Thursday, June 29, 2017

Inner Sphere 3025 Map (some progress)

If you're seeing a very slightly cleaned up iteration of this starmap, then that means I haven't gotten back to Lyran production yet.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rat Quest #4: Psionic Magnet

This was essentially a test of whether we'd ambush a potential threat before trying to parley with it. Short, just two sessions, run by Osbald (the hairless fighter)'s player.

The Prelude

It's about a month after our last quest, and for the last few weeks, Ratfolk have been vanishing from Rosebush and the surrounding villages. Ch'Dar (dragoon raider) and Barnabosa (my sorcerer) discover this on their own, Nichodemus (wizardly patriarch) is recruited by Rosebush's baffled sheriff, and the three of us eventually rope in Skrac (the plague alchemist). All four PCs resist an unidentified psionic effect during the night.

We figure out that nobody in Rosebush knows anything, except (if I recall correctly) one NPC saw one of the missing rats sleepwalking the night they disappeared. I think Nichodemus scries the surrounding villages to see which ones are empty; from that survey, we decide the disappearances are moving in a generally northern direction, but we don't detect an epicenter or (again, if I remember correctly) a particular path.

The only way forward is to wait for a sleepwalker and follow them. Which we do. Casting "Read Mind" yields only white noise and a slow mantra; spoken questions get simple, flavorful-but-unhelpful answers. I may have spent longer trying to wring useful info out of this guy than the rest of the party cared for.

Not sure how I feel about the prelude.

The DM warned us it would be a short/simple quest, so I shouldn't be disappointed that there was only one path leading to the main encounter, or that there was so little to be achieved on that path; I guess it just feels like we spent too much time spinning our wheels. Probably doesn't help that the PCs spent much of the first session operating separately.

The Encounter

The sleepwalker's path leads to a bonfire surrounded by a few score ratfolk, most of them on the cusp of adventuring age. Our party watches stealthily, invisible or flying as our individual talents permit, from beyond the reach of the firelight, as the much older sleepwalker has a joyful reunion with a young child near the edge of the camp.

We determine that the most magical person is near the fire, flanked by two guards similar skill to ourselves. Nichodemus, pretending to be a sleepwalker himself, approaches the sleepwalker and his kid to question them about this camp and the person running it. I forget how we start talking to the Psion--maybe Nichodemus casts dispell on the sleepwalker and his kid, persuading them to leave. I think the Psion interrupts here telepathically, to ask why we're bothering his people, at which point Barnabosa flies into the middle of camp to speak with him directly, and the other PCs join. (Nichodemus' player tries to inject tension back in by traveling spectacularly--but needlessly--in the form of a whirlwind.)

Turns out the Psion is subconsciously overpowering these people's individual wills, but doesn't know it. He thought they all just really liked the idea of following him into the wilderness to found a new civilization. Him and Nichodemus take turns expositing about how Psions like him were used long ago in the wars between Rosebush and Nimh, and how Rosebush hunted them to extinction. This Psion was apparently in the bunch of refugees we rescued last quest, and whatever suppressant Nimh had been using on him took a while to wear off.
Psion: "I hear the 'good' king was killed. Where do you stand on that?"
Barnabosa wordlessly points to the crown on his head, a prize from said king's corpse.
I don't know if the other players keep forgetting that Barnabosa wears the dead king's crown, or if they only pretend to forget; if the latter, then good on them. It's a fun moment to have every few sessions.
Psion: "Part of me wants to go back to Nimh and make them pay for what they did. But I know that would be wrong."
Skrac: "How were you planning to do it? I was going to use a plague."
Barnabosa: "Here's my card; call on us anytime."
I think the DM forgot our party is mostly chaotic or evil. Nichodemus, who I think is neither, suggested that instead of razing Nimh, the Psion go to a monastery in the northern mountains to learn to control his power.

This encounter was pretty fun. Clear dilemma in needing to approach the Psion, but not knowing what will be interpreted as an attack; and when we did get talking to NPCs, getting their cooperation wasn't--at least at first--straightforward.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Third Rat Quest: 'Friendly' Trials in Nimh

TL;DR? Don't procrastinate on evacuations, and make sure to charm the budding villains before they turn on you. Also, as DM, there will come a time when you fail to anticipate the consequences of an NPC's actions.

This quest was DM'd by the guy who plays Teddy and Ch'Dar (and who DM'd the Xanadu quests). He started with an interesting setup: after we killed Nimh's evil king and the key necromancers supporting him, de facto control of that city apparently fell to a coalition of wealthy merchants, one of whom formed a "Commission for the Establishment of Peaceful Relations with Rosebush." That Commission invited a delegation from Rosebush to receive a goodwill gift at a festival in Nimh. News from Nimh is scant (the road from Rosebush to Nimh is neither quick nor safe), so we can't really trust that this invitation is on the up-and-up.

[Now that the jump-breaks work again...]

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Second Look at 3025 Lyran Assault Production

TL;DR? Best guess is ~94 assault 'Mechs/yr, including 33 Zeuses. Exact number of other types TBD; estiumates below the jump-cut. 

Moving carefully with Lyran production because how I proceed here will decide how I estimate the other Houses.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Second Rat Quest: Mickey Rat's Magical Kingdom

TL;DR? We go to Disney Land, and decide killing Micky Mouse and The Beast is too much trouble. Edit: Or maybe our memories were edited. /Edit

We began in media res with each character having separately pursued petty villains into situations resembling logic puzzles. This was DM'd by Skrac's (the plague alchemist's) player, the same guy who gave us riddles last time.
  • Ch'Dar the Dragoon (replacement for Teddy the Bard) was dancing at a village festival when something happened with his pack being stolen and a damsel was calling for help. He ended up trapped in a cell with a cylinder bubbling with amnesiac gas (which made him forget everything whenever he got too close), a candle, an amnesiac damsel, and a straw bed. 
  • Osbald the Hairless Fighter had to fill the missing number in the series 16, 06, 68, 88, __, 98. I forget why. He might've been in a crypt with a lock.
  • Barnabosa (my sorceror) had his sword stolen, and tracked the thief to a stretch of river with three towns. I could ask the river god a number of yes/no questions to determine which town the thief was in, but one of my NPC companions had comically wasted the questions until I had only one left. 
  • Nichodemus, Wizardly Patriarch of the ratfolk, was petitioned by some lesser magic using rat for help in stopping an evil summoning. The summoning requires 5 rows of 4 posts, the evil summoner is creating the posts at a predictable rate, and the ritual can only be sabotaged as the final post is created.
Solutions (and rest of the quest) below the cut.

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]