Tuesday, December 8, 2015

DropShip Engines

In FASA's 1980s DropShips and JumpShips sourcebook, the engines on the Triumph, Condor, Fortress, Overlord and Excalibur all equal [ship mass]*[thrust]/15 - 50, and the engines on the Seeker, Monarch and Behemoth are close to that.


The Avenger, Buccaneer and Union are at [mass]*[thrust]/15 - 75, while the smallest ships, the Leopard, Fury and Gazelle are right around [mass]*[thrust]/15 - 100. The curve


[mass*thrust]/15 - [(14494*mass*thrust - 11150000) / (311*mass*thrust - 1279000)]

fits most of those engines. I don't expect to fit them all perfectly--when I worked through the JumpShip construction data I found typos, copy errors, and weirder inconsistencies which make that impossible. I'm pretty confident that the Mule and Mammoth engines have a digit wrong, and that the Vengeance's engine was calculated from a thrust of 3, instead of the thrust 4 its listed at. (I'm not the first to notice this about the Vengeance, but danged if I can remember who I've heard it from before.)

I'd feel pretty good about my equation, except that the ships which don't fit are all fast- the Achilles at thrust 8, the Seeker at thrust 5, and the Intruder at thrust 4 (in a band dominated by thrust 3 ships). So I don't think I'm accounting for thrust correctly.

I'd hoped to solve this by Thanksgiving, but que sera sera.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Many 'Mechs of Lazarus Long

The most misleading of the
covers Google gave me.
Last night I finished reading Time Enough for Love by Heinlein. The novel's framing and structure are interesting (I've spotted at least four ways that the whole narrative might be the hallucination of a dying man) and the moral lesson (that investing in the companionship and well-being of friends and family is what makes for a satisfying life) is fair enough.

But I mention the book because BattleTech seems to have taken inspiration from it. Stackpole did, for sure; its discussion of human breeding is a clear model for certain aspects of Clan culture, and Stackpole's old Warrior Trilogy author bios (which present the author as a time traveler on the run from ComStar) are an extraordinary match for a conversation late in Heinlein's novel.

Intriguingly, the few clues the book gives about the period 1980~2200 match up with what I recall of BattleTech's history for the same period, and it'll be interesting to find out how well the rest of Heinlein's "future history" lines up. (If I'm lucky, it'll bridge BattleTech with Renegade Legion.)

Friday, October 2, 2015

First Step to 3025 Assault Production Numbers

In previous posts, I have determined...

Annual 'Mech production by House:
700 Davion
600 Kurita
500 Steiner
500 Marik
400 Liao
Marik annual production includes 34 assault 'Mechs:
4 Goliath
7 Awesome
11 Stalker
12 BattleMaster
plus 85 heavy 'Mechs which take the place of assault 'Mechs:
21 Marauder-M
22 Warhammer
42 Orion
Steiner's production probably matches those 'Mechs I just named with assault-weight 'Mechs. So, 34+85 assault 'Mechs/year from Steiner.

Meanwhile, the House Davion book gives the Suns exactly 25 assault 'Mechs per year (20 Victors and 5 Atlases from Quentin).

For reasons I'll explain in a later post, I suspect assault 'Mechs to be 10% of the Inner Sphere's overall annual production. So, 270 total from all parties, less 119 from Steiner, 34 from Marik and 25 from Davion. This leaves 92 for Kurita and Liao to split.

As always, MW1e's events tables are my guide to generic conflict on any given border, which should correspond to how often assault 'Mechs are employed (and therefore lost and replaced).

I.e., the proportion of major conflicts on any given border:
Davion/Kurita 10/36
Liao/Davion 5/36
Kurita/Steiner 8/36
Steiner/Marik 7/36
Marik/Liao 6/36

Steiner is probably directing 8 portions of their assault production toward the Kurita border and 7 portions toward the Marik border, while Davion is probably directing 10 (much smaller) portions towards Kurita and 5 portions towards Liao; figure Kurita is being pressed with 80 increments of assault 'Mech production pressure/year. Assuming Marik directs 6 portions towards Liao, Liao would be pressed with only 24 increments. So Kurita is probably building 71 assault 'Mechs annually, and Liao 21.

Quick Plausibility Check: if Davion+Kurita+Liao produce 25+71+21 assault 'Mechs out of 700+600+400 total 'Mechs annually, that would make assault 'Mechs 6.88% of their annual production. That's very close to Marik's (34 / 500 = 6.8%).

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Draconis Combine: Probable World Populations


Total Population: 90 billion (75% concentrated on administrative worlds)
Average Population per World: 260 million (30-40 million for non-capitals)
Minimum Population per "Inhabited" World: 1 million

Supposing that a single Behemoth DropShip can satisfy one day's food and water needs for 12.5 million people, and that a round trip takes 1 month, then just 700 Behemoths could supply all the food and water needs for 1/3rd of the Combine's 350 inhabited worlds. (Essentially every world with 5 million or fewer people.)

Ningxia, with 23 million inhabitants, would be something like the 120th most populous world in the Combine. There's about 25 worlds ranging from 100 million to 600 million inhabitants, an industrial world somewhere around 750 million, and another around 1.1 billion.


How Do I Figure?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

360p Is The Only Choice

YouTube has apparently decided that I should only watch videos in 360p. Luckily, I've discovered that changing the URL from something like this...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USkEzLuzmZ4
...to something like this...
https://www.youtube.com/v/USkEzLuzmZ4
...gives me all the old options back.

Edit September 23rd: Unless the video is a vevo music video, in which case I need to find my way around regional restrictions. /Edit

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pathfinder Run #2: Amazon Runaway

My second scenario has long since come and gone. The main elements were a merchant, an unlucky town, some Amazon bandits, and an Amazon runaway; the main clues were a matching set of jewelry and a regionally popular bard duo.
probably inspired by this  (found via Zak)

The Amazons:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

FWL 3025: Regimental Compositions (part 3)

Is the number of FWL assault battalions proportionate to its rate of assault 'Mech production? If so, then battalion weights can be my guide to FWL Aerospace and LAM production too.
Assault Regiments: the FWL has only two. The way the 6th Marik Militia describes its three assault battalions makes me think the 20th Marik Militia probably has two. (That regiment might consist of two battalions total.)

Heavy Regiments: the composition of five are known and include two assault battalions. If the other twelve regiments are similar, they'd add another 4.8 assault battalions.

Medium Regiments: the compositions of twelve are known and (assuming the Border Protectorate's Iron Guards and Steel Guards entries are a little mixed up) include a single assault battalion. If the other eleven regiments are similar, they'd add another .92 assault battalions.

Light Regiments: the compositions of four light regiments are known, and (assuming the Iron Guards and Steel Guards entries are mixed up) none are known to possess assault battalions. The compositions of eleven more are unknown.

Unknown Regiments: the 25th Marik Militia is listed on the 3025 deployment tables, but not included in the regimental descriptions. Based on the 57 regiments given, I'll abstract it as containing .19 assault battalions.

Land-Air 'Mechs: the four known light regiments include 2.25 battalions of LAMs; if the other eleven are similar, they'd add another 6.2 battalions. The twelve known medium regiments include 1.67 battalions of LAMs; if the other eleven are similar, they'd add another 1.5 battalions. No heavy or assault regiments are noted to possess LAM battalions, and based on the 57 regiments given, I'll abstract the 25th Marik Militia as containing .2 LAM battalions.
This gives the FWL about 14 assault battalions (8 known and 6 more estimated). That's about 7.78% of the regiments claimed in HM:FWL, while assault 'Mechs are 6.8% of the FWL's annual production--pretty close. Based on that, the FWL's 11.8 LAM battalions (3.9 known plus 7.9 estimated) imply that at least 29 of the Stingers, Wasps and Phoenix Hawks built annually in the FWL are actually LAMs.

Page 115's production table doesn't list LAM variants explicitly the way it does Wolverine-Ms and Marauder-Ms, though, and the LexaTech entry in House Kurita: The Draconis Combine also hints at separating LAM production from BattleMech production. Pending how other Houses shake out, I think I'll peg the FWL at a little less than 12 assault battalions (34/500ths (ie, the production ratio) of its non-LAM battalions) and 12 LAM battalions (11.8/166ths (ie, the previously estimated ratio) of its non-assault battalions), and count LAM production as part of AeroSpace production:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

FWL 3025: Regimental Compositions (part 2)

First off, despite a handful of instances of poor phrasing, none of Marik's battalions appear to stick to a single weight class. E.g., the "three full-strength battalions of assault 'Mechs" which make the 6th Marik Militia a "shining gem" include a "jump-jet equipped Ostroc" without batting an eye.

My working theory is that battalion weights line up with the RPG's lance weight table. So light battalions would average 165 tons per lance, mediums 205 tons, heavies 245 tons and, extending the pattern, assault battalions would average 285 tons per lance. Haven't tested it too thoroughly yet since the regimental listings only call out about 17 battalions' worth of 'Mech designs.
Ostroc Mk II
from images on Sarna
Land-Air 'Mechs: 4 battalions
Hermes IIs: almost 4 battalions
Wolverine-Ms: about 2 battalions
Archers: over 1 battalion
Trebuchets: about 1 battalion
Crusaders: less than 1 battalion
Wasps: about half a battalion
Griffins: about half a battalion
Locusts: about half a battalion
Orions: about a company
Stalkers: about a company
Spiders: about a company
Marauder-Ms: about a company
Awesomes: about two lances
Goliaths: about two lances
Stingers: one to two lances of trainer 'Mechs
Vulcans: about a lance
Cicadas: about a lance
BattleMasters: about a lance
That's most of the 'Mech types produced inside the Free Worlds League. Phoenix Hawks aren't mentioned except for a single LAM. Warhammers, Hunchbacks, Shadow Hawks, Quickdraws and Riflemen aren't mentioned at all. My guess is that the 'Mechs ranked high on that list are disproportionately numerous in the Free Worlds League, while lower ranked 'Mechs occupy a fraction of the military similar to their fraction in other Successor States.

Also, some 'Mechs are more prominent than you'd guess just from their production numbers, which may indicate higher production in past centuries--we already know that the Trebuchet was "produced in large quantities on Irian" in the First Succession War, and that Goliath and Hermes II production isn't what it used to be either.
I divided each 'Mech's total (from the list above) by its annual production.
I suspect the ones above the red line used to have higher annual production.
A few units not produced in the Free Worlds League got called out too. A Zeus and a Chippewa, salvaged form the Lyrans; an Ostroc, a Cyclops and a Mackie, all known to be long out of production anywhere; one or two lances of Chameleon trainer 'Mechs, which had no current production site until TR:3058; and about a lance of Centurions, which had no current production site until TR:3050 carried a typo forward from House Davion: The Federated Suns. I find the Centurion especially interesting, considering its history with the Trebuchet and that the Lyrans are known to favor one of its variants.

Other items of interest...
  • "each [Orloff] Grenadier regiment is organized in classic fashion, with three composite battalions each containing one heavy, one medium, and one light company."
  • "the Stewart DropShips that used to carry Crusaders and Goliaths now carry beat-up Wolverine-Ms and Hermes IIs," which hints that past production of the former at least loosely parallels current production of the latter. 
  • The 1st Oriente Fusiliers possess four modified Stalkers, which makes me wonder how many in the FWL have been modified to the 70-75 ton "lite" variants.
  • The 3rd Oriente Fusiliers' assault battalion "includes a dozen 'Mechs of more than 80 tons," which makes me wonder if the FWL's Banshees are hiding in heavy battalions (three Trebuchets plus a Banshee makes 245 tons) or if the FWL might have a low Banshee fraction overall.
  • "The 5th has the heaviest ordnance in the Fusiliers" with an assault battalion of Orions, Awesomes, Goliaths and Stalkers and two heavy battalions noted for including "ten Marauder-Ms," which makes Marauder-Ms sound like they're usually reserved for assault battalions. 
  • The 3rd Oriente Hussars "is heavily stocked with older model 'Mechs (Archers, Griffins, Wasps)," a 'Mech plant on the planet Cameron produced its first run of Archers and Wasps for the Principality of Regulus in 2478 "from plans purloined from the Lyran Commonwealth," and "Gibson Federated had been producing Wolverine-M BattleMechs at a tremendous pace" at least by 2562.

Friday, July 3, 2015

FWL 3025: Regimental Compositions (part 1)

I've been wondering how to discuss the FWL's 3025 Regimental listings for weeks now. I can't keep putting it off if I ever want to get around to Lyran 'Mech production, though, so I'll just run through bare-bones observations.

To start with, the compositions of only 23 regiments (and 8 independent battalions) are described or can be inferred. We don't even know how many battalions the other regiments have, since the Capellans and Periphery (the only House books to consistently reach that level of detail) list some regiments as two battalions strong instead of three. (I should probably revisit that issue in the future.)

AeroSpace Weights

The weight listed for each regimental wing looks like it might be influenced by the weight of the regiment's battalions.
Assault Regiments (all two of them): heavy weight wings;
Heavy Regiments: mostly heavy or medium wings, only three (including one with an assault battalion) have a light wing;
Medium Regiments: split pretty evenly between heavy, medium and light;
Light Regiments: split pretty evenly between medium and light wings, with a slight (maybe insignificant) tendency for excessively light regiments to take light wings.
The single example wing has five Stingrays, two Cheetahs, and a recently captured Lyran Chippewa. (That recent action may be why the wing is at half strength.) Given the range of weights, I'd guess that each air lance would be rolled individually.

Infantry and Armor Support

Looking at the merc units, infantry support seems to be a prerequisite for tank support, in the same way that air support is a prerequisite for DropShips and DropShips are prerequisite for JumpShips. There's no telling just how much support is actually present, though.

(The Davion book lists these types of support for its merc units too, but it has exceptions to the Fighter - DropShip - JumpShip progression, and at a glance I see no pattern at all to its ground support.)


Next Time: the 'Mechs

Thursday, June 18, 2015

FWL 3025 Manufacturing: AeroSpace Fighters

From left: 100-ton Rievers, 60-ton Stingrays, 25-ton Cheetahs
Based on my earlier figures, the Free Worlds League should have 1100 fighters attached to 'Mech units, and (assuming the same number per collar as for 'Mech units) perhaps another 380 attached to their navy. House Marik: The Free Worlds League (hereafter "HM:FWL") says eight factories build 325 per year. Modeling their outputs on the 'Mech production sites, I'd expect them to produce 90, 74, 58, 39, 33, 21, 6 and 4 fighters respectively.
  • The six fighters from 1st edition AeroTech--the Sabre, Centurion, Lightning, Hellcat, Eagle and Thunderbird--are, by all accounts, common and manufactured in every Successor State. The "standard" 'Mechs from the 2nd edition set make up about 65% of the FWL's 'Mech production, so I imagine these six fighters constitute a similarly high percentage of the FWL's fighter production.
  • The planets Westover and Lopez both have factories for the Stingray and the Riever (HM:FWL page 126). TR:3025 calls the Riever the FWL's "impressive mainstay" and the Stingray merely "common." Free Worlds Defense Industries (merger of Gibson Federated BattleMechs and Andurien Aerotech) is a larger corporation than Earthwerks despite building 70 fewer 'Mechs; aerospace production probably makes up the difference.
  • The Helm asteroid belt has aerospace fighter bays (HM:FWL page 79); it's mentioned alongside both of Kali Yama's 'Mech plants, so I suspect it's also a Kali Yama production site.
  • The planet Marik, in addition to being the military capital of the Free Worlds League, has an Imstar Aerospace facility (HM:FWL page 154). Imstar's light Cheetah is said to be Marik's standard fighter and is probably produced at other sites as well (TR:3025).
  • The planet Atreus has an unnamed aerospace fighter production facility. (HM:FWL page 153)
  • The planet Bordon, home of Allied Aerospace (from TR:3025), probably produces aerospace craft. (It was hit in the same deep raid which destroyed the "secret" factory on Ling; HM:FWL page 44.)
  • The Principality of Regulus may have a Corsair factory (based on TR:3025). Given Regulus' share of the military, I'd expect such a facility to produce 18-26 fighters (not necessarily all Corsairs).
The regimental writeups (including merc battalions and extra Andurien wings) show roughly 2/7 of Marik's fighter formations to be light, 3/7 medium and 2/7 heavy. Can't say for sure if production weights break down the same way, but it's a starting point.

From left: 100-ton Thunderbirds or 75-ton Eagles,
60-ton Hellcats or 50-ton Lightnings, 30-ton Centurions or 20-ton Sabres

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

JumpShips in 3025

TL;DR? 920 Invaders, 540 Merchants, 225 Scouts (spread around 340 border systems), 160 Star Lords, 65 Monoliths, and 90 more obscure types. At most 14/36ths of a military's 'Mech regiments can be sent on planetary assault missions, and those missions require an average commitment of 1 jump collar per 4 'Mechs (to account for attack ships, continual supply and whatever else).


Sunday, May 10, 2015

FWL 3025 Manufacturing: Lost in Oriente

Looking at a map, it seems to me that the...
Regulan Hussars are supplied from Gibson and Wallis
    (66 'Mechs per year / 15 battalions)
Defenders of Andurien are supplied from Shiro III
    (62 'Mechs per year / 15 battalions)
Protectorate Guard, Sirian Lancers and Silver Hawks are supplied from Kalidasa and Oliver
    (89 'Mechs per year / 21 battalions)
Stewart Dragoons are supplied from Stewart
    (28 'Mechs per year / 6 battalions)
Fusiliers of Oriente, Oriente Hussars and Orloff Grenadiers are supplied from Calloway IV
    (44 'Mechs per year / 39 battalions)
Marik and federal forces are supplied from Irian, Keystone, Thermopolis, Kendall, Tematagi and Savannah
    (197 'Mechs per year / 81 battalions)
Oriente doesn't make sense. They should produce at least 50 more 'Mechs per year to support that many battalions. 

 
The House Marik book says "another seven production lines are currently shut down (due to component shortages) or disabled." (From context I think it means production sites, so Irian's dormant Guillotine line doesn't count). Seven inactive sites, plus four semi-active sites inferred from production numbers, should make eleven. I've identified maybe ten candidates:
  • In 2987, Lyran regiments crippled a much-prized "secret" light 'Mech manufacturing facility being constructed on Ling. (House Marik, page 44)
  • Marik's capture of Asuncion and Bernardo in 2840 significantly scaled down Capellan BattleMech production capability. Known lines include Crusaders (Kallon) and Fleas (Earthwerks). Liao began trading secretly with Asuncion in 2995. (House Marik page 34, House Liao pages 52 and 120, Wolf's Dragoons page 105, and TR:3050)
  • Kong Interstellar on Connaught produces some Ostsol parts. (TR3050)
  • A major storehouse on Bordon contains the bulk of Allied Aerospace's Phoenix Hawk LAM program. (TR:3025) This is as (or more) promising as what's said of Spiders, Vulcans, Trebuchets, Shadow Hawks, Goliaths and BattleMasters, which comprise 15% of the Free Worlds League's annual production. 
  • StarCorp Industries has at least one Longbow production line in the Free Worlds League. The original Stardate writeup says it's manufactured in limited numbers in "most" of the Successor States, but I don't know which (if any) worlds are listed; TR:3058 lists one world each for Marik, Steiner and Davion, but claims in the text that all three lie in the Free Worlds League. 
  • The Abbey District and Duchy of Tamarind are the only multi-world provinces with neither strong neighbors nor known production facilities. Although they're described as "torn apart" by the war, they might (like the Zion Province) possess disabled 'Mech production sites. 
Asuncion, Bernardo, Emris IV and Ling all lie in Oriente's sphere of influence. I'm inclined to place two of my inferred Stinger lines in the Earthwerks facilities on Asuncion and Bernardo, because switching from Stingers in the 3025 House book to Fleas in TR:3050 is convenient for continuity. Oriente's shortfall could be explained by unused capacity (lines shut down due to component shortages) on those or other worlds.

Another possibility is that Oriente builds more aerospace fighters or tanks than the other major provinces, and trades to make up its shortfall in 'Mechs.


To be continued later. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

FWL 3025 Manufacturing: Assault Shortage

...the Free Worlds League has had a serious shortage of assault 'Mech production capacity for the past 20-25 years.  ...  As a result of this problem, the League's assault battalions have become increasingly populated with Orions, Warhammers, and other lighter 'Mechs, placing them at a distinct disadvantage against equivalent units from the Lyran Commonwealth, which are well-stocked with new Zeuses and Goliaths. (page 114)
The shortage no doubt began with Anton's Civil War (the Irian plant reopened quickly*, but perhaps not at full strength). I suspect it also coincides with upgrades to the Lyran Furillo plant, and a general retooling of Commando lines to produce heavier 'Mechs.
used without permission

I could dismiss the remark about new Lyran Goliaths since the closest similar statement in the Steiner book names Zeuses and Atlases instead; however, it squares with TR:3025's assertion that the majority of Goliaths are in Steiner hands, and it's possible that the FWL only recently recaptured a Goliath factory from the Lyrans. Stewart is a bit far from the border, but Oliver is an attractive candidate: it's the Goliath's original production site, it's right on the border, and it loses production capacity so regularly that a silenced Goliath line wouldn't be remarkable.

It's convenient that Orions, Warhammers and "others" (which I'll take to be Marauder-Ms) are named specifically, because I can assume the Lyrans produce an equal number of assault 'Mechs. Likewise, since the book doesn't note any similar shortfall or advantage against Capellan forces, I'll assume that assault 'Mechs occupy a similar fraction of Capellan manufacturing.
Except for the period between 2953-68, when it controlled the Liao Atlas and Victor production facility on Carver V, the only new assault 'Mechs produced by the Free Worlds League during the past century have been Awesomes, BattleMasters, and Goliaths. As a result, the League's regular regiments have become increasingly dominated by medium, 45-60 ton 'Mechs like the Phoenix Hawk, the Hunchback, and the home-grown Hermes II. (page 115)
The "45-60" tons might look like a typo, but I'm not sure it is. A lance of 45-60 ton 'Mechs (210 tons) is about average for MW1e's "medium lance," which I believe corresponds with the typical weight of BF1's regular medium regiments. Regardless, medium 'Mechs aren't dominant due to production--Marik production of mediums is actually shorted a bit in favor of heavy 'Mechs. The mediums just aren't suffering as much attrition.


To be continued later.

*EDIT:  it did reopen quickly once they started rebuilding it, but they didn't start rebuilding it for close to a decade.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First Look at FWL 3025 Manufacturing


House Marik: The Free Worlds League (FASA 1622), page 114:
The Free Worlds League presently has 17 fully or partly operational 'Mech production facilities, manufacturing an estimated 500 'Mechs per year. Another seven production lines are currently shut down (due to component shortages) or disabled. Twenty-four different 'Mech types are currently manufactured in the League, with the most common being Stingers, Wasps, Orions, Griffins, Hermes IIs, Locusts, Wolverines, and Warhammers.  
Those most common 'Mechs don't seem to be in any kind of order, unless they're being listed from most-produced to least-produced:
42    Stinger (9 shy)
51    Wasp
42    Orion
41    Griffin
34    Hermes II (2 shy)
32    Locust (4 shy)
36    Wolverine-M
22    Warhammer

21    Marauder-M
16    Trebuchet
16    Spider
15    Archer
14    Hunchback
14    Shadow Hawk
13    Phoenix Hawk
13    Vulcan
12    BattleMaster
11    Stalker
9    Quickdraw
8    Rifleman
7    Awesome
7    Crusader
6    Cicada
4    Goliath
The chart lists thirteen production sites and 486 'Mechs built annually--four sites and fourteen 'Mechs fewer than stated in the text. I know from the Davion and Kurita books that some factories don't get listed in the production chapter, so I'm inclined to think these four "missing" sites were simply too small to appear on the chart, and that they're responsible for the 9 Stingers and 4 Locusts needed to put the "most manufactured" list in order. (Per the Free Worlds Defense Industries profile on page 126, the 2 extra Hermes IIs seem to come from a troubled line on Gibson.)

The corporate profiles don't mention Shiro III's Stalker line (which must be new, since the FWL hadn't built any Stalkers in the past century), Irian's Awesome line (newly rebuilt) or Keystone's BattleMaster line (I don't know why). Per the chart, these three lines produce 30 'Mechs annually; the text says all four make 30 together, but I think that's forgetting to add the Goliath line in, or maybe shorting the new/rebuilt lines.

The profiles also have Thunderbolts instead of Phoenix Hawks built on Keystone (TR:3050 gives it both, so I'll assume the Thunderbolt line is simply fallow in 3025) and Calloway VI retooling for Phoenix Hawks instead of Shadow Hawks (probably a copy error - either the wrong Hawk or the wrong planet).


To be continued later.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pathfinder Run #1: Space Loop


Our primary Pathfinder GM currently misses most sessions, so we've been rotating that duty for a while. The last adventure I ran started with the party trying to leave a small adventurer's/crossroads town, only to discover the town was trapped in a space loop. High skill rolls revealed that the space loop was centered on the town alchemist shop and had been initiated by some sort of blood rite.

Quest below the cut.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How Many BattleMechs Exist in 3025?

[Edit: more exact estimates on Aug 10, 2017 /Edit]

I estimate a ceiling of 54 thousand BattleMechs.
383 regiments employed directly by the Successor States
(plus 744 regimental and 1152 battalion command lances)
24.83 regiments known to operate in the Periphery
(plus 18 regimental and 22 battalion command lances)
3.2 regiments estimated among lesser, unnamed Bandit Kings
2.75 estimated merc regiments otherwise (un)employed
11.5 regiments estimated under corporate control
5 potential regiments of unlisted FWL provincial forces
[Edit, Sep 1, 2015: but see also this post. /Edit]

Such an exact accounting of forces might seem restrictive to some people. But like the Kurita house book says:
Although efforts have been made to gather the most up-to-date information possible on the forces, readers must remember that regiments are constantly being reformed, transferred, temporarily removed from active service, reactivated, or decommissioned for spares.
Especially with mercs, there's a constant churn of big units fragmenting into little units, and little units joining up to reform into big units, so there's plenty of room for a Player Unit of just about any size and type to form up in just about any part of the Successor States.

Details below the jump.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

MW1e: Quick Plausibility Check

Is 26 years plausible for the typical length of a MechWarrior's career?

It's long enough to beget and train an heir, yet not so long that 400+ MechWarriors/year out of Sun Zhang becomes totally implausible. (Multiple factors would give the Combine higher turnover than expected.) So it's definitely the right ballpark, although pushing the long side.

Are 250 combat encounters (half 'Mech-vs-'Mech) per year plausible?

Yes, of course. It's a staple of the setting that 'Mechs often clash without being destroyed. Combining statistics given in BattleForce (1st edition) and the way MW1e awards XP should tell us just how little damage it takes to drive enemy 'Mechs off. (MW1e's Ceti Hussars entry implies that high intensity conflicts don't rise above 10% annual casualties.)

How big is a typical garrison?

Well, there's about 7 times as many 'Mech companies as there are planets in the original setting, but I want to look at 3025 proper. From the old House Steiner sourcebook:
  • 42 regiments are assigned to the ~93 worlds within 2 jumps of Kuritan or Marik space. Assuming 12.5 regiments are engaged in assault or relief duty (Steiner's full 75.1 regiments * 4/36 assault & 2/36 relief), spreading the remainder as thinly as possible would give each border world a garrison of 34.2 'Mechs (minus however many have embarked on raids). 
  • 16 regiments are assigned to the ~55 worlds within 2 jumps of the periphery. Spreading them as thinly as possible would give each of these outworlds a garrison of 31.4 'Mechs (minus however many have embarked on raids).
  • 17 regiments garrison 13 key worlds of the interior.
  • More than 140 interior worlds have no 'Mech regiments assigned to their region.
  • "Garrison units usually consist of infantry, armored, and artillery regiments, whose personnel are mostly native to the planet. There are usually only a few 'Mech lances that pull garrison duty on a world unless that planet is strategically important."
Steiner could put a lance on every interior world if each of their 75 regiments detached two lances apiece. (This wouldn't break the setting.) However, the Trell system is only 45 light-years from the nearest Drac world, and it didn't get a lance until Oberon's raids became a problem. So the interior worlds probably don't have 'Mech garrisons either.

Page 30 of MW1e says "Unlike an assault... [raids] often involve a significantly smaller force (often of one to two Companies...)" I.e., 12-24 'Mechs is significantly smaller than an assault force. Since an average assault force is about 140% of the defender's mass (page 96), it follows that any world worth conquering will be garrisoned by significantly more than 17-34 'Mechs. The world of Chara III (also called Pacifica) has a battalion in garrison, though apparently that's due to its agriculture, rather than strategic positioning. Maybe it's not worth conquering.

So, based on my earlier figures...
  • Key worlds average 1 full battalion, 2 full companies and 6 smaller units. A few add extra full regiments. 
  • Theater Headquarter worlds are the same, except that 2/3rds of their forces are engaged in assaults, raids and relief. 
  • Strategic worlds and the scant handful of other worlds within 1 jump of the Kurita or Marik borders have 2 full companies and 6 smaller units.
  • Worlds in the Periphery theaters or 2 jumps from Kurita or Marik have 1-3 lances to fend off raids. 
  • Worlds 3 or more jumps from the border are garrisoned by conventional regiments only.
A few incidental curiosities from the Lyran deployment table:
  • CMO 26 (which I read as "Coventry Military Outpost #26") is on the map. CMO 1-25 either don't have 'Mech garrisons or are known by other names. 
  • I'm guessing "Ellison IV" should be "Corridan IV."
  • Two regiments in the cavanaugh theater are assigned to "Denebola V," which isn't actually in that theater (only three other worlds are). Don't know if the two regiments should be moved to other worlds in the same theater or moved to the other theater.Would have to check enemy deployments before deciding.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Final "What Were You Doing Last Year" Post, I Swear

Lots (tons) of unexpected time for reading in those autumn months.
  • War of the Worlds (1898) by H.G. Wells: The archetype for giant robot warfare, and rightly so. Quick and easy to read, this should be required reading for any fan of BattleTech. (I also watched the 1953 movie. It was alright, and the parallels to Cruise's version were neat.)
  • The Time Machine (1895) by H.G. Wells: I'm pretty sure that Willy Wonka's "oompa loompas" are, in fact, the "eloi" from Wells' book.  
  • One Piece (1997-present): Joke-filled. Never fails to amuse. 
  • Yotsuba&! (2003-current): A delightful manga about a small child being a small child. 
  • Attack on Titan (2009-present): Super cliche story about humanity's last stronghold in a world overrun by monsters. Still manages to be fun.
  • Deadman Wonderland (2007-2013): A fighting manga centered on super powered adolescents in a murder-themed theme park. Lots of cliches, but I'm enjoying it. 
  • Vinland Saga (2005-present): A (seemingly) well-researched manga about Vikingdom. Features raiders and mercenaries in France, the conquest of England, and hints at an eventual move to Vinland. Half battles, half slice of life? The art and story remind me of Berserk.
  • Uzumaki (1998-1999): A Lovecraftian saga of weird events in a small town. It starts as a series of loosely connected vignettes; I wish it had continued like that forever. 
  • Sandman (1988-1996) by Neil Gaiman: A well-crafted plot, and mostly good art. I like how the plot of one issue is sometimes seen as background in another issue - usually subtly, though this is also done near the end as a major plot point. There's also an unfair tease at the end, and I'm not sure what exactly Gaiman intended with it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

MW1e: Personnel

MechWarriors see an average of 250 combat encounters (almost half are artillery bombardments, aerospace strafing runs, infantry or minefields)* annually. A career lasts 26 years on average, and about 1600 end (retirement, dispossession or death) each year.

There's 5/6ths as many technicians as active MechWarriors, and their military careers last about 11 years on average.

There's 1/6th as many scouts as active MechWarriors, and they last about 14 months.

Sphere-wide...
About 80 regiments are deployed as full regiments.
About 350 battalions are deployed as separate battalions.
About 600 companies (350 full strength, the rest 9-11 Mechs) deploy independently.
More than 1800 other groups of 8 or fewer 'Mechs are deployed independently.

That's almost 2900 deployments, about 2000 of which are defensive (25/36, using my trick with the events table). The Inner Sphere only has 1700 settled star systems! Too few for a single deployment per system, and too many for a single deployment per world (assuming better than 1.2 inhabited worlds per system). Best explanation, I think, is that relatively few worlds have 'Mechs in permanent garrison, and that each garrison consists of one large group plus multiple small groups, scattered across the world.

Monday, March 2, 2015

MW1e: Mech Production Rates

The old House Marik sourcebook says the Free Worlds League manufactures "an estimated 500 'Mechs per year," and the old House Liao sourcebook lists eight manufacturers totaling 400 'Mechs per year. The other three House books don't say how many 'Mechs they build.

However, from the Attack by Natives table I suspect that at least some tables in the first edition MechWarrior RPG (hereafter MW1e) are carefully non-arbitrary, and from my survey of Notable Pilots I know that numbers in MW1e can correlate systematically with numbers in other books. (Humans, writers especially, like to be consistent and will reuse numbers when they can.) In particular I want to look at the chart where players roll a d36 to choose their starting faction. Chances/36:
7 - Davion
6 - Kurita
5 - Steiner
5 - Marik
4 - Liao
2 - Bandit King
7 - Unaffiliated (i.e. e.g.,  periphery)

I doubt it's a coincidence that Marik gives you 5 chances and produces 5x100 'Mechs/year, or that Liao gives you 4 and produces 4x100 'Mechs/year. I think it's reasonable to take Davion production as 700 'Mechs/year, Kurita 600/year, and Steiner 500/year for a total of 2700 'Mechs produced annually across the whole Inner Sphere.

I also want to look at the "Standard Enemy Forces Table." It's easy to find the chance of any 'Mech turning up in a given lance type, and I've roughly calculated the chance of each lance type turning up during a "Battlefield Encounter."

If I take the ratio of Valkyries to other light 'Mechs encountered as also being the ratio of Valkyries to other light 'Mechs manufactured annually, and assume there are [30% of 2700] light 'Mechs produced annually, MW1e yields an annual production of 128.4 Valkyries. This is close to the 130 cited in TR:3025.

This vindicates my assumption about annual Davion, Kurita and Steiner production rates, and shows that the lance table is at least a reasonable guide for individual 'Mechs. It doesn't have every 'Mech on it, of course, so I'm hoping (for instance) that more precise calculations will push the Valkyrie entry up to 146/year to cover both Valkyrie and Spider production.

BattleForce says that 30% of all 'Mechs are light 'Mechs, but I'm reluctant to assume that same 30% also applies to annual production. Hopefully more precise calculations will let me discard that 30% weighting factor.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MW1e: Attack By Natives

The first edition MechWarrior RPG has a general weekly encounter table. You have a chance to be attacked by things, to receive reinforcements, and a number of other events, all being more or less likely depending on your current assignment.

There's no table to determine the players' current assignment, but you have to figure that most forces are in garrison, so the chances of getting some other kind of duty should correspond with the chance of an equivalent event happening to a garrison. If the Garrison Events column gives you a 3/36 chance of being attacked by natives, then I figure that's equivalent to a 3/36 chance of being assigned to Pacification Duty.

Now, whatever assignment you're on, if you roll the "attack by natives" event and get attacked while in your 'Mechs, you roll 2d6 (then modify the result depending on your assignment) to see what support they get. I wanted to know just how often the natives had 'Mech support.

I noticed something peculiar.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

internet forums: be excellent to each other, and party on

I used to frequent a forum which had sometimes heavy-handed moderation. The rules there boil down to "don't be a dick." This axiom, known as "Wheaton's Law," was formulated by Mr. Wheaton for competitive environments where people all generally recognize (if not explicitly share) the same goals and social norms--things you simply can't assume to any degree of precision on an internet discussion board.

I think it's better to distill them into something adaptive and proactive:

Relax. Be friendly and helpful. Put each other at ease.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pathfinder Character Sheet, Revised

click to enlarge
The World of Darkness campaign died. The same group's been running a concurrent Pathfinder campaign, though, so they adopted me into that.

I made my own character sheet because I find the official one difficult to use.

Apparently I'm the only who uses an actual character sheet. One guy writes his out on loose leaf, another reads his from excel, and the rest are using tablet apps.

If or when I play a spellcaster, I'm going to print spells out (because I don't know what they do) on the back.


[March 20 Update:  fixed the "Flat-Footed" AC calculation, and made a number of other, smaller changes.]

[April 6 Non-Update: I realized about a week ago that "CMD" should include dodge and deflection bonuses. I'll fix that when I change characters in a few months. (Luckily I left enough room there to just pen them in for now.)]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

my year in cinema


I've been meaning to watch Tucker & Dale vs Evil and Cabin in the Woods. I'm thinking it might be fun to try them back to back.

I don't remember which movies I had planned to see this year. Whichever they were, I'm sure they mostly weren't the ones I actually saw:
  • Edge of Tomorrow (2014): SO MUCH FUN. (I didn't notice that the farmhouse was the one from Looper, but I did notice a curious lack of ballistic missiles.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Watched this and this months before seeing the movie. From how it impressed my friends, I expected it to be more than it was. Still very fun. Animators obviously very proud of all those close-ups showing off Rocket's fur. The low aerial view of planet Xandar reminds me of a similar low aerial view (and similar ground view) used for Caprica in nuBSG, and the low aerial view of planet Morak reminds of a similar low aerial view of Crematoria, from Chronicles of Riddick. Speaking of which, Vin Diesel is once again cast as a man of few words and wooden expressions. Hey! I knew I recognized Nebula's actress! Didn't realize it was Amy Pond, though. Didn't realize the green Orion girl was Uhura, either.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Have a 'Mech: 1st Somerset Strikers LAM


On New Year's I saw that I have an awful lot of BattleTech notes sitting idle on my computer, and so I've decided to clean them out, fill them out, and post them. First up is an LAM.


It's 50 tons, moves 4/6/4 on the ground, 5/8 in space, has two ERLLs, a C3 Master, and fuel is a bit on the low side.

At 1136 words the fluff is right at the limit for TR:3025. I could probably shave a line or two off to fit. Were I writing it for a shorter, 550-750 word entry, I'd probably design a second LAM and split half the fluff out to the new design.

Sorry about the small font in this image, you can find the original HTML here. (When I was replying to comments there, I saw that the smaller font on the "reply to post" screen made my two columns line up miraculously well. I just had to take a screenshot.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

that gum you like is coming back in style

I was hoping that snowlessness would last into January, but I am enjoying how my windows frost over into translucence every day. Time to start wearing sunglasses outdoors again I guess. Wonder if wearing blue-mirrored sunglasses all the time deprives me of vital blue light.

Anyways! I had a ton of forced idle time to kill the last few months. Spent some of it watching TV shows:
  • Doctor Who Season Finale (2014): Unsatisfying. It tugged all the heartstrings it was trying to tug, but filling two whole episodes with crazy plotless wish-fulfillment just grates my nerves. I'm glad the Christmas episode extended the two-parter into a three-parter in exactly the way I expected it to, and the Christmas episode is pretty good overall; but, in my eyes, it's not good enough to redeem the two episodes preceding it. 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season finale (2014): Disappointed. Nice feint with the character death, but the end result is super formulaic. Not to mention the protagonist (who I hadn't previously viewed as a Mary Sue) gets spectacularly more Mary Sue-ish. Also a little bit irritated I couldn't see what happened to Flower Girl. 
  • Farscape (1999-2003): Very good show. Y'know how most sci-fi shows have a single sci-fi gimmick per episode that they spend the episode exploring? Farscape puts two gimmicks into the background for each episode, develops the plot on top of that, and develops character relationships endemically to the plot. It also makes theme an undercurrent to the plot (in stark contrast to this season of Doctor Who, which does the opposite). My only complaint is that in the first season or two, it seems like the protagonist is never wrong, and he often outdoes other characters within their areas of expertise. (Fortunately they lampshade this later on.) Plus: Jim Henson's Creature Company.
  • Once Upon a Time (season 3, 2013-2014): The Neverland season is sooo sloooow. I only got through it by watching at double speed. 
  • Almost Human (2013-2014): Fun. Almost like a police procedural version of Blade Runner. My only complaint is that the Die Hard episode matched Die Hard too closely.
  • The Americans (season 1, 2013): Felicity as a 1980's soviet spy/family drama. I enjoyed it, and am very glad it's getting a third season.