This week on RPG Spotlight we’re traveling to deep space in the far future and building the custom mech of our dreams with Lancer.
Lancer was created by Miguel Lopez and Tom Parkinson-Morgan along with Massif Press with the goal of making a tabletop roleplaying game that blended RPGs, some of their favorite popular media inspirations, and of course far future mech combat. They took this plan to Kickstarter in the spring of 2019 with hopes of funding a $46,000 hardcover book printing and they exceeded that goal in minutes. The Kickstarter Campaign wrapped up with 9,400 backers contributing a cumulative $432,029, and thus Lancer was born.
Taking place thousands of years from present day, Lancer imagines a future where humanity has spread out into the stars after the ecological collapse of Earth. Revolution and warfare shake what’s left of humankind and various radicals and groups manage the pieces of the galaxy that they’ve won control over. Mechs and their pilots fight for these various groups, some attempting to make right the crimes of the previous administrations, some fighting for the nations they represent, others work for a private corporation or mercenary company and the player characters make up some of these mech pilots.
A neat feature of Lancer is the modular and customizable nature of each character’s mech. Players start with a frame and can build out from there, combining gear, weapons, and mounts until they have the right robot for the job. Of course, these mechs have their own group of stats and hit points, but the game isn’t much more complex in or out of the suit.
Upon opening up the Lancer PDF, or book if you were lucky enough to snag one, you may be immediately overwhelmed. There’s a lot of book and it feels dense and complex. But it’s a surprisingly easy game to actually play. Characters only have a few skills or stats and successes are determined using just a d20 and a d6. Usually a threshold of 10 (on a d20 roll plus any applicable bonuses) results in a success, but the game also allows for opportunities where partial successes can occur. This makes for a game with a lot of room for narrative and cooperative storytelling, creative problem solving, and just a TON of flavor.
And consider that the setting for Lancer was inspired by the futures imagined in part by Akira and Blade Runner, there is going to be a ton of flavor. This is a world of high tech and all of the moral considerations that come with it. If your character dies you can clone them, but should you? You can work for the corporation that owns seemingly everything, but is that the side of future-history your character wants to be on? If your favorite part of a Cyberpunk or Shadowrun game are the political and social implications of the world around you but just wish they had more pilotable mechs, this may be your new favorite RPG.
If you’d like to check out Lancer for yourself, you can find more information on the Massif Press Official Website.
Have you played Lancer? What kind of mech would you pilot. Who would you chose to pilot your mech on behalf of? Let us know in the comments!