I’m bored, it’s my day off and I’m sitting here watching Pacific Rim in glorious 4K. While giant robots and kaiju are smashing the heck out of each other, I thought it would be a good time to write a quick review of a recently released RPG called Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters.What is it?
Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters is a role playing game of giant robots and kaiju written by Alan Bahr and based on the Tiny D6 system. Tiny D6 was first seen in Tiny Dungeon by Smoking Salamander Games and followed up by Gallant Knight Games’ Tiny Frontiers, a sci-fi RPG.
I originally backed the Kickstarter as a PDF only until I saw some previews of the artwork. It was gorgeous. I upgraded my pledge to a printed book, GM screen and dice. It was well worth it.
Tiny D6 is a minimalist RPG system. Like really minimalist. For a Test, roll 2D6, if a 5 or 6 come up on either die you succeed. If you are at an Advantage roll 3D6 or at a Disadvantage you only roll a single D6. Hit points are determined by race (all humans here) and a successful attacks deal 1 point of damage.
The Mecha and Kaiju have a resource called Fuel and Energy respectively. These allow the jockeys (pilots) and Kaiju (giant monsters) to perform special actions like fire Antimatter Missiles or shoot Acid Spray.
And that’s the core mechanic in a nutshell.
In TF:M&M, the pilots themselves are almost incidental to the game. The focus is on the Mecha and jockey creation is rolled in to mecha creation. Mechanically all jockeys are the same (health, tests) with the exception of a Pilot Trait and Drive. Pilot Traits give you a mechanical advantage during play; Daredevil lets you get an Advantage on a roll if you’re being particularly reckless and Resolute prevents you from getting slammed or moved in combat. There are 11 to choose from. Drives are used for role playing and give others an idea what your jockey is like. Here’s an example from the book; “No one harms my city.”
Ah, I love this part! As light as the system is, players can very easily create unique Mecha for themselves. First select one of the three Chassis available, Striker (light), Scout (light) and Knight (heavy). The lighter the more Energy available, the heavier you get the more Hit Points and Systems available.
There are four types of Systems that each Mecha gets; Sensor, Weapon, Defense and Movement. Some examples of available Systems are Holographic Emitters (Sensors), Armor Piercing Axe (Weapon), Repair Drones (Defense) and Flight Engines (Movement).
With the available options, no two Mecha should be alike. This is a fun part of the character creation process especially if you’re in to building or designing this type of stuff.
Kaiju creation is mechanically very similar to Mecha creation with the renaming of a few trappings. Chassis->Bioforms, Systems->Evolutions, Sensor->Intelligence, Weapon->Attack, while Defense and Movement are basically the same.
Some examples of Evolutions are Echo-location (Intelligence), Bio-Electric Discharge (Attack), Adaptive Camouflage (Defense) and Powerful Lunge (Movement). Pilot Traits are Origin Traits suitably changed to reflect a giant creature; Born of Fire, Born of Kharma, Born of Rage and more.
For The Gamemaster/Enemies
These two chapters cover running the game, some tips and tricks for the Gamemaster and making sure you have a suitable threat for your players. There are a few charts in here that are of use, especially in getting a quick one shot going. The first is Threat which charts out challenges from Fodder up to Heroic and Solo. Solo having the highest amount of hit points and being the toughest for your players.
Random City Generation is a chart that I feel really helps get a game going and does a great job with the overall feel and tone of it. Instead of Mecha and Kaiju standing around trading blows, you can use this chart to add a lot of flavor to your typical battle. Slam the Kaiju in to a skyscraper or a monument and deal an extra point of damage (and destroying them in the process) or use a hover-train as a weapon. That’s the bread and butter of this stuff and probably my favorite chart in the game.
Finally there’s Random City Terrain Generation. I think this may have been misnamed because the chart lists what kind of community or political leanings it has. Some examples are Theocracy, Seedy Port and Research Outpost. Obviously this chart is good for the storytelling aspect of the game.
Outriders, Combiners, and Transforming Mecha and Kaiju
Outriders are your vehicles like tanks jets and helicopters as well as smaller flying and non-flying Kaiju. They can have the ability to damage Mecha and Kaiju and usually used in a support capacity.
Combiners are Mecha or Kaiju that combine together forming a bigger, more powerful robot or creature. There is a new chassis/bioform used called, obviously enough, Combiner. This chassis/bioform grants the Systems and Evolutions of the combined pieces as well as one additional of each System/Evolutions available. That can be quite powerful.
Transforming Mecha/Kaiju go from one form to another. Essentially you create two (or more) Mecha/Kaiju and each becomes a new load out for your new form. Easy Peasy. It does cost Fuel or Energy to change your form.
The Devastation Gauge and City Creation
This is probably my favorite chapter. As a kid I played Battletech and the optional rules provided in this section easily helps you set up a map with a random cityscape to skirmish in. Rivers, Harbors, Subways, Military Bases (with outriders!) and Residential areas are a taste of what can be battled over (and destroyed). Good stuff here.
The Devastation Gauge is a scale from -9 to +9 that helps to cinematically determine the amount of destruction caused by a battle. Start at 0 and the more enemies defeated or citizens protected it slides to the positive side, the more damage done to a city it slides towards the negative side. If the gauge reaches +9 the Defenders win and the enemy has to retreat. If it reaches -9 the Attackers win and the city is destroyed. I like this mechanic a lot.
Not gonna lie, I haven’t read one yet. The reason is partial laziness and partially because I’ve convinced myself I’m going to do my own quick setting and I don’t want any undue influence. Mostly laziness though.
I dig this game. I really do. The overall feel captures the essence of giant robot and monster fights. I love the random city creation and Devastation Gauge. I would be the guy whipping out the map, rolling on the charts and putting together a city and tracking the mess the players make on the Devastation Gauge. Excellent job done by Gallant Knight/Nocturnal. Highly recommended.