Kevin Siembieda is one of the most respected and better known games company CEOs and he has poured everything he has into making PALLADIUM BOOKS' games renown throughout the role-playing world. Think of Palladium and you think of 'RIFTS' the post-apocalypse invasion of Earth by alien races from planets and asteroids etc never before heard of. RIFTS hit the streets in 1990 as role-playing was undergoing a brief hiccup after nearly 15 years at the top. Something new was needed, not just games based on movies and books but something entirely new and definitively different and that's where RIFTS came in.
At first all but a few could get their heads around the concept. How did a GM explain to their players what was happening? It was easy to tell a party of fantasy adventurers, Elves, Dwarves, Warriors etc, that they had found a hole in the ground that led to an underworld complex inhabited by weird, wonderful and very dangerous creatures who hoarded treasure and magic, not a problem at all. But to explain to the players that they are human and hordes of alien monsters are coming through holes in the fabric of time and space? That concept was, well basically alien to them and it took many players a long time to understand what was happening around their characters. One of the problems was Palladiums insistence on the use of initialisation. D&D and other RPGs mainly used abbreviations: Dex = Dexterity, Con = Constitution, PC = Player Character etc. Palladium confused almost everyone with their seemingly countless initials: IQ = Intelligence Quotien, MA = Mental Affinity, ME = Mental Endurance (Wil/Willpower in D&D) then there are SDC, MDC, PPE, ISP, FP, PTP, OCC, PCC, RCC and so on, it became hard to remember what stood for what, only HP (Hit Points) carrying over from the older generation of RPGs (oh, yes RPG also carried over, of course).
Despite the difficulty many had in understanding it, PALLADIUM continued to expand the game and the world as it was ever-changing, moving away from just the USA to Europe, Japan and into the dark world of Vampires and more. The game system remained the same as new game lines from Palladium Books appeared on the shelves of game stores. (Note: I was going to list these game lines but wikipedia beat me to it so I have copied their list (thanks Wiki)
- After the Bomb, a post-apocalyptic RPG that began as an alternative campaign setting for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, but soon developed into its own series. In it, mutant animals struggle for survival, often against human supremacist nations.
- Beyond the Supernatural, a modern horror RPG along the lines of Call of Cthulhu. An incomplete second edition core rulebook was released in January 2005, with more information about the world, which is assumed to be similar to the real world, but with supernatural happenings which no one notices.
- Rifts Chaos Earth, a prequel to Rifts, set immediately after a war that triggers a magical apocalypse, opening dimensional gates that unleash monsters upon a technologically advanced future Earth.
- Dead Reign, a post-apocalyptic RPG where mankind is waging war on a zombie menace.
- Heroes Unlimited, a superhero RPG.
- Macross II, based on the anime of the same name. The license has lapsed and was not renewed.
- The Mechanoid Invasion, a science fiction RPG set during the battle between human colonists and the Mechanoids, a race of psionic, cybernetic beings who wish to exterminate humanoid life.
- Nightbane (formerly called Nightspawn), is a horror RPG set in the year 2004 (a near-future setting when the game was released). It differs from Beyond the Supernatural in that the supernatural elements are not as hidden and more open. The series is placed after "Dark Day", an event where the earth was plunged into an unnatural, starless night for 24 hours, and supernatural entities infiltrated or subverted various governments and organizations across the globe.
- Ninjas & Superspies is based on both martial-arts and espionage movies with some science fiction elements mixed in.
- Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game is a fantasy RPG set in a unique world, which was the home of Kevin Siembieda's fantasy games.
- Phase World / Three Galaxies setting, a space opera science fiction offshoot of the RIFTS universe.
- Revised RECON, originally a Vietnam War-based RPG, it was later updated for modern-era combat involving mercenaries in fictional hotspots mirroring such places as Africa and South America.
- Rifts is set primarily on Earth, three hundred years after a war-triggered magical apocalypse, opening dimensional gateways and heralding the return of magic, Atlantis, and numerous invasions by alien forces. Rifts is Palladium's flagship line.
- Robotech, based on the anime series of the same name. The original Robotech license began in 1986 and lapsed in 2001. In 2007 Palladium reacquired the license and published The Shadow Chronicles in 2008. On May 20, 2013, Palladium Books raised $1,442,312 from a Kickstarter campaign to develop a new miniature wargaming system called Robotech RPG Tactics. The license for all Robotech merchandise ended in March 2018.
- Splicers is a post-apocalyptic RPG where humans have turned to organic technology to fight a robotic threat.
- Systems Failure is a post-apocalyptic game in which the Y2K bug heralded the collapse of the power and telecommunications grids with the arrival of extra dimensional energy "bugs".
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness was based on the original comic books. However, due to waning sales (blamed on the childish nature of the original television cartoon), the license was not renewed when it expired in 2000. Many concepts established in TMNT continue in both Heroes Unlimited and After the Bomb.
- Valley of the Pharaohs is an historical RPG set in Ancient Egypt.
All of the above games use the same Palladium basic role-playing system with each game having its own take on those rules, minor (occasionally major) differences to allow the rules to bend around the new line (theme).
So in 1996/97 Palladium launched The RIFTER Magazine, co titled: Your Guide to the Megaverse, which actually explained a lot of the misunderstandings and confusions of the players. It also expanded what was now called The MegaVerse - which is the keyword for every theme world in the Palladium Books game system. Now it is 2018/19 and The RIFTER is at number 80 and is nothing like a regular magazine in size, being 112 pages yet costing just $14.99.
Over the years the magazine has remained as a black & white publication with a colourful, hard(ish) glossy cover and the illustrations within it have grown in dynamics and definition. This issue features Good vs Evil and has a 'creature battle' from "SLICERS" to symbolise that on its front cover, the graphic art by Amy L. Ashbaugh who also shares the inside artwork with Mark Dudley, Michael Mumah and Benjamin Rodriguez.
Each issue of The RIFTER has something for everyone who plays Palladium games. Maybe not a feature on every Game Line every issue, that would be virtually impossible even with the size of The RIFTER, but there is certainly coverage of many different ones. The RIFTER introduces new characters and character classes, new takes on old character classes, futuristic equipment, weapons, travelling devices, human resources, alien technology, adventures, scenario ideas, new settings and so on. Palladium games players really should have this magazine on subscription.
One of the things I like about The RIFTER is that it gives Kevin Siembieda a platform from which he can explain to the Palladium faithful exactly what is going on at Palladium the company. This issue is for every Palladium games' player but is mostly aimed at those who enjoy Palladium Fantasy, Splicers, Chaos Earth, Heroes Unlimited and of course RIFTS. There are new rules, official and unofficial, new Source Material, official and unofficial, and possibly the first reason for anyone to actually want to go to Nebraska.
If, like me, you have ever wondered why the 'soldiers' in underground and criminal organisations follow one person so religiously and loyally despite the fact that one off step will get them a bullet in the head (or worse) and yet they still blindly follow, then the MASTERS UNLIMITED section of The RIFTER #80 has been devised and written for you (and me). How does a Super Villain/Mastermind come about ? What drives Him or Her, but more importantly how can you, as a GM, coerce your players into joining this insidious group? It is easy to get a group of good guys (I include Gals in the summation word 'Guys') to fight against such an organisation and thus if you are writing an adventure where the players characters are up against a criminal organisation all you need to create and fill out your Mob is here. The fun part is creating a story where the player's characters have to join a Mob and defeat it from the inside or simply join it and have fun as Super Villains - whatever your plan is the basics for it are here.
SPLICERS is more than well represented with several pages of creatures/mounts plus the Thorny Devil Host Armour that is featured as the magazine's cover art is detailed, described and stripped to its bare parts with all its skills, powers and abilities laid open for use by GMs and (if the GM is feeling charitable, by Player Characters).
Palladium Fantasy rpg is their salute to D&D, RuneQuest, and all the previous high fantasy game systems and in every one of these you will discover Tribes, Clans, Covens, Neighbourhoods, Nomads and Travellers, folk of many different races and classes and creeds who for whatever reason journey across plains, seas, deserts, through forests and over mountains and seas, never settling down and either becoming part of the local community for the time they spend in the area or attacking the local community and capturing them for slaves (or food) and accumulating their wealth. In PALLADIUM FANTASY these are known as 'Wayfarers' and in RIFTER #80 there are 26 pages that bring the 'Wayfarers' to life for your Campaigns or Adventures; these pages also make it possible to have the player characters as Wayfarers which then gives you the perfect gateway to manoeuvre them through many adventures in the different Fantasy settings and worlds of the MegaVerse.
If you want to make your Palladium games experiences the best possible ever then ensure your GM subscribes to The RIFTER, and issue #80 is as good a time to begin as ever - though you can probably get some back issues from Palladium Books or from one of the many Online rpg stores.