July 1, 2012

Pilot Skill and Mecha Efficiency

Before today's post proper I want to point out a cool thing that other people have made. Earlier this month I thought "What would it be like if you add cool cinematic stuff like Tension and Duels to a game like D&D?" and set out to write a terrible fantasy heartbreaker as a thought experiment. Turns out it was unnecessary, because such a game is already on its way. If you like Sword and Sorcery and are tired of ancient relics of game design, check out 13th Age!

Now for today's topic proper. Of the many things I'd like to change the one I have the least idea on how to do so is in making PC stats relevant during Operations. Originally, this was the job of Genre Points, but being almost entirely a meta mechanic it does not seem to be conceptually accepted.

A brief aside:

One of my pet peeves of game design are the so-called "Power Stats" these being Attributes/Ability Scores/Whatever that are obviously much better than others, yet are presented as equal. Nothing makes the already long process of character creation feel longer than the illusion of choice being entirely pointless, because all the options are already chosen for you!

You've probably ran into games in which if you create a PC using the 'social stat' as the highest one, your character will likely suck and you're only going to slow everyone down, so you better change your concept to be good at murdering things first and talking to them second.

The end result of this is that most characters and groups look about the same, and playing a second campaign after your first is repetitive in the worst possible way - the boring "I already did all of this once" one.

That aside done and over with, I want people to be able to take whatever with their PCs and have it at least be relatively around the same power level, which is why things like Offensive Tests only recommend stuff like Combat or Diplomacy instead of tying you down to it, because creative descriptions can let you get away with Athletics and Presence in their stead.

Of course, being so open ended does take away some potential depth from the game as a whole, and if I'm going to be adding a handful of subsystems to handle things like Investigations or Social Combat in a more interesting manner, then I should also consider shaking up this balance that all options have with each other for the sake of making them more fun to play with.

One way to go about this is to use Mecha Archetypes. See, Super Prototypes include motion feedback in their cockpits, Production Models are thought-controlled and rely on skillfully managing their subprograms, and Living Weapons are handled like you would handle a very big and large animal who happens to be a giant robot.

Every character has three stats, too: Fitness, Intellect and Empathy. I think you can see where this is going. The question is how to implement it, because a stray +5 or +7 randomly placed somewhere in the operation combat math can wreck things. The one thing that could use having a fixed number is Initiative, because right now it only uses your Genre, and while sticking it to Initiative makes sense (Mooks and Elites don't have Archetypes, so they still have way lower initiative than the PCs) it is honestly kind of weak, even if Initiative is more important in GGG than in most games because of Tension.

The Archetype route also leaves me wondering what the hell would I do with Base Units. Though then again, those are slightly stronger by default so maybe they don't need the extra boost. Unless I want to add a fourth stat like Willpower or Spirit, but that's crazy talk.


  1. Good Sir

    Please tell me what is your opinion on very specialised units of Elites and mooks against high level players. I just recently jumped from another system to this one and my party is of high level, only thanks to your weapon modification addon I was able to do something to them but still im thinking of using more mooks and elites against them rather than rivals. What are your thoughts on this setup

    Ritter - a hybrid ranged tanking elite with shield of the meek and various condition weaponry
    Red Sister - a all replenishing mook with a hard hiting low fire rate cannon

    Those are still under construction
    Black sister- a ranged assist and support fire mook
    Charger - an elite specialized in melee and duel attacks has 0 ev and max armor.

    Will it help make the mooks something more than a quick kill or rather it will rend them useless when the players will dispatch key elements in the battlefield?

    1. At the later stages of the game you will be hard pressed to have anything short of an army that presents a challenge if you stick to lower tier enemies.

      I would recommend you keep to Elites mostly, if you want your enemies to be effective by themselves but that much deadlier as a group, consider toughening them up with one or more of the ideas below.

      Ritter - Give them a Gravagne Field or other sort of high-performance Barrier and keep them Maneuvering for maximum annoyance.

      Red Sister - Stick them close to the Ritter, combine two recharging weapons for abuse in between all that resupplying.

      Black Sister - Beams. Give them Supercharged and G-Buster, you should have 4 points left afterwards so either drop one of the Aid Another abilities or juggle numbers with the weapon maker to get an accurate and powerful Beam weapon of cost 4 or under.

      Charger - Dueling Blade and Extending Punch are cool with Challenger, since they already have a lot of Armor they could use a Trick Dodge or two. The Shield is an obvious choice in both style and function.

      Just be careful not to overdo it, smartly-played opponents in synergistic combinations are powerful against an unprepared group, and the numerical superiority of Elites can overwhelm PCs thanks to Tension evening the odds.

      You can also enhance the individual upgrades of each Elite here, or giving them a few points extra from the base 30, and make them come in smaller numbers instead of flooding the battlefield.


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