Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Shatnerween!


"Due to its shoestring budget, the prop department had to use the cheapest mask that they could find in the costume store: a Captain Kirk mask. They later spray-painted the face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eye holes." -imdb.com on Halloween (1978)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

more self-absorbed than usual, which I didn't think was possible

A couple of people have noticed that I haven't updated since last Shatnerday, so I thought I might offer an explanation. I'm working on applying to grad school, two English lit departments and two Masters of Liberal Studies programs. It's been almost fifteen years since I got my bachelor's degree and I need to come up with some academic writing samples. Since A) I have no idea if I even have my old papers anymore and B) if I still got 'em I'd probably not be satisfied with the things, I'm starting from scratch. So for the last week or so instead of obsessing over games I've been researching a paper on the character of Arthur in Tennyson's Idylls of the King.

At this point I honestly can't tell you when I'm next going to be in the mood to write about games. Maybe later today, maybe not until after next weeks Mutant Future session.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shatnerday

Friday, October 23, 2009

Traveller: What version?

A couple days ago Gameblog reader Erin asked "if one were interested in the OTU, but didn't know what version to pick up, what would you recommend?" In case Erin missed it I wanted to point out that donm61873, a.k.a. Don McKinney, a.k.a. my personal Traveller guru and one of the coolest cats I've ever met, provided an answer:
Mongoose Traveller is pretty good... (and I'm not just saying that because my name is in the books) but if you're really interested in the OTU, get the CT and MT CD-ROMs produced by FFE (www.farfuture.net). The TNE CD is now also available.
I think the Classic Traveller CD-ROM is definitely the correct answer here. For $35 you get one of the best buys in the history of the hobby, both in terms of quality and quantity. The only reason I don't own a copy myself is that I have so much of this stuff already and I'm a cheap bastard. Inevitably I'll want one of the harder to find/more expensive items on the disc and I'll order the dang thing. But before you go and get one I want to offer a couple caveats:

1) Holy crap, that's a lot of game stuff! It would be easy for a newbie to get overwhelmed by the amount of material. Don't fret. Start with The Traveller Book and The Traveller Adventure. I think those two would go a long way to figuring out how much you dig this scene. After those two, the rabbit hole goes about as deep as you could possibly want. There are 60 more books on that disc, and that's not everything ever written for the game. Which brings me to my next point.

2) A lot of Trav people take the idea of Canon very seriously. I am not one of them. While I acknowledge Marc Miller as the Supreme Overlord of All Things Traveller, there's a lot of superfun 3rd party stuff that he no longer considers official. If you get the CD-ROM, you get a horse-choking quantity of official Games Designer Workshop materials, but none of the cool stuff from FASA or the Gamelords or Judges Guild or a whole bunch of other publishers. Much of that junk lacks the polish of GDW or the hardcore wargamer work ethic of the people who worked there, but it's all still a vibrant part of Traveller's colorful publishing history.

Just a couple things to keep in mind.

like this, but with more filth

I wanted to share this pic I found yesterday. Crusty Island, the ruined city in my Mutant Future game, is a lot like this except that the water is polluted with some industrial sludge that builds up on top of the water. To get from building to building the PCs walk over the hardened, dried upper surface of the sludge.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We had to destroy the bridge to save it.

Last night's Mutant Future session was a blast. We started out with a completely arbitrary attack by a Shark With A Friggin' Laser Beam Attached To Its Forehead. The party was in a small fishing boat, so I imagined all sorts of delightful nightmare scenarios based upon the climactic battle in Jaws, but with laser beams. But alas, the party shot my pet dead before it could capsize, eat, or zap the boat. So instead of the intended aquatic mayhem the party ended up have lasershark steaks for second breakfast.

The evening's expedition to the ruins of Crusty Island was pretty successful. They looted an ancient vending machine of soda pops and snack foods, as well as the intact plexiglass sheet between them and the tasty treats. The soda had been flat for centuries, but how would they know it was carbonated to begin with? And Lumpy the Junk Merchant pays top dollar for precursor delicacies like that.

The second floor of the building featured a ceiling full of creepy-crawly mutant centipedes slinking along the ceiling. Spunky the Invincible Wonder Weasel succumb to centipede poison when one of them leapt onto her face. Wheelz found himself in a similar predicament and Carl eagerly tried to bat away the offending centipede. With his crowbar. Somehow Wheelz survived both the enemy and Carl's friendship. Carl's actually an extremely competent player and it was clear he was feeling a little ornery in that encounter. Carl also helped by firing his plasma pistol at another centipede and rolling so poorly I ruled he had set the place on fire, but that wasn't intentional mayhem. Meanwhile Karus the Lich didn't want to be outdone in the firestarting department, so he got out his can of Lysol and used a firefinger cantrip to turn it into a flamethrower. Good times. I especially liked how the encounter ended with the Wonder Weasel fainting (overcome by poison) and Carl rushing about trying to put out the fire he started.

With a bag full of swag to sell and an out of commission Wonder Weasel, the group decided to head back to their base of operations, the nearby fishing village. While they were going about their business I said to Joe (playing the lich), "You know the neat thing about having a magic-user with a spellbook in the party? Plot hooks are dead easy. You hear a rumour that the western end of the Road to Nowhere leads to the realm once ruled by the greatest wizard of the seventh age." Almost immediately the party begins planning an expedition to the west, confirming my intuition that Crusty Lake was starting to feel a little repetitive.

Having come into a little money, they decide to equip the party with some donkeys to ride and carry gear. Here's where I missed a grand opportunity to say something like "No donkeys for sale around here, but you can get some pack-slugs for cheap." But I did make sure to note the logistical problem facing the PCs: how to get to the western end of the road was a non-trivial problem, given the layout of the Slimy Lake area. Their good buddy Swampy Joe was happy to ferry people to and from Crusty Island each given that the party saved his village from the buggem menace. But Joe fishes near the island. To ferry the group and its donkeys to the west side of the lake would take him away from his fishing.

The party ends up deciding to try to clear the bridge upriver of its well-known spidergoat infestation. This proves to be a lot easier than I thought it would be, as Carl whips out his plasma pistol and lights the webbing on fire from maximum range. A handful of spidergoats attempt to bumrush the party, but further plasma volleys break their morale. As the webbing burns I describe the flames revealing several large lumps of spider silk actually contain the shriveled bodies of past spidergoat victims.

The spidergoats actually had some pretty sweet loot in these corpse cocoons, as when I wrote the encounter I imagined the victims as a party of adventurers. One of these poor sons of bitches was carrying a couple sticks of dynamite, so I made an explodey noise and said "That was the dynamite cooking off. Carl, roll a d6. On a 1-3 the bridge is damaged, with a 1 indicating it's completely destroyed." God bless him, he rolled a 1. That spells doom for the last of spidersilk and rust holding the ancient structure together, and the sky rains flaming fragments of bridge. Beautiful. I ask everyone to throw dice to see if they spot some other loot floating down the river and Wheelz ends up braving the polluted, monster-infested waters to pull out a skeletal arm still clutching a large satchel. In it is 300 poker chips, which is real money in my post apocalyptic world (1 chip = 1 gold piece).

The PCs are undeterred by their bridge blowing up. They decide to build their own across a narrows closer to the fishing village. The tail end of the session involved them scouting the Forest of Eyes for lumber, getting permission from the Mother Psiperior of the Convent of the Violet Flame to harvest the trees for the project (provided they don't touch the Ocu-Oaks), and recruiting a gang of workers. Carl handled most of the negotiations and behind the screen I threw some very favorable reaction rolls for his character. Meanwhile, the Sister sent to monitor the logging is trying to convince Spunky the Invincible Wonder Weasel into becoming a nun.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

quick Trav item

A glance at this wikipedia page suggests that the largest real world commercial ships top out at about 5 times the displacement of the largest military vessels, with many commercial vessels three times the size of the largest warships. So if the largest military vessel seen in your Traveller sector is a 60,000 ton cruiser, then the biggest merchant vessel one would expect to find would be 300,000 tons, with 180,000 ton vessels more common.

I've long wanted a rule of thumb like that.

longings for the stars

I've been on a little bit of a sci-fi kick lately, which undoubtedly started when I saved that old BattleTech scenario from geocities oblivion. That led to Klingon Armada, which got me thinking about all the fun possibilities of spaceship battles. Both of which naturally lead me to Traveller. For the first time in a couple of years I've recently added some new stuff to the Gateway Quadrant wiki, my attempt to preserve and expand the Trav material written by David Sering and published by Judges Guild.

Last night I flipped back through my copy of Mongoose Traveller. I continue to be impressed by how well the folks behind that one did at navigating the line between preserving the Traveller legacy and updating the material to make it more relevant. I really ought to try out these Mongoose rules at some point, especially when I already have a pretty large sandbox to play in. I kind of like the idea of putting the players in charge of a merchant exploration vessel and setting them loose among the weird mini-states of the Quadrant.

This just in: Swords & Wizardry is going into distribution. Huzzah!

Monday, October 19, 2009

so this is pretty awesome

Every once in a while the folks who publish games come out with something so suited to my idiosyncratic tastes that I can only assume they're making it specifically for me. Case in point: the new book Klingon Armada. Dan Kast takes his excellent Starmada spaceship minis rules and applies them to the alterna-Trek universe of Star Fleet Battles. To me that is so like peanut butter and chocolate that I never thought it would come to pass. Starmada is either the best or second best starship minis game I've ever encountered, Full Thrust being the other competitor for the top spot. The Starmada Compedium is one of my favorite game books ever. I own three copies, for frig's sake! Meanwhile, the Star Fleet Universe takes The Original Series and makes it bigger and more militant, so as to justify more and larger space battles. Kapow!

It's not a completely flawless book. I was hoping for a ship silhouette on the spaceship stat cards. And while the mini-campaign in the book is aces, an additional scenario or two (especially a training fight) would be nice. Stats for Tholian ships without web-shooters is just plain weird. And I don't understand why PDFs of the ship cards are six bucks at e23 rather than a free download. For six bucks I would expect to get the whole dang game, the hard copy is only seventeen. Still, as a launching point for seeking out new lifeforms and new civilizations and then blowing them straight to hell, this book totally works.

If you like SFB or the old FASA Trek ship game but want something sleeker and better suited to bigass fleet actions, I heartily suggest checking out Klingon Armada. Get it from your friendly local game store or buy one here. Or before you buy, check out this free download of the basic Starmada rules that Klingon Armada is built upon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dungeoneering with Dad


Yesterday the whole Rients family went to the Rader farm near Bloomington, Illinois. This is one of those places that in the fall opens up to the general public to sell them pumpkins and take folks on hay rack rides and such.

My dad and I were the only ones who wanted to test our mettle against the 5 acre corn maze. We had a great time of it, too. For scale, look at the photo above and imagine the base of the A's in FAMILY FARM at about 10 or 15 feet across. Most of the passages were just wide enough that two people going in different directions could squeeze by each other.

As you go in you're handed a map with the goal of finding all 10 checkpoints before you exit. While I am terrible at navigating by landmarks or even finding which way is east, you can bet your ass I know how to use a dungeon map! By checkpoint number 4 or so I was giving directions out to folks who were lost.

Although the lighting was good and no monsters tried to eat us, there was one major hazard: mud. The rain around here has been pretty heavy in the last week and there were a lot of passages with standing water and squishy mud. At one point I got stuck. Had I not been wearing boots my socks would have gotten plenty wet while I was extricating myself. One big lesson I took away from the expedition is that if you are always watching your footing it's awfully hard to pay attention to anything else. We had to come to a full stop on dry land to consult the map. Running away from ogres would have almost certainly involved falling face first in the mud and getting completely lost too. I can almost imagine someone in platemail with a pack full of gear drowning in a puddle of muddy water.

Another big thing the corn maze suggested: pacing out the length of passages in a dungeon really would take a heckuva long time. Add in trying to steer clear of monsters and the standard 120'/turn movement rate really seems to make sense.

It would be interesting to attempt the same maze at night, with a light source that simulates a torch or lantern. That would be cool.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Shatnerversary!

Today's post is a little later than normal because my wife and I spent yesterday celebrating ten years of marriage. That's 3650 days of Amy putting up with my nonsense. Amazing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blame Eliphas Levi

Today I would like to offer a correction to a previous item. Back in 2005 I suggested that Wraeththu: From Enchantment to Fufilment was "the first RPG I've ever encountered with someone's genitalia displayed on the cover". I was wrong. Somehow I had forgotten about ol' Baphomet on the cover of Bruce Galloway's oddball Fantasy Wargaming.



If the snakes don't get you, Mr. Happy surely will.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's on the tip of your brain?

Simple question today. Imagine you're not in front of your computer reading stupid gaming blogs, you're not looking at your shelf full of game crap, nor are you talking to your gaming buddies. You're doing something totally non-game related when you have an idle thought about role-playing games. Even if your thought has nothing to do with game mechanics, assume there's an implied game where the thought makes more sense with in the context of game X rather than game Y or Z. What system(s) are you most likely to be thinking of?

Personally, almost all of my random thoughts about RPGs can be filed under D&D, Encounter Critical or Traveller. That's just three systems, assuming you look at something like Mutant Future as a special case of the general field of D&D. Which I do. I'm curious if others get sudden inspirations about a wider range of games. Doc Rotwang! strikes me as being a likely candidate in this regard. Does anybody ever have unbidden thoughts about games they haven't played, read, discussed or otherwise thought about in years? I played one brief Shadowrun campaign when the game first came out and have never thought about it since unless someone us brought it up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Geocities Redux: excerpts from "BattleDroids Variants"

Introduction

George MacDonald has an armful of credits for the HERO System. Until recently I was unaware of his involvement in Battledroids (and as it would later be called, BattleTech). Mr. MacDonald, along with fellow Hero Games alumnus Steve Peterson, first described in print the technical details of the BattleMech.

The material Mr. MacDonald presents in Space Gamer #75 represents the earliest Battledroids/BattleTech variants I have yet to see in print. To read this article is to go back in time, to an era when a game that would become a phenomenon was still taking form and to a time George Lucas had yet to assume complete domination over the word “droid”.

From an ludo-archeological perspective, it is interesting to note that in his article Mr. MacDonald apparently invented the concept of the torso twist, a key component of later BattleTech play. One difference between the MacDonald “Emergency Turn” and the later official rules is that Mr. MacDonald’s maneuver resulted in a –2 to-hit penalty for all fire. If that was in BattleTech as my group first played it, we didn't realize it.

More important that the historical reasons for preserving this material are the actual gaming benefits. In other words, despite the nearly twenty years since publication, I think some of this stuff looks useable. Emphasis on the “looks”. I have yet to try out either of the ideas excerpted below. If you have played with these variants, or read this page and give either of them a try, please let me know.

Excerpt #1: Ranged Weapons

Battledroids contains only a very few weapons. The list below adds four new weapons: the Auto-Laser, Tank Cannon, Heavy Missile Launcher, and a Medium-Range Racks.

“Auto-Laser: A medium weapon that fires multiple pulses of laser light. For each point that the attacker makes his to-hit roll by, the target takes 2 points of damage. Thus, if an attacker has a to-hit roll of 6+ and rolls a 10, the laser hits at 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 for 5 hits of 2 points each. Divide the damage into 5-point increments and roll hit location once per set of 5 points.

“Tank Cannon: A relic of a bygone era, the Tank Cannon is a medium recoilless cannon firing a high-explosive shell at high velocity. Tanks in Battledroids have 12 tons for weapons, so a tank could carry 1 cannon, 120 cannon shots, and 2 machine guns, each with 200 shots.

“Heavy Missile Launcher: This is often a shoulder-fired weapon that resembles a giant bazooka. It can fire one shot per turn. It is based on the Long-Range Missile, with a similar guidance system and a scaled-up warhead and propulsion. Because each missile is fired individually, it is aimed better and has a shorter minimum effective range than a Long-Range Missile does.

“Medium Missile Rack: A beefed-up Short-Range Missile Rack, with 33% more range and a 10 rack size. Quite useful for times when a Short-Range Missile is too short and a Long-Range Missile is too long.”

[Click for larger version.]

Notes

I think I prefer the Auto-Laser to the later Pulse Lasers that first appeared in the Technical Read Out 2750, though I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use both in a game. My gut instinct tells me that Auto-Lasers ought to be deadly at a range of 3 to 4 hexes.

The Tank Cannon puts an AC/5 to shame. For a range penalty of 3 hexes, the Tank Cannon produces equal damage for equal heat, weighs 3 tons less, occupies 2 fewer critical locations, and has 50% better ammo capacity. I can only assume that the Autocannon as presented in Battledroids was significantly different from the one adopted in later editions. With an alteration or two I think you could find some use for the Tank Cannon in BattleTech games. Without editing the Tank Cannon very few mechs would be built with AC/5’s. Imagine, for example, the things you could accomplish with the RFL-3N Rifleman if you had 6 more tons to work with. The effective range reduction seems a paltry penalty under such circumstances.

I think the most obvious solution would be to demand a slower rate of fire from the (non-Auto) Tank Cannon. Perhaps a simple “can only fire every other turn” rule would suffice. Such a change would emasculate the weapon, but it’s specifically labeled “a relic of a bygone era” and the name of the system makes clear that it was intended for tanks and not BattleMechs.

The Heavy Missile Launcher has similar problems as the Tank Cannon, leaving me wondering if maybe LRM packs also worked differently back in the day. The flat 8 points of damage beats out the average amount done by an LRM10 salvo. The Heavy Missile has the same range as an LRM, a shorter min range, weighs the same as an LRM10 but gets 8 more shots per ton. Heck, the 8 points of damage approaches the LRM15’s average damage. Again I wonder what BattleTech player would use an LRM10 if the Heavy Missile Launcher is available and on an equal footing with regard to supply, maintenance, repair, etc. As far as I can tell, by swapping out LRM10s and replacing them with Heavy Missile Launchers you only face 2 minor issues: you lose the ability to do 10 points of damage on a lucky missile hit roll and the Heavy Missile takes up an additional crit location.

Still, I’m not sure how to make the HML a more balanced weapon. Since MacDonald clearly intended for the Heavy Missile to be a Mech weapon system I feel like I can’t chop it down to size like I suggested above for the Tank Cannon. Perhaps the best solution would be to keep the statistics as written but handwave the availability of the Heavy Missile Launcher. “A new development only available to [fill in your favorite faction here]” or “Lost Star League Technology” or something like that.

The Medium Range Missile launchers have a lot going for them. Weight, crit space, and shots per ton are all slightly worse than comparable SRMs. The MRM10 is a kooky little addition to the sequence. The only thing that weirds me out are the MRM heat ratings. For no apparent reason a MRM generates about half as much heat as a similarly sized SRM. Worst of all, the MRM2 causes zero heat build-up. I like the MRMs and want to use them in play, but I think you either have to change the heat curves of these puppies or else go the “special munchkin tech” route like for the Heavy Missile.

Excerpt #2: Additional Heat Build-Up

“The heat buildup inside a droid in combat is one of the major limiting factors in its performance. Battledroids covers the major things a droidwarrior does to cause his own droid to generate heat. But, as any droidwarrior who has taken a Head hit from a Heavy Laser will tell you, enemy weapons fire can also generate significant heat.

“The accompanying chart lists the heat effect of being hit by each of the weapons in Battledroids. Divide the number of points of damage caused by each type of weapon by the listed value; round fractions down. The heat buildup from each attack type is calculated separately from damage.

“Thus a target hit by a Heavy Laser (8 points), 6 Long Range Missiles and a Tank Cannon (11 points), and a Flamer (2 points) would add 2 + 1 + 1 = 4 to its Heat Points that turn.”

[Click for a more legible version.]
Notes

I have two reservations towards implementing these interesting heat rules. First of all, I’m not sure the science would support the idea, especially in the case of lasers and machineguns. Mechs build up heat because they are enclosed machines. I fail to grasp how running a laser light along the hull of one will results in overall heat build-up. Since we’re talking about a giant robot game, I don’t consider that a big issue.

The bigger objection I have is the way that these rules alter the core game concept of heat management. Managing heat buildup has always been one of the most interesting mechanics in the game. One of the reasons heat management continues to fascinate me is the fact that heat buildup is basically self-inflicted. You voluntarily take on the long-term pain of additional heat for the short-term gain of faster movement and more intense weapons fire. Certainly outside forces can effect your heat rating, but the main thrust of the heat rules have always been summarized in questions like “Do I dare screw myself over for the privilege of firing all four of my Rifleman’s lasers on the same turn?” Figuring every single enemy weapon hit into the equation undermines the delicious cruelty of the system as written.

Still, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a game that tried these rules.

Shatnerday on your head?

Not available in Raspberry.
Thanks to Donovan of the Fine Art of the TPK for sending this one in!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Mutant Future goes full blown Thundarr

Meet my campaign's newest PC:


I've been running games at the Armored Gopher since January and this whole time I have been eagerly awaiting some player to ask "Can I play X?", where X is not one of the classes/races/whatever in the rulebook. Last night I got my wish. One of the first things I heard as I entered the store was "I wanna play a lich." Joe was apparently ready to set aside his mutant with three brains in favor of something a little different. So he rolls 3d6 six times while I figured out how we would put a lich into the Mutant Future.

I end up offering Joe two options. The first implementation would be a gaunt Mutant Humanoid with half his physical mutations traded in for mental mutations. The mental mutations would be his "magic powers" and he'd effectively be a member of the Pseudo-Undead, like in the 1st edition Monster Manual II. The second possible method would be to start with the Labyrinth Lord version of the Magic-User, starting level set by a 2d4 roll but at 0xp and he would get Mutant Future hit points (a number of d6's equal to his Con). Other Undead abilities such as not needing to breathe would be adjudicated on the fly. I explicitly warned Joe that whether poison would work on this version would be a function of how dickish I was feeling whenever the situation arose.

Joe chose option two, so we now have a full-blown cadaver with a spellbook in the party. While I didn't add anything supernatural to this week's session, the kid gloves are officially off in this campaign. Balrogs wielding lightsabres and robots with magic rune casemods are now on the field of play.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

BattleTech Scenario 1, Take 2

RESERVOIR RAID

Background

In January 3025 the Draconis Combine staged a series of raids into the Moseby Sector to test the defenses of the Lyran Commonwealth. Combine High Command assigned the task of raiding Lyran space to the 11th Legion of Vega, known as “The Looters”. It was felt that the known unreliability and poor morale of the 11th Legion would help supply the Combine with plausible deniability; any captured forces could be explained away as rogue elements engaged in unauthorized plundering.

These raids would be the first time the 11th Legion of Vega would be commanded by Colonel Theodore Kurita, heir apparent to the Combine throne. Two initial attacks on Lyran backwater worlds met with minimal resistance. Enemy battlemechs weren’t encountered until the third week of raiding, while a single company of the 11th Vegan was plundering the water purification plant belonging to a small colony on Messick IV.

Bad intelligence had led Colonel Kurita to believe that the enemy forces on Messick IV would consist of nothing but a few platoons of light tank and infantry, easily swept aside by his superior battlemechs. To his surprise the 22nd Skye Rangers were deployed on Messick IV for desert maneuver training. The 22nd Skye were nicknamed “Katrina’s Bonnie Bairns” because this green regiment had been formed only a few years earlier on the authorization of Katrina Steiner, Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth.

Though untested in battle, the troops of the 22nd Skye Rangers were eager to prove themselves to their matron. The 22nd also had the benefit of several veteran officers leading the young mechwarriors, especially their commanding officer, Colonel Ivan Petroff, who had proven himself in several battles of the 3rd Succession War.

Situation

As the scenario begins both side’s main forces are pinned down in an intense firefight within sight of the Messick IV water purification facility. Both company commanders have dispatched reserve lances with the intention of flanking the main enemy force and setting up a deadly crossfire. The two reserve lances meet half a kilometer from the main battle. Whichever lance wins this exchange may very well be able to turn the tide of the whole engagement. The lance with the most tonnage of mechs capable of both movement and weapons fire at the end of ten turns wins the battle.

Opposing Forces

11th Legion of Vega insignia

Attackers: Akita’s Lance, 11th Legion of Vega, Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery

Pilot: Lieutenant Benjiro Akita
Despite coming from an influential and honorable mechwarrior line, Lt. Akita’s career so far has been a succession of dismal failures. When he flunked out of the prestigious Sun Zhang MechWarrior Academy his family was able to use its political clout to secure him a commission with the 9th Pesht Regulars. After a sub par tour with the 9th Pesht, Lt. Akita accepted an assignment with the 11th Legion of Vega because they were the only Draconis unit that would take him. He is desperate to prove himself on the field of battle in order to regain some of his lost dignity and earn the respect of his family.

Vehicle: MAD-3R Marauder
Considered one of the best BattleMechs ever designed, the 75-ton Marauder is equipped with substantial armor and numerous heat sinks. Armament consists of two particle cannons and two medium lasers as well as a torso mounted autocannon. The speed of this vehicle meets or exceeds that of most mechs in or above its weight class.

Pilot: Sergeant Monty Diggs
Sgt. Diggs formerly commanded a lance as a lieutenant in the 13th Rasalhague Regulars but he was inadvertently caught up in a political scandal when his commanding officer ran afoul of the ISF (the Draconis Combine secret police). In order to avoid a courtmartial Sgt. Diggs accepted a demotion and transfer to the 11th Legion. He now seeks to once again command his own lance.

Vehicle: CRD-3R Crusader
The Crusader is a 65-ton Mech that relies primarily on missiles in combat: two shoulder-mounted long-range missile launchers and two hip-mounted short-range missile launchers. Secondary weapons are wrist mounted medium lasers and machine guns. Cruising speed and armor are typical for a Mech of this weight class. Limited missile storage capacity can be a problem for this vehicle in a protracted firefight.

Pilot: MechWarrior Kareem Rodrigues
Kareem Rodrigues first tour of duty was with the 2nd Arkab Legion, the force based out of his native Arkab Sector. Rodriques is a devout Zensunni but the majority of Arkabites are members of the Azami faith. Rodriques requested a transfer upon discovering that he would have to convert if he ever wanted to seek promotion in the 2nd Arkab. Because the Arkabites are considered politically suspect he could only find a post with the disreputable Legion of Vega.

Vehicle: RFL-3N Rifleman
This workhorse 60-ton mech is armed with two large lasers, two autocannon, and two medium lasers. Owing to the massive cannon, speed is slower and armor thinner than many mechs in the same weight class. Heat sinks are insufficient in the event that the pilot fires both large lasers simultaneously.

Pilot: MechWarrior Erma “Jinxo” Langley
MechWarrior Erma Langley is one of the rare female mechwarriors in the service of the Draconis Combine. Her comrades-in-arms have nickname her “Jinxo” for her apparent ability to find herself on the losing side in conflicts. Prior to be shanghaied into the 11th Legion of Vega, Langely served in two different mercenary units that were both blasted out of existence on different fields of battle. The second time this happened she found herself deep in Draconis territory, where she was offered the choice of signing on with the Legion or becoming a prisoner of war. She is determined to demonstrate that she is not the jinx many think her to be.

Vehicle: WSP-1A Wasp
This 20-ton scout mech is noted for its high speed and good jump capability. Lightly armored and armed with only a medium laser and a small missile launcher, this mech is not designed to engage heavier units in face-to-face combat.


22nd Sky Rangers insignia

Defenders: Barr’s Lance, 22nd Skye Rangers, Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces

Pilot: Lieutenant Waldo Barr
Young Lt. Barr is a recent graduate of the BlackJack School of Conflict, a relatively new mechwarrior academy that has produced many capable pilots but is looked down upon by the old boys of the Lyran High Command. Lt. Barr is eager to prove that the training he received at BlackJack is just as effective as the teachings of mechwarrior institutions with longer and more respected pedigrees.

Vehicle: TDR-5S Thunderbolt
Weighing in at 65 tons, the Thunderbolt is a heavy Mech with a beefy 13 tons of armor. Its primary weapons are an arm-mounted large laser and a torso-mounted long-range missile tube. This mech is also equipped with a variety of medium and short range weapon systems. The speed of this vehicle meets or exceeds that of most mechs in or above its weight class.

Pilot: Sergeant Trina Chapman
The Chapman family of the planet Skye has a long history of Lyran military service as aerospace fighter pilots. Trina is the first battlemech pilot to come from the Chapman family in three generations. Her hope is to show that the Chapmans make just as good mech pilots as they do aero-jockeys.

Vehicle: ARC-2R Archer
This heavily armored 70-ton battlemech is well known for its two large long-range missile launchers, capable of delivering a deadly volley of 40 missiles in a single salvo. Short ranged weaponry is limited to medium lasers, of which two are rear mounted.

Pilot: MechWarrior Donnell Cahill
Donnell Cahill comes from a long line Skye-born mechwarriors. He signed on to the newly-formed 22nd Skye Rangers in an attempt to get out from under the shadow of his two older brothers, who have already made names for themselves in the Cahill family’s traditional unit, the 2nd Royal Guards.

Vehicle: GRF-1N Griffin
This jump-capable 55-tonner possesses good speed and average armor for a mech of its mass. Weaponry consists of an arm-mounted particle cannon and a long-range missile drum. Unlike most other battlemechs this vehicle is not equipped with any short or medium range weaponry and must rely solely on brawling attacks when at close range.

Pilot: MechWarrior Kay Mcintosh
Older than most green mechwarriors, Kay Mcintosh was given her battlemech as a reward for 15 years of loyal and exemplary service as a mech technician with the 17th Skye Rangers. Unfortunately the 17thSkye had no openings, so she took an assigment with the 22nd. Mcintosh looks for an opportunity to engage the enemy, as some pilots from long-established mechwarrior families have questioned if her piloting skills are as keen as her technical know-how.

Vehicle: LCT-1V Locust
The ground speed of this 20-ton scout vehicle exceeds that of almost every other known battlemech. Armor is no better than would be expected on such a small unit. Weaponry consists of a medium laser and arm-mounted machine guns. Unlike most scout mechs this vehicle is not jump-capable.

Additional Information


Map depicting the area where Akita’s Lance encountered Barr’s Lance. Akita’s Lance approaches from the west (left side), Barr’s from the east (right side). One hex equals 30 meters.

Messick IV as seen from space


Official Lyran Commonwealth map of Messick IV

also, the car is a passing fancy

“…a pleasant little game. It provides enough optional or advanced material to keep it interesting from game to game… although I don’t think it will ever become a fan favorite or gain a cult following the way games such as Ogre have."


-Aaron Allston, BattleTech review. Space Gamer, issue #75, July/August 1985

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Geocities Redux: old BattleTech scenario

[Sorry that cutting and pasting this from my soon-to-be-erased Geocities page did hell with the formatting.]

RESERVOIR RAID

Background

In January 3025 the Draconis Combine staged a series of raids into the Moseby Sector to test the defenses of the Lyran Commonwealth. Combine High Command assigned the task of raiding Lyran space to the 11th Legion of Vega, known as “The Looters”. It was felt that the known unreliability and poor morale of the 11th Legion would help supply the Combine with plausible deniability; any captured forces could be explained away as rogue elements engaged in unauthorized plundering.

Draconis Combine standard

Theodore Kurita

These raids would be the first time the 11th Legion of Vega would commanded by Colonel Theodore Kurita, heir apparent to the Combine throne. Two initial attacks on Lyran backwater worlds met with minimal resistance. Enemy battlemechs weren’t encountered until the third week of raiding, while a single company of the 11th Vegan was plundering the water purification plant belonging to a small colony on Messick IV.

Bad intelligence had led Colonel Kurita to believe that the enemy forces on Messick IV would consist of nothing but a few platoons of light tank and infantry, easily swept aside by his superior battlemechs. To his surprise the 22nd Skye Rangers were deployed on Messick IV for desert maneuver training. The 22nd Skye were nicknamed “Katrina’s Bonnie Bairns” because this green regiment had been formed only a few years earlier on the authorization of Katrina Steiner, Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth

Lyran Commonwealth standard

Skye Rangers insignia

.Though untested in battle, the troops of the 22nd Skye Rangers were eager to prove themselves to their matron. The 22nd also had the benefit of several veteran officers leading the young mechwarriors, especially their commanding officer, Colonel Ivan Petroff, who had proven himself in several battles of the 3rd Succession War.

Situation

As the scenario begins both side’s main forces are pinned down in an intense firefight within sight of the Messick IV water purification facility. Both company commanders have dispatched reserve lances with the intention of flanking the main enemy force and setting up a deadly crossfire. The two reserve lances meet half a kilometer from the main battle. Whichever lance wins this exchange may very well be able to turn the tide of the whole engagement. The lance with the most tonnage of mechs capable of both movement and weapons fire at the end of ten turns wins the battle.

Opposing Forces

Attackers: Akita’s Lance, 11th Legion of Vega, Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery

MAD-3R Marauder

Pilot: Lieutenant Benjiro Akita

Despite coming from an influential and honorable mechwarrior line, Lt. Akita’s career so far has been a succession of dismal failures. When he flunked out of the prestigious Sun Zhang MechWarrior Academy his family was able to use its political clout to secure him a commission with the 9th Pesht Regulars. After a sub par tour with the 9th Pesht, Lt. Akita accepted an assignment with the 11th Legion of Vega because they were the only Draconis unit that would take him. He is desperate to prove himself on the field of battle in order to regain some of his lost dignity and earn the respect of his family.

Vehicle: MAD-3R Marauder

Considered one of the best BattleMechs ever designed, the 75-ton Marauder is equipped with substantial armor and numerous heat sinks. Armament consists of two particle cannons and two medium lasers as well as a torso mounted autocannon. The speed of this vehicle meets or exceeds that of most mechs in or above its weight class.

Pilot: Sergeant Monty Diggs

CRD-3R Crusader

Sgt. Diggs formerly commanded a lance as a lieutenant in the 13thRasalhague Regulars but he was inadvertently caught up in a political scandal when his commanding officer ran afoul of the ISF (the Draconis Combine secret police). In order to avoid a court martial Sgt. Diggs accepted a demotion and transfer to the 11th Legion. He now seeks to once again command his own lance.

Vehicle: CRD-3R Crusade

The Crusader is a 65-ton Mech that relies primarily on missiles in combat: two shoulder-mounted long-range missile launchers and two hip-mounted short-range missile launchers. Secondary weapons are wrist mounted medium lasers and machine guns. Cruising speed and armor are typical for a Mech of this weight class. Limited missile storage capacity can be a problem for this vehicle in a protracted firefight.

11th Legion of Vega insignia


RFL-3N Rifleman

Pilot: MechWarrior Kareem Rodrigues

Kareem Rodrigues first tour of duty was with the 2nd Arkab Legion, the force based out of his native Arkab Sector. Rodriques is a devout Zensunni but the majority of Arkabites are members of the Azami faith. Rodriques requested a transfer upon discovering that he would have to convert if he ever wanted to seek promotion in the 2nd Arkab. Because the Arkabites are considered politically suspect he could only find a post with the disreputable Legion of Vega.

Vehicle: RFL-3N Rifleman

This workhorse 60-ton mech is armed with two large lasers, two autocannon, and two medium lasers. Because of the massive cannon, speed is slower and armor thinner than many mechs in the same weight class. Heat sinks are insufficient in the event that the pilot fires both large lasers simultaneously.

Pilot: MechWarrior Erma “Jinxo” Langley

WSP-1A Wasp

MechWarrior Erma Langley is one of the rare female mechwarriors in the service of the Draconis Combine. Her comrades-in-arms have nickname her “Jinxo” for her apparent ability to find herself on the losing side in conflicts. Prior to be shanghaied into the 11th Legion of Vega, Langely served in two different mercenary units that were both blasted out of existence on different fields of battle. The second time this happened she found herself deep in Draconis territory, where she was offered the choice of signing on with the Legion or becoming a prisoner of war. She is determined to demonstrate that she is not the jinx many think her to be.

Vehicle: WSP-1A Wasp

This 20-ton scout mech is noted for its high speed and good jump capability. Lightly armored and armed with only a medium laser and a small missile launcher, this mech is not designed to engage heavier units in face-to-face combat.

Lt. Akita

Sgt. Diggs

Rodrigues

Langley

Defenders: Barr’s Lance, 22nd Skye Rangers, Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces

TDR-5S Thunderbolt

Pilot: Lieutenant Waldo Barr

Young Lt. Barr is a recent graduate of the BlackJack School of Conflict, a relatively new mechwarrior academy that has produced many capable pilots but is looked down upon by the old boys of the Lyran High Command. Lt. Barr is eager to prove that the training he received at BlackJack is just as effective as the teachings of mechwarrior institutions with longer and more respected pedigrees.

Vehicle: TDR-5S Thunderbolt

Weighing in at 65 tons, the Thunderbolt is a heavy Mech with a beefy 13 tons of armor. Its primary weapons are an arm-mounted large laser and a torso-mounted long-range missile tube. This mech is also equipped with a variety of medium and short range weapon systems. The speed of this vehicle meets or exceeds that of most mechs in or above its weight class.

Pilot: Sergeant Trina Chapman

ARC-2R Archer

The Chapman family of the planet Skye has a long history of Lyran military service as aerospace fighter pilots. Trina is the first battlemech pilot to come from the Chapman family in three generations. Her hope is to show that the Chapmans make just as good mech pilots as they do aero-jockeys.

Vehicle: ARC-2R Archer

This heavily armored 70-ton battlemech is well known for its two large long-range missile launchers, capable of delivering a deadly volley of 40 missiles in a single salvo. Short ranged weaponry is limited to medium lasers, of which two are rear mounted.

GRF-1N Griffin

Pilot: MechWarrior Donnell Cahill

Donnell Cahill comes from a long line Skye-born mechwarriors. He signed on to the newly-formed 22nd Skye Rangers in an attempt to get out from under the shadow of his two older brothers, who have already made names for themselves in the Cahill family’s traditional unit, the 2nd Royal Guards.

Vehicle: GRF-1N Griffin

This jump-capable 55-tonner possesses good speed and average armor for a mech of its mass. Weaponry consists of an arm-mounted particle cannon and a long-range missile drum. Unlike most other battlemechs this vehicle is not equipped with any short or medium range weaponry and must rely solely on brawling attacks when at close range.

Pilot: MechWarrior Kay Mcintosh

LCT-1V Locust

Older than most green mechwarriors, Kay Mcintosh was given her battlemech as a reward for 15 years of loyal and exemplary service as a mech technician with the 17th Skye Rangers. Unfortunately the 17thSkye had no openings, so she took an assigment with the 22nd. Mcintosh looks for an opportunity to engage the enemy, as some pilots from long-established mechwarrior families have questioned if her piloting skills are as keen as her technical know-how.

Vehicle: LCT-1V Locust

The ground speed of this 20-ton scout vehicle exceeds that of almost every other known battlemech. Armor is no better than would be expected on such a small unit. Weaponry consists of a medium laser and arm-mounted machine guns. Unlike most scout mechs this vehicle is not jump-capable.

Lt. Barr

Sgt. Chapman

Cahill

Mcintosh

Additional Information

Map depicting the area where Akita’s Lance encountered Barr’s Lance.

Akita’s Lance approaches from the west (left side), Barr’s from the east (right side).

One hex equals 30 meters.

Messick IV as seen from space

Official Lyran Commonwealth map of Messick IV