Bolt-on mecha (and random tables)

I like mecha. I like mecha a lot, from personal power armours to towering colossi, sci-fi to fantasy and everything in between; Gundam to Escaflowne, Tekkaman to Xenogears. So of course I get the itch to add mecha to my games, settings and most everything else.

That itch meandered its way back and forth across my hindbrain and eventually stumbled over a small passage I wrote for my still-unfinished spacehack concerning fantasy spaceships and fighting them — and so here we are, because I also don’t feel like bolting a massive new system onto anything to get my death machines going, lol.

Back-of-napkin Mecha Rules

To add mecha to an existing rpg, rules-wise (how you add them into a setting/story is entirely up to you and well~ outside the scope of this little project, lol), try this:

  • Mecha use the exact same sort of stats as other potential antagonists.  So, monster statblocks with Hit Dice in many many games, the antagonist rankings in my pocketrpg, shorthand NPC statblocks from Shadowrun, etc etc.  Reskin as desired.  

What’s the notable difference?  The following:

  • Mecha deal damage to other mecha (or mecha-equivalents) normally.
    • They will obliterate a squishy target such as your average adventurer outright; a person is not surviving getting even broadsided by the backwash of a beam sabre. Or being stepped on. Depending on the situation a save or test to get the hell out of the way might be allowable though.
  • Under most circumstances, the average living body with typical weaponry is not going to damage a mecha.

But!  All is not lost, because adventurers gotta adventure and also Sabin Figaro and Master Asia exist.  So to the above, if desired, add the concept of [antimech] — renamed appropriately for setting and campaign, if it has a name at all — which is a fancy way of saying “deals normal damage to mecha targets”.

Some ways to make antimech abilities available:

  • Make it an intrinsic trait of some character (types); say, all Fighters can damage mecha, for example
  • Make it an acquirable trait, whether replacing an existing ability or as a purchaseable trait in games that use those
  • Some spells, psychic abilities, or magic/tech/special items may have the ability to damage mecha
  • You could also assign broad damage types as antimech; biomecha might be vulnerable to flames or to poison or necromantic energies, for example.

Please note that being able to damage a mecha doesn’t mean it won’t still turn Ixion Iron-Thewed into a bloody smear if he gets stepped on by it.  Gauge risk and rewards accordingly, lol.  Some special equipment/magic/etc might mitigate some or all damage from mecha attacks, though!

Some further considerations and ruminations:

  • Hit Dice/challenge tiers/etc correspond to a given mecha unit’s capabilities but not necessarily its size, any more than they do in “mundane” encounters.  That relatively shrimpy machine might be a top of the line prototype bristling with pain-dealing weapons and unusual systems!
    • “Power Armour”: Similarly, if you want a power armour-like unit that is basically a fancy suit for a person but conceivably can be damaged by a person, just go the [antimech] route — the machine can be damaged by routine sources, but its own attacks damage mecha (and may or may not instant-splatter other targets, depending on the suit’s power).
  • A mecha isn’t a perfectly impenetrable barrier just because it’s a death machine.  If something can still specifically target the pilot — mindprobes, curses, and so on — it’s going to still work.
  • Repair rates are largely going to be up to individual tables as well as the base system being used; maybe something along the lines of using base “healing” rules, doubled if swarmed by techs or using hyper-mending abilities of some sort, halved if no one familiar with maintenance is available or if supplies are poor, etc.  Healing magic isn’t going to work (unless the mecha is biological, perhaps ~).
  • It’s best to establish a baseline for mecha in a setting, especially if making specific mecha traits purchaseable or assignable to a unit.  Do typical machines have open cockpits/are they ridden, like FFVI Magitek Armours, or enclosed cockpits, like a Gundam?  Is flying standard or is it a special feature?  How about aquatic capabilities, or sealed cockpits/internal environments?
    • If average mecha have open cockpits, then an enclosed one (with its added protection) is worth making a special feature to acquire, especially if its capable of being a sealed environment.  Flight is a big thing, if mecha are normally ground-based.  And so on and so forth.
    • Of course an absolute free-for-all is also on the table if you want it ~
  • Themes are also good.  Are mecha in your world entirely mechanical?  Are they metal, or crystal, or biological?  Plant or meat?  Solidified light?  Solid thought?  Animated bone?  Uncountable porcelain petals held together by blood ritual channeled through amber focus-studs?  Does it vary by culture?

And now random tables, because random tables

Need some quick inspiration to help reskin that statblock or conjure up a new one? Here’s some ideas to get the ol’ creative mecha juices no, not Protoculture flowing —

Composition IComposition IIAesthetics IAesthetics II
01. Common metal01. Exotic alloy01. Sleek01. Asymmetrical
02. Bone02. Ivory02. Ponderous02. Jagged
03. Ceramic03. Stone03. Attenuated03. Angular
04. Chitin04. Shell04. Bulky04. Bulbous
05. Crystal05. Soulstuff05. Crude05. Corded
06. Mundane wood06. Plasm06. Delicate06. Chiseled
07. Precious metal07. Glass07. Jury-rigged07. Squamous
08. Living flesh08. Dead flesh08. Militaristic08. Organic
09. Hard light09. Petals09. Minimalist09. Bladed
10. Concrete10. Solid thought10. Baroque10. Halo’d
11. Pearl11. Plasteel11. Predatory11. Inscribed
12. Marble 12. Rare wood12. Mass-produced12. Banner’d
mix and match for best and most hilarious results; some more suitable for fantasy than others, lol.
using a roll on both Aesthetics tables gives nice shorthand descriptions.
FormPower SourceControlsWake it up with …
01. Humanoid01. Biojelly01. Reins & spurs01. Bond-brand
02. Piscine02. Fighting Spirit02. Ship’s wheel02. Skinprint
03. Bipedal walker03. Lightning shards03. Paired joysticks03. Circuit medallion
04. Quadruped04. Harvested souls04. Steering yoke04. Soul scanner
05. Avian05. Reactor core05. Thoughtgem05. Eye reader
06. Centaurine06. Radiant prism06. Empathetic skinsuit06. Blood sampling
07. Serpentine 07. Manastones07. Pulse-point pearls07. Sung command
08. Arthropod08. Refined fuels08. Enclosing shell08. Tuned chime
09. Amorphous09. Energy cells09. Body harness09. Answered riddle
10. Cephalopod10. Solar generator10. Gradient keyboard10. Inscribed code
11. Vehicular11. Steamworks11. Thinking cap11. Button sequence
12. Hybrid (roll twice)12. Heartjewel12. Uplink jack(s)12. Inserted prism
yes, yes, “vehicular”, because Dairugger XV exists damnit and also the Guntank is hilarious
Features IFeatures IIWeapons AWeapons B
01. Extra armour01. Long-distance flight01. Beam02. Shot
02. Generates nutrition02. Amphibious02. Razor02. Pulser
03. Life-supporting cockpit03. Barrier-generator03. Monoline 03. Blade
04. Weapon supercharger04. Network transmission node04. Banishing04. Wing
05. Magic channeler05. Cockpit sub-mecha05. Frost (Cryonic)05. Sabre
06. Psychic channeler06. Linked drone(s)06. Flame (Pyretic)06. Fang
07. Self-regeneration07. Weapon absorption07. Souleating07. Bolter
08. Flight08. Damage immunity08. Plasma08. Whip
09. Bits/dragoons/weapon drones09. Burrower09. Repeating09. Cannon
10. Transformation10. Soul-storage of pilot10. Corrosive10. Claw
11. Mana/psychic/comms jammer11. Cloaked11. Thunder11. Disrupter
12. Unusual sensor suite12. Holographic projector12. Hardlight12. Hammer
do please use both Weapons tables simultaneously! “Thunder Pulser”, anyone?

Fungus Among Us

A month(?) ago I said over in Twitterland I wanted to write some random tables for mushrooms, and some kind folks made encouraging noises. And then, after some speedbumps, I wrote the tables.

And then, because the universe continues to be utter pants, I never actually typed and posted said tables.

Oops.

So, here they are — not technically table-tables, because the formatting still hates me half the time and also these are (like a lot of my stuff) more numbered lists than anything else, but here. One for edible mushrooms, one for mushrooms with other interesting and not always entirely realistic (but sort of realistic!) uses. Some fun fungi for foraging characters, ha.

Edible Fungi

  1. Fire Wings: Thickly ruffled scallops, orange and rust, growing on tree trunks; earthy scent, tastes like mix of hazelnut and fresh bread; best sliced and fried
  2. Meadowlime Cap: Small, ribbed trumpets, violet-grey to violet, sometimes hard to spot; no noticeable scent; citrusy taste, stronger when dried
  3. Pincher’s Spice: Horn-like, fleshy growths, pale grey to ivory; no noticeable scent; edible if of indifferent taste, but dried to powder gives taste of red pepper and sea salt
  4. Boarcap: Thick cap with pores instead of gills, broad stem, yellowy-tawny; acidic scent; does not preserve well, but when thickly sliced and cooked have the taste of and nearly the texture of pork
  5. Burning Shaggy: Clusters of purplish irregular growths, like shredded dough; faintly fishy scent; unexpectedly firey, excellent chopped in garnishes or sprinkled as fine dice over meat dishes
  6. Phantom Cup: Ghostly-looking, translucent crescents of rubbery consistency, up to palm-sized, growing from shaded wood; mild earthy taste, not exciting but add welcome bulk and body to sustaining soups
  7. Meadow Meat: Handspan-tall trumpets, tawny coloured and fleshy; slightly meaty scent; dry readily and reconstitute well, grow in large numbers and take on the flavours of anything they are cooked with
  8. Faerie Cap: Nondescript brown cap and stem, no more than an inch across; bleeds bluish when cut, bruises blue; sweet caramel taste, intensified by drying or salting
  9. Scholar’s Fingers: Tall slender white stems, tubular pinkish-white caps; sweet scent; unappealing when raw, retain firm texture when cooked and gain refreshing, slightly vinegared taste that pairs well with greens
  10. Traveler’s Truffle: Knobbly, greenish-potato-looking things, pebbled when cut open, size of a fist to nearly one’s head; cook up mealy and salty-nutty, dense; will keep for days without preserving; grow in patches; avoid when sporing
  11. Earthmilch: Dark, almost black and slightly sticky caps, reddish shank; earthy scent; inedible raw, if cooked with liquify and give a creamy, milky taste that adds to casseroles
  12. Landshell: Globular, solid growths, pinkish on the inside, mottled grey exterior, up to two handspans in diameter; sliced thickly, can be fried or toasted like bread, and tastes like prawns

Useful or Notable Fungi

  1. Wychlight: Nearly spherical, brownish brackets the size of a thumb-joint that grow in clusters on pebbly ground; glow greeny-gold in darkness, a double handful equal to a candle
  2. Kindlercap: Low-growing, flat cap broad as a saucer, grey webbed reddish; pulled into shreds, dries swiftly and makes good tinder
  3. Tippler’s Hedge: Nondescript, delicate, white mushroom; dries into a lacy bit of a thing; dropped into any liquor, will absorb the alcohol, five fruiting bodies to a pint
  4. Calfmercy: Golden brown, deeply wrinkled and furrowed caps, stout shanks; a handful can be used instead of rennet to curdle cheese, giving a smoky, nutty tang as well
  5. Flourisher: Soft, spongy, thin-fleshed, conical cap of off-grey; the flesh will liquify within an hour of being plucked or cut away, being usable as shockingly bright purple ink
  6. Flourishing Deceiver: Closely related to the above, with white gills instead of grey — and if written with on parchment specifically, the ink will fade to nothingness after a day
  7. Gladepouch: If carefully peeled away without tearing, the outer, greenish skin of this double-fist-sized fruiting body can be used as a food casing when fresh, or a storage pouch when dried
  8. Fawn Balm: A knobbly-capped, brown, white-spotted specimen; bruises rust and oozes an orange, sticky fluid when cut that can clean and seal minor wounds
  9. Smithy-Cap: Not useful in and of themselves, these copper-blue, dense trumpets grow where metals have been buried under earth, loose stone or even plaster
  10. Crawlerbane: Amorphous lumps studded with gelatinous, oily spherules across their rusty flesh; piercing the spherules produces a fluid that repels insects
  11. The Cleanser: Ruffly clumps, orange and yellow, growing amongst mosses just about anywhere; crushed and rubbed against the skin (or anywhere else), act just like soap
  12. Bonfire Cap: Stout, thick growth, golden brown with cap covered by a thick, gelatinous pink layer; peel away the soft outside and pores, and the dense core will shockingly easily strike a flame (combine with x for even better results)

*please remember these are imaginary mushrooms. do not forage for mushrooms in the real world unless you are very very certain you know what you are doing.*

Some Inspirational Spell Shard Tables

When you’re coming up empty and you need a idea for a spell, sometimes a few word prompts help; some inspirational snips and shards you can recombine.  That’s where these tables come in.

Naturally, there’s the more involved way and the less involved way:

More Involved: Roll 1d3+1 for the number of prompts to combine, then 1d4 to determine which tables, then 1d10 on each table.

Less Involved: Pick how many prompts you want and then roll on whatever tables you like.  Or just pick your prompts and smash them together, that works just fine —

All prompts, of course, to be taken as literally or metaphorically or just-vaguely-related-ly as you like ;3

Table 01Table 02Table 03Table 04
01. bone01. shadow01. finding01. shape
02. blood02. night02. vision02. confine
03. sun03. moon03. curse03. mind
04. ash04. earth04. blessing04. dream
05. flame05. storm05. wither05. touch
06. plant06. talon06. mend06. protect
07. thorn07. ice07. travel07. sunder
08. sea08. glass08. strength08. cocoon
09. salt09. steel09. decipher09. preserve
10. gold10. light10. conceal10. fear
substituting related words/concepts: also totally cool

And here are some example spells prompted by combos of some of the above shards —

01 – Threefold Warding: Inking three dots of kohl or ochre on the inside of each wrist (or equivalent) prevents hexes or curses or other eldritch blights from taking hold; each time a curse is thwarted, a dot burns from each wrist and leaves a wound. (curse + protect)

02 – Grand Voyage: For the next six hours, a subject and all that they travel with, up to a small cart, cross distance as follows — four times their speed on land, unhindered by terrain; twice land speed on water, even without a vessel; and, should sunbeams, lighthouses, rainbows and stranger things permit, traveling beams of light as if solid ground. (earth + sea + travel + light)

03 – Elephant Existence: One object or individual cannot be described or even comprehended as a whole for 1d6 hours. Individual attributes may be relayed, but a coherent whole description simply will not come together. (shape + conceal)

04 – Actinic Brambles: An area up to 10 metres in diameter erupts in crackling, clinging briars of semi-tangible stormcloud for the next ten minutes. Anything and anyone already in the area, even if invisible or intangible, is limned with a pale glow; anything or anyone that moves is jolted with lightning. (storm + light + thorn)

05 – Blind ‘Pillar’s Travel: Chart your course in your mind and be enveloped in rough silk that cushions you — which is good, because you are not staying upright any longer — and lulls you into a drowsy sense of comfort. While you rest, the silky cocoon sprouts many pairs of strong spurred claws and sets off on the path, walking, climbing, scaling stone, and contending with all obstacles (including fighting with those claws if necessary) . Unfortunately you are aware of nothing outside until you reach your destination or the cocoon is destroyed; but you’re bright-eyed and refreshed when you get there. (talon + cocoon)

06 – The Sleeper’s Quest: A slumber descends from which the subject will not awake for twelve hours. During that sleep, the dreaming self must untangle a code, thread a labyrinth, or deal with a similar puzzle; when the twelve hours are over, they wake with a dreamstone in hand that will restore the lost, from shattered vases to broken promises. It is possible to die in the dream, alas. (mend + dream + decipher)

07 – Burningheart: Sacrifice a portion of one’s own lifeblood and a beloved trinket to a brazier burning with bright coals, and stare into the flames; dancing among them will be seen an adversary’s greatest terror, and the path to best make use of such a thing, whatever it might be. (fear + flame + vision + finding)

08 – Grey Sanctuary: A single chamber, marked with glyphs on all walls, ceiling and flooring, doubles the chances for success in a specific task (including healing) for 24 hours. However, if the chamber is breached in any way, or any enter or leave, the enchantment shatters. (blessing + confine)

09 – Greenblight: With hands (or other extremities) gnarling black and tainted, for the next five minutes any plant matter touched will shrivel. Flowers brown and wilt, greenery dries brittle, even wood can be rendered punky and in splinters. Plant creatures will take double damage. (touch + sunder + plant)

10 – Winter’s Long Reach: Set yourself to gazing around yourself, as far to the horizon (or equivalent) as you can. At any point along the vista, at your will, the ground may split apart — or simply be raised high — as uncountable sharp spars of ice grow suddenly skyward up to a height of 10 metres. The ice lasts until it melts. (vision + thorn + earth + ice)

11 – The Day Turns Its Face: Until this curse is lifted, broken, or runs out its time (up to a year), the afflicted soul finds their strength, vitality and physical skill halved during daytime hours, their flesh growing feeble and wasted. Actually being struck by the rays of the sun intensifies the blight, leaving the subject a quarter of what they once were until fleeing the sun’s touch. (curse + wither + sun)

!2 – Mantle Of Midnight: Draws a portion of the night sky down to wrap around a subject’s shoulders like an all-enveloping cloak. For the next eight hours, the mantle keeps away the night chill and offers all the benefits of chainmail; additionally, once, at the subject’s wish, an attack against their person may either be magically converted to healing energy, or mirrored back at the assailant as a bolt of inky force that shatters weapons or maims claws. (mend + sunder + protect + night)