The following document outlines the combat system for Lunar Mecha, as designed by Gayo/Halfassured. This is a technical specification; it contains more information than players need, and even a GM doesn't need to know all this provided she has a few simple scripts.
I'm pretty happy with this system so far. That will no doubt change as holes get poked in it; it's a work in progress. Still, I consider it superior to virtually all other incarnations of MGS, and as a matter of personal taste I prefer it to all other such incarnations. However, while I've been able to steer Mia toward various changes I consider important, this system is not purely mine. It was made with certain design goals, some of which came from me and some of which came from Mia.
Each character has a broad selection of "stats" to represent his general combat ability. Ten of these are fundamental; the rest are derived from those ten in combination with the four stats that mecha possess.
Level goes from 0 to 30. Only chipmunks and little kids have level 0, though -- anyone playable is sure to be at least level 1. Level 5 represents a competent adult; someone with training and either a bit of experience or a lot of potential. Most people are between levels 1 and 5, and PCs are assumed to begin at level 3-4. Level 10 represents an experienced warrior or a hotshot with some major accomplishments under his belt; level 20 represents a talented general, expert veteran, legendary hero, or the like. 30 is like 20 except with a je ne sais quois that makes it hurt more when you punch people. Earthshakingly powerful NPCs can have much higher levels than this, but this is extremely rare.
Mecha have a level from 0 to 30 as well, and this goes up over the course of the game. Obviously this makes even less sense than the normal levelling, but it's a practical necessity sincce otherwise damage growth would outstrip mech HP. To level up a mecha, you need to do work on it over time. However, the maximum level a mech can achieve is dependent on how much awesomeness the mech as been responsible for and how cool the pilot and engineers are. It's half tweaks based on combat experience, half the mech's golem heart "growing up," and entirely nonsense.
The following six stats are known as the "Fighter Primary Stats," as differentiated from the "Pilot Primary Stats" which are only important in mecha piloting. Most of the things your character can do in a fight are determined by these six stats in conjunction with her level, and outside combat they provide a shorthand for just where her natural talents lie.
These stats all go from 1 to 30, with 15 being the average, and unlike level, they never increase. Enemies may have stats rated higher than 30, and theoretically it won't break anything if you have a stat at 0, but nobody has anything below 0, and I can't imagine even a godlike last-boss figure having more than a 90.
Muscle determines the amount of damage a character inflicts with his physical attacks and weapon skills. It also determines his resistance to physical impairments. (You might think Stamina would do that, but shut up.)
Stamina determines a character's HP.
Dexterity determines the accuracy of a character's attacks, as is usual for MGS games. However, it also determines the accuracy of his spells, because it represents a broader kind of precision.
Agility determines a character's ability to evade attacks, weapon skills, and offensive spells. It is also used to determine the initial action order at the beginning of a fight.
Talent determines a character's MP.
Intelligence is the power behing conventional spells; it determines the potency of the character's magic.
In addition to the six Fighter Primary Stats, there are three more, the Pilot Primary Stats, which function on a similar scale but represent specialized pilot training and are thus less applicable to everyday life. There's some thematic overlap between these and the Fighter stats, but I chose to not force people with particular sorts of Fighter stats to take particular sorts of Pilot stats in the interests of freedom. Do whatever works for your concept.
When piloting a mech, Kinesthesia contributes to your physical attacks' power and accuracy.
When piloting a mech, Awareness contributes to your ability to dodge attacks and offensive spells and to the accuracy of your magic. It also helps to determine the initial action order at the beginning of a fight.
When piloting a mech, Harmony contributes to the potency of your magic and to your mech's resistance to impairment.
Finally, there are three Mecha Primary Stats that only mecha possess. Mecha also have a level, which is a fairly abstract measure of their awesomeness and goes up over time to represent gradual improvements. Both their stats and level range from 1 to 30, as with characters'. Mecha Primary Stats combine with Pilot Primary Stats to determine how effective a mech/pilot team is.
Frame is the main factor in determining a mech's HP, and it also contributes to its attack power and resistance.
Handling contributes to a mech's weapon attack accuracy and its ability to avoid the attacks and offensive spells of its opponents. It also helps to determine the initial action order at the beginning of a fight.
Enchantment is the main factor in determining the size of a mech's MP reservoir, and it contributes to the power and accuracy of its spells.
The primary statistics are almost never used directly. Instead, the Fighter, Pilot and Mecha Primary Statistics combine with character and mecha Level (and potentially with equipment modifiers) according to a special formula to determine the derived statistics used in battle. There are more of these, and they have more specialized functions.
Derived statistics can go as low as 0 and have no theoretical upper limit. They have no meaningful "real-life" interpretation most of the time, unlike the primaries.
How to calculate derived stats:
Derived stats are calculated differently for characters and mecha/pilot pairings.
If the relevant primary stat is called S, the primary stat modifier is equal to 2^(S/15 - 1), or (2^(S/15))/2, to put it another way. It comes out to 1 at stat 15, 0.5 at stat 0, and 2 at stat 30.
If the character's level is L, the level modifier for everything other than HP is equal to (L+10)/10. At level 0, it's 1; at level 10, 2; at level 20, 3; at level 30, 4.
The HP level modifier is a little different. It's equal to the normal level modifier raised to the 1.5th power, or ((L+10)/10)^1.5. It's 1 at level 0, 2.83 at level 10, 5.17 at level 20, and 8 at level 30. This might need some tweaking, but that's what I'm sticking with for now.
Normally you just multiply the base value by the stat and level modifiers and that gives you your result. For example, if Joe has Muscle 17 and is at level 4, his Attack power is 10 * 2^(17/15 - 1) * (10+4)/10 = 10 * 1.097 * 1.4 = 15.356, which rounds to 15. Further effects can modify this, however; equipment and buff modifiers are expressed as percents, and you add all these up and then add however many percent it is to the main result. Going back to Joe, if we give him a sword with a +40% Attack modifier, his 15 points gets raised to 15 * 1.4 = 21. As you can see from the example, these situational modifiers are applied after the natural is rounded.
That might sound a bit heavy for a system with simplicity as one of its fundamental design goals, but keep in mind that this is for Internet play. A script (or better yet, a spreadsheet) can do the hard part in real-time. The GMs and players only need to work with the final results.
Here's the complicated part. The other 8 derived stats come from a combination of the pilot's skill and the mecha's design. Add together the relevant pilot stat and mecha stat to get a rating between 1 and 60. If we call this joint value S, the primary stat modifier is 2^((S-30)/20). The level modifier for these joint derived stats is calculated using the average of the mech's level and the pilot's. Again, try to ignore the horribleness, as it will be hidden from users by a spreadsheet or something.
Of the 8 jointly derived stats, Attack and Wisdom have a base value of 40 while the others have a base value of 10.
The base HP value is 200, the base MP value is 40, base Attack/Wisdom value is 40, and base Toughness value is 25. Hit, Evade, Fortitude, Spirit, and Reaction have base values of 10 as usual.
There are eight fundamental elements in the world: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Nature, Thunder, Light, and Darkness. Each element is associated with a type of damage, and you do more damage if you hit a target with the element it's weak against. The rock-paper-scissors aspect of this is still in the works (the listed oppositions are only a portion of the total interactions), but it really only matters for enemies, since characters have the same base resistance to everything and the conventional "Element Soul" spells don't exist in this system. Each element has a bunch of relations to other elements and is associated with both an impairment and some kind of buff or beneficial spell, but I'll get into that later. Aside from the two "special effect" spells per type and the thematic differences, all eight elements function identically.
In addition to their function within the game system, these eight elements are a fundamental part of the setting and both their functions and their thematic associations are known to anyone with any academic or magical training. However, it's not my job to tell you about that!
All defense is percent-based in this version of MGS. There are 10 flavours of damage: one for each of the 8 elements, plus Physical and Pure. Of these, the 8 elements and Physical define the 9 defense stats. No one has defense against Pure damage, but no one is weak against it either.
Defense values range from -10 to 10, with typical values falling between 2 and 4. The damage of an attack is reduced by (defense*10)%, which means that for negative values it's actually increased. Thus a character with 10 defense is immune to that kind of damage, while a character with -10 defense takes twice as much damage as someone with none. Humans generally have a physical defense of 0 and elemental defenses of 1 each, but they wear armor that improves these. Mecha have an average of 5 in all defense values.
This is one of the two most onerous parts of the system for the GM. I regret it, but consider it an unfortunate necessity. I trust that everyone involved can figure out what 60% of 37 is with the aid of a computer. If not, well, I'll probably have a script for it.
There are a few traits that don't come from stats but also don't fit any of the other classifications. Generally PCs don't have these traits unless they get them from equipment or magic or earn them during battle, but mecha may come with them.
You'll note that there is no XP. I don't consider it useful -- characters progress through the levels on rails in this sort of RPG, and SP satisfies the need for moment-to-moment advancement. Every so often the GM can just declare that you've gone up a level. Mecha don't level up immediately, but the GM will likewise tell you that the best possible mecha level has gone up (usually at the same time), and then you can raise it when you next have time to work on them. I'll include a guide for the rate at which levels, SP and Silver should be given out somewhere later.
Theoretically a system like this can support any number of eccentric buffs and debuffs, and GMs are encouraged to get creative. There are eight main impairments, however, which account for the bulk of the bad things that can happen to you. Collectively they're called "status effects." These are divided into Physical and Mental effects (four of each), and each is associated with an element. Except where otherwise stated, all last over several of a character's combat actions, then wear off naturally, and all of them fade at the end of a fight.
Mecha are immune to all of these status effects. The same applies to all entities that cannot be healed by conventional methods. However, mecha have breakage to contend with, which has similar results.
Although most mecha are immune to conventional status effects, there are five specialized "break effects" that they need to worry about, each based on disabling a particular part of the mech. Kaiju (giant monsters) can suffer from most of these as well, but if they have both a "normal" status effect and a similar breakage effect at the same time (say, Poison and Body Break, which cause equivalent HP loss), the effects do not stack.
Normal impairment ("Blight") skills can add these effects, just as with the normal status effects, but they can also be inflicted in two other ways. Combatants can aim a "called shot" at their opponents, which will inflict a break effect of their choice if it does enough damage. Also, mecha gradually accumulate permanent break effects as their Breakage (permanent damage) increases.
This is a quick rundown of some important effects that aren't considered "status effects" in the "eight signature impairments" sense.
Bob provokes Alice. When Alice's turn comes around, she has the following options: 1) She can use an action that does not involve the enemy party in any way; 2) she can use an action that can't legally target Bob in any way she pleases; 3) she can use a single-target action that could target Bob on Bob; 4) she can use a line-target action that could target Bob's row on that row; 5) She can use a party-target action on Bob's entire party.
A character can only be Provoked by one person at a time; new uses overwrite old ones. Provocation only functions between characters of opposing parties.
Protect raises the beneficiary's Physical Defense by 3. Geo Shield raises Earth/Dark/Water/Nature Defense by 3. Heaven Shield raises Air/Light/Fire/Thunder Defense by 3. Hearth Shield raises Fire/Light/Nature/Earth Defense by 3. Storm Shield raises Water/Dark/Thunder/Air Defense by 3. Fury Shield raises Dark/Thunder/Fire/Earth Defense by 3. Grace Shield raises Light/Nature/Water/Air Defense by 3. Other Defense Boosters exist, but these are the main ones.
Attack Up and Wisdom Up raise their respective stats by 50%, while Hit Up raises both Hit and Accuracy by 100% and Evade Up raises Evade by 100%. If you have two different buffs that raise the same stat they stack, but two of the same buff don't.
In addition to the numerical stats, characters have a number of miscellaneous flat benefits called Edges. These are extremely diverse -- there's an Edge that allows a character to equip good armor, and another one that that gives you a bonus while delaying your actions. The benefits are all over the place; there are a lot to choose from, which will be listed in another file.
Starting characters get [some number] Edges. (I haven't decided yet.) More can be learned during play. Most Edges have stat prerequisites; you can still pick up the Edge if you don't qualify, but it counts as two. The best Edges also require other edges, and there's no getting around that prerequisite.
Edges are classified as either Fighter, Pilot, or General. Fighting Edges apply to normal combat, Piloting Edges apply to mecha combat, and General Edges apply to both or neither. Enemies may also have edges, but since enemies can use whatever crazy extra rules the GM invents, it might be better to say "the benefits of Edges may inspire enemy powers."
All of a character's "special moves," whether magical or not, are collectively called Skills. Skills are divided into Skill Groups, but a given skill could be part of multiple groups. For example, a fire attack spell might be part of one person's Fire group and another person's Blast (attack magic) group, even though both are functionally identical. There are far more possible skills for each group than anyone is likely to get, so don't worry if you pick some groups that have a lot of overlap.
The mechanics of actually learning skills will be covered in a later section that I'll be adding in the future, and the list of potential skills will be a document unto itself. A few points are worth discussing here, though.
Skills are divided into five types based on how they function:
Beyond Type (covered above), the following properties of skills bear immediate mention:
For healing and damage spells, stat increase translates into a direct increase in HP added or damage dealt. For status effect spells, the Accuracy is increased, meaning that the spell is more likely to land, but the actual effect is no stronger or longer-lasting than usual. Other effects tend not to be stat-based and therefore do not have Power Levels.
As I mentioned above, skills are associated with particular groups. During character generation a character selects up to four groups from a preset list (custom groups are possible but should not usually be necessary). For now, just assume that everyone gets four groups, as the reasons you might have fewer require me to explain mecha combat, which I'm not yet prepared to do.
The normal skill groups available are:
Additionally, there are a number of specialiazed Weapon Skill groups: you can take a Weapon Skill group tied to a particular weapon trait or to a particular kind of weapon.
The weapon skill groups are:
Weapon (Generic), [Specific Type], Elegant, Rounded, Fast, Brutal, Shot, Defensive, Mystic
The [Specific Type] variety of Weapon skill group must use a Weapon Focus of that type (explained in the next section).
It's possible for a character to pick up abilities outside his natural skill groups, but doing this is very expensive, and he still has to take them as part of some skill group and obey the Rank limitations of that group. A basic heal spell is at least Rank 1 no matter what group you choose (even Healing!), so a character who wants to learn one out of type has to learn a prerequisite in that group as well, and pay the increased cost for both! Obviously this gets expensive fast if you want anything fancy.
Every skill group has a Focus, a method of channelling its power or executing its techniques. When you pick your skill groups, you select the Focus you want for them. There's no "Mute" effect in this game, because it's retarded. Instead, the Focus for a group determines the condition under which it can't be used. The five Foci follow.
Humans generally have Foci for all their abilities, but monsters may have none, as their powers are often innate and instinctual. On the other hand, there may be unique ways to disable monsters' abilities.
Mecha and PC kaiju have a special limitation in place of Foci: they associate each skill group with a location (Head, Body, Arms, or Legs) and are unable to use those skills when suffering from the appropriate variety of [Location] Break.
Noncombat Use and Perks:
Every skill group comes with some undefined "perks," trivial powers outside the purview of the system that represent a character's natural talent. If the skill group represents mostly nonmagical skill, the character can do impressive tricks in that vein; a character with a Weapon: Sword skillgroup could throw an apple into the air and cut it into four pieces as it falls, can tell things about other swordsmen by observing their stance, and so on; a character whose Courage skill group represents his mastery over his own mind and body might be able to shake off the effects of a sleeping drug in his food or pierce supernatural fear. If the skill is blatantly magical the perks are straightforward magical party tricks; a character with Fire can start little fires, a character with Light can light the darkness, and so on. These powers cost no MP and are assumed to have no effect in combat. Perks aren't formally laid out anywhere; just think of them as little, idiosyncratic ways in which your character is awesome.
Some of a character's actual combat skills may have applications outside battle, too. Attack spells could be used to blast away obstacles, and a spell that protects you against fire damage for a short time could let you hotfoot it across a lava bed without getting burnt. This is left to the imagination of the players and GM. Common sense should prevail!
The system is very explicit on what your character can do in a fight, because fights follow a rigid, abstract ruleset. There's no system to adjudicate the way things happen outside of combat, however, beyond the usual "I'll heal before continuing onward." Traditionally everyone just improvises this stuff, but I felt it was important to include some formal guidelines, so I added Proficiencies.
A proficiency represents either a general type of thing that your character is quite good at and that is outside the purview of the system, or a useful but weak magic power that is outside the purview of the system and isn't already granted as a skill group perk. Examples of the former include Running, Lockpicking, Eidetic Memory, Socializing, and Science; examples of the second include minor telekinesis or telepathy. You might also interpret the "things you're good at" broadly to include social connections an the like. A character can take a Proficiency twice to indicate that he's an expert, one of the absolute best. A really good supernatural power that nevertheless doesn't directly influence the system, like mind-reading or flight, counts as two or three Proficiencies and probably consumes MP. Of course, the GM can veto any such ability.
A character's Fighter Primary Stats provide a good guideline for what sort of things he can do well; Proficiencies allow you to emphasize that the character is particularly good at the thing, or that a low stat doesn't prevent him from being good at one particular application of that stat. It can also be used to represent a rare skill -- a high-Dex character could be a good lockpicker, but he probably has no idea how to do it unless he has a proficiency in that vein.
There is a contract implicit in Proficiencies. The player promises that he won't roleplay his character as having crazy bonus skills that aren't within his purview, and the GM promises that if he applies his proficiency in a sensible or clever way he will not only probably succeed, but will probably succeed meaningfully. That is to say, Proficiencies provide a method for PCs to influence the flow of the game. A GM who is not willing to allow her PCs to ruin her plot should probably not even bother with them, because the illusion that one's actions matter wears thin very quickly and becomes obnoxious.
There're no definite guidelines about how broad a Proficiency should be. I mention "Lockpicking" above, but "Infiltration" would probably be a fine Proficiency too, and I'd probably allow a character who had it to pick a lock. Does that mean that Infiltration is just better than Lockpicking? Well, it could. The expectation is that you will not try to minmax these abilities out of a combined sense of basic decency and a realization that they don't matter that much. They're expressions of your character's nature above all else. The GM retains the power to veto overly broad Proficiencies, of course: "Athletics" is probably a bit too potent, but "Sports" or "Acrobatics" would be fine.
This game works a little differently than most as regards equipment. The type of gear you can have varies, but within a given type most items are roughly the same. The sword you have at the beginning of the game will serve you fine at the end, and although you will probably have a better sword by then, it won't be much better. Armor works the same way.
All humans, whether PC or NPC, have four equipment slots: a Weapon slot, an Armor slot, and two Accessory slots. Monsters and other unusual enemies may not have any equipment, but they often get equipment-like bonuses for free. Mecha use Parts instead of equipment, which are similar in some ways and different in others and are covered later on.
Each PC selects three types of weapon he can use during character generation. A character can use a weapon he is unfamiliar with but does so at a substantial penalty. In practice, most characters will probably have one signature weapon that they rely on for the entire game, but I've tried to make it useful to switch gear sometimes. In particular, you may find it advantageous to have both a ranged and hand-to-hand weapon available.
Mecha often wield large versions of human weapons, but the mechanics involved are entirely different because piloting is so different from fighting. As a result, you don't need to know how to use a particular weapon on foot to be able to use it in your mech.
An infinite number of weapon types can theoretically be created, but there are only four types of armor. Light Armor is the default kind that everybody can use -- it represents padded cloth, leather, maybe a breastplate, tops. It provides little of either type of defense. The other three types require specialized Edges. Mystic Armor is physically weak but provides strong elemental defense. Mail provides good physical defense but poor elemental defense. Plate, the most cumbersome type, provides excellent physical defense and good elemental defense.
This is not a game where your possessions can be summoned or banished instantaneously as circumstances demand. Actual items do rely to some extent on the hammerspace trope, because otherwise you just can't have them, but aside from the strange rules your inventory follows (I can carry three suits of armor but not 50 pebbles?) you do need to physically put on armor and draw weapons, and that assumes that you have them with you at all. Nobody walks around with armor and weapons at the ready all the time, if only because of the social censure it would incur. As military folks you have some leeway here, but there will always be opportunities for you to be caught unawares.
For practical purposes you can assume that a character's armor is very stylized so it goes naturally with his outfit, because I know everyone likes to have a signature appearance. It's still there, though, and to make matters worse, most kinds of armor are difficult to put on, so if you're ambushed in your bedroom or something, you're probably better off just fighting without it. Armor is helpful but not critical.
There are a variety of consumable items in the game, which will be listed elsewhere. Items are kept in a party pool from which everyone can draw. A PC who really wants everyone else to keep their mitts off his stuff may be allowed to earmark a thing or two as "his," but they remain in the pool and other party members have a right to contest the decision. You may think that having pooled inventory and individual silver ratings would lead to problems, but there's a running assumption that the party can at least sort of get along and work together effectively, and that one of your teammates isn't going to run off with your backup weapon just because you put it down for a minute. The exception is the reagents for Formula-based skill groups -- these go on the individual character's sheet for practical reasons and since no one else would have a use for them anyway.
You can have at most 6 of any item available in your pooled inventory. The party can keep a reserve that holds an unlimited number of items (or at least a lot), but this represents stuff that's packed away and maybe even held at a home base, so it isn't accessible during missions or battles.
Items can't be used by mecha or giant monsters (kaiju), but there are items that are useful on them, so if someone brave is willing to work on a mech during battle wihout the protection of a mech of his own, it can be done.
There are several unique considerations that apply to mecha. Mecha do not have Edges or equipment in the same sense as characters, but they do have their own equivalents.
Every mech is designed to incorporate three of the following Traits. Traits from this list do nothing on their own but determine which of the Edge-like Features a mech can be fitted with. Certain Traits exclude others -- a mech can't be Large and Small at the same time, for example. These traits are separated by a slash.
MECHA TRAITS: Large/Small, Heavy/Light, Strong, Mobile, Tough, Modular, Generic, Fighter/Gunner/Caster
Instead of Edges, mecha have Features, which function similarly. In addition to having mecha stats and other Features as prerequisites, Features can also require certain of the above traits. A mecha that lacks the required traits must pay double for the Feature, just like one that lacks the minimum stats. All PC-level mecha get a certain number of Features for free. More can be added as the mecha gains levels, but this costs money.
A PC's mech comes free with however many Features are appropriate for its starting level (usually 3-5 for a starting mech). Features that you pay double for count as two against the maximum.
Skills and Supermoves:
By default, a pilot can't use his innate skills in a mech, and the mech has none of its own.
Mecha don't use ordinary gear; instead, they use Parts, which can be literal parts that you install or weapons that they carry. There are four locations in which Parts can be equipped, each with a variable number of slots: Head, Body, Arms, and Legs. Mecha start with one slot each for Head and Legs and two slots each for Arms and Body. More slots can be purchased as Features, but a mech can have at most four of any one type.
Some mecha Parts, especially those that go in the Arm slots, are weapons. These function just like normal weapons except in that they tend to be more eccentric and powerful. A mech tracks the Hit and Attack rating for each individual weapon separately and can choose which weapon it wants to use for a given attack. In practice, though, most mecha will have one weapon that they use all the time and maybe a single backup for special cases.
Mecha have HP, but although conventional healing doesn't work on them they can easily recover from HP loss. The more serious threat is Breakage, semipermanent damage points that build up as a mech suffers hard hits and falls to 0 HP. A mech's Armor stat determines how much of a beating it can take before it begin to accumulae Breakage. Normally it equals three times the mech's Toughness, but it can be further improved with specialized Features and Parts.
Kaiju also have an Armor rating, but because they do not suffer Breakage, it isn't as important to them.
HP are not as important to mecha as they are to living creatures. While a person is dead or near death at HP 0, a mecha is simply battered and low on power. Modern mecha have sophisticated self-repair systems and can continue fighting even at 0 HP if their pilots are willing to subject them to the strain. However, mecha's self-repair systems are much more limited than those of living creatures, and they can't repair many kinds of severe structural dama ge. A mech that is knocked to 0 HP, damaged while already at 0 HP, or damaged by an amount in excess of its Armor rating takes a level of Breakage. it's even possible for an extremely powerful blow to inflict multiple points of Breakage at once.
Mecha have six important values related to their breakage, the Breakage Thresholds. Five of these correspond to the five hit locations, and the last represents total wreckage of the mech. When a mech has enough breakage to match the threshold for a hit location, that location is considered permanently broken, as though the mech were constantly under the appropriate [Location] Break effect. When designing a mech, thresholds of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are split among the five locations however is most convenient , with the regions that are considered most vital having the high values. The Wreck Threshold is 12, and once this is reached the mech is scrapoed.
A wrecked mech is designed to be salvageable and can usually be piloted back to base very slowly and carefully, but any further damage it takes disables it for half an hour and adds even more breakage. Breakage beyond the Wreck Threshold doesn't matter in combat but increases the amoun of repair work needed. At the GM's option, really severe breakage (say, twice the Wreck Threshold) might destroy a mech beyond repair, but since a wrecked mech generally stops taking damage this is unlikely to come up.
Kaiju are KOd at 0 HP, but in exchange for this drawback they do not suffer breakage. They have Armor values, but these are used only for resolving crippling called shots. A handful of powerful and resilient kaiju function like mecha, able to keep fighting at 0 HP. These kaiju do accumulate Breakage and have a Wreck Threshold. They have no location-break thresholds, though, so like other kaiju they can only be crippled by called shots.
Mecha breakage demands time-consuming repairs. Without the aid of specialized magic it can't be done in battle, and even then only the most rudimentary repairs are possible without proper facilities and equipment. Worse still, pilots are trained only to perform simple repairs and maintenance. If a mech is seriously damaged in the field it needs to return to the base for servicing. Even a mecha that has been utterly ruined can be put into emergency mode to limp back to a nearby base or transport vehicle, but during this time it is incapable of battle and any further damage harms the pilot and puts the mech out of commission for another half hour.
Fixing a single point of breakage is more difficult the more breakage there is. Minor scrapes can be repaired in the field by pilots with basic training, but you can't even begin repairs on a badly broken mech without facilities, equipment, and expertise. One consequence of this is that the first points of breakage repaired are the most difficult, while the remainder get progressively easier as the total breakage decreases.
The following table lists the materials and repair time required per point of breakage fixed. Three levels of expertise and equipment are given: the first (Basic) assumes rudimentary training and a field kit, the second (Good) assumes engineer training, appropriate tools, and an assistant, and the third (Ideal) assumes talented engineers with state-of-the-art equipment and a team.
|1-2||none/1 hour||none/30 minutes||none/15 minutes|
|3-6||1 part/6 hours||1 part/2 hours||none/1 hour|
|7-10||3 parts/2 days||2 parts/4 hours||2 parts/2 hours|
|11-15||impossible||4 parts/1 day||3 parts/6 hours|
|16+||impossible||impossible||4 parts/12 hours|
To semipermanently destroy part of a mecha, you need to inflict enough Breakage to push it below the appropriate [Location] Break Threshold. However, this can be very difficult, and against kaiju it's not even possible. It's possible to inflict temporary break effects in two different ways: through impairment skills ("Blights") and through called shots. In either case the effects have no particular duration: they last until the end of combat or until cured.
Break Effect Blights
These function similarly to normal status effect spells except without a duration: the attacker compares his Accuracy (modified by PL) against the defender's Fortitude or Spirit (whichever is higher, in this case). If Resistant to that kind of breakage, the defender doubles his resistance stat. These effects are reliable, but they're a bit impractical because they are limited to a particular location break.
The most practical way to inflict break effects is the "called shot." Called shots are focused attacks that can temporarily disable specific locations without needing to inflict Breakage, meaning that they work even on kaiju.
Any damaging action that targets a single unit (an S-area action), including the normal attack, can be a called shot. You just declare what location you're aiming at when you use it. The attack inflicts no breakage for exceeding the target's Armor. However, if you do more damage than the target's Armor, he suffers from a temporary [Location] Break effect. Some mecha have resistance to a particular type of location breakage, in which case you need to do more damage than twice their Armor.
Temporary location breakage inflicted by either a blight or a called shot lasts until the end of the fight. For kaiju, who get KOd at 0 HP, it also goes away when they are KOd. Just as skills exist to cure status effects, there are skills that can remove temporary crippling effects.
A person requires a certain minimum training to even attempt to pilot a mech without it collapsing into a heap. Any moderately experienced student is assumed to possess this level of ability, and it's possible (if highly irregular) to have picked it up outside the school system. Simple machines exist that don't require training, but they tend to be much more limited in their functionality -- something like a thresher or an artillery cannon.
Even an experienced pilot suffers the untrained penalty when using a mech that he hasn't had at least a week of experience with. A few days might suffice if he does nothing but practice, but that's the minimum. When using an unfamiliar mech, a pilot's level is treated as being 10 less than it really is, even if this reduces his effective level below 0.
Okay, now that I've outlined the basics it's time to discuss how fighting actually works. Most of this is fairly intuitive, but some of it is a little technical.
There are no "rounds" in this combat system. Actions go in a predictable cycle, but there are all sorts of ways to meddle with this, and because it's a continuous cycle, "who's faster" ceases to matter much after the first set of actions.
Combat start: Establishing order
When a fight begins, all the combatants are arranged in order from highest Reaction to lowest. Ties are resolved arbitrarily; GMs are free to come up with a rule but might just do it alphabetically or something. This is the order in which their turns initially come up, and it is declared for all the players to see. This order should be logged (in a text file, or using a line of tokens, or something). Once the slowest person has acted, it goes back to the fastest person and the cycle begins again. Things only change if someone delays or is disabled.
If certain characters get the jump on others at the start of a fight, the order is a little different: all the characters aware of the ambush go first in descending order of Reaction, and then all the characters who are unaware go in descending order of Reaction. As usual, the fight continues to use this order after it "loops around".
In addition to acting last, ambushed characters are considered immobile (Evade 0) until all the ambushers have had a chance to act. This leaves them vulnerable to attack.
A character who is disabled (put to sleep, turned to stone, etc) remains at the normal place in the action order. He can't do anything, but it's important that his turn be noted because this is when he has a chance to shake off the effect.
A non-mecha character who falls to 0 HP is KOd and can safely be removed from the action order in normal combat, since his place when revived will depend on when he was revived. There's one Fighter Edge (Tubthumping) that requires that the character be left in the action order when KOd, but that's a weird special case.
A revived character goes into the action order immediately after the person who revived him, but he doesn't get to act again until the next time that turn comes around. That is to say, if Paul revives George, everybody else gets an action, ending with Paul going again, then finally it gets back to George. Mecha don't really get "revived" since they don't become inactive at 0 HP. Therefore these rules don't apply to them.
Delaying your action
You don't have to act as soon as you get the chance. Once your turn comes up you can delay. This effectively takes you out of the action order until you choose where to act (or get disabled), at which point you're plopped back in in the new position. You can choose to go before somebody else in particular, or right after the current action is done resolving. What you can't do is wait to see what someone is going to do, then interrupt him. It's possible to intercept an attack aimed at an ally, but not to preempt it.
If two delaying characters want to act at the same time and they absolutely can't sort it out between themselves, the one with the higher Reaction goes first. If that's tied, flip a coin or go with highest Agility or something, I don't care.
There are certain ways to use your Mod and Reply Skills to assist others. These require that you delay your action until theirs. If you do this, you are put back into the action order immediately before the person you helped, in an ideal position to help him again on his next action. You can also delay to intercept an attack aimed at an ally, in which case you go back into the action order right before the person whose attack you're intercepting.
To activate a combo supermove, everyone involved has to act at the same moment, with the faster ones delaying until the slower ones get their turn. There's no set rule for what order these people end up in in the action order -- if A, B, and C use a combo move, they can decide amongst themselves what order they'll go in in the next turn, or the GM can just pick something.
In normal combat, each party is arranged into front and back rows. You choose which row you want to be in at the beginning of the fight and can change with the "Row Change" action. These have an effect on targeting. Characters in the back row can't be hit with close-range attacks by anyone in the opposing party, but they can't hit anyone in that party with close-range attacks either. The exception is when everyone in the front row of a party is disabled or immobile (by being
killed knocked out, turned to stone, put to sleep, frozen in place, or whatever). When this happens the unprotected back row of the afflicted group can exchange close-range attacks with the front row of the opposing party. In the unlikely event that both parties have disabled front rows, the bathrobe types get to duke it out. First of all, many actions have the "Line" range, meaning they work on everyone in a given row of a given party. In mecha combat a Line-range ability normally works on only one target, but the wide-attack Evade penalty still applies.
Mecha and kaiju are too mobile to be confined to rows. Battles involving them are fought on the move. Characters with training fighting as a team can use Formations to represent their moment-to-moment positioning, however. A character defaults to no formation, or "Random," and this is how fights begin. A character with the Formation Change action can direct allies to adopt different patterns, however, which provide specialized benefits and sometimes drawbacks.
At any given time some allies can be in a particular formation and others can be in Random formation (unordered non-formation). It's impossible to have two true formations going at once, though, and every formation has a minimum required number of participants. If there aren't at least that many people in formation everyone immediately falls back to Random.
The following things cause a character to lose his formation and fall back to Random:
Only characters with human-like intelligence and training at teamwork can adopt Formations of any sort. This excludes most monsters as a matter of course; the few who can use Formations are especially dangerous. Some formations require specialized knowledge; anyone who can use any Formation can adopt them, but only someone with proper training (as represented by the Formation Leader Edge) can issue the Formation Change action.
A list of formations and their effects is provided in the accompanying tactics file.
Stance is a little like Formation -- it's a positional/tactical modifier that grants some kind of benefits in mecha combat, but it's personal, applying only to you. Everyone huge can use any of the stances, including kaiju.
Unlike Formation, you get to pick a Stance at the beginning of combat. Usually you can't be made to "fall out of" your Stance, but there are some exceptions described elsewhere. A disabled (sleeping, KOd, petrified, etc) mecha or kaiju does not get the benefits of its stance but is still "in" that stance and will hop right back into it once it returns to the fray.
A list of stances and their effects is provided in an accompanying file.
Even without taking Skills into account you have a number of options when your turn comes up in combat. Aside from delaying (which is covered in the previous section), all these options are laid out here. Assume that everything is ranged unless it says otherwise. After the action, the body part associated with it will be listed, which matters in mecha combat due to breakage. It's irrelevant in normal combat, though.
These actions can be used by humans, small-scale monsters, mecha, and kaiju alike.
Although the vanilla Attack action is pretty dull, there are a huge number of Mod skills available to Pimp my Stab.
Normally the "until next action" part of defense is fairly straightforward, but there are a couple complications. Firstly, you stop defending when you have the chance to act; it doesn't persist for as long as you delay. Secondly, if you're put to sleep, turned to stone, stunned, knocked out, or otherwise get disabled, your defending stops prematurely.
To use a skill group in a mecha you need to buy a special mecha Feature and associate the skill with some part of the mecha. Whatever body area you pick is the one necessary for skills in that group.
It is considered good form to scream either the character's name or "NOOOO" when intercepting an attack.
"Running away" is considered a miscellaneous action. In this game most fights are plotty, so I consider it the Gm's prerogative to determine whether escape is possible and how hard it should be if so.
NORMAL COMBAT ACTIONS
These actions can be used by the characters who typically partcipate in "normal combat" -- humans on foot and human-sized monsters.
Realistically you should probably just not even try to change armor in battle. If you're caught unarmored your best bet is just to stay that way. These rules are here for people who really, really want to gear up on the clock.
MECHA COMBAT ACTIONS
These actions are either only available to mecha, or are only relevant in mecha combat.
Note that only the person initiating the change needs to have a functioning Head. Head Broken allies can still fall his lead by adopting the formation.
A fight ends when all combatants on one side are gone or defeated, or when both sides decide to stop fighting. The following things happen at this time:
Here's the heavy part. This is the setup used for an attack or offensive spell in this system.
Step 1: Declaration
The player of the attacker (or the GM, if it's an NPC) announces that he's using whatever action on whatever target. If he's attacking a mecha or kaiju with an S-area (single-target) attack, he can optionally declare that he's making a called shot against a particular hit location. This allows him to cripple that location in lieu of inflicting breakage or scoring a critical.
At this point the target has the option to declare "pre-type" Reply skills if he's not disabled, and anyone who is delaying can try to intercept the attack. To keep combat moving quickly it can be assumed that if nobody says anything about this immediately -- say, within 5 seconds or so -- it's not happening. The GM probably doesn't even need to wait, since resolving the action takes 5 seconds anyhow. This does leave the opportunity for lagged or inattentive players to miss out, but missing a single reaction is probably not going to kill your character, even if it does take away all your HP.
Note that if you're getting hit with an attack you've never seen before, you have to guess whether a Reply skill will be useful or not.
Step 2: Did the attack hit?
First, you need to determine whether the attack connects. Even if the attack hits multiple targets, there's only one roll. This is less than ideal, since it means that on the rare occasions that an attack whiffs, it probably misses everybody, but it's worth the speedy resolution it provides.
The hit stat being used is either Hit (for a weapon attack) or Accuracy (for anything else). Generate a random number between 1 and 5*[hit stat]. The attack hits if this number is greater than the target's evasion stat (usually Evade).
Several factors can modify the hit and evasion stats used:
If the attack missed, skip to step 7.
Step 3: Was it a critical hit?
Generally only attacks in the "I hit him sense" can critical, not spells. Also, a Blind attacker never criticals. If the attack can't critical, just skip this part.
The crit formula is a little complicated, but I'm going to make a little script where you input the character's Hit stat (modified appropriately) and it does all the rolling and calculation for you and says "this will hit anyone with evasion X and critical anyone with evasion Y." But for those who want to know, this is how it works.
Say your hit stat is H, and your roll is R. 5H is the best roll you can get. Now, bear with me here. You can get a critical hit on anyone whose adjusted evasion stat is equal to or less than H/(1 - (R/5H)), with one exception: if you roll below the 50th percentile (the lower half of the possible results) you never critical.
Step 4: Calculate damage
The damage stat is either Attack or Wisdom; generally the physical attack uses Attack and spells use Wisdom. Whatever it is, you multiply that stat by the PL modifier for the attack (which is usually *1 for a normal strike). The modifier is 2^(PL/2), as mentioned above, but I'll have a script for that. If the attack was a critical, double this value. That's your damage before defense.
Now you take the target's relevant defense value, call it D, and you multiply the damage by (1 - (D/10)). In other words, you shave off (D*10) percent of the damage. This actually raises the damage if the defense is negative.
If the damage after defense stats have been applied is less than the target's Barrier rating, all damage is now reduced to 0.
If the target is defending, the damage is halved. Note that this comes after Barrier is applied. This is the final modification -- at this point the character takes whatever amount of damage you've got left. There's no randomization of damage, as I consider it overcomplicated window-dressing.
Step 5: Was there breakage?
If the target was a mecha it may have suffered breakage. If it's not, skip this step.
Attacks that reduce a target to 0 HP automatically inflict 1 breakage, and attacks that damage a target who is already at 0 HP also inflict 1 breakage. If the attack was a called shot, this is the only breakage possible. Otherwise, a very damaging attack can inflict additional breakage.
An attack that deals more damage than a mech's Armor rating inflicts additional breakage. This extra breakage starts at 1 and increases by 1 for each doubling of the damage relative to Armor. What I mean is that: if it deals 1x Armor, it does 1 breakage; if it deals 2x Armor, it does 2 breakage; if it deals 4x Armor, it does 3 breakage; if it deals 8x Armor, it does 4 breakage, and so on. This stacks with the breakage from being left with 0 HP. HOWEVER...
If an attack doesn't reduce a mech to 0 HP or hit him when he is already at 0 HP, it inflicts at most 1 breakage. That means that, at best, such an attack does 1 breakage for exceeding the target's Armor.
Note that Instant Death effects don't actually deal damage. If successful they inflict 1 breakage for leaving the target with 0 HP, but that's it.
Step 6: Side effects
Attacks can have various extra side-effects if they hit, whether or not they do damage. Those are resolved here. The most common such effect is the added status effect; either this applies automatically when you hit, or it is handled via a separate roll using the status effect system I'll describe next.
If the attack was a called shot and did more damage than the target's Armor, it inflicts the appropriate [Location] Break effect. If the target is resistant to that break effect, the attack needs to do more than double its Armor. This lasts until cured or until the end of the fight, and does not stack with damage caused by breakage.
Step 7: Response
If the character was active when the attack hit him and the attack didn't off him or disable him, he has the chance to use a "post-type" Reply.
When you use a status effect on someone, this is the system for resolving it. If the status effect was a spell unto itself you have the usual declaration/response at the beginning and end so that the target can react, but that goes without saying so I'm not writing about it again.
Step 1: Did the effect succeed?
Some attacks hit automatically, or their hit is dependent on whether an attack roll was made or something. If that's the case you can skip ahead.
Now, assuming you do need to do this part: the hit stat is usually Accuracy, and this is multiplied by the PL modifier (2^(PL/2)) if the PL is greater than 0. This differs from the attack where PL modifies the damage rather than the accuracy. The resistance stat is Fortitude for a physical status effect or Spirit for a mental one. For Blights that inflict mecha/kaiju breakage effects, use the higher of Spirit and Fortitude.
This works similar to an attack, except you pick a number between 1 and 2*[hit stat] rather than 5*[hit stat], reflecting the lower chance of success. There's no critical -- either the effect works or it doesn't. As before, you only make one roll for a group effect.
There are a couple possible modifiers:
Step 2: How long?
The Stun effect has a fixed duration -- it lasts until the target next gets a chance to act. Location break effects last until the end of battle or until cured. For all others, the effect can last a varying amount of time.
The power stat used for the duration calculation is generally Wisdom for a spell or Hit for an attack that also adds an effect. Whatever it is, it doesn't get increased by PL. You generate a number between 2*[power stat] and 8*[power stat], then divide the result by the target's resistance stat, which is the same as it was before. As before, the resistance stat is doubled if he has resistance to the effect. Whatever the result is is the number of actions the effect lasts. This value is secret and hidden from all but the GM!
Note that because kaiju and mecha tend to have very high Wisdom but have resistance stats on par with those of human-sized characters, any status effects they inflict on each other are going to last a long time. Lucky that most mecha are immune to them!
When a character acts his status effects all have their remaining durations reduced by 1, and any that expire vanish. This happens after the character actually acts, unless he's disabled in which case his action is considered to be "lie there" and the effects are decremented without him doing anything. The timing of this has a few consequences:
Some other kinds of effects also have a fixed duration measured in turns (or action cycles), and these durations count down at the same rate.
Idiosyncratic special effects will be covered in the skills file, but here are a couple of significant mechanics not yet touched upon:
There are two main forms of teamwork, not counting combo supermoves. Both require one character to delay his action, and both kind of suck (though there are Edges to improve them).
A character who delays until an ally's action can use his mods on that ally, assuming he is taking an appropriate action. He can use however many mods he could normally apply (usually one), plus the ally can use his own mods to further enhance the action. The downside of this is that it consumes the helper's action, wheteas if he'd just modded himself he could have acted on his own. If someone lends a mod to someone else, he ends up right before that person in the action order.
Replying for others
A character who delays until a person or effect targets an ally can execute a legal Reply skill on behalf of that ally, in addition to any Reply skill the ally may use himself. If you Reply on someone else's behalf it generally uses your stats, not his, but your friend receives any special benefits. Again, this uses up your action.
Generally, battles are going to involve either humans and small monsters or mecha and kaiju, but not mix the two. However, it's certainly possible for the two to mix, which is why the systems are interoperable. Basically, the rule for handling this is that the mecha and kaiju act like they're in mecha combat, with Stances and Formations and all, and the characters and small monsters have their rows and what not.
If you have mixed types in a single party, the little guys divide into the two rows, and the big guys go off on their own with an optional formation. Party-based attacks hit everyone in the party but Line-based attacks have to choose between hitting some of the little guys or some of the big guys. There's one final consideration: a small-scale character attacking a large-scale character has his Hit and Accuracy doubled for the roll (for damaging effects only, not impairments), and a small-scale character being attacked by a large-scale character has his Evade doubled likewise.