Giant Mecha’s in Pathfinder Gaming

My name’s Bo Luellen, and I’m the co-author of The Keswick Player’s Handbook along with Johnny McLain.  The KPH brings to life a gaming world I started creating back in 1996.  Among the many pop culture references I draw from, the concept of the giant monsters from the Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and Gamera film franchises is one of my most beloved.  As a kid I combed through the old TV Guides to see if there was going to be a Godzilla movie playing on one of the five stations we had.  For you kids that are reading this, let me repeat; we had only five tv stations to watch.  This might be shocking to you, but life was just as exciting without a smart phone.

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1974 Mechagodzilla from the movie Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

From Film to Function

As I began the process of writing the KPH, I started looking at just how one would work a godlike monster that dwarfed the Tarrasque into a OGC Pathfinder supplement.  The power of a Kaiju (giant Japanese monster) could lay waste to any city, and literally become a world breaker.  To make these beasts work within the rules while preserving an element of fun was a challenge.  How could I make a giant Mecha work in the mechanics of a game without driving the players and the GM nuts?  The answer was, “The 1 to 100 rule.

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Mogera from the 1994 movie Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla

The 1 to 100 Rule

In the concept stages of game design, our team had to come up with a way for a player and a GM to have a rules system for combat and movement.  We shifted from a super complicated system down to a simple one.  In the simplest terms here is the mechanic that Johnny and I came up with:

  • The 1 to 100 rule says that 1 point of damage from a Kaiju or Mecha will do 100 points of damage to a non-kaiju/mecha creature, and it takes 100 points of damage from a non-kaiju/mecha creature to do one point of damage to a Kaiju or Mecha.  The Kaiju or Mecha have this same rule placed on several aspects of their build.  This makes a single step by the behemoths deadly to anything under foot.

This rule allows a sense of awe for these amazing monsters, while allowing room for a d20 combat system.  This mechanic is much more in depth than this, but this is the essential concept.

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Red Typhon, Gypsy Danger and Cherno Alpha from the 2013 movie Pacific Rim.

How is A Mecha Possible in the Arthurian Keswick Setting?

The setting of Keswick began being designed in 2003 when I ran a two year long game in Tulsa Oklahoma.  During that time I introduced an ancient race of Keswickians who’s technology had been forgotten by time.  In subsequent adventures, the players uncovered underground ruins that had left over technology that they were utilize.  As the game went on, by 2015 the players helped me flesh out a complete catacomb of an ancient city that housed the fabled Marcavis, the first Mecha I created, which was used to defend the nation against a Kaiju.  To quote Pacific Rim, the players had found some truth in these words:
Stacker Pentecost: Today. Today… At the edge of our hope, at the end of our time, we have chosen not only to believe in ourselves, but in each other. Today there is not a man nor woman in here that shall stand alone. Not today. Today we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them! Today, we are *canceling* the apocalypse!”  

There are several ways for Players to pilot a Mecha.  By visiting the city of Zanfan, the home of the Mecha excavation and R&D, the PC’s get to see the wonder of the ancient world.  Mecha’s as small as a horse or the 200 foot tall ancient wonders are on display.  If you have the right training, you could pilot one of these and defend The Relam from one of the 13 Kaiju that inhabit the land.

For more information:
Keswick Players Handbook on Facebook
Bo Luelen on Facebook
More on the upcoming writings of Bo Luellen