Monday, September 9, 2013


Time for a break from the 30 day challenge ; )

The other week I had an enjoyably nostalgic conversation with Jeffro about the Robotech RPG, which he reviewed on his blog. We had the usual conversation on Palladium’s great IP and outdated, clunky system, which I as a former Palladium-junkie and the author of the ‘Palladium Patch’ floating out there on the internet know quite well. (I might try to re-create and post this patch at a later date)

The conversation got me to thinking about Palladium’s recent successful Robotech: Tactics Kickstarter. Regardless what you think about the Palladium system, and considering the success of the Star Wars miniature game (which I played and LOVED), Palladium has a chance to spin some gold here and make 80s nerds very happy.

I hope they let go of the reins enough to let their wargaming partners Ninja Division shine and succeed.

That being said, I thought I’d try to cobble together some simple DIY Robotech miniature rules, based on stats from the old rulebooks. In the original Robotech RPG, all combat takes place in what Jeffro calls ‘the theater of the mind.’ Between the original rulebook and rules sections in the other RDF books especially, there are enough examples of moves based off of skill roll penalties that a good GM could describe an anime style mecha dogfight totally in this mental theater. We had lots of fun back in the day rolling for maneuvers with penalties to skills and tracking dogfight distance with pennies on a distance gauge swiped from the car chase rules for old Call of Cthulhu.

Here are my DIY Robotech miniature wargame ideas:

First, miniatures. I live in Japan, and the local recycle shop is filled with old Macross figures selling for under 2 bucks a pop. They are partially articulated, beautifully crafted, and stand at 5-6 inches.

I have a nice (and growing) selection of Veritechs in V and B modes, but sadly only 3 Excaliburs, although there are tons of Gundam and random robomecha figures that I could substitute in a pinch. Zentradei mecha are limited to two Battle Pods (with interchangeable missile racks!), but as with the Destroids, substitutes abound.


DISCLAIMER: I have never been into wargames, and the few times a friend has roped me into a game of Warhammer or Space Marines hasn’t changed my opinion. Which means that I am a newb and will probably make real wargamers smash their heads into their keyboards in frustration. That said, this is an interesting thought exercise to wash the phd readings out of my brain, so here I go!

First, I need to choose a good scale that will be faithful to the stats but allow manageable tabletop mayhem. I figure I’ll have to split scale between Ground Combat and Aerial Combat, as the latter is unzodly fast. I’ll also split this project into three posts, Ground, Aerial, and Mixed to reflect this.

After several back-of-envelope calculations, I figure a Hex of 50 meters would be a reasonable scale for ground combat.

Speed in kph/10 = Speed in 50m hexes per round
Weapon Ranges = convert to 50m Hexes

The math is not totally exact, but close enough for government work. It allows me to keep the stats from the books and the 15 second combat round.

RDF LAND SPEEDS (hereafter LS)
Battloid 60 mph / 96.5 kph = LS 10
Excalibur 50 mph / 88 kph = LS 9
Gladiator 65 mph / 108 kph = LS 11
Mac II 20 mph / 32.18 kph = LS 3
Raidar X 80 mph / 128.72 kph = LS 13
Spartan 45 mph / 72.3 kph = LS 7

Zentraedi Tactical Battle Pods 175 mph / 280 kph = LS 28

One thing stands out when you crunch the numbers – RDF mechs are painfully SLOW, while Battle Pods are hilariously FAST. However, Destroids are armored and brimming with weapons, while TBP’s are the opposite - why armor up when clones are dispensable and are living tanks themselves? Looks to be an interesting fight.


Number – Mechs get the pilot’s number of actions plus those listed in mecha skill from the rulebook. However, I will be using my old houserule of Combat Momentum from the Palladium Patch. Basically, a player with initiative keeps attacking until 1) He fumbles 2) He runs out of attacks, 3) He is interrupted by a sneak attack, or 4) He decides to stop attacking. This last is useful since a character who has used all his actions can no longer Dodge!

Mecha can do the following things. Note that Attacks, Dodges, and other actions use up one Action.

1)      Advance their entire LS while attacking enemies directly to the front with fixed-forward weapons.
2)      Advance up to half their LS, then attack an enemy in the 90 degree arc in front of them with handheld or rotatable weapons.
3)      Attack an enemy in the 90 degree arc in front of them with handheld or rotatable weapons, then advance half their LS.
4)      Scuttle or Retreat – As 2) or 3), but instead move sideways or in reverse at half LS, and minus one to hit or be hit.
5)      Scan – While scanning rules are non-existent in the RPG, they make a nice gritty addition to a wargame. A character can see any mecha in a 90 degree arc in front of him (line of sight), but for a picture of the area around him he needs to check his radar. Costs one action, allows 360 degree radar pings, no roll required.
6)      Transform – Go from Valkyrie to Fighter or back, or Valkyrie to Battloid or back. Costs one action, can be combined with a Dodge, bonuses equal to pilot’s alone.
7)      Change facing – Costs one point of LS to change 90 degrees while moving.
8)      Missile Lock – Automatic action, requires a skill roll.
9)      Other Action – Jump, Go Prone, Scoop up Minmei, cost one action.

Additionally, I will be using my MDC damage rules to make mecha fights more interesting:

High Explosive Missile – Does an equal number of dice of SDC damage to human pilot or passenger, pilot can roll for half. Ignore MDC damage multipliers.
Fragmentation Missile – Apply each dice of damage to a different part of the mecha within the blast radius.
Armor Piercing Missile – Automatically causes critical damage per critical damage tables.
Plasma Missile – Does full number of dice in damage first round, then one less dice per round thereafter until no dice remain. Player can use an Action to shake plasma off.
Multi-Warhead Missile – Attacker rolls two d20 when attacking, takes the best roll.
Hand to Hand – Always does critical damage on a maximum damage roll, plus any roll does equal SDC damage to human pilot.

Hopefully, I can get together with some gamer friends the next week or so and try these out. I’m thinking to replay Rick Hunter’s first fight against the Zentraedi just to test the system out, then set up some Destroid versus ZBP action.

Until next time!


  1. "...the ‘Palladium Patch’ floating out there on the internet..."

    Unfortunately, it seems to have sunk beneath the waves. Torpedoed by Palladium C&D letters, perhaps? At any rate, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. If a copy of the Patch document were to land in my inbox, I would not look askance at whomever sent it...

    dlarkins78 at gmail

  2. Hi David,

    Well since rules cannot be copyrighted and since I am using the books I bought, I don't see any legal claim Mr Siembieda could have. Living on the other side of the world makes me care that much less. I didn't get any C&D letters, so I believe I am beneath their notice, although the patch was mentioned positively in some threads on the Palladium website years back.

    These DIY rules are just my houserules, and you are as welcome to them as anyone. As for the patch, it will go up here, so watch this space.