Mechwarrior: Hair of the Dog ~ Part 3

Hair of the Dog

Things are progressing smoothly with preparations for my Mechwarrior RPG campaign despite an upswing in business and my enthusiasm for so many games at once (All for One, Mechwarrior, Hollow Earth Expedition, Palladium Fantasy, and now Desolation).

Catching Up

It has been difficult to ride the crest of the massive information wave I have been choosing to deluge myself with over the past couple of weeks. The biggest part of that wave has been reviewing the setting material for the Battletech Universe and trying to sort out exactly when and where I wished to set up my campaign. In the end, I decided the best approach was to focus on a short period of time, and a single House to get things rolling.

The Setting

I chose House Marik’s Freeworlds League – sort of. I felt most comfortable with the 3025 era, so I opted to set the campaign during the 4th Succession War. While I am certain that I will get things like specific dates wrong, I have decided I cannot worry too much about getting things canonically perfect or else this game will never get off the ground.

As I wanted the world on which the campaign is set to be annexed by another force, and as Marik staged a strategic withdrawal from a substantial number of worlds during this period, I figured I could find something to work with if I chose this time and place. I eventually settled on the world of Oliver in the year 3028. While I might revise the date before the campaign starts for real, this is what I am working with as a core premise now.

Proactive Sandbox

As the players are fond of the setting and there is a vast amount of material to reference, I want to go with a very open story where much of the organization and implementation of the resistance movement is left in the hands of the players. I do not want to begin by assigning them missions; I want to begin by revealing conditions and situations and responding to how they choose to deal with them. Once they set their resistance movement in motion, things will begin in earnest. In essence, they are in control of all aspects of the resistance/rebellion and can wage it in any way their characters can devise. The enemy will respond to their actions, not the other way around.

Characters

Two players are most of the way through initial character generation at this point, and it looks like our little rebellion will be instigated by an emotionally mismatched duo (one cool and collected, the other fiery and wild) with complementary skills and backgrounds. I like the feel of that mix.

Rules

In the end, I chose the 4th Edition Rules (A Time of War) as I like the way everything has been cleaned up and reorganized, I like what was preserved from the 3rd Edition, and the integration of each scale of play seems to be quite sound on paper.

I am having a little bit of trouble with determining how many XP points to allocate to build characters as I do not want to start with rookies, and I still do not have a real feeling for what ability level the character generation sequence produces with 5000XP. Looking at things I am pretty sure that this system is intended to produce characters which have a satisfying level of competence in their area of expertise (and this is easy to demonstrate by trying to build a Mechwarrior) but it takes a little faith to judge how characters with a different focus might fare. I have tentatively suggested 5500, but if anyone with experience with this version of the rules has advice, I would love to hear it. It might just be me, but the idea of 6000 points seems to be too much.

Why is it that I always end up liking games where the book-keeping of character generation takes forever? Yes… I am looking right at you Aces&Eights.

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