PDA

View Full Version : asking for help with mecha campaign



magic-rhyme
05-14-2010, 12:03 AM
My players have asked me to run a mecha campaign for them, and I'd like some advice.

They don't mind whether it's traditional mecha along the lines of Gurren Lagon or more military style mecha like Gundam or more of a major weirdness like Neon Genesis Evangelion. They are open to variant styles, such as the magical mecha of Escaflowne.

I've run anime inspired campaigns before but never mecha. I've run campaigns in sentai, Bushido, superhero, and Star Trek and Star Wars, all of which has some things in common with mecha, but never mecha itself.

My chief concerns are how to keep players from feeling paranoia about losing their mecha and how to keep mecha combat from turning into a war game in which players feel distanced from their PCs' battles instead of immersed within them. I still remember a Speed-Racer-but-motorcycles campaign ten years ago that failed because the players were afraid to leave their motorcycles unattended even though the GM never once came close to stealing them or threatening them, so I'm wary. My group also dislikes mixing war gaming with roleplaying, so I need to attain a more organic combat feel.

Right now, it looks like I might use Mekton Zeta, but I'm not sure yet.

Any advice on any of the above or any other aspect of running a mecha campaign would be appreciated.

Umiushi
05-14-2010, 03:11 AM
At the two extremes, workable approaches would be either to ensure the characters lose (and promptly replace) their mecha so often they simply accept that as a fact of the world, or make it so that characters access their mecha from a completely secure location, so that they never lose them.

In the first case, the setting should be designed so that it's trivially easy to replace destroyed mecha. Also, it should be equally easy (at least for player characters) to survive the destruction of mecha. Mecha could be cheap, disposable, and readily available (Armored Trooper VOTOMs); characters could be in a position where replacing or repairing mecha is easy for them (Ghost in the Shell, also many mecha-using villainous organizations have this capacity); characters can be individually powerful enough to take enemy mecha for themselves (Code Geass); or the rapid deployment of technology simply means that new and better mecha are available almost as soon, or perhaps even before, the older mecha get blown apart (Gundam SEED).

At the other end, the characters store their mecha in an impregnable location. It might be a pocket dimension, where the mecha can be arbitrarily (or when appropriate conditions are met if you don't want it to be too easy) summoned (Magic Knight Rayearth). A weaker alternative is to stick them in a place of secrecy, like a hidden base (Mazinger, several others) or isolation, a classic example being tucked in a vessel (Nadesico, several others). Often, in the case of a spaceship, it solves the problem indirectly by necessitating that the player characters are always either near their mecha or in their mecha.

If PCs are getting truly neurotic, sometimes your setup won't matter for much. In cases like that, you can apply indirect pressure. Allied NPCs could tease them about their paranoia, or perhaps villainous NPCs come to notice this behavior and promptly cook up a plot that only works because it hinges upon the PCs' over-protectiveness.

If we consider that there are several possibilities between these two extremes, what it boils down to is that you have many options available. With that in mind, my main piece of advice is to first come up with a setting and story theme that's pleasing to both you and your players, and then consider what attributes to add to the setting that will keep your PCs from getting all strange on you.

WCRPG Butcher
05-22-2010, 06:46 AM
My players have asked me to run a mecha campaign for them, and I'd like some advice.

They don't mind whether it's traditional mecha along the lines of Gurren Lagon or more military style mecha like Gundam or more of a major weirdness like Neon Genesis Evangelion. They are open to variant styles, such as the magical mecha of Escaflowne.

I've run anime inspired campaigns before but never mecha. I've run campaigns in sentai, Bushido, superhero, and Star Trek and Star Wars, all of which has some things in common with mecha, but never mecha itself.

My chief concerns are how to keep players from feeling paranoia about losing their mecha and how to keep mecha combat from turning into a war game in which players feel distanced from their PCs' battles instead of immersed within them. I still remember a Speed-Racer-but-motorcycles campaign ten years ago that failed because the players were afraid to leave their motorcycles unattended even though the GM never once came close to stealing them or threatening them, so I'm wary. My group also dislikes mixing war gaming with roleplaying, so I need to attain a more organic combat feel.

Right now, it looks like I might use Mekton Zeta, but I'm not sure yet.

Any advice on any of the above or any other aspect of running a mecha campaign would be appreciated.

I personally think the Robotech/Macross approach to mecha is probably the most versatile when it comes applying mecha to a setting while exploring themes you wish to touch upon. The idea being that while the mecha itself is somewhat an exclusive piece of equipment, the fuel it runs on is even more exclusive, least in the amounts it needs to be powered.

Addressing the "I don't want my cool robot blown up", there are a few ways you can aleviate fears of players should they not die from their mecha being destroyed aside from patting them on the head and giving them a brand new one. One is making the mecha they use have a co-pilot function, which is something I don't see a lot in mecha-featuring properties. Should one of the players lose their mecha in a fight, they can co-pilot with another player so they don't feel useless and your game doesn't suddenly clunk to a halt when a mecha is destroyed. You could give the mecha being piloted by two people a +1 bonus to everything, and specify which of the two players are handling things like attacking, movement, defense, and assorted things. The obvious downside to this (to keep players from just doing two to a mecha) would be it's better to have everyone in their own mecha when there's a fight to be had. To me this would sound like a great way to keep the game moving when things go boom on the player side, and also enable more character interaction and cooperation.

You have to understand that players never want their cool things to blow up. The trick is to making it less of a drag when it does, so players feel like they can take more risks and gambles when there's a "safety net" that'll keep them involved.

As for avoiding war-game syndrome, honestly it comes down to presentation of combat and how often a player does something. Mecha will usually lend itself to a tank-commander style of gameplay, where you're looking at the battleground more like a general than a soldier. Additionally, the traditional "Good guys turn, bad guys turn, good guys turn, bad guys turn" will make the combat and gameplay seem more like a war-game, no matter the amount of flavor commentary you provide. This will probably require you to invent some small simple mechanics that keep players on their toes and adapting. Things such as dodging attacks makes them physically move a space or two (depending on how successful they were, ie great dodge: no spaces, decent dodge: one space, and desperate dodge: 2 spaces) from where they had moved during their turn. Additionally, you could roll a dice at the beginning of each turn to see if any of the players or NPC baddies get one extra action that turn. The idea is making combat more fluid and unpredictable beyond the inherent luck of dice rolling will lead to players feeling more personally involved.

Finally, for encouraging players to "trust" the GM in that their mecha won't be pinched behind their backs, I'd say in the first session of this, lay the security of the mecha to rest right away. Make up a security system that feels like the mecha will only "unlock" in a manner that feels unique and personal, like a blood sampling device, a "keycard" that's implanted somewhere in the body of the character his/herself, or dashboard retinal scan. It has to be something secure, but something fallible enough so should you choose to be evil with the players you can concoct a way for them to be pinched in a deliberate way.

Robperez
05-27-2010, 07:26 PM
I have played both Mekton and Macross and as a player and a GM for both games I can tell you that Macross is way more flexible since the mecha are design to be an extension of the players or the NPCs. A VF can perform almost any action a player can specially when it comes to hand to hand and combat and gives them the cool factor of flight and the fighter mode. The only thing u need to pretty much track is missiles!! Other than that you should be straight. if you are a fan or something less flashy you can do invid or souther cross and use the motorcycle mecha suits.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to that stuff.

Mekton in the other hand is a bit more calculating. If you give the players the oportunity to build their own mecha. It turns into a scientific equation since you need to balance so many things in other for a GOOD anime or scifi mecha to be feasable and the Combat is more tablebased than anything since flanks and distances come into play.

That's my opinion.

If you want some more input you are more than welcome to give me a buzz via pm and we can discuss it further.

Rob

Law
05-28-2010, 08:33 AM
The only Mecha game I've played in was a play test (for our group) of the Mecha and Manga supplement for Mutants and Masterminds 2e. It worked pretty well as a game, but I know next to nothing about the Mecha genre, so how well it models Mecha tropes, I have no idea. I wouldn't recommend using it, however, unless you are really comfortable running games with M&M2e already.

As for player paranoia, why not just tell themó"You are not going to lose your Mechs in this story. That just isn't a common genre convention, so it won't happen in this game."?

cigamnogard
06-01-2010, 06:57 PM
You could also try:
http://www.dp9.com/
And:
http://www.classicbattletech.com/

Locien
07-15-2010, 06:26 PM
On a related note, what system would seem to be good to run a super robot (Mazinger Z, Gurren Lagann) campaign?

Umiushi
07-15-2010, 07:11 PM
On a related note, what system would seem to be good to run a super robot (Mazinger Z, Gurren Lagann) campaign?
I'm sure there must be several, but Mekton, in one of its various incarnations, is the first to pop into my head when I hear a question like that.

cliff
07-19-2010, 01:58 PM
BESM is also a good choice for just about any Anime inspired gaming.

Lord Captain Tobacco
07-29-2010, 06:19 PM
Many years ago I started an epic 'mech game. Over the course of ten years and thirty-some players rotating in and out of the game (almost all were active duty military) I found a few things out about the mil/mech game. Here are just a few pointers:

1) Cut the umbilical!
At the very start of the story arc the players had to spend the entire first mission out of their 'mechs. This might have been easier with military guys but they seemed to better understand the concept of the 'mech as just a tool like a knife or a rifle, . It gave them the confidence in the game that was not based exclusively on pilot/gunnery skills. It also allowed the use of better and newer equuipment as a reward for acconplishing mission goals.

2) It's your show. You are the director.
Being mindful that that players are the reason for the game; decide what flavor YOU are comfortable with, then ask the players where they would like to go. I went from 80% action (in or out of gear) to 20% action with different groups. Most of the direction swings were character driven; the need for something more than a 'shoot'em-up' was needed to solve a problem.

3) Your players might not have the same goals you do.
I had one group who wanted a series of side missions which were body armor covert ops types. They went into the action where the players knew considerably less than their characters would have known but they enjoyed it greatly. Up front, I had warned them that it would be bloody because of this lack of operational knowlege but they insisted. Seven missions later and an almost 80% casualty rate (a few characters who were only lightly injured later returned to duty for later missions), the enthusiasm was through the roof. I picked up another three players (above regular group) while this was going on
AND THEY WANTED MORE MISSIONS!

I'd like to write more But I have to get back to work. Maybe I'll add more if other questions arise.

magic-rhyme
10-28-2010, 09:44 PM
1) Cut the umbilical!
At the very start of the story arc the players had to spend the entire first mission out of their 'mechs. This might have been easier with military guys but they seemed to better understand the concept of the 'mech as just a tool like a knife or a rifle, . It gave them the confidence in the game that was not based exclusively on pilot/gunnery skills. It also allowed the use of better and newer equuipment as a reward for acconplishing mission goals.

This advice really, REALLY helped!

I cut the umbilical cord, then brought them back to the mecha, and they have been happy players ever since!

Slipstream
11-01-2010, 05:56 PM
This thread reminded me of a certain fear I have as a player in a Star Wars Saga campaign. I play a pilot who has the starship destiny called "We've Been Through A Lot". Destiny in the game works as a special buffer in the game... a way of ensuring safety or an Ace up the sleeve of the player to ensure his destiny/calling/fate as a character survives or succeeds in something. For this particular destiny, my starship is bound to my character. I can only use these special destiny points as long as I'm on board the ship. If catastrophe were to take place and my ship is destroyed and I eject in time... I am ensured that after battle, I can return to my tore up ship chassis or 'black box' and essentially recover my ship to rebuild it. It hasn't happened yet so I can't give you an in-game example, but that's one approach if you wanted your players to have some type of empathy with their machine counterparts. Think about the way Kaylee speaks to Serenity. Nothing silly, just more a relationship of trust and understanding.

decline
11-14-2010, 05:51 PM
I wouldn't be too worried about how paranoid they might be.
A lot of this really comes down to the world/setting though.
If mechas are rare and something that gets stolen, then yes, they should be paranoid about it. They should probably leave someone to watch over them if they get out. Maybe it could be a trusted NPC or something.
If mechas are common, like cars are in this modern world, then yeah they do get stolen some, but generally it just comes down to watch where you park them and don't leave them unlocked in a bad area.
If the players do loose theirs...well...tough. Thats just how it went down and they can try to get another one, or track down who stole theirs...thats an adventure or two or three. And they will learn their lesson.

Lord Captain Tobacco
11-15-2010, 09:36 AM
If mechas are common, like cars are in this modern world, then yeah they do get stolen some, but generally it just comes down to watch where you park them and don't leave them unlocked in a bad area.


Visions of evil things...

The characters exfiltrate the lair of the evil overlord and return to the abandoned warehouse where the 'mechs were stashed. Every one of the machines is on blocks...except the Urbie. Those parts are so cheep, they arn't worth stealing...

Car alarms that wake the characters in the night.

Deciding if the 30-weight can go another 1,000 miles.

Where does one find wiper blades for a Hussar?

Why buy a 'Hot Rod' mag if you can't really see the model posing next to the machine...

"If you mech doesn't have mud on it, you aren't playing hard enough..."

"As a member of the Marik Motor Mainiacs, you can now get foot-pad to foot-pad insurance. Powertrain does not cover engine explosions. etc..."


Sorry, its early and I'm feeling mean.

magic-rhyme
11-16-2010, 12:05 AM
The characters exfiltrate the lair of the evil overlord and return to the abandoned warehouse where the 'mechs were stashed. Every one of the machines is on blocks...except the Urbie. Those parts are so cheep, they arn't worth stealing...

Car alarms that wake the characters in the night.

Deciding if the 30-weight can go another 1,000 miles.

Where does one find wiper blades for a Hussar?

Why buy a 'Hot Rod' mag if you can't really see the model posing next to the machine...

"If you mech doesn't have mud on it, you aren't playing hard enough..."

"As a member of the Marik Motor Mainiacs, you can now get foot-pad to foot-pad insurance. Powertrain does not cover engine explosions. etc..."


Sorry, its early and I'm feeling mean.

This is awesome! :biggrin: