Old School RPG – Playing Palladium Fantasy RPG (1st edition) again and loving it!

<—An actual picture of our party Last Friday night, I had a few members of my old group come over and join my wife and I for a night of 1980’s RPG goodness.

We played Palladium Fantasy RPG (a mix of 1st edition and 1.5th edition).  The last time we had successfully played this game was probably 1991 – minus my wife, who’d never played it.  We still have all the same books, minus a few covers.

The longest running campaign I’ve ever played in (and ran) took place from approximately 1985 through 1990, with a few changes to the party, was a Palladium Fantasy RPG campaign using the 1st edition.  I had the party travel back and forth through the known world, and a few unknown bits as well.  They were cast back in time 500 years and had to work their way back to the present. They fought gods and an assassin cult, saved the day countless times, and took on a radioactive dragon.  We went through just about every adventure in the books and many that were not.

For those who haven’t played this system, or who are only experienced with 2.0 or, worse, RIFTS, let me explain a bit about PFRPG.

It’s sort of rules light.  Not that there aren’t rules, it’s just that they are sometimes not always fully explained.  Or included in the text at all.  Or are fully explained in a way that makes little sense.  Really, that’s the biggest issue with this game, the rules and how they’re presented in the book.  It wasn’t a real problem for us when we were 14 and we were determined that it wouldn’t get in the way of a good game on Friday as well.

It’s a mix of percentage based and d20 style playing.  Skill checks are done on a percentage basis – hitting and defending via a d20.  This is where my warm, rosy glow of enjoyment stems from.  I like the fact that Palladium features not only a to-hit roll, but a dodge and parry roll as well.  Here’s combat I can get behind!  Not only can I try to hit things with big sticks and pointy stuff, but when they try to hit me back, I can take an active roll in stopping them!

Each race has certain class restrictions and roll different numbers of d6 per attribute.  Humans are straight 3s down the board for the 8 stats.  Other races can have anywhere from 2d6 to 5d6 for attributes depending on what they are.  We did not roll and drop the lowest die, as that was for wimps in the 80s.  As it was then, so it would be tonight!

Every single class is different from every other class.  There is no generic fighter, but rather Mercenaries, Soldiers, Longbowmen, Assassins, Knights, Paladins (non-magical) Rogues and Rangers (also non-magical).  Each fighting type fulfills a certain role, not only in the party, but for role playing purposes.  Want to play that scruffy Dwarf who ran away from home at the tender age of 43 and joined up with a band of fighters for hire?  The Mercenary is the perfect class for you.  Palladins, on the other side, embody all that is classy and right in the whole might-makes-right thing – they live by codes, which offer no end of fun for role playing possibilities.

Magical classes are just as interesting. Wizards at 1st level can cast 10th level spells, if they can find them.  You start off knowing 6 basic spells and it’s up to you to find, coerce, purchase or steal the rest. Witches make pacts with demons and devils, Warlocks manipulate and summon the elements, Diabolists deal in runes and don’t cast spells, and Sorcerers summon evil creatures to do their bidding.

Priests connect with the gods for their powers, and can heal other starting at first level – but they cannot heal themselves.  Healers are more doctors with some magical powers that assist them.

In all, it’s an amazing concept for a high fantasy RPG and the night went very well, even though we mostly created our characters and had just two combats.

Our party consists of (all 1st level)

Elf Wizard: Hamash Snozzle (me)
Elf Assassin: Heretofor Unknamed (me)
Kobold Mind Mage: I forget what his name is (Dan)
Human Warlock: Missy (Wife)
Cavtroop (our technical Vizier) is GMing.

It was a fantastic night of actual role playing. No minis, not really any maps necessary. Combat was a breeze (think 15 minutes to complete a combat with 3 enemies and our four characters).  And I had the chance to actually role play more than I have in many modern, rules heavy settings.

My Wizard had to leave his college of magic rather hastily after an ill-advised tryst with the headmaster’s daughter. Fleeing with my robes and my six basic spells, I hooked up with the rest of the party and I’m reluctantly adventuring to make ends meet.  He is intelligent but lazy, a miser and a coward to boot.  I haven’t laughed this much at a game night in years.

My Assassin wasn’t actually in this session – we needed a fourth player, who could act as a bit of muscle, and so he was rolled up at the end of the night.

Do we house rule? Oh hell yes.  The first thing we did was establish a system to do perception rolls (average IQ + ME scores, add bonus to 10% skill which increases at 8%/level for those who care). Whenever we encounter a rule that doesn’t make sense, or just may not be there, we add another house rule to the list.  So far – working great!

We may get together again this weekend. If that’s the case, I hope to record our next session (which will feature a lot more play and a lot less character creation, eating dinner and managing a small gang of children).  Anyone know of any good Android apps for the Droid that turn it into a decent voice recorder?

[tags]palladium, rpg, role playing games, old school[/tags]

4 thoughts on “Old School RPG – Playing Palladium Fantasy RPG (1st edition) again and loving it!

Add yours

  1. Hells yes, my favourite of the old school remixes of classic D&D.

    Unfortunately, the RIFTS edition is the only edition regularly played anymore it seems… I’ve played a few one-off games in the past three years, but haven’t had a chance to really get into the game since about a dozen years ago now.

    Heck, I recently pulled out my old character from that game and posted it.

    My level 6 troll palladin


  2. I love that system! Still have all my books, and added a few since then. Huge fan of Siembieda’s creativity and interesting approaches. I still remember that session Ben where I got the killing critical on a Balrog with my staff, henceforce the staff was known as bonk.


  3. @Dyson – Gwenevrail looks like a lot of fun to play! We are certainly having a blast with our group.

    @Mark – Ahhh Bonk. Long shall that staff smite balrogs!


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