Panzer Dragoon Risus

I still think the Panzer Dragoon setting is perfect for an old fashioned, sit around the coffee table, paper and dice RPG. Previous attempts stalled, and that’s a damn shame.

Panzer Dragoon, meet Risus: The Anything RPG. Risus is a free (as in beer), rules-light role playing game that can handle any setting you care to throw at it. Risus is by S. John Ross. Last time I checked, it could be found at

If you don’t want to read Risus, fine. But I don’t know how much sense the rest of this post will make if you don’t (or even if you do).

In Risus the abilities of characters are defined using clich?s, kinda like “character classes” from the Xenozoic era of RPGs. What a clich? is actually good for calls for a bit of discussion between the player and GM, and a bit of common sense.

Sample Clich?s for Panzer Dragoon (and what they’re good for)

AIRSHIP COMMANDER (giving orders, enforcing Imperial rule, being professionally unpleasant)
AIRSHIP CREWMAN (following orders, fantasizing about leave time, surviving leave)
BIOMECHANICAL MONSTER (Being big and bone-plated, maiming humans, finding an ecological niche to fill)
BREEDER (raising and herding livestock, trying to make ends meet, shovelling manure)
DRAGON (blasting the hell out of anything in sight, guarding the Towers)
DRONE (using the Ancients’ biotech, following their Ancient programs/orders)
FARMER (cultivating and harvesting crops, trying to make ends meet, spreading manure)
HUNTER (tracking bone-plated monsters, killing them, surviving to tell exaggerated stories about the hunt)
LIVING WEAPON (Being bigger and bonier-plated, maiming anything, being funky-looking)
MAYOR (running the town, spending taxes, getting re-elected)
MERCENARY (waiting for action, surviving the action, getting paid for it)
NOMAD (travelling in a caravan, surviving strange lands, looking for a place to stay)
SEEKER (exploring Ancient ruins, making Ancient tech go or stop, being secretive)
TRADER (buying low, selling high, hiding stuff from tax collectors)

The optional rules “Hooks and Tales,” and “Pumped Clich?s” are fine for most folk. “Double-Pump Clich?s” and “Funky Dice” seem best suited for the monsters, dragons and airships.

Getting hold of a working Dragon Gun ought to be worth a bonus die for blasting things, maybe even a funky bonus die. How funky depends on the funkiness of the dragon feeding power to the gun.

As with anything else in Risus, how best to define things like airships and monsters depends on where you want the focus to be. Ferinstance, if the PC’s are Imperial Airborne Battleship Crewmen, then it may be best to form a Player Character Team when fighting against a pissed-off dragon. If the only PC on an airship is a Stuffy, Balding Imperial Airborne Battleship Captain (4), then the ship and crew are just his Tools of the Trade. If the situation is focusing on a Jittery Seeker Turned Impromptu Dragonrider (2), then she might be faced with an Imperial Airborne Battleship (4d12). Hope our hero has figured out how to work that funky gun.

Where and when to adventure?

After Orta - The New Empire has lost the best part of its’ military, including the Dragonmares and the bioweapon production facility called “The Cradle.” Some grumpy folks in the conquered lands of Meccania, Li Vis, and Teed could see an opportunity to claim their freedom. And out there, somewhere, is Orta with her cute li’l baby dragon and an ability to make the Towers, or most any other Ancient Artifact, do their thing at her will.

After Edge, Before Orta - Without the control of the Towers, the environment is violently adjusting to a state of natural equilibrium. Azel roams the shifting landscape, in search of a way to contact Edge.

After Lundi, Before Keil - The Panzer Dragoon fan community has speculated some on the Sky Rider. Come up with your own speculation, and hang an adventure on it. Just don’t set your heart on a happy ending.

Elsewhere - Maps for the Panzer Dragoon games show the action happening in what has to be a small corner of a full-sized planet. How far beyond the border does Imperial power reach, and what lies past even that?

The Gods At War - Go back and play out the struggles of the Ancient Bioengineers who shaped the world and maneuvered to control, or free, the population.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Additions? Unmitigated scorn and ridicule? Sock it to me.

I think it would be pretty hard to get a P&P PD game going… It’s hard enough to find people that care about the originals. But hey, if you can gather a few friends and play a bit, more power to you.

Hey, it can be hard to get ANY game going, very much comparable to herding cats. Just gotta sugarcoat the PD pill and the Risus pill before getting folks to swallow 'em. Maybe settle for a game over IRC? Or would that be like herding cats distracted by things you can’t even see?

Anyway, I gotta go meditate on specific characters and adventures before I try running anything. Any ideas?

I’ve started working on a bit of a Panzer Dragoon source-booklet for Risus. I’m planning on an 8 to 16 page, digest-sized thing. A good chunk of it would have to be a primer for the Risus gamer who, through no fault of their own, doesn’t know the first thing about PD. This will have to include a history/timeline, a few paragraphs about major powers (Empire, Ancients, Seekers, Dragons, etc.), and a bestiary (just a representative sampling). Ooh, and a map too. Gotta have a map.

Other bits would include some game rules and examples (and with Risus, it won’t be much more than what I’ve already posted here), and either an example adventure or just adventure seeds.

I would greatly appreciate suggestions, especially for stuff that should be in the primer that I just haven’t thought of yet.

With a little luck, I’ll put up a quick-and-dirty first draft before long. Think of this as my New Year resolution.