Sunday, February 14, 2016

MACROSS - The BLUE DRAGONS

While reminiscing, and researching my past gaming ventures in order to write this Campaigns I Have Known series, I experienced a surprising revelation.

I've run a ton of Giant Robot games.

I mean, I love Giant Robots and it's not like a didn't recall running Mecha Anime influenced campaigns, but just how many I ran, and how early I started doing it came as a bit of shock.

I've mentioned before that a friend of mine introduced me to Japanese Animation and Manga long before it became prevalent in the United States. For example, I had no idea Star Blazers was really Space Battleship Yamato, or Battle of the Planet was Science Ninja Team Gatchaman when I first started rushing home to catch them on weekday afternoons. Luckily for me I made friends with a fellow in Junior High School (Middle School to you youngsters) who was a recent immigrant to the United States from his native Burma (now formally known as Myanmar), and he set me straight.

While living in Burma, my friend had seen the same shows translated from Japanese into Chinese. Part Chinese himself, he was able to understand the programs, which were not altered in content from their original Japanese form (unlike the heavily cut, censored, and altered American versions). As I helped him with his English, he showed me VHS tapes of the original shows, sometimes in Chinese, and sometimes in Japanese (where he explained what was going on via memory).

A couple of years later, my buddy introduced me to a friend of his named Nelson, who would later become one of my closest friends, and favorite guys to game with. Nelson hooked me up with a group that met on the second Saturday of every month in New York City (I was living in Brooklyn, while Nelson lived in Queens) to watch Japanese Animated TV shows, and movies on VHS in a small, dark room with a bunch of fellow geeks, all of whom were older than me. There, with no dubbing, or subtitles, I watched Super-Dimension Fortress Macross, Aura Battle Dunbine, Blue Gale Xabungle, Armored Trooper Votoms, and a huge variety of others.

By the time Harmony Gold purchased, and mangled the three separate TV shows that would become the American phenomenon known as the R-word, I had already watched all of the original Macross TV Series (R-word's The Macross Saga'), as well as some of Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (the Masters series), and Genesis Climber Mospeada (called the New Generation).

As a result, I couldn't stand R-Word. To me it was an abomination. They took three great shows (OK two, Southern Cross wasn't that great), and mish-mashed them into one ridiculous story that clearly showed evidence of the three sections not being the same series (at least to me). I actively disliked R-Word, angry over what I felt was a terrible bastardization of the original material.

Nonetheless, in High School I ran Macross campaign using Palladium Books' R-Word Role Playing Game. It went over very well, and is remembered fondly by all involved (or so I've been told).

Here is my rundown of that campaign...


Campaigns I Have Known
Proudly Presents...

R-WORD, The Role-Playing Game
MACROSS - THE BLUE DRAGONS
 
 
 
The 303rd Valkyrie Squadron - Codename: Blue Dragons
Standard Valkyrie - The VF-1J
 
 
 
Blue Dragons Squadron Insignia
 


System: R-Word, The Role-Playing Game - Book One: Macross (Palladium Books). (Only slightly modified. We simplified some things, and more combat more Anime-like).

Circa: 1986. There were roughly two dozen short sessions. Each session was about 4-5 hours long as opposed to my standard 8-10 hours. A few sessions towards the end ran longer.

Player Base: We started with only myself as GM, and one male player, both 16 years of age. People saw us playing, and wanted to join in. We added a few here, a couple there, ending up with about five players regularly, and as many as seven, or eight for the grand finale. All were males between the ages of 16 and 18.

Characters: Rolled, and generated normally using the rules of the game. All the character were Valkyrie or Destroid (Non-transformable Combat Machines) Pilots of the Earth Unified Government's space military arm, U.N. Spacy.

The PCs were...

Anthony James 'AJ' / 'Ajax' DeLorca (played by David C.)

The true star of the series, AJ DeLorca is a young pilot, originally from Mars Colony, with only four or five years of combat experience prior to being assigned to the 303rd Valkyrie Squadron at Proxima Centauri.

DeLorca begins with the call sign of Blue Dragon 3, but is promoted to Blue Dragon 2 when that (NPC) pilot assumes command of the 305th Squadrons - the Tiger Sharks. Later, DeLorca's mentor, and good friend Shiro Kitamura (NPC) - Blue Dragon Leader - is killed in action at the prelude to The Battle of Wise, and DeLorca assumes command of the squadron.

Due to a clerical error, he shares his quarters with a female roommate, Andrea Ortega (NPC). While their relationship starts platonic, helped largely by the fact that they are assigned different patrol shifts (a running gag is that they are roommates but hardly ever see each other. They converse by leaving voice messages for each other, or short video recordings), the two pilot eventually develop feelings for each other. A real romance doesn't begin until Andrea's squadron, the 301st - Shooting Stars, are nearly wiped out at The Battle of Galatea. Following the conflict the two admit their feelings.

Captain Keel, commander of the U.N. Spacy Carrier Odyssey (which served as the home and base of operations for the Blue Dragon, and Shooting Star Squadrons) once referred to DeLorca by the nickname 'Ajax' when attempting to confuse the enemy who had hacked into the U.N.Spacy's communications channel.

DeLorca is a down-to-Earth, easy going fellow who does what he does to keep Humanity safe. DeLorca has no love of war, feeling that being a combat pilot is a necessary evil. He is deeply effected by the deaths of his allies, and often his enemies.

In the series finale he is vows to quit the U.N. Spacy, settle down somewhere with Ortega if she'll join him, and leave all the conflict behind. They are shown living a pastoral life, married, with two kids, possibly on Earth or an Earth-like colony.

DeLorca begins the game piloting a VF-1A, but is soon upgraded to a VF-1J. During major conflicts he uses the Strike Valkyrie configuration with one Missile Pod, and a Dual Barreled Rail Gun (in our version if this configuration has two Missile Pods it is instead referred to as a 'Super Valkyrie' instead of a Strike Valkyrie. This is based on differences between the Macross TV Series, and the film version 'Do You Remember Love?').

One of my favorite PC characters ever, played with depth, honestly, and incredible nuance by my good pal David C.  


Raymond 'Raygun' Rogers (played by Will C.)

Raymond Rogers replaced AJ DeLorca as Blue Dragon 2 once DeLorca was made Blue Dragon Leader.

Rogers is from Earth, and uses a lot of pilot jargon, colloquialisms, and slang. His is a bit of a hot shot, in contrast to the more subdued DeLorca. Rogers is a bit of a maverick as well, getting himself, and his team in trouble more than a few times. He proves himself a team player and a true hero many times over at the Battle of Wise however.

Rogers starts out with a VF-1J, and prefers to use the Super Valkyrie configuration, often requesting Booster Rockets be added for extra speed. He favors laser weapons, earning him the nickname 'Raygun'.

In the series finale and epilogue he is shown as a Test Pilot for the new VF-3.


Marcus 'Wild Cat' Montoya (played by Pete H.)

Marcus Montoya (originally an NPC) was formally assigned to the Blue Dragon Squadron, and served with distinction as Blue Dragon 2 until he is given command of the 305th 'Tiger Sharks' Squadron. As Tiger Shark Leader, we don't see him in the campaign after the third or fourth session. Towards the end of the campaign, around three or four sessions from the end, he is used as a PC, and his squadron takes part in the Battle of Wise.

Originally using a VF-1J, Montoya pilots a VF-1S Strike Valkyrie when he reappears just prior to the Battle of Wise. He has the rank of Commander (as does DeLorca at the time), and is referred to by many of the NPCs as 'Wild Cat' Montoya.

Montoya is a self-assured, almost cocky fellow with nerves of steel. He, and his squadron are known for aggressive flying, and going on the offensive early in a conflict.

Montoya is killed in the Battle of Wise when he pilots his badly damaged fighter directly into the command center of the enemy's main battle cruiser.


Yoshi 'Yo-yo' Yokoyama (played by Michael M.)

A member of the Shooting Stars Squadron until the Battle of Galatea. One of the squad's two surviving members (Andrea Ortega being the other), Yokoyama was transferred to the Blue Dragons where he took the call sign of Blue Dragon 5.

Yokoyama was from Earth, an came from a long line of Japanese military men. Very shy, a bit socially awkward, and very much a 'tech geek', Yoshi was far more comfortable around Valkyries and Destroids then people (especially women). His mechanical prowess served him well however, and he was the squad's go to engineer, and repair guru.

Yokoyama pilots a VF-1A throughout the series. He operates his Valkyrie in Armored Valkyrie mode at least twice (most notably at the Battle of Wise).

In the Battle of Wise, Yokoyama is badly wounded trying to save a fellow pilot who is outnumbered. We see him in the epilogue in a wheelchair, but in charge of the development team that produced the VF-3 (it's implied that it's his design).


Unfortunately, these are the only characters my friends, and I can distinctly remember. There was a Destroid Pilot who operated a HWR-00-Mk. II Monster. My friend Nelson (mentioned above) was a member of the Tiger Sharks who piloted a VF-1J custom configuration Valkyrie called the 'Gabriel' (based on a picture of said Valkyrie in a Japanese model magazine). One player, I think, was a Micronized Zentradi.

Sadly that's all I can recall.





U.N. Spacy Valkyrie Pilot Flight Suit
Blue Dragons Variant


Synopsis: Set sometime after the end of the original Macross TV Series (maybe three years later? I forget), our story focuses on a military outpost space station in the Proxima Centauri system called Galatea. In addition to being the U.N. Spacy command center in the area from Alpha Centauri, to Wise 1049−5319 (now known as Luhman 16), Galatea is on a  major trade route leading to new colonial efforts in the regions beyond the 6 light year mark. A trade route recently plagued by attacks from pirates, and Zentradi renegades.

What begins as a series of short, episodic adventures, heavy on the character development and light on any real overarching plot, eventually turns into a massive conspiracy laden epic filled with brutal battles, government, and corporate politics, romance and the horrors of war.

A corporation with questionable policies, and ethics is denied a permit to establish deep space mining, and industrial colonies. In response, they secretly back pirates, and Zentradi soldiers who do not recognize the Earth-Zentradi Peace Treaty. Their plan is to disrupt trade, and colonization in the region, and then appear to be the only ones who can negotiate an end to the problem.

As the renegades, and pirates prey on the evil corporation's competitors, the Zentradi leader in charge of the attacks plans to turn on his patron, and establish himself as an independent warlord of his own stellar nation.

Our team is eventually charged with uncovering proof of what is really going on, while simultaneously fighting the hostile forces, and protecting civilian, and military convoys. This all eventually leads to a huge showdown between the Zentradi/pirate fleet, and the combined might of three Squadrons of UN Spacy Valkyries, two carriers, and a loose array of allied civilian ships.

Appendix N: Super Dimension Macross (TV Series), Macross, The Movie - Do You Remember Love?, Blade Runner (some of the technology, corporate intrigue, and 'Outer Colonies' material was inspired by the film), and numerous movies about World War II fighter plane combat such as Midway (1976).

Bonus Features: I was very much a jerk about keeping things strictly adherent to the Japanese version of Macross, and not the American R-Word version. PCs lost Experience Points if their player used the Western names of things, for example.

In one instance there was an alert, and one pilot announced he was heading for his Veritech, instead of Valkyrie. "Very tech? I don't know what you mean." said the Flight Deck Coordinator. The rest of the team made it to their VALKYRIEs while NPCs tried to help the first guy find this very tech thing he was looking for.

Yeah, I know. I can be a right ornery purist about such things.

Still in all it was a great campaign, and I've often been tempted to run another Macross campaign, set sometime in the updated, and furthered timeline established over the years by subsequent TV series, and OVAs.

Maybe some day.


Clear skies everyone,

AD
Barking Alien








5 comments:

  1. Heh! ROBOTECH was my first roleplaying game, anime, and manga. It's what got me into all three and therefore it has a very special place in my heart. I have the original book we first used along with my first character, Jack "The Ripper" Smith. "The Ripper" being the nickname he gained after a rather gruesome encounter with a Zentradi foot soldier and one that he hated his entire career. He even chewed out the commander of UN Spacy (a former squad mate of his and my brother's character) for using it during the ceremony for his promotion to General. It was also shortly after he lost an eye so he may have been extra cranky.

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  2. Holy guacamole! Looking back over my papers I just realized that Jack "The Ripper" Smith was actually my second major character in Robotech.

    Jack was a descendant of my very first character John Smith (yeah, I know, real original names from a 14 year old). He was nicknamed due to his rather efficient use of claws that he received after being experimented on by the Invid (he ended up looking like Beast from the X-Men) coupled with the results of a couple of events of my first character. He gave up the use of his claws once he got the nickname since he considered their use "un-human". He was actually based during Invid Invasion and helped to secure an alliance between humans and the Invid by marrying one of the later stage human looking ones. He was also a badass Hover Tank pilot.

    John Smith was the reluctant hero type (pretty unsure of himself much like an early teen new to RPGs) while Jack was a bit of an ass. Jack was bitter, cynical, and an attempted alcoholic (he had an indestructible liver thanks again to the Invid) before turning into a decent human being.

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  3. As you may remember, the Robotech RPG campaign in which I played in college was one of my all time favorites. It's too bad I don't seem to have the detailed notes about PC's that you do, but no one was thinking of that at the time.

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  4. Late to the party again but I liked this one too. I know you weren't a fan of MSH but this game (and the total Westernization of the setting) seems to me to be even less your kind of game. Once again though, the system and some side issues prove to be no real obstacle to running a fun campaign.

    That said I'm guessing if you did run another it would be in Mekton?

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    1. I would most definitely run it in Mekton, or with my homebrewed Extended Mecha rules (Extended Mecha being a game I created after a short, but awesome campaign of Extended Mission).

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