Strange Machine Games Announce New Robotech RPG
  • Strange Machine Games Announce New Robotech RPG


    Strange Machine Games have announced a licensing deal with Harmony Gold to develop and publish a brand new Robotech Role Playing Game! SMG plan to publish a core rulebook that has equipment and story elements of the Macros Saga. They also have something for backers of the failed Palladium Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter.


    SMG’s Jeff Mechlinski sent me some never seen ‘just finished’ artwork for the new game to show for the first time, as well as letting me know some key features of the forthcoming game.




    • SMG has patterned with Bryan Young, who will create the background, scenario and story information.
    • Choose from any standard Career path based on the show, or make a new one.
    • Pilot any Mecha, or command any Starship from the saga.
    • Asymmetrical play: play as an Officer while your allies fight in Valkyries.
    • Choose from a large number of insertion points within 5 distinct Macross Saga based Scenarios.
    • Play with an innovative system designed specifically for Robotech that enables Personal, Mecha and Naval class combat.
    • Skills allow you to create Cinematic Events that help drive the story.
    • Hybrid simulation / narration system.
    • Francisco Etchart has been retained to create the majority of the artwork for the game.



    Wave 2 Backers of the failed Palladium RPG tactics Kickstarter will be given a complete box of Robotech: Ace Pilot board game free of charge when buying the new RPG direct from SMG.

    The Robotech Role Playing Game is due for release in the 2nd Quarter of 2019 and is expected to come in at between 200 to 250 pages.

    For more information about Strange Machine Games, and their games, please check out their website.
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. vpuigdoller's Avatar
      vpuigdoller -
      Ooh, I am intrigued!
    1. TBSamophlange's Avatar
      TBSamophlange -
      I am curious as well. I think it is very good of them to offer anything to the backers that were bamboozled by palladium. They aren't accepting any playtesters yet, but I am curious - moreso if they are planning on doing miniatures.
    1. fjw70's Avatar
      fjw70 -
      I know very little about Robotech (isn’t it kind of like Battletech) but I am intrigued.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      I have to wonder if Strange Machine Games bought this license just to spite Palladium/Siembieda..l
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by fjw70 View Post
      I know very little about Robotech (isn’t it kind of like Battletech) but I am intrigued.
      No.

      Okay, buckle up for a real quick deep dive.
      In the ‘80s there was a popular anime named Macross. Following in the success of other anime ported into English, a company bought the rights to Macross to dub. But found they couldn’t sell it as there were too few episodes (you needed 100 for syndication). So they took two other completely unrelated anime whose only common element was transforming vehicles, and mashed them together with Macross. And called it Robotech.
      It was popular and repeated attempts to relaunch and produce sequels have been attempted, but all have failed save a direct-to-DVD movie.

      Meanwhile, Macross and related anime licensed the rights to their mecha designs to other companies. Battletech filled out the designs of its mechs with those, during its early days. As did Transformers (the original Jetfire was one), as the G1 toys were a hodgepodge of Japanese transforming toys mashed together.

      The company that owns Robotech, Harmony Gold, has sued over their designs a few times. They hilariously sued Hasbro over a SanDiego Comic Con promotional Jetfire, demanding everyone who bought the toys return them.


      So it’s an RPG based on an ‘80s Frankenstein TV-show owned by a litigious company that now has a phenomenally cheesy dub. I think it’s currently on Netflix.
    1. TBSamophlange's Avatar
      TBSamophlange -
      Quote Originally Posted by fjw70 View Post
      I know very little about Robotech (isn’t it kind of like Battletech) but I am intrigued.
      That is a tricky thing. Both Robotech and Battletech based robot designs off the same anime. Robotech more closely as they adapted the anime for american audiences. For many, Robotech was their first exposure to anime. Robotech is availiable to watch on Netflix. (Robotech is actually three seperate anime series that are mushed together, though the most popular is the first. It has a torrid past involving liscincing litigation, and distribution rights, with the crown being how Palladium books effectively stole money from hundreds of kickstarter backers)
    1. TBSamophlange's Avatar
      TBSamophlange -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      I have to wonder if Strange Machine Games bought this license just to spite Palladium/Siembieda..l
      Buying the license to spite them? No. Giving away a copy of the game they made shortly after acquiring the license.. well, that is open to interpretation.
    1. Dragonblade -
      Whether Harmony Gold even still has a license to the Macross property at all is in question. Their original licensor Tatsunoko has been losing court cases in Japan over who owns the international copyright to Macross. Harmony Gold is a zombie company, propped up solely by clinging desparately to a nearly 40 year old license that is now being called into question.

      I'm surprised any company took the risk with them. I'm not a Kevin Siembieda fan, but he made the smart play here by walking away. HG recently backed down from their court case over the Battletech designs, because the opposing attorney was going to challenge their rights to the IP and thus whether they even had standing to sue at all. Rather than risk losing that case, they folded. That would never happen with any legitimate licensee.

      Frankly, in my personal opinion, they are shady company that has conspired for years to deny the international distribution rights to the Japanese company which actually owns them. "Robotech" is a sham property and needs to die completely, so Macross in its true form can come to the west. I mean, if you are that enamored of a nearly 30 year old bastardized version of Macross, wait until you see Macross Zero, or Macross Frontier. Both amazing Macross sequels that couldn't come to the west legitimately because of Harmony Gold. I can't in good conscience support anything Harmony Gold touches, nor any company that seeks to "license" anything from them.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dragonblade View Post
      I'm surprised any company took the risk with them. I'm not a Kevin Siembieda fan, but he made the smart play here by walking away.
      I think that had more to do with the failed Kickstarter. By "losing" the licence, they wouldn't be expected to ever deliver on their promises. It was the firm break they needed to just move forward.
      That, or Harmony Gold pulled their licence as they didn't want to be associated with Palladium and Siembieda. Which would be far more depressing...
    1. TBSamophlange's Avatar
      TBSamophlange -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      I think that had more to do with the failed Kickstarter. By "losing" the licence, they wouldn't be expected to ever deliver on their promises. It was the firm break they needed to just move forward.
      That, or Harmony Gold pulled their licence as they didn't want to be associated with Palladium and Siembieda. Which would be far more depressing...
      The other option is that Siembieda knew when the liscence was expiring and deliberately made the decision to not do anything. This makes him a thief and a liar.

      Either way, Palladium has further hurt their reputation, and was harming that of Robotech as well. Many were likely put off anythjng with the name Robotech.

      This is not a situation that I think harmony gold would want for the last few years they hold the liscence - it expires in, I think, 2020.

      The fact that another company has purchased the rights, and is already releasing a game (at gencon), with another on the way soon, and working on an RPG, makes me realize how little palladium cared about the license and the fans. The giving of the game if you order the RPG directly (if you were waiting on wave 2 of palladiums kickstarter) is surprising, un-called for, and extending an olive branch to the fans who were turned away.
    1. Lord Rasputin's Avatar
      Lord Rasputin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dragonblade View Post
      I'm not a Kevin Siembieda fan, but he made the smart play here by walking away.
      Who walked away, Harmony Gold or Palladium Books? Nobody has said; Siembieda's announcement is in the passive:

      Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Siembieda View Post
      Moreover, after proudly carrying the legacy of Robotech® in the role-playing games medium for 30 years, our license has expired and is not being renewed.
      Neither option is good for Palladium Books. If Harmony Gold chose not to renew the license, it means that it felt Palladium Books was an overall black mark on a property it's apparently going to lose itself in about three years. If Palladium Books walked away, it means it deliberately chose not to fulfill its Kickstarter, which is downright disgusting, even for Siembieda. I'm going with Harmony Gold making the choice myself.

      As for Strange Machine Games, I wonder if it is trying to get an inside track on Harmony Gold losing the rights to Super Dimension Fortress Macross in three years. (Does anyone know if Harmony Gold will also lose the rights to Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross or Genesis Climber Mospeada? Studio Nue owns the first property as well as Macross, though frankly I doubt it cares a whit about Southern Cross.) Come 2021, it can put out a new version with the names changed ("Hikaru Ichijo" for "Rick Hunter," "Valkyrie" for "Veritech," "Super Dimension Fortress Macross" for "Robotech," and so on) if it gets the Macross license from Studio Nue.

      And the giving of a game to the spurned Kickstarter backers is just a downright sweet gesture by a company that has no reason to do so. It makes me wonder of Harmony Gold gave Strange Machine Games some money for doing so, which again makes me think that Harmony Gold, not Palladium Books, walked away.
    1. Eirikrautha's Avatar
      Eirikrautha -
      Blame game aside, I have always been a big fan of Robotech, but Palladium never really did anything with the property to do it justice. I'm not completely convinced that the kickstarter wasn't an attempt to get HG to renew the license when Palladium was worried about losing it ("you wouldn't pull the license right now and screw over people who support your IP, would you?") due to inactivity. I've played the Palladium Robotech role playing game (including back when it first came out), and I felt it was poorly implemented. Palladium forced the setting into their already existing mechanics (also used for TMNT and Beyond the Supernatural), which I never felt was a good fit for the feel of the anime. Opposed rolls and "rolling with the punch" for five attacks in a round slowed the pace to a crawl, which is the exact opposite of the anime' space. Hopefully the new mechanics will capture the pacing of the anime better...
    1. RobJN's Avatar
      RobJN -
      Quote Originally Posted by Eirikrautha View Post
      Opposed rolls and "rolling with the punch" for five attacks in a round slowed the pace to a crawl, which is the exact opposite of the anime' space. Hopefully the new mechanics will capture the pacing of the anime better...
      Just wait till you have to roll to hit for each missile in that Macross Missile Massacre you just launched.....
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      I am happy for this and hopeful that the new system is a good fit for the property. I had the Palladium books for each of the three series way back in the olden times, but really...the Palladium system is terrible. It sucks. As in, "it will waste your time and leave you frustrated." And it's really horrible for vehicle combat. They tried to use it as a generic house system for any world they could make or property they could get their hands on, and it was not a good fit for anything outside of their fantasy game...and even there it was a clunky, derivative neighbor to DnD.

      Three decades of game design evolution later and we've got plenty of systems that are cinematic, handle social conflict well, and allow for high-action vehicle combat without being tied to a grid (check out Elite: Dangerous RPG for a simple, elegant starship combat system that fits very well alongside the character-to-character game for an example).

      Who wouldn't want to play overly-dramatic characters with blue rooster hair? Fingers crossed that it's a good one.
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      That was what bothered me about the Palladium system. There were tweaks here and there, but it's core never changed. It always stayed rooted in the era of high-complexity 80s RPG design theory.

      I ran a fair bit of the Robotech RPG back in the day, so I’m curious where the new licensee will go with it.

      Quote Originally Posted by lyle.spade View Post
      I am happy for this and hopeful that the new system is a good fit for the property. I had the Palladium books for each of the three series way back in the olden times, but really...the Palladium system is terrible. It sucks....

      Three decades of game design evolution later and we've got plenty of systems that are cinematic, handle social conflict well, and allow for high-action vehicle combat without being tied to a grid (check out Elite: Dangerous RPG for a simple, elegant starship combat system that fits very well alongside the character-to-character game for an example).
    1. Richard Steinberg's Avatar
      Richard Steinberg -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      I think that had more to do with the failed Kickstarter. By "losing" the licence, they wouldn't be expected to ever deliver on their promises. It was the firm break they needed to just move forward.
      That, or Harmony Gold pulled their licence as they didn't want to be associated with Palladium and Siembieda. Which would be far more depressing...
      Ok let me get things clear here, Palladium did not Walk away from Robotech, they were kicked and screaming from it, since doing so forced them to admit they could not complete the Robotech Kickstarter which was going on 5 years now, even HG said they cancelled Palladium's license which HG gave them for free for a year.

      In the end what it came down to was money, Palladium had no money to give HG and HG already gave them a free year, and yes that means if PB had no money they were not going to send out wave 2 of the Robotech RPG Tactics game, all they were doing was stalling.
    1. Ethan Ferguson's Avatar
      Ethan Ferguson -
      This is promising
    1. Skytheen's Avatar
      Skytheen -
      I'm curious about how the system will play out.
    1. TBSamophlange's Avatar
      TBSamophlange -
      Anyone heard anything?
    1. aramis erak's Avatar
      aramis erak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ralif Redhammer View Post
      That was what bothered me about the Palladium system. There were tweaks here and there, but it's core never changed. It always stayed rooted in the era of high-complexity 80s RPG design theory.
      And yet, fundamentally, it's a fairly simple set of mechanics... lots of tables for character gen, but straightforward in play. (Frustratingly so, for many.)

      It's one of several games that come out in the same timeframe that work in the same way: class gives skills, some electives can be added, all skills increase with level-up, and HP gains are low compared to starting HP.

      Bard Games' Atlantean Trilogy (also know by the rules corebook: The Arcanum)has similar approaches. (I have often accused it of being "Palladium done better.")

      And, without 35 years of KS hyping Robotech (and flogging the world with Rifts, which is compatible), the HG license would have been worth FAR less.

      For its era, the rules in Palladium were close enough to D&D that the switch wasn't traumatic. Likewise, for RQ fans, the mechanics were familiar enough. It's a sweet spot between two of the most popular engines out at the time.

      That he didn't use a new engine for new games? He made a living for the last 35 years selling games with that engine (and a few that didn't - Recon, Amber, Valley of the Pharaohs)... it still has fans. It still keeps gaining new ones, even as many older ones move on to better games.

      And, despite the many corroborations that he's a hostile workplace all by himself, he manages to pay people and get product out the door.

      Until the Robotech Kickstarter, at least. I'm certain he WANTED to pull it off. And I'm pretty certain he's never going to live it down, either.

      If nothing else, it's forced him to let others put their rules to his settings. And Robotech, as a setting, is every bit as much his work as Harmony Gold's...
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