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Author Topic: Dropships: How does your group handle them?  (Read 1537 times)

thkaal

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Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« on: 25 November 2017, 00:40:46 »
I'm actually asking this for advice.  My players are wanting to rp a group of disparate mechwarriors (except one who is wanting to be a dropship captain).  I was wondering how you handle such things.

One of my ideas:
Rank (For obvious reasons) + Property (the dropship can be used to generate wealth, and for the crew as employees) + Vehicle (Well, duh, it's a vehicle.)
The thing is, I think the XP of property and vehicle could be added together (-200 to handle the vehicle ownership and not vehicle loaning) and that is how many tons the dropship would be.

Does anyone have any other ideas?

Daryk

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #1 on: 25 November 2017, 01:30:19 »
I certainly wouldn't let them design their own ship, regardless of tonnage (at least not right out of the gate).  I don't have my books with me, but 10 points in vehicle is the absolute minimum I'd recommend.  Property would be a good way to represent equity (much better than "owns vehicle" given the huge cost difference between DropShips and 'mechs), perhaps 10% per point of Property.  Making the payments would be a good way to motivate the group to take jobs they might otherwise be reluctant to consider.

thkaal

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #2 on: 25 November 2017, 01:39:28 »
Daryk, your comment got me to thinking.....

Dropship Vehicle trait, 10 Levels. (made it up for this)

This allows you to have control over a dropship by purchasing vehicle.  Requires Vehicle 5+ and you can have a dropship with tonnage UP TO  the XP in Vehicle * 2

Daryk

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #3 on: 25 November 2017, 02:01:21 »
You might want to take a look at the MUL to give you a feel for the tonnage spread (or rather, lack thereof) in DropShips before tying XP spent to tonnage...

thkaal

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #4 on: 25 November 2017, 02:13:07 »
Thanks for the tip.

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #5 on: 25 November 2017, 02:23:28 »
+1 to the idea upthread of using dropship "mortgage" payments to prod the party.  I'd even go so far as to suggest In For Life to the pc who "owns" the DropShip to represent this debt.

guardiandashi

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #6 on: 25 November 2017, 04:07:53 »
I would tend to say vehicle and property should be good enough for the dropship, with possibly some debt, reduced income, or similar to represent moneys owed, as far as in for life or dark secret I would tend they only are conditionally "reasonable" mostly if you skipped out on the loan, or stole the dropship, and so have people hunting you

kato

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #7 on: 26 November 2017, 05:04:04 »

As for selecting whether/which dropship they get, Campaign Operations p17 has rules on that. It basically comes down to a relatively simple equation based on the cost of the ship (modified by availability) and letting the player roll against the resulting number.

Dropship Vehicle trait, 10 Levels. (made it up for this)

This allows you to have control over a dropship by purchasing vehicle.  Requires Vehicle 5+ and you can have a dropship with tonnage UP TO  the XP in Vehicle * 2
Broad idea below, not really tested...

If he has a specific target in sight: Introduce a "owned large vehicle" trait, with him having minimum as much as the vehicle trait in it. Basically make him spend the XP for the vehicle trait again. By allowing him to spend more XP on "owned large vehicle" than on "vehicle" you get some variation too.

Find the cost of the dropship (... okay, that's the hard part). Take the table from wealth and use it as the value for the Large Owned Vehicle TP multiplied by Vehicle TP cubed in order to find a value that he could own with his trait combination - or rather to find how much he'd have to spend to get it. At 1400 XP you start getting into small dropship categories, most dropships would require 1500-1600 XP, at 1800 XP you go into jumpship categories. Warships not available ;)

While this technically works for smaller vehicles (battlemechs etc) too as a houserule alternative to the +2 TP rule in ATOW to own a vehicle i'd restrict it to dropships and such. Possibly one might want to apply it to "heirlooms" of types that you can't get through the +2 TP standard rule (support vehicles etc). 400 XP for a 40,000 C-Bill personal vehicle that the character owns for whatever story reason in lieu of those 400 XP in wealth getting him cash with which he can buy it as equipment...

The XP spread in the above is pretty narrow and somewhat heavy - and possibly alternatively being explained as Vehicle Levels 11-15 (+2 TP to own) accounting for dropships (and other large vehicles), extending the vehicle table pretty much. Personally prefer the above cost-based equation as an explanation for spending the same XP :P

monbvol

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #8 on: 26 November 2017, 14:48:05 »
Also remember 900 XP in Vehcile for Aerospace units is already sufficient to grant a Small Craft.  While these are not big enough to reasonably carry multiple mechs it should give a decent idea for a minimum amount of investment.

The only thing I have against using Property to be a Dropship is if the Dropship is going to be used for the PCs transit needs then it isn't going to earn consistent enough money to equate to a Property rank.  So I don't know how much you really want to force them to invest in Property.  Especially if they want something that can haul the mechs around.

skiltao

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #9 on: 30 November 2017, 18:30:27 »
I must disagree with everyone - don't make DropShips cost extra. We don't know what aspects of the DropShip will be valuable in your campaign, or just how valuable they will be. What kind of campaign is it? Were you going to give the player group a DropShip anyways, and what role will have a DropShip have in your campaign? A military campaign with ships attached has different risks and rewards than a merchant campaign with a security force.

My suggestions:
  • Vehicle: The player group gets a baseline DropShip adequate for their needs for 0 points (if you were going to give them one anyways) or 2 points (if the group wasn't going to have one, or if this character possesses an extra ship in addition to those normally assigned to the player unit). Every additional point of Vehicle should improve the DropShip's weapons, armor, cargo, engines, or onboard facilities in some way that can be leveraged during play.

    • How detailed does this 10-point scale need to be - how much does the exact ship matter? How much is aero combat going to feature in your campaign, how much cargo handling?
       
    • Custom Vehicle: Swapping cubicles from one type of troop to another is fine. Removing cubicles for cargo is fine. Replacing open cargo space with cubicles is okay within limits. Removing weapons or armor is fine. Adding weapons or armor depends on how the Vehicle Trait is being valued. Changing engines is right out.
       
  • Rank: I'd say rank shows how much control the character has over their ship (plus any attached assets). If your Rank is lower than expected for the ship, maybe you're in overall command but someone else has tactical control (and you can't count on the crew to follow your every cockamamie scheme); if your Rank is higher than expected, then maybe your ship gets unusually good treatment from the Admiralty, and maybe your crew is a little more disciplined and loyal.
     
  • Property: This trait always represents profit being made outside of normal gameplay, and could represent a number of things. The captain and crew could be receiving disbursements from their employer as specified in their current contract; if ground-bound, the ship could be the center of logistics for their area and making some extra money on the side (either legally or illegally); while traveling, they could be taking on occasional high-priority passengers or cargo (ambassadors, couriers, wealthy pilgrims, whatever).

    However, if merchanteering is the focus of the game, then the ship's profits presumably depend on active play during the game session, and shouldn't require use of this trait; by the same token, if the DropShip exists only to make profit off-screen, then the player should take Property but not Vehicle.

It should go without saying that you shouldn't make the party - and especially a single character in the party - pay for things you were going to include in the campaign anyways; and if a player does invest in something, don't just pile on extra risks and dangers without also opening up new opportunities and rewards. Debt or payments associated with the DropShip can be a useful prod, as suggested, but the same is true for any costly asset and any negative trait; you don't want to lean too much on any one trait, too much on traits from any one character, or negative/reactive hooks (instead of positive/proactive hooks) in general.

PS: if your campaign is going to be focused on a single world (like a Solaris VII arena campaign) where a DropShip captain might not get a lot of use from their DropShip, consider trading the DropShip for a trucking or air-freight company with similar cargo (and weapons) capacity.
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Daryk

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #10 on: 30 November 2017, 23:51:23 »
I think the XP cost is justified on at least two bases:

1) To deter players from trading in a ship for other hardware.  The C-Bill cost of any ship is a large multiple of almost any 'mech (much less vehicle) out there.

2) The difference in the case of "giving the group a ship anyway" is one of PC vs. NPC control.  If a PC wants to exert that much control compared to the rest of the party, they should absolutely pay for it.

monbvol

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #11 on: 01 December 2017, 00:31:20 »
Not only that but how radically it changes the dynamic of the game, especially mercs.

Having a Dropship at the player's beck and call is a major element of freedom.  Dropship transport shortfalls are a major part of the setting even into the current eras.

So it really should be a big deal.

skiltao

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #12 on: 01 December 2017, 00:46:10 »
I agree that (potential) freedom is a big deal, but I don't agree that charging extra chargen points is the way to handle it.

If you have four players playing Elementals, and one player playing a MechWarrior, do you charge the MechWarrior 10 extra points for their 'Mech?
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monbvol

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #13 on: 01 December 2017, 02:56:01 »
Not even close to the same thing, so no.

A mech isn't near the bargaining chip that a Dropship is, or near as big of a deal even in the darkest days of the Succession Wars.

Just what it offers in certain repair facilities, the support staff it comes with to make it worth taking at all, places for PCs to stay that are secure, and the odd bit of side profit makes a dropship quite possibly the most useful unit you can give your players.

It should cost a lot but I do not thin Property is the right answer.

guardiandashi

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #14 on: 01 December 2017, 06:06:48 »
I wasn't trying to say that it should automatically require property, with that said I was looking at the benefits property give you, and noting that you could use the dropship as a form of justification for some of the property benefits.

I think that the ATOW companion included some options for dropships but I am not sure.

Daryk

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #15 on: 01 December 2017, 09:06:07 »
Not even close to the same thing, so no.
*snip*
This.  The difference in cost between Battle Armor and 'Mechs is about one order of magnitude.  Dropships are generally at least two, and as Monbvol points out, the other benefits are both qualitatively and quantitatively different than those between BA and 'Mechs.

skiltao

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #16 on: 01 December 2017, 15:43:58 »
Daryk, monbvol, that's all irrelevant.

We're talking about how you deal with a character role whose type or scale of activity is vastly different from the rest of the party. The issues - especially as they relate to character generation - are going to be similar no matter what the scope of the campaign is, or just how far out of scale the outlying character is.

Mobility: Battle Armor has very limited mobility, power and survivability, so their campaign goals and activities will be likewise limited. Adding an OmniMech to that mix gives them the ability to travel to places they couldn't otherwise reach (crossing obstacles greater than 90m wide or tall, evading forces faster than 30kph, defending the party against likely interceptors). In the context of players sitting at a table playing a game, the party is simply moving from one potential encounter area to another - just like a party of 'Mechs traveling by DropShip.

Rarity: DropShips are rare relative to small 'Mech units. 'Mechs are likewise rare relative to small infantry units. In terms of status and upwards social mobility, the jump from infantry to MechWarrior is way bigger than the jump from MechWarrior to Captain of a Leopard or Union. 'Mechs may be lost and replaced more easily than DropShips - but that's only a feature of campaigns focused on 'Mech-vs-'Mech combat, and doesn't hold true for campaigns centered on infantry squads, or on battles between flotillas of DropShips.

Monetary Value: Yes, you could trade a DropShip for many 'Mechs, enough to overwhelm a 'Mech party's expected opposition; but you can likewise trade an OmniMech for many battlesuits, enough to overwhelm a squad's expected opposition. Both exchanges have exactly the same effect on gameplay. Nothing you can do in character generation fixes that issue.

Losing the Tools of Your Trade: Exchanging the tools of your trade for cash should always, always feel like a step backwards. You invest points in the asset and in the skills to use the asset, and that asset should be (over the long term, if not at every moment) more useful within the scope of the campaign than an equivalent amount of lesser goods.

Chargen Costs: Adding extra costs to being a DropShip captain is guaranteed to make that character less useful outside of their chosen role, but it does nothing to correct any of the problems raised. There's also the question of how many points a single character can invest in a single role before they become so useless (relative to the rest of the party) outside of that role that the party (or just the player) would be better off relegating that asset to an NPC.

Support Assets: This is decided during unit generation, not character generation. Not every DropShip has repair facilities (and none equal to a properly equipped repair yard). Not every DropShip has extra support staff for MechWarriors to borrow. Not every ship has enough organic security to secure the landing zone. Repair facilities, support staff, and security are frequently available without a DropShip being present - housed in groundside facilities, traveling in trucks, and so on. What assets are actually available to or commanded by the players is decided entirely by what kind of campaign the GM and players want to play.

I was looking at the benefits property give you, and noting that you could use the dropship as a form of justification for some of the property benefits.

That's fair. I like that.
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Daryk

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #17 on: 01 December 2017, 17:13:08 »
I'll buy that our arguments may be irrelevant with the people you've played with, but I've seen the other side of that coin.  Ruthless exploitation of the rules exists out there, like it or not.  Personally, I'm going to levy quite a high price for someone wanting to play that angle.  I base my recommendations to the OP on my experience, just as you base yours on your experience.  I'm not even remotely surprised we have differences of opinion, and have to admit I'm somewhat jealous of the fact that you've had the benefit of a group of players willing to play it straight 100% of the time.  I like my rules to have holes smaller than a DropShip, but YMMV.

monbvol

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #18 on: 01 December 2017, 17:33:04 »
One of AToW's core concepts is that what is fair/balanced is largely up to the local group.  So if a character concept requires more XP than the rest of the group and the group is okay with that then problem solved.

So I do think what a Dropship brings in terms of sheer versatility and valuable resources should extort a very significant XP opportunity cost.

kato

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #19 on: 01 December 2017, 17:49:30 »
So if a character concept requires more XP than the rest of the group and the group is okay with that then problem solved.
One could also max out vehicle at default 1200 XP and make the group spend 100 XP each on connections since they get to know "someone with a dropship". Could raise the same amount of XP cost (to the party) while not hitting that one particular character too extremely.

skiltao

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #20 on: 02 December 2017, 13:45:58 »
I base my recommendations to the OP on my experience, just as you base yours on your experience. I'm not even remotely surprised we have differences of opinion

Your arguments - that a deterrent is needed to prevent players from cheesing the system and that some builds have a power and control disparity - is absolutely 100% relevant to my group.

Where we disagree is in how campaign activity is structured, and where a DropShip captain fits into that. My assumption is that the GM will try to structure the campaign so that every character's traits (whether those are for vehicles, enemies, or compulsions) are about equally relevant and decisive as every other character's traits.

Consider two campaigns: in one, the party are mercs who travel frequently and whose dreams can be thwarted by routine shipping delays; in the other, the party is a House unit garrisoning a fortified location and has only occasional responsibilities off-world. A DropShip is more valuable in the first campaign than in the second, right? And these aren't the only kinds of campaigns, or the only kinds of ways DropShip use can vary.

And that's assuming that supporting assets like a DropShip will even have a mechanical effect on the game - the GM may just abstract all the supporting assets away, like in the "Chaos Campaign" system.

I do think what a Dropship brings in terms of sheer versatility and valuable resources should extort a very significant XP opportunity cost.

Can you describe what your campaign looks like, to make it more obvious how a DropShip captain fits into one of your game sessions?
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monbvol

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #21 on: 02 December 2017, 14:42:27 »
Well my group tries to go by the philosophy it is better to make the character fit the campaign than the campaign fit the character because we've had far too many campaigns fall apart because we've tried to make campaigns fit the character.

But if we were to try most likely the Dropship itself would not even be a part of the campaign or the GM would have already figured out what it is they want the Dropship to do and how it will fit into their campaign.

How I'd do it:

If the Dropship itself were to be a part of the campaign that'd be some Connections traits(100 xp each for the Mechwarriors, at least 300 xp for the Dropship captain) and absolutely enough rank for the controlling PC to be Officer 2 at minimum.

Daryk

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #22 on: 02 December 2017, 18:04:58 »
I'm with Monbvol 100% there... the last game I ran (here, on the previous incarnation of the board) was based on a specific situation, and I gave the players the various parameters they had to work with.  The DropShip in the game was completely under NPC control.

babayaga

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #23 on: 08 January 2018, 23:39:59 »
I'm coming late to the discussion but, basically, the two most fundamental questions would be
1) How, from a story point of view, would the characters have their hands on something that potentially costs hundreds of millions of C-bills?
2) How would the dropship be used in play - how would it benefit the characters?

I tend to find that most characters who ask for a Dropship just want to use it to move around on a consistent basis, possibly with a lot of luggage (e.g. a lance of Mechs); maybe they want to play space pirates, or maybe they envision a Traveller-type campaign. In any case, a Dropship is a lot of money that only the most bizarre, or extravagantly rich character (10TP+ in property?) would keep "parked at the local spaceport"; most Dropships are in actual, heavy use, by either military or commercial organizations. For a comparison with the modern world, imagine a 400-passenger plane. If one of my players in a "contemporary" rpg made a character and said "yeah, I want him to have a 400-passenger plane, so that, yeah, I can just go around and make a little profit now and then" I'd ... ask for more. I'd ask him if he wants to pilot one, or if he wants to be an air industry tycoon etc.

Are your characters pirates? If they are, then the question of who owns the ship is probably moot. It's who commands the ship (and its crew ... and the Jumpship ...) that matters. Appropriate Rank buys authority (and responsibility), and (as per the rules of Rank) a certain "minimum" income. More income? Take Property 'cause you will have to work for it (Extra Income is hassle free money).
Are your characters merchants? Then the ship is probably bound in a net of contractual obligations that, again, makes it moot who actually "owns it". What really matters how much freedom the characters have in deciding their markets, and how much profit they are making - whether it's theirs, but they are repaying a long-term loan to the bank, or whether it belongs to the bank, does not matter.

I've tackled the same questions not with Dropships, but with the "property" of small mercenary outfit made by Mechwarrior PCs. 3 out of 4, including the Rank 5 commander, declined to own their vehicles - who owned them? The answer is "the outfit". Rank allows you freedom of what to do, within the parameters of the organization. Property/extra income gives you a share of the actual economic value/return (more, but with lots of obligations, the former - less but with a lot of freedom the latter). You can take either, or both. Or none, and just be a client or a worker with little authority and just earning your salary.

Tslammer

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #24 on: 27 February 2018, 14:38:32 »
Usually the drop ship is not player owned it is owned by the unit.

Since I have considered playing or at least fleshing out the drop ship captain I would refer back to the MW2 companion. It has a trait table for drop ships. Then compare trait costs and adjust for ATOW.



Lamont-Cranston

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #25 on: 29 March 2018, 21:16:57 »
If you're playing a game where you move around a lot, going from planet to planet and system to system raiding or hunting information/people in a relatively short span of time, a DropShip would become useful and its Captain have something to contribute.

If you're on a garrison for a year+ its crew and captain would just be sitting at the port playing pool or poker and drinking until pirates raid and you decide to follow them back to camp :\
« Last Edit: 30 June 2018, 00:25:12 by Lamont-Cranston »

eyal12

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #26 on: 29 June 2018, 12:55:09 »
Having a Dropship at the player's beck and call is a major element of freedom. Dropship transport shortfalls are a major part of the setting even into the current eras.

So it really should be a big deal. thanks

Greatclub

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #27 on: 15 July 2018, 04:02:10 »
I'm remembering some text in a supers RPG called Mutants and Masterminds. Basically, you could buy interstellar travel or dimensional travel for you PC DIRT CHEAP. Like 5% or less of your total build. Why so cheap? Because those abilities aren't utility or combat powers, they're plot points.

Quote
The Time, Space, and Dimension Travel effects of Move-
ment are comparatively cheap considering what they do,
primarily because such special movement capabilities are
highly dependent on the plot and nature of the setting,
and subject to a lot of Gamemaster oversight. Thus, they
largely amount to supped-up Features, mainly allowing
heroes to visit exotic locales.

Dropships do add utility to a unit, in that they let the PCs move around on a planetary scale and have various facilities and equipment built in. But they add a lot of complications as well; cost, maintenance, the mortgage, cranky engineer, sensor footprint, the ship's requirement for security leashing them to it, whatever.

I'd say it depends on the GM, the group, the nature of the campaign, and how much control the PCs have over the dropship. Do they own the Leopard outright, and regularly assault hostile spaceports with it? Or is it an Overlord where the bank owns most of the ship, and has a representative on board that can over-ride them if they want to risk it?

Is it 3025, where you fight to capture dropships, not destroy them? Or is it 1st SW or the Jihad, where dropships attract nuke-equipped arrow missiles?
« Last Edit: 15 July 2018, 04:35:02 by Greatclub »

idea weenie

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #28 on: 18 July 2018, 02:08:49 »
The fun part is to make it a 3 step process:
1) Your unit does not have a Dropship, they have to move everything when they change stations, or trust that nobody will raid their base.  Dropship costs are high, but a nice long Garrison contract means they don't have to worry about that expense until the contract is over.  Players think that getting a Dropship means much more freedom.
2) Your unit now has a Dropship.  The fees for maintenance show up, and soon the players are trying to get as big of a cargo Dropship as they can to make money as well as going to hostile locations.  They soon realize that finding a Jumpship going their way is the problem, let alone bringing dependents along when they perform a raid (vs leaving the dependents behind)
3) Your unit now has a Dropship (or Dropships), and a Jumpship.  They realize that there are only a few locations that can do proper maintenance on Jumpships, so they may have to wait for a friendly yard to open up, or a neighboring House will offer them a bump in the queue if they just do this little favor first.

Dunia

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Re: Dropships: How does your group handle them?
« Reply #29 on: 18 July 2018, 16:03:17 »
I will make my group find an old dropship, one that crashed, then the tech will have need to repair it and they can go on missions to get spare parts
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