Welcome behind the scenes of my Robotech RPG campaign. What was originally going to be a simple site with summaries of the games I have run in the past (and will run in the future) has grown into a rather detailed sourcebook of sorts for my personal version of the Robotech universe. I have put so much effort into the games over the years I figured I should give at least a little glimpse into where some of this stuff comes from, kind of like the extras on a DVD. Enjoy.
Table of Contents
- Pieces of the Puzzle - What happens when you have too much time on your hands
- Square Pegs and Round Holes - Creating a new continuity
- Timing is Everything - What to do with conflicting timelines
- Heavy Metal - How to build a giant robot army
- And the Beat Goes On - My RPG universe expands
- Bibliography - Print and WWW resources
- Legal Briefs - How to not get sued
Pieces of the Puzzle
I have been running Robotech RPG campaigns off and on for over fifteen years now. As my friends can attest to, I can become a little obsessed when it comes to my games. RPGs are my primary creative outlet so I tend to put a LOT of effort into my campaigns. A quick tour around some of the other RPG pages on this site will probably give you a little idea of what I'm referring to.
Let me tell you one thing: computers and the Internet are a Godsend. When I first started running Robotech games there was no World Wide Web (yes, kids, there was a time before the WWW existed). All my Robotech reference materials came on the printed page: the Robotech Art books, the novels & comics, and the occasional anime fanzine; and computers as RPG aids were still a little ways off. No fancy word processors and graphics programs, unless you were rich and could afford a MacIntosh computer. Most of my materials were hand written, or if I wanted to get fancy there was some cutting and pasting (with scissors and glue) for layout and photocopiers involved. Nowadays its all about Google and Wikipedia, baby.
Some of my earlier endeavours will eventually wind up on this site after a major amount of scanning (this stuff is all on paper after all), or maybe I'll create fancy electronic versions of some of the stuff. Either way it takes time. When I was still a student in university or on a summer job I could find the time, but these days I have all this grown-up stuff that gets in the way. My friends take a look at the materials I put together for my games these days and still say I have too much time on my hands, but I say its just because I need a more diversified social calendar. Really what I do these days isn't as much as they think. If I had the tools I have at my disposal now combined with the amount of spare time I did back then I would probably have cured cancer by now or something.
As much as I'd like to document my years of effort for future generations, its far more effort than I can afford these days. I'll just let the materials speak for themselves. Some of the later sections on this page may give out a detail or two, but for the most part my methods will have to remain a mystery.
Square Pegs and Round Holes
I wonder if Carl Macek had any idea what would grow out of his efforts? It may have been a business decision to try and tie together three distinct Japanese cartoons whose only common factor was transforming robots into a single series, but Macek managed to create a fairly coherent storyline connecting all three original anime series. I'm something of a continuity nut, from Star Trek to Comic Books to Larry Nivens' Known Space books I like to know as much as I can about any fictional universe I'm interested in. Now Robotech is particularly interesting because there are fairly large gaps in the official continuity, not to mention more than a few nagging inconsistencies that were inevitable given the nature of the series as the merger of three unrelated stories.
The novelizations and comic books attempted to fill in some of these gaps and explain the inconsistencies, but they aren't exactly official continuity, and on occasion they contradicted one another. The official Robotech web site ROBOTECH.COM splits Robotech continuity into two categories. At the top of the heap is material that is considered in continuity. This is the stuff that is about as official as it gets. Materials considered to be in continuity are pretty much restricted to anything from the original 65-episode run of Robotech. Not from the novelizations or the comic adaptations, just the episodes themselves. Everything else is considered secondary continuity.
Now once I started running a Robotech RPG game (a long time ago in a high school far, far away) I started thinking about those gaps and inconsistencies. I read some of the novels and comic books and some of the stuff was pretty neat and I liked how they filled in the gaps fixed the "mistakes" for some of it, but some of it I disagreed with. I started getting a few ideas of my own, how to explain stuff that didn't make sense and all that. I was also approaching the thing from the perspective of a Game Master. I was creating my own version of the Robotech universe that was going to have its own characters (the players plus my own NPCs). That meant it was in my and my players' interest for me to flesh out the gaps and explain the inconsistencies in ways that involved elements from my games.
As the years went on I also got exposed to a lot more anime, including the original Macross and its spin-offs and related shows. I saw where the differences were between Macross and Robotech's storylines and wondered if there were a way to reconcile a lot of this. These ideas began to grow, and over the years I have constructed a fairly detailed history and continuity for my own universe. I have plotted out major story arcs to fill in the gaps in the Robotech continuity, and have extended these arcs well into the future beyond the original series. Best of all, nothing I have done contradicts anything that appears in the original series (except, perhaps, in cases where the series itself is somewhat self-contradictory or confusing and I have produced an explanation or chosen one version of events over another, or chosen to ignore something that just doesn't make sense). Some of what I have can be traced back to various inspirational sources, which are way to numerous to try and list here. As this material shows up on these pages I am sure that keen readers will pick out where some stuff comes from. (I'm not putting everything on the site right now, I don't want to spoil stuff for my players).
I had thought about putting some details about my continuity here on this page, as sort of a guide book to where my stuff comes from, but it really is a lot of material. Best to put what's relevant on the related campaign pages. I will drop a few teasers about the past and future of my universe, though. Number One: I've figured out a way to bring Macross II and Macross Zero into continuity without much tweaking. Number Two: the Zentraedi war of 2009-2011 was not the first interstellar invasion of Earth. And Number Three: I am a bit of a conspiracy nut so I've taken some stuff hinted at in the novels and comics and run with it, as my Southern Cross players may eventually discover.
Timing is Everything
When I started my games oh so many years ago there were two distinct timelines available for Robotech. The Robotech RPG had printed a timeline, showing the details of what happened when in the series. The Jack McKinney novels also had a timeline showing events from the series as well as events that had only happened in the novels. Of course these timelines conflicted with each other in some details, especially for anything after the Macross era of Robotech. See, the original Macross series had a pretty definitive timeline in place and Robotech stuck to that. The problem was integrating this with the Southern Cross and Invid Invasion eras of Robotech. Someone had to decide just how long it had been between the end of the Macross episodes and the start of the Southern Cross (OK that was a bit of a gimme because of some dialogue in the first SC episode). Then they had to figure out how long the Second Robotech War (i.e. Southern Cross episodes) lasted. And then how long between the end of Southern Cross and when Mars Fleet arrives in the first of the Invid Invasion episodes. And how much time passes through the run of the Invid Invasion episodes. So basically all the dates after the Macross episodes were up in the air and there was bound to be some disagreement between the RPG one (which was designed for best use for running RPG campaigns with) and the one in the novels (which reflected the stories within the novels).
On top of all this, the Robotech RPG went and added their own era to the timeline. After the end of the last episode of the series (which shows the end of the Third Robotech War), the Invid Invasion RPG book says another Invid Invasion occurs, an occupation force sent back to retain control of the planet for the alien Invid. The reasons for this are simple, first the series was over and who was to naysay it; second it opened up a wealth of opportunities for Game Masters to bring their games front and center, no need for the Player Characters to play second fiddle to the characters and events in the show. Of course when the RPG book came out who could have guessed that two decades later the Robotech craze would still be around and people would still be playing the RPG (now out of print for many years); and that Harmony Gold would start production on a sequel animated series set immediately after the end of the original. This sequel, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, was released as a 90-minute movie on DVD in February of 2007. The success of this DVD seems to bode well for more Robotech in the near future.
As for me, well as you can tell by what I said earlier about my own continuity, I went and designed my own timeline for the games. As with the others I pretty much stuck with the original Macross timeline for the start, everything else I used dates that made sense for what I wanted to accomplish in my games. I took some guidance from the RPG and novel timelines for my own, but it also had a lot of stuff that was only relevant to my own continuity. Then, just as I was getting ready to resurrect my campaign a few years ago Harmony Gold established the ROBOTECH.COM site and printed up their own official timeline, which is different from both the RPG one and the one in the novels (and my own campaign one). I, like many others, planned to take advantage of the freedom offered by the second Invid Invasion that was proposed in the RPG books. Then again, the events in the recently released sequel will most likely force me to revisit my timeline (as being the continuity nut that I am I would feel the need to incorporate the events of Shadow Chronicles into my little universe). Hopefully I'll be able to salvage some of my ideas, but since my current game is set a decade and a half prior to these events I have some time to play with it.
Robotech is a space opera, which means it has themes of love and war at its core. What makes Robotech (and its source material) a little different is that it is about love, war and giant robots beating the crap out of each other. Now as far as the giant robots (mecha) in Robotech go, there was already a lot of material out there for me to make use of. The official Robotech web site has a decent Mecha section in their Infopedia pages, so that was a start, and the RPG books have a lot of material as well. And there's that Internet thing again. There are dozens, probably hundreds really, of web sites dedicated to Macross, and plenty of Robotech and Robotech RPG related sites, too. Macross is definitely the most popular of the three parts of Robotech, and the number of online resources to draw on reflects that. Unfortunately Southern Cross is probably the least popular, and the number of sites (or lack thereof) dedicated to it reflect that lack of interest. Even the Palladium RPG book for the Southern Cross had to make a lot of guesses and assumptions with regards to some of the mecha, that's how lacking the background material is. I've wound up taking a few liberties with the material myself. I kept the mecha names that are in the RPG, but in a few cases I tracked down alternate robot designs (still from Southern Cross sites) to what Palladium used. Note: the release of the Masters Sourcebook RPG supplement has corrected a lot of the issues surrounding Southern Cross mecha and brought things more in line with the original source material - consequently I have updated the Southern Cross mecha pages on this site to reflect this new information.
When it came to the EBSIS mecha I really went my own way. In the Southern Cross RPG book they only list three mecha. I expanded the list of mecha a little (see the EBSIS mecha page in the Southern Cross section of this site if you don't believe me). Now in the Southern Cross RPG book the authors just grabbed some leftover mech designs they found from the original Southern Cross anime that they hadn't used elsewhere and called them EBSIS mecha (there is no EBSIS in the Robotech cartoon or in any of the original anime on which it was based). I went a step beyond and used mecha designs from another source entirely. In this case I used the mech designs from the Japanese edition of Battletech (a tabletop mech combat game). Thankfully I found a site (Gears Online, see the Bibliography for link) that had scans of all the mechs so I could pick the ones I thought would work. All the EBSIS mechs use Battletech mech images, and all but two of them came from the Gears Online site. These two others I scanned myself from one of the Battletech Technical Readout books (Project Phoenix to be precise).
You'll notice that I don't mention any custom mechs. Well that's just cause I haven't posted any material related to them yet. There were a few custom mechs from my early Macross campaign, but very little material from that game has been posted (I am concentrating on the current Southern Cross game so putting up historical material is low priority). Plus there's the fact that this is all hand drawn stuff and I'm not exactly sure if I want to post those visuals just yet. Maybe I'll try and fancy them up a bit first.
And the Beat Goes On
Update: So the Southern Cross game was going so well that more of my friends wanted in on it. To accommodate the increased interest I started up a second game, this one involving REF characters and set in deep space and taking place in the time period between the end of the Second Robotech War and the arrival of the 21st Mars Division at Earth. This game is letting me drag out a lot of the unused material from my old aborted Sentinels campaign.
|Robotech Reference Books
|Robotech Comic Books (that I've used for reference material)
|Robotech Novels (that I've used for reference material)
|Palladium's Robotech RPG
|The RPG has been out of print for a while, and Palladium no longer has the license rights, but copies can still be found online and in used book and game stores.
|Rulebooks / Settings
|As expected with the release of Shadow Chronicles in 2006,
Palladium Books renewed its
license rights for the Robotech RPG and issued a series of new books. These books superceded
the previously released materials and used the more recent version of the Palladium system used
in Rifts. Palladium has since lost the RPG license for Robotech but had released the following
books under the Shadow Chronicles banner:
Internet (WWW) Resources
Please forgive any broken links, I will try to keep this as up-to-date as possible (links will open in a new window).
- Robotech Research
- Unofficial Robotech Reference Guide
- Mecha Anime HQ
- Macross Compendium
- Gears Online
This Robotech RPG site is intended for personal entertainment use only. All relevant images and materials obtained from external sources are © their original owners. Credit for materials used will be given wherever possible and reasonable.
- Robotech, Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada and related materials © Harmony Gold USA
- Robotech The Role-Playing Game and related materials © Kevin Siembieda
- BattleTech and related materials © WizKids