Mech Combat

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shai-hulud
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Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:48 pm

Mechs are extremely difficult to destroy. Their hardness ratings sap the damage of any attacks. Their immense sizes and corresponding high hit dice grant them practically inexhaustible reservoirs of hit points. Luckily, destroying them isn't always the goal. They are extremely valuable to both sides of most conflicts, so capturing enemy mechs is just as important as destroying them. Tripping and entangling mechs are important combat tactics.

When destruction does matter, the best most enemies can hope for is to pound, pound, and pound again until the mech has passed its yellow critical threshold, at which point criticals become far more likely. Mechs that fall generally do so due to internal critical damage.

Mech combat varies little from the standard combat rules. This is a role-playing game, not a tactical wargame, so it assumes that most mech combats incorporate no more than a handful of combatants. In other words, it isn't designed for mass mech combat. This section describes how to incorporate mechs into the standard combat sequence without much difficulty.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:50 pm

Summary of Mech Combat Rolls
Mech initiative = mech's Dexterity modifier + pilot's Dexterity modifier + relevant pilot feats (e.g., Improved Initiative)

Mech AC = 10 + mech size modifier (+pilot's Dex modifier if he has Mech Dancer feat).

Mech melee attack modifier = mech's Strength modifier + mech's size modifier + gunner's Dexterity modifier + gunner's mech attack bonus.

Mech ranged attack modifier = mech's Dexterity modifier + gunner's Dexterity modifier + gunner's mech attack bonus.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:50 pm

Piloting a Mech
The first step is the mech's pilot. A normal character can move or fire a mech, but not both. To shoot or fight in melee, he cannot move the mech at all (not even a 5-foot step). This isn't a question of moving and shooting at a penalty; the character simply cannot do both. He lacks the coordination and concentration. In order for the mech to both move and fire in the same round, a gunner must be controlling the weapons.

With the Mechwalker feat, a pilot can operate one weapon in the same round he moves (provided the cockpit is physically designed to give him access to the necessary controls). He may move the mech up to double its normal speed (a mech's running speed), but if so he suffers a -2 penalty to ranged attack rolls (the usual penalty for a running mech). If the mech is to fire more than one weapon per round, it needs gunners for the excess weapons.

With the Mechidextrous feat, a pilot can operate two weapons in the same round he moves (provided the cockpit is set up to allow this). A -3 penalty applies to both attack rolls. No pilot can operate more than two weapons at once, unless they are linked to fire as one.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:52 pm

Initiative
A mech has a base initiative score determined by its Dexterity. The pilot's modifiers are then added to this:

Mech initiative = mech's Dexterity modifier + pilot's Dexterity modifier + relevant pilot feats (e.g., Improved Initiative)

Only one initiative roll is made for each mech. All characters on board the mech fight on that initiative count. If a boarding action is ongoing and there is combat inside the mech, you may roll a "sub-initiative" to determine order of movement inside the mech (although the current mech is too small for that). Within the greater conflict, however, all actions in the mech are assumed to take place at the same time.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:54 pm

Armor Class
A mech's armor class is determined solely by its size modifier, unless the pilot has the Mech Dancer feat. The mech's Dexterity does not modify its armor class. In the context of mechs, Dexterity has more to do with the ease of aiming a massive mechanical arm than the ability to dodge attacks. Even a "dexterous" mech is a big, clunky machine. Thus, the mech's Dexterity affects its attack rolls but not its AC. Since most mechs have low Dexterity to begin with, this also helps offset the effects of relying on hardness instead of giving them an armor bonus to AC.

Mech AC = 10 + mech size modifier (+ pilot's Dex modifier if he has Mech Dancer feat).

Because mech armor is so thick (and the mech itself is built of metal), these rules rely more on hardness than armor class for combat with mechs. Besides, mechs are enormous... they ought to be easy to hit.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:03 pm

Attack Rolls
A mech's attack bonuses are determined slightly differently than with other creatures. First, a few general rules:
  • In mech combat, you always add the gunner's Dexterity modifier to attack rolls, whether it's melee or ranged. The gunner's Strength modifiers are never added (though the mech's Strength modifiers are).
  • For weapons with a crew, use the highest Dexterity among the crew.
  • In mech combat, you don't use base attack bonus. You use mech attack bonus. Some classes have a separate mech attack bonus characteristic (mech jockeys, for example). All other classes use half their base attack bonus, rounded down, for their mech attack bonus.
  • A gunner must be proficient with his weapon or take the usual -4 penalty.
  • Note the distinction when these rules discuss pilot (of which there is never more than one per mech) and gunner (of which a mech may have several).
Melee: A mech's melee attack bonus is determined as follows:

Mech melee attack modifier = mech's Strength modifier + mech's size modifier + gunner's Dexterity modifier + gunner's mech attack bonus.

If the gunner is a mech jockey, he has a separate mech attack bonus. Otherwise, his mech attack bonus is equal to half his base attack bonus, rounded down (except for characters with the Mechanized Combat Practice feat). A fighter who trains for decades with every known weapon is awesome in a swordfight, but he's useless with a set of levers and a joystick. The kinesthetic feel, tactical sense, and raw skill that result from normal combat have little application to machines the heights of buildings with strange anatomies, time-delayed responses to gunner input, and jerky motions.

No base attack bonus is determined by the mech's hit dice. The gunner's Dexterity modifier is included because mechs are powered by joysticks, handles, and other sorts of controls. It's a lot like playing a video game. The mech's Strength modifier affects how well it penetrates enemy armor, but the gunner's Dexterity affects how accurately he maneuvers those powerful mech arms.

Note that some weapons may not use the mech's strength. That would be noted in the weapon description.

Ranged: A mech's ranged attack bonus is determined as follows:

Mech ranged attack modifier = mech's Dexterity modifier + gunner's Dexterity modifier + gunner's mech attack bonus.

The mech's Dexterity modifier is used because it determines how finely the mech's weapons can be positioned and aimed. The gunner's ability to work the controls (based on his Dexterity) may offset the mech's basic clumsiness.

Multiple Attacks: Classes with mech attack bonuses can receive multiple attacks with mech weapons, per the usual rules. Classes without mech bonuses never receive more than one attack per round with their mech weapons, regardless of base attack bonus or number of attacks.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:06 pm

Attacks of Opportunity
Attacks of opportunity between mechs are generally resolved normally, with a few important exceptions.
  • A mech firing a ranged mech weapon into melee does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
  • A mech may not take attacks of opportunity against creatures climbing or otherwise within its square. The mech does not have the agility to strike targets on itself (and even if it did, it would risk damage to itself), nor can it react quickly enough.
  • A mech's unarmed attacks do not provoke attacks of opportunity.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:07 pm

Grappling
Mechs can not grapple. They are not flexible enough really to restrain one another. Moreover, grappling would invariably result in them both prone on the ground, which nobody wants.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:20 pm

Critical Hits
Most mechs are machines. As their defenses degrade, their most vulnerable components become exposed. This is dangerous and increases the likelihood that they will suffer critical hits.

In the traditional rules, constructs (a category that includes mechs) are immune to critical hits. This rule was developed in the paradigm of magical constructs such as golems, which are animated lumps of iron or clay with no internal anatomy of which to speak.

Most mechs are different. Like a car, they have a very specific "anatomy" with some parts that are more important than others. You can detach the battery from a running car without slowing it down--but if you damage the alternator, then it's game over. Mechs function similarly, though the parts are powered by different sources than a car.

Some mechs may be immune to critical hits, although we won't discuss them right now. All other mech types require critical rolls (as usual). With elemental-powered, clockwork, and man-powered mechs, confirmed critical hits that cause at least 1 hp of damage (after accounting for the mech's hardness) also cause additional component damage, based on the critical hit table for each mech power type. I will post the critical hit table for your mech later.

Note that damage from the critical hit tables bypasses a mech's hardness rating. This damage takes place internally, far beyond the mech's hard armored shell.
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Re: Mech Combat

Post by shai-hulud » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:43 pm

Critical Thresholds
All mechs have four categories of damage: green, yellow, orange, and red. These critical thresholds are defined by the hit point totals at which the mech becomes more vulnerable. Thresholds are determined by percentage amounts depending on the mech's power source, as described on page 73. For example, an elemental powered mech has the thresholds green, yellow 50%, orange 25%, red 10%. That means that a mech with, say, 100 hit points would enter its yellow threshold when reduced to 50 hp, orange at 25 hp, and red at 10 hp.

Each threshold has a different range of results for critical hits. Green is the least dangerous, while red is generally fatal. Regardless of threshold, every confirmend critical hit against a mech that causes at least 1 hp damage after accounting for hardness results in a roll on the mech's critical hit table, according to its type. Additionally, the mech becomes progressively more susceptible to critical hits as it becomes damaged. Within the yellow threshold, the threat range of all attacks is increased by +1. At the orange threshold, the threat range rises by +2, and it rises by +3 at the red threshold. For instance, an attacker with a rapier fighting the mech at its orange threshold has a critical threat range of 16-20 instead of 18-20.
If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving is not for you.
"Danger is like Jello. There's always room for more."

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