How to play the 1-2-3-4 I Declare A Mecha War Trial

I created this 1-2-3-4 I Declare A Mecha War Trial to play, as a follow-up to the Behemoth Trial, in a solitaire let’s play video which you can watch on my video channel. This is a micro scenario of three Moments for use in the Warp Shell setting of Index Card RPG Core. Here’s how you can play this Trial. You will need Runehammer Games’ Index Card RPG Core and may also want Index Card RPG Vol 3.

1-2-3-4 I Declare A Mecha War

A plague of Behemoths ravaged the planet, showing up like cicadas, all at once, in many different places. The heroes are awakened from their merely robotic dreamtime into sentient Mecha consciousness by the attempt to process this overwhelming chaos. Each hero was sent out to battle a Behemoth and survived, where so many others failed and fell. After their success, each was brought to the same lab where they were augmented in some mysterious way, and find themselves together as prisoners being used for these experiments.

Setup: Create 5 Mecha bio-form characters in Warp Shell. Overcome all three Obstacles. If you are killed, you can be rebuilt; but will have your mysterious augments removed and will have all your parts and pieces abandoned as a failed project, dumped on a pile of other robotic trash.

The Last Behemoth: Target 10. Suddenly an alarm is raised, and you are sent into battle. The last Behemoth has been sighted heading this way. Once in position, you feel something strange happen. Each individual hero starts to be drawn toward the others, and arms, legs, even bodies begin to alter and transform. After much contortion and connecting, the heroes have formed a Giant Mecha, a vehicle with 5 chunks. Each player takes their TURN, using Actions whatever they are able; but all must move together as one unit. Defeat the Behemoth, a 4 HEART creature, who will charge in order to ram, and then continue to physically attack the Giant Mecha until one or the other is dead.

When the Last Behemoth is killed, the next Moment begins. Optionally, start a Countdown Timer for the next Moment. The Death Droid will target the Last Behemoth until defeated, and then go after the heroes.

The Death Droid: Target 11. Frightened Powers That Be, not aware of the Giant Mecha project, have sent a Death Droid to track down and destroy the Last Behemoth. The Death Droid, a 5 HEART creature, with one ranged weapon, was programmed to locate and destroy its target, which has now become the Giant Mecha. The Death Droid will attack at range until its last HEART, at which point it will attempt to close distance in order to ram.

When the Death Droid is killed, the next Moment begins. Optionally, start a Countdown Timer for the next Moment. The Giant Robot will target the Death Droid until defeated, and then go after the heroes.

The Giant Robot: Target 12. Like the proverbial spider sent after the fly, frightened Powers That Be have sent a Giant Robot following after their Death Droid, to destroy each other after dealing with the Last Behemoth. The Giant Robot, a 6 HEART creature, with 2 ranged weapons and 2 attacks, will attack at range until it reaches its final HEART, at which point it will attempt to close distance in order to ram.

The Giant Robot can overheat, just like the Giant Mecha heroes, so that unit also begins with a 1d6 Heat Counter.

Optionally, when the Giant Robot is defeated start a final, end of scenario Countdown Timer for an explosion that inflicts Ultimate damage to all Near units as the Giant Robot is remotely and completely annihilated by the Powers That Be. (Heroes better hope they are not overheated and stuck unable to move out of the blast radius!)

Conclusion: Managing to defeat all opponents, the Giant Mecha formed by all five heroes disconnects, leaving each in a daze on the battlefield. Teams of technicians come to collect you while you are incapacitated, unclear how the Giant Mecha augment is activated or deactivated, and return you to captivity in the lab while they pore over the data gathered from this field test.

Ramming:

This Trial uses the vehicle rules provided in the Speed Kills adventure from Core as a mechanic for a Giant Mecha battle. When ramming, treat each as a vehicle with HEARTS equal to CHUNKS, and visa versa.

Taking Damage:

Damage taken by the Giant Mecha is spread evenly across all players, through some function provided by the augment connection. Giant Mecha will remain a 5 CHUNK vehicle until it takes 5 HEARTS of damage, at which point all characters will disconnect and become individuals with 1 HEART left.

Optionally, instead, as the Giant Mecha takes each full HEART of damage, one character is forced to disconnect from the whole, becoming an individual with only 1 HEART remaining. Disconnected characters act independently, and cannot reconnect to the whole.

Optionally, as a unit, Giant Mecha or other, takes damage, its number of remaining HEARTS also determines how many CHUNKS count for ramming. Thus, the more damage a unit takes, the less damage it is able to inflict. Otherwise, each unit retains its full initial CHUNK count when ramming.

Overheating:

As Giant Mecha and Giant Robot fire their energetic weapons, they increase their heat levels, similar to the Dynamic Dice rule for Spell Burn. For example, using a Duranium Blade will not increase heat levels, but firing a Pulse Rifle or using an Energy Blade will. Place a d6 on each unit, set to 1. Each discrete energetic weapon attempt roll, whether successful or not, will increase the heat counter by 1.

When the counter reaches 6, the unit must make a CON check against the Target. Success will reset the counter to 1. Failure on this check will overheat the unit for 1d6 ROUNDS, during which time the unit is incapacitated, neither able to move nor take action.

If a character holds all actions for their TURN, decrease the heat counter by 1. If a character takes any action, but does not fire an energetic weapon, the heat counter neither increases nor decreases.

Index Card RPG Quick Start Rules

Runehammer Games just released a new, free Index Card RPG Quick Start Rules download. I’ve done several in a series of solitaire let’s play videos and have been talking about this game system lately. Here’s a way you can check it out for free and get started! The 33-page QSR has all you need to get started (except dice and stuff, of course), including a new sample adventure, Tooth of the Agnar, excerpted from the longer Savages of Kath let’s play scenario. (So even if you’ve already got ICRPG Core, there’s something new in here for you too!)

Download your FREE QUICKSTART and get playing right away! Perfect for…

• Those considering an ICRPG CORE SET purchase
• Players jumping into an ICRPG game
• The mechanics-curious investigating ICRPG

Numenera Core Book

Numenera Core Book by Monte Cook Games, by Monte Cook with Shanna Germain, &al., was given gratis as part of my support for the The Ninth World: A Skillbuilding Game for Numenera crowdfunding effort (which is almost a whole year late to deliver!).

Multiple times I forgot I had this, rediscovered the PDF and intended to read it, then didn’t; and, rinse and repeat.

Numenera is a billion years in the future post-cataclysmic science fantasy setting, essentially God Emperor of Jean “Moebius” Giraud. The nuts and bolts are the, separately available but not entirely needed to play, Cypher System which is a framework on which other games can be built, such as The Strange, or used for other settings, such as Predation, but notably not Invisible Sun, which is the forthcoming new Monte Cook newness.

Characters in Numenera, and Cypher System, have three stats (might, speed and intellect) and can be described in a simple sentence, “I am an adjective noun who verbs.” In Numenera, examples of this character statement are:

“I am a Rugged glaive who Controls Beasts” or “I am a Charming nano who Focuses Mind over Matter.”

I am amused to no end that there is an adjective noun in Numenera for “Shadow jack” and if you wanted to play something like Roger Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows, this would be right on.

Anyhow, if the rules system stopped near there, it could be great, but then things get a bit overwritten and complex.

The Cypher System foundation is touted for its “elegance, flexibility, ease of use, and focus on narrative” but the rules quickly become strangely crunchy with stats and pools and edges and effort and skills and abilities and tiers and so on and on. Without having read the Cypher System Core Book, I gather from Numenera that there’s a lot of room for expansion on the three possible character types, and short list of descriptors. As “elegant” and “flexible” as Cypher System is supposed to be, the types and descriptors are very specific. These aren’t the broad narrative-driving Aspects of Fate or Clichés of Risus, but end up being very explicitly detailed crunchy blocks of text in the rule book, and, moreover, then, by being so crunchy, leave vast swaths of undetailed unknown others by omission. The more crunchy the rules, the more obvious the omissions.

An example of the kind of issue in Numenera which gave me pause was how the three character types, each which have some core element, clearly didn’t explore the full range of possibility. The core stat for a Glaive is Might. The core stat for a Nano is Intellect. But, the Jack starts with flat stat spread. So, what about a character type with Speed for their main stat? What about a type that is built around Effort? What about a type that is built around boosting Pools. And so on. For all the eventual crunchiness heaped onto the simplicity of the character statement, there’s just a wild amount that isn’t covered or explored. It’s a very strange dichotomy. Without having read the core books for Cypher, itself, or The Strange, I wonder if these other directions are explored there for character types, but, the point is, they aren’t in Numenera.

One of the more interesting things for me in Numenera was the focus on the numenera, the bits of recovered future tech, as a core mechanic and motivator. This reminds me of Index Card RPG Core‘s focus on loot as the method of advancement and ability development for characters. Like a game in a setting of Heavy Metal, the scratching out of some ancient nano-magical future tech artifact from the dust and rubble can change everything, then fails or is replaced, and gets tossed away. This provides a kind of Nomic or Fluxx-like game of self-amendment, constantly changing the rules of the game itself by introducing more or less awesome MacGuffin after MacGuffin.

The world building is Silmarillion-level and seems like the writer’s bible to a series of novels, in that it is excessive and clearly thought out even farther than detailed, a full encyclopedia of future history and hints at a forthcoming piecemeal conveyor belt principia.

The core book also contains the short story The Amber Monolith by Shanna Germain, which is available separately. I ended up reading it separately before getting around to the core rule book, and it makes more sense to read it in context.

The art and world are lush, but it all seems like something one collects and reads, not so much plays and develops stories within. I have no doubt that this ticks the bits of brain that drive collectable card game fanatics and the like, but the simplicity and elegance seems to me to get lost for what should be a framework open and welcoming to players at the table.

There are parts that seem fantastic to me, but also there’s some things missing in all the complexity. In the end, I find myself wishing to play in the world of Numenera, but with different rules, such as Index Card RPG or Risus, or, hell, even Toon or Amber, to free up the narrative gameplay from the gaming system.

Originally posted on my personal blog at Numenera Core Book

Axebane’s Moldy Codex

Axebane’s Moldy Codex is a homebrew fanzine for use with Runehammer Games’ Index Card RPG Core. This is its inaugural issue, written and illustrated by Daniel F Walthall, and includes a good variety of fun and useful stuff for your table.

The first issue of the Moldy Codex is here! This homebrew fanzine is packed with art and content for the INDEX CARD RPG system. The included adventure has been playtested and is designed to only require 30 minutes of prep by the GameMaster! The new loot table includes 100 loot items, with new types of items such as wands and rods. Issue #1 is fantasy-themed and includes the following:

• Adventure: Lost Tomb of the Skeleton King
• Location: Village of Hadorne
• 2 new monsters
• 4 monster reference cards (Skeleton, Slime Cube, Living Statue, and Skeleton King)
• New loot table
• 8 art cards
• Hand-drawn character sheet

Skull of the Cyclops Trial

This is a play session of Skull of the Cyclops, a solitaire Trial from Index Card RPG Core. I play Take, a Small Folk Shadow, in this short scenario of three challenges.

Index Card RPG Core Set from Runehammer Games

Index Card RPG Vol. 1

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

If you’d like to pitch in, add a buck to the tip jar.

Or become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

The Grey Hill Fire Trial

This is a play session of The Grey Hill Fire, a solitaire Trial from Index Card RPG Core. I play Take, a Small Folk Shadow, in this short scenario of three challenges.

Index Card RPG Core Set from Runehammer Games

Rigaroga is a technologist lost in the wilderness, having adventures in geekery and nerdy mishegoss.

The Odd Order is a place for Rigaroga, friends and acquaintances to gather online.

If you’d like to pitch in, add a buck to the tip jar.

Or become an ongoing Patron, get gratis music downloads, and help me geek out!

Ars Magica

Ars Magica by Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen from Lion Rampant, circa 1989 “A distant eye is fixed upon you. Somewhere in the black night outside your tower another wizard is using arcane lore to spy on you, and you have sensed the intrusion. Beware …”