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Neon Genesis Evangelion-inspired tabletop RPG The Tears of a Machine SC makes ‘mecha-drama’ accessible

Roll the dice, Shinji.

An indie tabletop RPG inspired by the robot fights and teen drama of anime series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion is currently crowdfunding a core rulebook on Kickstarter.

The Tears of a Machine SC creator Russell Collins describes the upcoming RPG as blending slice-of-life depiction of young adult melodrama with the cinematic battles of the towering mecha piloted by players’ characters. The combination of internal and external conflict is said to make play sessions similar to episodes of shows such as Evangelion, Robotech and Gen:Lock.

The game is powered by an original gameplay system that uses Fudge dice, familiar from RPG Fate. The six-sided dice feature blank, positive ‘+’ and negative ‘–’ results. Players roll a number of dice determined by their relevant character traits, before choosing one die to represent the goal their character is pursuing and another to signify the cost or consequence that may happen as a result.

Characters are created using only a few sentences, each of which features keywords representing a number of the personal traits that can be used in tests. Collins said that the rules had been created to be “flexible and accessible, so they can be used for the fluid action and day-to-day drama of a mecha anime”.

Following the influence of television series, each session is structured around a number of individual scenes that contribute ‘beats’ to the story. Once a set number of beats have occurred, a crisis takes place - such as the need to strap into the mech and prepare for battle.

A pilot’s personal psyche can influence the behaviour of their mech, with a ‘season’ of multiple sessions seeing the characters attempt to protect the world as well as dealing with their own personal conflicts and challenges.

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The Tears of a Machine SC’s lore appears to draw from Evangelion's religious allegory, with the mecha known as Saints defending the planet against demonic robots from space as part of humanity’s Preservation Force. The Saints are constructed from technology stolen from the interstellar Ven, presenting potential complications as they go up against the alien invaders.

The Tears of a Machine SC’s Kickstarter campaign will fund a digital and physical release for the core rulebook, as well as an accessible audiobook version based on the designer’s work with blind and dyslexic students as part of non-profit Learning Ally. The book will similarly be designed with accessibility in mind, and will include safety tools and advice around sensitive portrayal of characters and situations.

A free quickstart set of rules for the RPG can be found on Collins’ page. The Kickstarter will run until August 6th, with a release expected by the beginning of 2022.

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