humanity survives in a more intact fashion to fight back just after the apocalypse in enclaves. Takes place right after the cataclysm. Mostly like Rifts, except your character remembers what fast food was like.
  • Splicers (2004): Another post-apocalypse game (yeesh) by Carmen Bellaire where sinister AIs and nanotech have destroyed or subverted all conventional technology, and it's time to fight back with gross biotech. Eat stomach bile, robots!
  • Dead Reign (2008): Post-apocalypse zombie horror; think the mutant zombies from Left 4 Dead taken to absurd levels. Like having two zombies mashed into each other to run a three-legged race against you. Scary!
  • Robotech: Shadow Chronicles (2008): Based on the movie of the same name, this was essentially a reboot of the Robotech RPG line, featuring notably updated rules and material, and came in a controversial (amongst fans) "manga-sized" digest format.
  • Robotech RPG Tactics (2013): Perhaps the first Palladium production to not be an RPG (despite the puzzling "RPG" in the name), this is a Robotech miniatures wargame developed by Ninja Division. Or, at least, I'm assuming so; none of the design or production resembles Palladium Books in the slightest, aside from the use of some Robotech RPG art.
* That's an old-timey term for "furries".



The Faces of Palladium

Here's a listing of the most notable employees and writers for Palladium Books. You'll notice many of them boil down to his old gaming group from the late 70s and early 80s; it is a "family business" in that sense.
  • Kevin Henry Siembieda: The sole owner of Palladium Books, Kevin is considered synonymous with his company as far as most of the gaming industry is concerned. However, it's often forgotten that he got his start as an illustrator, having graduated from the College for Creative Studies. He did art for various products from Dungeons & Dragons, Runequest, and Traveller until 1982, which is heavily detailed on his wikipedia page. He is often credited for "Keylining", which refers to his old responsibility of physically doing layout on each Palladium book.
  • Erick Wujcik: Though he passed on in 2008 due to cancer, Wujcik was one of Palladium's most prominent and writers due to his work on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness and Ninjas & Superspies lines, both of which were almost written single-handedly by him. Though we worked on a number of other Palladium products, he's also well-known for his work on the Amber Diceless RPG, published under his personal company, Phage Press.
  • Alex Marciniszyn: A founding staff member, Alex is a close friend of Kevin (having been in the gaming campaign that resulted in the Palladium RPG), and has served as an editor (the distinction is, frankly, quite dubious) on the grand majority of Palladium's titles. He has also moderated the official Palladium forums.
  • Julius Rosenstein: The man that introduced Siembieda to roleplaying games, he also played in the original Palladium RPG campaign as well. Has written short pieces in various books. Practices aikido and can probably flip you to the ground if you let your concentration lapse even for a moment.
  • Wayne Smith: Originally brought into the company after trading Star Wars figures with Kevin, he volunteered for the company before being hired on. Editor of The Rifter for over a decade, most recent books in the past decade or so have seen Wayne's involvement as an editor, and occasionally as a writer.
  • Thomas Bartold: Often credited as an editor, Bartold wrote Island at the Edge of the World for the Palladium RPG. Was also involved in the original Palladium RPG game.
  • Carmen Bellaire: A fan who was brought on via submissions, Carmen has written a number of books for Palladium, chiefly on the Powers Unlimited line for Heroes Unlimited, and also wrote the Splicers game. He has a reputation as a "Killer GM".
  • Carl Gleba: Carl is mainly known for doing the "Minion War" series, where demons and deevils (yes, it is spelled that way, because) have a big brouhaha battle across different Palladium settings. He likes to play wizards.



The Heels of Palladium

These are former employees and freelancers that have spoken up against or otherwise had disagreements with Palladium Books.
  • CJ Carella: A GURPS fan who had previously done work for Steve Jackson Games, CJ Carella was an intensely prolific writer for a time at Palladium Books, particularly on the Nightbane and Rifts game lines. Though his parting from the company to be more involved with Eden Studios and his own games seemed amiable, he later professed to having creative differences with Kevin; Kevin later criticized CJ's work for being unbalanced. So it goes.
  • Bill Coffin: Another prolific freelancer who worked on a number of high-profile projects (Systems Failure, Coalition Wars, and Land of the Damned), Bill Coffin's pointed words regarding his time in the company are listed above. Siembieda refuted a number of this allegations, in turn. Coffin also writes science fiction novels.
  • Kevin Long: A key artist for the early success of game lines like Robotech and Rifts, it is unclear whether how much acrimony remains between him and Palladium Books in the 1990s. Rumors circulate that he was fired under strenuous circumstances, though employees at Palladium Books insist the parting was voluntary. It is believed by some that he remains unpaid for a number of illustrations used by Palladium Books. Long is also sometimes accused of plagarizing robot designs from other sources. He has an online gallery as well.
  • Steve Trustrum: A freelancer with a wide array of minor credits, he was a minor contributor to Heroes Unlimited and The Rifter. Trustrum alleges that Palladium Books plagarized some of his fanwork for Heroes Unlimited Second Edition.
  • Steven R. Sheiring: Aka "The Perpetrator of the Crisis of Treachery". Another graduate of the original Palladium RPG group, Steve contributed writing to Palladium Books for over two decades before his embezzlement was discovered. (It's a bit hard to find information on him now, since Palladium Books has essentially stricken him from their public face.)



The Left Behind Series: Other Former Talent

Palladium has accepted work from a wide array of writers, but it's a rare figure outside of Kevin's personal circle that remains. The following is just a sample of freelancers and staffers that are no longer associated with Palladium.

  • Randi Cartier: A Palladium RPG playtester who became a freelance writer for the Palladium RPG, as well as an editor on a number of earlier titles (like TMNT and other Strangeness). One of the few female contributors at Palladium Books.
  • Maryann Donald (formerly Siembieda): Kevin's wife for nearly two decades, Maryann is credited with "Typography" in many Palladium Books. For a time, she oversaw much of Palladium's online presence. Her time spent monitoring the web for offending websites and moderating the official boards put in her in the unenviable role as Palladium Books' primary censor, but she also oversaw organizing fan support as well. She left the company during a trial seperation between her and Kevin which led to a later divorce.
  • Steve Edwards: Though only a minor contributor to the Palladium RPG line, Steve Edwards designed the logo seen across the wide line of Rifts products.
  • David Haendler: Wrote the "War Against Tolkeen" fiction that ran through early issues of The Rifter. Has gone on to write his first novel, Shattergrave Knights.
  • Jason Marker: A staff writer for the new Robotech 2nd edition books launched in 2008, Marker oversaw the "manga-sized" books until being laid off in 2009. Jason Marker now does freelance work for Fantasy Flight Games on Rogue Trader and other Warhammer RPGs. His blog can be found at www.amalgamatedfiction.com.
  • Shawn Merrow: A fan turned freelancer who contributed to The Rifter, Merrow maintained Palladium's online FAQ along with Rodney Scott, but left for personal reason. He still assisted with the Q&A column in The Rifter for a time.
  • William R. Muench: An writer for early issues of The Rifter, Muench also maintained the Palladium mailing list for a time as well.
  • Jason Richards: A freelancer who worked on the Rifts and Chaos Earth lines, his blog can be found at www.jasonrichards.net.
  • Mark Sumimoto: A freelancer that worked on a variety of Rifts books for a time before being let go, he now blogs about mobile technology.
  • Todd Yoho: A freelancer that wrote about a bunch of magic dinosaurs for the Rifts line.




Good, Bad, and the Ugly: Palladium's Artists

Here's a listing of some of Palladium's most notable artists - their names are linked to their online galleries when available. There have been a lot of artists over Palladium's three decades of existence, and I'll probably add to this later on.
  • Kevin Siembieda: In addition to writing, Siembieda has often supplied his own art for ideas and concepts in various books.
  • John Zeleznik: A freelance artist with a massive amount of professional credits, John Zeleznik did a lot of seminal covers for the Rifts line, and had an artbook ("Rifts & the Megaverse: the Art of John Zeleznik") published by Palladium Games.
  • Keith Parkinson: Though he passed away from cancer in 2005, Keith Parkinson's art defined some Palladium books - literally speaking. Which is to say, Palladium Books purchased the rights to use a piece of art and then created game concepts around it, rather than vice versa.
  • Michael Gustovich: An artist brought over from his independent comic work on the Justice Machine, Gustovich produced a prolific amount of art for Palladium Books during the eighties and nineties, and was probably their chief "workhorse" artist for a time.
  • Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird: The creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did practically all the art for the first few books in the line, giving them an authentic hard-boiled furry look.
  • Jim Lawson: After Eastman and Laird stopped doing art for Palladium Books, Jim Lawson, a later Turtles artist, did much of the art on the line, and then later did art for Rifts.
  • Newton Ewell: A freelance artist during the nineties, Newton Ewell did a wide variety of work for Rifts and Robotech, as well as a wide variety of other games. Though he no longer does art for Palladium, he can be found at his Deviantart page.
  • Wayne Breaux, Jr.: After Kevin Long's departure from the company (detailed above), Wayne Breaux filled in for many of his art duties on a wide variety of books, as well as writing a number of supplements. Though no longer producing art regularly for Palladium Books, he seems to maintain a friendly relationship with them. Breaux still can be found experimenting with art as his Deviantart page, and also doing "less mainstream" art at Hentai-Foundry.
  • Vince Martin: Notable for his hirsute heroes and thick inking, Martin can be identified by his distinct, rhomboidic signature.
  • Thomas Miller: With a loose style, Miller's portraits in Palladium books has a very sketchy look to it.
  • Roger Petersen: Petersen has a talent for expressive character art that would carry him on after his Palladium work to do comic series for DC and Dark Horse, and most notably worked on Swamp Thing and The Escapist.
  • Kent Burles: Often miscredited in Palladium Books as "Kent Buries", Kent has an organic style that looks like it would be more likely gracing the side of a 70s rock group tour bus, and really, really sticks out in the middle of a Rifts book.
  • Timothy Truman: A comic artist, Truman had only a brief stint on early Rifts books, but got to concept his own original world that appeared in Rifts Dimension Book 1: Wormwood, which is largely based on his world and ideas.
  • Ramon Perez: A freelance artist, Perez was one of Palladium's most profilic and talented contributors for a time, particularly on the Rifts and Heroes Unlimited lines. He did an ongoing Rifts comic in The Rifter which was collected as Rifts: Machinations of Doom.
  • Scott Johnson: Known mainly for his work on Rifts Ultimate Edition and Rifts Chaos Earth, Scott Johnson went on to become a house artist for Marvel Comics, though has since returned to doing freelance work as well.
  • Nick Bradshaw: "You have to be at least a little brain damaged to work at Palladium. It’s a prerequisite. That’s why Nick was an instant fit at the company.” - Kevin Siembieda
  • Mark Dudley: Credited with some associated artists under Drunken Style Studios on some earlier work, Dudley has been an artist on newer Rifts and Heroes Unlimited books.
  • Chuck Walton: A newer artist who has chiefly worked on the Splicers and Rifts lines, Walton is a freelance concept artist. He has a Deviantart gallery with much of his Palladium work.
  • Adam Kass: If you've seen any CG, Poser-looking art on a recent Palladium product, it's probably this guy. You can find his Youtube account here.



Palladium Books vs. Something Awful

For some reason, Palladium Games have been a frequent subject of mockery on Something Awful for reasons which are unclear and mysterious. Maybe if you read some of these articles, things will become more clear? Only you can solve this mystery!

WTF, D&D!?

Zack Parsons and Steve "Malak" Sumner review Palladium's artistic monkeyshines on the frontpage.
FATAL & Friends

Need some summaries of Palladium's finest words? Well, some assholes wrote a bunch of crap.
Palladium-Playing Awful Goons and Other Strangeness
  • CroatianAlzheimers talked about working as a TG industry, including his time with Palladium here (requires archives).
  • clockworkjoe mashed up Rifts and The Eliminators in Rifts: Eliminators. He also has some live plays of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness: part 1 is here and part 2 is here.
  • EclecticTastes tried to run Heroes Unlimited and was killed in the attempt. The recruitment thread is here and the play thread is here.



Palladium Books vs. You

Some many wonder if it's okay to post adaptations, conversions, and rehabilitations of Palladium material to this thread. I have asked and the answer is yes, you can. Personally, I'd just make sure you're aware of Palladium's past behavior in that regard (see Palladium vs. Players, above), but it has been 20 years of threats or so and no fans have actually been sued. If you're more interested in complying with the PALLADIUM BOOKS® INTERNET POLICY, just follow the link (the caps lock is theirs).

Palladium Books: a 20 Second Summary

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TtGQnyPZ6g

Polite Suggestions
  1. Kevin's done some stuff that has earned some powerful dislike, and his personal life and Palladium Books have become unavoidably intertwined. It's natural that some will dislike what the guy's done, but let's stop short of helldumping.
  2. Similarly, though Palladium Books has a rep for dodgy material, nobody has to freak out if somebody actually enjoyed Mutants in Orbit or whatever. A lot of folks have a love-hate relationship and hypocrisy is thread approved.
  3. The rules suck. We all know the rules suck. If you want to talk about how the rules suck, try and at least make it amusing or constructive talk on how the Megaversal system sucks. (Because, geez, it really sucks!)

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at Aug 1, 2014 around 14:59

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InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012


The more I read about Rifts, the more I'm convinced it's what you'd get if you took all the drawings I did in middle school of mechs and space marine dudes blowing each other up, gave it more budget/proper artists, gave it a more complicated plot with about the same amount of sense, and gave it game mechanics with ludicrous power levels.

I don't think I was ever metal enough to play Rifts back in the day.

Tujague
May 8, 2007

You'll be relieved to know that only half of my pony porn collection involves rape
(The rest involves bondage)


Rifts was the first RPG trend-setting / consumer frenzy binge and purge that I was in the middle of. Having given a Rifts campaign a serious try at least four times, my retrospective is that the awesome poo poo about Rifts was all concentrated in the first books, and the lovely things about Rifts compounded over time. I recently dug up some old Rifts books in a box, and I can't read them without a sense of eye-rolling shame. Totally brutal. I felt the WTF D&D articles didn't go far enough.


Obviously the first books taken as a whole were gently caress-awful (CYBERVAMPIRE MEXICO) but there was some cool poo poo in them. Best rifts books: Juicer Uprising, Phase World, Coalition War Machine. Worst rifts books: England, Africa, Mechanoids, the one with all the gods, probably several that came out after I gave up

Tujague fucked around with this message at May 4, 2013 around 17:27

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


I worked for Palladium as a staff writer for two years. It's weirder than you could ever imagine.

piL
Sep 20, 2007
(__|\\\\)

Upon reflection I've spent a lot of time hating on Palladium, but I've actually had a ton of fun between Rifts, Nightbane and Heroes Unlimited. The incredibly unbalanced character generation meant wacky crazy things could happen and that nobody got terribly upset when one player (because it was always the poor guy with no M.D.C. or crazy super-powers) got picked by the GM to be "the Chosen One" or somehow or another supernaturally lucky. Once forced to stop pretending to be fair, I think it let some of my early GMs loosen up. Or you know, I was sixteen and my standards were lower.

piL fucked around with this message at May 4, 2013 around 18:31

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

InfiniteJesters posted:

The more I read about Rifts, the more I'm convinced it's what you'd get if you took all the drawings I did in middle school of mechs and space marine dudes blowing each other up, gave it more budget/proper artists, gave it a more complicated plot with about the same amount of sense, and gave it game mechanics with ludicrous power levels.

As I understand it, part of the "Palladium Method" is this:

1. Kevin finds a piece of art he likes by one of their artists.
2. Kevin attaches a concept and numbers to that piece of art.
3. BAM! New monster or robot or race.
4. Slot it in the next book he needs to fill page count on.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

I worked for Palladium as a staff writer for two years. It's weirder than you could ever imagine.

I can imagine quite a bit, as a wise man once said. What's the weirdest thing you can talk about?

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Well, one thing I can talk about is the general office atmosphere. I worked from home mostly since the office is about thirty miles away from my house (I'm in NE Detroit), but once a week I'd go in for various things and it was always weird. The office is dead quiet, all the doors are closed, most of the lights are kept off (to save electricity)... it's like a tomb in there. Also, Kevin has no personal boundaries, wants everyone to be BFFs, and will tell you the most intimate details of his personal life at a moment's notice. The man has no filter. It's a pretty strange, inappropriate, and toxic environment.

Winson_Paine
Oct 27, 2000

Wait, something is wrong.


CroatianAlzheimers posted:

I worked for Palladium as a staff writer for two years. It's weirder than you could ever imagine.

Deets, spill! My god man, spill.

Also I loved TMNT in high school, it was big fun rolling around as my ninja porcupine or my ex-Navy SEAL mutant housecat.

krebbed flam
Mar 10, 2013


I don't have anything to add but I wanted to say, Alien Rope Burn, you did an amazing job with the OP, and it was very well written and absolutely fascinating. Also, CroatianAlzheimers, please share any and all stories you have about working for Palladium because the world deserves to know!

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Eh, I'll talk about stuff in general, but I'm not real into airing dirty laundry like Bill Coffin. Somewhere I had an A/T thread about working for Palladium and as a game writer/designer in general, but I can't find it. Uh, what do you want to know?

BlackIronHeart
Aug 1, 2004

The Oath Breaker's about to hit warphead nine Kaptain!

How much liquor and tobacco will it cost us to get Wayne in this thread?

walruscat
Apr 27, 2013


This thread brought back a lot of nostalgia. My first game RPG ever was Gamma World, but my immediate follow up was Rifts. I went to a gaming store and they didn't have Gamma World for sale. I noticed that hard cover, black RIFTS book and started paging through it. Once I saw the Glitter Boy, I was hooked. I really loved the poo poo out of that game. I ended up buying pretty much every supplement book that came out for it for years before my gaming crew turned to Amber and various diceless games we made based on it's auction attribute concept.

I'd buy it again if they ever updated the game and cleaned up a lot of the crazy poo poo that's been thrown into it over the years. I would also really love to see a well done Apocalypse World conversion of RIFTS.

Colgrim
Jul 23, 2009


My first real role-playing experience was with "Beyond the Supernatural". We played that and TMNT for years then dived headfirst into "Rifts". I love Palladium games just for their sheer, clunky weirdness. Good times.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

Winson_Paine posted:

Also I loved TMNT in high school, it was big fun rolling around as my ninja porcupine or my ex-Navy SEAL mutant housecat.

Yeah, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness wasn't my first exposure to RPGs, but it was certainly the first one I purchased. I still have that copy, complete with the er- questionable- coloring I added to the Turtles.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Eh, I'll talk about stuff in general, but I'm not real into airing dirty laundry like Bill Coffin. Somewhere I had an A/T thread about working for Palladium and as a game writer/designer in general, but I can't find it. Uh, what do you want to know?

Yeah, I didn't have any luck finding it either.

Any idea what the editing process is like? Palladium Books seems to have a number of editors noted on most books, but that doesn't seem to do much for the rough quality of some material. I'm curious as to what sort of things get redlined.

krebbed flam posted:

I don't have anything to add but I wanted to say, Alien Rope Burn, you did an amazing job with the OP, and it was very well written and absolutely fascinating.

You're welcome! I found a lot more interesting elements than I thought I would when I started. There's still a lot more I know I missed out on, and folks that unfortunately didn't get their due. I might add to it later on if folks have other things to add, or if there's call for it in general.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


BlackIronHeart posted:

How much liquor and tobacco will it cost us to get Wayne in this thread?

All of it.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, I didn't have any luck finding it either.
It was originally called, "Ask me about playing the piano in a whorehouse", as in, Don't tell my folks I write RPGs for a living, they think I'm a piano player in a whorehouse. I think it got changed to something boring like "Ask me about being a freelance game designer" or something. I don't even know if it was in A/T or in the Trad Games forum.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Any idea what the editing process is like? Palladium Books seems to have a number of editors noted on most books, but that doesn't seem to do much for the rough quality of some material. I'm curious as to what sort of things get redlined.

Yeah, the "editing" is a joke. If Kevin writes it, Alex and Julius (both of whom are incredible sperglords and total yes-men) "edit" it, all the while telling Kevin that it's awesome and the best thing they've ever read. If someone else writes it, then Kevin re-writes it, gives it to Alex and Julius who then "edit" the manuscript, all the while telling Kevin that it's awesome and the best thing they've ever read and only he could have fixed the obviously deeply flawed original manuscript.

This is, as you can imagine, a total joke. I one time went through a manuscript after Alex and caught a ton of super basic spelling and grammar mistakes, not to mention a couple of structural problems with the manuscript. This is after it'd gone through two sets of eyes and about a month on various desks. I brought this up to Himself and his answer was, Well, you have to remember, he's not a professional editor... He's been an Editor for twenty goddamned years! For money! That's the loving definition of a professional!

Anyway, there's also zero editorial guidance. There's no styleguide (just read any of our books and do it that way!), Everything seemed, to me at least, to be a guessing game as to what Kevin wanted, and the sum total of his editorial direction usually amounts to little more than, That's a great idea! Just write it!. Kevin doesn't believe that writers can edit/re-write their own work, nor can they follow directions. He told me that to my face. I didn't get a single re-write or piece of editorial direction until after I got laid off and started working for Fantasy Flight in '09.

(sorry if this is a little ranty/rambling, I spent all day in the sun doing yard work)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

How did you get hired, if you don't mind me asking? Palladium Books seems pretty insular, though The Rifter seems to have given them a gateway for new authors to get a toe in the door.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Alien Rope Burn posted:

How did you get hired, if you don't mind me asking? Palladium Books seems pretty insular, though The Rifter seems to have given them a gateway for new authors to get a toe in the door.

I don't mind at all. The Rifter is exactly how I got hired. Back in '99, my wife and I were living in St. Louis. While I was there, I took classes in English and photography at SLCC Forest Park. I had a creative writing class where the final was simply to write a short story and submit it somewhere for publication. I wrote a super short story based on a Perez illustration from Rifts: Lone Star, sent it in, and forgot about it. To my surprise, it got published in Rifter 8, the Halloween issue that year. Over the following years I submitted things to the Rifter here and there, some that got in, some that ended up in the huge black hole of Wayne's desk.

Fast forward to 2007. I'd been working as an advertising photographer here in Detroit, the bottom had fallen completely out of the industry, and I was competing for journeyman 150.00 portrait jobs against dudes who invented lighting and shooting techniques that I learned in my apprenticeship. My personal photo business was on the skids, and I was looking for something else to do. I'd been volunteering for Palladium for a couple years at that point, helping out at conventions and doing poo poo around the office since it was pretty close to me. I was also hanging around the office trying to get some Beyond the Supernatural sourcebooks off the ground, when over lunch one day I was bitching about my lack of shooting work and Kevin was bitching about not having any help with writing (I would eventually discover that this was a theme with him. Constantly aggrieved, professional martyr, etc etc...), and he offered to hire me part time as a writer. I got my own office, and I started work on the new Robotech RPG which was, I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind and needed finished yesterday, as it were.

So I wrote half of the Shadow Chronicles core rulebook and did some other things, including giving myself a job as "freelance liaison" which I never really got to do fully since Kevin's a crazy micro-manager. In June of 2008 I worked my last studio job and went full time at Palladium, where I became the de-facto "line editor/Creative Director" for the new Robotech RPG. (I gave those titles to myself, mind you. I busted my rear end on Robotech, brought the sexy back, and dealt directly with Harmony Gold). I had my ups and downs, had a little meltdown while working on the Southern Cross sourcebook, and became more and more convinced that I was in a dead end position. Like I said earlier, it was a pretty toxic working environment, there was no real guidance, and, whether or not it was fair or true, I was terrified that one day I'd show up and the whole place would be locked up and out of business.

I got laid-off in September of '09, with my first daughter on the way. The story of me getting laid of and then mentioning it on Facebook was a huge drama bomb, as you might imagine, and I threw myself into drinking a lot of bourbon and working on my motorcycles while I collected unemployment and looked for jobs. I started the serious job searching in October, and got picked up by FFG for the first Rogue Trader sourcebook based on the strength of my Robotech work. The rest is history.

Lately I've been digging myself out of a hole I made when I totally overcommitted last year, ended up with something like 250,000 words to write in three months, and then missed some deadlines. Combined with a new baby, work, my band, and other poo poo I don't get a lot of sleep these days.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Lately I've been digging myself out of a hole I made when I totally overcommitted last year, ended up with something like 250,000 words to write in three months, and then missed some deadlines. Combined with a new baby, work, my band, and other poo poo I don't get a lot of sleep these days.

Yikes. Hopefully it'll all start coming together sooner or later. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

But to get more specific, how did the layout on Robotech: Shadow Chronicles end up as... eccentric as it was? (For those less familiar, it starts out with stats and backstory for the antagonists, and then does PC creation without bothering to explain what a character's stats represent, amongst other oddities.)

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007

But it soon became quite clear that while losers flourished everywhere, winners were a rare and reticent breed with preferences for camouflage and anonymity.

Whatever else you can say, thank you for your work on the Robotech re-release.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yikes. Hopefully it'll all start coming together sooner or later. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

But to get more specific, how did the layout on Robotech: Shadow Chronicles end up as... eccentric as it was? (For those less familiar, it starts out with stats and backstory for the antagonists, and then does PC creation without bothering to explain what a character's stats represent, amongst other oddities.)

Oh yeah. I'm slowly correcting things now. It was one of those things where I was dead all summer, no work from March until around August, then after Gen-Con all these offers started pouring in and with a toddler and a baby on the way I went into full freakout TAKE ALL THE WORK mode, got all the work, then freaked out again when I saw how much work it was. Due to all that I actually got busted down a pay grade by one of my editors. I totally had it coming though, and I thank heavens that he didn't straight up fire me. I didn't choose the freelance life, the freelance life chose me...

As for R:tSC's layout, I couldn't tell you. My job started and stopped at . Layout was all Kevin on that one. Speaking of that book, the manga size version was the very last book PB did that was laid out by hand without use of computers. The first book PB digitally laid out was the special edition hardback of Shadow Chronicles.

Midjack posted:

Whatever else you can say, thank you for your work on the Robotech re-release.

You are very welcome. I'm still, after all these years, sinfully proud of my work on Robotech. There I was, writing primary continuity for an IP that had a huge impact on my stupid, small-town central Ohio childhood. My first published books with my name on them, my first projects where I carried a lot of the responsibility and guided a lot of the creative decisions (along with HG, who honestly, were pretty good to work with). There were some decisions, specifically on Southern Cross, that I didn't agree with but that's the bidness. Man, I had so many plans for that game line. I have to admit, I'm still a little bitter, and you'll notice that since I got laid off in September of 2009 pretty much fuckall other than the abysmal New Generation sourcebook has come out.


PS: I found my old thread - http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...40&pagenumber=1 (needs archives)

CroatianAlzheimers fucked around with this message at May 5, 2013 around 20:43

DOCTOR ZIMBARDO
May 8, 2006

I'M JUST ASKING QUESTIONS


I spent a lot of time playing Rifts and Systems Failure in high school and my first year of college, also posted an embarrassingly lot on the company message boards around ten years ago. There was a ton of really weird cool game ideas though, like Phase World. The implementation was always a little wacky. I will always remember the drug addiction and insanity rules that were printed in almost every book.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

As for R:tSC's layout, I couldn't tell you. My job started and stopped at . Layout was all Kevin on that one. Speaking of that book, the manga size version was the very last book PB did that was laid out by hand without use of computers. The first book PB digitally laid out was the special edition hardback of Shadow Chronicles.

That would explain a lot, expecially if he laid some of it out already and then your writing had to get stuffed in and... well. Well.

Thanks a lot for speaking frankly on this, it's been really cool. It definitely sounds like Robotech would have remained in limbo for awhile if it wasn't for you. It'll be interesting to see where the Robotech minis game goes, though it seems deeply Palladium in that it's effectively a license of a license of a license. Weird stuff.

What was working with Harmony Gold like? What sort of questions and issues did you have to take to them?

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


DOCTOR ZIMBARDO posted:

Also posted an embarrassingly lot on the company message boards around ten years ago.

What was your handle? Mine was Gideon (I think we had this conversation already).

Alien Rope Burn posted:

That would explain a lot, expecially if he laid some of it out already and then your writing had to get stuffed in and... well. Well.

Thanks a lot for speaking frankly on this, it's been really cool. It definitely sounds like Robotech would have remained in limbo for awhile if it wasn't for you. It'll be interesting to see where the Robotech minis game goes, though it seems deeply Palladium in that it's effectively a license of a license of a license. Weird stuff.

What was working with Harmony Gold like? What sort of questions and issues did you have to take to them?

Overall I liked working with HG. They made some changes I couldn't stand (For example, changing the name of the EWAR Valkyrie from the VE-1E Loki (my idea) to the VEFR-1 "Funny Chinese" (original Macross name) because a bunch of loving racist Japanese guys called it that thirty years ago ) but overall I had a pretty long creative leash and got to really put my stamp on the game and the IP. To the point where I got hate mail from nerds claiming all kinds of poo poo like I raped their childhood for doing poo poo like making Max Sterling's glasses non-perscription. Nerd tears are delicious, and they keep me hale and virile.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

To the point where I got hate mail from nerds claiming all kinds of poo poo like I raped their childhood for doing poo poo like making Max Sterling's glasses non-perscription. Nerd tears are delicious, and they keep me hale and virile.

Yeah, it makes me think of some of the interviews I've read from folks that have worked on recent Transformers projects where they get all sorts of threats and hate mail. Honestly, it's very weird because Robotech is a similar property in that it's so far removed from the original creators that everything being produced is being done by professional fans of the original work. You'd think there'd be less of a bucket o' crabs attitude.

Shadow Chronicles had a different approach to character creation than most Palladium games, where players got to potentially adjust their opening stat rolls and had a little more of a directed approach. Do you know anything of how that came about?

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, it makes me think of some of the interviews I've read from folks that have worked on recent Transformers projects where they get all sorts of threats and hate mail. Honestly, it's very weird because Robotech is a similar property in that it's so far removed from the original creators that everything being produced is being done by professional fans of the original work. You'd think there'd be less of a bucket o' crabs attitude.

Nerds get intensely emotionally invested in not just their favorite IP, but their own personal interpretation of said IP. Anything that goes against what they believe the story is about is anathema, and anyone espousing these heretical ideas isn't just insulting the IP, they're insulting them personally. One of my close friends and colleagues, in fact the guy who hired me at FFG based on my Robotech work, is a huge Robotech fan and he told me that he was really, really disappointed that I changed the story with Sterling's glasses because, I wore glasses as a kid, and Max was the most awesomest pilot in the UN SPACY and he wore glasses, and I felt like I could relate to him. Now I don't feel it anymore.

I'm no less guilty of this kind of bullshit, difference is I get paid for my opinion about giant robot stories. I approached Macross as a carrier drama, Top Gun in space with lasers. I also honestly hewed closer to the original Macross source material in many aspects. I wanted to make the Zentraedi compelling, and the reasons behind Project Valkyrie and Project Excalibur make sense in a military/defense way. I tried to inject a bit of hard science and real life military into it as well (I watched the PBS documentary "Carrier" as part of my Macross research, dog-eared two different copies of "The Bluejacket's Manual", and had two US Navy carrier vets and an honest to god rocket surgeon as my tech advisors because I'm a pedantic, detail-oriented mouthbreather). I've been accused of stripping the fun/soul out of the IP by doing that, and don't even get me started on the poo poo I've caught for ditching protoculture and having the Valkyries and Destroids burn Stabilized Liquid Metallic Hydrogen.

For Southern Cross, part of my desperately wanting to bring the sexy back to that IP was making it into an army, Band of Brothers kind of drama. I mostly succeeded, but got stymied by some editorial decisions above my pay grade.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Shadow Chronicles had a different approach to character creation than most Palladium games, where players got to potentially adjust their opening stat rolls and had a little more of a directed approach. Do you know anything of how that came about?

No idea, honestly. That stuff was already like that when I started. I think a lot of it came out of Ultimate Rifts, and some of it was Kevin's idea of "simplifying" things.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


AlienRopeBurn posted:

The Rifter (1998): Not a game per se, but a house magazine that continues to be published semi-regularly to this day, as well as being a "clearing house" for new writers and artists, and really has helped the company in that it's provided a means to vet and hire new freelance talent. One of the very few single-system magazines still being published in 2013.

If you don't mind, I'd like to take issue with this. The Rifter is the only thing that Palladium has successfully and regularly produced on time and as promised. It comes out quarterly. I don't believe it's ever missed a publication date, thanks to Wayne Smith's tireless work on it. Honestly, if Wayne disappeared tomorrow Palladium Books would be out of business by Wednesday.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

If you don't mind, I'd like to take issue with this. The Rifter is the only thing that Palladium has successfully and regularly produced on time and as promised. It comes out quarterly. I don't believe it's ever missed a publication date, thanks to Wayne Smith's tireless work on it. Honestly, if Wayne disappeared tomorrow Palladium Books would be out of business by Wednesday.

No, no, you're right and I wrote dumb stuff. For some reason I had the current issue # wayyy off in my head, never double-checked it, and assumed that it had minor delays here and there at some point. But its totally been on time, as I look. I'll get it fixed soon.

Given how vital The Rifter and the writers it's brought in to Palladium's publishing are, you're absolutely right. Even with my mistaken perspective and just looking from the outside, it's pretty clear Wayne's been an amazing boon to the company, and I'd bet they owe their survival over the past decade-and-a-half entirely to his hard work.

Blisster
Mar 10, 2010

What you are listening to are musicians performing psychedelic music under the influence of a mind altering chemical called...

Oh man, Rifts.

My friends and I picked up a whole load of Rifts books for super cheap at a convention auction. We pretty much ignored most of the rules, to be honest, and ran things loosely like a D20 game. Even so the balance was pretty terrible. One of the characters started off the game with supernatural strength and complete immunity to magic. But we had a lot of fun with it. Our GM never planned anything and, as a music student, was usually stupidly tired anytime we ran a game, so nothing ever made sense. It was pretty much perfect for Rifts. The plot ended up involving pocket-dimensions, time-travel, immortal vampire lords formed from the body parts of another immortal vampire lords (one, "the Toe" was friendly), and a world destroying baby.

Same guy also ran a Rifts Western campaign (cyber cowboys basically), that was supposed to be more grounded but quickly descended into total madness. We played a bit of Nightbane too. This one he actually planned out and is one of my favourite games I've been in. The setting has a lot of potential and you can make some pretty weird and fun characters. My shark/man/gangster could turn into a living shadow with a chesire cat style grin and plant his teeth as magical recording devices and another guy was a living doll with insane superstrength who used manhole covers as shields.

Basically Palladium is totally awesome as long as you completely ignore the rules and don't take things too seriously. I always meant to run an After the Bomb campaign but never got around to it. And stories about Siembeda never get old.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Blisster posted:

Basically Palladium is totally awesome as long as you completely ignore the rules and don't take things too seriously.
Honestly, that was always the most confusing thing about Rifts. I like it because its incredibly goofy in a fun sort of way but I can't exactly figure out whether or not its supposed to be serious. Also, does anyone have any ideas on what to play for a new Rifts character? My last character died* due to horribly bad luck and I want to see what suggestions anyone has. I'm not looking for anything broken but something that will be fun. The Splurrghh blob monster actually seems kind of fun.
*Technically didn't die according to the rules but still I want to try something new.

quote:

As I understand it, part of the "Palladium Method" is this:

1. Kevin finds a piece of art he likes by one of their artists.
2. Kevin attaches a concept and numbers to that piece of art.
3. BAM! New monster or robot or race.
4. Slot it in the next book he needs to fill page count on.
I think in D-Bees of North America there is a race that actually says "inspired by the art of" so yes they are pretty open about it. Hell I think the most hilarious class design is actually the one inspired by the Nokia N-Gage.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


I've got three d-bees in that book. That whole thing was one of the rare collaborative efforts between freelancers. Kevin discouraged us from collaborating.

Plague of Hats
Jun 23, 2012

I care way too much about dumb shit and will occasionally say dumb shit about that dumb shit.

My friend used to be a huge Palladium fan, and he went in for that Heroes of the Megaverse or whatever book, where you basically just donated to Kevin and he put your name in a book that had a picture at the front and then just a bunch of names. When he got the book it turned out they spelled his name wrong.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Kevin discouraged us from collaborating.

Uh. Was there some reasoning given or anything? That's a fascinatingly bad thing to do to your own products. I'm intensely curious.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Plague of Hats posted:

Uh. Was there some reasoning given or anything? That's a fascinatingly bad thing to do to your own products. I'm intensely curious.

Because someone might either actually steal or be accused of stealing some else's idea and there would be lawsuits. Seriously. I was part of a non-sanctioned freelancer incubator way back at the beginning of the 2000s called the Think-Tank. It was me, Jason Richards, Todd Yoho, Carl Gleba, and a bunch of other guys you've probably heard of. We did peer review, helped eachother out, had sounding board forums, it was really cool and a lot of the books that came out in the mid-to-late 00s came directly from that project. Kevin shut us down because he didn't want us collaborating for the above reasons.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Plague of Hats posted:

My friend used to be a huge Palladium fan, and he went in for that Heroes of the Megaverse or whatever book, where you basically just donated to Kevin and he put your name in a book that had a picture at the front and then just a bunch of names. When he got the book it turned out they spelled his name wrong.
Unless we have an unknown mutual acquaintance then it happened to my friend too.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007

shark make words

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Because someone might either actually steal or be accused of stealing some else's idea and there would be lawsuits. Seriously. I was part of a non-sanctioned freelancer incubator way back at the beginning of the 2000s called the Think-Tank. It was me, Jason Richards, Todd Yoho, Carl Gleba, and a bunch of other guys you've probably heard of. We did peer review, helped eachother out, had sounding board forums, it was really cool and a lot of the books that came out in the mid-to-late 00s came directly from that project. Kevin shut us down because he didn't want us collaborating for the above reasons.

This is crazypants, but then, Palladium's obsession with 'non-registered trademarks' and other ideas about IP have always been pretty nuts. The first RPG I ever bought with my own money was Shadowrun, but Rifts came along and very quickly became my favorite--for one thing, even if the rules were insane, I could understand them. That was not as much the case with SR 1st. It was also very much like mashing your robot toys against your plastic dinosaurs in RPG form, and I was just at the age where I was supposed to transition to big girl toys.

I still love Rifts more than it deserves, which is why I occasionally contribute to F&F writeups about it. ARB has dug up a lot of good material with this thread, but sometimes the books just speak to themselves--like the layout of Shadows Crossing sounds...very much like how England, a book I am working on right now, is laid out--from twenty years earlier.

Though the Robotech book probably has better writing and fewer druids. Please, lord, fewer druids.

Friends and I have run 'Rifts-like' games on our own doing forbidden rules conversions, but like everyone else we didn't post them on the internet because we didn't want mean letters over our elfgames.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


occamsnailfile posted:

Though the Robotech book probably has better writing and fewer druids. Please, lord, fewer druids.

Much better writing and no Druids. I promise. As for rule conversions, since I got let go I've converted all of my old convention games over to Savage Worlds. So, if you're coming to Gen-Con, you can play some Savage Robotech with me .

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

OP has been updated! Added summaries for a number of Palladium's former writers and staffers in a new section, corrected The Rifter summary, and added a new staffer. If there's anybody folks think need to be added or any mistakes, let me know, I know there are a lot of writers and artists I've overlooked for whatever reason (mostly my own sanity), and some people I can't find anything more than the most basic information on.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Because someone might either actually steal or be accused of stealing some else's idea and there would be lawsuits. Seriously.

The whole IP paranoia is weird. This is a company that was built initially on the Weapons, Armor, and Castles series of books, which were basically reproductions of existing historical material converted to Dungeons & Dragons. Granted, yes, they're supposedly for "any system" but it's not really written for anything but D&D and its close relatives; they were basically the d20 supplements of their day. The Palladium RPG doesn't fall far from the D&D tree, either.

Maybe he was terrified of getting Arduin'd and it just never went away.

occamsnailfile posted:

Though the Robotech book probably has better writing and fewer druids. Please, lord, fewer druids.

It is also thankfully free of Pygmy R.C.C.s and Gypsy O.C.C.s.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Much better writing and no Druids. I promise. As for rule conversions, since I got let go I've converted all of my old convention games over to Savage Worlds. So, if you're coming to Gen-Con, you can play some Savage Robotech with me .

The plan is for me to come to GenCon, so I might do just that!

On a totally different note...

Does anybody have a copy of the "Original Combat d20" ad Palladium put in Dragon Magazine? I've been wanting to see it again, but it's not in my issues, and I don't know what Dragon issue # has it to look it up otherwise through Paizo's archives.

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


Would you mind putting a link to my blog in my listing?

Amalgamated Fiction - Detroit

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

Would you mind putting a link to my blog in my listing?

Not at all, done in one!

CroatianAlzheimers
Jun 15, 2009

I can't remember why I'm mad at you...


By the way, ClockworkJoe suggested I mention this in here. Two of my colleagues and I are running some freelancing/game design seminars at GenCon this year. The other two dudes are John Dunn and Ross Watson, both FFG alumni and all around pros. Here's the details:

Professionalism in gaming: SEM1341269
Start Date
2013/08/15 11:00 AM
End Date
2013/08/15 12:00 PM
Location
Crowne Plaza
Room Name
Pennsylvania Stn A

Working with a Licensed Product SEM1341270
Start Date
2013/08/16 09:00 AM
End Date
2013/08/16 10:00 AM
Location
Crowne Plaza
Room Name
Grand Central Ballroom D

How to RPG Freelance! SEM1341271
Start Date
2013/08/16 02:00 PM
End Date
2013/08/16 03:00 PM
Location
Crowne Plaza
Room Name
Pennsylvania Stn B

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

The ensmuggenest.

CroatianAlzheimers posted:

By the way, ClockworkJoe suggested I mention this in here. Two of my colleagues and I are running some freelancing/game design seminars at GenCon this year. The other two dudes are John Dunn and Ross Watson, both FFG alumni and all around pros. Here's the details:

You may want to highlight this in the Gencon Thread, too.

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