Sunday, August 23, 2009

my favorite mechwarrior

From FASA's original BattleTech Technical Readout 3025:
MechWarrior Donald Vincent
Vincent is a roving adventurer. When the Crimson Ace Dragoons, a small mecernary force, was destroyed on Tiber in an assault against House Marik, he managed to escape with his 'Mech intact. Since then, he has served a variety of petty lords and landholders, but his moody nature and violent temper have often cut his employment short. He is most famous for walking his 'Mech through the palace of a former employer after a wage dispute.
Vincent pilots a JagerMech, a 65-ton autocannon platform of a machine that is utterly unsuitable for solo operations. It doesn't have hands, its shortrange weapons are limited, it needs a constant supply of ammo for its for autocannon, and it has the weakest armor plating of any known heavy mech. You can find mechs less half its tonnage with the same armor rating as a Jager. Every member of my old B-Tech crew from high school thought I was throwing my money away when I bought a JagerMech miniature.

And yet this guy Don Vincent managed to be the only one of his unit to make it out of Tiber in one piece. Dude may have a legendarily short fuse but he's clever enough to escape a massacre while piloting a crap ass mech. And he somehow manages to make something resembling a living as a one man merc unit. That combination of apparent foxlike cleverness, berserk fury, a dangerous past, a sleazy present and a lousy giant robot has appealed to me for over twenty years.

I've often thought that if I ever tried to run MechWarrior again I would position the PCs as new recruits for Vincent's attempt to reconstitute his old unit. The Crimson Ace Dragoons would probably have uniforms (at least as soon as they could afford them) based upon the Crimson Guard from G.I. Joe.

The headgear would be optional. Also, instead of a snake mascot, the Crimson Ace Dragons would have as their emblem a spade from a deck of cards, but red instead of black. Maybe something like this:

But the BattleMechs would probably have something more like this painted on them:


  1. I used to love reading the old Battletech supplements. They were written in such a way that really made the NPCs come alive.

  2. The old supplements were great! I especially liked the Black Widow and Fox's Teeth supplements.

  3. I love fantasy "war stories" in general. But BT sure is a great genre!

    Love the story and love the campaign idea. Old Man Vincent can show those young-ass punks that Captain Vincent's "crap ass" mech is still a force to be reckoned with...still a little juice in the old reflexes.
    : )

  4. I entered BT in the Clan years. My first TRO was the 3050 book. It had no useful info and all the descriptions was vary short and dry. Latter, I discovered the classic 3025 TROs, and I was so surprised by the detailed backgrounds and example NPCs.

    I never liked the Clans and overreaching meta-plots, so when I discovered the classic booklets, I just fell in love with the more scrappy, open-ended sandbox setting.

  5. Settembrini6:19 AM

    I cannot add much to the awesome that is pre-1991 Battletech. Recommendation: also look for bad-ass war-stories in the 3026 TRO.
    OTOH, Catalyst tries very hard to supply all TROs with that amount of detail. Multiple revised and upgraded editions of all TROs are the consequence.

  6. The idea of continuous pilots is one of the things that strongly appeals to me about Battle Tech, and also used to appeal to me in Adeptus Titanicus. Helps to give the games a context.

  7. Ah Battletech...the background, clans, NPCs...all awesome. Only the mecha sucked. It was so much more effective to drive tanks and pilot aircraft one wondered by they ever developed or continued to develop robots.

    Loved the stories and the art by David Deitrich but I'll take one game of Mekton to a thousand games of Battletech or Mechwarrior any day.

    Barking Alien

  8. I remember being taught a Clan-era Battletech by one of my college hall-mates. It was so boring I never got back into it. I recall actually being frustrated about the experience: "How could giant robots* be so dull?!"

    I should check out the earlier versions.

    *yes, I know they are technically "vehicles," but still!

  9. Hello from a recent lurker! I'm gonna have to side with Barking Alien on this one; I enjoyed borrowing my pals' BT books and reading about the setting but (aside from those lifted from Macross) the 'mechs were a big turn-off for me.

  10. When I use to play BT, I really enjoyed making customs designs. I did it so often, I use to made complex designs off the top of my head! One of the things that eventually got to me, was the limitations with the system, and how the design process felt vary slavish to the system.

    I found the Silhouette System much more to my liking, as it allows for a lot of liberties, even in it's wargaming format. That system was made for Heavy Gear, but it feels like it was made to cover BT's shortcomings.

  11. Settembrini3:27 PM

    "Silhouette System". Everybody who says something like this is swine with a 99% probability.
    "Silhouette System" my ass.

  12. Great MechWarrior pick! I love the old TRO 3025. You should run with that idea of reforming the Crimson Ace Dragoons around Vincent. Sounds like a good campaign seed.

    BattleTech rocks! I've played Heavy Gear and Mekton, and though I like them both, BT(3025 era) has a beer and prezels simplicity along with a unique hook - a universe where technology is in decline. The implications and possibilities of this for a campaign can really be fun.

    For those critical of the game, I would agree that if you're just playing one-off tactical games, it can get old quick. But try a campaign, adding in the RPG rules (1st Edm recommended), and suddenly the short-comings of some of the 'Mechs become part of the fun along with the struggle to keep your own 'Mech up and running.

    I think that the game took a wrong turn from the Clans onward, though. It went from an easy-to-play, gritty war game to a complicated space opera.

  13. Bah. Jagermechs are bad, but the Dervish is worse. Its a walking, constantly overheating ammo explosion waiting to happen.

    But I will take a modified Griffon any day. Just pop out the PPC for a Large Laser and 2 extra heat sinks.

    I love the Griffon so much I have as many toys and model kits of it as I can:

    I ran a Mechwarrior 2nd ed campaign a while back using a computer game styled tutorial system and Heroscape hexes.

    The players were the various and sundry illegitimate children of the mechwarrior known as Dirty Bob. His drinking buddy/teammate known as Lepus was their teacher.

    See Dirty Bob died, hopefully in his mech with a beer in one hand, his hand on the other, and a woman of loose morals in his pantsless lap. But this being the future paternity tests for loud drunken mercenaries should be quite easy, even in the 3020s. But he had cash, and his kids from across the Inner Sphere then inherited it, which gave them more Battlemechs than actual C Bills.

    (The lance was known as the Red Rockets. See a classic episode of South Park for the reference. Dirty Bob truly deserved his callsign. Why his other lancemates "Doubledown" and "Headshrink" even fought with him on battlefields and Solaris is a mystery. Must have been the money.)
    Some were naive enough to want to follow in their daddy's drunken footsteps.

    People enjoyed it, and as I taught the game in steps and was using the 3025 era tech people picked it up really well and still tell me it was a fantastic way to learn the game.

    Spoiler: Dirty Bob really wasn't dead and would return in the 3050s as part of Clan Bob had we had time to continue. Dirty Bob enjoyed fights and the Clans' odd ideas when it came to relationships and nookie. New ways to get drunk and nookied up just for getting into fights with people?

    Bob had found his calling!

  14. Actually the classic Rifleman trumps the Jagermech for crappy armor, with the added bonus of being able to cause ammo explosions from heat with one alpha strike (I know from experience). Catalyst has been working very hard to add the flavor of the original TROs back in - in fact in the last two you actually see family lines that tie back into pilots from TRO 3025.

    As to mechs being a dumb idea - the primary advantage besides mobility is thier ability to ride the heat curve. With a little luck you can out shoot any of the vehicles of the original era and until things like Rotary ACs show up mechs still are the premier platforms for putting out lead.

  15. Post necromancy! I'm going to try and run a BT/MW horror hybrid at Winter War. Maybe Vincent might want to make an NPC appearance? ;)