T-Minus 2 Days: As I prepare to launch this grand adventure, I must thank my beautiful wife, Christine Hayes, and my two collaborators, Darth Ripper AKA Ripley (right) and Newt (left).
T-Minus 3 Days: Playtesting makes a game stronger. A player recommended rules that would allow players to gang up on a kaiju. Fortunately Cortex Prime is a game system toolbox that inspired these rules for Teaming Up:
People often find ways of connecting with one another through shared Values, either sympathetic feelings or opposites attracting. This mod allows characters to use this connection to work together achieving a goal – and in a world where natural disasters walk on two legs you need all the help you can get.
Once per turn a PC may hand over a Value die corresponding to the Value used in another character’s dice pool. This does not take the PC’s action. That PC should narrate how they are teaming up with the other character
This comes with a risk. If the opposition beats the teammate, they may apply an additional die from their pool as an Effect Die against the helping PC: the Doom Pool would cause an appropriate Complication, an enemy would cause a Wound Complication, and a kaiju would cause Mecha System Shutdown.
T-Minus 4 Days: Make no mistake, I want all lovers of giant monsters and robots as patrons. I think all of you will love this game. That being said, I should warn you that I’m not just a Social Justice Warrior. I’m also a
Social Justice Wizard: I learn all I can, and use what i know
Social Justice Warlock: I tap into powers greater than myself
Social Justice Cleric: I keep the faith and heal with my words
Social Justice Druid: I respect nature and give voice to the unheard
Social Justice Bard: I try to inspire hope and work magic with my art
The only thing I suck at is Social Justice Rogue, moving quietly and keeping secrets. That’s never been my style.
T-Minus 5 Days: MvK is a labor of love, but I’m also a High School English teacher. I’ve used my writing as an object lesson for my students. Anyone can write, and publishing just requires enough people to care about what you say to support your work. Work as hard as you can, remain true to yourself and what got you interested in writing in the first place, and do something more every day. If you like what you’re creating, people will read it.
T-Minus 6 Days: Two playtests of the new engine, one for the dice pool version of kaiju, and another for the Game Moderator Character build. Each one revealed strengths and weaknesses in the system, and I got great feedback from the players. That’s why you should join the Patreon starting July 1st: your input is vital to making this the best anime and manga game on the market!
T-Minus 7 Days: With one week to go before launch, the Alpha edition of the Mecha Vs Kaiju Cortex Rules is complete. Traditionally “Alpha” editions are the first version that can stand on its own, but which still needs a lot of testing. Patrons will be the ones to play the game, and they’ll be ones deciding what works, what doesn’t, and what’s missing. The Alpha edition includes:
A complete Cortex ruleset, using Action resolution and a Doom Pool;
Character creation rules, with Anime Archetypes, Values for determining your character’s motivation, and Affiliations for establishing your character’s place in the world
A point-buy system for characters creating giant robots, and GMs creating giant monsters
Over 60 SFX to customize the weapons, defenses, and movement of your Mecha and Kaiju
Scale rules for those times when it’s only the lowly humans against the terrible kaiju.
T-Minus 8 Days: If you want to learn more about Cortex I highly recommend joining the Cortex Discord. It’s filled with great people who have great ideas.
T-Minus 9 Days: One of the best things about the upcoming Patreon is the opportunity for playtesting. In case you don’t know, every roleplaying game you’ve ever read as a published book has gone through HUNDREDS OF HOURS of play. Every rule has been checked and rechecked and compared to other rules to see how they interact, all performed by real gamers just like you. Joining the MvK Patreon will give you the opportunity to join me and others in playing this game repeatedly, both as skirmishes and campaigns, to find out what works and what doesn’t. Early playtesting has already led to reworked sections and new ideas. And you can join the fun in 9 days!
T-Minus 10 Days: If you haven’t done so already, follow us online for giant robot and monster news and fun!
T-Minus 11 Days: We’ve updated our page on Cortex Prime with a real-life example of how to model a James Bond adventure using only the ruleset for MvK. If you can run something as complex as a Bond action finale with zero prep, running giant monster combats will be a joy!
T-Minus 12 Days: When I’m not writing I’m a high school teacher. I treat students with respect and insist they treat each other with kindness, because many in the world will not. I teach them critical thinking because some will hide the truth. Today is June 19th, also called Juneteenth, where we celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. We celebrate THIS day because it marks the day the last slaves in Texas were informed that they were free. They had already legally been free for months, but their owners kept that fact from them. This is why I teach critical thinking: we must all ask questions and continue to learn, because those with power will withhold facts to maintain power. This is not politics, this is life.
T-Minus 13 Days: We have a trailer for the MvK Patreon on Youtube! It was a lot of fun creating, and big thanks to my lovely wife Christine Hayes for helping me find the music. By the way, Uppbeat.io is a great place for finding free music for your own online creations. If you like the trailer PLEASE share it, even if you’re not planning on joining the Patreon. ICHIMASU!!!
T-Minus 14 Days: With two weeks left to launch, we have finalized our one Patreon Reward Tier for the month of July. This is a once-in-a-lifetime reward that will never be offered again!
T-Minus 15 Days: The ultimate Kaiju Body is the GMC: the Game Moderator Character. A Game Moderator is the person who controls the opposition to the players and their characters. GMCs are characters controlled by the GM. A kaiju GMC differs from a Kaiju Pool by its Traits. Kaiju GMCs have Attributes just like Player Characters, which describe their personality and approach to getting what they want. Kaiju roll their Attributes combined with their Distinctions to determine the result of their actions. But in Cortex if you only roll 2 dice, then the effect of your roll can only be the lowest die type possible — a d4. Hardly the power level of an existential threat like a kaiju. But that is only the beginning of the fight. For the kaiju, the angrier they get the stronger they get!
T-Minus 16 Days: A Kaiju Body can take many forms, depending on the needs of the game and GM. The most basic is a “Kaiju Pool”, a collection of dice representing both the kaiju’s abilities and their health. When they take an action, the kaiju roll their pool and PCs oppose. To fight the kaiju, the PCs take actions and then compare the Effect Die. Like overcoming a Complication, if the Effect Die is higher than a Kaiju Die it’s removed from the pool. If it’s the same of lower the Kaiju Die is stepped down. It takes determined, concerted effort to drive off or defeat a kaiju, but even a mechanic as simple as the Kaiju Pool offers multiple opportunities for heroism and drama!
T-Minus 17 Days: when creating a kaiju, the first thing to think about is not their body but their soul. While there are multiple ways of creating a Kaiju Body, based on the interests of the GM and the needs of the story, a Kaiju Soul represents everything that makes the monster unique. One of the most unique kaiju is also the first, Kaibutsu. The first half of Kaibutsu’s soul is the kaiju’s Distinctions: Name and Title, Fighting Style, and Motivation. Name and Title covers most non-combat actions. When you see “Kaibutsu, King of the Kaiju”, you know they are going to do whatever they want. Fighting Style represents how the kaiju attacks and defends itself in combat, and goes far in demonstrating its personality. Kaibutsu is never rushed, but always “Inevitable and Unstoppable”. Motivation is fluid, representing what the kaiju wants now and why they are in the scene. For the ultimate predator, this often boils down to “Destruction is its Own Reward”, “Fight the Strongest”, or “The Hunt is On”. The second half of the Kaiju Soul is their Mutations. These are the superhuman abilities of kaiju. At their most basic they are Trait Statements that describe how one kaiju’s abilities are different from others. They are only mechanically relevant if the kaiju body grants them a die code. For the first and greatest kaiju, these include “Atomic Breath”, “Undying”, and “Cry of the King”.
T-Minus 18 Days: Affiliations represent the Player Character’s connection with society. They emphasize the aspects of culture most important in the world of Mecha vs Kaiju. The die values represent the importance of that affiliation group to the PC, but not their attitude toward that group nor their history within it. Someone with a high die type in Corporate may have a low job position and strive to improve, or may hate their job with such passion it motivates all their actions. Affiliations take the form of opposing forces that are often in conflict with one another:
T-Minus 19 Days: In the Cortex RPG, one of the cornerstones of every character are their Distinctions, a descriptive sentence or phrase that represents an important part of the character. Any time your Distinction would aid you, add a d8 to your Dice Pool. For example, 14 year old Rampo Kyari is a “Teenage Scientific Genius”. Anytime he performs an activity involving science he adds a d8. But there are times when being a teenager would work against him, such as trying to convince adults of something. In that case his Distinction would be “Hindered”. Instead of adding a d8, he adds a d4 and earns a Plot Point. It’s always the players option to Hinder their roll.
T-Minus 20 Days: One of the most important people in the world of Mecha Vs Kaiju was only a toddler when Kaibutsu rampaged across Tokyo in 1954. Rampo Kyari watched as the creature leveled the city, and in that moment he beheld a vision, what he would later describe as “The Universe as a Whole”. Young Rampo beheld the Unified Field Theory in its totality, an act that he admitted years later would no doubt destroy the mind of an adult, and would spend the rest of his life teasing out its scientific secrets. Within 2 years his insights had given his family’s small company the technical edge to join the ranks of the great Zaibatsus. In 1964 14 year old Rampo brought his first great invention to the battlefield: Mataru Jaianto, a giant remote-controlled robot capable of fighting the kaiju one-on-one. The following year he would give the Anti-Kaiju Force their first great weapon The GAZER Beam — Gravity Amplification through Zeta Emission Recovery. With truck mounted GAZER cannons and giant robots, Japan was at last able to defend their homeland. All thanks to the mind of a child.
T-Minus 21 Days: After the assault of Kaibutsu, Japan knew that the kaiju threat would befall them again. That is why at the end of 1954 the Self Defense Force constituted the Anti-Kaiju Force as a think tank for weapons design. However no weapon of that era could stop a kaiju, and so the spent their time developing strategies for herding kaiju away from population centers, while fortifying the cities against monster attack. Fortunately the kaiju during this period were more a “threat in being”, actually attacking Japan only 4 times in a 6 year period.
T-Minus 22 Days: By international law, Kaibutsu was forbidden to leave the sovereign territory of North Korea. But the kaiju knew no law, and in 1954 the monster attacked Tokyo. No one knows why it swam across a sea and around a country to make landfall there, ignoring numerous easier targets along the way. But in a single night of fire the capital of Japan was reduced to ashes, while the military stood by helplessly. It was only a man-mad miracle of science that “killed” Kaibutsu. But it was clear to everyone that at that moment no force on Earth could stop a kaiju, and no one knew how many existed on Earth.
T-Minus 23 Days: After the first kaiju attack in 1945, genetic material of the monster was stolen and taken to a secret laboratory in North Korea. There the monster was regrown at a facility by the Chosin Reservoir. Meanwhile in China, Mao Zedong ordered atomic experiments on his own people to create his “Million Mutant Militia” to defend his borders. During the Korean War, soldiers fighting in North Korea would meet both these horrors, as Mao unleashed his army of mutants against foreign soldiers approaching his border. They fled south towards the Chosin Reservoir, where North Korea unleashed their horrible creation, Kaibutsu, the first kaiju! The battle marked the greatest single loss of life in U.S. military history, and triggered a host of laws making all forms of “atomic warfare” illegal outside the borders of one’s own country.
T-Minus 24 Days: The world of Mecha vs Kaiju appears to be the same as ours until 1945. In the final days of WWII Japan grew desperate for a victory. So desperate that they attempted to summon an Oni, one of the ancient Japanese devils, to fight on their side. The ceremony took place in the city of Hiroshima, and as the demon came through the portal at 8:15 on August 6 the second atomic explosion occurred in the world. The oni was bathed in radiation and driven insane, and began a mad scramble of devastation. Japan begged the Americans to remove the kaiju (mysterious monster) it had dropped on their country, which mystified the U.S. until naval observation planes spotted the monster. The Japanese military harassed and herded the kaiju to the tip of the southern island of Kiushu, where it was finally destroyed by another atomic bomb. Japan surrendered and the American military classified the entire incident, collected all biological samples of the kaiju, and locked them away forever. Or so they thought.
T-Minus 25 Days: Cortex uses dice pools, assembled from your character’s Traits, anytime the character attempts an Action. Traits are collected into sets that form the primary elements of a Player Character. In MvK anyone can be a great pilot, but the focus of anime and manga action and drama is what’s going on inside the character, so the “Prime Sets” in this game focus on that: Affiliations reflect how the character relates to society, Distinctions represent their background and personality, and Values demonstrate the ideals they find important. Anytime a character takes an action they roll dice from these three Prime Sets to determine the outcome. Let’s use two examples from classic mecha anime of young, inexperienced pilots thrown into the horrors of war:
Gundam’s Amuro Ray is an ace pilot who fights fearlessly in combat. He is also a deeply private young man, even before the stress of warfare takes its toll. Amuro values Composure, Self-Reliance, and Spirituality.
Macross’ Hikaro Ichijyo is also an ace pilot, but is brash and emotional when we first meet him. Hikaro Passion, Kinship, and Ferocity.
While these two pilots have similar roles in their respective anime, their motivations are completely different. In MvK you are free to attempt pretty much anything, but the way you do it is based on your character’s personality and motivations.
T-Minus 26 Days: After the first edition of MvK flopped I figured I was done with game writing. But the rise of Pacific Rim convinced me that the era of giant monster and robot fights was only just beginning. I chose as my game engine Fate Core, a storyteller-based system, which might seem like an odd choice for such a crunch-heavy genre. But Fate turned out to be amazingly hackable, and I was able to add a point-buy mecha and kaiju construction system with little difficulty. Creating anime-inspired characters in Fate was more difficult. I created Archetypes, which basically packaged a set of stunts with two key skills, to represent different types of anime characters, such as the hero or the joker. But I was never entirely satisfied with the result. Cortex is designed with modification at its core, so it’s been much easier to build a character-creation system that not only inspires players to act like their in an anime or manga, but rewards them for doing so!
T-Minus 27 Days: My first foray into mecha gaming was Mekton and Battletech. Mekton was heavily influenced by anime, which in turn inspired the anime vibe of MvK. Battletech came from a hardcore MilSciFi setting that bordered on post-apocalyptic at times. The focus on realistic mecha tech inspired the point-buy mecha construction rules, which have been a favored part of every edition of MvK. The Cortex system will offer 3 options for mecha construction: as a Signature Asset, essentially providing a bonus die to the player’s dice pool; as an additional Prime Set, basically an extra set of dice from which to choose based on the kind of mecha action taken or system used; and the full-gearhead-tinker-fiddlybit-point-buy system for those who love building their mecha as much as playing with them.
T-Minus 28 Days: MvK 202X uses the Cortex game engine. Originally published in 2006 as a licensed game for Joss Whedon’s Serenity series, which won Gamer’s Choice Best Roleplaying Game of the Year Origins Award, it went on to become the engine for games as diverse as Marvel Super Heroic, Demon Hunters, and a game based on the caper show Leverage. Now look at that list: sci-fi, horror, heroes, and heists. That is a remarkably diverse set of genres. To expect one game system to handle all of them well is bold. But Cortex does it well. That’s why it’s my choice for Mecha Vs Kaiju.
T-Minus 29 Days: The first edition of Mecha Vs Kaiju was published as a setting in the “True 20 Roleplaying Game”. In 2004 Green Ronin announced a contest for interesting settings as a way of highlighting the multi-genre nature of their new RPG. When I submitted my idea designer Steve Kenson wrote later that he was blown away by the concept, and the creators essentially agreed on the spot that it would be one of the winners. The Mecha Vs Kaiju setting has been growing publicly for 18 years.
T-Minus 30 Days: Though this is my first Patreon, I’ve been a patron of other creators since 2014. Some of my favorite Patreons are Michael Prescott, master of the 1-Page fantasy adventure, and Rifftrax, those legends who created Mystery Science Theater 3000.