Hein (fub) wrote,
Hein
fub

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Some RPG design thinking

Almost all mecha games are stat/skill-based and have a single skill for something like mecha piloting. Which means that every pilot character will have the same stats to maximise their performance in combat. After all, if Agility is the most important stat for piloting a mech, and you play a mecha pilot, of course Agility will have to be your highest stat. I have the same beef with PbtA games. Yes, there is niche protection from the playbooks, but every playbook tends to operate on one or maybe two stats — so every character for that playbook has maximised those two stats and it’s always the same.

Perrin’s Mecha had a way to break through that: linking pilot stats with mecha ratings. It’s brilliant in its simplicity.

My theory is that there are no more than four things you do in a mech: manoevering, shooting, defending and scanning. And every type of mech has their own features that help with that, like Power, Weapons, Armour and System — a mech with more powerful engines will make it easier to manoever, a mech with more powerful telemetry systems is better at scanning, etc. So every mech will have a rating for each of these four things.
Pilots have four stats too — like Brawn, Agility, Intellect and Willpower. (Not sure that these four will be it, still need to think about that.) And when a pilot enters a type of mech for the first time, they choose which stat to link with which rating for that mech. The idea being that if the pilot links their Brawn with Power, they have a forceful mode of movement in their mech, powering through to get somewhere. Linking Intellect with Power would mean their quick analysis of the battlefield allows them to avoid obstacles and thus move around more quickly. Linking Agility with Power would mean their movement would be fluid, smoothly avoiding obstacles.
This would allow the pilot to use the mech ratings to compensate their weaknesses — but more importantly, it would allow the players to differentiate their pilots stats and skill-wise without sacrificing their performance during missions. And since the game I’ll be writing will also put emphasis on the pilots’ lives outside of the mecha cockpit, that’s important to me.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
Tags: mecha, rpg design
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