From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Marc-Alex Vezina)
Subject: Heavy Gear, Version 5.0
Date: Sat, 7 Jan 1995 20:37:57 GMT
The Heavy Gear FAQ
Compiled by Marc A. Vezina
Version 5.0, 01/01/95
(Heavy Gear and Heavy Gear Fighter are Copyright(c)1994 and
Trademarks of Ianus Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
List of topics:
- What is Heavy Gear?
- Is it a tactical game or a RPG?
- Who publishes the game?
- How much material is available?
- When was it published?
- Which book do I need to start playing?
- What's the background like?
- Are there miniatures available?
- Can the game use miniatures?
- Is the game meant for a flat hex-map or free-form terrain?
- Are mecha designs made by the players or chosen from a set list?
- How large is an average game? How much time? How many players?
- What is _Heavy Gear Fighter_?
- What is this Timewatch(tm) clock at the end of the book?
- What are the influences that helped shape Heavy Gear?
- Does HG have rules for missile spreads?
- Does HG have rules for powersuits?
- Does HG have rules for psychic powers?
- Does HG have rules for space mecha combat?
- Does HG allow dodge for walker units?
- Does HG have rules for shields? Beam melee weapons? Jettisonable armor?
- Does HG have rules for transformable vehicles?
- How much will it be sold for?
- What kind of non-mecha units will be available, and will they be in the main book?
- Will the game be supporting air-to-air and ground-to-air combat? VTOLs?
- What are the combat mechanics like?
- What exactly *is* a Heavy Gear (specs wise)?
- Is it possible to *aim* for a specific target?
- What is a strider?
- Are there any plans for support software?
- Do you have a WWW page we can go to to get a preview?
- What are the Badlands?
- What types of weapon are used?
- Why so many projectile weapons?
- Will there be abstract rules for running LARGE campaigns??
- What sort of sensors are available? How can enemies be targeted: LOS, radar, IR, etc? What sort
of communications gear is available, as well as ECM?
- How are Gears controlled within the game's fiction?
- How easy are Gears to come by? Are they hard to replace?
- Are Gear pilots considered elite troops, relative to tank or other vehicles?
- Do the pilots maintain their own Gears?
- What is the "military unit" for Gears, like the Lance for BTECH?
- What specifically is a SMS (secondary movement system)? Does it vary from Gear to Gear?
- Can Gears jump? How?
What is Heavy Gear?
Heavy Gear is the new science-fiction gaming universe by Dream Pod 9, the gaming division of
Montreal-based Ianus Publications, Inc. It is also the name of the first game based on that universe.
Is it a tactical game or a RPG?
Both. There are rules for roleplaying and rules for tactical and strategic combat. These two sets of rules
have been designed to intermesh perfectly, and values from one transfert direct to values on the
It is possible to play the game as a pure wargame, since basic crewman values are provided. It is also
possible to play RPG only, as optional rules let the players abstract vehicles for combat and
HG can also be played as a card game or a miniature-based game (see below for more info).
Who publishes the game?
Dream Pod 9, the gaming division of Ianus Publications, Inc. They are listed either as DP9 or Ianus in
the distributor and retailer catalogs. They can be reached at:
Dream Pod 9
5000 Iberville, Suite 332
Internet: email@example.com (Marc A. Vezina, Editor-in-Chief)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Dream Pod 9)
How much material is available?
For the moment, none. The game will be released soon in the form of a softback book of about 192
pages. The Terra Nova Sourcebook will soon follow, with much of the background info, as will the first
Field Guide (a guide of weapons, equipment and new vehicles). Also in the work is a series of player's
guides, with lavish details on the various factions involved, short stories, new equipment, and tons of
good reading. DP9's also planning technician manuals, with lots of techno goodies.
DP9 plans to release a HG product every month or two. In addition, support articles will be published in
Mecha Press, the mechanized gaming and modeling magazine (obvious plug ^_^ ).
When will it be published?
Dream Pod 9 will be making the impossible to get the game out by January/February at the most. Once
the basic book is out, DP9's hoping for a product every two months (if they can keep up ^_^').
Which book do I need to start playing?
The first rulebook, Heavy Gear. That's it. The rest of the books will be background,
extensions, optional rules, new rules and the like, but nothing crucial. Pick and use what you want from
What's the background like?
The game starts out on Terra Nova, the first planet out of the Sol system to be colonized by Man. The
year is 6132, far in the future. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, but unpleasant historical
circumpstances (among which an Ice Age on Earth) have limited its expansion. Beside, people have
found out - the hard way - that hitech equipment tends to break down over time, so prefer to use a mix of
Interstellar travel is possible, but altogether unpleasant and costly. The small number of Gate-capable
ships further reduces the contact between colonized planets.
As the story opens, Terra Nova is just coming out of a failed Earth invasion attempt (the reasons for this
war are too complex to be exposed in this short space). The military forces of the North and the South
(similar political alliances as the East and West of present days, or the FedCom/Kurita and friends of
3039 Btech) are restless again. Raidings, frontier wars, etc. Something's going on...
Are there miniatures available?
Rafm will be doing the full line of HG models. The first eight blisters will be released in January, with
eight more planned every two months.
Can the game use miniatures?
Yes. Rules for this have been designed and will be included in the basic rulebook. The players are not
forced to use them, though (see 10 below).
Is the game meant for a flat hex-map or free-form terrain?
The rules have been designed with hex maps in mind, but rules for dot maps and free-form terrain
(miniatures) are included.
Are mecha designs made by the players or chosen from a set list?
Construction rules are included in the main rulebook, but several "classic" designs are also
How large is an average game? How much time? How many players?
One on one combat on flat terrain runs about five minutes (talk about deadly!!!). Average game -- about
five to ten units per side -- is about one hour or more, depending on the terrain, objective, and style of
Minimum number of players is two (obviously). There is no maximum, although games with more than
four people per side tend to get crowded. :)
What is Heavy Gear Fighter?
_Heavy Gear Fighter_ is the *second* game set in the Heavy Gear universe. (Yes, already!) It is a card-
based duel game in which two Heavy Gears fight it out in the Badlands. WARNING! This
is *not* a Magic: the Gathering(tm) type of game. Everything you need to play is in the
box. Expension cards are found in the major sourcebooks, but they are identical from copie to copie, and
only serve to bring new elements to the game.
HGF does not use dice or paper. Each Gear has a full-color record/action sheet which is used to keep
track of actions/damage (with counters). Every card is illustrated with a picture of a Heavy Gear in full
Heavy Gear Fighter uses the same basic Gears as the first sourcebook. New boxes will be
published as the Field Guides are released.
What is this Timewatch(tm) clock at the end of the book?
The Timewatch (tm) icon on the back cover of the Heavy Gear books represent where we are in the
story. Heavy Gear has been designed with a specific story in mind. Hints and clues are scattered through
all of the books. Once the clock reaches the end, that's it: DP9 has told the story, and will move on to
spin yet another thrilling sci-fi tale.
What are the influences that helped shape Heavy Gear?
Heavy Gear's got strong influences from "VOTOMS", "Dougram", and many other Japanese anime
shows. It's also heavily inspired by "The Forever War", "Starship Troopers" and European sci-fi.
Moreover, it's inspired by... Anyway, you get the picture: rough, gritty and hard SF. :)
Does HG have rules for missile spreads?
Yes. More damage, more accuracy (harder to dodge, too). Primarily used for unguided rockets.
Does HG have rules for powersuits?
Not in HG, although the construction rules are flexible enough to allow them.
Does HG have rules for psychic powers?
No psychic in HG, but one of DP9's friends liked the system so much he adapted it to his anime
campaign and designed psi powers for it. There is no plan to publish them at this time, however.
Does HG have rules for space mecha combat?
No space mecha in HG, but the rules for fighters, capital ships and space-capable mecha are all the same.
They will be released at a later point in a separate air-space supplement (see Topic 25).
Does HG allow dodge for walker units?
Yes, dodge is possible for walker units (also for other vehicles, in a less potent way).
Does HG have rules for shields? Beam melee weapons? Jettisonable armor?
None of these in HG... yet. But rules for them do exist.
Does HG have rules for transformable and combining vehicles?
Variable Weapon Platforms. Not in HG, but the rules do exist.
How much will it be sold for?
Main book will cost about $20 US and includes all that is needed to play. Cost of supplements will vary
according to book size and content.
What kind of non-mecha units will be available, and will they be in the main book?
Anything that's used today is there: tanks, IFVs and APC, choppers, etc, plus a few vehicles not yet
invented or in wide use. Ground and marine units are covered in the main book.
Will the game be supporting air and ground-to-air combat? VTOLs?
Yes, in a later supplement dedicated only to that topic. Rules for building air and space units will be in
What are the combat mechanics like?
The basic premise of the game mechanics is "function over form". Face it: you don't care about what's in
slot 13 of your record sheet, you want to know if you can still move. The damage is handled very rapidly
on one main table and two sub-tables, which are used for all vehicles (this works a lot better than it
sounds). Damage results are clearly defined in game terms, only the player or GM gets to explain the
damage (or roll on the repair table, which would take all the fun out of playing a tech ^_^).
The dice of choice is the trusty d6. One or more are rolled depending on the pilot's skill, then compared
to his opponent's roll. The dices are not added, rather the highest one is used. The modifiers are small,
generally around -3 to +3 so no lengthy calculations are necessary. It also makes the game *fast* to
This game is *deadly*. Move and use cover or you're dead. This is not a slugfest; if you stand on open
ground, motionless and firing like crazy, odds are, you're dead meat. Better gunners hit weaker spots,
yielding more damage, yet lucky beginners can do it too sometimes. Modifiers are geared (forgive the
pun) toward movement and cover. The wise learns to use both, just like in real life. ;)
What exactly *is* a Heavy Gear (specs wise)?
Basically, a Heavy Gear is a heavy infantry unit. It is a mecha standing about 4-5 meters tall, running on
an advanced IC turbine and controlled by a soldier sitting in its chest (the only place big enough!). It is
best compared to an IFV: medium armor (around 250mm steel equivalent - don't go head-to-head with a
tank), medium armament (generally one main gun - autocannon or grenade launcher - backed up with
rockets or missiles or MGs) and good speed.
Many have specialized systems and functions, much like military vehicles of today. Almost all are
equipped with a SMS (Secondary Movement System) which allow for greater speed over flat surfaces.
Running speed varies with the model, but slowest type runs about 50 kph flat out. SMS can go up to 120
kph on a good surface, again flat out.
Is it possible to *aim* for a specific target?
Yes! There is a penalty but it is possible. This allows players to disable enemy machines instead of
killing them ("yeh! Salvage! ;) or even killing them faster! ("Hum, the specs said that Gears of this type
tend to have weak armor around the cockpit hatch seal...")
What is a strider?
"Strider" is the generic nickname given to any walker vehicle bigger than a Gear. They are generally a
bit slower, carry more equipment, and tend to stick out like a sore thumb on the battlefield ("I'm big!
Shoot me!"). They are generally used for transport and most are non-humanoid in shape.
Are there any plans for support software?
Yes. Vehicles and characters generation programs will be available on the Net and elsewhere as
shareware. No release date yet.
Do you have a WWW page we can go to to get a preview?
There used to be one but it has been disabled. Plans to make a new one available exist, however. No
release date yet.
What are the Badlands?
This is the name given to the equatorial desert belt that surrounds Terra Nova. Since the planet is slightly
closer to its sun, its average temperature is higher than Earth's.
The Badlands are home to mining communities, frontier towns, outposts, and many independent city-
states. They are also filled with debris from the failed Earth invasion of the past decade. Not a nice place
to live, but oh! so ripe in opportunities...
What types of weapon are used?
Mostly projectile-type weapons: autocannons, gear-sized shotguns, rifles, gatlings, etc, plus rockets and
guided missiles. Lasers are used for specialist sniping units (because of low power, long range).
Particlecannons and railguns are heavy energy hogs, and thus require at least a tank or a strider. But we
found a way to mount them on Gears... Watch the book.
Why so many projectile weapons?
The reason for such a large presence of projectile weaponry lies in their simplicity and ruggedness. They
are also much more efficient, cost for cost, than "advanced weaponry" (at least on the ground: in space,
the reverse is true), especially with advanced ammo types (around 10 types to choose from at last
Will there be abstract rules for running LARGE campaigns??
At present there are no rules on playing really large military campaigns. If demands warrant, a separate
set of rules will be published.
What sort of sensors are available? How can enemies be targeted: LOS, radar, IR, etc? What sort
of communications gear is available, as well as ECM?
That depends on the model, but all Gears have visual, telephoto and minimal radar. Advanced or
specialized models can carry several more types of sensor as well as ECM and ECCM.
How are Gears controlled within the game's fiction?
Remember the video games like Street Fighters, Virtua Fighters and the like? Same principle: a certain
combination of joystick moves and buttons (called Macromoves) transmit control to the Gear, which is
controlled by a neural net about as intelligent as a dog.
How easy are Gears to come by? Are they hard to replace?
"We have Gears a'plenty!" They are cheap to manufacture and maintain, so sometimes they replace them
instead of repairing them! Because of the Earth Invasion, there are junkyards full of these machines all
over the planet. It is even possible to salvage a couple broken ones and rebuild a working unit.
Are Gear pilots considered elite troops, relative to tank or other vehicles?
Not really. They do have a certain "mystique" to them, but are not considered special. They are basically
advanced, heavy infantry.
Do the pilots maintain their own Gears?
Yes, since Gears are generally pretty simple. A soldier takes care of its Gear as he would take care of his
other weapons, although military units do have techs to help them out.
What is the "military unit" for Gears, like the Lance for BTECH?
It depends on the group's affiliation. Some are called "squad", other "platoons", and so on. For game
purpose, we refer to them as "combat group".
What specifically is a SMS (secondary movement system)? Does it vary from Gear to
The SMS is any system that supplement the normal walking movement. In the Gears' case, that means
wheels or treads under the feet to "skate" on clear ground. These are semi-retractable so as not be
damaged when the Gear moves in broken ground. Not all Heavy Gears have a SMS.
Can Gear jump? How?
Some rare models can with the help of liquid-fuel thruster packs on their back, but they are rare, hard to
pilot and potentially dangerous.
If you have more questions, don't hesitate to Email them. They will be included in the FAQ as soon as