2012 Palladium Christmas Surprise Package

I've made a yearly habit of purchasing a Christmas Surprise Package from Palladium Books in the fall, and other than a "never got my package" issue last year (which could have easily been someone snatching the box off my front doorstep), I've been more than pleased with this yearly deal.

Each year, I browse through the online store and jot down a handful of things that sound interesting. Palladium has produced so many books that I never have a hard time finding things I want and don't yet have. This time, my list looked like this:

What did I receive? Rifts Black Market ($24.95), Fleets of the Three Galaxies ($16.95), Armageddon Unlimited ($20.95), Dimension Book 14: Thundercloud Galaxy ($20.95), and Deception's Web ($9.95). That's $93.75 worth of product for only $48.39... and that's just the MSRP. I don't know what the monetary value increase would be (if any), but all of the books (except for Deception's Web) are signed by multiple artists and authors.

I haven't read any of these titles in depth, but these are my initial thoughts:

Rifts Black Market - I love the CGI cover. It's the first Palladium has ever done (to my knowledge, at least), and it's a style that I would love to see more of in the future. While there are some really goofy things I noticed while flipping through (the walker-bike, for example), there are also sections that I cannot wait to find the time to read thoroughly... like the Rift Runner O.C.C. and the Ironmage, a techno-wizard's enhanced glitter boy suit that reminds me of a cross between a traditional glitter boy suit (style) and an Eldar wraithlord (crazy cool runes).

Fleets of the Three Galaxies - I expected a book full of equipment and space ships. Those are in there... but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book also includes a bunch of profiles for notable NPCs in these fleets (all commanders, at least as far as I've read thus far).

Armageddon Unlimited - To be honest, I was initially unimpressed with the Minion War, as it felt like it was blatantly stolen from D&D's Blood War. However, I got Dimensional Outbreak just because there was so much detail on Center, and I'm finding myself more and more intrigued by Palladium's take on this demon vs. devil idea. The only thing that disappoints me is the lack of M.D.C. conversion notes. With this as the only non-M.D.C. book in the Minion War series, I thought there would at least be a section on how these new powers work on Rifts Earth or in the Three Galaxies, but I guess that's something I should be comfortable doing on my own if I ever need to...

Dimension Book 14: Thundercloud Galaxy - Of the books I received this year, this will be the first one that I read cover to cover. I've got to admit that I'm a little bummed that the United Worlds of Warlock seem to have been left out of this book altogether, but I'm still excited to read through the Thundercloud Galaxy book. While I find Center the most intriguing of locations in the Three Galaxies, I think a game on the outskirts of civilization would be a ton of fun as well, and the Thundercloud is the perfect location for such a campaign.

Deception's Web - I struggled through the first Rifts novel, not so much because of the story line but because of the editing (or lack thereof). I've read online that the rest of the series won't make the former English teacher in me cringe as much. If this one doesn't impress me, though, I doubt I'll bother picking up the third.

Even though I don't play anymore, I still enjoy reading the setting information and seeing how the various metaplot unfolds. It's good to have some Rifts reading material lying around again.
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