Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Mechwarrior 3rd Edition- Our Campaign in 2024


This has been the main RPG for this year so far - even if I haven't been posting much about it here - so I thought I would pause and talk about it a little bit. 

We started in February with a character generation session after playing several one-off Battletech fights over the last few months. Since then we've had 7 playing sessions. I've had from 4-8 players each time. I implemented a "5 or more players = Mechwarrior" rule (4 or less means we play Marvel Heroic) though I broke that for the last session because the cancellations were last minute and I knew we would have a break this week anyway. 

Most of sessions so far have been in-mech combat and I can say that 8 players each running their own mech vs. 1 GM running all of the opposition is a challenge though there are several things that help. 

  • Using various markers including those fancy modifier dice to show mods for both the attacker and defender are a big help
  • Writing down things on each mech sheet - other weird modifiers, planned target or course of action, etc. - help keep things from getting lost in the table-wide back and forth discussion.
  • Colors - putting a sticker or something on the mech and the mech sheet stands out more than small print.
  • Having a player who is more up on Battletech's rules and current background than I am means I have a mechanics sub-processor to help expedite the turns for everyone so I can focus more on what the bad guys are doing.
  • Use one or at most two kinds of opponents - either all mechs, mechs + tanks, or tanks + infantry. Don't try to work in a massive combined arms force with artillery and air support dug into some fortifications - at least not early on. That way lies madness ...
The campaign is set in 3025 and the premise is that a group of experienced characters (MW3 has a very thorough lifepath system for chargen) is joining a medium-sized merc unit. They get to know each other on the dropship but as they approach their destination they are forced into an unplanned combat drop before they even meet the rest of their unit. 

At this point we are past the initial combat and the PCs have made an important discovery on their way to finally link up with the rest of the Battalion. We have spent way more time with the BT rules than we have the MW rules thus far but that started changing last session and should continue next session. 

The MW3 rules still feel fairly clunky to me but we will give them a good run-through for now. My concept to start this campaign off is from notes I made 20 years ago in preparation for a game I never actually started. I found them in the ol' binder, looked through them, still liked the idea, and decided to go with it so HANG ON TO THOSE NOTES! Sometimes it does pay off!

Once we've covered the initial scenario we may have a forced interruption due to half my players being part of a convention crew and afterwards we will have to decide if we want to continue this campaign or switch to something else. There is a lot of interest in making this a long term game and seeing our party face the Clan invasion and all of those future upheavals. If we do continue I will seriously consider changing to another set of rules based on what I have seen so far. That could be Savage Worlds, Traveller, or it might be a good reason to dust off GURPS and see if that works for us. Shaking off the rust has been more of an effort than I expected.  There is a chance further MW3 experience might shift my opinion but right now I'm not in love with the system. 

Eventually I will post up some session reports here or link to it on Obsidian Portal as one of my players is taking in-universe session notes which should be pretty entertaining.

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