MACsys: Version WRFEVER
MACsys is derived from GURPS 3rd Edition. You can find a ruleset for GURPS 3e at www.sjgames.com/gurps/. Look for links to GURPS Lite 3rd Edition; a free e-book is available.
MACsys characters are described by three different sets of characteristics. A MACsys character's characteristics are:
- Stats: MACsys has four stats. These are Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Health, and they describe a character's raw aptitudes.
- Traits: These "extra" characteristics define a character's inherent abilities, like resistance to disease or a photographic memory.
- Skills: These are things a character can do, such as pilot a mecha or solve a math equation.
A character has a set number of points to spend on all three of these areas. The typical MAC character is created with 150 GURPS points. The "traits" category is a merging of advantages and disadvantages from the GURPS system; quirks are not used in MACsys.
A MACsys character's stats are used as a baseline for all of his or her abilities.
- Strength is not as important for the high-tech warriors of the MAC world as it is for their fantasy counterparts, because even an average man can fire a deadly blaster or pilot a giant robot. It is still potentially important for characters that want to do melee combat or carry things.
- Dexterity are very important for all characters. A character's DX score will influence his ability to pilot a mecha, fire a ranged weapon, dodge attacks, do mechanical repairs, or play action-packed video games. Most physically-oriented skills are based on DX.
- Intelligence are what mecha heroes live by in tough situations, and MAC characters are no exception. A character's IQ influences their perceptiveness as well as their raw bookish knowledge. Most mental skills are based on IQ, and a high IQ is important for any mage.
- Health is a measure of how much physical stamina your character has. A high HT allows the character to resist wounds or dying, hold his breath, or run a mile.
MAC Academy students and MAC military units are commonly divided into three separate "classes." Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses.
- Mage. The mage is a master of the arcane arts. His art is old, but the force of magic is still very present and powerful, even in the age of machines. Mages typically wear light power armor that is highly mobile and amplifies their casting ability, allowing them to move around the battlefield more rapidly than a bulky mecha. They serve as spies, scouts, and light mobile artillery. A mage's spells can ultimately be more versatile than any mech.
- Tek. The tek is in tune with the "cyberplane," a branch of the higher planes that can be the living space for artificially engineered astral symbiotes. A tek can communicate with the symbiote that powers his mech, allowing the tek to have a much more fluid connection to his ride. More than mere suits of powered armor, tek battlesuits have souls, and they become an extension of the tek's body when he fights. Some teks are also proficient with very rudimentary magic. The drawback to being a tek is that a tek's mecha may not necessarily be cooperative, and a very powerful and well-equipped mecha is much more likely to be willful.
- Machinist. To the machinist, a mecha is a machine and nothing more. But machinists do not see this as a drawback. Rather, they rely on the power of science in the absence of magic, making up for their lacking magical aptitude with ingenuity and dedication. Take away a tek's connection to his mecha and his skills are cut in half, but a machinist has no such reliance on the supernatural to keep his machine running.
Mages and teks must purchase special advantages.
- Magery is required for mages. It comes in levels, the first of which costs 15 points. The second two levels cost 10 points each. Each level of Magery adds to WIT for the purpose of learning spells. The advantage is described in more detail in GURPS.
- Tek Aptitude is required for teks. It costs the same as Magery. Each level of Tek Aptitude adds to Piloting (Mecha), all Gunner and melee combat skills, and Mechanic (Mecha), but only for the tek's personal mech or another mech with which the tek has developed a relationship. The bonuses to Gunner and melee combat skills only apply to the mecha's weapons systems, not to weapon skills used outside of the mech.
All machinists and teks recieve a free 100 point mecha. Mages recieve a free mage battlesuit.
- A 150 point mecha costs 20 points.
- A 200 point mecha costs 30 points.
Skills work like in GURPS. Any GURPS skill that is applicable to the setting can be used, with some specific skills being particularly important:
- Piloting (Mecha) (Physical/Average) is the skill required to pilot a mecha. It is also the effective cap for a mecha's dodging ability.
- Battlesuit (Physical/Average) is the skill used by mages to pilot their battlesuits. It affects dodging and attacking in a battlesuit.
- Gunner (Physical/Average) is the skill that covers mecha weapons. The specializations are (Beams), (Ballistics), (Missiles), and (Flamers).
- All melee combat weapons can be applied when piloting a mecha, such as Broadsword (Physical/Average), Spear (Physical/Average), or Axe/Mace (Physical/Average).
- Teks can utilize skills such as Karate (Physical/Hard) or Judo (Physical/Hard) via their mecha when piloting.
- Mechanic (Mecha) (Mental/Average) is the skill associated with mecha repair.
- Engineer (Mecha) (Mental/Hard) is the skill associated with mecha design and construction.
- Electronics Operation (Sensors) (Mental/Easy) is the skill for using mecha sensors, and Electronics Operation (Communications) is the skill for using mecha comm systems.
At first reading, the GURPS system for pricing skills seems very confusing, but it is in fact remarkably simple:
- An "easy" skill costs 1 point to have a rank equal to the associated stat (DX or IQ).
- An "average" skill costs 2 points to have a rank equal to the associated stat.
- A "hard" skill costs 4 points to have a rank equal to the associated stat.
- A "very hard" skill costs 8 points to have a rank equal to the associated stat.
The easiest way to determine skills in GURPS is to choose what rank you wish the skill to be at. Most of your character's skills will and should be in the 10-16 range, especially combat skills.
- Mediocre skill is 8.
- Average skill is 10.
- Skilled is 12.
- Highly-skilled is 14.
- Expert is 16 or above.
Once you have chosen the target skill level, compare the target to your character's associated stat (DX for physical or IQ for mental skills). Then check the table to see what the difference between the target and the stat is. For example, if you have a DX of 12 and you would like to have a Physical/Average skill at rank 14, you would check the column for the DX+2 cost. In this example, the cost is 8 points.
For most characters, no piece of equipment is more important than their mech. But mecha in MAC are more than just equipment, even for machinists. In a sense, creating a mecha is the same as creating a character.
A mecha has four stats, just like a person.
- Strength is the mecha's ability to lift a heavy load with any manipulator arms and affects its melee combat ability. It also affects the maximum weapon weight that a mech can carry.
- Speed affects the mecha's rate of travel. It also affects how well the mecha can dodge enemy attacks.
- Ego is a unique stat that represents the strength of the mecha's personality. This is only applicable to tek mecha. Unlike other stats, a high ego may be a disadvantage for the pilot, especially if he and his mecha are prone to disagreements!
- Durability refers to the mecha's base structural integrity and ability to suffer damage.
Beyond the four basic stats, mecha have individual components that must be purchased with points. These components are:
- Computer: A mecha's computer system can be relatively simple or incredibly complex. While no computer can duplicate the animate sentience imparted by an astral symbiote possessed by tek mecha, machinists are continually attempting to develop more and more advanced AI. Pilots can use their mecha's computers for a wide variety of purposes, but the most common usage is to assist with navigation.
- Sensors: A mecha's sensors are a must for locating enemy targets, especially in conditions of heavy fog or the cover of darkness, and they help the pilot aim and acquire target locks. Sensors can also inform the pilot of current environmental conditions.
- Armor: Without armor, a mecha will never survive the trauma of combat. Heavier armor allows a mecha to take more hits.
- Weapons: No combat machine is complete without weapons. Lasers, machine guns, plasma throwers, missile launchers, and melee weapons are all available options.
- Accessories: Some mecha have additional features, such as ejection seats, jump jets, anti-missile countermeasures, or cloaking devices.
A mecha also has a variety of descriptive attributes that are not necessarily represented by stats or attributes.
- The size of most mecha ranges between 20 and 40 feet in height, making the average mecha three to seven times larger than the typical person and proportionally wider depending on design. The size of your mecha will affect its size modifier to hit, a number that will likely range between +3 and +6.
- Mecha run on "mana engines" that draw power from the surrounding astral (even machinist mecha) and never run out of energy unless they are in an anti-magic zone. A mana engine does not produce a thermonuclear meltdown if it explodes.
- Mecha weight is not generally important for gameplay, so it is ignored. A mecha is assumed to be structurally strong enough to carry all of its equipment and armor. A mecha's STR score only applies to its arms or legs. If a mecha uses all of its limbs for transportation (such as a quadrapedal mecha), its limb strength might come into play, but only under extreme circumstances in which a more cinematic approach becomes inappropriate.
- Mecha can be designed with any number of arms, legs, or other features as desired, keeping plausibility in mind. Almost any reasonable design can be accomodated; ask a GM if clarification is required.
- Unusual features that are largely cosmetic, such as flight powered by wings instead of jets, are totally acceptable.
A mecha's stats work slightly differently from a person's.
- STR: A mecha's base strength is 100! This costs 0 points. To find the cost to increase this number, see the table for a human and use the same point costs, but STR is modified in increments of 10. For example, a mecha with 110 STR would cost 10 points, whereas 90 STR would be a disadvantage worth -10 points. A mech requires 100 STR to carry medium weapons, 130 STR to carry heavy weapons, and 150 STR to carry extra-heavy weapons.
- SPD: A mecha's base speed is 10. A mecha's move speed in miles per hour is its SPD x 4.
- EGO: Only tek mecha have an ego score. The base ego for a tek mecha is 10, and the costs are reversed; a mecha with high ego is a disadvantage, so it is worth points, whereas a mecha with low ego is an advantage. A mecha with ego 11 would be worth -10 points, whereas a mecha with ego 9 costs 10 points. Some components increase the mecha's effective ego.
- DUR: A mecha's base durability is 10. A mecha's hit points are determined by its armoring, not its DUR, but high durability helps the mecha resist critical shocks and other trauma.
Each component of a mecha must be purchased individually with points.
A mecha's computer system is very important. Even a tek mecha requires a computer to perform many functions. A basic computer system includes all of the following features:
- HUD: The heads-up display in a mecha displays miscellaneous data such as heading and altitude as well as projecting a holographic targeting reticle onto the viewscreen that allows for manual aiming. The mecha's HUD tracks the movements of the pilot's head and eyes, directing the weapons and other systems wherever he looks.
- Comsuite: The standard communications array, this allows radio communication between mecha. It includes an IFF transponder system (Identify Friend or Foe) and a radar detector.
- GPS: A global positioning system that allows a pilot to determine his precise position and nagivate to specific coordinates.
Upgrades cost additional points.
- Advanced Comsuite: Doubles the range of the standard communications array and includes an improved radar/laser detector with minimal jamming capabilities. It encrypts outgoing messages to prevent interception. 5 points.
- Smart Computer: This upgrade permits a machinist to have a mech with some degree of artificial intelligence. 15 points.
Without a functioning sensor array, most mecha are practically worthless. A pilot relies on his sensors to aid in targeting and destroying his enemies.
- Passive Electromagnetic Sensor Array (PESA): Visual options include viewscreen magnification, infrared thermography, and light amplification modes. The magnification maximum is a multiple equal to the PESA's range in miles.
- Active Electromagnetic Sensor Array (AESA): Utilizes a radar/laser to detect targets. It adds a +2 bonus to attack rolls, but it can be detected by most communications arrays and gives away the user's position.
A standard sensor array has a range of 5 miles, but the bad news is that jamming equipment may make it impossible to locate enemies that are not within visual range! .
- Increased Range: Doubles the range of the chosen sensor array (PESA OR AESA). Doublings are cumulative, so two doublings is a quadroupling and so forth. 5 points/level.
- Improved Targeting: Gives an additional +1 bonus to hit when using a given sensor array (PESA or AESA). 5 points/level.
Mecha have an active defense, or Dodge, that is equal to their pilot's skill divided by two or SPD/2, whichever is less. However, it is improbable that a mecha is going to dodge all incoming attacks, so most mecha are armored.
A mecha has PD (passive defense) and DR (damage reduction), just like a person. For simplicity, a mecha's armor is assumed to be equally thick across the entire body. All mecha armor at least DR 16 provides PD 4.
- Standard Armor: Typical metal alloy. Each level of armor provides DR 10. 1 point/level.
- Ablative Armor: Cheaper ceramic and plastic composites designed to chip or melt but carry the energy of the attack away from the mech. Cheaper, and each level of armor provides DR 15, but every 10 points of damage peels off outer layers of the armor, reducing its DR by 1. This DR does count toward one's HP total. 1 points/level.
- Mirror Field: Used to deflect wave-based(Lasers, mana beams, sonic), microparticle(Particle cannons, Teslas) and thermal(plasma, cryospray) attacks, this field provides DR 20 per level, and this DR is not affected by standard armor division, but this DR only applies against attacks made by energy weapons. Kinetic(ballistic, concussive, and the like) attacks ignore this added DR. Obviously, this DR does not count toward one's HP total. 1 point per level.
A mecha's effective hit points are equal to its Standard DR x 4, modified by the type of frame the mecha uses.
- Light Frame: A disadvantage, a mecha with a light frame will be half as durable as a standard mecha. -10 points.
- Standard Frame: The default frame. Standard hit points.
- Heavy Frame: Twice as durable as a standard frame, this doubles a mecha's effective hit points, but it reduces Dodge by 1. 10 points.
- Extra-heavy Frame: Five times as durable as a standard frame but extremely expensive, this multiplies a mecha's effective hit points by four, but it reduces Dodge by 2. 30 points.
- Composite Materials reduce the Dodge penalties of a heavy or extra-heavy frame by 1, but they are more expensive. 10 points.
A mecha may have built-in weaponry or carry external mecha-sized blasters or melee armaments. There are several different types of weaponry, each with their own features or advantages. A mech requires 70 STR to carry light weapons, 100 STR to carry medium weapons, 130 STR to carry heavy weapons, and 150 STR to carry extra-heavy weapons.
A list of weapons is available here.
Ranged weapons include:
- Autocannons, Machine Guns, and Gatling Guns are all designed to fire metal slugs at a high rate of fire. They are especially effective against lightly-armored targets at close range.
- Shotguns deal great damage at close range but are less effective at longer ranges because of the spread of the fired pellets.
- Lasers fire blasts of coherent high-energy light. They have a long range and are good at punching through standard armor because of their low recoil, but their damage is halved if fired through rain, smoke, or fog because the beam's energy is dispersed.
- Mana Beams function similarily to lasers, but they channel an elemental energy type instead.
- Blasters or Particle Cannons fire charged particles at high velocity. Damage that gets through armor is doubled as a result of system shock; blaster fire is very good at disrupting electronic systems. Their rate of fire is slower than a laser, but hits that penetrate armor typically deal more damage. Few things are more effective against low-armor targets.
- Flamethrowers is a generic term for a weapon that sprays a wide burst of hot plasma. Despite the name, these weapons can also fire super-cooled liquid or acid sprays. They have a short range, but the effectiveness of armor is divided by 10, and most armor is permanently damaged by these attacks. Additionally, some flamethrowers continue to damage their targets over time.
- Missile Launchers fire rockets with explosive payloads. Some of these are heat-seeking missiles, whereas others are simply self-propelled explosives. These charges are easily capable of blasting through even superheavy armor with ease
- Tesla Coils zap enemy mecha with bolts of electricity that bypass the protective capability of metal armor.
- Sonic Blasters deal damage by causing the structure of an object to rapidly vibrate at a destructive frequency. These weapons have little trouble punching through armor, and can be equally devastating to structures.
Melee weapons include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Plasma Blades are energy swords, pikes, or other hand weapons with a visible blade of force that can be used to cut or impale.
- Claws and other physical striking implements can be built into a mech. This includes forms of attack such as a "biting" jaw.
- Sticky Mines are deployed in close combat and attached to the enemy by magnetic fields. They can be standard explosives or release EMP blasts.
- A weapon's point value is listed in the table of MAC Weapons.
Weapons can also be fitted with special accessories:
- Fire Linkage: Allows a predefined set of multiple weapons to be fired in a group at no penalty. Missile launchers cannot be linked to other weapons except other missile launchers. 2 points per link.
- Anti-blast Casing: Protects a mecha from internal ammunition explosions by encasing the ammunition in a special shell. 5 points.
- Stabilizer: Includes an expanding ground support mechanism, allowing a mecha to fire a single ballistic or missile weapon one weight category heavier than it normally can. However, one must remain on a solid surface on the ground in order to fire the weapon, and using a weapon in this manner denies one's mecha their normally allowed movement and dodging abilities. 5 points
- Sub-generator: An external subgenerator linked to a weapon to provide much higher energy output, this allows a mecha to use a single energy weapon one weight category heavier than it normally is capable of. However, the subgenerator can be targeted (Size modifier equal to mecha's -4) and if damaged, can explode, causing damage not dissimilar to that of an ammunition explosion. 5 points
Your mecha includes the following for free:
- Fire Supression System: This goes off if some portion of your mech catches fire and releases chemical foam into the burning compartment.
- Life Support: Includes 24 hours worth of oxygen, perfect for surviving in non-breathable environments. Climate control functions come standard.
These features cost extra:
- Ejection Seat: Ejects the cockpit and pilot. Includes a parachute to float the mecha's pilot to the ground safely. 5 points.
- Auto-destruct: Perhaps the exact opposite of the ejection seat in terms of self-preservation instinct, this causes a mecha to explode violently when triggered. It can be set to a countdown if desired and is keyed to the pilot's voice pattern. 3 points.
- Deceptive Jammer: Deflects radar and similar sensors. It also reduces the effectiveness of homing missiles, applying a -2 penalty to all such attacks. 5 points.
- Transmission Jammer: Scrambles all radio communication, friend or foe, for five miles per level. The jamming field can be detected with AESA. 5 points/level.
- Chameleon Stealth: Alters a mecha's physical appearance to make it possible to blend in with the surrounding terrain. 10 points.
- Discharger: Launches hot smoke, chaff, or flares to confuse IR sensors, radar, or homing missiles in a hurry. It can also launch prism clouds, which totally diffuse lasers passing through their area. It can hold three discharges plus one per additional level. 5 points + 1/additional level.
- Fusion Jump Jets: Make a mecha flight or jump capable.
- A jump capable mecha costs 10 points.
- A flight capable mecha costs 30 points for the mecha's airspeed to be equal to its groundspeed. For a faster move speed, 5 points buys half the mecha's base move speed in improvement, whereas slower move speeds cost less. A mecha can fly at half of its base speed for only 25 points. No flight slower than half of base move is possible.
- Hovering costs an additional 5 points.
Tests of Skill
MACsys operates on the same 3d6 system that core GURPS 3rd edition does. All tests of skill are performed by rolling 3d6. If the total is less than the skill rank, the attempt succeeds.
- A 3 is an automatic critical success. A 4 is an automatic success, or an automatic critical success if skill is 14+. A 5 is a critical success if skill is 15+, and a 6 is a critical success if skill is 16+.
- An 18 is an automatic critical failure, whereas a 17 is an automatic ordinary failure. A roll of 10 more than your skill is always at least an ordinary failure.
GURPS rules are generally applied, but some combat mechanics have been simplified or altered.
- Automatic weapons are broken up into shot groups of 20. For most weapons, this means that you only get one attack roll. A success means half of the burst hits. A success by more than 5 means that the entire burst hits. A failure by no more than two means that one-fourth of the burst hits. Only one defense roll is allowed against each shot group.
- Semiautomatic weapons (with RoF ~3) work normally.
- The Infinite Ammunition rule is applied to all ballistics, but not to missiles.
- A mecha's Dodge roll is equal to SPD/2 or Piloting skill/2, whichever is less, except for tek mecha, which may use the greater of the two values instead. Dodge, including PD, can never exceed 14.
- In case of a critical hit against a PC mecha, the mecha may make a DUR roll to shake off the side-effects of the shock.
- The "Hard Death" threshold for mecha is equivalent to (5*DUR)% of the mecha's pre-frame HP below zero. If the mecha's HP is reduced between zero and this value, it shuts down, unable to operate, though ejection seats and entry hatches still function properly barring specific damage that prevents such. If it exceeds this threshold, however, it explodes.
- In the case of mecha with light frames, this threshold is equal to (5*DUR)% of their modified HP.
Tek Mecha and Ego
A tek mecha has a mind of its own, thanks to its animating astral symbiote. While this is often beneficial because the symbiote is much more intelligent than any computer, it can be a drawback when strong-willed mecha refuse to obey the commands of their pilots!
A tek piloting his mecha can take multiple actions at one time that would be prohibitive to a machinist. A tek can always fire at his full rate of fire even if his mech is moving, and a tek's "autopilot" allows active defenses at any time, including blocks and parries. A tek can command his mecha to command a feint and attack in the same turn if he is in melee combat. A tek can also utilize karate, judo, brawling, or other hand-to-hand martial arts in his mecha at no penalties. Addtionally, a tek's mecha's Dodge score is the higher of his mecha's SPD/2 or half of his Piloting skill. If a tek is knocked unconscious for some reason, his mech may opt to continue fighting without its pilot!
Because a tek mecha is intelligent and has a personality, these mecha may be built with appropriate mental disadvantages, such as Berserk, Impulsiveness, Overconfidence, or Jealousy. These reduce the mecha's point value just like disadvantages for pilot characters, giving additional points to spend in other areas. Any rolls that are specified to be against WIT for a biological character are rolled against EGO for a mech.
If there is a dispute between a tek mecha and its pilot, a quick contest of Will vs. EGO decides whose commands are carried out.
The base EGO for a tek mecha is increased by 1 for:
- Every 20 points spent on weapons systems.
- Every 30 points spent on armor.
- Having a "heavy" or "extra-heavy" frame.
- Being jump-capable.
- Being flight-capable (cumulative with being jump-capable).
This increase in EGO is not worth points as a disadvantage. For example, a mecha with 20 points spent on weapons and a heavy frame would have a base EGO of 12. If the EGO were then increased to 13, it would be worth -10 points as a disadvantage, whereas cutting the EGO score down to 11 would cost 10 points.
Mages and Battlesuits
A mage's battlesuit is a nearly form-fitting suit of powered armor that provides the mage with a wide range of advantages on the battlefield.
- Much like a battlemech, mage battlesuits have a comsuite and multiple scanning modes, allowing a mage to utilize viewscreen amplification, thermal imaging, light amplification, and radar/laser targeting at a standard range of 5 miles.
- It increases the mage's speed dramatically, thanks to jet propulsion mechanisms. Jumping and limited flight come standard. A mage's battlesuit's move speed in miles per hour is equal to his base move speed multiplied by 12.
- The damage of attack spells cast in a battlesuit is amplified, multiplying the damage done by 100. Missile spell ranges are also multiplied by 100 (but not non-missile attack spell ranges).
- A mage's battlesuit serves as armor, providing PD and DR against most types of attack. Additionally, a mage's small size makes him far more difficult for the average mecha to accurately target.
- A battlesuit has an arcane "neural interface" that allows the battlesuit to continue to move normally while the mage is concentrating on a spell at no penalties.
The typical mage battlesuit provides PD 6, DR 65. For an additional point cost, upgrades can be purchased:
- Speed Boost: Adds another multiplier to the mage's maximum speed. 5 points.
- Armor Plating: Boosts DR by 15 per level. 5 points/level.
- IR Cloaking: Impairs infrared tracking systems, resulting in a -3 penalty on attempts to track the wearer via IR scanning and a -10 penalty on attacks with IR-homing projectiles. 5 points.
- Stealth Cloaking: Makes the battlesuit impossible to detect with radar. 5 points.
- Chameleon Mode: Alters the battlesuit's physical appearance as desired to blend in with surrounding terrain. 10 points.
- Force Screen: Adds DR 100, but only against energy weapons. Ballistic weapons, spells, or melee weapons do not apply (as a mecha's mirror field). 5 points.