28 February 2011

MechWarrior meets Pendragon meets Traveller?

  Last night, I ran a one-shot of MechWarrior First Edition.  It took me back... waaay back.  And while I was running this one-shot I was making mental notes on some things I'd like to do with a MechWarrior game.  I've made posts before on message boards about how I love the original feel of the MechWarrior universe.  The Dune-inspired post-apocalyptic neo-feudal universe where 'Mechs are the lords of the battlefield and can no longer be constructed- or at least constructed on a small-scale.

  This has given me some ideas for what I would consider "my" version of MechWarrior, or MechWarrior 1.5, as it were. 

  I want to use the 1st edition rules as a basis and I'll admit its out of nostalgia.  Let's start with that and take a look at the things I'd like to keep or modify.

  • The game uses 2d6 task resolution.  This I want to keep because it's the core of the Battletech game, with which my version of MechWarrior should remain compatible.
  • The ability scores run on a 12-point scale.  I think it's possible to keep this scale, or even to expand it to 15 a-'la Traveller for an old-school hexidecimal UPP scheme...  Hmmm...  Traveller-style systems for MechWarrior...
  • The basic system of ability scores giving a modifier to target number works for me.  The challenge here is to create a scheme by which ability scores have an effect, but not as much of an overpowering one as MechWarrior 2nd Edition had, where a character with a 6 ITN was godlike.
  • I like the HTK system, and having HTK by body location.  A Time of War has overcomplicated what should be a simplification by reducing the number of damage points a character has, then having margin of success add 1/4 point or 1/2 point to damage.  Why not just keep a larger pool of hit points and count full points?
  • I have been looking at the Battletechnology article on character creation.  It gives a variable number of CP for character creation based on the throw of 2d6-2.  This gives a range of 145-225 CP rather than the 150 CP normally alotted by the original MechWarrior RPG.  It also gives several different training possibilities with differing skill packages.  This is terribly old-school in its complex crunchiness.  I may or may not keep some of this just out of nostalgic grognardism.
  • I like having experience classes.  They give the old-school feeling of "Levelling" without really having a bunch of levels.  There's Green, Regular, Veteran and Elite.  I like that.
  • Crunchy as it is, I like giving out XP for skill use, combat damage, etc.  But I am going to alter XP rules to allow for more non-combat XP for non-combat characters.
Random thoughts...

  The MechWarrior 1e game was often criticized for not being able to do much more than make MechWarriors and pilots.  Something that crossed my mind while reading Pendragon the other night was that Pendragon is a game that makes Knights.  Only knights, pretty much. Pendragon is touted as one of the greatest genre games ever made.  So... what the heck is wrong with MechWarrior being designed to make... MechWarriors?

  Now, don't get me wrong.  I think there's a LOT more to the Battletech universe than BattleMechs.  There's so much history, culture, so many nooks and crannies in the universe to fit into that have nothing to do with 'Mechs at all.  I've run a couple of campaigns like this and they were brilliant.  The deal is, if Greg Stafford could design Pendragon to handle the Knights of the Round Table, why can't MechWarrior be designed to deal with the Knights of the Inner Sphere- IE, MechWarriors?

  Pendragon gives me some inspiration here.  Each character is assumed to be a landholding noble.  Isn't that really the feel of the original MechWarrior universe?  That MechWarriors were the landed nobility by virtue of having a BattleMech?

  So why tweak the game to assume that the characters are either these landed noble MechWarriors and Aerospace Pilots or their retinue?

  So the default character type would be a MechWarrior.  Other possibilites would be aerospace pilots, tankers, etc.  There would be a clear social like between MechWarriors/Aerospace Pilots and everyone else.  Much as knights had serjeants, I think every MechWarrior would have a small number of tankers as retainers.  And maybe some infantry.  These would be to support the 'Mech, and to guard the household when the 'Mech is away.

  Which brings me to the 'Mech being away.  Just as a Knight was required to serve his lord for a period of time per year, why not have MechWarriors required to serve a certain amount of time in active duty to their liege.  In fact, one could even take some of the household mechanics from Pendragon and even include something like "The Winter Phase" for the fortunes of the house and the household members. 

  Now, at this point, I have to mention that I've cribbed a lot from "A Song of Ice and Fire" about houses and house fortunes, etc.  I think we might look to MechWarrior 1st Edition and come up with some additional ideas for building landholds and figuring house fortunes.

  I'm ruminating on possible projects around this.  MechWarrior 1st Edition sourcebooks, maybe.  Or maybe start with an article a'la Battletechnology covering governing a landhold.  I can take a look at Pendragon and it's sourcebook Lordly Domains, plus the Song of Ice and Fire rules, and see what we've got going on to adapt.  I think it would be awesome to come up with something retro, but useful...

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