|Industry||Role-playing game (pen and paper) publisher|
|Genre||Fantasy, horror, science fiction, superhero|
|Founded||Detroit, Michigan (April 1981 )|
|Founder(s)||Kevin Siembieda (principal)
|Headquarters||39074 Webb Court
Westland, Michigan 48185-7606
|Products||Beyond the Supernatural
Palladium Fantasy RPG
|References: "Palladium Books Company Profile". Westland, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved April 9, 2013.|
Palladium Books is a publisher of role-playing games (RPGs) perhaps best known for its popular, expansive Rifts series (1990–present). Palladium was founded April 1981 in Detroit, Michigan by current president and lead game designer Kevin Siembieda, and is now based in Westland, Michigan. The company enjoys the support of a small but dedicated fanbase who praise its various game series for their innovative settings and ease of adaptability to various personal preferences, play styles, and power levels.
The first game released by Palladium Books was The Mechanoid Invasion in 1981, followed by the first-editions of The Palladium Role-Playing Game in 1983 and Heroes Unlimited in 1984, with Valley of the Pharaohs releasing between the two.
Other popular titles include adaptations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1985) and Robotech (1986). 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. In September 2007, Palladium finalized negotiations with Harmony Gold USA to produce an RPG based on Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.
Palladium claims that it was the first publisher in the RPG industry to adopt the practice of perfect binding its books, a move that has since been emulated by many other companies. Palladium also releases most of its titles in paperback, whereas other major RPG publishers mostly publish hardback editions. This format choice has allowed Palladium to provide full sourcebooks at a lower cost than many other game lines.
Although Palladium did not establish the use of universal game mechanics, it was one of the first companies to successfully create role-playing games in multiple genres; for this reason, its house system may be described as "Megaversal" – "not universal, but more than just one world."
Palladium Books has licensed several of their intellectual properties to third-party developers. In October 2000, Rifts was licensed to the now defunct Precedence Entertainment for a collectible card game. In May 2004, Rifts was licensed to create the Rifts: Promise of Power video game for the failed Nokia N-Gage gaming platform. Only one book has ever been published by another company under license from Palladium: Rifts: Manhunter from Myrmidon Press, released December 1994 (Palladium cancelled the license in May 1996).
In May 2003, Palladium announced that Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Walt Disney Pictures had optioned the rights to make a film based on the Rifts RPG series. At the time, Bruckheimer was said to be developing the movie in conjunction with screenwriter David Franzoni. However, as of August 2011, there is no information regarding the project available on the Internet Movie Database. An April 19, 2006 press release asserted that "until Jerry Bruckheimer has a script he loves, the movie can’t get the green light." In the April 14, 2011 weekly update, Siembieda said that the film option would be renewed for a ninth year.
Embezzlement case and financial difficulties
On April 19, 2006, Kevin Siembieda issued a statement that revealed Palladium Books' critical financial difficulties due to alleged embezzlement and theft resulting in losses from $850,000 to $1.3 million, coupled with a series of delays in negotiating license deals for their properties in other media (the Nokia N-Gage game, the Jerry Bruckheimer movie, a massively multiplayer online game license, and other potential deals). They raised money to continue operations by selling a signed and numbered – but not, strictly speaking, "limited edition" – art print by Kevin Siembieda, as well as by urging fans to buy directly from their online store if their financial situations would allow for it.
An April 26, 2006 article in the Kingsport 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 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 revenue from increased sales of books, admissions to its first annual Open House, and purchases of the special art print had covered most of the short-term damages it had incurred. This period of financial instability became referred to by Siembieda as the "Crisis of Treachery" in keeping with his stance that the root cause of the difficulties was the embezzlement perpetrated by Sheiring.
Palladium is entirely controlled and owned by Kevin Siembieda. Some writers who have been published by Palladium have stated that Siembieda's method of management was too centralized and not adapted to the size the company had reached (no delegation of responsibilities, lack of open dialogue with employees, bad interpersonal relationships), which they cited as a reason they were no longer working for the company. One of the writers later apologized for the manner in which he made his statements, but did not retract his claims.
Palladium is aggressive in preventing wide distribution of fan-made conversions of their games to other systems (such as the D20 System), and also strongly discourages converting the intellectual property of others into their system; while they cannot prevent it, doing so is not allowed in venues owned by Palladium Books. Palladium also routinely threatens legal action against fans who distribute conversions in other venues by issuance of cease and desist orders. 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.
- The Rifter is a magazine published for all lines.
- After the Bomb, a post-apocalyptic RPG that began as an alternative campaign setting for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, but soon developed into its own series. 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. An incomplete second edition core rulebook was released in January 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.
- Rifts Chaos Earth, a prequel to Rifts, set immediately after a war that triggers a magical apocalypse, opening dimensional gates that unleash monsters upon a technologically advanced future Earth.
- Dead Reign, a post-apocalyptic RPG where mankind is waging war on a zombie menace.
- Heroes Unlimited, a superhero RPG.
- Macross II, based on the anime of the same name. The 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 & Superspies is based on both martial-arts and espionage movies with some science fiction elements 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.
- Phase World / Three Galaxies setting, a space opera science fiction offshoot of the RIFTS universe.
- Revised RECON, originally a Vietnam War-based RPG, it was later updated for modern-era combat involving mercenaries in fictional hotspots mirroring such places 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 original Robotech license began in 1986 and lapsed in 2001; however, an August 26, 2006 post on the company forums declared Palladium's intent to reacquire the license due to the new sequel, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. Contract negotiations lasted longer than anticipated, and it was not until September 6, 2007 before Palladium was able to announce the deal had been finalized. The Shadow Chronicles role-playing game was published in a "manga-sized" form factor, rather than the standard 8-1/2 by 11-inch size of all its prior publications, a move that engendered some controversy among Palladium fans, prompting the announcement of a full-sized "deluxe" edition of the sourcebook. On May 20, 2013, Palladium Books raised $1,442,312 from a Kickstarter campaign to develop a new miniature wargaming system called Robotech RPG Tactics, which is scheduled to ship in June 2014.
- 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 comic books. However, due to waning sales (blamed on the childish nature of the original television cartoon), 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 an historical RPG set in Ancient Egypt.
- "Palladium Books Company Profile". Westland, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- Wayne Smith (April 19, 2006). "Please Help Save Palladium from Going Under". Forums of the Megaverse: Murmurs from the Megaverse. Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
- Kevin Siembieda (April 14, 2011). "Palladium Books Weekly Update". Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Matthew Lane (April 26, 2006). "Book publisher employee sentenced in embezzlement case". Kingsport Times-News (Kingsport, TN). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2006.
- Kevin Siembieda (April 26, 2006). "The perpertrator and some answers". Forums of the Megaverse: Murmurs from the Megaverse. Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved September 7, 2006.
- User: Bill Coffin (September 22, 2003). "Thread: What's up with Palladium and BTS?". RPGnet tabletop roleplaying forum. Berkeley, CA: Skotos Tech. Post 184. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- User: Steve Conan Trustrum (September 23, 2003). "Thread: What's up with Palladium and BTS?". RPGnet tabletop roleplaying forum. Berkeley, CA: Skotos Tech. Post 212. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- User: The Grey Elf (September 23, 2003). "Thread: What's up with Palladium and BTS?". RPGnet tabletop roleplaying forum. Berkeley, CA: Skotos Tech. Post 218. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- User: Bill Coffin (September 23, 2003). "Thread: What's up with Palladium and BTS?". RPGnet tabletop roleplaying forum. Berkeley, CA: Skotos Tech. Post 227. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- User: Bill Coffin (February 15, 2007). "Thread: A Public Apology to Kevin Siembieda". RPGnet tabletop roleplaying forum. Berkeley, CA: Skotos Tech. Retrieved February 15, 2007.
- Chris Meadows "Robotech Master" (February 19, 2007). "EPISODE 22b – Kevin Siembieda Interview, Part 2" (MP3). Space Station Liberty. TalkShoe. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
- Kevin Siembieda (August 26, 2006). "Palladium's Survival Strategies". Forums of the Megaverse: Murmurs from the Megaverse. Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
- Chris Meadows "Robotech Master" (September 14, 2007). "Robotech RPG Talk with Tommy Yune & Kevin Siembieda, Part 1" (MP3). Space Station Liberty. TalkShoe. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
- User: Drewkitty (September 19, 2008). "Topic: normal sized or manga sized...". Forums of the Megaverse—MDC Worlds: The Shadow Chronicles, Robotech, Macross II. Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Kevin Siembieda (June 13, 2008). "Palladium Books Press Release". Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
- Palladium Books (2013-05-20). "Robotech® RPG Tactics". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
- Palladium Books Online
- RPGnet game index publisher information – List of series and titles with summaries, reviews, and user comments.
- Kevin Siembieda... J'ACCUSE! – Documentation and criticism of the release schedule at Palladium Books.