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Author Topic: campaign thoughts  (Read 732 times)

KP

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campaign thoughts
« on: 12 March 2019, 02:27:01 »
Hello, just sitting down planning through a campaign start for some friends and thought I would generate some feedback about the ideas I had, and maybe mine for some more if they struck anyone. Through all of the ideas, the common thread that ties them tends to be era, I prefer 3025'ish, they all involve big stompy robots, and the books we would be using; Which in this case would be a time of war for rpg elements, and total war for mech fisticuffs.

#1 Space vikings with katanas
Players control students at a regional academy on a homebrew planet within the rasalhague military district, particularly within the region that was prior the principality of rasalhague; The planet itself has complicated loyalties, because while it might have had strong nordic ties at founding, mass emigration from the combine after the principality was shanghaied by the dragon has seen generations of once foreign families take root.  With any luck, and timeskipping, this campaign would stretch to the ronin war, after a few arcs.  What I like about this concept is that the academy bit gives me plenty of chances to teach the players the rules of total war piecemeal, the stereotypes that apply to both the major cultures in the area make them easy for new players to grasp, and I really like the play on divided loyalties that can run through that style game.

#2 Castles and crusades
Players control the scions of several minor noble houses, all long exiled from the federated suns shortly after the title of prince started becoming popular with the davions. After their banishment, the nobles claimed several planets in the periphery and formed their own system government, with blackjack and hookers. This campaign would be a bit more freeform, revolving around the houses being at conflict, maintaining their power against common foes, and perhaps even trying to give the fedsuns a kick, even if a toddler strength one, during the succession wars. What I like about this concept, is that there is a great deal of room for social maneuvering as well as piloting rolls, I like that the 'power level' will likely be more tame simply because a periphery world isn't going to sport ten regiments of battlemechs, and honestly, I feel theres a lot more room for playing around with things without running ramshackle over planets and regiments writers have long since written up.

Now, I had a few more ideas, but most of them were samey to these two in some way (replace ronin war with anton's civil war, or humphries attempted stroll over house liao, and so on).  Obviously, both ideas have some pretty glaring downsides too - one requires a fair bit of worldbuilding up front, the other ... well, vikings and samurai might be really easy for my players to grasp, but it still sounds a teeny bit like a saturday morning cartoon - and thats not likely to change regardless of how many cockpits get hit. Anyways, thoughts on the two above? Or I'd be happy to hear ideas, just ... ideally those revolving around a 3025'ish (or a bit earlier or later) timeline.

BiggRigg42

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #1 on: 12 March 2019, 11:27:29 »
I just read your first idea and will read your second one later. The idea of using an academy to teach the players the game whilst role-playing can work. I did it with a clan Jade Falcon campaign. The players started off in a sibco. They had a drill sergeant--named Jonna--who would break the 4th wall by teaching them how to, say, engage in melee combat by rolling 2d6 adding their martial arts skill and what not. It was good fun.

Daryk

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #2 on: 12 March 2019, 20:08:22 »
I like the outline of your first idea better, and you said Anton, so I have to give that several thumbs up!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Anton's Revolt has SO much possibility, and makes for fantastic background in the pre-clan era.  If the players side with Anton, the end of the war becomes a scramble to get OUT of the League ("I hear Galatea is wonderful this time of year...").  If they don't, they get to spend the rest of their lives looking sideways at anyone close to the same age as them (pardons or no).

One particular character I made using Anton's Revolt as background can be found in this thread.

skiltao

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #3 on: 14 March 2019, 22:27:02 »
Anyways, thoughts on the two above? Or I'd be happy to hear ideas

Both ideas look solid. Is there a particular kind of feedback you're after? I wouldn't worry about running ramshackle over planets and regiments that are already written - the whole point of writing them is to make games easier to run. If there's a point at which they stop making things easier, then that's the point where you should start running ramshackle over them.

Normally I'd offer additional campaign ideas, but for some reason, every time I try I just get hung up on ways to combine your existing ones.

...In the "academy" campaign, I'm a little uneasy starting the players as students. A little bit because it's cliche, and a little bit because it can be off-putting as a player to start out as less than a mook. Which isn't an entirely rational objection on my part, I know. Since this is a multi-generational campaign, it might be interesting to do the academy teaching games as planned, but don't totally stat the students out; keep them as cardboard cut outs / back ups, with the real PCs being older characters responsible for taking the young cadets / graduates under their wings. Then when you time jump the older characters retire and the younglings get bumped up to full characters and each player gets a new young cardboard cut out. So every player has two characters (one PC and one PC-lite) and there's continuity every time you jump.
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Elmoth

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #4 on: 15 March 2019, 04:12:39 »
All the 3 brush wars (anton's revolt, andurien crisis, ronimn wars) are great campaign escenarios. The Illyrian palatinate - Circinus federation, and the Lothian league - Marian hegemony wars are great as well.

If you go for your second idea, I would recommend Liam's Ghost collaborative planet design threads to milk for ideas, since it is great stuff. 
https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=56875.0
https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=57008.0

I do not know your gaming group, but mine prefers shorter story arcs. As such, I prefer not to anticipate long campaigns too much, since they are bound to fail at some point. Short intense stuff works better,. at least for my group (and I have found a lot of other similar gorups as well through the years). As such, I would make the academy part be minimal and go straight for the big things. At planetary level at least. Like they are on their first real mech exercises after simulator sessions and then pirates strike. or a rebel cell strikes. Or the tamar pact strikes. Whatever,. Some battles and having to save stuff when they basically suck. Running might be a clear option.

The planetary thing can be good. In that case I would put them in the same faction or house. They are all Atreides or Atreides subjects. And then we have the harbonnens manoeuvering to get the upper hand on the planet, and the fremen acting as a separate faction as well as the Emperor agents. Or whatever, you get the idea. otherwise you are likely to have player vs player battles, or a playert that sides with another faction and then you get a divided group (the horror).

I like the second idea better if you are not using the Rhasalague conflicts early, but that is up to you and your interests :)

KP

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #5 on: 17 March 2019, 21:58:55 »
Both ideas look solid. Is there a particular kind of feedback you're after?

I think I got most of what I needed to narrow ideas, thanks all! The mention of the academy's upside, and the worse side of it and how it might feel a bit 'powered down' both gave me a bit more to think about; Mostly in how I might address any concerns players might have.

I settled on playing an academy based game, but shortly before anton's revolt; One poster seemed excited by the idea, and to be honest I had been on the fence between that and the ronin war myself anyways - and on the upside I don't need to worry about annoying my SO by entirely mangling her people's language while world-building. I settled on the academy, largely because none of these players are at all familiar with the game, the systems, or the setting - it might be a bit cliche, but it gives me enough wiggle room to introduce things piecemeal without dropping an actual textbook down in front of them. Besides, I'm going to steal the chance to give a few of them dueling scars.  I'm, personally, not too worried about them feeling overly weak at any point, save those points they -should- be challenged at, because largely even in 'training' bouts they're pitting themselves against other students - relatively, the balance should be fine. I hope.

I'll post up a bit more in the appropriate part of the forum later, once I've some more world-building done, but I thought I'd put another question to folks;  At a mech-oriented military academy, how would training look, actual mech training? I envision probably simulator time, coupled with live-fire training in lighter mechs largely, but what would wargames look like? Is there such a thing as 'dud' ac rounds or missiles that don't detonate on impact? If a smoke artillery shell hits the square you're standing in, does it deal damage? A weird few questions, I know ;p

Once again, thanks everyone for the feedback.

Daryk

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #6 on: 18 March 2019, 04:29:34 »
Fantastic, I look forward to seeing how your campaign develops.

Lots of stories talk about "training mode" for 'mechs that dials down the energy weapons and simulates missiles.  Autocannons are usually described as firing blanks, and having their effects simulated.  Physical attacks are usually prohibited during these kind of exercises.  Smoke rounds won't do any damage to armored targets, but I wouldn't want to be an infantryman where one lands.

Phalanx

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Re: campaign thoughts
« Reply #7 on: 18 March 2019, 08:02:57 »
I think I got most of what I needed to narrow ideas, thanks all! The mention of the academy's upside, and the worse side of it and how it might feel a bit 'powered down' both gave me a bit more to think about; Mostly in how I might address any concerns players might have.

I settled on playing an academy based game, but shortly before anton's revolt; One poster seemed excited by the idea, and to be honest I had been on the fence between that and the ronin war myself anyways - and on the upside I don't need to worry about annoying my SO by entirely mangling her people's language while world-building. I settled on the academy, largely because none of these players are at all familiar with the game, the systems, or the setting - it might be a bit cliche, but it gives me enough wiggle room to introduce things piecemeal without dropping an actual textbook down in front of them. Besides, I'm going to steal the chance to give a few of them dueling scars.  I'm, personally, not too worried about them feeling overly weak at any point, save those points they -should- be challenged at, because largely even in 'training' bouts they're pitting themselves against other students - relatively, the balance should be fine. I hope.

I'll post up a bit more in the appropriate part of the forum later, once I've some more world-building done, but I thought I'd put another question to folks;  At a mech-oriented military academy, how would training look, actual mech training? I envision probably simulator time, coupled with live-fire training in lighter mechs largely, but what would wargames look like? Is there such a thing as 'dud' ac rounds or missiles that don't detonate on impact? If a smoke artillery shell hits the square you're standing in, does it deal damage? A weird few questions, I know ;p

Once again, thanks everyone for the feedback.

So here are my recommendations:
1) For Energy Weapons:
- Damage is 1/2
2) For Physical Attacks:
- Prohibited, unless you specifically allow(I would have one scenario, just so they know how to use and defend against physical attacks)
- Apply damage and effects normally(You want to nail home why physical attacks are so rare, which means you need to take them to the school of Literal Hard Knocks  :D)
3) Other Weapons and Combat effects:
- Ignore Mechwarrior Hits
- If the attack would force a Piloting Roll to check for falling, do not apply falling damage if they fail. Instead, simply have them out of the fight for one round(as if they were rolling to check for consciousness). The key is to drive home the point that if they fall, there is a good chance that they will get knocked out and be unable to fight back. For this reason, apply the Prone modifier as normal.
- Critical Checks are automatic failures
- Ignore any damage that gets past armor.
4) What if a Mech receives an internal and/or critical hit from an energy weapon?
- Make sure there are roleplay consequences. Maybe the mech was so damaged, it makes it unusable for some time while its being repaired(so the next group that is set to use the Training Ground has to take something much worse, which could engender a rivalry with your player cadets.)

5) I would say about 3-4 Simulated Scenarios(Ignore Mechwarrior Hits, and remove all damage after the battle is over),3-4 "Training Mode" Scenarios. and then 1-2 Live Fire Exercises(Full effects). At least 1-2 of these should be unscheduled fights with a rival group(let that emerge from roleplay). Make sure to throw in some Combined Arms(including Aerospace) to get them used to fighting other units(but also to reinforce the idea of Battlemechs as "Lords of the Battlefield").

6) The Simulated Scenarios should be objective based and determined by the overall makeup of the Playergroup Mech Lance. If for some reason, one or more of you players does not have their own mech(factor this into roleplay by enforcing the shame of being Mechless), what you can do is implement a rating system in a player can be "Qualified" to pilot a certain Mech Class. For this only Light, Medium, and Heavy should be permitted. It should not be a point-based tiered system, like the ATOW Vehicle Ownership Trait, but specific courses they must pass in order to qualify. This would create a team dynamic by forcing the group to compromise. For example, if your SO is piloting a Heavy, but "Jimmy" wants to qualify to be a Light Mech Pilot, she would need to be convinced to take a "Scouting Class".

7) No matter if one or ALL your Playergroup has their own mechs, they should not be permitted to use their own mechs in EVERY scenario(If you want to be nice, you can do this by applying an additional EDG to Non-Simulated scenarios where they are using their own mechs). This would get this used to the idea that if their own Mech is destroyed, they would be forced to pilot something else, which may not be similar to their own mech.

8) If the Players have no prior agreement on who the "leader" of the group will be, you can let that emerge naturally from roleplay. In each scenario , give a different member the chance to be in charge. What you will notice is that eventually player groups(especially if filled with people who have played other games together), will naturally find their own preferences in terms of combat roles.

9) I would throw in 1-2 "Ground Combat" scenarios, beyond the standard "Barroom Brawl"(I would recommend at least 1 of those). My recommendation would be a "Rush to the Mechbay" Scenario(get to your mech before the bad guys shoot you!) and a Survival Scenario(this would allow some chances for character development, group bonding, and exploration of the planet itself).

10a) Training Accidents happen. If you really want to drive home the "Live if Cheap. Mechs are Not.". You can introduce a character then have them die in an offscreen training accident. For adding impact, you can make the dead character someone your group knows, but is NOT a Mechwarrior and allow them to note the differing attitudes among their fellow student.
10b)By the same token, you can also replicate the Starship Troopers moment where the list of the Buenos Ares Dead are listed(creating the same accident). The rush of students to learn about if a close family member or friend died. Maybe there are students from the impacted world. This would allow you to reinforce the idea that the Third Succession War is going on and for many people has become quite personal.

11a) You can take a que from Harry Potter.
By that I mean is to have Instructors for different subjects and with different personalities, but also different political opinions.Are some Anti- Liao, Anti-Lyran, Pro-Andurien, or Anti-Janos? FWL is known for its antibionic bias, which means some Professors could be obviously discriminatory against students with bionics, or you could have a Professor who has bionics and is real prick because of the discrimination they have had to face. FWL lost some Periphery worlds during the Early SW, do some seem interested in a new "Reconsquista" of the Periphery Barbarians?.

11b) Here are Some Instructor Archtypes I thought about:
- Instructor "Marwhawn Lynch"(If you know the NFL, you will know where I am going here.   ;)) : From the Duchy of Andurien. He is suspected of being a spy for the Duchy, but in reality is here because every opportunity in the Duchy was taken. He is here to collect a paycheck and NOTHING else. Assigns the BARE MINIMUM of work(and thus a favorite for many of the students).
- Instructor "Ironside": A Grizzled Veteran Mechwarrior with a terrible disposition, but a Pro-Marik Patriot(Michael Ironside's character in Starship Troopers).May have a bionic limb. Hates Lyrans\Capellans\Pirates(Also hates Andurien and Regulans for all their secession talk). Supports Janos devoutly.
- Instructor "Woz": A Tech Genius Prodigy that is apolotical, but obsessed with Technology. He seems to have an interest in LosTech. Carries a chip on his shoulder about being rejected from Comstar, but won't say why.
- Instructor "Sarah Connor": Infantry Instructor. Has a vitriolic hatred of mechwarriors and enjoys making them suffer through her training. From the Marik Commonwealth(totally Pro-House Marik)
- Instructor "Studied Abroad": You know that person who studied abroad and won't shut up about it? Well this Instructor is that cubed. Either working for a Big Interstellar Corp or as a Mercenary, this Instructor is well travelled and will talk your ear off about the differences of other Nation's cultures. They can accurately replicate a Kuritan Tea Ceremony or tell you the "real scoop" on Solaris Gladiators or has a copy of the Capellan Citizenship Exam(and brags about being able to pass it with flying colors). Their interest in everywhere else has brought them under suspicion from SAFE, but they are kept because they have very powerful friends in the government and Pro-Janos.
- Instructor "Caffeine": They are ALWAYS upbeat and no one knows why. They are the opposite of "Marshawn Lynch" in that they WANT to teach students. They can be very old or very young, but are enthusiastic about what they do(not out of patriotism, but a general love of teaching). They only drawback is that they are constantly under suspicion because they are Regulan.
- Instructor "Love the League, but hate the Captain-General": This Instructor is a Patriot, but not a House Marik supporter.  In this person's view, House Marik has used Resolution 288(and you can use interacting with them as a means to teach your party about the Resolution) as a means to subvert the FWL Charter of Incorporation and that his refusal to appoint an heir that the Parliament can approve only is confirmation that Janos wants to be an immortal tyrant until he can find someone to mold into a "Janos clone" to take his place when he dies. That being said, this Instructor takes accusations of being a Successionist very seriously and regards both Anduriens and Regulan students with distrust.
11c) Courses: Based on character creation in ATOW, your characters are in Year 2 where they are getting into Mechs in preparation for graduation and a field assignment.
- Mech Combat
- Survival
- Mech Field Repair
- FWL History
- Combined Arms



 

12) Is the Academy Planet itself involved in the war?
If not, you can also organize a brief battle, and then come up with a reason why the conflict was covered up in the official record(many roleplayers love a good Gubmint conspiracy  ;D). After that, you can then deploy them to the front lines, sworn to secrecy about the event.

13) Let your group choose if and when to switch sides.
Your group are battletech novices, so even if they know that Anton loses, perhaps you provide enticement early in the campaign to make him the preferred choice. You could have characters and news reports mention that Janos is getting old and has yet to declare an heir. Maybe Gerald Marik comes for a visit and talks up Anton. If your group does not care either way, you can put the pressure on them as Anton's Revolt draws near to force them to pick a side.

13b)If they think they are clever, read Historical: Brush Wars(or check Sarna) behind your back, and ask to be assigned to a planet that they know is not the side of a recorded battle, then set a trap for them: Allow them to pick the planet. If they pick with a known unit, you can use the source material to determine where that unit's loyalties lie and put more peer pressure on the group. Then you make sure there is a something juicy that both sides want to secure(a hidden Star League-era cache, natural resources, a supply depot. Individual IS planets may not have major factories listed, but they must have some production capacity for common stuff like medium lasers.). Finally, you have the planet raided. Are they pirates reported to be hired by Anton?, a genuine raiding party from a Pro-Anton or Loyalist Unit?, a False Flag by the other side?(depending on the location, it could also be the Lyrans or Liao who staged it and you can have the players uncover the mystery of who really did it.)

14) Anton's announcement was given in May,and writing this thread made me realize how brilliant of a move that was on his part. Many Higher Educational institutions end their Academic Year in May, so this would mean that students would be either graduating or headed home before taking their field assignments. This would allow them to go back home and see where their families and neighbors stood. Remember that most mechwarriors are nobility, so whoever a family support means that not only do their retainers support, but it means the companies they own or the planets they control follow(minor nobility can allow a foothold if the top noble on their world has picked a different side.). Even if all was quiet on the homefront, they could be recruited and trained as agents for the other side before taking an assignment.

15) Another thing to consider is whether your players are hired to fill out the ranks of a mercenary unit. Maybe not permanently, but maybe a two year stint somewhere they THINK is going to be quiet. Or maybe all the good units are taken, but there just happens to be some Merc Units hiring. Or maybe the Merc Units are offering higher pay and a chance to see the galaxy(this can roll into the ultimate objectives for your group and how attached to their homeland are they? If things are getting this hot, perhaps having an easy way OUT might be an option of they pick the losing side.).

 
« Last Edit: 18 March 2019, 09:26:00 by Phalanx »

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