July 28, 2013

Reining NPC Forces In

Gonna make a few posts about some supplementary material that will, maybe, get its own manual down the line. The first content of this type I want to bring up is not specifically about PCs, or even about enemies. It is about support NPCs, and it called the Reinforcements system.

What are Reinforcements?

Reinforcements represent helping hands that are completely separate from your own Mecha, and thus different from Subpilots. Reinforcements can come in the form of sidekicks not directly under your command, bridge bunnies sending you crucial new information in the middle of a battle, or regular armed forces without their own Mecha contributing in their own way.

For instance, most of the GaoGaiGar cast can be represented through Reinforcements. They can't defeat the enemies entirely on their own, but they have a myriad of support abilities like the Eraser Head or the Melting Siren to make GaoGaiGar's fight easier. But Soushi Minashiro from Fafner in the Azure, who shares a mental link with the other pilots and guides them in battle from the base, is also a good example of Reinforcements.

Reinforcements are ranked from one to ten representing just how strong they are as a whole, as follows:

1-2 Insignificant: Lacking in power and versatility, these Reinforcements are better than nothing and can come useful every now and then, but aren't anything to write home about.
3-4 Elite Mook: The Reinforcements are strong enough to make the difference between otherwise matched opponents, and are equivalent to an Enemy Grunt in power.
5-6 Friendly Rival: As the equivalent of facing another full-blown Rival NPC, these Reinforcements make great companions out there in the front lines.
7-8 Mentor: The Reinforcements are powerful and have a deadly variety in what they can do, making them genuinely fearsome and the equivalent of having another Boss Enemy on the battlefield.
9-10 Deus Ex Machina: The Reinforcements are overwhelmingly powerful and victory is all but assured to the Squad that benefits from them.

How do Reinforcements work?

Reinforcements are NOT regular NPCs, they are simpler to work with and more useful to the Squad as a whole, for a variety of reasons. Let's see how, specifically.

First, they are a group resource represented by a single Squad Reinforcement Unit. This represents all of their sidekicks and allies at the same time - If there are multiple members to a Reinforcement Unit, they'll have to take turns sharing the narrative spotlight.

Second, the Reinforcement Unit has its own Initiative always set at 10, during which it may use any of its abilities. A Reinforcement Unit may use one ability during its Turn, and it may only use a total number of abilities equal to its Rank per Operation. The group should decide as a whole what they request the Reinforcement Unit to do.

Beyond Rank 5, Reinforcements exceed Rivals in power (and as such are likely at least a group of Rivals) they may use two abilities in one turn. A Rank 6 Reinforcement can use 2 abilities on turns one, two, and three, but it will have spent all of them by then. It may not, however, use the same ability twice per Turn.

Third, a single Reinforcement ability can be repeated any number of times (unless otherwise noted) for as long as the Reinforcement Unit’s Ranks allow, repeatable abilities are interchangeable this way as far as the number of uses they have go.

Lastly, a Reinforcement Unit has no other discernible battlefield presence outside of their own abilities. They cannot be attacked or disabled, but they also cannot win on their own and if the rest of the PC Squad is defeated, so are they.

A Rank 4 Reinforcement can use its abilities four times, and has four abilities. It can use each ability once, or use two abilities twice, and so on. Note that Reinforcements do not need to use an ability every Turn, they can just pass a Turn.

What can Reinforcements do?

There are ten Reinforcement abilities, Reinforcement Units have a number of these (of their choice) according to their Rank. A Rank 10 Reinforcement Unit has all 10 abilities.

Airstrike: All Units within a target area the size of a Blast suffer an amount of Damage equal to half the current Tension.
Assisted Targetting: One Ally gains the benefits of the Aim Action to their next Offensive Action this round.
Flash Analysis: One Enemy’s complete rules are revealed to the Squad. If they need an update afterwards on their status, they will need to use this ability again.
Pathfinder: One Ally may Move an additional Zone as part of their next Action, ignoring the effects of Difficult Terrain while doing so.
Remote Hotfix: One Ally may ignore the effects of Maiming on all of their Areas for a Round.
Electromagnetic Detonator: One Enemy may not restore Threshold by any means for a Round. Use this ability once per Operation.
Fight On!: Restore one Ally's Threshold by 5. Use this ability once per Operation.
Fire at Will: One Enemy suffers the effects of Extreme Terrain (in addition to any other Terrain properties) during their next Turn. Use this ability once per Operation.
IFF Hacking: One Enemy loses the benefits of Tension to Offensive Actions for a Round. Use this ability once per Operation.
Supply Drop: An area the size of a Blast becomes Base Terrain (in addition to any other Terrain properties) for the rest of the Operation. Use this ability once per Operation.

What is the best way to use Reinforcements?

Their primary use is to represent NPCs without the GM having to stat them out and take Actions in their stead. This becomes more important for weaker, sidekick-esque characters, who usually are left to do as they please constantly getting extra attacks in or explode violently the moment anyone looks at them funny and are completely useless. This system adds a middle ground to that.

It becomes a lot more useful when you're trying to represent that the PCs have some serious firepower backing them up. I am talking about having fleets of grunts behind them, which would be a nightmare to handle if we were trying to give 100 planes/tanks/robots turns of their own.

A small fleet of spaceships can get by with Airstrike, Fire at Will, and Assisted Targetting as a Rank 3 Reinforcement to have a small but noticeable impact. A Repair & Resupply support dropship can use Assisted Targetting, Flash Analysis, Remote Hotfix, Electromagnetic Detonator, Fight On! and Supply Drop to shape and affect the battlefield about as much effectiveness as one of the PCs.

High-Ranking Reinforcements make for perfect 'here comes the cavalry' moments for those times when the PCs could use a helping hand. They are pretty simple to make up rules for (Decide how powerful the Reinforcements are, think of a handful of abilities that are like Genre Powers and make sense for the Reinforcements in question, done). A final note to make is that, if you choose to customize their abilities, they shouldn't be much stronger than a Genre Power, and they should be more interesting than 'Deal Damage to one Enemy', Reinforcements are at their best when they support the characters, not when they steal their kills. If you are going to make abilities like that anyway (like Fire at Will), make them usable once per Operation.

That's about it for Reinforcements. There is not that much else to explain, since they're just something that the GM may decree necessary or not and is more or less up to them... At least until Reinforcements become purchasable with UP. Next time, it'll be about the return of Mental Plot Armor rules.


  1. Is this available as a .zip download? My PC won't open it.

  2. Is the problem the .rar file? Try using winrar, preferably one of the newer versions just to be sure.

    If that doesn't work, I can upload a .zip or just the .pdfs.


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