Deset Gled said:
Takes place in a alternate galaxy/universe/whatever that has nothing to do with earth.
Actually, Battletech takes place circa 1000 years in the future (bout 3072 currently) at which time humanity has colonized a chunk of space (called the Inner Sphere) several thousand light years around Earth (called Terra by then), which is ruled by 5 noble houses. Each of these Houses had united under a 6th house that ruled Terra and formed the Star League, but a few hundred years ago the League fell apart due to treachery from a minor noble, and he remaining Houses quickly began to fight over the rest of the Inner Sphere in what were called the Succession Wars.
Terra itself became the headquarters of an Asimovian Foundation-style technology cult (ComStar) that reclaimed the Star League's FTL communication system and provided interstellar communication for the various Houses and acted to protect the accumulated knowledge of humanity, which was being destroyed in the rest of the Inner Sphere by of intentional burning of enemy universities and assassinations of enemy scientists and the like, all the while amassing power and wealth for itself. The whole setting is kind of an analogue of the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages, with humanity blasting itself to bits in endless wars and losing hundreds of years of technology and learning.
Then the Clans show up, being a rough analogue of the Mongols, but that's a whole 'noher ball of wax, and if you're interested you can start here: BattleTech
Oh yeah, another big part of Battletech is that there are no intelligent aliens. IIRC, humanity hasn't even gotten outside of the spiral arm of the Milky Way where Earth is, and hasn't gotten far enough to encounter any aliens, if there even are any currently near us.
There are dozens of Battletech novels, and several videogames (which I'm sure most of us have either heard of or played. Mechwarrior 1, 2, 3, or 4?) It is very political sci-fi military space opera stuff.
Oh, and, of course, the fighting is done mainly in giant robots called BattleMechs. The pilots are called MechWarriors and are essentially the knights of the era. The background technology and history of the setting is highly detailed, with dozens and dozens of sourcebooks.
Now, the thing with the duplicated mecha; the people at FASA (Jordan Weisman and all) were fans of the original Japanese anime series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Genesis Climber Mospeada, and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, the anime that were combined to form Robotech for American audiences, and were fans of the mecha genre in general, so when they first released their game they talked to some people in Japan about licensing the images of many of the mecha from these various series (as well as a few other series.)
Apparently, however, they either didn't talk to the right people, or the licensing details were tied up among several different companies, and so the license they got was contestable. And so, when Harmony Gold assembled Robotech from 3 unrelated anime so they would have enough episodes to sell into syndication (because, apparently, individually none of the three series had enough episodes for a valid full season by American standards, so they rewrote enough of the storylines of each show that they tied together and released it all as one show), contest it they did. They fought for several years until FASA, a small company without much money, gave up and phased out all of the images (and even stopped mentioning the names of the original 'Mechs) just to stay alive.
As you may be able to tell, I'm an old Battletech die-hard who doesn't much care for Harmony Gold after all the crap they put FASA through. I respect Robotech as a big influence in getting American audiences interested in anime, though. Heck, I even have the whole series on DVD, and even a copy of the Sentinels. But for my RPG Mecha action, I'll sick to using either Mecha Crusade for D20 or Big Eyes, Small Mouth for anime flavored games.
But I wish Palladium well for the sake of the people who like their Robotech RPG. As long as someone out there likes it, I wish them all the joy they can get from it's existence.
[EDIT] D'oH, Rykion beat me to the punch. I guess that's what I get for writing novels as my posts. [/EDIT]