Apr 05, 1998 The Palladium Fantasy RPG (2nd Edition) For this review I will assume you are already at least somewhat familiar with RIFTS, another game from Palladium, since the second edition was created to make their game more RIFTS friendly among other things. If you are unfamiliar with RIFTS I do plan on doing a review of it at a later date. The Palladium Fantasy RPG ® 2nd Edition The 'Rifts ®' of fantasy gaming The Second Edition Palladium Fantasy RPG is a dramatically revised and updated second edition of the original fantasy game rules - the first significant revision since its release in 1983.Kevin Siembieda has personally wrote the comprehensive second edition, and had this to say: 'The fantasy RPG is the game that launched.
Front cover of Palladium Fantasy
Role-Playing Game, Second Edition core
rulebook, illustrated by Martin McKenna
|Designer(s)||Kevin Siembieda, Matthew Balent, Thomas Bartold, Bill Coffin, Steve Edwards, Mark Hall, Patrick Nowak, Erick Wujcik, et al.|
|Publication date||July 1983 (1st edition)|
June 1984 (1st ed., revised)
April 1996 (2nd edition)
The Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game (often shortened to Palladium Fantasy or PFRPG) is a game produced by Palladium Books. It is set in the Palladium world (use of the unofficial name 'Palladia' is discouraged by the publisher) some 10,000 years after a great war between the elves and dwarves. First published in July 1983 as The Palladium Role-Playing Game, the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game saw a second edition in April 1996. The two are largely compatible, though the second edition uses a later iteration of Palladium's ruleset to be more compatible with the rest of their Megaverse.
Like many fantasy games, the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game includes many different sentient races as playable characters. In addition to humans and the aforementioned elves and dwarves, there are gnomes (small humanoids who once had a republic), kobolds (wiry, subterranean humanoids who tend to be evil), goblins (small, ugly, stupid humanoids, some of whom have remnants of faerie magic), ogres (large, strong, primitive humans), orcs, trolls, changelings (who are capable of assuming many humanoid forms), and Wolfen. The Wolfen are large, humanoid wolves who have, in the past century, established their own Empire in the extreme north of the continent. Unlike many other fantasy games, there is very little interbreeding between the races. Humans and ogres are related closely enough that offspring are possible, but any children are considered ogres. Wolfen and the related Coyles (who resemble humanoid coyotes) may be able to breed, as one supplement (Adventures in the Northern Wilderness) implies that a non-player character may be half-Coyle/half-Wolfen, but this is not confirmed.
There are also a variety of classes available. They are divided up into Men at Arms, Men of Magic, Clergy, and optional Occupational Character Classes (O.C.C.s), as well as Psychic Character Classes (P.C.C.s) for characters whose abilities are primarily psychic in nature). As with most Palladium games, the character classes determine which skills are available to the character, and several grant special powers, as well.
The history of the Palladium world is divided into several 'ages', each corresponding to certain events and differing levels of ambient magical energy. While there are many historians in the Palladium world, the best known historical text is the Tristine Chronicles, of which several different versions exist. Most copies are incomplete, but it is regarded as the authority on Palladium history.
Any chronological account of the Palladium world must necessarily begin with the Old Ones. Their dominance constituted an Age of Chaos, abounding in magical energy, of which only myth and conflicting interpretations of scant historical evidence (found within the pages of the Tristine Chronicles) remain. From this, it cannot be conclusively determined whether the Old Ones themselves were progenitors of the universe entire or just one of numerous factors inscribed as part of the cosmological formula in which every being and plane of existence locates its respective origin. Either way, these entities were ancient beyond all reckoning and possessed of powers that defied comprehension (similar to the Great Old Ones found in the works of H. P. Lovecraft). While their true appearance is unknown, the Old Ones were most often depicted as amorphous mounds of flesh covered with swarming tentacles, unblinking eyes, and gaping maws. Each one laying claim to a particular aspect of evil, they feasted with impunity upon the suffering and attendant dark emotions that resulted from various torments inflicted upon those bound to their oppressive rule. Not only credited with the development of magic in myriad forms (a mere handful survived into the present, but none are fully intact), the Old Ones also gave rise to an untold number of races (only the elf, Titan, and changeling have endured), alongside a legion of slaves from other dimensions. Foremost among these, dragons conspired to bring about the Old Ones' downfall. They eventually convinced Ya-Blik (envy) and Al-vil (betrayal) to ensnare Xy (greatest of the Old Ones and representation of power incarnate) within a magical construct of his own design. As a result, Xy was transformed into Thoth, lord of wisdom and distinguished member of the Pantheon of Light, all memories of his prior self irrevocably erased. Open revolt was soon underway, and the archaic races, accompanied by Spirits and Gods of Light, used this opportunity to rise up against their former masters. At long last, in the wake of all-encompassing destruction and bloodshed, the Old Ones were subdued, placed in an enchanted slumber, and imprisoned in the nether regions of the universe through the combined might of Thoth, the elven mage Lictalon, the dragon Kym-nark-mar, and the angel Lo-kum. Although certain vestiges of the Old Ones' presence and influence managed to escape the ensuing campaign of eradication, the world and its inhabitants were able to establish a new order in their (relative) absence.
Following the Age of Chaos was the Age of Light, which was a time of very high ambient magic. It is during this time that humans first appear in history, and religious wars begin as rival gods contend for worshipers. This period is known to be very long, but essentially indeterminate in length and time.
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Sometime after the Age of Light was the Time of a Thousand Magicks. While magic was not substantially more powerful than during the Age of Light, it was at this point that magic reached a point of great diversity. This led to elves gaining great influence across the middle of the continent, and dwarves developing rune magic: the art of trapping souls in indestructible objects.
The elf and dwarf empires grew in strength, and cooperated closely for centuries, but the dwarves grew resentful of elven high-handedness, and the elves suspected the dwarves of scheming. This resulted in the Elf–Dwarf War, which nearly destroyed the two empires, as each tried to outdo the other in magical atrocities. It culminated with the destruction of the Golden City of Baalgor, and the creation of the Baalgor Wastelands.
Following the war, dwarves forever foreswore magic, and both cooperated to purge the world of 'evil' magic, sparing only a few types which they judged worthy of remaining in a Millennium of Purification. Many other traditions of magic went underground or to other worlds, however, or survived in a few members who have since spread.
Since that time, ten thousand years ago, humans have become the dominant race on the planet, controlling four of the major kingdoms or confederacies. In the past fifty years, the Wolfen of the Northern Wilderness have become highly organized, developing a society which now clashes regularly with humans in the Eastern Territories.
The game takes place on a single continent and several nearby islands. The extreme south of the world is tropical, having a jungle on the western coast, while the extreme northern portions of the country are subarctic forest. Given the size of the continent (approximately 2,500 miles north to south), this makes the planet slightly larger than Mars. The continent represents only part of the world, but it was revealed in the first edition supplement Island at the Edge of the World that the game setting is surrounded by a large, impenetrable black wall for unknown reasons. Land of the Damned Two: Eternal Torment also revealed that there are other lands on the Palladium world that were not involved in the war against the Old Ones.
Politically, there are several nations and several alliances amongst races. Humans are allied to both elves and dwarves, though those two races still maintain personal hostility because of the Elf–Dwarf War. Humans are in charge of the Western Empire, a decadent empire which lies between the two inland seas of the continent. The Eastern Territories are also called the 'Domain of Man' and have a large population of humans as well as elves and some dwarves. Immediately north of the Eastern Territories is the Wolfen Empire which is open to all races, though it is dominated by Wolfen and is somewhat suspicious of humans due to long-running conflicts with the Eastern Territories over some disputed land. To the south of the Eastern Territories is the predominantly human kingdom of Timiro. In between the Western Empire and the Eastern Territories lies the Old Kingdom, the former center of elven civilization, now populated by large numbers of orcs, ogres, and similar monsters. South of the Old Kingdom is the giant-run kingdom of Mount Nimro, which is centered around two volcanoes. West of Mount Nimro is the Land of the South Winds, of which only sketchy information has been presented, and the Baalgor Wastelands, created at the very end of the Elf–Dwarf War as the result of a catastrophic dwarven attack which destroyed the elven capital. Southwest of the Baalgor Wastelands and west of the Land of the South Winds are the Yin-Sloth Jungles.
The Palladium world is a magical world, with several different kinds of magic practiced, as well as psychic powers. In the past, many more types of magic were practiced, but immediately after the Elf-Dwarf War, a Millennium of Purification saw the end of many types of 'questionable' magic. The major remaining forms of magic are Wizardry (spell-casting), Diabolism (magical writing, used for wards and empowerment), Summoning (using magic circles to protect, to bind demons and other creatures, or activate various powers), Alchemy (creating magic items), Elementalism (in which a person, known as a Warlock, uses a special bond with one or two classical elements to cast spells and summon elementals), Witchcraft (in which a person signs a pact with a demon, trading souls, servitude, or other favors in exchange for power), Priestly Magic, and Druidism (nature magic). Psychic powers are also common, though several races lack any psionic potential at all. Those characters whose race does have psychic potential have a chance to possess a few powers, regardless of their O.C.C. All of these operate on Palladium's standard system of magic being powered by Potential Psychic Energy (P.P.E.), and psychic powers being fueled by Inner Strength Points (I.S.P.), both working like magic points.
In the May 1984 edition of Dragon (Issue 85), Ken Rolston thought this RPG compared very favourably to the industry giant, AD&D. His only caveat was that for the relatively high price — $20 — it should have included a box, dice and other player materials. However, he admired the 'Attractive combat and skill systems. First-class magical character classes — complete with magical circles, mystic symbols, and elemental magics — offer simple but comprehensive fantasy magic. Nice treatment of alignments and deities. Contains an outline of a campaign world and a brief but imaginative introductory scenario.' However, he concluded that since it was only a book, 'At a price of $20 for a paperback, only a fair value.'
In the May-June 1985 edition of Space Gamer (Issue No. 74), Jerry Epperson was more ambivalent, saying 'The Palladium Role-Playing Game is a game that aspired to greatness but fell just a little short of the mark. With the advent of RuneQuest, The Fantasy Trip, and Lands of Adventure, Palladium is just a little out of step. GMs who are looking to add spice to their D&D games, or who really don't demand a great deal of realism from game mechanics, should by all means pick up Palladium. But if you're searching for the ultimate in 'realism' and innovative design . . . keep looking.'
In the November 1987 edition of Dragon (Issue 127), Ken Rolston reviewed the regional adventure guide Adventures on the High Seas, published in 1987, and found much to his liking: 'The Palladium fantasy campaign world is full of magic and monsters, just like FRP campaigns should be, and this pack contains a little bit of everything, from orcs and lost temples to pirates and crazed cult assassins.. What it lacks in organization and sophistication it more than makes up for in enthusiasm and imagination.' Ten years later, in the December 1997 edition of Dragon (Issue 242), Rick Swan reviewed the second edition of Adventures on the High Seas, published in 1996, and called it 'another winner.' He rated the book 5 out of 6, saying, 'The seafaring stuff [is] the best of its kind I’ve ever seen.'
Andy Butcher reviewed Palladium Fantasy RPG 2nd Edition for Arcane magazine, rating it a 7 out of 10 overall. Butcher comments that 'if you haven't got any of the other [Palladium] games and your campaign is based firmly in the Palladium World, then there's a great deal of useful stuff here.'
In a 1996 reader poll conducted by Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time, The Palladium Fantasy RPG was ranked 26th. Editor Paul Pettengale commented: 'Well, the rules are almost identical to those in Palladium's Rifts roleplaying system, and as such it's well suited to existing players of that game, who will have little to learn. Even newcomers should have little difficulty with The Palladium Fantasy RPG, though. The rules lie somewhere between AD&D and Rolemaster in complexity, and combine character classes with a simple skills system. A good alternative to the better known Fantasy RPGs.'
Monsters From Palladium