Mecha in 4e Ideas and Questions

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So I've had this idea floating around for quite a while...a campaign where each character would have a mecha/giant robot/mobile armor they could pilot to take on larger-than-life threats.  The party members wouldn't be able to stay in the mechs all the time, as they'd enter dungeons, towns, and other areas to explore as well.  The mechs would essentially be a different way of fighting battles.  I initially had this planned as a non-d20 system, but considering how much effort I put into the project and developing stats, I figured it might be interesting to try using this system.  Therefore, I figured I'd ask if anyone has any ideas for how to make mecha work in a d20 setting while not completely eclipsing the on-foot combat, as well as a few other ideas I had...


Mech Stats

A couple of ways I figured it'd work...

1. The mechs have their own stats, and the players would use them instead of their character stats (aside from a few, such as for perception and arcana checks).

2. The mechs would add or take away from the characters' base stats (e.g. +10 Str, +7 Wis, -3 Cha, etc.)

Please let me know in the comments below if you have an idea for how to tackle this, whether it's one of mine or one of your own design.


Eject Point

It's no secret that sometimes things don't go as planned.  The eject point is similar to action points, as it's an extra action that requieres a cooldown, and it allows the pilot of the mech to have the chance to punch out in times of crisis.  It may or may not succeed, but it'll save your life if things aren't going your way.  Even if it fails, you have a chance to get out...it'll just take longer.  In any case, action points have a cooldown of 2 encounters under most campaigns I've seen.  How long should the cooldown for Eject points be?  2 encounters?  3 encounters?  More?

EDIT: As an alternative, maybe it could be made into a minor/major action.  Let me know what you think.


Upgrading Mechs

Mechs, being machines, can't accumulate experience like living party members can.  Obviously, the standard D&D rulebook doesn't list costs for machine parts, so any suggestions regarding pricing of upgrades and whatnot would be greatly appreciated.



Other than that, any general comments or criticisms are welcome as well.  Let me know what you think!  Thanks in advance.

-LD
Everyone plays as warforged or shardmind.  Done. Tongue Out
Everyone plays as warforged or shardmind.  Done. Tongue Out




Heh.  Interesting thought, but I'd like it if people had a little more customization than that.  That said, everyone, depending on their place of origin or background, would likely make a different mech.

I suppose it wouldn't hurt to give a bit of the backstory.  Below you'll find an abridged form of the history behind the campaign.


Story Pitch

A New Power

Long ago, one person made a discovery that would change the world.  No one knows who it was, but the person (known in the hall of records as "The Catalyst" discovered the principles of steam power.  Steam power technology spread like wildfire, with each race adding to the pool of available technology.  For instance, the elves discovered a way to conduct magical energy through steam, dwarves were the first to apply steam to industry, powering their mining machines and equipment, Pteryans* developed primitive propulsion systems, and many other races each offered their own spin on the technology to further themselves.

The Battle that Changed All

2000 years ago, however, a great and terrible king from a western empire began to use steam power for his weapons of war.  With steam powered ballistas and warships, he took over large amounts of land over the course of a mere 2 decades.  It was thought his army was unstoppable.  And then, the army came across a relatively small city in the middle of the desert.  The city had very strong walls, but its people were not well-acquainted with the ways of war; it was theorized they'd fall within 2 months.  When the army did finally break through, they found the town seemingly deserted.  Then, from beneath the town's main plaza, a behemoth of stone and metal, easily 150 feet tall, rose up, swinging its arms and stomping upon the soldiers.  The "Golem," as the townspeople had nicknamed it, was a last-ditch effort to protect their lives.  The mech had to be crewed by almost the entire population.  The conqueror king frantically ordered his men to destroy it, but the golem was far too powerful for them to deal with.

The battle ended with a great cost on both sides.  The townsfolk had exhausted their entire water supply to power the golem, and the king's army, including the king himself, were decimated.  Not only was the war over, but a new weapon had been created.  Over the following years, surrounding countries created smaller, more practical designs, for a single pilot to operate.  And so, Mechanized "armors" became the standard for both warfare and heavy labor throughout the world.

Tradition Threatened

A new discovery, made a mere 25 years ago, has been changing the way wars are fought.  A new substance, gunpowder, has rendered almost all existing military roles obsolete.  This particularly holds true to the armor pilots; the way they are constructed, having a gunpowder-based weapon on their person would endanger the pilot immeasurably.  While gunpowder is becoming the standard for conflicts, many still hold that armors should have a place on the battlefield.  As such, in recent years, many governments have begun outlawing armors.  It's a brave new world, and you, as a pilot, must find your place within it.



In any case, if anyone has any comments, questions, suggestions, or criticisms, bring them up below.  Thanks in advance!

-LD
So... like Dragonmech, revamped to 4e's mechanics?
So... like Dragonmech, revamped to 4e's mechanics?



Haven't heard of Dragonmech prior to you mentioning, but after looking at it, it WILL focus on the mechs like Dragonmech, but it has a very different story.  One of the key aspects is that almost everything in the world is based around water, including magic.  Also, I should mention that there are monsters in addition to soldiers in the encounters, so it's not exactly Front Mission in terms of combat; there'll be plenty of variety.  BTW, I realize I forgot to add a note to my last post...

*Pteryans are one of the new races available in the campaign.  They are people who have worshipped and have a spiritual link to birds, which has caused them to adopt a feathered appearance.  They are very skilled spellcasters, though somewhat lacking in the physical attack department.

There's still a few things I'm planning out for this, but I feel optimistic that it'll be a good campaign.  In any case, thanks for showing me that!

-LD
Having the mech stats relate to the player stats really does not sound like a good idea.  A negative means that often, str will be under 5.  How does a monster mech move with 5 str?


If you really want it based off of the character, and not something that the player can make separately, you are better off with multiples.  Have you ever played Xenogears?  The mechs there had base stats off of the character, and equipment did little upgrades.  The mech mearly has an amplifier to make the character magic do more damage and stuff.

Another way is to have the mechs built separatly from the character.  If you don't allow a healer mech, you don't have to worry too much about that impossiblity.
Be fair, cliff, Gurren-Lagann and a few Gundams could heal~
Be fair, cliff, Gurren-Lagann and a few Gundams could heal~


Lol, and that totally made sense, right?  That is what is known as bad writing.  Breaking the ways physics work, in the world you establish, just to make something heal. ;)
Personally, if I was to attempt to do a mecha module, I would approach it in other one or two ways. 

A) Stat mecha as equipment.  This would probably work best with mini mecha or power suits, with your equipment augmenting your existing abilities.  Powerwise, they would probably all be balanced appropriately as rares or artifact +/- whatever the plot demands or sounds cool at the time.   This would allow you to get a mecha-feel without changing the mechanics of the game too much.  Your fighters would still play like fighters, and wizards like wizards, but will be more powerful and versatile with mecha than without.

B) Stat mecha as a mounts or vehicles.  This would work well with both mini mecha and larger.  One major upsides here is that you have fewer "fidely bits".  You would only have to homebrew a few classes of mecha and maybe a few variant options.  And the second upside, is that you can scale the mecha up to whatever size you need.  You could make your mecha require multiple pilots or even require a whole crew, like the airship rules in the AV1.  So instead of giving each party member their own mecha, you can limit mecha to one or two powerful party resources (kinda like the main character's tank in Valkyria Chronicles).


And the benefit of both approaches is that you're basically using rules that already exist, so there's less you have to come up with.


Be fair, cliff, Gurren-Lagann and a few Gundams could heal~


Lol, and that totally made sense, right?  That is what is known as bad writing.  Breaking the ways physics work, in the world you establish, just to make something heal. ;)



Not really.  As far as realism is concerned, there are basically two mecha subgenres.  Super Robot and Real Robot.  The latter attempts to ground the reality of mecha either real or plausible science, and attempts to stay consistent to its own rules.  The former plays more like a super hero genre and, given the choice, will usually side with the Rule of Cool over strict adherence to physics (or in the most light-hearted works like Gurren-Lagann, completely throw physics out the window).  Neither, of course, are wrong.

And given that both self-healing semi-organic constructs with souls and artificers with the ability to magically "heal" even completely mundane objects, healing mecha in D&D would not only be perfectly plausible, but in keeping with D&D's preestablished rules.



Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
Not really.


We were joking.  He was being sarcastic, and I was replying in kind.
Not really.


We were joking.  He was being sarcastic, and I was replying in kind.


Darn this silent medium.
Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
Inorite?

Hey, OP, don't leave us hanging.  If you start making progress, let us know.  I would be happy to help once you get a baseline theory going.
Inorite?

Hey, OP, don't leave us hanging.  If you start making progress, let us know.  I would be happy to help once you get a baseline theory going.





Hi there,

Sorry I haven't responded so quickly to these; BOTH of my computers are currently out of commission (One due to a corrupted hd, the other, well...it's usually a bad thing when you see smoke coming out of the AC port. ^^') Anyways, waiting on a replacement cord (should be here by the 6th), and coming to you live from a 3DS.

Comp troubles aside, I see the benefit of NOT having stats tied to mechs. I also like the idea of the mechs multiplying/amplifying what the characters have. Also, there will be healing on mechs, but it is somewhat limited with regards to what repairs can be made on the battlefield; Out-of-battle repairs are required for serious damage. As for having multiple pilots, I'll get to that in a minute.

During my time away, I thought of a few elements in the story that might be good to address here, as most of it relates to how the mechs would operate in the campaign.

FUEL

As you've seen from what I've posted so far, the mechs in the campaign are steam powered. The campaign has two combat forms, being on-foot and in-armor. I didn't want one to eclipse the other, so I started thinking about fuel. If the mechs are indeed amplifiers of power, maybe then they should have a fuel-count to determine how long they can remain in that state. There are larger Armors (dubbed "Titans") that are stronger, but require a crew of 5 or so, and perhaps by default, more fuel. Still, what do you all think?

READYING

The process of getting into an Armor consists of these steps.

1. Ignite the firebox.
2. Climb in and seal the hatch.
3. Open the 6 output valves (Head, left and right arms and legs, torso, and auxiliary tank (can be used as a "magus tank" for an additional spell, or as a "propellant tank" for certain steam propelled projectiles or weapons, such as bolts, harpoons, or ball and chain)). How long in terms of turns should it take a Mech to power up and be battle ready?

SUMMONING

In the campaign's story, summoning is considered extremely taboo. Almost every nation has at least one law banning summons. The reason for this is that thanks to the acts of summoners thousands of years ago, monsters as the people know them were created, forever infesting the lands.

That said, is this story element a turn off? If so, should it be simply limited, rather than banned? There WILL be summoning involved in the storyline, but I was trying to make it so not much was known about it. So the question is this: "Summoning is illegal": Interesting plot point or turn off?

Anyways, once again, thank you all for your feedback and keep it coming; the campaign is rapidly taking shape thanks to your help!

-LD
.it's usually a bad thing when you see smoke coming out of the AC port. ^^'


Darn smoking computer.  It got lung cancer, didn't it?
Anyways, waiting on a replacement cord (should be here by the 6th)


I don't suppose you have a
coming to you live from a 3DS.


That's actually what I was going to suggest. -.-

**************************
I started thinking about fuel. If the mechs are indeed amplifiers of power, maybe then they should have a fuel-count to determine how long they can remain in that state.


Ah-HAH!  I got an idea.  Make the hp and the fuel count the same.  Then healing would actually be a creation spell that makes fuel in the target's tank.  Then you could have repairs happen sans magic.

There are larger Armors (dubbed "Titans") that are stronger, but require a crew of 5 or so, and perhaps by default, more fuel.


Like a skill challenge?  Problem is, once it's done, who controls the mech?  Sure, you could have each arm and leg have a weapon.  But someone would still control movement itself.

How long in terms of turns should it take a Mech to power up and be battle ready?


Ever see Voltron?  Each player's mech combines to make a big one.

SUMMONING In the campaign's story, summoning is considered extremely taboo. Almost every nation has at least one law banning summons. The reason for this is that thanks to the acts of summoners thousands of years ago, monsters as the people know them were created, forever infesting the lands. That said, is this story element a turn off?


Not really.  As long as the players know this beforehand, it shouldn't be a problem.  Kind of like how wizards in Dark Sun are hated.  In fact, if I were you, I would take a look at how Dark Sun does it.
In order...Might as well have been...also scared the heck out of me as the smoke was coming out while it was sitting on some paper...guess it knew tinder was close by. :P

Yeah, I'm a little lacking in the internet department. Actually using my PS3 now, but the problem is that for some reason, it only allows you to enter a certain amount of text, so if this post gets cut in half, you know why. 

FUEL

Hmm...that would make a lot more sense. And it would streamline the battles a little more. As for bloodied states, maybe that'd be the times where a player would have to use their Eject Point or lose it. As for if an Armor "dies," the person inside is obviously still alive, so maybe they'd have to make strength or dexterity checks in order to get out of the mech so they aren't a sitting duck.


As for titans, as it stands right now, they won't be available for most standard combat; only special instances. As I mentioned regarding the Golem...


...continued in next post (blame Sony)
...continued from my last post...

...while it was powerful enough to take out an army, it wasn't practical because of how much fuel (water and coal/wood) it took, as well as the immense cooperation it took to run the thing. Titans have the same problems the Golem had, hence why Armors were made. BTW, here's the rundown of heights of the mechs.


Armors=20 to 30 ft

Titans=70 to 80 ft

The Golem=150 ft 


READYING


Maybe it'd only take a short while, like putting on actual armor would.


Oh, and before anyone asks, I've already taken care of how the armors'll be transported as the party journeys; different transportations will be available (e.g. Trains or boats)


SUMMONING


That's good to hear. Glad I could put that story element in...a couple NPCs have strong links to summoning.



I'm glad this idea is getting a lot of interest. When I get my computer back online, I'll see if I can dig up the proof of concept prologue I wrote up back before this was d20, featuring a few of the NPCs from the campaign.


-LD

Armors=20 to 30 ft

Titans=70 to 80 ft

The Golem=150 ft


Sizes are well and good, but you should probably give them D&D sizes.  I can't remember much past huge beside gargantuan.
I'm not sure they should be so high up.  The average walled city isn't going to have walls near that.  Which means any force with one of them is going to win.  Without big enough walls, the battles will have collateral damage, too.  Stray projectiles would go over the walls and destroy sections of a city.




That's all I can think of for input right now.
Here's something I did after doing some Mann vs Machine.  It had reminded me of an old gaming system I used to play on a long time ago.  So I started working it out some more.  It's obviously a work in progress, but I figured it might spark something for you.  Red box areas are parts that I either haven't gotten to yet, or have no clue about.  Basically, everything is a placeholder.

























































































































































































































































































Points obtained through sources of power?
Exponential growth for rank requirements, and a multiplitive growth to gain points needed?
Speed affect movement and init?
Striker package maybe increases damage dealt?
Skill System
Level Equivalent:Level 1Level 5Level 10Level 15Level 20Level 25Level 30
Rank
NamesDescription1234567
GuidanceAccuracy4111825323946
Base DamageDouble Cost1d82d83d84d8
ElementalNo Radiant/Necrotic/PoisonDamage can be of the element chosen.1d6 extra damage2d6 extra damageAttack ignores 10 of element chosen.3d6 extra damageAttack ignores all resistance of element chosen.
DefenderRole Package
StrikerRole Package
ControllerRole Package
LeaderRole Package
BatteryCapacity
Generator
Armor102027
Fortitude515
Reflexes515
Willpower515
SpeedBase 42