Friday, July 2, 2021

A Fistful of Mechs

Armored Core V by yutori-custom

Wanzers (derived from German wanderpanzer; wander for "walking", and panzer for "armor") are weapons from an older age, discovered buried in the ground. They are refurbished and crudely rebuilt to be used as military weapons. While nowhere near as powerful as their past iterations due to their poor reconstruction, they retain strong offensive and defensive capabilities, making them powerful war machines and highly sought after.

Most stand 5-7 meters tall and are designed for urban combat situations. They are primarily focused on ground-based operations and have limited aerial capabilities, being unable to fly for or maintain height for an extended period of time. They do have heightened mobility on the ground, boosting and gliding along the ground at high speeds.

n.b. The rules already have some opinions on how vehicles work. Per the rules on p.88:

  • "... allow each vehicle to have hit points, movement, AC, ST, and weaponry just like a character, and maybe also special attack or repair options."
  • "The characters engaged in the battle are allowed control over one or several of these things each."
  • "For some things, the characters' stats can be used."

See my post on modern violence for how to handle movement, equipment burden, and weapons. Mechanically speaking, these are piloted dragon stat blocks using modern weapons and the normal combat rules with some added bits and a coat of sci-fi paint.

Adjudicating Wanzers

In addition to the general vehicle rules, keep the following in mind:

Mods. These act like the implants on p. 89. Minor mods can grant the listed bonuses, mod keywords act like very limited groups (i.e. can grant double rolls), and major mods replace an attribute altogether.

Mods complicate the piloting process. Only the most experienced pilots can wield such machines to their full potential. Pilots can only utilize one mod but can accommodate one more at levels 3, 6, and 9. 

Weapons. Equipped on each arm, with two more stored on bay units on the shoulders. Swapping a current weapon with one stored in a shoulder hanger counts as a small action. Some mechs may have heavier or experimental weapons equipped on their back as well. These have their own restrictions.

Keeping in mind that I treat these like dragons, HD 5+ mechs can attack twice, HD 10+ three times, and HD 15+ get four. The last attack must be AV 10 and they have to forsake their move. 

Weight. As mentioned above, wanzer's use the rules for equipment burden and act as if they have a backpack (i.e. 14 slots). They count AC, weapon size, and spare ammo towards their total. 

While they can use two-handed weapons with one arm, they still count as two slots!

Damage Types. All weapons and armor come in three damage type categories: Kinetic (KE), Chemical (CE), and Thermal (TE)

Bullet-based projectiles deal KE damage, Chemical/Explosive type projectiles deal CE damage, and energy weapons deal TE damage. 

If the damage type is an armor weakness (W), it's treated as AC -1. If the damage type is an armor strength (S), it's treated as AC +1.

These can cancel out! If you have TE weakness, but get TE strength from some source, you'd treat it as normal. Neither a strength nor a weakness. 

Critical Damage*. When a Wanzer is reduced to 25% HP, they must make a critical damage roll (d6):

  1. Loss of Footing: pilot must save or the wanzer staggers, giving foes Combat Advantage.
  2. Knocked Unconcious: pilot must save or skip 1d3 rounds.
  3. Weapons Down: the wanzer's weapons are down for 1d3 rounds.
  4. Comms Down: audio/video feed down for 1d3 rounds.
  5. Cockpit Fires: 1d3 rounds of 1d6-1 damage to the pilot.
  6. Malfunction Explosions: 1d6 damage to mech and pilot.

    *Stolen from Ternwillow

    Making Wanzers

    I generally handwave the process but these random tables could help streamline things.

    The main parts of a wanzer are as follows:

    • Head: visual sensors, scanners, CPU equipment, etc.
    • Core: pilot controls, grants HP and ST.
    • Arms: weapons are fixed here.
    • Legs: govern movement type.
    • Generator: powers all other components of the wanzer.
    • Boosters: the thrust system that lets a wanzer boost along the ground or jump in the air.
    • Arm Hangars: store weapons and allow swaps mid-engagement. 
    • Shoulder Unit: an optional utility hard-point.

    Being refurbished and scavenged war machines from a bygones era, you don't exactly get to go shopping for the perfect configuration. You make do with what you have. 

    Roll 1d6 to determine the wanzer type:

        1-2: Light. HD 4-10. AC 4-6. Strengths: KE. Weaknesses: CE & TE.

        3-4: Medium. HD 6-12. AC 5-6. Strengths: KE. Weaknesses: CE & TE. 

        5: Sniper. HD 4-10. AC 4-5. Strengths: CE. Weaknesses: KE & TE.

        6: Heavy. 8-14 HD. AC 7-9. Strengths: TE. Weaknesses: CE.

    Randomly determine Hit Dice and use that to get Hit Points

    The Saving Throw is equal to HD+5. Randomly determine AC as well.

    Determine its leg-type (d6):

        1-3: Biped. Standard. Legs are good for walking when you aren't gliding along.

        4: Reverse Joint. Great jumping ability. Grants CE Strength and TE & KE weakness to Heavy types.

        5: Tetrapod. Can take a turn deploy, gaining Combat Advantage on ranged attacks but can't move.

        6: Tank. +4 HP and +1 AC but twice as slow (i.e. two move actions to travel a short distance).

    Weapons follow the linked rules above for simple weapons. They could be handguns, shotguns, gatling guns, machine guns, howitzers, battle rifles, sniper rifles, laser rifles, laser blades, physical blades, cannons, etc.

    Take four weapons, give them fittingly military tech-sounding names, and work out what they are.

    You may take RLDs (spare ammo) for any weapon, counting each RLD as a minor item.

    Give it a cool call-sign (or steal one from your favorite mecha anime or vidya).

    Roll (d6) for what kind of mod you start with and work with your Ref and fellow players to figure out what it is.

    1-3: Minor Mod; 4-5: Keyword Mod; 6: Major Mod.

    Sample Wanzer - THE HANGED MAN

    From Armored Core V


    HP: 35 (HD: 10)AC: 8 (Strength: TE, Weakness: CE) | ST: 15

    WT: 16 used / 16 total


    • R ARM: UBR-05/R (medium CE rifle, long-range). 1x RLD.
    • L ARM: Tansy RF12 (medium KE rifle, long-range). 1x RLD.
    • R BAY: ULB-13/H (medium TE laser blade, melee).
    • L BAY: USG-11/H (large KE shotgun, short-range).
    • SHLDR: UMM-20/H Surat (medium CE missile, long-range).
    • KT-2R3/Dafeng. Minor. High-powered booster. +2 inventory spaces.
    • Verseau RG-04zz. Minor. Advanced CPU fire-control system. +1 Initiative.
    • Analytical AR enhancements. Keyword for sensory task rolls and other relevant tasks.

    If you can't tell, I've been on a bit of an Armored Core and Front Mission kick over the past few months. I suppose this is just how they finally bleed over into my hobby time.