A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign



    Essentially, I wanted to do a campaign inspired by 80's Mecha Anime, like Gundam and Robotech. Without getting too deep into the plot, mankind is locked in a war with an alien threat, the players would be part of an elite unit that oversees special operations, Humanity's last line of defense, that sort of thing

    The problem I'm having is establishing a leveling system. See unlike regular campaigns, where the player gets new abilities as time goes on, learn, get better, stronger, machines don't get stronger the more you use 'em. Cars don't go faster the more you drive them. As a matter of fact overtime they break if not cared for properly.

    Money as a barrier doesn't work, because they're a part of the military, why should the cost of their equipment come out of their own pockets? One thing that ruined immersion for me in Mass Effect 3 is the fact that Shepard still had to pay for anything. The galaxy is literally on the precipice of annihilation, and people want to keep the one man who has beaten the Reapers back time and again away from the things he needs to do just that?

    I could simply have new technology come out as time wears on. But that doesn't give players much control over how to build their mecha since they can't see the path ahead to build their character around.

    Can anyone think of a way around this?

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Note: I'm assuming this is Pathfinder.

    Maybe you could homebrew a Mech Driver class? Then you can give them the following things:

    Ability to use their own BAB to determine a mech's attacks, maybe with +Dex for all attack rolls, to represent the fact that controlling a mech in a way that it lands its attacks would be largely muscle memory and reflexes
    Level-scaling bonuses to mech AC (or whatever mechanic you use for defense)
    Specific skills for piloting your mech and getting it to run properly despite taking damage
    Piloting Maneuvers, abilities akin to Rage Powers that give you special things you can do with your mech (these should be granted at the same rate as rage powers/rogue talents so each party member does different stuff despite being the same class)
    Military-provided equipment upgrades every few levels (as recognition for "outstanding service", i.e. all the stuff the PC did to gain those levels)

    Alternately, have the Mechs be the things with PC class levels. Leveling up is represented by military-provided upgrades/replacements, because the PCs probably aren't out on missions for so long that they frequently level when away from the shop. When they're outside of their mechs, the PCs are just equivalent-level Experts with ranks in Profession (Mech Piloting), but once they strap in and power up, they gain access to all the cool feats and class features they've selected for their mechs. Ideas for how to fluff various classes:

    Barbarian: entering a rage is overheating the mech, granting increased powers for a while but requiring it to "cool down" (i.e. be fatigued) afterwards
    Bard: not sure here. Maybe Inspire Courage is an advanced targeting computer that auto-syncs with that of other mechs?
    Cleric: again not really sure. Mechs don't exactly scream "divine spellcasting", but I guess their various buff spells could be mech augments that use up enough power that they aren't always on.
    Druid: same as above, probably even tougher to refluff.
    Fighter: your mech fights. Straightforward enough.
    Monk: the pilot is especially "in tune" with their mech, maybe even a psychic link or something, and this lets them push their mech farther than others (flurry of blows/ki powers)
    Paladin: another tricky one.
    Ranger: as Paladin, but maybe a bit easier to refluff.
    Rogue: a stealth-based mech, simple enough.
    Sorcerer/Wizard: spells are particle weapons, or the augments described under the Cleric

    And so forth. Hunter could be one pilot who (somehow) controls two mechs, Ninja could have advanced cloaking technology (Vanishing Trick), etc. This would be pretty awesome, and opens the door for the occasional out-of-cockpit adventure where the players have to solve problems by thinking through them rather than by applying relevant class features.
    Last edited by Extra Anchovies; 2015-05-08 at 04:51 AM.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Their equipment is supplied by the military. Equipment is a force multiplier. The military's budget is not inexhaustible, and they'll want their best multipliers to be matched with the best available thing to be multiplied. Thus, the amount of equipment the military is willing to provide to the players is directly proportional to the military's assessment of the players' skill.

    Give the players an equipment requisition budget, and reward demonstrations of competence (in particular, successful mission completions) with increases in that budget.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Kablam View Post
    The problem I'm having is establishing a leveling system. See unlike regular campaigns, where the player gets new abilities as time goes on, learn, get better, stronger, machines don't get stronger the more you use 'em. Cars don't go faster the more you drive them. As a matter of fact overtime they break if not cared for properly.
    That depends entirely on which mecha anime you've been watching.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Treat it as a synchronized level with the machine. e.g., the machine is still as capable as it always was but the players initially aren't capable of utilizing it to the full extent. You could build something like that in via various ways, say certain things cause an amount of biofeedback that could potentially kill a character so they're locked for until the player and machine are more integrated. Something like that at least.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    The 3rd party book DragonMech has a Mecha Pilot class that you could rework as necessary.

    Alternatively you could use some kind of point system for upgrades to their mechs. Another 3rd pary book d20 Mecha deals more into this. As the group levels up they earn more points that can be used for upgrades.

    The players may not know what exactly the military has lined up for the future but maybe they have some input or insight that would help them decide on how to level up.

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Some thoughts:

    Many of the mech's abilities depend on a psychic connection. As the pilots gain experience, they unlock more of their own latent psychic potential. The mech itself way be an AI or an actual biological creature/cyborg of some sort that can't unlock its powers unless it melds/synchronizes/drifts the proper connection with the pilot. Or the mech may be deliberately nerfing itself until the pilot "proves" he/she is worthy, or it has some sort of elaborate "prophecy" that involves the "chosen one" and certain events have to happen before it unlocks certain powers.

    The PCs start off as the Leper Colony: a group of misfits, hardcases, and hopeless screw-ups, so they get the absolute worst equipment that is barely functional. They don't get anything but the most basic replacement parts and weapons. As they level up, the gearheads who keep their mechs running "find" better parts, or they earn more logistical support as they gradually earn the grudging respect of their commanders. They may also earn better replacement mechs, newer models with more features, and eventually maybe even experimental prototypes.

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    I have an idea.

    Make the entire party play synthesist summoners. They have their mechs as the eidolin and just make it difficult to control remotely (some mechs do have some remote functionality. I remember Big O doing some limited stuff) and then the combat can be mostly in the summon where they gain their new abilities. This way the leveling is handled for you and everyone is allowed to really customize things how they want.

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    A lot of people might disagree, but I find D20 BESM's system for building a mecha to be pretty cool. There's a whole section on it to make it really modular and you can adapt and edit points, costs, and whatever to try to balance it better.

    I'd look into and adapt what might have been left out back in the Tri-Stat versions as well. It also might give you ideas to add more features to the mechas as well.

    The character classes themselves might want to be customized to mostly boost the mecha they're using. That way, they could maybe be forced to use a grunt mobile suit and still be better than normal (Perhaps even pull from the idea of 'newtypes' and have some kind of psionic connection?).

    EDIT: I realized that fluff was needed for the Mechas getting stronger. Since it's military, maybe make it 'rank based'. Where even this 'elite unit' has to prove themselves, and until then, only get so many allocated parts. If they're the first and they're experimental, maybe they're still under-budget.

    Like, money can STILL be a barrier for the government since they'll probably be in massive debt from this war in the first place (And all the nations don't HAVE to work together, causing other restrictions and red tape). Nationalities and other tensions can play in it too- you could say 'but the fate of the WORLD is at hand here- why wouldn't they work together?!', but that seriously doesn't mean they have to play nice- or at all. Especially if other nations see this 'elite unit' as a threat to their own national sovereignty.
    Last edited by Suzuha; 2015-05-08 at 05:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    I would probably go with Dragonmech rules, but grab the wealth DC system from D20 Modern and apply it only to mech part costs. So at level up you get a higher modifier towards buying mech parts (which aren't for sale otherwise). This can be justified as the more successful the party is the better their relationship with arms dealers and the military is.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    yeah, money can't be used as a barrier, but still a similar system can be applied(and makes total sense)

    The military has X parts of type Y, and gives them out to the squads that perform the best. Pieces break and need time to repair.
    New things get invented (but there's few of them)
    Factories from the other side of the galaxy/world send some pieces, sometimes. And it takes time, and they can be assaulted.

    Not only is this reasonable, it gives you help for some cool sessions:

    - at lowish level, for one mission (fluff crucial)they get to use (for once ) super high level mechs and parts. This gives then ataste of what they'll have later on in the campaign.

    -They need to protect a convoy of part XXX. They get attacked, the convoy breaks down. They have to scavenge it, attach the parts and use them to defend the raiders. They might or might not get to keep it afterwards.

    They can receive different parts for different missions, diversifying gameplay

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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    There's also d20 Mecha, which is free and has a Mech pilot class that gives you extra build points for your mech as you level. I haven't actually played with the rules or even read them too carefully so I can't vouch for how well they work, but there should be something you can salvage there.

    And you can also just have refluffed synthesist summoners and aegises for your mechs.

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    While driving a car a lot won't make it go faster, driving a car a lot will give you the experience you need to make tweaks - adjusting the seat and mirrors, switching to different petrol, throwing out the rear seat to make the car lighter, that sort of thing. A tank crew will make quite a few modifications to their vehicle, even if it's just stuff like removing the governor. Why not let the pilots of mecha do the same? Their combat experience translates directly into better robots because they can tell their mechanics what modifications need to be made, and their mechanics also have combat stats on the pilots to understand what they need to perform better.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Personally, I would use the Tenra Bansho Zero JTTRPG to play an anime on the tabletop. All of your concerns about mechs are answered in the book. Money is meaningless. You get new stuff by paying with your sanity, not money. You can change out your stuff if you obtain more experience and accomplish goals at set points in the story. You can make Gundams, Mobile Suits, EVAs, Knightmares, Zoids, Mechs, Titans (yes, Attack on Titan titans) and whatever other other anime armours you want. The more recent crossover game between Tenra Bansho Zero, Terra the Gunslinger, and Angel Blade called Tenra War has rules for alien invaders with the titular race of Angel Blade taking the place of the aliens in giant robots, but it hasn't been translated into English yet.

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Extra Anchovies View Post
    Alternately, have the Mechs be the things with PC class levels. Leveling up is represented by military-provided upgrades/replacements, because the PCs probably aren't out on missions for so long that they frequently level when away from the shop. When they're outside of their mechs, the PCs are just equivalent-level Experts with ranks in Profession (Mech Piloting), but once they strap in and power up, they gain access to all the cool feats and class features they've selected for their mechs.
    Pretty much this. "Leveling up" means being granted access to more modern technology (ie, upgrading from a M-56B Titan mech to a M-56D), captured tech, prototypes, personal tweaks and advances to your machine, and so on. Other parts of the leveling process might just be pilot skill, one supposes. It kind of depends on the exact mechanics you're using, but there's no reason why leveling shouldn't work.

    Also, since people are suggesting systems... Mutants and Masterminds. 2e had an entire book on the subject, but 3e is a superior system, has a free SRD, and mechs are real easy to model. (Growth to make 'em big, Removable so the pilot can leave.)
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2015-05-09 at 12:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by MyrPsychologist View Post
    I have an idea.

    Make the entire party play synthesist summoners. They have their mechs as the eidolin and just make it difficult to control remotely (some mechs do have some remote functionality. I remember Big O doing some limited stuff) and then the combat can be mostly in the summon where they gain their new abilities. This way the leveling is handled for you and everyone is allowed to really customize things how they want.
    Default size for an eidolon is Medium, so it'd be more akin to power armor than mecha. You need to be 8th level before you can upgrade to a Large eidolon and 13th before you can upgrade to Huge.

    Going off the size chart in my 3rd Edition Monster Manual, Large would correspond to a biped 8-16 ft (2.42-4.85 m) in height, while Huge could correspond to a biped 16-32 ft (4.85-9.70 m) in height. Large would be a Scopedog (3.804 m) or a Knightmare Frame (Sutherland = 4.39 m, Lancelot = 4.49 m; most other KMFs are within this ballpark). Huge would be an Arm Slave (M9E Gernsback = 8.4 m, ARX-7 Arbalest = 8.5 m, Rk-92 Savage = 8.1 m, Plan-1056 Codarl = 9.1 m).

    However, considering that the size upgrade eats up evolution points (4 points for Large and 6 points for Huge), you may run into a situation where the "mecha" are less powerful for their size than "power armor."
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Magatsu Izanagi View Post
    However, considering that the size upgrade eats up evolution points (4 points for Large and 6 points for Huge), you may run into a situation where the "mecha" are less powerful for their size than "power armor."
    It's perfectly reasonable for the DM to rule that the Mecha is Large or Huge to begin with.

    I've run military campaigns (in 3rd edition using Heroes of Battle) handling funds via Recognition and a requisition pool.

    It's also perfectly reasonable to have a new model, or an upgraded performance model to a player that's either leveled, or earned a fair bit of recognition. After all, an ace usually gets nicer gear, allowing them to continue to out-perform the rest of the military, as per the usual anime cliches (that we all love so much. Magnetic-coated joints, heee).
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    While we're still on the topic of synthesist summoners as mecha pilots: They still get access to (refluffed) Summon Monster. At 1st level, pilots can call up a small support drone to aid them as needed. By 17-20th level... that's an absurd number of Titanfalls to prepare for.
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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    IMO the best way to handle mecha in a D&D-type game is to have them powered by their pilot's life force, increasing their stats rather than replacing them. The pilot takes sympathetic damage in place of the mecha, but this damage is halved.

    I mean, let's say you've got a barbarian piloting a mecha. If you're going for a more realistic mecha piloted with buttons and levers, then his stats grant him little benefit and entering a rage just make him worse at operating it. If you go a more Magitek Super Robot route though, then his mecha gets to be extra strong and tough due to his high power output, and when he enters a rage it can glow red or something.

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    If you want to use 3.X rules. The class is the mech. The level and XP is funding the more success you have the more funding you get. The pilots are NPC classes. This requires a few home brew rules for the pilots. Warrior standard guy. Expert the techie guy. Commoner (the only class that can take prestige classes if they can qualify for them for your classic anima chump becoming a hero). Aristocrat is the child of someone important. Adept can buff their mech. Then you just run with all mechs do X10 damage to make pilots useless in battle this also works with siege weapons being kind of useful but mostly a joke that you see in such shows.

    Then like anime of the same concept only spend about 1/4 to 1/2 the time actually in the mechs. The mechs "level up" over time due to "funding", players spend XP on upgrades/levels. The pilots level up separately if you really want to get more complex add in rules for pilot skill vs mech performance.
    Push for knowledge and perform skills first and for most identifying threats on the battle field should be important. Also craft for repair if they get stuck away from base etc. Also base moral outside of the mech units should be important. Dont forget the players are getting XP for their mechs this can come from skill challenges (the one good thing to come from 4th ed). If you add in rules for pilot skill working a mech of greater skill there can be a trade off between leveling their pilot and spending that XP on their mech unit. I think given a good few hours you could fix up some home brew rules for such an idea that would be as robust as 3.x rules (that is to say as water tight as the titanic).

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    Default Re: Leveling Issue: Mecha Campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime32 View Post
    and when he enters a rage it can glow green or something.
    Fixed that for you.

    Last edited by Sith_Happens; 2015-05-10 at 05:30 AM.
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