Feb 21, 2016

BCZ Previews. Chapter 2: Part III.

It is time for the last batch of rules Modules! Like the other ones, they're divided into three sections.

Insanity and Mental Trauma

This Module includes rules and examples for charactes getting more and more messed up in the head with the passage of time. The PCs are heroes, they can face the worst the world has to offer and hold themselves together. Well, for the most part, anyway. When a wound cuts deep, it leaves a permanent scar. That’s when trauma gets to them, forcing the characters to readjust their beliefs and way of life in the face of things greater than themselves.

Essentially, as PCs are exposed to harm or undergo traumatic experiences, they gain Insanity Ranks, a seventh Attribute of sorts. Insanity Ranks start at 0 and usually don’t go higher than 10, measuring just how well your character is holding up to all they’ve gone through. An Insanity Rank of 1 leaves you just a tad more unhinged than you used to be, but at Rank 10 you’re visibly out of touch with reality. If your PC ever gets to Rank 10 or above, they’re so far gone that they must be retired. This retirement is either permanent or until the character heals back to Rank 9 - preferably less than that. Insanity decreases naturally over time at the end of each Episode Arc.

Your Character does not start with any Genre Themes, instead they pick up Trauma Themes in their place at Insanity Ranks 1, 4 and 7. Trauma Themes can give you Genre Points like any other Theme, but the GM may also make them come up when they think it is a good time to make your PC act like a crazy person. Once per Episode the GM may say you have to roleplay the Trauma’s effects, and you can choose to either ride it out or fight it. If you choose to ride it, your character must roleplay the Trauma as appropriate, but you gain one Genre Point out of it - even if you already gained one Genre Point from this Theme in the same Episode. If you choose to fight it, then you must make a Contested Test of Willpower against the GM Testing your Insanity, should you win then you compose and maintain control of yourself for the time being... But should the GM win, you lose control of yourself to the Trauma Theme and play it out without gaining any Genre Points for it.

The Jaded Trait becomes an Anomaly with this Module. Jaded makes it so your character hardens pretty quickly to traumatic experiences. It is powerful enough that you are extremely unlikely to ever stay over Rank 10 after an Episode ends. But there is a catch: You will no longer heal naturally over time. Once you have been hardened - once you have desensitized yourself - you will keep those last few Insanity Ranks for the rest of your life.

The rest of the Module consists of example Willpower Tests that would put the PCs at risk of gaining Insanity Ranks and a list of Trauma Themes ready to use.  Below is one of them.


  • Rank 1-3 (Mild): You suffer occassional hallucinations in the form of people that should be dead. The ghost or ghosts remind you of your flaws and often give you advice that you probably shouldn’t follow. The people who show up are usually those you’ve hurt - directly or indirectly - though a dejected old friend or disappointed mentor from your past are also applicable. You can tell these illusions are not real, but they’re really hard to ignore.
  • Rank 4-6 (Moderate): Now there’s one or more new ghosts that have joined up with the old ones to harass you. Your ability to recognize what is and isn’t real decreases as the hallucinations happen more often, giving even harsher criticism or goading you to even worse courses of action.
  • Rank 7-9 (Severe): Your mind now creates new people for you to interact with. This means you’re often seen talking to yourself or, worse, arguing in a heated way and yelling at nobody in particular. Even if you unmask these phantoms as figments of your imagination, they will still follow you around.
  • Rank 10+ (Extreme): Your hallucinatory episodes now involve living friends and acquaintances. You have considerable difficulty telling apart dreams from reality now, always waking up without being sure if what happened was just your imagination or if you passed out in the middle of an episode. This makes it basically impossible for you to live as you once did.

Attrition and Energizing Terrain

The next two Rules Modules add a grittier flavor to the game, focusing on long term resource management and short term territorial control. The former half comes from a houserule in BCG to make it so Mecha aren't automatically repaired to full between Operations. The latter half involves PCs fighting enemies over Zones of Terrain, called Energizing Terrain. These Zones can be used to repair and resupply Mecha without spending Restorations, mitigating the difficulties of long term resource management.

Energizing Terrain is charged with one Restoration that any Unit standing on it can use with its own Restoration Upgrades. After any Unit uses up this Restoration charge, the instance of Energizing Terrain is now Plain Terrain. The Module includes new Design Flaws and Support Upgrades that work with Energizing Terrain. For example:

Improvised Fortification
Separate Upgrade (10)
Effect: A single Zone turns into Energizing and Defensive Terrain. When the Restoration charge is used up, the Defensive Terrain also fades into Plain terrain.
You deploy a few energy barrier projectors along with some supplies for an ally’s benefit.

Circumstances of War

Lastly, we have 25 events under the title of "Circumstances of War". If your game features a large war fought on many fronts, only one of which the PCs can cover at a time, then the table below is for you. The table itself is fairly setting-agnostic as long as the war is between humans, or humanlike enough, factions. Each of these 25 circumstances is an event that affects the PCs and their next Operation. Most of them make things more difficult (like supply shortages or clever enemy plans) while others are just plot developments that may (or may not) change the course of the war. A few of them are even helpful to the PC Squad!

Here are four example Circumstances:

Times are Tough
It has been a while since the last time you resupplied, and the exhaustion is evident. There’s shortages of fuel, parts and food. You don’t even remember when was the last time you had a full night’s sleep. All PCs start the Episode with one less Genre Point.

Took a Wrong Turn
The PCs made some errors in navigation and let the enemy commander corner them into a nearly undefensible position. Now it is raining after a dry spell and they’re going to have to fight uphill their way out of there. All Terrain during this Episode is Difficult, Sliding, or both.

Supply Grab
A supply convoy or vehicle was ambushed and wrecked in the middle of No-Man’s Land. During the next combat encounter, designate one Zone as the location of the wreck. The PCs must attempt to secure this wreckage, either by taking an Action to do so while being on top of the corresponding Zone, or by starting and ending a whole Turn on it. When the PCs secure this wreckage, an instant morale boost grants every PC Squad Unit one Genre Point each.

Merry Christmas
Through some unclear methods, the belligerent factions have all decided to a two-week truce to coincide with a major shared holiday. Give the Players some time for self-reflection, interaction, opening letters from home, and, just perhaps, talking with the enemy.

Lastly, because much of these Modules is about the GM making the lives of the PCs harder, there's a short section with GM advice to use them properly.

Wrapping Up

There's one major difference between this section as it was previewed today and how I introduced it before the end of December. If you recall, there was going to be a Module including rules for giant enemies, and for characters too. What happened? Well, what happened was that those rules weren't very good. They were functional, yes, but they had like two viable builds and were kind of a mess that didn't fully mesh with the rest of the game. In lieu of that, we have Circumstances of War to help setting the right tone and mood for a Hardcore Difficulty game.

That's all for Chapter 2. Updates resume sometime in March with Chapter 3's content.

Feb 14, 2016

BCZ Previews. Chapter 2: Part II.

It is time to talk about our next selection of rules modules, belonging to the Magic & Fantasy category. They are ideal for games set in a fantasy landscape with robots or about fusing magic and technology to battle eldritch deities from outer space.

Rituals and Expanded Miracles

Rituals are a new way to use Miracles. Like the name says, they’re not spontaneous shows of power but rather methodical applications of it. A Ritual is an Extended Test with one character as the lead ritualist, though other characters may also participate (in the form of a Help Test) if they are also trained in the corresponding Miracle. You can gain one Advantage to the Extended Test if you take one hour per attempt or two Advantages if you take one day per attempt. This way it is much easier to reach DNs of 20 and higher.

Battle Century G generally sticks to examples of what you can do with DNs of 15 and under, but here you will see what you can get away with DNs of 20 and over - well beyond the scope of what could be considered ‘normal’ even in the realm of anime. Activating these abilities is difficult, with good reason, their power will cast a long shadow over the game once they are made available, that’s why there’s only three such uses for each Miracle. Here's some of them:


  • Assuming Direct Control DN (20): Take over any electronic device, including Mecha, for the duration of the current Scene. Giving them commands uses Actions, but you do not need to keep activating this Power to mantain the effect. The controller of the device may spend a Genre Point to cancel this effect.
  • Lights Out (DN 25): You release a magnetic pulse that shorts out or disables all electric or electronic devices in a radius of 1 kilometer. You can choose to preserve individual devices that are within your line of sight at the time of activation.
  • Upload (DN 30): You project your mind into a computer, transforming yourself into a digital intelligence. Your physical body becomes inert and dies within a few hours, but you are no longer tied to it. The only thing that can hurt you are viruses and data corruption or deletion, but you can make backups of yourself anywhere. You can still use your Fitness and Awareness Attributes while controlling a drone or some other kind of Proxy.


  • Fade Into Light (DN 20): You can destroy inert matter with a touch, reducing an object of a size no more than ten cubic meters into energy. The object turns into tiny specks of light that fade into the sky shortly thereafter. You can control the shape of what you destroy this way, so you could use it to sculpt statues or dig a tunnel with a maximum length, width and height of up to ten meters each.
  • The Perfect Tool (DN 25): You improve a piece of Equipment to perfection, making it grant double the number of Advantages to all Tests it usually would. If it is a Proxy, it has double the amount of Plot Armor. This effect lasts an Episode Arc.
  • Raw Creation (DN 30): You create something out of nothing. This object can be anything of up to ten cubic meters, though complex objects with moving parts made of very dense and difficult materials can be of up to five. Who needs to transmute lead into gold when you can just create your own hoard?


  • Wormhole Step (DN 20): You create two short-lasting portals, one next to you and another anywhere within your line of sight. You step through this portal and it immediately closes afterwards. You have effectively teleported.
  • Permanent Portal (DN 25): You create a Window as usual but it lasts until you dismiss it and does not count against your maximum number of Windows you may have. When you step through any of your Windows you choose which other you can emerge from. As long as you have one or more Permanent Portals active, looking through one of your Windows shows a blurry combination of all places it is connected to.
  • Super Dimension Fortress (DN 30): You create a lasting pocket dimension of roughly one hundred cubic meters. This pocket dimension may be accessed from a hidden dimensional door placed anywhere you wish. As is, there’s not a lot you can do in this area devoid of features, light and life, but you can bring your own stuff in here to make it cozy, since it seems to have breathable air. This pocket dimension cannot be seen from the outside and others need your explicit permission to cross the portal.

The Magic Skill

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This Rules Module adds Magic as a General Skill for all PCs. This is just a knowledge Skill, it doesn’t grant any special powers and doesn’t interact with Miracles until you get the Arcanist Trait. If you want to cast spells, that’s what Miracles are for, and with this Module all Miracles are considered magic spells. This Skill can be used to identify magical creatures and objects or research a legendary curse. This often means the character has spent months, if not years, studying magic. If Magic is a suitable replacement for technology in the setting, then this Skill can be used to operate or disable magic devices.

Then there is the Arcanist Trait. Being an Arcanist lets you Test Magic as if it were a Miracle to dispel the ongoing effects of other Miracles or to counterspell them as they are being cast. Depending on your setting, the Magic Skill might completely replace Electronics. In that case, Arcanist can also replace Electricity to fulfill a similar role.

Elements System

This Rules Module introduces elemental magic to your game. There are four Elements: Fire, Air, Water, Earth. All sources of Damage are either Elemental (and attuned to one of said four Elements) or non-Elemental. All Mecha now have an Elemental Weakness and an Elemental Resistance, which must be each to a different Element. An Elemental Weakness adds one Advantage to Might Tests from sources using that Element while an Elemental Resistance adds one Disadvantage instead.

So which attacks are Elemental? The ones using Beam Weapons, now flavored as magic-powered weaponry. When you take any Beam Weapon you must align it to an
Element of your choosing. This means that all Beam Weapons are now Elemental and non-Beam Weapons are always neutral to Elements. Extreme Terrain is Elemental when it is created from an Elemental source and neutral when it isn’t. Natural instances of Extreme Terrain can be Elemental or not at the GM’s discretion.

Some other (non-Weapon) sources of Damage are Hybrids, they are neutral to Elements by default but can be made Elemental if you choose to do so. Examples include Surprise Minefield and Fire at Will. These don't use Might Tests, so Elemental Advantages and Disadvantages are instead applied to the Tests made to resist them.

The Module also adds more Upgrades to help you build around the system. You can specialize around using one specific Element, grant Resistances to allies or inflict Weaknesses on Enemies. The Element System adds depth to the gameplay of Beam Weapons and encourages Players to either build around a favored Element or to diversify their Element choices so they will always have a good option available. They may also want to use non-Elemental Weapons and ignore the problems of relying on Elements as much as possible, but in general it is more effective to take advantage of the system.

Wrapping Up

And that's the Magic & Fantasy Modules. These Modules are some of the most straightforward in the book, and you can use one or more of them without having to include the others. You might remember the Elements System from an older preview, and the only thing that has changed since then is that the effectiveness of a Weakness or Resistance was decreased from two Advantages/Disadvantages to just one. An extra 4 damage with weapons that are already full of boosts was just too much for low level PCs to endure, so it got changed from two to one.

Next week: Hardcore Difficulty.

Feb 7, 2016

BCZ Previews. Chapter 2: Part I.

As per the results of the poll, we're going to talk about Base Management, now called Faction Management. Why did the name change? Because the focus of the rules changed during development. I'll go more into it later, for now let's look at the Modules themselves:

Relationship Themes

The first Module of Faction Management is Relationship Themes. Relationship Themes are a replacement for the normal Genre Theme rules. Instead of having a thematic character trait to guide their roleplaying, PCs have an NPC that they interact with on a regular basis. The goal of these Relationship Themes is to recruit the designated NPC or to otherwise earn their trust and loyalty, gaining Genre Points when working towards this goal. Successfully convincing a Relationship Theme NPC to join up makes the Faction permanently stronger.

Since this Module is mostly roleplaying and relatively light on rules, the rest of it consists of GM advice and example NPCs. Some of the examples are the kind that can occassionally contribute in battle like friendly aces and scheming officers, others are mad scientists and spies who could be just as dangerous as anybody with a giant robot. There are also pop idols and peace princesses in there too. It is a genre thing.

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage is a Module that comes up when the PCs fight within their home city, space colony or other such location they are trying to protect. PCs that fight recklessly (using area of effect Weapons or creating Extreme Terrain are obvious examples) or can't contain the Enemy from rampaging on the area will have to... *dramatic pause* Roll on the table for Collateral Damage Consequences. That's right, we now use table-based dice rolling technology. Don't worry, we're not rolling for 1d666 random civilians killed or anything silly like that.

Example results in the table include:

-The warehouses of major food providers are destroyed and there is a shortage of food for a month.
-Fires break out. An NPC’s home is almost consumed entirely by flames.
-The newspapers decide the damage is your fault and begin a smear campaign against you.

If you're using the Relationship Themes Module, the NPCs affected by this are, of course, the Relationship Theme ones. Nothing to strain an alliance like irradiating someone's home with beam weaponry.

The Collateral Damage rules are pretty simple and are mostly a way to add some roleplaying-based constraints to Operations and facilitate drama during Intermissions.

Faction Attributes and Faction Tests

The last Module of Faction Management are Faction Attributes and Faction Tests. Each PC Faction has three Attributes: Military, Holdings and Influence. All PCs can delegate important tasks to their minions subordinates comrades nakama to be solved offscreen while the PCs handle more pressing matters. This is done via Faction Tests, which are rolled using Faction Attributes.

If you're using Relationship Themes, then recruiting an assigned NPC grants a permanent boost to one of the Faction's Attributes. An ace pilot grants a Military bonus while a psychic who can see the future can either grant Holdings or Influence depending on how you use their talents.

Let's have a look at the Attributes and what they can do:

Military is a Faction’s sheer war prowess outside of the PCs themselves. This covers the Faction’s available troops, their organization, equipment and even their morale. Military is an abstract measure involving a lot of factors, so a militia corps with a handful of Mecha can have the same Military score as a single ace backed by a well-prepared support crew. With low Military, the Faction lacks manpower, equipment and reliable leadership. With high Military, they're an elite force of renown and the favorites of would-be supervillains that need the raw muscle to help them take over the world.

Military Tests can be used to raid enemy supply camps for resources, stage diversionary attacks to divide and confuse enemy forces before an Operation, or to assist in battle with Reinforcements.

Holdings represent the Faction’s available budget and whatever reserves they have, as well as the territory and workforce that helps them grow. Holdings can originate from your Faction’s raw treasury, the goods that it does business with, and fertile land it protects. With low Holdings, people may not even have a roof to sleep under and it is a miracle the Faction is still together. With high Holdings, the Faction is its own independent nation and a world superpower that other countries will turn to for financial support.

Holdings Tests can make Military or Influence Tests easier by hiring mercenaries or bribing/blackmailing enemies. Holdings can also be used to fix the Consequences of Collateral Damage, if you're using that Module.

Influence is the most abstract of all Faction Attributes, representing political power and espionage skills. It measures how well it knows about what is going on behind closed doors and how many strings it can pull to control things behind the scenes. The Faction with low Influence has no political relevance whatsoever. At best, they’re aware of this. At worst, they will just be taken advantage of a lot. The Faction with high Influence is the kind of thing that paranoid people make up conspiracy theories about... Except all too real.

Influence Tests are some of the most straightforward. The Player asks the GM a question and receives an answer with varying degrees of detail and accuracy based on the result of the Test.

Wrapping Up

And that's Faction Management. The Modules started out as Base Management and was about acquiring resources then choosing how to spend them, taking inspiration from simulation or strategy games. They evolved very quickly into having a focus on roleplaying politics and leadership, phasing out the last remnants of Base Management entirely during the last few weeks in lieu of more depth for the options presented today. This change in focus works much better for a system like BCG, in my opinion.

I should write someday about subsystem ideas that were attempted but didn't work out and got scrapped, there's a lot of those. But for today, that'll be all.

Next week: Magic & Fantasy!