Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Kevin Siembieda

"I wanted to create the ultimate gaming environment and a very specific, fun world. I wanted Rifts® to be my Star Wars®. A truly unique and original world setting that would wow the readers and take gamers places they had never imagined before."
-Kevin Siembieda, discussing where he got the idea for Rifts.  He is physically incapable of writing an IP name without putting a copyright symbol on it.  I imagine he actually speaks like that.

Kevin Siembieda is an American role-playing game designer, illustrator and writer who has been a fixture of the gaming scene for many, many years. He has headed up Palladium Books for over 30 years, publishing hundreds of RPG games, some of them wildly successful (like the aforementioned Rifts). He's always done things is own way, running his own business and keeping things very grassroots and DIY. He should be a hero to aspiring game designers everywhere. Except from all signs and evidence, he's a complete and utter hack.

To be fair, I've never met the man. All I know of him is what I've read in his books and anecdotes about him shared online. But from what I've seen he seems to be completely out of touch with the world around him. He treats his contracted writers and other employees like crap. He reprints huge chunks of his books in every new release (since the base rules of his system are basically the same in all of his games). He seems to have no business sense and his company continues to just barely scrape by despite him doing this for over thirty-years. The rules of his games themselves have never really been updated or modernized in over three decades, and it doesn't seem like they were tested much in the first place. He throws around threats of lawsuits frivolously. How he keeps selling books in this day and age amazes me.

Why am I afraid of him? Because it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he sent lawyers after me for defamation.   I've been known to make a joke at his expense a time or two. C'mon, I'm an Internet blog writer, I have to pick on someone and he's just an easy target.

But still, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if I get a cease and desist letter tomorrow.


Sean said...

I was reading through my Rifts® book last night and wondering where the hell the actual rules were! What a mess. I like Rifts but man that Ultimate Rifts hardcover is so overloaded and badly organized. Flipping through his books, it made me wonder if maybe there is such a thing as putting too much stuff in one book.

Unknown said...

I never played Rifts, but I have just about all of the Feng Shui RP'ing books :) I miss RPing...:(

C.D. Gallant-King said...

You can definitely put too much stuff in one book. Especially when it's the same damn stuff over and over again. I don't have the books in front of me to compare, but if I'm not mistaken the "modern weapons combat" section is re-printed word for word in Ninja Turtles, Ninjas & Superspies, ROBOTECH and Dead Reign (which came out almost 20 years after the other three!) Rifts may have also contained the same section. I don't own them, but I suspect Heroes Unlimited and Beyond the Supernatural are also the same.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Feng Shui is a great game by a great designer (Robin Laws). If you've never played Rifts, consider yourself lucky. :-)

As someone who has gone for years without running a proper game, I can appreciate missing RPing... If you REEEEALLY had not other choice and it was your only chance to play a game, I guess Rifts is okay. But maybe at least try Ninjas and Superspies or Ninja Turtles. Though they're Palladium games and despite being incredibly bloated, they're more in the theme of Feng Shui, and they were actually mostly written by Erick Wujick, not Siembieda so they're not quite as bad. And I have to admit, Ninja Turtles was pretty fun.

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