I’m at a point in my life where the classes and races in D&D either irritate or bore me. Human Fighter, Elven Wizard… these are weird and D&D, but then we get Aasimar Invoker or Tiefling Warlock, and you’re playing a different game, setting-wise.
But I do love the balance of play for the combat simulation in 4e, and I like Roles and Power Sources. Much more than Classes or Race. But let’s look at each of them, since they are all pools of abilities and themes.
I don’t think AEDU is the best system for mecha combat. I just think mecha combat is the best use of the AEDU system.
All those weird things they try to abstract by didn’t quite figure out how to work in the fiction, it totally works for big robots. And you don’t even have to get all steampunky or Gundam for neat action, though you can certainly go there, by building on top.
The Front Mission series in general is great, and there are so many things I like from this series that would make tabletop war gaming:
The extensive stats and parts
The various sub-systems, can be used to distinguish “role” in squad
The mission-based story-telling
That last one is huge. Basically, all the violence happens in combat, and outside of that is talking and comms. 4e is known for basically making non-combat talking or a skill check. I’d like to think we could use some entire other sub-system for RPing and trading social or mental resources that could then be used as bonuses in combat.
Imagine talking smack to an enemy over the comms, or when they get really mean in Poldark, to each other’s faces at a ball!
Side note: change spaceships to mecha, play Legends of Galactic Heroes.
Then, when you face them off personally, you get a bonus. Or you were such a good dancer at the last ball, you get a bonus for confidence.
I say make it really fun in its own silly way! Have that part inform the background fiction, but focus on the combat, and make bonuses more about being cool than being actually swingy. Maybe something to serve as a catalyst for making combat more interesting (maybe activating terrain that could go either way).
And use a fun game for that. Like a tiny Fate or PbtA, just for moving tokens around or progressing a track.
I link to Front Mission 4 in particular because I was just fascinated by the story and characters. Huffman Island is dope and all () but here are two groups of people with very different motivations falling in with each other across space and time to prevent very bad things from happening… it is totally hopepunk!
The mecha themselves can largely be described as equipment. It works, even for alternate frames or whatever we call them; it isn’t different from having multiple magic swords or sets of armor. If the math is simple enough, it should be less admin and more nerding.
It also deals with slots well enough. It makes a lot of sense of why you can’t load it up with power: you have to balance energy, heat, weight, speed, all that jazz.