M. Jared Swenson Productions

This blog chronicles my projects, developments, and all things related to tabletop gaming. I will try to avoid rants and reviews. Mostly games I'm developing, and progresses from my campaigns.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I just wanted to point you all to another blog I stumbled on that I really got into reading. Fantalonia is a blog dedicated to paper terrain, papers minis, and solo gaming.

Look through all his past posts, he has several that are very interesting. Reviews on cheap print and play boardgames, articles on solo gaming, some paper minis and terrain he has created himself, etc.

I guess I should talk some about papercraft and gaming. It's an awesome thing, but like miniature painting, it still takes time, money, and work. A lot of people see stuff like pictured above and think its an easy way out, and in some ways it is. You don't need that particular artistic skill which makes minis look decent on the table, but you do need patience.

Companies and people who design this stuff is generally cheap. Not cheap in quality, but in price. Some of it is even free. However the real price is in the printing. If you have a decent printer, you are going to frequently get your cartridges refilled or replaced the more of this stuff you print. And building and assembling needs some techniques which most companies are willing to give tutorials for.

All in all it is a great alternative to tabletop terrain and minis, and when you put some time and effort into it, you can really get amazing results. I even did an article here for making your own stackable square terrain(here, here and here). And one of my most memorable DnD games I made a papercraft ship that the players and some pirates captured.

For those of you that want some more links, here are the most prominent papercraft sites I follow:
  • WorldWorlksGames: The most beautiful artwork I have seen on papercraft ever. This stuff is magnificent. They have a neat terrain building system and when everything is put together it makes truly unique works of art. A little more pricey than the others, but their stuff is worth it for how detailed and gorgeous it is.
  • One Monk Miniatures: A site chock full of free paper minis for any genre. Everything is cartoonish and stylized but definitely good. You aren't getting stick figures on paper.
  • Fat Dragon Games: Mostly paper terrain and dungeon tiles. Good basic and easy to work with designs and stuff here. Cheaper than WorldWorks. They have even been working on some cool papercraft wargames. Check 'em out.
  • Armor Grid Games: Another blog that has designed a paper craft mech game. Some wargaming terrain there as well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rogue Space - MECHS: Playtest 1

Rogue Space - MECHS is a project that not only adds new rules, but changes the feel of the original dramatically. This was sort of intended. I meant to keep the same basic roll system in place (especially with the LMVX classification), but instead of playing characters, you are playing mechs being played by your characters. I wanted a healthy balance of connection that the player is supposed to have with their mechs and the combat, and the disconnect of not being in direct fire, but protected in a fully armored cockpit. I also wanted the players to know they were piloting very dangerous machines with lots of firepower, and so were their enemies.

I have achieved all of the above.

I had Jarom, my brother James, and my sister Julia all join me for a game. We played a scenario I designed and had a blast. After part 2 of the session, I will write it up and post it here for download.

So here is how things went.

Jarom played the 'Fiery Death' from his post. The technician was able to take advantage of the Boosting and Repairing special rules, providing an asset to the team. He spoke in a slightly scottish accent as he roleplayed certain situations out to awesome effect. That's what I like about Jarom's roleplaying, while they aren't perfect, he usually roleplays with a character accent of some sort.

Julia, my 15 year old sister, rolled up a female rogue. A Japanese mech pilot in the stealthy sniper mech, the K3 Demeter. It had the ECM, Advanced Targeter, Stealth System, Thrusters, and Sniper Rifle (Dmg:V Rng:L) which made her a very tactical longshot. Half of the time the enemies didn't really know she was there as her Heavy rifle dealt pain on many levels.

James, as his style, went for damage. A warrior in an assault model, the MC-11 Agness, that was able to get Hyperlite arms at start. They helped as he had his Medium rifle (Dmg:M Rng:M) in one hand and a nasty double sided chainsaw knife (Dmg:M+Power) in the other. Playing an aggressive forward assault was brutal on the enemy.

Mech construction was easy and balanced. James is one of those players that loves to min-max, and he made a potent machine, but nothing gamebreaking. Sure he got a Hyperlite part, but lacked on so many gadgets that the others had.

Reducing the pilot's Fighting and Acquiring scores while inside the mech worked perfect. It allowed me to keep the TN's the same as a normal game. An easy TN was still easy, a difficult TN was still difficult. Because the pilot adds his mech's system to the reduced scores when making tests, it did simulate the mech having strengths and weaknesses, providing a mix and match system for any sort of maneuver and attack the pilot can think of. Again, simulating to the players they were controlling these machines.

The damage system worked great as well. Individual parts having hit points made the fights more memorable and had specific effects. We played with the gear disabling rules, where whenever a part takes damage the attached equipment had a chance to get disabled. James came close once, but because he had bought the Reinforced Hardpoints upgrade, he avoided his main weapon getting blown off early.

Overall once you got the hang of things, combat was quick and simple, and had potential to cover a lot more situations than I provided.

This game is shaping into something really good and can very simply add to your Rogue Space experience. I'll release the rulebook after I've made a few changes and played them in part 2 of our adventure.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jarom's Mech Post

I finally finished my four Rogue Space Mechs. When Jared presented me with the rules for RS Mechs, I quickly jumped into makeng up the character sheets(it was mostly the art took forever, mainly due distractions, like catching up on the movies, anime, and games I skipped out on these past two years). Now, these mechs are desinged after the concepts I have for Wartech. my original idea for wartech mechs was inspired by Appleseed's Landmates (a very exo skeleton based design), but now I am designing them based more around Battletech's Protomechs.

The protomech was an awsome concept never fully realized. They never made it into any of the battletech video games, but they made a small debut in one of their sourcebooks. These 4 to 6 meter minimechs had the pilot curled up in the fetal position within the torso. The pilot controls the protomech though neural hookup placed throughout their bodies. When the pilot tries to move within the cramped cockpit, the protomech will react by imitating movement.

My M.C. (Millitary Construct), is basicaly the same. As you look at these types of M.C.s, you'll notice the sphere like abdomen. this sphere is the cockpit (the upper torso is where the battery core is). Individualy, these mechs might look good, but there are plenty of inconsistancies between the four, mainly the size of the abdomen cockpit. these mechs are aranged from light to extra heavy, and the size of the light abdomen is much smaller then the medium abdomen (i will try to pay more attention to these details in the future).

The Kurohyou (i looked up the japanese translation of panther): This light mech was developed in japan originally as a fast response police unit, but when the worlds global relations went south, the Unit 7 Kurohyou, of the 8th Stealth cat mechanized police force was re-purposed as as scout mech in the UES/Japan united militaries.
Naroe: Born and raised in japan, Naroe showed exceptional skill in piloting mechs, and at an early age became a part of the mechanized police force. She followed her "Kurohyou" into the global conflict.
Fiery Death: A medium mech originally made for the purpose of providing battlefield repairs in the heat of combat, but with an obsession with explosions and fire, Jarris added a  few "upgrades" that supports the mechs given name.
Jarris: Hailing from England, this mech pilot found his place within the military for long range, and technical support. Jarris became a "gun for hire" when the united kingdom and its military fell apart after the Chinese blasted through Europe.
Falcon Dive: This Russian developed heavy mech combines defense with speed and close combat prowess.
Voltna: A former Russian special forces member, Voltna was put within the Russian mech in an attempt to utilize her skills in the ever escalating mechanized conflicts.
Slug Train: An extra heavy mech that takes the term "extra heavy" to heart. never meant for speed, Bosh assumes the role of heavy support in any combat situation he is sent in. The soldier in the back is for size comparison.
Bosh: A traditional Marine in every way (i guess that's a good enough description).

I have always liked giant mech anime and games, but when I take a good look at the size of those giant death machines, I always wander how gigantic robots would ever be effective in war. the 15 to 20 foot mech seems like the best size for urban and tight quarters combat (even though that size can't fit into most buildings, but hey, that's why there are powered armors{i might have a post in the future with Wartech designs for powered armors).

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rogue Space review and 'Minimus Maximus'

I have had a chance to read through the Rogue Space rulebook thoroughly, and with it being a large print 64 page book, it's a light quick read. So in essence here is my review of it: It's really good. The only bad thing I can say about it is he is in serious need of an editor. There were a lot of minor errors and some inconsistencies, but overall the book was a fun read.

The system itself is simple and elegant. As others have said, it is ripe for homebrewing. You really get the impression that it was not built for a specific campaign feel or setting, but to give you the tools and basics needed for making your own. I love seeing what others have made for it, and there is plenty of support out there to keep this game going, which I sincerely hope it will. (Rogue Transmission is something I am particularly excited for)

The other day, a friend and I were discussing rules-lite rpgs. And he told me of one that piqued my interest. It's called minimus, by Ad-astra games. Here it is for download, it's free. What really got me about it is the character creation process. I bring this up because this process could EASILY be implemented for Rogue Space, and with some awesome results.

Here it is in a nutshell:
  • After GM has told players of the game's theme, the players each choose a role. Sort of like an archetype.
  • Then each player writes down 5 life changing events of their character's past. Try to keep some of them tied to the game's theme.
  • Pass your sheet to the player on your left. They will read through your events, and list 7 jobs or skills based on what they've read. Try to pick ones you know the player will have fun with.
  • Then the character sheet gets passed once more to the left to the next player. That player looks at the 5 events and 7 skills and writes down 2 special abilities. This can be up to the GM to define what a special ability is.
  • After that, the sheets are given back to the original players. Then the player can either remove one of the special abilities, or the GM can assign a flaw to the character.
There are more steps to finding out relationships with the characters and benefits and such, but that is the part that got me a little excited. With Rogue Space, the special abilities could be fleshed out easily as some sort of powers. The skills could all be +1 to whatever tests are performed along the lines of the skill, and then everything gets fleshed out on character sheets. I think its a fun way to do character creation that involves input from other players, and as long as you are playing with bro's (and a reasonable amount of "that guy"s) it could yield some interesting characters and weave an awesome story.

PS: This sunday my brothers and I are playing Rogue Space-MECHS. The book is pretty much finished, including the sneak peak to the cover you might have caught, but once I've made some changes based on our gameplay, I will be ready to release it here. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Haul!

 My first official Father's Day. Exciting times. So I got a few gifts.
  • $75 dollars from the in-laws. Going straight to the makerbot fund. Note the thermometer to the right getting slightly bigger.
  • A copy of Rogue Space. Finally it is here! I've browsed through it and am anxious to really read it. Lot's of things that I can already think of doing to Rogue Space - MECHS.
  • The Tie Interceptor and Death Star Lego set. I love me some Lego, and I love the death star. This will be great to my little star wars Lego collection.
Also yesterday was free rpg day. Lots of great swag.
All in all it was a really good weekend. I got lots of cool stuff to whet my appetite for quite a while

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Projects Update

Just a little update of my projects in general.

Angry Miniatures will be undergoing a rewrite soon. A friend of mine looked over the rulebook and offered several changes which only worked to make it better. Most of the changes are writing syntax and order of things so the rulebook is easier to follow. It helped me especially to see how others were interpreting what I wrote, as apposed to me explaining the game to them.

Mass Effect - Alternity rulebook will be put on 'back burner' status for now. I've done some work on it and am still enthusiastic, but my motivation for it is being preceded by other projects. Maybe soon when I get bored and pop the games in the old eks-bawks, I'll muster up the drive to restart the project. I usually do this, I will cycle through different projects, but I never leave a good one completely buried.

Rogue Space MECHS is still very much in the excitement phase. I've reached a stopping point until I've had a chance to read the Rogue Space rulebook, but my brothers and I have planned on our first playtest, and I even have a couple adventures planned out. My goal is to put the players in situations where they will get a chance to test every aspect of the rulebook. I will report the playtest and proposed rules changes here. Also I am working on a setting booklet for Rogue Space general. A particular setting that I hold close to my heart.

Konomancer is still 'now showing'. Again this is all we have of the manga we self published for Jarom's senior project. Things are picking up as you can see when the mysterious invaders with unknown technology have come.

Jarom is one of the authors of my blog as you can see. I'm always encouraging him to put his stuff out there, just to gain a following and it drives you to keep working on more and new stuff. Next step will be motivating him to make a Deviantart page. But he will be making posts periodically.

With Jarom joining the site, we will start work on one of our homebrew games. Wartech. This is one that was mostly started by Jarom and we feel we have a lot of cool stuff for it. So Wartech will be moving into 'in development' status.

Jarom also has his own little project in the pipe he may start talking about soon.

That's about it. I'll leave you all with an awesome youtube video I found. If bards exist in this world, this man is one of them. I implore you to give it a good listen as he regales you with the tale of Durin, the father of the Dwarves in Tolkein's Middle Earth. Makes me proud to be a dwarf player.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jarom's 1st Blog Post

A look at some of the WarTech Races

Top: a four armed Hezak in a Combat Assist Frame. Middle: a member of the mutating race, the Quiv.

Bottom left: a gifted Cha'el in psionics with sniper rifle. Bottom right: an Ayesh, a traditional fighter with a Psi Blade.

Greetings everyone...

I would have to apologize ahead; this is in all honesty my 1st post, so it might be very sloppy. If you haven’t guessed yet, I am Jared's younger brother, who's art is displayed periodically throughout this Fairly Unkempt blog. As a striving artist (striving, not starving), I have the understanding that I have to display my art and to gain the right networking connections to further my career goal to someday work in the entertainment business (hopefully I’ll get jobs in the future with game companies like wizards of the coast, or blizzard entertainment). So I am starting small, with putting more of my art on my brothers blog, but it won’t be needless art, like some weird watercolor contraption that looks like it was made by a 1st grader, and claim it's an expression of my inner pent up artist, fighting against the establishment, and other such crap (this is the opinion of Jarom, and not the opinion of this blog and all those associated with it). The art I will post will almost always have some relevance to the current projects that I and Jared are working on. In fact, the next post by me will most likely have art for the upcoming Rogue Space MECHS, in development by Jared Swenson.

The art up top is associated with the Wartech RPG that Jared has only briefly mentioned on this blog (see if you can find the Easter egg in this pic). WarTech is based off an old string of Sci-Fi art I had, involving a far off galaxy where there are no humans, and all the alien races in that sector are in a strained truce, vying over territory, resources, and technology. This is our most recent universe we have developed together in great detail, and hopefully over the course of many play tests, we can have this RPG out for you all to enjoy.

One last thing, I might be unused to it, but please make comments on my art I post and that Jared posts for me. I am looking for constructive criticism, so that I may understand how others view it and how I can improve. Make it "constructive", do not "troll" please.

Well that’s enough of me vomiting my unorganized thoughts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rogue Space - MECHS: Update 4

I haven't been sharing every single piece of the MECHS rulebook. Some of it I am still not clear of or needs to be fleshed out. But today I will provide everything I have on the mech construction rules. With this you should have a mech built up in no time. I know Jarom has.
Step 1
Purchase your 4 core Parts using your build points (BP). Head, Torso, Arms, and Legs. Arms count as both parts when purchasing, so you don't need to take it twice.
Step 2
Buy and equip weapons and gear. Each part can only have 1 weapon or gear attached. Each arm can be equipped separately.
Multiples of the same weapon or gear can be purchased, as long as they are attached to separate parts, but their effects do not stack.
Step 3
Buy upgrades. You can have a maximum of 2 of these (no duplicates). They apply to the mech as a whole so they don't take up attachment slots.
You may also purchase defects (maximum 2—no duplicates), which give your mech flaws, but grants you additional build points. These can only be purchased at time of initial mech construction.
Step 4
Name it and add its systems together. Arms TMP does not double. It counts for both of them. Now you’re ready to pilot real man’s steel!
Advanced Targeter = Head [6 BP] Roll hit location twice, and choose either result. This grants a +1 bonus when detecting enemy mechs and stealth.
Combat Shield = Arm [5 BP] While being attacked from front, this mech gets an extra +2 to add to its armor rolls.
ECM Unit = Torso or Head[6 BP] When an opponent is rolling hit location, force them to roll twice and you choose either result. This cancels out the Advanced Targeter gear on enemy mechs.
Repair Rig = Arm or Torso [3 BP] This allows your mech to make repairs on other mechs and vehicles.
Thrusters = Torso or Legs [5 BP] This unit can jump to heights equal to 20xPower (minimum 20) in meters. It can also increase its speed by 2+Power (minimum 2). This should be used periodically. Referees should take into account possible overheating or excessive fuel usage.

Advanced Controls [10 BP] Pilot’s Fighting and Acquiring attributes are reduced by 1 instead of 2 while inside this mech.
Armor Upgrade [M=5 BP][V=8 BP][X=10 BP] This upgrades your mechs armor from its default Light, to Medium, Heavy, or Extra Heavy, depending on the BP cost you choose. Heavy and Extra Heavy armor reduces the mech’s Speed by 1.
Reinforced Cockpit [8 BP] Pilot cannot be damaged from the torso getting hit. If the torso is destroyed, the pilot receives Light damage instead of Heavy.
Reinforced Hardpoints [5 BP] Head, Arms, and Legs gear and weapons are disabled only on a roll of 1 instead of 1-2.
Stealth Systems [4 BP] This mech has special noise, emission, and electronic shielding that allows it to make stealth tests.

Exposed Cockpit [+8 BP] Pilot is damaged on a roll of 3 as well as 1. Torso destruction is treated as Extra Heavy damage to pilots.
Exposed Hardpoints [+5 BP] Head, Arms, and Legs gear and weapons are disabled on a roll of 1-3 instead of just 1-2.
Inefficient Controls [+10 BP] Pilot’s Fighting and Acquiring attributes are reduced by 3 instead of 2 while inside this mech.
Lumbering [+5 BP] Movement System score is reduced by 1.
Obvious Sensor Profile [+6 BP] Opposing mechs get a +1 bonus while attacking or detecting this mech.
And that's it. One major thing that I had to deal with is something like weight class most mech games would use. I decided to keep that simplified in parts categories. When you make a mech, you can make a heavy one, you just have to buy the heavy parts. Hyperlite is not meant to be another category of damage and protection, it's just a parts class i made up to represent super high tech and costly parts. A hyperlight mech outperforms all others in just about everything, but it's extremely expensive to make.

Each part has an HP, that is the individual hit points for the part. They are not added together. When you are hit by an attack and it gets past your armor roll, the part hit takes the damage. I already discussed that in one of my last posts.

I also wanted to keep equipping gear simple. You didn't have to worry about engine size or weight limit. Just by keeping a weapon or gear 1 to each part, it stays simple. At referee's discretion of course you can break any of these rules, but from our preliminary test mech builds, you still have a lot of freedom to make some pretty cool mechs with these simple rules.

With the weapons table, like in Rogue Space, they follow the simple categories. A medium weapon can be just about anything, like a machine gun or a laser gun. Remember these are mech size weapons. When they are used against infantry, or individuals outside the mech, you use the second damage value in parenthesis, otherwise it will just kill the subject outright. I'm still experimenting with range rules so ignore that part on the weapons table.

Weapons and gear have specific part limitations they can be attached to. This is to help prevent min-maxing and balance things out.

Upgrades and Defects apply to the mech as a whole and are not considered attachments. You can only purchase up to 2 upgrades and up to 2 defects, unless of course your referee says otherwise. If you ignore some of the optional rules, then some of these upgrades wont matter, like the ones for hardpoints and cockpits.

One thing I hope isn't too confusing, is the armor. A part may be a heavy part, but it is still only light armor unless you get the upgrade. The weight of the part only applies to its HP and bonuses. So unless you buy the upgrade, you only going to be rolling 2d6 low when you get hit. That would be cheap metal coverings over the basic frame. Medium armor upgrade gets you a better material, Heavy armor gets you thicker protection, and Extra Heavy are layered sheets of heavy metal that can take the worst punishments. But due to the weight, Heavy and Extra Heavy armor reduces your mech's speed by 1.

I have a blank character and mech sheet built, so when you get your stuff put together, it should look like this (this is a 30 bp mech):
If you happen to make some mech builds for the fun of it, please email them to me. I would like to check them, not to see if you are doing it wrong, but to see if I'm explaining it right. And I want to see if anyone can break it. That helps me in designing the system.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rogue Space - MECHS: Update 3

Today I will preview some of the optional rules for MECHS. Again these are rules that I really couldn't bring myself to get rid of. They offer excellent options for different playstyles and equipment, but they bloated the game a little at its core. Again I highly recommend using them, but you can still have an awesome mechs roleplaying experience without them.
Disabling Gear and Weapons (Optional)
Sometimes whenever a mech takes damage, one of its weapons or gear gets disabled. Whenever damage is marked on a part, you roll to check if the attached gear or weapon gets disabled. Roll 1d6, and if the result is 1 or 2, the gear or weapon on that part is disabled.

A repair test can me made to restore a disabled gear or weapon. It takes 2 rounds to do so. A Repairing test can also be performed by a player to its own mech while inside to temporarily bring back a disabled gear or weapon. It should be up to the referee for the TN of the Repairing test and how long the effect will last.
Sometimes your equipment or weapons could get disabled when you take damage, mostly from a lucky shot. It's not always from just getting the entire part destroyed. This is my way of simulating that.
Damaging Pilots (Optional)
Whenever a torso piece is hit and takes damage after armor roll, the pilot can take damage as well. When you roll to check if any gear or weapon gets disabled on the torso, a roll of 1 damages the pilot, and a roll of 2 disables the torso’s weapon or gear. When the pilot takes damage it is treated as Light damage, and bypasses the pilot’s worn armor. When a mech’s torso part is destroyed, it deals Heavy damage to the pilot, and bypasses the pilot’s worn armor.
With enough damage, a pilot can get rattled around pretty hard. Sometimes there's electronic feedback or a fire started in the cockpit. Bypassing pilot's armor adds a sense of danger. I wanted pilots to feel that piloting a mech is still very dangerous, and players should not feel disconnected from the chaos of battle.
Boosting (Optional)
Scientific tests can be performed by the pilot while inside a mech to boost a system temporarily. This represents the pilots creative manipulation of systems. Boosting a system takes a Scientific test, and the TN is 8 minus the system’s score. (8-System=Boost TN) A successful boost increases the system’s score by 1 until the end of its next turn. Referees should use discretion when letting players boost their systems. Perhaps allow Technicians to do it more often than other archetypes, or make it progressively harder each attempt.
I am especially proud of this one. This is mostly for Technicians. I didn't want players to think playing a Warrior or Rogue was the only way to go if you were to be a mech pilot, I wanted more options for Techies as well. It would only make sense that those geniuses would know how to manipulate their systems and a mech to squeeze the best out of them as possible. A higher number in a system means it's easier to boost as well, making it ideal for boosting.

Next week I will preview the mech construction rules.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rogue Space - MECHS: Update 2 and Mech Art

When I was thinking of how tests would be done while inside mechs, I knew I wanted the mech to influence the pilot's actions. So I had to come up with a simple system where a test were performed based on pilot skill, plus the capabilities of the mech. Hence the following:
Tests and Combat in a Mech
The equation for pilots making passive and competitive tests while inside their mech is: 2d6+(Inside Mech Attribute)+System. A pilot’s combat skill (Fighting) and overall perception (Acquiring) are penalized inside a mech (scores reduced by 2), but mech systems (TMP) can reduce that penalty and even enhance it. Target numbers for passive tests (5 easy  – 13 legendary) are the same. Competitive tests are handled the same as in Rogue Space, but with the appropriate TMP score added to the rolls as well. Adding the pilot’s attribute to the mech’s system represents the pilot controlling the mech’s actions. Common mech+pilot tests are:
  • Fighting+Power= Melee attacking/melee defending/grappling
  • Fighting+Movement= Dodging/evading
  • Fighting+Targeting= Range attacks/throwing objects
  • Acquiring+Power= Climbing/non-combat breaking things
  • Acquiring+Movement= Stealthing/difficult maneuvering and positioning
  • Acquiring+Targeting= Sensor sweep/detection/information gathering

In combat, modifiers are generally the same, as in cover, aiming, range, etc.
Inside Mech attributes are simply the pilot's Fighting and Acquiring scores -2. A character knowing how to brawl in person, is completely different than knowing how to brawl in a mech. Also instead of our own innate perception we have unprotected, inside a mech you are completely reliant on what the mech's computer is feeding you. Instead of completely omitting the pilot's Fighting and Acquiring skills when using tests, I still wanted them to influence your performance. A pilot with a high Fighting still has that instinct and reflexes necessary for controlling the mech for a good fight, and a pilot with a high Acquiring still knows what to look for and make sense of the information being fed to him.

This -2 penalty to Fighting and Acquiring still allows the referee to keep the basic TN table the same. If there was no penalty, then the base attributes plus the TMP would create really high rolls, making difficult TNs easier to achieve, or the referee would have to adapt on the fly.

All in all I feel I have created the best and simplest way to represent both the mech's and pilot's capabilities being represented in tests.
While pilots are inside their mechs, initiative is determined by each player rolling 2d6 and adding their mech’s Movement score. Characters not inside mechs still roll 2d6 plus their current HP total. This means infantry (people outside of mechs) generally act first.
If a referee was feeling bold enough to try tracking both mech action and those of people not inside mechs, I knew I wanted infantry to act before mechs do. Initiative for everyone outside of mechs are still tracked by 2d6+current health, but mechs are simply 2d6+Movement System. In keeping with simplicity, I didn't want damage on a mech to be represented in initiative like it is for individuals. It's enough that they usually go last.
Mech Damage and Protection
When mechs and armored vehicles are fighting against each other, damage is treated the same as if it were between infantry. All mechs have Light armor by default, unless they got upgraded, which is determined in mech construction.

When rolling damage dice, roll a different colored d6 with it. This represents the hit location. It determines what part the attack hits and damages if any bypasses the targets armor roll.

Mech weapons are much larger than those carried by infantry. Some mech weapons have a damage rating in ( ). This is to show what damage rating that weapon is when used against infantry. When there is no second rating, it means it bypasses all infantry armor and kills them instantly.

Light and Medium infantry weapons have no effect on mechs. Heavy and Extra Heavy weapons do, but at reduced damage. An infantry Heavy weapon deals Light damage against a mech, and an infantry Extra Heavy weapon deals Medium damage against a mech.
This is where I really struggled to try and make a simple solution. I wanted mechs to have weapons from Light to the Extra Heavy range, but a Light weapon on a mech is not the same as a Light weapon on an infantry. So I came up with a simple solution. Mech weapons have a second number in parenthesis. When a mech weapon is used against infantry, this is the damage type it's treated as, which is significantly higher. If there is no second number, it is assumed to be fatal when hitting infantry, bypassing armor and killing them outright, unless of course the referee deems different. For infantry weapons against mechs, Light and Medium are useless, but Heavy and Extra Heavy work as Light and Medium damage respectively.

Jarom has been excitedly working over the mech construction rules which I will preview soon. Having someone else try to break the system allows me to adjust things where needed. But as in normal Jarom fashion, he sketched a couple designs out. If this stuff doesn't get you thinking about your own mechs then I don't know what will.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mass Effect - Alternity Rulebook: Update 4 - Weapons

As I mentioned in my previous post, I noticed something very interesting about weapons in Mass Effect: there are no energy weapons. In most space operas, you get some semblance of a laser weapon of some sort, but not here. Even the Reapers' big weapons aren't technically energy. Their description shows they shoot streams of superheated molten metal at their targets. Literally a lava gun. Geth have a couple experimental weapons that are doing essentially the same thing, shooting energized or superheated pieces of metal. The distinction for energy weapons in the Alternity system is important. Armor provides different levels of protection against pure energy weapons, and ones that shoot 'stuff' at their targets.

This will make things easier for my Alternity game. All weapon damage types are handled as Low Impact, High Impact, and Energy. All standard projectile weapons can be categorized in the High Impact. Low Impact deals with pretty much anything that is not shot out with a mass effect field, like melee attacks and the like. I am able to leave Energy out of the mix, thus simplifying things a bit.

By the very nature of weapons, even the standard grunt infantry guns, in Mass Effect, armor is rendered nearly useless. Everything is armor piercing. When you have a gun, that shaves off a sliver of metal, uses a mass effect field to reduce its mass for a short time, and project it at hypersonic speeds, where a tiny sliver of metal is traveling with the kinetic force of a sledgehammer traveling at hypervelocity, there really isn't a whole lot you can do about it armor-wise. This is where kinetic barriers come into play, which I will get into next time.

The other question are the much debated Thermal Clips. I like the idea of thermal clips. The fact that ammo and energy really isn't an issue in this setting makes something like thermal clips a very novel concept. They are simply a heat storing clip that pulls it out of the gun and stores it inside. Of course a clip can only store so much heat before melting down, so replacement clips are needed. And since the clips are universal that makes things simpler for the players as well.

When a weapon description lists its clip usage, it will simply be a number that represents how many times the weapon can be fired under one clip. Large weapons will have fewer shots, where smaller weapons will have more.