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Palladium Books:

ROBOTECH: The Expeditionary Force. MARINES Sourcebook is written by Irvin Jackson for Palladium's version of the famed Robotech (Harmony Gold USA) role-playing game (www.robotech.com). As usual with Palladium Books products the books are filled with imaginative text and superb line-art. For anyone who has ever played any edition of Robotech you cannot help but marvel at the imagination of the designers and creators of these amazing technological warmachine marvels, and that's before you get to play the game. Also as usual this volume has a collection of new material, such as playable Character Classes, new Aliens and all different manner of droids.

  

Remember that this is only a sourcebook, a volume designed to ensure that you get the best out of your role-playing; however, to use this sourcebook properly you still need the core rule book for the Robotech: Shadow Chronicles rpg. 

Your Robotech character gets mecha and equipment based on the OCC (Occupational Character Class) and its RCC (Racial Character Class) and in this book there are five new Expeditionary Force Marine OCCs should you not be satisfied with the myriad of characters already available to you in the game to date. The author, Irvin Jackson, has also included  a number of new alien species; strong, female, intelligent, cat-like and horned crystal golems, all new and different challenges for the player characters to interact with and, of course, kill. Should you require a new character there is a Quick Character Creation option that reduces the time it takes to create one to just 10-15 minutes though the normal choices have been limited and a number of random options have been introduced. This isn't ideal, but it is a pretty good way to introduce new players to Palladium's Robotech and also for playing a game from scratch when your game time is limited.

  

If you are new to role-playing and/or new to Palladium Books role-playing then you are about to enter a very different world (actually with Palladium you have the choice of many different worlds) than the one you see around you in what mere mortals call "real-life". You are also about to learn that geeks and street people are not the only ones with their own abbreviated language and one of the keys to successfully enjoying Palladium's rpg games is to learn what all, or at least the majority, of their acronyms stand for. I have already mentioned OCCs and RCCs but when using the aliens and resources found in this volume your characters will most likely be members of the UEEF (United Earth Expeditionary Force), and you will see this mentioned page after page throughout this 160 page book.

I don't usually just take the information from the back of the box or the book in this case, but to be honest it is easier to use some of that information than for me to count my way through the pages. So from the back of the book I can report that there are 5 new Marine OCCs, 8 new Destroids, 6 new Cyclones, 6 Alien Races plus a whole lot of other game-usable definitive info; including 34 Perytonian Energy Wizard spells and Quick Roll creation tables for UEEF Marines as player characters.

  

Palladium Books have an amazing Box Set for the ROBOTECH rpg tactics which, had I been able to get to GenCon Indianapolis I would have been reviewing here along with this rules book. Therefore although I cannot review the actual game package I can let you know what is in it:

Robotech® RPG Tactics™   This is the game Robotech® fans have wanted for decades.

Robotech® RPG Tactics™ is a fast-paced, tabletop combat game that captures the action and adventure of theRobotech® anime. Two or more players can engage in small squad skirmishes or scale up to massive battles. Relive the clashes of the First Robotech War, engage in stand-alone tactical games, or use the dynamic game pieces to enhance your Robotech® RPG experience. Or simply collect your favorite mecha from an expanding range of top-notch game pieces.

Mecha vs Mecha. Take command of the fighting forces of the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) valiantly defending Earth from alien annihilation. Or lead the massive clone armies of the Zentraedi Armada to recover an alien artifact of immense power and enslave humankind.

Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Box Set - Cat. No. 55100

Note: This product is so heavy that it does not qualify for the special Media Mail rate, and cannot ship via Media Mail.

Also note that the softback rules book that comes with the boxed set is not the same as this 150 page soft-cover volume and although you do not need the Box Set to use this book, or this book to use the Box Set, having a working knowledge of each is certainly advantageous.  This Robotech RPG volume is written by Irvin Jackson and augmented by Kevin Siembieda. It features the interior art of several artists including the excellent Daniel Dussault who is also responsible for the cover.

Although this is not an Adventure Book or Module - it is a Sourcebook - there are more than enough hooks here for GMs to send their players out as members of the UEEF (United Earth Expeditionary Force) for scenario after adventure after scenario. The UEEF were (or in the timeframe of this volume, are) the first voluntary force to leave Earth in search of discovering the planets of Earth's invaders and taking the war to them so that their homelands could suffer the same destruction and fears that Earth has for so long. The UEEF are credited with leaving in 2022 and there is a Timeline prepared so that GMs can set their adventures within the framework given without changing anything that we know (from other Sourcebooks etc) has already happened or will happen. It is an interest concept that takes in the Robotech Wars and the Planet discovering and hopping performed by the forces from Earth.

Although most role-play sourcebooks say that nothing is set in stone, there has to be some kind of acceptance that certain things will occur at specific times, and that these must be adhered to for the structure of the world as we know it. Using this Robotech book, players can create human characters as normal (or via the Quick-Start rules) and they can also create Alien characters to work and fight alongside their human counterparts. This, of course, gives us the possibilities for similar inate hatred or dislike/distrust that are similar to Elves and Dwarves in high fantasy games. There is an optional percentage table to use if you want to know whether your character (Human or Alien) has any kind of feelings towards Aliens (or Humans) that you can use when playing your role. I like this idea but I find it amusing in a way because American role-players, especially at events like GenCon, do their level best to purposely NOT role-play but actually STAT play. My experiences with American role-players is that it doesn't matter what Race their character is or what Class it is; only the skills and numbers count. On numerous occasions I have been told, and I have overheard and also experienced, American role-players saying something along the lines of "We will never get to the end of this part of the adventure if you insist on ROLE playing". When you think that some of the best role-playing games and game systems come from the United States and that some of the best role-players in the world are American actors it is quite a weird situation.

I will admit that most of my experiences with American role-players is in RPG competition play and that the adventures at the big events are usually based on how far into the scenario the group gets rather than how well they role-played their characters, whereas in the UK we have always (as far as I know this hasn't changed) we use a points system where players are judged not on how many rooms they have searched, treasure found or monsters killed, but in how the characters were portrayed and how the party worked together to complete the tasks and challenges put in front of them.

PALLADIUM Books RPGs are superb for player co-operation, in fact without it most adventures and scenarios would quickly fall into anarchy and chaos - not amongst the players but in their Universe. Palladium games generally pit the characters against the environment, not each other. ROBOTECH is set in an almost believable world, or at least a Universe that we have been conditioned to believe in through books and movies since we were youngsters (and for many readers since before they were born). Perhaps that's why we can accept it as a reality while we think of Elves and Dwarves as just fantasy.

As a sourcebook, ROBOTECH: The Expeditionary Force makes for a good reference book to our possible future; the Earth's possible future.  Although science is rapidly colliding with science-fiction I don't think this new world order will all come about between now and 2022.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015