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.

Monday, May 6, 2024

New Month, New Games


I see a few new Kickstarters of interest popping up so I thought I would share them here.

13th Age Second Edition

I thought 13th Age had some interesting ideas but I admit I've never run it or played it because it was always squeezed out by something else. I like it but I couldn't get a consensus to run it at the table. Now it's been a while since we've had a fantasy game as our main thing and with a shiny new edition coming along it might be time to finally give it a chance. 

Some of my earlier takes on the system are here and here. How has it been over a decade since I wrote those?

The most significant line from the publisher link above is that "The Kickstarter campaign begins on May 7th and runs until June 6th." if you are interested.

D6 System Second Edition

The article on ENWorld mentions a coming Kickstarter campaign and discusses the plans for the game in some detail. It sounds like a good approach and it is good to see someone making an effort to get this wonderful system back in print and in the public eye. It's a legendary system that's been left by the side of the road for years in my opinion. 

I'll say the same thing I've said for a while now - a generic system needs a compelling setting to really make it stick, both as a draw to new players and as an example of what can be done with the game. Savage Worlds has this with Deadlands and a fistful of additional options from Pathfinder to Rifts to Necessary Evil to 50 Fathoms and has been thriving for the last decade. I feel that d6 as a system should be doing at least as well but its two best settings were licensed and when the license ran out the game just died. I know they tried to make it generic in the early 2000's but it felt directionless and just never took off. Honestly it was probably too soon because most people knew it as the Star Wars system as that's what it had been for more than a decade. Now maybe they have a chance to make a fresh start with a newer audience and establish as its own thing.

Heroic The Roleplaying Game

This is a superhero RPG that takes the old FASERIP system and adds some interesting things to it - namely things from the MWP Marvel Heroic system of a decade ago, in particular the Milestone system. This was originally done in Astonishing Super Heroes and has been carried over here - with the blessing of that author - where it is the "Calling" system. You pick a "calling" at character generation which is a set of conditions or action that can grant Karma - an example:

Beast Within – Your hero has a savage side that must be kept in check. He or she must struggle to control these feelings or give in and lose control.

• +5 Karma when you first declare a character as your emotional ally, and when you assist or gain assistance from them.

• +5 Karma when you power creates unforeseen consequences.

• +5 Karma when you first describe losing control in a scene.

• +10 Karma when you start trouble by punching a bad guy in the face or inflict Stress on a hero who is over-thinking his problems to convince them to get over it.

• +10 Karma when you do something in the presence of your emotional ally that you already know they do not approve of.

• +15 Karma when you decide that your emotional ally has helped you all that they can, or you believe they have rejected you in terror, and either way you move on from this stage of the relationship.

I like the potential for this mix. 

Another important change is that Karma is strictly the Bennie/Fate Chip/Force Point mechanic. Advancement is handled via a separate system which on first glance looks workable. 

The rest of the system is very much the system you remember with percentile dice rolled against a particular column looking at color-coded results with column shifts as modifiers and specific outcomes often tied to achieving a specific color result. It works.

It's interesting that all of the games catching my eye at the moment are updates of older systems - but not all of them. D&D 5.5 (or whatever we're going to end up calling it) doesn't really excite me yet and Star Trek Adventures v2.0 doesn't either. Regardless, I'll keep an eye out for The Coming Thing and probably talk about it here.