Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quicker Than Quick, Stronger Than Strong

The past 48+ hours have been most unusual.

My Mom was admitted to the hospital ER yesterday after experiencing some stomach pains on Sunday. As it turned out she needed to have her appendix removed.

Between being admitted, having an examination, having tests run, determining she needed an operation, having the operation, going into recovery, being released and going home took a total of 8-9 hours. No, I am not joking, nor exaggerating. My Mom first contacted me at 3 pm to let me know what was going on, and she got home, and was asleep in her own bed by 11:30 or thereabouts.

I got home to find a postal worker buzzing my apartment with a package for me. Yes, that late at night. The package was from a very dear friend I haven't seen in person in some time, though we speak occasionally on Facebook.

My buddy has been cleaning out his home of various items including his collection of games, toys, and other paraphernalia, and decided to send some of it to me. Among the item were a number of RPG books.

In his own words he said, "Treat them gently; there may be a forgotten dream hiding among these pages."

Some are items I own already.
Some are cool items that are neat to have.
Some are previously missing pieces of my youth that define who I am now..

Fitting into this last, and most precious of categories is none other than this...

That's a copy of the first edition of the Anime/Manga Giant Robot Role-Playing Game Mekton. I have been trying to get a hold of one for ages.

As I have made clear many times in the past, Mekton was, and is, one of my all time favorite games, largely as a result of the creators' deep understanding of the subject matter the game covers.

Mekton is quite literally a Japanese Giant Robot RPG, by a Japanese Giant Robot fan, for Japanese Giant Robot fans.

It is also a game that came out at the perfect time for me. I had recently made new friends who had exposed me to Japanese Animation and Manga (Comic Books) direct from source, and it made a huge impression on me. It changed the way I thought about games, about staging them, and how character and story intertwine with action. 

Between 1984, and 1994 I ran a lot of Mekton, mostly with Mekton II in 1987 to be completely honest. While I did run a few campaigns using the original rules, there weren't as many gamers familiar with Mecha Anime in those early years, so finding players was tough. 

With each new edition and add on that expanded the game, the system become very much improved in many ways, but I still feel that my favorite version is the first one. It was simpler, more straightforward, easier to modify, and later editions added so much fiddly crunch that I feel they slowed down combat even as they made it more tactically flexible. 

I like simplicity over complexity. I like things to seem complex, but really be rather easy to comprehend, and utilize. Like origami, or a karesansui (Japanese Rock Garden). 

This book has really got me jazzed to run a Mecha game again. It isn't just this book of course, as I noted in a recent, previous post I am in an Anime/Manga RPG mood. 

I also recently got a hold of a partial translation of the Japanese tabletop RPG Metallic Guardian, one of the SRS System games by noted Japanese RPG design house Far East Amusement Research (F.E.A.R. - how's that for a game company name acronym?).

I am currently working on figuring out how to play it, while simultaneously seeing if any of my favorite bits can be imported over to Mekton. 

What can I say, I love to kitbash. 

Robots are on the horizon my friends.

Watch for them.


Barking Alien


  1. Mekton 1, cool. I got rid of mine years ago, along with 2 and Zeta because I could never convince anyone else to play it.Too far outside the D&D comfort zone I suspect. I picked up a set of Mekton II books again not too long ago because i wanted at least one version on the shelf and I always thought that edition was the sweet spot between too much and not enough.

    With all of your love for these things did you ever do any kind of Mekton - Trek crossover? I'm sure there's a way to do a Mecha-Trek game. I toyed around with a Mecha-Battlestar type game briefly using Hero System and I eventually drowned in the mechanics before I had the setting fully sketched out. I don't know why reading this post brought that back to me but either Mekton or M&M would probably be an easier design and a better fit nowadays anyway.

    Thanks BA

    1. Believe it, or not - and I may have mentioned this once before a long while ago (my memory has been choppy lately) - before settling on 'Barking Alien', the name I was strongly considering for this blog was 'Mecha Trek AD'.

      MechaTrekAD was my very first email address - an AOL account if I am not mistaken.

      The idea of course was to name the blog after the two things I was probably going to talk about the most: Star Trek, and Giant Robots. As it turned out I am happy I didn't, partially because I like the name Barking Alien, and partially because I've ended up talking about Superheroes, and even Fantasy more often than I expected.

      The idea of crossing Star Trek with Giant Robot has indeed occurred to me, although not in a literal sense. That is to say, I've never wanted to have Starfleet launch fifty-foot humanoind robots out of it's Constitution Class Cruiser shuttlebays, but the concept of a Space Adventure Sci-Fi game with mecha that focuses on exploration is definitely something I've though about.

      As a matter of fact...

      There have been at least a few occasions in which I did indeed run such a campaign. Inspired by Dairugger XV (the 'Vehicle Voltron' series), and other Anime, I ran a number of games which embodied equal parts Gene Roddenberry, and Reiji Matsumoto.

      One that comes to mind, heheh...oh had to go and mention 'Mecha-Battlestar' didn't you?

      OK, new Campaigns I Have Known post coming up...

  2. How the Mettalic Guardian rules work? :)

  3. I'd be very interested in seeing this partial translation of Metallic Guardian!