Robotech RPG Review Part 2: The Masters Saga

Robotech’s middle child, The Southern Cross, or, as it has now been rechristened, The Masters Saga has been reissued for your RPG enjoyment by Palladium Books.

For those of us who had the original run of Robotech books, The Southern Cross books was the absolute worst of the books that Palladium issued out of the entire series and it seemed strangely appropriate since it’s the least likable of the original TV run. But look closer at this part of the series, it contained most of the plot points that drove the plot for the entire run. Skip this part and you’ll end up asking yourself a bunch of questions after the series finale. It’s not as exciting as Macross or New Generation, but it’s the most important from a story standpoint.

That being said, I’m actually very happy with this update of the Robotech RPG. I won’t go as much into the system, because I covered that in the last review, so let’s get going!

First Impression:
The all new cover is drab, very drab, set during a battle at dusk it features a third stringer Veritech Helicopter, the Ajax. The color palate is dark and fails to get the potential buyer excited about it. The original cover, featuring a Veritech Hovertank, the featured mecha of that generation, duking it out with a Red Leader Bioroid was much more effective and exciting than the new unnecessarily dark one. The manga sized book is still here, and my complaints about the size remain.

Contents:
Once again everything has been rewritten, to fit in with the new Robotech continuity. Much more time is spent detailing the history of the Armies of the Southern Cross, why they exist and how they came to be the defacto defenders of the Earth. Each of the separate armies is giving a quote before their write up with is written in the style of a recruiter attempting to get potential players to join their particular branch. It’s a creative touch that I approve of and I have to hand it to Jason Marker, I really enjoyed reading them.
Stats again have been rewritten with no rhyme or reason.

Example: The original Hover Tank’s arm shields were rated at 600 MDC, they are now 500 MDC.

Strangely, most of the speed, and structural stats have remained virtually the same changing maybe an inch or two from the original write ups.

Mecha:
The Masters Saga is bursting at the seams with mecha. There are all new ones as well that either did not make the original book or have been recently added to the canon. There are three separate transformable Veritechs to choose from, compared to Macross’ lone VF fighter and its numerous variations. Although there are less non-transformable battloids than Macross Southern Cross makes up for it with a half dozen suits of power armor, something which doesn’t even figure into Macross.

Needless to say, the variety of the tools of war in this sourcebook has won me over.

The Masters Saga surpasses Macross again with the large amount of starships featured in it. In Macross, you really only have the choice of the SDF-1 or an ARMD Space Platform for space missions. Southern Cross is chock full of them, even though most of the action in the show focuses on ground missions.

Character Class Variety:
It’s a complete 180 from Macross. The story is about military characters this book delivers. You will find detailed write ups for each of the 15 Armies that are actually satisfying compared to the short paragraphs found in Macross. There are also some detailed write up for Tirolian characters so you can play for the Masters if you like, but thankfully Marker didn’t go hog wild with the aliens like he did in Macross.

Art:
The lightbox is back and I couldn’t be happier. The art in the original Southern Cross book was terrible. It was so bad that I could barely get friends to play that part of the series because the pictures turned them off that much. Those days are gone, gone my friend. Yes, the lightbox is back in some places, but instead of lifeless imitations of original art, these guys went out and IMPROVED on the originals.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the art department. Much of new art, while capturing the spirit of the television series was obviously done in color and then grey scaled to meet the black and white standards of Palladium Books. Why was this done? It destroys the art and makes me wish that they could have printed this in color so that I could enjoy the art as it was supposed to be intended. How much could color could have added to the cover price? A dollar or two? The grey scale really grinds my gears.

Join us on Friday for the final trilling conclusion of our Robotech RPG Review Extravaganza with The Shadow Chronicles.


[tags]Palladium Books, Robotech, Southern Cross, Macross Saga[/tags]

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