Palladium Books (sometimes called "Palladium Games") is a role-playing game publisher founded by Kevin Siembieda and Erick Wujcik, best known for their popular, genre-crossing Rifts gaming series (1990-present). Although not created to be a universal system, they were one of the first companies to have success creating role-playing games in multiple genres. This is why Palladium Books' house system is sometimes called "Megaversal" - "not universal, but more than just one world." Palladium Books is based in Taylor, Michigan.

History Edit

Beginning Edit

Their first game was The Mechanoid Invasion in 1981, followed by the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game in 1983 and Heroes Unlimited in 1984. Other popular titles included the role playing game adaptations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1985) and the American animated series Robotech. Palladium was also one of the major distributors of Robotech merchandise for several years. Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, all of Palladium's licenses lapsed and were not pursued for renewal. Palladium has recently (September 2007) finalized negotiations on an RPG based on Robotech's Shadow Chronicles.

Palladium enjoys the support of a small but dedicated fanbase, who applaud what they feel are the company's innovative settings and their games' high levels of adaptability to various personal preferences, play styles and power levels. Palladium states[1] that it was the first publisher in the industry to adopt the practice of perfect binding its books, a move that has since been emulated by many other companies in the role-playing industry. Palladium also publishes most of its releases in paperback, whereas most other major role-playing publishers now publish mostly hardbacks. This format choice has allowed Palladium to provide full sourcebooks at lower prices than many other game lines.

Palladium is aggressive in preventing wide distribution of fan-made conversions of their games to other systems (such as the D20 System), and also discourages converting the intellectual property of others into their system; while they cannot prevent it, doing so is not allowed in spaces owned by Palladium Books. Palladium Books also threatens legal action against fans who distribute conversions in other spaces. When asked why Palladium was so much stricter in regard to conversions than other game companies, Siembieda stated that the policy had been adopted due to advice from Palladium's lawyers, to shield Palladium from liability for conversions of other parties' intellectual property. [2]

Licensed properties Edit

Palladium Books has licensed some of their intellectual properties to third-party developers. In 2000, Palladium's flagship line Rifts was licensed to the now defunct Precedence Entertainment for a collectible card game. In 2004 Rifts was licensed to create the Rifts: Promise of Power video game for the failed Nokia N-Gage gaming platform. Only one licensed role-playing game book has ever appeared using the Palladium engine, Rifts: Manhunter.

As of 2004, Palladium Books optioned the Rifts film rights to Walt Disney Pictures. Jerry Bruckheimer Films is said to be developing the movie in conjunction with scriptwriter David Franzoni. As of 2006, there is no information regarding the movie available on IMDB. An April 19, 2006 press release [3] by Kevin Siembieda stated that "until Jerry Bruckheimer has a script he loves, the movie can’t get the green light." In the January 15, 2007 press release [4] it is stated that the movie option has been extended one year.

Financial troubles Edit

On April 19, 2006, Kevin Siembieda published a press release[5] stating Palladium Books' critical financial difficulties due to embezzlement and theft resulting in $850,000 to $1.3 million in damages[6] coupled with a series of delays in licensing their properties for other media (the N-Gage game, the still in-development Jerry Bruckheimer movie, a MMOG license, and other potential deals). They are attempting to raise money to continue operations by selling a signed and numbered (but not, strictly speaking, a "limited edition") art print by Kevin Siembieda,[7] as well as urging fans to buy directly from their online store if their financial situation allows for it. Nothing at Palladium's web site or in any of the news reports about the financial troubles that the company is said to be having mentions insurance; many companies have insurance to recover damages in the case of theft.

An April 26, 2006 article[8] in the Kingsport, TN Times-News, revealed that Steve Sheiring, Palladium's former sales manager, had been sentenced in a plea bargain to a misdemeanor conviction, one year of probation and ordered to pay $47,080 in restitution to Palladium Books in connection with these thefts. It also provided more information about the thefts, which took place from 2002 to 2004 and were only discovered when Palladium took inventory.

Responding to the controversy engendered by such a low settlement amount in relation to the large loss figure claimed in his earlier press release, Kevin Siembieda posted an open letter[9] to the Palladium forum explaining the matter. Siembieda stated that he had not wanted to make public Sheiring's identity out of the fear that overzealous fans might get into trouble by committing acts of reprisal. He explained that the heaviest punishment Sheiring had been likely to receive even without the plea bargain was probation. Siembieda had a choice between getting any amount of settlement money at all to pay critical bills, or spending more time and money to attempt to get his "pound of flesh" from a man who was reportedly broke anyway. Given the urgency of Palladium's situation, Siembieda did not feel he had any real choice but to take what little he could get.

During the week of May 7, 2007, Palladium announced that revenues from increased sales of its books, its Open House and the art print sales had covered most of the immediate-term damages incurred by Palladium.

Criticisms Edit

Template:POV-section Template:Unreferenced Template:Magazine Discussions of the company have tended to show that it is very difficult to consider Kevin Siembieda separately from Palladium; the company is run as a sole proprietorship in which the primary owner is also the sole shareholder in the company. Some writers who have been published by Palladium[10][11][12][13] have previously stated that Kevin Siembieda's method of management was too centralized, and not adapted to the size the company had reached (no delegation, lack of dialogue with co-workers, bad human relationships); this was cited as a reason they were no longer writing for the company (though one of the writers has since apologized for his statements[14]).

It is worthy of note that Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books have a fiercely loyal base of fans, employees, and friends, and there are many company employees and writers who are still with the company after more than twenty years. It would seem that Kevin Siembieda is a polarizing figure, of whom few people hold neutral views.Template:Dubious

Game lines Edit

  • After The Bomb, a post-apocalyptic RPG based on a series of supplements for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG. In it, mutant animals struggle for survival, often against human supremacist nations.
  • Beyond the Supernatural, a modern horror RPG along the lines of Call of Cthulhu. A second edition was released in early 2005, with more information about the world, which is assumed to be similar to the real world, but with supernatural happenings which no one notices.
  • Chaos Earth, a prequel to Rifts, it is set immediately after a war triggers a magical apocalypse, unleashing dimensional gates, monsters, and magic upon a technologically advanced future Earth.
  • Heroes Unlimited, a superhero RPG.
  • Macross II, based on the anime of the same name. The Macross II license has lapsed and was not renewed.
  • The Mechanoid Invasion, a science-fiction RPG, set during the battle between human colonists and the Mechanoids, a race of psionic, cybernetic beings who wish to exterminate humanoid life.
  • Nightbane (formerly called Nightspawn), is a horror RPG set in the year 2004 (a near-future setting when the game was released). It differs from Beyond the Supernatural in that the supernatural elements are not as hidden and more open. The series is placed after "Dark Day," an event where the earth was plunged into an unnatural, starless night for 24 hours, and supernatural entities infiltrated or subverted various governments and organizations across the globe.
  • Ninjas and Superspies is based on both martial-arts and spy movies with some science fiction mixed in.
  • Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game is a fantasy RPG set in a unique world, which was the home of Kevin Siembieda's fantasy games.
  • Recon, originally a Vietnam War-based RPG, It was later updated for modern-era combat involving Mercenaries in fictional hotspots mirroring places such as Africa and South America.
  • Rifts is set primarily on Earth, four hundred years after a war-triggered magical apocalypse, opening dimensional gateways and heralding the return of magic, Atlantis, and numerous invasions by alien forces. Rifts is Palladium's flagship line.
  • Robotech, based on the anime series of the same name. The Robotech license lapsed in 2001 and was not renewed; however a 26 August 2006 post on the company forums [15] stated Palladium's intent to reacquire the license due to the new sequel, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. As of February 19th, Siembieda stated that contract talks were still in progress between Palladium and Harmony Gold [16], with a new RPG, based on Shadow Chronicles, projected for release in 3Q 2007. However, contract negotiations lasted longer than anticipated, and it was September 6, 2007 before Palladium was able to announce the deal had been finalized. The Shadow Chronicles role-playing game will be published in a "manga-sized" form factor, rather than the 8.5 by 11 inch size of all its prior publications, [17] a move that has engendered some controversy among Palladium fans. [18] Kevin Siembieda has stated the goal of completing its publication before Christmas, 2007.
  • Splicers is a post-apocalyptic RPG where humans have turned to organic technology to fight a robotic threat.
  • Systems Failure is a post-apocalyptic game in which the Y2K bug heralded the collapse of the power and telecommunications grids with the arrival of extra dimensional energy "bugs".
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness was based on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic books. However due to waning sales (often blamed on the questionable quality of the original television cartoon's later seasons), the license was not renewed when it expired in 2000. Many concepts established in TMNT continue in both Heroes Unlimited and After The Bomb.
  • Valley of the Pharaohs is a historical game set in Ancient Egypt.

References Edit


External links Edit

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