• Francois DesRochers

Bazaar #36: Palladium Books Christmas Grab Bag 2022


INTRODUCTION


Once again, Palladium Books are busy filling out Christmas orders, slinging “randomized” grab bags across the earth to all the good boys and girls. All kidding aside, this tradition has been going for some time, literally for decades. Anecdotally this is something the staff at Palladium Books get a kick out of, Kevin himself on numerous occasions saying he has a particular fondness for actioning these requests as they come in. While the price may have gone up (marginally), this is still one of the best deals Palladium Books has going, and not something I’ve seen matched by any other competitor.


DISCUSSION


Request List. The process involves submitting a list of requests for product (10 or more choices is what PB prefers), and then selecting whether you want a T-Shirt included in the bundle, signatures from Palladium Books staff (writers and artists), and to name your favorite system and an alternate system you would like to try. For the numerous times I’ve ordered, the first several items listed were pretty much the items “grabbed” and thrown into the box. For the most part, I can say my typical totals registered somewhere in the $105 to $115 range.


International Shipping Woes. So, for the most part, American customers are getting the real deal – and I mean an absolute steal of a deal! For the price they pay, shipping is marginal, and means that they are really benefitting from the discount. For the international gamer, myself included, the shipping cost pretty much doubles what you are buying. In my case, the product sold for US$58, with US$65 for shipping charges means the offer runs US$123. For a randomized box, one hopes the elves at PB are laser focused on the top few entries of the Wish List.


The Fine Print. First off, ordering from the Grab Bag is relatively easy, so long as you read the fine print (always read the fine print). And there is a lot of fine print (I mean, a whole lot.). A copy-paste of the side bar into Word converts to a 7-page document, with most of the information presented at Arial 9-point font. For context, this is a 6,300 word single-spaced entry. There is a fair bit of pertinent information in there, but it really could use a cycle or two through an editor to clean up formatting. That said, it is there to help shape the requests.


Certainly nothing worse than what I've inflicted on other books
  • Slight Damage. So, for $58 USD (plus shipping) you are promised $95 USD worth of product, often more. After reviewing the form options, I re-read the fine print. Something new that caught my eye was the Slight Damage paragraph; in all honesty this was the first time I did a line-by-line and found this intriguing. So I added “No issues with slightly damaged books either” to the request. Let me tell you, as indicated below, if this isn’t a big deal for you, I highly recommend you mention it. These photos demonstrate the level of damage I’m assuming was inflicted prior to shipping; my box had some battle scars, but nothing that had me worried.

  • Multiple Packages. A bit of a motherhood statement, but the idea of getting more than one package at a time requires a separate Wish List PER PACKAGE in order to avoid any duplication. For people starting or in the midst of their collection, this is a real deal. For a more targeted wish list to help you, I would direct you to Scholar’s Review #50 – Baseline Publications for New GMs. I wonder if they have larger boxes that possibly make shipping more manageable? As an international purchaser, this option intrigues me.

  • Suggested Listings. A (VERY) large part of the text involves several themed lists with suggested titles to request. In what I would consider a bit of a ‘motherhood’ statement, I understand there are those that find these lists helpful. The majority of this text runs through all the PB game system, which means a good number of entries. My (very) strong suggestion is that these be reformatted into bullet points to clean up the current “wall of text.”

What I Got! My initial shock at the stack height was only reinforced by the contents. In all honesty, this was more than expected, and very much validated the cross-border shipping charges. I will preface the remainder of my discussion with a caveat: this post is in no way meant to be a competition among Grab Bag recipients to see "who got the best deal." Quite frankly we are all winning by virtue of the generosity of Palladium Books on this one. My Wish List was as follows, annotating those I received:

  • Rifts: Coalition Manhunters (RECEIVED). One of the most recent titles, I am really looking forward to reading and reviewing this on the blog. Review post forthcoming!

  • Rifts: Northern Gun 1 (RECEIVED). One of the few more recent books I have yet to read and review. Another review post forthcoming!

  • Rifts: Northern Gun 2. As per NG1, a recent book I’m looking to acquire. If at first you don't succeed, as they say...

  • Rifts Sourcebook: Shemarian Nation (RECEIVED). One of the few books based in the New England area I don’t have. In retrospect, with the inclusion of the Cyberworks Collection in the Titan Robotics Kickstarter, this book is possibly overtaken by that order. But hey, it satisfies the completionism OCD part of my brain.

  • Rifts Sourcebook: Heroes of Humanity (RECEIVED). As I try to get caught up with more recent publications, receiving this book starts wrapping up the Minion Wars titles I’m missing. Another review post forthcoming!

  • Beyond the Supernatural: Creature Feature. A bit if a pipe-dream, not until after I made the order did the weekly update inform me this one wasn’t yet at the printers. Ho-hum.

  • Rifts Dimension Book 11: Dyval. The other half of the Minion War baseline books I’m missing. I have the PDF version, but I'm looking for the physical copy too.

  • Rifts Sourcebook: Vampires (RECEIVED). This one has always been an oddity with me. I find the Palladium vampires to be really unique and definitely powerful adversaries. I'm really looking forward to see what this one is all about. Now that I have it, another review post forthcoming!

  • Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising (RECEIVED). One of the older World Books I have digitally and have already reviewed at Scholar’s Review #15. Requested to put on the bookshelf.

  • Rifts: Bestiary (Volume 1) (RECEIVED). As I own the majority of the Rifts library, this publication’s release presented as a lot of duplication. While creating my Wish List, I added this one to what fell out of it. Now that I have it, another review post forthcoming!

  • Rifts: Bestiary (Volume 2). If you are going to get volume 1, makes sense to get volume 2!

  • Rifts World Book 28: Arzno. Reviewed at Scholar’s Review #31 based on a PDF version. Requested to put on the bookshelf.

  • Rifts World Book 29: Madhaven. Reviewed at Scholar’s Review #32 based on a PDF version. Requested to put on the bookshelf.

Games You Would Like to Try. Something that PB likes to do in order to cross-promote their other gaming systems with the Grab Bag. Often any order mentioning another gaming system will see at least one title supporting that request. In my case, I mentioned Heroes Unlimited. As is evident from my Wish List and titles received, there was no deviation from Rifts RPG titles. Perhaps a function of the Wish List and election for Slightly Damaged; certainly not a complaint!


Would I Order Again. The question pretty much answers itself - I’ve ordered a half-dozen of these and have no reason not to continue! Given the relative value of the bundle in the context of what it would cost ordering from Palladium direct, I certainly would. Despite owning many of the PDFs for physical books I have outstanding, there are a number of titles that remain on my “acquisition list.” For the time being, there is enough of a reason for me to continue with perhaps a few more before my Wish List includes all the books I physically own in order to avoid duplication.


CONCLUSION


So, for an investment of $58 plus the $65 for international shipping (not PB’s fault, but ouch….), bringing the total to $123 USD. For those wanting to know the dollar value of this grab bag, based on the sticker price printed on the back covers, this is just shy of $162 USD worth of product. For those not great at math, that equals one hell of a bargain! It gets even better when I factor the price increase into Canadian retail and then add on applicable taxes; fellow Canadians will certainly sympathize. Granted, for some the thought of ‘slightly damaged’ is a Rubicon they are unwilling to cross. But for the investment with a slight caveat, this netted me seven titles I was looking for either as a first pass read or as a physical copy to place on the shelf. In closing, I’d just like to thank Kevin, Sean, and the other PB elves for another great surprise package.

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