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I seem to recall a Vehicles book for 5th Edition that included a writeup for a mecha (the only one I ever recall seeing in an official Hero product, not surprising given that Steve Long reportedly disliked them),

 

Now mecha are ridiculous as a weapons system, but keep showing up in popular culture anyway (you could say the Hulkbuster armor Iron Man used has some characteristics of a traditional mecha, and the Jaegers of Pacific Rim are classic examples in American popular culture). What I want to know is how a piloted mecha actually works in Hero.

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Hmm... the closest thing to a mech I can remember under Steve Long's Line-Editor-ship is the Black Talon battlesuit for Dr. Destroyer's agents, more recently written up in Champions Villains Volume One. That was written like a character in powered armor rather than a mech. However, pre-Fourth Edition Hero Games published a whole genre book for mechs, Robot Warriors, as well as a mini-campaign/mech source book, Robot Gladiators. As you can see from those links the books are available from the HG website store in PDF form for very reasonable prices.

 

The books were written for their own genre-unique iteration of Hero System, as a type of vehicle with unique rules. However, our forum colleague Chris Goodwin has created extensive guidelines for converting that system to Fifth and Sixth Edition Hero, and generously posted those guidelines for free: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1F5zZrj9HLpqiFsoavT63F8TUesqZb4ibYDk00Kg7zuw/edit

 

I would just add that the genre-emulating advice and guidelines in RW is based on examples of mecha popular in the West in the mid-1980s, and will probably seem a little narrow and dated today.

 

 

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The most straightforward way to represent Mecha in the HERO System is as huge vehicles. Unfortunately, the vehicle combat rules in HERO usually leave most players unsatisfied, particularly if they are looking for an experience akin to Battletech or Car Wars. Aside from the old Robot Warriors book that LL mentioned, I'm not aware of any official publication(s) that offer more detailed rules for Mecha-as-vehicles combat in HERO.

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The second-gen Hero vehicle combat rules resemble the Robot Warriors mecha combat rules pretty closely; the major difference is in scaling of hex sizes and the change in Range Modifiers between them.  If I weren't using Robot Warriors I would probably do it as vehicles.  

 

The Robot Warriors mecha building rules are a little different, enough so that a RW mech won't balance well against standard Hero System characters, but they balance pretty well between mecha.  I recommend picking them up to compare and contrast, and you might pick up some ideas for running.  

 

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Sorta off topic, but not quite (this way I don't have to start a new thread), my buddy and I were talking about the old Battletech game by Fast last night. I pulled the box out to look up the release date (1985) and discovered, to my amazement, that pages 30-34 of the technical information came from HERO System in 1984. Any idea where that material specifically came from?

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As far as I know Mecha are treated as vehicles and use the corresponding rules. As I understand it, Giant Robots aka Mecha, were designed (as an art form) in Japan as extension of the there love of Samurai.  As the ‘80s America was introduced to Robotech and other Japanese Magna, the Western love affair of Mecha. I love me some Battletech! 

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I think that's an astute observation, N-B. As the mecha genre evolved, it became more infused with samurai culture in Japan, whereas it became purely an expression of the technology culture in America. That's why mecha in anime move like people in samurai armor wielding katanas, whereas here in America mecha are primarily military ordnance on legs--ala BattleTech--emphasizing powerful ranged weaponry over the Japanese conceit of "pilots" squaring off as if they were dueling samurai.

 

So I think it is important to know which mecha tradition one is trying to simulate in a campaign: the Japanese tradition or the American tradition (such as it is). Because in the former, mecha are probably best built as characters, whereas in the latter they are probably best built as vehicles.

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I think for what I'm working on I have two possible approaches: Piloted mecha would be vehicles, but there would also be sapient mecha who are characters. These may or may not coexist in the same campaign, and it would be interesting if they did.

 

for a lot of young people, Transformers in the 1980s and later introduced the concept of mecha. More importantly, it introduced the concept of artificial life. Transformers were machines, but they were also capable of choosing between right and wrong, understanding their identity and purpose, and generally being moral actors. They were beings, different from us in fundamental ways but with whom we had a lot in common, and when in the 1986 movie many Autobots died, young people around the world mourned with the discovery that these artificial lives had value. This was a mind-boggling revelation for 1986. The movie showcased something more -- that there were other worlds with other "species" of robotic life. One of them is wiped out on a planetary scale in the very first scene, which fully illustrated the terror these robots endured before their "deaths". The scene still has the power to elicit powerful emotions today. Strange for a production for which most of the voice cast had only utter contempt (Eric Idle and Orson Welles both hated having to do what they saw as a cheesy toy commercial, but needed the money. I do not believe to this day that Eric Idle has ever had any interest in seeing the film, and Orson Welles died before it was released).

 

If the Autobot/Decepticon rivalry continued to play out on Earth, I can easily imagine a beleaguered Humanity rushing to build their own piloted mecha to have some say in this fight. Perhaps a certain American  paramilitary branch... :sneaky:

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On 4/3/2020 at 5:12 AM, Brian Stanfield said:

Sorta off topic, but not quite (this way I don't have to start a new thread), my buddy and I were talking about the old Battletech game by Fast last night. I pulled the box out to look up the release date (1985) and discovered, to my amazement, that pages 30-34 of the technical information came from HERO System in 1984. Any idea where that material specifically came from?

 

Brian, which book was that in?  I'm extremely curious to know, and to see what the information from Hero is that they're using.

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On 4/3/2020 at 5:12 AM, Brian Stanfield said:

Sorta off topic, but not quite (this way I don't have to start a new thread), my buddy and I were talking about the old Battletech game by Fast last night. I pulled the box out to look up the release date (1985) and discovered, to my amazement, that pages 30-34 of the technical information came from HERO System in 1984. Any idea where that material specifically came from?

 

The only thing it might resemble is similar info in Robot Warriors, written by Steve Perrin.  It's possible he might have written that part, in fact.  But it's definitely Battletech specific, and RW was published in 1986.  

 

I wonder when the first Battletech book that included that material was published.  

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Interesting point.  BattleTech was a second edition in 1984, so I went and looked at the original which was also 1984. Note the game’s creators: https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Battledroids

 

Also note, this is the first actual case I’ve seen where George Lucas defended his rights to “droid” in the marketplace. I’ve heard of those battles, but I never realized this game was one of them.  

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6 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Interesting point.  BattleTech was a second edition in 1984, so I went and looked at the original which was also 1984. Note the game’s creators: https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Battledroids

 

Steve Peterson.  That would make sense.  I would bet he wrote the parts in Robot Warriors that I'm referring to also.  

 

Edit to add:  And now I can't help but wonder if the original Heroes ever set up a Battletech Hero game using Danger International, which could very well have become Robot Warriors.  My group from around that time did.  Hmmm.

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I have, yet again, updated the Robot Warriors to HERO System Current Editions document.  I was never quite happy with the Ground Scale to Range Modifier conversion; I am now.  Link above in Lord Liaden's post or below in my signature.  

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I believe in The Ultimate Vehicle (5th Edition) there were two mecha-inspired vehicles--Panthrobot, which I think was inspired by Transformers, and Shining Warrior Epsilon, which were five hover-fighters that combined to form a super-powerful fighting robot.  (No idea as to whether or not the hover-fighters resembled lions.)

 

I agree that giant robot fighting machines, like single-seat manned space fighters, are thoroughly impractical in real life.  But they do make excellent storytelling devices, and I do like some of the stories in which they appear.

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5 hours ago, wcw43921 said:

I believe in The Ultimate Vehicle (5th Edition) there were two mecha-inspired vehicles--Panthrobot, which I think was inspired by Transformers, and Shining Warrior Epsilon, which were five hover-fighters that combined to form a super-powerful fighting robot.  (No idea as to whether or not the hover-fighters resembled lions.)

 

You are correct, and I can't believe I was so stupid as to overlook that. :no:  Besides the Panthamech (shaped like a giant hunting cat) and Shining Warrior Epsilon, there's also full character sheets for a Black Scorpion (with a grenade-launching "tail") and a Transmatron (Multiform between humanoid and fighter shapes). The chapter on Mecha in TUV includes four pages of design guidelines, mostly applicable to Sixth Edition.

 

 

 

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On 4/1/2020 at 5:52 PM, zslane said:

The most straightforward way to represent Mecha in the HERO System is as huge vehicles. Unfortunately, the vehicle combat rules in HERO usually leave most players unsatisfied, particularly if they are looking for an experience akin to Battletech or Car Wars. Aside from the old Robot Warriors book that LL mentioned, I'm not aware of any official publication(s) that offer more detailed rules for Mecha-as-vehicles combat in HERO.

 

Couldn't agree more.

 

HERO really drops the ball when it comes to Vehicles and Vehicle combat. 

 

I've never liked the "vehicles are just characters" schtick but trying to actually run/play out a Viper vs Raider space battle with the HERO system rules is dang near impossible and, like you said. Very, very unsatisfying.

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1 hour ago, Vanguard said:

I've never liked the "vehicles are just characters" schtick but trying to actually run/play out a Viper vs Raider space battle with the HERO system rules is dang near impossible and, like you said. Very, very unsatisfying.

 

Take a look at the Champions II supplement to see if the originals work any better for you.  The main difference is that vehicles don't have a DEX and SPD; they move every segment on the driver's DEX.  The vehicle combat rules in Autoduel Champions were based on those as well.  I'd also recommend trying the dogfighting rules, which have been in the game almost forever, including in TUV and one of the APG's.  The Ultimate Speedster also talks about how to handle segmented movement, in 5th edition but eminently usable with 6th.

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5 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Take a look at the Champions II supplement to see if the originals work any better for you.  The main difference is that vehicles don't have a DEX and SPD; they move every segment on the driver's DEX.  The vehicle combat rules in Autoduel Champions were based on those as well.  I'd also recommend trying the dogfighting rules, which have been in the game almost forever, including in TUV and one of the APG's.  The Ultimate Speedster also talks about how to handle segmented movement, in 5th edition but eminently usable with 6th.

 

At this point it's moot.  But if I ever do get into things again, I'll attempt to rummage up a copy of Champions II and take a look.

 

I did look at the segmented movement but thought it would make mapped combat a bit tedious but if that's the price I pay for something that "feels" right I'll take it.  I have the other resources you mentioned and like i said, if things change I'll take a look.

 

Thanks for the advice Chris!

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1 hour ago, Vanguard said:

 

At this point it's moot.  But if I ever do get into things again, I'll attempt to rummage up a copy of Champions II and take a look.

 

I did look at the segmented movement but thought it would make mapped combat a bit tedious but if that's the price I pay for something that "feels" right I'll take it.  I have the other resources you mentioned and like i said, if things change I'll take a look.

 

Thanks for the advice Chris!

 

Just FYI, all the books Chris suggested are in PDF in the Hero website store, for pretty reasonable prices.

 

https://www.herogames.com/store/product/809-champions-ii-the-super-supplement-revised-2nd-edition-pdf/

 

https://www.herogames.com/store/product/802-autoduel-champions-2nd-edition-pdf/

 

https://www.herogames.com/store/product/433-the-ultimate-vehicle-pdf/

 

https://www.herogames.com/store/product/420-the-ultimate-speedster-pdf/

 

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  • 2 months later...

I wouldn't have said that a mech is a vehicle. The point of the mech suit is that it simulates the human form in a battle but on a literal giant's scale. I'd think of it as more of a set of powers from a suit of power armour, Iron Man style, but with part of that power set being an always-on giant-size.

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7 hours ago, PsiJudge McCabe said:

I wouldn't have said that a mech is a vehicle. The point of the mech suit is that it simulates the human form in a battle but on a literal giant's scale. I'd think of it as more of a set of powers from a suit of power armour, Iron Man style, but with part of that power set being an always-on giant-size.

Have you ever played Battletech? Then Mecha are giant shaped vehicles. Now depending on what source you’re looking at, your point is valid.

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On 4/6/2020 at 10:24 AM, Chris Goodwin said:

 

 

 

Edit to add:  And now I can't help but wonder if the original Heroes ever set up a Battletech Hero game using Danger International, which could very well have become Robot Warriors.  My group from around that time did.  Hmmm.

That would be Doug Garret's "Super Battlesuit Palomino", I was in it.  Let's just say there were a lot of Mecha Fans among the original Heroes. Others, Not so much. Not sure of the dates on those.

 But yes Battledoids ran into two problems. One was George Lucas. The other  The bought designs, for the mecha from the LS Model company, without realizing the designs asctually belonged to Tatsanuko Productions, who were the owners of the Super Dimensional Fortress Macross property.  This forced design changes in the units which is why things looked a little "off" after that was resolved.

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On 4/11/2020 at 9:45 PM, Vanguard said:

HERO really drops the ball when it comes to Vehicles and Vehicle combat. 

 

I've never liked the "vehicles are just characters" schtick but trying to actually run/play out a Viper vs Raider space battle with the HERO system rules is dang near impossible and, like you said. Very, very unsatisfying.

 

I started a thread awhile back on Automobile Hero ideas. 

  I'd love to hear some ideas or suggestions, especially about the points where you think Vehicle Hero rules fail.

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23 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Have you ever played Battletech? Then Mecha are giant shaped vehicles. Now depending on what source you’re looking at, your point is valid.

That's entirely fair. I was thinking more about the examples listed by OP, of the Hulkbuster armour (which seems to me like it is a standard suit of power armour with extra support and power systems) or the Jaegers (which require their pilots to move in exactly the way that they want their mech to move) rather than following the thread to the later Battletech dominant discussion.

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On 6/28/2020 at 1:54 AM, PsiJudge McCabe said:

I wouldn't have said that a mech is a vehicle. The point of the mech suit is that it simulates the human form in a battle but on a literal giant's scale. I'd think of it as more of a set of powers from a suit of power armour, Iron Man style, but with part of that power set being an always-on giant-size.

 

On 6/28/2020 at 9:45 AM, Ninja-Bear said:

Have you ever played Battletech? Then Mecha are giant shaped vehicles. Now depending on what source you’re looking at, your point is valid.

Gundams and Veritechs are weapon systems. The typical Gundam just happens to be highly advanced, exotic, and frighteningly effective killing machines. There are other "Mobile Suits" in the various series, but Gundams are special. Veritechs, on the other hand, are assembly-line products made for a specific purpose in a specific war. Similarly, the Jaegers of Pacific Rim are weapon systems built for a specific task.

 

Now, civilian mecha are rare because producing even a run-of-the-mill cannon-fodder Mobile Suit is maddeningly expensive. But there some interesting examples of situations where mecha are efficient and common for civilian tasks. The Labors of Patlabor are very useful devices for things like large-scale construction projects. You still wouldn't go to your Nissan dealer and pick one up to take the kids to soccer practice -- that's what minivans are for -- a Labor is really great when you have a lot of stuff to move around. (They can also do a lot of damage in the wrong hands, so the Tokyo Police have their own force of specialized Labor drivers).

 

A Transformer, on the other hand, is a sapient being who happens to have metal and electrical wiring instead of flesh and blood. 

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