January 13, 2013

Sweet 1.6

It has been roughly one year and about ten updates since the first release, and things have changed a lot since then. But I think things are looking pretty stable from now on. This one's got a good number of small adjustments in addition to the big stuff. The 1.4 rules changes have seen enough action I'm confident in making what I think will be the last batch of those for a while.

Have a link.

General Changes
-More fixes regarding making the early chapters universally readable without knowing what a Gear or Avatar is. Also Dramatic Themes got changed to Genre Themes.
-The return of the Quick Rules Reference sheets.

Character Creation
-Rescaled Attributes and added three new ones.
-Modified how Defenses and Plot Armor Work. 
-Modified the way Skills and Traits work.
-Added Miracle Skills representing supernatural talents.
-Added more Traits.
-Rewrote Equipment Rules.
-Determinator now ignores the effects of Maiming for a Round.
-Nerfed Impregnable Defense.
-Changed Imagination is the Limit to Hidden Power

Mecha Construction
-Increased Chassis starting Attributes a little.
-Moved suitable Features to the beginning of this chapter.
-Made Anti-Gravity cheaper.
-Removed the Terrain Adaptabilities that are also Features.
-Nerfed Stealth Field.
-Buffed Alternate Forms a tiny bit.
-Buffed Sidekicks.
-Nerfed Expansion Pack and Assistant slightly.
-Rewrote Combination Upgrades. Again.
-Small nerfs to Armor Breaker and Bombardment.
-Buffed Interference Cloud a little.

Playing the Game
-Added a clarification on how Advantages and Disadvantages work.
-Reworked Disruption and Mixed Tests. 
-New type of basic Terrain: Base.

Running the Show
-Adjusted Enemy Generation to new Pilot rules.
-Expanded Grunt and Boss versatility a little.

Good thing I explained the how and why of Pilot changes in broad last week, because that saves me from making this post comparable to a script dump of the average Hideo Kojima title, and I want to touch on the Mecha stuff a little. Base stats went up to further differentiate the four types from one another, since their expected survivability was more or less the same against non-specialized weapons, give or take a Turn. 

This was because I did not want defensive builds to be really, really difficult to crack, and because things are more fun when people are affecting each other than when they aren't. Thus the default was that you could increase your defenses to be very tough to take down, but anyone could just mirror your efforts by spending the same points in corresponding offensive buffs and keep you in line.

Where this kinda failed was that nearly every defensive Genre Power was ditched a while ago, so a character who intended to be good defensively had to not just fight offensive stats, but also Tension and nearly every Power under the sun. A starting Evasion of 18 is not very intimidating when your regular-use Weapon has a total Accuracy of +6, has an in-built Advantage under conditions that aren't very tough to reach, and you have dozens of ways to give them another Advantage to roll 2d10 instead of 1d10 and Tension is going to make it harder to dodge every Round.

So nearly everyone has wildly different survivability rates now against different Enemies, for the most part I increased defenses, but everyone received a small boost to offenses as well just to keep the stonewall uber alles in check, plus a boost to Energy since it can be used either way. Energy costs have been decreased enough for everything in general that Assistant no longer needs to be the crutch to end all crutches, and will be fine giving you points back 50% of the time and double that much another 10%.

The transfer of Features from enemy-and-maybe-PC-material to the mecha section is a stealth buff to Alternate Forms, since they cost 0, you can now get a lot of mileage out of those by only spending the requisite 3/5 UP. It also makes Imagination is the Limit absolutely fucking ridiculous, more than it already was, so now it plays to a different trope and has to declare what it wants to do beforehand.

Lastly there's Combiners, who are in a fierce competition with Transformers to see who gets to have the most changes to their rules, and I admit making those work in a way that makes sense and is elegant has been tough. Combiners should now play better to their Genre conventions while having an unique mechanical role to call their own. God Combination is very distinctive from Unison Combination, as opposed to one of them being better than the other, and Component Unit lets you make those G-Falcons and Laganns with as little fuss as possible.

Next time I hope to bring a lot less balance changes and a lot more prebuilt NPCs and Enemy creation/usage advice.


  1. Oh now this is a pleasant surprise.
    Certainly you've improved the legibility of the rules; bit easier to find things, less flipping around.

    Its a good thing Features aren't necessarily limited to a single one, as Base Units would likely be a role thrust unto a player in most campaigns, and one may not be surprised to find them also using Flyer along with it... Perhaps Extreme Adaptation as well for some.

    Still, for all the warnings about what happens, they do have one thing going for them that perhaps could be worth pointing out: Frames and the such become much more readily available.

    Expansion Pack is still extremely powerful, but the cost now makes it relatively prohibitive to abuse: You can make your unit immune to maiming entirely, but at the cost of tying up 50% of your points. Sidekicks might need their resilience brought up to match the new bases, but the subunit section has improved.

    Overall, pretty good job on making the chassis feel more different from each-other. It bleeds out into the Archetypes a bit as well as a result, and helps make those two choices something one wants to build from

  2. Thank you, there is always a thing here or there that no one catches before it is sent out, and in this case it was the Towering Pile of Expansion Packs. Which is such a silly idea that I will probably make an Expansion an only-once thing because you're a giant robot, not The Sims.

    I do point out how well they work with Alternate Forms in their own section, so as to help make that connection click. I figure that nearly everyone who gets one of those will try to grab at least one Feature with them so it was well worth pointing out before getting to the general mecha building advice sidebar.

  3. I'm really baffled by a lot of the new P-scale changes. They make raising stats drastically more important than raising skills, since they're so much faster to raise and actually raise the result of the skill instead of just giving Advantages. Also, formatting-wise, listing the effect of being an Adept after the effect of being an Expert is bizarre. Further, the P-scale system has lost an incredibly major draw in that it could handle tracking different types of damage differently, rather than just a single type of HP.

    Miracle Skills hurt you more the better you do on them? I get magic should have a price, but that's a really strange one. How about you have to spend a GP to activate use of a Miracle Skill instead?

    Mechs-wise...well, you raised the defensive numbers a bit, but you also raised the offensive numbers just as much or more, so that's a wash. Your underlying math is still bizarre, and it's why you can't seem to figure out how to balance Beams: Titanics having 0 Evasion means they lose 10 Threshold easily on an average roll from a Beam weapon with no drawbacks, as opposed to 2 for a non-Beam with similar stats. Because no weapon should ever be sporting less than +3 to-hit when Tension is factored in, there's no practical difference between 0/7 and 4/5 except that one is absolutely wrecked by Beams and the other isn't quite so much. The post-1.4 versions have all been distinctly unappealing to me primarily because of how they seem to expect you to be constantly repairing and regenerating from damage rather than avoiding or tanking it, which drastically increases the importance of having superior numbers in a fight. Since almost every mech show follows the inverse ninja law, arranging things so that superior numbers of weaker units will always win over fewer superior units is very much at odds with the genre.

    1. Attributes are the skeleton of a character, and improving them is of course important, but neglecting skills is far from a wise idea. You could get a bonus of +1 or +2 to an Attribute, or you could be getting an Advantage to improve your odds of rolling above average considerably, and then you could increase your stat by +3 or +4 or you could add a whole another 1d10 to the Test for the same cost - or a slightly cheaper one. And this is before stats start to cost 8 and 10 PP for a lousy +1.

      I may add an in-built system to mitigate Damage from Miracles later, for now it really is not that much of a big deal as it may seem unless you use them over and over in one scene. Also do take note that one condensed Plot Armor track can still do the same thing as having all others, if you want to keep using them, with the added benefit that in not being separate it is much harder to ignore the effects of mental or emotional damage. I would like to add a sidebar on using Plot Armor to this end later, because I do miss it deep down.

      Personal and Titanic got more than double the amount of points boosted to their defenses than they got to their offenses, Dynamic got a boost to everything by one and there are more defensive than offensive stats, Destroyer got primarily a boost to its offense but that was intended given its name.

      I have no problem with where beams currently stand.

      The game tilts more on the side of offense than defense because people affecting each other is fun, this is a design choice and is not likely to change barring extreme circumstances.

      You can still build for defense and wage a war of attrition very well. Your hypothetical Titanic type has no defensive enhancements, no barriers, no impregnable defense or keeping up even though the hypothetical attacker evidently does have points spent into improving its attack stats, making a decent weapon, and is obviously rolling above average consistently with the one weapon type that has no innate advantages. I do not think this is a fair scenario, specially given that a single well-placed point of Energy can equate to 2-3 Energy spent in Weapons.

      For what it is worth, I intend to boost active energy based defenses a little for whomever wants a build that stalls taking Damage for as long as possible, at a price.

      Multiple characters overpowering a stronger one is the core of the whole power of friendship/love theme. This is a convention that is very much part of the genre and that the rules work with from multiple angles, from gaining Genre Points for playing your role in the team to in-built synchro attacks for everyone. Hell, the one way that you can make an unit that does overpower all others is through Combination.

      But there's also a playability issue. Simply put, one super unit being able to overpower multitudes of them is not that fun to play with, much less to GM. Raise your hand if you think the idea of waiting until 10 or more minions take their turns uselessly flailing around is boring as hell. Now imagine being the group of four mooks that the bad guy can sweep in one round because his power level is ten points higher than yours.

      Instead the conventions are acknowledged with mooks that may come in Squadrons through the use of the corresponding Feature, and big bads getting progressively stronger once the PCs already proved they can actually damage them.

      I hope this was useful, thanks for the questions. I want to explain some of the math behind the game and how to make the most out of the various mechanics in general for 1.7, so this is good practice. I suspect it'll take several sidebars through the whole book or a whole separate chapter.

    2. Actually, in the case study I provided the weapon in question was simply an Accurate 2, Penetrating 1 weapon, which in my experience is the default arrangement, rolling exactly average for the number of Advantages the weapon type receives. A die roll of d10 produces an average result of 5.5, a die roll of d10 with an Advantage produces an average result of 7.15, which can be reduced to 7 for simplicity.

      Therefore, the default stats for a Melee weapon are +3/+2, for Ballistic are +2/+2, for Beam are +2/+1, and for Missile are +3/+1. It should be assumed that the Ballistic and Missile weapons can reliably get their Advantage, so they will use the 7 for their dice roll input and the Beam and Melee will use 5.5 due to Melee's Advantage being a much more situational benefit to acquire.

      A Dynamic, the default all-around chassis per your description, provides +2/+3 to the performance of any weapon.

      On turn 1 Tension is 1, not 0, so that's another +1 to Accuracy.

      We arrive at final bonuses of +6/+5 for the Melee weapon (so a total of 11.5/5 after rolls), +5/+5 for the Ballistic (total 12/5), +5/+4 for the Beam (total 10.5/4), and +6/+4 for the Missile (total 13/4).

      We can learn several things from this data. The first is that any Evasion of 4 or below is functionally identical to an Evasion of 0, as even a Destroyer, which gets no Accuracy bonus attacking with a Beam weapon will possess +2 Accuracy from the weapon, +1 from Tension, and with a minimum die roll of 1 will always hit something with 4 Evasion or less. There is therefore no difference between a unit that has 0 Evasion and 7 Armor and one that has 4 Evasion and 5 Armor, because the expected damage reduction is exactly the same. The only difference, in fact, comes about in how the 4/5 unit is less vulnerable to excessive damage from Beams than the 0/7.

      The second is that negating a hit via barrier is all but impossible. The Titanic in question, upon being struck by the missile attack, will take (13/2) = 6.5 in rollover, for a total of 10.5 damage before Armor reduction, reducing it to 3.5. Barring a good roll on an Oscillating Barrier, or spending 2 energy on a Gravagne Field, it's thus a coinflip on whether or not the Titanic will still take scratch damage. Okay, acceptable if that's how you want to balance it. However, if struck by the beam, the defender will take 10.5 rollover plus 4 Penetration for a total 14.5 damage, 7.5 after Armor. There is no defense which allows deflecting this much damage, and therefore attacking with a Beam weapon will always do significant amounts of damage.

      Now, if the Titanic had an Evasion of 4 and an Armor of 5, it would take 4.5 rollover from the Missile instead of 6.5, and then reduce it by 5 instead of 7, for a total of 3.5 damage after Armor soak, exactly the same as before. However, when struck by the Beam it would only suffer 6.5 rollover, resulting in 5.5 damage. Still likely to break through even with a barrier, but the stronger barriers *do* gain a coinflip chance of tanking the beam.

  4. I read through and generally liked all the new changes. I believe that, in general, every new version of the rules that comes out is significantly better than the last. There are a few things I would like to comment on, however.

    First, I am a bit worried about the fact that all personal scale defenses are based on awareness. Awareness is already quite useful due to its application in investigation and for thwarting ambushes; basing all your defenses as well makes it extremely powerful. This also makes it easier for PCs to put all their eggs in one basket; someone who highly combat focused no longer has to worry about being "weak" to social attacks. This also comes a quite a blow to the Professional archtype, whose main advantage was balanced defenses (since they would generally end up playing second-fiddle to someone else in the party for any given roll unless one of the other 3 archtypes wasn't present), and the Prodigy archtype which has been made into a glass cannon even accounting for the +2 to will.

    Also of note on personal scale is the fact that weapon expertise is now quite overpriced. At 10 character points, you could simply buy combat at the master level and get two advantages to all combat rolls period, instead of settling for one advantage for one weapon type. While you could technically stack the two, I don't think that getting a somewhat situational 3rd advantage is worth 10 character points.

    I will also second that Titanics need a higher defense stat. If you compare a Titanic vs a Dynamic, the dynamic will soak 9 damage normally (4 from armor, 5 from reducing enemy bonus penetration) assuming they get hit at all, while the titanic will soak 7 damage (all from armor) Things get even worse from the Titanic when beams come into play; the Dynamic soaks a total of 14 points of potential damage (again, assuming they get hit at all) while the Titanic's armor only averts 7 with no chance to evade. I'm not convinced that having almost twice as much threshold as the dynamic is enough to really make Titanics feel like "tanks" especially in exchange for the amount of accuracy and penetration that they had to sacrifice to become the tank archetype.

    In all honesty, I'm not convinced that beams doing full damage when they exceed threshold is even a good idea; it is probably the main source of difficulty when striking a balance between the titanic chassis and the others. It also makes beams so important against high-defense enemies that you nearly have to have a beam on your mech or be gimped against such opponents compared to the rest of the team. In addition, it creates weird system artifacts such as picking up a tracking system (beam) being twice as useful for soaking damage as buying an oscillating barrier (beam), though I evasion systems are better than armor systems in general right now. At the very least, I think it would be a good idea to move beams back to having a default cost of 1 energy; an ability with a cost of 3-5 could be added to beam weapons to give players the option of having a free beam.

    Finally, as far as god combination is concerned, I think it would be better to just let players design a new mech (with some bonus UP depending on how many players are in the combination) that they transform into when they combine, rather than the combininer simply having all the weapons of the component machines. It's a pretty standard genre convention that the combined robot has attacks that none of the component machines possess, yet this isn't possible in the current rules. It would still be a problem for unison combination, but I don't have any good ideas about what could be done about it.

    All that being said, though, I really enjoy GGG and hope that it continues to improve in the future.

  5. I would first like to commend you for your work on this, it looks really interesting, and I hope I might be able to put the rules to use in an actual game I might or might not someday run.

    I DO however have a criticism, which is perhaps the only one I've got about it.

    Most tabletop RPG rulebooks have a page, in the character creation sections, that is dedicated to giving the player a Step by Step guide to character creation, e.g. Step 1: Pick a Template, Step 2: Distribute this number of points among your stats, Step 3: Pick so-so number of abilities, etc, and maybe telling you which pages to go to for the information.

    I've gone through the book, and in so far as I've read, I've seen no such pages for character or Mecha creation.

    It's my belief that a page at the end of Character and Mecha creations giving players these step by steps would benefit everyone.

    Thank you for reading, and I hope you take my commentary into consideration, because I do believe GGG deserves all the attention it can get. :)

    1. Same poster:

      I am a dork, I found exactly what I was talking about right at the start of the section. I'm dumb, please ignore this post. >_<


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