Discover the Megaverse® Inside Palladium Books®
|Company Type||Privately held company|
|Location||Westland, MI, USA|
|Key Individuals||Kevin Siembieda, Wayne Smith, Julius|
|Notable Freelancers||Scott Johnson, Wayne Breaux, Ramon Perez, Freddie E Williams II, Apollo Okamura|
|Industry||Publishing, Role-playing games|
|Products||Rifts, Palladium Fantasy, Mechanoids, Heroes Unlimited, Beyond the Supernatural, Nightbane, Ninjas & Superspies, Splicers, Dead Reign, Systems Failure, Recon, Weapon Compendiums, After the Bomb, Robotech|
Who is Palladium Books?
One Game System for all genres!
Palladium is the First!
That's right, Palladium was the very first (to our knowledge) to actively and intentionally implement the working fundamentals of "one" game system. Certainly, we've done if for the longest number of years, with a string of hit role-playing games. It all started in 1979 when every gamer I (Kevin Siembieda) knew, complained about having to adapt new games and/or supplements from one system or another. Even games from the same company had different rules and this frustrated them to no end.
I said to myself, "Hmm, if I ever did roleplaying games I'd create 'one' basic set of rules that could be used in every possible genre." At the time, everybody, and I do mean EVERYBODY, said you couldn't mix science fiction and fantasy, let alone create a game system that could satisfy both and other settings too. The funny thing was that I was doing just that in my Palladium campaign.
By 1980 I had decided to publish the Palladium Fantasy system and began to make plans. I wanted to publish the game as one, big softbound book, but lacked the financial resources. My pal, Erick Wujcik, suggested I produce some smaller games and put the Palladium RPG on the back burner until I could do it right. This seemed to be my only recourse.
After great thought, and with 3000 dollars in hand, I decided to pull various aspects from my Palladium Fantasy campaign (the Defilers) namely the character generation and combat rules, along with elements from my notorious "Level Five: TechnoLevel". You see, we had played science fiction, cyborgs, robots, modern weapons, and all kinds of mixed genre stuff in the campaign for years, so that part was a snap. Star Wars® (the movies) had made SF hot and I was pretty excited about doing a science fiction RPG.
1981, The Mechanoid Invasion®. As Palladium fans already know, this was my first game, publishing the basic Palladium character and combat system.
1982, Journey™ and Homeworld™, the other two parts of the Mechanoid Trilogy®. Journey introduced minor magic and some psionics. Homeworld published the full Palladium psionic system and powers extracted from the yet unpublished fantasy system.
1982 also saw the development of the Palladium Weapons and Armour series. which presented tons of data on historical weapons, armour and castles compatible with ALL game systems, not just our own. Seven books would complete that series and later be reworked into the Compendium of Weapons, Armour, and Castles™.
1983, still years away from the hype of GURPS, Palladium releases the Palladium RolePlaying Game® (fantasy). The one universal, dare I say, "Megaversal" game system is presented in all its glory.
1984, the release of Heroes Unlimited™ and the same basic game system, but extrapolated to include superheroes of all kinds. And still two years away from GURPS, the game generally acknowledged as the father of the "one" universal game system.
1985, see the publication of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles®. This was a risky project for us because we had to press 10,000 copies (a lot back then) and sell 6000 copies before we would break even. A great deal of time and money was spent on design, art and packaging. The trick was to design an RPG that would break Palladium into the (then comics only) comic book shop market. As everyone knows, TMNT was a massive success and Palladium's first megahit. We kept that license for 16 years, running through the end of 2000, before we decided to let it go.
1986 saw us release After the Bomb®, a series of books that took the idea of mutant animals to the limit by making them the masters of a post apocalyptic Earth "after the bomb" hit -- i.e. nuclear holocaust. Generations after nuclear armaggedon, humans teetered on the brink of extinction and mutant animals -- some human-like, others more animalistic or monstrous -- have "inherited the Earth!" Thousands of clans, tribes, city-states and kingdoms of mutant animals begin appear around the world, many with diverse cultures and goals, many clashing with one another or the last remaining humans. The After the Bomb® was originally a series of 48-112 page sourcebooks that required the Heroes Unlimited™ or Ninja Turtle RPG rule book to play. This series was nearly as popular as the TMNT role-playing game and continues to this day. In fact, the series gets new life Winter 2001 when its original creator, Erick Wujcik, returns to create the After the Bomb® Role-Playing Game, blending a ton of exciting, new material with the old to create a unique stand-alone role-playing game about genetic science and mutation gone wild in the aftermath of nuclear holocaust.
Of course, the TMNT RPG and After the Bomb® used the same basic rules as our other books (along with new ones and ideas). Likewise Robotech® (which made is debut Fall 1986), Beyond the Supernatural™, Ninjas & Superspies™, Rifts®, Systems Failure™ and just about everything we have ever done ALL use the same, "one," basic RPG system. All the games can be combined and interchanged to create a truly infinite Megaverse of possibilities and adventure.
1986, Steve Jackson Games® releases GURPS®, the Generic Universal Role Playing System. Not take anything away from Steve Jackson, 'cuz he is one of the great game designers or our industry, but the idea of a "universal" game system wasn't new. Palladium Books had been doing for six years, starting with our first publication back in 1981. Today, those same basic rule and concept of play are still the foundation of our role-playing game, have spawned mega-hit RPG after hit, and is more popular than ever.
Palladium Books®, the FIRST to introduce the Perfect Bound, Trade Paperback format to the RPG industry.
Okay, we're back in time its 1983 and the Palladium RolePlaying Game® will hit the shelves that summer. A kind and caring distributor begs me not to publish the game as a "perfect bound trade paperback," because the standard (in those days) is boxed games or hardbound books. Any departure from those two formats will flop. He fears that the soft cover format we plan to use, will kill the game and do irreparable damage to Palladium ("A nice little game company just starting to go places," he says). I greatly appreciate his concern, but this is what I have waited years to publish, and in the softbound format. The game and the format are a success. The same distributor calls me back to congratulate me on a fine product and order more. He's so impressed he actually insist that some of his retail clients take the game on speculation at "his" own risk, something that is rarely done by the RPG "direct market" distributor. (God rest his soul, that was the kind of guy, Joe at Windmill Hobbies was. He is sorely missed.)
All of Palladium's books from that year onward are published as perfectbound trade paperbacks, even our 48 page books. To insure that the pages don't fall out, we take the extra time and pay the extra expense of having the pages sewn and glued, making them far much more durable. The product is slick, colorful, and practical. We can hold down printing costs and keep the selling price low. The consumer can look inside and see exactly what he or she is getting. A winning combination for everybody!
Surprisingly, it is a few years later (1985 or 1986) that other roleplaying game companies begin to use the trade paperback format. I believe Mechwarrior, by FASA was the first. Today, it is an industry standard. We didn't invent the trade paperback, but Palladium's awareness of the (then) new technology gave us and edge, and in the end transformed the look of the entire RPG industry.
CyberPunk in 1984!?
I personally feel that Palladium has never done a classic cyberpunk game, not even Rifts®. However, today, the term "cyberpunk" seems to connote any RPG that includes cybernetics, mechanical implants/augmentation, and/or bionics. If that is true, then Palladium published the FIRST cyberpunk RPG back in 1984!!! And depending on how one looks at it, 1981 with The Mechanoid Invasion®.
1984, Heroes Unlimited™, was released. The game boasted that players could play every type of superhuman hero conceivable. That included, cyborgs and robots. In fact, the cybernetics and bionics found in Rifts® are largely inspired by and derivative of Heroes Unlimited™, with bits and pieces from Ninjas & Superspies™ (1988). Other superpowered characters included mutants, mutant animals, aliens, robots, experiments, super-geniuses, stage magicians, physical training, spies, weapon masters, etc. For some dumb reason, I was against having magic in a "modern" world of superheroes, so you couldn't be a "wizard" or magically empowered in the original version of Heroes UnlimitedTM. The ideas were great, but the rule book was clumsy and plagued by poor layout and many typing mistakes. It did boast a Jim Steranko cover and interior art by Mike Gustovich. In the end, new ideas, bold concept and great artwork won out and the RPG sold like crazy.
1987, I did a major rewrite of the rules and changed the layout/presentation of Heroes Unlimited™. I included magic, magic characters and crazy heroes, added about 100 pages, and produced a far superior game than its predecessor. That was Revised Heroes Unlimited™.
1998, the world of comic books, gaming and the real world had changed, and it was time for Heroes Unlimited™, Second Edition. I spent nearly a year thinking about how to retool, clarify, improve, and expand the game before diving into the Second Editon. I solicited input from fellow Palladium game designers, freelancers and fans. The end result was a gigantic, 352 page Heroes Unlimited™, Second Edition with better descriptions, the Mega-Hero, more super abilities, and dynamic comic book artwork, including a new cover by Steranko.
1999, you would think with a 350 page rule book one could get every possible rule into the darn thing, but we couldn't, so Wayne Breaux Jr. and I whipped up the Heroes Unlimited™ G.M.'s Guide. It offers optional rules for superhuman rampages, brawling, quick roll villains, playing vigilantes and anti-heroes, tips on building an adventure, alignment guidelines, the law and new magic, along with 10 full adventures and ideas for more. It was an instant hit.
Today, sales of Heroes Unlimited™, Second Edition continue to climb as new gamers discover this vast world of superheroes for themselves. HU2 allows players to create any type of superhuman and hero he or she can imagine, or recreate their favorites from television, film, books and comics. Supported by a series of new adventure sourcebooks like Century Station, Gramercy Island™, Mutant Ungerground™, The Nursery™, Aliens Unlimited Galaxy Guide™, Hardware Unlimited™, and more, Heroes Unlimited™ is becoming a comic book style sf world in its own right, and as exciting as any comic book series on the market.
Cybernetic implants, disguises, and bionics also appear in Ninjas & Superspies™ (1988), Rifts® (1990), Triax & the NGR™ (1992), and Skraypers™ (1998), all of which are compatible with Heroes UnlimitedTM. To my thinking, however, these books all have a superhero feel. If any of these RPGs have a "cyberpunk" flavor, it's Ninjas & Superspies™, written by Erick Wujcik.
1985-2000; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® & Other Strangeness
Palladium was apparently the second (I always thought we were the first) people to license the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles®. We contacted Eastman and Laird back when all there was to the Ninja Turtles were issues number one and two of the black and white comic. We signed the licensing contract as issue number three was hitting the stands.
As much as I liked the Ninja Turtles, I felt the real fun aspect, in a roleplaying context, would be the ability to create any kind of mutant animal. That's where the Other Strangeness part came in.
The TMNT game got off to a bad start. The first designer saw the game simply as a supplement to Heroes Unlimited™ and didn't want to do the animal mutation rules. The result was a weak regurgitation of Heroes Unlimited™ and some dull stats on generic mutant animals. The manuscript was rejected.
The project was turned over to Erick Wujcik. This guy is probably one of the most creative and innovative game designers in the business. He was under the gun. I needed a finished game in three weeks. Five and a half weeks later, Erick handed me the finished RPG. (Erick never can meet a deadline, but 5 1/2 weeks to do a game like TMNT from scratch is amazing.) The game was an instant hit, selling 10,000 copies in three months.
For a while, Palladium and Mirage Studios (the TMNT people) grew at the same pace, then the Turtles exploded on the mass market to become one of the most widely promoted and merchandised licenses in the history of licensing. I'm proud to say that "I" was the "guy" who introduced and hyped the Ninja Turtles to the marketing genius behind Surge Licensing back in 1986. I helped to get him and Eastman and Laird talking and together they orchestrated the TMNT marketing phenomenon that lasted a decade. The rest, as they say, is history.
All good things must come to an end. Ironically, going mainstream killed the Ninja Turtles in the comic book and role-playing market. The Turtles were "kiddified" and turned into toys and cartoons for little kids. Consequently, few self-respecting teenagers oradults could look at the Turtles as anything other than Mickey Mouse's reptilian cousin, and stopped playing and buying. We estimate that over a million role-playing gamers played and loved the Ninja Turtle RPG for a decade, but the mass marketing of them to little children made them taboo and sales plummeted. At the turn of the new millennium we decided to let the Ninja Turtles license expire. This was entirely Palladium's decision. We love Kev and Pete. All the folks at Mirage Studio (where the Turtles were born) have always been fantastic. It was just time to let the Turtles go. We had them for 16 years, I can not think of any RPG company other than Chaosium with Call of C'thulu, who has kept any license as long as Palladium has kept the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® or Robotech®. Saying good bye to the TMNT was like saying good bye to an old friend.
For the record, Palladium Books sold over 165,000 copies of just the TMNT RPG alone. That sales figure does not include the dozen supplements, each of which of which has sold in the tens of thousands. Don't forget, mutant animals and After the Bomb® are still found in Heroes UnlimitedTM and the NEW, After the Bomb® Role-Playing Game.
Robotech was another great license and a challenging project. For a while, I felt it was the best written (adapted) roleplaying game I had ever done. The game captures the excitement, atmosphere, and characters of the TV series and, at the same time, is easy for new gamers to play. Initial sales dwarfed those of the Ninja Turtles. Palladium was on a roll.
Richard Burke, a dear friend and onetime employee, was the guy who turned me on to ROBOTECH®. For months he kept badgering me to watch this great new science fiction cartoon. It was epic, not for little kids, had great robot designs, strong characters, stronger story, and would adapt perfectly to the Palladium Game System. But I was buried under work (as always, it seems) and just kept saying, "Yeah, yeah I'll watch it one of these days."
Then, one day in April 1986, I did watch an episode. It was damn good. Twenty episodes later, I was 100% sold! I needed, not wanted, this license. "Rick! Why didn't you make me watch this show sooner!? He just smiled knowingly.
I contacted Harmony Gold, the company that produced and licenses ROBOTECH®, and finally spoke to their Vice President of Licensing. I made my pitch. It was good. The Vice President, cleared his throat and said something like, "You and your company sound perfect for this license, but I'm afraid I have some bad news." The bad news was that Steve Jackson Games had been negotiating for the ROBOTECH® license for the past few months. The VP of licensing expected a signed contract that very afternoon.
I was stunned. Jackson's a sharp guy. Why didn't I listen to Rick months earlier? As a reflex, I told the vice president to please call if Steve Jackson should turn it down. He assured me that the odds of that happening were slim and none. I hung up and banged my head against the wall. I was dying to do this game and I blew it by waiting too long. My wife and accomplice in publishing, stood in the doorway, unusually calm, while I stomped around the office shouting how stupid I was. She told me to knock it off (wives say stuff like that to their employers), and said, "Look, you're meant to get this one. I feel it. This licensing guy will call you back this afternoon, tell you that the deal fell through at the last minute, and offer you the ROBOTECH® license." My response to that wild theory was a whimpering, "You're crazy!"
Later that same afternoon, the Vice President called back to say that the deal fell through at the last minute and that if I still wanted it I could have it. I snapped it up, and six months later, published Palladium Books' Robotech® the RolePlaying Game (Book One: Macross)! It quickly became our bestselling product to that date. Since its release in November of 1986, the Robotech RPG® has sold approximately 100,000 copies, and many of the supplements, The RDF Manual, The Zentraedi, Southern Cross, and Invid Invasion, have sold nearly 50,000 copies each.
After fifteen years we had decided to also let the Robotech® license go. It was a wild ride and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Wiki note: Robotech is back! Palladium has the license to Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles and have been releasing products based on this property.
1988, Beyond the Supernatural™, the first truly "contemporary" horror RPG
1988, Beyond the Supernatural™ is released; coauthored by Randy McCall. It is the first "contemporary" horror RPG. The game looks at the supernatural and psychic powers in a unique light and offers a magic system that works in our modern world (ley lines). Ken Rolston wrote, in a review for Dragon Magazine®, that "parts" of the game borders on genius and equals, perhaps even exceeds, Call of Cthulhu® in some areas (although Cthulhu is still his personal favorite). The cover art is by the legendary Richard Corben and the interior art is by Steve Bissette.
Beyond the Supernatural™ Second Edition! The old BTS was allowed to go out of print a couple year ago so I can do a new and improved, Second Edition. I have a lot of ideas for it and plan on providing more information and details for playing in the modern world, establishing paranormal investigation agencies (the Lazlo Agency being one of them) and other elements to better define the world of Beyond the Supernatural™.
1988, ROBOTECH II: The Sentinels® Videocassette
In a bold marketing move, Palladium "Books" released ROBOTECH II: The Sentinels® on video tape, shortly after the release of the Sentinels roleplaying game. This was a real personal triumph for several reasons.
1. I had wanted to see Sentinels released on videocassette for years. I had seen it myself during a visit to Harmony Gold and knew the fans would love it. Sentinels was an ill-fated TV project designed to continue the Robotech saga. Unfortunately, the project was never completed, but the first three episodes had been filmed and edited into a movie length feature. When the property became available we grabbed it.
2. The Sentinels project was an incredible business challenge. The production and marketing costs were three to five times that of a typical new roleplaying game. If we blew it, Palladium could lose a lot of money. Advertising, packaging, and marketing strategies had to be perfect.
3. No other roleplaying game company had ever tried to market video tapes, before or since.
Needless to say, the ROBOTECH II: The Sentinels® videocassette was a huge success (as was the RPG). Later, that success would lead to our securing the license to put the ROBOTECH: The New Generation and ROBOTECH: Southern Cross portions of the original ROBOTECH series on videocassettes for the first time EVER. This entrenched Palladium as a force in the Japanimation market for several years, and I would like to think helped to give birth to the Japanimation video market that exploded on to the scene a few years later. It was awesome.
1989 personal sorrow
On the business end, things at Palladium Books had reached new heights. Sales were going through the roof and we had released sourcebooks for all our lines. There was no stopping us now and Rifts® was only a year away.
Sadly, my mother passed away that July. She finally lost a long and debilitating battle with cancer. She was a brave and wonderful woman who was one of my best friends and confidants. She (and my dad) had supported my creativity and imagination for as long as I could remember. She took me and my brother to the museum and zoo and library all the time, showered us with tons of books, crayons, pencils, paper, comic books and other stuff that sparked our imaginations and made us wonder. She had the wisdom of Solomon when I needed it, and encouraged my every effort. She was truly a great and good lady. She is sorely missed by everyone who knew her.
I had been kicking, around the specific ideas for Rifts® for years, writing a little bit here, scribbling down a new idea there. The game was to be epic in scope and the culmination of everything I had been working on over the years. I wanted it to bring the Palladium Megaverse into focus in a spectacular way, and to show people that roleplaying was limited only by their imaginations. The game was originally called "Boomers" -- inspired by the Glitter Boy and his Boom Gun, because he was one of my first ideas. Today "Boomers" seems like a silly title and completely wrong for Rifts®, but that was the working title. As I developed the game more, I wanted a different title but couldn't come up with one. I was talking to Erick Wujcik one day, telling about "Boomers" and Rift this and Rift that, and summoning monsters from the Rifts®, and Rifting to other worlds, etc. and lamented that everything was coming together except for the title. Erick said, "How about Rift World." Nah, I said, that sounds to much like Larry Niven's (at the time new) novel Ring World. "Well, how about just plain, Rifts®?" And Rifts® it was.
Paradoxically, the basic ideas behind Rifts® go all the way back to my roots in gaming. The Palladium fantasy campaign (1979-1983) really had all the same elements as Rifts®. We had multidimensional travel, a dimensional nexus point ("the" tower), supernatural beings, gods, demons, dragons, a vampire kingdom, time travel and time travelers, interdimensional Rifts®, magic, psionics, robots (giant and human-size), cyborgs, automatic weapons, particle beam weapons, and even Martians! I don't think that I consciously realized all this as I was creating Rifts®, but looking back at it, my early gaming ideas all snuck into it and gelled into something new and fun.
Only the handful of people directly involved in the creation of the Rifts® Role-Playing Game can have any idea of how hard we worked on the project. Its size and scope, both conceptually and in physical work, was astronomical. Six intense months of writing, designing, illustrating, layout, and promotion were spent on producing the physical game. Over three years of concept work had preceded it. Everything had to be perfect. The use of color art, the black and white illustrations, the designs, the layout, what ideas and characters went in and what did not. How best to illustrate the world of Rifts® in both pictures and words to make it all vividly alive constantly preyed on my mind. To put in 16-20 hour days were common for both Kevin Long and myself. Maryann, Thom and Alex all put in an herculean effort in their work on Rifts® and more importantly, handling much of the daily business routine to give me the time to write it. I go on at such length about how much work and energy went into Rifts®, not for sympathy or praise, but to make the point that it was a labor of love. Something to which we gave our all! Something special!!
When you publish a roleplaying game, or any creative work, the final product contains a little piece of every person involved in its creation. We do the work because we love it, but we never know whether anybody else will recognize or appreciate that work. We never know whether a product will be a hit or a miss. Oh, we may have our suspicion and our hopes, but you never really know until its done and in the public's hands. Then, all you can do is cross your fingers and wait.
The first printing of Rifts®, 10,000 copies, sold out in three weeks. We were stunned with delight. Our original predictions were that if the game was "hot," we should sell out 10,000 copies in three MONTHS. That would have been seen as a howling success. On top of that, we were getting a never ending flood of letters and calls praising Rifts®, and pleading for more. Now! This has made Rifts® all the more special to us, because you, the gaming public, and our fans, immediately showed us that you approved of what we had done. After years of planning and long months of exhausting labor, we finally knew that Rifts® had not only exceeded our wildest expectations, but struck a nerve with role-players too.
Does this sound corny? Or a bit melodramatic? Maybe, but that's how the Palladium staff and I feel (and I've been accused of being corny and melodramatic in the past, eh Jim?). We love what we do. We're proud of what we do, and we're delighted to know what we do is appreciated.
1992: The Big Move
Three things about 1992 stand out most in my mind, the Rifts® RPG line as a bonafide phenomenon, Palladium's Robotech® video tapes were selling like hot cakes (the RPG line was doing great too), and we moved from our small, cramped offices in Detroit to a comparatively massive office (5000 sq ft) and warehouse (17,000 sq ft), in Taylor, Michigan - a southwest suburb of Detroit.
Back in 1981, Palladium Books was the dining room (converted into my studio) and the back porch (storage) of my tiny Detroit house. By 1983, Palladium was renting a small warehouse (1200 sq ft) and by 1987 bought a 3500 square foot warehouse a few blocks from its offices.
From 1985 to November 1992, Palladium's offices were located in the upstairs flat (about 1400 sq ft) of Maryann's and my new home. We lived downstairs and worked upstairs. This was ideal for a while. No drive to work, separate address and utilities, low overhead, plus the house was a big, beautiful, two family home built in 1919 with large oak trim along the floor and ceiling, leaded glass windows and French doors. However, by 1990, we had outgrown both the office and warehouse.
We spent the next two years searching for the perfect, new "home" for Palladium Books. One promising prospect was seized by the bank before we could buy it. Another was tied up for months between feuding partners (one wanted to sell, while the other didn't), and several attractive buildings turned out to be built on top of toxic dumps. Finally, we discovered the place in Taylor. The general design was perfect for our needs and offered plenty of space to expand. We took it!
1993: A year of transition and experimentation
We were adjusting to our new offices and increased overhead, and struggling with production schedules, while looking for new freelance and staff people.
Carl Macek's company Streamline, outbid Palladium for the rights to continue to produce Robotech® videocassettes, so our selling videocassettes of the TV episodes came to a sad end. Still, we made a killing while we had 'em, and we "were" actually a major force in creating the Japanimation video market in its early, formative days.
Miniatures, the noble experiment. We (well, Steve Sheiring and I) came up with the (not so) great idea of doing a line of miniatures for Rifts®. Unfortunately, our timing couldn't have been worse. We began production just as the market was turning from (questionably toxic) lead to safer and more expensive pewter. This meant we immediately ran into higher costs because we had make the minis in pewter. We also were having the miniatures designed out of house by freelancer sculptors and manufactured out of house by Rafm, all of which meant our minis cost 50-80% more than our competitors..
All sorts of scheduling and other problems arose at the same time that the miniature market was taking a dive. From what I understand, we sold good numbers (18002800 blisters in the first month of release), but nothing like what we were used to with our Rifts® books (9,000 to 15,000 copies sole in the first week). Perhaps needless to say, this grand idea languished, and after one year of production (20 different blister packs, nice stuff, many are still available), we had to cease production. We had hoped this would be temporary, and in fact, we have the "greens" for another half dozen or so packs that never saw production. Oh well, you know what they say about the "best laid plans of mice and men ..."
1994: The Card Craze Cometh!
By summer 1994, the Collectible Card Game (CCG) craze was in full swing. Magic the Gathering® had taken the gaming community by surprise and by storm! RPG manufacturers with glazed eyes from the phantom promise of making millions in cards, reduced their RPG production and turned to making card games.
For Palladium, this was an amusing time in some ways. Palladium Books was one of the few companies that didn't jump on the "card bandwagon". Our logic was simple: "We don't particularly care about card games, we love roleplaying games, so we'll just stick with what we love to do and know best." Enjoying what we do for a living has always been our first priority at Palladium (making money, and we make good money, has always been secondary). Life's just too damn frustrating, short and tough not to do something you love.
Consequently, we heard from other game manufacturers, distributors, store owners and gamers - hell, it seemed like everybody - that we were blind to the possibilities of cards, or stupid, or dinosaurs doomed to extinction, or all of the above.
We chuckled at the speculation of some (proclamations as fact by others) that roleplaying was dead (yeah, right).
Having a good market sense, and having seen "trends" like this in other markets come and go, we just smiled and quietly turned out attention to producing more and better RPGs. A strategy that has worked exceedingly well for Palladium. Comics Retailer (a trade magazine) and most distributors generally rank Palladium as the third largest RPG publisher; right behind TSR and While Wolf (we've been in the top 10 forever) and we plan to be around for a long, long time to come.
2001 Commentary: I wrote the "1994: The Card Craze Cometh" above, back in 1996. It's cool to be able to look back and see how well we predicted things. Since then, a lot of game companies, distributors and especially retail stores rode the CCG high and suffered when the CCG market crashed. Very few game companies were able to keep their CCG alive for more than a year, and many games died still born. Of course, Magic the Gathering remains popular, Pokemon rocketed on to the scene like a blazing comet before it burned out, and a number of CCGs and their manufacturers have been successful and continue on happily. Although the mad frenzy over Collectable Card Games has come to an end (at least until the next big game rockets to prominence), the CCG market is a viable one that will hang around. It is, after all, fun and different. Another avenue of game playing as valid and viable as board games, war games, traditional card games, RPGs, and scores of others.
Of course, role-playing games never went the way of the dinosaurs and Palladium's games remain extremely popular. We are glad we stuck with role-playing games, and we did a lot of exciting products during the CCG mania, including Palladium Fantasy RPG® Second Edition (1997), Heroes Unlimited™ RPG Second Edition (1998), launching The Rifter® sourcebook series (1998), Rifts® Novels, Systems Failure™ RPG (1999), Century Station™ (for HU2), The Coalition Wars Rifts® series, and new sourcebooks for most of our lines.
2000: 20th Year Anniversary!
2000 was Palladium Books' 20th anniversary. It doesn't seem possible that we've been around for 20 years, but its true. We had ad great time celebrating at Gen Con® 2000 and spread the fun with posters, dice bags, tote bags, and other goodies celebrating the fact tossed into the 2000 X-Mas Surprise Package (some are still available). We also celebrated by producing a "hard bound" edition of Heroes Unlimited™ (Second Edition) RPG; a signed and numbered gold edition limited to 600 copies.
2001: Precendence Entertainment® does Rifts® CCG
As I have said, "role-playing games" is what Palladium Books knows and loves, so you will NOT see us trying to make and distribute any Collectable Card Games. However, that does not mean we aren't open to licensing the rights to somebody else. In fact, we had been contacted by a number of companies when the CCG craze hit, to let them license a Rifts® for a CCG (computer games too). Unfortunately, we didn't feel comfortable with any of them, so we turned 'em all down.
Palladium Books believes we need to insure quality and a reasonably good and loyal adaptation of Rifts® (or any of our games) for any product we might license to a third party. A lot of the people who contact us want to change, corrupt or pollute the fundamental concepts, characters and fun aspects of our role-playing games, so we are hard cases and turn a lot of folks away. So we were pretty surprised when Precedence Entertainment approached us about doing a Rifts® CCG. We skeptical at first, but man, these guys new the Rifts® RPG and were willing to follow Rifts® as closely as possible. We were sold and contracts were signed.
Precedence did the card game, NOT Palladium Books. However, Palladium had reasonable approval on EVERYTHING, the Precedence people had been working closely with us to get details right, and the sketches for paintings that I had approved looked fantastic! Some of the artist on the job included Palladium's own John Zeleznik, Ramon Perez, Scott Johnson, Freddie Williams II, and Joachim Gmoser. Not to mention Dave Martin and some other talented ladies and gents.
Wiki note: This information needs to be expanded from 2001 to present.
- The above information is excerpted from Palladium Books® Company Profile.
- Palladium Books on Wikipedia