I need some help with the mechanics of piloting mechs. I'm thinking about running a post-post-apocalyptic campaign (kind of like Numenera) and would like to have being a mech pilot as a playbook option.

My experience is with Dungeon World (as far as PbtA) but I've read parts of Apocalypse World. I was puzzling over certain possibilities especially with an eye to balance. My intention is to have each character start with something epic; taking a mech would be one of the options.

I am trying to address which stats would be used for piloting the mech.

Would it just be +cool like the driver in Apocalypse World, depending on what he's doing with it? My idea is that it is a complex skill that would take the lowest of two stats (so he would have to have two stats high to be a good pilot.)

If I instead choose the stats from Dungeon World it would be Dex and Wis In Apocalypse World, it wouldbe Cool and Sharp - but it might need to use Hard in combat.

What I want to avoid: having the skill run by one stat. That feels unfair and unbalanced. On the other hand, I don't want him to need every stat to be able to function well. I want this build to have the option for different builds anchored on the mech pilot. Different fighting styles or benefits would need to be based on the stats the character has.

This leaves me with my final design problem.

How do I treat damage to the character's mech? That will (overall) need to harmonize with mech piloting moves and mech repair moves.

The mechs would be optimized either for melee or ranged combat - that may leave me with the same basic moves, but since its really big the fiction will allow for greater destruction.

I like the Dungeon World physical stat break up for the mechs. Str, Dex (agility speed), and Con (durablity).

As this is homebrew, are there home brew builds along this line that you have seen work, or have play tested, to fit this epic mech piloting option?

I have not playtested anything out yet outside of my head. My first simple idea (because I want it to be simple and streamlined) was to just give the mech it's own list of stats (like strength, speed, accuracy, durability.) - but how effective the mech would be used would depend upon the pilot's skill at piloting. Mechanically this would be represented by the pilot's skill would be the cap for how much of a bonus the mech's stat could offer. So if the mech had +3 speed but the pilot only had +2 piloting (+cool or whatever the stat will be) then he could only roll with +2 on speed, since his skill isn't up to par to employ the mech to it's full potential.

I was planning on keeping the moves as the same as what they would be for the equivalent types of actions that a human does (or at least analogous/upscaled).


closed as too broad by Miniman, Thomas Jacobs, Christopher, Tritium21, Oblivious Sage Oct 5 '16 at 14:14

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This question could be improved by including details on how you attempted to use AW's rules for creating custom moves, and why/how you found that unsatisfactory. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Oct 5 '16 at 3:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a lot of game to develop only to ignore it if no one picks that playbook. More to the point, will each playbook have a different epic thing of equal complexity, or will the rules that are developed for this playbook be somehow useful for developing the other planned playbooks? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 5 '16 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well I imagined it as normal to have at least one mech in the group if not two or three (but not all would be titan class, one might only be 10 feet tall.) The other epic stuff would be like a biotech skin suit that would allow for superhuman celerity etc. or some sort of psionic crystal that allows powerful feats of psionic energy. These wouldn't really require new moves. The psionic stuff would just be like spells from dungeon world which would be very simple enough to implement. Super human celerity would just allow for greater things to be attempted in the fiction \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Oct 5 '16 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to have a listen to Season 2 of Friends At The Table, where they are playing The Sprawl with Mechs added in. I don't know how detailed they went on additional moves, but it seemed to work pretty well. \$\endgroup\$ – glenatron Oct 6 '16 at 14:03

Apocalypse World actually has a Mech Pilot like playbook in the limited playbooks section. If you've bought it on the main website, it should be in your collection somewhere.

There is one called the Space Marine Mammal, which is a Dolphin in a battle-suit (don't ask. There's a backstory for it) but there is also a human configuration for it, which you can probably use "as-is".

They should be on pages 20-23 and 26-27 of the limited edition playbooks respectively. You can see their blurbs in the preview on the Apocalypse World website.


This is easy to answer, but will be hard for you to implement. First, finish reading Apocalypse World — you will need to understand its chapter on making new moves and how the game's rules all fit together.

Basically, a mech is a vehicle. Use the detailed general vehicle rules from AW 2e, or the vehicle rules in AW 1e that are in the Driver playbook + some more in the GM section (p. 171 for Vehicle Harm, p. 246 for general vehicle rules).

The normal vehicle rules have ramming and driving people over, but they don't have fighting between “cars”, so you'll have to homebrew a Mech Fighting move.

Then, whatever a mech pilot does uses the normal rules for making moves. When they do something that triggers a mech/vehicle move, they use that move. When they trigger a non-mech move (even when in the mech), use a non-mech move.

Finally, keep in mind that there's no such thing as a "skill" in PtbA games. If you think of any part of the game as a "skill" your homebrewing will likely go awry.


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