April 28, 2013

Mechanical Make-Up III

As of this writing we have 34 Upgrades available to PCs, not counting Archetypes and Features which bring up the total to 49. That is a lot of abilities to pick and choose from, and making them all useful while distinctive is kind of tough. It also means I'm not going to look over all of them in one sitting, so for today I will stick to the first half of the Upgrade lines.

Active Defenses

Evasive Systems and Defensive Barriers get a quick look over because they get a sidebar explaining their functionality and limitations already. The only other thing worth mentioning is that the cheaper, type-specific Defenses can easily go from conditionally useful to very frustrating in the hands of Grunts adapted to counter PCs. That is kind of mean, though, so it should be kept for special occasions.

Aid Another and Support

Also known as the 'team player' line of Upgrades. There's enough of them that you could take all of these and be a full support unit who never does any actual fighting but rather keeps everyone in top condition all the time instead.

All-Stars are Reload for its utility in both reloading One-Shots and repairing Remotes for only 3 UP, Resupply for giving you you back 5 whole Energy all at once, and Support Fire for granting 'free' Advantages to your allies and making duels a lot less risky.

Battlefield Commander is better than Jury Rig at keeping you healed through a prolonged conflict. JR's big benefit is that it guarantees healing, and does so at no Action Cost with Regenerative, where an Assistant-fueled Micromanage fails to do anything at all 40% of the time. They both work fine, though, so I don't think I want to change how either works for now.

Guardian Maneuver and Sacrifice take a bit of teamplay to do anything meaningful at all, but only specific Weapons can get around their solid and hard to pierce defenses once you've got that covered. Last is the Overcharger, deceptively powerful and terrific if you've got a free Gravagne Field effect on top of your Sacrifice tank. Even if you're just using it on yourself through Regenerative, three turns of 20 Evasion or so is going to make anyone who doesn't have the luxury of being able to ignore you cry.

Overall they work as intended but the three-use limitation on pretty much all of these abilities mean they're better off used in concert and with some planning beforehand. A cool thing is that, through them, Grunt forces can make a formidable show for the three Rounds of life expectancy they've got, likely extending them to 5-6 until finally being crushed.

Special Modes

Speaking of three-use limitations, I once considered giving these a three-round duration instead of a drawback, but having a downside is more interesting to play with... though said downside is 'uses up your Energy' half the time. Which is a little disappointing, but there just aren't that many downsides which both hurt and make sense.

This block's cool kids are Beast Mode and Anti-Gravity. One turns you into a whirlwind of death and destruction until you don't need to be one, while A-G has little to no downside most of the time. Chances are that once you activate them, and should you actually need to turn them off, you won't need them again.
Over-Booster is much more attractive after the bigger emphasis on area effects and the Cost reduction, though the loss of energy hurts. It gets the job done and there really isn't much to say about that, and while it is super useful for its cheap UP Cost, the energy drain keeps it from being right next to the others.

Artillery Mode can be pretty nasty if you spend UP on extra Range, the big drawback on a specialized sniper is that by the time they catch up to you, Tension will have gone up and boy you better have a backup close range Weapon because it is going to hurt. Also that sometimes you don't have large enough battlefields to make use of it. The thing that makes it unattractive is that Ballistics are trading an Advantage for that extended Range, and if you are making use of said Range, then your Missiles are also likely not gaining one either. Very usable, though, specially since it only costs 3 UP.

This brings us to the big, expensive ones with the big, expensive drawbacks. Stealth Field can be a free defensive buff. It can also drain your whole supply of Energy after a single bad round, since it tracks each instance separately. It works much better in a duel than it does against a group of enemies, which makes sense from a flavor standpoint, so I'm happy with that.

Three Times Faster is strange for a 10 UP ability in that it does a little bit of everything and costs considerable Energy, which isn't too good when you would rather be doing fewer things but better. On the other hand, doing a little bit of everything is often pretty sweet: Just look at Custom Blueprints. It might want an Energy cost reduction, because the free movement is rarely going to be a deciding factor as much as the other two effects, but when it does it is a pretty major one. We'll see.

I'll wait until I'm done with the UP section in general to bring up potential additions and rule customizations.


  1. Side Question: Can Deathblows be used while in a mech/gear?

  2. Deathblows, like all Traits, have no effect while piloting. Even if they were, Mecha are immune to Deathblows as per the "Scaling Issues" sidebar on page 103.


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