Grade the Megaversal/Palladium System

How do you feel about the Megaversal/Palladium System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 8 8.9%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 13 14.4%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 41 45.6%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 7 7.8%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 18 20.0%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 2 2.2%


Limit Break Dancing
Have you used the Megaversal System (or its alter-ego, the Palladium System) for your tabletop roleplaying games? If you've ever played RIFTS, Palladium, Nightbane, Robotech, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, or Systems Failure, you have seen this system in play. Wikipedia doesn't have very much to say about it, but it does manage to say a few things:

The Megaversal system, sometimes known as the Palladium system, is a role-playing game system used in most of the role-playing games published by Palladium Books. It uses dice for roll-under percentile skill checks, roll-high combat checks and saving throws, and determination of damage sustained in melee encounters by which a character's hit points, Structural Damage Capacity (S.D.C.), or Mega-Damage Capacity (M.D.C.) is reduced accordingly.
Shannon Appelcline, in his book Designers & Dragons, states that the Megaversal system was an overhaul of the game system that Palladium had originally derived from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: "It was one part highly traditional – with its character classes, experience points and levels – and one part arcane – with its abbreviations like OCCs, RCCs, PCCs, PPE, SDC and MDC."

As I've said before in the other threads, the D20 System is the undeniable favorite for tabletop RPGs today, but there are plenty of options out there for those who don't like D20 or might be looking for something different. My goal in these little surveys is to highlight the different systems and options available to tabletop fans...I certainly don't want to bash anyone's favorites. So! If you've used the Megaversal or Palladium System, I'd really like to hear about your experience. What did you like/dislike about it? What games did you play? And if you've never played it or one of the many successful games that use it, what's holding you back? I'll collect everyone's votes and give the system a "grade" from A+ to F, just for fun.

Grade: D
Of those who voted, 98% have heard of it and 77% have played it.
Of those who have played it: 2% love it, 9% like it, 19% are lukewarm, 61% dislike it, and 9% hate it.

The "grade" is calculated as follows:
  • Votes from people who have not played it will not affect the grade.
  • "I love it" votes are worth 4 points. The highest score, comparable to an "A" vote.
  • "It's pretty good" votes are worth 3 points. The equivalent of a "B" vote.
  • "It's alright I guess" votes are worth 2 points. This is your basic "C" vote.
  • "It's pretty bad" votes are worth 1 point. This is considered a "D" vote.
  • "I hate it" votes are worth 0 points. The lowest score, considered an "F" vote.

The grading formula:
GPA = Σ(PiVi)

GPA = "grade-point average," the grading score used in the Key below.​
Vi = percentage of votes in each category (Love, Like, Meh, Dislike, or Hate)​
Pi = corresponding score for that category (4, 3, 2, 1, or 0)​

Over 3.75 = A+
3.51 to 3.75 = A
3.26 to 3.50 = A-
3.01 to 3.25 = B+
2.76 to 3.00 = B
2.51 to 2.75 = B-
2.26 to 2.50 = C+
1.76 to 2.25 = C
1.51 to 1.75 = C-
1.26 to 1.50 = D+
1.01 to 1.25 = D
0.75 to 1.00 = D-
Under 0.75 = F
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Limit Break Dancing
Like a lot of games of the 80s, I didn't get much of a chance to try this one out. I only played one game with it (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness), and only for like a single weekend...I remember so little of it that for all intents and purposes, I haven't actually played it. Most of what I remember was yelling about how the characters in the game didn't match the characters in the TV cartoon.

While I have not played it in over 30 years, I have very fond memories of it, and did purchase a PDF of Palladium Fantasy 1st Edition Revised a couple of years ago.

For its time, I have to say it was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good, and my gaming cohort loved it. I wouldn’t say it’s aged as gracefully as B/X, but I found it easier to understand than 2e.

TMNT was fun. Heroes Unlimited was a blast. Rifts had a ton of great ideas and classes. I still prefer the alignment system of Palladium to D&D’s.

When I finally read Fantasy, I was struck by the stark differences between how classes were described in it versus 1e, which I purchased at the same time and read. Whereas 1e focused class design on the dungeon adventuring group, PF seemed to focus on having classes that represented more actual social roles. It even had a class for the peasant who gets wrapped up in things above his station, which is cool as beans.


A suffusion of yellow
Palladium Fantasy was my first distraction from DnD, I liked the alignment system better, and its range of Races, and the OCC, PCC class system And first introduction to MDC.
Nightbane and Beyond Supernatural were fun, RIFTs started to get a bit too gonzo.

It was okay, I guess, interesting ideas but a bit mindboggling in its implementation


I voted "alright" but because of two things:

1) The Palladium Fantasy RPG setting is pretty damn amazing and despite the problems with the mechanics it deserves at least some kudos

and 2) Heroes Unlimited and TMNT were my first non-D&D RPGs and they really gave me some insight into the world beyond D&D. I quickly moved on to Mayfair DC and Champions, but there will always be a special place in my heart for HU.


Whooo, where to begin. Just keeping this to the mechanics/system (and not the worlds/settings*), it's quite a mess. While the Palladium RPG as a clone/riff on D&D-esque fantasy has some interesting takes when it was released (even though Mechanoids was the first published), it was already kinda fiddly and inconsistent. Throw in all the additional bits to make it the 'Megaversal' system and it often becomes incoherent, without unified resolution bases, different subsystems that interact funny, and many arbitrary and odd dictates (4 missiles hit every time!). All in a system that has not, in over 40 years, been updated in any great fashion. Add to that a noticable perpensity for power escalation as further source books are released, yet also coupled with odd assignments of values: some portable rifle might do 1d4x10 damage on a burst, while a giant cannon on a large mecha unit does 3d6 damage only (or 6d6 for a double blast!). And then there's the "take the boxing skill and gain +1 attack per round, even if you're piloting said giant mecha..."

"X Palladium game, but in a different ruleset," became something of a meme for a time in gaming circles and lore. And our best Rifts games were the ones where we never touched the dice... so I voted for "pretty bad".

* To which I will note are generally, if not excellent per se, they are compelling/fascinating. And while the graphic design of the book is hardly design (plain two column to this day, I believe), the art tends to be strong as well. Which is a strong reason why that meme existed -- we wanted to play in the Palladium settings, but after seeing and playing much better rules systems it was hard to go back. I myself did some conversions in Space Master, D6, and HERO.

I voted "alright" because, at least for a while, Rifts really was the ultimate "kitchen sink" sci-fi RPG. I do find it amusing that Palladium had enough self-awareness to realize how much of a mess the MegaDamage system made the game (see: Rifter 9 1/2), but still wasn't willing to do the complete overhaul necessary to fix it (ignoring the existence of Savage Rifts). I still maintain that the Rifts World Books are some of the best coffee table or bathroom reading material in the hobby, but yeah, the system itself really could use some work.


The system is garbage. The layout is awful. The presentation of rules and processes stinks.

There are some good ideas in some of the books, and Rifts kind of pulls them all together into a truly gonzo style setting that has some appeal… but the rules are just terrible.

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