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Author Topic: Medicine in Battletech  (Read 1167 times)

FaithBomb

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Medicine in Battletech
« on: 30 December 2020, 07:33:16 »
I'm currently working on a story and I was wondering what people think are the best reference points to consult for the world of medicine in Battletech, specifically field medicine and combat medics?
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smcwatt

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #1 on: 30 December 2020, 08:03:51 »
I guess it would depend on the era. MechWarrior 1st ed and TRO 3026 have good sections on the state of medicine and bionics at the end of the Third Succession War. MechWarrior 3rd ed and MechWarrior Companion have a small section each for the Clan Invasion era. You are probably not going to have a single source, but you'll find little nuggets here and there, like Justin's medical treatment chapters in the Warrior series.

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Mendrugo

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #2 on: 30 December 2020, 08:06:14 »
A Time of War has sections on Diseases, Health Care, Prosthetics, Drugs, and Poisons.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Cannonshop

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #3 on: 30 December 2020, 08:07:21 »
I'm currently working on a story and I was wondering what people think are the best reference points to consult for the world of medicine in Battletech, specifically field medicine and combat medics?

I'd say it depends a LOT on what part of the setting (not just timeline, but geography) you're dealing with.

Good references to look at (In my opinion) for a very gritty side:

The Barefoot Doctor's Manual

Ditch Medicine

Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook

Where there is no Doctor

You have to remember the damage done to much of the Inner Sphere and periphery by 300 plus years of war, operation Holy Shroud, and the logistical problems of moving much of anything on three dropship collars.  Field medics would need to be extremely familiar with extreme low-tech approaches on most of the fronts (and many rears) of the Succession Wars and Clan invasion, not to mention the data-gap of the Jihad and even post-blackout republic era, or anywhere outside the 'golden core' worlds of the Inner Sphere (or periphery capitals).

the books I linked to are more or less a 'very basic' set of references for methods and problems likely to be encountered by field medics in most of human space, and should provide some useful things to add flavor to your story's action that can be looked up, and confirmed.
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Mendrugo

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #4 on: 30 December 2020, 08:36:15 »
It runs the gamut.  At the upper end, you have full body weaponized prosthetics, and replacement limbs and organs that function better than the originals.  There have been cures for many xeno diseases and for many Terran ailments, though cancer still claims even the rich and powerful.

Clan medicine can replace lost organs by budding them from stem cells, though many warriors eschew this, not wanting to miss opportunities for glory during the months such a replacement would take to culture and graft.

At the other end of the spectrum, skid row worlds can provide peg legs and hook hands, at best, and diseases easily treated by antibiotics rage uncontrolled.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

FaithBomb

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #5 on: 30 December 2020, 08:37:24 »
Setting wise I'm talking jihad era, mainline house unit field medicine.
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Daryk

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #6 on: 30 December 2020, 18:27:04 »
I'm not that familiar with the particulars of the Jihad era, but "mainline house unit field medicine" says to me at least clotting powder (like we have now) and preserving sleeves (splints++).  And definitely the GOOD drugs... pain killers and stimulants like you can only dream of...

HFC05

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #7 on: 30 December 2020, 19:09:15 »
I'd add to CannonShop's list with the U.S. Army Survival  FM 3-05.70 https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-05-70.pdf
If you can find one a Boy Scout Manual is usually good for some real basic first aid.

The Boy Scout manual would have the most basic of First Aid that most soldiers would know the Army Survival manual is a little more advance, a basic medic, or guy that has medic as a secondary job would know.

That said, your logistics is just as important as your medic.

A normal medic from a military with a good logistics chain and a good EVAC and CASH/ MASH (Combat or Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) is going to be taught to triage the wounded, stabilize them and get them to the closest Hospital.

Stabilizing generally means ensure they can breathe, stop the bleeding, cover wounds, maybe splint broken bones, apply anti-toxins or other immediate life saving measures, and move them to the rear as quick as you can

A Special Forces Medic would have more of the skills from Cannon Shops list. These guys can do open heart surgery under a poncho with a red lens flashlight, with nothing but a bayonet. They also have extensive training and have to practice medicine like that due to lack of logistics.

If you're from a poor military or one with limited logistics you're probably somewhere in between, desperation means you'll have some of the more advanced medical skills but rudimentary surgery (setting bones, treating bullet wounds, field expedient surgeries like amputations) There is also those strange inventive things that Medics learn like using super glue as liquid stitches or the bad ideas like using tampons for bullet wounds. You may want to check out some of the survivalist medicine forums for that sort of questionable medical practices.

I would say the logistics is everything though, ability to keep a stock of things like Plastiflesh bandages or just move wounded is going to dictate how medical care is given out.

I think one of the other things you have to consider in the time period is even if you have access to advanced tech, sometimes a Warrior may prefer to take a short recovery time over a more advanced healing (I think in the MechWarrior 3d edition it mentions Clanners rarely get cloned limbs because it took to long to grow a limb. They prefer to get a prosthetic and get back in the fight.) (Sorry just noticed Mendrugo said the same thing)
« Last Edit: 30 December 2020, 19:12:07 by HFC05 »

nerd

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #8 on: 30 December 2020, 22:18:54 »
In a House unit, you'll have trained medical personnel. I'd expect in any era, for the medics to have fairly basic equipment. Depending on the unit and era, the quality of equipment and training may vary.

The showcase regiment guarding the capital world is going to have much better medical equipment than the undermanned infantry brigade on a backwater.
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FaithBomb

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #9 on: 30 December 2020, 23:30:16 »
Thanks for all the replies, guys! There's a lot of material to comb through, but I'm finding lots of good tidbits.
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Daryk

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #10 on: 31 December 2020, 18:51:58 »
In a House unit, you'll have trained medical personnel. I'd expect in any era, for the medics to have fairly basic equipment. Depending on the unit and era, the quality of equipment and training may vary.

The showcase regiment guarding the capital world is going to have much better medical equipment than the undermanned infantry brigade on a backwater.
I would argue that both would have the aforementioned clotting powder and preserving sleeves.  Maybe in different amounts, but they'd both have SOME.  Both are simply too cheap to NOT give to every medic.

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DOC_Agren

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #11 on: 31 December 2020, 22:41:32 »
and here a civilwar era medkit, that works for battletech as well
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FaithBomb

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #12 on: 31 December 2020, 23:12:12 »
lol, I like to think medicine is a little more advanced in the 31st century
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DOC_Agren

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #13 on: 31 December 2020, 23:22:05 »
lol, I like to think medicine is a little more advanced in the 31st century
sadly in BT, there are place and unit that that medkit could be "state of the art" look at the places where Peg Legs and Hook Hands are common.
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Cannonshop

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #14 on: 31 December 2020, 23:32:24 »
lol, I like to think medicine is a little more advanced in the 31st century
three words on that:

"Operation:Holy Shroud"

There are parts (close to the wealthiest part of the core worlds or for use by the Clan Warrior Caste) where medicine borders on the magical, and then, there's the rest of the galaxy.
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Daryk

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #15 on: 01 January 2021, 02:48:07 »
lol, I like to think medicine is a little more advanced in the 31st century
Indeed!  That Civil War kit is your basic Tech Level A medkit.  TL B would at least include penicillin and morphine.  TL C is about what I was describing above at a minimum (though Preserving Sleeves are TL D).  TL D is appropriate for "Front Line House units", and they'd probably have the "Advanced Medkit" (which is only TL C, but provides a +2 on rolls vice the basic kit's +1).  TL E would be a Star League kit (think of the automatic Medipack for mechwarriors).  TL E also gets you the Star League/ComStar Life Support Unit (basically a full body preserving sleeve) and Portable Medical Monitor (which makes the LSU even better).  AToW page 313 refers.

HFC05

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #16 on: 01 January 2021, 08:50:42 »
lol, I like to think medicine is a little more advanced in the 31st century

Not to jump on you, but I think the other thing you have to consider is that while the weapons have gotten more advanced basic human physiology hasn't changed much.

What I mean by this is a lot of amputations happened in the Civil War because they were using cannon and musket ball that was so big it would destroy bone, once that happened amputation was the only option. Infection was the other problem, but even in modern war that is just as likely to happen and a lot of weapons (especially of the improvised variety) are designed to almost guarantee that dirt, glass, and shrapnel get into the body. Body armor can prevent some of this, but not always. Antibiotics can't help much against this either.

A lot of 21st century weapons are designed to wound and maim (it's more cost effective and demoralizing to the adversary) and I'm not certain that it would be any different in the 31st century (I don't know if the Ares Convention has a "ethical weapons" section. I know nuke, chem, and bio are explicitly forbidden, but land mines seem acceptable).

The U.S. Army (with the exception of the Green Beret medics) put less emphasis on a field medic that can "patch you up, and put you back in the fight" and more emphasis on our MEDEVAC system.

The reason the US Army has enjoyed significantly lower causality rates in Afghanistan and Iraq is because of the "golden hour" principal of MEDEVAC. Body armor helped reduce the amount of shrapnel and foreign debris that got into the body, but opening airways, stopping bleeding and then moving the casualty back to a CASH within one hour (or as best as we could) resulted in the illusion that, "if they have a pulse when dustoff get's there, they're going to live" (No guarantee to not being maimed or cripple, but alive). Last I checked survival rates were around 90% but it was all dependent on the MEDEVAC and CASH, which again comes back to logistics.

Field medics and even common soldiers have a pretty good first aid kit, but arguably the most valuable item was clotting bandage and tourniquets, all so we could stop bleeding and keep them alive till they got to the CASH.

So I would submit that even with an advanced medical kit a field Medic is still fighting breathing, bleeding, and infection problems. If bone is destroyed or a serious infection sets in, the options are limited. If there is some type of nano-technology that clean up wounds to get out foreign debris out, that might be a game changer, but otherwise most causalities will at the very least probably need to get to a some type of surgery before infection sets in. This assumes they don't have other internal organ damage, in which case they need surgery likely within hours.

Also field sanitation and field hygiene is of the up most importance to most medics and military doctors because if you don't have a clean place to work you're going to infect your patient, and so many diseases occur when people are in close proximity in unsanitary conditions (there is a reason they call it legionaries disease). This is another reason why infection was so high in the Civil War era, and even during WW1 and WW2. Most medics and docs were always telling us to change our underwear, and keep our areas clean. (Remember that scene in Forest Gump where LT Dan talks to Buba and Forest about changing their socks? That is pretty accurate). Hygiene can be a mix of a logistics, discipline, and leadership problem, and it can be just as dangerous as any other bio weapon.

You can have some advanced tech, but humans probably haven't changed much.

cklammer

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #17 on: 01 January 2021, 09:50:01 »
The Inner Sphere plus the Periphery: several thousand worlds, more than a trillion people, and almost constant strife at any point in the timeline after the Age of War means that for anything you will find a location where you see state-of-the-Art and you will find a location where you find 19th-century-levels of anything.

Let us take your inquiry requirement "jihad era, mainline house unit field medicine": the medical care for DCMS infantrymen will not be at the level you will find for noble-born mechwarriors in say the Lyran Guards or Davion Brigade of Guards or the MoC house units.

Daryk

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #18 on: 01 January 2021, 09:58:03 »
Penicillin and other antibiotics are why infections haven't been as deadly as during the 19th century.  We're currently at high TL B, low C.  TL D brings those literally miraculous Preserving Sleeves that "[halt] any continuous damage effects to affected limb for up to 36 hours" (AToW, page 313).  That would certainly include infections.  The even cheaper (but still TL D) Plastiflesh Bandage stops bleeding, and even reduces the healing time by 50% with a successful MedTech roll.  That's well beyond what we can do now.

Faith has the right of it.  31st century medical technology is definitely more advanced than what we have now.  The 250g/10 CB "Medkit" is only TL C, and should be general issue to EVERY trooper.  Plastiflesh Bandages (5 CB) and Preserving Sleeves (25 CB) are CHEAP for TL D forces.  They're also very light: 5g and 500g, respectively.  The logistics is not hard.   Infantrymen should absolutely have access to those technologies if they're part of "mainline house" units.  The mechwarriors get access to the fancy drugs in the Medipack (which automatically administers them too).  That's plenty of difference for me.

cklammer

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #19 on: 01 January 2021, 10:23:54 »
You are completely right - from the purely medical/technical, logistical points of view.

But the political viewpoint is what I am concerned about: for example an organization like the DCMS, which is very much stratified with their "Imperial-Japan-in-Space-Bias", will have the tendency to justify different levels of medical care based on their perception of "worthiness" of Infantrymen versus Mechwarriors. And I am not even going to talk about perceptions of "worthiness" between say the Legions of Vega and the Sword of Light.

Because it may be easier to keep one's face by not challenging preconceived perceptions of "worthiness" of senior leadership.

Daryk

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #20 on: 01 January 2021, 10:35:08 »
The other part of what I said was the the mechwarriors get the fancy and expensive stuff like Medipacks and Combat Medipacks.  A 100X cost for the latter compared to a 10 C-Bill Medkit gets the social stratification across more than well enough for me in "mainline House units".  For a very tiny comparable investment, those infantry troopers can increase the likelihood of bringing home their rather more expensive body armor and weapons for the further glory of the Dragon.  DCMS and Capellan troops are many steps above pirates and slave troops in the Periphery.

idea weenie

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #21 on: 01 January 2021, 14:11:36 »
I looked up the following data on sarna:

Medical Kit - 10 C-B, from Classic Battletech RPG and A Time of War
Medipatch - 10 CB/; similar to those anti-smoking patches, but more varieties for different drugs.  Slap it on and let the drug take effect
Preserving Sleeve - 25 C-B, slips over a limb to keep it stable until the person can get to a hospital
Advanced Medical Kit - 250 C-B, from Classic Battletech RPG and A Time of War
Plastiflesh - 5 C-B/, helps reduce healing time by 10% when set up correctly (needs Adv Medikit to do so), lasts 1 week at a time
Medipack - 400 C-B, used for Mechwarriors and ASF pilots
Field Surgical Kit - 800 C-B, allows a doctor to perform surgery when in the field
Portable Medical Monitor - 2200 C-B, displays the patient's vital information
Clan Medipack - 2200 C-B, ~3* the weight, stores twice as much medicine as the Medipack above
Life Support Units - 8500 C-B, will keep a person alive via blood, oxygen, chems, electro-stim; used on the way to a hospital (Field or otherwise)

Lostech
Stasis Tube - freeze someone, and treat them later.  Lostech (except among Clans), and the equipment is fairly old so you may get frozen wrong
Myomer Implantation Device - most of these are ~200 years old, doctors just follow the on-screen directions, can implant myomer for hands or feet in about half an hour, a full arm takes 1 hour


Artificial limbs/cybernetic improvements:
Overview - from peg legs to myomer substitutions and cloned replacements
Manei Domini Cybernetics - the various cybertech available to the Word of Blake
Cosmetic changes - make yourself more attractive or more terrifying, unfortunately no price listed
Filtration Liver - help protect vs ingested toxins, or for cheating at the drinking contest
Communications Unit - 8k C-B, but only available to the Great Houses
Artificial voicebox - 180k-200k C-B.  Speak at higher pitches or even change your voice.  Drill Sergeants often select the option for louder volume
Clan Enhanced Imaging - 1.5M C-B, and causes mental degradation after a few years


Categories
List of medical equipment (though I already linked to most of them above)
Various drugs and poisons
Cybernetics

Daryk

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #22 on: 01 January 2021, 15:30:37 »
Sarna (by its very nature) doesn't have all the details.  You really need to refer to AToW and its Companion.

IceWing_mk1

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #23 on: 03 January 2021, 21:41:43 »
One thing you need to think about here, is that there's a very good chance that the Future of the 80's is a major limiting factor to what medical tech REALLY looks like.

I'm a child of the 80s, and started playing battletech in 88-89. 

In the 80's, medical sci-fi was pretty much either 'use the hypospray\derma regenerator' from Trek, or it was cybernetics (cyberpunk\star wars).  Cloning was talked about, but it was more full body clones (Paranoia) than it was 'stem cells to grow organs'.

Medical tech today is already in some ways more advanced than 80s\90s scifi predicated.  We're on the cusp of REAL cybernetic replacements  (the lack is mostly due to nerve\computer interfaces and Elon is about to nuke that one, albeit at the CNS level, rather than nerve to chip interfaces (which are also in test phase)). 

CRISPR is going to open up gene hacking, and the bio-hacker movement is just getting started.

Granted, Holy Shroud did a number on stuff, but, in many ways an elder population actually helps ComStar's mission to prevent war because old people aren't as full as piss and vinegar as the youts.

Also, frankly, the human body is one hell of a self-repairing machine, and give it what it needs to kick something into overdrive for a while and it'll do just fine on it's own. 

My thought is, overall, ANYTHING is available, for the right price, and that meds are going to be more readily available than things like energy weapons, because it's easier to synthesize drugs than make high density energy storage materials.

Cannonshop

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Re: Medicine in Battletech
« Reply #24 on: 03 January 2021, 21:50:52 »
One thing you need to think about here, is that there's a very good chance that the Future of the 80's is a major limiting factor to what medical tech REALLY looks like.

I'm a child of the 80s, and started playing battletech in 88-89. 

In the 80's, medical sci-fi was pretty much either 'use the hypospray\derma regenerator' from Trek, or it was cybernetics (cyberpunk\star wars).  Cloning was talked about, but it was more full body clones (Paranoia) than it was 'stem cells to grow organs'.

Medical tech today is already in some ways more advanced than 80s\90s scifi predicated.  We're on the cusp of REAL cybernetic replacements  (the lack is mostly due to nerve\computer interfaces and Elon is about to nuke that one, albeit at the CNS level, rather than nerve to chip interfaces (which are also in test phase)). 

CRISPR is going to open up gene hacking, and the bio-hacker movement is just getting started.

Granted, Holy Shroud did a number on stuff, but, in many ways an elder population actually helps ComStar's mission to prevent war because old people aren't as full as piss and vinegar as the youts.

Also, frankly, the human body is one hell of a self-repairing machine, and give it what it needs to kick something into overdrive for a while and it'll do just fine on it's own. 

My thought is, overall, ANYTHING is available, for the right price, and that meds are going to be more readily available than things like energy weapons, because it's easier to synthesize drugs than make high density energy storage materials.

One of the holes in your argument is, that Comstar is on record (Player knowledge, not in-universe ordinary people perspective) as being quite dedicated to making the succession wars worse and longer and in at least one case, happen.

'peace' wasn't on the table, only domination and grinding mankind back into the dirt of pre-history.
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2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.