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View Full Version : Any good mecha (i.e Gundam) systems?



Protato
2017-10-06, 11:19 AM
What good systems are there for mecha combat a la Gundam? I hear there's Mekton and GURPS but they're rather rules-heavy. I've only got experience with 5e, and I'd like something perhaps comparable in regards to rules complexity. Additionally, I'm playing on Roll20.

Scripten
2017-10-06, 11:32 AM
Cthulhutech

More seriously: I guess it depends on whether you're looking to play with an established group that wants a giant mecha theme or want to get into a TTRPG system that offers it on your own. For the latter, the Mechwarrior RPG and Battletech are a lot of fun, but you may not be looking for something quite so much like a war game. (It's also a specific system with a heavily intertwined setting, so doing a homebrew setting would be hard, though not impossible.)

Airk
2017-10-06, 01:18 PM
Respectfully, I disagree with the previous poster. I wouldn't recommend Battletech/Mechwarrior for anything. :P

I would suggest taking a look at Chris Perrin's Mecha (http://drivethrurpg.com/product/82258/Chris-Perrins-Mecha) - it's a pretty slick little system with a moderate amount of mecha configurability and an interesting little mini-tactical combat system that should be easy to adapt to Roll20 (It's just tracking position on a bullseye shaped 'battlefield') and is explicitly built to try to emulate the mecha anime genre (Which is something Battletech explicitly does NOT do.) It's not a hard simulation system, but if you wanted that, I'd just point you back at Mekton or something. If you're looking for something that simulates the FEEL of Gundam, it's probably a really good choice.

AMFV
2017-10-06, 02:05 PM
What good systems are there for mecha combat a la Gundam? I hear there's Mekton and GURPS but they're rather rules-heavy. I've only got experience with 5e, and I'd like something perhaps comparable in regards to rules complexity. Additionally, I'm playing on Roll20.

For comparable rules complexity maybe try... Dragonmech and maybe hack that to 5E? I mean there's Battletech but that's super rules heavy and so probably not what you want. Generally every giant mech system I've seen has been very rules heavy, so I'm not sure if there's a ready-made alternative. I'd look into the system Airk is recommending that sounds like that might be close.

Worldspinner
2017-10-06, 02:29 PM
I really dig Souls of Steel, a PtbA hack for running team vehicle games like Robotech, Battlestar Galactica, or Rogue Squadron.

Waddacku
2017-10-06, 03:31 PM
Jovian Chronicles is a deliberately Gundam-esque game. I'm not very familiar with it, but it should be significantly less rules heavy than Mekton, at least.

Knaight
2017-10-06, 05:27 PM
Jovian Chronicles is a deliberately Gundam-esque game. I'm not very familiar with it, but it should be significantly less rules heavy than Mekton, at least.

Heavy Gear is by the same people, and better fits a more grounded* mecha game. There's also Mecha Aces, which is one of the few options lighter than 5e instead of much heavier.

*As in on the ground, I'm not claiming it's more realistic.

Protato
2017-10-06, 11:19 PM
These are all good suggestions! One thing I thought of is, are there any hacks for 5e built for mecha, or at least vehicles? If not, what might be done to make one? Also, what about finding art for maps? I don't know how to make maps myself and sci-fi/modern ones are harder to find, especially good ones. Additionally, what can be done for finding tokens for battleships and the like? I have TokenTool and I imagine it'd work well for the mechs and for human character and the like, but not something like Yamato, Nadesico, or the White Base.

Knaight
2017-10-06, 11:33 PM
These are all good suggestions! One thing I thought of is, are there any hacks for 5e built for mecha, or at least vehicles? If not, what might be done to make one? Also, what about finding art for maps? I don't know how to make maps myself and sci-fi/modern ones are harder to find, especially good ones. Additionally, what can be done for finding tokens for battleships and the like? I have TokenTool and I imagine it'd work well for the mechs and for human character and the like, but not something like Yamato, Nadesico, or the White Base.

Mapwise you've got a few good options. Drivethru RPG has a ton of free maps, and Hexographer works for natural terrain for just about any time period - particularly given custom tile sets. TokenTool can also work just fine for battleships and the like, but it's also worth hitting up Wargame Vault and seeing what they have there.

Fri
2017-10-06, 11:36 PM
The best anime-style mecha game I've ever read is Chris Perrin's Mecha

http://drivethrurpg.com/product/82258/Chris-Perrins-Mecha

It's rules light but combat heavy, and each session is supposed to be structured like an anime episode. And it's obvious from reading the book that the author have actual fondness for mecha genre and don't just watch one season of voltron or gurren lagann or evangelion, then consider himself the master of all things mecha, and call it a day.

Ninjaxenomorph
2017-10-07, 12:03 AM
LANCER (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B2mQ7IPn-PsqNE9uYkp4Yjh6VUE), a system by Miguel Lopez and Tom Parkinson Morgan (of Kill Six Billion Demons), recently entered public playtesting, and it welds narrative-driven (rules-light) Pilot gameplay with crunchier, tactical Mech gameplay, but without getting ridiculously granular. I hear it's progression, which is rather simple (you get a talent point and a license point, talents are like feats and licenses are combination class and equipment kits, each are 3 levels). The mech size, and their power compared to pilots, is rather close to Titanfall rather than Gundam, but overall I feel it sort of hews closer to Battletech specifically, but the pilots are the valuable ones, rather than the mechs. You're familiar with 5E, so the Accuracy/Difficulty system shouldn't feel too alien coming from Advantage. The game is played with d20s for checks, with d6s (and d3s, I like mentioning that because I actually own a d3) as either damage dice or Accuracy (roll 1d6 and add or subtract it from the d20, cancel each other out, and don't overlap, just rolling however many instances of Accuracy/Difficulty you have and taking the highest of the d6). Numbers are low, too, right now; mech stats are (currently) capped at 16, and Aim at +6 (though I think melee attack bonuses can get higher). It's a rather simple, yet effective, system.

It is in playtest, so rules are still changing, which is definitely a downside. But I'm still trying to convince my group to let me run this for them.

Segev
2017-10-07, 01:13 AM
Mechton Zeta has an interesting mecha-construction system, and reasonable PC rules. It's crunchy for how thin the books seem.

tensai_oni
2017-10-07, 03:50 AM
Since OP is familiar with d20 systems, I will suggest Mutants and Masterminds. It's a system that requires some effort in building characters, but it does mecha and does them really well. Not just for Gundam - you wanna do low power gritty mecha like VOTOMs? Super robots? Combining robots? It can do it all. 2nd edition has the Mecha and Manga rulebook, though it's kinda unbalanced power-level wise. On the other hand, 3rd edition is more streamlined and better balanced.

Seconding Chris Perrin's Mecha too. Thirding? Whatever, it's good. Not very crunchy, but there's still plenty of dice rolling and tactical decisions.

Beowulf DW
2017-10-10, 08:54 PM
I've heard good things about Mekton, and of course theirs always DragonMech. I've never played them myself, but I've heard that Mekton can be quite versatile.

Airk
2017-10-11, 08:30 AM
What good systems are there for mecha combat a la Gundam? I hear there's Mekton and GURPS but they're rather rules-heavy. I've only got experience with 5e, and I'd like something perhaps comparable in regards to rules complexity. Additionally, I'm playing on Roll20.


I've heard good things about Mekton, and of course theirs always DragonMech. I've never played them myself, but I've heard that Mekton can be quite versatile.

Come on dude.

Mutazoia
2017-10-12, 03:43 AM
Mechton Zeta has an interesting mecha-construction system, and reasonable PC rules. It's crunchy for how thin the books seem.


I've heard good things about Mekton, and of course theirs always DragonMech. I've never played them myself, but I've heard that Mekton can be quite versatile.

Avoid Mechton/Mechton Zeta. The rules for creating a mecha are extremely detailed and crunchy (and take up 90% of the rules), while the rules for creating your character (pilot) leave a lot to be desired.

The mecha movement & combat are designed to play out more like Battletech...on a hex map, with terrain modifiers and all the wargame clunkiness that goes along with it. If you don't like busting out the mini's every time you want to have mecha combat, your going to have a fun time For examply: Mecha don't have any speed stat... the biggest mecha you can create is just as fast as a small one that is all engine. The small one will accelerate faster, but if the big one comes zooming in at full velocity, and the small one is at a stop, its never going to get away.

The game was designed to mimic anime in the late 80s/early 90s by people who quite obviously had little to no first hand knowledge of anime, and thus your character will have skills that are basically "I know how to dress cool", and little else of value. Character combat and skill checks work more or less like the D6 rules, with out the D6's: GM sets a target number for a roll, and you have to meet or exceed said number. Not that that is a bad thing, as I am quite fond of the D6 rule set, but the lack luster skill/attribute set available makes anything not happening in a mecha rather MEH.

Your character "classes" are basically a kid (Rick Hunter Clone), a "veteran" (adult/Roy Stoker clone) Anime babe (I'm not kidding...that's an actual class), etc.

Airk
2017-10-12, 10:29 AM
Mekton is also somewhat "legendary" for how Reflexes was the "god stat" for the system. Would not recommend.

NINJA_HUNTER
2017-10-14, 03:31 PM
What good systems are there for mecha combat a la Gundam? I hear there's Mekton and GURPS but they're rather rules-heavy. I've only got experience with 5e, and I'd like something perhaps comparable in regards to rules complexity. Additionally, I'm playing on Roll20.

Palladiums system it's like gurps but better!

Knaight
2017-10-14, 06:54 PM
Palladiums system it's like gurps but better!

As much as I don't want to gratuitously knock a system here, I do feel compelled to warn the opening poster that Palladium systems have a tendency to be poorly made disasters. They also don't particularly resemble GURPS in any fashion, at least beyond the shared love of tables.

Mutazoia
2017-10-14, 11:57 PM
Palladiums system it's like gurps but better!

Palladium! The system made by accountants FOR accountants!

Knaight
2017-10-15, 01:57 AM
Palladium! The system made by accountants FOR accountants!

Considering how incredibly bad it is as a model a lot of the time (without even considering playability), the "by accountants" part is questionable.

Mutazoia
2017-10-15, 04:15 AM
Considering how incredibly bad it is as a model a lot of the time (without even considering playability), the "by accountants" part is questionable.

Palladium! Where even your skill pre-reqs have pre-reqs!

Knaight
2017-10-15, 05:23 AM
Palladium! Where even your skill pre-reqs have pre-reqs!

Palladium! The only publisher that makes systems so broken, they have podcasts about the dumbest thing on every page (https://megadumbcast.podbean.com/).

The sad part is how often it's hard to pick just one.

Psyren
2017-10-16, 02:15 AM
I wonder if you could modify Starfinder to fit this; keep the action on one planet or in one system, and file the serial numbers off the starship combat to make it more like piloting mecha.

slowplay
2017-10-30, 10:29 AM
palladium rifts is indeed a mess, as mentioned.
Savage worlds rifts, however, is much better.

Segev
2017-10-30, 11:02 AM
Mecha don't have any speed stat... the biggest mecha you can create is just as fast as a small one that is all engine. The small one will accelerate faster, but if the big one comes zooming in at full velocity, and the small one is at a stop, its never going to get away.

While a lot of your criticisms are valid, this simply isn't true. I've played the system, and my ginormous mech was quite slow on the battlefield, while others in the party were much faster. We weren't using house rules. Unfortunately, it's been years and I don't own a copy of the rules, so I can't quote where the movement rate comes from, but I know mechs have different movement rates based on how you build them.

This wasn't the factor at the time I'm thinking of, as none of us had them, but different movement mode modules can change this, too. GES lets you hover and move faster, and flight systems can be insane. Expensive, though.

Zanos
2017-10-30, 12:28 PM
Yeah, Mekton absolutely does have a speed stat. You pay for MA of your movement systems based on weight, so while theoretically a super-heavy mekton can be just as fast as a light one, it will cost as significant number of points to make it so, and be much harder to research.

Some things with mekton to be aware of:


Reflex(or whatever it's called) controls your ability to melee, dodge, and block, if I'm remembering correctly. This makes it the god stat.
Since the game is primarily about mech combat, skills that aren't Mech Gunnery, Mech Melee, Mech Piloting, Mech Tech, Mech Missiles, and Mech Design, will be rolled infrequently. Almost no effort was put in for non-mech related activities, to the point that there's a "personal grooming" skill that I'm sure no player has ever put points in.
Due to the relatively simple nature of the combat system, most rounds will be rolling 1d10+modifiers vs enemies 1d10+modifiers and hoping you beat them, and that's it. Most of the game takes place in character generation.
Weapon damage is much cheaper than hull, so heavily armored mechs are generally impractical.
It costs an enormous amount of CP to offset a heavy mechs MV penalty, which affects every single attack and defense roll in a mech. So heavy mechs are impractical.
It costs an enormous amount of CP to offset a heavy mechs increases mobility costs, so heavy mechs are impractical.
Due to the way armor ablation works, anything more than basic armor tends to be useless without houserules.
Melee is very strong, since it uses the same stat as the defensive rolls and melee weapons are very cheap, letting you stack stuff like double hit and twin linking on them to attack 8 times a round or similar nonsense.
Some of the customization rules are very easily abusable, like rank 20 smoke emitters that cost next to nothing because you give them huge accuracy penalties that don't matter.
The random hit combat system is quite weird and mek heads are very squishy, so it wasn't unusual for 4+ meks to be flying around the fight with no heads swinging at people at huge penalties.
The combat system is VERY random. I deployed in my shiny new heavily armored mek twice in a row and my head blew up immediately both times because of rolls, depite being a megaheavy servo in an extremely fast mek and a god tier pilot.



...did I mention heavy mechs are impractical?

The customization is pretty cool though. I did favor heavy armor meks which I admit did keep me alive in situations where I otherwise would have lost parts, but it only worked because our DM had some houserules about armor and ablation.

A lot of stuff breaks when you give your players too many points though. I'm personally responsible for this abomination (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1korF0Ke85AR-nal6m-JBTRtwGDdTubcC2hSgr_l3_cc/edit?usp=sharing). My buddy cooked up some mech that was basically a frame for a 1,000+ cost wide angle laser cannon that disintegrated an entire enemy squad in one shot.

Segev
2017-10-30, 01:03 PM
I played with a super-heavy mech, but making it effective was a trick. I customized a harpoon with a chain to yank enemies to it, and gave it a good self-guidance system so that it actually had a reasonable to-hit. Its strategy was to drag smaller mechs to it and dismember them.

Zanos
2017-10-30, 02:13 PM
I played with a super-heavy mech, but making it effective was a trick. I customized a harpoon with a chain to yank enemies to it, and gave it a good self-guidance system so that it actually had a reasonable to-hit. Its strategy was to drag smaller mechs to it and dismember them.
Oh yeah, that reminds me of another weird quirk of the system, which is that dismembering bypasses armor entirely, for some reason.

I don't think it ever came up because anything in the game that was heavily armored enough for me to want to dismember(mostly gundam prototypes) also had super high dodging/blocking and dismembering had a massive to hit penalty.

I did really enjoy the mekton campaign I played for reference, but I think it was more of the concept that I liked then the game system. We were an elite semi-independent core of Zeon soldiers during the OYW. After the big war ending battles we survive as a remnant force, blowing up dirty freddie prototypes and conspiring with Anaheim Electronics.

dethkruzer
2017-10-30, 03:44 PM
Mekton isn't actually that bad, outside of the mathematical nightmare that designing a mech with a set construction point limit can be. But as someone pointed out above, Reflex is pretty much the one stat to rule them all, at least if you're gonna do the whole giant robot thing.

Knaight
2017-10-30, 04:00 PM
Mekton isn't actually that bad, outside of the mathematical nightmare that designing a mech with a set construction point limit can be. But as someone pointed out above, Reflex is pretty much the one stat to rule them all, at least if you're gonna do the whole giant robot thing.

This is one of the things I liked about Warbirds (a plane system) that also carries into Remnants (based on the same core engine, but about mechs). I don't remember the Remnants terminology particularly well, but in Warbirds the sum of your attributes is your Situational Awareness, which is the pilot god stat. This lets you have a lot of variety, which really works in a game where everyone is a pilot. Remnants uses the same system, but the term Situational Awareness is replaced with something else.

JeenLeen
2017-10-30, 04:18 PM
You'd need players that won't break the system, but Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM) has rules for mecha that allow you to make them, and the system is generally built on anime tropes. The basic version is tri-stat, but I think a d20 version exists. I can't vouch for the d20, though, and you really have to be on board with not breaking the game to make the default viable.

Mutants & Masterminds can also do mecha, and it's (loosely) based on D&D so should be pretty easy to pick up.

For both, you'd probably need to set a limit to X points into your mechs, with other points going to the pilots, or else someone will 'dump stat' their pilot's skills/body and wind up with a god-mech.
Something built particularly for mecha is probably more to your liking, but I wanted to throw these out.

tensai_oni
2017-10-30, 04:37 PM
My experience with BESM is not very good. It's basically Mutants and Masterminds, only in tri-stat and not d20 and with less options (both during character creation and actual play), worse balance, and no power level equivalent making it hard for everyone to be on the same page. Both of the systems have the same basic strong and weak points, it's just that MnM does it all better.

Segev
2017-10-30, 05:13 PM
My experience with BESM is not very good. It's basically Mutants and Masterminds, only in tri-stat and not d20 and with less options (both during character creation and actual play), worse balance, and no power level equivalent making it hard for everyone to be on the same page. Both of the systems have the same basic strong and weak points, it's just that MnM does it all better.

I like both systems, but wouldn't recommend them for Mecha games, because the rules to build mecha in them are not well-developed. They're functional-ish, but subsets of less specialized rules and thus wind up making you almost question why bother with a mecha over just having powers, yourself.

That said, BESM 3e is less breakable in some ways than M&M 3e, in that there are a lot FEWER ways to bend the power-construction system into a pretzel. Still breakable, but in different ways. Mostly flexible enough to do nearly anything you'd want, but M&M 3e's same issue with being able to snap power-creation like a dry pretzel stick allows for a bit more flexibility on the allowed points-budget.

I have an illusionist build that abuses M&M 3e's rules so hard that it's sick, but which I think will be enormous fun if I ever get to play it.

Diego Havoc
2017-10-31, 12:06 PM
My group uses Battle Century G, which might be what you're after. It's pretty simple to learn and play, has lots of customisation without being overwhelming, and is very much rooted in the super robot anime genre. Plus the rules are free (https://gimmicklabs.blogspot.co.uk/p/downloads.html).