That was the pitch, but alas, I was far too ambitious, and ended up chickening out! Brief comments on the system, the play experience, and a few campaign design problems we encountered.
The Group: me (GM) with Fano, Tazio, and Luke. Fano and I are friends in real life; this was my first time playing with Tazio and Luke, and I hope to do so again!
The Game: Lancer is an RPG about tactical mech combat in the far future--think Robotech, Dune, BattleTech, the Foundation, and probably a bunch of anime stuff I simply don't know. It is a ridiculously slick production, a monster of a 2019 Kickstarter that spawned a hyperactive Discord fanbase, with a four hundred page rulebook with excellent full-color art. It has a character-creation app, and an impressive degree of support on the Foundry virtual tabletop.
We played over Foundry, which has an almost vertical learning curve. The people who are into Foundry, really go all-out with fancy maps, lighting effects, "tokens," macro's, and so on. It's a whole hobby unto itself, and honestly I don't have the time. But! It does have pretty good support for this game.
Viewed solely as a "let me move my token around a battle map, roll some dice to attack, and then express my character with a quip," Lancer is an extremely solid design and quite approachable. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I don't mean it that way--it's extremely hard to design something like that, and it's a pretty smooth play experience.
Outside of mech combat, the system barely exists. Freeform traits, roll 1d20+X to get over 10 with some minor adjustments for difficulty. I ignored that part of the system almost entirely.
Below, you see the state of play at the end of our final session: the players chose to ignore their official orders to instead hunt down and destroy an enemy "ace," Stregobor (an invisible mech with a ferocious melee attack if you're spread too far apart). Combat was going poorly for them, until Fano charged into a melee combat and struck Stregobor down with a very lucky roll. Stregobor's allies look on in frustration from the bottom of the screen. (Map is available here. My own maps were terrible.)
As to the problems we encountered:
The setting surely must be satirical. After repeatedly promising the reader an ambiguous utopia beyond our wildest imaginings, Lancer's ideal, well-meaning super-society turns out to be... Obama-era American liberalism.
Mulling this over, and the strategic accomplishments of American trillion-dollar war machines post 1964, led to the campaign premise, "Okay, but what if mechs are utterly absurd and it's your job to drive one?"
This doesn't marry well into a game that assumes super-stylish Good Violence. The idea of fighting a huge 2-hour artillery battle only to discover that someone at HQ screwed up, and you just massacred one of your own infantry divisions by mistake, is sort of a hose-job, and I found myself backing away from it conceptually.
Figuring out, "Look, you guys were sent by colonial powers to prop up a dictator against a rebellion that has popular support precisely because it repudiates your value system; you're doomed to murder people for no goddamn reason" into, "6-8 combat encounters punctuated with full rests" looked challenging from a player-relations standpoint, and also from a "Fuck, I actually have to use this set of ill-suited tools for that purpose" standpoint.
So, at least in this initial mission, I punted. Shakedown cruise, nothing too morally complicated. Let the players feel good, and then later missions could explore the contradictions in the society, the (likely) impossibility of the players' mission, and how they wanted to develop the situation.
Running Lancer combat in Foundry VTT is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. You need a map with interesting tactical aspects. You need to decide on opposition forces with tightly-interlocking tactical capabilities. You need to slap all that stuff on a hex grid, and it won't take less than 2.5 hours to play.
In short, it's a lot of work that can't be done on 5 minutes' notice, at least, not by me. So "role-playing" mainly consisted of describing the current status of the mission to the players on Discord, asking them what their prioities were in the moment, and then slapping together a combat encounter.
There was no real exploration of character or setting, and thus it wasn't really role-playing at all.
I feel uncomfortable with that--if I were playing, rather than GM'ing, I don't think I would enjoy it much. But between the workload of getting the encounters ready, the campaign design trap I created for myself, and the game's (let's say) hands-off approach toward developing situations outside of combat, I decided that putting together four solid combat encounters was the best achievable outcome.
Sometimes you just want to move G.I. Joes around and go "pew pew!" It was fun on that level, and I'm glad the players got to complete a full mission cycle.
Ideally, this would now open up a lot more things to do and goals to pursue, maybe involving giant robots punching each other and maybe not, which would allow the players to make meaningful choices and shape what happens in this solar system over the course of several adventures. I'm not against running it again - I really like the little planet I made up, and the overall campaign concept still makes me laugh. But it would invovle a lot of time, work, and energy. Maybe next time.