December 8, 2013

Combat in Battle Century G

One of the first things I presented from Battle Century G was the basic combat formula, because the rest of the rules would be written around it. Today I go a little bit deeper into that, and because things are a lot more solid now, I can begin to show actual mechanics.

Let's have a look at that formula again:

(Might + 1d10 + Tension + Abilities) - (Guard + 5 + Abilities) = Damage.

With Attributes averaged at 5 and an average roll of 5, the attacking character deals exactly the current Tension in Damage.

Like I said before the benefit of this thing is transparent math and ease of play. You are no longer halving accuracy then adding penetration on top, then checking for special abilities from active defenses or weapons. You just make a roll then add special abilities, being well aware of how much each of them is going to affect the result.

It sounds simple, perhaps too simple, but a simple foundation works well for adding optional complexity on top. And I think by now it is pretty clear that I like having lots of options to interact with combat math.

If you remember from last week's chat about Intermissions, I brought up that I want specialist characters to be able to get up to three Advantages to Tests by spending between half and a whole Power Level's worth of XP. For the giant robot combat I would like to have similar math at work, with the caveat that since robots exist primarily to fight, the straightforward combat options will be a little more expensive to compensate for the fact that they are the better ones all around. This means the best kind of specialization, the one whose Advantages almost always apply, will cost somewhere between a full Power Level and two Power Levels.

At Power Levels 0, 1 and 2 most PC Units will usually have two Advantages to their Might Tests, unless they are heavy offensive specialists, then they get to have three or four. Sometimes even more. That's the theory, anyway. What are the things that will influence this math? Let's start with the most obvious: Weapons.
Weapons of Choice

When I first brought up BCG as a spiritual successor to GGG, I mentioned I would have to rewrite the Weapon types into things more easily adaptable to characters that aren't giant robots. So let's address that issue right now: To start off with, there will be two Weapon Types: Melee and Shooting.

Melee Weapons gain an Advantage when used during a Duel or against a target that is in one, and Shooting Weapons gain an additional Advantage from the Aim Action (while Melee Weapons only get one Advantage out of Aiming). If you can close in on your target, Melee is almost always stronger than Shooting, but Shooting lets you attack from afar and works better defensively. Weapons are no longer about flat combat modifiers, instead they now grant Advantages to Might Tests during special circumstances or have other special abilities. Let's have two examples:

Name: Stun Rod
Type: Melee
Cost: 5
Effect: This Weapon inflicts an additional Disadvantage when using the Suppress Action.
Description: Employed by Hiryu Gears to subdue Outsiders, rather than to kill them. Multiple units equipped with Stun Rods can render the fearsome giant monsters largely ineffectual.

Name: Anti-Air Missiles
Type: Shooting
Cost: 5
Effect: This Weapon gains an Advantage when used against targets with Flyer or using Anti-Gravity.
Description: Air dominance is still very much a thing even in this new era of Gears. Everyone in Earth understands this, and provides their troops with necessary countermeasures against their enemies. The RUF has to be careful of those pesky Majesty types, Hiryu has to worry about flying Outsiders taking advantage of how complicated it is to fight giant monsters in the middle of the ocean, and the GAF wants the Wagner destroyed by yesterday.

These are some of the simplest and most straightforward of the bunch. Notice that while Anti-Air Missiles help you reach that threshold of 3 Advantages against specific targets, Stun Rod instead takes away an Advantage from the opposition when used in a certain way. That's the focus on more transparent math at work, which easily lets you know which Weapon is better at doing a certain job.

Because they are basically the equivalent to narrow specialized Skills, they only cost 5 points, making it easy to have a varied loadout. Speaking of cheap things, everyone now has two free Default Weapons:

Name: CQC
Type: Melee
Cost: 0
Effect: This Weapon suffers an innate Disadvantage to its use, but cannot be disabled through Maiming.
Description: Mecha often carry small weapons like daggers as a last-ditch measure. Others mount small blades and drills into the frame to give your unit something to use when all other options are out. Even Mecha that cannot punch or kick can still ram themselves into the enemy as a last resort.

Name: Fire
Type: Shooting
Cost: 0
Effect: This Weapon suffers an innate Disadvantage to its use, but cannot be disabled through Maiming.
Description: Most giant robots these days come with a variety of ranged weapons integrated into the frame. Even those who don’t can improvise by picking up vehicles or even buildings to toss. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

These do suffer a Disadvantage to compensate for being free, but at least they don't do silly things like hurting you when you use them. They're perfectly viable backups now, and free backups at that. While we remain on the subject of cheap things, I have good and bad news about Custom Weapons. The bad news is that BCG has no Custom Weapons whatsoever. The good news is that it does not need them.

They had a pretty important role in GGG, but they no longer do. Here is why.

They gave Mecha something to do with any extra Upgrade Points between 1 and 4:
Since everything that is not an Attribute enhancement now costs 5, 10 or 20 this is no longer necessary. It would also be really hard to make something balanced at these costs too since an Advantage (a +2) in BCG is worth between 5 and 10 depending on how widely applicable it is.
They let the Mecha choose whether to focus on speed or power:
This divide no longer exists as GGG knew it, because you have Might and Guard now. This is not applicable any longer.
They gave you cheap backup Weapons that were weaker than the norm:
The Default Weapons fit this role, and they do it for free while being impossible to disable.
They gave you a way to have simple, reliable Weapons that don't have any drawbacks:
About a third of the listed Weapons are exactly this, like the example of Anti-Air Missiles. The ones that have drawbacks are the ones that are obviously stronger than the norm, primarily finishers and area of effect Weapons. Some are basically the standard Melee or Shooting template with just an increase to their maximum Range on top, too. There's plenty of simple weapons alongside the more complex ones.

Because a lot of the things that GGG was going for with Custom Weapons are things Battle Century G does by default (pun not intended) there is no longer a need for them. I did mention it was going to be quite a different game, after all.

Heating Things Up

But that's enough about the everyday standard Weapons, let's talk about some of the flashier ones. Like Beam Weapons. Beams are now a Subtype that goes on top of either Melee or Shooting now! They all have an innate Advantage to their use, as a tradeoff for double the cost of other Weapons (10) plus consuming at least a point of Energy. If you can afford them, then they are almost always the better choice for raw offensive power.

A short aside about Subtypes: Giant Robots are most likely going to only have Beam, but other types of heroes can have more variety there. Think of all the possible elemental subtypes that magic usually has in games and you have a good idea of what I'm talking about. You could have flame swords next to freezing rays, and they would have different effects. Anyway, back to Beams, here are two examples:

Name: Beam Saber
Type: Melee
Cost: 10
Effect: Beam (1 Energy).
Description: A favorite for its low energy consumption, solid armor-piercing power, compact size and overall practicality. Mass produced and made standard issue for most factions.

Name: Beam Rifle
Type: Shooting
Cost: 10
Effect: Beam (1 Energy).
Description: Cheap to produce and easy to use, it makes a great all-purpose Weapon if you can get around its craving for energy.

Beam Weapons are the easiest way to get those three Advantages I spoke of, because they have two (or three, in the case of Shooting) of those in-built. What about the third Advantage? That's the hardest one to get, because most Weapons only grant two. Some Weapon special abilities can give more than one Advantage, some Upgrades also give you Advantages when attacking, and of course Genre Powers like Try Again can do it too. But that talk is better reserved for later, because now is time to talk about Active Defenses.

Shield, don't Yield

So just from Weapons alone, characters get to add +4 to their Might Tests. That's a lot! Specially when you consider that, assuming average stats for everyone, they are already dealing base Damage equal to Tension. If nothing else is in play and they roll average, they are hitting their targets for 5 Damage during Round 1, and it only goes higher from there.

Fortunately, we have Active Defenses to mitigate that somewhat. Evasive Systems and Defensive Barriers were rolled into one single series of Upgrades, since Guard covers for both Evasion and Armor. How do they match up against the fearsome base damage of offensive powerhouses? Well, there is a lot of variety in Active Defenses, but the most universally efficient types are these two:

Name: Custom Barrier (Specialist)
Type: External
Cost: 5
Effect: Choose one of Melee, Shooting, Beam or non-Beam when you take this Upgrade. In response to the results of an Enemy Might Test against you using a Weapon of the chosen type, you may spend 1 Energy to increase your Guard by 3 against it, or 2 Energy to increase your Guard by 5 against it instead.
Description: You can equip a variety of defensive mechanisms. Examples include attaching small forcefields to your arms as shields, nanomachine bubbles that stop or slow down high velocity physical weapons, and a variety of chaff dispensers or jamming devices. You just need to know what it is you want to be protected from.

Name:Absolute Barrier
Type: External
Cost: 10
Effect: At the beginning of your Turn you may spend any amount of Energy to create a shield that blocks an amount of Damage equal to twice the amount of Energy spent and lasts one Round. An active Absolute Barrier means you may not use other Active Defenses.
Description: An extremely powerful barrier that repels nearly everything you can throw at it through a constant series of violent explosions. The Gravagne Field is one of Hiryu’s most famous successes, and the UEF would love to get their hands on its technology.

The general idea is that, for 5 UP, a point of Energy blocks two Damage from a few sources, and 10 UP nets you protection from basically everything. Because you can take Custom Barrier twice, you could choose to shield yourself from Melee and Shooting, or Beam and non-Beam. Both Upgrades play very differently, though. Absolute Barrier is better at blocking super attacks from single sources while Custom Barrier can handle a multitude of weaker attacks better. There will be more varied Active Defenses, but these are just going to be the basic ones the others build upon.

(By the way, Internal Upgrades go in the Core, while External Upgrades go into any of the other four Areas.)

Back to our Damage formula, a defensive specialist can counter an offensive one pretty well. Just Custom Barrier alone blocks 5 from that bonus +4 or +6, and Absolute Barrier can negate it entirely for 2 or 3 Energy.

And that's all for Today.

I hope you can see what I mean now by having a game where the math is more transparent than GGG's. This is also the most basic level of combat, because there's plenty of ways to tamper further with fancy effects coming from Upgrades, Weapons and Powers.

What about the flashier Weapons or Defenses? What about the other Attributes? And what about the special abilities not directly related to attacking or defending? There's a lot to go over, and it'll likely take most of December to cover it all. I haven't decided what the next post is going to be about yet, so we'll find out a week from now!

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