MechaStellar – Weapons Design


When it comes to weapons we had the following design goals.

  1.  To the extent possible minimize variations
  2. Variations between weapons should be distinct
  3. Maximize re-usability of weapons between units

To elaborate a bit further on these, for #1 when looking at a list of weapons you don’t want to see 5 versions of a machine gun, or 4 versions of a beam rifle, each with their own nuance.

For #2, weapons should be clearly distinct from each other.  Bazookas tend to be higher damage, beam weapons tend to be higher PEN for their AP cost.  Now when it comes to differentiation in the same class those also need to be distinct.  For instance, if we have two types of bazookas they should be noticeably different enough, likewise for two types of beam rifles.

This can be accomplished by modifying their base stats or their special ability.  For instance, we have two beam rifles available.  The standard beam rifle (that can be reflavored to a megaparticle gun you’d see on a Z’Gok or Hambrabi) and a hi-powered beam rifle the kind of weapon you’d see on Gundams.

GP04 Gerbera

In the below example the hi-powered beam rifle is considerably better, but that high AP cost means you’re drastically limiting your number of shots considering most grunt suits have between 4 and 6 AP, while a Gundam type is typically around 10AP.

  • Beam Rifle (Mega Particle Gun)  AP Cost: 2  Range: 12″  PEN: 2  DMG: 300
  • Hi-Powered Beam Rifle  AP Cost: 3  Range: 12″  PEN: 3  DMG: 400

#3 plays a big role in making suit creation quick and simple.  This would implemented in two ways, the first is to make the stat lines setting neutral.  That is to say, if you’re using Mechs from two different universes you want them to have comparable weapons.  To use an example, if we are importing units from Battletech / MechWarrior we look for equivalent types weapons.  In the above example we’d treat the Beam Rifle stat line as a Medium Laser, and we’d use the Hi-Powered Beam Rifle as a Large Laser.  BlackjackOmniNow for the Battletech buffs out there, the Large Laser should have a longer range.  Previously we had a lot of granular details on how each weapon had superior range base on their specs and source material but for the sake of gameplay in this system we have greatly reduced the number of different ranges on weapons to simply be short (6″), medium (12″) and long (18″).  It may seem like a small change but it sped up gameplay quite a bit and made things easier on newer players so we considered it a victory.
The second half of design goal 3 is to make it easy to rapidly loadout suits from the same universe.  That means if we only have one machine gun / assault rifle, it doesn’t matter if you’re Zaku II, Hi-Zack, Leo or Wing Zero you all start with the same weapon profile.  Now just because you start with the profile doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.One thing we’ve been experimenting quite a bit recently is weapon fine tuning.  We established two choices you can pick from with your available equipment slots.  One is “Weapon Upgrade” the other is “Prototype Weapon”.  The goal is to allow suits with surplus equipment slots to enhance their weapons, it also allows us from a design standpoint to add some differentiation between say a Zaku Machinegun and a GM Rifle or Bullpup.
GM Cold TypeLet’s consider the Machine Gun profile first.

    Machine Gun  AP Cost: 1  Range: 12″  PEN: 0  DMG: 100  Max Shots / Round: 10  Special: Defensive Weapon

The Weapon Upgrade feature allows you to upgrade one of those categories for the better at the cost of an equipment slot.  The only limitation is that you cannot use Weapon Upgrade again for the same weapon.  For the Zaku machine gun we gave it a bonus to range.  For the GM Rifle utilized by the GM Custon, or the GM Cold Climate type that can fire rapid highly damaging bursts we gave it DMG +100.  For the Hi-Zak who exists in a world where Gundarium armor is common we would give it +1 PEN.

  • Zaku Machine Gun  AP Cost: 1  Range: 16″  PEN: 0  DMG: 100  Max Shots / Round: 10  Special: Defensive Weapon
  • GM Custom Rifle  AP Cost: 1  Range: 12″  PEN: 0  DMG: 200  Max Shots / Round: 10  Special: Defensive Weapon
  • Hi-Zak Machine Gun  AP Cost: 1  Range: 12″  PEN: 1  DMG: 100  Max Shots / Round: 10  Special: Defensive Weapon

Now the question becomes one of balance.  Is +1 PEN, +6″ Range, +100 DMG all have the same weight?  The answer is it is entirely situational. A bonus to range means you can start firing on your enemy before they can engage you.  A bonus to damage means your are more likely to destroy you target, and becomes very valuable on rapid fire (1AP) weapons, however, damage doesn’t matter if you lack the penetration to get through enemy armor.

That’s the balancing act so far, and while it’s not perfect it has been a lot of fun to test out.  After modifying some rules in the last 6 months, removing the two-handed weapon rule, weapon upgrade has taken it’s spot and become very prolific in the suit rosters.  “Prototype Weapon” however, is used less frequently, most commonly to transform machine guns and bazookas into beam versions, rifles into snipers rifles, or to supercharge an existing weapon (i.e. Beam Magnum).


Prototype weapon is similar to Weapon Upgrade, for 1 EQ slot you get to choose two bonuses with one drawback.  For example, the GM Sniper may have Prototype weapon to give it +12″ range turning that hi-powered beam rifle into a beam sniper rifle, with the downside being that it raised the AP by +1, limiting the suit to firing it only once.

Prototype weapon has been limited to unique suits such as the GM Sniper, GP04 Gerbera, Gelgoog Jaeger, Psycho Zaku, the Unicorn and of course the Hyaku Shiki’s mega bazooka launcher.  Since those units don’t get fielded very often (with the exception of GM Sniper) we haven’t had too many chances to evaluate Prototype weapon, but more to come in the future!

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