I have had a bit of a weird idea over the past couple of days. There are a few roleplay systems out there that simulate battlemech combat quite well. The problem is that none of the ones I have come across are strictly anime-related and mostly focus on the Real Robot style of doing things, Battletech being the primary example. Everything grounded in logic and reality, with that grim and gritty feel that comes with a lot of western sci-fi and fantasy stuff. This got me thinking – what would a viable ruleset for those silly combining super robots look like? This section will cover the basics of combat and what I believe has the potential to be turned into a workable system while capturing the Super Robot aesthetic.
The main priority of any RPG system is to make sure that somehow, everyone has fun without impeding the ability of others to likewise have fun. A Super Robot presents challenges because when all the pilots combine, the robot fights as one unit and if only one person was stuck controlling the robot the whole time that would not make for a particularly fun combat system. To address this point, I propose that when each person is in their own separate vehicle they fight as a normal RPG party would but when combined, everyone gets a chance to control the robot on their turn. Each person is given one or two actions they can perform and that will be their turn controlling the robot. You could theoretically do whatever you want but in practice, such a system would encourage players to work together to accomplish a focused goal and prevent themselves from being overwhelmed by numerically superior enemies (a common feature in Super Robot shows).
On the other hand, what if they can’t think of anything to do on their turn or no relevant contribution? Perhaps players could have the option to “donate” their actions to a central pool and other players could draw upon this pool for more powerful attacks that cost more actions than they can physically use in their own turn, thus encouraging a bit of central planning (but hopefully not too much!) and allowing for the kind of ridiculously powerful attacks seen in anime. As anyone who has watched Voltron can attest to, things always began and ended with forming the Blazing Sword and killing the other guy in one strike. This kinda clashes with RPGs, few of which allow that opportunity in order to artificially ratchet up the challenge factor. I don’t think that an RPG based on giant combining robots should necessarily have tactics and intellectual exercise as its primary appeals (as I often say to Warhammer players encouraging me to not play 40k anymore, if I wanted tactics I would play chess) but should rather be about capturing the tone and theme of your average giant robot anime.
The basic actions one can take in combat form the meat and potatos of the system, every specialised action that you add in after that is only window dressing and so these ideas need further expansion. In the development phase this would also overlap with the class system as the robot’s function would probably be tied into the abilities of the individual characters. I will cover the class system in my next post, but for now I am getting hungry.
~ by Teabee on January 30, 2011.
Posted in Roleplaying