Review: Palladium Books – The New Generation (Robotech)


Robotech: The New Generation
The New Generation is a supplement for the anime military sci-fi system Robotech written by Irvin Jackson and published by Palladium Books.
By Aaron T. Huss

The New Generation is the latest sourcebook for Robotech which moves the timeline out further to the Third Robotech War where the Invid have essentially taken over Earth and enslaved a good portion of the population (what little population still remains). This campaign setting for Robotech is different in that the characters do not man mechas that are backed by those constantly feeding them ammunition and assuring they are always quickly repaired. Instead, the game is about salvaging and survival as those that remain free on Earth join the resistance to rid the world of the Invid. Scavenging parts for your mecha is the norm, if you even manage to acquire a mecha. But do not fret, this campaign setting does not stray far from the mecha concept, instead it takes things in a different direction called Frankenmecha. Within this part of the timeline, you’ll have to do a lot more work to survive.

CONTENT

The New Generation is a complete campaign setting from beginning to end starting with new character options for players and new major threats for Game Masters. Before you can get fully absolved into the new setting, the book starts with a look at what’s happened leading up to this point along with the storyline surrounding the events that are occurring.

The book is then essentially broken into two main sections: one for players and one for Game Masters. The player’s section contains the new options available for character creation along with the new mechanics designed around the theme of the setting. This starts with a look at the new Character Classes: freedom fighter, patcher, urchin, wasteland rider, and invid experiment. These new character classes really fit the the survival theme and enhance the post-apocalyptic feel (although it’s not truly post-apocalyptic).

Following this is a series of new mechanics for use within the setting including new skills, rules for road combat (because motorcycle-styled vehicles are common), and creating improvised mecha units by mashing different mecha parts together to create a single working one. You have to remember that the setting revolves around the lack of a backing party to support the resistance and the characters are essentially on their own.

The player’s section ends with a selection of the improvised mecha units (known as Frakenmecha) for quick integration into a game, vehicles for non-mecha encounters, and vehicle mounted weapons. You wouldn’t want to drive an APC without the right equipment.

The Game Masters section is all about framing the Earth as it is. While it’s a description of the setting, there are bits and pieces in this material that could spoil a game for the players. My advice is for players to be surprised with what is thrown at them. This section contains a lot of information about the Invid including this motivations for invasion and enslavement, a look at their hives, and the farms they are using their human slaves on. This is excellent source material, but again there are a lot of “secrets” that characters shouldn’t truly know ahead of time.

Capping off the book is a selection of New Generation pre-generated characters. While they may be used for a quick play as players assume one of the identities, they can also be used as NPCs to help the Game Master carry the story forward.

OVERALL

I highly recommend The New Generation for all Robotech players. Not only does it contain a new campaign setting for the Game Master, but it also presents the players with a number of new options that can ultimately be utilized elsewhere such as new character classes, mechanics for road combat, and the opportunity to take different mechas and mix and match their parts to come up with something truly unique. There is a ton of content here for such a great price.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The New Generation utilizes the same, simple formatting and layout found throughout Palladium Books’ publications. Everything is very easy to read with some great looking illustrations that show the “look and feel” of the Robotech system including sample Frankenmechas and the commonly found motorcycles (or motorcycle-like vehicles). Yes the illustrations are simple but they all bring out the flavor of the setting, especially the pictures of the Invid and their hives.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The New Generation utilizes a lot of the standard mechanics found in Robotech and other Palladium games but what stands out the most is the Frankenmecha mechanics. It presents a way to kluge different mechs together with a flavor that fits the post-apocalyptic survival feel the setting is trying to present. There are also new mechanics to correspond with the move from mecha to motorcycles as is commonly found throughout the setting (due to the lack of available mecha and parts). Everything else presented in the book whether it be new or a new implementation is also done well but the aforementioned stand-out the most.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
This rating deserves a 15 out of 10, but that’s not allowed. Why is it so valuable? Simple, because it moves the timeline forward and adds another level of depth to the overall system. There are a great number of options AND it allows you to combine all the previously released Robotech publications into a single setting as parts to be scavenged or salvaged. There is a lot of great material here for players and Game Masters alike but better yet it continues the forward momentum of the system. Even if you change the overall storyline, you have a completely new campaign setting with new opportunities for great role-playing and memorable encounters.

Overall: 10 out of 10
The New Generation is an excellent addition to the Robotech line of publications. By moving the timeline forward, a new campaign setting is created while presented a new list of options for characters and adversaries. Additionally, there is the bonus of having a defined storyline to take your players through that can ultimately be changed according to their decisions and the direction the GM decides to take.

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