Quick Start Preview: What is Lunar Reckoning 69?

May 13, 2012 in Lunar Reckoning 69

What is Lunar Reckoning 69?

Well, that’s very simple. Lunar Reckoning 69 (abbreviated as LR69) is a mecha tabletop role-playing game. Which is a lot of words that are likely to look like gibberish to some of you, while others will be intimately familiar with them. We’ll start with the confused parts of the audience, while those of you who know some or all of this stuff should skim or skip things until ‘But I Already Know All That!’

What is ‘role-playing’?

Very simple! ‘Role-playing’ is pretending to be someone else. When a little kid pretends he’s a ninja, that’s role-playing. When you’re acting like a customer during job training, that’s role-playing. When you pretend to be a ten year old girl online, that’s role-playing…and really creepy. What the hell is up with that, anyway?

Some people may turn their noses up at this, but really, role-playing is very common these days. Normal, every-day people roleplay in videogames, over the Internet, or with their friends in the form of tabletop RPGs. It’s just damn fun. If you’ve ever thought of what it would be like to be a pirate, a caveman, or a fighter pilot, you’ve been a roleplayer.

What is ‘tabletop’?

In this context, it means a game you play on a table. It’s not really literal; you might well be playing it in a chat program or Skype or anything else. It’s a term meant to differentiate games designed to be played with dice and in-person from video game RPGs. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds, and what you lack in graphics and convenience, you more than make up with imagination and good times with your friends.

What is a ‘game’?

I really hope I don’t need to explain this one.

What is a ‘role-playing game’?

A lot of RPG books are going to choose this section to say something like ‘Imagine yourself in a world of magic and adventure’ and wax poetic about themselves and completely bore anyone who hasn’t been introduced to said concepts already. A lot of RPG books are going to beat around the bush around this subject, because there’s a big taboo about this hobby and a huge amount of people are just plain embarrassed about it. So let’s cut the bullshit and say what we really mean:

A tabletop RPG is playing pretend, but with rules.

There’s no shame in that. Or at least, there shouldn’t be. Forget the hype – RPGs can be as casual or as serious as you want them to be. Basically, someone takes on the role of the ‘Game Master’, who creates scenarios and the basics of the story, and everyone else is then a character in that story and helps choose the path it will go on. It’s a ‘game’, but the object isn’t to win or lose; rather, to advance the storyline and meet your goals. The rules for most RPGs include the use of dice, which introduces a random element that is (usually) outside the player’s control.

What the term ‘game’ really means is that there are rules about how you do things in a game. These rules vary from game to game. While there are a great deal of RPGs now that focus on the narrative actions of players in the rules, others – including LR69 – use them to model combat scenarios instead. You can have as much or as little narrative and actual ‘role-playing’ as you want. If you want to just kick some ass, you can do that. If you want to tell a story full of intrigue and danger, you can do that too. There’s no wrong way to play; the reason we have rules is because the chance of failure makes all your successes that much sweeter.

What is ‘Mecha’?

This one might be a tricky sell for some of you. Basically, ‘mechs’ or ‘mecha’ are robotic, and usually humanoid, armored fighting vehicles. They differ from modern AFVs by their use of legs rather than wheels or treads. They very widely in form, function, and even genre; a given title might imagine them as slow, plodding ‘walking tanks’ or as nimble machines with the maneuverability of a jet fighter; as mass production units barely taller than a human to unique ‘super robots’ hundreds or even thousands of metres in height; as the driving force behind a gritty, realistic war story or even simply a ‘wacky’ element in a goofy high-school comedy cartoon!

This is likely to lose a lot of you if you have no previous knowledge of this genre, so some examples are in order. The vast majority of you are likely familiar with The Transformers; though most mechs are piloted by a human and are not sentient robots, the size and build of the titular robots make them very good examples of the concept. Anime fans should be quite familiar with the concept, with legendary titles like the Gundam series; other cartoon fans might be more familiar with Robotech or Voltron. Tabletop gamers will likely think of the legendary BattleTech. In a similar vein, video game fans will think of the MechWarrior series based on BattleTech, though LR69 owes far more to the cult classic Armored Core titles.

It’s entirely likely that, if you’re the kind of person who plays tabletop RPGs or is intrigued by them, you’re familiar with mechs in some form, and probably enjoy at least one of the many titles which include them!

Mechs in LR69 specifically are small, most units being around a few metres tall at most, and incredibly nimble, using rocket booster engines or high speed wheels and motors to maintain very high speeds. They are mass-produced, being no more special than a tank or helicopter is today. The mechs players control are known as Armored Personnel Units (APUs), humanoid mechs around three and a half metres tall. Capable of combat in zero-g and terrestrial environments, APUs form the backbone of infantry forces across the solar system. Highly modular and customizable, players can play all kinds of roles, from high-speed featherweight melee fighters to highly armored hulks bristling with weaponry.

What do I Need to Play?

A bunch of six-sided dice, and this book. (Go raid your board games, or head to a hobby shop! At least three is recommended.) You might be wondering why I specified, but most RPGs use dice with more or less than six sides, ranging from 4 to 20 or even 100. The dice in this book will therefore be referred to as ‘d6′ – which means a six-sided die. If you see something like ’3d6′, that means to roll 3 six-sided dice. Higher is better! A calculator would also be helpful, too.

But I Already Know All That!

Then you’re a step ahead, and likely the one who bought the game and plans to run it. Congratulations, I’ve just told your new and possibly reticent players virtually everything they need to know! (Other than the rules and the particulars of this setting, of course.) So let’s tell you what you want to know before getting started.

LR69 uses only the d6 and does not require a battle map or miniatures. Combat is resolved with opposed 3d6 attack and evasion rolls, with separate damage rolls. Simple stuff. Here’s where it gets interesting: the battle order is neither static nor simultaneous, with each unit’s Initiative increasing every round as the battle continues. A unit’s Initiative becomes a resource and a key part of strategy. Not only does the battle order change each round, but Initiative is used for movement, and several attack types rely on or affect it. The difference between a high and low Initiative is the difference between life and death! Battles are fast and furious, while having a layer of strategy and a balance between skill and luck.

Character creation allows for a high degree of customization, while still being relatively simple to implement. Players choose between a variety of parts to form their basic build, and get a few bonuses to start. Every time they deploy they get more money for their unit! Players can enhance attributes with points, and get special abilities called Maneuvers which allow them to defend themselves and affect the flow of battle beyond the mere rolling of dice. Inexperienced characters have an edge beyond mere statistics, while experienced ones can perform nigh-impossible acts!

A basic skill system allows for greater variety and helps players get a handle on their character, giving a sense of purpose to their battles and helping them flesh out the world. As for that world, well…we’ll take it slow and easy. The next five paragraphs are likely more than enough to get everyone started…and to find their place as mercenaries and legends in a new age of warfare!

I’m Sold. Let’s Get Started.

All right! Then let me welcome you…to the Lunar Reckoning.