Monday, October 24, 2016

Unaffiliated 'Mech Production (Part 3: TDF)

3025 BattleTech has fourteen core 'Mech designs.

All three periphery states build Locusts, Stingers and Wasps. The Magistracy adds the Shadow Hawk. The Taurians add the Griffin, Thunderbolt, Archer, Warhammer and Marauder. None list the Phoenix Hawk, Wolverine, Rifleman, Crusader or BattleMaster.

It's interesting that none of the Kallon designs (Wolverine, Rifleman and Crusader) were claimed. I wonder if that says something about Kallon's history. Or maybe Kallon had a storehouse on Alpheratz, from which Alliance Defenders Limited slowly salvages their "assortment of medium and heavy 'Mechs?"

First Look at the Taurian Concordat

The Taurian Defense Force has thirty battalions in 3025. (Ostensibly they have twelve regiments, but three of those regiments are short a battalion, and another two replace half their units with conventional forces.) At the Magistracy's ratio of 'Mechs/yr:rgts, the Concordat would produce around 95 'Mechs/yr. However, like the Lyrans, the Concordat seems to have chosen durability over quantity; they've also somehow acquired a number of Lyran exclusives (Hatchetman, Commando, Rommel). At the Lyran ratio of 500/yr:75rgts, the Taurians would build 67 'Mechs/yr. (At the overall Successor State ratio of 2700/yr:385rgts, the Taurians would build 70 'Mechs/yr.)

The Concordat, Magistracy and Outworlds Alliance have a combined total of 17.33 regiments. At the Successor States' overall ratio of 2700 'Mechs/yr:385 regiments, the periphery states would build a combined total of 121.5 'Mechs/yr. Counting the Magistracy at 50/yr (assuming the excess is disproportionate for the MAF's size) and the Outworlds at 11(+/-2)/yr would leave 60.5(+/-2) for the Taurian Concordat.

If the Taurians and Canopians really do build the same number of 'Mechs, perhaps the MAF was close to luring another regiment of mercs (most likely Gordon's Armored Cavalry) away from the TDF. (That would help bring them closer to the ten that HM:FWL says they pledged to the Andurien alliance.)

The Magistracy and the Outworlds Alliance have six light production lines and one medium, which produce about half as many 'Mechs/yr as six average FWL light lines plus one average FWL medium line. If the Concordat's heavy lines are likewise half as productive as an average FWL heavy production line, they'd each build about 6 'Mechs/yr. (The Griffin line would be about 7/yr.)

To Be Continued: a more detailed look at the Taurians, and a first look at ComStar.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Abridging Devlin's Divide

I originally posted this somewhere else in February of last year.

my face were this what Catalyst's writers actually planned

Tucker Harwell: "Gentlemen, the future cannot influence the past, right? Wrong. We're going to prove that: lop-sided temporality. Today we're going to prove that we didn't just push a tachyon to its limits, we pushed ourselves to the limit. We did what he," Tucker points to Kael Pershaw's current body, "couldn't. This is our bridge, we built it, and he can't take that away from us."
Kael Pershaw: "He's quite simple for such an intelligent young man, isn't he?"
Fidelis: "He made your fiction real."
Kael Pershaw: "Your whole race will soon be fictional, along with all that other genetically inferior filth! My Jade Falcons, my army of the future, will rid our universe of you and your kind."
Devlin Stone: "That's it. An army. You're breeding an army to import from the future."
Devlin Stone: "Tucker! You've got to destroy the bridge! Destroy it!"
Tucker Harwell: "But we'll be the first ones, boss, we just got to see if we did it. Just for a millisecond. It's too important."
Devlin Stone: "Tucker! No!"
Tucker Harwell: "An elder sign... it worked!"

A figure drops through the aperture of the time bridge. It rises on a pair of long, skinny bird legs to its full one-and-a-half meter height, revealing a long, ovoid body with two huge eyes centered over a short beak. It shrieks an almost human shriek and leaps toward the gathered humans. The second one through the portal carries a pulse rifle, and opens fire. More follow.
Kael Pershaw: "No. IMPOSSIBLE!"
Tucker Harwell: "Blake's Blood, what have I done..."
Kael Pershaw: "No, no this is wrong. You're supposed to be--"
Tetatae: "--your superior race? WE ATE THEM."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Skilled Technicians (part 2)

After doing a fair bit of math, it looks like the chances of a BattleTech character getting a regular technician instead of a green one basically amounts to rolling 2d6 against a Target Number (hereafter TN) equal to the pilot's base gunnery plus their base piloting. And MW1e technicians almost always work faster than technicians in later editions- an average "Green" technician uses only 70% of the time listed for a repair, and an average "Regular" technician needs only 30%.

You're never going to roll a veteran (MW1e skill level 6 or 7) technician.

For most skills in MW1e, each level of skill reduces the TN by one. But repair rolls work differently. Each kind of repair has a fixed TN (and requires a set amount of time), which you modify per the charts below.

Comparing how your Learn score modifies repair rolls with how Attributes usually modify skill rolls, the author seems to be using base target number of 6. (When MW2e converted the repair difficulty chart from TNs to TN modifiers, it also assumed a base TN of 6.)

Technicians need to buy two levels of skill to improve their TN by one, which I think is meant to balance their progression against MechWarriors, who need to buy levels for two skills (piloting and gunnery). (MW3e tackled that issue from a different direction, by fragmenting the MechWarrior MOS and Technician MOS into similar numbers of sub-skills.)

MW1e gives each character type a free level (the first level) in their core skills, and attributes don't affect a skilled repair roll, so a technician character can be "Green" for free, or "Regular" for only 60 points. "Veteran" skill would require 190 points, just about the maximum a new character would squeeze in. In contrast, MechWarriors spend 35 points on attributes, plus another 40 for "Green" level skills; or another 90 to rate "Regular;" or another 170 to rate "Veteran."

Repair rolls accrue XP more slowly than combat does, however, so technicians advance more slowly during actual play. That may be one reason skilled technicians are less common than skilled MechWarriors.

Techs have shorter careers than MechWarriors, too--maybe ten years vs. twenty-five. A technician attached to a 'Mech unit encounters a wide variety of technology and swaps knowledge with colleagues from other backgrounds; at some point, this experience may become valuable enough for the technician to get lured away into the civilian sector. Workplace injury no doubt plays a role too--although MechWarriors and technicians both face radiation hazards, live ordinance, and the threat of being crushed by multi-ton objects, MechWarriors do so for only minutes at a time from behind a half-ton of armor and strapped into a harness and neckbrace; technicians do so for hours at a time with few of the same protections.

To Be Continued: repair yards, Solaris VII, and the march of technology

Monday, October 17, 2016

Unaffiliated 'Mech Production (Part 2: AMC)

But first:

Second Look at the MAF

Magistracy fighter production seems to be based on FWL fighter production. At a ratio of two fighters per company and nine companies per regiment (because the Periphery author is ignoring command elements, I guess, and the MAF doesn't have independent attack wings), the FWL's 60 'Mech regiments would have 1080 fighters; the FWL builds 325 fighters per year, which would be 30.1% turnover/yr. That's a very good match for the MAF's "roughly 30" per year out of "fewer than one hundred."

The FWL produces 500 'Mechs/yr for 60 regiments. At that ratio, "less than 60"/yr could imply that the Magistracy possesses 7 'Mech regiments. On the other hand, MW1e claims that the MAF has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years (aided by a source of supply "somewhere beyond the periphery"), so building 60 'Mechs/yr instead of 50/yr may be a sign the MAF has only 6 regiments but is still growing.

First Look at the Outworlds Alliance

The Alliance Military Command has two 'Mech regiments of two battalions each. "Two-thirds of the Alliance BattleMechs are light, Wasps and Stingers mostly, and the rest is an assortment of medium and heavy 'Mechs produced on Alpheratz."

Alliance Defenders Limited is the Alliance's largest manufacturer and the only one to build 'Mechs (Wasps, Locusts and Stingers). At the Magistracy's ratio of production:regiments, it would produce about 13 'Mechs/yr--not enough to include "an assortment" of mediums and heavies. Considering the Alliance's friendship with the Concordat, I suspect that's supposed to read "Taurus" instead of "Alpheratz."

The AeroSpace arm has "a total of 240 AeroSpace Fighters of various types. Though many of these craft are the salvaged remnants of previous conflicts, some 40 percent are less than two generations old." A generation is what, 20-30 years, so taking the 40th or 60th root of 51% to 60% survivors to get an annual survival rate, which converts to production of... 2/yr to 4/yr. Applying the FWL's ratio of ASF:Mech production would give us 8.5 fighters/yr instead.

Applying the FWL's (instead of the MAF's) ratio of 'Mechs/yr:rgts, the Outworlds would produce 11 'Mechs and 7 fighters per year. Using ratios from the Federated Suns, Draconis Combine (or both combined) would mean 8.5 to 10 'Mechs/yr and fewer than 5 fighters/yr.

To Be Continued: First looks at the Taurian Concordat and ComStar

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Firefly/Dollhouse (Andromeda) Campaign

Firefly has a ton of obvious parallels to BattleTech. Change the crew from small-time smugglers and scavengers to small-time mercs and scavengers, and you've got a ready framework for a campaign.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Skilled Technicians & Mech Customization

tl;dr? almost half of all field technicians can make short-term modifications (but short-term only). Will talk about player characters, tech progression, repair facilities, Solaris VII, and redoing the skill chart in a following post.

In MW1e:
  • A tech with skill 4+ can attempt a temporary repair with improvised parts by adding +3 to the repair difficulty (reroll each time the hit location takes damage). This can "involve grafting an arm or leg from a different 'Mech type onto the afflicted unit."
  • A tech with skill 6+ can research 'Mech design. 
In BattleTechnology #4 (aka #202):
  • Stuart Bell, the mercenary who created the CGR-SB Challenger by modifying a Charger to use a smaller engine, had a skill of 8 and stupendous amounts of documentation (and recommends at least a skill of 6 for anyone trying to follow his modifications).

How easy is it to find an NPC at these various levels of skill?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Unaffiliated 'Mech Production (Part 1: MAF)

Last March, when I showed how Successor State 'Mech production corresponds to one of MW1e's random faction tables, I shouldn't have suggested that all of the 700 "unaffiliated" 'Mechs/yr were built in the Periphery. Some, as with the Bandit King entry on that same table, no doubt represent defections instead of new production; and per the old Davion sourcebook, at least some 'Mechs are built on Terra.

Also, the Mercenary's Handbook adds rebels/secessionists and merchants (cartels) to the list of alternate affiliations, which may be related to MW1e's comment that units without an affiliation may need to "take on a temporary assignment from a local bureaucrat or private corporation to earn the funds to get off-world."

I was hoping to use MW1e's event tables to distribute the 700 Unaffiliated 'Mechs/yr between periphery manufacturing, ComStar manufacturing, corporate security and rebels. Unfortunately, all three tables (General Encounters, Major Events and VIPs) make ComStar as or more common than the periphery, which doesn't fit.

First Look at the Magistracy of Canopus

MW1e says the Magistracy Armed Forces possess only six 'Mech regiments. The regimental profiles in the 3025 Periphery sourcebook seem to list twice that many, but that's deceptive; MAF regiments are said to concentrate most of their 'Mechs into a single battalion, and the deployment table does indeed show all eighteen deployments being commanded by officers of battalion rank.

The battalion weights even conform to Successor State norms (described in 1st edition BattleForce): 30% (5.4, round to 5) are light, 60% (10.8, round to 11) are medium, and 10% (1.8, round to 2) are heavy.

The Magistracy's two 'Mech production sites have
a very low annual output (less than 60 machines per year), and produce mostly Locusts, Wasps and Stingers. The only medium-sized BattleMechs produced within the Magistracy are Shadow Hawks, but usually no more than ten per year. Production for armor, AeroSpace Fighters, and motorized vehicles run roughly 30 each per year.
The Inner Sphere produces 2700 'Mechs/yr for its 385 regiments. At that ratio, the Magistracy's almost-60/yr should support around eight regiments of 'Mechs; are some of its battalions oversized? Does the MAF trade (whether in battle or on the market) its surplus lights for heavies? I notice that the heavy battalions are Taurian mercs, known for salvaging Capellan Thunderbolts.

It's interesting that they produce roughly 30 fighters per year when "There are fewer than one hundred AeroSpace Fighters in Canopian space, most of which are captured and refurbished light or medium craft."

These are the Magistracy's only two weapons-producing facilities, but neither one mentions AeroSpace Fighters or wheeled vehicles (I presume jeeps and APCs), so their product listings must be incomplete; TR:3026 reports the Pike Support Vehicle as a product of "Canopus Industries Alpha," which seems like it could be an Inner Sphere reporting name for the Magesty Metals facility on Canopus.

To Be Continued: First looks at the Outworlds Alliance, Taurian Concordat and ComStar