Palladium, the Time is Now.

Normally I don’t make more than a couple of blog posts a week, and rarely one right after the other on the same day. This is just one of those times where I had something I felt was important to say.

Yesterday, Palladium Books posted their weekly update. In this update, the company president Kevin Siembieda described how he had been doing some market research, and the conclusions he reached from this research is that 90% of his fanbase want nothing to change with Palladium Books.

According to Siembieda:

It also made something else very, very clear: a) That many of Palladium’s relentless critics are, not customers (i.e. they do not buy or play our games in the first place); b) some are outsiders who have never actually played our games and point out what they think they see as weaknesses and problems (i.e. comments like, “the game system is broken”); c) some have different tastes and prefer other styles of role-playing rules (resulting in comments like, “the world settings are great, but the rules suck,” or “I wish Palladium would change their rules to be more like Game X”); and d) some are dissatisfied with our product, me or the company. That’s okay.”

If I’m reading this right, Kevin Siembieda is basically saying “if you criticise Palladium books, you are neither a customer nor a fan.”

Mr. Siembieda, with all due respect, you are wrong.

Wrong in a very meaningful and significant way. I have no idea where the numbers you’re getting on your post come from, but I can tell you that I personally have met hundreds of Palladium fans that want things to change. I personally have listened to dozens of gamers describe their love for Palladium’s IPs (particularly Rifts and Robotech), but bemoan the fact that the system for these games is ancient, outmoded, and is in desperate need of an overhaul.

I’ve blogged about this fact myself.

It’s time for a wake up call!

Honestly, I can’t think of any other way to actually get the message across other than by taking a page out of Palladium’s own playbook and making a sincere appeal to the gaming community.

If you consider yourself a Palladium Books fan (current, or lapsed) or a Palladium Books customer (having bought books from them or planning to buy books from them), then please, for the love of the Elder Gods COMMENT ON THIS POST so we can let Kevin know how we feel.

I personally consider myself both a fan and a customer of Palladium Books… and although I certainly have my own issues with the company’s history and practices, I definitely respect their legacy and I definitely want my voice to be heard.

At the end of the day, this is meant to be constructive–a way to point out that Palladium’s recent post is simply in error.

Ramien Meltides says “C’mon guys. Let’s do this. The Megaverse needs us!”

Understanding your fanbase is a basic foundation of any publisher in the gaming industry. This is an issue that MATTERS. I’m asking you, gentle reader, to make your mark. I’m challenging you to step up alongside me and make a statement. Add a comment, as short or as long as you want. I’m listening… and I can only hope that our combined voice will reach Kevin’s ears as well.

16 responses to “Palladium, the Time is Now.

  1. I played Rifts, Robotech, TMNT, Ninjas and Superspies, and Heroes Unlimited. I’d still be playing all of those if the rules weren’t so antiquated and clunky. I have literally thousands of dollars of books and I would gleefully pour more lucre into Palladium’s coffers if it were using something similar to Savage Worlds or M&M3 as a general rules set. A system that allowed me to have a Glitterboy mow through legions of oncoming troops while the Juicer dances around the battlefield killing minions like a scythe through wheat would hit every gleeful happy button I have.

  2. Can’t find the comments link. Is it at the bottom, or did he turn ’em off?

  3. I’m not sure I qualify to comment, not being a fan or customer of Palladium’s products.

    I’ll only state that Mr. Siembieda’s comment sounds more backward than incorrect. I don’t criticize the system because I’m not a fan; I’m not a fan or customer because there is so much of the system that is, IMO, clunky and outmoded.

  4. Once upon a time, I was a fan of their products. I really dug TMNT and Robotech. We moved away from it in the ’90s, because the system was so unwieldy. Less than a year ago, out of nostalgia, I tried to give After the Bomb another shot. I don’t think I made it half way through reading the rules before I was reminded why I’d moved away from their system.
    I’ve bought at least one Palladium PDF through DriveThruRPG in the past year. However, I absolutely will not attempt to play their products using their system. It cannot be made to fit my play style. If the company wants my business on a more regular basis, they need to consistently update their publication standards and game system to be consistent with market trends.
    As it stands, I absolutely wouldn’t fall under Mr. Siembieda’s criteria as a customer, because I don’t agree with the company’s basic game design philosophies.

  5. As a huge fan of RIFTS, the last item I purchased from them was the updated rule book… which contained huge glaring errors (in editing and content, page 46 I’m looking at you) and absolutely no attempt to update the system.

    Here’s the problem with their survey:
    “Surveying a few hundred Palladium customers revealed several important things”

    This is a prime example of Acquiescence Bias.

    They did not take a general survey of GenCon attendees, for example.

    Because of the Bias of the Survey, it’s completely useless to support any kind of argument about the success and health of Palladium Books. You want *new* customers – those are the people you should be surveying.

  6. I have bought many, many Palladium books over the years, and have a particular fondness for the lovely, old-school Palladium FRPG. Back in the old days most of the reviews of Rifts books on RPGNet were from me.

    Kevin’s resistance to bringing a good copy editor or layout person have since soured me on their product. The rules need some changes very badly; I don’t suggest they need a complete overhaul (many would) but a radical tightening would be enormously beneficial.

  7. The third role-playing game I ever bought was TMNT (after AD&D and Champions), back in 1985, so I go way back with Palladium. The last Palladium book I bought was Rifts, in 1991. Even back then, the system was showing its age.

    I’ve played many fantasy games set in the PFRPG world, but never using the Palladium system. Like many have said before me, it’s got amazing settings, but the system is junk.

    And I’d like to second ardwulfslair — Palladium really needs a good copy editor, a line developer, and an AD/layout professional.

  8. I had Rifts and Robotech. I had the Palladiun FRPG. I have the Compendium of Weapons, Armor & Castles. I have the three Mechanoid books and the Mechanoids softcover (bought used). Of them the only one I find fun and/or useful is the Compendium because it can be used with any system. The Mechanoids books I kept because that version of the system isn’t nearly as clunky as the current version.

    As it currently stands, Palladium product, other than the Compendium, sees no play time in my house because I want a system that is easy to play yet is flexible enough to handle most situations without breaking. For fantasy and science fiction I have that, and it’s not Palladium.

    Issues with entering the 21st Century publishing world aside, the biggest problem with the company is the system. Outdated systems like Classic Traveller can still sell, especially if the rules are simple yet flexible. Modern systems such as Castles & Crusades can also sell well, especially if they are backwards compatible with older games. The reason both sell well is that the games are simple, flexible, and compatible. The Palladium system is none of those.

    Unfortunately the Palladium system won’t change, because the creator believes there is nothing wrong with it. If he was serious about changing it, he would do more than some slipshod “market research” and actually LISTEN to the people who play his games.

  9. Previous long-winded comment was by me.

  10. I was a huge fan of the Rifts game. I forgave it its troublesome system primarily due to the evocative nature of the setting and its epic scale.

    Without fail, whenever I bring up my fondness for the setting — before I can even mention it myself — people talk about how it’s hamstrung by its ruleset.

    Now, even with the fondness for old school systems, the Rifts system of character creation and combat is needlessly complex, and confusingly contradictory. I’ve played a lot of simulationist-philosophy games from the uber-complex to the rules light, and in my opinion the Palladium system is serviceable, but is by no means great and can certainly benefit from any number of improvements in the modern rule set philosophies or a return to the rulings-not-rules philosophy of the earlier rule sets.

  11. I liked playing and GMing Rifts. It was fun despite the bad system. It would be a better game if it had a better system.

  12. And it’s not like the system needs a complete overhaul to change it into HERO or D&D. I <3 Mega Damage (even though it’s silly). What I don’t love, is the Skill System. I’ve made a long constructive post about it here, which presents a simple, transferrable, and uses no math during character creation.

    That’s what us ex-fans of RIFTS are talking about. We don’t want to be ex-fans! We don’t want a point-buy system, or encounter powers, or bennies or custom dice or booster packs of cards or who knows what else. We want something that is simple when it needs to be, and complex when it should be. Something that allows us to easily mix Class/Race (so we can play Dog-Boy Cyberknights). Reduce the amount of math in play and during character creation. Tighten up the combat so it’s either more narrative or more tactical, not a mish-mash of both.

    We’re not asking you to re-create the universe or change things so they’re completely incompatible or unrecognizable. We just want something playable without a headache.

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  14. I think I’m a little different than most gamers who have been playing as long as I have. Those who started in the mid-90’s and earlier often started off with D&D with the occasional GURPS and Shadowrun thrown in. Me? I started off with the Palladium system, specifically RIFTS. In comparison to the 2nd Edition D&D rules, they actually made a lot of sense to me (while I understood the concept and mechanic behind THAC0, I never could wrap my head around *why* it was done this way). In all reality, while my peers would talk about how awesome D&D was, I could only just shake my head and explain why the 2nd edition system was, well, nonsensical in my eyes…and would then proceed to explain why RIFTS was better.

    When it comes buying my books, I am very frugal to the point of sometimes questioning my own status of a gamer in that no matter how cool a game system is or looks, I won’t buy it unless I know I will get some use out if it. And by use, I mean I will play the game more than one or two times. For the game systems that I do buy books for, anything outside of the core rulebook(s) tend to focus strictly on my preferred classes or style of play (I won’t pick up a book about rogues and assassins because I don’t play those classes for example).

    I bring all of this up because for a very long time RIFTS was the exception to this rule. For a very long time I would pick up the latest releases that came out because I just loved the setting that much and there was always this niggling hope gnawing at the back of my mind that always said “someday I will use this, I will play RIFTS again and I just can’t wait!” Yet part of me knew it was never going to happen, yet I still held out hope.

    I don’t remember when I stopped looking for the latest releases of RIFTS or when I made RIFTS part of the rule of my frugal gaming ways when I held it as the exception for so long. I know that it was simply because I realized that the game had not changed one bit since it was released. I remember looking at some of Palladium’s latest books (the rework of the main book, newest Robotech books, etc.) and noticing that fundamentally *nothing* changed. Yeah, there was some new content and clarification of the rules but those rules had not changed at all. Palladium told me that they were more than willing push out new content but they were unwilling to evolve and change with the times.

    I remember when I was informed about Palladium’s plight a number of years ago in that I felt bad for the company. I really and truly did… but I simply could not bring myself to open my wallet to help. Thinking back on it, I think it has a lot to do with the feeling that due to how the Palladium system had stagnated over the years that they had to earn my money and, well, they had done nothing to do that.
    Am I ashamed of this fact?

    No…but I am greatly saddened. Saddened because it really wouldn’t take much to win me back and that this solution has been presented by far more experienced and eloquent guys than me and it has been ignored in a most spectacular fashion.

    I have been a Palladium fan for a very long time and I am more saddened at their unwillingness to change and improve things and it is and has been with great sadness that I have left them behind and it’s not like I didn’t want them to come with me. I did and I still do! But if they are unwilling to move, then I am unwilling to wait.

  15. Well, I say if you don’t like their game mechanics, play a different game. Who cares if they “fix” their game? I don’t play Dungeons & Dragons becaue I think it sucks compared to many other available games. I don’t ask them to fix D&D for me.

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