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Battletech Questions

WistfulD

Registered User
Validated User
#11
Does it being just fine mean that you recommend Mechwarrior 2nd. edition as the edition to get in order to play the RPG?
If you were restricting yourself to official MechWarrior TTRPG games, yes. Otherwise, no. Find another game that allows you to play a futuristic individual.

Also, if I create a mech pilot in the RPG can I use his stats as my mech pilot in the mini game?
Yes, but there are exactly three things you pull out of the game which would transfer to the Battletech game:
  1. Your pilot skill--which, in all honestly, only has three settings (4, 5, or 6, I think) representing skimping on the Battletech skill to focus on MechWarrior-helpful abilities, skimping on the MechWarrior abilities to focus on Battletech skills, or a balanced approach.
  2. You gunner skill -- Which also has the three plausible settings, and
  3. What size of Mech you pilot
It would be trivially easy to set up an equivalent rubric in another game.
 

Galadrin

Registered User
Validated User
#12
My understanding is that Battletech has always referred to itself as a boardgame, not a minis game, for what it is worth. You don't need to play it on a board, of course, but the game is basically the same whether you use hex maps or a measuring tape.

Battletech (the thing you have) itself is brilliant. You will have a lot of fun.

The various Battletech roleplaying games are just OK, as others have said. The only real way to see if you'd like them is to download them and have a read. Here's my quick overview:

Mechwarrior 1st Edition: This gave a great feel for "early" Battletech universe, before the introduction of the Clan (a futuristic faction of outsiders that invades the Inner Sphere). It has a point-buy character creation system and skills that work like the Battletech boardgame (2d6 roll against a base target set by your character's own ability). XP is spent to increase attributes or skills. XP can also be spent to give modifiers to die rolls, in case you really need to pass a certain roll (although enemies can do the same). The game assumes you will usually have NPC squad mates and that you are usually affiliated with one of the major factions.

This all works well, but the downside of 1st Edition in my opinion is the combat system... it's basically Battletech again (surprise, surprise) with combatants moving and declaring attacks in reverse initiative order, then all attacks are resolved simultaneously. I don't mind this system for Battletech, but I prefer my personal combat to be theater of the mind. It also has hit points by location, meaning you will be checking off little hit boxes on your character sheet. Again, this is fine for big robots, but stretches credibility for living, breathing combatants in my mind. Each hit location can take a certain amount of damage (depending on your Body score) before being disabled and there are also critical hits for additional random effects.

Fortunately, all of the various weapons and ability scores are the exact same scale as Traveller (Battletech originally evolved from a Traveller campaign, as I recall), so you could easily just rip out the Battletech combat system and replace it with the Traveller one. If you want to play "early" Battletech universe and you only really want to play Mech pilots, then this would be a good one to use (if you fix/replace the combat system).

Mechwarrior 2nd Edition: A lot like 1st Edition, but it expanded the universe and introduced the Clans. The art is pure 90's nostalgia and my personal favorite of any edition, but it is also the era I grew up with. Skill rolls are basically the same, but now there are automatic success and failure (box cars or snake eyes) and margins of success/failure (and hence opposed roles), which are all very useful for roleplaying games. Instead of having a separate Saving Throw score, you now roll 3d6 drop the lowest to make saves. Instead of "buying" bonuses on a roll with XP, you now have Edge—a renewable resource that replenishes every adventure and can be spent (1 point at a time, and only once per test) to reroll a failed roll. Characters were picked from a handful of archetypes (more were given in a companion supplement) or designed from scratch (never used the latter system, so I cannot comment). You could also tweak the archetype slightly to get the character you wanted. The experience system was kind of wonky... instead of just getting EXP, you now got two different kinds (Adventure Points and Skill Points). Skill Points could only be spend to improve skills and you would also need to spend some AP as well. APs could be spent on improving any attributes. I think the basic idea here was to give characters more opportunities to improve skills than to improve base stats, but it felt like a weird way to do that.

The combat system is a lot like 1st Edition, but with standard RPG elements added (surprise, simple/complex actions, reduced dependence on a hex map etc). In combat, the declaration phase was removed and everyone just acts in reverse initiative order (with higher initiative combats getting to interrupt and take their turn whenever they wanted to). The damage system resembled pilot hits in the Battletech boardgame, which was a little more appropriate than simply "patching" a Mech damage system to people. Instead of having hit points for each hit location, basically a character has multiple damage levels and could take a set number of damage at each level (e.g., 10 hit points). At each worsening level, the character would have a more difficult roll to stay conscious (e.g. 3+, then 5+, then 7+ etc.) until they were dead. There was also a distinction between bruising and lethal damage, which could overlap. Critical hits now doubled damage results, which made them much more lethal (something similar to the old critical damage table could still be used as an optional addition). Despite the fact that hit points were now abstracted, there were still hit locations; instead of tracking individual location hit points, however, you just compared lethal damage against a "threshold" for the damaged location. If the damage was higher, the body part was disabled, and if it was double, the body part was destroyed. The threshold was based on the character's build (Build x2 for head, Build x3 for limbs and Build x6 for torso), so some of the more combat-oriented archetypes would only have to worry about disabling damage if they took a critical hit (like those characters with Build 6 or greater, since most weapons only did around 3d6 damage). Weaker characters (particularly those with Build 3 or 4) were getting injured all the time, though.

Mechwarrior 2nd Edition is a great edition if you want to play a more "expanded" universe where you are not necessarily a Mech pilot, since you could be a supporting personnel type (a merchant, a technician, a scout). That said, the game was still heavily centered around playing a group of Mech pilots and the combat system was a bit much, in my opinion. This is the last edition where the scale of everything (skills, attributes, weapons etc) was compatible with Traveller, so the option still exists here to use Traveller's much more functional combat system in place of the Mechwarrior one.

Mechwarrior 3rd Edition: This edition was also called "Classic Battletech RPG" in later printings, but these two are the same game. The classic "2d6" system was replaced by 2d10 that used an exploding die mechanic (d6's were used mainly for rolling damage and were also open-ended, which made for some suddenly brutal combat results). Because dice exploded, rolling double 1's was now officially understood as a fumble (and would have some adverse effect). Edge has been modified to be a combination of 1st and 2nd Edition—you can choose to spend it before the roll (as 1st Edition) to give you a bonus on the roll or after the roll (as 2nd Edition) to reroll the test entirely. You can get Edge back by doing good things in the universe or by suffering a bad result (kind of like karma?) or buy spending XP to buy it back. 3rd Edition also featured the now iconic life path system (similar to Traveller but a lot more robust) that most people think about when they think about 3rd Edition. Not everyone loves the life path system, but I felt that it put a lot more "flesh" on your character and made you want to keep him alive longer. The life path character creation system also let you go the furthest away from the 1st and 2nd Edition preoccupation with playing Mech pilot characters. If you wanted to get going quickly, there were also sample characters to jump in right away. There were also "traits" to flesh out your character some more... things like "Bad Reputation" or "Contact". These overlapped with the "advantages" offered in 1st and 2nd Edition, but also included more roleplay-oriented qualities.

Combat was like 2nd Edition, except obviously using 2d10 for initiative and now the highest roll went first (bypassing the need for the "interrupt" mechanic in 2nd). There are even more modifiers than the copious number in 2nd Edition, partially because the range of the 2d10 dice was larger than with 2d6. You now added your measure of success to the damage roll (and because all of the dice in your attack roll and your damage roll were open-ended, attacks could be incredibly lethal, although it is worth noting that mook NPCs did not get explosive 10-siders on the attack roll). This was mitigated by the fact that damage was not dealt directly to "hit points"—rather you looked up the final damage amount on a table (so you would take 1 damage from a result of 10+, 2 damage from 15+, 4 damage from 20+, 8 damage from 30+ and so on). Attacks would inflict various effects (stunning, knockout, bleeding) based on their level and you would generally fall unconscious around 6 total wounds and die somewhere around 12 (depending on your Build and Will scores).

I didn't really like this combat system either... it just felt like it was a lot "more". The life paths system was interesting if a little involved and it let you play many different kinds of characters in comparison to the mainly Mech pilot characters of earlier versions (which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how essential you see Mechs to roleplaying in the Batteltech universe). This was definitely the crunchiest version of the rules up until the 4th Edition.

A Time of War: This was the 4th and latest edition. I'll let others comment on it because it is well-known (since it is the most recent). It takes some ideas from 3rd Edition (like life paths) and returns to a 2d6 mechanic in an attempt to make it more compatible again with the Battletech boardgame. I found it to be too modifier intensive and just more crunch than I would ever want in an RPG.
 
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Galadrin

Registered User
Validated User
#13
Does it being just fine mean that you recommend Mechwarrior 2nd. edition as the edition to get in order to play the RPG?

Also, if I create a mech pilot in the RPG can I use his stats as my mech pilot in the mini game?
Yes, you can do this in any edition of the Mechwarrior RPG. In fact, it has always been assumed that the moment RPG characters hop in vehicles, you would switch over to the Battletech boardgame rules to resolve combat.

As Wistful said, though, it is easy to use nearly any sci-fi RPG with Battletech in this way. You just need a system where skills generally range from 1 at the very lowest to 5 at the very highest (which is to say, don't use d20 or games that have a vastly different scale). To convert an RPG characters "gunnery" or "piloting" skill to Battletech (the only skills that really matter in the boardgame), simply use this formula: 7 minus (RPG Skill) = Battletech Skill. So characters will generally have gunnery or piloting between 2 (at best) or 6 (at worst). In reality, it is possible to have gunnery/piloting at 7 in Battletech (representing really, really novice pilots) or even down to 0 (representing legendary pilots), but the game tends to fall apart at these extremes in my opinion. Best keep to skills between 2 and 6.
 
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Talmor

Registered User
Validated User
#14
I actually ran an "unlicensed galactic PI" game using Mechwarrior 2nd Edition, and it was a blast. Later played in a MW3rd/CoC game, which was also solid. The 3rd Ed rules were a tad more clunky, but still fit for what we wanted.

Basically, the Battletech universe is a cool, "hard" SCI-FI setting, and the RPG's works pretty well to make it come alive.
 

Cam Banks

Kiwi Game Designer
Validated User
#15
I'm running a game set in the BattleTech universe using King Arthur Pendragon. It's a terrific setting, I've just never liked any of the RPGs that have used it. Big fan of the board game and Alpha Strike, though.

Cheers,
Cam
 

GaoGaiGar

Is anyone REALLY a
Validated User
#16
I also own Mekton Zeta. Do you feel Mekton Zeta is less crunchy for mecha RPG rules overall?
A deep question. As a roleplaying game, it's pretty simple, stripped down from Cyberpunk 2020, stat + skill + 1d10 against a fixed target number or opposed roll. I've always had to fiddle with the character generation to get it satisfying when I run it... there are a couple of god stats, some of which affect how many skill points you get, so I tend to put in some flat values.
 

Samaritan

One of the good guys.
Validated User
#17
There's a Savage Worlds MechWarrior RPG conversion out there somewhere; I haven't tried it myself but other fans seem to enjoy it.
 

Tremere

Registered User
Validated User
#18
I'm running a game set in the BattleTech universe using King Arthur Pendragon. It's a terrific setting, I've just never liked any of the RPGs that have used it. Big fan of the board game and Alpha Strike, though.

Cheers,
Cam
Could you do the RPG for BT/MW using Cortex Plus, Cam? If so, do you have any pointers for doing so? I am just finishing up reading Firefly and have played Marvel Heroic Roleplaying before. I'm thinking the Firefly iteration might work pretty well.
 

Cam Banks

Kiwi Game Designer
Validated User
#19
I could absolutely do it for Cortex Prime. It wouldn't be the same thing as MechDragon because I'm intentionally running that game as a King Arthur Pendragon hack, but if it was just about playing in the BT universe a Cortex Prime hack would be no sweat.
 

T. Canoehead

IT Mercenary
Validated User
#20
I could absolutely do it for Cortex Prime. It wouldn't be the same thing as MechDragon because I'm intentionally running that game as a King Arthur Pendragon hack, but if it was just about playing in the BT universe a Cortex Prime hack would be no sweat.
I've been playing around with a hack for the Firefly RPG. One new distinction, MechWarrior, and treating the BattleMechs as ships and it's mostly done.

Though, Cam, if you have notes on how to use Pendragon for BattleTech, I'm sure many of us here would love to read them. :cool:
 
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