Sunday, April 24, 2011

Simple Salvage

Part of the charm to playing Sphere instead of Clan is the constant struggle to keep the mecha in some sort of running order.  I cooked up some brief rules to cover that in War of the Mecha and microMechwarrior, but not too many.  Just enough to get the feel, or so I hope.

So you've won the day.  The field is yours, and it's littered with broken and battered mecha.  What can you do with 'em?

Did the engine go kaBLOOski?  If so, then there is no salvage.

Did the mecha get knocked down to zero Armour Points?  There are a few things you can do then.
  • Try to fix it with a Technician roll.  Fail the roll and it's tagged as scrap, not even good for spare parts.  On a pass you've got her running again, but she's picked up a little more personality from a roll on the malfunctions table.  Roll boxcars and the mecha is running without any new glitches.
  • Did someone mention spare parts?  Chop it up and use the bits to get a bonus for fixing another mecha.  It's like spending an Action Point without actually spending an Action Point.
  • Keep the wreck in storage until you're ready to work with it.  Or trade it.  Or whatever.
The mecha didn't lose all its' armour points?  Then patch it up.  Technician roll.  Failure means all the combat damage is repaired, but the mecha gains a new malfunction.  Pass and the mecha is repaired.  Natural 12 and not only is the mecha repaired, one malfunction is too.

And don't even think of chopping up a mecha that's still functional.  If you're lucky the Chief will only hit you with a wrench.

That's all I've got for today.  G'night.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thank You, JB.

After waiting too long, I got in a game or two of War of the Mecha today at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group.  It had all the thrill and psychic anguish from making decisions such as "should I run in & alpha strike while I have initiative, or is the chance of losing initiative next turn plus heat penalties too dangerous to risk my half-dead mecha" while lacking the tedium of rolling a hit on the (roll, roll) right arm (roll, roll) lower (roll, roll) critical slot #4 which is empty anyway so why did we bother with all that?

And it's a great way to get all those clicky-mechs doing something other than herding dust bunnies under the bed.

I should post some pix, but I didn't have the good terrain set up today.  I'll get that ready for next time.

Thank you, JB.  It was fun.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

d30 Mecha Malfunctions, Bigger and Better

And by better I mean worse.

This table assumes you're using War of the Mecha and microMechwarrior.  If a result doesn't apply then try the next one or roll again or adapt to whatever rules you are using or just make something up.

The mecha of the Known Sphere have developed an assortment of quirks over their centuries of abuse.  When you've finished configuring your mecha roll a d30 on this table.  Any dice rolls in square brackets are permanent values set when the mecha is designed.  Any weapons affected are also set at this time and chosen randomly from those installed.

Of course, the mecha of the invading clans are free of these defects.
  1. Wobbly Gyro; [1d3] penalty to Piloting rolls.
  2. Bum Leg; -1 Walking.  Yes, this affects Running too.
  3. Weak Ankles; failed Piloting roll causes a leg critical hit, just like #3 on the critical hit chart.
  4. Cracked Frame; May land only one melee attack safely, EVER.  Further strikes make the mecha suffer an "arm" critical hit (#4 on critical hit chart).
  5. Weapon Lag; One weapon has [1d3] penalty to-hit.
  6. Jammy Weapon; One weapon jams if it rolls [1d6+1] or less to-hit.  The jam may be cleared on later turns with a Technician roll (that's a microMechwarrior thing) in lieu of any attacks.
  7. Hot Gun; One weapon produces [1d6] extra heat.
  8. Flaky Jump Jets; Make a 2d roll halfway through a jump, a result of [1d6+1] or less forces a Piloting roll.  Safe landing on a pass, fall on a failure.  In either case the mecha doesn't get any further than halfway.
  9. Cramped Cockpit; One point penalty on Piloting for each two points (or portion of) over STR [1d6+3] (mMw again).
  10. Coolant Turbulence; Each heat phase roll 1d6 twice, the first adds to the "true" heat score and the second subtracts.  This modified score is only for checking heat effects, and does not change the actual heat of the mecha.
  11. Hot Engine; Add [1d6] heat each turn.
  12. Rejection Seat; May not eject from mecha.  You gotta climb out, and good luck outrunning the thermonuclear explosion.
  13. Heat Sinks by Lowest Bidder; Each turn at [2d6+8] heat or higher lose 1d3 heat sinks.
  14. Stiff Arm; [1d3] penalty to-hit melee.
  15. Separate Triggers; One weapon not properly linked into the targeting system.  This weapon may not fire in the same turn other weapons are fired.
  16. Pinched Coolant Tubes; One weapon suffers to-hit penalties [1d6+1] heat points earlier.
  17. Tippy; Making any turns while running requires a Piloting roll.
  18. Mecha With A Rep; Killing this mecha is worth [1d6] extra kills/experience.
  19. Needs More Oomph; Ranges shortened for one weapon. -1 short, -2 medium, -3 long.
  20. Premature Ejection; Failing a shut-down over-ride pops off the ejection seat.  Your mecha pilot is out of this fight, but alive for the next.
  21. I Don't See Any Difference; Mecha may only fire all weapons or no weapons in a turn.
  22. Sluggish Throttle; Mecha may not go from a standstill to running or vice versa without spending a turn between walking.
  23. Backfire; One weapon will explode if it rolls a two to-hit.  Mecha takes damage from its own weapon and loses that weapon.  If you survive this fight, the replacement will not have this glitch.
  24. Give It A Thump; Roll 1d6 at the start of each turn.  On a one suffer a 1d3 to-hit penalty for the turn.
  25. Low Hydraulic Pressure; Mecha does melee damge as one size class smaller.  Lights inflict none.
  26. Improvised Armour; Pick one type of attack: ballistic, energy, missile, melee or (if the clan invasion has started) gauss.  When taking damage from such a weapon roll twice and use the higher result.
  27. Steers Like A Cow; Can't make more than one hexside facing change per game turn.
  28. Screaming Neural Feedback; Another one for microMechwarrior.  Damage to mecha affects pilot.  Each [1d3] points of mecha-scale damage results in one point of human-scale damage (location is not important).
  29. Roll twice again.  Lame, I know.  The next one is better.
  30. Roll twice again. Second roll is a latent glitch that shows up if the first glitch should ever be repaired.  A microMechwarrior GM should probably make the second roll in secret, or something.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hey, It Works

Yes, I've jumped on the printer friendly bandwagon.  Here's hoping the service doesn't vanish into the ether.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mecha Malfunctions

I might as well do something constructive with my current infatuation for War of the Mecha, so here's a table of malfunctions, glitches and the like.  The mecha used in the Known Sphere of systems have each gathered their own little quirks over their centuries of abuse.  Roll 1d20, and if the result doesn't apply to the mecha then try the next one down.
  1. Wonky Gyro; 1 point penalty on Piloting rolls.
  2. Bum Leg; -1 Walking MP.  Yes, this affects Running too.
  3. Stiff Arm; 1 point penalty to-hit melee attacks.
  4. Hot Engine; Each turn add 3 heat.
  5. Weapon Lag; One weapon (selected at random) has a 1 point penalty to-hit.
  6. Jammy Weapon; One random weapon jams if it rolls 2-4 to-hit.  May be cleared in later turns by passing a Technician roll in lieu of attacking.  Wait.  That's microMechwarrior talk.  Well, you should be using microMechwarrior too.
  7. Hot Gun; One weapon generates 2 extra points of heat (whether large or small).
  8. Flaky Jump Jets; Roll 1d6 halfway through a jump.  On 1 the jets cut out.  Make a Piloting roll to land there safely, or suffer the usual fall-down-go-boom damage.
  9. Cramped Cockpit; For each 2 points (or portion of) over STR7 take a 1 point penalty on Piloting rolls.  Including ejection rolls.
  10. Coolant Turbulence; Each heat phase add 1d6 and subtract 1d6 from the "true" heat score.  This modified heat level is just for finding the heat effects this turn.
  11. Cracked Frame; May safely land only one melee attack.  EVER.  Further melee strikes make the mecha suffer an arm critical hit just like #4 on the critical hit chart.
  12. Rejection Seat; May not eject from the mecha.  Jump out instead, and good luck outrunning the nuclear explosion.
  13. Heat Sinks by Lowest Bidder; Each turn at 15+ heat lose 1d4 heat sinks.
  14. Magnetic Reputation; Mecha is so (in)famous that killing it counts for 5 kills.
  15. Skinny Ankles; Failed Piloting roll causes a leg critical hit (#3 on the critical chart).
  16. Separate Trigger; One random weapon is not properly linked into the targeting system.  This weapon may not fire in the same turn other weapons are fired.
  17. Pinched Coolant Tubes; One random weapon suffers to-hit penalties five heat points earlier (5, 15 & 25).
  18. Tippy; Making any turn while running require a Piloting roll.
  19. Roll twice again.  Lame, I know.  The next one is better.
  20. Roll twice again.  Second roll is a latent glitch that doesn't show up unless the first malfunction somehow gets fixed.
 Hmm.  Only twenty.  I want to roll a d30.  Any ideas to bring this up to thirty?

Monday, April 11, 2011

What is Wrong With Me?

Don't everybody answer at once.

But instead of spending so much time converting I don't even want to guess how many battlemechs there are now to Mekton Zeta Plus I should just use ChicagoWiz's microMechwarrior and B/X Blackrazor's War of the Mecha and make up my own damn random tables for people & stuff in the Inner Sphere and get to actually playing a whole lot faster.

I'll get on that after I've had a bit of sleep.  Sleeplessness doesn't do for me what it does for Zak S.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Let's Try That Again...

I can't stop thinking about an Appendix N for Battletech.  Quite possibly I'm the sole entity on this planet interested in such a thing, but who's counting?

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  Or Sunzi, or however you prefer to spell his name.  Either way, this work has got to be some kind of required reading.  Indeed, it may be insultingly obvious.  No insult intended, though.  Beyond the sound military advice, Sun Tzu's analysis of the various qualities and failings of generals and rulers could be useful in cooking up some NPC's.

The Prince, by Nicky Machiavelli.  Yes, again with the obvious.  I want to make sure I've got the fundamentals down, y'know?

Fang of the Sun Dougram (太陽の牙ダグラム), directed by Ryosuke Takahashi. Yes, it's anime.  No, I don't include it because it's where some of the Unseen come from.  I include it because it's a serious story with high-level political shenanigans, decent military scenes where the makers put some actual thought into how giant robotic combat vehicles might work in battle, and a generally even mix of verisimilitude and dramatic license.  The overall feel of this show is close to that of early days BattleTech.  Hell, Crinn Cashim and Grayson Carlyle are cut from much the same cloth.

Armored Trooper Votoms (装甲騎兵ボトムズ), also directed by Ryosuke Takahashi.  If Dougram is close to young BattleTech, then Votoms is BT turned up to 11.  The war running for generations, the scavenger mindset, ex-soldiers drawn into fighting for gamblers, and probably a whole bunch more parallels that I just haven't got to see yet.

Beyond those, I don't know.  Dirtside II from Ground Zero Games includes a brief bibliography of "Combat SF" on page 55.  I expect some of those books (not enough of which I have read) ought to offer something to BattleTech.  Here they are:
  • John Dalmas - The Regiment
  • Gordon Dickson - The Dorsai series
  • David Drake - The Hammers Slammers series
  • Roland Green - Peace Company
  • Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
  • Bobby Heinlein - Starship Troopers
  • William Keith and Andrew Keith - The Fifth Foreign Legion series
  • David Langford - War in 2080
  • Keith Laumer - Bolo
  • Ralph Peters - The War in 2020
  • Jerry Pournelle - The Mercenary
So, I don't know.  Is that a good list?  Anything that you would include or remove?

Addendum:  In conversation today Kevin suggested Armor by the late John Steakly for the list.