Mecha Vs Kaiju 202X is powered by the 5th Engine, a variant of the classic D20 game engine inspired by the earliest playtest versions. The 5th Engine replaces the static parts of d20 with dynamic, story-based elements designed to hard wire narrative power into the system for both players and GMs. And everything about the MvK engine is designed to emulate the action and drama of anime and manga. Here are just some of the new options added to d20 in the Mecha Vs Kaiju roleplaying game.
At the heart of every MvK character is their Archetype. For years anime and manga fans have debated the attributes of their favorite characters, cataloging them into a series of archetypes. From the silent and moody Danmari to the motor mouthed Keet and the aggressive Tsunshun, part of the pleasure of watching and reading Japanese media is seeing these archetypes play out, often in surprising ways. In Mecha Vs Kaiju you choose one of 17 famous archetypes. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, special abilities. and skills and connections.
Archetypes include Baka: The Fool, Bocchan: Child of Crime, Danmari: The Creepy/Quiet One, Dorodoro: The Secretly Mean One, Genki Girl/Keet: The Motormouth, Gougou: The Sidekick, Hancho: The Big One, Hime/Ouji: The Princess/Prince, Hiyakasu: The Tease, Kaijutaku: The Monster Expert, Kuuru: The Cool One, Miko: The Magic Girl, Moe: The Cute One, Nadeshiko/Nadeshika: The Mother Figure, Otosan: The Father Figure, Reinousha: The Telepath, Tsunshun: The Angry One, and Yusha: The Hero.
Narrative Character Traits
Character options continue with PC’s Traits, all geared towards enhancing and rewarding roleplaying.
- Aspects, such as “Firm but fair” or “Living in the Past”, form the character’s personality.
- Their personal Style, such as Bold, Creative or Steady, denotes the way they do things.
- Values, such as Composure or Passion, represent the most important parts of the character’s life.
In MvK, as in anime and manga, what is most important is why a character performs an action, not how.
Character traits are not static bonuses, but rather a collection of dice: d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. Characters taking an action will “Call Out Their Traits”, a roleplaying exercise all its own, as the players explain the thought process of a character as they choose which trait dice to add to their dice pool. After choosing one Aspect, Style, and Value, the player combines those dice with a d20 “Fortune Die”, representing the blind will of chance, and rolls them together. Then they add two of these results together into their Action Total. The person who rolls the highest Action Total succeeds, but that is only the beginning. For every action, whether successful or not, has an Impact on the scene.
Characters have more Impact
In a typical 5E system, success is binary: you roll, you hit, you do damage – or you roll and you miss. This leads some to play out a scene as a static exchange of blows. Even when creative players seek to add dramatic action through their narration there is little reward for it.
Impact adds dynamic options to your actions that allow you to narrate an infinite number of outcomes. When you add two dice to determine your action total, choose a third die total as your impact. You may spend two points of impact for any of the following results:
- Create a boon/condition with rating 1
- Add/subtract 1 to a boon/condition rating
- Increase your defense or that of an ally
- Inflict 1 points of stress
When you make an action you may also take a specific Stance, which modifies the impact cost of a specific action.
Reaction: Create a pool of points to absorb incoming stress
Ready: Creating boons/conditions costs 1 Impact
Reckless: Inflicting stress costs 1 Impact
Regardless of what you roll, PCs always get at least 2 Impact for their action, whether successful or not. Because every player’s action has some kind of impact on a scene.
Custom Powers, Talents, and Tools
One thing that can seem frustrating is to have a special ability in mind for your character and no way give it to them. MvK solves that problem with a modular system that breaks all special abilities down into basic rules. Every supernatural or high tech power, every highly trained talent, every device or tool, is simply a collection of perks and drawbacks that give you the ability to do things you normally would not be able to do. And all can be added as part of character creation, or later through the expenditure of XP.
Want to fly? Create a “Jet Pack” that adds vertical direction to your movement. Want to fly fast? Add a speed perk that increases your movement when you use your jet pack. Want a flame thrower that uses the same fuel? Give it a range perk that will allow you to attack people from the air. with a few simple perks and your own imagination there’s literally nothing you cannot build.
But the MvK system does not add only tools for players. GMs too have new options. One of the best tools for aiding your storytelling and easing your load is the Danger Dice!
In d20 terms, Danger Dice take the place of static DCs AND NPC stat blocks.
Just as PCs use their Traits to tilt the Fortune die in their favor, the GM does the same with the Danger Dice (DD). These represent the level of threat in the scene, from nameless thugs to environmental dangers to the blind chance of fate. Any time a PC takes an Action that is not opposed by a Non-Player Character (NPC) or another PC, roll the Danger Dice as a counter.
The DD begin with one d6 and one die equal to the Danger Level of the scene, plus a d20. A typically heroic scene would have a danger level of d6, while a life or death situation could be d8. It would take a truly monumental crisis to begin at d10.
After a player rolls and determines their action total, the GM rolls their Danger Dice to see if their action succeeds.
As an adventure continues, the level of danger grows, often when PCs make costly mistakes. The Danger Dice grow in much the same way. Every time a player rolls a Critical Fumble boost the lowest Danger Die. For example, if the Danger Dice were 2d6 and a player fumbles, the Danger Dice become d6 d8.
The truly game-changing aspect of Danger Dice for the GM is that you no longer need worry about figuring out the DC of an action. If a player takes an action that has consequences for failure, the Danger Dice oppose that roll. The more dangerous the scene, the more likely the players will fail. But it’s based on the dramatic beats of the story rather than an arbitrary difficulty. But that’s only part of the way DDs ease the GM’s tasks.
When running NPCs you only need one Aspect to represent them. A security guard may be “Tough but Thick”, with a die type appropriate to the area they are guarding: a common area may have only a d6 guard, while a high security area may have a d10. Need the guard to take an action or counter something the players are doing? Just add their aspect die to the Danger Dice and roll. Want them to have a special ability? Just give them a power, talent, or tool.
On the Shoulders of Giants
One of the greatest things about the d20 system is its capacity to build on the amazing work of others. Our system designer, Jeremy Forbing, has a decade of experience writing for d20, with dozens of writing credits on DriveThruRPG.com. His wealth of experience with the hundreds of d20 writers who have gone before has led to each and every one of these innovations. As a player of d20 and its predecessors for 40 years I can honestly say that the 5th Engine is the system I have been waiting for.