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Author Topic: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system  (Read 797 times)

rogueranger1993

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I've always loved Battletech - I remember fondly when I went to over to the trailer house owned by my friend's Uncle Bubby, and seeing his massive collection of Battletech minis and books when I was a wee lad in middle school, and then getting my ass handed to me when I tried to play the game for the first time... those are fond memories. I eventually forgot about Battletech when he moved away, but later rediscovered it, only to be shocked when I found out how deep the entire game ran beyond just the tabletop game I remembered. So, when I joined a local group of fellow gamers as a teenager, I was totally psyched to find the AToW RPG system, and snatched it up.

But then the problems started. Admittedly, I was young and dumb and not very good at being a game master at that point, but the game was also very in-depth and complex, and the group struggled to cope with the system every single time I tried to run a game, and thus all the games ended in failure. That's not to say the system is bad, most of the issue was my own inexperience, but it was also a bit too meaty for my player base at that time.

Now that I've moved to a different town, I'm struggling to assemble a new gaming group, and the few that I have are not the best players and certainly wouldn't appreciate AToW's complexity and gritty detail. I've been using the Savage Worlds system for them, since it's relatively easy to pick up and doesn't require a lot of work to play or prepare, and I just wondered... a quick google search later, and I discovered the document attached to this article. I haven't had the opportunity to use it yet, but from what I can see it is a pretty good conversion of the Battletech rules. In order to play, you will need three books; Total Warfare, the Savage Worlds Deluxe core rulebook, and the Savage Worlds Battletech pdf. The document is somewhat rough in layout, and I've honestly contemplated taking the rules within it and rewriting them in a new, more concise and complete (and better-looking) document, but so far my crippling disability called laziness has stopped me from attempting such a project. All that aside, it is a good setup - the rules use the regular tabletop game as the base and condense it - kind of like a middle ground between Alpha Strike and Total Warfare, and several solutions are quite elegant. It also uses the same dice system for both the vehicular combat and the character-scale combat, simplifying the game overall by not requiring any conversions in that regard.

Overall, it looks like it would work quite well, and I've decided to share my little discovery here in hopes that it will be able to serve players who may struggle with the full-out RPG and tabletop systems we currently have.

EDIT: Couldn't get the attachment to work, so here's a link to the place I downloaded the PDF from.
https://edoc.site/savage-battletech-rules-revision-12-pdf-free.html

1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

BiggRigg42

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #1 on: 31 July 2018, 12:52:03 »
If it works for you, then that is great. My group would not do well with Savage Worlds. I played it a couple of times and got bored to tears. However, Total Warfare is not the simplest game either; so, for a beginner group, starting off with Total Warfare and Savage Worlds might not be a bad idea, as it would be less likely to result in rules overload than AToW & TW would.

Still I don't know why people need to find a middle ground between Alpha Strike and TW. Just keep adding on the advanced rules of Alpha Strike until you have the level of required complexity.

ChaoticTabris

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #2 on: 31 July 2018, 23:14:25 »
If it works for you, then that is great. My group would not do well with Savage Worlds. I played it a couple of times and got bored to tears. However, Total Warfare is not the simplest game either; so, for a beginner group, starting off with Total Warfare and Savage Worlds might not be a bad idea, as it would be less likely to result in rules overload than AToW & TW would.

Still I don't know why people need to find a middle ground between Alpha Strike and TW. Just keep adding on the advanced rules of Alpha Strike until you have the level of required complexity.
That file was last updated in 2012 and Alpha Strike didn't come out until 2013 so i guess they were trying to create their own lighter version of the tabletop game for it. It's probably also older than the Scifi Compendium for Savage Worlds (released on 2014) which includes their own, non setting specific, mech rules.

I'm personally a big fan of Savage Worlds and it's sure going to be what i'll be using if my group does not like A Time of War but i would rather use it just for the out of mech portion of the game and have it plug into Total Warfare or Alpha Strike.

BiggRigg42

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #3 on: 01 August 2018, 10:10:35 »
Savage Worlds won't work for my group because I have advanced players. My players have gone through D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and GURPS--before hitting my AToW, TW, and AS campaign. However, if I was with a group who had never played any table top RPG or wargame before, I would be tempted to do Savage Worlds and AS.

rogueranger1993

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #4 on: 01 August 2018, 15:26:37 »
Quote
Still I don't know why people need to find a middle ground between Alpha Strike and TW. Just keep adding on the advanced rules of Alpha Strike until you have the level of required complexity.
As stated by ChaoticTabris, it was last updated from before Alpha Strike released, so it makes sense that they didn't take those rules into account. However, when I looked at the conversion rules they used, it seemed like they could easily be applied to Alpha Strike with a minimum of adaptation, and that's very likely what I would do during my games.

Honestly speaking, AToW is a really good system, and I really enjoy playing with it - all of my previous issues came from lack of experience, youthful stupidity, and lack of setting knowledge rather than system issues. The reason I intend to use the Savage Worlds conversion I linked is only because I'm running a beginner group who previously struggled with the complexity of AToW + TW when I tried to run it before, even with the help of MegaMek. So this let's me play Battletech with my current group, and I'm just sincerely grateful that I can have that opportunity at all - my area currently suffers from a severe lack of any gaming groups, tabletop or otherwise.

I fully understand that most players won't use it, I probably wouldn't either if I could get away with using the full system. I just wanted to put this up here so that people who might have a use for it could find it more easily. After all, if this can help bring new people into the Batletech fanbase, why not? We can always use more Batletech fans!  :thumbsup:

1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

ChaoticTabris

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #5 on: 04 August 2018, 01:42:16 »
Savage Worlds won't work for my group because I have advanced players. My players have gone through D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and GURPS--before hitting my AToW, TW, and AS campaign. However, if I was with a group who had never played any table top RPG or wargame before, I would be tempted to do Savage Worlds and AS.
There is a big factor of personal preference with regards to this. Simpler systems are not liked only because of easy-of-use and accessibility, there is a reason they have become more popular during the last decade, it has to do with how fast the game progresses. As an example, I would have a hard time playing Pathfinder or 3.5 nowadays because of how long the combat takes, specially at higher levels.

Another thing that influences the popularity of those games is how the average player nowadays is much older than it was in the past (Although more recently with the immense popularity of 5e  and of shows like Stranger Things this tendency might have slowed down or inverted). With so many players working full time, being married and having children, their playing time per month decreases and they look for faster systems so they can use their gaming time for efficiently. This rise on the demand for lighter, faster systems also applies to Battletech and imho is part of the reason why Alpha Strike was made in the first place.

Savage Worlds is known for it's motto: "Fast! Fun! Furious!" and was a forerunner of this move towards faster game systems. Funny enough Savage Worlds came from a miniature game called Great Rail Wars. The authors tried using it as a RPG system one day and really enjoyed the speed of combat and the possibility to include more enemies or allies without slowing down the gameplay.

As for me, I feel weirdly divided on the issue. I'm a big fan of complex simulations but at the same time i enjoy the lighter, faster RPGs and my players are very experienced but tend to enjoy more "indiesque" RPGs with more streamlined rules and faster gameplay.

BiggRigg42

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #6 on: 04 August 2018, 02:09:52 »

I don't think the below quote is true. Simpler systems are not liked because the simplicity has a trade off: the simpler the system, the less granular and more abstract the game becomes. A system with more rules is going to be able to account for more things in a more standard or detailed way. The draw back is having to learn more rules, but that learning curve comes with a pay off.


Simpler systems are not liked only because of easy-of-use and accessibility...

« Last Edit: 04 August 2018, 11:38:03 by BiggRigg42 »

ChaoticTabris

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Re: Battletech RPG and Tabletop for the Savage Worlds system
« Reply #7 on: 05 August 2018, 06:34:58 »
I don't think the below quote is true. Simpler systems are not liked because the simplicity has a trade off: the simpler the system, the less granular and more abstract the game becomes. A system with more rules is going to be able to account for more things in a more standard or detailed way. The draw back is having to learn more rules, but that learning curve comes with a pay off.


Simpler systems are not liked only because of easy-of-use and accessibility...
I think it depends. I can definitely understand that systems like A Time of War and Rolemaster have an unparalleled amount of details and there is no simple way to have such level of detail on a lighter, faster system. But i do think it's important to remember a few things.

Some times that complexity comes from just poor design. I don't have enough experience with ATOW to point anything like that but a good example for D&D 3.x/Pathfinder was the over abundance of extra attacks or other forms of action with different rolls as levels went up. The whole BAB progression was problematic in that at higher levels almost every character would have multiple attacks with different modifiers, resulting in much longer turns. Since those extra attacks were basically universal (although some classes had more attacks than others) they didn't even add as much uniqueness or "coll-factor" to characters and resulted in slowing the speed of the game without adding much simply because they were needed to retain the balance (As it's a system where balance is extremely important). In 5e there are still ways to get multiple attacks but they come from specific abilities and are far more limited, this both makes them more unique and significantly speeds up combat.

Now... To continue i think it's important to discuss 3 concepts on GMing and on RPG Design:

1 - The Level of Crunch: You are probably familiar with the concepts of crunch and fluffy. Basically the more complex a system is, the crunchier it is. This is influenced by the other two concepts but is ultimately independent from them.

2 - Player Types: The amazing "Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering", while old and in several aspects dated, opened my eyes for this essential concept when GMing or designing RPGs. It's pretty simple, different players play the game for different reasons, they want different things out of the game. Robin identify several player archetypes, while cautioning that most players are a mixture of both. Those archetypes are Power-Gamer, which wants to be the best and maximize his characters; the Butt-Kicker, which wants escapism through doing cool and interesting things in game; the Tactician, which wants to be mentally challenged by the game and find ways to solve hard conflicts or problems; the Specialist, which wants to be really good at one specific thing and experience it; The Method Actor, which wants to immerse himself on the character and on the world; the Storyteller, which wants to create an interesting collaborative history; and the Casual Gamer which is either only there out of obligation or is there not for the game itself but for the social aspect of playing it.

3 - The GNS Theory: This theory on game design divides game systems into archetypes which, like with the player types with real players, exist in a certain degree but in different proportions on every game. GNS stands for Gamist, which indicates systems which focus on the game,challenge and balance aspects RPG and are usually exemplified by Dungeons and Dragons; Narrativist, which indicates systems which focus on the construction of a collaborative narrative and storyline, exemplified by games like FATE and Dogs in The Vineyard; and Simulationist, which focus on simulating the proposed world (or worlds) and would include not only systems like Rolemaster, GURPS and A Time of War but also Savage Worlds, Tri-Stat dX, Vampire: The Masquerade and many others.

Now my point is: Not every player or system wants a high level of crunch. To the player of the Storyteller type having a crunchier system might both curtain his freedom to create the story he wants but also result on him spending less time doing what he wants, he would probably prefer a narrativist system with less crunch (Like FATE). The power-gamer and the tactician will probably want crunchier systems or at least a minimal level of crunch (like Savage Worlds, which is light in comparison to ATOW but slow in comparison to FATE) while staying on the Gamist and Simulationist sides of the GNS theory.

ATOW is a simulationist system with a high level of crunch which caters to the tactician player more than any other type and there is absolutly nothing wrong with that. Personally i would say that i would fit on the Method Actor and Tactician player types. The tactician in me wants this minimal amount of crunch but the Method Actor will adapt to any system, enjoying the abstraction of rules present on FATE and Burning Wheel but also liking how ATOW and Savage Worlds help through simulation to bring the world to life in a way that facilitates immersion while having systems that will create interesting surpises which will give me the opportunity to improvise and thing aobut my character on a different way.

Sorry for the long and convoluted post but my point is exactly that, different systems for different players with different motives on why they enjoy RPGs.
« Last Edit: 05 August 2018, 16:48:58 by ChaoticTabris »

 

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