Wednesday, February 04, 2015

FATE Inspired by Battletech, Part 2

On Monday I covered a FATE system inspired by Battletech. 

Still doin' that.

So right before Skills, Aspects are the most important part of FATE. Like characters, 'mechs have aspects. They have two by default--a high concept and trouble--and more, depending on their tech level.

High Concept - Of course High Concept. "Trash can with an autocannon," "Gauss Rifles with a 'mech attached," or "definitive zombie 'mech," are all good examples. What did the engineers think when they went to the drawing board on this one? What were the generals who ordered it hoping for? What reputation does it have amongst enemies or allies? How does it serve on the battlefield? The answers to all of these questions can make a good high concept for a 10m tall humanoid war machine.

Trouble - No 'mech is perfect. "Trash can with an autocannon" is sort of a drawback in its own way. Some 'mechs are weak against infantry. Some of them have poor communications or sensor systems. Some are just fucking ugly. There are unseen that still exist. Hell, if you're a cantankerous little fucker, "too good" can be a 'mech's trouble. No one wants to be a bullet magnet. "The final word in glass cannons," "that armor is a joke," or "slow as molasses," are all good examples.

Below is a list of "off the shelf" troubles and aspects which players/storytellers can choose from.

Aspects - Player characters have a phase trio to develop aspects which reflect their history and relationships with one another. 'Mechs have one aspect for every three or fraction of three tech levels they have.

Like Trouble, these can be unique to the machine or--because they represent a mass-produced product--pulled from a list below.

Preset Aspects
EM Systems
Party Planner Sensor Suite: This can be invoked when making an electronics roll to detect one or more hidden units. 

Constituency Array: This advanced communication system allows for advanced communications abilities through satellites or even through intense interference.

Phase III Signal Alteration System: A jammer that blocks, intercepts, and even spoofs communications, which can invoked for any electronics rolls related to that.

Red 100 Stealth Baffle: A series of electronics which aid with preventing detection of the unit by emitted radiation.

Actuator and Control System
Prowler System: This aspect is held by 'mechs which can move more easily across hindering terrain. In this kind of terrain it can occasionally help a 'mech hide because it can hide in places or poses that others would not suspect.

Composite I Armor (Trouble): This 'mech mounts very primitive armor. An enemy may invoke this aspect to deal one additional shift of damage if an attack hits. A 'mech may only have one armor aspect, trouble, and/or stunt. A storyteller can use it as a compel to make damage innocuous to other 'mechs cause serious systems damage to this one.

Electronic-Adaptive Plating: This 'mech mounts armor studded with a series of EM emitters and absorbers. It can primitively absorb, relay, or duplicate a series of electromagnetic signatures. This helps the 'mech hide from visual sensors or impersonate other units at range. It can also pick up signals that might otherwise be too weak and send signals slightly further than another unit could.

Long Range/Medium Range/Short Range: Weapon loadouts are kept intentionally vague, but a 'mech can generally shoot at units in the same zone (Short Range), units in an adjacent zone (Medium Range), or very far away, as defined by your campaign (Long Range). A 'mech with one (or more) of these aspects can invoke it when making an attack at that range.

Ballistics: Ballistics deal damage. This aspect can be invoked when making a roll that depends on damage or just throwing a lot of metal downfield. Attempting to knock a 'mech around, suppressing fire, or taking out the last support strut of a building all fall under this purview. A ballistics aspect can be invoked to deal an additional shift of damage on an attack that hits.

Lasers: Accuracy is the purview of lasers. They can be invoked on rolls requiring accuracy or before making an attack roll. 

Missiles: The specialty of missiles is their versatility. As long as it's vaguely conceivable, missiles can be used to create and capitalize on advantages. Lasers and Ballistics can also create advantages, but as a general rule, they shouldn't be able to do anything the other can't. Missiles should be able to do most of that, plus a wide variety of other things. Missiles can uniquely clear terrain, deliver mines, create interference, deliver stationary detection drones, or release smoke/gas clouds. They can also be independently invoked when using an advantage created by a friendly unit (for example, someone spotting a target for them).

Overdrawn Plant (Trouble): The 'mech's power plant is unequal to the task of running the unit. An enemy may invoke this aspect to cancel the 'mech's invokation of an aspect (if the 'mechs' pilot is a PC, they'll get the FATE point or ammo, power, or computers point* back). It may also be a compel that makes a player take a weapon or other system offline or shut down at a critical combat moment.

Classic Design: This design is well-recognized and respected throughout the land. Parts for it are plentiful, technicians may have even worked on this thing as kids. The 'mech is reliable and timeless; maintenance on it is incredibly easy. In combat, it can be invoked to keep the machine in one piece or functional when another machine might be failing or falling apart (this of course applies to all inclement conditions but damage, though a few advantages might apply).

Cutting Edge/Notorious Design (Trouble): This thing is so newfangled that things just keep going wrong. Replacement parts are all wrong, the design tolerances are unknown, and all the touchscreens have that fucking gear! Enemies can invoke this to create faults or failures that dog a unit. It can also compel a player to find spare parts, avoid using a weapon, or sign out of an account without meaning to.

Part 1: Intro & Skills
Part 2: Aspects & Trouble
Part 3: FATE Points & Stunts
Canon Examples
Non-Canon Examples

*I'll discuss ammo, power, and computers points next time, but they're a 'mech's three type of FATE points that it uses to invoke aspects for ballistics, lasers & maneuver, & electronics rolls.


SkilTao said...

This seems pretty reasonable and playable. I like how you've divided the skills, and especially that you've made it so experienced Pilots can survive under fire more easily, and that you've tied hand-to-hand combat more closely to the 'Mech's durability.

I've seen FATE/FUDGE adaptations before, I doubt I still have any, "compelling" FATE points and the gimmicky dice were a turn off (though perversely, thinking about it now, dice like that are probably well suited to a Shadowrun/WoD-style "count successes" system). Curious to see how you do the FATE points.

Situational Aspects and "create advantage" sound like a formalized version of what GMs should be doing anyway, which seems like a useful structure to have.

VanVelding said...

Creating advantages is a big part of the system. Because the dice don't push the numbers as much, if you're outclassed, you have to get some. So you can either take a turn to create and advantage for yourself, or have a friend (or two) make them for you to get one big, bump-set-spike hit in.

The FATE points and stunts still need some work, but I'm pretty happy with where they are currently.