We hold this truth to be self-evident: that giant robots are cool, and they’re never more cool than when they’re being piloted to save mankind by destroying a hideous giant monster. I really don’t know why American cinema hasn’t picked up on that yet – seriously, Cloverfield would have been a much better movie if the guys with the camera had been rushing to find a Megazord to pilot so they could stomp all over the thing. Luckily, Vigilance Press has given us everything we need to recreate that scenario the way it should have happened with their new supplement for Modern and/or Future d20 gaming, Mecha Omega.
Mecha Omega is a surprisingly brief book, being only twenty-two pages long including things like the cover and OGL declaration. Despite that, there are no bookmarks to be found here, which makes me boo the book, albeit just a little bit. The pages are all white, with orange borders along the top and bottom of each page. There’s a decent amount of art within the book, virtually all of which are designs of mecha. Most of it is black and white, but there are some color pieces scattered throughout. Printing this out shouldn’t be too much of a chore for a decent printer.
The opening from the book’s author relates how he took had this book take a simpler approach to the subject of mechs, something I wholeheartedly applaud. While gigantic sourcebooks are sure to thoroughly cover a topic, trying to get all the players at the game table to read it and become familiar with all of the new information and options can be a huge chore. This book takes a much more relaxed approach to things. You pick the size and type of your mech (each size having that size, and that size “+”, such as Large and Large+, etc.), which sets up its base stats. After that, it’s just a matter of assigning various things like weapons, power sources, sensors, etc. to the slots on the mech, though different pieces of equipment have different costs.
That’s pretty much it. After this, there are two outlines given for pre-made campaigns. Each one gives some backstory, a list of currently-existing mecha, and stat blocks for a few enemy kaiju. Kaiju, which are giant monsters, are given a subsequent appendix for designing their statistics. The hands-off approach is again prevalent here, as things like skill points are largely ignored in favor of generating the relevant combat stats (after all, more than most other monsters, kaiju are on-screen solely to be killed). The real innovation here comes from the new kaiju feats that are given, which allow for various monsters to have different special powers.
That’s the entire book in a nutshell. While it initially felt, for lack of a better word, incomplete to me, the more I thought about it the more its minimalist style grew on me. There are no special advanced classes here that need to be taken in order to pilot a mech, no new feats that improve doing so, no complicated cross-indexing of piloting skill checks and bonuses. It’s just a sleek system for designing mecha, another one for making giant monsters, and a backdrop to have them utterly beating the crap out of each other. I really enjoyed how unpretentious the book was in giving us only as much as necessary to make that paradigm work (though you can certainly add more to it than that if you want, but the book leaves that alone).
Mecha Omega is aptly named; it’s the last, and only, mecha book you’ll need for your Modern/Future d20 game.