03 November 2010

A Time of FATE?

So, I have this Battletech club and roleplaying campaign. We've not touched the 'Mechs in months, as the RP has taken a front seat. We're doing Third Succession War on the FedSuns/Combine border and a lot of our roleplaying concerns the Houses Minor of the planet Royal's Landsraad.

Our original characters were created with Catalyst's A Time of War RPG. One thing we ran into immediately was the fact that the official rules for factions, units and governments won't be out until Interstellar Operations comes out - someday. Running a merc unit or other small unit has been a staple of Battletech since the first Mercenary's Handbook hit shelves back in the 80s. Why they saved this morsel of info for the last damn book in the six-corebook series, I have no idea. So we kludged. We ported the system from A Song of Ice and Fire to handle the Houses.

At that moment we kinda torpedoed the whole reason we decided to use AToW in the first place. We'd chosen it because it was the "official" Battletech RPG and would therefore be compatible with the new core set, and all future releases. Well, now we'd violated that since the rules we needed hadn't been printed yet. Grrr... Add to this the fact that the system pretty much needs a spreadsheet to keep track of characters, and the whole thing got a little unwieldy from the get-go.

Enter Strands of FATE. Two of my players are huge Dresden Files fans. They kept telling me about FATE, and how cool it was. I myself owned Starblazer Adventures, and rather liked how it seemed to work. So I dropped the $10 for the Strands of FATE corebook, had it printed out, and bound at Office Max. After just a few minutes of reading... I had some ideas. So I got my two Dresden players together, who are also fellow GMs, and one of our mutual friends and players who we consider to be one of the better story-driven roleplayers in the group. Together we started brainstorming, and came up with the idea to do Battletech in the FATE system. We started jokingly calling it A Time of FATE.

Our discussion ran for over five hours, as we furiously wrote down notes, ideas, played with character generation to see how three of our established characters would look in FATE, and looked at how we'd integrate it with Battletech for when the big stompy robots DID come out. That got to be a pretty in-depth discussion, because Battletech is crunchy, and FATE is not. So here's what we are playing with:

Battletech skill target for Pilot/Gunner = 12-Agility-(Perception or Reasoning depending on skill)-MechWarrior Expert Advantage. So Joe Average, with 2s across the board and no training, would have target numbers of 8s when attempting to do anything on a Battletech field. This is using 2D6, not 4DF, since we'd still be playing Battletech once we were in the 'Mechs. Someone above average, like someone likely to be in MechWarrior training with 3s in the relevant places and the Green MechWarrior expert advantage would need 5s, which is just about right for a green MechWarrior in the BT universe (Normally 6 Pilot, 5 Gunner).

We made expert advantages called Green MechWarrior, Regular MechWarrior, Veteran MechWarrior, Elite MechWarrior and Legendary MechWarrior, each one costing 1 point of Advantage and each one requiring the purchase of the one before it, with a limitation of Regular at character creation. Each of these subtracts its total cost from the formula above to find the Battletech skill target.

Pilot Damage will be handled as physical stress, and we'll probably go with something like 2 stress per head hit. We're allowing Heroic advantages to gain a +1 with a class of 'Mech weapons, like a ballistic specialist or a laser specialist. A couple of our AToW characters have the Natural Aptitude ability, which lets them roll 3d6 and keep the best 2, and they'd like to keep that, so we're discussing how much that would cost as a FATE ability. Personally, I'm leaning toward 3 Advantage points- IE- considering it a power of sorts.

After all of this discussion, we ended up coming up with the concept that 'Mechs themselves might have aspects to be tagged, invoked or compelled. Just looking at the fluff from the original Technical Readout : 3025 gives a host of ideas. The Marauder's weak cannon linkage, and the Javelin's instability are aspects that could be compelled by an opponent. Likewise, the Rifleman's anti-air suitability or the particularly accurate medium lasers of the Spider are aspects that could be invoked. Hell, even the Atlas and it's Death's Head Visage would be awesome for intimidation purposes.

As far as character generation went, we found that Strands allowed us much more leeway to make the kinds of characters people wanted. For instance, in A Time of War, you must pay points to own a BattleMech, plus points to have a noble title, plus points for owning land, plus points for income, etc... In Strands, you could simply make your defining aspect "Young MechWarrior Heir to the House of Dencourt", and that becomes an aspect you can invoke to cover any of the situations noted above.

We're going to have another brainstorming session tonight, and to be honest I'm really in squee mode about it. Not only do I think we're onto something that will really help get the story moving with our players... but I think we've finally got more than one brain working behind the scenes to supercharge our campaign.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot tell you how utterly excited I am to find this thread. My RPG gaming experience is rather low, I've never attempted a system conversion, and I am completely unfamiliar with CBT's A Time of War or FATE. I am just drying to start RP'ing in the BattleTech universe and for a good month now I have been trying to decide whether I wanted to learn and use FATE or AToW.

    I'm also interested in creating a hybrid setting of BattleTech and another setting that would add new sentient species to the setting. Warhammer 40K is particularly attractive to me. Obviously this would not be easy to achieve using A Time of War but I have been worried that if I went with FATE that I would somehow be missing out on the [i]true BT experience/i] that AToW theoretically can provide.

    Before the release of Strands of Fate there was only the 3.0 SRD and setting specific products (Starblazer Adventures, Dresden Files, etc...) which made FATE a bad choice. Now that Strands has been released FATE is actually viable and to come across this thread today is just... simply fantastic! I very much look forward to hearing all you have to post on the subject. Thank You!