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A universal mecha system about big heroes, fast pacing and dramatic plays for fans of mecha anime.
A universal mecha system about big heroes, fast pacing and dramatic plays for fans of mecha anime.
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To Grit or Not to Grit

Yesterday I had a conversation about using BCG to run something with a more western feel. Yes, we were discussing a Gritty BCG Mod. It has always been an idea that kept bouncing around but I never quite decided whether to go ahead with it or not. I figured it might be worth bringing up today for our first poll.

The most fundamental aspect of RPG Design is figuring out the experience you want to create at the table, it does not matter how good your rules are if you use them to create a tone and mood they are not suited for. So while BCG is very good at what it does, which is giant robots and over-the-top cinematic action, you really don't want to use it to run a game about surviving in the wilderness or solving murder mysteries. Not even if those games have robots! Because BCG is about action, and the more action you have the less that your game is about survival or mystery, while at the same time trying to double down harder on the survival or mystery means you are wasting the most fun part of the rules - the combat rules.

Point is, good rules systems need a focus. Not even the most universal of universal RPGs is all things to all people at all times forever. With that said, universal systems do have an advantage in that they are very flexible, so with a little bit of hacking away unneeded parts and bolting on some new ones they can be repurposed pretty effectively. Half the reason I'm writing BCZ is to make BCG more universal; Not only are there oh so many more things you can do with stylish anime action than giant robots, but it is possible with a minimum of rewriting as well! At this point I've pretty much played more non-robot games with my own mecha rules system than games about piloting giant robots. That's not hyperbole, it really is a thing that has happened. It works that well.

We can substitute BCG's giant robots for summoned monsters, battleships, magical girls, kamen riders, goofy card games, or whatever you want. That's fairly easy. But what about substituting the anime part for something more western? Something grittier, and I dare say more *gasp* realistic. Considering that the game has getting beat-up as a way to get stronger as one of its most fundamental mechanics, surely this nonsense reveals that I have finally gone mad with power? No. Not really, but it does mean I'm mad enough to consider renovating the house until the walking tanks feel more at home than the super robots, so to speak.

Everything comes from somewhere, though. Battle Century Z is going to have plenty of small tweaks to let you do the things mentioned at the start of the above paragraph, but it only has room for three large system modifications. Each of them would be around 10 pages (so roughly a third of the book between all three) and two of them are already spoken for. The first is the Fantasy Mod, replacing everything having to do with modern technology with magical equivalents, expanding what you can do with Miracles, and adding elemental magic to the repertoire of weapons. The second is the Horror Mod where the monsters erode the sanity of PCs, Character death is one accident around the corner, and the only way to get stronger is to turn into a monster yourself.

I was originally not going to have a third Mod, but rather I was going to write advice on how to further tweak the game, writing your own rules or mixing and matching the many additions in the book to create your own, like the Houseruling section (p. 133) of the Battle Century G Preview. For example, you take the elemental magic weapons from the Fantasy Mod together with the Henshin rules, and you have a game about human-sized superheroes. That's a really obvious one, but there's a lot of connections that aren't quite so evident and I could go in length about them. Or I could write a third Mod, the Grit Mod. It is a tough choice to make. Good thing I don't have to make it entirely by myself.

So I want to hear your opinion. I can give one of the two options my full attention, and the other one will get to make sporadic appearances throughout the book in sidebars, but it won't have multiple pages of content to itself. This is the kind of update where I'm really interested in anything you might have to say, so all comments are welcome.


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    1. Gegenschein Games Creator on

      We are definitely going to keep that in mind, John. The poll is primarily to gauge whether one option is vastly more popular than the others, not to take the decision off our shoulders entirely.

    2. John Palmer on

      I think a grit mod would be more useful than a houserules section. Houserules build on the existing content and are almost inevitable -- and if any sort of at-all active community springs up around the game, then they're going to swap houserules with each other anyway. But with a third mod, that provides more base content for people to build houserules off of in the first place, which is more valuable in the long run.

    3. Gegenschein Games Creator on

      The general Houseruling section would have some of the better ideas of the Mod. Likewise, if we go for the Mod we'll keep some of the general modifications. It just won't have the depth that it would have had otherwise.

      Having both as a stretch is... technically possible. I would love to do EVERYTHING but we will have to see if it is reasonably possible.

    4. Missing avatar

      devilmaydry on

      I'd really enjoy having the grit mod, personally. I'd like it over having a house ruling section, even. Although it could possibly be a stretch goal if you get that far, I suppose.

    5. Missing avatar

      Raymond Webster on

      I think a Houseruling section would be more useful than a third Mod, because it could potentially encompass some of the advice that would have gone into the Realistic Mod section.

      Definitely keep the fantasy and horror ones, though (not just because I want to run a Masoukishin / Dunbine campaign at some point)

    6. Alex Norris

      I'd honestly much rather have fantasy, grit and modding guidelines. I've got zero interest in the horror mod. :(