Friday, August 26, 2011

Battletech: Random Encounter!

It was time to play another BattleTech scenario today. Last day at work was hell, so I needed something to take my mind of it all. We decided to run a classic lance on lance patrol encounter, in wooded hills.

Once again we visit Zyclone 3, the fought over planet. The Rasalhague have been given it, but Kurita hardliners refuse to give it up.

The Kurita mechs were advancing through woodlands when suddenly there came enemy mechs up over a ridge. Intense fighting took place. First some placed themselves on hills and started to rain down long range missiles, and then others closed for melee all guns blazing. It all ended when the Steiner lance began to fall back, under cover of their leader. Sadly one pilot wanted to launch one more salvo and both him and commander Heinrich MacManus was vaporized, by a direct hit in the head by a laser and a missile ammo explosion, respectively. Fittingly, pilot Brenan Amundsen desperately yelled "Sarge!" and in tears managed to cause an ammo explosion in the Kurita commander's mech as well. Commander Takita's death caused his lance to hesitate and the Steiners could fall back.

Damn, these giant robots are fun!

I find that a simple rules system, with enough quirks and wrinkles, gives a lot of flavour. You roll your 2d6 high is always good. It just took 3 hours, including a lunch break, so it wasn't time killer either.

Naturally I think of this as a roleplayer, and for me the individual pilots and the stories that compel them to fight this fight is always in my mind. Having a pre written story and trying to reenact that in a set of scenarios where there's freedom of movement and action is an interesting challenge. I will probably try to write up our efforts as a campaign, and I will probably try to find ways to play this game on many levels. I have still not managed to get my great project off the ground where you play the domain management game on one level, then pick up your low level characters and do a crawl and have those two be played by different players and have it all interact and create a living, breathing world. Maybe Battletech is worth studying for something like that.


  1. One of the TT's problem is that the game is scaled for skirmish games and starts to break down at company level+ due to all the details, hence why we've gotten multiple official 'big fights' rule sets over the years (and also all those new, shiny, powerful and fragile pieces of equipment).

    The 2D6...well, while I still kinda like it, there are better dice mechanics. IMO the FASA guys used it simply because they knew it from their Traveller days.

    Also, looking at the old 'Lostech' era supplements, I think a TT/RPG hybrid was kinda the default for Battletech (even before the official RPGs came out - they could have used a Traveller hack). Look at the social status of a MechWarrior, the novels, the scenario books and so was the default for me and a lot of folks I've known personally.

  2. Good to see some more Battletech enthusiasm out there. My primary game these days is using the latest edition of the mechwarrior RPG (A Time of War) and we are loving it. It really is the first one that smoothly integrates with the war game at all levels.

    I post actual play reports and campaign development posts on my blog if you are interested in seeing how I am conducting the game as a PBeM, and Bronzite is doing an excellent series on conducting the RPG on his blog, Ten Years on Terra.

    Anyway, thanks for posting, I enjoyed the tale~

  3. Faraday77,

    I think you might be onto something about Traveller. I have a bunch of the FASA Traveller modules, and didn't make the connection.

  4. runeslinger,

    Thanks for the suggestions! I might check those out.

    I am a bit curious about A Time of War, and have peeked at a lot of bulkier and slimmer attempts to recreate the old games. Maybe I should take a peek at the newest as well.

  5. A Time of War is a big book, but more for the sake of presenting a solid look at the setting, rather than it being full to bursting with rules and procedures. The actual game system is quite elegant, and quick... and dangerous.

    Total Warfare cleans up the table top rules, and puts them all between one set of covers which is a huge improvement. I am also using the Tactical Operations book to help me adjudicate the sort of mech interactions I think belong in an RPG, but it is really not necessary.

    Anyway, I hope you do drop by Casting Shadows to check out the campaign (Hair of the Dog. It has an archive of all related posts in the Clipping Service widget at the top of the left-side column. My campaign is set in 3028 so I have to make some alterations for period, but am having a blast with it.

    Ten Years on Terra is running the game straight in the standard period, and his posts go step by step through the problems and solutions he is uncovering as his campaign unfolds.

  6. Loved the game several years ago. Somehow, I forgot about it, until now!

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  7. Jimmy, glad to hear there are a few of us who have rekindled the love!

  8. This game is made for what you want afaik. I know a guy who plays in a campaign for years and they're acting on all levels. I think this is the magic of BT (and Traveller in this regard): It is a roleplaying game, no matter which scale you prefer.
    By the way, I think Traveller and BT are closely linked. Think "tons" or nobles. ;)


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