Mechs?


General Discussion


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I understand that Starfinder hasn't been around for very long (and is on a somewhat slow production schedule compared to Pathfinder), so there's only so much content that can be churned out at any given moment, but I've noticed one glaring omission from its roster of options:

Giant mecha.
Sure enough we have starships, vehicles and power armor, but no MECHS.

Mecha fiction is practically its own sub-genre of sci-fi fiction, especially as far as manga/anime and video games are concerned.
Whether it's Battletech, Mobile Suit Gundam, Pacific Rim or even the upcoming RPG Lancer, people love their giant robots.

And with Starfinder's particular blend of science-fantasy, you could get some really great designs going - and who doesn't enjoy the idea of a mech that can cast spells?

And last but not least, a tie-in giant mecha adventure path where you fight kaiju would just be too damn perfect.


Powered Armor is pretty much their stand-in for mechs, as they can go up to colossal size. The biggest we have in the books so far is gargantuan (32-64'), but some people are understandably unsatisfied the way they've been modeled.


Sauce987654321 wrote:
Powered Armor is pretty much their stand-in for mechs, as they can go up to colossal size. The biggest we have in the books so far is gargantuan (32-64'), but some people are understandably unsatisfied the way they've been modeled.

So what kind of adaptive rules would we need for something like twin-pilot Jaegers like Gypsy Danger (Pacific Rim movie) that stands at 288'?


Rohne wrote:
Sauce987654321 wrote:
Powered Armor is pretty much their stand-in for mechs, as they can go up to colossal size. The biggest we have in the books so far is gargantuan (32-64'), but some people are understandably unsatisfied the way they've been modeled.
So what kind of adaptive rules would we need for something like twin-pilot Jaegers like Gypsy Danger (Pacific Rim movie) that stands at 288'?

While I don't think Paizo would make Powered Armor require 2 pilots, as that's more of a vehicle thing in this game, I can offer how I think they would do it.

It would be Colossal size, obviously, but it probably would have access to all the abilities that the pilots have while using their highest statistics and modifiers between the 2 pilots, while still acting as a single creature.


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I'd worry that if they brought in Mechs, that would end up being all the game was about.


Yeah, part of the reason I'm actually anti-mech is that in most settings that include them, they are portrayed as being the only real viable combat option despite being impressively impractical. If they were very specifically balanced for a specific use, I'd be more into the idea but they almost never are.

Introducing mechs as a new equipment category would shift focus away from some things that really need more love, like the other non-starship vehicles (I still can't have a viable motorcycle at most levels).

In the end, I'm much happier to leave scratching the mech-itch with oversized power armor.


Master Han Del of the Web wrote:

Yeah, part of the reason I'm actually anti-mech is that in most settings that include them, they are portrayed as being the only real viable combat option despite being impressively impractical. If they were very specifically balanced for a specific use, I'd be more into the idea but they almost never are.

Introducing mechs as a new equipment category would shift focus away from some things that really need more love, like the other non-starship vehicles (I still can't have a viable motorcycle at most levels).

In the end, I'm much happier to leave scratching the mech-itch with oversized power armor.

The reason that they're the only viable option in some settings is because the Mechs themselves are higher level than any other vehicle and individual that can pilot them. It's really no different than CR1 soldiers piloting tanks and fighter jets; they're not meant to be equals in this circumstance.

If you want them balanced, then you have to keep them around the levels that PCs are currently at, so they won't really outperform anybody else.

Conceptually, mechs and powered armor are the same thing, except it's not called a "mech."

Wayfinders

As a player of Battletech for 30+ years, I do not miss mechs in SF. Now if we could figure out a scout walker like the AT-PT from Star Wars or the Sentinel from 40K, those could be usable on the scales we are talking about in SF.


I would think Power Armor is like what Paladin Danse wears in Fallout 4: http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0001/8861/2640/products/7P2B4539-R_1200x63 0.jpg?v=1557257230

And a Mech is like what Ripley wore in Aliens (granted, it was an industrial powerlifter for cargo - not combat):

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e4/02/b6/e402b608086affff0f5450a3cef157c9.jp g

Are these the correct descriptors, or is something else meant by "Power Armor" and "Mech"?

Wayfinders

Mechs in Battletech range from 20 to 100 tons and are from 6-12 meters in height. Think of the Transformers or the war machines from Pacific Rim. The smallest would still be much bigger than the Empire's walkers in Return of the Jedi.


Ripley's powerlifter's equivalent is SF is quite explicitly the Cargo Lifter power armor. And the main resaon it's included in the first place, I'm guessing.
We have walker vehicles, for your AT-ST/Sentinel needs, but this is not one of them.

For that matter, the distinction between big power armor and small mechs is kind of blurry thing, at best.
The first needed step would be an actual definition of what a mech is, in-setting.
We have Gargantuan armor and Huge walkers. Both could qualify. Which is more mech like ?


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Adding mechs into Starfinder could only be 1 of 2 ways in my opinion.

1) You make a system like the Starship system, and everyone gets a mech with build points.

2) You make them work off the vehicle rules.

I think the second option would be very dissatisfying.

But doing the first would be a major undertaking.


Claxon wrote:

Adding mechs into Starfinder could only be 1 of 2 ways in my opinion.

1) You make a system like the Starship system, and everyone gets a mech with build points.

2) You make them work off the vehicle rules.

I think the second option would be very dissatisfying.

But doing the first would be a major undertaking.

I mean number 2 is only dissatisfying if you view the entire creature scale for vehicles and such as dissatisfying.

Making them starship scale is nice and dandy and all, and it's probably a lot more simple. However, what people need to understand is that if you want Mechs to participate in ground combat or fight against Kaiju on ground, they need to be creature scale to effectively do so. There's no two ways about it.

Making them starship scale works, if you only plan on using them in space. Otherwise, you'll be doing much more unnecessary work.


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Starfinder Superscriber

I can't think of an example of a mech in other media that wouldn't qualify as either a vehicle, power armor, creature, or starship in the framework of the Starfinder rules. We have examples of all them. So, from where I'm sitting, we already have mechs.

What people seem to be asking for, though, is the ability to fly around in a gundam at level 1, and I don't think it would be healthy for any of the other aspects of the game if you allowed that. You'd basically need a separate game for that.


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Yeah, I don't get what makes a 20 ft.+ tall mecha covered in weapons and modified with various mods not count as a mech. Game already has mech rules.

What do people want from mecha rules that isn't already present that isn't better represented by expanding the power armour options?


Milo v3 wrote:

Yeah, I don't get what makes a 20 ft.+ tall mecha covered in weapons and modified with various mods not count as a mech. Game already has mech rules.

What do people want from mecha rules that isn't already present that isn't better represented by expanding the power armour options?

My guess is they don't want a level 5 driver in a level 15 gargantuan power armor suit to have a tiny HP pool and be really inaccurate with their integrated weapons.


Xenocrat wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:

Yeah, I don't get what makes a 20 ft.+ tall mecha covered in weapons and modified with various mods not count as a mech. Game already has mech rules.

What do people want from mecha rules that isn't already present that isn't better represented by expanding the power armour options?

My guess is they don't want a level 5 driver in a level 15 gargantuan power armor suit to have a tiny HP pool and be really inaccurate with their integrated weapons.

True that weapon attacks are like this, whether it's in a starship, vehicle, or powered armor, but I actually don't mind the smaller HP pool. It can make sense that the pilot gets killed before the mech gets destroyed, while this is very difficult to do in other modes of combat.


Xenocrat wrote:
My guess is they don't want a level 5 driver in a level 15 gargantuan power armor suit to have a tiny HP pool and be really inaccurate with their integrated weapons.

Well that's not gonna change. The game isn't going to give you the power of a 15th level character when you're 5th level. If you try to use gear outside of their expected levels, they're not going to be appropriate. Closest you're going to get to this is starships being allowed to dish out more damage than appropriate for your level but that's because starships have a separate combat system to the rest of the game.

You'll just have to accept that you're playing a level based system.


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We do have fancy powered armor options coming up. Still not "mecha" enough for the crowd, I expect, but intriguing nonetheless.
The prototype armor mechanic sounds very iron man-y, but you could just as well make it protagonist kid and her scrap mech from the lesser Pacific Rim.

I don't see the worth in making an entire mech subsystem.
We have power armour, we have vehicles, and we have ships.
I know there's dozens of very different takes on mechs depending on the media, settings etc, but one of those should fit your needs. No need to limit yourself to only one either, different models could follow different rules.

What could be interesting is just simply more of what we have.
We already have walkers, fairly basic, probably more Sentinel/AT-ST/Goliath than true mechs in spirit, but they're there. And they follow basic vehicle rules.
Let's get more.
Maybe a bipedal mech specific trait or something, if needed ?
I'd be more interested in that kind of stuff, if anything.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I mean between power armor and vehicles I really feel like this is already covered. I get that there aren't a whole ton of Powered Armor options above Large, but they do exist. I have a feeling if we get an Armory 2 that you would likely see more Powered Armor variations (including more "Mech-like" ones) and more Vehicles too.


Armory 2 idea, a powered armor that polymorphs into a vehicle. :D


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Toxicsyn wrote:
Armory 2 idea, a powered armor that polymorphs into a vehicle. :D

Extra big Maze-Cores!


Hopefully Armory 2 (if it's actually a thing) will have colossal sized powered armor this time since they didn't want to do it in the first one. Definitely more vehicles, too. I feel like these two are the most lacking in variety.


Starfinder Superscriber

Collossal power armor is going to have the same fundamental problem that the Garguantuan (and other large ones) do. It's going to need to be high level because of its relative power and therefore unavailable to most people in most games.

Wayfinders

Just treat mechs like starships, too big/expensive for individuals [usually]. Make them something issued as needed.


pithica42 wrote:
Collossal power armor is going to have the same fundamental problem that the Garguantuan (and other large ones) do. It's going to need to be high level because of its relative power and therefore unavailable to most people in most games.

That is to be expected, but there still should be at least one that's colossal sized to fill the empty space.


So how would one create a Mech like in the movie Avatar or Matrix?

1. Avatar - specifically like the Mitsubishi MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform (or "AMP" suit).
https://james-camerons-avatar.fandom.com/wiki/Amplified_Mobility_Platform

2. Matrix - another type of this kind of Mech would be the APU (Armored Personnel Unit) in the Matrix movies (most prominently in the Matrix Revolutions):
https://matrix.fandom.com/wiki/Armored_Personnel_Unit

Is there something like this in the Armory or would we use Starship construction rules? Or any homebrew suggestions to make it?


I'd consider both of those power armor, or maybe walker type vehicles.
The tactical walker could fit, as a base, though it's probably bigger.

I'd only consider shipbuilding rules for ship sized things, and those are, what, people Huge at best ?
If you can interact significantly with it while on foot, it really shouldn't be a ship, as I don't think we have rules for punching ships (might be wrong). Those two seem somewhat puncheable.


Rohne wrote:
So how would one create a Mech like in the movie Avatar or Matrix?

That's just any large power armour, they're only like 4 metres in height.


Per John Compton's request, I shall revive this thread.

So I mentioned this in passing in the opening post, but I want to expand upon it a bit more - Starfinder-specific mech designs!

Much like with starships, it would be amazing to see mechs that tap into Starfinder's existing aesthetics and design language, with different mech manufacturers sporting different styles of mechs that harken back to different styles in pre-existing mecha fiction.

Consider these examples:
- Veskarium mechs that resemble clunky-and-gritty mechs (a'la Battletech or VOTOMS), the true warmachines with WW2-esque aesthetics (and on a mechanical level, probably bearing the highest kinetic firepower and armor, but not much else).

- Stewards' slightly sleeker blue mechs, featuring more lasers and fancy tech than those made by the Veskarium, used more for peacekeeping than full-on warfare (thus probably also smaller on average than the vesk-made stuff).

- Hellknights, Knights of Golarion and other knightly factions would obviously feature mechs that resemble oversized suits of knight armor (and the "superhero" style of mechs) and plenty of magitech (and just pure magic, really).
Hellknight mechs specifically could even take inspiration from the designs of some larger devils like barbazus or pit fiends, and similarly KoG's mechs could be made in the image of celestials such as archons.

- Xenowarden mechs - you wouldn't think that Xenowardens would manufacture (or rather, grow) mechs, and indeed many Xenowarden mechs might not even look like mechs until activated, disguised as trees or other large plants in the environment, more sentient than most other types of mechs, almost like piloted treants.

- Eoxian mechs that look like oversized corpses, powered by necromancy and outfitted with more bones and rotting bodyparts than you can count? Yes please.

- Ramshackle space pirate/Cult of the Devourer/ysoki mechs that barely hold together, intimidating equally because of their firepower, appearance, and likelihood of exploding? Why not!

- Plain weird Dominion of the Black/cultist mechs that defy understanding of their functioning and origin to all but their pilots?

And that's probably just scratching the surface - Pathfinder Society explorer-mechs, Abadar-blessed AbadarCorp mechs, strange biological barathu mechs, ancient Kasathan mechs, darkness-infused drow mechs? There's room for all this and more!


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I would like to see mechs show up in the rules, as well, but I also think that using the existing rules framework with a few alterations might be the way to go. This way each rule set would get to explore the concept of mechs in their own niche environment as new manufactured models for each rule set.

For example, vehicle-like mechs would be like piloting new models of vehicles that resemble humanoids and would work much like other vehicles with a pilot or two or three. Space-going, colossal mechs would work like starships with a whole crew and might even resemble a fusion of mechs with the grappler ships from "Outlaw Star" that rely on the whole crew to work together. Smaller, one-manned mechs would be more like high-level, oversized power armor. At higher levels, we might even have 5th and/or 6th level spells that create temporary "mechs" for spellcasters. For that matter, Technomancers could get a whole slew of spells to buff and/or debuff mechs of various types throughout their spell levels. This isn't even getting into archetype, theme, and feat options for all the potential mech pilot characters out there.

I also really like the idea of various different aesthetics and avenues for the creation of mechs that RiverMesa mentioned.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm a fan of Vehicles in general so I support more options and it would let people use Piloting checks instead of BAB for some attacks too ala the rules in Attack of the Swarm Book 6's Military Vehicles article too.

That said, I don't really see the need for a new category of equipment for "mech" when Vehicles and Powered Armor exist.


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Starfinder Superscriber

I've yet to see anyone suggest a way to fairly incorporate a mecha into the rules that either isn't a high level item (a la the existing huge and larger power armor) or isn't completely broken.

I really don't think you can do a mecha of that type that both works for a first level character (without breaking the game entirely) and also feels like what people are asking for.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
pithica42 wrote:

I've yet to see anyone suggest a way to fairly incorporate a mecha into the rules that either isn't a high level item (a la the existing huge and larger power armor) or isn't completely broken.

I really don't think you can do a mecha of that type that both works for a first level character (without breaking the game entirely) and also feels like what people are asking for.

I can think of one way, more or less, but it probably isn't what people here would want: variant starship rules. Which means, yes, your mecha *is* notably more powerful than the typical vehicle for your level. It also means your ability to attack infantry and vehicle scale targets will be more limited. You are an extremely durable war machine, but also a war machine that smaller scale foes can avoid.


pithica42 wrote:

I've yet to see anyone suggest a way to fairly incorporate a mecha into the rules that either isn't a high level item (a la the existing huge and larger power armor) or isn't completely broken.

I really don't think you can do a mecha of that type that both works for a first level character (without breaking the game entirely) and also feels like what people are asking for.

I'm not sure what people are exactly asking for when this is suggested. I'm not being difficult about it, I genuinely don't.

Just off the top of my head, it sounds like a game where your encounters are substantially higher level than your APL, but your gear is as well to compensate. The GM would run a Homebrew setting and designing appropriate encounters while completely ignoring WBL.

Idk, maybe someone will explain it more.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
NightTrace wrote:

I'm a fan of Vehicles in general so I support more options and it would let people use Piloting checks instead of BAB for some attacks too ala the rules in Attack of the Swarm Book 6's Military Vehicles article too.

That said, I don't really see the need for a new category of equipment for "mech" when Vehicles and Powered Armor exist.

I wasn't suggesting a new category of equipment. Rather, I was suggesting that "Mech" would be more of a sub-type of existing equipment. (i.e. Mech Vehicles, Mech Starships, etc.)


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"Mech" is still way too broad a concept.
We got power armors, a lot of which are large, with 1 Huge and 1 Gargantuan. That's a mech, by some definition.
We have a couple walker type vehicles. That too is a mech, by some definition. The ones we have so far are more AT-ST than Gundam, admittedly, but the rules still work.

Fiction gives us mechs anywhere from barely bigger than their pilots to comparable to SF's biggest ships.
Some transform, many don't, others are gd megazords. Some are lumbering giants, moving slowly and deliberately, while others are oversized ninjas.
Most are crewed by a single pilot, to the point it's almost the one defining constant of what a mech is. But that's not quite an absolute rule

So. More bipedal vehicles, more power armour, sure. And that's gonna happen organically anyway, I bet.
I don't really see the point of ship-like mechs, but small ones, maybe ?
Specific mech rules, though... What for ? What does it bring to the game we don't already have ?


pithica42 wrote:

I've yet to see anyone suggest a way to fairly incorporate a mecha into the rules that either isn't a high level item (a la the existing huge and larger power armor) or isn't completely broken.

I really don't think you can do a mecha of that type that both works for a first level character (without breaking the game entirely) and also feels like what people are asking for.

Pretty sure you do it with the existing vehicle rules, but slightly expanded (and a higher WBL)


You can easily make Mecha in SF using the existing rules with just a few modifications. I would recommend starship mecha from levels 1-6, power armor mecha from level 7+, vehicle mecha from levels 9+, or back again to power armor mecha for levels 12+.

Spoiler:
In Dawn of Flame, Fire Starters, there is a good example of a starship combat against a kaiju threat. The augmented fire whale is normally CR 16, while its starship form was like Tier 1/4.

Design humanoid vehicles and starships. Give starships and vehicles melee attack options. Use the living starship monsters as ideas for weapon mounts and facing rules.

High level game play is probably going to be teams of power armored suited PCs fighting against colossal threats and that one naked star shaman throwing magic missiles at the big bad. IF that is the kind of campaign you want to run.


Ordinary vehicles are easier to be repaired.

A exo-suit, powered armor or a mecha for gameplay effects works as a monster template or a construct as monster ally.

How to explain it better with an example? Let's imagine a videogame where the first enemy is only a goblin, easy to be killed. The next target is other goblin, the same monster start but now riding a motocycle. Then the fight is harder. Later a gobing with an exosuit as in the videogame Call of Duty: Advanced Warfer, a powered armor as Iron Man, Anthem or Fallout, and the last enemy within a mecha like that final boss, Pretty Boy, in the Borderlars 3 DLC (Moxxxi's Heist on the Handsome Jackpot).

¿Do you understand? Enemies with "extra help" need a different Challenge Rating or XPs value.


I'm ambivalent towards mechs in general (I personally think they would be extremely impractical, but no moreso than countless other aspects of science fantasy). If they are added then I hope they are added into an existing system (tactical rules or starship rules) rather than making a new subsystem.

I would also be concerned about the impacts on the setting. For example, Daimalko is a perfect setting for mechs, but for the Pact Worlds there has been no mention (that I am aware of) of mechs at all so far. I'm not saying there couldn't be specialized mech units in the various militaries of the Pact Worlds, just that it would be jarring if they suddenly became a major part of the setting.

Some people seem to want mechs to be both available at all levels and simultaneously more powerful than existing options. I think this would be a detriment to the game, since (as others have mentioned) it would sideline anyone not using a mech, and the setting really doesn't seem suited to wide availability of mechs.

Anyways, those are my thoughts. I'm not saying mechs shouldn't be added or anything (giant robots are pretty rad, after all), just that I am concerned that it would be very difficult to add them in a way that both satisfies mech enthusiasts and doesn't disrupt the existing setting.

I do think it would be cool to have suits of power armor capable of acting as predefined ships in starship combat, though.

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