Finally, each pilot has a Crisis that determines what Debts they start with (in addition to their initial mech core loan). All pilots need a Crisis - there's a reason you got into this vital, lethal, awful, essential business, and it's not for the adrenaline rush.
Debts don't combine to create debts of a higher category, but you also can't pay off multiple lower-category Debts with a higher-category bounty. Every debt you incur means you're gonna have to fight one more kaiju.
You can go into debt of your own volition, and will have to in order to stay on your feet. Mech repairs, medical debt, living expenses, and extra Core loans can be of whichever level's necessary to keep you moving and fighting.
If cumulatively the categories of your Debt ever sum up to 10 or greater, you can't take on more. If you don't clear a debt that season, your character is forcibly retired. You have to sell off your mech, move into an even tinier apartment, and start working minimum wage.
Your Credit Rating is based on the category of the largest kaiju you've defeated. Debts for equipment, training, housing, etc can only be voluntarily taken on if their category is less than or equal to your CR. Medical debt and other involuntary debts happen anyway regardless of their category.
In a season you don't have at least one fight (perhaps you took a well-deserved vacation, or have an injury you don't want to exacerbate), you incur a Living Expenses debt. Every subsequent season you haven't paid it off, and don't have a fight, it increases by 1 Category.
There's predatory payday loan companies around every corner. If you want to, you can use them to pay off a debt this season in exchange for a debt one category higher next season.
You can get accountants on payroll to fiddle with your debts and make payments that violate the rules. At the end of the season, this incurs a new Category X debt, where X is the number of times you've had the accountants perform their financial wizardry.
- Pay off multiple debts with a higher-category one
- Take on a debt of a category higher than your Credit Rating
- Take on a new debt when you've got 10 or more cumulative points of debt
- Stay solvent and in your mech if you have 10+ debt and didn't pay off a loan this season
- Something else, if you can think of it and they don't see why not.
Once you've finally cleared all your debts, you finally gain the option to retire and take on a less dangerous profession. You can't do so earlier without facing total destitution - if you had other lucrative marketable skills, you wouldn't be piloting a mech. Good luck.
A Season is a unit of time. There's roughly 4 seasons in a year. They don't correspond to seasons, they correspond to financial quarters. The weather's fucked anyway, "fall", "winter", "spring", and "summer" don't mean much when global climate catastrophe has been in motion for half a century and kaiju are manifesting natural disasters we don't even have names for yet.
In a season, you can take on as many kaiju deployments as you want, but you can't pay debts until you decide to stop fighting and end the season.
When a season starts, and between kaiju battles, you can engage in any interactions or systems you want. Acquire gear, take on debts, follow plot threads, repair your mech, etc. This is open-ended pilot-scale RP, like any other tabletop role-playing game. Often during this time, the GM will let you know that there's a local kaiju attack, and give the party the opportunity to suit up and fight it (you can choose not to, but to paraphrase a great man - "Where do you want to die? Here, or in a mecha?").
You can and should also seek out kaiju to fight on your own. It's your job, after all. When you do, the GM will give you d4 options; you must choose at least 1.
When players decide they've had enough and need to lick their physical and financial wounds, they can choose to end the season, and Payday occurs. On Payday, players are awarded bounties and use them to pay off debts of their choice. You can't stockpile bounties to pay off higher debts later unless you have accountants - your creditors are calling and knocking on your door.
Compared to your body and your mind, mechs are a trivial fix. Order some spare parts, put in the elbow grease, bill it to the company as mission-critical expenses (thank the unions, they fought hard to win you that benefit). At any time between fights, you may restore all damaged systems to maximum capacity. However, attrition is a slow but efficient killer - every 10 damage you take to a stat over time will reduce its maximum by 1 due to overall wear and tear.
You don't have health insurance. If you want medical care, it'll cost you. During fights, any Overflow damage over your core systems' remaining stats is applied directly to you (if one of your systems takes 4 damage when it's only at 3 remaining, you take 1 damage personally). 10 Overflow is instant death unless you immediately take on a Category 4 debt.
When your mech is cratered, with all its stats reduced to 0 and you crawling out of its crash harness broken and bloodied, you can refurbish your mech by upgrading the category of your Core loan. If you've paid off your Core loan, or your existing loan is already Category 5, you'll have to take on a new one.