General. 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 has 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. Given how busy the folks are at Palladium Books, with several successful and incredibly high profile Kickstarters, as well as some personnel getting injured (Wayne, get a spotter next time you go on that roof, LOL), it’s a marvel they even have the time to devote to this project!
THE GRAB BAG
Request List. The process involves submitting a list of requests for product (10 or more choices is what PB prefers), selecting whether you want a T-Shirt included in the bundle (personally always a no for me), signatures from Palladium Books staff, writers and artists (honestly, who would clock no for this?)), name your favorite system, and identify 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. No reason to expect otherwise.
Note: Of note, and something I completely forgot to do this year, you can include a list of the books you currently own. You do this to ensure (or at least limit) any duplication on your list. Bearing in mind the super deal you get, sometimes you are hit with a random duplication.
International Shipping Woes. As always, American customers are getting the real deal – and boy 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 (ugh….) 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). In case you were wondering, there is a lot of fine print (I mean, a whole lot.). A copy-paste of the side bar of the order screen on the Palladium Books website into Word converts to a 7-page document; at Arial 9-point font. For context, this is a 6,300-word, single-spaced entry. There is definitely 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.
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. I’ve added the “No issues with slightly damaged books either” clause to the request, with very pleasing results (see The Bazaar #36: Palladium Books Christmas Grab Bag 2022). If this isn’t a big deal for you, I highly recommend it.
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’ve wondered if they have larger boxes that make shipping larger orders more manageable. As an international order, 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 “wall of text” as currently presented.
What I Got! To be perfectly honest, this was a double-order shipment including a Christmas Grab Bag request, as well as several other books I ordered. So at least the multiple package question above can be partially answered. Not sure if they could do the same with 2 Grab Bag orders or not. My Wish List was as follows, annotating those I received:
After the Bomb (Hardcover) (RECEIVED). I would have been happy with soft cover, but this was the only version available. First-world problem, I know!
Heroes Unlimited: GM Guide (RECEIVED). Expanding my HU collection, I also was intrigued to read what GM advise might cross over to Rifts.
Chaos Earth Sourcebook 1: Creatures of Chaos (RECEIVED). Since this is tied to Rifts, I’ll be expanding the Scholar’s Review series to covering these books.
Chaos Earth Sourcebook 2: Rise of Magic (RECEIVED). In for a penny, in for a pound with Chaos Earth!
Chaos Earth: Resurrection (RECEIVED). Palladium Books, gotta’ catch ‘em all! Surely a mixed metaphor. Not sure if the catalogue code for this title is any indication of the contents.
World Book 31: Triax 2. Reviewed at Scholar's Review #52 based on a PDF version. Requested to put on the bookshelf; much prefer the physical copy to book like this.
World Book 20: D-Bees of North America (RECEIVED). Reviewed at Scholar's Review #33 based on a PDF version. Requested to put on the bookshelf; much prefer the physical copy to book like this.
World Book 24: China and 25: China 2. Both already reviewed, this is a chance to grab them to complete the collection.
World Book 19: Australia (RECEIVED). Reviewed at Scholar's Review #51 based on a PDF version. Requested to put on the bookshelf. Detailing the great ‘down under,’ time to fill the gap between my Mystic Russia and Canada. Nice!
World Book 8: Japan. I recently reworked Scholar’s Review #14 for Japan and found myself intrigued about this setting again. It will be on the list for next year.
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 Chaos Earth. As is evident from my Wish List and titles received, things went smashingly according to plan!
As some may recall, there was an issue involving the shipping for Titan Robotics Kickstarter into Canada. International orders for the Kickstarter were shipped from Michigan, all the way over to England. Since Canada is obviously international, the shipment literally flew overhead (trans-Atlantic flights typically all pass over the Atlantic Provinces) and was then redirected to whatever non-US country the order was destined for. The company involved in pricing the shipping charges grossly underestimated the costs and left Palladium in the lurch. When I received my packages (Titan Robotics and some Backerkit stretch purchases), the amount of C.O.D. charges was, well, it was a thing…. (see The Bazaar #47: Titan Robotics Kickstarter Campaign) After a call that actually fell into Kevin’s office, things were worked out and I took the value in store credit.
Heroes Unlimited 2nd Edition (RECEIVED). I have a few of the physical books but not the actual RPG book. Not anymore!
Rifts Megaversal Builder (RECEIVED). I’ll be honest this was to support a submission project I’ve been working on. First on the review list.
BtS Boxed Nightmares (RECEIVED). I picked up the BtS Rulebook in last year’s Grab Bag. This game is criminally underrepresented.
BtS Creature Feature (RECEIVED). I thought I’d round out the collection for BtS (for now).
Would I Order Again. The question pretty much answers itself, only reinforced more by the fact this is the third year in a row I’ve posted on Grab Bag orders; I’ve ordered over a half-dozen of these over the years. 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 physical books I have outstanding in PDF format, 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.
The Grab Bag and the Extra Order required a pretty ridiculous amount to ship; only about half as much more than just the Grab Bag. Considering the amount of product I received, I’m going to say that this turned out really, really well. The total sticker value for the Grab Bag was in excess to my expectations. Not gonna lie, when I totaled the price tags on the back covers, I was shocked! It gets even better when I factor the price increase into Canadian retail and then add on applicable taxes. Not sure if this was in return for the lack of grief I gave for the shipping issue, the benefit and generally positive feedback this blog provides (however small that blip likely provides), or the varied selection I requested. Regardless, it’s just another demonstration of the goodwill that Palladium Books has with its fans and supporters.
So in closing, I’d like to thank Kevin, Sean, and all the other PB staff for another great surprise package. I’m really looking forward to what 2024 brings, and hope to possibly contribute in some meaningful way.