System Hack: Genesys Mecha Prototype

Every mecha series has its own mass-produced machines that form the majority of the forces present, friend or foe. The MS-06 Zaku, the OZ-06MS Leo, the VF-1A Valkyrie, the M9E Gernsback, the RPI-11 Glasgow, the KG-7 Aerion, whether they are the first of their kind or simply the most recent model to be fielded there has to be a machine that forms the backbone of mecha warfare. If I want to be creating a hack for Genesys that lets me run an anime-style mecha game, then I’m going to need such a machine of my own. In this month’s Genesys Mecha System Hack, an adaptable prototype is ready for launch!

Before we actually walk into the hangar, though, there are some changes to the rules to go over, and a few conclusions to arrive at considering some of the questions raised during the Design Goals phase.

Rules Additions

Clash:  As Gunnery is to Ranged (Light) and Ranged (Heavy), Clash is to Melee and Brawl. A new skill for characters to use, Clash is rolled in melee combat using mecha-grade weapons. The skill uses the Brawn Characteristic of the mecha being piloted, as opposed to the Brawn of the character.

Built-In: A new weapon/gear trait. Built-In pieces of equipment are not held by or mounted on the mecha exterior, but rather are an integral part of the machine. They cannot be dropped, taken away, or removed/replaced, although they can still be disabled via Critical Hits that destroy components and parts of a mecha.

Kneel: A new maneuver, based on one from CalebTGordan‘s own spin on Genesys mecha. Used by mecha on the ground, the maneuver reduces the mecha’s Speed to 0 as the machine literally takes a knee, steadying it considerably. This adds 1 Boost die to all Gunnery checks made with the mecha, stacking with other Boost die such as those from the Aim maneuver, until the pilot takes another maneuver to stand the machine back up. However, remaining still makes the mecha vulnerable, and all attacks against it also receive 1 Boost die.

Rules Decisions

I’ve dropped the idea of mecha having Characteristic caps that limit how many of a character’s dice they can apply in a given machine. I’ve also taken Agility-as-a-mecha-characteristic off the table; that trait of the machines can continue to be represented by Handling.

I have, as alluded to above with the Clash skill, decided to keep Brawn as a mecha characteristic. It determines your Clash pool, among several other possible skill uses, and is also the basis for how much Clash damage your machine is capable of inflicting.

I’ve taken a reader suggestion and ported in the Unwieldy trait from Star Wars. If the pilot doesn’t have an Agility characteristic equal to or better than the mecha’s Unwieldy rating, then all Driving/Piloting, Gunnery, and Clash checks they make with the machine are upgraded a number of times equal to the difference between the pilot’s Agility and the mecha’s Unwieldy rating. A good pilot will thus be capable with any machine, while a rookie pilot should keep themselves out of the advanced machines. This also opens the door for other Mecha Traits independent of equipment or Talents.

Forward and Rear facings for Defense have been reinstated. Armor, Handling, and Speed function the same; Hull and Strain Thresholds are somewhat arbitrary at the moment, with the prototype’s chosen based on what I think will be a good number and future Thresholds chosen relative to that. If I create rules for building a mecha from scratch, which I probably will, then I’ll probably take another page from Special Modifications and have different chassis with different base stats such as Thresholds to choose from.

Now, without further ado, let’s take the prototype out for its test run!

CHM-01 Ogo

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Skill: Driving – The Ogo is a strictly ground-bound machine, barring modifications.

Hull Threshold: 15 Strain Threshold: 15

Brawn Characteristic: 2

Traits: Unwieldy 2

Armor: 3 Handling: -1 Speed: 3

Ranged Defense: 0 Forward, 0 Rear

Melee Defense: 0 Forward, 0 Rear

Hard Points: 5

Weapons: Ogo Fist (Clash; +0 Damage; Critical 5; Range [Engaged]; Built-In) x2

The Ogo (named for a certain Athasian village full of, well, cannibal halflings) will be serving Genesys Mecha as the baseline by which all other machines will be judged. Like a D&D game has orcs and the like as its bread-and-butter and the Star Wars games from FFG assume that the light freighter will be the vehicle of choice for most parties, rules and weapons will use how they interact with the Ogo to determine how powerful they are.

It’s not going to be particularly nimble, strong, or tough compared to other suits, but the Ogo will have an advantage that keeps it viable: a variety of load-outs making it usable for a variety of piloting styles, and the programming to use them.

Ogo Load-Outs

An explicit rule when using the Ogo’s Load-Outs:

When using a Load-Out you may not spend hard points on additional weapons.

A part of a Load-Out is the programming installed in the Ogo that makes the machine so efficient in its chosen role, but that programming makes it incompatible with other weaponry. If it’s not using a Load-Out, however, an Ogo can use pretty much any weapon that can be picked up or any piece of equipment that can be attached; it just won’t benefit from the Load-Out programming.

Generally speaking Load-Outs can be changed during narrative time without any trouble. Sometimes an Ogo pilot may want to change out Load-Outs during combat time, perhaps because a weapon was damaged or they’re trying to gain an edge. In that case it takes 2 rounds in an appropriate facility to do so, and requires a Hard Mechanics check. The GM can spend Threat on the roll to make the switch take more time.

Guard Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Carbine (Gunnery; Damage 5; Critical 4; Range [Medium]), Light Shield (Clash; Damage +1; Critical 5; Range [Engaged]; Inaccurate 1, Defensive [Fore] 2, Deflective [Fore] 2)

Mods: 1 Rank of Defensive Driving Talent Mod, 1 Rank of Durable Talent Mod

Hard Points: 3

Rifleman Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Rifle (Gunnery; Damage 6; Critical 3; Range [Long])

Mods: 1 Rank of Deadly Accuracy Talent Mod, 1 Spare Clip Talent Mod)

Hard Points: 3

Shocktrooper Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Shotgun (Gunnery; Damage 5; Critical 3; Range [Short], Vicious 1), Ogo Mace (Clash; Damage +2; Critical 4; Range [Engaged]

Mods: 1 Rank of Point Blank Talent Mod, 1 Rank of Frenzied Attack Talent Mod

Hard Points: 3

Halberdier Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Halberd (Clash; Damage +3, Critical 2; Range [Engaged], Breach 1, Vicious 2, Defensive 1)

Mods: 1 Knockdown Talent Mod, 1 Rank of Lethal Blows Talent Mod

Hard Points: 3

Bombardier Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Bazooka (Gunnery; Damage 8; Critical 3; Range [Medium], Breach 2, Blast 5, Vicious 1, Inaccurate 2, Limited Ammo 5)

Mods: 1 Rank of Powerful Blast Talent Mod, 1 GrenadierTalent Mod

Hard Points: 3

Sharpshooter Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Sniper Rifle (Gunnery; Damage 7; Critical 3; Range [Extreme]; Breach 1, Accurate 1, Prepare 1)

Mods: 1 Rank of Sniper Shot Talent Mod, 1 Natural Marksman Talent Mod

Hard Points: 3

Command Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Rifle (Gunnery; Damage 6; Critical 3; Range [Long])

Mods: 1 Rank of Command Talent Mod, 1 Rank of Commanding Presence Talent Mod

Hard Points: 3

Mechanic Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Carbine (Gunnery; Damage 5; Critical 4; Range [Medium]),

Attachment: Repair Pack. Allows the Pilot to make Mechanics checks to repair other Mecha.

Mods: 2 Rank of Solid Repairs Mods

Hard Points: 3

EWAC Load-Out

Weapons: Ogo Carbine (Gunnery; Damage 5; Critical 4; Range [Medium]),

Attachment: Sensor Pack. Upgrade all Vigilance and Perception checks once.

Mods: 1 Situational Awareness Talent Mod

Hard Points: 3

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the equipment that the Ogo can take into battle, but these pre-made load-outs represent ‘default’ configurations for the dependable machine. The weapons and gear portions of the load-outs will actually be a part of the general Armory when it is created. The Talent-granting mods are, at the moment, unique to the Ogo.

This is, in my mind, the one edge the Ogo will have over other machines. The others may be faster, stronger, more maneuverable, tougher, capable of more customization, or built with unique abilities or equipment, but the Ogo has been fine-tuned after years of service with each type of load-out. That experience comes through as the bonus Talents. Experienced pilots will be able to acquire those Talents on their own, freeing them of dependency on the Ogo, but on the other side of the coin characters unable to gain or take advantage of other machines won’t become completely obsolete.

Additional Attachments

A few other modifications for the Ogo that I didn’t think should wait!

Tandem Cockpit

Adds room for an additional Crew, 1 Co-Pilot.

While most mecha are perfectly functional with a single pilot, it is sometimes useful to have another set of hands. The co-pilot can take over various tasks, such as the Additional Vehicle Actions on Genesys’s Pg. 229, freeing up the pilot. The co-pilot can also control secondary weapon systems, and even assume control of the machine if something were to happen to the main pilot.

Hard Points: 2

Jump Boosters

While many mecha are not capable of flying, the addition of rocket boosters to the legs and back allow them to make flying leaps across the battlefield.

The Pilot may make a Hard Driving check as an Action. If successful, they may move up to Long Range from their starting position, bypassing any obstacles or terrain on the ground. A Despair can cause the Jump Boosters to run out of fuel, disabling them.

Hard Points: 2

CHM-01S Modifications

While the Ogo is not capable of flight the zero gravity of space makes that a non-issue, although the machine must receive a back-mounted thruster pack and multiple vernier thrusters in order to maneuver. The resulting CHM-01S Ogo Space Type can still be used in gravity in a pinch, but its pilots have reported that it is more difficult to control because of the added weight and change to its center of gravity.

Change Skill to Piloting, +1 Handling in Zero Gravity, -1 Handling in Gravity.

Hard Points: 2

Talent Reference List

The Talents seen above are either found in the Genesys core book or the Star Wars: Age of Rebellion core book; I limited myself to that particular Star Wars offering for simplicity’s sake, and because the military nature of that line fits Genesys  Mecha the best, athough in the future the net will be cast much wider. One of the main conceits of Genesys Mecha Talents, which so far only include those granted to the Ogo via mods, is that many Talents that are usually limited to personal scale can logically be applied to humanoid mecha combat.

At the moment I’m not planning to do anything like the Specialization trees from Star Wars; frankly, I don’t think I could wrap my head around plotting out anything but the most simple variety. That means that all of the Talents being ported over, and any that are created brand-new, are going to need to be assigned a Tier. and I haven’t done that yet for the ones here.

Looking at what I’ve already got, and knowing that I’ve barely scratched the surface of even the vehicle-using Talents from the Star Wars games, I have a feeling that a final Genesys Mecha Talent List is going to be . . . extensive. In fact it was already getting a little too unwieldy to include in the article, so you can find it here.

Adversarial Ogos

Nemesis-grade NPCs can simply slot themselves into any given machine, the Ogo included, but things became a little more difficult when it came to Minions and Rivals. The fact was that I couldn’t really have them using the exact same machines as the PCs, particularly when it came to the Minions. In Star Wars the Minion role is usually taken up by starfighters, but to use a phrase I picked up somewhere starfighter combat is like eggshells trying to smash one another with sledgehammers. Comparatively the Ogo’s Hull Threshold is quite high compared to most starfighters because I want it and other mecha to be more durable, but if I just stick Minion pilots into the Ogo then every fight with them will be a slog.

So what I’ve done is tweak the stats for the Ogo when it is in Minion and Rival form. Minions have lower Hull Thresholds, while both versions of the mecha lack a Strain Threshold. The pilot and the mecha are also part of the same adversary ‘card’. One grunt mecha pilot is more or less indistinguishable from the rest, after all, even if the show bothers to give them a moment on the screen before they’re annihilated. For the moment I’ve also removed their hard points; let’s say for now that only Nemesis-piloted machines can benefit from customization and the Ogo Load-Outs.

CHM-01 Ogo Rifleman (Minion)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot (Agility 3, Brawn 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 2)

Skills (group only): Gunnery, Driving, Clash

Hull Threshold: 10 Brawn Characteristic: 2

Armor: 3 Handling: -1 Speed: 3

Ranged Defense: 0 Forward, 0 Rear

Melee Defense: 0 Forward, 0 Rear

Weapons: Ogo Fist (Clash; +0 Damage; Critical 5; Range [Engaged]; Built-In) x2, Ogo Rifle (Gunnery; Damage 6; Critical 3; Range [Long])

CHM-01 Ogo Squad Leader (Rival)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot (Agility 3, Brawn 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 3)

Skills: Gunnery 2, Driving 2, Clash 2, Leadership 2, Vigilance 1, Cool 1

Hull Threshold: 15 Brawn Characteristic: 2

Armor: 3 Handling: -1 Speed: 3

Ranged Defense: 0 Forward, 0 Rear

Melee Defense: 0 Forward, 0 Rear

Talents: Adversary 1

Abilities: Tactical Direction (May perform a maneuver to direct one Ogo Rifleman minion group within medium range; the group may perform an immediate free maneuver or add 1 Boost to its next check.

Weapons: Ogo Fist (Clash; +0 Damage; Critical 5; Range [Engaged]; Built-In) x2, Ogo Mace (Clash; Damage +2; Critical 4; Range [Engaged], Ogo Rifle (Gunnery; Damage 6; Critical 3; Range [Long]) OR Ogo Bazooka (Gunnery; Damage 8; Critical 3; Range [Medium], Breach 2, Blast 5, Vicious 1, Inaccurate 2, Limited Ammo 5)

Other Vehicles

Depending on your setting there might be tanks, fighters, and other vehicles of war in the mix as well, and the question then becomes how to treat them in a world where giant robots are the gods of the battlefield. If I include them then obviously I want them to be able to do something, but if a normal Main Battle Tank can take on a mecha one-to-one then I wouldn’t quite be fitting the genre conventions I’m aiming for.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that Genesys is a Narrative system. For instance, a Main Battle Tank is obviously quite well-armored on the face of things, but is unable to stand up to mecha-grade weaponry. We could give it the Armor we think it deserves, but then we’d also need to increase the Armor of and damage dealt by every mecha, which is unnecessary. Unless you’re planning for your pilots to be facing down tanks on foot, just remember that it’s a matter of scale. An Armor of 0 or 1, and 5 or so Hull Trauma, will suffice for most non-mecha vehicles a mecha pilot encounters, because their Armor is that low in comparison to the giant robots stomping around.

As for offensive capabilities, again, keep them relative to the mecha. A Damage rating of 1 or 2 will largely do the trick, and keep Breach out of it. Other vehicles should also probably be limited to being Minions; only a truly exceptional tank crew or fighter pilot should be able to be a Rival or Nemesis, but in sufficient numbers those  Minions will still be worrisome.

The one exception I am thinking of when it comes to these considerations for non-mecha vehicles is the mecha carrier. The White Base, the SDF-1, the Tuatha de Daanan, that sort of thing. I think there’s plenty of design room for both the motherships that carry mecha into battle and the characters who crew them.

Well, that’s it for now! How does the CHM-01 Ogo and its Load-Outs hold up on the battlefield? It is the prototype, after all. I’m sure there are some kinks that will have to be worked out, but while I’ve put them in slugging matches against one another they’re going to need to be properly test-piloted . . . but in order to do that, the machine is going to need some pilots! Next time on System Hack: Genesys Mecha, it’s Archetypes and Careers!

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