Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More 'Mech Production Insights From MW1e

Since I'm taking the production rates for Valkyries and other signature 'Mechs from the MW1e Enemy Lance Table, I decided to compare each House's portion of signature 'Mechs with their overall level of production.

I'm surprised by how well the Houses line up. Each has a base of 269, and then however many signature 'Mechs from the Lance Table, plus additional 'Mechs amounting to 61.2% of their signature designs.

Davion is a little off, which is discouraging; and the Hermes II (MW1e's signature Marik 'Mech) doesn't even appear on the table, so I need to check Marik some other way.

I think the Marauder-M and Wolverine-M could be considered signature Marik designs.

The Stinger, Wasp, Griffin, Locust, Warhammer, Archer, Shadow Hawk, Phoenix Hawk, BattleMaster, Rifleman and Crusader definitely aren't. Marik's manufacturing chart shows 257 of these/yr, and 14 Thunderbolts/yr raises the total to 271. That agrees pretty well with the 269 figure on my graph.

If each House builds 270 of these/yr, then that would mean the standard variants of these fourteen standard designs make up about 50% of the Inner Sphere's annual 'Mech production.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

# House Regiments *10 = 'Mech Production

House Liao: The Capellan Confederation (hereafter HL:CC) details its forces at the battalion level, which makes it easy to see they have about 40 regiments worth of house regulars. I notice that House Liao happens to build 400 'Mechs/yr and MW1e gives you a 4/36 chance of being in their employ.

The other House TO&Es aren't as detailed, but they seem to follow the same pattern: Davion has 70 regiments of house troops, Kurita has 60, Steiner 50 and Marik 50.

(I think we can trust that (for instance) the Davion book is accounting for short and weakened units when it estimates its 118 regimental commands at an overall strength of 110 regiments; and if we subtract known mercenary regiments from that overall strength, the remaining regiments should be house regulars (plus whatever mercs are too small to appear on the TO&Es).)

Of the 385 regiments' worth of 'Mechs operating in the Successor States, 270 belong to house troops while 115--or about 29.9%--belong to mercenaries.

Quick Plausibility Check:
  • The Periphery Houses have a total of 17.33 regiments. At a ratio of 115 to 385, we'd expect 5.18 of those regiments to be mercenary, and we do indeed see 5 regiments of mercs. 
  • MW1e gives you a 2/36 chance to roll a "bandit" affiliation (page 135 calls the difference between bandits and other alliances "more semantic than actual"). This implies 20 regiments of "house" troops spread across all lesser Periphery states, which in turn implies 20*115/270 merc regiments. Added to the three Periphery Houses and the five Great Houses, that's 430.85 regiments overall, or (at 128 'Mechs per regiment) 55149 'Mechs, which agrees with my previous estimates.
House Marik, which has 50 regiments of house troops, builds 500 'Mechs/yr with an average mass of 49 tons per 'Mech; since House Steiner sustains the same number of house troops with the same production/yr, they probably average 49 tons per 'Mech too.

The Periphery Houses, on the other hand, have a little more freedom because their production rates aren't encoded in the MW1e Affiliation Table.
The Outworlds Alliance has 1.33 regiments of house troops, so if their production averaged 49 tons per 'Mech, they'd build 13.33 'Mechs per year; to achieve the same overall mass with only 20-ton 'Mechs would require building 13.33*49/20 = 32.67 'Mechs per year.

The Magistracy of Canopus has 3.33 regiments of house troops, less however many mercs are too small to appear on the TO&E; P1e says they produce roughly 30 armor and 30 AeroSpace Fighters, so let's suppose they produce 30*49 tons of 'Mech per year--exactly enough for 10 Shadow Hawks and 46 bug 'Mechs.

The Taurian Concordat might then have 17.33*270/385 - 1.33 - 3 = 7.82 regiments of house troops. As the Periphery state most like a Great House, they probably do build 78 'Mechs per year averaging 49 tons per 'Mech.
This gives the Periphery a total production of 167 'Mechs/yr split into a 3/5/7 ratio (33/56/78). Happily, the MW2e Affiliation Table retains that 3/5/7 ratio circa 3050 when it raises their combined output to 250 'Mechs/yr (50/83.33/116.67).

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bandit Kings (part 2): Year Founded vs. # Worlds

P1e doesn't say how many worlds the Taurians or Canopians have. It does say the Outworlds Alliance has 38, and it also gives the year each of the three was founded.

Remember how the size of the mid-sized kingdoms corresponds to the size of their armies? I didn't really think it would work for the three big Periphery states. But it does. The Canopians have six 'Mech regiments (see fourth paragraph here) which corresponds to 31 worlds; and the Taurians have ten regiments, which corresponds to 49 worlds.

The Outworlds Alliance: Their four 'Mech battalions account for 6 of their worlds, and 4 worlds are free, leaving 28 for the fourteen air wings stationed within the Alliance. (A fifteenth air wing is stationed at "Grondass," which--given the book's inconsistent spelling of other worlds--is probably the Taurian "Girondas" struck by Cassandra's Volunteers in 2940.)

Looks like half an air wing (an air wing is about twenty fighters, so half would be ten) is as good a defense as two-thirds of a 'Mech battalion (based on a 128-'Mech regiment, that's about 28.44 'Mechs, plus 4.9 fighters in air support). Or in other words, four average fighters can scare off a Union and its two fighters.

Tiny Kingdoms:  The single-world armies (the kingdoms marked in red) are simple enough. The gaps between them get longer as they get older, which is what you'd expect if a steady fraction of them were getting overthrown every year.

Mid-Size Kingdoms:  The Oberon Confederation (founded circa 2855, per MW1e) lies at the crux of three trends:
  • As the largest and most civilized of bandit kingdoms, it falls in line with the three big Periphery states, a line which zeroes out near 3028 (the year P1e is set). It's a rate of one world every sixteen years, and probably represents the growth of non-predatory alliances.
  • Almost perpendicular to that trend is another which passes through Circinus, Tortuga, New St. Andrews and the defunct Rim Worlds Republic. No doubt it represents the tendency for nations to fragment or be absorbed into larger neighbors.
  • About halfway through the Second Succession War, Oberon starts a new trend--with the Marian Hegemony and Morgraine's Valkyrate--growing at a rate of one world every thirty-two years. I guess that's when the Successor States stopped expanding into the Periphery.
I notice that kingdoms which are young for their size--Morgraine's Valkyrate and the Marian Hegemony--also happen to be over-armed for their size, while kingdoms which are old for their size--Circinus and Tortuga--happen to be underarmed.

I don't know if the four Illyrian worlds bucks these trends or not. They were settled in the 24th century (exact year not given), but that isn't necessarily when they formed the Palatinate. P1e doesn't give a founding date for the Elysian Fields, either, and it wouldn't surprise me if that were timed to make the thirteen-world Oberon-Elysian combo align with the big three states.

This is all more highly structured than I expected, and I'm not sure how to translate those structures to other eras. The number of worlds is probably a combination of the nation's infrastructure and the rapaciousness of the era; and army size probably combines the size of the nation with the era's technological level. I'll be curious to see how the 20 Year Update colors things.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Bandit Kings (part 1): # Battalions vs # Worlds

P1e covers a number of the most notable Periphery bands. Seven of them control only a single world each, and range from less than a company of 'Mechs on up to two battalions (six companies)--exactly like a newly generated MW1e player unit.

The mid-size kingdoms basically have 2/3rds of a battalion for every world they control beyond their fourth. This is pretty well in line with the Draconis Combine (240 battalions for 350 worlds) and the Inner Sphere as a whole (1155 battalions for 1700-1800 worlds).

It would seem you don't need any 'Mechs to survive as an alliance of one to four worlds. The Inner Sphere has only about 450 well settled worlds, with the remainder of the 1700-1800 being client worlds (colonies, outposts and such), so perhaps these 'Mech-less kingdoms in the Periphery likewise consist of one main world and zero to three client worlds. I notice that the flag of Morgraine's Valkyrate has two large dots (presumably one for each of its major worlds) and three small dots (presumably one for each of its minor worlds).

I forgot to include the Illyrian Palatinate (4 worlds, "several companies" of 'Mechs) on that chart. Which was lucky, because it would have made those patterns harder to recognize.

Monday, July 24, 2017

MW1e Units Deploy in Groups of 1d6 Companies

I've realized something about MW1e's Unit Size chart. Ignore the top half of it; short version, you have ~12% chance of starting with 4 'Mechs, 25% chance to start with 8 'Mechs, and a 50% chance to start with a full 12 'Mech company. (Long version here.) What interests me right now is the 1d6 table at the bottom.

Although a battalion typically consists of 3 companies, it could be short a company (or have an extra) and still be referred to as a battalion; so rolling 2-4 on this table puts you in a group which consists of 2-4 companies. Likewise, a regiment could be short a battalion and therefore consist of only 5-6 companies.

It Gets Better:

If a deployment group consists of 1d6 companies, that's an average of 42 'Mechs per group, which is about right for a battalion with a command lance. In turn, three such groups would average 126 'Mechs, about right for a regiment with battalion and regimental command groups (a total of 128 'Mechs, per BF1e); at most you'd get 18 companies (which amounts to five battalions plus command elements, like the 42nd Avalon Hussars).

Intriguingly, the Mercenary's Handbook does indeed have you roll 3d6 to determine initial unit assets. (NPC units roll 3d6 on the table to the right, while PC units roll 2d6 plus their Leadership score--i.e., a Leadership skill roll; your unit's fortunes are literally two parts luck and one part leadership).*

The Mercenary's Handbook chart isn't linear, of course. I'm curious to see how much of that is because bigger units tend to have a better ratio of support and auxiliary units. Won't get to that for a while, though.

Next Time: Bandit Kings!

*This sentence was salvaged from an October 2016 post, which was otherwise trash and has since been deleted. 

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.