Robotech Book 2: RDF Manual
Arrangement: This book is one of the smaller of the “main” books, being only 50 pages or so. Let me tell you, that greatly disappointed me because I had picked up the "REF Field Guide" first, which was 160 or so pages so I was expecting something similar! The copy I have is not printed one white paper and in fact, almost looks more like a coloring book (in terms of paper quality) than the rest of their books. The book starts with some optional rules – rank, recovering SDC/hit points, increasing skills and random hit tables for mecha. It then gets into the “meat” of the product – new weapons and vehicles. It has some new mecha weapons, vehicles seen in the series, the Daedalus and Prometheus carriers (seen on the SDF-1 “arms”) with deck plans. It has rules for mecha underwater, a timeline (to 2016), an Earth map (with destroyed zones) with updated world information, including information on the EBSIS (Eastern Bloc Soviet Independent States – a new USSR) and their mecha (modified Zentradi and RDF stuff) & vehicles. It goes into more random encounter and random environment tables followed by more character stats and character sheets.
Rules: One of the things the original rules left out was new skill advancement (i.e. gaining new skills as you go up in level) so they add this into that section. The ranks are nice to see. The best parts are the random hit locations, which can add some variety into mecha combat. It can drag combat on if used all the time but once in a while it good. The mecha underwater is nice, though they do say the Veritech can “fly” underwater. I can see Gerwalk/Guardian and Battliod mode but jet mode I have a tough time believing.
Weapons/Equipment: This is the bulk of the book for most players. The RDF Manual adds new weapons for mecha and humans (though some I don’t know if they were original creations or ever seen in the series). The new vehicles mostly seen at some point in the series (not too sure on the two tanks and neither has a picture to go with it) though some might be misidentified. And the new jet has no missiles, which wouldn’t really make sense (I believe it was fixed in the new edition of Robotech that was released). Seeing both information and deck plans for the Prometheus and Daedalus was a nice treat too.
Timeline/World Information: Tehre is some good stuff here. It gives a lot more background to the series for GM’s to use or for those interested in knowing what happened. In the cartoon series, the Reconstruction doesn't really go beyond New Macross City or a couple other northern cities so having some information about other regions is nice. After Palladium got much of the information from the notes Macek and Co. were using along with Palladium’s own guesses. This means that they are laying down even more groundwork for their own version of the Robotech universe (which would be slightly different from what would come in comics, the McKinely novels, and other places). The world information is nice, as it goes into a lot more detail on the different regions, adds in the EBSIS, and other human-style antagonists to use so it's not the same old same old fighting Zentradi.
Misc. The character sheets are nice, one for each type of mecha (Veritechs, different destroids). There is also a missile table to keep track of how many have been used and types (which can get easily confused when firing volleys!), and a couple more stats for characters from the TV series.
Overall: In my old eyes, this was a solid B. I was expecting more (I first owned the REF manual which is almost 150 pages and was expecting this one to be the same!). I wasn’t impressed with the paper quality but it may have just been the copy from the printing run I got; other printing runs might have been on standard paper for a Palladium product. Today I would give it a C+/ - . It is a bit on the short side but the information is there and pretty solid. It does set up different antagonists to use (EBSIS) besides just the Zentradi and allows for some more “covert” type missions (since the EBSIS is more of a cold war type enemy). The random encounter tables are nice since it is more than just enemy encounters – what you might see in the wasteland, making different towns and cities. Having more equipment and vehicles is always a nice feature as well. And for those who love deck plans...this has them! (insert picture of Daedalus from page 17 or 18 - the ramp extending and different decks)