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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit  (Read 5417 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« on: 28 October 2011, 00:59:22 »
Gray Death Standard Suit - Technical Readout 3058U page 23



     An offshoot of the New Avalon Institute of Science's Inner Sphere Standard prototype, the Gray Death Standard Battle Armor, along with its lighter Scout Suit partner, represents what can only be a dream for most mercenary units: their very own customized version of an otherwise standard war machine, whether it be a 'Mech or Battle Armor. As noted in Field Manual: Mercenaries, the Kell Hounds had stripped-down Elementals equivalent to IS Standards that were provided by the Wolves-in-Exile, but they soon faded from view, and the recent scattering of Experimental Technical Readouts have provided us with refitted suits of various designs that might as well be unique considering how few they are, leaving only the Gray Death Legion producing Battle Armor distinctive enough and in enough numbers that they have earned the honor of being counted as entirely separate designs.

     Published soon after we had been introduced to the entire concept of Battle Armor, the initial two Gray Death models were among the earliest to enter service, getting their first taste of combat against Clan Jade Falcon troops on Pandora in late 3051. Similar to the Inner Sphere Standard's game history, the Gray Death version has undergone a rollercoaster ride of changes since its original incarnation in the Day of Heroes scenario pack, although unlike the IS Standard it eventually turned full circle, with the current version effectively matching that first appearance back in 1993. By the time Day of Heroes hit the shelves, the IS Standard had already endured the first of its twists and turns, having lost the backpack missile launcher, secondary mount and immunity to flamers that it possessed in Technical Readout 3050, so it is this version that should be used to compare with the GD Standard as it was originally published. Initially called the Standard Gray Death power suit ("power suit" cropped up a few times as a generic name for Inner Sphere Battle Armor, before eventually fading away), when compared to the IS Standard of the day, the design had lost its jump capability, but had gained extra sensors, a medipack and a secondary weapon mount on the left arm.

     The first two systems initially had no effect within the BattleTech tactical game, but the left-arm mount gave the suit an effective infantry weapon attack, similar to that possessed by the Gray Death Scout Suit, and exclusive to those two designs until added as an option by the Classic BattleTech Companion and a standard rule in Total War. Counted as the equivalent to a generic infantry platoon of the same size as the Battle Armor squad, each GD Standard's secondary mount could even be equipped with Heavy SRM launchers loaded with Infernos or Man-Portable PPCs that could inflict damage out to 6 hexes, giving the squad an ammoless weapon that outranged the early Elementals. This ability was in direct disagreement with the main rulebook of the time, The BattleTech Compendium: The Rules of Warfare, so one solution was to restrict it purely to the scenario pack, while the other was to allow the same option for all appropriately equipped Battle Armor, but neither option was truly satisfactory. The rules for the GD Standard's primary mount on the right arm were also initially at odds with other Battle Armor, since the wording allowed any 'Mech-scale weapon that didn't exceed 1 ton to be mounted, refering the player to the weapon masses in the BattleTech Compendium construction rules, which meant that it could be argued that the GD Standard could carry Medium Lasers or Small Pulse Lasers, for example. No scenario within Day of Heroes used these heavier weapons, with the Standard only ever mounting the traditional trio of Small Laser, Flamer and Machine Gun, and in my experience those were the only weapons ever used by players, a choice that was confirmed as correct in later Battle Armor rules.

     Field Manual: Mercenaries made the first changes to the GD Standard, where it was instead described as being just an IS Standard with a secondary weapon mount on the left arm in addition to the primary mount, or in terms that we would use today an Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount and Modular Weapon Mount respectively. With no other exceptions noted, it meant that the GD Standard was otherwise identical to its parent design, having a 90 meter jump range and no additional sensors. The original BattleTech Master Rules went a step further and described the GD Standard as being exactly the same as the IS Standard, although most players I knew at the time continued to allow the Gray Death suit the secondary mount when it was used in roleplaying games or the occasional ClanTroops scenario. Then along came Lostech which turned the Gray Death Standard back into the design that we know today, once again removing the jump capability, returning the Improved Sensors and confirming the continuing existence of the Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount, together with artwork that matches that in Technical Readout 3058U, a rather solid looking appearance that I think matches its movement capabilities.

     Looking at the Gray Death Standard from the point of view of the in-universe history, its origin comes as a consequence of the Gray Death Legion being one of the units selected to field test the early prototypes of the IS Standard that had been produced by NAIS. I'm not entirely convinced about the idea of handing over what would have been top secret military technology to a bunch of mercenaries, but as Gerard Butler would perhaps yell: "This! Is! BattleTech!" Besides which, this was a time when the whole Inner Sphere were being... well, maybe not quite friends, but enemies of my enemy at least, and it's also possible that somebody in the AFFC thought that they'd much rather see a bunch of dirty money soldiers play guinea pig on the battlefield. After all, the Federated Commonwealth didn't get a bad reputation with some mercenaries for moving them away from the frontlines facing the Clans; quite the contrary in fact. After some initial tinkering, the Legion decided that they liked what they saw, but felt that the prototype Battle Armor could do with some improvement. Given the mention in the IS Standard's Technical Readout 3058U entry that it wasn't until 3052 that the Inner Sphere researchers finally cracked the problem of reliable jump jets, it neatly explains their omission in the Gray Death Standard's design. Of course, that does make the GD Scout's jump capability somewhat questionable, never mind the even more advanced Jump Booster, but I feel Mr. Butler bellowing "BattleTech!" in my ear again, so I'll just move swiftly on.

     After the Gray Death Standard's successful debut on Pandora, which included the capture of the Jade Falcon's commander by a platoon of the Legion's Battle Armor after it got lost and stumbled across Star Colonel T'daal's overheated Warhawk, the GDL returned to Glengarry to rest and refit. The outcome of the battle on Tukayyid had ended Operation Revival without the Legion undertaking any further operations against the Clans, so the unit then accepted a variety of contracts along the Federated Commonwealth's borders, allowing them time to consolidate their experiences with their new Battle Armor. This quiet period continued until 3056, when Skye separatists once again rebelled against Tharkad (and New Avalon) following the death of Melissa Steiner-Davion. Half the Legion, including Grayson Death Carlyle, was off-planet when the rebels attempted to occupy Glengarry, and although the Legion initially attempted to remain neutral, Grayson's son Alexander had different ideas and dragged his father's regiment into the conflict. For the first time the GD Standard saw heavy combat against Inner Sphere forces, engaging both armored vehicles and conventional infantry as well as Spheroid BattleMechs, which must have been something of a relief for the Legion's Armored Infantry platoons when compared to fighting Clan OmniMechs and Elementals. After seeing further conflict on Caledonia and Glengarry again, the Legion finally met its end during the FedCom Civil War while defending Hesperus II. Luckily for the Gray Death Standard and its Scout partner, survivors of the Legion, including members of the technical staff, retired to Glengarry and with the help of financial aid from Defiance opened up Gray Death Technologies, the Lyran Alliance's only dedicated Battle Armor manufacturer.

     For the next couple of years, GDT built the two Gray Death designs for the LAAF and various mercenary units, until in December 3069 Glengarry was attacked once again, this time by Word of Blake units that destroyed the company's security force and looted the factories, although the raid failed to fully destroy the latter. Rising from the ashes, the company not only continued supplying GD Scouts and Standards to the forces opposing the Blakists, they even introduced a new ultra-high tech variant of the heavier suit, which incorporated Clan weaponry. Introduced in 3073, the new version of the Gray Death Standard was dubbed the "Strike Suit" and while it has some useful advantages over the original design, it does lose some flexibility. The sole heavy armament consists of a detachable two-shot Advanced SRM3 launcher, backed up by an Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount and twin Battle Claws. To compensate for the design's relative vulnerability once both missile salvos have been fired, a Light TAG replaces the original Modular Weapon Mount on the right arm, allowing the suit to designate for fire support, including artillery and guided air-to-ground munitions.

     The upgrade to the GD Standard attracted interest from both sides of the ongoing conflict, but unfortunately for Gray Death Technologies it was the Blakists that reacted first, with their infamous Shadow Hunter group striking in 3074 in an attempt to finish what the Word had started five years earlier. The GD Strike variant proved effective against both infantry and heavier units, but not even its abilities could save the factory, which this time suffered much more damage. Defiance Industries once more stepped forward and bought out the company entirely, eventually transferring the entire operation to Furillo. With the turmoil of the second attack and the resulting move off-planet, the future of the Strike variant of the GD Standard is in question and it was out of production as of 3080, with its use of Clan-grade weapons being a key issue. Originally supplied with missile launchers built by Defiance themselves, the expense is deemed too great for full-scale production and it's possible that any future versions of the Strike Suit may be equipped entirely with Inner Sphere technology, although the possibility of trade with friendly Clan factions remains a viable alternative.

     Being such a similar design to the Inner Sphere Standard, the Gray Death version operates in an almost identical manner, being capable of Mechanized Battle Armor tactics and Anti-'Mech attacks, although the Strike variant does first have to jettison its detachable launcher to do the latter and even then can only perform Leg Attacks due to its lack of a non-missile weapon. Originally equipped with the standard trio of Battle Armor weapons - the Small Laser, Flamer and Machine Gun - together with a multi-shot single-tube missile launcher instead of the IS Standard's one-shot SRM2, the GD Standard added the Light Recoilless Rifle to its arsenal during the Jihad, a weapon that is the favorite configuration for many players due to its range and dual-role capability against both armor and infantry. Other configurations could be added to increase the Gray Death Standard's options, such as the David Light Gauss Rifle, Light TAG or Compact NARC, or even equipment such as ECM Suites. Although able to inflict pretty much the same damage as its parent design, the Gray Death Standard is more prone to receiving damage due to its lack of jump jets, which limits its ability to generate Target Movement Modifiers and often leaves it with just the default +1 modifier granted to every Battle Armor unit, which can be fatal given that the suit only has nine points of armor, an issue that is discussed in detail in the Inner Sphere Standard's Battle Armor of the Week article.

     This weakness does require the player to pay more attention to how the design is used, even to the point of accepting a less advantageous firing position to ensure that it can maximize its defensive bonuses. Despite this, the Gray Death Standard does make for a highly effective Medium Battle Armor combatant, particularly in urban warfare, where its Improved Sensors can help it get the drop on its opponents, detecting ambushes before they are triggered and locating booby traps and mines, while its high ground speed can allow it to more quickly traverse large buildings. The Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount can also be a useful extra, granting the suit the ability to carry weapons such as the incredible M42B assault rifle or maybe a Mauser 1200 LSS laser rifle looted from a Blakist corpse, but under the default Total War rules the weapon is always counted as an Auto-Rifle and a GD Standard squad's Anti-Personnel attack inflicts at best a mere two points of damage at up to 90 meters in range.

     Addition: Large buildings - whether extra tall, multi hex or both - are the natural habitat of the Gray Death Standard in urban warfare. In that environment, jumping designs such as the IS Standard may find themselves unable to jump high enough to reach a building's roof, so if they wish to use their jump capability to enter the building they have to smash through the side, which may result in damage to the Battle Armor and automatically ends their movement. Similarly, they may not be able to jump over tall buildings, and if no jump path low enough is available, they can only pass large buildings by entering them and then moving through their interior to the other side. Once inside a building, jumping Battle Armor can only use their ground capability to move within the building, so for the typical design that means only a single hex or level per Turn. In comparison, suits like the GD Standard can make multiple floor changes and/or move multiple hexes within the building per Turn, including the Turn when they first enter or eventually exit. Jumping suits do have greater flexibility than walking suits when exiting a building, since they can jump from upper floors, but that can be small compensation for the latter's greater mobility within the building and potentially easier entrance in the first place. With smaller buildings, the advantage can switch back and forth depending upon the layout of the buildings and their height and floorplan size, but the GD Standard and other high ground speed Battle Armor can generally better compete with their jumping cousins in these lighter urbanized areas than in rough terrain such as woods.

     As a fan of Battle Armor, the Gray Death suits and the brief mention of a Kell Hounds design did originally fill me with hope that we were going to see far more Battle Armor variants than we eventually did receive, with individual corporations and mercenary units producing their own in-house versions, and a trend that could perhaps have even spread to House regulars. Yes, the relatively limited construction options for Battle Armor do restrict the number of truly unique designs that could be produced, but that didn't stop the development of the Cavalier and Raiden, and we have eventually received a small number of such personalized suits in the Experimental Technical Readouts, but on the whole the Gray Death Legion's achievement in the field of Battle Armor remains an exception rather than the rule. I recognize that I'm biased in the matter, but for me it would have added so much more flavor to the game without detracting from the stompy robots. Of course, such designs can always be house-ruled, the same as many players' personal 'Mech modifications, and the examples of the original Gray Death suits, the four gladiator variants, the Hauberk U15 and the Longinus "Hacked" all point to the feasibility of field and maintenance level refits of Battle Armor that can change just about every feature of an existing suit. Oddly, in my experience this has been an idea that few players have been comfortable with, despite regularly being users of customized 'Mechs, tanks or fighters, and there's something about the simplicity and sparseness of Battle Armor stats that seems to encourage them to almost think of suits as solid blocks that resist alteration, rather than possessing the same rich mix of structural skeleton, myomer muscles, armored skin and electronic senses that 'Mechs use in a larger form.

     Perhaps though the very lack of widespread and high volume Battle Armor variants helps to highlight even more just how impressive a feat was achieved by the soldiers and technicians of the Gray Death Legion in those far off days when the Clans appeared to threaten the very future of the Inner Sphere. From those first few dozen examples, the Gray Death Standard battled through the jungles of Pandora, the urban firestorm of Glengarry and the mountainous hell that was Hesperus II, and many more battlefields besides, for mercenaries and House troops alike. The GD Standard served faithfully on both sides of the Jihad, perhaps even leading to a brother versus brother combat, and it eventually spawned newer and larger designs that continue to proudly bear the name of the Gray Death Legion and its legendary commander.

Next up:
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  • Kanazuchi
  • Gnome

EDIT: Fixed the wall of text in a couple of the paragraphs. I copied the wrong file. Sorry.  :)
EDIT: Expanded upon the GD Standard's advantages in urban warfare.
« Last Edit: 29 October 2011, 09:51:58 by sillybrit »

Deadborder

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #1 on: 28 October 2011, 07:06:47 »
I figured that the AFFC looked at the GDL's long history of using Anti-Mech infantry and battlefield innovation (especially with regards to the afroesaid) and saw them as good candidates to test their then-new Battlesuits for them. Given that, well, everyone in the IS was new to BA (the Dragoons aside), giving them over to a unit that was known for doing daring and/or crazy things with infantry and succeding probably looked like a good idea at the time.

And hey, it worked.
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Colt Ward

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #2 on: 29 October 2011, 00:15:20 »
A quick question . . .

Using the old Battle Factory program, I stripped out all the electronics and systems to a simple suit.  According to that program, you can mount a MRR on the GDL Standard . . . I know it has a version with the Light, but is it possible?  The article talks about modifying battle armor, is it possible to make such an alteration or are those systems integral?  I do not have the material they originally appeared in, just HM Lite.
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Decoy

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #3 on: 29 October 2011, 00:38:31 »
It's like an omnimech. Those things are integral and it winds up being a modification, rather than a configuration....if anything I said makes sense.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #4 on: 29 October 2011, 01:11:47 »
@ColtWard:
That would be viable, but as Decoy noted it would be a refit rather than just another configuration. Personally, I'd count it as a Class C refit, although an argument could be made for it being a field refit instead.



Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #5 on: 29 October 2011, 09:31:11 »
Too bad the improved sensors aren't on modular mounts, it would offer the option of juggling the load between sensors and firepower.  Basically trading maneuverability of an IS Standard jump pack for extra firepower or sensors.  BTW, if you stripped the sensors and replaced them with a detachable SRM pack, how much could you carry?

This could be the origin of the 'Support PPC' version, those particular suits lacked (or had stripped) their improved sensors and invested the mass in a heavier weapon on the MWM.  Be an interesting variant, partnered with the base unit for a 'hunter-killer' grouping?

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #6 on: 29 October 2011, 09:50:04 »
The best you could get would be a SRM1(OS)/DMP.

Colt Ward

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #7 on: 29 October 2011, 18:53:44 »
Is there anyway to make the electronics suits in some of the suits modular?
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #8 on: 29 October 2011, 21:21:48 »
Yes, just mount them on a Modular Weapon Mount.  :)

Systems like Active Probes, Improved Sensors and ECM can be mounted on MWMs just like a weapon, allowing any suit to be used as a scout providing it has the appropriate space and payload.

This developer-level errata post shows the equipment that cannot be mounted on a MWM, although you could also add base structural items such as jump jets, UMUs, VTOL jets and manipulators, although the latter do have their own form of modular mount.

Colt Ward

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #9 on: 29 October 2011, 22:12:01 »
Well, your limited to one MWM?  Besides, I want the electronics under armor to protect the equipment instead of out at the end of the arm, a realism angle I know.
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #10 on: 29 October 2011, 22:52:05 »
You can fit a second (or third, etc) MWM via a refit, but you'll either have to accept a lower weapon payload (no Small Laser, for example) or remove some other piece(s) of equipment to provide the necessary 10kg per extra MWM.

The issue of whether the equipment or weapon mounted on a MWM is protected is somewhat ignored, akin to Omnipods in general really, but in my experience it's typically assumed that part of the armor mass goes towards an armored housing for whatever might be mounted.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gray Death Standard Suit
« Reply #11 on: 30 October 2011, 00:59:03 »
I prefer the GDL suit to the IS standard BA.
Sure it doesn't handle rough terrain as well but it DOES handle being indoors way better and the 3 hex AP is very useful when using advanced rules.
I very much prefer it in urban environments.
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