Monday, June 2, 2014

Powered by FU 1 — Mecha, part 1

For my first demonstration of FU, as discussed here, I'm configuring the system for Mecha. This is an old hack I put together a couple of years ago and posted the results elsewhere. I also made a mission builder for this which is different from the Twist of Line that I'll be using for other demos. This one is also a full fledged write-up, so I apologize in advance for the length. Others will not be as long. I'll also split this one in two posts, the first with the hack particulars and mission builder, and the second for the actual play write-up.


Descriptors — Rank, Edge, Flaw, Mecha, Armament or Modification (in multiples)
All characters assumed to have a Mecha as part of his character. Edges can be anything, but might be specialties such as gunnery, fly-boy, etc. Rank reflects actual command rank and can increase (or decrease) between missions based on mission success. Ranks include (from lowest to highest): Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier General, Major General, Lieutenant General, and General. Note that pilots above the rank of Major generally have command obligations and relinquish flight missions to lesser officers.
Mecha — type of armed mech, and suitable for all things at which such vehicles accel. If that particular vehicle has convertible capability, then that descriptor may be used to grant bonus/penalty die above the descriptors base die based on the following:
  • Fighter Mode: [+] Speed, [–] Gunnery/Targeting
  • Guardian Mode: None
  • Battloid Mode: [+] Gunnery/Targeting, [–] Speed
Armament/Modification — types of weapons aboard the vehicle. Armament typically with limited supplies of ammunition (missiles or gun pod) grant its base die by fitting the primary affinity for the descriptor based on the following:
  • Long-Range Missiles: Potency [4]
  • Medium-Range Missiles: Accuracy [2]
  • Short-Range Missiles: Multiple Short-Range Targets [2]
  • Gun Pod: Point Blank Range [1]
  • Super Armor: Resisting Damage [2]
  • External Missile Batteries: Multiple Short-Range Targets [1]
  • Booster Rockets: More Speed [2]
The number following the armament/modification represents the cost of that item. Each player can begin play (a “mission”) with 6 points to spend. Multiples of the same item can be purchased. Using items for a bonus to a roll requires burning the descriptor itself, and not replacing it until the mecha is refueled/repaired. All mecha are assumed to have laser and particle beam canons permanently attached to the vehicle, and can thus attack even if no further armament remains.


During missions, characters can participate in various types of action. This might mean one on one dogfights, providing support, rendezvousing with other craft, formation flying, specific fighter-to-vessel targets, and so forth.
Some rolls that can be made might include:
  • “Does Rick Hunter get the better position over his opponent?”
  • “Does he hit his target?” or
  • “Does he evade pursuit?”
Only by getting into advantageous position can a character make use of its attack power. All opponents are assumed to be one-shot kills with only a few descriptors at best, unless they are fully-fledged combat aces built like regular PCs.
During combat or action maneuvers, characters must pass through the following Conditions:
  • I’m hit! …but still in action…
  • My fighter’s compromised! I can barely hold her!
  • Bail out!
Characters can spend an FU point to substitute a “targeted” Condition in lieu of one of the above damage tracks. Such Conditions can and should be creative and disable one or more systems of their vehicle. Such things might be:
  • My ailerons are jammed!
  • There goes my blast shield…
  • Thrusters are cutting out on me!
…or things hat might compromise maneuverability, speed, firepower, or other systems.


As above, characters can go through an exchange of positioning with opponents to maneuver in for the kill. However, when facing multiple opponents, descriptors can start to stack, making it more dangerous to take on multiple bogies. Results of Yes, but… or No, but… may indicate advantageous or negative positioning to some, but not all, engaged vehicles.
Helping out teammates is an effective way of stopping or reducing this cumulative stack.


Characters start play with 1 Point but can get more for:
  • Acting with daring
  • Showing off in front of a crowd
  • Getting two or more kills in a single dogfight
  • Saving a comrade in a pinch


Most NPCs, whether friendly or hostile, will mostly be of the “extras” variety, possessing perhaps a rank, and a mecha (with or without armament or modifications). Usually, no armament will be included to enhance speed of gameplay and the typical run-of-the-mill cannon fodder. However, some more notable challenges, included enemy or rival ace pilots or team leaders, will be built like normal characters. These latter types of NPCs should be reserved for dramatic moments. Some might even have an equivalent of FU points which the GM can use to throw in an extra penalty die against players to represent special ace maneuvers or trick shots.
When it comes to enemy mecha, most will only possess the Descriptor, “Zentraedi Battlepod”, representing the mass-produced enemy infantry fighting machines. Battlepods are relatively easy to build, somewhat minimally constructed, and are weak, but versatile. Most enemies encountered will only have their battlepod Descriptor, which can be utilized for most maneuvers, attacks, and so on. Although they are weak, as far as armor goes, they make up for it by sheer numbers. Unlike convertible mecha, such as the Veritech Fighters, battlepods are not convertible, but can serve equally well as flyers, walkers, and so cover a variety of needs. Therefore, they do not get additional bonuses for speed, maneuverability, or firepower. They are just “average” at about everything.
Optionally, GMs may wish to include a Flaw: “Poor Armor Rating” which can represent the fact that they can go up in cinders from an errant laser bolt. Any attack “Beat the Odds” roll against a battlepod that results in an uncertain result (“Yes, but…” or “No, but…”) may have a secondary roll to see if any non-direct hits result in bypassing their weak armor and factoring both their “Battlepod” and “Poor Armor Rating” Descriptors (at a 50% chance of a “Yes…” result occurring), thus representing their greater destructibility. However, they should not factor in to the first basic attack roll.
Additional armament or modification Descriptors may include:
  • Short-Range Missile Mount: Multiple Short-Range Targets (no more than two of these)
  • High-Power Particle Beam Turret: One Medium or Short-Range Target
Officer’s battlepods might have additional characteristics, including:
  • Armor-Plated
  • Medium-Range Particle Cannons (representing both arms)
  • Booster Rockets


  1. Roll a set of Rory’s Story cubes, pick freely from the set, and answer the following questions:
    • Where will the action be set?
    • What is the main threat the characters face?
    • What are the overall odds the characters face?
    • What is the cost of failure?
  2. Next, roll a d6 to answer what the character’s role is:
    • [1] Support — the character’s role is secondary to other major players.
    • [2] Escort — the character must accompany the main means of achieving the objective.
    • [3] Seek and Destroy
    • [4] Rescue/Recover
    • [5] Reconnaissance
    • [6] Intercept
  3. Roll another d6 and determine if the overall stance is:
    • [1-2] Aggressive
    • [3-4] Defensive
    • [5-6] Covert
  4. Play out the scenario in however many scenes it takes to conclude the mission. Each mission should have three stages: a mission objective briefing (setup and plan), execution (actual mission operation), and debriefing (homecoming and conclusion). Between each of the three segments, there exists a chance for a twist. On an odd result of d6, an unexpected ambush or negative twist occurs. Roll one or two Story Cubes to inspire an event that has the potential to derail the mission and must be overcome.
  5. Once concluded, roll another one or two Story Cubes to inspire the implications of the mission success or failure. Determine the alert status (condition within an overall conflict of multiple missions, from green to yellow to Red) by lowering or elevating the overall threat level.
  6. Repeat step one, above, for a new mission.

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