Monday, March 02, 2015

FATE Inspired by Battletech, Canon Examples

So I've been doing the Battletech-Inspired FATE Mecha system over the past couple of weeks and the best way to cap it off is with examples.

The interesting thing about this system is that versions of 'mechs aren't so important. What's the difference between the single-heat-sinked, SRM 6-ed Thug and the double-heat-sinked, SRM 4-ed? A small amount of firepower and some heat dissipation? Notable, but not significant.

Tech Level: 7
Skill Points: 7
Skill Maximum: 3
Equipment Points: 7
Aspects: 3

Ruggedness: 3
Maneuver: 1
Accuracy: 3
Electronics: 0 - As in FATE, a skill of 0 doesn't mean an absence of a skill, but an average level of it.

High Concept: Definitive Zombie 'Mech
Trouble: Not as scary as advertised - 
The Thug is a venerable 'mech, but it really isn't a killer. It's a tough chassis that can dish out moderate damage with a complimentary weapons array.
Aspect: Classic Design
Aspect: Medium Range
Aspect: Lasers

Equipment Points
Structure: 2
Neural Interface: 2

Meat Cleaver: PPCs definitely count.
Scattershot: The SRMs don't count for this on their own, but they're perfectly paired with the PPCs to maximize this.
Composite III Armor

The Atlas is a classic. Because it's at the higher end of the weight scale, it makes a fine test case for this kind of system.

Tech Level: 5
Skill Points: 5
Skill Max: 2
Equipment Points: 5

Aspects: 2

Ruggedness: 2
Maneuver: 0
Accuracy: 2
Electronics: 1


High Concept: The King of the Battlefield
Trouble: So many weapons, so little time
Aspect: Long Range
Aspect: Short Range

Equipment Points
Ammunition: 2

Strong Firepower

No matter what I said about versions not mattering that much, this is clearly the introductory tech level Atlas that was seen throughout The Succession Wars. 

Troubles are also an issue: few 'mechs have out-and-out flaws embedded into them. The troubles for the Thug and the Atlas are basically plays on "too powerful," but there's nothing necessarily wrong with that.

The next obvious candidate was the Timberwolf. Now, everything I just said about variants shifts into reverse for omnimechs. Not only are the differences relevant, they're too relevant. The Timberwolf D isn't too much like the Prime. Some long-range punch, some sandblasting. It's just potency on bird-legs. How do you define that?
None the less, the Timberwolf is worth taking a shot at.

Tech Level: 12
Skill Points: 12
Skill Maximum: 4
Equipment Points: 12
Aspects: 4

Accuracy: 4
Ruggedness: 2
Maneuver: 4
Electronics: 2

The Timberwolf is fast and powerful. Because Clan 'mechs can't make physical attacks, are hard to repair, and commonly have more fragile, XL engines, I'm happy dropping their ruggedness. The flagship omni isn't known for its electronics loadout either, so two it is.

High Concept: The Pinnacle of Clan Technology
Trouble: Egg Drop 'Mech - The Timberwolf is downright inhuman in its design. Even when it has actuators, they aren't the best. Attempting to perform humanoid actions with it--including physical attacks--can cause problems with it that other 'mechs wouldn't worry about (Let's be honest: The Timberwolf is as close as a 'mech gets to perfect, any substantial Trouble would feel a bit contrived).
Aspect: Alien in Form - The Timberwolf has a very inhuman structure compared to most 'mechs. Sure, there are more inhuman, but the omnipods, the birdlegs, and the low, protruding cockpit all create a 'machine that doesn't really feel human. As such, it's harder for those unfamiliar with the design to evaluate the danger it poses, predict its next move, or fail to be intimidated by it. In addition, it can be misread as either a Marauder or a Catapult by many identification software suites.
Aspect: Always in Pairs - Many Timberwolf configurations carry main weapons in pairs. This means that having one weapon disabled might not be as big of a drawback for it. It also means the pilot can stagger fire, bracket fire, or just double tap with minimal problems.
Aspect: Long Range
Aspect: Lasers - It's hard to justify adding any specific aspect to an omni (Lookin' at you, Gauss Rifle-laden B config), but I think for the plethora of lasers the Timberwolf uses, it's fair in this case.

Equipment Points
Neural Interface Points: 2 - Like most Battletech 'mechs, there's nothing particularly "neural-interfacey" about the Timberwolf. However, it's a good fit for what the T-Wolf does; move quickly and shoot things.
Gyroscope: 1
Structure: 1

Overwhelming Firepower: Yeah, it's got that.

Composite IV Armor: Only fair, considering its firepower. It should take as good as it gets from other Timberwolves.

Headcapper: Clan PPCs mean that entirely too many of the Timberwolf configs have headcappers (Including the B config!) for it to not have this.

Scattershot: More an effect of the sheer number of weapons it has than any particular weapon loadout.

CRUSH 1: Again, secondary weapons effective against infantry and vehicles are surprisingly common on these configs. Far be it for me to question the wisdom of using seventy-five tons of state-of-the-art killing machine to squash infantry, but there you have it.

On Omnimechs
The only real question I had was about adding a specific "Omni" stunt, but without swapping out specific aspects or stunts, which would be both wildly powerful and just over the line of complication these rules bush up against. 

The other alternative would be if an Omni stunt merely let a 'mech recover from its complications more quickly. Taken further, we could houserule up times for stress recovery of 'mechs and repair specifications, including rules that allow for aspects to be overwritten by repairs. Complications could represent Aspects lost (perhaps allowing an aspect to be written off as a 3-shift complication), then creating a timetable to repair them. That repair time could then be shifted into a basic customization system that lets you replace those aspects and both times would be severely cut by an Omni stunt.

Part 1: Intro & Skills
Part 2: Aspects & Trouble
Part 3: FATE Points & Stunts
Non-Canon Examples


SkilTao said...

The Thug is more rugged than your average 80-tonner, but the Atlas should be TOP ruggedness. How are you deciding the skill max? (Might want to have Skill Points decide tech level instead of vice versa.)

Atlas flaw: slow

Timber Wolf (also Jenner and Catapult) flaw: its face (per the video games) is a fire magnet

Omnis: in addition to what you said about recover, I could see starting with the base stats you have there and (before every mission) allowing the player to trade 1 point around between accuracy, maneuverability and electronics.

VanVelding said...

Yeah, I was realizing that I didn't write down the numbers for that. Skill maxes and aspects are Tech Level / 3 rounded up.

The issue with the Atlas is the huge jump in the skill cap for a higher tech level whenever maximum armor in the board game only inches up with technology. Pushing a 'mech above its skill max is something I'd like to implement, but just like the omni issue, it becomes thorny. Maybe skill maxes are bad?

The cart is definitely ahead of the horse on how these guys were made. Starting with skills and then working back to tech is probably better.

But if I'm going to go that far, I might as well scale armor, movement rates, and weapon loadouts from 1 to 5 and get honest conversion rules going.

The Atlas and Timber Wolf flaws are way better than the ones I had.

That's a good solution to omnis, especially in that it lets pilots tailor a loadout to their skills.

SkilTao said...

I like assault 'Mechs requiring better tech than lighter 'Mechs of the same nominal tech base, and skill maxes at least make a good rule of thumb.

I could suggest things but I don't really know what you're planning to use "Tech Rating" for, in-play.

VanVelding said...

No plans to use anything really. I've got a line of campaigns as long as my arm I'd like to get to before even thinking of pitching Battletech to the gang.

Battletech does something very nice to my brain and every so often something drags me back into it. I really just do this stuff to get it out, but I think that the stuff I overlooked highlights just how rusty with it I am.

TL;DR, I'd be open to suggestions.

SkilTao said...

Alright, well, I figure Tech Level would mostly be used for availability and difficulty of repair, so there's no harm in letting values vary a bit within each Tech Base (3025, 3050 foundtech, clantech, etc).

A conversion system wouldn't be hard.

Could say that highest skill + positive aspects can't exceed half (or whatever fraction of) Tech Level; that lets you be lazy with aspects, plus push the skill above baseline.

Could make availability or purchase price or R&D depend mostly on the single highest skill.

VanVelding said...

Actually, all of that together made me think of shifting aspects into skill points above the cap, which is exactly what you were suggesting, but I don't want to give up aspects.

OTOH, combat aspects are narrow and unsatisfying. What if combat aspects can get traded off for non-combat aspects (availability, repair, etc.) in order to raise the unit's skill cap?

A conversion system probably wouldn't be difficult or even incredibly time consuming, but for a narrative-heavy system merely inspired by Battletech that I'm not even going to be using in the near future, my ROI for a faithful unit conversion scheme is currently low. :-\