April 14, 2013

Mechanical Make-Up I

I am more or less rereading everything for the umpteenth time over, doing editorial fixups on the way, because those never stop popping up for some reason. So while I'm putting everything under the microscope, I might as well drop some insight on the things I'm inspecting here.

I went over the ground level rules in general in a three-part series right before starting the 1.7 previews. And while they do deserve a more detailed look, I figure I should begin with the Mecha Construction chapter.

It is the more interesting one anyway. And it is not like I can't go back to examine the first, anyway.


Let's start from the basics, which in this case would be Mecha Attributes. One of the first few things I knew I wanted from the game was to have two angles from which you could approach your PC's defense - and by extension, your offense. I knew I wanted to make the fast and accurate robots different from the slow and powerful ones, too. Having four separate stats to track those things, so that you could mix and match them as you please, seemed like a good plan.

Honestly I'm not too happy with the math involved in attacking, but it succeeds at solving the question of whether you hit or not with a single roll and gives characters distinct ways to approach offense and defense, making them more unique. More importantly, the divide between 'mobility' and 'power' makes it difficult to be an offensive god of destruction or an invincible defensive powerhouse. And having a system that works towards balance makes games fun in the long term even if they seem a bit complicated in the short term.

I wanted the HP equivalent to be separate from your armor, so Threshold was the fifth stat that got made, and Energy seemed like an obvious sixth to give all characters an in-built way to do cool things even without any Genre Points.

Then there's Systems! Systems is cool because it serves two purposes depending on the group's playstyle. First, it is a variable stat that can be used for miscellaneous tests involving general piloting skill that are always difficult because the Systems stat is usually lowish, and it gets lower as combat goes on, even if you do gain more points as you get damaged. Second, if you hate variable stats and/or want pilot abilities to have more of an impact on the battlefield, you can use it as a fixed Attribute drawing from the Pilot's own.


The thing with point-buy systems that let you distribute your stats freely as you wish is that, the grand majority of the time, they're inherently and irreparably broken. Even when they're not, they're easily exploitable and encourage powergaming by nature. I wasn't going to run that risk, so I figured I would have prebuilt templates that you could customize further.

That's how the original five Chassis types were born, and why I'm not in any rush to throw them out anytime soon. After rules changes pretty much made one of them useless, they became four. I've said it before, though, while the current four get the job done I'm not perfectly happy with them. That said I am keeping them as is because they all tend towards a specific role without said role being the only thing they can do.

To be perfectly frank for a minute here, replicating the mechanics of Super Robot Wars is not always a good idea. Specially when it comes to Super Robots. If you look at the stats for each unit in the games, those are usually one of two types: Better than the dodgy ones in nearly every way, or they're extremely fragile and get by thanks to having multiple pilots.

Now I can see where an argument for more SRW-like supers is coming from, but those have lower Evasion and better everything else. Sometimes they're huge and size difference makes them slightly less accurate, but that's still two stats next to four! If we want a game that is balanced at least one of those four is going to give, and in GGG, your choices are between defense and offense.

Plus you can always drop Enhancements and Modules on top of your Mecha to better fit a concept, so it is trivial to make a Dynamic into the closest thing to a videogame Super Robot by giving them more Armor and Threshold. That said, I know that it is a thing some of you really wish would change, so while I think of how and when to implement more Chassis types you can play around with this makeshift Custom Chassis Constructor.

C3: or Custom Chassis Constructor

Choose one of the four Chassis types available to customize, you can mix up their Attributes by increasing one and decreasing another as follows:

Rule 1: Armor, Energy and Accuracy are worth the double of Evasion, Threshold and Penetration.
Rule 2: You cannot take out more than 3 points from any single Attribute.
Rule 3: You cannot exceed the existing maximums for each Attribute, and no Attributes may go under 0.

So let's say you want to customize the Destroyer and make it tankier. You can trade a point of Energy for two more Evasion, or for another point of Armor. You cannot, however, trade more than 3 points of Energy this way, so it cannot go under 5. You also cannot increase Armor by 3, because that would go over the starting maximum that the Shield Chassis gets, but you can get 2 Evasion or 2 Threshold to go with your 2 Armor.

And that's a wrap for now. Next time I'll go over Weapons, examining the premade ones and going over a few ideas for modifying your Custom Weapons over time.


  1. Quite interesting, but perhaps allows just a bit too much. There's also the question of what an existing maximum means: Can an Eagle Chassis not take +1 to its Evasion because it already has the highest at 11?

    Customizing a Chassis:
    1- Armor, Energy and Accuracy are worth two points each. Evasion, Threshold and Penetration are worth one.
    2- You may not reduce any single attribute by more than 3 points, nor raise it by more than 2, and no attribute may be made negative.
    3- Any single attribute may not be made higher than the highest attribute available to stock chassis, unless the unit itself is of that type. Only the Destroyer Chassis may be customized for EN higher than 8 or Penetration above 6; these two values are hard-limits to any other chassis.

  2. I like your wording, and the answer would be yes. You clearly got what I was going for. The minisystem might be too lenient for the sake of simplicity, but it should be safe enough. A limit of 3 to raises (it makes for cleaner stat transfers) would be another good addon, so that's a good idea.

    Toying around with Chassis stats is inherently dangerous, and a real in-depth system would be a lot more complex, but for people who want just a few touchups here and there this should be fine.


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