Monday, October 3, 2016

Death From Above: Renegades

For those of you who aren’t watching’s Hyper RPG channel (And you really should be.  The folks there are putting on clinics about some of the best RPG games on the market, combined with a love of the technological aspects of modern gaming, more on them in the next post), Death From Above recently completed its 1st season of heavy metal armored mayhem.  I’m happy to report they’re taking what looks like an 8 week hiatus to get the next campaign arc hammered out (I’d expect something to do with the heirs of the Imperial throne of Zathrus, but that could just be me wishing hard) rather than ending a wonderful program.  However, that means we’ve got an eight week gap in the programming schedule, and that means eight weeks without giant stompy robot combat from the offices at Hyper RPG.  Sadness ensues.  

But wait, Battletech Fans, we’ve got some new challengers entering the field.  The wonderful folks at Zombie Orpheus Entertainment have stepped into the War room and are putting on an eight week miniseries event. Death From Above Renegades follows the action of a small mercenary company operating in the same periphery region as the main Death From Above plotline, but taking a look at another thread in the plot.  

There’s always a concern to me when i see an entirely new cast of characters showing and using the sets and equipment to make a show similar to one we’ve got.  It’s sort of like meeting a new cousin for the first time, and he’s staying at your house.  You don’t know if he’s going to be a cool kid and you guys can play games and stuff together or if he’s going to be a massive asshat leaving broken toys and wet beds in his wake.  This was the level of apprehension i had when i heard we were getting some new folks for DFA.  

That being said, these people are absolutely fantastic.  The cast of Renegades takes the Battletech ball and runs with it.  I’ll go into a breakdown of the main characters and the level of hilarity that you’re likely to see during the game.  They also seemed to have a lot of fun with the Customization options available in the Battletech universe.  

Cotton:  Cotton is a seasoned mercenary commander who serves as a MechCommander, providing tactical information and relaying suggestions and advice during the game.  He’s a wonderful character for this show, as he serves a similar function to Mason on the primary show.  He’s not quite as Bombastic as Mason, which lets the rest of the cast go completely bananas throughout the show.  He doesn’t pilot a mech of his own, but that’s okay, his presence is welcome on the battlefield.  

Smalls:  The only mechwarrior that Cotton has available with him when the show starts (everyone else is on an escort mission), Smalls is constantly trying to prove that she’s capable of being a mechwarrior and that she should be out on missions too.  She adds a touch of professional soldiering that’s desperately needed with the rest of the crew.  She pilots a customized Trebuchet that seems to be having issues deciding what it wants to do.  

Jack:  If you ever wondered what a more socially functional Sterling Archer would look like in the Battletech Universe, look no further.  Jack is the star of a travelling show that features Battlemech combat.  He knows he’s the star, and has expectations for how the rest of the universe is supposed to treat him.  He seems to enjoy being the center of attention until that attention comes attached to lasers and autocannons.  Jack pilots a customized Atlas that carries a massive axe for some reason.  

Mack.  Mack is the level headed mechwarrior who works at the travelling show with Jack.  Level headed is relative, as they all seem to be a little prone to freaking out.  Mack has every intention of having a plan for the situation and likes to deal with problems as they come up, rather than letting them fester.  I missed a portion of the stream, but I do believe that Mack is driving a Cicada.  

Kade:  Kade is the head technician for the travelling show that Jack and Mack work for.  She seems like a delightfully capable tinkerer who’s responsible for the customizations to Jack and Mack’s ‘Mechs, in addition to her custom built FrankenMech Shelly.  Kade seems between Jack and Mack in terms of freaking out about what’s going on around them, which makes life a little more interesting.  Kade drives a FrankenMech named Shelly.  FrankenMechs are what happens when a tech decides to start building a Battlemech out of whatever parts they have lying around.  Using mismatched parts, limbs, and equipment, they cobble together a potentially working mech out of spare parts.  Shelly mounts a pair of medium lasers, the coolant systems off a pair of coolant trucks, and a prototype ECM generator.  I’ll give her points for style, but i have a bad feeling Shelly’s going to run into something heavier that puts her lights out.  

GM:  Our long suffering GM seems to be catching his stride. As the GM, he puts together the rest of the world around the players, and despite his newness to the game, is doing an excellent job.  Notable NPCS so far include: Tyree, the Captain/navigator of Cotton’s Dropship the Half-Pint,  Waffles, the fourth member of the Travelling show who pilots an undisclosed battlemech, and a Kid who works at the show in a variety of different jobs.  


The Episode starts off with Cotton aboard his dropship getting a lecture from Smalls about being out in the field.  This gets interrupted by a call from a familiar face who’s got a job/request from Mason’s Marauders.  Cotton gets the ship heading the right direction, and we’re off to the show.

Meanwhile, on the planet in question, Jack is having the time of his life.  He’s just beaten up two of his show buddies in the ring and a gorgeous woman wants him.  Jack gets himself into a variety of hijinks that end up with a woman tied up in a room after attempting to murder/capture/tag him.  

The three of them, (Mack, Jack, and Kade) rapidly try and decide what to do with this information as Jack lets them know that this is the third time this has happened this month.  While they’re trying to make a plan to deal with this, sensor information picks up a hostile lance approaching their position.  What is a team of Mechwarriors supposed to do?  With a little information from Cotton, Smalls is ready to hot drop (orbital insertion onto the battlefield) and we’re off to another fight.  

The fight has some ugly moments, but is very enjoyable.  The characterizations throughout the battle are accurate and fun, and it’s one of the best representations of how battles between mercenary units occur during the 31st century.  I especially like the aftermath at the Bar.  The cast picks up some new information and makes some new friends, and sets up the next trial and struggle for the crew.  Theoretically, the next episode should feature another entire lance of people, as the rest of the Half-pint’s crew should be back, and Waffles’s broken arm might be healed.  

Our Fearless GM does a fine job of balancing the game and the story, and this show struggles a bit in places, but so did Death From Above the first couple of episodes.  I think they’ll make a fine addition to the Death From Above universe.  Seven Weeks to go, and I am mildly curious if the plot point that I think is going on is going on.  

That’s it for our Review of DFA: Renegades,

Game On Game Fans

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