Burning Battletech?

(jdripley) #1

I can’t be the only one to have the desire to play a Battletech RPG without having to actually play THE battletech RPG…

Is Burning Empires what I’m looking for? Or should I be aiming more towards Burning Wheel (which I already have…) with heavy modification?

To be more specific, the parts of Battletech that I think are compelling and would enjoy roleplaying:

  1. small-unit stuff. The players are part of a lance or company sized unit (4-12 battlemechs, maybe a few aerospace fighters, a dropship, 20-60 people altogether including support personnel). The players get into the thick of the struggles between the major factions via battle, subterfuge, spying, etc.

  2. big interstellar politics stuff. The players are important nobles and their entourage, wheeling and dealing politically, militarily and economically to shape the fate of the galaxy.

I see how the core of Burning Wheel would support all of that - but I would have to re-create all of the trappings. New lifepaths, new traits, new everything. All I’d be keeping would be the core die mechanics really, and the concept of lifepaths and so forth. But… would Burning Empires be far closer, and only require perhaps a tweaked lifepath here and there to capture what I’m going for?

(Crunch) #2

Burning Empires has a lot of setting hardcoded into it, and I don’t think the setting is particularly BT friendly. I’d suggest starting with BW and modding.

One thing you have going for you is that for the last several editions of Battletech RPGs have been lifepath based character creation. That means, assuming you have access to one of the editions, you don’t really have to create lifepaths, just adapt them to BW terms.

I have to say, by the way, that while A Time of War is crunchy in the extreme the book is well laid out and has a good amount of setting flavor.

(jdripley) #3

Yeah, that was my issue with A Time of War. Battletech is a time honored classic at this point - but the game mechanics were just CLUNKY! I want a game that gets out of its own way and lets the fun happen without having to spend too much time concentrating on the rules…

Anyways, thanks for the input. Good to know that Burning Empires isn’t really what I’m after :slight_smile:

(Crunch) #4

The only defense for the crunch of ATOW is that it scales so well from RPG Scale-> Tactical Adendum Squad level scale -> Battletech Mech small unit scale -> Battle Force medium to large unit scale -> Strat Ops Planetary System/Unit management. It’s a level of zoom/unzoom I can’t think of anyone pulling off.

That said I think Burning Wheel would be a great engine to model the Neo-Feudal old school BT universe, or even Periphery/Clans. The modern era is a little slicker than BW tends to run (IMO).

(jdripley) #5

My favorite era is the Succession Wars era, and I agree with the whole feudal thing working well with Burning Wheel.

Part of the alure of Battletech, to me (besides the giant robots… I mean come on, who doesn’t love giant robots?), is its fusion of new and old. A good portion of the lore in Battletech reads just like ancient Roman history and the medieval period that followed. I always find it fascinating when a story is transplanted into a different setting, as the story can then explore a familiar theme about the human condition from a different perspective. Contrasted to something like Star Trek where the theme is “In the future, technology allows humans to transcend their past troubles,” Battletech’s theme is “In the future, technology allows humans to be their same old dirtbag selves on a galactic scale!”

Lots of compelling stories.

I took a whack at trying to make up some new lifepaths that would fit the Battletech setting. Started off in the Noble setting, and quickly got overwhelmed. Maybe the best approach would be simply to take it all as-is and simply do a few skill swaps for lifepaths that players wanted to take? i.e. any martial thing that has to do with combat on foot becomes “pistol, rifle, etc.” and anything that has to do with mounted combat becomes “mech piloting, mech gunnery” and so forth? And any skill that deals with antiquated stuff gets an upgrade to deal with futuristic stuff? i.e. basket weaving becomes Tech?

(Crunch) #6

I think, were I doing the hack, that I would start either with ATOW or CBTRPG3 and just map the lifepaths over substituting equivalent BW skills. Given that you’re mapping from a lifepath system anyway, why reinvent the wheel?