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: 7 8.0%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 13 14.9%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 41 47.1%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 6 6.9%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 17 19.5%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 2 2.3%

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Dang, a D-minus? Zero love, ten percent hate?
This has never happened before. Is it really that bad?

Compared to DND at the time it first came out, Palladium is actually pretty good. It's an improvement in many ways. Some glaring flaws even then though - most notably power balance. A thing that only got worse with expansions.

For example certain skills in the expansions gave you stat bumps; As @RuinousPowers says - EVERYONE took boxing. AND wrestling. AND... I can't remember, but there were a couple of others too.

But it introduced (to me at least) ideas like XP for overcoming challenges, not killing things. An alignment system that wasn't complete garbage. The option of playing non-standard races (troll palladins for the win!)

I'd to curious to see how it polls against 1e DND.


Dang, a D-minus? Zero love, ten percent hate?
This has never happened before. Is it really that bad?
In addition to what others have said the ergonomics of the rules sucks. The Rifts core rule book is a dumpster fire in terms of organization. Rules are intermixed with game play philosophy, world lore, and gear stats. Some rules have unstated/understated implications that aren't immediately obvious.

You know why everyone keeps mentioning all characters taking boxing? Because the number of attacks that a character gets per turn are increased if you're trained in hand to hand combat skills like boxing. So if you're a mecha pilot, you can squeeze a trigger more times if you've boxed a few times.

The Robotech and TMNT core rulebooks are organized a bit better by virtue of not including magic and psionic rules but not by very much. A lot of the rule sections are just walls of text in format and just physically difficult to read and follow. Subsequent editions of the various books have no improved the layout. So if you buy the latest reprint of Rifts it's got the same naughty word layout it had in the 90s. Palladium has sold physical books for actual money that are just indexes of various topics from various books.

Opaque rules that are at least well organized are more workable than opaque poorly organized rules. Unfortunately for Palladium they've

aramis erak

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:
I've run Robotech, Palladium Fantasy, and TMNT; I've played Palladium Fantasy, Rifts, Heroes Unlimited, Ninjas and Superspies, and Robotech.
The worst thing to happen to the Palladium system was Megadamage, IMO, and it turned it from al right to more suck than a convention of hoover selling vampires or a nation's worth of sexworkers.

AT time of initial release, Mechanoids was doing the same kind of thing that many others were...classes generating skills, with two mechanical approaches - in Palladium's case, 1d20 roll high for attacks and defenses, armor as soak, 1d100 roll low for non-combat skills, and no official method of making checks against attributes. The several years later Arcanum also used percentile non-combat skills, 1d20 for combat attacks and defenses, and a damage soak from armor. A number of other smaller games did likewise. There are a number of differences between Palladium and The Arcanum, and they all, from my viewpoint, do a much better job.

In 1981, had I encountered Palladium, it would have displaced D&D instantly, simply because of the combination of skills and setting... but I didn't encounter it until after D&D BX, AD&D 1e, Star Frontiers, and Classic Traveller... and the systems were always a "I should really run this in something else, but not D&D, either."

The saddest part is that only the game engine is bad. The settings are «bleep»-«bleep» «bleep»ing awesome.

And that makes the disconnect that much worse.

MegaDamage, in Robotech, makes the game into a supers situation - no mortal can stand up to Robotechnology weapons, and no mortal can harm them without robotech or nukes. And the nukes aren't a guarantee.

It's alignment system is ever so slightly better than AD&D's , but that's no saving grace.
The attributes mostly matter for allowed OCCs.
The racial classes? pretty comparable to BX... and similar in time... but with significan odds of rolling the different dice and not meeting the cutoffs...

in 2012-2013, when I was teaching grades 5 then 6, many of my students were playing palladium - mostly fantasy and rifts, but some Robotech... the local pawn shop had a huge rack of games about 2/3 of it was used palladium books, in a cycle of bought by elementary kid, sold to the shop when they found something better between grades 8 and 10, then bough by the next cycle of 4th and/or 5th graders.
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I voted its pretty bad. I played Palladium fantasy a lot and back in the day it was just about alright. Better than contemporary D&D in my opinion. It had some interesting ideas and could have really done with an overhaul.
Some mechanics that seemed interesting at first turned out to be more trouble than it was worth and no concept of balance. Not just between classes but within classes. Spell scaling was all over the place.
I loved the flavour and backgrounds.


I was first introduced to the Palladium Fantasy Roleplaying Game. This was coming out of some dissatisfaction with AD&D and I really enjoyed the system and the character options the game had on offer. Later I picked up RIFTS because of the cover and really enjoyed the setting.... the system really wasn't suitable for the game as it didn't really balance the character classes.

These days I have fond memories of PFRPG and RIFTS, but I wouldn't play them. I voted "It's alright I guess" but this likely is more for the setting than the system.

RIFTS at the time had some really good world building in the core book. You read about the Coalition and see skulls everywhere, and then you hit the Rogue Scholar OCC and you get hit with the concept of an underground education rebellion. But the Rogue Scholar gets squished quickly because everyone else wanted to play Glitter Boys and Baby Dragons - alas didn't even get the chance to teach one person their A-B-Cs.
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