The Game: Remnants: Post Apocalyptic Mecha
The Publisher: Outrider Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None yet.
Books Required: Just the corebook.
Remnants is a post-apocalyptic mecha game. Unlike most mecha games, Remnants doesn’t have a massively detailed system where you have to budget for the power of the left pulse laser versus the brew time of the onboard espresso maker. It’s light enough to allow for fast play, but with enough options to give each character some differentiation.
Characters in Remnants each have an Ishin: a giant robot left over from the time before the world burned. The Broken Lands, the only world that anyone knows any more, leans harder to the “post” side of “post-apocalyptic”—the war that broke the world is several centuries past. Even so, nobody has enough. Some plants and animals have adapted, but one failed crop and your tribe or village or town is fucked.
The game’s title comes from the relics of the previous world—remnants, or Ishi. A remnant is anything from an old trinket to a ruined city—or the battle remnants known as Ishin. Most Remnants have no power, and those that do are slowly failing. The only exception to this are the Ishin—people find more and more, and each one bonds to its pilot, reshaping and repairing itself to best match the person inside.
The world’s well-drawn and has some ingenious parts: nobody ages past 40, though can die of other causes, and has enhanced toughness and digestion that allows them to actually live in the world. Humanity’s been engineered into strains as part of the war that destroyed the world.
1. Character Concept
So. Most people barely scrape through their years, and when they hit 40 the longevity treatment doubles the amount of energy they need, meaning that folks start starving to death. Yet I’m playing a character who has bonded with an ancient battle machine.
I think he was something to do with one of the city-states, who escaped a position of drudgery when he found an Ishin. The place he was loyal to is now hunting him down for the giant robot he’s bonded with.
2. Pick a Name
Tan. I like the sound of Tan. Tan Brannock.
3. Build a Background
Tan Brannock was a guard in Cradle Lake. He didn’t have enough imagination to choose the path for himself, his father was a guard. His mother fixed boats for fishermen, with a technical ability that Tan didn’t demonstrate. Tan spent much of his childhood playing with friends, and daydreaming. He’s good at daydreaming. His da’ and ma’ still live and work in the city, but they’re slowly breaking down—their bodies need more food than they can afford. Tan’s brother and his older sister ran away with a trade caravan rather than working to keep his parents fed and alive. The day he woke up to find both of them missing still haunts him—though he knows they want a life of themselves, he can’t help but blame himself. He followed his father onto the walls, watching for raiders, and through the streets breaking up fights between drunks.
After a raider party breached the city’s walls, Tan volunteered to join the squad chasing after them—if he did, he could keep his folks alive for a year or so. The raiders picked off the guards one by one, and six days’ ride out of Cradle Lake only Tan and a fellow guard, Bria, were left. Sheltering from another attack, they stumbled across what first looked like a giant rock. Placing his hand against the metal, Tan bonded with the Ishin. Bria ran. She’s pissed that Tan bonded with the Ishin when running towards it was her idea, and she’s lied to the Cradle Lake guards to make him look like a traitor. They killed his parents as a punishment in absentia. Right now, Tan wants to get and stay away from Cradle Lake. In the longer term, he wants to find out what’s happened to his brother and sister, and get revenge for his parents.
The Ishin Tan’s recovered is an old one—used as a burial mound for an honoured pilot several hundred years ago. Nobody remembers what the battle was about or who was on what side, only that other Ishin had been found in the same area. Tan’s find was a fluke, but he’s dreamed of being an Ishinari for a long, long time.
4. Assign Stats
Three stats, Body/Mind/Spirit. 0 is human average, and I have one point to spend. I can also drop a stat down to –2 to get more points.
I know I want one point in Body. I think his daydreaming has left him amiable but somewhat disconnected, so I drop Mind to –1, and Spirit to +1.
5. Choose Skills
Skills run from 0 to 6. I get a regional skill, either Etiquette or Larceny, at 1 point for free. I can also spend 10 points, with a suggested max of 2. I want Etiquette as my regional skill; Tan’s better at keeping the peace than at breaking it. From the list, I want Archery, Melee, Stealth, and Awareness to represent the rest of his guard training, Athletics and Dodge because he’s aware of what’s going on around him even when he doesn’t look like it, and Sail because his ma’ taught him the rudiments of being on a boat. I ramp Etiquette, Archery, and Awareness to 2, and leave the rest to 1.
I also note that I’ll soon have access to the three Remnant Skills, which are linked to Situational Awareness. SA is the stat used when piloting an Ishin, and is equal to Body + Mind + Spirit—so all starting characters have +1.
6. Assign Secondary Stats
A simple bit of maths gives me Defence 5, which can be increased with a shield, Resist 1, which can be increased with Armour, and Health, which is 5.
7. Choose Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages and Disadvantages come in Major and Minor flavours. I can get one Major and three Minor, but need to balance each. For my Advantages, I go with Major Good Luck, and Minor Fortune and Soothing Presence. He comes across as a bit of a daydreamer, but people like him—even the vagarities of chance. He’s used that to get a stash of funds.
I balance this with Minor Infamy, Major Hunted, and a Minor Debt: He’s got money, but owes people favours, and people have heard the lies about what happened at Cradle Lake. Hunters want him because he’s a new Ishinari, and they want his Ishin—and Cradle Lake will pay a mighty reward if they bag him.
8. Gear and Money
For the Minor Fortune, I get three times the normal funds here: 60 points of Easy Living, along with some light armour, a couple of weapons, and a pack of basic survival gear. EL isn’t currency, but banked favours and trade goods and bits that allow the pilot to live for (in this case) 60 days without worrying.
In addition to a suit of light armour, he’s got a medium axe, a longbow, and a shield. I could justify one of those as a piece of Ishi equipment, but I decide against it—it’s worth having more EL for the character, I think.
9. The Details
Final character details, building on Steps 1 and 3. Tan’s a tall guy, well built. He keeps his sandy hair short, revealing a couple of scars on the side of his head. He’s always dressed for a fight, but he keeps the shard-axe on his belt and his bow unstrung—it works well as a walking-stick. He’s not looking for a fight, but he knows that it’s only a matter of time until the fight comes looking for him. He’s grown wary over time, but once he’s sure that he’s not about to be mobbed he’s a happy, even genial guy. He’s naturally antagonistic towards people from Cradle Lake, but he doesn’t meet many of them these days.
10. Building a Battle Remnant
Time to come up with the ancient weapon of war that Tan’s riding around in. This is another set of steps. The Remnant spends time customising itself to each change, so it doesn’t matter what the previous owner was like: it transforms and rebuilds according to what the pilot’s like.
10.1 SA and Skills
As mentioned, the Ishin use Situational Awareness (equal to Body + Mind + Spirit), and three Skills: Assault (for close combat), Strike (for ranged combat), and Motion (for controlling the Ishin). I get one point in each Skill plus one to spend. I stick the extra point in Strike; I envision that it’s going to unlock plenty of guns.
10.2 Remnant Stats
A standard Ishin is a 10-12 foot tall humanoid robot, with a base set of stats. I can trade off between Armour and Speed, and Assault Damage and Strike Damage. I trade off for Speed over Armour, and Strike Damage over Assault Damage. Altering Armour affects the structure track, so the Ishin takes negative modifiers sooner.
10.3 Remnant Traits
Traits cover everything that the Stats don’t, from flight systems to special attacks to drones. Traits increase as the Ishin adapts to the pilot and transforms in reaction. It starts with a suite of innate Traits, and I get to add one Power or Drone Trait now. Naturally, in the future I can add new ones. Right now, I have to take a Trait that is 5 Duress. I pick Drones: the Ishin can drop two drones the size of large dogs, geared to either Strike, Assault, or Scouting. The Ishin builds new ones if the drones are destroyed, and can retrofit each one before deployment.
10.4 Remnant Specialties
Every Ishin has a specialty, which indicates what it was originally created to do. I pick up Sniper, which increases range to Strike x150m, for Strike Drones as well as actual Strikes.
10.5 Final Calculations
Again, just quick calculations. Assault is +2, Strike is +3 out to 450m, and Defence is 6.
Unfortunately, I don’t have my lego on hand to build a wee model of the Ishin, and I’m no good at drawing. I know the sort of thing I want it to look like, but I can’t rightly describe it. Just have to go with it. Inspiring and Terrifying both key off the description, and start at 1 each.
And we’re done.
Body 1, Mind –1, Spirit 1
Skills: Archery 2(3), Athletics 1(2), Awareness 2(1), Dodge 1(2), Etiquette 2(3), Melee 1(1), Sail 1(0), Stealth 1(2)
Situational Awareness 1
Ishin Skills: Assault 1, Strike 2, Motion 1
Secondary Stats: Defence 6, Resist 3, Health 5
Advantages: Major Good Luck, Minor Fortune, Minor Soothing Presence
Disadvantages: Major Hunted, Minor Infamy, Minor Debt
Equipment: Axe (Lead + 2), Longbow (Lead +2/300m), Light Armour (+2 Resist), Shield (+1 Defence)
Assault 2, Strike 3/450m, Defence 6
Armour: 4 (Damage Resistance 1)
Structure: 5 (0/–1/–1/–2/–2)
Assault Damage: Lead +3
Strike Damage: Lead +3
Traits: Drones, Environmental Protection, Armoured Cockpit, Link, Basic Senses, Com.
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