Ah, Chapter 5. It has a lot less mechanics when compared to pretty 2, 3 and 4. Enough to go over them all right now. A part of me wants to expand NPC rules immediately, with more Boss goodies, wacky Features for weird enemies, and more Tiers for NPCs - Like the old Elite that was in between Grunts and Rivals. But it will have to wait. First we do maintenance on the house, then we see about building a second story on top.
All of these these get a single lone section to themselves because... Well, that is what their relevance deserves. Basically, non-combatant npc "rules" are for those times you just need to whip up a quick statblock and just eyeballing two or three stats isn't enough. Grunts are fast and easy. Rivals and Bosses are a different matter, though frankly between this and the suggestions in the "The Big Bads" sidebar you should have a good idea of how to stat these in a matter of seconds. Natures really help in making this process easier, too, another reason I favor them so much.
Grunts and Rivals
Grab two Weapons, maybe one or two Upgrades, and a Chassis. Enhance if appropriate. Grunts take very little effort to write up. And while they are weak individually, they can give PCs fits. In other games Grunts are plentiful and outnumber the PCs about four to one... Not so in GGG. Partly because managing up to a dozen of NPCs is a chore, partly because each one is supposed to be an actual threat that needs to be overcome, and is not just there for show.
Two Grunts are said to be a match for a PC, but it is more like three really if you want the PC to be genuinely against the ropes. With that said, the sheer variety in loadouts available to them means that you can throw Grunts at PCs just to warm them up without offering much of a challenge or give them devious combinations of abilities, abusing the likes of Support Fire and Divine Wind. This way they can represent generic goons or elite troops with the same set of rules.
Rivals are almost the same as PCs if not for the fact that they usually pack less Genre Points, and depending on how much of a difference there is a GM might have to toss in an extra Grunt to make for a real challenge. With that said, PCs are fine having a slight mechanical advantage over their Rivals because you (as GM) want them to win anyway. Even then, the fact that Rivals can retool themselves around the opposition and show up with a new giant robot if the plot demands gives them an advantage over the PCs that might be worth a lot more than just one or two Genre Points.
The big issue is that they take the most time to stat. A part of me wants to throw away these rules and come up with something like what Grunts and Bosses have but more on equal with the PCs. But I recognize that as they are, they function as a clear mirror to the PCs, and that is what they are supposed to be. You know, Rivals.
Bosses have been the toughest ones to design, but now overall they're challenging and easy to create or customize, without being impossible to beat. Yes, some of their abilities are extremely powerful, but the worst ones don't even trigger before getting considerably beat up. Overall they're one of the things I'm the most proud of in the game as a whole.
Boss Powers are much like Boss Archetypes in that they represent individual abilities which make the user much harder to deal with, their main difference is that they don't either need getting beat up to be activated, nor do they grow stronger over time. A few stand out from the rest, for a few reasons. One is I Believe this is Yours, which can be taken multiple times to cover all Weapon Types, if you so wish. Another is Die for Me!, which is by far the most brutal ability in the game then a Boss has a lot of Genre Points. Lastly there is Behold my True Power, which can be combined with Overfreeze and Wormhole Assault from the Boss repertoire for an obvious combo, or lets you get crafty with other ideas like Bombardment and Resonance Cannon for sheer brutality.
Honestly since they are active abilities that can be used from Turn 1 onwards, they can get a bit repetitive at times. But considering that they're supposed to be a piece of the puzzle that PCs need to solve in order to beat a Boss, I would say that being repetitive is the point. Other Powers are a ton less crafty and sometimes kind of boring (like Show me your Resolve and Resistance is Futile) but they get the job done. Also, while Genre Powers in general have great names, Boss Powers have the best names. Ever.
Archetypes are a bit more interesting, and two of them need some changes. Nanoskin Shell is by far the strongest to the point of it being preposterous - 60 extra HP granted by a single ability is insane and the damage buffer needs to be halved at least. Hypersonic Striker is also not as good as it could be, because extra movement stops being useful once you are in range, so it will be given the unique ability to do hit and run tactics with any kind of Weapon - it will only trigger after losing a Level of Threshold so it won't create any unbeatable Enemies.
Then there's Weapons. G-Leeches are are probably the weakest right now, though the latter would get much more interesting with the changes to Hypersonic Striker. Graviton Wave is similar in that it is not very good at killing its targets, but by golly is it amazing at softening them up. The most exploitable one right now is Telekinetic Strike, not only almost always dealing unblockable damage but also controlling the positions of its enemies. The least I can do is make the bowling ball effect require passing the Evasion of secondary targets. The other one maybe worth retooling is 3G-Bomb, which went from being overwhelmingly powerful to being a tad too slow to be really threatening to anyone with a Threshold of 10 or higher. Perhaps making it deal damage not directly dependent on Tension is for the best, after all.
Biological, Fortress, and Squadron are pretty straightforward. They are used to represent things that are neither the average giant robot, nor are they usually under PC control. More interesting is Cryptid, which is not only all upside for most enemies, and a dangerously powerful upside at that to boot, but is a gigantic middle finger to one of the most effective strategies in the game otherwise - tanking via healing.
It is the closest the game ever gets to having an unfairly powerful ability for enemies, but it is only genuinely devastating against anyone who relies on restoring Threshold entirely instead of even trying to prevent Damage. It is also acknowledged as being powerful to the point that even Grunts should be considered to be an even match against PCs, so it works out.
Well, That was kind of short, so I might as well also touch up some general mechanics while I'm at it, Chapter 4 here we go.
Most of the Operation rules are fine, with all Actions being viable alternatives to just Attacking now. Micromanage is still a tad powerful, but I'd rather keep it useful than nerf it to being a sub-par option. Suppress though, currently lets you stop anyone from moving at all ever again. And movement is more important now than it used to be, so we're reworking that a little. I don't want to complicate things too much, so we'll make it a simple choice: The victim of a Suppress Action can still move after being suppressed, but doing so means they take the other half of the Damage the attack would have dealt normally.
This is a lot more representative of using suppressive fire to pin someone down, and also gives them a way to escape your grappling attempts. It also weakens Suppress a bit, but because the enemy still suffers a Disadvantage to their own Offensive Actions it is worth using even then. Fortunately, it is still a lot less complicated than every other attempt to represent grappling rules since D&D became infamous for having some really bad ones.
Next week, the update in question, with a few bonuses.