The Palladium Megaverse

Continuing day five of my defense of Rifts and Palladium series I want to touch briefly on the many other Palladium RPG’s that exist. If you missed the previous posts I will have a list linking each one in the final post tomorrow.

Now, Rifts seemed to gain popularity for Palladium becoming the flagship title coming out over the last 30 years. It certainly had a certain appeal to me and the people I was playing with at the time in the 90s, but it was not the Palladium game that I played the most. I was really into comic books and we had a lot of enthusiasm about drawing our own comics and making our own comic book world that was inspired by all the comics we had grown up reading and were still reading. Heroes Unlimited was Palladiums Super Hero RPG and we played the game constantly. After every trip to the comic shop we would often come back with more inspiration from what we were reading. For about a decade there myself and the little group I played with switched off building up this world with all sorts of characters intertwined with each other and building a larger Super Hero Universe. It was great and remains very memorable to me as one of the most involved and dedicated games I have ran or played in. We did not keep the same Game Master running the game, we often took turns running games and dabbling in this world we were creating.

I have noticed over the years that many folks had gotten into Rifts and Palladium through one of their not as popular games. For me, despite Heroes Unlimited being the one we played most, I don’t know if that would have ever have happened if it were not for the Robotech RPG that Palladium put out in the 80’s. The friend who introduced me to Palladium was really into Anime and Mech back then and he really got into Robotech and Macross. Neither were things I got a great deal into as a fan, but because of him I watched the videos he had and I played the game. He was also the one who brought Rifts and Heroes Unlimited around. Palladium held the license for quite a while to publish the Robotech RPG and the other popular property they owned which has become a cult classic RPG was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now the game was put out to promote the comic before there was a hit TV show, so the art and style was the old black & white Eastman & Laird renditions of TMNT. In the TMNT game you created various mutant animals to play and adventure with, but the TMNT RPG did not stop there. The supplements started leaning into post-apocalyptic settings with a book called After the Bomb. As Palladium would go on to lose the licensing rights to both of these popular brands, After the Bomb became it’s own stand alone game independent of TMNT.

Now, Heroes Unlimited, TMNT, After the Bomb and Robotech were only my introduction to Palladium RPG’s. They were not where Palladium started. Earlier in the 80s Palladium launched with a Sci-Fi game called Mechanoids. I have only read through some of the books and not ran the game, but my best attempt at describing it would be that it is a conflict with little alien blobs in robot armor similar to the Daleks from Doctor Who and other various military and alien factions. The system was said to be based on the house rules from Kevin Siembiedas home game. The next game that Palladium published in 1983 was the Palladium Fantasy RPG. It was essentially the home brew rule set for the D&D campaign only the focus leaned heavily into more outlandish monsters and mythical creatures as player characters unlike D&D. I tend to see it as the Reverse Dungeon version of fantasy RPGs.

Other RPG’s came out in the 80s and 90s from Palladium. Ninjas & Superspies is pretty much what the title describes, it uses the same system as the others. RECON, a military war focused RPG also was published by Palladium but it had a very different ruleset compared to the other games. Beyond The Supernatural was Palladium’s horror theme game. In the later 90s Palladium came up with a couple other unique settings post-Rifts such as Nightbane a unique horror RPG where players take the role of supernatural creatures I always saw as mirroring some sort of Clive Barker nightmare. Systems Shock was a game released at the end of the decade kind of prompted by the Y2K scare and really playing off all that hysteria.

Now, I called this the Megaverse, and that is what I am kind of trying to lay out here for you. Palladium does mostly books of world building. And as mentioned in the previous article it has conversions books to convert all these other Palladium RPGs to Rifts making most of these easy to use as sourcebooks to customize your Rifts campaign or just any campaign you are looking to create. Between all the various games and books it is hard to think of some sort of character or monster that is not available to play with and use in a palladium game. The idea is that there is one great big multiverse with various dimensions and worlds that you can run and explore. Rifts has one series of books that are called Dimension Books that just focus on various differing dimensions and other settings. The one space sci-fi setting called Phase World seems to dominate that line. This multiverse they have dubbed the Megaverse universes of so many alternate worlds and dimensions that you have unlimited possibilities.

Maybe Palladium is not the system for every game, but it is a system that can handle any game.