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Q&A: Tabletop RPG 'Mecha vs Kaiju'

Kaiju Commentary

We recently spoke with Jonathan Wright of WrightWerx about the company's product 'Mecha vs Kaiju' -- a tabletop RPG based on the gamut of giant monster films.

What is the premise to the game? I understand that it extends beyond the obvious.

The conceit of the game is that every giant monster movie that was ever made actually happened in the world. The first kaiju appeared in Hiroshima in 1945 and was destroyed in Nagasaki days later. There is a clearly explained reason why the monsters appeared, but that is a secret held in the GM section of the book. Kaiju genetic material was stolen by agents of what would become North Korea and experiments began. In 1950 North Korea unleashed a kaiju against American Marines invading their country. A year later this same kaiju attacked Japan, beginning a decades long series of attacks. Japan created super weapons to defend themselves, culminating in the robotic Mecha, capable of fighting the kaiju one on one. Players take on the role of heroic mecha pilots fighting to defend their nation from the monstrous kaiju.

What interested you in choosing the Fate system as the mechanic?

Fate is a player-based system that is easy for game masters to prepare. It's also one of the most hackable systems that was available in 2013. At the time there were no point-based mechanics in Fate, but the stunt system made it incredibly easy to adapt. Also Fate had one of the most successful Kickstarters in history, so it seemed both creatively and commercially viable.

When was the game developed and who worked on it?

Mecha vs Kaiju is a labor of love, wholly owned and created by myself. I released a version of MvK in 2008 using another system, but unfortunately that system was not successful. In 2013 Pacific Rim was released, and Legendary films announced their upcoming Godzilla series. The time was right for a giant monster game. I began to rewrite for Fate as I prepared for a Kickstarter campaign in Spring 2014. I earned enough to not only publish the book but to get some amazing layout and artwork that really brought the MvK world to life.

Are there supplements?

Since 2014 I've averaged two source books a year, covering a variety of game topics. Some detail locations, such as the United States, beset by mutant giant insects, and other nations of the world, which have set up island bastions to defend their borders from rogue kaiju. Other source books deal with exotic settings, such as the Undersea Shogunate of Mu (my take on Atlantis), sentai "Power Ranger"-style heroes, and Victorian steampunk. There are also a series of kaiju source books, creating analogs of all the famous giant monsters of film, as well as a military mecha technical manual inspired by similar books from other 80s, 90s and 2000s game systems.

What in your estimation is the appeal of the mecha and kaiju genres?

At its heart, this genre is not about giant radioactive monsters, but about humanity, and how we deal with disasters. The original Godzilla used the monster as an analogy for nuclear war, while the most recent Japanese version was inspired by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. The American "King of the Monsters" places Godzilla and other kaiju in the roll of agents of planetary order, restoring a world nearly destroyed by humanity. Mecha vs Kaiju empowers players to fight these seemingly insurmountable problems vicariously through play.

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