Game Master Atlas2112

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Here we talk about breaking things.

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I have added links to the prior two game in the Camp info tab.

I think it's important to remember that this is mostly just straight SW SciFi. One of the main differences, other than inclusion of the SW RIFTS robot crit tables, is that instead of a roll to hit with missiles, followed by an opposing roll (all of which are ridiculously complicated and modified) we're just treating it more like the Fight skill vs. PArry rating. The missile to hit is just compared against the Knowledge (Electronic Warfare), or KEW, rating, and hits are determined there.

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Some stats:


Tou:  24(9)

MOD| Mod #|
Armor 2A
ACM   1
Jump Jets  3
Pace 2    (24+4+4=32)
Stealth 6
Sensors  1
Targeting 1

Med Lzr  2
[2]Missilesx1  1
8 AT missles  2


Spd 3
Armor 3
Stealth 6
Sensors 1

Med Laser 2
Quad-linked Lt Auto canon 2
Xtra ammo 2

Pace 36
Toughness 26{11}

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If you want, Therenger, instead of bothering with characters, we could just say that we all roll a d8 for whatever. You are playing a Wild Card, however, so that should give you a leg up.

I think one of the biggest problems I came across in the prior games is people just not knowing the base SW rules for combat and things. I think I spent half my time just explaining to people how Armor Piercing worked.

Hence, let's just start with a nice easy runoff to give us all a refresher on what we're doing here.

Wasp vs. Locust. Classic battle. You pick, we'll start far apart and let fly.

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Okay, I'm already getting into trouble.

One of the mistakes I made with the first version of my mech conversion, is that I gave light mechs big weapons. It just doesn't work. I wanna stay more true to the lore.

Hence, the Locust has no business with an autocannon, no matter what. So we're gonna change that to:

2 x Heavy MG range:50/100/200 dmg:d10 ROF:3
Notes: AP 4

How about a crude map?

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SWBT test map

Apologies, my mom was pronounced Irish Person of the Year, so mobilizing the fam up to Green Bay for the parade has consumed most of my attention.

As far as rules go, while we pause, do you have the SW SCi Fi book? We're going mostly by that. (If you don't, let me know, I may know where you can find it. ;)

Congratulations to your mom!

I used to have SWADE - might have even paid for it. Not sure I've seen the sci fi rules and do not seem to have a digital copy.

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SWBT test map

I think the rule that gave us the most problems last time was how to deal with speed and units.

All movement, and ranges, are given in tabletop "inches". I think we should stick to that for all our discussion. The book does list a conversion, but I think if we never ever mention any units other than the applicable inches, we should do well.

As far as to-hit goes, the rule, from the handbook, is "–1 per 10” of Speed."

Due to this, How about on the map each square is 5"? That way, each 2 squares moved is a modifier to hit.

Also, we'll just round normally. A movement of 7 will get you a square. But movement of 26 only gets you 5 squares.

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SWBT test map

I have an idea about facing. Consuming movement to change facing while moving, is dumb. It's time consuming to figure out and involves more math.

Now, you're free to add your own idea, but this is what I've come up with.

We have facing, and when you start your movement, it costs you an inch to turn each facing. (We're using squares so there are 8 facings. That might seem like a lot but it's only 1 inch per facing, not like a full Battletech movement point which might be half your movement just to turn around.)

Then, you can move normally to where you want to be. No cost for changing or turning.

At your destination square, it costs another 1 inch per facing turn. This could be a good way to burn off movement that would normally be round down and lost. Like, a mech who has 27 movement could move 5 squares and still have 2 movement to burn for turning.

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SWBT test map

I have set up the map that is in my header. The wasp is on top and the locust is on the bottom.

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SWBT test map

I didn't wanna go first in case I destroyed the other mechanical right off.

I'll get to this in a bit.

Ideally we'll get to a.point where you can translate the dice as easy as I can.

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I can see I made some mistakes just C&Ping my stats for the mechs.

The Medium lazer costs 2 mods points, so that's why there's a 2 next to it. The WASP does not, in fact, have 2 medium lasers. That would be insane!

It was my mistake so we'll roll with it for this round.

For the missiles, I don't see where you see a Light Missile on the Mech. It has one missile launcher, which fires 2 missiles at a time, and those are short range Anti-tank missiles. The [2] indicates the 2 missiles, and the x1 means there are one of them. (Yes, there are mechs that have multiple missiles launchers. Oh man you don't wanna even see my Javelin. =)

I'll pause here to see if you have questions.

Yes, the stats were messy and I did my best to decipher them. We're in no rush - take your time and make everything really obvious. I'm not in this to win it, so let's start over and do it right. You can go first, then tell me exactly how to respond and why.

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SWBT test map

As far as behind-the-curtain, recall I gave everyone the free Edge MechWarrior: You can soak wounds for your mech using Vigor.

This does not preclude taking and paying for the usual Edge of Ace: +2 to Piloting rolls, and you can Soak with a Piloting roll, at -2.

I intentionally made the MechWarrior theme very Multiple Attribute Dependent. (MAD) Agility is obvious for Shooting and Piloting. But it would be too easy to just max that and sail through.

So we have Smarts for K(EW). That's both offense and Defense. You can't just ignore it if you never plan to use missiles because you'll get a lot of them shot at you.

Then Vigor for Soaks. You can't really pump this to make yourself invulnerable because you only get so many bennies, and that would mean the others suffer.

So that's three that play a big roll. Pretty good spread to discourage min/max.

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Right so the Wasp can soak or not, with a possible crit check or OOC roll, then you can return fire.

You know me and dice. Have I shared with you my philosophy on armor? I believe strongly that the concept of "to-hit" as it relates to armor has been a disaster from the start, going back almost fifty years now, and as it is represented in almost every rpg ever made, is the most influential and stupidest aspect of gaming in general.

I can only imagine what Gygax and Arneson were thinking. Why on Greyhawk would wearing a set of full plate armor made of iron make you more difficult to-hit? Whatever sense that makes is betrayed by the fact that if you do hit you deal full damage. Like, I guess I found a gap in that armor! Where, in the neck? Saving throws for armor served as flaccid acknowledgement that there was a serious problem here, but what DM has ever imposed them?

Of course we also have hit points and random damage represented by dice. All of it feels like it was cobbled together to compensate for that one tragic blunder of THAC0, and then it became gospel before anyone could say, sure but what if...

For some time I have thought Ability to Hit needs to be decoupled from Ability to resist the effects of taking damage. I totally get that these are the kinds of rabbit holes that can seriously f!#~ with a system. IMO, Star Fleet Battles was a model system, and BT also does this natively, albeit with more complexity.

I do like a lot of what SW brings to the table. I find the pbp interface to be cumbersome for this system because you have to preview every roll for the possible ace, and it's a lot of paizo xml to write.

My strong preference for BT would be to find a way to normalize damage and leverage actual armor in the BT sense represented by Armor Facing Points. Toughness goes away and instead we would have wound capacity by mech size category. That would introduce the tactical element that is mostly missing. Ability to-hit is still what it is, but when you hit you do X damage, where X is a firm number by weapon. A Raise = possible Crit, exactly like Pathfinder, and a crit = wound. If all my armor facing points are gone and I take another hit to that facing, it's an automatic wound.

This idea stops short of managing hit locations because who says I can't hit your left leg when I'm shooting at you from your right side?

I like that Armor is free but it has weight, so when building mechs we need to balance defense and offense. What we're already seeing with stock rules is the feast-or-famine combat flow that is often just frustrating.

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SWBT test map

So I was thinking about this and how we can get this practice more exciting.

What we're doing now is two undergunned scout mechs. So naturally its taking a while for a kill.

What we could do is start over with more guns. A classic. Match of Panther vs Urbanmech. More guns more kills.

Also we could take Vigor down to d6. Which is more in line with what a new pilot would have. At the same time we can increase one skill, be it piloting shooting, KEW, or what have you to d10. This would be more realistic and produce faster results.

I still feel like I'm letting you down. I thought I could've made the rules easy to understand. Hopefully a bit more fighting will make it clearer.

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Translation: This isn't that complicated, Mike - why can't you figure it out?

No worries. My brain is so bogged down with work right now I can't keep anything else straight.

I guess I would say that if the rules don't work well for small mechs then they probably don't scale well, either. We could try larger mechs but what we're looking for is the point where the guns reliably defeat the toughness+armor. That may not be better.

I started the BT video game over in Career mode and I'm about 900 days in. My favorite mech is a frickin Firestarter that I have equipped with two Arm Mod+++ for a total Melee attack of 165, and then fully decked out with ER, Pulse, and Small Lasers+++ and of course Jump Jets. That little 35 tonner has aced several assault mechs from behind because they mostly ignore it until its too late. They could turn around and swat it like a fly, but then they'd be turning their back on my King Crab, Highlander, and Black Knight. The Firestarter is by far the most fun to play - it's like having a Jedi Master on the battlefield in mech form.

Can we replicate that experience here?

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We get to see that causing "Shaken" here is just as deadly as in personal combat.

Anyway, about trying it with bigger mechs, we won't have "exactly" the problem you describe about scaling everything up and just having the same problems. Another of the brilliant parts of this system is that all light mechs have the same base numbers. All Lights are base TOU of 20(5). So a Light Mech, with no mods on, is a 15 TOU, with 5 more armor bolted on.

Thusly, so long as we are all driving Light Mechs, there is no real scaling up. We're just changing the loudout of what we're driving.

Now, there are some changes. With the Locust and Wasp I filled up their Mod space with lots of Pace so they go fast.

With the U-Mech and Panther, they have much, much larger weapons. Weapons that can stand against Mechs in higher weight categories. So they have less speed, and, yes, more armor, but we're talking about adding on by 2's and 4's, rather than the double-digit increases a class increase gives automatically.

The UM has a massively out-sized canon, but goes slower and, while it has more armor, doesn't max out the chart.
The Panther is no speedster either, and though it carries a large weapon, it's not as big as what the UM has. It does however have more armor, and may be the best protected amongst the squishy Light class.

Do you have a preference as to which you take and which of us starts?

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We've been using d8s for everything, but that's not very groovy with the system. We've basically Veteren pilots that didn't spec in anything.

Would you agree that the numbers would be better if we were more aligned with the system?

For instance, do let's make some typical Novice pilots:

Agil: d8
Vigor: d6
Spirit: d4
Smarts: d6

And skills? With:

Piloting: d8
Shooting: d8

K(EW): d6

That's 10 points of distribution right there. Assuming a normal character would toss points at Notice and Persuasion and things, I think that's fine.

Should we go with that? I like it because we're soaking worse, and the to-hit for missiles is brought down to (3+2+2) = 7.

If that is not yet to your liking, we can allow our characters an Advance.

Stats for the two other mechs are in the Campaign tab.

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As far as can we replicate things? Perhaps.

There are other rules. Rules for melee weapons, rules for advanced upgrades, like sloped armor, and shields. Rules for Stealth, which some mechs already have, but I didn't think we were ready to introduce it yet.

I was hoping that after we had a few more fights under our belt and once you knew the base combat rules as well as I do, we can get into more wilder and funner stuff. =)

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Also, if you wanted, I could just run a whole fight between these two heavy hitters so you'd have a free-flowing example to go by.

I won't learn it that way. I'll take the Urbanmech and you can go first.

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Did you want to do more realistic skills for the pilots, as outlined above?

Or is that too much to keep track of and we should keep rolling d8's for now?

Where are the stats for the mechs? Can you put them in a slide?

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I have the stats for all the mechs on spoilers in the Campaign tab.



Jumps 3
Spd -3 {18}
Armor 5 30(15)
Sensors  1
Targeting 1
Stealth 6

Quad linked Lt. Laser 2Mods 150/300/600 2d10 {+2+4}
[25 shots]
Quad linked Medium Cannon 6Mods 4d10{+2+4} AP20 75/150/300
Xtra [20] shots [30 total]

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Are the numbers starting to make sense?

A Quad linked Medium Cannon can do 40 something, but it could also do 4 something. It's not damage, it's potential harm. The difference between 40 and 4 is representative of I don't know what, but figure the mean is 22 something and if I am above that then dicebot did well by me.

Battletech is very clever. Heat management is so critical specifically because energy weapons are both precise and deadly. Missiles are mostly just gobs of random damage, but to offset that perceived deficiency relative to energy, there is Stability. The balance is remarkable. It's not fair to compare BT, with the thousands of hours of thinking and playtesting that shaped that system, to SW, which was probably done on the fly by scaling the existing system. SW is fine. I personally find all the previewing for aces a little taxing, but its probably a better fit for pbp than whatever I am thinking more closely resembles BT. You seem sold on SW, and that's cool.

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There's a lot to unpack here.

Heat doesn't work in PbP because keeping track of ongoing numbers doesn't work in PbP. It's impossible to run BT in PbP. Change my mind. It's hard enough to keep track of a PC's hp and spell slots in PbP, but to track armor AND IS in ten different locations is just untenable. Throwing a heat tracker on top of that is beating the horse.
A lot of people put their current hit points in ooc with their posts just for that purpose.

Also, it introduces yet more rules that can't work don't work in PbP. And rules are hard in PbP, especially when trying to introduce new ones.

On another topic the rules for Linked weapons are on page 60 of the SciFi book. "quad linked weapons add +2 to hit and +4 damage".

Your laser hit, please roll damage.

Of note, I'm quite proud that you tabulated the other calculations to hit properly. With MAP, and movement modifier, and TarComp, AND range, you came to the right calculation for both weapons. Well done!

Um, I think that SW does something right by getting rid of heat and introducing Armor Piercing. Specifically, some weapons do more damage, but others pierce more armor. Your AC, for instance, has an AP of 20, so if it hits the Panther it'll almost definitely do a wound since it effectively ignores its armor. The +2 to hit increases the chance of getting a raise on the to hit, and a raise makes a kill very likely.

I'm not suggesting we do heat. I'm only saying that it is a brilliant foil for energy weapons, which are otherwise superior.

I am coming right and saying that the damage dice, despite AP being a solid mechanic, allow for too much inconsistency. On the other hand, the players should hit more often with the wild dice. I truly believe that a lance of light mechs should be able to take down a larger mech if they are smart about it, but with the drastic speed limitations to even 35 tonners, and with TarComp, your average Shadowhawk will be killing Panthers all day long.

Do you plan to have an economy in the game?

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Couple things:

1) I see you had -4 on your last to hit roll. True, that with Medium Range -2 and the Panther's movement, that is -4 of penalties, but remember that you have a Targetting Computer (TarComp) that compensates for up to 2 points of shooting penalties, reducing -4 to -2. It didn't matter since you Raised anyway, but keep it in mind.

2) Um, history itself says that several light machines will have a hard time killing a larger one. The American Sherman tanks needed 3 to 1 at least to take down a Panzer IV, and more than that to attack a Tiger. As one gets heavier on armored fighting vehicles, both the armor and the weaponry increase, and the guns on light tanks simply have no chance. The weapons designed to take our APCs and harrass infantry have no chance of gutting a heavier MBT.

Still, there are exemptions, like tank-killers, that are lighter but have such up-sized guns that they can dish it out...even if they can't take it.

The Urbanmech is one such example. Yeah, at AP 20 it can have a good chance of threatening a wound on some big boys. But the base toughness and armor increase with size, so these 4 wounds probably won't come up as much. Same thing with the Panther. The PPC is a big-boy weapon, and the missiles are standard. (Especially with 6 dice, one can hope for at least one raise on damage per roll.)
But as we see these mechs can't suk hits from such heavy weapons. (This is really a fight between two tank hunters anyway.)

3) Yes, I have an economy all planned out. Basically salvaged mechs give a certain amount of Scrap (based on weight) and it takes so much Scrap to repair, so much to upgrade, and 1 point of Scrap has an established dollar amount attached to it.

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