arcdream (arcdream) wrote,

Bigger Bads preview: Bigness (posted by Shane Ivey)

Time for another ginormous preview of Bigger Bads. This time we'll get right into the meat of the thing. This text, btw, is © Benjamin Baugh.

Here's where we really justify the title of this book. Monsters so big they have boogers bigger than Great Danes. This brings it all together, the farness rules and and the stuff on menaces. When Combine-R is stomping towards you on his tractor legs—his arms made from grain threshing machines reaching out to get agrarian on your butt—knowing how fast he's coming is pretty significant. How likely are you to outdistance something that can cover half a football field in a step?

Likewise, if you manage to leap up onto his legs then Combibe-R becomes less an antagonist and more a location. Those big threshing blades become a hazard you have to negotiate before hopping from his elbow to his control linkages while leaping away from the robot scarecrows that infest him like lice.

So how do we meaningfully handle crazy disparities in the scale of different characters? If it's you and your friends (and their monstrous friends) teaming up against the Arisen Mognarch or The Burning Hot Giant Man Made of Wicker, then this system will give you and the GM what you need to keep everything straight.

Smaller characters are harder to hit but easier to hurt. Bigger characters are easier to hit but harder to hurt. They're slower to react but faster when moving. It's sort of a lot to keep track of. Do bigger creatures have bigger dice pools sometimes, and smaller dice pools other times? What if when two giant creatures of the same general scale tangle?

Here's how you do it.

Everything has Bigness, a measure of which scale of action the creature or thing fits into. Kids and their monsters almost always have Bigness 1, meaning that their actions and their major challenges and concerns are on the kid scale. How about bigger stuff? That’s where the Bigness scale comes in. The bigger the Bigness, the bigger the monster.

Bigness has some direct effects on monster actions, which we’ll discuss below. Bigness also modifies how monster powers work according to Monster Might (see page 44 of Monsters and Other Childish Things). Each rank of Bigness multiplies Speed, Range, and Mass.

Bigness 1 (Normal Size)
Kids and their monsters, pets, family, friends, most stuff they think is important. x1 Speed/x1 Range/x1 Mass.

Bigness 2 (Big)
Really big animals like elephants and dinosaurs, and trucks that turn into robots. x2 Speed/x2 Range/x10 Mass.

Bigness 3 (Bigger)
The biggest animals, like whales. This is about as big as an all-natural, 100% meat creature can get, and then only in the ocean. On land it takes mojo or bones made of ultra-calcium (thanks to all the ultra-milk) to get this large and not collapse under the crushing weight of a physics buzzkill. Our favorite super-ape King Kong fits into this Bigness rank. x4 Speed/x5 Range/x100 Mass.

Bigness 4 (Biggest)
Huge, building-stomping beasties of this scale are big enough to sit AROUND the house when they sit around the house. Gamera is the classic cinematic exemplar of Bigness 4 monsters. It also fits the shiny, growing, monster-fighting heroes of the Science Patrol, Ultraman and his Ultrabuds. x8 Speed/x10 Range/x1,000 Mass.

Bigness 5 (Biggerest)
Only the most ginormous monsters achieve Bigness 5. They're creatures which can credibly be said to be civilization killers if they decide to stomp humanity back to the stone age. The all-time greatest and most super-sweet monster, Toho's Gojira, and his gallery of foes would be Bigness 5, which makes you wonder why they're always attacking little Japan. Fitting inside such a small country must be like trying to dance in pants two sizes too small. It'll make your butt look huge, and moving around comfortably is a trick. x10 Speed/x100 Range/x10,000 Mass.

And I'll Form the Left Arm!
Giant robots.

Oh yeah, we got that covered.

You can use the monster creation system to build mecha, power-suits, and giant robotronic mayhem machines. In most ways, they're just like monsters. Some may have brains of their own, and in that case dealing with them is almost identical to dealing with monsters, except their Personality and Favorite Thing likely reflect their programming or directives. "OBEY ALL EXECUTIVES OF MEGA-DYNA-TECH-CO," or for lactose-intolerant mad inventors, "DESTROY ALL CHEESE."

But what about a mech that's like a big vehicle without a brain of its own? Something that has to be piloted around and whatnot?

Somebody has to drive it.

That could be a guy in a instrument-encrusted control chair, or a kid with a remote control, or a monkey genius doing kung-fu in a 3D sensor field, but somebody has to tell the mech what to do. When a piloted mech is doing stuff, you always roll the LOWER of the dice associated with the bit you're using or the driver’s Stat+Skill combo (which depends on the mech, and is set when the thing is built). The mech's dice are still used for tracking damage, and for determining how much stuff it can affect, but its actions are limited by its technical constraints and the pilot's skill.

The exception to this is when Relationships are added into the roll. These are dropped on top of whichever dice pool is being used, because the above-and-beyond motivation they represent allows a pilot to exceed both his own and his mech's limitations.

That's all a little confusing, so how about an example? Martie “Duke234” Pooley used to spend all day pwning newbs in Bronze Star Recent Warfare when he was recruited by Project BLACK BOOK. As it turns out, all those ultra-realistic battle sims were a combination training program and screening process. When BLACK BOOK ID'd Duke234 as a perfect candidate for their Tele-A.P.E. Program he ended up in the back of a black van playing Bronze Star FOR REAL. He pilots his remote mech with his Hands + GameBox Epic Win dice pool of 8d; but if he fires up the TELE-A.P.E.'s 6d weapons pod to spray a room full of shoo-spiders with high-velocity narcotic paintballs, he'd only roll six dice because that's the weapons pod's total dice pool and it’s lower than his own dice pool (“these controls suck!”). But if he busts his Tele-A.P.E. into the room and discovers his parents goobed to the wall by shoo-spider web, he could add his My Lame Parents 3d relationship to the weapons pod's 6d pool.

Now, what about all the other stuff monsters have going for them—like the fact that ordinary weapons don’t bother them?

Well, that's something of a judgment call depending on how you want to use mechs in your game. If you want them to pose threats to monsters, then let them ignore the normal advantages that monsters have when facing strictly mundane foes. If you want monsters to be able to rip Gammaton-7 a new fusion-chute, then leave those advantages in place. I'd recommend going ahead and giving mecha a pass on these things because there's nothing really mundane about giant robots anyway, and because MONSTER VS. ROBOT is such an iconic theme, resonating strongly with our geeky souls.

What about small robots that combine into big robots?

Each smaller bot becomes a hit location in the bigger bot, which must be one or two Bigness ranks larger than the component mechs. Use the largest dice pool from among the smaller mechs to represent the dice pool of the larger mech's bit, and assign it a hit location number based on the big mech's body shape. The players roll the dice that their individual mechs contribute to the big mech's abilities when they come up.

BigDiff: Using Bigness
If Bigness is the same between two characters or monsters, then ignore it. Seriously, you'll almost never have to reference it at all. About the only thing to keep up with is how Bigness multiplies a creature's Monster Might. Beyond that, two Bigness 5 monstrosities pounding on each other while the city crumbles around them are handled just like two regular monsters going to town in the produce section of the local Sweeny Mart (except that's not bananas they're squishing to goo under their clawed feet).

When creatures of different Bigness ranks tangle, what's really important is the difference between their Bigness ranks. This Bigness Differential (BigDiff) is used as a modifier in a few significant ways.

The Smaller Character . . .
  • Gains the equivalent of Wicked Fast equal to BigDiff.
  • Gains Awesome equal to BigDiff when attacking and defending against the bigger character (see page XX for information on having more than two ranks of Awesome).
  • Gains Awesome equal to BigDiff when using small size to do tricky things.
The Bigger Character . . .
  • Gains the equivalent of Tough in all hit locations equal to BigDiff.
  • Gains the equivalent of Gnarly equal to BigDiff.
  • Attacks against smaller characters gain Splash (see page XX) equal to the BigDiff.
  • Can move the BigDiff in additional Farness (see page XX) each round.
The way it works out, bigger characters hit harder and are themselves harder to hurt. They're also faster on the straightaways, but smaller characters are quicker to act. Smaller characters are also better at hitting bigger characters (because they're BIGGER—it’s hard to miss), and at dodging their attacks (because they're so tiny). If you're teeny and he's big then it'll be easier not to get hit, but if you do get hit it'll suck more. Even worse, because the stuff you're getting hit with is so big, it splashes over into other hit locations. If you're a kid and get hit in the Guts by a Bigness 5 Mega-Squid then its damage will roll over to four other hit locations (so basically, all of them) and inflict +4 damage! You’ll get squished so flat you’ll have to change your name to Matt.

Remember, BigDiff is the source of most of these modifiers, not Bigness itself. If King Ug and Mi-Go'Jirra (both Bigness 5 creatures) tangle, then you can ignore the BigDiff modifiers—they're on the same scale. While the city might suffer horribly, there's no need to track size mechanically between the creatures. But if M-Force sends out a team of Spirit Rangers to try and use Bigness 1 monsters to fight the really big monsters, then the kids and their monster friends might be in for some serious trouble—at least until the Essence Engines wind up enough to power them up to the next Energy Level.

We Could Have Prom In One of His Nostrils
What about a monster so huge it’s more like scenery than an arch-enemy?

If the Bigdiff is 3 or more, instead of running it like a fight between the whole giant monster and the smaller characters, everyone can jump onto one of the big character's locations and stage a scene there—a fight, a chase, whatever. See the movement and range rules on page XX and the Threat rules on page XX, and combine them.

The location where the smaller characters are riding is treated like a Threat with dice, qualities, and extras as normal, and with additional dice equal to twice the BigDiff. It's then handled in play just like a Threat, while the real action goes down on the scale of the characters atop it. Getting swallowed sometimes works this way, and you can stage scenes inside the big critter's innards.

Moving around on the back of the giant monster means treating the critter's hit locations as if they were BigDiff Distance away. If the BigDiff is 3, then traveling from Combine-R's Legs to his Head would mean covering three Farness steps with an appropriate means of movement.

In this mode, the giant creature is treated more like a dangerous location or set-piece than a distinct entity to be bested.

A Huge Example
The agents of the Monster Investigation Bureau finally realize that trying to take Mr. Crocker with conventional means is a losing proposition, so they call in heavy support from their contacts in the Military Industrial Complex. The boys from the MIB and the boys from the MIC don't always get along, but they share a few funding streams in the public/private administration model. So one quick call to General "Stormy" Stern, and there's a black-bag tactical team in a warehouse downtown ready to deploy a Thunderbolt 10 A.P.E. infantry force enhancer (in other words, a big robotic gorilla suit). Piloting the A.P.E. is specially cross-trained Sergeant Agent Cornsilk. Programmed into the A.P.E.'s pheromone targeting system is a stinky reptilian smell, like the snake house at the zoo (or a certain Egyptian crocodile god's bathwater).

For over a week, all is good (for a particularly exciting and perilous value of "good") for Benny and Mr. Crocker.

And then, on the way home after school one day, somebody throws a car at Benny. A sturdy Swedish car whose exceptional safety standards and robust diesel engine make it quite heavy.

Sometimes, it's good to be friends with a monster.

Mr. Crocker's big belly is way bigger inside than out, easily big enough to swallow all that fine European craftsmanship. Which, with a tidy roll, he manages with style, even if the space-warping gulp makes onlookers mildly queasy.


To which Mr. Crocker answers, "Bring it."

But when the A.P.E. lumbers out from behind the Gas'n'Gulp, Mr. Crocker's nervous swallow is made more noticeable by the plaintive bleating of a car alarm from somewhere in the depths of his extra-dimensional innards.

The A.P.E. has Bigness 2, meaning a BigDiff of 1. It looms over Mr. Crocker even when he stands up straight and doesn't slouch. When they start fighting, here are the advantages each will have:

Mr. Crocker:
  • Gains x1 Wicked Fast for all actions.
  • Gains x1 Awesome when attacking the A.P.E.
  • Gains x1 Awesome when doing tricky things that take advantage of his smaller size.
The A.P.E.
  • Gains x1 Tough to all locations.
  • Gains x1 Gnarly on all attacks.
  • Moves +1 Farness ranks (if the optional range rules from page XX are used).
  • Gains x1 Splash on all attacks.
When the pain starts raining down, Mr. Crocker is going to have an easier time targeting the A.P.E. in specific places (because of the Awesome) and dodging the A.P.E.'s attacks. Unfortunately, if the A.P.E.’s attacks land, they'll do +1 damage and splash over onto an adjacent hit location. Worse, while the A.P.E. is easier to hit, it takes 1 less damage whenever Mr. Crocker manages to lay one on. The gator is in for a rough time.
Tags: arc dream publishing, benjamin baugh, bigger bads, monsters and other childish things
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