View Full Version : Scales of WarMachines [A 1d20 Based System, Alpha]

2008-09-18, 04:15 PM
Feel free to comment on presentation, confusion over rule details, crunch, fluff, or anything else that tickles your fancy!

I'll start out with the first post, which I have edited reasonably well, with the core mechanics and concepts. I'll then follow with some generic modular weapons, example units, an example skill system, a character generation and advancement system for a "mech-combat" game, and other sundry details.

The rest will follow -- I'm going to be busy on the weekend, so possibly not until next week or later.

Scales of WarMachines [A 1d20 Based System]

Scales of WarMachines is a d20 based game designed to allow combat between multiple scales of unit.

This particular implementation is aimed at giant-robot combat, where humans, 30 meter tall robots, and behemoth cruisers all engage in combat with each other.

It was originally developed for a star-wars like space game, allowing Fighters, Cruisers, Star-Destroyers and Death Stars to share the same battlefield and mechanics without the game breaking down.

The core feature of Scales of WarMachines is the Scale.Size value of each unit, and the damage roll.

Each unit has a Scale.Size value. Each increase of Scale by 1 is an increase of the size of the unit by a factor of 10 -- and the Size value represents the 10 exponential steps between each scale.

Smaller units are presumed to be harder to hit, while easier to damage.

Your Size value is factored into your attack, defense, damage and soak values. The Scale component is abstraced out, and when attacking a target that is from a larger/smaller Scale than you, +10s are added to damage/defense/soak/attack rolls when appropriate.

While these mechanics make it seem like the Scale of a unit is important, they are carefully set up so that there is no 'ridge' between units of adjacent scales. The use of seperate Scale and Size modifiers simply exists to make bookkeeping easier.

The Core Mechanics

The are 3 basic kinds of rolls in Scales of WarMachines.

In every case, whenever a player rolls a 20, they roll the die again, and add 20 to the result. You repeat this as many times as you continue to roll 20s -- however, if you find you roll 20 more than once or twice in a row, you might want to check if your die is loaded!

The first is a roll against a static DC -- roll d20+modifier, and if you match or exceed a target number, you succeed. Often in this case the amount you beat the roll by matters.

The second is a roll against an active opponent. Roll d20+modifier on one side, and the other side rolls d20+modifier. Whoever rolls higher, wins.

The final type of roll is used for damage. The attacker rolls d20+modifier. The defender then attempts to defeat the attacker's roll by repeatedly rolling d20+modifier. Each time the defender fails the defender takes 1 wound.

In a Heroic version of this game, Heroes accumulate the value of their d20 roll when soaking damage. This lets Heroes survive a 'hit' by a giant mech's autocannon with merely severe wounds (representing a near miss, instead of a hit) -- while a normal human would have a significant chance of being splatted.

Note that if the defender's first soak roll beats the attackers damage roll, the defender takes no damage.

Scale and Size

Scale and Size are important in Scales of WarMachines. Something that is 10 times larger than you is extremely hard to hurt, and easy to hit -- and will find you hard to hit, but easy to hurt.

You denote the Scale.Size of a unit as a single decimal number. As it happens, the rough size (in meters) of something is 10 to the power of (Scale.Size) -- but you really don't need to remember this. There is a simple table:

Size Measurement
0 1.0
1 1.3
2 1.6
3 2.0
4 2.5
5 3.2
6 4.0
7 5.0
8 6.4
9 8.0

Note that I didn't include units in the above table.

If your Scale is 0, the above units are in decimeters -- or 1/10th of a meter.
If your Scale is 1, the above units are in meters.

If your Scale is 2, the above units are in 10s of meters.
If your Scale is 3, the above units are in 100s of meters.
If your Scale is 4, the above units are in km.

This lets you very quickly encode the size of units that vary from a human (1.2 or 1.3), down to a pistol (0.1), and up to a Giant Robot (2.5), a Star Destroyer (4.5), or a Death Star (6.1).

Each unit gets a Size bonus to various offensive and defensive modifiers.
Size Modifiers
ATK: +10-Size
DEF: +10-Size
DAM: +0+Size
SOAK: +0+Size

These pay attention only to the Size component of Scale.Size, not the full number.

We factor in Scale by producing modifiers when you attempt to hit or damage a target.

Scale Modifiers
If you are 1 Scale Larger than the other party, you get a +10 bonus on SOAK and DAM rolls opposing that unit.
If you are 1 Scale Smaller than the other party, you get a +10 bonus on ATK and DEF rolls opposing that unit.

If you are 2 scales different, these bonuses increase to +20. 3 scales, +30. But at that point, there is little actual point in engaging the target.

In order to allow for conflict between units of vastly different scale, in Scales of WarMachines, units have components. By default, components are considered 1 Scale smaller than the unit.

Human limbs and weapons are considered components of a Human unit.
The power plant, tracks, cannons and sensors of a tank would be considered components of a Tank unit.

Damaging these components tends to hinder the unit. A human with a leg cut off isn't moving very far, and the same with a Tank with destroyed treds.

In the case of humans, shock transmits damage to limbs to the core of the unit. But with machines, robots and space ships, usually you can have a component blown off without the core of the ship taking significant damage.

At the same time, a tank with the gun, treads and communications destroyed isn't going very far. And a human with a satchel charge can take it out with ease.

Some weapons are designed to engage targets that are larger or smaller in scale than the unit that carries them. A tank might carry a machine gun, or an infantry might carry a shoulder-mounted rocket. Weapons that target smaller-scale targets tend to be mechanically as good or better than same-scale weapons, while weapons that target larger-scale units tend to be mechanically worse than the weapons used by the larger scale units.

When you damage a unit with an attack on that unit, you typically also damage a component of that unit. This is randomly determined with the target unit's hit table. In that case, the toughness and defense of the component doesn't matter for the attack.

When you damage a unit by targetting a component, you deal with the fact that the component is 1 Scale smaller than the unit, then attack the defense and soak of that component to determine how much damage you do to that component. Some components have Shock effects that cause the core of the unit to take damage as well -- but in that case, damage is not reflected back again to a random component.

This will hopefully make more sense when units are included.

2008-09-18, 04:16 PM
Generic Gear, Weapons and Components

2008-09-18, 04:18 PM
Example Units

I'll start with 3 example units -- an Infantry, a PUMA suit (both as a modifier to someone in it, and a specific manned example) -- (PUMA suit is a powered combat armor suit), and a 32 m tall giant mech.

These will use the generic weapons in the previous post, scaled for the unit in question. The infantry will be based off of the character rules in the next post (but won't be a full level 1 PC).

2008-09-18, 04:22 PM
Character Creation

This will be character creation for a Battletech/Mechwarrior like science fiction game. Characters will start out as either talented newbies or seasoned veterans, advancement will be a mix of broadening their skill base and becoming even better at areas they specialize in.

The core mechanic is (ATTRIBUTE + TALENT + SKILL) for a given d20 roll, with tool and size based modifiers attached. Areas a character specializes in the player rolls 2d20 and takes the best roll, for a nice non-modifier based way to distinguish your character.

A level 1 character can reach a +7 modifier, and a level 10 character hits at most a +12 in their most specialized skill -- so advancement of character power is relatively flat.

Actual details to follow, once I've edited them up. :)

2008-09-18, 04:35 PM
Combat, Skills and Sundry

This is actually the least pre-built part of this system, and will be quite "mech-combat" biased.

Skills in Scales of WarMachines (Mech Combat) are based off of a Talent families, which have specific Skills associated with them.

Each Talent(Skill) has an attribute associated with -- often most of the Skills in a Talent are attached to a single attribute, but not always.

Using the PC creation and advancement rules, player Attributes range from +1 to +3, player talents range from +1 to +3, and player skills range from +1 to +3. In addition, PC gain a Heroic Bonus that goes from +1 to +3.

When using a skill, you add Attribute+Talent+Skill+Heroic, generating modifiers up to +12 on your d20 rolls. A level 1 character can only hit a +7 modifier.

I'm going to divide skills into COMBAT-CENTRIC, and OTHER categories, for character creation purposes.

The mechanics of combat are tightly tied to the skill system. As an example, Military(Tactics) has a hard, concrete use (you can use it once per combat to try to get an extra action on a turn), which makes sure that it doesn't become a "fluff" skill for characters.

2008-09-18, 04:36 PM
Done -- comment away. :-)

If you are curious about details, some quite rough sketches have been posted in some of my more recent posts.