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Tabletop Game: Heavy Gear

Heavy Gear was originally a tabletop wargame created in 1994 by a company called Dream Pod 9. It centered around the conflict of the Northern States versus the Southern Territories on the planet called Terra Nova, with an expanding storyline. The centerpiece of these conflicts is the armored battle suit called the Heavy Gear, with both sides developing their own variants of the mecha.

The universe has a tabletop game, a character-based RPG, a card game, two video games, and an animated TV series to its name.

The Video Games, released under the titles of Heavy Gear and Heavy Gear II and developed by Activision, are mech simulators that mix mech controls and standard FPS controls. (Fun fact: Heavy Gear uses MechWarrior 2's engine, if anyone wonders why they play similarly. Heavy Gear II uses its own "Dark Side" engine.) In the first game, the player was a Duelist on the Northern landship Vigilance, and had to help the ship fight its way back to Northern Territory.

In the second game, an attack from Earth had the North and South call a cease fire, and the player leads an elite squadron piloting advanced Gears to stop the Earth attack from trashing the planet.

The TV series centered around the Heavy Gear championship series, where a rookie Gear pilot named Marcus Rover joins the southern Shadow Dragons and competes against the northern Vanguard of Justice.

Has two sister games (both of which exploit the minis game/RPG bifecta), Jovian Chronicles (IN SPACE!!) and Gear Krieg (In World War II!).

Heavy Gear Assault, the third videogame in the series, was being crowdfunded at the official site, but details on the game were sparse and the ongoing discussion with developers on Facebook has dodged details on pledges, funding, and the actual existence of a development studio rather than Stompy Bot being a reskin of the MekTek modding collective. The crowdfunding effort failed, and further news has not been forthcoming. This may change now that the official forums are up and running.


Examples:

  • Ace Custom - The Gears in the TV series are all modified or special designs of standard Gear Chassis.
    • Applies to damn near any Gear piloted by a Duelist.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot - Sorta. There are no true AIs, but the neural net computers used in the Heavy Gear universe can pick up habits from their users. If it's a Gear, this can include obscene gestures among other things.
  • Adaptation Decay - The TV series universe differs from the DP9 universe. Expected because DP9 had little input into the series. Lampshaded in at least one sourcebook where characters talked aobut how bad the series was.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Of a sorts. Unusual magnetic activity on Terra Nova means that massive "landships" can hover about on magnetic repulsion. The first game features two, the Northern Vigilance and the Southern Draco, both prides of their military. They of course meet.
  • All There in the Manual - The extra art books sold by Dream Pod 9 contain lots of fluff and art about the mecha, the planet, and the characters in the universe. The first game's manual contains much of the same.
    • The two PC games have their own sourcebooks which include details that aren't in the games themselves.
  • Ambiguously Brown - The people of Terra Nova are stated to be this. There are some variations from country to country, but with the exceptions of the Badlanders there are no "white" people or "black" people. The book art does not always reflect this— most likely because of Minority Show Ghetto.
  • Author Existence Failure - The planned Metaplot never reached its conclusion due to some of the original writers quitting. However, with the release of Heavy Gear Blitz! and the upcoming 4th Edition RPG, said metaplot will reach said conclusion.
  • Author's Saving Throw - The TV series exists as a work of fiction in-universe. Everybody dismisses it as Southern propaganda.
  • Axe Crazy - Many GREL stranded after the War of the Alliance, being engineered, bred, raised and trained for nothing but war have quite a bit of difficulty adopting to less military life styles.
  • Cloning Blues - The GREL's (Genetically Recombinated Expeditionary Legionaries) are cloned and genetically engineered soldiers that made up the majority of the invasion force sent by earth to conquer Terra Nova. A major plot point is that GREL's stranded on planet after the invasion failed are incapable of reproduction.
    • Until human/GREL hybrids started getting conceived.
  • Duel to the Death: Specially trained Duelists, essentially Gear pilots with exceptional piloting skills, will be called upon by their superiors to engage in a one-on-one fight against an enemy's Duelist when dire situations happen to be on the line.
    • In the first video game, this becomes a plot point for two missions:
      • When the protagonist is allegedly responsible for killing Colonel Arthur Janus' son, Henry, after surrendering to GREL troopers in an ambush.
      • When the protagonist faces the person truly responsible for the murder of the Colonel's son in the final mission.
  • Escort Mission: Convoy missions.
  • Executive Meddling - The original plotline for the TV series was for the Northern and Southern tournament teams to work together to defend Terra Nova against an Earth invasion. This would have been fine, except the executives bigwigs thought that the viewer's wouldn't get it.
  • Five-Man Band: Can happen, depending on your team in Heavy Gear II.
    • The Hero: The Commander (player character)
    • The Lancer: Lt. Juno Vesping (a strike specialist) or Lt. Keiji Kage (high offensive capability)
    • The Big Guy: Soldat Leo Sobec, Lt. Borden Wallace, Lt. Carlie Pinter, Sgt. Antoine Malliaux (the first three pilot Assault Mechs, and deal the most damage and have the highest defense values. They tend to ignore stealth, useful for direct assault.)
    • The Chick / The Smart Guy: Sous-Corporal Morgassa Temple (recon specialist), Helene del Pulciano (diplomatic combatant)
    • The Sixth Ranger: Tharn Nulf and Robie Bray
  • Flamethrower Backfire: Equipment Catalog: Terranovan Equipment. If the fuel tank of a flamer (flamethrower) is hit it will have (undescribed) catastrophic results.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams - The Laser weapons in the first game were played straight. They fired visible, continuous beams of energy that instantly hit anything they were aimed at. What made them demonic in their effectiveness was their accuracy, silence (they only made a quiet buzz when fired) and their damage, capable of killing anything (and that means ANYTHING) in one shot. The beam could even be swept across groups of enemies, causing damage to all of them.
    • Then you had the Gatling Laser, combining the firing rate of an autocannon with the effectiveness of a laser.
    • Also the preferred infantry weapon of Earth's Colonial Expeditionary Force.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl - Back story material covers at least one instance of a normal woman pairing up with a deserted GREL trooper. In the letter she was described as being small, and most male GREL lean heavily towards the large end.
  • In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race - Kinda this.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name - The mecha in Heavy Gear come in two flavors- humanoid and not. The humanoid types are called Gears or simply Walkers, while other kinds of walker machines are termed Striders.
  • Metaplot - Heavy Gear was very upfront about having one, even going so far as to publish the date of setting on the back of each game book.
  • The Mole: Lieutenant Jennifer Brockton in the first video game. It is revealed later towards the end of the game that she is an agent of the AST's Draco sent to the CNCS's Vigilance to pose as a soldier of the 67th Regiment in order to extract information from the carrier. She's responsible for killing Henry Janus, who is Colonel Arthur Janus' son. However, she and the GRELS covered up the evidence, and made it seem that the protagonist Ranger Edward Scott was responsible (from behind the scenes, of course) in order to get the Colonel riled up and face him in a one-on-one duel; all while Brockton hid under a sympathetic facade towards the protagonist. When Scott finds out that she's responsible for Henry's death after the Vigilance's communications crackers showed him a clip of her shooting Henry in the head which wasn't revealed in the second mission, he sets out to find and eliminate/capture her. Having already learned ahead of him, Jennifer escapes capture and possible execution, and doesn't show up until the very last mission where she becomes the Final Boss in a one-on-one duel with the protagonist.
  • More Dakka - The first video game allowed you to alpha-strike your weapons. If your Gear was suitably equipped, it could put on quite a show. Hitting the target and penetrating its armor was a different matter.
  • Race Lift - Louise De Rouen is shown to have very dark skin and black hair on the back of Blood on the Wind, but in Forged in Fire she is shown with light skin and Blonde hair.
  • Real Robot - Similar to Armored Trooper VOTOMS, which it is inspired by. Gears tend to be much smaller (4-5 meters), and aren't all that dominant over conventional vehicles and infantry which they need the support of.
    • Some of the sourcebooks even point out that only the abundance of terrain that tracked and wheeled vehicles have trouble traversing makes the Gears practical as war machines. In the areas that allow more conventional combat vehicles to operate, Gears tend to get torn apart because they're far easier targets than tanks are.
  • Rollerblade Good - Wheels, treads or halftracks in the Gears' feet are used for movement over flat ground.
  • Shoulder Cannon - Shoulder-mounted rocket/missile launchers and grenade launchers are the norm in this universe.
  • Shout-Out - To both Next Wave and Dark Shadows.
  • Show Within a Show - According to the second edition of the Duelist's Handbook, the television series is, in fact, a live action series in-universe.
  • Shown Their Work - The team at Dream Pod 9 did their research and as a result, none of the technology presented in-game breaks known physical laws.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: you get access to Rocket Packs, Panzerfausts, and Bazookas, which follow the one-shot, one-kill policy.
  • Super Soldier - GREL troopers- genetically enhanced warriors and damn good gear pilots.
    • The "Life on Terra Nova" sourcebook mentions that part of the GREL genecoding was recovered from the descendants of a previous generation of bioengineered supersoldiers (who were genetically normal humans, just at the upper limits) called Primes, who were such good mech pilots they could operate Frames, which are sort of like gears without the computer support that allows anyone to learn to pilot them.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: In the first video game, Corporal Henry Janus in the second mission, who is killed by Lieutenant Jennifer Brockton off-screen as it is much later revealed that she is an agent of the AST.
  • Tank Goodness- The first computer game won many fans by making tanks tougher and more heavily armed than gears to the point that it was suicide to go against a Northern Alliance railgun tank.
    • The second game nerfs tanks considerably. Fans reacted badly to this and declared the the second game "illogical junk" in spite of the better controls and graphics.
    • It qualifies as considerable Fan Dumb in regards to the tank nerf, as what had actually been changed was the way armor values and weapon penetration was rated by the system. Many pilotable machines in the second game were actually more vulnerable than their HG1 iterations as a result. A constant barrage of light machine gun fire will eventually kill even an assault-weight Gear. Ironically, the real complaints most likely came about from the efficiency of the panzerfaust-class weapons against tanks... a class of weapons specifically designed to kill the heavily armored but less agile vehicles.
    • Actually, the tanks being nerfed is justified in-universe: There really is less armor on a Colonial Expiditionary Force hovertank simply because the CEF has to haul their tanks between worlds- a process that requires them to lift them into orbit. The lighter the tank, the less fuel they use per tank, and the more they can bring up in one go. It's an efficency thing.
  • Wham Episode: In the first video game, in one later mission, the protagonist, Ranger Edward Scott, is shown a video clip by one of the Vigilance's communications crackers that reveals Lieutenant Jennifer Brockton responsible for offing the Colonel's son.
    • The second game's introduction is one to the whole of Heavy Gear's metaplot, with the Earth-sponsored destruction of Peace River, which had been a major location in the game up to that point.
  • What Could Have Been - The original plotline for the TV Show.
  • X Meets Y - A Japanese review of Heavy Gear called it "Votoms mecha in a Dougram setting."

GURPSScience Fiction Tabletop GamesHo L
HawkenMecha GameIron Brigade
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alternative title(s): Heavy Gear
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