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Author Topic: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?  (Read 1196 times)

kronovan

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So I was reading posts on another RPG forum and I came across a poster making the claim that the original 1st edition of MechWarrior was based upon, or an evolution of the Travellers RPG. That's the first time I've ever heard such a claim, but it's been decades since I played Travellers and I never played MechWarrior 1, so I personally wouldn't know for certain.

I'm wondering if one of the more seasoned BattleTech RPG players or GMs here can confirm or dismiss this claim for me?

BiggRigg42

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #1 on: 03 April 2018, 18:36:46 »
Based on the research I have done, Jordan W. first created Travellers, then he created the Star Trek RPG; after which, he created the Battletech RPG. Jordan W. was a big D&D fan growing up. So, I suspect that Travelers is basically D&D with all of Jordan's house rules. I have never played Travelers though. I'm just guessing.

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #2 on: 03 April 2018, 18:44:31 »
So I was reading posts on another RPG forum and I came across a poster making the claim that the original 1st edition of MechWarrior was based upon, or an evolution of the Travellers RPG. That's the first time I've ever heard such a claim, but it's been decades since I played Travellers and I never played MechWarrior 1, so I personally wouldn't know for certain.

I'm wondering if one of the more seasoned BattleTech RPG players or GMs here can confirm or dismiss this claim for me?

Being "an evolution" is a nebulous claim.  The entire pen-n-paper RPG industry can be said to be "an evolution" of D&D and Chainmail before it.  I only ever played Traveller back in the 1980s and never owned my own books for it, so my memory is pretty vague on the mechanics.  But from what I remember of it, any of 1st Ed's similarities are only superficial or coincidental- inevitable that any two Tabletop RPGs are going to have some similarities.

ColBosch

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #3 on: 03 April 2018, 18:53:29 »
Traveller was first published by Game Designer's Workshop. Jordan Weisman was not involved, though the late Loren Wiseman was. GDW was very liberal with their licensing and many companies produced supplements for Traveller, including BITS, Paranoia Press, and yes, FASA. However, even a cursory comparison between Traveller and MechWarrior 1e shows that they are very different games. For example, Traveller uses random dice rolls to create a character along a life path system, while MW1e uses a points-buy system. While it's certain that Jordan Weisman had played earlier RPGs and used what he learned to make MechWarrior 1e, that's true of just about every game designer and game. Someone online is talking out of their third point of contact.

Based on the research I have done, Jordan W. first created Travellers, then he created the Star Trek RPG; after which, he created the Battletech RPG. Jordan W. was a big D&D fan growing up. So, I suspect that Travelers is basically D&D with all of Jordan's house rules. I have never played Travelers though. I'm just guessing.

Traveller is not related - at all - to D&D, and Jordan Weisman had no part in developing either of them. Also, he didn't create the Star Trek RPG. That was published by FASA but developed out-of-house by Guy MicLimore's FantaSimulations.

(Kevin Siembieda's Palladium Fantasy Roleplaying Game is his take on AD&D, with his own house rules added. Perhaps that's what you were thinking of?)
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epic

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #4 on: 03 April 2018, 18:54:49 »
traveller and mw 1st edition had not much in common. 

For starters, your character couldn't die in creation in mw1.  Traveller... you could. 

I would say that traveller and FASA star trek rpg DID have some commonalities with character creation.  Star Trek also had the possibility that your character could die in creation (an attempt at an Andorian Captain did just that for me, at one point).

Tables.  Lots of tables. 

MW1 was more about point spending, less about luck on dice rolls. 
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Daryk

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #5 on: 03 April 2018, 18:59:43 »
I agree with the others that say they're not related.  My first edition MechWarrior book is within 10 feet of me right now... I'm not sure where my wife's Traveler books are, but I have read them (and made many attempts to make characters... most of which died in creation).

kronovan

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #6 on: 03 April 2018, 19:09:41 »
Thanks for the replies, that was sort of my impression of it and thanks for confirming. Admittedly I played  AD&D 1e the most back in the days when Travellers was still a relatively new thing on the RPG scene. We did however blend the 2 together a few times to homebrew a sort of SciFi-Fantasy concoction - pretty weird end results though. I'd forgotten about a PC being able to die in Travellers during creation - yikes! I never played the Star Trek RPG either, despite being a huge fan of the setting back then and the ToS movies being new to theaters.

BiggRigg42

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #7 on: 03 April 2018, 19:12:24 »
Traveller was first published by Game Designer's Workshop. Jordan Weisman was not involved, though the late Loren Wiseman was. GDW was very liberal with their licensing and many companies produced supplements for Traveller, including BITS, Paranoia Press, and yes, FASA. However, even a cursory comparison between Traveller and MechWarrior 1e shows that they are very different games. For example, Traveller uses random dice rolls to create a character along a life path system, while MW1e uses a points-buy system. While it's certain that Jordan Weisman had played earlier RPGs and used what he learned to make MechWarrior 1e, that's true of just about every game designer and game. Someone online is talking out of their third point of contact.

Traveller is not related - at all - to D&D, and Jordan Weisman had no part in developing either of them. Also, he didn't create the Star Trek RPG. That was published by FASA but developed out-of-house by Guy MicLimore's FantaSimulations.

(Kevin Siembieda's Palladium Fantasy Roleplaying Game is his take on AD&D, with his own house rules added. Perhaps that's what you were thinking of?)

Thanks for fact checking me. I did find that Jordan W. apparently made some adventures for Traveler. I must have read some bad stuff (or have been drunk while I was reading) one day. Sorry about that.

kronovan

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #8 on: 04 April 2018, 15:59:54 »
Actually...now that I checked back to the source, I was errant in my reporting of what that person was claiming - sorry about that. They were claiming that the BattleTech tabletop evolved out of Travellers. That strikes me as also being incorrect, but my only recollection of FASA's original BattleTech is when it showed up on the shelves at the local comic shop back in the 80's.
« Last Edit: 04 April 2018, 16:59:48 by kronovan »

ColBosch

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #9 on: 04 April 2018, 17:50:45 »
Traveller. No "s." ;) And that is even more wrong-headed. BattleTech has a couple of similarities with Traveller - the JumpShip/DropShip dynamic, for example, is comparable to Trav's "battle riders" - but far more differences. In fact, pretty much everything else is different.
BattleTech is a huge house, it's not any one fan's or "type" of fans.  If you need to relieve yourself, use the bathroom not another BattleTech fan. - nckestrel
1st and 2nd Succession Wars are not happy times. - klarg1
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skiltao

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #10 on: 05 April 2018, 13:08:30 »
Without disagreeing with what other people have said so far, I must point out that it's unwise to pass judgment without knowing exactly where the guy is claiming to see continuity between the systems.

One specific claim I remember seeing ten years ago or so was that BattleTech uses the same volumetric tons (based on 1000kg of liquid hydrogen) that Traveller does. I forget the math on that, and whether it was supposed to relate to DropShips or BattleMechs.

If we were to look for continuity between the MechWarrior and Traveller RPGs, it's worth noting that character creation is only one part of an RPG, and the choice between life paths and pointbuy is only one part of character creation. You can't draw a meaningful conclusion without also comparing the ability and skill lists, how scores are scaled, how advancement works, and so on - not to mention travel times, communication, and other parts of play. For instance, I notice that MechWarrior divides equipment into Tech Levels, which is something I know Traveller also does, and I have to wonder if Traveller's implementation is more similar (or, just as important for the question at hand, complementary) to MechWarrior's than the implementations in Star Trek or Doctor Who are.
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ColBosch

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #11 on: 05 April 2018, 16:53:03 »
Tech levels is a very common mechanic in science fiction RPGs. I don't even think Traveller was the first to do so.
BattleTech is a huge house, it's not any one fan's or "type" of fans.  If you need to relieve yourself, use the bathroom not another BattleTech fan. - nckestrel
1st and 2nd Succession Wars are not happy times. - klarg1
Check my Ogre Flickr page! https://flic.kr/s/aHsmcLnb7v and https://flic.kr/s/aHsksV83ZP

skiltao

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #12 on: 05 April 2018, 17:20:23 »
Having multiple RPGs to compare makes it easier to notice or rule out points of commonality or complementarity in those mechanics, yeah.
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Drop Bear

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Re: Question about the Origins of the Original MechWarrior RPG?
« Reply #13 on: 05 April 2018, 22:23:36 »
FASA really got their start publishing third party supplements and adventurers for Travller, in the opinion of much of the (Classic) Travller  community almost all the best 3rd party stuff came from FASA, Heck FASA stuff makes it on to many peoples Trav top 10 lists many times ahead of some GDW stuff.

its likely to say that putting out Trav books paid the Rent and Kept the Lights On wile FASA was working on Star Trek & Droids.


Without Trav today this would likely be a Mekton board and we'd be talking about if Agol, Empiere, Starblade, Invasion Terra or Gundam is the best world setting for the game.