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View Full Version : Original System Mecha World: A Mecha RPG Powered by the Apocalypse (PEACH)



Amaril
2015-10-02, 05:06 PM
Alright, so, this is the first homebrew system I've ever made. While it's based quite closely on another existing Powered by the Apocalypse system that I've played and know to be excellent, I feel like I've changed and added enough of my own content that I should have it looked over. So, I'd appreciate any commentary and criticism people can provide.

Mecha World is an RPG based on the Powered by the Apocalypse engine in which the players take command of mecha—giant humanoid vehicles controlled by a human pilot. With the power of these amazing creations, the players can take the field against forces that threaten the safety of their homes, their loved ones, and their own lives.

Maybe Earth is under siege from an alien empire, and you and your mecha are the only thing standing between them and enslaving humanity. Maybe the galaxy is being torn apart by war, and you must take command of your own mecha to fight against those of your enemies for the future of billions. Maybe the world is being invaded by gigantic monsters from another dimension, and to stop them, you must climb into the cockpit of a biological war machine made from the creatures’ own flesh. Whatever the story, and whatever the reason, once you accept the controls, you accept a pivotal role in determining the future of countless lives.

Of course, it’s not all fun. Piloting a mecha is a difficult and dangerous job, and many don’t survive the attempt. But if you do—if you’re brave, skilled, and lucky enough to stick it out—then you have a chance to change the world like few ever get.

So what are you waiting for, pilot? Strap in.

Anyone familiar with the mecha genre will know that there’s a huge amount of variation in tone, style, and narrative convention across different stories. One of the biggest differences is between “super robot” and “real robot”. To put it simply, in super robot fiction, things tend to be a lot more cinematic and heroic, with the mecha generally a lot more powerful and a lot rarer; in real robot, it’s just the opposite, with everything gritty and dangerous and mecha tending to be more common and widely used (and, importantly, more replaceable). Think about it like this: in super robot, mecha are superheroes; in real robot, mecha are weapons.

By default, Mecha World leans much more toward the latter. The game is set up to be highly lethal—just surviving one mission with a starting character is a big accomplishment. Consequently, mecha are assumed to be common enough that when your character dies, you can just bring in another one without trouble. However, if you prefer, there are ways to make your game lean more towards the super robot side of things. The crusader playbook includes a move literally called super robot that gives such characters’ mecha abilities reminiscent of that style. And if you want to reduce the lethality of the game, the narrator’s section includes ways to make it more forgiving and survivable. Find what your group enjoys, and do it. It's your game.
Skill is how well you handle your mecha, in terms of maneuvering and combat technique. It's rolled to attack enemies at close range, and to avoid harm. Skill is the most important stat for the ace.

Intellect is quick thinking and reading a situation. It's rolled to damage enemies with ranged weapons, and to spot advantages and threats in battle. Intellect is the most important stat for the tactician.

Discipline is your ability to keep cool under pressure. It's rolled to avoid panicking when in danger, and to direct allies in tense situations. Discipline is the most important stat for the commander.

Awareness is how well you’re attuned to your surroundings, and to other people. It's rolled to help allies do stuff, and rescue them from danger. Awareness is the most important stat for the guardian.

Resolve is your determination and fighting spirit. It's rolled to escape from dangerous situations. Resolve is the most important stat for the crusader.
Mecha: A giant humanoid vehicle. Most mecha are used for combative purposes, and fitted with weapons—Mecha World assumes this to be the case. Beyond that, what a mecha is and what it can do is determined by the world your game takes place in. Each player’s character controls their own mecha.

Pilot: A person who drives a mecha. They might be called other things, depending on the setting, but the rules refer to them as pilots.

PC: Stands for “player character”, which is exactly what it sounds like—a character created and controlled by one of the players. Anyone else in the world is an NPC, or non-player character, controlled by the narrator.

Narrator: The person at the table who isn’t a player, who describes and controls the world the PCs interact with, adjudicates the rules, and helps drive the action.

Playbook: A collection of specialized, powerful moves that a PC gains after surviving their first mission and graduating from their rookie status. Your playbook helps define your role as part of the team, and gives you tools to fill that role better. It also suggests some of your character’s personality.

Roll +Stat: Roll two six-sided dice (2d6) and add the listed stat to your result. A 10 or higher is a complete success; a 7-9 is a partial success, meaning you succeed, but at a cost. A 6 or lower is a failure; you don't want that.

Move: A thing you do that requires dice rolls. Everyone has access to a set of basic moves from the beginning, and gains special moves specific to their character later on.

Forward: The next time you roll the type of roll you have forward on, add the listed number to the roll. So, “+1 forward on skill” means your next skill roll gains an extra +1 bonus.

Ongoing: An ongoing value to a type of roll means you add or subtract the indicated amount every time you make that type of roll until the ongoing condition ends. So, “-1 ongoing to resolve until you stop and rest” means all your resolve rolls are at a -1 penalty until you stop and rest.

Hold: A sort of currency gained by using certain moves, which can then be spent via the same move or a different one to do stuff. Each move that uses hold will explain how.

Damage: Refers to harm suffered from enemy attacks and other hazards. A player’s mecha can sustain damage once and survive; take damage again, and the player will either be forced to eject or, more likely, killed outright.

Kill: A serious, telling hit that can take out a mecha or enemy. When a PC or an enemy has suffered damage once, taking damage again means they’re killed (though a PC can sometimes escape this by ejecting). Some things can also kill an undamaged target. A killed PC is dead; some enemies require more than one kill to defeat. If you're killed as a rookie, as is likely, your death will be quick and unceremonious—if you're lucky, you might have time to curse fate or scream a loved one's name before the end. At higher levels, the narrator might give you a few breaths for last words; use the time to bid your comrades farewell and wonder where all these flower petals came from.
Evasive maneuvers
When you move to avoid damage or danger, roll +skill.
On a 10+, you evade successfully and suffer no harm.
On a 7-9, you manage to avoid harm, but the narrator will inflict a disadvantage on you or present a difficult choice.
On a 6-, you’re too slow, and suffer damage. If you’ve already taken damage, you’re killed instead.

Open fire
When you attack from a distance to weaken your enemy, roll +intellect.
On a 10+, you manage to open your enemy up to a finishing attack and gain “locked on” as an advantage against that enemy.
On a 7-9, you still break through your enemy’s defenses and gain “locked on”, but overextend yourself to do so. Choose one:

The enemy immediately makes you its next target.
You’ve left yourself exposed to attack. Take -1 ongoing to skill until you can regain control of your position.
You’ve burned through a lot of your ammo. Take “low on ammo” as a disadvantage.
Shoot to kill
When you attack from a distance to take your enemy out for good, roll +intellect. You must burn a “locked on” advantage against your target to use this move.
On a 10+, your shot finds its target, and your enemy takes damage. If they have already taken damage, they are killed instead.
On a 7-9, you still manage to shoot straight, but pick one:

You expose yourself to counterattack, putting yourself in danger.
The stress of combat is starting to wear on you. Take -1 ongoing to discipline until you have a moment of relative safety to collect yourself.
You’ve burned through a lot of your ammo. Take “low on ammo” as a disadvantage.
Close the gap
When you attempt to close to melee range with an enemy, roll +skill.
On a 10+, you manage to close successfully and gain “close range” as an advantage against the target enemy.
On a 7-9, you close the distance and gain a “close range” advantage, but pick one:

Your enemy returns fire as you approach. Roll to perform evasive maneuvers.
Your approach puts you in a dangerous situation.
You’re running low on fuel. Take “low on fuel” as a disadvantage.
On a 6-, your advance is halted, and you get hurt in the attempt, suffering damage. If you’ve already taken damage, you are killed instead.

CQC
When you attempt to deliver a fatal blow at close range, roll +skill. You must burn a “close range” advantage against the target enemy to use this move.
On a 10+, your attack connects, and your enemy is killed.
On a 7-9, your enemy is killed, but pick one:

They manage to get in an attack of their own before they go down. Roll to perform evasive maneuvers.
You’ve ended up straight in the path of another threat, putting yourself in danger.
You’re running low on fuel. Take “low on fuel” as a disadvantage.
On a 6-, your attack goes wide or is deflected, and your enemy has a chance to get past your guard. Roll to perform evasive maneuvers.

Assess the situation
When you attempt to read the conditions of battle, roll +intellect.
On a 10+, ask two questions from the list below.
On a 7-9, ask one:

What can I turn to our advantage in this situation?
How does the enemy’s strength compare to our own?
What enemy or hazard poses the greatest threat?
What’s the safest path of retreat?

Keep it together
When you see or experience something that shakes your composure, roll +discipline.
On a 10+, you keep a clear head and can get back to the mission.
On a 7-9, you’re starting to waver. Take “panicked” as a disadvantage.
On a 6-, you break under the stress of the situation, and are paralyzed with fear. You can take no further action until placed in danger or given time to calm down.

Assist an ally
When you provide support for a comrade's action, roll +awareness. You can only do this before they roll. You can assist with any move except for escaping death--for that, you'll have to rush to the rescue.
On a 10+, they gain +2 on the move you help with.
On a 7-9, they gain +2, but your fate has been bound up with theirs. Any negative consequences they suffer from their move, you suffer too.

Rush to the rescue
When you rush into danger to save an ally, roll +awareness. You can do this after your ally has already failed to escape death.
On a 10+, you make it in time and guide your comrade to safety.
On a 7-9, you can only save them at the cost of your own life. Choose one:

You’re too slow to make it in time, and your ally is lost.
You heroically sacrifice yourself for their sake.
On a 6-, your rescue is a failure for both of you, and you perish together.

Escape death
When you find yourself in a dangerous situation, roll +resolve.
On a 10+, you awaken your will to survive and escape unharmed.
On a 7-9, you manage to get away, but just barely. Choose one:

You’re hit in the process, and suffer damage. If you’ve already taken damage, you must eject from your mecha before it’s destroyed (see below).
Escaping has left you drained and shell-shocked. Take -1 ongoing to resolve until you have a moment of relative safety to collect yourself.
Your mecha is disabled entirely, forcing you to eject from the cockpit. You’re out of the fight, and your mecha is gone, but most enemies will seek other targets.
On a 6-, you fail to escape, and meet your end at the hands of whatever danger you faced.

Luck
Any time you make a roll, after seeing the result, you can spend 1 luck to change the result to a 12. Any time an ally makes a roll, after seeing the result, you can spend 1 luck to increase the result up to a 7.
An advantage is any asset or circumstance that make things easier or safer for you during a mission. You gain advantages when you use moves that create them, and keep them either until they’re nullified by the situation, or until you exploit them (see below).

When you gain an advantage, write down a description of what it is. Some advantages can be of use to your allies, not just to you.

There are two ways to use advantages. The first is to exploit them to improve the outcome of a roll. You must say you’re doing this before you make a roll, working the advantage into your description of the action. If you do, treat the roll as one step higher than it really was (6- becomes 7-9, 7-9 becomes 10+, and 10+ becomes 12 if it wasn’t already).

The other use of advantages is to burn them for moves like shoot to kill and CQC that require them in order to be used at all. Burning an advantage this way means it’s used up and lost, and can’t be used to improve the roll (though you can exploit another useful advantage you have if you want).

A disadvantage is the opposite of an advantage, something that makes your mission more difficult or dangerous. Failing some moves can give you disadvantages, as can other situations you end up in. Disadvantages remain in play until you find a way to negate them or the narrator exploits them.

This can be done one of two ways. The first is to change a result of 10+ on one of your rolls into a 7-9, or a 7-9 into a 6-. This doesn’t work if you used luck on the roll.

The second way is to use it as a new complication that must be overcome during the mission. For example, if your mecha is “low on fuel”, the narrator might have it finally run dry at any time, which could be disastrous during combat…

“Locked on”: granted when you successfully open fire, and by many more specialized moves, this advantage represents having a clear shot at a vulnerable part of the enemy with a ranged weapon. It must be burned to shoot to kill, which is probably the only thing it’ll normally be used for. Note that when you have “locked on” against an enemy, it only applies to that enemy—you can’t burn it to shoot a different target.

“Close range”: The melee equivalent of “locked on”, gained when you successfully close the gap or perform another move that grants it. Gaining a “close range” advantage is more risky than fighting at range, but allows you to instantly take out some enemies, even if they haven’t been damaged yet. Just like “locked on”, it can only be burned to attack the enemy against which it was gained.

“Low on fuel”: A special disadvantage that comes up when you fail or partially succeed at certain moves, “low on fuel” means you’re in danger of running out of power for your mecha’s propulsion system—a dire prospect, as doing so basically leaves you a sitting duck for the enemy.

“Low on ammo”: Another special disadvantage that means you’re almost out of ammo for your ranged weaponry. Run out completely, and you’ll be forced to resort to highly dangerous melee combat if you want to do anything against the enemy.

“Panicked”: A disadvantage taken when you partially succeed on an attempt to keep it together, “panicked” means you haven’t completely frozen up in terror, but your composure is faltering and you’re acting erratically.
The kinds of names you’ll want to give your characters will vary depending on the setting of your game, but there are some rules you should follow regardless.

When you begin play as a rookie, choose only a first or last name for your pilot, depending on which your characters would be called by in their situation (for example, if your characters are soldiers, they’ll probably be called by their last names). Don't choose a name for your mecha. When you make it to level 1 or start play at level 1, give your pilot a full name, and choose a name for your mecha, a callsign, or both, as appropriate.
By default, every pilot in Mecha World begins as a rookie—an untested newbie, just taking their first steps into the dangerous profession of mecha piloting. As a rookie, odds are you won’t survive your first mission…but if you do, you’ll have taken your first step towards becoming a legend.

Basic Info
You begin at level 0, and have 0 luck. You only have one name, and your mecha doesn’t have one at all. Hold off on thinking up a detailed backstory—wouldn’t want your effort to go to waste.

Stats
Assign one of the following values to each of your stats: +2, +1, +1, 0, and -1.

Moves
You know all the basic moves, and nothing else. You’ll get your playbook and more moves once you survive your first mission and reach level 1.

Equipment
You get the following standard-issue equipment as part of your basic mecha.

Propulsion system. Whether mechanized joint servos, rocket thrusters, or biological limbs, this is how mecha move around. Propulsion systems require fuel, of which your supply is limited.
Sensors. The links between your cockpit and the outside world, every mecha comes equipped with systems that allow its pilot to see and keep them apprised of their machine’s status.
Ranged weapon. All mecha carry at least one form of weaponry that allows them to attack at a distance. Not as deadly as close-combat weaponry, but less risky. Ranged weapons require ammo to function.
Melee weapon. Mecha also have weapon systems that help them mix it up in hand-to-hand combat (or hand-to-claw, or hand-to-tentacle, or whatever). Melee weapons are more damaging than ranged ones, but getting close enough to use them is dangerous. On the plus side, they don’t have limited ammo.

You can load your mecha with one extra piece of equipment without impairing its propulsion system. Begin a mission with any more, and you’ll start with the disadvantage “encumbered”. If you don’t mind the extra weight, you can carry up to three extra pieces of equipment maximum.

Choose one extra piece of equipment to start with:

Extra fuel. No matter what your mecha runs on, a little more of it is always handy. If necessary, you can give this supply to someone else. Refueling takes a few minutes of downtime no matter who’s doing it.
Extra ammo. Being able to shoot for longer than the other guy is never a bad thing. You can pass this off to an ally who’s running low.
Heavy ordnance. Explosives, missiles, or just a bigger gun for extra ranged power. If you use heavy ordnance when shooting to kill, a success or partial success will kill the enemy even if it hasn't been damaged (you have to say you're using the heavy ordnance before you roll). Use it once and it’s gone.
Evasive system. Chaff, ECMs, force fields, or some other means of emergency defense. Using an evasive system gives you an automatic 10+ result on an evasive maneuvers move, unless that roll was because of a failure or partial success on a CQC move. This can be done after you roll. One use only.
Escape system. If you have to eject from your cockpit during a mission, this will ensure you get away safe, and keep you alive until someone comes to rescue you. When you partially succeed on an escape death move and choose or are forced to eject, even enemies who would normally keep pursuing you will be unable to. The system comes with enough provisions to sustain you for one week.
Mecha are complex inventions, and for most people, piloting one is hard. It’s a set of skills that normally takes intensive training and rigorous practice to be competent in.

Not so for you. You were born for this.

You pilot your mecha as naturally as moving your own body, pulling off incredible maneuvers with dazzling skill and grace.

Just don’t get cocky—as your superiors are quick to remind you, talent alone is rarely a substitute for experience.

Basic Info
When you first become an ace, you're level 1, with 2 luck. Choose your full name, and name your mecha or pick a callsign, or both, as appropriate. Describe your appearance, personality, and background, and what your mecha looks like.

Amazing maneuver
When you perform a complex and difficult stunt with your mecha, roll +skill.
On a 10+, gain an advantage appropriate to the maneuver performed, including “locked on” or “close range”, and pick two:

You manage to reach a position of safety, out of the enemy’s range.
One enemy is disoriented and stops attacking for a moment.
The adrenaline rush gives you +1 forward to any roll exploiting or burning the advantage gained from this move.
On a 7-9, gain an advantage and choose one of the above, but you’ve also drawn the enemy’s attention, and they’ll make you their next target.
On a 6-, you gain no advantage and don’t choose from the above list, but you’ve still drawn the enemy’s attention. Nice going, hotshot.

Flow of battle
When you destroy an enemy at close range, you gain a “locked on” or “close range” advantage against another enemy.
Improvement
Each time you survive a mission, your level increases by 1, your luck resets to 2, you can pick up new equipment, and you pick one of the following options. Each can only be taken once.

+1 skill.
+1 intellect.
+1 discipline.
+1 awareness.
+1 resolve.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
When you reach level 6, the following additional options become available.

+1 to any stat (no stat can be raised higher than +3).
Luck is set to 3 after each mission instead of 2.
One starting move from another playbook.
One advanced move from another playbook that you already have a starting move in.

Can't touch this
When you attempt to maneuver safely through a large group of enemies, roll +skill.
On a 10+, you reach the other side unharmed.
On a 7-9, pick one:

You don’t quite make it to safety, and are still just within attack range.
You’ve overtaxed your systems in the process. Take -1 ongoing to skill until you have a safe moment to let your machine recover.
You’re running low on fuel. Take “low on fuel” as a disadvantage.
On a 6-, you’re too slow to make it through, and are now in danger.

Crack shot
When you shoot to kill, you can roll +skill instead of +intellect.

Charge in
When you charge ahead of your comrades to recklessly attack at close range by yourself, roll +skill.
On a 10+, you can kill an enemy without burning an advantage. However, now you're in the thick of it, and won't be able to charge forward like that again until the situation changes.
On a 7-9, your attack still succeeds as above, but choose one:

The enemy manages to surround you, putting you in danger.
You’ve overtaxed your systems with your attack. Take -1 ongoing to skill until you have a safe moment to let your machine recover.
You’re running low on fuel. Take “low on fuel” as a disadvantage.
On a 6-, your attack is repelled, and now you’re right in the middle of the enemy, very much in danger.

Too slow
When you roll a 12+ on evasive maneuvers, you can evade into a position to counterattack, gaining a “locked on” or “close range” advantage against the enemy you evaded.
Skilled soldiers may win battles, but information wins wars. You understand this better than most.

As a tactician, you hold “know thine enemy” as your golden rule.

With your knack for reading the battlefield, you can spot advantages and threats that would never occur to anyone else. You can predict your foe’s movements, cutting them off at every turn.

Just don’t go thinking you know everything. No matter how smart you are, the world doesn’t always work the way you expect—and, as they say, no plan survives contact with the enemy…

Basic Info
When you first become a tactician, you're level 1, with 2 luck. Choose your full name, and name your mecha or pick a callsign, or both, as appropriate. Describe your appearance, personality, and background, and what your mecha looks like.

I have an idea
When you take time to plan out a strategy for your mission, roll +intellect.
On a 10+, you can figure out the most effective path to the objective, but the narrator will tell you:

What complications might arise during the mission.
What resources you’ll need to make it work.
On a 7-9, a plan presents itself, but it’s a long shot, near suicide, or both. If you manage to pull it off anyway, though, the mission can still be a success.

On my mark
When you attempt to spot an opening for an ally to strike, roll +intellect.
On a 10+, your ally gains “locked on” or “close range” as an advantage (their choice).
On a 7-9, your ally gains an advantage, but the opening is fleeting—they’ll have to strike right away to take advantage of it.
Improvement
Each time you survive a mission, your level increases by 1, your luck resets to 2, you can pick up new equipment, and you pick one of the following options. Each can only be taken once.

+1 skill.
+1 intellect.
+1 discipline.
+1 awareness.
+1 resolve.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
When you reach level 6, the following additional options become available.

+1 to any stat (no stat can be raised higher than +3).
Luck is set to 3 after each mission instead of 2.
One starting move from another playbook.
One advanced move from another playbook that you already have a starting move in.

Boom, headshot
When you shoot to kill and roll a 12+, the target is killed even if it hasn’t suffered damage.

Suppressive fire
When you attempt to interfere with an enemy’s movements by firing at them, roll +intellect.
On a 10+, the enemy is pinned by your hail of fire, and is unable to attack for a moment.
On a 7-9, the enemy is suppressed, but pick one:

The enemy immediately redirects its attention towards you.
You’ve left yourself vulnerable to a flanking attack. Take -1 ongoing to skill until you can regain control of your position.
You’ve burned through a lot of ammo. Take “low on ammo” as a disadvantage.

Battlefield intuition
When you assess the situation, you can ask an additional question on a 7+.

I knew you'd do that
When you exploit an advantage to perform evasive maneuvers, the result is automatically a 12.
Every team needs a leader, and a good leader needs a lot of things.

A good leader has to be able to keep a clear head under pressure. To be the pillar of stability when everyone else around them starts to crack. To have the presence and confidence that inspire others to follow their orders.

To your comrades, you are that person. When the world goes to hell, you stand firm, ready to guide them home safe.

Just be prepared for the pressure. When everyone depends on you, it’s easy to start thinking everything that goes wrong is your fault—and that kind of self-doubt is death to a leader.

Basic Info
When you first become a commander, you're level 1, with 2 luck. Choose your full name, and name your mecha or pick a callsign, or both, as appropriate. Describe your appearance, personality, and background, and what your mecha looks like.

Follow my lead
When you attack in concert with an ally, roll +discipline.
On a 10+, you and your ally both gain either “locked on” or “close range” as an advantage against the target (both of you get the same advantage, your choice), and your ally gains +1 forward to their next attack against it.
On a 7-9, your ally gains an advantage and +1 forward, but you get hit in the process of creating an opening, and take a disadvantage.

Snap out of it
When you talk down a panicked or paralyzed ally, roll +discipline.
On a 10+, your words are enough to soothe their nerves, and they are no longer panicked or paralyzed.
On a 7-9, they calm down, but your own composure is weakening. Take -1 ongoing to discipline until you have a chance to pull yourself together.
Improvement
Each time you survive a mission, your level increases by 1, your luck resets to 2, you can pick up new equipment, and you pick one of the following options. Each can only be taken once.

+1 skill.
+1 intellect.
+1 discipline.
+1 awareness.
+1 resolve.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
When you reach level 6, the following additional options become available.

+1 to any stat (no stat can be raised higher than +3).
Luck is set to 3 after each mission instead of 2.
One starting move from another playbook.
One advanced move from another playbook that you already have a starting move in.

Stand united
When you give an inspiring speech to your comrades before a mission, roll +discipline.
On a 10+, each person who listens gains +1 forward to their first two rolls of the mission.
On a 7-9, each person who listens gains +1 forward to their first roll of the mission.

Reinforcements
When you coordinate with command or another team before a mission, roll +discipline.
On a 10+, gain 2 hold.
On a 7-9, gain 1 hold.
You may spend 1 hold to have reinforcements arrive at a critical moment in the mission.

Privilege of rank
When you successfully complete a mission, you gain the advantage “reputation”. You can burn this advantage to ask your superiors for any resources, information, or assistance you need, and unless it’s highly classified or really unreasonable, you’ll get it. If you burn three advantages, you can even get the classified or unreasonable stuff.

This is how we do it
When you kill an enemy, choose one:

One ally who can see you gains +1 forward to their next roll.
One ally who can see you is no longer panicked or paralyzed.
In war, soldiers die—it’s simple fact. Things go wrong, people get killed.

That’s why the team has you.

As a guardian, protecting your comrades is more important to you than anything else in the world. You’re the one who makes it your mission to throw yourself into the line of fire to ensure no one is left behind. You can take the punishment others can’t. You can protect them.

Just remember—in war, soldiers die. If you break under the weight of your failures, what good will you be to anyone?

Basic Info
When you first become a guardian, you're level 1, with 2 luck. Choose your full name, and name your mecha or pick a callsign, or both, as appropriate. Describe your appearance, personality, and background, and what your mecha looks like.

Got your back
When you rush to the rescue, the normal results are replaced with the following:
On a 10+, you manage to reach your ally and both get out safe.
On a 7-9, you don’t quite manage to escape unscathed, but at least you’re both alive. Take an appropriate disadvantage.
On a 6-, you heroically sacrifice yourself to save your comrade.

Overwatch
When you have an advantage against an enemy that threatens an ally, you may exploit the advantage to immediately open fire on that enemy before they can act. If the advantage is “locked on”, you may burn it to shoot to kill instead.
Improvement
Each time you survive a mission, your level increases by 1, your luck resets to 2, you can pick up new equipment, and you pick one of the following options. Each can only be taken once.

+1 skill.
+1 intellect.
+1 discipline.
+1 awareness.
+1 resolve.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
When you reach level 6, the following additional options become available.

+1 to any stat (no stat can be raised higher than +3).
Luck is set to 3 after each mission instead of 2.
One starting move from another playbook.
One advanced move from another playbook that you already have a starting move in.

Jury rig
When you take time to quickly fix up an ally’s mecha, roll +awareness.
On a 10+, your ally is no longer damaged.
On a 7-9, you can remove a disadvantage related to their mecha being banged up.

I'll handle this
When you attempt to rescue an ally in danger by attacking the enemy threatening them, roll +awareness. Do this before your ally tries to escape death. Whatever happens, you can still rush to their rescue.
On a 10+, you arrive in time to save your ally, and the enemy is killed.
On a 7-9, choose one:

You’re a little too slow in taking out the enemy. Your ally suffers damage, or is forced to eject if they’re damaged already.
Your ally is able to get away, but the enemy is only damaged.

Mess with them, mess with me
When you successfully rescue an ally from danger, you may roll +awareness.
On a 10+, the enemy that threatened them immediately makes you its target instead, and you gain an advantage that you can exploit against it.
On a 7-9, the enemy targets you, but you don’t get an advantage.

No one left behind
When you move to regroup with an ally who’s been cut off from support, roll +awareness.
On a 10+, you’re able to make it to them without incident.
On a 7-9, you can still reach them, but you take some hits doing it. Take an appropriate disadvantage.
You don’t have incredible talent as a pilot. You don’t have nerves of steel. You don’t have the brain of a genius, or a knack for leadership.

What you do have is sheer, bloody-minded determination.

You've dedicated your life to a mission, a purpose greater than yourself. Maybe it’s to protect someone you love, or to seek vengeance on those who took them from you. Whatever it is, it’s what drives you to fight, and when all hope is lost, it gives you the strength to go on, to defy the odds and win when no one else can.

Just take care that your purpose doesn’t consume you. People have driven themselves crazy fighting for noble causes…

Basic Info
When you first become a crusader, you're level 1, with 2 luck. Choose your full name, and name your mecha or pick a callsign, or both, as appropriate. Describe your appearance, personality, and background, and what your mecha looks like.

Limit break
When you or the things you care about most are in great danger, roll +resolve.
On a 10+, you can tap into a buried reserve of strength and unleash amazing power, gaining 4 hold. Maybe your mecha has a last-resort superweapon, locked away except in an emergency. Maybe it has performance limiters that can be disabled to unleash a form of hyper-mode. Or maybe it’s all you, throwing caution to the wind and just giving it everything you’ve got.
On a 7-9, you gain 3 hold, but choose one:

You go berserk, leaping into the fray and attacking without concern for your own safety or the success of the mission. Calming you down will require either all enemies to be defeated, or an ally to snap you out of it.
Your lashing out draws the attention of every enemy, and they all immediately focus on you.While you are limit breaking, you may spend 1 hold to:

Ignore the damage from an attack.
Perform an incredibly difficult maneuver.
Immediately kill an enemy.

Force of will
When you successfully limit break, you are no longer panicked or paralyzed, nor do you become so again after returning to normal.
Improvement
Each time you survive a mission, your level increases by 1, your luck resets to 2, you can pick up new equipment, and you pick one of the following options. Each can only be taken once.

+1 skill.
+1 intellect.
+1 discipline.
+1 awareness.
+1 resolve.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
One advanced move from your playbook.
When you reach level 6, the following additional options become available.

+1 to any stat (no stat can be raised higher than +3).
Luck is set to 3 after each mission instead of 2.
One starting move from another playbook.
One advanced move from another playbook that you already have a starting move in.

Super robot
Pick one of the following. You gain your choice as an advantage when you limit break. You can take this move multiple times, selecting a different advantage each time.

Your limit break activates nigh-impenetrable defense systems.
Your limit break confers powerful offensive capabilities.
Your limit break grants incredible speed and agility.
Your limit break includes self-repair functions that fix damage to your mecha.

I mustn't run away
When you attempt to keep it together, you can roll +resolve instead of +discipline.

Big damn hero
When you successfully limit break, all allies who see you do so gain +1 forward to their next roll. Each time you spend hold, they gain +1 forward to another subsequent roll.
The Narrator's Agenda

Facilitate cool giant robot action.
Balance the robot action with human drama.
Show humanity at its best and worst.
Play to find out what happens.

The Narrator's Principles

Begin and end with the fiction.
Never let them think success is guaranteed.
Never make them think success is impossible.
Balance high risk with high reward.
Threaten what they care about.
Make every mission memorable and unique.

The Players' Agenda
Read this to your players when you begin the game.

Fight for what you care about.
Risk everything for success.
Show your character’s greatest strengths.
Show your character’s greatest flaws.

Reveal a complication
Introduce something that shakes up the situation in a scary, unpleasant way. That enemy you just defeated called for reinforcements. An allied unit needs backup. Your intel was wrong and now you’re surrounded. You get the picture.
Inflict a disadvantage
When the PCs fail or partially succeed at something, they’re often in a position to incur disadvantages. Exercise your best judgment in what to inflict on them, then tell them to write it down and keep it in mind until further notice.
Exploit a disadvantage
Then, once they’ve started taking punishment, have it come back to bite them. As long as a player still has a disadvantage (as in, it still makes sense as something that would hinder them), you can exploit it to lower the result of one of their rolls by one step—so a success becomes a partial success, and a partial success becomes a failure. Remember, you can’t do this if someone spent luck on the roll. Also, once you exploit a disadvantage, it’s gone.
Damage their mecha
The whole point of Mecha World is that the players pilot mecha, and being stuck without one, or with a partially broken one, is a serious problem. The most extreme form of this is disabling a player’s mecha entirely, forcing them to abandon it and eject. Inflicting damage on a player puts them one step closer to being bumped off for good. And knocking out one or more of their essential systems can introduce all sorts of other complications.
Separate them from the group
In the chaos of battle, group cohesion is important, and taking it away can mess things up in a bunch of ways. If someone overextends themselves, don’t hesitate to follow it to its logical conclusion and cut them off from support. Now the group has to deal with it.
Put them in danger
This is when things get the direst for the PCs. The enemy has you surrounded, ready to open fire. An explosive device is primed to go off if you so much as twitch. If someone messes up at a crucial moment, don’t hesitate to put them on the spot and demand that they take immediate action to save their ass.
Super vs. Real
As explained at the very beginning, Mecha World is designed to be used for more real robot than super robot games. By default, the game is highly lethal, especially for new characters, and it’s expected that people will die, possibly frequently.

However, if that doesn’t suit your taste, there’s an easy way to ramp down the deadliness: give the PCs’ mecha more kills. If the PCs can take more punishment in combat, they won’t be as reliant on the luck of the dice to pull through, and will have a greater likelihood of surviving for long careers.

Another way to up the PCs’ power level is to skip the rookie phase when making characters, and just give everyone access to their playbooks right off the bat. Veteran characters have a lot more tools for escaping death than newbies do, and letting them start with those kinds of options will go a long way towards keeping them alive. If you want to do this, have the players assign their stats and choose equipment as if they were creating rookies, and then just increase their level, luck, and move selection as normal.

Finally, one other thing you could do is give the PCs more equipment. By default, they can only have one thing at a time without being at a disadvantage, and three at the absolute maximum, but some of the equipment they can carry is actually pretty powerful when used correctly, and giving them a less restrictive limit is potentially a big boost.

Enemies
No matter what the setting or story of your game, your players will need someone or something to fight, a threat to oppose. The enemy can be basically anything that works for you, but keep in mind a few guidelines for creating different kinds of enemies.

Standard enemies: These will be relatively run-of-the-mill opponents that are about equal in power to one of the players’ characters. Just like PCs, they can be damaged once before they are killed, and when killed once, they’re done. If you want things to actually be challenging, these enemies should probably show up in groups. If you’re running a less lethal game, you can adjust the enemies’ kill limits accordingly, or leave them weaker than the PCs to let the players really feel like heroes.

Strong enemies: To make bigger, badder bad guys who can threaten a whole group of PCs by themselves, just increase the number of times they have to be Killed before they actually die. For enemies like this, no amount of kills does anything to weaken them until they’re completely defeated.

Enemies with parts: Sometimes, you might want a type of enemy that doesn’t go down easily, but can be weakened by hitting particular parts it has. For this type of fight, just treat the single enemy as a group of standard or strong enemies, but describe it as all one thing. Defeating one or more parts of the enemy will take away more of its ability to act, granting the PCs greater and greater advantage.

Enemies with specific vulnerabilities: If you want your bad guys to only be really vulnerable to one type of weapon, to have just one specific weak spot, or something along those lines, you can make it so only ranged weapons or only melee weapons can kill them. Depending on the game, you might even have to specify further, by saying only a specific type of melee or ranged weapon is effective, and anyone without that exact thing is out of luck (in that case, you should make sure everyone has access). Even if you do this, you should allow other types of attacks to create advantages against the enemies, since lots of players will be able to grant those advantages to allies who might be better equipped to do the honors.
Mecha World owes inspiration to Apocalypse World and other games using the Powered by the Apocalypse engine, particularly Titan World. Obviously, it also borrows from various works in the mecha genre, particularly the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion and Knights of Sidonia.

Rohan_Pony
2016-04-05, 06:25 AM
On the surface, I like it - the Advantages and Disadvantages provide just enough of a pacing/range/fuel/ammo mechanic to give combat enough detail.

I'd like to see more uses for some of the stats like Awareness - unless you're the Guardian, it's not really useful at all. And maybe some clarification on whether you can Rush to the Rescue after a failed Escape Death, or whether you Escape Death after a failed Rush to the Rescue.

I would totally meld this with Night Witches' Day Moves to add some out-of-the-cockpit rules and run a Heavy Gear-esque campaign with this. You know what, if you need help testing this, I'm game.

Have you come up with your own printable playbooks?

...do you need help making some?

Amaril
2016-04-05, 01:22 PM
On the surface, I like it - the Advantages and Disadvantages provide just enough of a pacing/range/fuel/ammo mechanic to give combat enough detail.

I'd like to see more uses for some of the stats like Awareness - unless you're the Guardian, it's not really useful at all. And maybe some clarification on whether you can Rush to the Rescue after a failed Escape Death, or whether you Escape Death after a failed Rush to the Rescue.

I would totally meld this with Night Witches' Day Moves to add some out-of-the-cockpit rules and run a Heavy Gear-esque campaign with this. You know what, if you need help testing this, I'm game.

Have you come up with your own printable playbooks?

...do you need help making some?

Hey, thanks for stopping in! I can't claim full credit for the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanics, they're taken from the Titan World system I mostly based this on. A lot of this is just straight-up taken from Titan World, really, with minor mechanical tweaks and some serious refluffing.

The narrow utility of certain stats is one of those things. I do agree, now you point it out, that there should be more to do with Awareness at the very least--I think Discipline and Resolve are probably okay enough as they are, since the things that make them necessary are pretty central and frequent, but Rush to the Rescue does seem a little peripheral. I'll try and come up with one more basic Move to tie to it. For the record, you can Rush to the Rescue after your ally has already failed to Escape Death, I'll add that in.

Are you actually offering to run a game like that? Because if so, I'd totally play. Actually, that seems like a good way of testing the system: if I were the Narrator, I'd have the benefit of knowing my original intent for all the rules as written, and the assessment wouldn't be as objective, whereas having someone else try to run it would help make it obvious where I was clear enough and what needs work. Either way, I just picked up Nachthexen and will take a look, so I can see about adapting some of it.

And if you're willing to help make this into a polished document, I will be forever in your debt.

JNAProductions
2016-04-05, 01:38 PM
I'd be willing to try learning the system and play in it. I do love me some mecha.

Amaril
2016-04-05, 03:55 PM
Added a new basic move tied to awareness: assist an ally. Hopefully, this should help make it a more generally useful stat.

Rohan_Pony
2016-04-06, 12:08 PM
Added a new basic move tied to awareness: assist an ally. Hopefully, this should help make it a more generally useful stat.

Your responses may be some of the least crappy things I've seen today. Thank you for salvaging today.

It's pretty late where I am but I'll reply real quick: Yeah, I'm offering. :)

Amaril
2016-04-06, 12:22 PM
Your responses may be some of the least crappy things I've seen today. Thank you for salvaging today.

It's pretty late where I am but I'll reply real quick: Yeah, I'm offering. :)

My pleasure :smallbiggrin:

Well, if you open a recruitment thread, I'll be over there before you can say ikimasu!

Rohan_Pony
2016-04-13, 05:30 AM
Well, that was a rubbish half-a-week, a really hectic weekend and another few days running the office by myself...

Yes, I'd like to test this game, as I said.


My pleasure :smallbiggrin:

Well, if you open a recruitment thread, I'll be over there before you can say ikimasu!

I've never run PBP here before, but it looks like the same thing as it was when I used to run Heavy Gear campaigns on RPG.net, so...I'll give this a shot soon.

Quality
2016-08-08, 03:44 PM
Hey, so I just want to start out by saying that I'm *really* impressed with Mecha World! It's very close in spirit to a homebrew I was working on a while back and then abandoned. Your project hit every note I was trying to hit, and very neatly resolves some fundamental design issues that had really stumped me. I'd really like to see this game in print, for no other reason than it's something I'd want to get into personally (and so, I think, would a lot of other people). I'd pick it over any other existing system (even Chris Perrin's 'Mecha,' which was my previous favorite) for running a Macross or Gundam-style game. I don't know if it's something you've ever considered publishing, but I'd strongly encourage it, and would be more than happy to do anything I can within reason to get it out there (if that's your intent, anyway).

Because I've been checking it out so closely, I can't help but cast an "editor's eye" on it, nitpicking a few things, raising questions about how certain mechanics work, or imagining how you might best present it were you to compile it into a complete book (which of course it basically already is -- and a very good one).

If I may be so bold, here are some of my questions and comments. I'll kind of break them into sections since this is gonna get long-winded. I hope you're not annoyed with my observations; given that you're designing a tabletop game for the first time, it's crazy complete this project already feels and how few problems it seems to present, even when I'm actively looking for them.

12+ Results
I notice that The Ace ("Too Slow") and The Tactician ("Boom! Headshot") both have advanced moves that define a special effect obtainable on a 12+ result. This is a really strong concept (and one that I'm aware originally comes from Apocalypse World), and it seems like it might be cool to open up this mechanic to the other three playbooks as well. Certainly not a necessity, but I was kind of puzzled that only two of the playbooks used this mechanic.

Also related to 12+ results, a question. If you're rolling one of the above moves and burning an Advantage to do so, and you get a result of 10 or 11, does that mean the Advantage bumps the result up to a 12? I'd probably house rule it this way for my own use, but I'm curious if that's something you'd intended. By the same token, does rolling with a Disadvantage and then getting a 12+ result bump your final result down to the 10+ level, or does it go all the way down to a mixed success (7-9)? Again, I'd probably house rule it to be like the former, but I'd love to know what the "out of the box" resolution is supposed to be.

Differentiating Mecha
This is a really broad one. I'm playing devil's advocate here because I think you've already addressed some key points in the Narrator's section (e.g. allowing mecha to take more or fewer hits, or giving them unique vulnerabilities or immunities), but hear me out. I think some people will look at this ruleset and become confused about how to make individual mecha meaningfully different from each other, beyond cosmetic description.

One of the things I really like about your system is that it elegantly sidesteps the whole question of how to define mecha statistically. For the most part it doesn't, and that is way more in-step with this genre of anime than most other games care to acknowledge. Please don't reneg on this excellent choice! But most mecha anime still use tropes that hinge on certain mecha having extraordinary qualities. I think readers will be looking for this especially when it comes to the PCs' mecha. Each player is going to want to feel that their mecha is special (at least at higher levels), and maybe letting the players give each one a unique “custom move” would be a good idea. Some kind of move, that is, that's usable by whoever's piloting the mecha, and doesn't follow the character around.

I think it would be worth looking into dedicating a whole section / chapter just to discussing how to address mecha with special features, with lots of examples of how, mechanically speaking, you'd resolve common situations like if one or two mecha on the battlefield are much faster than all the others, or if one mecha has an unusual weapon or fighting style. I get the impression you already have a perfectly clear idea how you want to handle all of this but I personally could do with some explanation and more importantly some examples to drive the idea home.

Out-of-Combat Activity
The other thing that's going to come up is that a lot of groups, I think especially ones who are partial to "story games," are going to want to roleplay a lot of out-of-mecha, or out-of-combat action. As presented, the game doesn't really appear to address this. This is, of course, not a shortcoming in itself. However, I think there's a lot of potential here for non-combat action to have interesting effects on the objectives and conditions the players are dealing with on the battlefield. I know this has already been mentioned in this thread, so I don't mean to beat a dead horse. The idea of adapting some of the Day Moves from 'Night Witches' is one very promising solution. However, I'd argue that having a discrete move-set for out of combat action isn't the only viable approach here.

Since the in-combat move set is so hyper-focused, the out-of-combat portion is potentially a space in which a more open-ended mechanic could be used. I'm imagining something like an auxiliary basic move, let's say it's called "Change the Situation," that applies whenever a player tries to do something that would significantly alter character relationships, the course of the story, the player group's strategic options, or the circumstances surrounding the central mission. This could mean anything from a heartfelt conversation between two characters, to a reconnaissance mission, to a political summit at which large-scale alliances and enmities will be decided. (This raises questions like, "Do the two characters become close friends, or do they start to distrust one another?" or "Does the recon mission go well -- meaning the players can take their enemy by surprise -- or is their cover blown, meaning any future attacks will be fully expected?" or "Does the player group make an important new alliance, or are they shut out of the proceedings leaving them with little or no material support?")

I imagine this hypothetical move to be open ended to the point where the player straighforwardly wagers a narrative outcome of their own invention, the Narrator counters with both "soft" complications that could attend that outcome (on a mixed result) and "hard" outcomes that can totally screw the players over (on a failure). If the players are willing to live with this bargain (maybe they take a vote or something if it's an action that implicates the whole group) the Narrator then decides which player is rolling and which stat they're using, and the move is resolved like normal. Everybody holds their breath while they wait to see what happens, and then they all have to live with the consequences. So basically like any other move, except the outcomes are negotiated on the spot every time, and there's really no limit to what they can entail.

Maybe this is a much broader, solution than anything you'd want to implement, but I like it if for no other reasons than that it a) gives the players a lot of narrative input, b) encourages out-of-combat scenes to be realized from a "zoomed out" perspective (rather than the more detailed action that takes place in that all-important mecha combat), and c) doesn't really add any additional rules to keep track of, aside from that one move. Full disclosure, I kinda stole this idea from Chris Perrin's 'Mecha.'

In case it's not familiar, that game uses a TV-like episodic structure, where each game session is a series of discrete scenes culminating in a final battle. Each of the scenes prior to the final battle is basically defined by one of the players (they take turns), and the players are pretty much responsible for deciding the subject matter and narrative stakes of each scene. (In 'Mecha' the implementation of this is actually somewhat restrictive, as there are several prescribed "types" of scene from which players must choose, and fairly specific mechanics for each).

Basically, each player gets to "direct" a scene that stars their character (although any or all of the other characters may be present and involved). Each of these scenes culminates in a single die roll (or a single "move" in *World parlance) that, if the outcome is good, awards meta-game currencies that can be spent later on to improve the players' collective odds in battle. I really like this idea, but I'd love to see it approached with a less structured mentality. I just like the idea of quick scenes driven by the players' interests, culminating in one really fraught die roll, the repercussions of which will later be felt during key moments on the battlefield. It stands to reason that these kinds of outcomes could be easily expressed as "hold," or as "advantages / disadvantages" that are carried into the mission proper. It seems like most groups could be trusted to make this stuff up on the spot as the fiction demands, as long as there was a general framework for turning those volatile situations into regular *World-style dice rolls.

It certainly hasn't escaped my notice, though, that there are already three special moves in Mecha World that appear to be specially for out-of-combat use. I'm thinking of The Commander's "Reinforcements," "Privilege of Rank," and "Stand United." These are great moves and I think they have the potential to add tremendous interest to the proceedings. I just think it would be cool if other playbooks besides just The Commander could share in these possibilities.

Anyway, my larger question here is whether or not you're interested in codifying out-of-combat action in the first place, and if so do you have any thoughts about what kind of solution is most appealing to you?

Is The Crusader's "Super Robot" Move a Game-Breaker?
I may be off-base with this one, but on my initial read through of the "Limit Break" and "Super Robot" moves, they struck me as features that could be abused by higher-level PCs. I don't want to see them go away, by any means, because I think they fit like a glove with the mecha anime tropes you're drawing on. But some more specific language about exactly how and when these moves can be triggered might be helpful, since it seems like once they're activated ("Super Robot" in particular), The Crusader is really going to dominate the mission, possibly to the detriment of the other characters. It's totally genre-appropriate and very cool if The Crusader gets to steamroll every enemy in sight once in a while, but if this becomes a routine occurrence it could be problematic. My gripe may be ultimately unfounded, though. This is one of those things that's probably going to call for extensive playtesting to see if it's really an issue, or if it actually just kind of resolves itself in practice.

Anyway, thanks for reading all this. I'll keep my future posts short. Even if you're not too enthused about my input, rest assured I'd shell out for a hard copy of this game exactly as is, no changes required. The only thing I'd really have to house rule around would be how to set up each session, narratively. Even if you go for a strictly action-focused type of game, it would be cool to have some advice or a questionnaire or something that helps groups decide how to frame each scenario, how to work in the various characters and their personal baggage, what happens before and after the mission, etc.

Anyway, nice work and thanks for making this! If you do wind up doing a PBP of this or something, this is me volunteering!

Amaril
2016-08-08, 08:06 PM
[Really awesome stuff]

Yo, okay, thanks so much for taking the time to read over my work and make all those suggestions! I'm always eager for criticism, so let me just dive right in and address some of this stuff.

12+ Results

There are two ways to use advantages. The first is to exploit them to improve the outcome of a roll. You must say you’re doing this before you make a roll, working the advantage into your description of the action. If you do, treat the roll as one step higher than it really was (6- becomes 7-9, 7-9 becomes 10+, and 10+ becomes 12 if it wasn’t already).

...

A disadvantage is the opposite of an advantage, something that makes your mission more difficult or dangerous. Failing some moves can give you disadvantages, as can other situations you end up in. Disadvantages remain in play until you find a way to negate them or the narrator exploits them.

This can be done one of two ways. The first is to change a result of 10+ on one of your rolls into a 7-9, or a 7-9 into a 6-. This doesn’t work if you used luck on the roll. (Note: even if the move being reduced has an improved effect on a 12+ over a 10+, a disadvantage still reduces it to a 7-9, not to a regular 10+.)

To answer your second question first on this topic, the former bolded part was already in the rules, while the latter is my attempt to clarify the issue of disadvantages. Does that explain it?

And I see what you're saying about introducing the 12+ mechanic to more playbooks, but I'm just not sure I could come up with more thematically appropriate moves that make use of it. For the concepts I wanted to express with too slow and boom, headshot, it makes sense that they happen on the best possible roll, but I'm drawing a blank on analogous concepts for other playbooks that would logically work the same way. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Differentiating Mecha
You're right that I've pretty much avoided mechanics for giving different mecha different inherent abilities. Part of that is a stylistic choice (I'd intended this system for running the kinds of stories that don't rely so much on the unique qualities of different mecha), but one thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that the different playbook moves already allow players to do this. I sort of hint at this with the description for limit break, where I give several examples of what the character could actually be doing when they use the move, from activating an actual super-mode built into their mecha to just pulling crazy awesome stunts with their own piloting skills. In a game where mecha specs are a focus, the ace's move too slow (for example) could represent their mecha being Three Times Faster than a normal design. The abilities can come from anywhere--what's important to the mechanics is their actual effects. You're probably right that I should make this more explicit, though; I'll work on it.

Out-of-Combat Activity
This is something I've been struggling with, because I really do want to include something more in-depth for it. Part of the problem, though, is that while the conventions of mecha action are fairly consistent across different examples of the subgenre, the nature of what happens outside the cockpit is so hugely varied that it would be hard to represent with a single mechanical system, unless that system was so generic as to be sort of pointless.

However, I think your suggestion of resolving each scene with a specifically negotiated move is an excellent solution. All I'd have to do is include a short section describing a general structure for out-of-combat scenes--someone suggests a scene they'd like to play out, it happens, and if tension develops, the player who's most directly involved in the outcome hashes out the terms of a roll with the narrator, setting the relevant stat and possible outcomes based on what's going on. This is pretty much how my group ends up running PbtA already, and it's what I'd assumed people would do on their own, but again, I think making it explicit would be a big improvement.

Is The Crusader's "Super Robot" Move a Game-Breaker?
...Well, you're not wrong, it could be pretty badly abused by someone who was determined to do it. Mostly, though, I think that's just an occupational hazard with a system as open-ended as PbtA. It relies heavily on the players not to abuse the mechanics at their disposal, because they're more invested in creating an interesting and dramatic story than just advancing their own characters. It won't always work, but I think the risk is within acceptable limits.

Also, with super robot, keep in mind that as soon as you exploit or burn an advantage once, it's gone. The advantages from this move are no exception. It's definitely a boost, but I don't think it goes as far as allowing the crusader to effortlessly steamroll the entire rest of the session.

Anyway, I'm really glad to hear you think this is publishable! I'd love to get it out there more, except that to make a real, polished rules document, I'd need art and design work, and my artistic skills are nonexistent. I don't suppose you're offering to help with that? :smalltongue:

CinuzIta
2016-08-09, 07:44 AM
I'd like to try this too, but:

1. I've never played pbp, so I don't know the general rules. Can you point me out a tutorial or something?

2. To try this out, should I also know Powered By The Apocalypse's/Titan World's rules? I guess so, right..?

3. Other things I should know about pbp?

Sorry if these points looks naive/stupid but I don't really know the answers

Congratulations for this system, it looks very nice!

Amaril
2016-08-09, 01:30 PM
I'd like to try this too, but:

1. I've never played pbp, so I don't know the general rules. Can you point me out a tutorial or something?

2. To try this out, should I also know Powered By The Apocalypse's/Titan World's rules? I guess so, right..?

3. Other things I should know about pbp?

Sorry if these points looks naive/stupid but I don't really know the answers

Congratulations for this system, it looks very nice!

Thanks! Hate to disappoint, though, but I'm not planning on running this. I've gone rather off PbP lately, and anyway, my current circumstances aren't really conducive to GMing anything. To answer your second question, though, no, you don't need to know the rules to anything else to play this--the stuff here is meant to be a complete, independent ruleset (if it's not, I haven't done my job).

Quality
2016-08-09, 02:43 PM
Hey there, Amaril! Thanks so much for addressing my questions!

First off, my apologies for overlooking the rule that you'd already written about bumping up a 10+ result to a 12+. Oops… But that second part most definitely answers my question! Since that's the rule you'd intended, it's the one I'd use at the table.

As far as other 12+ type results that could happen, I'll take a closer look at some of the advanced moves and if I get any bright ideas I'll be sure to post 'em here.

Also thanks for clarifying your thinking about differentiating mecha. I think you're exactly right that the playbook moves already allow for giving mecha "special treatment" where groups will want to do so. Again, I really like the simplicity inherent in that approach. I still think it would be helpful to do a section that spells this out, but given how effectively you just explained that design choice to me in a single paragraph, I'd say this part could afford to be short and sweet.

And that's awesome that your group already uses something like that idea of individually-negotiated moves. I agree wholeheartedly about how the diverse tones and stories of mecha anime make it practically impossible to codify all the different things that a group might want to happen beyond the mecha. But yeah, if you're comfortable including that kind of open-ended move type it could be a good way to point people in the direction of doing some highly variable narrative stuff that happens in the buildup to, or in parallel with, the mecha action.

Also thanks for setting me straight about the Limit Break and Super Robot moves. The key point I was missing there was to think of them as advantages that are burned as a one-off. I think this pretty much handles the issue of those moves getting out of hand. Even though the rules are already clear about this, it might not hurt to tack a sentence or so on to either or both of those moves just to remind readers that their effects are meant to be short-term.



I would definitely like to help you assemble this whole package! I'm really only offering in regards to document formatting, and even in this area my skills are lacking so I can't make any big promises. But I'll bone up on the subject a bit and see if I can at least get a document started for you. If I can put together an example page or two, I'll be sure to send them your way.

About a year ago I was working on a game that I really wanted to pitch to a couple of specific publishers (even though it was pretty half-baked) and I spent some time turning into a relatively nice looking pdf. It was still constrained by the limits of my technical skills, sadly, but it was a step or two up from an MS word document or whatever. Still I've found that this kind of thing tends to be about outsourcing the right jobs to the right people. I imagine to get a really polished-looking document you'll (eventually) want to hit up an actual graphic designer. This would, of course, probably mean a modest fee. Then again there may be online forums or something for people who do this for rpgs in particular, so I'll take a look around and see if that's a thing.

One thing I'm not sure about is to what extent different publishers may be able to facilitate these tasks, assuming you can sell them on your actual product. I will take a look at who publishes some of the other leading PbtA games, what else they publish and so on, and if anybody looks promising I won't hesitate to suggest them. Whenever you're feeling ready to get this step, definitely check out your personal favorite publishers and see what their submission process looks like. Most of them seem to be very clear about only accepting "complete" games (as opposed to conceptual pitches), but I don't think this necessarily demands complete formatting and illustrations. Even though it may be that few of them are willing or able to take care of these elements on behalf of a game designer, I imagine many publishers to have a network (even if it's a small one) of artists and draftspeople they've worked with at some point. I would look especially at publishers who have anime-related publications under their belt. Specific examples forthcoming…

Then there's also the self-publishing angle, Kickstarter and all that (genuinely) good stuff, which seems to be a popular choice. Personally, I've always put more stock in "established" publishers, but then again I've never published a game so it's hard for me to anticipate what the actual experience is like. The benefit of self-publishing seems to be the ability to work at your own pace and not having to answer to anybody, while the drawback seems to be that you're totally "on your own" for artwork, printing and technical details. In the final analysis I can't say whether a "legit" publisher or self-publishing looks better in terms of balancing creative control with financial compensation. From when I was looking into this before, there seemed to be some debate about which is really preferable. To my mind, the benefit of a publishing house is that they have marketing resources, reputation, and distribution networks (online outlets, comic & gaming shops) on their side. That seems like a major factor in reaching the largest possible audience. But then it's all about getting the right publisher, rather than just the first one that seems approachable.

Proper artwork is always the tough part, of course, especially when your theme is something that comes from Japanese culture. There are scant few Western artists who seem really competent at recreating or adapting manga / anime styles, and it gets even tougher with mecha since there's a whole mechanical engineering sensibility involved. It's pretty tough to bs a really persuasive-looking robot design, which is why Western, small press mecha rpgs (my opinion, here) tend to have underwhelming artwork, and why products that are freely distributed online tend to have artwork that looks great but is basically just cribbed from assorted licensed properties. There's a Japanese mecha rpg (no English version, I'm afraid) called Metallic Guardian that looks pretty darn slick, but then again it's produced in Japan, by F.E.A.R., so of course it does… Anyhow, I'd respectfully caution you to be real choosy about the art aspect.

PbtA games seem to have this massive potential to draw in an audience outside of the established gaming subgroups, which is awesome, but these audiences are also pretty easily spooked by sub-standard artwork. I've seen some really genius game books that were hard to swallow presentation-wise because of some janky looking anime characters (presumably drawn by non-Japanese people). I'd say the Heavy Gear / Jovian Chronicles books are a pretty decent example (even though it doesn't "speak to me" all that much personally) of a western publisher doing an anime-influenced game with consistently palatable artwork and credible-looking mecha designs.

Still, I'd venture that somewhere out there are one or two artists who would be perfectly suited to this kind of project and happy to be part of it. I notice you live in Boston, so if you can find the right platform to solicit them there might actually be some really good local solutions. I'm imaging, for instance, an MIT student somewhere who's frothing at the mouth to draft some really cool mecha designs.

I know a handful of pretty talented artists, too, although I'm somewhat reluctant to recommend them since they don't specialize in anime / manga style designs (they are comic artists, however). Then again, it's up to you how closely you want to hew to those conventions anyway. I guess it's really a matter of what kind of possibilities you're willing to entertain as far as what the finished book would look like. To that end, feel free to share any thoughts you've had about what you might want the overall "look" of the game to be and that may give me an idea of what kind of artists to be on the lookout for. I'd be happy to put you in touch, assuming I know somebody whose work would be appealing. Pretty much any worthwhile artist you might find for this purpose is going to work on a commission basis, but since we're probably only talking about a cover image and a few splash pages and spot-illustrations the total amount of work to commission hopefully wouldn't be prohibitive. And this is another case where an established publisher may be able to foot the bill, which certainly seems worth looking into.

Maybe I'm just blinded by my own enthusiasm here but I think you're sitting on the best mecha game, at least the primo choice for people with narrativist leanings. Most of the mecha games that are already around are, I think, pretty good but there aren't very many of them, and yours approaches the subject from a unique angle. Plus most of these other games (like, say, Mekton) never really took off in a big way or at least haven't sustained their popularity over time, meaning there's still room in the "market" for a standout game. I've found a bunch of forum posts where people are asking "are there any good mecha rpgs out there?" and a lot of times the top recommendations involve cobbling something together out of rules from other games. There are precious few complete games that slide right into this niche.

Plus the PbtA trend seems to be a strong one. People are legitimately super excited about having this new way to play rpgs, and I think it's going to bring in a lot of new players and reclaim a lot of lapsed players (I'm more or less in this camp) who drifted from the hobby. Trust me, I scoured the internet looking for a setting-independent PbtA mecha game, and Mecha World is basically the one-and-only, and it's almost exactly what I'd imagined / hoped this kind of game would look like. Plus there seems to be this sort of mecha-related-media resurgence going on culturally, what with a well-received new Gundam series, and EVA still being popular years after the fact, and Gurran Lagan having been a big deal, and Pacific Rim and so on, so I think you've picked a fairly fortuitous pop-cultural moment to write a game like this.

So, I know a lot of this business about visual design and publishing may seem like jumping the gun since there's still playtesting and so on to be done (and since that's certainly not something to be rushed), but I'd argue that it never hurts to have an idea of exactly what you'll do and who you'll contact once you're feeling "ready to go" to those stages. And anyway, it sounds like you've got ample experience running and/or playing PbtA games anyway, so maybe that can minimize the amount of actual playtesting you'd need to do to see how it all fits together. Still, I do know that publishers like to hear that games have been playtested a bunch.

Then again there's something kind of reassuring about looking at the example of Apocalypse World. That's a pretty solid example, obviously, but even that game had plenty of aspects that I don't think were totally figured out until after it was already in print and lots of people were playing it. They just made a solid move by setting up forums where people could share their experiences and advice and build up smaller-scale communities. Maybe you could even do something like that with this game, like set up a beta test where, once you collect enough participants, people can try running it on their own (without you personally having to GM) and give feedback. Of course then you'd also have to make sure you had all the IP issues squared away such that nobody's gonna outright steal your ideas.
(Seems like gaming communities are usually pretty good about this? I'm not really sure, though).

Like I said, I'll try to get back to you with some actual concrete suggestions about publishers and artwork for you to check out at your leisure.

One more thing! In regards to CinuzIta's question about needing to know the rules of other PbtA games: Your ruleset is certainly complete on its own, but maybe you could throw in a short intorductory section that covers some basic concepts common to the Apocalypse Engine, the ones that are going to be most unfamiliar to newcomers. It is true that the whole "moves-beget-moves / 'to do something, do it' / GM doesn't roll dice / combat doesn't have turns or initiative" bundle can be disorienting the first time it's introduced. I even struggled a little with these things when I first read Apocalypse World, which of course went out of its way to "sell" all of these ideas. I don't think you necessarily need to rehash all of that, but a paragraph or two that summarize the basic flow of (for lack of a better term) PbtA gameplay might be helpful in ensuring that people understand Mecha World to be a truly standalone system. I'd like to get some of my acquaintances to try running this, but I'm a lousy GM so I'd be turning those duties over to somebody else who's already a natural in that role. Bearing in mind that they're born-and-raised D&D people, anything in the text itself that could help introduce this different approach (without, for instance, me wanting to coach them through it) would be handy.

Anyway sorry for another epic-length post XP
Thanks again for making this rad game. I'm sure you're plenty busy with other things, but I've got my fingers crossed that you'll keep working on this project when you're able!

Quality
2016-08-09, 07:59 PM
As a follow-up, here are some publishing related sites. I can't actually post links, apparently, so that's why there aren't any...


Cel*Style looks extremely promising… except that their site is down. The impression I get is that it's a temporary issue, though.
It's supposed to be a collective of artists and creative types collaborating on anime-related rpg content, so if they go back online at some point they'd be worth contacting.

Wise Turtle is the company that publishes the game O.V.A. They also run a convention called MechaCon, so this might be up their alley. Then again they may already be pretty much dedicated to their own O.V.A. line, but at least they might be able to point you in a direction.

Here's a list of links from Starline Publishing, who publish Golden Sky Stories.
Basically it's to other publishers or groups who deal with anime rpgs, or actual Japanese rpgs.
(( It's the Starline home page, followed by "/links" ))
It looks like a pretty solid list, and also has multiple links to the work of Ewan Cluney, who is somebody you may want to talk to.

Yaruki Zero Games is the site of the aforementioned Ewan Cluney. He was involved in Maid RPG, the first Japanese trpg released in English. If you want to get in touch with him, he might be able to provide some really informed pointers. According to his site, he's currently working on a book about designing and publishing rpgs.

I'm going to try to make you a clean-looking LibreOffice document of Mecha World, just as a gesture of goodwill (@_@ ) I can pretty much guarantee you that you'll need to turn it over to somebody more capable than me, though…

Amaril
2016-08-09, 09:46 PM
That would be awesome! I'm actually a decent graphic designer myself (it's just drawing that I suck at), so if you get the ball rolling, I'll have an easy time cleaning it up to my exacting specifications :smalltongue:

I'll take a look at some of those resources. Thanks a bunch!

CinuzIta
2016-08-10, 02:53 AM
Thanks! Hate to disappoint, though, but I'm not planning on running this. I've gone rather off PbP lately, and anyway, my current circumstances aren't really conducive to GMing anything. To answer your second question, though, no, you don't need to know the rules to anything else to play this--the stuff here is meant to be a complete, independent ruleset (if it's not, I haven't done my job).

It is clear, I just hadn't the time to read all the ruleset as I was studying when I found the thread so I gave a rapid read to the main post and the comments (where I had the impression Rohan_pony was proposing a pbp play)! Sorry for the misunderstadning :)

Also, after reading it whole, I confirm my first impression: the system looks very nice, congrats again :)

BladeofObliviom
2016-08-10, 10:50 AM
Okay, so this piqued my curiosity, and it broadly looks good. Admittedly my personal taste leans more toward something like the Armored Core series where you do a lot of tweaking with numbers and parts and such, but I realize that's exactly the sort of number-crunching this system is trying to avoid. The rest of this post should be understood with the caveat that I'm not familiar with other Powered by the Apocalypse systems and some of these things may have systemic answers that I don't see because they haven't been spelled out.


One thing that I immediately notice is that there does not seem to be an explicit combat framework. We have an idea of what people can do with their combat actions, but there isn't any explicit way to handle such actions written out short of narrator fiat. Generally tabletop combat is turn-based, but there's no mechanism to determine turn order (so far as I can see), and while there are certain things that can probably be done outside of one's own turn (Rush to the Rescue, for example, would be of little use if you couldn't do it during/after an enemy attack), these things just aren't spelled out anywhere. I'd be hard-pressed to actually run a combat in this system since there doesn't seem to be any way to handle structured time, basically. At the very least I'd need to houserule a round framework and a way to determine turn order, which seems like a problem.

On a more minor note, Close the Gap puts the user of the ability at close range to an enemy, but doesn't give the enemy that same edge. I understand why that would be mechanically desirable (it would be terribly reckless if moving into melee gave an enemy an opportunity to instakill you before you even have an opportunity to press your advantage) but it seems terribly incongruous for one mech to be in melee range of another and yet not. It may be that Closing the Gap effectively puts you in a position where you're in melee range but not vulnerable to immediate counterattack (like directly behind the enemy) but it's not implied by default.



EDIT: Having skimmed through some of the above posts, it sounds like there is indeed something I'm missing insofar as action economy goes. It should still probably be spelled out or otherwise explained for people like me who have no idea how this is supposed to work.


EDIT EDIT: I forgot to say something nice about something I like. Tying levels to missions completed is a detail I love. As a GM I rarely bother tracking XP anyway, and in my home games I usually just tell the PCs they level up when they accomplish some major goal rather than meticulously tracking numbers.

Quality
2016-08-10, 01:35 PM
BladeofOblivion, those are some good observations. Amaril can probably answer this better, but I can tell you that the absence of structured combat turns is a common feature of Apocalypse Engine games. Basically the circumstances that come up in the fiction imply who can attack when, and if necessary the Narrator / GM is responsible for "putting the spotlight" on PCs or enemies as they deem appropriate (in other words, deciding whose turn it is to act). It's kind of implied that players can act whenever they feel like it, with the GM making moves primarily in cases where the players fail, or when they're not sure what should happen next. The GM may also want to "spotlight" players who are reluctant to step forward and declare what they want to do, or who just haven't been "on screen" for a while.

In the case of a PC making a close-range attack, the assumption would be that their opponent is then also close enough to make a close-range counterattack. The rule of thumb is that a failed roll on a player's part opens an opportunity for the Narrator to make a "move" against them. This could be literally anything, but in a straight up combat exchange of course this would most likely be a melee counter-attack. Since the Narrator's moves allow include choices such as threatening the players, or outright damaging them, this would actually be a case where the Narrator could either inflict damage outright (after a failed player roll) or simply threaten them with harm, and allow the player a chance to escape, most likely with an Evasive Maneuvers move. The situation of "GM fiat" is actually a pretty common occurrence in *World games, as failed rolls by the players tend to let the GM do whatever they want. And the enemy doesn't explicitly get a "close range" bonus since advantages and disadvantages actually don't apply to enemies. In a sense, nothing applies to NPCs except whatever circumstances the fiction dictates. They don't have stats or anything like players do, and the Narrator / GM doesn't roll dice for them, ever. That's the "standard" approach anyway.

It's a weird system at first, but it actually works really well once everyone at the table gets accustomed to it. Also, I guess this line of questioning reinforces my opinion that this text could benefit from a section that lays all these concepts out.

Cheers!

Quality
2016-08-10, 01:38 PM
Amaril, that's awesome that you do graphic design! I am much reassured lol

It looks like I'm going to do this document in Scribus instead of LibreOffice, so hopefully it'll look a little cooler than what I initially thought I'd be able to do. Will probably take me a week or two to get it all done (mostly bc I'm just now learning the Scribus basics), but I'll let you know as soon as it starts coming together!

BladeofObliviom
2016-08-10, 07:12 PM
BladeofOblivion, those are some good observations. Amaril can probably answer this better, but I can tell you that the absence of structured combat turns is a common feature of Apocalypse Engine games. Basically the circumstances that come up in the fiction imply who can attack when, and if necessary the Narrator / GM is responsible for "putting the spotlight" on PCs or enemies as they deem appropriate (in other words, deciding whose turn it is to act). It's kind of implied that players can act whenever they feel like it, with the GM making moves primarily in cases where the players fail, or when they're not sure what should happen next. The GM may also want to "spotlight" players who are reluctant to step forward and declare what they want to do, or who just haven't been "on screen" for a while.

In the case of a PC making a close-range attack, the assumption would be that their opponent is then also close enough to make a close-range counterattack. The rule of thumb is that a failed roll on a player's part opens an opportunity for the Narrator to make a "move" against them. This could be literally anything, but in a straight up combat exchange of course this would most likely be a melee counter-attack. Since the Narrator's moves allow include choices such as threatening the players, or outright damaging them, this would actually be a case where the Narrator could either inflict damage outright (after a failed player roll) or simply threaten them with harm, and allow the player a chance to escape, most likely with an Evasive Maneuvers move. The situation of "GM fiat" is actually a pretty common occurrence in *World games, as failed rolls by the players tend to let the GM do whatever they want. And the enemy doesn't explicitly get a "close range" bonus since advantages and disadvantages actually don't apply to enemies. In a sense, nothing applies to NPCs except whatever circumstances the fiction dictates. They don't have stats or anything like players do, and the Narrator / GM doesn't roll dice for them, ever. That's the "standard" approach anyway.

It's a weird system at first, but it actually works really well once everyone at the table gets accustomed to it. Also, I guess this line of questioning reinforces my opinion that this text could benefit from a section that lays all these concepts out.

Cheers!

I see! That IS different from how I'm used to doing things; even in Freeform RP, players usually set a turn order for combat! I have played in an open game a little like this before, but it devolved pretty quickly into a shouting match (it probably didn't help that it was competitive) as everyone tried to do several things in a row. I can only assume that isn't the general experience, since there are human beings that actually enjoy a less structured action economy like this.

I suppose I assumed that the fluff under Standard Enemies being "about equal in power to one of the players’ characters" meant that they used similar rules, which might be my 3.5/PF-centrism showing.

It is different though, and I'll keep an eye on this. I'll agree that a primer on how Powered by the Apocalypse actually works would be very useful to first-time readers! I know I was quite confused to see something listed as an original system with seemingly incomplete rules.

Fri
2016-08-10, 11:24 PM
This is actually a pretty cool apocalypse-hack.

And strangely, similar with Quality, I also had read Chris Perrin's Mecha RPG and previously considered it as one of the best mecha rpg out there. And Mecha World could get some inspiration there to cover the things missing, like the out-of-combat activity and how to differentiate mechas, since that game also has similar design paradigm of narrativity and not thinking too much about stats and such..

I don't have specific things to point out, since I'm at work now, but I might add more comments later.

Knaight
2016-08-11, 01:21 AM
I suppose I assumed that the fluff under Standard Enemies being "about equal in power to one of the players’ characters" meant that they used similar rules, which might be my 3.5/PF-centrism showing.

It is different though, and I'll keep an eye on this. I'll agree that a primer on how Powered by the Apocalypse actually works would be very useful to first-time readers! I know I was quite confused to see something listed as an original system with seemingly incomplete rules.

Powered by the Apocalypse isn't a game - it's a label that marks a game that uses the core of the Apocalypse World engine. If you want to know how the core mechanics work, look there (or to any of the hacks that include enough core mechanics to explain the game).

Fri
2016-08-11, 10:40 AM
Hey, so to continue my previous post.

In Chris Perrin's Mecha RPG, each session are episodes, revolving around mecha battle with various objectives, and out of mecha scenes. How the out of mecha scenes works is like this.

In between mecha fights, each players got one scene for themselves, for them to basically get "spotlight" in the episode. Other players can join only if the current player invite them. They tell the game master what kind of scene it is (romance scene, infiltrating enemy base, asking for promotion) and what the goal is, then they rp it together with the gm and other players they invite. Then they roll something. Depending on what scene it is and how well they roll, they might get mechanical advantage for the next combat episode and achieve their objective. I think this work well with this system (the player and dm basically can decide what move would be fitting to the skill), it ensures everyone got spotlight, it let the player "control" the plot to some extent, and in PbP, all the "spotlight" scenes can actually be run together.

So for example, it's a "highschool students secretly fighting against evil government game."

For his spotlight scene, the tactician want to scout the government's base out of mecha. He invite some other party member, and roleplay how they pretend to be normal students visiting military base. Depending on the scene, then the GM could ask him to either roll assess the situation (to get info on enemy), or regain composure (to check whether they manage to pretend to be normal students because the guards are suspicious) and such. If it's success, the tactician got advantage for next battle, or disadvantage, and so on.

In the mean time, the Ace got an NPC rival/love interest, and he want to play out meeting with him in a cafe somewhere. Obviously he didn't invite anyone. So the Ace roleplay the meet with his starcrossed lover, and he try to convince the rival to change side. Roll... close the gap?

and so on :smallbiggrin:

Quality
2016-08-11, 02:47 PM
BladeofOblivion, sounds like you're catching on as far as how the Apocalypse Engine games tend to work. For some more insight, I'd even recommend just reading some different reviews of Apocalypse World, or maybe Dungeon World. Most of them make a point of addressing these unusual features, and the better-written ones explain them pretty well.

And the more I think about it, I'd say that most *World combat winds up falling into a loose turn-based structure anyway -- just because action tends to go around the table. And it seems like the standard assumption is that players, as a group, have the initiative, unless they're taken by surprise or something. And also that they maintain that initiative, unless individual PC combatants are disadvantaged in such a way that they are temporarily forced into a "reactive" role.

Also Fri, that's cool that you're also familiar with 'Mecha!' I always did find that scene structure very appealing, and wanted to try adapting it. I don't know about you but I've never actually played it... just read the book. If you've ever tried it out, I'd be interested to hear what it was like in practice.

Your thought about repurposing the existing basic moves for out-of-combat action is an interesting one, but I'd argue that once you're using them to obtain different results, they're really just different moves altogether. Like in that romance scenario you described, I don't think "Close the Gap" is the move to be looking at. First of all, I don't think Skill is the stat that would apply here, since that stat is about reflexes and physical precision. Awareness is the stat most related to empathy (according to the description in Amaril's rules), so I'd say that would be a good contender for which stat to roll. More importantly, each of the basic moves is defined mainly by the results it can produce. Since these are essentially all combat-related, I'd say none of the basic moves apply to this very inter-personal kind of scene. And since you're basically inventing the stakes of the move to fit the scene, I'd say you're also in effect inventing a whole new move in the process. You could even name it something incredibly specific like "Convince Your Love Interest to Switch Sides." What I would look for here is something that's just like a framework for making these moves up as needed. That's my thinking about it, anyway...

I do like the way that Mecha "monetizes" the outcomes of these scenes, though. Like I remember that you get "Tactics Points" for completing certain types of scenes (like recon), which have several very specific in-combat applications. I remember that one of them is you can spend Tactics Points at the beginning of a fight to alter your starting position (like up to x number of spaces away from wherever the GM says you start out). Those are cool mechanics, but I'd be concerned that they might bog down a more streamlined game like this by demanding extra rules, and extra "currencies" to fund them.

I did have the thought that, as an incentive to do strictly "personal" or "dramatic" types of out-of-combat scenes, you could have them produce Luck points (pending a successful move, of course). So often anime episodes, like in any other show really, will have these scenes that are just there to build character relationships but don't really drive the plot forward. I'm concerned that players might overlook opportunities for these kinds of scenes if they're overly worried about preparing for battle, but maybe this would be less of a problem if they knew you could get extra Luck for roleplaying scenes that are strictly about establishing relationships or revealing backstory. That would totally fit with mecha anime conventions, too, as these kinds of "quiet" scenes will often be referenced in flashback as some pilot remembers them during a critical moment in the heat of battle. Their mecha might be falling apart around them, and they're on the verge of giving up until they remember the one thing their love interest or role-model or best friend or whoever said to them that suddenly gives them the strength / emotion to make that all-important final attack. This totally fits with the way Luck works, so I think it's a decent possibility.

Quality
2016-08-11, 11:28 PM
Amaril, just an update that I've got a sample document for you whenever you're ready. It's no great shakes, but I think it's a workable mock-up. As a graphic designer I'm sure you'll be able to spot all the signs of my amateurish handywork...

It's missing some basic elements like a table of contents, author info and page numbers but that's stuff that's either for you to add, or I just haven't figured out how to do yet. Also I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what the cover image is (just stumbled across it during a quick search), but I'm sure it's not copyright-safe...

It's got a couple of suggested pages in there, too, for things like explaining the basic PbtA mechanics, and explaining what playbooks are. As you'll see, I didn't write any expository text about this -- it's just an example of what those kinds of pages might look like. I'd be more than happy to make an alternate version of the pdf with these pages removed, of course.

If you'd like to see them, just let me know what's the best way to send them to you. It's your text, so it's not going anywhere other than your inbox. I've got the pdf, and am happy to share the original Scribus document as well if that'd be of use to you. I'm not sure what software you like to use but if you want to edit the Scribus document directly, the program is freely distributed & appears to run on a variety of platforms. And if you want to use the pdf "as-is" for your own purposes, that's fine by me!

Amaril
2016-08-15, 01:44 AM
Hi everybody! Sorry I've been incommunicado for a bit, I was away backpacking. As soon as I get a chance, I'll take a look at everyone's contributions and offer my responses.

Quality, I'm not familiar with Scribus, but I'm sure I can pick it up easily, and since you've already put the work in on it, it seems like the best option. Is it possible you could PM me links to the Scribus and PDF files? If not, I'll message you and we'll figure something else out.

Quality
2016-08-16, 09:10 PM
Sorry about that. Here's one with actual links!

http://www.mediafire.com/download/h9h81hstmwycws3/M_World.pdf

http://www.mediafire.com/download/nne6np0niaa8dsd/M_World.sla

https://wiki.scribus.net/canvas/Download

Amaril
2016-08-16, 11:30 PM
Sorry about that. Here's one with actual links!

http://www.mediafire.com/download/h9h81hstmwycws3/M_World.pdf

http://www.mediafire.com/download/nne6np0niaa8dsd/M_World.sla

https://wiki.scribus.net/canvas/Download

Yay! :smallbiggrin: Thanks a bunch. When I've made more progress, I'll be back to let you know (still don't have much time on my hands this week, but things should clear up soon enough).

Quality
2016-08-17, 04:42 PM
Awesome! Also if anybody else gets to look at the doc, feel free to give feedback / advice.

Amaril
2016-08-26, 04:51 PM
Hi, everybody! New content here.

So, in response to the questions from people new to Powered by the Apocalypse about things like initiative and turn order, and those saying the stuff so far felt incomplete and lacking a basic foundation, here's my first attempt at an introductory "how to play" section that will hopefully make getting into this system make more sense. I'm thinking that in a published rule document, this would go in between the Terminology and Basic Moves sections. Take a look, let me know what you think, and I'll come back to revise.

If you’ve never played a roleplaying game before, you may be wondering just how all this is supposed to work. If you’ve never played a Powered by the Apocalypse game before, you might feel like certain things you’ve come to expect in roleplaying games are strangely absent from Mecha World. To help make things clearer, let’s go over the basic process for playing out a Mecha World game, and how the rules factor into it.

The Conversation
The basic essence of any Powered by the Apocalypse roleplaying game, Mecha World included, is a conversation. To put it simply, when you play, you, your fellow players, and the narrator are having a conversation about what you think should happen in the story—the fiction you’re creating through the game. Each person at the table has a different role. As a player, it’s your job to think about what your pilot is thinking, feeling, and doing, and to convey that to everyone else. As the narrator, your job is to portray the world and people around the pilots, to facilitate consensus among the players, to direct the spotlight wherever it should go to best keep everyone involved, and to moderate and oppose the pilots’ actions (so they aren’t just getting everything they want all the time). That’s not to say everyone has to remain rigidly within the confines of their role all the time. If you’re a player, and you have a really great idea about what you think another player’s pilot might do, or about something you’d like to see the narrator do, feel free to suggest it! If you’re the narrator, likewise! But in general, it’s best to leave the final say to whoever is in charge. It’s not up to you to dictate the other pilots’ actions, or to run the world on the narrator’s behalf. You’re not just telling your own story—you’re having a conversation, and consensus is essential.

The Spotlight
Players of popular roleplaying games might notice that Mecha World has no mechanics for initiative, turn order, or any such thing. Those new to roleplaying games in general may wonder when, exactly, they’re supposed to speak up and contribute to the fiction.

Mecha World, like most Powered by the Apocalypse games, takes a very loose approach to deciding who has the spotlight. In general, it’s fine to speak up whenever the mood strikes you, as long as you’re not stepping on anyone else’s toes (remember, you’re having a conversation). However, sometimes it’s important to know a specific order of events—in the thick of combat, for example. Even in these cases, it’s generally pretty self-evident what happens when; if the players’ pilots are ambushed suddenly by enemies, they’ll most likely be ceding the initiative. However, sometimes it’s just unclear. That’s when the narrator comes in. Whenever there’s uncertainty about who has the spotlight, it’s the narrator’s responsibility to step up and pass it to whoever their judgment directs. “The enemy squad is closing fast, beam-swords hot; Kira, what do you do?” Even if you have to pick someone essentially at random, just getting things going like this often helps establish a natural progression of action, as everyone responds to each new circumstance that arises. Keep the conversation fair and balanced, follow what makes sense in the fiction, and if all else fails, follow the narrator’s lead.

The Moves
Sometimes, you won’t want to just decide what happens on your own as part of the conversation. Sometimes, the outcome falls to a straight-up test of skill, guts, or just plain luck, and it’s unclear who will end up on top. That’s when you turn to the moves.

The guideline you should keep in mind for moves is: to do it, do it. What does that mean? Well, let’s look at open fire as an example. Open fire is the move you use when you want to fire your ranged weapon at an enemy target. Now, because it’s a move, you can’t just say “I fire my weapon and the target goes down”—you can’t be sure you’re going to hit, no matter how good of a shot you are. To hit someone with a ranged weapon in combat, you have to actually roll your open fire move, and follow the rules for it; to do it, do it.

However, it’s not enough to just say “I use my open fire move on him”. Remember, you’re creating fiction here. Don’t just say the move you’re using—describe your character’s actual actions. If you’re frantically adjusting your mecha’s orientation to get your target in sight before raising your autocannon and pulling the trigger, great, say that. Many times, you won’t even need to say the name of your move. Remember, the narrator is the referee of the rules. If you describe that action, the narrator might chime in and say “sounds like you want to open fire, right?” At which point, you can say “yeah, sounds right” and roll, or possibly “no, I was thinking something else” and specify the move you did want to use. The point is, you have to make it happen in the fiction before you can roll for the move. To do it, do it.

Quality
2016-08-28, 11:02 PM
Hey, this is really excellent stuff! Clear and to the point -- and I like that it's inclusive of both experienced players and newbs. It's probably the most succinct explanation of how PbtA works that I've seen. i'd offer constructive criticism if i had any but I think you nailed it.

Reading it makes me realize a couple of things that would also be good inclusions: For one, where do you stand these days on doing a section about conflict resolution in non-combat scenes? i think you lay most of the groundwork for it in this introduction, (eg by broadly defining how conflict resolution works) but i'd still be into seeing a section that addresses contested actions not covered by the basic moves.

Also, i think more GM-facing material would be cool. I think new players (or Narrators in this case) confronted with creating a setting and story from scratch might be paralyzed by having limitless options. Maybe some suggestions about how the group can go about brainstorming their own anime "series" would be cool, or how to create an original story arc for an existing series (if that's what they're doing). And how a Narrator who's gun shy about improvising story hooks can use these collected ideas to make an "adventure module."

of course i'm not talking about a traditional pre-planned gaming adventure, but just the beginnings of something like that, the outcomes of course to be "left blank" to see where the players take it. Maybe also some advice about framing individual scenes, like how to decide what each scene is about and who's in it. There may not be a "win state" but narratively speaking what's the objective of a given scene (even if it winds up deviating from that)? who decides that? (you emphasized the idea of "consesus" in your how-to-play section and i think it certainly applies here, too, but it might be useful to spell it out somehow.)

I like the idea of maybe introducing a "series creation" questionnaire or worksheet that prompts the group with questions like "what time period is this set in?" "are all the characters human?" "what's the most important large-scale threat that exists in this world?" "who are the most famous people in this world?" "where do the characters live?" "what are the mecha like?" "why is each of the PCs in the story?" and about a dozen other questions I can think of offhand... just prompts to help get people started. This could cover some of the ground that's addressed with the Hx/Bonds systems in other PbtA games.

I would say it's possible to overdo this kind of thing, though. Like looking back at Apocalypse World, the idea of Threats is really useful but organizing them into Fronts (as described, anyway) seems to be something that confused a lot of people. I saw a lot of people on forums asking for an explanation of that system, and Baker seems to have dropped it from the second edition & replaced it with some other mechanic for tying Threats together. I read a (very positive) review of AW that described the GMing section as "overly legislative" and perhaps the glove fits. So I'm not advocating a bunch of rules about how you have to design story elements so much as tips about how to get over the initial hump of starting the story off.

The most helpful strategy for this kind of thing, to my mind, would be to include lots of examples of play (whether they're hypothetical, or drawn from actual play). Especially for the Narrator/GM moves, where you could have an example of what each move might look like in the context of an actual story. But also broader examples, like how a hypothetical Narrator goes about thinking up a bunch of NPCs to play around with, without knowing where they'll pop up. Or examples of the group hitting a creative wall & somebody coming up with a clever plot-twist that gets things moving again, by like referring back to some already-established content (say bringing back a forgotten NPC in an unexpected new role, or whatever). I've always felt like these kind of examples really set good RPG texts apart if for no other reason than that there's no better way to learn a new game than "watching" somebody else play it (short of actually playing it with them, anyway). I notice you used an example of a player move (with the character Kira) and it instantly drew me in to the text, being able to picture that exact moment in the game. I definitely think the complete text could benefit from as many of these kinds of examples as you're willing to include.

I'm also a big fan of this convention in Japanese trpgs where there are randomizing tables for all kinds of plot elements: random encounters, random plot twists, random characters, random settings, random relationships, random missions, etc. They're great to rely on when the group gets stuck, or when the GM just needs a shot of inspiration.

I'm aware this technique is more common with games that have a defined setting, but I believe there are a few ways to make it more about the genre generally than about any specific world. Like some of the tables could just have different anime tropes specific to the mecha genre, or just general fiction tropes, and you can draw from those if you like. like a table where a couple of entries would be "biomechanical monstrosity," or "estranged lover" or "amazing new prototype" or "political subtrefuge" or "your forgotten rival returns" or "the gang incurs an unwanted debt" or "thousands of insectoid aliens" or "your group is struggling with bad PR they don't deserve" or "you suspect your mecha might be haunted" or whatever (maybe those examples would come from a handful of different tables instead of a single one, but that whole idea...).

Even in some setting-specific Japanese rpgs, there are tables like this that could be lifted out and dropped into almost any game. I forget if it's Alshard or Sword World, but one of those (Japanese) games has this thing called the "Emotion Matrix" that you roll on to determine how your character feels about any minor NPC when they first meet them. It's a d66 table, meaning you roll a d6 for the x axis and another for the y axis and it gives you one of 36 results, from which the player can budge by some number of spaces if they want a different one. Results like "disgusted" or "you have a crush on them" or "you remember them from somewhere" or "you don't trust their motives" or whatever (not actual examples btw). It's a fun mechanic, but it's also something you can easily ignore if it feels too contrived or restrictive in a particular situation (really any situation in which your group has better ideas). But i think this kind of thing adds a lot of "value" since the text has already got story hooks baked into it.

Anyway, sorry for another typically overzealous response. The takeaway is that your new section looks great!

Amaril
2016-08-29, 11:04 AM
Thanks for taking a look! The whole section about resolution outside missions is still forthcoming, I just thought I'd post what I had so far.

I might look at including some suggestions for world creation down the road, or at least some prompting questions, but for now I think I should stay focused on what's necessary to play the game. Also, my assumption so far has been that this game will primarily be played by fans of the mecha genre, who will already have source material they like available to draw from.

Fri
2016-08-30, 08:10 AM
On series questionaire, amusingly, I created a mecha plot generator once for silliness :smalltongue:

http://orteil.dashnet.org/randomgen/?gen=02cKvQh3

http://orteil.dashnet.org/randomgen/?gen=jQ3USyT6

Quality
2016-09-01, 01:31 PM
Amaril, sound like you've got a good plan as far focusing on the essentials of the game first. Definitely looking forward to reading your upcoming content!

Also I think you're right that mostly well-versed fans will be attracted to this game and, sure, I'd assume they'll have plenty of material to draw on. Maybe I just need to watch more mecha series... Questionnaire still sounds like a fun "extra," anyway.

Quality
2016-09-01, 01:45 PM
Fri, your mecha plot generators are hilarious (in the good sense, I mean). I'm not able to identify every show that you're drawing from, but i generated a bunch of them for fun and there were some great ideas in there. Some of my favorites were the setting being "a boring ocean republic," or the rival being a "tragic monster," or the mecha having come from "a mysterious girl," or being "full of weapons, but slowly drives the pilot insane." Also one of the plot twists being that a mysterious, friendly alien professes their love for the protagonist. I also liked having separate results for tone and genre -- makes total sense. (I tried both generators but I guess you can tell which one was my favorite...)

Doing a generator like this to set up the premise of a game scenario would be awesome. Even if it's just a pick-list or a sequence of random-roll tables, I think stuff like this is a great addition to any game.