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%

Longspeak

Adventurer
Go back in time and hold this poll in the early 90s. Past me will give this system top marks.

TMNT was my first (caveat, I am old, and my memories for four decades ago are unreliable) Palladuim. I loved the comic, and my High School friend said he didn't want it anymore. I bought it, made about a hundred characters, never played it. I was too young and my views not nuanced enough to catch some of the issues, and even the ones I did catch, I interpreted in more positive assumption. (sexual preference is insanity? That's not right. He must mean a sudden shift in preference. Yes, that must be... look I was 16, okay?).

Later... I think a year or two... I found Heroes Unlimited at my FLGS. I bought it, made a lot of characters for it, shelved it...

Later still, I was in another group and they wanted to run Ninjas & Superspies. Had some fun and some weird arguments. "Uh... my character would recognize the Dim Mak when he sees it because his Jiu-Jutsu teaches it in just ten more levels and he would have seen demonstrations." Sure. At the weekly Dim Mak expo. Of course.

That game ended because the GM was a selfish [redacted] who TPKed us during a mission briefing because she was in a bad mood.

Years later, I would pull Heroes Unlimited down to run a game for my friends. We loved it, and we even passed the GM hat around, playing the same world, expanding on it, our PCs becoming NPCs for a couple of sessions. This was the genesis of the longer running series I'd run on an off from the mid-90s to the mid-teens, though the system changed pretty early on. I even incorprated some Rifts into the last story I ever ran with this system.

But over the years... I noticed... Palladium recycles everything. Why was I paying full price for half a book? I already owned several copies of the other half! That, and game design advanced, changed, grew... Palladium never did. Eventually I left them behind. Today... So many better ideas, better executed, better written, better productions...

Palladium... I don't even know how it competes these days.
 

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aramis erak

Legend
But over the years... I noticed... Palladium recycles everything. Why was I paying full price for half a book? I already owned several copies of the other half! That, and game design advanced, changed, grew... Palladium never did. Eventually I left them behind. Today... So many better ideas, better executed, better written, better productions...
Everyone else major within the industry also recycles everything, except when they've had bits used to flog them for being tone-deaf to the "Woke" sensibilities dominant in the online RPG forumspace.
Palladium... I don't even know how it competes these days.
For years, a particular pawn shop in Mountain View, Anchorage, Alaska, has dealt in used Palladium books for decades... he buys for 1/4 to 1/8 cover, resells for 1/2 to 1/3 cover, both condition dependent, and the books recycle through one batch of kids to another...
of a class of 28 students in grade 6, 12 had played RIFTS. 3 had played non-RIFTS palladium. 1 had played any edition of D&D.
2 more had seen D&D being played by older siblings. But ALL of them knew of RIFTS. Every last one had either played or seen played Rifts.

This is how: Cheap, durable, inheritable, resellable, chock full of ideas, good art, and genuinely well done worldbuilding. If the world is compelling enough, it will sell. Even if it doesn't get played, it sells. Its fans usually move on to other games later, but they sell the books on to the next class of kids, either directly or via pawnshops/used books stores/game stores. And, since most of Palladium's books are true "Perfect Binding" - that is, stitched like a hardcover, then bound into a softcover, rather than the notoriously weak gluebound or squarebound...

My students were largely so bilingual that the misspellings and poor linguistic choices of Siembieda-as-editor/rewriter are no further impediment than that the books are in English. New stuff is worth paying for, old stuff can be bought at discount, and usually holds up well enough to do so.
 

Jahydin

Hero
Rifts was actually my first RPG, so I certainly have a soft spot for it. The world was just packed to the brim with so many cool things. Now that I'm older, I realize that they just through everything and the kitchen sink in it, but since I was young it was like a firehouse of knowledge on war, fascism, racial inequality, drugs, transhumanism, antient lore and myth, fables, and anime mecha.

Rules were convoluted and the skill system was terrible (we eventually just stopped writing them down), but man was it fun to roll those dice-pools for damage.

I hope someday the IP can be used in a well made video game or animated series.
 

Weiley31

Legend
I'll be honest: never played it for the simple fact that it seems like it's all percentage based. Which is my most LEAST fave tabletop roleplaying mechanic.

The only reason why I collected some of the books was because of Robotech/Macross 2.
 



kronovan

Explorer
"I've never played it", but have heard lots about it - almost entirely the Rifts flavor. The general consensus in the TTRPG community in my area, seems to be to avoid the system unless you're cool with many houserules. There's a group of players in our local Tabletop miniatures club that are fond of Rifts, but they're a tight knit group of long term players that play with a robust houserules doc at their tables. They're also big fans of kit-bashing miniatures and always have them at their Rifts tables, so I think that's part of the fun/appeal for them.

I've alwasys wanted to sit down to a 1-off session of Palladium Rifts just to see for myself, but have never gotten the opportunity.
 

aramis erak

Legend
"I've never played it", but have heard lots about it - almost entirely the Rifts flavor. The general consensus in the TTRPG community in my area, seems to be to avoid the system unless you're cool with many houserules. There's a group of players in our local Tabletop miniatures club that are fond of Rifts, but they're a tight knit group of long term players that play with a robust houserules doc at their tables. They're also big fans of kit-bashing miniatures and always have them at their Rifts tables, so I think that's part of the fun/appeal for them.

I've alwasys wanted to sit down to a 1-off session of Palladium Rifts just to see for myself, but have never gotten the opportunity.
The system gets a much better reaction when you do a setting without megadamage.
Unfortunately, Palladium Fantasy 2E added megadamage to be compatible with Rifts.

The real system issues in its initial published version (The Mechanoid Invasion) are
  • the skills are table lookups for each skill for each class.
  • It never explains how to roll percentage checks
  • It suffers from spelling and grammar errors
  • (specific to the original releases) the paper chosen suffers from acid degradation and iron based ink, resulting in brown on reddish-brown. by 2010.
  • only 2 attributes have clear systemic uses outside of class selection PE and ME.
  • The attributes are a different naming convention than most of the gaming industry uses.
    • IQ, ME, MA, PS, PP, PE, PB, SPD
The AR/SDC system, when characters don't have personal SDC, is a reasonably good compromise between armor being deflection and armor soaking damage... Basically, the 1d20 to hit hits the target on 5+... but a nat 1 misses... but only hits the person if the to hit roll exceeds the AR (which ranges from 6 to 16). If it hits 5 to AR, it does its damage to the Armor SDC, not the wearer. Most shots thus hit, unless the target can dodge. For 1981, it's a pretty slick idea...

The characters and the mechanoids can be damaged with most weapons. The first three mechanoids games are a trilogy: The Mechanoid Invasion, The Mechanoid Invasion vol 2: The Journey, and The Mechanoid Invasion vol 3: Homeworld form a compelling series of campaigns - with a method of getting from vol 1 to vol 2, even. To be honest, tho', the 1985 revised and expanded version of the Invasion vol 1, entitled The Mechanoids is a better presentation, and far easier to run, since it uses class modifier to singular skill bases, and one table for each skill. The 1999 or 2000 The Mechanoid Trilogy collects the 3 comic-book style printings into a single reprint volume... it takes the story further than the 1

Palladium Fantasy 1 rev (I've never seen the original 1st ed) likewise uses a single skills table with per class modifiers.

Characters start reasonably competent. They get better, but as the levels XP costs widen, the XP per session doesn't...

Note that those two lines showcase well Kevin Siembieda's two strong skills: setting design and being a decent B&W artist.

Also note: The Rifts Version? It's a megadamage rewrite.

I've offered to run these two for my sunday group. They wanted Old School D&D first...
 

Voadam

Legend
I played a lot of Palladium in the 80s. Palladium Fantasy 1e, Heroes Unlimited, TMNT, Ninjas and Superspies, Rifts.

Palladium Fantasy was a decent AD&D variant, basically add your con to starting hp, a parry and dodge system, decent armor taking hp for you at its AC, some really cool classes, martial classes had different bumps from levels, fantastic evocative AD&D variant magic, percentile class skills, and a few other things. The parry and dodge slowed down combat though compared to D&D rounds as you were going back and forth between player and DM to resolve each attack instead of just rolling and moving on to the next action. A bunch of imbalance between classes and races, a lot like AD&D. Anybody could become a witch for instance, but they were weak compared to the other spellcasters.

After Palladium Fantasy 1e they added personal SDC as basically extra hp before you get to hp. And skills were more chosen with some stuff adding abilities like the boxing adding an attack, so crafting a character for power was more intricate than pick race and class and roll well on stats.

Heroes unlimited was hugely random and unbalanced, allowing you to play a street vigilante who has a mask and knows boxing next to a build your own Iron Man suit character with massive strength, damage absorption, blasting, flying, detection stuff, and who knows boxing as well. Mutants rolled their powers randomly.

TMNT had a really cool build your mutant animal system where you bought up human uplift features (bipedal, hands, speech, closer to human size) and animal features. Choosing background was pretty important for how many and what type of skills you got, ninjas were actually not great, but educated people could take lots of skills, including taking boxing classes in college. :)

Rifts had a postapocalyptic setting with huge magic and supertech and aliens and rifts that brought in things from different dimensions and places, so a big blender of possible stuff. It added megadamage which was basically 100 points of damage for each 1 MDC, and MDC armor blocked anything less than 100 hp damage. Huge discrepancies in possible types where you could play a literal homeless vagabond wanderer as your class with a few survival skills and a gas mask next to people in MDC power armor with MDC rail guns. There was a decent amount of variety in top tier classes (Glitterboy armor, Juicer, Dragon Hatchling, Techno-Wizard, Super Psion, etc.) so you could have a decently balanced party by everyone ignoring two-thirds to half the options. Also there was power creep with each released supplement (with like 30 of them or so) so you could have something from a supplement just like the core class but better. There were a bunch of mid tier power classes and a couple really poor non-MDC ones, so class was a huge impact on the game.

Ninjas and Superspies has fantastic martial arts systems using the palladium system with different in-depth mechanics for different styles. One of my favorite systems for martial arts in gaming and my top choice for real world style flavor.

I have bought a ton of Palladium PDFs in bundles and such over time, even though it has been decades since I played and I prefer D&D as a full system when I run games, particularly the design goal of balanced characters. Palladium has a lot
 
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AMP

Explorer
I actually really like the system, in the same way I like the older, wonkier versions of D&D. I see it as an easily modifiable toolkit where I can strip out what I don't want or need and add what I like. I've been a huge fan of it since the early 1990's. I don't mind its hodgepodge nature a bit. It works for me.
 

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