Saturday, March 28, 2015

Suprisingly Adorable

Art preview time!

First up, the inked version of the Tyrakron headshot by Vic Shane. I previewed the pencils for this a few posts ago. The inked version gives him surprisingly soulful eyes; he doesn't look like a mindless bad guy anymore, there's some depth to him, like maybe he's a reluctant soldier....

Next up, take a look at Anthony Cournoyer's illustration of a smaller Battlechanger with a 'gadget alt-mode'. I referenced the great IDW version of Rewind in my art order for this guy, and while I can still see a bit of a resemblance, Anthony has taken this cute little mech in a different and interesting direction.

Finally, take a look at the partial racial traits for the Battlechanger race itself. This preview doesn't include the "Primitive" alt-mode info nor some other crunch, as I want to keep those mechanics as a surprise for the book itself. Let me know if you think anything needs tweaking.

Battlechanger Racial Traits

            Size and Type
            Battlechangers are Monstrous Humanoids.
Though they are a mechanical race, their bodies have vital zones that can be targeted, and they are an intelligent, fully sentient species. They are treated as Monstrous Humanoids rather than Constructs for the same reason Full Conversion Cyborgs (The Polymer Path, Otherverse Games, 2014) are.

            Players choose the size of their Battlechanger at character creation. This size determines many of the robot’s physical characteristics. These include the robot’s base land speed in primary mode, reach, its massive strength multiplier, natural armor bonus, slam attack damage, the capacity of its Fueleon Reserve and the number of Shannix the robot can spend to purchase additional powers and abilities.

            Game Master Note
            The GM is free to restrict Battlechanger characters to a particular size range. Gargantuan Battlechangers are especially unbalanced compared to the organic races- nearly unstoppable physically.

            Size and Weight
            These vary wildly, even among Battlechangers of the same basic size category. Whatever their size, due to their mostly metallic construction, Battlechangers are much heavier than a comparably sized organic. For example, a human sized Battlechanger might weigh as much as 500-700 lbs, depending on configuration. The largest Battlechangers might mass as much as several thousand tons.

Robot’s Size Category
Robot’s Base Landspeed
Robot’s Reach
Robot’s Slam Attack
Natural Armor Bonus
Massive Strength Multiplier
Fuelon Reserve
Shannix Budget
10 ft
0 ft
X 0
12 Fuelon
20 ft
5 ft
X 5
10 Fuelon
30 ft
5 ft
X 10
8 Fuelon
40 ft
10 ft
X 20
6 Fuelon
40 ft
15 ft
X 100
4 Fuelon
60 ft
20 ft
X 1,000
2 Fuelon

            Massive Strength (EX)
            Battlechangers are incredibly strong by humanoid standards. Even the smallest Battlechangers, which stand ‘merely’ 6-8 ft tall are dozens of times stronger than a bipedal humanoid, thanks to their hydraulics, servos and dense, corded steel musculature.

            Battlechangers multiply their lifting, dragging and carrying limits by a multiplier determined by the robot’s size. A Battlechanger’s base landspeed, also determined by its size, is never reduced by armor or encumbrance.

            Robots in vehicular modes can haul cargo or passengers equal to the maximum drag.

            Optics (EX)
            Battlechangers have high-grade optical sensors that provide them with Darkvison with an impressive 500 ft range as well as lowlight vision.

            Communications (EX)
            Battlechangers can perceive and transmit on unencrypted radio, television, wifi and signal protocols. All Battlechangers are considered to have the Onboard Computer cybernetic implant.

            Unique Mechanical Anatomy (EX)
            Battlechangers have unique, modular and metamorphic mechanical bodies. Battlechangers may wear additional armor, but it must be custom made and fitted. Multiply the base cost of armor by the robot’s Massive Strength Multiplier to determine its cost when custom made. Battlechangers cannot transform into their alt-mode while wearing additional armor.

            Battlechangers have the No Breath racial quality. They are immune to poisons diseases that affect only organic creatures, including magical afflictions. They remain vulnerable to afflictions that specifically affect mechanical or bio-mechanical life forms.

            Battlechangers do not heal damage naturally. They must expend Fuelon to activate their Self Repair Systems (see below); alternatively, they can be repaired with Craft (mechanical) as if they were Constructs. A DC 20 Craft check requires an hour of work and restores 1d8 Hit Points.

            Alt-Mode (EX)
            All Battlechangers have an Alt-Mode which they can transform into as a move equivalent action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

If an Alt-Mode’s size is not within one step either direction of the Battlechanger’s robot mode, the robot must use Mass-Shifting to transform. Minor differences in size can be accommodated by purely physical transformations, including sliding and collapsing modular components and creative parts arranging.

Mass Shifting
            Each category of possible alt-modes has transform into a certain size of robot without requiring the strange physics of ‘mass shifting’. A cell phone can become a cat-sized robot scout, and a Honda Civic can transform into a 12 ft tall metallic warrior. Modular components slide into place, folding and arranging themselves as necessary to fill out the robot’s bulk. (Never mind how a 250 lb robot can transform into a 5 ounce iPod… that’s a question cartoons never addressed and we won’t either.)
            A few robots have more extreme size differentials between their robot and alternate forms. An Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine might transform into a robot ‘only’ twenty feet tall, or an old battered Walkman might expand out into a robot a head taller than a human. In this case, these radical alterations in scale are explained away by Technysian mass shifting technology. You don’t need to purchase a special gadget to use Mass Shifting, as this technology is fundamental to the Battlechangers.

            Anytime a robot equipped with Mass Shifting technology transforms, that robot expends a point of Fuelon. Mass Shifting gives robots greater versatility, but is expensive in terms of fuel expenditures.

            Robots that transform into handheld devices sized for normal humans can also choose not to activate their size changing circuitry when transforming. In this case, the robot remains at a scale that would allow the device to be used by any Battlechanger of Giant-Scale or larger. For example, a mini-bot that normally transforms into a pair of human sized binoculars could instead turn into a set of giant-sized goggles for use by other robots. Transforming in this manner does not expend Fuelon.

A Battlechanger’s Alt-Mode is the usually same (or almost the same) size category as its primary mode, unless the robot uses Mass Shifting (explained later) to transform.

            Most Alt-Modes provide the Battlechanger with the Freeze special quality while in that form, provided the Battlechanger is parked in a location where such a vehicle or object would be common. For instance, a Battlechanger in aircraft form could easily hide in an airfield, while a Battlechanger with the alt-mode of an SUV could hide in virtually any urban area. Other alt-modes lack the Freeze special quality entirely- after all it’s hard to hide a 30 ft tall chrome dinosaur.

            Creating an Alt-Mode is described in the next section.

            Fuelon Reserve (EX)
            Battlechangers are powered by the unique, ultra-density alien energy known as Fuelon. Fuelon recovers very slowly once expended. A Medium Battlechanger reduced to 0 Fuelon recovers 1 Fuelon in 24 hours; Large Battlechangers require 96 hours; and it requires one month for a Huge or larger Battlechanger to recover one point of Fuelon and come out of sys-stasis.

            A Battlechanger can willingly enter prolonged sys-stasis to fully recover its Fuelon Reserve. The Battlechanger remains unconscious and helpless until its energies are fully regenerated. Fuelon energy recovers at one point per time period listed above. 

            Fuelon can be expended in a variety of ways to benefit the Battlechanger. Most gadgets and innate powers require Fuelon expenditure. In addition, the Battlechanger can expend Fuelon for the following purposes. In addition, the Battlechanger must expend one point of Fuelon per 24 hours to remain operational; if this need is not met, the Battlechanger enters sys-stasis.

·        Alt-Mode Movement: A Battlechanger with an immobile alt-mode can spend a point of Fuelon to move at a flight speed equal to its base land speed (poor) by magnetic or gravitic levitation for one scene. Move equivalent action.

·        Combat Effort: Expending a point of Fuelon provides a +5 increase to damage on a successful attack. This use must be declared prior to making the check. Swift action.

·        Defensive Effort: Expend a point of Fuelon to halve the damage from an attack that will hit you. This can stack with Evasion, further halving damage (so you suffer ¼ damage on an Evaded attack with Defensive Effort). Immediate action.

·        Energetic Conversion: Expend a point of Fuelon to recover a point of Ki, Grit, or other class based expendable energy resource. Full round action.

·        Extra Effort: Expending a point of Fuelon provides a +5 competence bonus on a particular skill check or attack roll. This use must be declared prior to making the check. Free action (skill) or Swift action (attack roll).

·        Fast Transformation: Override your shift-safety limiters and transform between modes as an immediate action. Immediate action.

·        Lethal Targeting: Expend a point of Fuelon to automatically confirm a critical hit. Immediate action.

·        Mass Shift: If the robot uses Mass Shifting to transform into its alt-mode, one point of Fuelon must be expended when changing modes. No action.

·        Rescanning: Change the cosmetic details of your alt-mode. Full round action.

·        Self Repair Protocol: Expending a point of Fuelon provides the Battlechanger with Fast Healing 5 for one round; every five character levels the Fast Healing increases by an additional 5 points. Standard action.

·        Wrecker: Expend a point of Fuelon to ignore an inanimate object or structure’s Hardness when attacking with your slam for a single attack. Free action.

Ability Scores
            Battlechangers roll or purchase their six ability scores as normal for the campaign. However, by spending Shannix, Battlechangers can permanently upgrade one or more of these scores.

            Rolled and purchased ability scores are not modified by size, as the Massive Strength multiplier effectively simulates a Battlechanger’s prodigious strength without producing dramatically unbalanced combat capabilities.

Optional Castes and Ability Score Modifiers
            Battlechangers, both good and evil, have a caste-based culture. The alien robots are stratified into several social levels, which roughly determines how powerful and competent these robots are.

            The majority of the Battlechanger race are members of the Worker, Disposable or Warrior Castes. Command and Philosopher Caste robots are relatively rare. Of the three common classes, Disposables were the most common at some points in history. In the modern era, after uncounted eons of warfare, naturally Warriors are the most common caste.

            Choosing a caste limits the Battlechanger’s size, and provides ability score modifiers. This step is optional, but extremely flavorful.

            Worker Caste
            -2 DEX, +2 CON, +2 WIS
Worker Caste Battlechangers are the most common examples of the breed. They are bulky, but fuel efficient and robust, with a good grounding of common sense and core programming.

Worker Caste robots must be Large, Huge or Gargantuan. Most have vehicular alt-modes of the Hauler, Rescue or Worker classifications; Ground alt-modes are most common, but these robots are not firmly restricted to the road. Sky and Sea based Workers exist, and keep operations functioning smoothly in those environments.

Disposable Caste
-2 STR, +2 INT, +2 WIS
Disposable Caste robots were extremely common in the distant past, before the Great War, but are less common now days. These highly intelligent and skillful robots were among the physically frailest of the species, and often treated like slaves or servants by larger, more powerful robots. Disposable Caste Robots still suffer a social stigma, even in the supposedly enlightened modern era, where even after millennia of heroism in the Great War, discrimination against these small, quirky bots still exists. Disposable Caste Battlechangers who survived the Great War have become more assertive and forced their factions to acknowledge the importance of their contributions.

Disposable Caste robots must be Tiny, Small or Medium and must have either a Gadget Alt-Mode or a Primitive Alt-Mode that does not incorporate mass shifting.

            Warrior Caste
            +2 STR or +2 DEX
            Warrior Caste Battlechangers are the most common breed of robot, and form the spine of the Freegear and Tyrakron armies. They are designed with superior motive servos and articulators that enable them to excel at their preferred combat modus- either swinging a charged Fuelon axe, or blasting away with null rays.

            Warrior Caste Battlechangers must Medium sized or larger. They are not restricted in terms of alt-mode choice, but very few become Gadgets, and those few who do almost always take a weapon, armor or shield form. The Fighter or Speeder classifications are especially common for those with a vehicular alt-mode. Primitive Alt-Modes are especially common, and often quite impressive.

Command Caste
-2 DEX, +2 CON, +2 CHA   
Command Caste robots are huge, determined and imposing Battlechangers who tower over the smaller robots they command.

Command Caste Battlechangers must be size Large or even larger. They are not restricted in terms of alt-mode choice, but among Freegear the Ground Hauler or Rescue classifications are most common among the leadership. Sometimes Freegear Commanders choose Primitive alt-modes, usually giving favor to powerfully built, mammoth herbivores, dinosaur or simian forms. By contrast, Tyrakrons of the Command Caste are often Ground or Sky Fighters, or else choose an impressive Primitive Alt-Mode, often taking draconic or demonic form. Very few ever choose a Gadget Alt-Mode, but those who do almost always choose weapon forms.

Philosopher Caste
-2 DEX, +4 INT or WIS
Philosopher Caste Battlechangers are the thinkers, scientists, techno-oracles and spiritual leaders of the species. These strongwilled and keenly intelligent robots are often placed in rather bulky, slow moving hulls.

Philosopher Caste robots can assume any size, and have only a few restrictions. They cannot select the Fighter or Speeder classifications for a vehicular Alt-Mode, and rarely take combat focused Primitive Alt-Modes. Gadget Alt-Modes are incredibly common, with many taking the form of scientific devices such as microscopes, DNA centrifuges, MRI scanners, and similar investigatory devices.

            “Junker Caste”
            +4 CON, either -2 INT or -2 WIS
            Though not an officially recognized part of Technysian culture, lost “Junker” colonies and members of the Scavenger Fleet have evolved a similar set of characteristics. Junkers are tough and hardy, able to withstand the kind of damage that would off-line a pair of ordinary Battlechangers. However, their substandard neuro-programming and cultural isolation leaves many either a little dim-witted or flat out insane. These guys are hard to take down, and they dare to be stupid.

Choose Your Alt Mode
            Battlechangers can assume the form of a variety of vehicles. Regardless of their shape, they never need to make Drive or Pilot checks to maneuver themselves in their alternate form. Acrobatics checks might be required instead for spectacular maneuvers, or Swim checks for watercraft.

Vehicle Alt-Modes
            Battlechangers can assume an almost infinite variety of vehicle forms, from humble civilian vehicles like a Scion automobile to earth-shaking combat behemoths like an Abrams main battle tank, from a sleek F-22 Raptor to an archaic yet ultra far-ranging Apollo Rocket.

            While the original Battlechangers featured an extensive list of vehicle alternate modes, Battlechangers: Ironworks takes a more generic, and modular approach.

            Choose Size
First, the player simply chooses the Alt-Mode’s size. If within one step either way of robot mode size, the mech can assume that shape without expending Fuelon, by compressing parts and creatively folding internal components. Dramatically larger or smaller alt-modes require Fuelon to power mass-shifting circuitry.

            Choose Classification
            Now, decide if your Battlechanger will assume a (Ground) landbased, (Sea) aquatic or (Sky) flight capable vehicle mode. Then, decide if your alt-mode favors cargo capacity and endurance (Hauler), passenger capacity and ordinariness (Mover) sheer speed and maneuverability (Speeder), the ability to save organic lives (Rescue), hardhitting physicality (Worker) or ranged combat capability (Fighter).  T

hus you might end up with a Ground Mover, Ground Worker or Sea Fighter type alt-mode, which in game you might decide are either an ordinary SUV, a heavy industrial crane, or a swift Coast Guard cutter, respectively.

These choices determine your alt-mode’s speed and cargo capacity multiplier. Multiply the lifting, carrying and dragging limits by your vehicular cargo capacity multiplier to find your total cargo capacity in alt-mode, which might end up with a particularly brawny robot, with a well chosen alt-mode being able to haul thousands, even millions of tons! This is a huge advantage to robots with say, a starship alt-mode, if they want to carry their allies into battle on a distant planet.
            A vehicle’s speed multiplier modifies all its movement modes. If a vehicle mode provides a natural armor bonus, add this to the robot’s natural armor bonus to determine the Battlechanger’s total natural armor bonus in vehicle form.

Classification I
Base Land Speed
Base Swim Speed
Base Flight Speed 
Classification II
Cargo Multiplier
Speed Multiplier
Natural Armor
200 ft
X 2
X 10
X ½
150 ft
X 5
X ¾
30 ft (or robot mode speed, whichever is less)
500 ft (average)
Flies in Alt Mode only
X 5
X  ¼
X 5
-2 (minimum +0)
X 5
X ½

            Free Vehicle Mode Abilities
            Depending on your classification, your alt-mode gains free abilities, shown on the chart below.

Free Abilities in Alt Mode
Common Alt-Mode trait, usually Freeze
Chem Proof ; usually Freeze
Usually Freeze
One Special Weapon (ranged) worth 3 Shannix or less;  usable in both modes
Chem Proof
Common Alt-Mode Trait, Passenger Hauler feat, usually Freeze
Spell-Like Technology: stabilize usable at will ; cure light wounds
Superspeed Engine; usable in alt-mode only
One Special Weapon (melee) worth 3 Shannix or less; usable in both modes

            Alt Mode Limitations and Advantages
            While in vehicular form, Battlechangers cannot wield or manipulate objects, nor can they use many built in weapons or attack forms, unless the weapon is also logically available in vehicle mode. For example, a Freegear warrior with a tank alt-mode can probably use his built in railgun and missile pods in both vehicle and robot form. By contrast, a Tyrakron warrior with a helicopter alt-mode probably couldn’t use his energy blades in vehicle mode.

            In many cases, the Battlechanger cannot be tripped or bull-rushed in vehicle form, and depending on the GM’s judgment other combat maneuvers simply do not apply. A Battlechanger’s central hull or passenger compartment in vehicle mode occupies as many squares as a creature of its size category normally would. However, especially in the case of aircraft alt-modes, the vehicle’s wings might occupy several more squares.

            A Battlechanger in vehicle form can attempt to ram targets as a vehicle of its size and speed.
            For the sake of simplicity, a vehicles top outside-combat speed and other capabilities (such as halogen headlights, tow lines or other useful accessories) are left vauge. The player and GM should work together to decide these secondary vehicle aspects, based on common sense and real world vehicle capabilities.

Futuristic Vehicles
Some Battlechangers never take an Earth alt-mode, preferring the sleek lines and speed of a futuristic Technysian vehicle. Others consider it a matter of pride, and refuse to soil their cylinders with Earth components. If you want, your alt-mode can be Futuristic- a sleek and alien design that looks like nothing ever designed by an Earth automaker.

Futuristic vehicles do not have the Freeze special quality. Instead, increase their base speeds in all movement modes by 20%. Robots can re-scan and chose an Earth mode to remove these modifiers at any time. Alternatively, an Earth-mode vehicle can be rescanned if the robot has access to Technysian technology, regaining a lost Futuristic alt-mode. Futuristic aircraft always gain Hover as a bonus feat.

Some futuristic versions of Earth vehicles are hovercraft rather than wheeled. These fast, slippery vehicles are treated the same as wheeled vehicles by the rules- but instead of wheels, they float about a foot off the ground, buoyed up by a cushion of magnetic force, pressurized air or some other high tech force.  

Gadget Alt-Modes
            Instead of vehicles, some Battlechangers assume the form of useful devices, usable either by human allies or other robots. These devices might range from a microscope, a tape recorder, a laptop computer or a personal weapon, such as a Fuelon blade or a Walter PPK.

            Choose any technological or manufactured item of any size you wish- you transform into a device of this type. In alt-mode you are normally immobile, however you gain typically gain Freeze and the Common Alt-Mode trait.

Weapons and obviously threatening or dangerous gadget alt-modes (such as a torture-bot Tyrakron that becomes an electric chair) rarely gain the Common quality, though individual GMs might rule certain weapons gain the Common quality in especially warlike cultures where they are….common.

In alt-mode select a particular skill (such as Computer Use for a laptop robot). When used by an ally to perform that skill, both you and that ally make a skill check, and take the better result.

Alternatively, for devices not specifically ‘used’ in a skill check by an ally (such as a cassette player making a Perform (sing) check), you receive a +5 equipment bonus on that skill in alt-mode. As a final alternative, rather than providing a skill bonus, you gain a 1st or 2nd level spell of your choice, usable as a spell-like ability by expending Fuelon while in alt-mode only.

Battlechangers with a weapon alt-mode gain the Best Attack gadget instead.

Battlechangers with a shield or armor alt-mode provide the normal armor or shield bonus of an item of the particular type, but also provide their wearer with an increased armor or shield bonus equal to their CON modifier.

The Battlechanger can augment its weapon or armor/shield alt-mode by expending Shannix as usual, to purchase enhancement bonuses and abilities.


Andrew Antolick said...

You have been busy sir. I went through Black Operators and liked the update.

+What will become of CEO Vose of Methamorph North, because now I have a soft spot for her due to vast technical wealth and hatred of the Culture. I have this idea that as the second Abortion war rages, her people are removing any remains from every side and studying them for their own needs. Polterchrist, I must have a thing for woobies with advanced tech and sad backstory.

+WOuld the Battlechangers be able to incorporate other civilizations technology into their designs? Wraith of Protoforms past, Heavy future mechno-milfs, Fanon Prime?

Chris A. Field said...

I'm definately going to do more with Vose. Unlike Artemis, I don't see her as redeemable. I see her as more sociopathic, more predatory- she's 1%er corporate greed as a zombie movie character. Nothing will ever be enough for Vose.

Second question: Oh hell yes. Sooner or later you're going to see a Battlechanger Midwife statted up, and I've already got ideas for Kiss Player inspired mechs with hentai powers for Black Tokyo.

Also, go to this link and read the listing. Does the TF: Animated version of Red Alert remind you a bit of Julie Riddle or is that just me?

Because if that's a homage how awesome is that?