Thursday, May 25, 2017

Inner Sphere 3025 Map (in progress)

There's something appealing about the look of a thing that's been pieced together from obviously disparate parts into a precise and coherent whole. Will post a cleaner version eventually, of course. Need it for working out Fasanomics as well as the math behind BattleTech's starcharts.

For all the complaints I've heard about the maps not lining up with the coordinates, I'm surprised how few problems these ol' things actually have.

If you look close in the bottom right, you'll notice I have no yellow dots on one of the Davion maps. It's because I don't have a copy of the House Davion: the Federated Suns stellar coordinates. Two of the other Houses I got from the .pdfs which used to be available for free from the official BattleTech website, and the last two (the worst-scanned of them) I took from my own books.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Revisiting the Valkyrie Test & the FWL

The ol' MW1e BattleField Encounters and Enemy Lance tables continue to intrigue me. Almost 30% of the 'Mechs turn out to be light, and almost 40% turn out to be medium, which seems to agree with BF1e's later assertion that the light/medium/heavy/assault weight classes are split 30/40/20/10. (Assault 'Mechs are underrepresented on the MW1e tables, I suspect because the "assault" class hadn't been separated from the "heavy" class yet.)

Applying the table's percentages to the FWL's 500 'Mechs/yr would yield 141.53 light 'Mechs/yr, of which 51, 42 and 32 would be Stingers, Wasps and Locusts--and HM:FWL's manufacturing table does indeed show 141 light 'Mechs/yr, of which 51, 42 and 32 are in fact those three bug 'Mechs, although the values for the Stinger and Wasp are swapped; swapping them back would help put HM:FWL's list of most-produced 'Mechs (from the link above) back in order. Gibson shifting four to seven 'Mechs from its Wolverine-M line over to its "troubled" (and unlisted) Hermes II line would fix the rest.

Quick Aside About Bug 'Mechs

TR:3025 estimates the Successor States use 5000 or more Stingers. The 51:42:32 ratio suggests the actual numbers would be around 5100 Stingers, 4200 Wasps and 3200 Locusts; about 12500 altogether. That works for a BattleDroids-ish setting with no other light 'Mechs and 39500-41500 'Mechs overall; but it gets a little tight once we move into the 3025 Housebook setting, even with 55000 'Mechs overall.

51:42:32 is also very close to 25% (9/36ths) Locusts, 33% (12/36ths) Wasps & the rest (15/36ths) Stingers. TR:3025 says the -1V accounts for "more than 75 percent" of extant Locusts, and I can't help but notice that 7/9ths is the simplest fraction to fall between 75% and 80%; you could almost fit all this on a 2d6 table. If the two other bug 'Mechs are similar, then I might expect the -1A to be 9/12ths of all Wasps and the -3R to be 12/15ths of all Stingers.

FWL Mediums

HM:FWL's manufacturing chart shows 187 medium 'Mechs/yr, while MW1e's Encounters and Lance tables would result in 191/yr. It's impossible to make the tables yield both 141 lights/yr and 187 mediums/yr (well, technically you can, but you'd have to use negative values for the frequency of light and medium lances), so apparently I have to increase production of some medium 'Mech by 4/yr.

The Phoenix Hawk, Hunchback and Hermes II seem like good choices because they "increasingly dominated" the League's regular regiments; but the Hermes II, Wolverine and Griffin are bad choices because they'd disrupt the list of most commonly produced 'Mechs. The 486 'Mechs shown on the chart have an average mass of 49.002 tons--I'll try to choose a 'Mech which keeps the chart's average mass as close to that as possible.

FWL Assaults

"Except for the period between 2953-68, when it controlled the Liao Atlas and Victor production facility on Carver V," HM:FWL says "the only new assault 'Mechs produced by the Free Worlds League during the past century have been Awesomes, BattleMasters, and Goliaths," and that there's "four active production lines of this type, producing an estimated 30 units per year"--yet the production chart shows 34 assault 'Mechs/yr, including 11 Stalkers.

The obvious solution is to replace the Stalker line with another one producing 7 Awesomes, BattleMasters or Goliaths. I'd go with the BattleMaster, making it about 2/3rds of the FWL's assault production, since the common BT3e 'Mechs make up 2/3rds of the FWL's production overall. (Though I have to say it's also tempting to replace both the Stalker and the BattleMaster with, respectively, the slow and fast variants of Longbow.)

Earthwerks et al

HM:FWL says the FWL produces about 500 'Mechs/yr of 24 types at 17 facilities, yet the production chart shows only 486/yr at 13 facilities, and replacing the Stalker takes us from 24 types down to 23.

The Earthwerks corporate profile in that book mentions a Thunderbolt line which would fill that gap nicely: it takes the number of 'Mech types back up to 24; being a heavy 'Mech, it doesn't screw up the light, medium or assault counts; and 14/yr is pretty close to what heavy production lines on the chart average (about 12.5/yr). (There's a small chance that I should reduce the Thunderbolts a little to increase Quickdraw production by one or two per year; it's something I'll have to watch for.)

Curiously, the corporate profiles don't mention the Awesome line on Irian, the Stalker (or any other assault) line on Shiro III (they mention Quickdraws instead), the BattleMaster line on Keystone, nor the Shadow Hawk line on Calloway VI. If these production lines got absorbed from other locations, that would help bring the number of facilities up to 17 as mentioned in the text. No doubt some of the shuffling can be chalked up to the reconstruction following Anton's revolt.


[Edit, 2017 March 31:  I've removed the summary chart because a couple of the changes are "squishy" and I'll have to treat them as such moving forward; also because charting the manufacturing by location is only really useful for identifying the FWL's seven inactive production lines, which involves analysis I haven't done yet. /Edit]

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Star Trek Beyond

I didn't bother to see Star Trek: Beyond in theaters, and only in the last month got around to watching it on DVD. Watched it with company (people talking and moving about) and it seemed a little bland; watched it again alone (in the dark with perfect audio) and that was a much better experience.
Pro: Tons of well-placed callbacks to TOS.
Pro: Running through the Enterprise when gravity's askew.
Con: Endless plotholes.
Con: Nobody but the bridge crew (plus token ally) are allowed to even attempt to achieve anything.
I'm not going to fault the movie for having plot holes--they aren't exactly new to Star Trek; and I'll only fault the movie a little for being an action movie--it did manage to work in a few character arcs, and it did try to pit the Enterprise against a type of challenge they've never faced before. I do like that the writers tried to address the "humanity must struggle" theme from TOS, which TOS maybe didn't handle very well, although Star Trek: Beyond didn't handle it with much depth either.

I hope the token ally, Jaylah, returns for future movies the way Lieutenant Saavik should have. I'll even double down on that hope because I'm only now realizing how much potential she has as a Tasha Yar analogue. (Not as explicit a match as Ro Laren or Kira Nerys, but better positioned to mash up the Geordi/Tasha and Scotty/ensign-spacelegs relationship arcs.)

I said last year that I wouldn't describe myself as a particular fan of Star Trek, and I should probably qualify that by saying I am still a fan of Star Trek; someone gave me this trinket for Christmas, and I'm quite tickled to have received it:

Sorry that the scan is a bit muddy. I know a few tricks with photoshop, but not enough to clean this up.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pathfinder Transcript: First Rat Quest

[One of the players in our group had been keeping brief transcripts of our sessions. He gave up on it partway into this quest so he could focus more on playing.]

This is the quest I described here, the first in our evil rat cycle.

I was wrong - the other players didn't change characters after this quest, they just made their existing character less evil. (This DM had asked us to make sure our characters weren't so evil or chaotic that he couldn't hook us into the quest by having us repay an important debt.)
  • My sorcerer was lawful evil, and stayed so. 
  • I think the hairless fighter is within one step of chaotic evil.
  • The alchemist was going to be literal-plague-upon-the-land double evil, but he toned it down to regular evil.
  • The bard might be chaotic neutral. Doesn't really matter, because he kept accidentally flirting with every single NPC he interacted with, so he decided to roll with it. He did end up changing characters.
  • I don't remember the alignment of the samurai who joined us later; the player changed shifts at work and hasn't joined us again.
The DM pulled out some dungeon tileboards for the warehouse fight and followup explorations. It felt like we didn't need them, but I guess I'd have said the same about the prison fight if we'd had them for that too. They had an extra couple bits of greebly terrain (half flight of stairs, gazebo, and so on) that I don't normally think to add, which was nice. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Harebrained Initiative (86 pages later)

[TL;DR? Weighing pros and cons, it's mostly pros, and the cons are arguable. I want to tweak how the "weight classes" are defined, though, which is why I'm really posting.]

It took a few weeks, but I finally finished reading this eighty-six page discussion of Harebrained Schemes' initiative system.

Regular BattleTech tosses a coin at the top of each round and then alternates between players, waiting to resolve weapons fire for all units en masse.HBS BattleTech resolves each unit's weapons fire individually after it moves, and gives lighter weight classes the option to activate before heavier weight classes.

There's a lot to like about the HBS system:
  • It mitigates the effects of always winning or losing the coin toss by making faster-activating units less powerful than slower-activating ones. 
  • You can break up enemy activations (or bunch up your own) by reserving your early-acting units to later phases.  
  • Your influence over activation order is intrinsic to force composition. 
  • Bonus: It adds value to light and medium 'Mechs, which tabletop players often criticize as too weak relative to heavy and assault 'Mechs. 
  • Meh: It matches the fiction better (events are rarely depicted as simultaneous - characters tend to take a hit from their enemy, then maneuver cleverly and fire a return volley). 
Other effects are less clear-cut, and I did see two substantive objections. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

First Look at Lyran Manufacturing in 3025

First, some ballparking:

Defiance Industries is "by far" the largest 'Mech manufacturer to survive to 3025, so it has to be substantially bigger than the Lyrans' next biggest manufacturer, Coventry Metal Works. If Commando production is anything like Valkyrie production, then Coventry (which also builds Stingers, Firestarters, Vulcans and Phoenix Hawks) should be building at least 150 'Mechs/year.

I've already established overall Lyran production as 500 'Mechs/yr, and House Steiner: The Lyran Commonwealth (hereafter HS:LC) lists five other 'Mech plants. If we estimate them as one share each, Defiance of Furillo as two shares, Coventry as 150/yr, and Hesperus II as one share bigger than Coventry, then Hesperus II would rate 175/yr, Furillo would rate 50/yr, and the other five plants would average 25/yr.

I enjoy how the 'Mechs are in scale with each other but not with the humans

Maybe it isn't surprising that Defiance and Coventry together would represent 75% (or more) of Lyran 'Mech production; and maybe I shouldn't be surprised that them being so big would bring the the lesser plants into line with the FWL's lesser plants.

I notice that TR:3050's entries for the Stinger, Wasp, Griffin, Wolverine, Victor and Atlas list variants from fastest produced to slowest produced. If other entries do the same, that would mean the Lyrans produce less of almost any given 'Mech than the FWL does. That's a useful constraint.

Okay, modeling Lyran factories on those in the FWL:

Friday, December 23, 2016

"Direct Competition to Rogue One"

"As direct competition to Rogue One, we release, Light Up The Night!
We'll just see how well you do at the box office now, Mr. Disney..."

I love how their newsletter over-hypes things.


Rogue One

Am I jaded for finding Rogue One ham-handed and mediocre? Don't get me wrong, there's things to enjoy about it, but it feels like a rejected alternate to Episode VII, and like the script doctors only got 40% of the way through. 

It'll be successful, of course, because it follows the same plot formula all the other Star Wars movies do; but I would think that these side-story movies would be trying to break from that formula.

[Edit, Jan 7: I am not alone! A kind soul pointed me to a couple articles posted on /Edit]