System Hack: Genesys Mecha: Campaign Setup

What Genesys Mecha has consisted of up to this point has been theorycrafting, thought processes, and building blocks. I’ve mulled over what I wanted this particular series to do, built some giant robots, designed some pilots, tweaked some rules here and there, and went back and altered things as other ideas developed. While different pieces have built off of one another, and even influenced changes in the ones that came before, they haven’t quite been properly tied together yet, until now. In this month’s System Hack for Genesys Mecha we’re talking character creation XP, starting mecha, tone, and logistics with some Campaign Setup!

The first bit of setup I have for you is part of character creation, and the first part of that is relatively straightforward. Rules as Written all Genesys character get their starting XP from their Archetype or Species . . . but Genesys’s immediate predecessor in the Narrative Dice System thought up some rules for characters who start with more, and I’ve adapted them here. The second part of the character creation setup has to do with what kind of machine your starting character begins piloting. There are three different Levels of Genesys Mecha character creation, and they are:

Rookie Level

XP: Archetype

This is the basic starting character, with no additional XP or advantages past what’s granted them by their Archetype (or Species, if you’ve got more than humans in your game). This is a Kid who has the raw talent but no actual experience, or a Professional who’s just out of basic training or the academy.

Starting Mecha: CHM-01 Ogo

Every character can begin play with their own CHM-01 Ogo; alternatively, a pair of characters can share an Ogo with the Tandem Cockpit attachment already installed (taking up hard points as per usual). They can equip as many weapons and pieces of gear as they want up to their mecha’s Encumbrance value.

Veteran Level

XP: Archetype + 150 XP

What FFG’s Star Wars RPGs refer to as ‘Knight Level’, and what the community has recognized as more akin to a seasoned Padawan. Characters at this level receive an additional 150 XP to spend; however, as in Star Wars you cannot spend any of these 150 XP on raising characteristics. That remains the sole purview of the XP granted by your Archetype. This is the Kid after a bit of seasoning, say half of an actual mecha series season-worth, or a Professional who has been in the field for a good while and has been promoted a few ranks.

Starting Mecha: CHM-02 to CHM-06T

Every character can begin play with their own Dacar, Peren, Capax, Verdeloth, Oden, Codrus, or Vendrick; alternatively, a pair of characters can share a mecha with the Tandem Cockpit attachment already installed (taking up hard points as per usual) or simply share a Peren. They can equip as many weapons and pieces of gear as they want up to their mecha’s Encumbrance value. Alternatively, a Veteran Level character can choose to begin play with a CHM-01 Ogo, and choose to install as many attachments and equip whatever weapons they want, except for items with the G.E.N.E.S.Y.S. Trait.

Ace Level

XP: Archetype + 300 XP

Characters at this level receive an additional 300 XP to spend in addition to their Archetype XP; as with Veteran Level this additional XP cannot be spent on raising characteristics, although you’re more likely to be able to get a Dedication talent if you want. This is the Kid who has earned a custom insignia and a reputation among the enemy, to the point that they’re shocked if they discover the Kid’s youth, or a Professional who’s the type of legend that everyone back at the academy has studied.

Starting Mecha: CHX Models

Every character can begin play with their own CHX mecha; alternatively, a pair of characters can share a mecha with the Tandem Cockpit attachment already installed (taking up hard points as per usual). They begin play with the weapons and gear listed in their CHX’s profile. Alternatively, an Ace Level character can choose to begin play with a CHM mecha, and choose to install as many attachments and equip whatever weapons they want, including equipment with the G.E.N.E.S.Y.S. Trait. If the character chooses a CHM-01 Ogo with a G.E.N.E.S.Y.S reactor, adjust the Load-Outs to utilize Energy weapons: Energy Rifle for the Rifleman, Energy Axe for the Halberdier, etc.

Campaign Modes

As I discussed when I was writing about Alternate Rules, Genesys Mecha up to this point has been grounded in the ‘Real Robot’ subgenre; the machines are machines, and they need things like ammo and maintenance to keep being effective. How plentiful those supplies are can greatly effect the tone of series, though. Some examples in the genre can replace entire machines seemingly at a whim, while others are forced to scrape and scrounge for every bullet, sometimes kitbashing machines together to keep them running or outright having to steal new ones. What follows are three different Campaign Modes dictating how well our pilots will be supplied.

Scavengers

In this type of game, the characters have their mecha and whatever weapons and gear they and their machines can carry . . . and that’s it. While they might have a ship they have no supply chain, no outside support, and no replacements. While you shouldn’t start counting every piece of ammo, using Despairs to have a weapon run out of ammunition is a persistent state. Destroyed weapons are not automatically replaced, and spare parts for damaged mecha are not lying around to be used. Ammo, weapons, parts, and even replacement mecha are going to need to be acquired in play, whether through salvage, trade, or outright theft.

The level of character creation can help determine what this looks like. A Rookie Level party might be a band of scavengers, a Veteran Level party a recon force behind enemy lines, and an Ace Level party trying to return to friendly territory after having stole their CHX models from the enemy.

Supply Chain

In Supply Chain Mode the party has a decent store of weapons, parts, fuel, and so on, whether stored in a base or carried aboard a ship. Ammo can be replenished once combat has ended, weapons can be replaced or switched out pretty much at will, and provided a mecha is salvageable it can be repaired given enough time. The GM can use Despair to deplete the store of replacements for a certain weapon and ammunition for Limited Ammo weapons, however, and mecha that are completely destroyed are not automatically replaced.

Regardless of Level of play, this mode is going to be typified by the resupply convoy or base, the party gradually being worn down until fresh supplies can be sent to them or a safe port can be reached. The party might be faced with some tough choices or situations if they get worn down too quickly or something interferes with their resupply, but it shouldn’t be an everyday concern.

Fully Stocked

This is the mode of play to use in a campaign featuring a party of characters that are part of a well-supplied military or other force. While Scavengers and Supply Chain Modes will usually feature a party that is mostly on its own, Fully Stocked parties are likely to find themselves part of a larger force; a large fleet, a large base or army, or at least a Bern-class Assault Carrier with its non-PC slots filled by NPC ally pilots.

Essentially, the party is well-supplied enough that anything they lose can be replaced in between battles, provided there’s a reasonable amount of time; weapons and ammo (even Limited Ammo) is no obstacle, parts are in plentiful supply, and even replacement mecha can be delivered to the party surprisingly quickly. At the GM’s discretion replacement mecha might not be exactly what the pilot had before getting shot down, but they won’t have to worry about scrambling for a way to get back into the fight.

Addendum: Ships

Any of the modes of play can support a campaign that features mecha launching from a base or from a ship, but if the party is shipboard the class of ship can be important. Lycia-class Patrol Ships function just fine in Scavengers and Supply Chain, but are likely too small (unless they’re in a fleet with other ship types) to properly convey the strength behind the party in most Fully Stocked campaigns. Bern-class Assault Carriers are perfect for Full Stocked play and function well in Supply Chain play, but there’s work to be done to fit one in Scavengers play; there should be empty mecha berths on a Scavengers!Bern, perhaps even just a skeleton crew for the ship itself, hampering its ability to function. The Etruria-class Cruisers are the most flexible, but if there are only 2-3 player characters in a Fully Stocked campaign at least a second Etruria manned by NPCs should by sailing with them.

Important Note: The Campaign Mode is not set in stone. A party playing in Fully Stocked Mode might have their base overrun or their Bern-class shot down, forcing them to become Scavengers for a time until they reestablish communications with a friendly force that can let them tap into a Supply Chain. Feel free to change the Mode and the resulting logistical challenges during play as it suits the story.


So! We’ve got our mecha, from the first ones off the assembly line to the standard models to the transformers to the super prototypes. We have pilots. We have rules for what happens when mecha take nasty hits. We have the ships and support craft to carry them into battle. Now we have different levels of play for them to start at, and different modes for them to struggle through. What comes next for Genesys Mecha?

Well, a lot of busy work, to be honest. The Encumbrance rules change needs to finish propagating through the various mecha. More attachments need to be created, more items need to be made. While the Expanded Talents covers many bases, the idea of more new Talents for Genesys Mecha needs to be really mulled over. All of that is important stuff, but it’s not worth pushing an article over.

I’ve mostly stayed away from setting information, but it might be time to consider fleshing out a unique world for Genesys Mecha to take place in.

There’s another thing to be covered though. Up to now, when testing out the mecha and playing them off one another, they’ve all been mirror matches (there was a particularly memorable one where a Guard Ogo, carbine and shield destroyed, went in bare-fisted and tossed a Halberdier Ogo around like a rag-doll; the dice were kind). Very rarely do the mecha bad guys have the same machine as the protagonists, however. So, in the next System Hack for Genesys Mecha, get ready to take on some Minions and Adversaries!

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