System Hack: Genesys Mecha Archetypes and Careers

A hangar full of CHM-01 Ogo mecha stand ready and waiting, loaded up with weapons and gear, their reactors running hot. The alarms shriek, a voice over the speakers commanding “Pilots, to your machines!” So who precisely is going to answer the call? In this month’s System Hack for Genesys Mecha, we’re taking a visit to the barracks to see how we’ll build the characters to pilot our machines. It’s time to create some Archetypes and Careers!

Archetypes

At first blush I thought the Archetypes I was going to create were going to be based off of piloting styles, but that went by the wayside pretty quickly. The Archetypes in the core book are character types, so I decided to follow that idea and design Archetypes based on the common types of characters we see in the mecha genre.

The Kid

There’s something about mecha cockpits; untrained, – or at least non-military – kids and teenagers have a remarkable tendency to fall into them, and the proverbial keys are always in the ignition. These youngsters tend to be surprisingly talented, however, often winding up among the best pilots and crew. They’re not always as mature as they should be given the circumstances, but hey, kids! .

AgilityBrawn 2 CunningIntellectWillpowerPresence 2

Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn

Starting Strain Threshold: 9 + Willpower

Starting Experience: 100

Starting Skills: The Kid gains one rank in two non-Career skills during character creation. They obtain these ranks before spending experience points, and may not increase these skills above rank 2 during character creation.

Special Ability: Once per session the character may spend a Story Point as an incidental before making a check. If they do so, they count as having succeeded on the check with one net Success. They still roll the check, but only keep net Advantage, Threat, and Despair.

The Professional

Not everyone falls into the cockpit. Some pilots and crew are well-trained and meant to be where they are, whether they’re mercenaries or military. They tend to not be particularly showy, but when a mecha squad or a ship needs someone solid, dependable, and just straight up good at their job, they’ll turn to The Professional.

Agility 2 Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Intellect 2 Willpower 2 Presence 2

Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn

Starting Strain Threshold: 10 + Willpower

Starting Experience: 110

Starting Skills: The Professional gains one rank in two Career skills during character creation. They obtain these ranks before spending experience points, and may not increase these Career skills above rank 2 during character creation.

Special Ability: Once per session, when the character spends a Story Point to Upgrade a check, they may receive two Upgrades instead.

The Turncoat

Whether they’ve fled their homeland and are living a double life, have defected in the middle of a conflict, or have thrown off the mantle of villain to start anew as a hero, there are often those who find themselves fighting alongside those who would have been their enemies.

AgilityBrawn CunningIntellectWillpowerPresence 1

Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn

Starting Strain Threshold: 10 + Willpower

Starting Experience: 100

Starting Skills: The Turncoat gains one rank in Deception or Skullduggery during character creation. They obtain this rank before spending experience points, and may not increase this skill above rank 2 during character creation.

Special Ability: Once per session, the character may gain the effects of spending a Story Point without spending one.

The Mentor

Someone has to be the leader, the one to show these ragtag bunches of misfits how it’s done, and that often arduous task falls to the Mentor. Whether they’re fighting alongside their pilots, commanding the ship they all call home, or just a member of the crew that the others can look up to, the Mentor is the one who’ll pull them all together.

Agility 2 Brawn 2 Cunning 1 Intellect 2 Willpower 2 Presence 3

Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn

Starting Strain Threshold: 10 + Willpower

Starting Experience: 100

Starting Skills: The Mentor gains one rank in Leadership during character creation. They obtain this rank before spending experience points, and may not increase Leadership above rank 2 during character creation.

Special Ability: Once per session the character may spend a Story Point as an out-of-turn incidental when an ally fails a roll; the ally may then re-roll that check.

The Spartan

Some of them are trained from the moment they could hold a control stick, some are literally built from scratch in a lab, but however they come to it some people are pretty much born to pilot. They tend to be extremely skilled, although their regimented life means that they aren’t great at dealing with people and their out-of-the-cockpit experience tends to be limited.

Agility 3 Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Intellect 2 Willpower 2 Presence 1

Starting Wound Threshold: 10 + Brawn

Starting Strain Threshold: 8 + Willpower

Starting Experience: 90

Starting Skills: The Spartan gains one rank in Gunnery and one rank in Driving or Piloting during character creation. They obtain these ranks before spending experience points, and may not increase these skills above rank 3 during character creation.

Special Ability: Once per session, when the character’s mecha/ship takes a Critical Hit, the character may spend a Story Point as an out-of-turn Incidental. If they do so, they may ignore the effects of the Critical Hit until the end of the encounter, at which point the Hit takes effect immediately.

The Prodigy

Someone has to be the smart one on the crew. While what exactly those smarts are used for – engineering, practical science applications, strategy – varies, every crew will be glad to have them. Prodigies tend not to be the front-line fighters . . . although they can certainly surprise you!

Agility 1 Brawn 2 Cunning 2 Intellect 3 Willpower 2 Presence 2

Starting Wound Threshold: 8 + Brawn

Starting Strain Threshold: 11 + Willpower

Starting Experience: 100

Starting Skills: The Prodigy gains one rank in Mechanics or Computers or a Knowledge skill during character creation. They obtain this rank before spending experience points, and may not increase this skill above rank 2 during character creation.

Special Ability: Once per session the character may spend a Story Point as an incidental before they make a check. Their skill ranks for that check are counted as equal to their rank in Intellect.


To start I picked out a bunch of characters from a variety of shows and comics and stuck them together by the roles they play and the tropes they stick to (to keep the list of examples short, take for instance some iconic Gundam characters: Amuro Ray the Kid, Ryu Jose the Professional, Sayla Mass and later Char Aznable Quattro Bajeena the Turncoat, Bright Noa the Mentor, every Cyber Newtype ever the Spartan, and Kamille Bidan the Prodigy).

Once I’d narrowed down the character types it was pretty easy to put the Archetypes together; the only really fiddly bit was adjusting the XP each of them got using the rules on Pg. 192-193 in the core book.

Now, the one bit of calculating XP I didn’t bother with was the Special Abilities. They’re a little more powerful across the board than the Tier-1-Talent-grade free variety Special/Unique Abilities, but honestly I just sort of wanted them to be that way. They all cost a Story Point, after all. I’m eager to see what people think of them, and to take them out for a proper spin.

Careers

Pilot

Driving, Piloting, Operation, Gunnery, Clash, Vigilance, Ranged (Heavy), Coordination

Commander

Leadership, Coercion, Knowledge (Warfare), Driving, Piloting, Gunnery, Clash, Cool

Gunner

Gunnery, Ranged (Heavy), Ranged (Light), Brawl, Perception, Cool, Computers, Vigilance

Technician

Driving, Piloting, Computers, Mechanics, Negotiation, Perception, Athletics, Knowledge (Mecha)

Spotter/Scout

Driving, Piloting, Gunnery, Perception, Vigilance, Survival, Ranged (Light), Stealth

Intelligence Officer

Driving, Piloting, Skullduggery, Deception, Ranged (Light), Knowledge (Warfare), Computers, Stealth


Honestly, with the possible exception of the Story Point abilities for the Archetypes, the Careers are probably the part of this article that gave me the most trouble. “Careers in Genesys are so simple!” I thought before I started writing. “It’ll be easy!” And it was, for certain values of easy, but there was a lot of dithering involved.

Part of this is because of the nature of Genesys Mecha: it’s a hack revolving around the piloting of said giant robots. Therefore, should not everyone have at least Driving and Piloting as Career Skills? Gunnery as well? Does that make the Careers too similar? Does it matter if they are, since the Careers don’t dictate the kind of Talents you can take like Star Wars Roleplaying does? If I put all the Mecha skills in one Career (see: Pilot), does that make a single Career too good? Does it make that single Career too narrow? If Careers don’t have the basic Mecha skills, what does that mean for how they’re going to play? Are they valuable enough to justify the extra XP cost for those skills later? Should I have designed this hack’s version of the White Base first, so non-pilots have somewhere else to go?

I’m relatively happy with what I’ve come up with, but a lot of those questions could still be asked, and I’d still waffle a bit on the answers. There might be a different way to go about it. I don’t need an excuse to suggest you go listen to Dice for Brains, but on the recent character creation episode for Fantastic Beasts of the North American Swamplands the players and Ross went back and forth on Careers. Rather than trying to wedge in ones from the Genesys core book or create a bunch of new ones ahead of time for the players to pick from, they essentially built the Careers right then and there, picking what skills would be most important to the characters. I think that might be the way to do it. Take the Careers here to use, or just use them as a starting point to build a Career specific to your character.

The Talent Issue

Last time I created a small list of Talents for Genesys Mecha, just enough to cover the bonus ones bestowed by the Ogo’s Load-Out system. I hadn’t put any of the ones cribbed from Age of Rebellion into Tiers yet . . . and I’m not going to have to. TheSapient and ESP77 already created Genesys Talents Expanded over on the FFG forums, and that takes care of that for us! The only caveat I’d attach to that would be the one I used myself while designing the Load-Outs: many personal-scale Talents can be common-sense adapted for use in a Mecha or use with the Gunnery/Clash skills as needed.

I’m still hoping to create some Talents of my own, I think it’ll be a lot of fun to make some unique ones for mecha,  but for now GTE covers the bases nicely. Go check it out and thank them for putting in the hard work!

The Brawn Problem, and Stepping Out of the Cockpit

Mecha having their own Brawn characteristic just works for me, but as you can probably tell from the Characteristics and Skills listed above it also creates some issues. Nobody has a Brawn above 2, dropping Brawn to 1 wasn’t a fair-trade off for other Characteristics going to 3 so I didn’t even bother, and Brawn skills only pop up twice. Melee is nowhere to be seen right now. Even the Wound Threshold isn’t that big a deal, because you’ll only have to worry about taking Wounds in the cockpit when you take some of the nastier Critical Hits to your Mecha. Constitution should never be a dump stat, but in this hack so far Brawn isn’t even worth making a dump stat in the first place.

In the cockpit I don’t have a fix for this. There’s probably some room for creating Brawn-related Talents, but even if you do that what are you using the Characteristic for otherwise? Aside from yet-to-be-made Talents, 1/6 of your character’s Characteristics just aren’t important when you’re piloting a mecha.

It could, however, have some applications outside of it. Brawl could settle mess hall disputes among the crew, or a Commander could discipline the Kid after they’ve gone rogue yet again. Athletics could be used to brute force repairs, or maybe used to load heavy ordinance. I struggle a bit more with Melee, but maybe your setting has pilots who are the equivalent of nobles or knights, and a duel with a sword is more honorable that a duel with a mecha.

I go through that little exercise in an effort to keep Brawn relevant, true, but the real heart of it is to make the point that you’re going to need to spend time out of the cockpit and back at base or on the ship. If nothing else you’ll want some downtime to get the know the characters when they’re not smashing their machines to pieces. Or maybe you pull a Wraith Squadron, and your pilots are commandoes who spend time causing trouble on foot and then hop in the cockpit when things go loud. The System Hack articles for Genesys Mecha are going to focus on the mechanics of the giant robots and how they work because those need to be created, yes, but for this and similarly-focused games of your own remember not to get too hung up on one aspect to the detriment of the rest.


We’ve got mecha and the pilots we need to take them into battle. Fact is, though, that the CHM-01 Ogo will probably start to show its age after a few episodes, unless a pilot manages to really make it shine. The Mid-Season Upgrade is a time-honored mecha tradition, after all, and who am I to refute it? The CHM lines of mecha will continue to improve, because next time on System Hack: Genesys Mecha, we’ll be ready to launch some Advanced Models!

If you like what Cannibal Halfling Gaming is doing and you’d like to support us, tell your friends about us! You can also support us on Patreon, where you can find early releases and bonus material, which will include a few System Hack extras not seen anywhere else.

10 thoughts on “System Hack: Genesys Mecha Archetypes and Careers”

  1. Working on my own version Mech implementation, trying to have a bunch of mecha builds covering every genre for a whacko campaign and only just getting started so going to take a while (magical, diesel, steam, western Battletech, gundam (space battle), robotech (hybrid), evangelion (bio), Gurren Lagann, Voltron (fusssioN), Broken Blade (Melee combat shenanigans) etc… I think Brawn can be fairly useful to a pilot when sustaining injuries from attacks (cockpit breach, violent shake-ups that can injured the head etc) makes me want to toy with the critical vehicle hits tables to match more the likes of Battletech, Gurren Lagann (on top of my head) and pretty much every mech-anime where the pilot gets injured. I think Resilience can also be good when life-support is failing or when a character needs to make complex maneuvers while injured. 😀 It is going to take a while to do but this system is a lot of fun and yay mecha. I like what you are doing so far, good inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All good things! There was actually a chat over on the FFG forums about different ways for mecha to manifest; while my genre expectations for Genesys Mecha have so far been very analog and real-robot-ish, there’s probably an article or two down the pike for different ones. The 1:1 control systems from Pacific Rim and G Gundam were brought up as examples, for instance, and those would have some interesting design results.

      Speaking of critical hits, that’s definitely in the pipeline as well! Several of the Vehicle and Personal scale critical results from Star Wars can definitely be ported over: getting knocked prone, losing limbs, dropping weapons, being blinded (losing primary sensors), that sort of thing. After the Advanced Models article that’s probably the next one actually.

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

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