Kevin Henry Siembieda
April 2, 1956
|Education||College for Creative Studies|
The Mechanoid Invasion
Palladium Fantasy RPG
|Spouse(s)||Maryann Donald (1985–2004)|
Kevin Siembieda (born April 2, 1956) is an American artist, writer, designer and publisher of role-playing games.
Siembieda is a third-generation Polish American. He attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit from 1974 to 1977.: 155 He wanted to be a comic book artist, but found the industry difficult to break into and published a small-press comic (A+ Plus, 1977-1978) with his company, Megaton Publications.: 155 In 1979 Siembieda discovered the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook and joined a role-playing group, the Wayne Street Weregamers, which met at Wayne State University in Detroit (where he befriended Erick Wujcik, who ran the group).: 155 Siembieda ran a game for the group, the Palladium of Desires, a combination of AD&D and his house rules.: 155 By 1980 the Wayne Weregamers became the Detroit Gaming Centre, with Siembieda its assistant director and Wujcik its director.: 155 Siembieda tried to interest gaming companies in his RPG with little interest; only Judges Guild made him an offer, but he accepted a job offer from them instead.: 155–156 He was an artist for Judges Guild for four months before working as a freelance artist for other publishers and trying to sell his RPG to them.: 156
Siembieda is the co-founder and president of Palladium Books. He founded the company in April 1981 to publish his fantasy role-playing game, but had insufficient funds to publish any books; the mother of Bill Loebs loaned Siembieda $1,500 to publish his first RPG book, The Mechanoid Invasion (1981).: 156 By 1983 the company was successful enough for Siembieda to rent warehouse space and release his fantasy RPG, the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game: 157 with a loan of $10,000 from his friend Thom Bartold who had also loaned him funds to print the other two books in the Mechanoid Trilogy, Journey and Homeworld in 1982. These were not just loans, but investments, and Siembieda established a system of paying royalties not just to the writers and artists, but also to those who lent him the capital needed to print the books: his investors. The following year, he extended his Palladium system to the superhero genre with Heroes Unlimited.: 156 A freelancer contacted Siembieda about producing a licensed role-playing game based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book. Siembieda obtained the rights, but was dissatisfied with the freelancer's product. Erick Wujcik redesigned the game in five weeks, and it was published in 1985 as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness.: 158 Siembieda next obtained the license to publish a game based on the Robotech anime series, designing the Robotech role-playing game published in 1986.: 158–159
Siembieda wrote the RPG Rifts (1990) as a trade paperback in a two-column format which he laid out by hand.: 160 He supported Wujcik in founding his own company, Phage Press.: 160 In 1992, Siembieda sued Wizards of the Coast over its first RPG book, The Primal Order; GAMA president Mike Pondsmith helped the parties reach a compromise in March 1993.: 161 Siembieda also disagreed with White Wolf magazine and GDW over their magazines' coverage of Palladium games.: 161 He demanded that websites devoted to Rifts and Palladium be taken down, claiming that they violated his intellectual property, but softened his stance in 2004.: 161 Siembieda fired Bill Coffin due to editorial differences and discontent with the Rifts Coalition Wars, which Siembieda and Coffin co-authored.: 162 On April 19, 2006 he announced that Palladium Books was on the verge of bankruptcy, which he blamed on a former employee who was convicted of embezzlement.: 162 Siembieda filed a lawsuit on May 7, 2010 against Trion Worlds for its MMORPG Rift: Planes of Telara, and a settlement was reached in October 2010.: 163 Role-playing games Siembieda has created include Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game (1983), Heroes Unlimited (1984), Robotech (1986), and Rifts (1990). He is also an artist, known for occasionally illustrating Palladium Books products. Siembieda contributed art and cartography to several early Judges Guild products for the Dungeons & Dragons, RuneQuest and Traveller lines.
Siembieda's Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter is one of the largest failures in tabletop Kickstarter history. The project failed to deliver on its goals and raised over $1.4M. Despite not making its goal and unable to deliver Wave 2, Palladium did not refund money given to the project.
The art by Kevin Siembieda is excellent and adds to the text in several places