Heroes and Karma

Defenders of humanity in a Robotech or Gundam series are clearly identifiable as soldiers, whether they have an explicit military rank or not. In a Go Nagai robotic anime, the protagonists are not soldiers. They are heroes. And what distinguishes heroes from common fighters is that they have a positive Karma. This means that their actions have made them worthy in the eyes of the Powers that Be. Their intents are pure, so their actions will succeed.

In Dynamic D100, Karma is something that heroes gain in play and that turns the odds in their favour. When the dice would say no to common fighters, true heroes can appeal to their Karma and make things happen. Of course, Karma is not endless, and if the heroes use too much of it, they will eventually run out of divine favour. More important, Karma is not something that the heroes get for free at the start of the game. They must earn it with their actions, otherwise they are doomed to fail like common mortals. True heroes fight for a superior principle, and they must prove it.

Being worthy

To prove their worthiness, heroes must stay true to what they stand for. Motivations noted on the heroes’ character sheets are the reasons why they fight, and each time a player inserts one of these Motivations into the story, the acting hero gains Karma. The more enjoyable the group finds these actions, the more Karma is generated.

But being worthy in Go Nagai’s world is not just being honourable and brave. Love is part of a hero’s worthiness as much as his or her courage. Protecting any living creature from harm and always acting as a positive example for the young generations is paramount. All heroes have a young sibling or counterpart for whom they act as a beacon of virtue, even when their virtue is not exactly above question. Overcoming human flaws is another way of displaying worthiness. A hero may fail and fall, and this will add to his or her Karma, too, to allow a heroic recovery.

Another driving force in a robotic anime is romantic love. Even though this is seldom made explicit, heroes often have feelings for someone else in the team. Sometimes even for more than one person, giving rise to romantic triangles; This provides invaluable opportunities to prove one’s worthiness against an adverse destiny and increase Karma. In some extreme cases, there may be feelings even between the hero and one of the enemies. What could be better to showcase the Power of Love?

Being cool

But Go Nagai’s stories are not always so serious. There are more light-hearted moments that make them stand out. One of them is when the heroes excite and emotion their fans during combat with their BATTLECRIES.

Because if you do not shout out loud when you fire your beams in the blue… it is not Mazinger! Yes, the weapon will activate (sorry, no vocal controls here, just good old buttons) but it would not be heroic. True heroes shout GRENDIZER GO when they take off, CHANGE GETTER when they cross in mid-air and KNUCKLE BOMBER when they give the enemy of the week a well-deserved beating. Just pushing the button is for losers.

Thus, in Dynamic D100 you get Karma each time you (the player) shout a battlecry. You are doing something cool that will inspire future generations to be heroic, just as the loud, naïve cries that the voice actors used decades ago inspired you. And this means that your hero will prevail.

Enough said, let us get ready for action, Nagai-style.



Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, Getter Robot G, UFO Robot Grendizer and Kootetsu Jeeg are © Go Nagai / Dynamic Planning. Their likeness is used under license. Artwork by Kazuhiro Ochi.


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