Tome of Horror

Recently, I read through a new Palladium book. I’m playing in a game of Dead Rising so I read through the rulebook – cover to cover – which was published a little more than half a decade ago. This wasn’t my first Palladium Games book as I’ve read quite a few in the past, having played in a number of Heroes Unlimited campaigns. Mostly in High School. I never paid much attention to the prose or to the presentation of the rules, knowing the bulk was written in the mid-eighties. It was very odd reading through an RPG rulebook written a couple years prior to the release of D&D 4th Edition that read like it was still written in the mid-eighties.

I’m not talking about just the rules. Many people like that Palladium has stood firm and not revised its ruleset since the early ‘80s. It was the actual writing of the book that stood out, the prose and editing. The oddest part was the justifications. The little paragraphs ala Gygax where the author rants about how the health tracking system or levels are actually realistic, or defence design choices. Sometimes, these little passages dominate pages.

The presentation was also lacklustre  It’s one thing to write a ruleset that hasn’t changed in thirty years, it’s another to present a book that looks like it was published thirty years ago. Even if you don’t change the actual rules themselves, you can change the formatting, layout, and structuring of the rules. There are PDF products made in Open Office by amateurs with slicker layout and formatting.