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


  1. Pretty cool take. Hadn't thought about the lifespan issues.

    1. Thanks. I'm slowly accruing all the bits and bobs I need to automate a campaign generator.

      Sorry for the sudden burst of text-heavy posts- I think I've finally struck on a pace and topic rotation that's actually sustainable.