Terraforming – Gattai Gladiator Ships

Randal here. Before we jump into this week’s Terraforming, I must confess something … I didn’t come up with my ideas for Gladiator Ship rules so that I could play mech/mecha in Starfinder.

Fanboy Note. I am a huge fan of Voltron, my brother and I spent many childhood days playing with various incarnations of the toys, from the old die cast metal set to the slightly oversized plastic version that actually had G.I. Joe sized pilots that we could play with as well. I watched the old cartoons (preferred lions over vehicles) and absolutely love the Netflix reboot. In fact, the reboot is why I want to play a Voltron style campaign and why I sat down with the Starships section of the Starfinder rules to see how I could make that work.

GM Note. It was during my design process that I realized I could use the same rules at different scales to accomplish both mech/mecha rules as well as my Voltron style campaign. The rules presented here for Gattai Gladiator Ships are in addition to those presented for Gladiator Ships, but I am including those System Changes in the list of System Changes are for easier reading. A ship can only make use of both the Transform and Gattai Transform Stunts if the ship is capable of becoming a Gladiator and also combine into a Gattai Gladiator, which would require Transformation Housing expansion bays unique to each transformation. Also, Gladiators and Gattai Gladiators are based on a human form … other forms may exist with different configurations.

The Gladiators: Phase II. A team of Shirren pilots by the name of The Halcyon, known for their uncanny ability to fly and fight in perfect unison no matter how difficult the scenario, were some of the first to line up when WBI (World Builders Intergalactic) announced their Gladiators. They had already made a name for themselves as mercenaries and wanted to up their game, and their fame. While it is suspected that their telepathic abilities are at the root of their teamwork, the secret is really that they are clones of a single entity and that they are still linked as a miniature hive.

As soon as the WBI engineers and test pilots witnessed them at the helm of their Gladiators, they realized that they would be the perfect candidates for Phase II: Ships that combined to create a single Gladiator with more power than they would have individually. They instantly agreed to have their Gladiators dismantled and refitted so that they could be the first to pilot a Gattai Gladiator. To accomplish this, each of the “limbs” requires a Transformation Housing (like Gladiator Ships) while the “torso” requires 4 Transformation Housings (one for each limb).

The Transformation. Combining Gladiator Ships into a Gattai Gladiator requires the use of the Gattai Transform Stunt. All ships must be in the same hex. Each ship makes a Pilot check with DC 10 + 1.5 x tier of ship + 5 per glitching system. Glitched ships that fail by 5 or more receive another glitch.

Gattai Gladiator. This requires that you build a new ship for Gattai Gladiator Mode, one that ideally has the same total points as the ships that make it up, but depending on your style of campaign this number will vary. Once transformed into a Gattai Gladiator, the following changes are applied to the ship:

  • Speed -2
  • Piloting +1
  • Short range weapons can become 1 handed pistols
  • Medium range weapons can become 1 handed rifles
  • Medium and Long range weapons can become 2 handed rifles
  • Short range plasma cannons can become 1 handed plasma blades
  • Medium range plasma cannons can become 2 handed plasma blades
  • Long range plasma cannons can become 2 handed spears
  • Ranged attacks can target any non-aft arc
  • All SP can be converted into a shield in an empty hand. Can face forward or side arc.

Gattai Crew Roles. As a Gattai Gladiator is made up of multiple ships, each with their only pilots, the following are some suggestions about which roles each of those pilots may occupy in the new mode.

  • Torso – Captain
    • Minor Crew Actions – The Captain can perform the Glide or Snap Shot actions as long as their vessel is not glitching.
  • Arms – Gunners
    • Shield Block – If the Gattai Gladiator chooses to focus shielding to a single arm, that pilot may attempt to block an attack in a different quadrant than the shield is currently blocking. if they have not performed any other actions. To do so, they must perform a Balance action, using the attacker’s attack roll as the DC. Success means they were able to reposition the shield to the correct quadrant in time to intercept the attack, failure means they were too late. Either way, the shield is now positioned in the new quadrant for further attacks in the same round.
  • Legs – Pilots
    • Twin Pilots – Both pilots can roll the pilot check for a desired action or stunt, succeeding if either roll was a success. If the action or stunt has a penalty for failing by 5 or more, it takes two failures for the penalty to apply while a success and a failure results in nothing happening.
  • Any – Engineer and Science Officer

Gattai Gladiator Combat. As the first pilots to embark on this endeavor, The Halcyon have perfected the Gladiator Stunts (listed again for ease) and mastered a new one.

  • Back Off (No check needed to perform a Back Off stunt. A Pilot check may be attempted to allow turns during movement.)
  • Flip and Burn (No check needed to perform a Flip and Burn stunt.)
  • Melee Attack [NEW] (As Flyby, except that failure only allows for free attack.)
  • Two-Handed Melee Attack [NEW, GATTAI] (As Melee Attack, except that both Gunners roll to attack. If either hits, the attack is a success. Critical only if both roll a 20.)
  • Slide (No check needed to perform a Slide stunt.)
  • Turn in Place (Clumsy only suffers -2 AC/TL, Poor suffers none.)

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at https://www.patreon.com/rpgsage!