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Palladium's Nightbane

Palladium's Nightbane

I had once sworn off of Palladium games – namely around the Rifts era when everything was loaded up with excessive SDC (basically structural hit points for those who don’t play these games) and even MDC (each worth 100 SDC).

But Nightbane got my attention. First it was the awesome cover by Brom and then the fact that it was written by Witchcraft’s CJ Carella. It’s another push into the gothic-cool landscape of mid-90’s gaming when we were all plugged into our VR cyberspaces and being hunted by vampires. It was timely and sexy. It was also called Nightspawn in the first edition, but they changed the name for later editions.

It’s a game where normal humans grow up to be something alien and weird in a scene out of Kafka’s the Metamorphosis. The Nightbane. It can play out beautifully as a remix of the Hellraiser vs Nightbreed ficton of Barker’s, but it also sits quite well on its own merits.

In the year 2000, the world was enveloped in unnatural darkness for a full day. Since then, monsters have walked the streets and the US is under near totalitarian law. The players take on the roles of nightbane who resist both the law and the powers of darkness that seek to control them and through them the world.

The game itself sticks to the Megaverse version of the Palladium RPG system (as opposed to the cleaner and lighter version used in the first edition of the Palladium Fantasy RPG). Stats, alignment, experience and so on are handled identically. Including, of course, several pages of random insanity tables (although homosexuality is no longer an insanity).

To create a Nightbane, first I roll up the stats for the Bane’s “Façade”, his human appearance. This is done in the typical 3d6 in order method, adding an extra d6 if you roll a natural 17-18 for a stat. (what startles me is that I can still recite the order of ability scores for Palladium games – probably from years of TMNT and Robotech)

  • IQ: 12
  • ME: 8
  • MA: 11
  • PS: 16
  • PP: 11
  • PE: 10
  • PB: 15
  • Spd: 11

With no stat above 16, the façade in question has no special modifiers. But ever since the day of his becoming, he has the ability to shift from his façade to his morphus (his supernatural form) in one combat round unless he can make a roll of 12+ using his ME bonus (none) and +1 at level 1, and an additional +1 every two levels thereafter.

He has 200 foot nightvision in the façade form (and 500 ft in the morphus). He also gains the ability to heal 10 SDC or hit points every combat round. He also has the ability to shift into or out of the “nightlands” using mirrors (taking 15 seconds and costing 2 PPE). Nightbane also have full immunity to mind control. He is also completely immune to transformation effects – he is a shapeshifter himself and cannot be changed into anything else.

In morphus form, he gains +10 PS, PE, and Spd (Strength, Constitution and Speed) as well as +6 PP (Dexterity). He starts off with 30 SDC in façade form, and 2d6x10 (90) extra in morphus. His hit points in façade form are normal (PE + 1d6 / level) and are much better (PE x 2 + 2d6 / level) in morphus. He also gets a Horror Factor of 6 in morphus. He also starts with PE + (3d6x10) + 20 PPE (psychic energy) + 3d6 per level (173 PPE).

Other bonuses in his façade are +2 vs magic, +1 vs disease, +1 vs horror factor.

In morphus he also gets +1 initiative, +2 strike, parry & dodge, +3 roll / pull punch, +4 vs magic, +3 vs psionics, +3 vs disease, +3 vs horror factor.

Ah, here’s the part I love – random tables!

First I roll to determine the basic form of the Morphus and get “Inhuman” – a gruesome mockery of humanity. Roll again on the Stigmata and Nightbane Characteristics tables. The nightbane characteristics table result is… roll again twice! Resulting in Biomechanical (roll again on Biomechanical Table) and Alien (roll again on Alien Shape table). The roll on the Stigmata Table is “Razor Blades”. Razor blades are unnaturally attached, either as claws, teeth, fingernails, or even like porcupine quills… +1d4+1 Horror Factor (+5, to a new total of 11), +4d6 SDC (I’m covered in BLADES, it hurts, it makes me tough and hardcore!) (+13 SDC, 132 total), and body slams deal 2d6 + normal punching damage. His roll on the alien form table indicates that he has a bony exoskeleton with hornlike protrusions and spikes (and razor blades, beeatch!). +1d6x10 SDC (+50, 182 total), +1d6 to all hand to hand damage, +1d4 horror factor (+4 – for a total of 15 so far). His roll on the Biomech table finishes off by giving him mechanical limbs like a razor-blade covered chitinous cyborg. Awesome. +4 PS, +1d4x10 SDC (10, 192 total), +4d6 Spd (+11) and +1d4 Horror Factor (+3, for a total of 18 so far).

He starts with one talent for free, and can purchase up to 2 more by permanently expending PPE for them (noting that PPE is also what fuels them, so the more talents you have, the less you can use them). I’m picking up The Shroud which makes him invisible to whoever he wants for 10 PPE per minute, and Darksong which allows him to make horrible noises (razors on cyberlimbs?!) that stuns the target for 1d4 rounds if he fails a PE save DC 10. It costs 5 PPE to trigger and the save DC increases by +1 for every additional 3PPE spend. It can also affect everyone in a 60 foot radius, but then they get +4 on the saves. Picking up this ability burns 7 PPE permanently (reducing him to 167 PPE). From the first expansion book (between the shadows), he picks up Piecework for 10 PPE (now down to 157 PPE). This lets him leave bits of himself behind (like a razor blade) and then reattach them later and remember everything it experienced as if it had eyes, ears and so on. It costs 8 PPE to trigger plus 6 PPE per hour until it is reattached otherwise it just disappears.

Now it is time to do the long process of selecting skills. We’ll run with the most basic Nightbane Racial Character Class, that of a teenager just recently converted into a nightbane (much to his own surprise).

Covered in cybernetics and razor blades, I see him as a guy from the wanna be hacker / cyberpunk / modern primitive movement that was running strong in the 90’s. With that in mind I grab a basic selection of skills and we end up with something that REALLY belongs in a Hellraiser comic.

Derek Shaubb / RzrBoy
Level: 1
XP: 0

Façade Stats

  • IQ: 12
  • ME: 8
  • MA: 11
  • PS: 16
  • PP: 11
  • PE: 11
  • PB: 15
  • Spd: 22
  • SDC 32
  • Hit Points 15
  • 2 Attacks / round
  • Roll with Punch +2
  • Save vs Magic +2
  • Save vs Disease +1
  • Save vs Horror Factor +1

Morphus Stats

  • IQ: 12
  • ME: 8
  • MA: 11
  • PS: 30 +15 melee damage
  • PP: 17 +1 parry / dodge / strike
  • PE: 21 +3 vs poison & magic
  • PB: 15
  • Spd: 43
  • SDC: 194
  • Hit Points: 45
  • 2 Attacks / round
  • Initiative +1
  • Strike +3
  • Parry +3
  • Dodge +3
  • Roll with Punch +6
  • Save vs Magic +7
  • Save vs Psionics +3
  • Save vs Disease +3
  • Save vs Poison +3
  • Save vs Horror Factor +3
  • Horror Factor 18
  • Hand to Hand damage +3d6+15


  • Basic Math (+10%) 60%
  • English Literacy (+20%) 55%
  • Computer Operation (+10%) 55%
  • Sewing (used for suturing his friends for modern primitive events) (+15%) 60%
  • Photography (+10%) 50%
  • Hand to Hand Basic (in Façade only)
  • Hand to Hand Martial Arts (in Morphus only)
  • Play Musical Instrument (Drums) (+10%) 50%
  • First Aid 50%
  • Paramedic 45%
  • Prowl 30%
  • Running +1 PE, +11 Spd, +2 SDC
  • Computer Programming 35%
  • Computer Hacking 20%
  • Streetwise 24%
  • W.P. Automatic Pistol

Special Abilities:

  • Regenerate 10 SDC / HP per round
  • Covered in razor blades
  • Cybernetic limbs
  • Bony and spiky exoskeleton


  • PPE: 157
  • Piecework – leave behind body parts and assimilate them to learn what they have seen / heard – 8 PPE + 6 PPE / hour
  • Darksong – unnatural noise stuns target 1d4 rounds if PE save DC 10 is failed. +1 save DC / 3 PPE spent. Can target 60 foot radius but saves are at +4. – 5 PPE + 3 PPE / +1 Save DC
  • The Shroud – selective invisibility – 10 PPE / minute