A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Monday, February 22, 2010

X-VertorFormBots: Sentient Transforming Robots in X-Plorers

If we look at my existing rules, I am pretty much 90% there to use X-Plorers to run your favorite transforming robot series.

We just need to add a few more rules.  (You will need to refer to the previous 4 rule additions I did.)

Character Generation:
Do your normal 3d6/4d6 take 3 highest rolls as usual.  Then generate a Mecha of the size you choose, with Medium size being default.  For our purposes your character IS the Mecha so do not roll for HP.  Just add 1 HP to the Mecha, plus any bonus/penalty for Physique.

All sentient Mecha characters are considered to be permanently part of their machines and as such are considered to have the "Cybernetic Interface" mentioned in the first part of my house rules.

Super Light PCs are considered to be Armor and thus a Transformation Gear only costs 2 System Points.

Level Advancement: At each level your character gains 1 HP, plus any Physique bonuses/penalties.  Every odd level (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9) your character gains 1 extra System or Weapon point.

Being a multiple mode conversion Mecha simply costs 1/2 the cost of a Transformation Gear for every new form chosen.

Some advice on transformation: No matter what your Mecha turns into, your statline is based on your Mecha form, though certain attributes will change temporarily in your new form as follows, ignoring any boosts/reductions in your original form's creation, but modified by System Point upgrades:

Physique: Stays as Mecha form.
Agility: Goes to default Vehicle.
HP: Stays as Mecha form.
AC: Goes to default Vehicle.
Speed: Goes to default Vehicle.
System Points: Ignored.  You already spent the things!
Weapon Points: Weapons stay the same as on Mecha, but have new locations.  (Option: Extra WP can be earned in the new form via weapon placements and such so that a weapon in Mecha form that only does 2d6 damage may be hull mounted in Vehicle form and gain extra damage or range or whatnot.  It would explain why in Transformers: The Movie, Galvatron turned into his Gun Tank mode before shooting Starscream.  He did more damage as the weapon was hull mounted!)

If turning into things like Helicopters, Jets, Large Angry Dinosaurs the correct System Point options will have to be spent for those forms as well as taking the Transformation Gear.

Options to actually encourage people to play Light and Superlights:  They have a 10% xp gain bonus given their small size means they are risking more than their larger buddies.  Also, Heavies and Superheavies have a 10% xp gain penalty as they aren't risking as much, and it takes more effort to maintain the fuel costs of such large machines.

Combining:  A Combination Gear is a 2 System Point upgrade (1 for Light and Superlights) that allows any number of machines (prebuild this unless you are doing some anime campaign where new things are introduced to constantly up the ante...) can combine into one larger robot.  It takes 2 Vehicle Scale turns to combine, and units should be within their Speed range of at least one member of their team.

A Presence saving roll is needed to initiate combination with all components (if sentient. Something like GaoGaiGar which is one robot and 3 AI machines that are just slave units just needs the sentient machines.) to combine.

Damage to the combined unit is divvied roughly equally between components when hit. When a component has taken 25%, 50%, and 75% damage another Presence roll is required to keep it together.  If one unit fails, the whole machine falls apart.

Combined unit's AC is 2nd highest AC of the components, +1 for every additional component. 

Physique is the same as AC, as is Agility, but AGI goes DOWN as it just keeps getting too darn big to be nimble.

Intelligence  and Presence requires another group Presence roll, and if everyone passes use the highest INT of the components, if even one fails, use the LOWEST for each category.

Speed is the same as a default Superheavy Mecha.  

Count the size points of the combined unit. (With Superlight being 1 point, and Superheavy 5.) If the points are 9 or higher the combined unit is counted as a Starship scale machine while combined. (Which means its getting serious bonuses against the Vehicle and Personal Scale units.)  However it's Speed and weapons ranges are still in Vehicle scale, though it does move and act in Space scale.

How does that sound so far?

If this looks good all I need is to add in rules for super weapons for combined units, a "Slave AI 1-3" thing for AI controlled components and we have ourselves a rules light giant sentient robots/anime mecha game to go along with the existing rules I have done to tech up X-P!

(Rest of combining rules go here soon!)

As we can see most of our favorite robots can now be created, though some really won't come into their own until they level up enough to have the System Points to do everything they want.

Take that classic combining robot made out of 6 construction vehicles.  They are medium to heavy machines which means they need 6 System Points just to have a Vehicle mode and their Combined mode.  This is leaving out any personal upgrades they might want or any high powered weapon systems.

But the risks could be worth it.  From 6 guys to one giant beast considered to be a Space scale machine with +5 to its AC, +5 PHY,  and the potential for spare WP/SP to be used for absolutely MASSIVE weapons only such a fearsome machine can carry!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review Corner: A review of the Halo Boardgame

I gave this thing a 4 page comic and frankly its such a disaster it doesn't deserve even that!  Thankfully I only spent 11 dollars for it and just wanted the terrain.

As always, click on the picture if you want a bigger version.

Here we go:

One rule I forgot to mention in the review is that in close combat only, defenders win ties which makes the game design even worse.  Halo the boardgame is the game where nobody wants to move because moving is bad unless its to grab a weapon or item, and there is a small chance of being killed if you pick up a non weapon item card.

In my reviews I keep to the Good-Ok-Bad as a scoring system, but this game deserves a far worse score.  Its minis suck, its rules blow chunks, its DVD actually makes a bad game worse, and its MSRP is a ripoff at 40 dollars US.

What's sad is that with a couple rules tweaks the game would have been an ok introductory miniatures game.  If they hadn't bothered with the DVD and used the money for improved sculpts on the minis it  could have been a good counterpart to Heroscape at your local department store.

But, its not.  The company clearly didn't playtest the game or care about it at all.  Its just trying to make a quick profit off of the license and it shows.  Of course the company's other listed games seem to mostly be quick media tie ins so quality gameplay shouldn't be expected.

A pity.

Friday, February 12, 2010

X-Plorers Mecha and Vehicle Rules Construction Example 1

Well, let's put my work into action!

Remember this vehicle of mine, a siege tank for a very popular GRIMDARK sci fi combat game?


(Its the one on the right!)

I think we can get it really close, which using my rules is the whole point. To get something "close enough" as opposed to tons of detail and all.

I first need to figure out the size. If we are using your usual 25-32mm scale minis the tank looks like a Heavy Vehicle with the following statline:

Unit Size            Physique    Agility     HP      AC     Speed   System Points   Weapon P.
Heavy                         16                 12           25        18         14                      5                         5

Well if we remember our game fluff, the tank has a short range (roughly 48 meter) big blast anti tank/anti fortification cannon with options for a pintle mounted anti infantry gun of the same range, and the big bulldozer on the front.

Its a pretty simple machine, rugged but not super rugged.  I spend 3 System Points to give it 3 point "Improved Construction Systems" which gives it +5 HP per point spent, or 15 extra HP.

I spend 2 more for "Improved Defensive Systems" for +1 AC per point, or +2 AC.  

I am pretty happy with the core statline otherwise so I don't mess with lowering anything to gain more points for anything.  The tank is a normal speed machine.

Our current statline is now:

Unit Size            Physique    Agility     HP      AC     Speed   System Points   Weapon P.
Heavy                         16                 12           40        20         14                      5                         5

Now its time for the main cannon, and hopefully some points for the Bulldozer Blade and the pintle mounted anti infantry gun.

To remind us, here is the main stats of a "Direct Fire" weapon, what our main gun is:

 Damage      Accuracy(To Hit Bonus)    Range(In Meters)     Ammunition   
 1d6 / 1d6                      0 / + -1                                 200 / 50                        25 /  5

That's 1 Weapon Point.  I decide to get the range close to the original game its from, but 50 meters is kind of too small so I only drop it to a 100 meter range weapon, giving us 2 points of WP.  I decide to use 3 of my 5 total WP for the main gun, so I have 4 WPs on this one weapon left to play with as it always costs at least 1 WP regardless of downgrades.    I spend all 4 on Damage upgrades to bring the weapon to a nasty 5d6 damage.  But this cannon is supposed to be REALLY tough, so I drop the Ammunition down to 20 shots which gives me another WP and I raise Damage another point to 6d6.

The weapon does a big blast so I sigh and drop Ammunition 2 more points bringing it down to 10 shots, but it now has a 2 point "Blast" attribute.

Since the gun is hull mounted and not on a turret as you can see, I make it front mounted and gain 2 more WP.  I raise the damage 2 more points to a BRUTAL 8d6.

So our big gun now looks like this:

Damage      Accuracy(To Hit Bonus)    Range(In Meters)   Ammunition     Special   
     8d6                               0                                          100                                 10             Large Blast

                                                                                                                                               45 Front arc

  On average each hit will do 28 HP in damage to tanks, or a massive 70 to poor infantry.  That's pretty devastating and pretty close to how it works in its parent game.

I use 1 more WP for a pair of anti infantry guns with a 360 fire arc.  I choose a pair of Automatic Rifles from the X-Plorers rulebook.  (Yeah I could use good or bad X-P personnel weapons, but other than in game money, it doesn't much matter.  This a GM system and GMs can approve or disapprove of any design for whatever reason they want.  In this case the Automatic Rifle is pretty close to the source material so I go with it.)

My final WP is spent to give the tank a front mounted shield, improving its AC to 21, which is pretty good.

So our final machine looks like this:

Unit Size            Physique    Agility     HP      AC     Speed  
Heavy                         16                 12           40        21         14              

Weapons: Bulldozer Shield on the front, 360 mount twin linked Automatic Rifle, 
Siege Cannon:        

Damage      Accuracy(To Hit Bonus)    Range(In Meters)   Ammunition     Special   
     8d6                               0                                          100                                 10             Large Blast
                                                                                                                                               45 Front arc

Now that we have made this tank, next time I will create a Mecha.

Monday, February 8, 2010

x-Plorers Mecha and Vehicle Rules Part 3 of 3

Well, let's finish this thing!

(New stuff update on Feb 10.  I forgot shields!  Another update on 11 Feb to fix something I missed.)

I will be going back to add in more nifty stuff to our Special Equipment list, this is the last core bit that needs to be done and you too can have some nice rules light generic sci fi mecha and tank rules.

As previously mentioned, Vehicles and Mecha have Weapon Points.  These WPs are generic and not really meant to get into massive detail.  We really don't care much about exactly how many guns or missiles get fired.

The basic setup for a WP weapon is this:  A WP is the cost assumed for an arm & torso (mecha) or turret/sponson mounted weapon that has access to an internal ammunition supply which can run out.  Reducing or improving factors such as Accuracy, Damage, Range, Ammunition, Special Effects (see the first part of my house rules!), and fire arcs can make the weapon cost more or less, but NEVER lower than 1.

With this system you can have high damage but short range siege cannons, hand carried type close combat weapons a mecha can throw down to get into fisticuffs if needed, or anything else.

Like much of my house rules, some GM fiat and a bit of imagination is required to make it all go down smoothly.  This isn't megadetail.  If you want that I recommend GURPS Vehicles.  (Bring a graphing calculator.)

For our purposes there are three weapon types to choose from.
Direct Fire:  Your rifles, cannons, laser beams and other point and shoot type weapons.
Missile:  Rocket propelled death in handy single or multiple missile fun.
Close Combat:  Mainly on Mecha, these are usually low to no ammunition expenditure weapons allowing you to rip things up in a more "civilized" way.  If you mean stabbing a tank with a 1 ton blade is civilized.  I suppose the lack of collateral damage is nice though...

Here is the handy core chart showing what the 1 Weapon Point version of each system costs, plus the costs/bonuses of up and downgrades:
(The #/# tells us what the default is, and the second number is the 1 WP cost/bonus level for downgrading or upgrading. The second number also shows the minimum this can be brought down to outside of Accuracy which can go as low as you want.)

                              Direct Fire Costs
 Damage      Accuracy(To Hit Bonus)    Range(In Meters)     Ammunition   
1d6 / 1d6                      0 / + -1                            200 / 50                  25 /  5

                               Missile Fire Costs
Damage      Accuracy(To Hit Bonus)    Range(In Meters)     Ammunition   
3d3 / 1d3                      0 / + -1                            300 / 50                  10 /  3

                            Close Combat Costs
Damage      Accuracy(To Hit Bonus)    Range(In Meters)     Ammunition   
1d6 / 1d3                     0 / +1-1                              4 / 1                    Unlimited

Special WP Costs:
Mecha Weapons:  A Mecha Direct or Missile Fire weapon made "Hand Held" can be picked up and dropped in exchange for 1 WP.  However it ONLY holds half the ammunition listed (round DOWN).

Vehicle Weapons: A Vehicle Direct or Missile Fire weapon made "Side Sponson" loses its 360 fire arc to a 180 and gains 1 WP.  Or it can only have a 45 arc in whatever direction the weapon is considered to be mounted in as a "Hull Mounted" weapon for 2.

Special Weapon Abilities: The list seen in the original set of X-Plorers house rules by me: X-Plorers Rules By Me For You! each cost a WP to add, except for Neo-Beam, and Anti-Ship which all cost 2 WP instead.  Ordnance costs a point per size.  (1 for Small, 2 for Medium, 3 for Large) Twin Linked costs 1 for the system and not per gun.

Close Combat Weapons: Close Combat Weapons use the Pilot's modified Physique attribute as a base to hit & damage as it is a Close Combat attack.  The Range effect counts for the size and reach of the weapon.  For Mecha the CCW can be made "Hand Held" for a 1 WP bonus, though it becomes a 1d3 Damage base weapon instead.  HOWEVER, if the "Hand Held" weapon is held in BOTH hands (meaning you aren't spending WP on the second hand at all!) it becomes a 2D3+1 Damage weapon.

Now to give an example of making a weapon:  We are making weapons for a Medium Tank.  Its got 4 Weapon Points.  Now I would like to make the guns for my Warhammer 40,000 "Predator" tank.  The model I have has 2 side sponson Laser Cannons, and 2 more turret mounted ones.  At base, we know that the 2 turret mounted guns would give us 2 extra WPs to spend, but the 2 turret mounted ones would cost a WP to be Twin Linked.  In the game it comes from, Laser Cannons are super heavy anti tank weapons with a very long range.  (Though in 40K's game case, its a measly 48", or 96 meters.)

1d6 damage isn't gonna cut it!  I decide to drop each gun's range by 50 meters, making them still longer range then what it has in its home game.  To my knowledge they never listed ammo requirements for the guns, but I decide they will also have 5 less ammo.  I decide not to do any more tinkering, but do choose to upgrade each gun now.

Let's look at what this does to the 2 sponson guns first.  Each gun costs 1 WP.  Dropping to a 180 side sponson makes it 0 WP (which is illegal to BUILD the gun, but its not finished yet!).  Dropping Range and Ammunition by 1 each makes it -2.  I take the 3 points I got and raise the gun's damage to a nasty 4d6.  So a 4d6 Damage gun with no Accuracy bonus and a 150 Meter Range (a nice 75" tabletop range for model based fighting), with 20 shots of ammo costs 1 WP of the 4 my tank has available.

So the 2 sponson guns are done, but now our turret mounted guns have a problem.  As it stands we will have to either make the 2 guns lesser in damage, or give them less ammunition.  I choose the latter, so the turret guns only have 15 shots each.  Now if I want to keep that sweet Twin Linked action I am going to have to go back to my currently designed tank and drop something so I can get an extra Weapons Point.

Shields:   Something many Mecha can carry are shields.  Some are made of metal, others are an electronic form, but either way they give machines a bit of a defensive edge against the more heavily armed tanks they are designed to take out.

Shields can be purchased with either System and/or Weapon points.  Depending on the points spent, the shield may or may not effect any other weapons in the arm(s) equipped.

For each SP or WP spent (up to 5 maximum), the unit gains +1 AC.  1-2 AC shields do not affect a Mecha's ability to use arm or hand weapons with the shield.  3 AC shields penalize weapons in that arm with a -1 To Hit, 4 AC a -2, and 5 AC shields do not allow the arm to use any weapon whatsoever.

Option:  Vehicles may choose to mount a shield on a facing of the tank as well with the same penalties as above.  (Its considered to be things like Bulldozer blades and reinforced armor as opposed to an actual shield.)

And that's it!  Now we have ourselves a nice generic system to make big smashy tanks and robots!

I hope everyone has enjoyed it and can put it into play!

I would like to recommend that any and all designs made using my rules are done by the GM for the campaign he or she is running, or if you allow players to make their own rides and the guns they carry, that you approve them.

Like any point based system, there is always some way one can make an unfairly broken bit of equipment.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In the Grim Darkness of Collectible Games, Bad Paint Customs, and Nerdiness..

For those not in the know, that is a Mechwarrior Dark Age Spirit Cat Koshi mildly repainted to look like an RX 78 Gundam.  Its just missing the funny head antenna V thing, and a second coat of blue paint to cover the bits the yellow paint overstepped its boundaries.

Hmm.. maybe I should paint up a Steel Wolf mech to be Char Aznable's ride?  Its not like Mechwarrior Dark Age miniatures are WORTH anything.  The game had the usual Wizkids problems (Collectible, a major rules revision that tried to make all previous models useless, the normal "take damage to do anything" Clix gameplay), exacerbated by a major timeframe jump from Battletech (at the time around a 60 year difference) designs that sometimes barely even LOOKED like Battletech mecha and we just have a recipe for disaster.

(There are reports the tourney scene hurt the game badly too.  The same people who won't play unless a game is in print and has competitions and prize support apparently hammered the game into the ground.  No surprise there, especially if the Heroclix tourney crowd was any indication.  Want to not have any fun even when you WIN?  Play in some collectible game tournaments!)

A shame as the models are overall really nice for prepaints, possibly the best overall till AT 43 came on the scene.  They even had a set of rules to use the Dark Age line as models for Battletech but angry Battletech players who take things far too seriously (a major subset of the playerbase sadly) pretty much made that a no go.  A shame since I have gobs of them, especially for the Spirit Cats faction.

My Spirit Cat collection.  I would have more, but ragey Battletech fans mean no need to buy minis I won't have much use for.  Still, its an impressive little force.  

I should probably download the final version of the ruleset and see about tweaking it to remove the major bits of Clix system suck.  Might make for a nice quickie mech game to play.  They might make a good use for a homebrew Scifi game or with one of the generic Scifi minis games too.  (FAD, Future War Commander, Dirtside 2)

And speaking of nice miniatures whose games going through an edition effectively kill the game:

Monday, February 1, 2010

X-Plorers Mecha and Vehicle Rules Part 2 of 3

As promised its time for those Mecha and Vehicle rules.  (Though I may not do Psionics now that the game's creators have made their own official ones.  Or it may be in an "Anime" style X Plorers house ruleset from me at a later date.


The foundations of both Vehicles and Mecha is this:  There are 5 sizes of each that roughly correspond with each other, using the vehicles in parenthesis as a rough guide to size.
Super Light (Motorcycles)
Light (Automobiles)
Medium (Armored Personnel Carriers)
Heavy (Light Tanks)
Super Heavy (Main Battle Tanks)

It is my thoughts that if there ever are actual combat mecha they won't be of the massive size we see in cartoons and most current mecha hobby games.  They will largely be closer to powered armor, capable of going where tanks can't go, and being more agile.  If your campaign wants BIG ROBOTS, just change the scale of what each is.

Both Vehicles and Mecha have a number of attributes, their own Physique and Agility scores which in Mecha's case are ADDED to that of the pilot's, their Hit (or Hull) Points, their Armor Class which is modified by their Agility score, their Speed which is how fast they move in their Vehicle scale movement phase, their System Points for special equipment, and Weapon Points for how many weapons they can carry.

Look at the chart and meet me at the bottom of it in 5:
(The 2 numbers correspond to Vehicle then Mecha)
(For Physique and Agility scores mentioned for Mecha, a Cybernetic Port increases PHY by 1 and reduces AGI penalties by 1.)
(Mecha Weapon Points list anywhere and arm mounted ones which are either held or replace a normal manipulator arm.)
Unit Size            Physique    Agility     HP      AC     Speed   System Points   Weapon Points
Super Light           12/+3         18/-2      10/5    12/16     20/8                2                    2/0 2 Arm
Light                     14/+5         16/-3      15/9    14/18     18/7                3                    3/1 2 Arm
Medium                15/+7         14/-4     20/13   16/20     16/6                4                    4/2 2 Arm
Heavy                   16/+9         12/-5     25/17   18/22     14/5                5                    5/3 2 Arm
Super Heavy         17/+11       10/-6    30/21    20/24     13/4               6                    6/4  2 Arm

Optional: If a unit wants more System Points or Weapon Points it may DOWNGRADE to a lower level PHY, HP, AC, System, or Weapon Points.   Per level dropped the unit gains 1 additional System/Weapon Point.  No more than 3 downgrades may be done, and a unit can reduce its ratings in these categories down to Super Light if they wish.  Speed may be lowered to the next level as well but only upwards. (Like a Medium tank may wish to be just a really big infantry carrier.  Its already using 3 of its System Points but wants to carry a 9 man squad.  So its designer drops its Physique by 2, and its Weapon Points by 1, making it a Super Light for Physique, and a Light for Weapon Points.  This gives it the 3 System Points it needs to take a 4 point Passenger Compartment.)  (For speed a Super Light may want more WP so it could give itself Medium Vehicle speed (16 instead of 20 for a Super Light) and gain 2 Weapon or System Points.

Explaining the categories:

Physique:  This does not affect the unit's HP in any way, but is used for purposes of close combat damage, usually by ramming in a Vehicle's case.  For Mecha, it is added to the pilot's for the same purposes, but its total PHY score determines its Vehicle scale damage in close combat.  (A burly guy is more manly and thus his awesomeness affects how he can punch through a tank.)

Agility:  This does not affect the unit's AC in any way, but is a rough indicator of its maneuverability and such.  However for Mecha it DOES affect the overall AC.

HP:  The unit's Hit (or Hull) points needed to wreck the vehicle.  For Mecha the machine is still active, but the pilot is then exposed and can be killed.  (Pilot HP is still considered Personal Scale.)  A Vehicle or Mecha may be repaired unless it takes double its total HP when it is then destroyed with no chance of repair.

AC: The unit's armor class.  This takes in account the size and construction of the machine, though remember a Mecha may be penalized if its pilot's effective AGI is low enough.

Option: The AC for the sides of a Vehicle may be considered to be 2 lower, and 4 lower on the rear, and
Mecha may deal with whatever facing AC penalties the group uses in normal X Plorers combat.

Speed: The unit's normal movement rate during a Vehicle scale movement action.  Vehicles and Mecha CAN go flat out and move double speed like a Personal scale "run" type double move.

System Points:  As previously mentioned, System Points let you equip a unit with various upgrades to
improve its performance.

Weapon Points:  Similar to System Points, but is the number of weapon systems a unit can carry. 1 WP is equal to a 1D6 Super Light Weapon System (More detail in the final part!) or 2 Twin Linked Personal Scale weapons.  For Mecha, you may have Arm Mounted weapons that are either carried or replace a normal humanoid hand arm.  Hand carried weapons must have their own ammunition source unless they are a close combat weapon.

Other than this, Vehicles and Mecha fight out just like a normal X Plorers unit, though in this case they are in the Vehicle Scale as opposed to X Plorers' Personal.

Some readers may wonder why the HP is so low for the machines, yet a Super Heavy Tank can carry a 5d6 gun.  Well, have you read many war reports, or watched many Sci Fi shows?  Most of the time machines are killed with 1 or 2 hits from an equivalent sized gun.  Even the M1 Abrams could be taken out by a man carried LAW with a little luck from the firing team.  If a game group wants more Battletech or Palladium styled units double or triple the HP (and remember to do so to any System Point upgrades too!) and you will have more durable drawn out fights with machines.

I also am considering most Vehicles to only require 1 or 2 crew to control, and all mecha to be single pilot controlled.  GMs and their game groups may choose to put more detail in.

Well, all we have left to do is a nice weapons construction chart and my Mecha and Vehicle ruleset is done!


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