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warrenss2
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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This means that due to conservation of skills, most warriors won't be investing heavily in it, making them very vulnerable to a good melee mechwarrior who has a good lance backing them up.
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kronovan
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

warrenss2 wrote:
Is there a free PDF of the history somewhere?


There's this brief history document which contains all of the historical sections found in The Inner Sphere at a Glance booklet. It's 48 pages long so it does give a decent amount of intro background. I'm not sure if there's much in it though that someone who's played BattelTech before or read some of the books wouldn't know. A printed copy is included in the Intro Box Set and it's great starter for someone new to the series such as myself.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peregry wrote:
Hell, the entire history of Battletech is simply that of Europe post the fall of Rome. You have your various feudal states springing up, the remnants of Rome doing their own thing, and eventual invasions by the Mongols. Hell, many of the Successor States (a term that originally came from the post-Rome period) map directly to feudal kingdoms of the Middle Ages.


There's an element to the whole Medieval veneer that does seem a bit silly to me. However, I do find this premise as stated in The Inner Sphere at a Glance to be very intruiging:

"In 2351, Michael Cameron took an action whose cultural repercussions would echo for centuries. He created the Peer List, establishing the equivalent of a feudal nobility whose members owed their exalted rank to their achievements."

That's an interesting take on 'What IF'. I.e. What If in a future time political power and economic dominance were entirely centralised in the hands of a few based solely on the merits of their achievements; i.e. critical/significant technical invention. Without an uber strong cental authority to reign every world in, that does raise some interesting possibilities and I can see where FASA ran with it.

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ComStar is the Roman Catholic Church, except even more corrupt and without any moral compass whatsoever.


Yup, I noted some religious references to Comstar and the Word of Blake. In particular this in Inner Sphere at a Glance.

"Much of the early history of the interstellar communications net, which soon adopted the name of Comstar, is shrouded in religious mystery."

Unfortunately the brief coverage in that book doesn't expand on the the "religious mystery" angle. Often in SciFi settings -albeit most of them newer than BattleTech- when you have mention of religious mystery or sprituality in conjuction with sophisticated information/interstellar networks, the concept of an Artificial Intelligence singular event isn't far behind. By that I mean the concept of networked AI rapidly and independently evolving (almost instantaneously) into an omnipotent, super intelligence. I'm curious if such a concept ever figured into any of the BattleTech novels or BT universe?
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peregry
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Battletech and AI have an interesting history to them. The first thing you need to understand is that computers in Battletech are both better than and much worse than our own.

They are better in that if a Battletech computer, unexposed to the elements, is left to itself with no power for a few hundred years, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that to get it working all you have to do is plug it in. No, really, Battletech computers are just that tough.

On the other hand, their speeds, storage and networking are fractions of what our modern computers our. Your home computer likely has more than enough computational power to run all the systems on a Battlemech and do it better than theirs ever could.

The reason for that, as near as my brother and I can tell, is that in the 1980s the Battletech universe instead of developing and focusing on transistor based computing, focused instead on optical computing. This led to more durable and bulkier designs, but with less speed and power than our machines.

In other words, real AI isn't a possibility in Battletech due to their computers not having the power to pull it off.

This was compounded by historical events. You see, back during the Aramis coupe, Earth had an AI defense grid. Keep in mind this AI had the capabilities of a modern computer game AI or so. Aramis subverted it early on, and it caused problems in dealing with him the entire time. This caused a stigma to become attached to AI that it never lost. Using AI would be like using the techniques of Judas, Benedict Arnold, Brutus and any other major traitor you can think of rolled into one. This stigma also came about just as the Succession Wars began, which sent the Inner Sphere's technological development back a few hundred years, to the point where they only arguably recovered in the 3070s... only to lose it again. A few other AI defense grids showed up in the series occasionally (called Reagan Systems), but beyond those, AI just don't really play a role.

That said, cybernetics are, while not common, a major part of the setting. Many characters had cybernetic prosthetics, and there are cybernetic implants to allow better interface with hardware, namely Battlemech and Proto-mechs. The rule books have rules for all sorts of implants, from replacement eyes to limbs with hidden weapons. Some places have stigmas associated with the cybernetics, others don't care.

I kinda figure FASA got the cyberpunk out of their system with Shadowrun, leaving Battletech to be a bit more of the Age of Future Past without all the baggage of the 1980s.
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warrenss2
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, kronovan & peregry.

Excellent & informative links!
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's good info on the AI and computer tech peregry, many thanks.

If that's the case I'm thinking that's going to be one area where I diverge from the existing BT canon in my campaign. To me that sort of takes a good hard SciFi setting with well concieved and technologically shopisticated mechs and drops it into a pool of weird science pulp. As I said before, I don't fault FASA on creating their universe they way they chose, even if those choices don't always make sense to me. Wink I think a lot of my preconceptions about the tech are flavored by the latter videogames where neurohacks on mechs became a important part of the gameplay. Some of those videogames also portrayed the Word of Blake as a technology worshipping cult, but that doesn't seem to fit well with the canon if in fact they'd be worshipping crappy tech. I'm guessing that the Battletech canon is similar to the Star Wars Canon, in that the videogames are considered the bottom of the barrel in terms of credibility.

I'm still confused as to what the "religious mystery" angle to Comstar and the Word of Blake is? Following along the lines of the medieval reskinning theme - are they more like Teutonic Knights or Medieval Islamic Jihadist believing themselves to be armies compelled by the Hand of God, or are they more like the Medieval Knights Templars, steeped in mystical practices, sophisticated tech -relatively speaking of course- and extensive wealth?

No doubt I'm somewhat biased from running an Interface Zero campaign where sophisticated info technology and networks can lead to some really great gameplay, especially when it involves mechs. Some of the players that will be playing in my BT campaign are also playing in my IZ one, so I don't think its going to fly with them if I take the approach to AI and info tech that exists in the canon. The one player in our group that did play BattleTech for a decade, hardly read any of the novels and isn't knowledgeable of that tech, so I'm thinking it won't be too painful if I change it. Wink

[Edit] BTW if you don't want to compose lenghty replies, feel free to just point me to specific BT book, novels or websites. At the rate this thread is going, you'll have written a mini-sourcebook before no time. Smile
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peregry
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I didn't get back to this sooner.

I need to clarify something: the technology is not crappy by any means. Yes, the computational power of Battletech computers is less than our modern machines. However, computational power is hardly the end all be all. A modern car has more computational power than an Apollo capsule, but you can't drive your car to the Moon.

Likewise, if you turned your computer off in a house, left it for 100 years, and came back, the computer simply would not work. The hard drive would be broken, and many of the circuits completely worn off, simply from the passage of time. A Battletech computer would laugh at being off for 100 years, 200 years. The Helm Memory Core was a computer system that had been established by the Star League sometime before 2780, and was found in perfect working order in 3028, so about 300 years later.

So sure, Battletech computers are less powerful processor wise than ours are, the typical consumer computer is designed to last for about 50 years or so, unlike the 5 of our tech. This might not seem like such a big deal, but it is reflective of the completely different tech base and focus (optical computing and durability) than what we are focused on (electrical computing and speed). In case you're not familiar with what an optical computer is, an optical computer uses light where we use electricity. This means that for the same amount of power their computers are more bulky and heavier, but also more durable as they have less fragile components.

I also mispoke earlier, optical computing allows much more data stored in the same amount of volume. So while their computers are slower, they'd look at us being happy with a terabyte of storage and wonder why it's so low.

Which games are you talking about, by the way, because even within the games there are ones that are more cannon than others and where the games played fast and loose with the technology of Battletech. For instance, in MW4 they changed the way you customized Mechs to the point where you could not build canon variants of machines.

-------------------------------
As to Word of Blake and ComStar. The idea of them being a technology worshiping cult is the outsider perspective, one commonly cited to belittle them. In reality, ComStar and WoB hold absolutely no faith or worship for technology, tech is tech and they know it. The quasi-mysticism is an attitude they encourage in OTHER people, not themselves. They want the fact they know how to repair and maintain very high tech equipment to be seen as a special power they have, rather than just being technicians.

They have a reason for this, of course. For the longest time ComStar (until their reformation in the 3050s, upon which time Word of Blake split off and continued the old ways) was to manipulate the Inner Sphere into a position where ComStar would take over everything. They encouraged the various wars, the long standing stalemate between the Great Houses with the goal of eventually collapsing them. Remember, ComStar controlled all interstellar communication, so they have a lot of money to throw around.

That said, there are planetary computer networks like the Internet. How extensive they are depends on the population of the planet. Some planets are as populated as Earth is now, but those are the exceptions, most have far lower numbers. These networks do not cross planetary boundaries for much the same reason if we ever colonized Mars there would be two separate networks for Earth and Mars. FTL communication is to energy intensive to be used for making interstellar networks, and it has a limited range. Communication can take weeks depending on the priority of the message you sent plus how far it's going.

Something to keep in mind, Battletech is not a cyberpunk setting. Hacking and cyber-warfare don't play a huge role in things. Mechs are intelligently designed so that things like hacking a mech from the outside are impossible (mech control systems don't talk to the outside communication system). To hack a mech you have to have physical access to them, and even then it's a lot of work, and you wouldn't be able to pilot the mech unless you'd brought your own neurohelmet, since each helmet is tuned to an individual person.

In other words, Battletech has about a modern level of computing and networking to it, though with greater storage and more less power. This is due to both a divergent tech base and the fact they've been mostly successful in blowing themselves back to the stone age, as it were.

In many ways, Battletech is post-apocalyptic in the setting. The highest levels of tech are lost and rare. The really important technology, FTL travel and communications, are barely understood and mostly non-reproducible. The setting as a canon term for this: LosTech, short for Lost Technology. If you approach it with this angle in mind, I think your players will find it acceptable.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peregry wrote:
, by the way, because even within the games there are ones that are more cannon than others and where the games played fast and loose with the technology of Battletech. For instance, in MW4 they changed the way you customized Mechs to the point where you could not build canon variants of machines.


I was referring to the MechAssault games for Xbox that MS published. The 2nd in that series featured Neurohacking, but IIRC you had to be in body armor and for sure you had to make physical contact with the mech`s body. The Word of Blake in the 1st game in that series was characterized as a technology worshipping cult. I also played MechWarrior 2-4, but that was even longer ago than MA and my memory is foggy on them.

Quote:
In many ways, Battletech is post-apocalyptic in the setting. The highest levels of tech are lost and rare. The really important technology, FTL travel and communications, are barely understood and mostly non-reproducible. The setting as a canon term for this: LosTech, short for Lost Technology. If you approach it with this angle in mind, I think your players will find it acceptable.


Yep, this was something I missed with my 1st read through of The Inner Sphere at a Glance. It didn't dawn on me that the 3rd succession war raged for 159 years. So yeah, I can see where that would set you back technologically - especially considering there was the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction with some of them used on civilian pops. Sad I read the excellent Heart of Dixie story on Battlecorps.com and it really sucked me into the 3rd succession war era. Since I'm feeling inspired by that and I'm comfortable with post-apocalypse, I'm thinking I'm going to set my campaign timeline at the end of that era; probably sometime between 3022-3025.

My Battletech savvy buddy went exploring in his attic this past weekend and dug out the 1992 book Comstar Battletech Sourcebook. I've only just begun it, but I'm getting how HPG stations played a big part and how it allowed Comstar and its 1st Circuit to become so powerful. Needless to say, with these latest reads I'm starting to really warm up to the setting and canon. Smile


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peregry
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MechAssault... O.o!

Yeah... you... might want to forget those games. Fast and loose with canon doesn't even begin to describe them. Hacking a mech from the outside isn't even possible in canon, unless the mech is inactive and you can gain access to the various diagnostic ports, and those are obviously not something you'd be able to do in the heat of combat (as those are mostly under armor plates) or are in the cockpit.

Random note: WMDs were really not used during the 3rd War. The 3rd War was relatively low intensity, mostly raids between the States with no major troop movements. A few major battles occured, but nothing on the scale of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Wars. The 1st and 2nd Wars, however, saw some really nasty warfare. The 4th was surprisingly civilized, with the attitudes of the 3rd War (don't target jumpships and other LosTech, no WMDs), but with massive troop movements and larger goals.

After the 1st and 2nd War, there's pretty much a WMD taboo in place, both culturally and by tacit agreement. WMDs are so indiscriminate that the Great Houses don't want to blow up what little infrastructure remains. Hell, Jumpships are basically a forbidden target during the 3rd War, destroying one would be consider a major war crime.

By the way, Battletech's canon rule is as follows: later publications supersede older works. Any information given from an in-universe perspective may** be from an unreliable narrator. Rules blocks and information clearly given from an 3rd person omniscient (limited or otherwise) narrator is not subject to this. This means that you, as GM, can feel free to play with canon a bit, as it could be that a massacre reported in a source book was really the local government putting down a legitimate threat, but it was reported as a massacre by ComStar to make the local government look bad.

Once you get comfortable with the setting, feel free to begin to throw out canon as your players continue the game. The fate of the Inner Sphere has often rested in the hands of a few random mercenaries or a group that comes across as an adventuring party. In our own game, our player Merc Company (Discord Company) has had an effect on the Jade Falcon invasion of the Federated Commonwealth, bloodying their nose a few times and ricking up the most victories of any Inner Sphere unit (we now claim that the short lived Battletech cartoon*** is actually based on Discord Company). We have further canon departures planned for the campaign as it goes on, with many opportunities to let the PCs change the outcomes of major events if they try hard enough.

-------------------------

* Unless your name was ComStar or Loki.
** It is from an unreliable narrator, early sourcebooks were published "in universe" by ComStar, who was known to alter information to suit their taste. Later books are published by a variety of sources, for instance, books on the Clans are typically written by the Clan Loremasters, ComStar is a frequent publisher, as are various other intelligence agencies.
*** In universe the Battletech cartoon is a propaganda piece put out by the FedCom to shore up citizen moral during the Clan Invasion. No, really.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A heads up just in case anyone who reads this thread might be interested in purchasing the core and advanced rules PDF's; drivethrurpg currently has them on sale. The sale includes Total Warfare, Tactical Operations, Strategic Operations, A Time of War and the Tehnical Manual. The max price for any of them is $11.25 and Stategic Ops is being offered at a very tempting $7.50

And now that we're on the subject of rule books, I find myself in need of posing yet another question to sage peregry. Smile I'm interested in eventually taking my group into the planetary / BattleForce combat that's covered by the rules in Stategic Ops. However, when I surfed around a bit on that topic last night I found a number of posts by fans that are less then impressed with the BattleForce system in Strategic Ops. Almost all of those fans felt that the earlier BattleForce 2 rules were easier and superior. So I'm wondering what Catalyst did to those rules to make them less desirable? Or are those posts just the nostalgic sentiments of long standing -perhaps jaded- fans? I did note that Stategic Ops won an award at Orgins, so I'm surprised by the criticisms.

On a similar note, but more directed at the canon - there seems to be a fair amount of hate for the Jihadist story thread the series has taken. A number of comments I read were along the lines of FASA / Catalyst screwed BattleTech up with it. Admittedly, I've only read up until the time of the Clan invasion, so I'm really not sure of all of the details of the Jihad? Is that story thread really that poor, or are those comments again just fans being nostalgic?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for bringing up those sales, I actually might have to pick those up, I've been depending on my old Battletech books and a friend (one of the SBt team) who has those, and constantly need to look things up in those books.

I'll deal with the question that won't end up in a ten page essay, and that is the rules question.

I am not familiar with the Battleforce system. I grew up playing Battletech and I've flirted with the old Mechwarrior RPG (and found it severely lacking... hence SBt). My gut says to find a way to use the mass combat rules from Savage Worlds rather than do something with Battleforce. This is actually coming up occasionally in our various SBt games, so I suspect we will be hashing out a weird hybrid soon enough.

------------------------------

The Jihad... oh... the Jihad.

I should first note that I am among the Battletech fans who do not like how the Jihad storyline was enacted, so this bias may be apparent from here on in. But first I must start with some history.

Battletech has a ridiculously loyal, but divided fanbase. Each "era" has it's strong proponents, and those who think the era ruined Battletech forever. For those not well versed, the Eras of Battletech are basically the Succession War Era (pre 3050), the Clan Invasion (3050 to 3067), the Civil War Era (3067 to 3070s), the Jihad Era, and the Dark Age. Now, most folks combine the Clan Invasion and Civil War era into one larger block, as the technology and themes didn't change all that much between the two periods. The old divide used to be those who prefered Battletech before the Clans showed up and those who liked what the Clan brought. This was as much a game-balance conflict as well as a lore conflict (Tech level 1 vs tech level 2), but that conflict makes the current divide seem small.

A further out of game history needs to be put forward here as well. The Civil War Era was the last era published under the original game company that created Battletech (FASA). FASA had been in a slow death spiral for years, and the IP of Battletech was bought up by WizKids. This is where the problems truly begin.

WizKids had an IP called MageKnight, a relatively successful collectible miniatures game. They decided, instead of continuing the Battletech franchise as it had been, to re-imagine it from the ground up. And thus was born MechWarrior: Dark Age, a collectible miniatures game. Further, to make the universe more "accessible" they declared that pretty much everything we knew about the Inner Sphere had been destroyed by the Word of Blake Jihad, and instead of focusing on the old Great Houses and the Clans, they created a new nation, the Republic of the Sphere set in the very center of the Inner Sphere, that was undergoing a civil war with factions that pretty much corresponded to all the old factions.

Now, this did make it more accessible, but it was poorly received by the old fanbase. Now, it should be noted that anyone who followed the Battletech fiction and sourcebooks knew Word of Blake was up to something, but none of the information hinted at anything the scale of what the Jihad was described as. This was made worse by the way they used the Jihad to simply off much beloved characters and factions, often chumping them via orbital bombardment, WMDs or chemical weapon attacks (in some cases all three). Further factions acted frequently outside of character and agreed to things and did things that previously would not fit them at all. (Though Word of Blake nuking the ever-loving crap out of things really came as no surprise.)

MechWarrior: Dark Age eventually failed for the most part. New players got into it and discovered that the older stuff was better and more interesting. Old players wanted nothing to do with it and WizKids eventually lost the IP to Catalyst, who had been provided support for the "Classic Battletech" system and had been plugging away and building a good reputation with the playerbase.

This is where things get complicated. Catalyst decided to pick up not where Dark Age3 left off, but rather decided to go back and fill in the gap between the end of the Civil War and the Dark Age, in other words, they began to do the Jihad. The problem with this was, of course, that they had both a set beginning point and a set end point, and are forced to work their way from point A to point B. As previously stated, the Dark Age stage was not very well received, and they have to work their way towards it. This also means they are having to pull things out of thin air in order for Word of Blake to have the resources to do what they were claimed to do, and this broke a long standing tradition of extensive foreshadowing of every major event. (Yes, even the Clan invasion which in universe came out of nowhere had been extensively foreshadowed: every time someone mentioned Alexander Kerensky's exodus and wonder what happened to the Star League Army built up the coming Clans a bit more.) Sure, we'd known a long time that Word of Blade was up to no good, but their sudden ability to field a warship fleet comparable to the fleets of the Great Houses combined when previously they had been completely cash strapped. The sudden appearance of the Five Hidden worlds, all the sheer amount of resources was insane and felt utterly impossible, from a narrative point of view.

Then there is Devlin Stone. While Battletech has never shied away from almost Mary Sue esq. heroes, even those that were often had a flair that still made you love them. Hanse "The Fox" Davion was one of the few genuine good guy Magnificent Bastards, sure he won way to often, but he did it with such style and panache that you loved him (or hated him) for it. His son, Victor Ian Steiner-Davion was far from sueish, the poor guy was abused throughout his entire life, had to settle for his second love, lost everything, but still trooped through. Kia Allard-Liao, possibly the best MechWarrior in canon, Champion of the Game World Solaris multiple times, got his first love after a classic slap-slap-kiss build up, and a man who the Clans considered so dangerous that a fair big against him, without gear, was considered to be a full Star (25) fulled armored and armed Elementals (this is considered to be the same as fielding 5 Battlemechs), but yet who was constantly racked with fear of shaming his family's honor and constantly under attack from his aunt, the Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation. I could go on, but the classic heroes, especially of the Clan Invasion era, the storylines followed from the time they were wet behind the ears rookies to the point where they are the top heroes of the setting.

And then came Devlin Stone. During the Jihad he appears out of the blue, the only man capable of rallying the people against the Word of Blake (really, with all these other folks running around who'd seen years more actions and led much larger armies, he's the only one who can do it?), a man who somehow manages to convince many of the older heroes to follow him (really Victor? You, the Precentor-Martial of the Comguards, former Archon Prince of the Federated Commonwealth, Slayer of the ilKhan, the Man who Defeated the Clans are going to follow some no-name vagrant?) in his quest to stop the Jihad without any evidence of who he is, where he's from or even if he has a real plan. This character came across as nothing but a Mary Sue, he is set up to be a Cincinnatus-like figure, but fails at it, instead becoming a personification of everything wrong with the Jihad.

This has been compounded by works like the War of Reaving, which recount what happened to the Home Clans (the Clans that did not invade the Inner Sphere) during this time and what had happened to them. It was better done than the Jihad, but they had many Clans acting out of character or forgetting core parts of a Clan's character.

So, in the end, it's not FASA/Catalyst at fault for the Jihad, it's WizKids. Much of the current rage is directed as Catalyst because they hold the IP and are publishing materials, but Catalyst's hands are tied, simply due to the fact they they have a set point they must work towards, a point that was wildly unpopular, and in order to do it they have to break many of the standard rules of narrative. It's a sticky situation to be in, especially because the Jihad storyline is not a fun escapist storyline like most of Battletech had been up to this point. It's not an age of larger than life heroes where one man in a battlemech can turn the course of history. It is a much more gritty and realistic period in which the one man in a battlemech is nuked by an artillery stike because he's in the way.

It's frustrating to the older players. Especially when it looked like the universe had earned a well deserved rest from nearly 50 years of large scale warfare. You want to reset things, that's fine, but give us a time skip of 50 to 100 years to let the peace break down the Word of Blade build up before the Jihad. Let the old heroes pass on peacefully in their sleep, Lord knows many of them deserved it. Instead, they blew up the setting just as it seemed things were settling down.

Those, at least, are my feelings on the matter. For every fan you'll find a different opinion.

Personally, our group has declared a major division of the timeline starting in 3052/53 where we're shifting away from the majority of the canon to allow us to do our own thing without having to deal with the Jihad as written and to make things more interesting for the PCs by allowing them to play a more significant role in the history of the setting. I do not thing this is the best track to take for everyone, as it requires a relatively in-depth level of knowledge of the setting that isn't always easy to come by, but to each their own.

EDIT: More to come later, but I have to head off to work now.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peregry wrote:
My gut says to find a way to use the mass combat rules from Savage Worlds rather than do something with Battleforce. This is actually coming up occasionally in our various SBt games, so I suspect we will be hashing out a weird hybrid soon enough.


Meh, I've used the MC rules quite a bit in Weird Wars II and Tour of Darkness and I can't say I'm a big fan of them. Part of the problem is that my RPG buddies -most will also be playing in the BT campaign- are also tactical wargame veterans. The MC are just far too simple and abstract for them. A few times I've used 1 of our favorite, lighter wargames for large scale battles. My BT vet buddy is fairly certain he has the Battleforce 2 book somewhere stashed in his attic or storage, so I`ll probably eventually get to check it out. I`m not 1 to 2nd guess an Origins award winner though, so I`m tempted to spend the $7.50 on Strategic Ops just to see what those rules are like. Bottom line; if I want to attempt planetary combat on a scale like BattleForge, I`ll use the new or older BF rules or try to come up with something myself before I use MC.

Quote:
MechWarrior: Dark Age eventually failed for the most part. New players got into it and discovered that the older stuff was better and more interesting.


You can count me as 1 of those new players that checked it out and wasn't impressed. I bought the MW DA starter set and 2 boosters when they were on sale for real cheap at a LGS. I only got as far as reading the rules before determining it was too weak as a minis game to bother with. I barely ever even touched the figs, but we started using them in our Interface Zero campaign because for 28mm scale they didn't look too out of place masquerading as the smaller mechs from that setting. Next time I play BT I'm going to see if the MW DA figs can work. I already know the bases are a bit too big on the larger figs, but I might see about replacing or trimming them.

Yeow! That was some post you made - how did your fingers feel after that? Smile
Thanks for explaining all that - it makes a lot of sense to me now why fans may not like the Jihad element. I really plan on our group playing a campaign of 3rd succession, then 4th succession, then the 3039 war followed by the Clan wars...so I'm not sure when we'd get to the Jihad timeframe anyways.
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kronovan
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...

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peregry
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll resume the rant later, mostly on the failing of Mechwarrior Dark Age, and my fingers are fine, I've been writing on computers for decades and a three page essay ain't nothing to me ;p, but some random advice first.

Such a campaign can easily span 42 years. 3025 as the tail end of the 3rd to to 3067 and the Great Refusal that ended the Clan Wars.

No matter how you slice it, your PCs will be relatively old by that point. Becoming a Mechwarrior in the Inner Sphere involves graduating from a military university. In other words, the youngest a character can really start at is 22. If you're a merc from an established merc company, you should be as young as 18, but that's pushing it. Even at 18, you're looking at being 60 by the time the campaign is over.

In other words, the best idea would be to look at a way of setting up a generational campaign. The best place to cut it would be between the war of 3039 and the Clan invasion in 3050, as no major actions happened in that period.

My suggestion: have the PCs be a small Merc company hired by one of the factions in the period. I would suggesstion FedSun, LyrCom (these later become the FedCom) or Dracs (though within the Combine Merc should be considered to have the "Outsider" Hindrance). Let them build up their Merc Company over the initial period, make sure to encourage them to create attachments to NPCs and develop families for their characters. Family is a major part of the Battletech setting, and most mercs have their dependents who keep them grounded back at home. Once the war of 3039 is over, inform the players that there will be a 10 year time skip (assuming the PCs haven't changed the outcome of stuff to drastically). I'd then allow the PCs to either retire their old character (treat this as a character "death" per the rules, though the PC can still RP them if they are around, just not use them in combat and such) and create a new character who is somehow tied to the original (protege, child, nephew), create a new character with a new background (treat this as an entirely new character with no ties), or continue playing their current character with the understanding that they'll eventually be gaining the Old Hindrance. But that's just me.

Oh, when it comes to Savage Battletech combat on the Mech Scale, the system starts to break down if there are much more than 20 units on the field at any given time, and that's being generous. That's an improvement over Battletech, which breaks down after 8 units, but it's may still be smaller than folks are used to. Combat is also a bit slower than normal for Savage Worlds. We've been trying to speed it up, but feedback will be greatly appreciated from people who haven't been testing and playing the system for well over two years now.

Anyway good luck, and welcome to the Inner Sphere.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up the Sword and Dragon stater book this weekend and I'm thinking its going to have some influence on the campaign I create. One thing I really like about it is that it provides the TO&E for the featured companies -House Davion's Fox's Teeth & House Kurita's Sorrenson's Sabres- for multiple eras, begining around the end of the 3rd succession and then in increments up to 3049. Fox's Teeth even has a TO&E for 2088, as they existed as earlier as that.

The touchpoint missions for the books' campaign are set around 3049, but the standard mission tracks are generic and could be easilly used in any era. It has nice descriptions and implementation of the Warchest Point system -including tables- and I can see where this is really going to be handy. The background history for the 2 featured companies is brief, but it mentions worlds and the types of actions, so that its useful as a nice basis for a RPG campaign. There's details given for 12 MechWarriors for each company, with each getting their own page and all are very nicely done. I can see them be useful for creating company NPC's if I ever need to fill out lance numbers. All in all, I'm guite impressed with this book.

peregry wrote:
Such a campaign can easily span 42 years. 3025 as the tail end of the 3rd to to 3067 and the Great Refusal that ended the Clan Wars.

No matter how you slice it, your PCs will be relatively old by that point. Becoming a Mechwarrior in the Inner Sphere involves graduating from a military university. In other words, the youngest a character can really start at is 22. If you're a merc from an established merc company, you should be as young as 18, but that's pushing it. Even at 18, you're looking at being 60 by the time the campaign is over.


Is this really a problem though? The main touch points for the S&D campaign are based around 3049 and a number of the MecWarriors in the command and medium lances are in their late 40's -to- early 50's by then. That age doesn't seem to be a problem in the eyes of Catalyst, but I'm new to BT, so I'd like to hear differing views.

Quote:
In other words, the best idea would be to look at a way of setting up a generational campaign. The best place to cut it would be between the war of 3039 and the Clan invasion in 3050, as no major actions happened in that period.


Yup, I've thought about that time span for a starting point. However, something that concerns me a bit, at least if S&D can be considered an exmaple/norm, is that Catalyst is setting the date for some of the Tech 2 rediscovery to be in the mid 3030's. I want to use the book as much as I can, but I don't want players trying to equip Tech 2 upgrades until we've campaigned a bit. The book does make clear that most of that upgrade tech isn't in standard production until 3049. Not a biggie, as I don't mind making such a ruling as GM, but it would be easier if my players weren't tempted in the 1st place. I'm starting to think the 2nd succession war in 3028 might be an OK start date.

Quote:
Oh, when it comes to Savage Battletech combat on the Mech Scale, the system starts to break down if there are much more than 20 units on the field at any given time, and that's being generous.


If I do in fact follow through with S&D mission tracks, they never have more than 14 total, and more often less than that - some of the missions can even be as low as 5.

[Edit] I forgot to ask this earlier, buy have you put any thought into how the gunnery and piloting skills for a MechWarrior in a Catalyst book would align to the skill dice level in Savage Battletech? The reason I ask, is I'd like to convert the example MW's in my starter book. I'm thinking there's 2 possibilities how they'd allign:

1=d12+1
2=d12
3=d10
4=d8
5=d6
6=d4

or

1=d12
2=d10
3=d8
4=d6
5=d4
6=d4-2

Any feedback would be appreciated.


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warrenss2
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been wanting to run a military Sci-Fi type campaign in SW and I think your Savage Battletech is hitting the spot dead on.

I'm truly sorry but, although the Battletech history is great, I believe I'd have to run it in a totally different universe and disregard that history... there is way too much of it and I'd never keep it all straight in my head. Besides, I like to create a lot in my games.
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kronovan
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

warrenss2 wrote:
I'm truly sorry but, although the Battletech history is great, I believe I'd have to run it in a totally different universe and disregard that history... there is way too much of it and I'd never keep it all straight in my head. Besides, I like to create a lot in my games.


I had the same poblem until I was able to read some of the sourcebooks and Sword & Dragon is helping a lot as its given me an example of a mech scale campaign and unit structure. Even now I've still barely scatched the surface of the canon, but I at least feel I have enough to proceed with a campaign. I do like the fact that the BT Universe is a very fleshed-out SciFi/Space setting without aliens for a change. Something I've noted about the few sourcebooks I've browsed though; they really don't detail much that's at the character scale. Makes sense, as I'm sure that's what the "Time of War" RPG rules and all those novels are for. Wink That suits me fine as I plan on creating all my adventures, maps and setting details for the Out of Cockpit scale - that's where I'll scratch my creative itch.

However, if my group wasn't really interested in it I'd do just as you suggested and adapt it to my own setting. My group wargames as much as RPG's, so the detailed / tactical nature of BT mech combat suits them well. I can see this being adapted to many settings where combat should represent larger unit numbers than standard SW. I could easily see these rules working well for Gundam and a number of other settings from mecha animations or graphic novels. That said, I do think if you just want to bring a few mecha into a typical SW SciFi campaign, the simpler mech rules in IZ would probably be more useful.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I've been a bit absent from my own thread, but there is good reason.

Savage Battletech Rules Revision 9 has been completed.


Changes between version 8 and version 9
Core Concepts
Piloting
Introduction added.
Movement reworked to include non-mechs
Explanation of resolving specific types of attacks added
Running no longer generates a Multi-action Penalty, instead it gives a -1 penalty to all other actions taken in the same round.
This was done to prevent confusion with the revised weapon fire rules, below, as well as bring the penalty for running more in line with Battletech.
Jumping no longer generates a Multi-action Penalty, instead it gives a -2 penalty to all other action taken in the same round.
This was done to prevent confusion with the revised weapon fire rules, below, as well as bring the penalty for running more in line with Battletech.

Weapons and Weapon Grouping
Firing the first weapon group is no longer an action, firing a second group is.
Change was made due to Quicktrigger being an essential Edge to have. Instead of removing Quicktrigger (and thereby slowing down gameplay), the functionality of Quicktrigger is now baked into the core of the game. This functionally allows a pilot to fire up to six weapons and take another action, this action could be firing a section weapon group or doing a special maneuver.

Special Case Rules
Rotary Autocannon rules updated
No penalty for rapid firing, can only be grouped with weapons when they have the same rate of fire.
This was done to balance them with other weapons (they were to weak previously)

Ultra Autocannon rules updated
No penalty for rapid firing, can only be grouped with weapons when they have the same rate of fire.
This was done to balance them with other weapons (they were to weak previously)

Situational Rules Conversion added
Special tricks from Savage Worlds have been converted for use in Mech Scale combat.
This was always the designer’s intention, but in out playtesting we’d found we had completely forgotten about it outselves. Adding the section makes these tricks more obvious to use and remember.

Character Options
Races
Clan Aerospace Pilot and Mechwarrior races added

Flaws
New flaws added: Sheltered (Major) and Sleeper Agent (Major)

Background Edges
Removed Edge: Clan Trueborn - All benefits of this edge are now covered by the Clan race templates

Edges
New Edge: Design Quirk
Removed Edge: Heavy Metal - Edge no longer needed due to reworking o Rotary and Ultra ACs
Removed Edge: Quicktrigger - Edge no longer needed due to reworking of Firing rules
Modified Edge: Tracking Trigger no longer requires Quicktrigger, now requires d8 Gunnery
Modified Edges: Run and Gun and Grasshopper updated to reflect changes to the movement rules.

Equipment
Armor
New Armors added: Combat Suit, Combat Vest and Reinforced Combat Vest

Weapons
Certain weapons updated to have the Semi-Auto property as they were always intended to.
Neural Whip updated, now deal damage on the Fatigue track

Appendix A Added
Collects important tables from the Core Concepts and Special Case Rules sections into one easy to reference point.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good stuff, I'll download version 9 as soon as I get a chance.

Now that I've gotten a better grasp of the BattleTech rules, I'm noting a few entries in the SBT that require clarification or changing.

The Piloting section on page 3 states: "Certain events force a pilot of a ‘Mech to make a Mech Piloting Skill check. This is made against the standard check DC of 4"
I take it that DC is referring to Difficulty Class. However, such a term is never used in Savage Worlds with Target Number (TN) being the equivalent term, I.e. pg 67 SWD - Trait Tests:
"To use an attribute or skill, simply roll the die assigned to it. If the result is a 4 or better (the "Target Number" or TN), the action is successful."
I wouldn't assume every SW player is familiar with the DCs from D&D or D20, and I'd suggest changing it to Target Number or TN.

I also noted this on page 4:
"Unlike normal Battletech, damage is inflicted when the attack is resolved, rather than at the end of the round"
From my understanding of BattleTech's turn structure, damage is resolved at the end of the Weapons Attack or Physical Attack phase. The end of the round for a BT turn is actually the End Phase. should "end of the round" possibly be changed to read "end of the Weapons or Physical Attack phase"?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for those catches kronovan. You're actually exactly right. Our group uses DC almost exclusively even when talking Savage Worlds (we've played a lot of d20), so I tend to use the term interchangeably. I've gone through the document and changed any time DC appears to TN where appropriate.

As to the second, yeah, that should technically read at the end of the weapon attack phase. The main reason for that passage is to emphasis that damage is applied when it is rolled, rather than being delayed. This was done both to streamline gameplay and to allow do tactical maneuvers like focus firing an especially dangerous enemy down before they got to act.

Again, thanks for those catches! Wink
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