System Hack: Genesys Mecha: Transforming Mecha

Of all the ideas percolating in last month’s Alternate Rules for Genesys Mecha think-tank the one with the most concrete ideas had to be transforming mecha. Giant robots that can take different forms of giant robot have been around in the genre basically since the beginning, whether singular machines or combining ones (I’m staying away from the latter for now). The free space in transforming mecha bingo would have to be one that turns into a jet-like form, and that’s where I started, but I also managed to come up with an extra pair of machines with specialized roles. So, let’s roll out some new technology and see what kind of Transforming Mecha will be joining the Genesys Mecha battlefield!

New Traits

Unsurprisingly creating machines that transform brings another Mecha Trait to the table, along with a couple others as a consequence of the more specialized forms.

Frame Shift

A mecha utilizing frame shifting technology is not a static machine, but rather possesses more than one form (usually two) that it can switch between at will. Once per turn a Pilot can make the Frame Shift Maneuver, inflicting 3 System Strain on the machine and changing its form. Stats, abilities, traits, and available weaponry can all change depending on the form, but an important note: for purposes of Hull Threshold, Strain Threshold, the damage taken to both tracks, and Critical Hits both forms still count as the same machine, and carry those stats over when switching.

Weapon Racks

Missile launchers and the like typically have to be built in or bolted onto a mecha in order to power their delivery systems and store sufficient ordinance, but Weapon Racks allow mecha to carry single-shot ordinance into battle without using up internal space or energy. Mecha with this Trait can equip weapons (or gear) with the Weapon Rack Trait, each costing a certain amount of Encumbrance.

Light Rockets (Gunnery; 6 Damage: Critical: 3 Ranged [Medium]; Weapon Rack, Breach 2, Blast 3, Limited Ammo 1; Encumbrance Cost 0.5)

Heavy Rockets (Gunnery; 8 Damage: Critical: 2 Ranged [Long]; Weapon Rack, Breach 2, Blast 3, Limited Ammo 1; Encumbrance Cost 1)

Bunker Busters (Gunnery; Ventral Only; 20 Damage: Critical: 1 Ranged [Medium]; Weapon Rack, Breach 4, Blast 10, Vicious 5, Limited Ammo 1; Encumbrance Cost 3)

Fuel Pod (Weapon Rack, Encumbrance Cost 1, Special) – Extra thruster fuel mounted on the external racks to increase the mecha’s flight range. Can be expended as an incidental to negate the Out of Fuel condition.

In an emergency a pilot can use a maneuver to dump any Weapon Rack-mounted ordinance or attachments without firing or otherwise utilizing them (for a Mecha with the Frame Shift Trait, this allows them to use the Frame Shift Maneuver again).

Tracked

A Tracked mecha travels on tank treads instead of the traditional bipedal form. While usually not as maneuverable, this does convey some advantages. First, a mecha with the Tracked trait ignores all setback inflicted upon Driving checks due to difficult terrain. Second, all Gunnery attacks made by a mecha with the Tracked trait add 1 Boost Die to their pool to the increased stability, as if they had taken the Kneel maneuver but without the penalties.

Aquatic

A mecha with the Aquatic trait receives 1 Boost to all Piloting checks made within water, and 1 Boost to all Gunnery and Clash checks made while completely submerged, but cannot operate on land.


You’ll also see that the CHM-06T line of mecha have incorporated the Encumbrance rule addressed in the Alternate Rules as well, going with a Brawn Rating + 4 formula. As of this posting the Encumbrance rules haven’t cascaded all the way through Genesys Mecha, so that part’s an ongoing process, but the basic gist is that anything hand-held will take up Encumbrance and everything else (including weapons with the Built-In Trait) will continue to cost Hard Points.

CHM-06TF Oden (Humanoid)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Skill: Driving/Piloting

Hull Threshold: 20 Strain Threshold: 20

Brawn Characteristic: 2

Traits: Unwieldy 3, Frame Shift, Flyer

Armor: 3 Handling: +2 Speed: 5

Ranged Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Melee Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Hard Points: 4

Encumbrance: 6

Weapons: Oden Fist (Clash;1 + Brawn Damage; Critical 5; Ranged [Engaged]; Built-In) x2,

CHM-06TF Oden (Flyer)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Skill: Piloting

Hull Threshold: 20 Strain Threshold: 20

Brawn Characteristic: N/A

Traits: Unwieldy 4, Frame Shift, Flyer, Weapon Racks

Armor: 3 Handling: 0 Speed: 6

Ranged Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Melee Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Hard Points: 4

Encumbrance: 6

Weapons: N/A

The CHM-06TF Oden is the middle child of aerial mecha, designed to surpass the CHM-04 Capax without requiring the costs of building a CHX-04 Ardent. Trying to increase the Oden’s top speed without resorting to sticking a G.E.N.E.S.Y.S. Reactor in it is what gave the team the idea for a more aerodynamic shape, rather than the wings and brute-force-thrusters approach of the Capax and Ardent. They didn’t want to lose the versatility of the humanoid form, however, and so frame shifting technology was first designed as more of a compromise than anything else. While lacking the built-in missile launchers of the Capax due to space restraints the Humanoid form is just as fast while being sturdier and more agile. While not capable of the scramjet maneuvers of the Ardent, when shifted into its Flyer form the Oden is able to match the CHX machine’s top speed.

While not capable of melee combat while in its Flyer form, the Oden is still capable of using handheld weaponry, as the way the machine transforms leaves whatever weapons it was holding in an underslung position. The Oden is also able to launch in its Flyer form, enabling it to mount weapon racks and ordinance, although it can’t shift to Humanoid form until all such ordinance is fired off.

CHM-06TT Codrus (Humanoid)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Passengers: 15

Skill: Driving/Piloting

Hull Threshold: 20 Strain Threshold: 20

Brawn Characteristic: 3

Traits: Unwieldy 2, Frame Shift

Armor: 4 Handling: -1 Speed: 3

Ranged Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Melee Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Hard Points: 3

Encumbrance: 7

Weapons:  Codrus Fist (Clash;1 + Brawn Damage; Critical 5; Ranged [Engaged]; Built-In) x2, Two 180mm Shoulder Cannons, (Gunnery; 10 Damage; Critical 3; Ranged [Strategic]; Blast 8, Breach 3, Vicious 2, Inaccurate 3, Built-In), Shot Lancer (Gunnery; Damage 6; Critical 1; Ranged [Short]; Breach 3, Vicious 4, Limited Ammo 6, Built-In)

CHM-06TT Codrus (Artillery)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Skill: Driving

Hull Threshold: 20 Strain Threshold: 20

Brawn Characteristic: N/A

Traits: Unwieldy 2, Tracked, Frame Shift

Armor: 4 Handling: -3 Speed: 4

Ranged Defense: 2 Forward, 1 Rear

Melee Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Hard Points: 3

Encumbrance: 7* (Incapable of using hand-held weaponry, which is stored away in this mode)

Weapons: Twinned 180mm Shoulder Cannons, (Gunnery; 10 Damage; Critical 3; Ranged [Strategic]; Blast 8, Breach 3, Vicious 2, Inaccurate 3, Linked 1, Built-In), Shot Lancer (Gunnery; Damage 6; Critical 1; Ranged [Short]; Breach 3, Vicious 4, Limited Ammo 6, Built-In)

The CHM-06TT Codrus began its life as the CHM-03K Peren Kai, seeking to increase firepower while also mitigating some of the Peren’s weaknesses, While the engineers were successful in making the Peren Kai faster and more agile than its predecessor, attempts to increase firepower had mixed results; firing two 180mm cannons at once had an alarmingly frequent tendency to topple the machine over or, in zero gravity, send it spinning out of control. The plans were nearly relegated to the dustbin until the design team hit upon the idea of lowering the machine’s center of gravity. With tank treads along the back of its legs and lower torso, and the adaption of frame shifting technology from the Oden, the reclassified Codrus gained the ability to shift into a tank-like form. Aside from being able to fire both cannons at once, the Codrus (Artillery) gained a higher overland speed, better capability at navigating difficult terrain, and increased deflection of incoming fire. However, it does lose the ability to utilize hand-held weaponry, and the machine is completely defenseless in a melee fight if not in its Humanoid form. Suffice to say the CHM-06TT is almost never deployed without more traditional mecha support to act as a screen or a guarantee of long-ranged combat.

The design team also included a unique feature: a troop transport section. While only able to deploy safely when the Codrus is in Artillery mode, a heavy squad of Anti-Mecha Infantry can come along for the ride to deploy into urban areas or locations that a mecha cannot enter without destroying valuable targets.

CHM-06TA Vendrick (Humanoid)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Skill: Driving/Piloting

Hull Threshold: 20 Strain Threshold: 20

Brawn Characteristic: 4

Traits: Unwieldy 3, Amphibious, Frame Shift

Armor: 3 Handling: 0(+2) Speed: 3(4)

Ranged Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Melee Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Hard Points: 4

Encumbrance: 8

Weapons: Vendrick Fist (Clash;1 + Brawn Damage; Critical 5; Ranged [Engaged]; Built-In) x2, Torpedo Launchers (Gunnery; Damage 7; Critical 3; Range [Medium]; Guided 2, Blast 4, Linked 1, Limited Ammo 4, Built-In, Amphibious)

CHM-06TA Vendrick (Aquatic)

Silhouette: 3

Crew: 1 Pilot

Skill: Piloting

Hull Threshold: 20 Strain Threshold: 20

Brawn Characteristic: 4

Traits: Unwieldy 3, Aquatic, Frame Shift

Armor: 3 Handling: +2 Speed: 5

Ranged Defense: 1 Forward, 1 Rear

Melee Defense: 2 Forward, 1 Rear

Hard Points: 4

Encumbrance: 8* (Incapable of using hand-held weaponry, which is stored away in this mode)

Weapons: Vendrick Claws (Clash; 3 + Brawn Damage; Critical 2; Ranged [Engaged]; Ensnare 2, Vicious 2, Breach 2, Built-In) x2, Torpedo Launchers (Gunnery; Damage 7; Critical 3; Range [Medium]; Guided 2, Blast 4, Linked 1, Limited Ammo 4, Built-In, Amphibious), Heavy Torpedo Launchers (Gunnery; Damage 9; Critical 2; Range [Long]; Guided 3, Blast 6, Breach 2, Limited Ammo 2, Built-In, Amphibious)

The CHM-06TA Vendrick was designed as the answer to a new problem, that problem being the effect of the CHM-01A Aqua Ogo on naval warfare. While the Aqua Ogos were not in the grand scheme of things overly impressive machines they dominated within their preferred role; other mecha haphazardly sealed against water and dropped into the sea to fight them had a horrible casualty rate, and nothing else even stood a chance. While Aqua Ogos could fight one another effectively, defenders could often not be deployed fast enough to protect naval vessels and facilities before the attackers launched their torpedoes, jabbed a few times with a trident, and zipped away into the depths. The 06TA team thus set about creating a machine that could reach battlefields faster and deliver more devastating weaponry.

While it’s Humanoid form is an improvement on the Aqua Ogo in many ways the design team took one look at the frame shift technology and promptly got carried away. It’s longer Aquatic form allows it to launch heavier torpedoes, while its legs swing around and open up into deadly pincer claws. While unable to continue using hand-held weapons while shifted that’s hardly proved the challenge it was for the Codrus; between the torpedoes softening up targets at range and the increased speed then bringing its claws into play, the CHM-09TA Vendrick has become the terror of the high seas.


What do you think of the CHM-06TF Oden, CHM-06TT Codrus, and CHM-06TA Vendrick? Does the Frame Shift Trait/Maneuver work? Are both forms useful, or do you see your pilots sticking to one form all the time? What other kinds of transforming mecha would you like to see?

The CHM-06Ts occupy a strange design space, at least when it comes to balance, better than their equivalents in the rest of the CHM line while not quite rising to the level of the CHX mecha except in a few narrow ways. In my model of campaign setup that sees rookies piloting Ogos, 150 XP character piloting Dacars through Verdeloths, and 300 XP characters getting a CHX, I’m not sure where to plug in the 06Ts.

So maybe I should settle down and make a full write up for starting a campaign, huh? Take the Oden, Codrus, and Vendrick out for some test piloting, and we’ll see you back here next month in the new year for Genesys Mecha: Campaign Setup!

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