Savage Mech II

Back when I was playing on my brother’s forum, and even before, I noticed the frustration in purely story based gaming. I’d done a lot of forum based roleplaying up until then and, nice as it is to come together and write a story with everyone’s input and ideas, that’s not entirely gaming. At MAHQ they had a fairly simple solution for this. A triad of gamemasters (they may actually call themselves the triad) work together to plot out where the story is going to go. This is facilitated by the fact that most of their games take place in established stories and times so the outcome is known and accepted by everyone, anyway. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t sometimes an issue with the stories going on inside the stories especially when players are pitted against each other. It becomes very much an eloquent came of cops and robbers “I got you/no you didn’t!”

 

Usually, it comes down to the gamemasters playing a crazy number of NPC’s on both sides to job for the other players and the players being moderately reasonable when they actually face off.

 

So, I was trying to come up with a game system that would have actual numbers and rolls involved with the gamemaster(s) make all the rolls and calculations without having to work too hard since the gamemaster would be making all the rolls with daily or weekly or monthly round resolutions, depending on how often the forum established.

 

I called it “Spine” because it was going to form the backbone of forums and looking over it now, it’s not too bad but I see a point where I obviously missed the mark. I established the idea of a static defense, a base defense that an opponent had to overcome to hit a target even if the target did not use an action to avoid being attacked. And, if the person declared a dodge or other defense maneuver the results applied to every attack that round so there weren’t rolls vs rolls vs rolls vs rolls. But the gamemaster would have to make this roll for each side in a conflict. Now that I think about it, I should extend the “Static” number further when it comes to the NPC side. Instead of having a bonus that would add to stats for NPC’s they would just have a Static Attack and a Static Defense. This number would then be compared to the results of the rolls of the player characters, thus saving some rolls and putting the fate of their characters truly in the players’ hands. Only when a PC was facing against a PC would they have to make a roll vs. a roll.

 

Anyway…here’s the rest of the Savage Mech idea I created. Maybe in a month or so I’ll start doling out the rules for Spine.  Oh, and I should mention that a lot of the Mecha in the examples at the end were inspired by Aron’s This Empire Earth Campaign.  If you’re not already visiting http://ideologyofmadness.spookyouthouse.com/ on a regular basis, you should be.

Self-Controlled Mecha

 

The above rules apply for “ordinary” Mecha that are massive robots that require a pilot to operate. While these are the most common type of Mecha, they are certainly not the only kind. Given the expense of creating one of these super machines of destruction, a number of alternate piloting forms have been attempted, not to mention the fact that in the depths of space and on the myriad of worlds that exist there are many creatures that are of a size, durability and strength to challenge a Mecha.

 

These self-controlled Mecha are created using the rules above with a few small changes.

 

First, self-controlled Mecha, because they lack pilots gain skills just as any other character would.

 

Second, they are able to take any edges that would be available to characters of their rank. They are still able to take the equipment listed above. These pieces of equipment and any upgrades taken for them may be taken in the place of an edge. Thus, anytime a self-controlled Mecha would normally take an edge it can take add a piece of equipment from above, instead.

 

Finally, self-controlled Mecha do not have secondary computers to help with aim and stabilization. All systems are integrated into whatever machinery, whether organic or electronic otherwise guides the Mecha. For this reason, they have only one Smarts score and cannot assign tasks to a separate computer.

 

Types of Self-Controlled Mecha

 

Sentient Robots: The same technology that gives human (or smaller) sized robots artificial intelligence can be installed inside a Mecha sized chassis. This technique has a number of advantages: Sentient Robots can be programmed with all the training they need, avoiding the necessity of sending a pilot to school. With the right inhibitors and hardwired commands, they can be easier to control than an organic pilot. Finally, they don’t require the “down time” that a living pilot requires, capable of operating almost continuously for days, weeks or even months at a time. Of course, some people just build giant sentient robots simply for the rush of doing so.

 

There are, of course, also disadvantages to creating a sentient robot rather than a piloted Mecha. Though they can be programmed with a great deal of knowledge and skill, they still need experience.   While this is also true of organic pilots, they can easily move from one mecha to another if a better one becomes available. Theoretically, the computer from a sentient robot could be transplanted to a new body, but this is about as easy and reliable as brain surgery. Often the processing core has a great deal of difficulty in adjusting to a new body.

 

Then, of course, there is always the chance that the robot will turn on its masters. Sentience has a way of giving an entity a sometimes surprising amount of free will and even the best programming and inhibitors can be bypassed with enough time and effort. Designers hoping to get giant slave warriors when they create massive sentient robots often find themselves on the wrong side of a giant metal revolt.

 

Superborgs: Just as the same technology used on human sized robots can be used to create giant sentient robots the same technology used to install a human or other organic creature’s brain into a human sized artificial body can be used to install such a brain into a giant sized artificial body.

 

These creations, often called Superborgs combine many of the benefits of a living pilot with the advantages of sentient robot. Though they still need sleep, a Superborg does not require food or drink and does not require as much leisure time as most full bodied pilots. They are capable of adjusting to new mecha faster than the AI of a sentient robot is able to.

 

Unfortunately, they too come with their own drawbacks. First, despite extensive research, it is much harder to program an organic mind than it is an electronic one. Superborgs are far more likely to disobey or purposefully misinterpret orders than a giant robot is.

 

Additionally, it is quite common for even human sized cyborgs to begin to lose touch with their humanity. Generally, the more of their flesh that is replaced by machinery and electronics, the less cyborgs empathize with fully organic creatures. Their concept of pain and suffering shift and with it shifts their ability to understand the plight of fully organic individuals.

 

This effect is even more pronounced in Superborgs because their perspective is shifted so radically. Not only is there very little flesh and blood left for them to experience organic experiences, but also they are now massive creatures surrounded by very small, very fragile creatures, creatures that often feel that they have the right to give the Superborgs commands or that they otherwise have authority over them. This situation is somewhat akin to a human having to take commands from very clever mice.

 

Because of these factors, it is not uncommon for Superborgs to become sociopathic. They either develop god complexes, begin to enjoy hurting sentient fully organic creatures, or simply refuse to accept any authority that is not backed up by sufficient force to physically compel them.

 

For this reason, the bodies of Superborgs are often equipped with kill switches that can be tripped remotely, leaving a psychotic brain paralyzed in an unmoving body. Of course, most Superborgs know about these kill switches and find ways to disable or bypass them, even ones who have not gone rogue.

 

Superborgs have normal Smarts rather than animal smarts, but generally have to come in for repairs and cannot heal themselves.

 

Kaiju/Star Beasts/Bio-weapons: Space is an unbelievably vast place and possesses life in such myriad forms that the mortal mind boggles. While a great deal of it seems to have evolved on relatively the same scale, even in Earth’s distant past there have lived beasts that could rival a Mecha in size and physical power. There are many planets throughout the galaxy where this is still true. Occasionally, a creature will appear that seems to be unique or to come from a planet that has yet to be discovered. In any case, the origin of these creatures often goes unexplained for decades if not forever. Finally, with the awesome advances of genetic engineering, not a few corporations and militaries have developed programs to create living weapons that can go toe-to-toe with Mecha, either instead of or as a parallel branch of research to the giant machines.

 

Organic Mecha are built just like any other self-controlled mecha. They are assumed to have the self-repair upgrade automatically. The trade off for this is that their Smarts attribute is considered of the animal category unless they spend an upgrade to change it to standard Smarts.

 

Man vs. Mecha

 

As a general rule, only Mecha or creatures as large as Mecha fight these fearsome war machines. However, on occasion, the truly brave or truly desperate will try to bring down a Mecha.

 

When this happens a number of special rules come into play to represent the difference in the massive size, firepower and durability of a Mecha when compared to a much smaller, much squishier human sized being.

 

First, the thick metal or other materials that go into constructing the shells of Mecha are immensely durable and very few man portable munitions have a hope of damaging them. All Mecha are considered to have the Heavy Armor vehicle attribute. This is also true of living creatures designed using these Mecha creation rules. Their thick skins or armored plates are generally the natural equivalent of high tensile metals or ceramics.

 

Second, all Mecha are enormous machines. They use the giant size rules from the Savage Worlds rules. Although they vary dramatically in size, for simplicity sake, assume that all Mecha are size 10. Thus, they add 10 to any damage rolls they may make. Unlike the rules in Savage Worlds, this modifier applies to ranged weapons as well as melee attacks. For example, a Mecha with laser that does 2d6 damage decides to evaporate a pesky freedom fighter with a rocket launcher. Scoring a hit, the Mecha does 2d6 (the damage of the weapon) + 10 (the size modifier) damage. Unless the freedom fighter is wearing some very impressive armor, he is likely nothing more than an unpleasant memory.

 

Finally, the movement given for Mecha is based on their scale which is approximately six times the size of human sized creatures. A battle between a human sized creature and a Mecha sized creature should be waged on a map set for Mecha scale and the human sized creature should only be able to move one square per turn.

 

Examples

P-92 Maragon Squire

Squires are one of a number of Mecha in the known universe that come close to being “Mass Produced.” This term is somewhat misleading as, even with all the division of labor and streamlining of production that goes into creating them, only a handful are created each year. The Maragon family, well known for their various man-sized robot lines, decided on a durable but slow and simple design for their Mecha line. Squires are relatively tough, but their computers are surprisingly simple for coming from such a robot savvy company. This is generally the first thing a pilot has upgraded when they get the money and supplies to do it and a number of standard upgrade kits of various qualities and from various manufacturers are on the market. Despite their limitations, Squires are often the Mecha of choice for pilots and any number of custom machines began as a humble Squire.

Agility: D6 Smarts: D4(A) Strength: D8 Spirit: D4 Vigor: D8

Pace: 4 Toughness: 8 (2) Parry: (Varies with Pilot’s skill)

Upgrades: Increased Armor

Shoulder Mounted Laser (Increased Damage): 2d6 damage Range: 12”/24”/48”

Power Axe: Strength + d6 damage

Flaw: Slow

 

X-19V “Slappy”

X-19V is one of the last remaining members of a group of uplifted chimps specifically designed and trained as behind-the-lines commandoes. The squad was quite successful and something of a terror for their enemies. Eventually, their luck ran out and Slappy’s entire squad was wiped out during a bad op and he came very close to being killed. His commanders were able to rescue him before he died and were loath to waste the training and experience that he’d gained. Though most of his body could not be salvaged, his brain was still fully functional. Instead of wasting such talent on a standard full conversion, they placed his brain into a custom built mecha, making him a Superborg. Unfortunately, Slappy was tiring of being a tool for his commanders before his accident and he blames them for the death of his squad. Now that he’s got a giant, powerful new body, he’s seriously considering mutiny.

Agility: D8 Smarts: D6 Strength: D8 Spirit: D6 Vigor: D8

Pace: 6 Toughness: 6 Parry: 7

Skills: Fighting: D10, Notice: D6, Shooting: D8, Stealth: D8, Survival: D8, Swimming D4

Hindrances:

Upgrades: Boomgun (Increased Damage, Scattershot, Short Ranged): 2d6 damage Range: 6”/12”/24”

Megaclub (Armor Piercing – 1, Unwieldy): Strength + D6 damage

 

Great God Kaiger

The Great God Kaiger is at the center of a Robotheist cult. A giant, sentient robot of unknown origin, anywhere the Great God Kaiger is discovered, buried under a desert, at the bottom of an ocean or encased in ice in a glacier, Robotheists gather to worship the Great God Kaiger and reactivate him. These cultists are certain that, when he is reactivated, the Great God Kaiger will lead a great mechanical crusade through the Universe, sweeping away all organics and setting up a new, all digital Utopia. Unfortunately, each time a cult manages to get the Great God Kaiger reactivated, some group of organics comes along and destroys him again. The fact that he has been discovered in several places only reassures his followers that he will return again and again until he succeeds as long as they remain faithful. They ignore any who point out that many of these Great God Kaigers appear at the same time throughout the universe.

Agility: D6 Smarts: D6 Strength: D8 Spirit: D8 Vigor: D10

Pace: 6 Toughness: 10 (2) Parry: 6

Skills: Fighting: D8 Intimidate: D8 Knowledge (Digital Religion): D8 Notice: D6 Shooting: D10

Hindrances:

Upgrades: Increased Armor

Eye Beams (Increased Damage): 2d6 damage Range: 12”/24”/48”

Sturdy

Flight

Spaceworthy

 

Zethyr

A howling wind in the void, a terror that stalks the spaces between, the Zethyr is one of the great star beasts that preys upon those who dare the dangers of space. A massive beast with the fore section of a savage shark melded to the writhing tentacles of a fiendish squid, Zethyr is bigger than most star fighters and rivals the size of many troop transports. What makes him all the more terrifying is that he is easily able to survive entry into a planet’s atmosphere and will, occasionally, come to a world’s surface and devour every living creature he finds. Some say that Zethyr is intelligent while others believe he has only the cunning of a beast. In any case, most agree that there are subtle whispering voices surrounding the creature, voices that speak of madness and despair though just slightly too low to be truly understood.

Agility: D6 Smarts: D4(A) Strength: D8 Spirit: D6 Vigor: D8

Pace: 6 Toughness: 9 (2) Parry: 7

Skills: Fighting: D10, Intimidate: D6, Notice: D6, Shooting: D6, Survival: D4 Tracking: D4

Hindrances:

Upgrades: Flight

Spaceworthy

Bite (Armor Piercing: 1 Increased Damage): Str + 3D6

Self-Repairing

Sturdy

Armor

Vortex Breath (Increased Damage): Damage: 2D6 Range: 12”/24”/48”

 

Duarn Iambic Pent-hammerer

Given the Duarn penchant for engineering, and their ability to create amazingly sturdy pieces of equipment, it is no surprise that they have built some impressive Mecha. The Iambic Pent-hammerer is one of the most impressive. Its offensive capabilities revolve entirely around the Mechanized Pent-Hammer that it carries and it is incredibly durable. It requires a ridiculous amount of punishment to take down an Iambic Pent-hammerer and as often as not, the Pent-hammerer wins a battle through attrition.

Agility: D6 Smarts: D6 Strength: D6 Spirit: D6 Vigor: D8

Pace: 5 Toughness: Parry:

Upgrades: Armor (+2)

Sturdy

Pent-hammer (Dual Weapon): Str+D6, 1D6 range: 12”/24”/48”

 

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Savage Mech

When I first (re)started Black Guard Press, Savage Worlds was my favorite system.  Still is, actually.  Most of the stuff I’d done was d20 based, because that’s what I’d been messing with, but as you can see from this blog, Savage Worlds has quickly supplanted it in terms of how I create content.

I actually tried to get a license to publish Savage Worlds material.  I was turned down.  Which is, apparently hard to do if you believe the original Evil Bastard, Aron Head…getting turned down, that is.  Apparently, if you can breathe and type a complete sentence you can get a Savage Worlds license.  Anyway…I’d produced a lot of content, anyway, including this.  I’d been messing with Mecha, too because of hanging out with my brother, who is a moderator over at http://www.mechatalk.net/.

It will likely never get published for profit, but the nice thing about Savage Worlds is that they’re not at all tightfisted about the content using their system, so I’m free to put it here.  It’s pretty long, actually, so I’m going to publish it in several parts.

And if you’re interested in Savage Worlds, DriveThru RPG is having a sale on a ton of their products now:  http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/rpg_savagesept.php?affiliate_id=80366

Mecha Creation:

 

Creating a Mecha is much like creating a character. In fact, they utilize most of the same stats, though Mecha do not have skills (these are handled by the pilot) and they gain equipment and systems rather than edges.

 

Mecha are multi-million cred machines and while many of the parts are mass produced, each one quickly becomes unique as pilots and technicians tweak and manipulate them, upgrading various systems and adding assorted pieces of equipment to specialize them for the pilot’s personal skills and preferences.

 

Characteristics:

Agility: Agility describes how maneuverable a Mecha is. While most actions that require skill and dexterity in a Mecha are determined by a piloting skill check, even an Ace pilot can only do so much with a clumsy or slow Mecha. Thus, for every dice beyond the first that a Mecha’s Agility is below the operator’s piloting skill, the pilot suffer’s a -1 to his piloting rolls. For example, Max has a piloting skill of d8, however, his normal Mecha is damaged and under repairs. He has to instead go into battle in a stock Mecha fresh from the factory with only a d4 agility. All of his piloting rolls would suffer a -1 while piloting this inferior model. Had Max been able to find a machine with a d8 agility or above, he would not have suffered any penalties.

 

Likewise, especially agile Mechas give their pilots bonuses. A Mecha bestows a +1 to all piloting rolls for every dice its Agility is higher than the pilot’s piloting skill. In the above example, if Max was able to find a machine with a d12 in agility, he would get a +1 to his piloting rolls until the real pilot took his very valuable machine back. Note that each +1 added to the d12 in Agility counts as a another step in dice. So if Max had the good fortune of grabbing a Mecha with a d12+1 Agility rank, he would get a +2 to his piloting rolls.

 

Smarts: All Mecha possess advanced computer systems, they are necessary to handle all the complex calculations necessary to keep the machine’s balance, target enemies and run the diagnostics that are required to keep a Mecha running. While not advanced enough to be considered AI’s, these computers are powerful enough to act semi-independently.

 

Most Mecha’s Smarts score are considered animal (but see sentient mecha and superborgs, below,) meaning that they don’t have the ability to develop complex plans or goals, though they can be quite cunning in performing assigned tasks. A pilot can set a task for his Mecha and turn his attention to other matters. This can be as mundane as monitoring radar and informing him of incoming enemies or as important as firing on an enemy while the pilot turns his attention elsewhere.

 

A Mecha and its pilot cannot perform the same type of action in a single round. They will simply get in each other’s way. A pilot could assign the Mecha to walk or run to a certain location while he fired a weapon or could maneuver the Mecha himself while allowing the machine to fire, but both pilot and Mecha could not fire weapons, even different weapons. The shifts in body posture are dramatic enough that they cannot perform a physical attack and a ranged attack, either. Note that either one or both can still take double actions with the usual penalty.

 

Strength: As might be suspected, strength is a measure of the brute physical power of a Mecha. It’s value is added to any melee weapon damage rolls, or simply used as the damage if no weapon is available and is used when it’s necessary to determine if a mecha can pick something up or throw it.

 

Spirit: Although most Mecha do not have complex enough computers to possess a will and sentience of their own, the stability of their computer systems does mirror a living creature’s Spirit. Mecha use their Spirit ability when checking to recover from being shaken. It is also used in opposed rolls to resist being hacked by unauthorized users.

 

Vigor: Vigor measures the basic durability of a Mecha. It is used to determine its toughness and also to overcome certain attacks and environmental conditions that could damage the machine.

 

Derived Characteristics:

Pace: Pace determines how fast a Mecha is and how many squares it can cover on the battlefield. It also determines how fast a Mecha can fly, should the machine possess that ability. Base Pace is 6, though it can be raised with an upgrade or lowered with a flaw.

 

Toughness: Toughness determines how hard it is to damage a Mecha. This characteristic operates the same for Mecha as it does for characters. It is equal to 2 plus one half the Mecha’s vigor.

 

Parry: This Characteristic is not derived from any of the Mecha’s primary characteristics, but rather from the Fighting skill of its pilot. It is equal to 2 plus one half the pilot’s Fighting skill.

 

MECHA Equipment and Upgrades:

 

Although creating a Mecha is basically like creating a character, there is one major difference. Unless the Mecha is self-controlled, it does not receive edges, skills or hindrances. Instead, they receive upgrades and flaws. A newly created Mecha receives three upgrades. Each time it levels up, it can choose an additional upgrade.

 

Ranged Weapon: Whether it be some sort of mass thrower that operates off of explosive or magnetic energy or an energy based device, this weapon is capable of attacking opponents at range. Base damage is 1d6 but a number of upgrades can increase that value. Base range is 12”/24”/48”

 

Ranged Weapon Upgrades:

 

Canister shot: A ranged weapon with this upgrade fires a projectile that explodes when it hits or after some sort of fuse is activated. This uses the Medium Burst template and the pilot of the mecha makes a shooting roll against any mecha under the template.

 

Scattershot: A scattershot weapon fires not a single slug but a number of smaller projectiles in a burst. This can be sliver shaped flechettes, round pellets, jagged, irregular bits of material or even a number of small energy weapons that fire all at once or in rapid succession. In any case, this upgrade adds a die to damage at short range and subtracts a die of damage at long range and leaves medium range unaffected.

 

For instance, a weapon that normally does 2d6 damage would do 3d6 at short range, 2d6 at medium range and 1d6 at long range.

 

Increased Range: Longer barrels, higher frequency lasers, or simply pumping more energy whether kinetic or otherwise into a weapon can cause it to shoot farther. Applying increased range to a weapon doubles all range values. It can be taken up to twice for each weapon, though the second boost only adds the same amount, thus tripling the weapon’s range. For example, a Gauss Rifle might be a Ranged Weapon with the Increased Range modification. This would bring its range up to 24”/48”/96”. Adding the Increased Range modification again would bring the ranges up to 36”/72/”144”

 

Missiles: Rather than small projectiles, or energy projectors, many Mecha depend on self-propelled, self-guided missiles for ranged attacks. Unlike most ranged weapons, which are assumed to have practically limitless ammunition (should ammunition even be necessary,) a weapon with the missiles upgrade carries only a finite amount of ammunition. The Mecha is assumed to have two missiles for every time that this upgrade is taken. The advantage of missiles is that a Mecha is able to fire one, two or all of its missiles at one time and every missile is considered to do the full damage of the weapon. Thus, with even one rank in this upgrade, a Mecha can deliver twice as much damage as normal, though it would then be out of ammunition until it could reload.

 

Locking missiles onto an opponent requires the attacker to succeed in an opposed piloting roll with his target and range modifiers apply. Once a lock is achieved, the target pilot has one round to evade the missiles at short range, two at medium and three at long. Evading missiles requires a piloting roll at -4.

 

Pistol: Through technology shrinking techniques and advanced miniaturization processes, a ranged weapon can be reduced to a size that is comfortably wieldable in one hand. While this does not change its damage, range or the effects of any other upgrades, it does allow the weapon to be used in close combat.

 

Targeting Computer: These advanced AI devices provide targeting assistance to a Mecha pilot giving him +1 to Shooting Rolls.

 

Melee Weapon: These devices can range from simple metal clubs to complex energy swords to claws mounted on the Mecha’s fingers or the backs of the hands. No matter what shape they take, melee weapons do 1d6 + Str damage.

 

Melee Weapon Upgrades:

 

Adept: Melee weapons with this upgrade are easier to handle and manipulate, making them more accurate and fast in combat. Each time this upgrade is taken, the weapon grants a +1 to Fighting rolls when it is used.

 

Elegant: Though Mecha weapons are massive tools of destruction, they can still be quick and adept for their size. When wielded elegant weapons provide a +1 to a Mecha’s parry total for every time this upgrade is taken.

 

Reach: Some Mecha melee weapons are massive pole arms while others are mounted on long chains and a few are giant beams of shaped energy. A melee weapon with reach can hit targets an extra 1” away for each time it is taken. This upgrade can only be taken twice per weapon, giving a maximum reach of 3”.

 

Chemical Throwers: This category of weapons encompasses anything from flame throwers to acid projectors to caustic gas sprays. They use the flame template and the pilot rolls a shooting roll against any target that it touches.

 

General Weapon Upgrades:

 

Armor Piercing: Whether it be a particularly sharp melee weapon, projectile ammunition designed to penetrate armor, or intensely focused energy weapons, this upgrade provides AP 1 every time it is taken for a weapon.

 

Increased Damage: An upgrade that can be added to any weapon type, this adds a single die to the damage done by the weapon.

 

Increased Power: This upgrade can be applied to any type of weapon. It upgrades the damage die that the weapon does by one step.

 

General Mecha Upgrades:

 

Extra Limb: Whether a tail or tentacle or an extra pair of arms, an extra limb allows a Mecha to make an additional attack each round at no penalty. It should be noted that, unless a weapon is bought for this extra limb, it is just a basic melee attack and only uses the Mecha’s strength for damage.

 

Quick: A Mecha with this upgrade is faster than a standard machine. It receives a +2 to Pace.

 

Increased Armor: This upgrade provides sheets of armor that reduce incoming damage from attacks. Each time it is taken, the Mecha gains +2 armor. As usual, this armor can be ignored by weapons with a sufficient AP.

 

Sturdy: Whether a reinforced frame or simply a very durable design, a Mecha with this upgrade gains a +1 to Toughness every time it is taken.

 

Flight: As the name suggests, a Mecha with this upgrade is capable of flying. The Mecha’s flying speed is equal to the pace of the Mecha. It has a climb speed equal to one half its fly speed.

 

Spaceworthy: This Mecha has been sealed against a vacuum and designed to operate in the extremes of space. It is also lined with vernier jets that allow it to maneuver in space and it can move at up to its pace in a zero gravity vacuum. This upgrade also allows a Mecha to survive re-entry into an atmosphere, though it provides no protection against heat based attacks or other falls.

 

Seaworthy: This Mecha is watertight and is capable of floating. It also has propellers or some other motive device that allows it to move at up to its pace over water. It can also be pressurized and can submerge itself.

 

Shield: Whether simple sheets of some durable material or a portable force field, these devices operate much like man sized shields. A shield provides a +3 armor bonus to toughness and a +1 parry bonus against attacks that come from the front or left side of the Mecha wielding it (unless the shield is being held in the right hand, of course.)

 

Self-repairing: As a general rule, Mecha, like any other machines do not have the ability to repair damage to themselves. It generally takes a safe base and a large crew of technicians with advanced machinery and tools to effect repairs on a Mecha. However, through nano-technology, liquid metal and other devices, or perhaps if the Mecha is not a Mecha at all but some sort of giant creature, a few are able to repair, or heal themselves. A Mecha with this upgrade is able to make vigor checks to heal wounds in the same way that characters are.

 

Flaws

 

Given the limitations of space, technology and money, Mecha often have to sacrifice one aspect of their design to focus on another. This is where flaws come into play. Each flaw that is taken allows the Mecha to take an additional upgrade. General flaws allow the Mecha to take a general upgrade while the upgrades taken because of a weapon flaw must be taken for that specific weapon.

 

Unlike most upgrades, each flaw can only be taken once per weapon (if it’s a weapon flaw) or once per Mecha (if it’s a Mecha flaw.) Should a Mecha have two weapons that a flaw could apply to, both could take the flaw if the designer so desired.

 

Fortunately, with enough money and research, these flaws can be corrected. Thus, rather than taking an upgrade when a Mecha advances, it can instead remove one of its flaws.

 

Weapon Flaws

 

Weak: A weapon with this flaw is not as powerful as another of its type. The die type for a weapon with the weak flaw is reduced by one step. Note that a weapon that is already at a d4 cannot take this flaw.

 

Short Ranged: A weapon with this flaw cannot shoot as far as another ranged weapon. The range of a weapon with this flaw is halved, giving it a range of 6”/12”/24”. Melee weapons cannot take this flaw, of course, nor can chemical throwers.

 

Inaccurate: This flaw imposes a -1 penalty on any shooting rolls used to fire it.

 

Unwieldy: This flaw makes a melee weapon difficult to handle. It causes a -1 penalty to any fighting rolls when it is used.

 

Slow: A slow weapon is difficult to get into position against opponents’ attacks. It imposes a -1 penalty to parry when it is being wielded.

 

Dual Weapon: A dual weapon incorporates two types of weapon into one. The user is still not able to use both weapons at once, however. If the weapon is targeted by an attack and destroyed, both weapons are destroyed. Upgrades for the two weapons must be bought separately. For example, if a mecha possesses a ranged weapon and makes it a dual weapon to include a chemical thrower, the second weapon is essentially free. If he then adds the increased damage upgrade, he must select either the ranged weapon portion of the weapon or the chemical thrower portion of the weapon to get the upgrade.

 

General Mecha Flaws

 

Slow: A mecha with this design flaw cannot get around the battlefield as quickly as others. Its pace is reduced by 2.

 

Fragile: These mecha are not as tough as others of their size and mass, whether through poor materials or simply bad design. Mecha with this flaw have their toughness reduced by 1.

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Exiles #8 – AstroKhan

Space whales are just cool. For that matter, terrestrial whales are cool. They’re beings with an alien mindset that exist on Earth. Their size and the fact that they live in a completely different environment from us give them an inherently different perspective and they demonstrate unmistakable signs of intelligence, if not sentience. So, there can be little wonder why versions that exist and “swim” through the void of space have been a relatively common concept.

The Acanti from Marvel were the first ones that I saw but I found the Kindori from Spelljammer just as fascinating. Space whales also play a pretty prominent role in the Macross series Marcross Dynamite 7, perhaps the 3rd best Macross series behind Super Dimensional Fortress and Macross Frontier, even if it does have Basara.

But I digress…as usual. An undead Kindori being used as a ship has made an appearance in my homebrew Savage Worlds Spelljammer campaign, already and the crew of the Capital Gains will end up bumping into them again. But I like the idea of having one of the Acanti serving with the Exiles. If nothing else, they’re going to need a space going vessel and the idea of a space whale as a space vehicle has been around almost as long as the idea of a space whale has been around. I’m pretty sure the Acanti first appeared as slave ships for the Brood, actually.

Oh, and the name comes from Russian literature. I kept reading the word “Astrakhan.” I don’t know what it means, I think it might be some kind of article of clothing. In any case it made me think of “Astro Khan” and I thought that was a pretty good name. I figured it might be a good name for an alternate version of Thanos, but it works pretty well for this character.

AstroKhan

Fighting:     EX

Agility:      RM

Strength:     Shift Y

Endurance:Cl-1000

Reason:       MN

Intuition:     IN

Psyche:       Cl-1000

 

Health:        1250

Karma:       1115

Resources:   Shift 0

Popularity:0

 

Powers:

 

Space Flight: AstroKhan is a massive, space-faring creature similar to an Earth whale. He flies through the stars at Class-3000 speed.

 

Space Transport: AstroKhan was originally modified into a troop transport and warship. As such, he still retains much of the abilities and statistics of a vehicle. He provides Amazing Protection to passengers inside him. He also has a Control of RM. These systems can be used to control AstroKhan against his will. If anyone uses these controls, AstroKhan must make a Yellow Psyche feat to fight the controls and behave as he likes.

 

Cybernetic Body: More than 50% of his body was replaced with cybernetics. In addition to enhancing his physical abilities and intuition, he has the following abilities:

Body Armor at Excellent Rank

Enhanced Senses at Remarkable Rank including infrared/ultraviolet vision, telescopic

enhancement and audio amplification.

 

Weapons: AstroKhan is armed with several lasers with a range of Incredible that do Amazing Damage. AstroKhan can only effectively use one at a time, but two of them can be controlled and fired by passengers at special stations.

 

Contacts: X-Men and Starjammers

 

Background: The Acanti who would come to be known as Astro Khan was captured by the Brood while trying to protect his pod. He sacrificed himself, purposefully turning back to face the Brood hunters who were following them.

 

One of the largest Acanti bulls ever captured by the Brood and certainly the fiercest, he was chosen for a special project by the Brood Empress, herself. He was drugged and tortured into submission and became the Empress’ personal transport and warship. As usual, her vessel was also a massive, mobile feast and the Empress and her followers slowly ate AstroKhan from the inside, out. Unlike most Acanti, AstroKhan was not simply eaten up until he was useless. The Empress forced her TechSlaves to replace the flesh that the Brood ate with cybernetic parts, enhancing him and making him ever more dangerous.

 

AstroKhan surrendered himself to his fate, largely because of the drugs that were pumped through him and the computers that were used to replace his brain as it was slowly devoured. That is, until the Starjammers attacked the Empress’ personal transport in a desperate suicide mission. Their ship was destroyed in the process and the Empress managed to get away but the Starjammers were left in control of her flagship. Realizing that AstroKhan was still sentient, they freed him of the strictest of the controls on his behavior, though some of the basic controls were so integrated with his nervous system that they could not be removed without endangering his life.

 

AstroKhan gladly offered his services to the Starjammers as their ship and eagerly joined their crusade to end the threat of the expanding Brood Empire to the Universe. The war continued for years but it was not until the X-Men and Exiles joined forces with the Starjammers and staged a triple pronged offensive to kill the Brood Empress, destroy their homeworld and the Brood Imperial Guard, members of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard and Earthly superhumans who were infected with Brood eggs.

 

AstroKhan and the other Starjammers had the task of attacking the Brood Empress and it proved to be an extremely difficult and personal task for him. He discovered that the rest of his pod had not simply been used for food by the Brood. His son had been saved for a worse fate. This son had been infected with a Brood egg and converted into a Brood, himself. AstroKhan was reluctant to fight his own son, but the stern admonishment of Corsair and the reminder by Psypherlock that there was no known way to reverse the effect convinced him to put his offspring out of his misery and, in the process, slay the Brood Empress.

 

With the threat of the Brood all but eliminated and his son dead at his own metaphorical hands, AstroKhan found little to keep him in his home dimension. It took little effort for the Exiles to recruit him and he joined and serves as their space transport, when needed.