I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Hey Herb, didn’t you start this blog because of an interest in old school game and especially old school D&D. Why are you focusing on Rifts, a cheesy 90s game that everyone knows is junk.”. Okay, maybe you aren’t doing the judging but are wondering why Rifts instead Gamma World or Runequest or Starships & Spacemen or anything by Sine Nomine given how much you’re into their games. I contend that Rifts and Palladium games in general are old school. In fact, I’ll lay down my marker and say Palladium is the oldest old school company still in existence and is ignored by the OSR to the OSR’s loss. Actually, ignored is probably too strong a word. I think the OSR and the Palladium fan base should naturally overlap and just never have.
The Palladium system, as I have pointed out before, is a variation of OD&D. As such, it uses Gygaxian building blocks. Palladium has used this to advertise all their games as compatable. That’s a bit of a stretch but it does mean Palladium supplements are great supplements for an old school game. A couple of year’s ago when I tried to do a month of posts using Jeff Rients’s Alchemical Formula I picked Palladium’s Mystic China as a supplement. I think any OSR oriented person would do well to add a Palladium book or two to their collection. Picking the right one, such as Rifts England or Splicers can add a strange spice to your game not dissimilar to early Arduin in feel.
Since the late nineties Palladium has produced a quarterly house magazine called The Rifter. To give an idea of the contents here is the table of contents for issue #4, the first I bought (for its Nightbane content):
- From Behind the Desk (editorial)
- Palladium New, Info, & Coming Attractions
- Palladium Fantasy RPG Hook, Line, & Sinkers for the Western Empire (scenario outlines)
- Knight of the Dinner Table (yes, the comic)
- Palladium Fantasy RPG Long, Strange Trips (G.M. tips & ideas)
- Palladium Fantasy RPG Death is Not Always Final (monsters)
- Nightbane RGP The Tribes of the Moon (character races and classes)
- Rifts A.R.C.I.E. Three vs. The World (adventure)
- Rifts The Evolved (monsters)
- The Siege Against Tolkeen (gamer fiction)
- Hammer of the Forge (gamer fiction)
- Optional Character Sheet
Pretty much looks like an issue of Fight On to me except for the fiction.
Finally, the Palladium Forums at the company’s website spend a lot of time on either houseruling things (Palladium is like OD&D, every game is unique) or doing new material. There is less of a web presence and much of it has been static for a decade but it is still there.
Palladium’s heritage and fan base are very much OSR types. While they might put a bit more emphasis on cannon, especially the Rifts section, for game worlds with as many books there is a smaller cannon police feel. I think if you’re into the OSR mindset Palladium games are a great fit.