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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Esteemed Playgrounders. I come to you because to my tiny mind, the Solaris7 Forums are incomprehensible... I wish to beg for help.

    I am new to the Battletech Community, but my complete lack of experience with any of the fluff, or mechanics, did not stop me from starting a Campaign with two of my friends today... Because I'm so inexperience, I ask for help on almost all aspects. I have a vague outline of what I want to do, and I'll explained what I've already done. I would love feedback, and most importantly brainstorming on new ideas.

    Here's the story so far...

    In the year 3048 (Roughly two years before the Clan invasion, I gathered) two Mechwarriors from an unnamed Academy on a yet Unnamed Inner Sphere world started a Mercenary company in a major city on a growing nation. Dirk Steel and the one known only as John called on their friend Maximillian Mills to serve as their Intelligence Officer, and through some shadier contacts, got ahold of a fossil of a pilot, and a damned good technician who calls himself Bulldog. The four of them were in business. After a few successful operations (Not played out...) the crew felt confidant to expand, ordered two shiny new 40 Ton Chassis, and got ahold of experimental programming that could simulate live fire exercises in a training enviroment. With these, they could hire and train green recuits for very little overhead. They closed their warehouse doors that evening with high hopes. The next day, the returned to ashes.
    An obvious sabotage had left all the own destroyed and unrecoverable, but a well planned insurance policy covered their losses, and netted them a 4,000,000 C-Bill balance. The gloom was further punctured by the arrival of their Chassis that they ordered. To cover the costs of outfitting viable mechs, the crew took out a 1 Mil C-Bill loan, and tested two loaded mechs using their new Training Programming. The simulation was... Glitchy. A simulated rear approached caused the Mech named Spartan to score an unprecidented critical hit. Soon the Nightblade's engine had failed, and a damaged Gyro taxed the system even more. The game refused to let Dirk to stand. When the Nightblade's heat levels started rising, the program went even further, and shut down the whole mech, essentially conceeding the match to John when only a couple of shots had been fired, and most systems were still, technically green. (Lucky/Unlucky dice rolls actually caused this match to happen this way. John got a snake eye to hit with a laser, cause three critical hits in the torso, and Dirk just couldn't make a piloting roll to save his life. Two failed stand attempts and one shutdown later, we declared the system 'glitchy'.) Nevertheless, the mechs ran smoothly, and the programming was functional for any greens they might recruit. Now, a week that started in misery ended in renewed hope for their company. As long as they can keep their bank account black...

    As you can tell, I just ignored all Canon (because of my ignorance) and strove on with my own rendition... Now, gaming sessions will cover a whole week of in-game time, and will start with a Report which covers both Missions, and News...

    Missions: The heart of the campaign, the Mission section will contain a list of all active missions. This section is sorted into three categories: Galactic, Planetary, and National, which is simply a cue of what kind of travel will be required. National missions require little cost as they are relatively close. Some sort of mass transit will be required for a Planetary mission, while nothing short of a dropship will allow Galactic missions. I'll include Location, Pay, Salvage Conditions, Enviromental Conditions, Expire Time, and any Special Rules.
    Is there anything else that is pertinent in this part?
    Also, any mission will progress one of three Tracks.
    The first track is Financial. It is a high-gain, simple mission that is meant to increase the company's funding. Things from simple security runs to Arena Matches will move this track, which is monitored via their bank account. These missions have a short expiration date.
    The Second track is Technological. My mechwarriors have the worst of the technology available right now. Lasers, ACs, and LRM's are all they can put on their mechs, but by completing these missions, they'll unlock new traders to deal with, and even become first in line to try out new, experimental tech. This track has low financial game, but can keep them competitive with the opposition. The missions will be varied, and difficult to plan, but might be the most fun to play.
    The Third Track is the Story Track. A very low financial and technological gain will make these missions a hard choice to take, but the other, more subtle boons, plus the advancement of the actual plot line, will hopefully make these the mainstay of missions chosen. They have very long expiration dates, but some side stories might need haste to benefit from.
    I wont give the players which track a particular mission is part of, but from the specifics, they should be able to guess. This will give the players more freedom on what missions they do, and how they play, I think. I would LOVE feedback on this...

    The News!
    Every week, the players will be informed of the most recent news from around the Inner Sphere. I'll give them a paper, with three headlines, one from each of the regions (National, Planetary, and Galactic). The headlines will be accompanied by a small excerpt, and the stories can either be useless red herrings ("House Davion Spy to be Prosecuted Monday"), or hidden plothooks and background elements ("Local Ammo Packer Union Strike Continues; Ammo at an All Time Low").
    Along with these blurb will be a purely-for-fluff Editorial section that details anything from a war story to a rousing political debate, to even a critics review of the latest assault chassis. ("LRM 10s? Are you KIDDING me?")
    I am scouring everything I can for inspiration, but I would LOVE some ideas that you experienced veterans might have. Anything can and will be used.


    Also, every month, Mills, the Intel Officer will present John (the Commander) with a Monthly Report. This report should grow, but this is what I think will be on it so far.

    The Crew: The Report will list all active members in the company, their positions, and their benefits/drawbacks.
    There can only be one Intelligence Officer, one Technician for each Mech, Vehicle, and Aero/Space, one Merchant, one HR Manager, and one PR Manager.
    Intelligence Officer: This guy is the guy with the Intel. Right now it is Maximillian Mills, and he's pretty good at his job. Plus, he's cheap. Being the one to talk the most to the Mechwarriors, his only real asset is being a helpful plothook. He'll provide all the information the Commander needs. He should keep his job, as long as John still likes him. Having different IOs wont change more than your Bank Account...
    Technician: These dudes fix the stuff. Some technicians offer better returns for things like refits, installation, or monthly maintenance, but really, here you just want to trust the guy shoving the explosive warheads in your chest. Their Mech technician, Bulldog, is an old, grizzled veteran, who knows all there is to know about a Mech. But, unfortunately, he wont tell you of it. He's cheap, easy to please, and knowledgeable. He's also grumpy, old, and you don't even know his name...
    Merchant: This is your money maker. Without a good Merchant, you're gonna get hosed on the market. Markups on purchases, and markdowns on sales will leave you in the red, so get a silver tongue to sooth the prices. The best negotiators will negotiate a large paycheck, tho, so beware of their cut...
    Human Resources: This is the dude that hires the other dudes. Contract Negotiation can be a tricky ordeal, so pawn it off on some low-life who'll score you the vets for the cheapest. He's a necessity if you want to make a return on that cutthroat Black Market Merchant...
    Public Relations: Sometimes a laser goes haywire, sometimes a Thunderbolt blows up the town hall, and sometimes the arena gigs just don't like you. When this happens, your PR Manager waltzes in to calm things down. They'll make sur you dont get sued, and try to give you better deals on your mission contracts. But they're not magicians, so dont go around shooting up the villagers...
    Pilots: Someones gotta run all those Mechs, AeroSpace Fighters, and Lotus Tanks you've been recovering, so contract out some Pilots to fill the holes in your lances. These guys are only temporary, tho.
    Are their any other important people you'd want in your company? I think I covered the basics...

    Finances: Also covered in the monthly report is everything that deals with your money.
    All your loans, their interest, and terms will be listed, along with the deductions from your crew, monthly maintenance, facility rent, insurance policy, and expenditures. It'll be compared along side last months expenditures and income, and culminate to predict an End of Month Balance. Hopefully, that number will rise every month, instead of fall...

    So this is what I have planned, and some of it I even have implemented.
    I ask you for your feedback. What would you add? What do you think? Do you have any neat mission/news ideas?

    Also, I'd like to know if anyone would be interested in a game log that'll present each sessions events, along with all the Material created for it. I think it might help others, and it'll definitely help me to have a cloud-side resource to store all this crap... What do you think?

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    Mando Knight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    First: don't chalk things up to glitches. Battletech can be a harsh mistress. This is why you, as a GM running a campaign, should never fast forward to a point where you can point a Clan ERPPC or Gauss Rifle at their faces unless you're fine with them having their heads melted off. Lucky shots kill.

    Second, little upstarts need help. Especially if they want to survive on hardly enough cash to pay upkeep on their 'Mechs. Give them a contact with one of the larger merc groups that they can sub-contract from, such as the Kell Hounds or the Wolf's Dragoons.

    Third, you don't just buy two 40-ton chassis and then outfit them the way you see fit. Not only does that encourage your friends to play min-max with a setting that is horribly unoptimized, but OmniMechs (ones that can get loaded out like that, more-or-less) don't appear for another two years in the Sphere and aren't produced there for two more after that.
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    HalflingWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    I played Mechwarrior (2nd edition) quite a bit back in the day so I'll try to add in things.

    First, most of the Battletech fluff is on the macro level. Outside of a few exceptions--like Solaris VII--things on the micro level (like details of a planet) are largely your responsibility. There was a sourcebook called Objective Raids that detailed factories and garrisons on each planet but it didn't go into too much individual detail.

    Second, you'll have to decide what type of adventure. It sounds like you are going with a merc group. As you have two players, go with a lance (4 'Mechs with two NPC mechwarriors). As a lance is the smallest unit, I think the best idea is to have a larger merc group hire your players as subcontracters.

    For example, a merc unit is hired by House Davion to destory a heat sink factory on a world controlled by House Liao (those Davion bullies ). The merc unit--Lindon's Battalion--is slightly understrength so they hire your players' lance as a scouting lance. You can railroad them as they can only accept jobs which are offered (this is a way to control 'Merc unit players; players who are members of a House military can be directly railroaded ) This way, you and your players won't have to worry about Dropship/Jump Ship logistics.

    Hiring your players as a scouting lance will allow you railroad your players (they'll have to follow orders) and give you an opportunity to set up a small scale lance-on-lance fight during your players' scouting of the planet where the raid is to take place (quite frankly, any bigger fight will really bog down things).

    Give your two PCs fast medium 'Mechs (e.g., 3025 variants of Phoenix Hawk, Shadow Hawk, Wolverine, etc) and your two NPCs light 'Mechs such as Wasps or Stingers. Have your players scout a location (which will be a random map) and have them run into a force of one medium 'Mech and three light 'Mechs. Your players ought to win this fight. You can run several other battles in this campaign or have them get a new job.

    Once you've gone through a few campaigns, perhaps your players can enlarge into a company and get job offers from the Successor State Houses themselves. But, I think you probably should start smallscale.

    Personally, some of our old Mechwarrior games were:

    1) 3052ish Solaris VII campaigns where the players tried to become arena champions and got into bar fights and other escapades along the way. This is great because all 'Mech combat is one-on-one, which simplfies things.
    2) 3052ish Intelligence campaigns using the Intelligence Sourcebook. We were basically James Bond-types in the Battletech universe (almost always agents working for House Steiner). Was tons of fun to play and the Mechwarrior personal combat rules tended to be kinder to players than the Battletech rules
    3) 3052 Merc Group- We had the Merc Handbook so we'd create a Merc group (creating the Merc group always seemed more fun than actually playing it). Then you'd roleplay getting the contract and run a lance-on-lance battle to "simulate" the raid before getting another contract. If bored, the players would get into bar fights.
    4) 3052 Fed Comm soldiers (Lyran side). We didn't like fighting the Clans as they have nasty ER PPCs that could one-shot kill you, so our characters would usually goof off on garrison duty and get into bar fights (common theme in our games, we were immature teenagers and, again, the personal combat rules were a little nicer). Every so often we'd fight the Clans or, on occasion, House Marik.
    5) Clan campaign. The only thing we liked about Clan campaigns were "fighting for a Bloodname" adventures. It would be a fun diversion for one player. These tended to be rare as we preferred House Steiner or Merc Groups.
    6) Battlespace campaign. Always a stretch as we'd create warships (based on the fluff, this would be like a third-world country creating a fleet the size of the U.S. Navy overnight) for the Federated Commonwealth and have them fight Clan warships (which were the equivalent of the U.S. Navy). This often was a part of our Lyran campaigns if one or more ofthe characters were Aerospace fighter pilots (we'd stick the PC(s) in a fighter squadron and hope he or she didn't die ). I was always partial to playing Aerospace pilot characters myself. Of course, between epic space battles not supported by the fluff, we could get into bar fights

    Our games could be both ridiculous and silly, but we had lots of fun and had some memorable NPCs--we had a NPC originally based off the Free Trader archetype who was an eccentric loon and, probably, the most influential businessman in the Lyran side of the Federated Commonwealth. Among his many assests were a space station (the site of many adventures), a chain of pubs (which our characters frequented), and a small private army.

    His archrival was a bandit-king (modeled, in a way, after Redjack Ryan and named for an ex-friend of ours) who had a private army of his own. The bandit king's thugs often would attack the bars (with the PCs inside of course). The thugs happend to be elementals not in their Power Armor who carried Blazers (so they had a build of 8). I think our weak rationale for elementals working for a bandit-king was that the bandit had allied with Clan Burrock (we thought Clan Burrock was the stupidest name among the Clan, and thus, obviously, the stupidest clan). We never bothered to explain how a group of giant, genetically-engineered thugs carrying assault laser weapons could simply walk into and attack patrons in a bar in downtown Tharkhad .

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    First: don't chalk things up to glitches. Battletech can be a harsh mistress. This is why you, as a GM running a campaign, should never fast forward to a point where you can point a Clan ERPPC or Gauss Rifle at their faces unless you're fine with them having their heads melted off. Lucky shots kill.

    Second, little upstarts need help. Especially if they want to survive on hardly enough cash to pay upkeep on their 'Mechs. Give them a contact with one of the larger merc groups that they can sub-contract from, such as the Kell Hounds or the Wolf's Dragoons.

    Third, you don't just buy two 40-ton chassis and then outfit them the way you see fit. Not only does that encourage your friends to play min-max with a setting that is horribly unoptimized, but OmniMechs (ones that can get loaded out like that, more-or-less) don't appear for another two years in the Sphere and aren't produced there for two more after that.
    The glitches were just an extrapolation of the nature of the two players having a test one on one with each other. They were learning the game, so I came up with the training program idea. A few really wonky things were defined as 'glitches' in the game for entertainment, not excusal...
    The subcontract idea is wonderful. Just What I needed, as they were worried about travel costs. I'll definitely keep that in mind.
    And they didn't outfit the 40 tonners with Whatever they want. The had the Succession Wars Tech which is... Rediculous. Naturally they gravitated to the best option (medium lasers) but any other tech will quickly outscale them. Which is What the tech track is supposed to be about.

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Quote Originally Posted by DefKab View Post
    The glitches were just an extrapolation of the nature of the two players having a test one on one with each other. They were learning the game, so I came up with the training program idea. A few really wonky things were defined as 'glitches' in the game for entertainment, not excusal...
    The subcontract idea is wonderful. Just What I needed, as they were worried about travel costs. I'll definitely keep that in mind.
    And they didn't outfit the 40 tonners with Whatever they want. The had the Succession Wars Tech which is... Rediculous. Naturally they gravitated to the best option (medium lasers) but any other tech will quickly outscale them. Which is What the tech track is supposed to be about.
    The point being made about not letting full customisation is not about the tech level used but more about how the battletech game is setup. Most mechs have pretty obvious weaknesses from weak rear armour and ammo storage to poor weapons loadouts versus the heats sinks. If you customise it fully, you strip most of these problems away, and you take something like a warhammer, and solve all the problems of lack of heatsinks, low armour etc and turn into an infinitely more useful mech. If you want this, sure but you need to be aware that it makes things get screwy really quickly.

    I recommend with the mercenary deal that your pulled on assignments relative to your power? Your a single unit so your objectives and contracts are going to be short or desperate. Short being the 'attached to a unit' or 'hired for a single objective' etc. The desperate being say, a planet being raided by bandits cant afford a proper unit to garrison and their ruling house isnt sending any troops so they hire your unit to train up a militia and help them defend the world against bandit attacks.

    About all the accounting stuff. You might not want to do it with that much detail unless your players are really about doing that stuff. Just run a system where a certain percentage is cut from the contract payment and you give the rest to the players to buy new guns with. That way your game is more about the battletech universe and big robots fighting eachother than a military management simulation.
    Last edited by king.com; 2012-11-16 at 10:47 PM.
    Many thanks to Z-axis for the great avatar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saldre View Post
    you know whats worse than a regular Daemon-host? A Daemon-host with a Plasma Cannon.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomLunatic
    "Eh. I do to 'Mechs what Simon does to American Idol contestants."

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Quote Originally Posted by king.com View Post
    The point being made about not letting full customisation is not about the tech level used but more about how the battletech game is setup. Most mechs have pretty obvious weaknesses from weak rear armour and ammo storage to poor weapons loadouts versus the heats sinks. If you customise it fully, you strip most of these problems away, and you take something like a warhammer, and solve all the problems of lack of heatsinks, low armour etc and turn into an infinitely more useful mech. If you want this, sure but you need to be aware that it makes things get screwy really quickly.

    I recommend with the mercenary deal that your pulled on assignments relative to your power? Your a single unit so your objectives and contracts are going to be short or desperate. Short being the 'attached to a unit' or 'hired for a single objective' etc. The desperate being say, a planet being raided by bandits cant afford a proper unit to garrison and their ruling house isnt sending any troops so they hire your unit to train up a militia and help them defend the world against bandit attacks.

    About all the accounting stuff. You might not want to do it with that much detail unless your players are really about doing that stuff. Just run a system where a certain percentage is cut from the contract payment and you give the rest to the players to buy new guns with. That way your game is more about the battletech universe and big robots fighting eachother than a military management simulation.
    First Point: Duly noted and anticipated. I know the imbalances of the tactical game, no worries there. Half the fun of original battletech is making a mech, but the associated costs for even a weapon swap should limit their options, but that's for the third point.

    Second Point: Thank you very much. Those a great ways to think about missions, and I appreciate the inspiration.

    Third Point: Normally, I'd agree with you. However, we're all avid rollplayers, so we have the patience to deal with a system. Also, I talked to the players, and we all feel that that level of company management is wanted in our game. Normally, I wouldn't go through this much work if the players didnt express deep interest in it first...
    Last edited by DefKab; 2012-11-17 at 10:46 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Quote Originally Posted by king.com View Post
    I recommend with the mercenary deal that your pulled on assignments relative to your power? Your a single unit so your objectives and contracts are going to be short or desperate. Short being the 'attached to a unit' or 'hired for a single objective' etc. The desperate being say, a planet being raided by bandits cant afford a proper unit to garrison and their ruling house isnt sending any troops so they hire your unit to train up a militia and help them defend the world against bandit attacks.
    If you have the time and resources, a few of the Battletech novels deal with this - look at Main Event (about The Black Thorns) or William H. Keith's Gray Death Legion trilogy, which takes them from 1-2 mechs up to a company-sized unit.

    I have about 30-40 of the books. I stopped buying them shortly after (but not because) Lincoln Osis lost his head. Anything set after the Jihad is merely rumor.

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    If you have the time and resources, a few of the Battletech novels deal with this - look at Main Event (about The Black Thorns) or William H. Keith's Gray Death Legion trilogy, which takes them from 1-2 mechs up to a company-sized unit.

    I have about 30-40 of the books. I stopped buying them shortly after (but not because) Lincoln Osis lost his head. Anything set after the Jihad is merely rumor.
    Unfortunately, I have very little time. I also have very little knowledge of the fluff, as well. I was more of the 'FIGHT GIANT ROBOTS' stereotypical player...

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)


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    king.com's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help With A Battletech Campaign (Desperate Plea)

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    If you have the time and resources, a few of the Battletech novels deal with this - look at Main Event (about The Black Thorns) or William H. Keith's Gray Death Legion trilogy, which takes them from 1-2 mechs up to a company-sized unit.

    I have about 30-40 of the books. I stopped buying them shortly after (but not because) Lincoln Osis lost his head. Anything set after the Jihad is merely rumor.
    Main Event is perhaps one of the worst pieces of fiction out there, and thats saying something considering how bad a lot of the Battletec books are. The point being that the planet was desperate, then randomly hostile, then Rose being a psychopath, and then somehow better than clan pilots...

    Its a bad starting point, if your going to the mircromanagement side of the game you cant actually run a whole mercenary unit financially speaking until you've got a full company of mechs constantly taking a contract. The costs of hiring jumpship, dropship, mech pilots, repair crews, spare parts etc etc is far outweighed and makes more sense to simply attach yourself to a bigger unit until you have enough to go out on your own.

    Quote Originally Posted by DefKab View Post
    Third Point: Normally, I'd agree with you. However, we're all avid rollplayers, so we have the patience to deal with a system. Also, I talked to the players, and we all feel that that level of company management is wanted in our game. Normally, I wouldn't go through this much work if the players didnt express deep interest in it first...
    I was just pointing out that things get out of hand very quickly when doing things like that. Given you can have that extensive level of company management purely focusing on the combat side of things rather than trying to figure out how much food and spare parts you need to buy for an operation.
    Last edited by king.com; 2012-11-18 at 11:56 PM.
    Many thanks to Z-axis for the great avatar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saldre View Post
    you know whats worse than a regular Daemon-host? A Daemon-host with a Plasma Cannon.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomLunatic
    "Eh. I do to 'Mechs what Simon does to American Idol contestants."

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