Thank you for the feedback, I was hoping a more old school Battletech player would show up for some criticism.
One of the unique aspects about BattleTech is the use of bicapitalization (BiCapitalization) in many of it's terms. BattleTech. MechWarrior. AeroSpace. DropShip. I think this would be easier for an old-timer to read if this convention were followed consistently in the doc.
Thanks for pointing that out. Formatting the document has generally been a lower concern than being clearly written and organized, but it's something I'll hit in an editing pass, then miss a few times and have to do again.
I learned to love the FIND & REPLACE feature in Word a long time ago. OOO and even Google Docs have it, too, so don't worry about catching it manually - the the robot slaves do the work.
All of your Clan Trueborn warriors are out of balance with Freeborn or Inner Sphere humans. They should not be - while they have advantages in military-themed skills and some abilities, they are out of their depth in most social situations and common knowledge about anything that isn't related to war, its people, and its machines. This is world-balance that does not need to be reinforced by rules.
I was following the format presented in the Savage Worlds rulebook. Even when a racial ability just grants a normal hindrance it has a more flavorful name. Also, it should be noted that bog-normal humans in core Savage Worlds are also a +2 Race, as they get a free novice Edge (+2), so the Clan phenotypes are effectively equal to a normal character. As to the Trueborn Aerospace Pilots getting Low-Light, this was done mainly from needed to find a +1 bonus to bring them into line with rest of the phenotypes. The logic behind this was that they are consistently described in fiction as having overly large eyes. Larger eyes -> more light able to be collected by the eyes -> low light vision. It ain't a perfect fit, I know, but I could not come up with something better.[/quote]
Aiee! What have I done? I have no idea why I made that error. Thank you, sir.
As to Clan Warriors being out of depth in most outside social situations, this is in many ways true, and perhaps I should add something like Outsider into the Clan Racial edges, but it's also not true that Clanners don't know anything about things outside of War. Clan Diamond Shark/Sea Fox is noted as the Clan where even the most fanatical of warriors keeps one eye on the Clan bottom line. The average Clan Cloud Cobra Warrior will know more about comparative theology than the average Inner Sphere warrior, on par with many Priests of the New Avalon Catholic Church as they are a Clan of Warrior-Monks. The warriors of Clan Goliath Scorpion are well versed in history and exploration (and hallucinogenic drugs). The Clans are as varied a people as the Inner Sphere, in some ways more varied since there's over a dozen of them compared to six Successor States. What you're saying is true for the Invading Clans, which were by far the most bland of the Clans, but even they have their quirks, like the Ghost Bear concern for the idea of Family and love of (American) Football and the Nova Cat mysticism. I did not want to have to create Races for every permutation of the Clans, some of whom are isolationist (Blood Spirit) and some of whom are well versed in the Black Market and seedier side of life (Burrock). The one unifying cultural aspect of Clan Warriors is Zelbrigen, hence why it appears as part of their race... everything else was to varied to account for in the broad-stroke approach the races had to take.
Welll... the Clanners are less likely to have a variety of social skills compared to Inner Sphere warriors. Each of those skills you mention is largely a single Knowledge (History) skill. The Clanners are better warriors because they have inherent advantages (racial bonuses) and they are, ah, encouraged to focus on military skills. This is rewarded by the Trial system, in which a warrior who doesn't like a result may challenge it in a "might makes right" ritual.
Essentially, a Clanner who takes Streetwise is probably a Freeborn - or a lower caste member.
Or Driving. Or Swimming. Or Climbing. Or Stealth. Or... and so on.
That leaves them with a lot more focus in their skill points. They can take Knowledge (Burrock Baskets) and still come out ahead.
Does using the CBT rules really work in a Savage context? Does Ranged Defense, for example, need to be 1/2 Piloting +2? For that matter is it needed at all?
Unless you want to constantly calculate to-hit for each weapon, the Ranged Defense is a needed trait. The reason for it's high value is that in order to help model the system we took an already established formula from SW that works (Parry) and reworked it a bit. Mech Combat in SBt is more like Melee Combat than it is normal ranged combat.
Well, yes, when you make the primary ranged combat defense work just like Parry, it will certainly work more like melee combat than normal ranged combat.
I am not sure what you mean by "constantly calculating to-hit for each weapon" - whether or not the TN is constant (4) or variable (2+1/2 'Mech Piloting), don't each of the weapons use its own modifiers for range, movement, and the like? It's only one more variable, but basing the TN to hit a target on the target's own Piloting seems like it introduces another variable.
As Clint says, there are ways to add penalties to a target in ranged combat that aren't available in melee.
I'm trying to understand it before I adopt it is all. I don't think your explanation helps me.
My group has been playing this system for 2 or so years, and it seems to work. Calculating to-hit is still more complex than normal SW, but is much less complex than BT.
The basic to-hit calc of BattleTech isn't that hard... then again, I pretty much hard-wired my brain to run those calculations faster than anyone so I could compress a lot of decision-making into a single turn, so I may not be a good example of it.
I guess my real question is: why carry over that complexity? It's not necessary. Figure out if you hit. Roll a location. The location and resultant effects are where the BT complication carries flavor, but the resolution of the hit mechanic can be more strictly SW.
Now, on to a fundamental design question section. Pretty much everything else you list came down to a conscious design decision on our part in the name of one thing: balance.
What confuses me is why you cite balance for moving stats around and for forcing MechWarriors to pay for other skills, but not in BattleMech choice. Both are really GM responsibilities to manage. What I think you're doing is dragging over the conceits from the terrible FASA and subsequent RPG systems and forcing those conceits into SW. I'll admit, I am not sure.
Someone here said recently (I can't recall, most of my reading cuts off the left hand column since I'm mobile far more than not) that the best adaptations looked at what the author considers canonical material and adapts that, rather than trying to convert a different rule system. I think it works for your group in part because it's been 2 years, and I think it's also something you've gotten used to.
Look at skill balance. I am trying to recall a MechWarrior in fiction who was not good at both 'Mech and non-'Mech combat. I can recall skill differences, but not like Kai Allard-Liao being helpless because he "chose to be the best" right out the gate. On the contrary, he was highly skilled. Morgan Kell, Jaime Wolf, Phelan Kell, Natasha... they were all good shots, good fighters, and fantastic MechWarriors.
I attribute that excellence in the cockpit to Edge choices - Trademark Ride vs. Weapon... Ghost 'Mech vs. Martial Artist... and so on.
As for BattleMechs - in that fiction, MechWarriors generally upgrade their 'Mech selection, eventually finding a model they prefer. Some we catch late in their careers - Jaime in his Archer, Phelan in his Wolfhound, Natasha in her Warhammer (before she upgraded to her Dire Wolf). The concept of the inherited family 'Mech which will be passed on is a 3025-era concept, and while I prefer it I think it's not unreasonable to assume a Light 'Mech pilot will want to move into a machine that will keep him or her alive longer.
All things being equal, if I play someone with my skills and I have an Atlas and he a Locust, ensuring that Locust gives only 10's or better on clear shots, I will still kill him. Thus, there's a balance issue to be resolved and I'm curious as to why that one works as a cooperative handwave, when the other doesn't. IMO, they both do - and so rules for one seem excessive next to no rules for the other.
The reason for Int over Agl as the governing stat for Mech Piloting and Gunnery? Balance. Agility is nearly a god-stat in core SW. All combat abilities come off it. When designing the system we wanted people to have to make sacrifices to play a MechWarrior. You want to be the best MW right out of the gate? You can do it, but you're sacrificing other combat skills to do so. This forces players down a more well rounded path.
Yes, I can see. I just don't know why that's important to good storytelling.
If shooting weapons in Mechs was just a Shooting roll, then all these same MechWarriors would be crack shots in out of combat. The same for Melee, etc.
Yes, as noted there is plenty of reason in fiction to assume they should be. They're much better than other warriors... they are MechWarriors.
Also, keep in mind that Gunnery covers much more than firing a Mech's weapons. It's used for any vehicular mounted guns, from those on Warships to Hovercraft.
OK, here's a case where your simplification doesn't match BT, old RPG, or fictional canon except in the rarest cases.
The difference between a WarShip gunner and a MechWarrior is that the MW put points into BattleMech Piloting?
Controlling such weapons is a fundamentally different skill than firing a pistol or rifle, and we felt that having those skills different from the the normal core skills helped differentiate a MechWarrior from an Infantry Soldier.
Why the effort to differentiate between infantry, with which MW are reasonably expected to share some skills and training, but not AeroSpace gunners/pilots? Look at the skill overlap again.
I am trying to understand before I modify, and so I am trying to correlate the changes you've made from FFF SW.
In SBt, you can look at a handful of stats and know exactly what that character does... Gunnery and Driving, it's a Vehicle pilot. Mech Piloting and Gunnery, Mechwarrior. Piloting and Gunnery, Aerospace pilot. Shooting and Melee, well that's an PBI.
Yes... but you're reducing it to the 2-stat checklist on a BT/miniatures record sheet, rather than a more nuanced SW/RPG character sheet. You can still distinguish between those characters if there are multiple skills.
I am tired, I think I am missing something fundamental here.
To be honest, I'm not entirely happy with Int either, I agree that from a fluff standpoint it should be Agl, but from a Game Mechanics standpoint, Agility is already over-valued and we wanted to balance that somewhat.
Ah, that I understand! Group flay-vah over rules.
As to Mech Melee combat, we've actually talked about it being unnecessary a few times, the fundamental reason it's stuck around is that it offers a way to balance pilots against each other and sweetens the pot for a melee build MechWarrior.
More than buckets of Edges that specialize the Axeman pilot to melee and the Thunderbolt pilot to taking hits and blowing stuff up at range (6 hexes, thank you)? It seems your group has sacrificed simplicity (Fighting and Shooting with a single Edge) for slowing down character advancement and skill levels (Fighting and 'Mech Fighting and Shooting and... all-purpose Gunnery)
It also serves as a way to distinguish Clan from IS warriors, as in canon its stated that Clan warriors are generally against melee combat and are not as adept in it as Inner Sphere ones. As to it not being tied to the normal Melee skill, again, it's a fundamentally different set of skills to swing a sword and make a Mech swing a sword.
Never having swung a 'Mech sword, I can only assume that's true.
For game play, though, and emulating fiction, it seems like a hair-splitting detail.
Again, like I said, the main reason for the different skills was to make Mech piloting a conscious decision in character building, one that required people to put resources to it. We did not want MechWarriors to be the best combatants both in and out of their Mechs, we wanted them to have to pick and choose the skills they would specialize in.
Totally makes sense. I get it, and you definitely accomplished that. I'm sorry to beat that to death... maybe I should delete some of the above since I now totally understand.
Firing a weapon group does not strike me as needing to be a free action. That is probably to compensate for a longer BT turn vs. standard SW, but it's not needed.
Originally we had an edge called Quicktrigger that allowed folks to fire a weapon group and then take another action without the MAP. It became obvious after a long while (we just got rid of this edge in v9) that this Edge was to powerful not to take and was essentially to make Heavy and Assault Mechs playable.
Well, yeah, but your solution to it being too powerful was to make it free to everyone, not tone the power level down.
What did Light 'Mech pilots get to compensate for the H & A's becoming more deadly?
I would apply something like an autofire/MAP penalty to the group. When we played various computer games, including the pods, the group fire mode always had a penalty of triggering weapons in sequence rather than all at once. It was a pleasant balancing act, even more so than the balance of the heat generated on a hex map. Fire it all fast, or fire it all accurately... simple trade off.
And I like how you encourage players to group like weapons by applying all the penalties and none of the bonuses of a mixed group.
It does do a lot to help speed up gameplay, but it also it reflective of core BT, in which a Mech can fire every weapon it has an a single round without any penalty.
Remember, BT is a way to model how these silly machines might fight using the preposterous weapons they carry, all in a turn-based mode. When you port (hex map to simulator or RPG) go back to what it's like in depictions. You might find similarities, but I also think you can be free of hex-constrained assumptions.
Weapon groups were added to help resolve single turns quicker, and that Edge, later made into a core mechanic, enhanced that. Take the Nova Prime with it's 12 ER Medium Lasers. Without the rule, it can only fire half it's weapons per the weapon group rules, with it, it can fire all of them like in BT (that this is a terrible idea to do due to heat build up is beside the point. ;p).
That attack is the sole reason that OmniMech configuration exists on a record sheet and in fiction. Dump it all ("nova," "tab," or "alpha strike") and kill a target, but expect to be helpless for a few seconds.
It would be possible to play without this rule, but you would likely have to allow all weapons to be fired as one weapon group or allow all weapon attacks to be rolled individually (which greatly slows down gameplay). We experimented with Weapons groups like Autofire rules, but that has complications of assigning specific weapons to specific dies and also slows down gameplay. It is not a perfect solution, I admit, but it is a balanced one. It also allows people who try to be more tricksy (using Electronic Warfare or Taunts and the like) to be a bit more usable in the game, as otherwise it is almost always better to make an attack roll.
I'll have to try it. I see your point and just need to see it in play to carry on an intelligent conversation. I will definitely let you know how it goes.
Speaking of the BattleMech Pilot Edge, this system needs one to keep MechWarriors in balance with other characters. A "tree" with increasing requirements might be useful in determining the pilot's starting 'Mech:
It has a balancing mechanism build in: the Mech Piloting, Gunnery and Mech Melee skills.
These skills keep Mechwarrior in line with other characters who specialize in other areas as the skill point and unique Edge investment counterbalance are a cost of being a MechWarrior. A MechWarrior who to heavily specializes in Mech combat will be worth very little outside the cockpit.
In combat, the MechWarrior literally steps on the non-'MechWarrior, or manages through the rules' focus on 'Mechs to shoot down an AeroSpace fighter. Or he sells his 'Mech - even the scrap is a lot more valuable than all of the kit an infantry character can carry.
For free, not even a background Edge.
Even in fiction, the MechWarrior is portrayed as having a fundamentally different background from most other characters. It distinguishes him or her from an AeroSpace pilot, tanker, Battle Armor trooper, or a merchant. Seems like the perfect use of background Edges... if they're all MechWarriors, definitely not an issue.
(snip 'Mech choices)This one is really on the GM though, and it falls to them to balance their people against each other.
That's what made me twitch. If a GM is concerned about Agility balance, he should ensure the encounters are well-balanced... some require Smarts, diplomacy, seduction, and so on - not just shooting something. If all you're doing is playing BattleTech... why bother with Savage Worlds at all?
What we've found is that a requirement of starting the campaign with a tech level 1 Mech, and then letting technology and equipment trickle in helps.
Yes, of course. Basic BT campaign technique including in 3025 with just the basics. Upgrades & repairs come from salvage.
If Mechs are treated as just another piece of equipment, I think it devalues them, and by gating them off by XP level it makes people see them as goals rather than a fundamental part of their character.
Absolutely agree about devaluing them, which is why more powerful 'Mechs should be earned. It also makes no real sense that the best military equipment - the new stuff, not the handed-down-for-generations stuff - would be handed to academy graduates, and makes less sense that there isn't a background Edge to reflect how the 'Mech came to the character.
You can Edge them in, or Wealth them in to reflect something like Lyran nobility, but it feels like allowing any 'Mech at the beginning dilutes the importance of having that 'Mech. Otherwise... 65-ton IS/75-ton Clan jumper FTW. But, man, if you had to fight your way into that Timber Wolf...