August 26, 2012

So why are there Classes? II

After a lot of tinkering around with the starting numbers from Natures and Chassis, and no matter how much I actually wanted to do away with them to allow people to spread points however they wish, I only made them that much more important.

The main reason they exist is that thanks to them I can give people high starting numbers compared to those of NPCs. The moment I am to take their automatic allocation away then we start to fall to traditional RPG trappings such as diplomancers starting with Empathy crazy high enough they never fail anything ever, and unmovable mountains with Armor that is impossible to pierce.

While I do like the running theme of "character options mostly come in fours as long as they aren't aberrant*" the real reason for the existence of these starting handouts is that they are more easily balanced next to each other than characters entirely made by hand.

I want the numbers to be customizable from the get-go, but ultimately your choice of Nature or Chassis (and really, every choice taken during character creation) should be fundamentally defining. This has as much to do with game balance as it has to do with accurately representing the fiction the game is actually about. You don't see, after all, the big bruisers becoming faster than the agile tricksters with frequency if at all (or if you do, it isn't permanent) and the smart guys retain their role from start to end.

You can, of course, grow out of these choices and expand what you can do, but should you choose to specialize and play to the cliche then you should be noticeable better than someone who didn't start out with your archetype.

What this means for the robots:

Enhancements can be taken from the start, and Chassis both include Accuracy and Penetration modifiers to them. So if you want your robot to be the most accurate you can establish it as such from the very beginning. Next is that since Accuracy and Armor are better than their counterparts, they are more expensive and their starting numbers are lower. Starting Energy is, on average, higher than previously but it is more expensive than Threshold increases as well. All Enhancements to your Chassis have incremental costs.

What this means for the pilots:

You choose one of two sets of Genre Powers from your Nature, and then one other set that can be from any of the others or from your own. However, Natures no longer have any starting Traits. This means you can have an Ace with their usual speedy goodness, but with the endurance that is usual of Prodigies, in place of their offensive silver bullet-esque Powers. Additionally, we add to the array of Fitness, Intellect and Empathy the new stats that are Awareness, Willpower, and Resources. Awareness and Willpower play a defensive role, Awareness replacing the bonuses from Genre Points and Willpower combining with your other three Attributes to give you your Plot Armor. This means the Grit/Drive/Wisdom triad is going the way of the dodo, everyone say bye!. Resources, meanwhile, handles your Wealth, Equipment and Contacts. I will probably make a post about Resources later.

*: Chassis types are becoming four now as well, with Dynamic and Hybrid merging into one.


  1. A pretty basic solution to expanding stat options would be to say you can switch the 0 and 1 in your class's base stats, thus covering all seven possible spreads with four classes.

    I'm not sure I understand the reason for switching to only four chassis types, as this eliminates there being a balanced middle option. What was your reasoning for this?

    1. The switch is a cool idea. Useless for the Professional, but good enough for the rest.

      The balance of five chassis types was shaky to begin with, some weren't very good at survivability but had more space for the better upgrades, and the reverse was true for others. Hybrid and Dynamic in particular have the lowest endurance rate of the bunch, since they are not dodgy enough to stall the damage reliably nor tanky enough to shrug it off.

      Since I'm toying with removing area restrictions, I figured I would make sure all of them were good at SOMETHING. The four options would be:

      Personal - Dodgy and Accurate
      Dynamic - Decent at everything.
      Destroyer - Energy and Firepower.
      Titanic - Damage Reduction and Health.


  3. About previous comments on Sub Units: the group I play with came up with an arrangement that might be a bit more flexible for what they're supposed to do. Rather than Component and Aide, there are three options as follows:

    Areas: None
    Cost: 2 UP
    Description: You get a second pair of hands to help you out in the battlefield, be it from another seat in your Gear or a particularly helpful OS. You may purchase new instances of this upgrade after the first.
    Effect: You gain a Subpilot NPC. Choose a Genre Power available to the four Natures, the Subpilot gains said Genre Power and may use it using your Genre Points.
    Enhancements: For an additional 7 UP your Subpilot is trained to use the Cooperate Action during your Turn, and gains an Action which may only be used to Cooperate.
    Special: A Subpilot may be assigned to an Aide, in which case use of the Subpilot's Genre Power will affect the Aide rather than your own Gear. The Subpilot does not gain two Actions if Enhanced.

    1. Aide
      Areas: None
      Cost: The cost of the total set of purchases plus 3 UP.
      Description: You get your own helper robot buddy. Though more fragile than yourself, your helper provides you with extra firepower and may even be able to Combine with you. You may purchase new instances of this upgrade after the first.
      Effect: Choose a set of Upgrades and designate them as an Aide, ignoring all Area allocation restrictions. This Aide may deploy at the beginning of your Turn without using an Action within a Zone of your Base or from you when the Operation begins. An Aide may make full use of any Upgrades or Weapons held by them but must use your Actions to do so. The Aide has base Evasion and Armor equal to the values of one chassis type that you select independently of your own, but share Basic Enhancements, Energy, and Tension with you, and their Threshold is always 0, so that they are destroyed the first time they would take Damage. An Aide benefits from the effects of any Terrain Adaptability Upgrades you possess, and may hold Weapons and other Upgrades that you already possess, though you may not benefit from duplicate Upgrades if the Aide combines with you.
      Enhancements: For an additional 2 UP per Aide, the Aide gains an Action to use when acting independently. Assigning a Subpilot to an Aide and Enhancing it does not provide the Aide with two Actions. For an additional 1 UP per Aide, you may combine with the Aide as an Action, granting your Unit all of its held Upgrades and Enhancements as well as the benefits of a Subpilot if it has one, but the Aide is treated as an extra Area and may be Maimed like any other. This Combination may be undone with another Action. You may choose to make either of these Enhancements separately or together.

    2. Full Armor
      Cost: The cost of the total set of purchases plus 3 UP.
      Description: You equip your machine with an outer shell that protects its systems from harm and provides additional equipment.
      Effect: Choose a set of Upgrades and designate them as Full Armor, ignoring all Area allocation restrictions. This Full Armor must be equipped to your unit when deployed unless it is combined with an Aide, adding 3 UP to the cost of the Aide. The first time your unit is Maimed with Full Armor attached, the attacker cannot select what Area is Maimed, instead the Full Armor is Maimed and automatically detaches from your unit. As an Action, you may manually eject the Full Armor, fully restoring the current Threshold Layer but destroying the armor until repaired.
      Enhancements: For an additional 5 UP, you may choose to manually eject the Full Armor at the beginning of your turn with no Action.
      Special: Full Armor may be applied to an Aide that has been Enhanced to allow combination, increasing the cost of the Aide by 3 but providing it with all the features of Full Armor. When undoing the combination you may choose whether or not to sacrifice the Aide in exchange for restoring your own Threshold. In addition, an Aide upgraded this way is significantly more durable than a normal Aide, and may take one additional hit while separated from you before it is destroyed. If the Full Armor is Enhanced, the Aide may take another hit before being destroyed, for a total of three. Effects that would repair lost Threshold or replace a damaged Aide may be used on an Aide of this type to restore a lost hit, but if the Aide is destroyed it cannot be replaced using the Security Escort Base Design.

      Aide is mostly unchanged except for being able to gain the combination ability, sans subpilot, for less cost, with the subpilot being split off into its own thing for machines like Altairlion and Gawain that are inherently two-seaters, or just pilots who want an extra Genre Power outside their Nature like Speedster for melee builds. Full Armor is the big newcomer, it helps represent both the traditional armors and beefier support machines that don't just go down in a single hit. Barring Security Escort from replacing them prevents it being used for infinite healing loops.

  4. After trying these out I don't notice anything impossibly game-warping about them, so expect them (or a variant) sometime soonish.

  5. I've been looking at two things lately while doing homebrew work. The first is how to mitigate the consequences of removing UP limits and switching from attacker to defender choosing Maim, namely that there's no reason to put anything in the Head or anything but Gallant Kick in the Legs. Switching all of the Aid Another upgrades from "Core or Head" to "Head" helps with this, but there need to be more Legs-only upgrades, at least some of which will have to be new. Similarly, there will need to be some reason to put things on an Aide or Full Armor instead of just piling everything on as few areas as possible. There's also the issue here that Micro Missiles, as currently written, end up being way too good because they hit every range with very good stats for no cost. This is less a problem when the attacker can choose to Maim them, but if defender picks it'll be much more of an issue. 2-7 was a more balanced range set for them than 1-8 is, though I would consider creating more types of at-will missiles to give that type a bit more variety outside the One-Shot Condition missiles.

    The other thing I've been trying to think about is the problem of situations where an upgrade should entail gaining a stronger finisher. Great Weapon covers most sword finishers, for instance, even if it's very EN-hungry for its strength, but what about situations where a new finisher should be gained because of a super robot gaining an attachment that comes with a better sword, for instance? It may be outside the ability of the game to handle this, but I'd like to consider it if possible.

  6. There is a very simple and easy to implement fix to the issue of Areas and Maiming. I will make a post about it when I get back from work.

    As for the Weapons issue, I think you're better off specifically representing an item that becomes permanently stronger is better done with fluff. Either through Enhancements or by using a Mid-Scene Upgrade to trade your current weapon for a new and stronger one, using it to pay for part of the cost.


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