Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Giant Robots Deserve Giant Monsters

I wrote the Mechwarrior class a few months ago and I'm still unreasonably proud of it. Let's give our brave pilots something to fight. Specifically, kaiju, because that's a challenge floating around the discord. So here's something I threw together in 24 hours, as well as some setting tidbits I've mercilessly ripped from Pacific Rim, Evangelion, a pinch of Worm, and a little bit of that most horrific of settings: the gig economy.


WORLD

It's 20XX, year 1X of the Kaiju Era. 1X years ago, LEVIATHAN HEAVEN fell to earth, levelled what is now the San Francisco Exclusion Zone, and made humanity shit its collective pants over its place in the universe to the tune of 12 million casualties. The Survival Paradigm and Eschaton technology is all that stands between human existence and a swift, brutal death at the claws of titanic biomechanical horrors from beyond.

The kaiju kept coming. From everywhere. The depths of the sea, deep underground, materializing in rifts of ozone, falling from space, crawling out of secret labs, assembling from otherwise mundane technology, emerging from the fallout of other kaiju attacks. We couldn't stop them until we reverse-engineered Eschaton technology from their corpses and built the first mechs.

The Survival Paradigm is the democratization of mech construction, pilot training, and kill-op organization. It's the only strategy that survived the first year of kaiju attacks, the collapse of the short-lived United Nations Defense Accord, and a United States bid to monopolize anti-kaiju defense efforts (nuclear weapons have been written off ever since their strike on DEVOURER RADIANT, which escalated a category 3 to a catastrophic category 5 event).

Corporations immediately co-opted this framework, turning mech pilots into the highest-death-risk sector of the gig economy. The influx of capital for pure research and emergency crisis response developed some incredible technology: the Eschaton Core, the kinetic burster, direct neural interfaces, to mention only the ones that are in every mech on the planet. But once those designs were made free and open and public, the vultures of finance and the military industrial complex moved in.

You can buy a prefab for the same price as a used car, customize it in a makerspace, order baseline heavy weapons off of Triple-B (bloodbathandbeyond.ca). Get in the giant robot, give it a test run during the 3am curfew hours (the cops can't do anything but look the other way, you're in a mech and the one thing the govs did right was ban police access to eschatological weaponry). Then sign up for emergency response alerts, and wait for the call.

Sign into TacNet, the app that cornered the market on kaiju response command and control. find a handle some other joker isn't using already. deploy and hope your rival won't use a moment of weakness to accidentally push you into the path of the monster's jaws.

Win.

Collect your hazard pay (30% down since this time last year, because of "innovations in civilian bunker technologies"), collect your meagre kill fee (45% goes to the app), pay down your core loan, pay down your medical bills, pay your rent. Realize that you've gotta get another confirmed Category 3+ kill this month to stay in the black. Expand your fight search radius. Sigh. Kick back with a glass of cheap liquor to forget the fallen.
Dave Melvin

RULES

Let's break this down. Generate a kaiju. One of the big nasties.




DESIGNATION
Base how the kaiju appears on its designation. Many will be hybrids of meat and machine, towering eldritch abominations, giant featureless warriors with god-smiting weapons. Where they come from is up to you: excavated from deep time, summoned from the universe where everything's bigger than here, landing as the vanguard of an alien terraforming machine, mutated after a whatever-comes-after-nuclear test gone wrong. A superhero turning their powers to apocalyptic ends.

You're mech pilots. Handle it.

CATEGORY
Each category requires exponentially more minimum firepower for a confirmed kill. 1 eschaton is the reactor output of a baseline 5-meter mech, distributed over the course of a standard combat operation. You can increase your firepower exponentially, if you are clever and well-supported. Kaiju past Category 1 will require advanced plans, exotic weaponry, powerful reactors, ablative populations, larger mechs, rockstar pilots.

Proposals to rework the category system to include levels above 5 have been deemed irrelevant by experts in titanic studies worldwide. A threat that would require such degrees to classify would ensure that no one would be left to use the revised scale.

1: 1 eschaton (ET). The size of a bus, like an overgrown crocodile. Crushes through townhouses, wields a streetlamp as a crude cudgel. Threatens a population in the thousands, like a neighborhood or fishing village.
2: 10 ET. Building-size. It towers over houses and its roars shatter all the windows on the street. Tank rounds splinter on its skin. You're only making it stronger. Threatens a population in the tens of thousands, like a town or port district.
3: 100 ET. The size of a city block. Its tail slithers down the highway, its claws are the size of a category 1. Fighter jets crash into its eye and it blinks the debris away unfazed. Threatens a population in the hundreds of thousands, like a small city.
4: 1000 ET. It's the tallest building in the largest city. Its footsteps flatten mid-rise towers. It doesn't even notice as it turns and demolishes the Golden Gate by accident. Threatens a population in the millions, like a large city.
5: 10000 ET. Cloud-scraping. Affects weather systems. Wipes out towns without noticing. You can see it from space. Threatens a population in the tens of millions or greater. Could sink Great Britain or lay waste to all civilian populations on the Eastern Seaboard.

CAPABILITIES
Each round, a kaiju gets 3 actions. Use initiative that puts pilots either before or after the kaiju. These actions are more generalized than normal combat actions due to the sheer size of the monster; movement will necessarily also damage anything in the path of the kaiju. Any action that can be construed as an attack wil kill civilians, no save. Instead, roll (category)d10 for casualties in a metropolitan area that hasn't been evacuated.

Damage dealt by a kaiju's attacks to anything mech-size or greater is (category)d10, and may carry additional effects based on the kaiju's capabilities.

A kaiju's capabilities are directly represented by its ability scores, of which it has d3 identified and up to d3 as-of-yet unseen. If you roll a duplicate, increase that score by 10. All attacks deal ability score damage, depending on which weakpoint you're aiming for. Kaiju roll under their ability score to take actions that these capabilities afford it (anything else that a giant monster can do, they can do as well). Kaiju have a number of points based on their category (1: 50, 2: 200, 3: 500, 4: 1000, 5: 5000) to distribute between their ability scores. This means that many scores will be over 20; therefore, these actions will always succeed until the kaiju has sustained enough damage to sufficiently reduce its capabilities.

Any weapons smaller than mech-scale can deal a maximum of 1 damage, and then only on a critical hit, to kaiju of size 1 or 2. The Eschaton Core is what lets something like a mech go toe-to-toe with a kaiju. Conventional armaments, even nuclear ones, will be at best exponentially less effective. The nuclear strike on the category 3 DEVOURER RADIANT proved the obsolescence of nuclear armaments, and escalated the incident to a category 5 disaster.

If you fail or cannot respond: [CATEGORY] weeks of devastation may be enough for affected populations to marshal a response, at the expense of d10*10^(3+category) civilian lives per week. This may result in new pilots joining the force in cobbled-together mechs with a grudge against those who couldn't save them, or the takeover of your company by a more well-equipped force that steps in where you cannot.

TABLES

Name (2d100)
1. ALPHA
2. ANGEL
3. APOC
4. ARCHER
5. ARTIFICE
6. ASCEND
7. AUTONOMOUS
8. AXE
9. BEAR
10. BEHEMOTH
11. BERSERK
12. BLAZING
13. BLITZ
14. BLOOD
15. BROADSWORD
16. BUTCHER
17. CANNON
18. CHIMERA
19. COLOSSUS
20. CORE
21. CORONA
22. CORPSE
23. CRYPTIC
24. CYCLOPS
25. DEIMOS
26. DELTA
27. DEMON
28. DEVOURER
29. DJINN
30. EFFECT
31. ELDER
32. ENGINE
33. ESCAPE
34. EUROPA
35. EXECUTE
36. EXILE
37. EXTERMINATE
38. FALLING
39. FORWARD
40. FUSOR
41. GHOUL
42. GIGANT
43. GOD
44. HAMMER
45. HEAVEN
46. IMPACT
47. INFERNO
48. IO
49. JORMUNGANDR
50. KINETIC
51. KOMODO
52. KRAKEN
53. LEVIATHAN
54. LICH
55. LILITH
56. MECHANIZE
57. MOMENT
58. MOTH
59. NEPHILIM
60. NEURON
61. NIHIL
62. OBELISK
63. OMEGA
64. ORBIT
65. OUTER
66. PANGOLIN
67. PHALANX
68. PHOENIX
69. PREDATOR
70. RADIANT
71. RAPTOR
72. REACTOR
73. REAPER
74. SAUR
75. SCREAM
76. SHARK
77. SIGMA
78. SIMURGH
79. SLAYER
80. SPIDER
81. STAR
82. STORM
83. STRIKER
84. SURGE
85. TERMINUS
86. TERROR
87. THUNDER
88. TITAN
89. ULTRA
90. VACUUM
91. VECTOR
92. VIRUS
93. WALKER
94. WAR
95. WARHEAD
96. WYRM
97. WYVERN
98. XENO
99. YUGGOTH
100. ZILLA

Capabilities (d6)
1-2: Standard
3-4: Monstrous
5-6: Weird

Standard (d6)
1-2: EXCEPTIONAL STRENGTH
3-4: EXCEPTIONAL TOUGHNESS
5-6: EXCEPTIONAL SPEED

Monstrous (d20)
1. FLIGHT
2. BURROWING
3. AMPHIBIOUS
4. AMBUSH PREDATION
5. CAMOUFLAGE
6. PARASITISM
7. ENDURANCE PREDATION
8. HIGHER COGNITION
9. SPAWN
10. REGENERATION
11. TOXIC TRAIL
12. MANY-HEADED
13. TOOL USE
14. ENHANCED SENSES
15. BERZERK MODE
16. ELEMENTAL RANGED ATTACK
17. ELEMENTAL MELEE ATTACK
18. ELEMENTAL IMMUNITY
19. ELEMENTAL AURA
20. ELEMENTAL ESSENCE

Elemental (d20)
1. BLAZING
2. CORROSION
3. DARKNESS
4. DEATH
5. ELECTRIC
6. EXPLOSIVE
7. FREEZING
8. GRAVITIC
9. KINETIC
10. LUCK
11. MAGNETIC
12. POISON
13. QUAKING
14. RADIATION
15. RAGE
16. SONIC
17. STORMING
18. TAR
19. VACUUM
20. WEAPON

Weird (d20)
1. ABSORBS PROPERTIES
2. AUTO-DISASSEMBLY
3. DATAVORE
4. FEAR AURA
5. HIDES AS HUMAN
6. INFECTIOUS
7. INVISIBILITY
8. METAMORPHIC
9. MIND CONTROL
10. PHASING
11. PILOTED
12. PROJECTS ILLUSIONS
13. RAISES DEAD
14. SUMMONS
15. TELEKINESIS
16. TELEPATHY
17. TELEPORTATION
18. TEMPORAL LOOPS
19. TWIN
20. WIELDS WEAPON


Target Area Modifiers (d20)
1. ACID RAIN
2. ACTIVE WARZONE
3. ADDITIONAL KAIJU BATTLE IN PROGRESS
4. AWFUL PUBLIC IMAGE
5. ELECTROMAGNETIC INTERFERENCE
6. ESCHATON CORE FACTORY
7. EVACUATION FAILED
8. FLOODING
9. GEOLOGICALLY UNSTABLE
10. HEAVILY IRRADIATED
11. KAIJU RESEARCH INSTALLATION
12. KAIJU SPAWNING PITS
13. MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREA
14. MINOR METROPOLITAN AREA
15. ONGOING HURRICANE
16. POLITICIANS DEMAND EVAC
17. POWER PLANT
18. UNDERGROUND
19. VITAL PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE
20. YOU LIVE IN TARGET AREA

3 comments:

  1. Exquisite. I can almost hear the crackle of burning homes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. To butcher a somewhat cringy quote, "Now this, is mecha."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reminds of Role Master's demons beyond the pale - 300 Million Megatons of dark matter!

    ReplyDelete

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