Heavy Gear Overview

Friday, 18. June 2010

I’ll give you something of  an overview here of some of the systems I’ve played with before.  In this case, the game is produced by Dream Pod 9, Heavy Gear is primarily setup as a tactical combat game between giant robots, or “Gears” in this case.  Fortunately however, it’s very well scaling and transitions excellently between the tactical game and role playing it one so desires.

The setting is a planet called Terra Nova, abandoned by an earth expeditionary force and left to fend for themselves.  When the earth forces return many years later seeking to reclaim their “lost” territory, the forces of Terra Nova have other ideas, and eventually beat them back after a bloody war.  Terra Nova has its temperate and even icecap areas, but the general climate is desert and wind blown badlands.  The Northern and Southern factions (roughly representing the US’s union and confederate forces.) are in a cold war with the badlands representing buffer and somewhat of a free fire zone between them.  As one might imagine, this leaves considerable room for skirmishes and dust ups even though there is no official open warfare declared.

The game uses a brilliant dice system thats quite simple to learn.  Each point in a skill reduces the chance of a fumble exponentially, versus the crummy flat 5% chance you get in most d20 systems.  Damage or injuries are quite simpley handled, they’re either light, heavy or dead.  Each level of injury results in a -1 or -2 from your skills, which can be potentially devastating when you’re looking a 6 being your normal high.  The results are that in combat, equally matched contestants tend to grind each other down before getting a kill shot in, rather than one just overpowering the other in most cases.  Granted, we all know how fickle dice can be.

The system also scales very nicely, typically in factors of 10 depending on if you’re going upscale to very large vehicles, or downscale to people on foot.  This means there is no relearning of rules to work with the rpg. Instead of damage, you simply have light and heavy wounds, with each character being able to take only so much before the give out. How much that is depends on a bit of luck.

All in all;  Heavy Gear is quite a unique setting, with a well thought out system to match.  The game is well supported with supplements for nearly everything.  We can only hope DP9 continues to put out such well refined products into the future.

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