Saturday, May 19, 2012

MERS: Classes, Biotics, and Engineering.

MERS = Mass Effect Rogue Space. Know it, love it.

Our second roleplaying session set in the Mass Effect universe and using the Rogue Space rules is scheduled for this evening. To that end it's high-time I started putting out the material I've cranked out to help facilitate the marriage of these great rules and fantastic setting. Before tackling races however we're going to look at the classes of Rogue Space and how we can mash those up with the classes of Mass Effect. For many of my MERS conversions I look to the multiplayer part of ME3 because it's boiled down and streamlined.

There are three classes in Rogue Space; warrior, rogue, and technician. Just to keep more in line with ME sounding terms I simply changed their names to soldier, scoundrel, and engineer. There is benefit to what class you play in the form of how many hit points you start with and a bonus skill point to one of their abilities. These three classes, other than a name change, remain mechanically the same.

Rogue Space also has optional rules for Psionics, however these aren't a Mass Effect staple. ME has something just as good however and can be implemented with little effort; biotics. The term biotics refers to the ability for some lifeforms to create mass effect fields using Element Zero nodules embedded in body tissues. These powers are accessed and augmented by using bio-amps. Biotic individuals can knock enemies over from a distance, lift them into the air, generate gravitational vortices to tear obstacles or enemies apart, or create protective barriers.

Biotic mechanics are simple and operate almost identical to Rogue Space's core psionic mechanics. I tried to give most of the players at least one biotic power too, since its so prevalent in the videogame. Below are the mechanics and the powers I've selected for use:

Using Biotics: Roll 2d6, plus Empathy score, vs. TN. May ‘push’ biotics by expending HP, whether or not it is successful. To retry a failed power in the same turn costs 1HP, or to boost an attempt spend 1HP per point added to the roll.

  • Warp: You create a rapidly shifting mass effect field to hurl at the target, effectively tearing it apart. Range is M and damage depends on field intensity and TN: L (TN7), M (TN9), V (TN11), 2d6+2 (TN13) *basically it's a ranged attack
  • Barrier: You surround yourself with a high-gravity mass effect field, strengthening your current shields or providing them for those without. Effect lasts until bonus shield strength is depleted. TN: L (TN7), M (TN9), V (TN11), 2d6+2 (TN13) *bonus shield strength is depleted once you have taken damage equal to the bonus shield points generated
  • Pull: You use Pull to generate a mass-lowering field, moving your target around the battlefield. Your TN determines how far the target is moved: one space (TN7), two spaces (TN9), three spaces (TN11), four spaces (TN13) *spaces defined here are specific to your game whether it's on a grid map, represented in inches, in-game feet, or what have you
In the videogame there is little mechanical difference between hurling biotics at the enemy and using tech-based powers against the enemy. To that end Technician skills are handled almost exactly like Biotics. Losing hit points when "pushing" your powers here represents the extra strain and surge feedback when performing these maneuvers.

Using Engineering: Roll 2d6, plus Scientific score vs. TN. May ‘push’ Engineering by expending HP, whether or not it is successful. To retry a failed power in the same turn costs 1HP, or to boost an attempt spend 1HP per point added to the roll.
  • Combat Drone: You spawn a tech drone that draws enemy fire and can electronically stun targets and/or damage their shields. Your TN determines how powerful the drone is: MV is equal to half that of the user (TN7), MV equal to user (TN9), MV equal to user plus two and can fire (L) damage at (S) range (TN11), as before but will short out target shields upon successful hit (TN13) *I patterned this power dort of after the 'summon animal' psionic power, but it obviously has more bite to it, obviously at low-powered levels it's just a recon drone but as your TN gets higher it begins to acquire offensive capabilities
  • Incinerate: You fire a high-explosive plasma round from your Omni-tool at your target inflicting immediate and lingering damage. Range is L and ignores 50% or lower cover defense. Lingering damage and effectiveness depends on your TN. 2kL and d2 lingering damage for one round (TN7), 1d6 and d4 lingering damage for two rounds (TN9), 2dH and d4 lingering damage for three rounds (TN11), 2d6+2 and d6 lingering damage for three rounds (TN13) *Another ranged attack where you are the point of origin
So there you have the classes of MERS, and the powers associated with both Biotics and Engineering. There's a lot more powers to choose from that can be converted for future use. In the next installment we're going to look at what playable races there are to pick from and what special racial abilties they may bring with them to the table. Until then, enjoy!


  1. Fantastic work! I really love it, the biotics integration is seamless and the character class names are an improvement! Looking forward to seeing more and hearing about session 2!

  2. I like it. Biotics are pretty much the psionics of ME but flavored different. But the rule of expending 1 HP to boost your cast, is that new?