Wait, I could... nah. I'm not going to do Cyberpunk 2020, because then I'd spend four hours speaking the kind of truth that annoys a certain section of gamers (usually, the fans of whatever game I'm decrying). So, the list. I want to save some of the rules-light stuff like Cold City, and too much crunch will kill me.
I have an idea:
The Game: True20
The Publisher: Green Ronin
Degree of Familiarity: I've played a singled test game, and the great supplements have already put True20 up into the area of "universal games I'd be happy to use". It's d20 done right.
Books Required: True20, and Mecha vs. Kaiju. I'll explain soon.
The system that would be True20 was initially used for Blue Rose, a wonderful game designed for playing romantic fantasy—more Mercedes Lackey than Robert E. Howard. Though praised, a minority of gamers slammed the game either for the setting being "an unrealistic left-wing utopia". Because all overarching social structures must be nasty unless they're paying the characters to commit genocide, and a culture where all sexualities are accepted and seen as normal are inherently evil. Sometimes, gamers sicken me.
True20 was later released as a generic system. It's a good slimming down of d20 into a light generic system, though I'd go a little further: trim the skill list down a little further, and change critical hits. Unfortunately, True20 runs off the standard idea that a 20 is merely a "threat" and the attack must still hit. I'd go with something more like D&D 4e's critical rules, personally.
The first edition of True20 included the rules and four sample settings: Caliphate Knights, fantasy roleplaying in the golden age of Islam; Lux Æternum, a swashbuckling space opera; Borrowed Time, a modern game of kung-fu and time-bending; and Mecha vs. Kaiju, a game of giant robots beating up Godzilla. The revised edition dumps those settings in favour of incorporating the material from the True20 Companion, including genre-specific systems for modern, horror, fantasy, and SF games, along with role-creation rules. The Companion material is nice, but it doesn't involve giant robots beating up Godzilla.
Lux Æternum, Caliphate Nights, and Mecha vs. Kaiju have since been released as fully detailed settings. Given that True20 is a very generic system, I need a setting to play with for this character, and MvK it is. The full campaign setting includes enough rules for a GM to come up with every kind of giant Tokyo-stomping monster he can imagine, while players design and pilot their own mecha. It's kinda Tokyo Storm Warning as an RPG, or like Gundam Zeta with Gojira as a guest star.
Ah, hell. You don't need me to tell you this. The title's all you need. If you've seen a Godzilla film, you know what this is all about already. A giant monster is stomping Tokyo. You have a big robot. Go punch the fucker until it goes back to where it came from, or until there's enough deep-fried calamari to feed Western Europe (assuming someone can fill the Mediterranean with tartar sauce.
Now I have an idea: set the game in Glasgow instead, and play it for laughs. I want to see someone asking Mothra if its mother can sew, and wielding a five-storey bottle of Buckfast. Told you I was knackered.
Concept is the sort of thing that comes out in the wash, but for starters: Flying Officer Anthony Dashwood of the Royal Air Force. Actually a bit of an embarrasment to the RAF; he's a bloody good pilot but has no head for the bigger picture. They've farmed him out on this "staff exchange" with Japan's Mecha Assault Force. It keeps him out of the RAF's hair while making sure he's useful. Tall, sandy brown hair, piercing green eyes and a handlebar moustache that would make Lord Kitchener proud. He acts quite the stuffed-shirt, but all his buffoonery is a show. Whether his opponents are ninjas, or giant atomic monsters he's quite deadly, though the strange powers of the mind displayed by some adepts—and the Shinto spirit-talkers—leave him quite baffled. He'd rather leave that sort of thing to the experts until they can tell him who the blighters are that he needs to shoot, what?
10 points to split between the d20 Abilities. Fortunately, True20 dispenses with the dumb notion of having Ability Scores and Ability Modifiers separate. Human average is 0, max is +5. So. Dexterity is required for both Pilot and all ranged combat, while Wisdom is all about sensory and situational awareness. I figure he's affable enough, but not concerned by what he doesn't know. I leave Strength and Intelligence at 0, put four points into Dexterity, three into Wisdom, two into Constitution, and one into Charisma.
Everyone in MvK is human. I don't know if this means that the Human background comes into play, or if that only applies when measuring humans against other backgrounds. The Companion doesn't help, assuming as it does that the GM will have a range of backgrounds open to characters based entirely on profession. If only the archetypes expanded into backgrounds...
I'm going to assume that I should use the Human background. That gives me one free skill, and two Favoured Feats. These are Feats that I can pick up at any level, no matter what Role I go for. Evasion and Skill Mastery both look like decent choices; especially the former.
This much is easy: Warriors are the ones who bring the pain, and are best suited to those with a military bearing. Flying Officer Dashwood had such a bearing, which he tossed in the air and caught.
Warriors get Determination, the ability to shrug off all Bruised and Hurt damage with a point of Conviction. I get 4 + Int skills, and four feats—one of which must be either Armor Training (Light) or Firearms Training. I select the latter.
I note the +1 Combat Bonus, the +2 Fort save, and the +0 Reputation, and move on. As a first-level hero, Anthony has 3 Conviction points
At this point, the game goes into the stuff I've defined in Concept above: name, age, all that crap. All MvK characters have an Archetype, based around standard roles in anime and manga. Playing to Archetype gives back Conviction. I think that Flying Officer Dashwood appears to be a Fool most of the time. Looking over the list, I pick "Misjudged" for a Virtue, and Oafish for a Vice. Playing to either of them is another way to get Conviction back, and more Conviction means more shooting!
Without a Reputation bonus, I don't need to muck about with that particular system.
Five skill picks. I know I want Pilot, for obvious reasons. Notice, Stealth, and Sense Motive all help define the character in my eyes—he can't be an officer in the RAF and a bumbling idiot, so what's his real agenda? Finally, Bluff is useful both in and out of combat. Starting skills are automatically set to 4, but after that advancement is in skill points, a nice halfway between the standard d20 and Star Wars Saga. I add in the appropriate abilities as well.
I know I want Mecha Operation and Mecha Weapon Proficiency, as they're pretty much the basics for fighting in a giant robot. Unfortunately, that only gives me one remaining pick. Point Blank Shot is a General rather than a Warrior feat, but it's a lead-in to other firearm feats that I can channel into a mecha's guns.
I'm not playing an adept, so I don't get any powers. Boo hoo. Instead, I use this stage to fill in all the blanks, adding up various bonuses and the like. They're all in the sheet below.
Finally, equipment. I note a Wealth of 6, and note that I use Pilot as a Professional Skill. I note down a uniform and suit of casual clothes, night-vision goggles, and a light pistol.
I'd love to design my own mecha, but it's one in the morning. In the meantime, I go for Takajin power armour with a Doragon flamethrower attached to one arm.
That's me done.
Name: Flying Officer Anthony Dashwood
Combat Bonus: +1
Bluff (Cha) 5
Notice (Wis) 7
Pilot (Dex) 8
Sense Motive (Wis) 7
Stealth (Dex) 8
Mecha Weapons Proficiency
Point Blank Shot
Light Pistol (+3, 20/+3, 30ft)
Takajin Power Armour