Heavy Gear: The Skimpy Worlds

Some of the worlds in the canon Heavy Gear RPG setting have not been developed beyond a few sentences of text, in either the original roleplaying game or the current Blitz! rules. Not only is there little to go on, I’m not sure I would use them anyway.

Botany Bay. Considered only “marginally” habitable, Botany Bay was converted into a prison planet, then its population of prisoners and guards were left to their fate when Earth abandoned her colonies.

The best idea I’d had was to make this a haven, as odd as it sounds. After Earth returned to her colonies and conquered them, its clone supersoldiers had nothing to do, so they became increasingly restless and resistant to their mental conditioning (referred to by the human officers as “malfunctioning”). To keep the troops in line, the Earth high command decided to add a carrot to the stick of their brutal discipline: Follow orders and behave, and you’ll be transported to Botany Bay to make a world or your own. (The degree to which this is true remains to be seen.) I don’t have much more to this concept yet, but it’s a start.

Home. Home was bought wholly by a megacorporation, which moved all of its personnel and operations there, and was a healthy, successful colony at the time of Earth’s withdrawal.

That’s it. “Company towns” are one thing, but I don’t know what story I’d want to tell about a company planet. I’ll likely replace this.

Jotenheim. This world was purchased by a group of private citizens, who are known as hostile to outsiders. One book described the world as “New Switzerland,” due to its “cantonment” style of government.

This is the ignorant American in me, but I don’t know what this means. I’ve read articles about Swiss government and cantonment methods in other parts of the world, but I’m just not getting it. This will probably be replaced unless I can find a better explanation, or an example I can follow.

New Jerusalem. This world was bought wholly by the Roman Catholic Church, which relocated to the planet several hundred years before Heavy Gear’s present day. New Jerusalem is described at the time of Earth’s withdrawal as being “a medieval agricultural nation ruled by a religious technocracy.”

I’ll probably replace this completely. Some folks have suggested using this to explore things like a Second (or Nth) Reformation, but I’d much prefer to use something else, like my collection of books for the Harn roleplaying game. If I can figure out how to make a medieval-level setting fit into the Heavy Gear universe, I’ll use that. If not, I’ll replace it.

So, of these four “skimpy” worlds, I have a concept for one of them, a possible source for a second, and two that I know I’ll replace completely if possible. As I said before, there are few worlds developed to the same degree as Terra Nova that would fit in the Heavy Gear setting, but the search continues.

That leaves Earth, which I’ll discuss separately.



Heavy Gear: The Developed Worlds

In 1996, I bought my first book of this new game I’d seen called Heavy Gear. I wanted to see if the setting would be worth the investment first, so rather than buy the rulebook I bought Life on Terra Nova, the game’s setting sourcebook.

I can safely say I got my money’s worth. Between Life on Terra Nova (both the first and second editions) and regional sourcebooks like Into the Badlands, Terra Nova is still my favorite roleplaying setting twenty years on, and I expect it will be for a long time to come.

It does, however, leave me with a problem I can’t seem to solve: Of the ten worlds in the Heavy Gear setting, only Terra Nova is developed to the point where it feels like a real place. Some of the others were broadly described in sourcebooks of varying quality, and the rest are barely names on a map. I’d very much like to get all of the worlds to the same level of detail, so I’m bringing in everything I can think of.

So far, I’ve made good progress by mining my game library:

  • Caprice: Like many other people, I play Caprice as a “cyberpunk world,” so I’ve supplemented the three published sourcebooks (Life on Caprice, Caprice Corporate Sourcebook and Liberati Sourcebook) with material from Cyberpunk: 2020 and the like.
  • Atlantis: For a water world, Heavy Gear’s Life on Atlantis sourcebook pales in comparison to the books written for the Blue Planet roleplaying game, so I’ve totally replaced Atlantis with Blue Planet’s Poseidon. Also, the folks at Biohazard Games really helped me out when one of my books had a printing error, so I’ve become a big fan of both the setting and the company.
  • Utopia: Though the nuclear war that consumed Utopia took place decades before the “present day,” I’ve been diving into my Twilight: 2000 collection for adventures and story ideas. I also decided to consolidate the APES powered armor suits (called Golems in Heavy Gear Blitz!) on Utopia rather than have them on both Utopia and Eden, as described in their respective sourcebooks. The same “featured vehicle” on two planets just didn’t make much sense to me.
  • Eden: Eden is a garden world recovering from the aftermath of a series of comet impacts. I decided to only mine the published Life on Eden sourcebook for ideas, and replace the world with the “not-Earth” portrayed in the various Ace Combat video games. That world already comes with large anti-comet facilities for climatic battles (imagine Star Wars: The Force Awakens with F-18 Super Hornets), and I wrote up the aircraft seen in Ace Combat for use in Heavy Gear years ago.

These are the worlds I’ve filled in pretty well. But there are more….