Oct 5, 2014

Its Loud Roar Tells me to Grasp Victory

Continuing from where we left off last week, we are drawing inspiration from G Gundam to run a BCG game. Today is about ~=|+New Rules+|=~. What kind of rules? Nothing all too fancy, but just different enough to sustain some of the themes brought up last week. And when I say themes I also mean to say Themes.

Our Spirits are Aflame.

Whenever I run a game or help someone set up a game, I like to tweak the Genre Theme rules a little to give them more flavor. They are the most malleable part of the game and are the first thing I change when I want to encourage a specific style of Roleplaying. In our case, we want Themes that make our Player Characters do the following:

  • Have feelings so intense that they can power up giant swords, tornadoes with human faces, or giant monarchs riding a ki blast. 
  • Forge deep friendships in the battlefield by sharing said intense feelings through their fists. This could happen between allies or enemies.
  • Conquer and control the intensity of their own passions instead of letting themselves be controlled by them. As a long term goal they should become the masters of the emotions that power their attacks.
You could also include a bunch of this stuff too I guess.

Here is what I came up with:

Genre Themes - Serene Mind, Burning Palm Edition

Genre Themes work as normal but with a few differences.

All three Themes should be centered about an emotion the character feels very strongly. For example, Love, Anger, and all of their Sorrow. You can also replace common feelings with more abstract concepts such as Honor, Faith and Greed if you can justify them as being so intense that they make you glow and become even stronger. You can make as many of them positive or negative as you wish, and you may or may not tie them to other PCs or NPCs if you want. So a Genre Theme trio of Fame, Family and Blindness would be perfectly fine in an usual game but they don't work as catalysts for hyper mode.

Any Theme can be Mastered once for a burst of three Genre Points, then it is no longer a Theme. These Themes work as normal until you are done developing them, then you are granted with three Genre Points for roleplaying that instead of one. A Theme that has been Mastered no longer grants points for roleplaying during future Episodes and cannot be replaced with a new Theme either. Basically you want to Master them before or during a big battle, possibly saving one of them until the very final Episode.

And no, "Hilariously Racist" is not an acceptable Theme.

It is not a big change in rules terms but it should be much more effective at conveying a tone like that of G Gundam. Not only do the Themes encourage PCs to act in extreme ways, but it also gives the Themes a direction - Mastering them. As a nice bonus, PCs can engage some Emergency Character Development in the middle of a battle to steal a victory from the jaws of defeat. I will say that I think I like these rules more than the standard Theme rules, but I am a self-admitted G Gundam fanboy so take it with a grain of salt.

That's not all though. I also wrote a little add-on to the Power Level rules.

The School of the Undefeated of the Genre

Every Power Level, a PC gains one of the following five bonuses. These are on top of the usual benefits of entering a new Power Level (Another Genre Point and another Genre Power). With this, everyone will be about as strong as Domon or Master Asia.

Power Level 1 - Mecha and Fighter are One: You gain the Giant Slayer Boss Trait. After using the Live Another Day Genre Power during an Intermission, may summon your Mecha to your current Zone and board it as an Action.

Power Level 2 - Ultimate Mode: You gain the Secret Equipment Upgrade. Choose two Attributes of Might, Guard, Systems or Speed, and once Tension is of 5 or higher you gain a +2 bonus to both Attributes.

Power Level 3 - Serenity at the Brink of Death: Whenever you lose a Level of Threshold you gain 2 Genre Points instead of 1.

Power Level 4 - Fists of Friendship: When you lead a Synchro Attack, you gain three Advantages instead of two per teammate involved. When you participate in a Synchro Attack, it does not use one of your Actions, just your Genre Points, but you may spend the Action anyway to grant yet another Advantage for a potential total of 4 Advantages per PC.

Power Level 5 - Bond of Winners: Choose three Reinforcement Powers. You gain those Powers and may activate them as if they were Genre Powers, spending Genre Points in place of Reinforcement Points. Each Reinforcement Power may be used once per Operation, and only on other Allies, not yourself.

Mecha and Fighter are One is arguably the most interesting, even if it likely has the least effectiveness in combat. Giant Slayer was written with Master Asia as the primary inspiration in mind, and as an added bonus you also have RIIIIIIIIIIIIIISE SHIIIIINIIIIING GUNDAAAAAAAM. Neither effect is all that strong in your average Operation but it sure does make the PCs stronger during Intermissions. Now you too can hide your Mecha within the statue of liberty and destroy a world wonder at the beginning of combat!

The name "Mecha and Fighter are One" is more literal than you think.
Ultimate Mode is, in case the name wasn't obvious, meant to represent Super Mode and Hyper Mode. You get new Weapons and Upgrades, then a deceptively powerful boost to two Attributes. A +4, even if it is distributed between two stats, is likely going to be worth around 30 MP. Do not underestimate it.

Serenity at the Brink of Death is my take on Meikyo Shisui. If you're going all the way from Power Level 1 to 5, this is your signal to Master at least one of your Themes around now. Level 3 is the game's sweet spot in terms of PC strength, making a good transition point between pre-Meikyo Shisui and post-Meikyo Shisui character development.

Fists of Friendship at Level 4 is when things start to go crazy in terms of mechanics. Depending on what the group needs, your friends can follow up the damage burst from Synchro Attack with their own actions or  everyone can evaporate the big bad boss in a single super hit. Fists of Friendship enables everything from Double God Finger to Shuffle Doumei Ken. There is very little else to say other than it is awesome.

Bond of Winners is just plain bananas, Reinforcement Powers are extremely powerful and basically turn the PCs into forces of nature - perfect for someone on the league of the Shuffle Alliance, who purified their successors and saved their lives with basically magic. Considering this is Level 5 and everybody already can take giant robots down with their fists, this is about one of the few remaining powerups that could feel meaningful.

Just don't be like this chump and make sure you get Live!

So all in all this is fairly powerful stuff that makes things much easier for the PCs to win. Does it mess with the balance of the game? Yes. Is it really cool? Also yes. I'm calling that a win. Still, a consideration for GMs: Because PCs with these bonuses are considerably stronger than those without, their Power Rating should be treated as of 3 + (3 * Power Level). After PL 3 everyone is so strong that you'll have to get very imaginative to challenge them anyway.

Holding the Wounded Dream

There is one thing that I did not touch on, and it is how enemies often bond through fighting. This is G Gundam's equivalent to Newtype Magic(tm) but with more Kung Fu. While it is a very important part of G Gundam, writing rules for this would require a much, much bigger framework that handles social combat rules. It is beyond the scope of what I want to do with these weekly writeups.

The one other important thing left is GM advice for actually running a game like this. Particularly if you're going to include these changes, which (true to the tone of the source material) tip the odds from 50/50 to around 75/25 in favor of the PCs. That's what I will be doing next week.

Until then, may you look at the East burning red.

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