In a Way, the Palladium Megaversal System is Pretty Good

Palladium Books has published a limited run of hardcover editions of some of their more popular game lines (Palladium Fantasy, Heroes Unlimited, Beyond the Supernatural). I’ve added these hardcovers to my collection and while reading this weekend, I stumbled across a lot of material I had forgotten was in these books. While there is plenty in the system that could be fixed up, there is also a lot of material that is actually really good.

I can’t recall how many times I have heard people discuss the mechanics of combat and the skill system of the Palladium Megaversal System, but what surprised me is how those were the smaller sections of the book. For example, in the Palladium Fantasy 2E core book, a whole 18 pages are dedicated to developing the story of the character, challenges they can struggle with (specifically, non-combat topics), tips and info on roleplaying, developing the character’s background, and how to run a game as a storyteller. The skill system is only 12 pages or so, and the combat section is only 5 pages. Heck, of the 16 possible things you can do to earn experience, only 3 concern killing or subduing an enemy. The rest are all about roleplaying your character and engaging in the game in more ways than just swinging your sword or blasting an opponent. There is even a bonus in there for avoiding unnecessary violence.

And that combat system, I had forgotten much of it but reading it again after all these years, it’s actually a really good system. It splits a character’s life into Hit Points (when real harm is done) and Structural Damage Capacity (HP), or taking hits before real hard is done. I had completely forgotten how the AR system for armor worked but I like it a lot. Attacks that roll between 5 and the AR of the armor hit the armor and do damage to it, before it hurts the target. If the attack beats the AR, you’ve hit a vulnerable spot and do damage to the target’s SDC, and then Hit Points if enough damage is done. Targets have the option to parry or dodge attacks and can roll with certain types of attacks to take less damage. And if you do suffer serious harm, there are real long term consequences. Although it does mark the section as optional, if you take serious harm, there is a physical and mental effect on the character that takes time to recover from. You don’t just bounce around until your HP are drained and then you’re suddenly down. Taking a bit hit, even if it doesn’t knock you down has a big effect on you. It’s even worse if you DO go down. Healing gets you back in the fight, but you’ll be dealing with the consequences for a while. A lot of options for bigger than normal hits and different ways to attack foes built-in for all characters, not just characters who have advanced hand to hand combat training.

Note: The skills are one of the systems in PMS that could use an update, maybe something closer to the skills in BRP would be appropriate which is already similar. Mega-damage could use a bit of work too.

Anyway, PMS isn’t perfect, but it is a lot better than I remember it being. That’s my random gaming thought for the day.


I still enjoy Palladium, and when I run Rifts I ditch MDC and just use AR ratings (I think the old Conversion Book 1 had this info).

I did love the XP system. I played a campaign with my younger brothers and they were regularly using the credits they stole or received in missions to fund hospitals and orphanages, and then argued with me about how many lives they helped save, netting more XP. Never had such altruistic mercenaries in my other games


I wish I still had my first edition Palladium Fantasy book. I think it might represent the first non-T$R, non-AD&D book I purchased. Even in those early days, I was trying to get my players turned onto something else… to no success.

This reminds me of how that first group ended: I was dead tired of running AD&D after high school, and specifically of murderhobo characters. So I went all in on GURPS for a gritty fantasy game. Built a setting and detailed pregens who were wired into that setting, their village, and one another. And then offered them up to my players… who of course said nope. Thus ended that. They didn’t want to learn a new game (or, to be fair, to be served up someone else’s idea of a cool PC), and I couldn’t bear to keep running AD&D, so there it all ended. Memories!

Oh yes, Palladium: I remember loving the Warlock and the rune magic… I think I need to DTRPG a copy of that book.

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I’m enjoying this book so much I am prepping a one-shot for my group. I want them to experience it at least once and I can relive my early days. :slight_smile:

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Always wanted to get a legit Robotech Campaign to the table. Invid invasion or expeditionary force. Have all the books. Tried a couple times in the mid 90s to get it going but we were never bale to get it rolling.


Oh man. Totally need the after-action report on this!

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Most of my Robotech knowledge is from my childhood. I remember small tidbits. I started rewatching a few years back but at the time, it was kind of a slog. I think I need to revisit the series.

You got it! :slight_smile:

I’ve played RIFTS and Robotech, was, but got abit gonzo (rifts with the scale of events and robotech with the amount of missiles and bad guys flying around)

I’ve run Palladium Fantasy on Greyhawk setting.

Character generation took awhile, there are many things to check, but each Occupational Character Class had it’s own identity (more than 2e AD&D and way more than Rolemaster at the time)

The main difference we felt was because armour got worn down you needed to carry spares, so your dungeon trek was not just heroes, it was retainers and henchmen, it was an expedition, wagons, guards at your campsite, some real logistics required.

The alignment and combat styles were more descriptive than most other games of that generation too.

On the flip side, some of the early additions had some awful stuff (the list of mental disorders for example) also treating each race as monoculture (other games did this too) was lazy and narrow minded.