Dungeons and Dragons and Giant Robots, part 5: Mecha Manufacturing

Posted by on July 9, 2010

© Sunrise

In the previous posts in this series, I laid some groundwork for adapting D&D 4E to a mecha universe, establishing some basic stats and skills.

Let’s create some sample mecha units, using the stats we’ve defined so far.

The Stats We Need

If you recall, each mecha has the following stats:

  • Manufacturer, which corresponds to race
  • Class
  • Size
  • Speed
  • Initiative
  • AC
  • Fortitude
  • Reflex
  • Strength
  • Constitution
  • Dexterity
  • HP
  • Repairs

All of the above scores will be based off the manufacturer and class, so let’s start there.

Manufacturing a Giant Robot

The manufacturer corresponds to a PC’s race in standard D&D.  So let’s open up our D&D 4E Player’s Handbook and look at the stats for character races.

  • Average Height and Weight — Manufacturers don’t standardize on a particular height and weight for their merchandise.  This will depend more on the mecha’s class, so we’ll move this there.
  • Ability Scores — +2 to two scores. Mecha have half as many ability scores as a D&D PC, so let’s provide +2 to one score.
  • Size — This will be determined by class.
  • Speed — Also determined by class (Boeing doesn’t restrict itself to only fast aircraft).
  • Vision — Again,class-specific.  Less important on mecha, as we can assume all mecha have advanced infrared and other systems to see in the dark. So, let’s drop this unless there’s a specific need within the universe.
  • Languages — Not applicable to a mecha universe, unless you want some kind of translator unit.
  • Skill Bonuses — This we can keep, as long as we focus on physical skills. Makes sense for a particular manufacturer to generally provide the same benefits to all products (“Apple’s products always have excellent UI; Sony’s products are always rugged.”)
  • Special Abilities — We can keep this, but to make sense within the world, it needs to feel like a feature that a particular company always puts into its products, like a specific backdoor or consistent password scheme.


  • Average Height and Weight Moved from manufacturer. Pure fluff at this point.  I don’t want to get into weight restrictions a la Battletech just yet.
  • SizeMoved from manufacturer.
  • SpeedMoved from manufacturer.
  • Role — Just like in D&D.
  • Power Source — Not useful in most mecha universes.  There are definitely universes within which this would make sense, especially fantasy ones where different mecha are powered by different magic.  But we can typically ignore this.
  • Key Abilities — Just like in D&D.
  • Armor Proficiencies — We’ll keep this, as we can have a variety of different types of protection: physical,energy-based, and flak-based.
  • Weapon Proficiencies — Ditto. We can even use essentially the same weapon classes as D&D.
  • Bonus to Defense — Keep.
  • Hit Points at 1st Level — Keep.
  • Hit Points per Level Gained — Keep.
  • Healing Surges Per Day — Yes, renamed to Repair Operations
  • Trained Skills — This doesn’t make sense for a mecha — how would a new type of mecha make you better at history?
  • Build Options — Keep.
  • Class Features — Keep.

Sample Manufacturer

Seinar Systems

Initially a maker of luxury space craft, including pleasure yachts and high-end shuttles, Seinar has branched out into military manufacturing while retaining its trademark elegance and speed.

Ability Modifier: +2 to Dexterity

Skill Bonuses: +2 to Acrobatics, +2 to Athletics

Dexterous Movement: Manufacturer At-Will Power: Minor Action: Shift up to 2 squares.

Sample Class

Freedom-Class Mecha

  • Size Medium
  • Speed 7
  • Role Striker
  • Key Abilities Dexterity, Strength
  • Armor ProficienciesEnergy-based
  • Weapon Proficiencies Simple melee, military melee
  • Bonus to Defense: +2 Reflex
  • Hit Points at First Level 13 + Dexterity modifier
  • Hit Points Per Level Gained 5
  • Repair Operations Per Day 9 + Dexterity modifier
  • Build Options None yet
  • Class Features
    • Sure Strike: Class At-Will Power: Standard Action
      Attack: Dexterity +2 vs. AC
      Target: One mecha
      Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
    • Jarring Strike: Class At-Will Power: Standard Action
      Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
      Target: One mecha
      Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage, and target is stunned (save ends).
    • Anti-Ship Prejudice: Class At-Will Power: Standard Action
      Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
      Target: Capital ship
      Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.

There we go. We now have a sample race and class for mecha. In the next post, we’ll talk about PCs.

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