During 2014 PALLADIUM BOOKS released another amazing series of books for their MegaVerse of Role-Playing Games. Over the years I have used up almost every superlative I can describing the excellence of Palladium's role-playing sourcebooks and World books. The only complaint I have ever heard against the Palladium RPG books is that they are all based around the same Palladium Role-Playing game system and that this system confuses some players through its constant use of initials such as O C C (Occupational Character Classes) P C C (Psychic Character Classes) and R C C (Racial Character Classes). The books cover all manner of worlds, including; Africa, Atlantis, The Coalition Wars, England, Federation of Magic, Free Quebec, Japan, Juicers, Lone Star, Phase World, Psyscape, New West, South America, Skrayper, Triax, Underseas, Warlord of Russia, Vampires etc. Plus there is the in-house magazine The RIFTER which regularly covers all of the above, and more, enhancing and expanding the different and various places that players can explore with their characters. RIFTS is the main game amidst many that uses the Palladium RPG system and RIFTS is the game with so many opportunities for exciting and diverse role-playing adventures.
THE RIFTER # 65 #66 & #67
The RIFTER is the magazine to read to keep up to date with what is occurring in the wonderful Palladium MegaVerse. It is put together by Kevin Siembieda but is mostly a paper forum for ideas and artwork from players of Palladium RPGs. Issue #65 is a major issue for RIFTS players who like the dark arts, perhaps the darkest of dark arts - Necromancy. There is a wealth of about 20 pages covering the Necromancer with around 60 new spells, plus OCCs and NPCs, necromantic potions, jewellery, weapons, armour and items. On its own this feature is worth the price of the magazine alone, but there are another 70+ pages of infinite possibilities for the MegaVerse. On these other pages you will find Beyond the Supernatural, Heores Unlimited, and Rifts. Issue #66 contains material for Phase World, Splicers, Heroes Unlimited and Rifts with the main articles being a Heroes Unlimited adventure featuring the Snake Men and the Black Market in Rifts. Issue #67 continues the 30th Anniversary theme for Heroes Unlimited, has a lot of optional material for Rifts and After the Bomb plus another helping of chaos for Splicers. These are only the main articles and features in the Rifter, you can nearly always find something for the Palladium RPG of your choice and if there is nothing specific it is often easy to modify one or more of the features that include "new" equipment etc, for your favourite RPG theme. You can also find lots of information on the Palladium website www.palladiumbooks.com.
FUTURE VISIONS - The Artistry of Charles Walton II - Volume One. This is a book for the coffee table. It is over 90 pages of the wonderfully artistic talent of the illustrator Charles "Chuck" Walton II. Anyone with an inkling to becoming an illustrator will savour this volume and salivate at the thought that it is only Volume One, meaning that there are more vfolumes on their way. It is a shame, though a necessity, that some of the best drawings are set across two pages and thus they have to include a join or fold making them inaccessible for removing from the book and framing. There are indeed a good number of illustrations that would look great framed and placed on a stark wall. Most of the illustrations are not headed or with description. Only the notes at the back give a reason for the artists work. Charles Walton II often reads the notes sent in for the Rifter by players and then makes a rough drawing from them. This drawing is then submitted to Kevin Siembieda and the Palladium Books team prior to the full drawing being generated. Most of the illustrations are pencil sketches complete with the guidelines and scribblings that aid in the final descriptive work. Some of them are full on a single page while other pages hold two even three smaller pieces of work, each of them a decisive, singular design and those not always on the same page associated with the same theme.
ROBOTECH - RPG TACTICS.
The Robotech RPG book is a full colour glossy 112 page rules booklet based on the 1980's animé cartoon heroes and villains of the MACROSS SAGA, one of the first animated animé series to be seen on American television. This is an RPG but it has been designed for using with miniatures (I am going to assume that Palladium Books have licensed or themselves released a series of 25mm miniatures) for the last few pages in this book are illustrations of the miniatures along with a painting guide for each. These illustrations are listed under various headings for quick reference.There are three major factions in this game that the players can create characters for. There are the "good" guys, otherwise known as the UEDF (United Earth Defence Force) then there are the rebels, called the Malcontents, the militants that want to take the law into their own hands. Finally there are the invaders from other planets, the aliens known as the Zentraedi. This book that I hold only has the rules and basics, to actually play and enjoy the game as it is intended you need to purchase the boxed set which comes with just the right number of miniatures as well as this book and other game pieces.
What will surprise the majority of role-players who read these notes here and who pick up a copy of Palladium Books "Robotech" rpg is that the rules uses are NOT the ones expected, they are NOT the generic Palladium RPG rules.The player characters are called `Mecha' and each is created with the same basic attributes: Speed, Piloting, Gunnery and Defence. Robotech dice are of different colours and are generally D6 with an icon or symbol in the place of the "1". The dice also come with the boxed set. It is the rolling of these dice in modified situations that determine the outcome of combat whether it is close hand or ranged. Each Mecha has the ability to use various types of weapon and players can build their characters to their own specification within the limits of the game and the type; UEDF, Rebel or Zentraedi.
This volume gives a lot of space for describing the actions, thoughts and beliefs, plus strategies, tactics and ideals, as well as military, battle, combat and all specifics for each faction. It is advisable for GMs to read through each of these sections prior to deciding the adventure and scenario type, and then give the players a briefing to allow them to create characters in accordance with the chosen adventure type.Because of the amount of information given in this Tactics book it is possible to play a RPG tabletop game without miniatures, using just good old imagination as was the way of the RPG when I first started. A good descriptive text from the GM and some creative imagination can bring the story to life. Of course if you have the boxed set then you can project your imagination through the use of the 3D miniatures.
Mathew Clements gets together with Kevin Siembieda for the creation and production of RIFTS WORLD BOOK #34 RIFTS: NORTHERN GUN 2 which is a typical 250+ page perfect/glue bound RIFTS style volume. RIFTS World Books often describe a new rift or tear and thus a new world with all of its news, invaders, equipment and possibilities. Northern Gun 2 describes a world that could have come from the Mad Max movies where gladiatorial battles are carried out in a huge RoboDome between man and machine. There is a list of 50 names of the top gladiators in the Robodome but apart from a few there are no definitions, descriptions, attributes, abilities or statistics for them. Using the statistics given and an amount of time (a fair amount to be honest) it is possible for an enterprising GM to build up enough attributes for each of the 50 gladiators so that player characters can if they wish, and if the adventure calls for it, combat these champions with information, equipment or some clue or another as a reward for winning.
Many of the pages are taken up with varieties of Mecha armour, weapons, equipment and vehicles. Basically this is a GMs and/or scenario adventure writers dream book. There is so much informative data here that it is not a book you can just sit down and read. It is a reference book of the highest calibre for the content it covers. The information and equipment etc can be used to entice player's characters to enter the RoboDome if they aren't as forthcoming as the GM would like them to be. Once you have written your adventure or enhanced your scenario then you, as the GM/writer can either give the players equipment of your chosing or let them [the players] loose in this gold mine to select from the myriad choices. My advice would be to keep this volume away from the players and allow only the GM to use it.
RIFTS WORLD BOOK #35: MEGAVERSE in FLAMES is a slightly less voluminous volume than its predecessor (World Book #34) by some 20 or so pages. This doesn't mean it is any less important.
The Minions War between the Demons and Deevils has erupted onto Rifts Earth and as expected it is at its peak in North America, naturally. Come on folks, where else in the world would alien armies land if they wanted to start an interstellar war. Well these guys not only are fighting each other they are also building Hell Pits Hell Pits are created by both factions using dark Soulmancy spells (there are over 50 Soulmancer spells in this book) to speed up the process of bringing more troops from eithet Dyval or Hades. These pits are usually built on ley lines and are massive, at least the size of an NFL stadium. Six, six, six may be the number of the Beast but in the Minion Wars the number is Seven, seven, seven, as in 7 Demon Hell Lords, 7 Dyval Overlords, 7 Hell Plagues all of which are found defined and described along with so much more in this volume that is part of the Crossover/Minion War series. If you like new weapons and equipment then you are catered for here with such things as Talismans, different types of Armour (including Flesh and Bone), the wonderfully named weapon-vehicles the Meat Grinder and the Carnage Tank.
Megaverse in Flames is a really good book to read if you have any queries about understanding the Minion War and the way it impacts on everyone who is neither Demon or Dyval yet is caught up in it. There are good ideas for adventures, campaigns or/and short scenarios, from small pockets of resistance to full-fledged upbeat survival mode. It is almost 100% meant NOT for the players, in fact to let players get their hands on it may well be detrimental to the fun and surprises that can be sprung on their Rifts characters.
The Palladium Books, for all of their role-play settings, always contain some excellent artwork apart from the generally exciting full colour covers. The price at retail of each book is quite amazing when compared to other role-play systems books. This is in part because the inner pages are in black & white and the paper used is maybe not quite the top quality, though it is durable for lots of use and that's a lot better than having blinding white executive grade paper with razor sharp edges so you get both blinded and cut to ribbons when using the books. Seriously, I have said this before and I don't mind repeating it, I really do not know how Kevin Siembieda keeps Palladium going. There is an almost endless stream of game books flowing out each year and they are always of the highest intellectual quality for the Palladioum Games player and at a retail price that puts most (if not all) other RPGs to shame.