Robotech: RPG Spotlight
This week we’re piloting our favorite mech suits and going to space and we take a look at the Robotech Roleplaying Games.
Based in the popular mech anime series, the Robotech Roleplaying Game first appeared in 1986, published by Palladium Books and ran until 1995. Since then more of the Robotech universe has been covered in RPG form with a second edition in 2008. During the run of second edition, Palladium Books kicked off a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of funding and developing Robotech RPG Tactics, a miniature wargaming system. Despite a successful campaign which saw huge popularity and raised many times the goal thanks to more than five thousand backers, the campaign was described as a “disaster” with delays, stalls in progress, partial delays, and substandard quality. Suffice to say it has been a ride for the Robotech Roleplaying Game, and definitely one worth spotlighting.
The game itself will be familiar to anyone who has played the other Palladium Fantasy Roleplaying Game system, utilizing a system very similar. Physical and mental abilities are determined using stats and a rolling 3 d6 while combat uses a d20 dice roll similar to Dungeons and Dragons. But this is Robotech. There are robos and tech, and your average building sized anime mech suit won’t work quite the same as your squishy human player character. For that Palladium incorporated the concept of “mega-damage” and “super hit points” equivalent to one hundred normal human HP. If this sounds familiar, that may be because Palladium later included it in their hugely popular and off the walls weird game, Rifts.
Fans of Robotech will almost definitely enjoy this system, finding a product that was designed to mimic the feel of mech battles for a pen and paper medium just about as well as humanly possible. The game follows the television and novelization storylines, filling in gaps in the canon where it can, and covers large portions of the physical world and timeline through its many sourcebooks. Unfortunately, like any piece of media based on an anime in the late 80s and early 90s, some details got lost in translation. The original run of the Robotech RPG saw a number of inaccuracies due to deadline restrictions, bad descriptions of various suits, and good old-fashioned dubbing inconsistencies. But if I’m being honest, I can’t blame the makers of the system for not making a perfect product the first time. We’ve all seen early dubbed anime, it was a cruel mistress to rely on.
In 2018 Palladium’s license for Robotech expired and was not renewed, leaving Strange Machine Games open to sweep up the license and release the Robotech Macross Saga Roleplaying game in late 2019. This version is a game of a more recent gaming generation, focusing on narrative story building over crunchy dice rolls for a product that is quick to learn and easy to play, but may not best reflect the crunch of fighting with giant robots. Still, the Macross RPG has seen popularity and is described as a “must have” for any Robotech fan, even if just as an artbook.
Despite the issues, the Robotech Roleplaying Games are fantastic love letters to the overall series. Even their issues seem to be the byproduct of a labor of love and a product truly made by fans for other fans to enjoy.
If you’re interested in playing the Robotech RPGs for yourself, you can find more information on Macross on the Strange Machine Games Official Website, while the Palladium game may require an online search through some third party sellers. Honestly, though, I think it would be worth it.
Have you played any of the Robotech Roleplaying Games? Which is your favorite? Which mech would you pilot if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments!