The futuristic society presented in the anime series Mobile Fighter G Gundam is predicated on the idea that every once in a while, every major nation in the world participates in a global tournament. Each participating nation has a giant robot, and the robots fight. The country with the winning robot then gets to decide international law until the next big robot fight. I am of the opinion that not only is this the best possible form of government, it’s something that needs to be transferred into various other forms of media–including and especially the world of tabletop roleplaying games.
Let me answer a few questions about G Gundam before we get going, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. First of all, if you’re not familiar with the show, the geopolitical makeup of that universe is pretty much identical to our own. All the countries are the same, except they have the word ‘Neo’ stuck on. So you’ve got Neo Japan, Neo France, and so on. Second, you might be wondering how the anime chose to represent its various nations in robot form, since they’re, you know, real places. Well, let’s see: the robot from Neo Mexico is a big cowboy with cactus arms called the Tequila Gundam; Neo America’s Gundam Maxter is a cowboy AND a football player AND a surfer AND a boxer; and the Nether Gundam from Neo Holland is just a giant windmill with arms and legs.
It’s absolutely wild that this show exists, but I think they hit on a universal truth: whoever has the coolest robot should rule the world. Now, let’s extend that to tabletop games.
There are tons of cool tabletop game settings. You’ve got the Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Golarion, Theros–there’s no end to them! And a lot of Dungeon Masters invent their own! I’m not saying none of these settings are good, but I am saying that they would be a lot better if sometimes an elf hopped in a mecha to beat the shit out of the guys from Neo Greyhawk or whatever.
Just imagine it: it’s time for the tournament again. The Masked Lords of Waterdeep have to choose who will pilot their giant magical golem; they want Waterdeep to win this year so they can, I don’t know, raise tariffs or whatever those guys do. But their first bout is against Baldur’s Gate, who have a colossus that is literally fueled by demons! The Moonshae Isles have some Voltron-looking thing piloted by a group of mages, each from a different island. And then, just as the first match is about to start, the battlefield is blanketed in mist; all of the mechs and pilots are whisked away to Barovia where, oh shit, Strahd has brought out some kind of huge, pilotable bat zombie thing! And if he wins, everyone in Faerun has to give him a blood tax until the next tournament rolls around!
Some people want their games to have things like ‘subtlety’ or ‘political intrigue,’ but you know what? Those people are cowards. I want every political dispute in my world settled by making two huge machines punch each other until one of them doesn’t work anymore.