April 21, 2013

Mechanical Make-Up II

I like Weapons. As in, GGG's Weapons.

I like that there's just enough variety in their typing to add depth without getting too specific over sword alloys or firearm calibers. I like that you can have enough of them with you at all times to avoid repeating the same trick over and over. I like that specializing in a specific type or mixing and maxing types are both viable strategies. I overall like where they stand right now.

Sometimes I focus a lot on things that could stand to be better, but every once in a while it is a good idea to look back at the bigger picture and realize just how neat some things really are. Mostly so I don't wreck them apart when I'm doing major changes.

What kind of changes? Well, for starters I don't like that Bullets and Missiles have been difficult to distinguish mechanically from day one. I don't like that when it comes down to it Weapon types are "Beam" on one side and "Everything Else" on the other. I also don't like the half-rollover mechanic in general, but that's more of a general rules issue.

All three of those things could stand to be streamlined further. But doing so would take away a lot of the depth inherent to combat, and the less options you've got out there to choose from, the more likely that a single PC can take all of them. Kind of ruins the point to be able to actually choose anything.

I would like to experiment a little on that end, but that's a topic for when I have a better idea of how to do it, and just what to sacrifice. Now let's go over the current Weapons a bit, see if they can be improved, and if they're doing their job properly.


The premade Melee Weapons tend to be big finishers or desperation attacks in some way, though they all have very distinct functions. Gallant Kick and Radiant Fist were both made to counter Evasion and Armor tanks respectively, while All-Out Attack is a more general finisher and has the most abusiveness potential of the bunch. It makes for a very nasty combination with tricks like Limiter Release or Righteous Fury.

Divine Wind is similarly brutal, though a lot less abusable for obvious reasons. It could stand to be improved, thinking about it, because man, you're taking a lot of damage for what is one big hit that can still be weakened through barriers or nullified with evasive systems.

The really interesting guy here is Finger Net, which is an extremely effective tool to harass groups of enemies with in a teamwork scenario, or put pressure on a single ultradodgy enemy. Yes, it is repeatable to the point of annoyance, but each turn you're doing this is a turn you're not likely doing anything else of value. And ultimately, the choice of whether the effect sticks or not is not yours, but of the guy on the other side, not to mention they can engage you or an ally in a duel to make launching it at them a very bad idea.


Much like with Melee, a number of the Weapons here are made to counter specific types of tanks. Armor Breaker and the Long Rifle are the most obvious, but the Sentry Turret and Resonance Cannon are also quite effective counters too. The Long Rifle and Sentry Turret can also do other things, though, not being quite 'hard' counters in that regard. 

We can extend that to the Superheavy Machinegun and the Riot Weapon too though, while they're both good at handling groups of enemies, the former fares much better with dodgy types and the latter with armored ones. 

Special Ballistic Weapons end up being, in general, really good against single targets, specially those with a focus on Evasion. They tend to have more trouble with armored targets, and swarms of grunts are hell. Custom Weapons can mitigate this, and so can Use More Gun, but you might as well branch off into other types. Overall, fairly solid. 

Beams are almost universally good, but their usual low stats make them kind of really bad against evasive enemies. There's not much left to punch through Armor after a high Evasion has soaked most of your Accuracy, after all. This is easily solved by simply having high Accuracy and Penetration Attributes as a base, and since their other weakness is that they need to consume energy, their faults are the easiest to mitigate. 

Kind of an issue, but it doesn't ruin the game or anything. So how do the premade beams fare? Well, the ones that aren't superweapons of pure, unmitigated destruction are fairly useful, so I would say they're all pretty good which is a success in my book. Most of them need a bit of setup, because they sweep huge areas and are likely to hurt your friend in the process, or at least annoy them.


Missiles have come a long way since they were 'like Ballistics, but worse', and while the similarities still bug me - as pointed out a few paragraphs ago- they're much more distinct and useful now. For one, they're the only Weapon type you can potentially 'kite' with through hit and run tactics, and they're the best at charging into the fray with a moderate mix of Accuracy and Penetration. Plus, they get cheap Blasts. 

Like with nearly every other Weapon type, some of them are clearly engineered to be able to counter tanks. Bombardment, in particular, is good enough that if you can manage to constantly keep it reloaded it might earn you a victory on its own. Micromissiles are a neat primary weapon if you're the type that hates relying on luck, you'd just need something to use in the off-turns... Like say, a Genius Missile.

Nega-G Rounds are utilitarian, but their one problem is that their utility is trumped by Exhaustion, which is a much more reliable Power. Of course, taking Exhaustion means you're locked into the Controller Package of Powers, but once you have a team member with it... Well, Nega-G Rounds are more of an afterthought. I would like to make it more useful, perhaps by giving it another, different function too. But I'm not quite sure how, and the effect is fairly powerful by itself, so maybe it is fine.

Enhancing Customizations

The anime-themed pacing of the rules letting you grab Upgrades and Weapons after Arcs or during a Mid-Scene Upgrade keeps your mid-Season UP spending strictly on Enhancements, which right now, are flat statistical boosts. That's okay, but we can improve on that a little.

A thing I want to add to the next version is a small improvement to the Custom Weapon rules, expanding the Enhancement rules while at it. Currently Weapons with a cost lower than 5 UP are good filler and nothing else, most of their utility comes at character creation when you just have 2-3 points to spare and coooould use another Weapon rather than an Enhancement.

Enter the Enhancing of Custom Weapons, now you can bump up your lowly 1 UP starting dinky pistol to a much more satisfying 5 UP hand cannon of death. Or buy-off drawbacks such as Overheating with UP, increasing the Cost of the Weapon to 5. The UP Cost can never go over 5, so if you want to buy a 3 UP Beam's Overheating ability off, you're going to have to give it three more UP in drawbacks to keep it from exceeding 5.

It is not a particularly big change or anything, but it does improve what you can do in between arcs a little, and because it is just a nice little patch it can be incorporated more or less seamlessly into the rules.


  1. I'll start with a bit on Archetypes. Both as what they do, and how they match up with a second Archetype. I've got two hours with nothing better to do at the gate, so this might get a little long...

    Berserker: This one can be hard to use. Don't bother as an Eagle. Don't bother if you have Integrated Weapons. You're low on health and high on tension, so it should be a Beam and not have EN costs or Overheat. You probably won't get to use it many times in a row [or ever, depending on how you play] so it's fine with Technique. Finally, it should probably be Reliable.

    Or... if you can fix yourself some repairs... Just make it a Remote. The weapon's already fired and will still be around.

    Custom Blueprints: I hope you're not planning on never buying up those affected stats as a result. AT is worth 10 points. Base 6 cost for enhancing those four attributes by 1. That's 18 total for all four at +2. Getting them to +2 with this AT and purchases of +1 instead would cost 16. Get them to +3 and we're really talking: 36 vs 28.

    Experimental Reactor is boring but effective. Nothing to really see here, although if matched to the Mental Link, the double-advantage can be turned into +1d10 at the cost of 1EN, which makes for fairly brutal remotes.

    Integrated Weapons: Stack them all into one area. Install Divine Wind. Keep any other maimables elsewhere. Normally you'd only want the one-shots you opened with, like, say, Bombardment, in where you'll blow that arm, so this can be a substantial boost. No real pairings in the AT department of note, but makes system distribution that much easier and can make the cost of Limiter Release a little more palatable.

    Invincible Frame: Combined with Integrated Weapons, you may be at 100% capabilities, or damn near, all the way until your mech explodes. Can be the Eagle's best friend, but shouldn't be taken with Integrated Weapons or a high-energy-using set-up. Also perfectly worded to take advantage of Limiter Release.

    Limiter Release: Integrated Weapons don't fail from damage dealt like this no matter how many sections you give up. Invincible Frames work great here. If you've got an Assistant, you can keep on using this a good long time.

    mental link: Someone who takes this will make a remote specialist. Someone who doesn't make a remote specialist won't touch it. Ergo, someone who takes this just bought advantage to all his weapons-fire, and protects them a little better.

    Regenerative: Honestly, the least impressive of the lot. If I want to recover energy, why not an Assistant at the same cost? This is only really valuable if you want to do nothing but One-Shot weapons, but really, there's a Genre Power you should take that does it better in that case. And those one shots are nearly all big blasts, so really, you should be instead grabbing....

    Smart Bomber: Were it not for the far lower damage and accuracy of blasts due to the cost of blastiness, this would be a no-brainer. It makes blast into BIG Blast. It makes Blast friendly-safe. You're a risk or packing a single one-shot opener on your way in if you don't have this. If you're going for mook-cleaing or multiattacking, you take this. You just shut up and learn to enjoy it.

    Tactical UI: Were you considering an Assistant/subpilot? This makes them amazing. Even without one, it's pretty solid upgrade, provided you intend to actually use the upgraded actions involved. Good if your AT is using up energy or health, BAD if you're a berserker. And there's no excuse for not taking at least ONE of either Guardian or Battlefield-Commander with this thing: your boosted-maneuver can be spectacular... provided there's no smart-bombers on the other side.

  2. I'll toss one other one here even though it isn't technically an archetype, due to its cost and similarities: Expansion Pack. This can actually be used instead of purchasing Integrated Weapons: So long as you do not purge it, you could get your other areas all maimed and still have full access to your weapons as it's written. The only issue is it has a limit on points integrated into it.

    Assistant and Sub-Unit are some of the best values for their cost: Extra Actions are always, ALWAYS a good thing. Sure, the assistant is expensive, but that's a steady regenerative effect there. Sidekicks are great with weapons: Five Points can let a gun handle itself, and they get your enhancement bonuses [does this include modules? It probably should, but Sidekicks built to benefit from your modules should cost six points plus upgrades, instead of five.

    Going down to weapons: The Superheavy is defective, and as such not necessarily better against dodgy things: you could just as well be forced to keep a 2 or 4 because your advantage die was a 7 or 9... and firing without advantage makes it a losing proposition. Worst case scenario, your additive die comes up odd, and the entire weapon STILL broke down. Defective indeed.

    I've never seen anyone pick Incinerator. The range is low, and the stats and effect aren't that great for the cost in energy and UP. Extreme Terrain requires those affected end their turn in it, and after a few turns [which it could take to be in range to fire this], even mooks can probably handle the systems roll pretty well. Plus, a Smart Bomber is lucky he can make a safe tile, as he'd be hitting himself at max range.

    If Genius missiles keep stacking advantage they aren't too bad thanks to converting into additive dice. If they just have Advantage and it stays at that level, they're balls. Anti-Air missiles are a little iffy: Is the special ability really worth three points?

    Not sure what you mean by kiting for the missiles anymore: "mobile" no longer appears to actually exist. you want to be using them at half-range, and can't increase the distance either, so you're actually probably better off using a Ballistic, even with reduced movement, to take out a target before it gets to you. Nay, at Range 6+ right now Ballistic and Beam are king, though beam has to pay a lot to get to 8-10 when using customs. Nega-G rounds are a solid hit, but as a One-Shot they suffer a little: Either make them Pen 3 and Slow instead, or +1/Pen-2 and add in Blast if they're to stay One-Shot.

    Which brings me to my last point here: One of the most point-efficient purchases a beam user could ever make is the Disruptor Cannon. Even without a special effect, 0-10 with Blast at just 1EN is equal to a nine-point weapon, slightly better than most of the 'good' ['bout 6-7 worth] specifics otherwise available. Were it not so damn efficient [though not particularly powerful in many cases], I'd suggest adjusting the Nega-Gs to take advantage of the EN-Distortion field.

    I gotta say though, our group always assumed that boosting weapons WAS one of the things we already could do: Buying new ones was between arcs, but upgrading a point or two at a time onto those weapons seemed a certainty? A bigger issue was the whole 'drawbacks' part: such major changes as removing One-Shot and likely reducing stats to compensate, well that's just buying a whole new weapon... But ACC/Pen or even just removing Slow if you had two points left? That seemed quite appropriate.

  3. Thanks for the feedback! I plan to go over non-Weapons this week so I'll just comment on Weapons for now.

    I refer to Missiles as being possible to kite with not because they have a natural ability for it, but rather because Missile specialists have Hit n Run.

    I forgot to bring up that Defective Weapons could use being not almost always worse than their Overheating counterparts. I'll probably change the trigger from total failure to dealing less damage.

    I missed the blast cost increase for the Disruptor Cannon, I'll fix that up in the future. Thanks!

    The enhancements thing sounds so obvious in hindsight, but I just hadn't thought of it. At least I'm making it official now.

  4. Regarding the enhancing of custom weapons:

    What do you think of the idea that the most UP a weapon can cost is 4 + your Starting Genre Points? That way, weapons can gradually get stronger as the story goes on, and points can go to other things besides core attribute enhancements and redundant weapons and defenses.

  5. The one issue with that is that it makes the premade weapons weaker by comparison. For the utility weapons like Armor Breaker or Nega-G Rounds that is fine because their firepower was never their main draw, but the special finishers would suffer a lot from it.

    And making those customizable would be a large enough can of worms to go fishing for a month. It is a fine houserule if no one is using the likes of Radiant Fist or Giga Blaster, though.

    Thanks for the feedback anyway, it is a neat idea!

    1. Well, depending on how long episode arcs are in your game, or how long you plan on playing in general, the gradual growth of custom weapons wouldn't be too big an issue. If it was, though, couldn't you just say that the premade weapons can have their Penetration or Accuracy boosted, but nothing else can be altered?

    2. I've been thinking about it, and the more I examine it closely the less it holds up. It sounds great in theory, but in practice it is a bit too powerful.

      Custom Weapons are balanced on the notion that with only 5 points you cannot go too high with their base bonuses because it will make the Weapon unreliable (or impossible) to use repeatedly. It is why they get multiple Accuracy and Penetration increases for the same cost, while Enhancements get more expensive as you go on.

      To give you an idea, with those 5 additional points you overwhelm the protection from a Gravagne Field. And that is before you improve Weapons that are already very powerful like Bombardment or that should not be all that strong on their own like the Armor Breaker.

      This answer is a bit longwinded but I hope it is clear on why I do not think it is a good idea after thinking about it.


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