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Palladium's Robotech - The Shadow Chronicles

Palladium's Robotech - The Shadow Chronicles

Giant transforming mecha fighting a guerrilla battle against an occupying alien force that has nearly destroyed the Earth!

The last part of the Robotech saga, Mospeada / Invid Invasion, was one of those TV shows that really caught my attention as a teen. The Macross saga was what really got me hooked, but the Invid Invasion series was role-playing gold as underequipped rebels fight to regain control of their own planet and learn to deal with an enemy that is evolving.

Palladium Books published the original Robotech RPG in the 80’s, and have recently followed it up with The Shadow Chronicles RPG, now released in a manga size instead of the standard full-size release (I like the format – it fits in my pocket).

That said, the Shadow Chronicles feels somewhat incomplete, even at 330+ pages. The game system hasn’t changed in the intervening years (not a surprise, since it is the same system as the strangely evergreen Rifts game). But the one thing that has changed (and for the better) is character creation.

The character creation system is quicker. 15 minutes or so compared to an hour for a “typical” Robotech character. Mostly because instead of figuring out what you want, you can roll randomly for almost everything and still not have a totally useless and random character.

So that’s how we’ll start.

The first step is to roll for you stats and suggested OCC & MOS (Occupational Character Class and Military Operational Specialty). A roll of 62 gives me “Fast Reflexes and High Dexterity”. This determines what dice I roll for each stat (instead of 4d6-L or 3d6 for each stat), and suggests that I go for Veritech Pilot, Battloid Ace or Technical Officer specialized in medicine or mechanical engineering. Since the Tech Officer sounds boring, Veritech Pilot it is!

Stats for the “Fast Reflexes and High Dexterity” character are rolled as follows: IQ 1d4+10, ME 1d6+9, MA 1d6+8, PS 1d6+9, PP 1d6+19, PE 1d6+9 PB 1d6+10, Spd 1d6+17. Needless to say, this gives me fairly average stats except for Speed and Physical Prowess. Since stat bonuses in Palladium games only start at a stat of 16, and there is no bonus for a high Speed stat, she’s got very few bonuses to worry about.

A few other traits can be determined randomly instead of going through the book and choosing what you want. In this case I determine that our Veritech Fighter Pilot’s alignment is “Anarchist” (self-serving, may choose to be a team player or not – definitely the kind of jerk you expect to run into as a pilot of the most ‘leet’ fighting planes ever made), race is micronized Zentraedi… and this gives me pause. Traditionally, most micronized Zentraedi are fighting as Battloid Aces, not Veritech pilots – mostly because they aren’t comfortable with human mecha designs nor with transforming mecha. That said, one of the best mecha pilots late in the Macross saga was a micronized Zentraedi, so it’s not  unheard of. In fact, I’ll go with another female Zentraedi officer recruited to the human side by none other than Miria Sterling. She took to the human race with vigor, marrying a young human officer, and fighting for our side. However now that her husband has died in action on Tirol, she’s not sure she did the right thing. She’s become detached from the humans in her units, and as a female Zentraedi, she has little in common with the majority of the Zentraedi in the fleet (Zentraedi were segregated by sex in their own fleets, women had their own ships and superior fighting equipment).

With that out of the way, I’ll skip the random sex table. Her age comes up as 27, her build is average, her height is an imposing 6’10” (even micronized Zentraedi are usually a head taller than their human counterparts). As a zentraedi I’m skipping the birth order, place of birth, and family ties tables.

The next interesting piece is the Relationship to Teammates table. You roll on this table for each team member you have, to determine how you work together. A great touch to make the team feel like they have some history together, but I wonder about 10% of the team being your “siblings”, especially when there are three races in the Shadow Chronicles game. Since there are no other team mates with us right now, we’ll roll on that table when she actually joins a game. This is the kind of table that more games should include (although it should have significantly more options on it).

Special Aptitudes come next, and I get “Sure Shot” giving her a +2 hit bonus with projectile and energy weapons (but not missiles) from handheld to mecha mounted and even spaceship cannons. She also halves penalties for being off balance, moving, and so on.

Her outlook on Earth is indifference. It’s just another invid-invaded and conquered planet. Not in it to save the world, just here following orders. Perfectly cynical for this character who has lost her link to humanity with her husband. Then it’s the “Prejudices & Paranoia” table – which is optional. In Dara’s case, she’s got issues with Tirolians. Which should come as little surprise since the Robotech Masters engineered and controlled her whole species until recently.

Finally, her disposition is rolled as “Career Officer” – her top priority is to advance up the ranks to become powerful and important.

The stealth "Shadow Alpha", what Dara wants to fly when she levels up.

The stealth "Shadow Alpha", what Dara wants to fly when she levels up.

We get to the O.C.C. rules next. Not surprisingly, the stat generation used for the character immediately qualifies her for the Veritech Pilot Officer O.C.C. (one of the benefits of the quick and easy character creation system). The O.C.C. gives her a bunch of skills (many with a bonus above what someone picking those skills would get), and she gets to pick one of three M.O.S. options – Alpha Pilot, Beta Pilot or Recon Pilot. As a classic Zentraedi who wants to rise up in the ranks, she goes with the “Veritech Alpha Fighter Pilot M.O.S.”. The choice of M.O.S. provides some minor stat modifiers as well as some more skills. She also gets a single secondary skill of her choice (and more at levels 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 15). For her secondary skill, to stick to her background as a Zentraedi officer in the original invasion of Earth, we grab Language: Zentraedi. Normally if I was making a character for the game, my first choice is always Boxing because it grants one additional attack each round, which means that you get to fire more missiles, shoot your gun more often, or whatever.

Hit points is determined by rolling 1d6 and adding it to the character’s Physical Endurance stat. SDC are provided by the character’s M.O.S. (in this case 3d6+10) and modified by physical skills.

1st Lieutenant Dara Van Holme
O.C.C.: Veritech Pilot

Race: Micronized Zentraedi
Sex: Female
Height: 6′ 10″
Build: Average

Alignment: Anarchist
Outlook on Earth: Indifferent
Prejudices & Paranoia: Tirolians
Disposition: Career Officer

I.Q.: 13
ME: 11
MA: 12
PS: 13
PP: 25 (+5 parry, dodge and strike)
PE: 18
PB: 12
Spd: 22

Hit Points: 22
S.D.C: 27

Initiative: +1 (+2 in zero G) [+3 in VF/A-I6]
Melee Attacks: 4 [5 in VF/A-I6]
Strike: +5 (+6 in zero G) [+7 in VF/A-I6]
Dodge: +6 (+8 in zero G) [+8 in VF/A-I6 on theground, +10 in flight]
Parry: +5 (+6 in zero G) [+7 in VF/A-I6]
Disarm: +0 (+1 in zero G) [+2 in VF/A-I6]
Pull Punch: +2 (+1 in zero G) [+5 in VF/A-I6]
Roll with Punch, Fall or Impact: +2 [+4 in VF/A-I6]

Special Aptitude: Sure Shot. +2 to strike with projectile & energy weapons. 1/2 penalties for being off-balance or moving, etc.

Boarding Spaceships 45%
Climbing 55%
Computer Operation 80%
Forced March (+2 PE, +4 Spd, +4 SDC)
Hand to Hand: Expert
Intelligence 48%
Language: English 89%
Language: Zentraedi 53%
Literacy: English 84%
Mathematics: Basic 77%
Mecha Pilot: Ground Veritechs 60%
Mecha Pilot: Veritechs 59% (73% for Alpha Veritechs)
Mecha Elite Combat Training: Alpha
Military Etiquette 50%
Navigation 65%
Navigation: Land 50%
Navigation: Space 45%
Pilot: Airplane 84%
Pilot: Jet Aircraft 74%
Pilot: Jet Fighter 74%
Pilot: Spacecraft, Light & Medium 70%
Radio: Basic 65%
Sensory Equipment 50%
Space Survival 35%
Swimming 60%
Wilderness Survival 45%
Zero Gravity Combat
W.P. Energy Pistol (+1 Strike)
W.P. Energy Rifle
W.P. Handgun

VF/A-6I Alpha Veritech Fighter
VR-052 Battler Cyclone emergency vehicle
CVR-3 body armor
Gallant H-90 side arm with all attachments & 1 protoculture energy clip
4 H-90 Protoculture energy clips
2 Flares
2 Smoke grenades
Survival kit
Dress uniform
Flight suit
Personal clothing & effects
Cr 1,100