The Game: Mechamorphosis
The Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Degree of Familiarity: Not much, picked it up during a sale but haven't done more than use it for inspiration
Books Required: Mechamorphosis and the D&D Player's Handbook v3.5 or equivalent
Fantasy Flight Games has a lot of notable titles to its name: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Dark Heresy, Anima: Beyond Fantasy, Fireborn, Dawnforge, Midnight, and Grimm are the ones that see the most discussion. They've demonstrated that they know what they're doing with an icosahedron. Their Horizon line of mini-D20 RPGs all clock in around 60 pages plus covers, and twist D20 to a specific genre.
These games are on sale at DriveThruRPG for five US dollars each. Which is about the right price that I'd buy them all as an impulse purchase. So I did. (I also snapped up an electronic copy of Fireborn, but that comes later).
Mechamorphosis is an unlicensed d20 take on Transformers. Peppered with quotes that could come from the original characters and art that evokes the boxart of the original toys, the setting files off the serial numbers—and only lightly at that. The power-hungry Tyrants, lead by Vorpal (who does indeed turn into a personal weapon, in this case a sword) followed the Exiles and Animechs to Earth, hoping to suck the planet's resources dry. Only the Exiles and Animechs can stand against them. The book, though short, makes me feel like a kid again.
Let's go for it. The game includes a number of mechanical tweaks given that most
I need to rank the folliwng areas on a 1-5 scale: Alt form, Form feats, Ability Scores, Powers, Gear. Time to come up with a concept. I like the idea of one of the movie figures: a heavy tow truck that becomes a heavily-armored soldier with a BFG. Slow, strong, but still a decent shot.
Flicking forwards to the alt form design chapter, a heavy tow truck only requires Priority 1. That's good to know. I'll come back to this in step 3. I want decent ability scores (Priority 5) and lots of gear (Priority 4). I drop priority 2 in Power and 3 into Form Feats.
Priority 5 gives me 36 points to play with on a weirdly nonlinear scale. All stats start at 8. I want high Str and Con, decent Dex, fair Int, decent Will, and fair Cha.
Str 16 (10)
Dex 14 (6)
Con 16 (10)
Int 10 (2)
Wil 14 (6)
Cha 10 (2)
Sorted. Onward and upward!
Vehicles are possibly the easiest alt form to deal with. I'm going with a heavy tow truck for purposes of disguise. Fun trick: Vehicles have speeds in three scales: character scale, where each relative square is 10' and agility is prioritised over speed; surface scale, where each square is 50'; and air scale, where each square is 500'. It's an elegant way of handling vastly different speeds.
As a heavy pickup, this character's Size is Huge, his base move is 8, surface scale speed is 18, air scale speed is 2, and the actual top speed is 102 MPH. Maneuverability is Average, acceleration is 2/.5, and he can mount 4 weapons and 4 tech items.
Alt form size sets character size overall, so in robot mode I'm rocking an AC/Attack modifier of -2, 2d6 unarmed damage, +8 Grapple modifier, and a -8 Stealth & fine manupulation modifier. That's the sort of thing that only really matters in play, and it's in a nice easy table for speed of reference.
There's four classes on offer. Controller is for the Soundwave and Blaster ripoffs, characters who have smaller minions. Scientists are researchers. Scouts are stealth & disguise types. Soldiers bring the pain. That'll be the one I'm after, then. Hit die is d12, which means I start with 15HP (going by the standard max-hit-die-at-first-level thing).
Finally, I get a class ability. Built to Last and Defender look like ccool trees, as does Marksmech. I buy in to the Defender tree, letting me protect smaller bots by forcing all attacks on one smaller ally to target me. Cool.
Skill Points & Feats
The skill list for this game is nicely condensed, which helps. Class skills are Athletics, Build/Repair (Simple), Disguise, Knowledge (Warfare), Pilot, Profession, and Senses. I get 8 Skill Points, so I raise Athletics and Pilot to 4 each. Proficient with simple and martial archaic weapons and firearms. Cool.
I get one feat at first level. Point Blank Shot opens up a whole range of options for ranged combat.
Lots of options for bonus feats, so I'll look at those when I'm flicking through the Feat section. Right now, Mounted Weapons looks good, letting me fire all linked weapons each turn, though as off-hand attacks it might be a better idea to save that one until I've got enough BAB for it to matter. For now, I'll go with Rapid Shot.
I also have 6 Form Feats from assigning priorities. High Performance helps when driving in combat, Concealed Weapon allows me to hide guns in vehicle form, and Mounted Weapons gives me a chance to use everything. Two points of Armor Boost, and save one for last.
With two power ranks, I can pick up the Force Shield power (akin to the Shield spell). I can generate a shield that gives +4 AC for up to 1 minute each day. Other special powers include being a triple-changer or combiner, or even a Headmaster-type thing. It's really quite varied.
12 points to spend on weapons and tech. I'm skipping Tech for now—that's all stuff for making a stand-out alt mode, when I'm really just here for the weapons. I blow one point on getting two Martial Archaic Melee weapons: the towing arm can be configured as a glaive or an axe as the situation requires. Given that I'm making a Huge character, I increase the damage accordingly.
For ranged combat, I take a missile salvo launcher for 8 points, mounted on the right shoulder. It's a big gun that does a big amount of explosive damage to just about everyone. Not wonderfully useful at this point, but getting levels will help out with that. With the remaining three points, I'll take a multi-function slugthrower. In addition to decent damage, it can chuck status effects around with wild abandon. The slugthrower is my concealed weapon, usable in vehicle and robot modes.
I know that I've hardly got the perfect build for a ranged combatant, but it's emulating the source material: you have to be able to fight at any range if you're a soldier. Like all Horizon games, the emphasis is more on concept than the perfect build—something I like.
I think I'm done. All I need is a name. Bulwark sounds about right. Big, tough, untested in combat yet, but that's only a matter of time. Bloody good at fighting, but he's enjoying his alternate form too much; driving around is a lot of fun on this new world, and he's loath to give that up to fight.
Alt Form: Tow truck
Strength 16 (+3)
Dexterity 14 (+2)
Constitution 16 (+3)
Intelligence 10 (0)
Wisdom 14 (+2)
Charisma 10 (0)
Hit Points: 15
Base Attack Bonus: +0
Armour Boost x2
Point Blank Shot
1 unspent Form Feat
Traits and Powers
Base Move (10'): 8
Top speed (50'): 18
Top speed (500'): 2
Battleaxe (3d6, x3)
Glaive (3d8, x3, 2h)
Missile salvo launcher (3d6, 19-20/x3, 50-500ft)
Slugthrower (2d6, x2, 0-100ft, special ammo)