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Author Topic: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...  (Read 1538 times)

Syzyx

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Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« on: 09 October 2020, 14:40:58 »
So I'm running a game out in the depths of the Periphery and my players have finally gotten enough resources together to leave their homeworld and head off to make it as mercenaries. I was pondering the descriptions of some worlds out there as having lost the vast majority of technology, even some to the point of being populated by hunter-gatherers, and it tickled me to drop them in on a medieval planet to showcase the power of little 'mechs vs. puny humans.

However it's really little fun for anyone for there to be no risks at all. Watching lances splinter against 'mech legs is one thing but is there any chance of siege weapons doing anything?

Would a trebuchet, the rock throwing kind, do a point or three of damage? Force a piloting roll? Anything?

I figured these kinds of weapons would get off a shot every 6 rounds or so due to reloading, and not exactly be at the best chances to hit, but at least it's something.
But as a matter of fact I was quite busy getting potty-trained at the time and had no time for interstellar politics.- ykonoclast

Natasha Kerensky

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #1 on: 09 October 2020, 16:02:38 »
Would a trebuchet, the rock throwing kind, do a point or three of damage? Force a piloting roll? Anything?

In the real world, no.  We could drop rocks on Abrams or Leopard tanks for years and do no damage to their armor or internal components.  Corrosion would be a greater threat.

But under the unrealistic physics of BT universe game mechanics, sure.  Physical attacks (punches, kicks, charges, hatchets, etc.) moving at a small fraction of the speed of incoming autocannon and Gauss rounds do equivalent damage in the BT universe.  Heck, even logging and farming equipment can damage BT armor as effectively as a small autocannon round.

Some other ideas:

Pit Traps — If your medieval society can dig out a basement, they can dig out holes, camouflage them, and lead your PC mechs into a nasty falls of one or more levels.  A variant would add a camouflaged, low-CF bridge that knights on horseback could safely cross but no pursuing PC unit more than 20-odd tons can cross.  Pit traps have appeared before in the old McCarron’s Armored Cavalry scenario pack.

https://www.sarna.net/wiki/McCarron%27s_Armored_Cavalry_(scenario_pack)

Fire and Smoke — However it’s set alight, fire and smoke terrain can mess with heat sinks and targeting modifiers, block shots, and even guide PC movement (like towards pit traps).

Fluid Gun Ammo Types — Your medieval society won’t have fluid guns, but they might have less effective versions of certain ammo types.  Prepared oil slicks could cause mech falls.  Boiling oils poured from above or thrown from afar might inflict a fraction of inferno heating.  Obscuring fluids like paints (or even mud) could inflict targeting modifiers on PC mechs and vehicles.  Even primitive corrosive fluids might do a little armor damage (and seriously threaten PC infantry).

https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Fluid_Gun

Beasts — Megasaurs, Branths, and similar giant creatures in the BT universe can damage mechs (or they were fluffed as such at one time).  Beast-mounted infantry also add medieval flavor.

https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Branth
https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Megasaur
https://www.sarna.net/wiki/Beast_Mounted_Infantry

Primitive Weapons —If your medieval society has some access to black powder or other explosives (or access to pre-mech weaponry), you could rationalize some dialed back, mech-scale rocket launchers, mortars or even light/heavy rifles.  There are also primitive weapons like makeshift rifles available to infantry.

The bigger question is what such a low-tech society might possess that would cause someone to hire a very expensive merc unit to attack said society.  Better be some dense germanium deposits in them thar hills...

Hope this helps.
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Sartris

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #2 on: 09 October 2020, 16:23:30 »
in my longest campaign, i played a completely amoral periphery warlord with a penchant for massed infantry and light vehicle formations (an absolute bastard and paragon of lawful evil). i needed dedicated infantry transports and lo and behold, my agents followed a trail of intel to a relatively well-preserved star league era condor dropship off the beaten path on a lightly populated world. while they weren't totally primitive, they were largely religious pacifists. and they were using the condor as a temple and chief source of power.

normally i would have just gone in and taken it without much thought to either methods or collateral damage, but it was absolutely essential i not be blatantly guilty of war crimes - the free trader network serviced the world and would surely report my actions. i would lack my usual cover of plausible deniability that i was able to exercise in standard black and wetworks ops, as it would be difficult to claim that a new condor spotted among my naval assets was not from the pacifist planet. i succeeded, but it took a great deal of planning (and luck - there was a roll to determine if it was even possible to make the vessel spaceworthy without heavy industrial resources)

the point is sometimes its much harder to deal with unruly locals if you're not allowed to hurt them - even if they have siege engines tossing very large rocks at you

dgorsman

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #3 on: 09 October 2020, 17:49:08 »
Dude - have the locals go Ewok on them.

Maybe have some WoB/old-school ComStar ROM advisor covertly helping the locals if you need to keep things a little more balanced.
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Iceweb

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #4 on: 10 October 2020, 00:14:59 »
Nothing says the merc group wanted to go to the planet in the first place.  Miss jumps happen and stuff breaks.  Miss jump and some rotted food means we need to stop on the planet to get stuff to eat.  Air filter breaks and the sensor that monitors it also went out (was it sabotage?)  and we need a trip to the planet for some O2. 

Even light mechs may be mostly immune to medieval weapons but that doesn't mean the industrial mechs are as tough.  And you need them to dig up ore that you need to make hasty repairs, cause of pirates or even a meteor strike.  Did some electronics you need break, and you need to forge some replacements.  Sure its not gonna be as good as factory but the head tech swears he can make a replacement that will get you back to civilization. 

Now as long as you are mining iron that castle over yonder you have heard has a bunch of gold, and it wouldn't have been worth coming here for just that, but you are already here, and gold from a backwater spends just as good in the IS as anywhere else.  Come to say, where are they getting this gold from?  There must be a mine somewhere, and we already have industrial mechs to mine that iron, gold isn't that different. 

That said the natives may be regressed technologically, but that doesn't mean they don't know about mechs and have plans to deal with them if they have to.  Maybe all of their tech didn't regress only most of it.  Maybe they have a lousy version of inferno gel they can still make.  They might have taken a page out of star wars, and have cavalry with tripwires that they can try to entangle mechs with.  Modifying the bolo shot from the old narc pods may be an option. 

And they may not be able to make tech but they had it at some point to get to the planet, and some people come to trade every so often.  After shrugging off catapult stones, some bug mechs might be in for a surprise when they march on the planetary emperor, and some ballista loaded with Ferro-Fibrous tipped bolts, sharpened to a monomolecular edge start unloading on them. 

And remember mechs are hot, cramped, and get uncomfortable quick.  Your pilots have to sleep sometime.   

idea weenie

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #5 on: 10 October 2020, 01:11:52 »
While the Mechs are marching, who is guarding the Dropship?  The knights may want to fight the Mechs in glorious combat, but if the peasants decide they don't like your people, there are a lot of peasants who would be happy to receive a week's pay to bring back a Dropship crewman's head.  A month's pay and they'll bring back the Dropship crewman alive.  The locals will know the terrain, will be able to hide well, and can prepare traps ahead of time.


Now if the Merc unit just goes and arranges trade with a few nearby villages, that could work.  Trade metal refining to the blacksmith (the Blacksmith provides the iron ore, the Merc unit provides high-quality metal bars), use waste heat from the Dropship to help make more charcoal, water purification via boiling, the Mechs can help with earthmoving, the tech crew should be able to print out a few books, and the payment from the locals will be in fresh food.  The local noble will want their cut, but that could be easily done too (CAD and stonemoving to help make a castle, preferably one that is decent)
« Last Edit: 11 October 2020, 18:18:24 by idea weenie »

Paul

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #6 on: 10 October 2020, 12:43:58 »
The odds of a trebuchet successfully striking a moving 'Mech are 0. Not close to 0, actual 0. So the damage potential isn't going to be a question that'll even come up.

In the medieval setting, you defeat the 'Mechs the same way you do on a world with no 'Mechs of your own: you wait for the MechWarriors to get out of them, and then you kill/capture them.
After all, you might be the only thing that militarily matters on the planet, but what good is that if you can't have a nice steak? What's the point of being the new god emperor of MedievalWorld if you have to stay inside your 'Mech 24/7?

Another problem: unless your player characters are completely psychotic, having to kill off thousands of defenseless knights and peasants is going to take a mental toll. It's one thing if you kill the bastard before he kills you, but in this setting, those dude with pikes and lances are 0 threat to you. Killing them at all is purely a choice you make, rather than something that's needed in order for you to survive till tomorrow.

'Mechs are basically dragons. One can kill off an army of any size, and suffer 0 chance of taking any wounds. As your title says, the only avenue to win is completely asymmetrical.

dgorsman

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #7 on: 10 October 2020, 14:02:17 »
The odds of a trebuchet successfully striking a moving 'Mech are 0. Not close to 0, actual 0. So the damage potential isn't going to be a question that'll even come up.

 ???

Deliberately, against a moving target, maybe.  But I'd say the odds are on par with a direct hit from an artillery round (and much larger size).  And like artillery, a good guess of where it will be is all it takes to ruin someone's day.  So nowhere near 'actual zero'.
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Paul

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #8 on: 10 October 2020, 14:13:22 »
But I'd say the odds are on par with a direct hit from an artillery round (and much larger size). 

Massively, *massively* lower. You're dramatically overestimating the performance of a trebuchet if you think that.

whistler

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #9 on: 10 October 2020, 17:11:54 »
I think Paul really has it. The only way the those low-tech folks would be able to take on Battlemechs would be sabotage. Killing the pilots before they get into their machines, blowing up ammo stockpiles, or otherwise wrecking the support apparatus that allows the mechs to function.

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Charistoph

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #10 on: 10 October 2020, 19:28:01 »
I think Paul really has it. The only way the those low-tech folks would be able to take on Battlemechs would be sabotage. Killing the pilots before they get into their machines, blowing up ammo stockpiles, or otherwise wrecking the support apparatus that allows the mechs to function.

Or aim inferno missiles at their cockpit?
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Syzyx

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #11 on: 10 October 2020, 20:56:26 »
Thanks for the input, guys. The point of this encounter is not to actually threaten the players, just give some spice to the event.

For details, the group got their dropship out of a swamp and didn't completely fix it as well as they'd hoped. They're going to discover that they are losing atmosphere a lot faster than they bargained on, which is why they're going to end up on planet. Then from there collecting the needed supplies will involve stealing from the locals who have violently xenophobic beliefs and no common language with the players. So they'll be best served walking through the wood and stone castle walls to take what they need.
But as a matter of fact I was quite busy getting potty-trained at the time and had no time for interstellar politics.- ykonoclast

idea weenie

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #12 on: 10 October 2020, 21:45:03 »
Thanks for the input, guys. The point of this encounter is not to actually threaten the players, just give some spice to the event.

For details, the group got their dropship out of a swamp and didn't completely fix it as well as they'd hoped. They're going to discover that they are losing atmosphere a lot faster than they bargained on, which is why they're going to end up on planet. Then from there collecting the needed supplies will involve stealing from the locals who have violently xenophobic beliefs and no common language with the players. So they'll be best served walking through the wood and stone castle walls to take what they need.

Use the Mechs as a distraction, plus only grab from those that attack.  If the peasants run after your Mechs, lead them on a merry chase.  If the knights want to keep up, see if Mech-grade Flamers can be turned down to just cause the metal to heat up slowly.  If the attackers have to cross a bridge to get to you, let them, then destroy the bridge so you can go around them.

There are going to be some people that aren't as violently xenophobic, so you leave them alone.  That will hopefully encourage that group to tell the others "We defended our homes, they ran out to attack.  They are dead.  Perhaps this is a sign?"

Use your infantry to spy out the land, and see if there are any rebels or people who aren't as xenophobic.  Try to rescue them?

Don't steal all the food from a village, you need to leave some so they don't starve.

The best way to defeat a castle might be just breaking the first gatehouse.  Now the defenders are semi-trapped inside while your troops can go around the countryside.

If the local frothing maniac has a moat to keep you out, your Mechs are great Earthmoving equipment.  Either fill up the exit of the moat to make it flood, or dump a bunch of rock upstream of the moat to make a dam and divert the river.

Mechs can walk underwater.  If the River near a castle is deep enough, have the Mech go underwater with a shovel and dig out the stone under the castle walls.

Keep the Dropship buttoned up, and only open it when there is enough anti-infantry firepower to deal with a sudden rush from any nearby forest.

Fluid guns attached to giant tanks of water?  Each ton of water carried gives you 20 shots, and that should be enough to wash away any opposition. External cargo can be used to extend this time.


What is the crew trying to grab?  More oxygen?  Metal parts to patch a hole?  Life support supplies (water and food)?  Those will also be factors that will affect where they raid to.

What season is it?  That will affect what is available

Natasha Kerensky

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #13 on: 10 October 2020, 21:54:54 »
In the medieval setting, you defeat the 'Mechs the same way you do on a world with no 'Mechs of your own: you wait for the MechWarriors to get out of them, and then you kill/capture them.

I dunno if that will work much better.  A single SMG will spray down and instill lots of fear in lots of knights on horseback.

This is so asymmetric that we have to get loose and inventive with the rules, whether BT or AToW.
"Ah, yes.  The belle dame sans merci.  The sweet young thing who will blast your nuts off.  The kitten with a whip.  That mystique?"
"Slavish adherence to formal ritual is a sign that one has nothing better to think about."
"Variety is the spice of battle."
"I've fought in... what... a hundred battles, a thousand battles?  It could be a million as far as I know.  I've fought for anybody who offered a decent contract and a couple who didn't.  And the universe is not much different after all that.  I could go on fighting for another hundred years and it would still look the same."
"I'm in mourning for my life."
"Those who break faith with the Unity shall go down into darkness."

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #14 on: 10 October 2020, 21:59:23 »
Generally, humans are not suicidal no matter how xenophobic they are.

If the mechs are literally stomping knights into the ground, the knights are going to go a head and run for it, and if their lord orders them to go back out against the invincible metal monsters again you should expect that they'll instead decide that it's time for someone else to be in charge.  And the typical deposed monarch retirement plan will be executed.
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Col Toda

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #15 on: 13 October 2020, 05:24:50 »
Medieval tech includes mining sapping castle walls . Not only do pit traps but landslide or cave in afterwards. Too much weight to shift the unit is stuck. Wait 2 weeks or longer to dig out dead pilot .

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #16 on: 13 October 2020, 09:55:16 »
That works well against an immobile castle that you're laying siege to.  Not so well against a mech- it takes a very long time to dig out that much dirt and rock by hand.
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Elmoth

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #17 on: 13 October 2020, 10:42:57 »
So, your mechs do not have. Dropship standing around and acting as their castle base? Immobile is relative :)

Other options include poisoning their food and medical supplies, the inevitable village that will spring around the dropship, wear and tear that they will have difficulties repairing (only spares they came with, no options to source materials in this place), local flora and fauna that can be more dangerous than the humans. Never heard of the Gator of Nimerya? Terrific beast that one...

Kovax

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #18 on: 13 October 2020, 12:23:50 »
In the real world, no.  We could drop rocks on Abrams or Leopard tanks for years and do no damage to their armor or internal components.
Not quite.  The top armor of a tank (up to and including modern) is substantially thinner than the side or front armor.  In WWII, high-powered .30 caliber rifles with oversized cartridges could penetrate them from rooftops even late in the war.  A 100 lb. rock dropped from a castle parapet or cut from where it was suspended in a tree could inflict some minor damage.  A Battlemech, with its ablative armor that resists more serious damage by ablating on the surface, would likely suffer minor cracks and abrasions, weakening its armor to some minor degree.  Basically, it's a "sandpaper" attack, which would only have a significant effect if successfully done repeatedly.

With the amount of time to set up, position, and fire a trebuchet, if a 'Mech pilot allowed the 'Mech to be hit, it would be due to an act of stupidity.  You don't "aim" a trebuchet, you build it in place or drag it (across rollers) to a spot to hit a specific point over and over, and if it misses, you've got to use large teams of men or animals to adjust it.  It MIGHT be possible to hit a 'Mech if the pilot is sleeping, and the trebuchet is set up overnight.

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #19 on: 13 October 2020, 13:26:02 »
So, your mechs do not have. Dropship standing around and acting as their castle base? Immobile is relative :)

(Switches over to light amplification and thermal imaging cameras at night)

"Oh look, that little team of diggers thinks they're being stealthy.  How adorable.  Tell the Firestarter to barbecue them."

The problem is that the tech difference is just too high.  If the people in charge of the Dropship and mechs are even the slightest bit competent, anyone running on Medieval tech is completely and utterly hosed.
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Elmoth

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Re: Asymmetrical Warfare... Like -really- asymmetrical...
« Reply #20 on: 13 October 2020, 13:59:23 »
Yes, and fitst half of the 21st century as well. we are ancient history for a reason after all. I was just assuming that h is in a RPG, so players tend to have their moronic moments. Some of the players tend to chain-gang them, in fact. I know mine do sometimes.