Saturday Seed – 27 (Mechwarrior)

This seed is being planted for ‘A Time of War,’ Mechwarrior’s 4th Edition, and is a combat scenario for the Tactical Addendum rules, placing one PC mech lance versus an NPC mech lance in terrain unfamiliar to both lances.

You can read dramatized transcripts of the first 7 turns of my group’s exposure to this scenario from three PC perspectives here, here, and here.

I present this scenario as a training mission, and an opportunity to explore the rules laid out in A Time of War for the PC-scale interactions of the roleplaying game. Running it as a training scenario, either with or without the knowledge of the players, can reduce the stress of having to adjust to what can seem to be complicated alterations of the existing rules, or minimizing the burden of the steep learning curve of picking it up without prior experience.

The Seed:

Characters find themselves on a seemingly straightforward map which offers some peculiar characteristics at unpredictable times. The scenario will provide them with opportunities to work independently, as a lance, and as a partial lance, against an enemy whose cohesion is being equally disrupted.

Challenges include

  • Loss of communication
  • Loss of Sensors
  • Erratic missile behavior
  • Sink holes
  • Dust clouds
Presentation:

Characters know this is a Training Mission

Have the PC Squad Leader flip for North or South with the enemy Squad Leader. Set the objectives as incapacitation or surrender of the enemy lance, with a time limit of 60 Turns.

Lances can be of any weight class as this is a simulation. Determining the exact weight classes can be roleplayed between the Lance Leader and the Lance, and then with the opposition Lance Leader. Once set, the Leaders can opt to go with a lighter class to earn a higher performance rating.

Characters do not know this is a Training Mission

Predetermine from which side, East or West, you wish to have the PC lance enter the map.

Have the characters run the scenario in their normal mechs and pit them against a slightly superior force, or a force which obviously outguns them in one range, but no more than equals them in at least one of the others. For example, pit them against a force which hits hardest at Medium Range, is weaker than the PCs at Long, and is as potent as they are at Short.

The Opposition Lance

Elements which might be useful in the creation of the NPC lance, are an untried Squad Leader trying to build trust and awareness in the lance, and the inclusion of a mechwarrior who has, unbeknownst to his superiors, developed a level of Combat Paralysis that can have a significant impact on his performance in the field.

In addition, a fifth mech which would normally fill a support role, may or may not enter the fray at certain stages of the scenario. From time to time, sensors may report ghost images of this mech with spurious readings about its classification.

The Phantom Mech

Either at a dramatically appropriate moment, or on a rising scale of probability for each 5 turns of combat, have the support mech enter the map. Try to avoid having this occur to simply bolster the enemy force, turn the tide of unfortunate die rolls, or to replace a lost from the opposition lance. Try to have it enter at an emotionally critical point, such as when one of the PCs finds themselves in a weak tactical position, has fumbled an easy roll, or has gotten separated from the rest of the lance. Add the support mech (a Rifleman, for example) as a new threat on a tactically neutral section of the map edge, to enhance the spice of the situation.

Alternately, you might wish to introduce the sinkhole phenomenon via having this ‘extra’ mech fall prey to it as it enters the map. This will work best if the mech is not jump-capable.

Terrain Effects

On any fumble, a mech without jump jets will stumble into terrain which suddenly drops them into a sinkhole 1-3 levels deep. Damage effects of falling are handled normally.

In the first 10 turns, there is a 1 in 6 chance of having a 2-hex diameter sinkhole of 2-3 levels deep open under any one mech, of either lance. Each additional set of 20 turns, increase this chance by 1.

  • In the canyon running east/west at the south of the map, any high explosive strike that hits the canyon wall will produce a 3 hex radius debris cloud, 3 levels high, with a disruptive electromagnetic discharge which reduces sensor range to short, and nullifies IFF, and communications. The cloud will settle and the effect will lessen over three turns. The entire map is affected on turn 1, double the size of the cloud is affected on turn 2, and only the ring of hexes around the originally targeted hex is affected on turn 3.
  • The rim of the canyon walls is fragile and mechs of 60 tons or higher will cause it to crumble automatically. Medium mechs running on canyon edge hexes will cause it to collapse on a fumble, or if they are present during a nearby hit by a large AC round or large missile grouping.
  • In the canyon, LRM fire is at an additional penalty of 1 to hit at all ranges. During an EM effect as listed above, the penalty is increased to 2 and a penalty of 1 is applied to the Cluster Hits Table, reducing the number of missiles which arm and detonate.
  • On the map, hexes crossing two elevations are presumed to be the highest. Hexes crossing three elevations are presumed to be half the height of the highest. Thanks go to Douglas Lusby for the map. Hex sizes represent 15m in accordance with A Time of War‘s Tactical Addendum.
Map!

Free to Use, courtesy of Douglas Lusby

  • Dark brown hexes: L5
  • Light brown hexes: L4
  • Dark green hexes: L3
  • Medium green hexes: L1
  • Light green hexes: L0
  • Lightest green hexes: L-1

Enjoy!

If you use this scenario, please let me know how it all worked out.

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