July 15, 2012

Slowing Down a Little

Another small update this month. In fact this is the smallest update as of yet, and unless I've broken the game without realizing it, should be the last one for a while.

Get v1.32 at Mediafire 

Or via 4shared 

General Changes:
-After six months I think I'm finally done hunting down typos, images that go over the borders, and other similar issues.
Character Creation:
Mecha Construction:
-A number of Ranges didn't make sense since the addition of the Range 0 rule. Additionally, a few Ranges didn't make sense on their own. Weapon Ranges in general were touched up a bit.
-Extending Punch costs an extra point of Energy.
-Radiant Fist is Reliable once more (why the heck did I take that out?) and both attack stats scale to Tension now.
-Heavy Machinegun no longer must Recharge but it now 'jams' after an Accuracy roll of 1 and it cannot be used until your next Turn.
-Linear Missile no longer suffers a Disadvantage to the Accuracy Test.
-Interference Barrage is now One-Shot but will inflict IFF Failure even on a miss.
Playing the Game:
Running the Show:
-Debilitate will inflict IFF Failure in place of Chain Reaction now.

So now that I think there isn't much left to improve without any major alterations to the system, what I will be working on instead is the integration of the various major changes I've been discussing. I'm not sure when that beta will be ready but probably not next month. Nor the one after that, if you catch my drift.

Since it is going to be a very different version, it will probably be less like an update and more like a new edition, but the idea is that it will do everything (or nearly everything) the current game can while also being faster and simpler. Since I'm not throwing the current game by the wayside or anything, any really important and strictly better changes can be implemented to it, too, for anyone who doesn't like the future edition.

I will probably post chunks of it as it comes together here, so stay tuned.

July 8, 2012

Making the GM's Life Easier

Down to the core of my design philosophy is that a game has to be simple to understand and easy to run. It is often said that a good group can make playing with nearly any system, no matter how much of a trainwreck it is, a total blast as an experience.

And this is basically the truth. It does not matter whether your game is deep and meaningful or realistic and detailed, it does not matter if your prose is beautiful and the fluff is inspiring. At the end of the day if your rules are incomprehensible and only cause arguments or get in the GM's way then chances are they will throw away the book and just do whatever. While I have been in games without any houserules, I have yet to play or run in a game that does not alter significantly a prewritten setting, so that goes double for fluff in my experience.

I value simplicity and elegance in design very highly, but while PCs can afford to get more fiddly and complex with the stuff they can do (because they have one character and one mecha to worry about) the GM has to juggle about all the NPCs with the plot with arbitrating the results of the (often conflicting) PCs actions with giving solid descriptions of absolutely everything with knowing the rules better than everyone else at the table.

Rules meant for GM use should be the simplest of the bunch, not just because they need speed of play and preptime on their side, but because if they need complexity they can ad-hoc whatever they damn want anyway. Coming up with specific gimmicky rules is easy, coming up with the solid everyday ones not so much, and the designer's job is to provide the latter. The inherent danger to simplifying anything is that it potentially makes it blander and more boring to play with, but when executed properly the streamlining is very much worth it.

With that in mind, we go into today's topic proper: Enemy Generation. Currently Enemies function as either weakened or buffed up PCs, but are made in the same time-consuming fashion. While there is a certain charm to this, only Rivals and Elites are anywhere remotely near the same as PCs in feel and functionality, so Mooks and Bosses could stand to be both simpler and more unique, having special rules for their perks.

Such as this!


Mooks are supposed to come in droves and be painfully weak, so they should be the simplest of the bunch and the GM should not have to check on their sheets much beyond how their Energy and Threshold are faring.

Mechanics: Choose a Chassis Type as normal. Mooks do not suffer Area Cost Restrictions. Enhance each Base Mechanic by 1 per Episode Arc cleared.
Upgrades: 5 Points in Upgrades or Enhancements
Weapons: Two Cost 5 or less Weapons, they may not have drawbacks.
    Quantity - Mooks come in squads of four. They are immune to Maiming and instead every level of Threshold downed is a kill. This has no special rules effect.
    Quality - Mooks do not benefit from Tension.


Elites are stronger units that may count as a miniboss early on, but will be quickly outdone by the PCs later. They are perfect for representing recurring enemies that aren't quite an enemy ace yet remain distinct from the rank and file.

Mechanics: Choose a Chassis Type as normal. Enhance each Base Mechanic by 1 per Episode Arc cleared.
Upgrades: 10 Points in Upgrades or Enhancements
Weapons: 10 Points in Weapons.


Rivals are the undying baddies that always come back stronger than before, they are meant to mirror the PCs and continue to be built exactly as them.


A Boss is a big bad whom you should only meet once, when you or they make a last stand where it is kill or be killed. Bosses are supposed to be rare and take longer to beat than most foes, so they need to shake up their strategies and tactics a bit throughout the course of the fight to ensure it does not drag on, they could also use some additional endurance and juice to make sure they get to display all their cool powers - without going into the classic HP inflation problem where everything is a roadblock instead of being legitimately threatening.

Designs: 1
Mechanics: Choose a Chassis Type as normal. Bosses do not suffer Area Cost Restrictions. Enhance each Base Mechanic by 2 per Episode Arc cleared.
Upgrades: 10 Points in Upgrades or Enhancements (Except those from Exceptional Aptitudes).
Weapons: 10 Points in Weapons.
    Multiple Stages - Per Episode Arc cleared choose either 1 Design, up to 10 Points in Upgrades or Enhancements, or up to 10 Points of Weapons and assign them to the Nominal, Superficial, Critical and Lethal Threshold Levels as you wish. Said Designs, Upgrades and Weapons are only available while the Boss is in the corresponding Threshold Level. Bosses are immune to Maiming.
    EN Charge - May spend an Action to turn half the Damage taken into Energy (rounding up) for a Round.

To make the battle more dynamic they integrate a variant of what are now known as the Gygravagnite Charge and Multiple Stages Aberrant Upgrades. Naturally, they cannot pack either of those Upgrades in addition to this. The idea is, you've got a common 'build' for your boss that is shared across all stages of the battle but as they're more worn down they have to resort to backup tactics and systems. This means that PCs can't rest on their laurels even when they've begun to win, and the battle has a degree of unpredictability to the very end.

Note how they no longer get Genre Powers. Those would be entirely the Domain of Rivals. I'm still not too sure about that last one, hell I'm not really sure about a lot of this in general (Bosses might be a bit weak now, even if their base stats are great) but I think that this is conceptually in the ballpark of what I'm going to do.

July 1, 2012

Pilot Skill and Mecha Efficiency

Before today's post proper I want to point out a cool thing that other people have made. Earlier this month I thought "What would it be like if you add cool cinematic stuff like Tension and Duels to a game like D&D?" and set out to write a terrible fantasy heartbreaker as a thought experiment. Turns out it was unnecessary, because such a game is already on its way. If you like Sword and Sorcery and are tired of ancient relics of game design, check out 13th Age!

Now for today's topic proper. Of the many things I'd like to change the one I have the least idea on how to do so is in making PC stats relevant during Operations. Originally, this was the job of Genre Points, but being almost entirely a meta mechanic it does not seem to be conceptually accepted.

A brief aside:

One of my pet peeves of game design are the so-called "Power Stats" these being Attributes/Ability Scores/Whatever that are obviously much better than others, yet are presented as equal. Nothing makes the already long process of character creation feel longer than the illusion of choice being entirely pointless, because all the options are already chosen for you!

You've probably ran into games in which if you create a PC using the 'social stat' as the highest one, your character will likely suck and you're only going to slow everyone down, so you better change your concept to be good at murdering things first and talking to them second.

The end result of this is that most characters and groups look about the same, and playing a second campaign after your first is repetitive in the worst possible way - the boring "I already did all of this once" one.

That aside done and over with, I want people to be able to take whatever with their PCs and have it at least be relatively around the same power level, which is why things like Offensive Tests only recommend stuff like Combat or Diplomacy instead of tying you down to it, because creative descriptions can let you get away with Athletics and Presence in their stead.

Of course, being so open ended does take away some potential depth from the game as a whole, and if I'm going to be adding a handful of subsystems to handle things like Investigations or Social Combat in a more interesting manner, then I should also consider shaking up this balance that all options have with each other for the sake of making them more fun to play with.

One way to go about this is to use Mecha Archetypes. See, Super Prototypes include motion feedback in their cockpits, Production Models are thought-controlled and rely on skillfully managing their subprograms, and Living Weapons are handled like you would handle a very big and large animal who happens to be a giant robot.

Every character has three stats, too: Fitness, Intellect and Empathy. I think you can see where this is going. The question is how to implement it, because a stray +5 or +7 randomly placed somewhere in the operation combat math can wreck things. The one thing that could use having a fixed number is Initiative, because right now it only uses your Genre, and while sticking it to Initiative makes sense (Mooks and Elites don't have Archetypes, so they still have way lower initiative than the PCs) it is honestly kind of weak, even if Initiative is more important in GGG than in most games because of Tension.

The Archetype route also leaves me wondering what the hell would I do with Base Units. Though then again, those are slightly stronger by default so maybe they don't need the extra boost. Unless I want to add a fourth stat like Willpower or Spirit, but that's crazy talk.