Palladium Books

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Palladium Books, Inc.
Private
Industry Role-playing game (pen and paper) publisher
Genre Fantasy, horror, science fiction, superhero
Founded Detroit, Michigan (April 1981 (1981-04))
Founder Kevin Siembieda (principal)
Anthony Falzon
Alex Marciniszyn
William Messner-Loebs
Erick Wujcik
Headquarters 39074 Webb Court
Westland, Michigan 48185-7606
Products Beyond the Supernatural
Heroes Unlimited
Palladium Fantasy RPG
Rifts
Website palladiumbooks.com
Footnotes / 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.

History[edit]

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 Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles Role-Playing Game, 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.[1] 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."

Licensing[edit]

Palladium Books has licensed several of their intellectual properties to third-party developers.

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 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.

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. An April 19, 2006 press release asserted that "until Jerry Bruckheimer has a script he loves, the movie can’t get the green light."[2] In the April 14, 2011 weekly update, Siembieda said that the film option would be renewed for a ninth year.[3]

Embezzlement case and financial difficulties[edit]

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).[2] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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.

Criticisms[edit]

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.[6][7][8] One of the writers later apologized for the manner in which he made his statements, but did not retract his claims.[9]

Robotech RPG Tactics[edit]

Palladium Books and Kevin Siembieda continue to receive criticism regarding the handling of Robotech RPG Tactics after a successful Kickstarter campaign raising $1,442,312 from 5,342 backers, ending on May 20, 2013.[10] During the campaign, Palladium specified an intended release date of Robotech RPG Tactics as early as 2013 Holiday Season. Shortly before expected release, Palladium Books shifted the projection to Spring/Summer of 2014; later the date was shifted again, to late Summer/Autumn 2014 with international backers several months after. Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books attributed these shifting dates to a number of unforeseen issues including Chinese New Year causing production to start later than expected.

On September 25, 2013, Update #113 echoed the intention of a holiday release and promised Kickstarter backers receipt of product prior to retail distribution.[11] This was followed by an update in November 2013 listing several unforeseen issues holding up production and further delay.[12] On September 8, 2014 several Kickstarter backers indicated receipt of their copies of the game, while the remainder of rewards were awaiting delivery from China via cargo ship. There were six cargo ships containing backer rewards, as indicated in Update #156 to Kickstarter backers. This same update also provided some clarification on delivery schedules, and outlined Palladium Book's 'two wave' product release schedule designed to offset additional delay in providing promised products. Some backers perceived the update implied the second wave of items were nearing production. Citing no specific dates however, Palladium estimated mid to late October 2014 as the general time Kick Starter rewards would be available for delivery to backers.

On July 14, 2014 Palladium Books issued a plea to backers seeking permission to sell any available copies of Robotech RPG Tactics to attendees of Gen Con 2014, a perceived divergence from an earlier promise to make copies unavailable to the public until backer rewards were fully delivered. Kevin Siembieda wrote:

"...I announced we are planning to bring some Robotech® RPG Tactics™ product to sell. A few hundred of six items: the main box game, four of the expansion packs (Tomahawk/Defender Destroids, Regult Battlepods, Artillery Battlepods, and Glaug Command) and the rule book. That would mean a few hundred people will get these items before most of the 5,200+ Kickstarter backers...I implore you to say “yes.” Please give us your permission. We believe it would be disastrous not to have the small selection of items I've listed available for sale. Not having them will hurt the launch of Robotech® RPG Tactics™ and Palladium Books...Anyone who does NOT respond by July 21st [2014], we will consider to be a “yes".[13]

Ultimately, the survey showed overwhelming support for allowing the sale with a majority of supporting votes coming from non-participatory backers. Several days before Gen Con, Palladium Books received word the shipping containers containing Robotech RPG Tactics had been tagged for inspection by US Customs subsequently blocking any opportunity to take the game to Gen Con and further delaying shipment to backers, projected at the time to early to mid-September 2014 for US residents.

International backers had not received their backer rewards prior to April 2015 nor had report of backer rewards shipping outside of the US been made my Palladium Books, despite reports of Robotech RPG Tactics boxed-sets appearing in shops outside the United States. International backers receiving items mid April 2015.

At Gen Con 2014, an attendee received one unopened core box game used for display at Gen Con and recorded an unboxing video of Robotech RPG Tactics to allow backers to see the final production quality.[14] Subsequently, many fans expressed concern over several production oversights and issues. Notably, included game pieces were missing paint, paper materials used to play the game were missing altogether from all units shipped, game pieces contained manufacturing errors such as injection mold seams and pitted surfaces, and assembly instructions were vague or inaccurate with context to materials shown to backers throughout the Kickstarter Campaign.

In Update #154 to Kickstarter backers, Palladium books issued a brief apology to backers and fans, "Oh, and we only recently realized that the plastic blast template is not painted, and it is too late to do anything about it now. This detail slipped past all of us – Palladium, Ninja Division, the factory, everyone. Sorry. It still looks great, is a quality piece of plastic and is easy to use.".[15]

Printed materials missing from initial backer rewards were later released in low resolution watermarked PDF format on the website DriveThru RPG for backers to print copies along with updated assembly instructions to all game pieces requiring assembly, free of charge.[16]

In September 2015 several backers openly discussed filing complaint with the Attorney General and Better Business Bureau in Michigan, with claims of filing becoming more public in December 2015 during speculative discussions from Siembada's comments regarding the game.[17]

Palladium Books made few statements regarding Robotech RPG Tactics through 2015, particularly regarding specific release dates. However, in January 2016 Kevin released a statement on the KickStarter project page remaining silent regarding the second portion of backer rewards:

″...As I have stated, for strategic and business reasons we have been unable to share with you everything Palladium has been exploring, considering and working on. As you know, one of the things we have been doing is looking into and considering possible ways to reduce part counts and make the game pieces easier to put together. As we get into actual production and manufacturing for Wave Two this year, we will share plenty with you. And we think you’ll be pleased. Considering all the delays and frustration of the past, we do not want to even speculate on release dates and other details until we have hard, solid information we are confident with ourselves.″[18][19]

As of February 2016, only 176 backers of over 5000 have claimed receipt of their full backer rewards and more than 1000 days have passed since the initial Kickstarter project ended. Currently the Better Business Bureau has 14 complaints directed toward Palladium Books from July 2014 through February 2016, one of which is a complaint with no response.[20][21]

Conversions[edit]

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.[22]

Game lines[edit]

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, three 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. In 2007 Palladium reacquired the license and published the The Shadow Chronicles in 2008. 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.
  • 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Palladium Books Company Profile". Westland, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b 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. 
  3. ^ Kevin Siembieda (April 14, 2011). "Palladium Books Weekly Update". Westfield, MI: Palladium Books. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "Robotech RPG Tactics". Kickstarter.com. Palladium Books. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Robotech RPG Tactics Update #113". Kickstarter.com. Palladium Books. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Kickstarter.com". Robotech RPG Tactics Update #116. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "GEN CON INDY – We Leave It Up To Our Backers". Palladium Books.com. Kevin Siembieda. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Robotech RRT Unboxing Pt 1/2". YouTube. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Robotech RPG Tactics Update #154". Kickstarter - Robotech RPG Tactics. Palladium Books. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Robotech RPG Tactics Additional Materials". DriveThru PRG. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "Kevin Siembieda of Palladium Books wants to re-start the conversation of RRT". DakkaDakka. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  18. ^ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rrpgt/robotech-rpg-tacticstm/posts/1478152
  19. ^ "Robotech RPG Tactics Update #190". Kickstarter. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  20. ^ http://www.bbb.org/detroit/business-reviews/books-new/palladium-books-inc-in-westland-mi-13022151/complaints
  21. ^ "Palladium Books, Inc.". BBB. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  22. ^ Chris Meadows "Robotech Master" (February 19, 2007). "EPISODE 22b – Kevin Siembieda Interview, Part 2" (MP3). Space Station Liberty. TalkShoe. Retrieved February 20, 2007.  External link in |work= (help)

External links[edit]