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Author Topic: Forging the Future Protomechs  (Read 6312 times)

Korzon77

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Forging the Future Protomechs
« on: 21 October 2012, 05:08:25 »
This is for my forging the future AU-- note that I have a TON of freelance work nipping at my heels, so, this may not be completed quickly. It includes a lot of fluff, but I figured it would work better consolidated instead of putting it in the main thread and having people bouncing back and forth.  Lemme know if people think that should be changed:

Protomechs and the Clan Wars

Protomechs were actually developed right before the fall of the star league.  In fact, it was the restive nature of the periphery that lead to their initial development, as the Star League attempted to develop methods to engage dug in forces in cities that did not (always) result in the destruction of said cities.  The protomechs were to be part of an integrated combat team, including light powered armor and drone combat units, enabling the Star League to make use of its technological supremacy.

But the design floundered, and difficulties with the cybernetic control systems resulted in several test pilots dying, or suffering...unfortunate side effects. Other forces conspired against it, as many generals, still smarting over the transfer of funds to the CASPER systems, opposed such "frivolous" use of funds, arguing that the best way to subdue a city was to send a regiment of assault mechs in.

Work continued, but ceased with the Amaris coup and the new "emperor" was even less enamored by small combat systems than the SLDF had been.  The designs ended up mothballed, sitting in warehouses with their manuals neatly stacked beside them-- even Kerensky overlooked them.

And there they sat, for many years, until 3052, when sheer panic gave the Comstar/PSDF/Successor State alliance a certain impetus to find something-- anything that might turn the tide. 

by 3052 the Clans had conquered Tharkad, smashed Hesperus II's defenders and taken them and were threatening Luthien.  Deep raiding Clan forces had savaged many combat formations before they even realized they were being invaded.  The Warship forces of the Inner Sphere, mostly Comstar and PSDF were hopelessly outnumbered by the Clan forces, and the Clans had made themselves clear that any attempt to use orbital bombardment would be met with overwhelming retaliation.  Deep penetration raids against Clan shipping were helpful (and the Clan naval forces welcomed them, as it let them have some of  the fun).

But even so, the pause in 3052 had little to do with the Inner Sphere's defense and far more to do with the fact that the Clans had drastically overestimated how successful the Inner Sphere would be, and had not planned for such a fast advance. Even so, it was expected that by 3054 at the latest the advance would resume. 

It was during this time that  a number of researchers discovered the Protomech project.  the Star League era design files could be used to produce new designs, and more importantly, while complex, they were within the capability of a number of factories.  In fact, due to the smaller frames and the advantages of a more compact design, weight by weight they were nearly as effective as Clan frames, though their weapons were less effective, of course.

But most importantly, protomechs could be fielded in large numbers, and produced (or at least assembled) in relatively small facilities that would avoid the fate of the Defiance factories-- that could even be made more or less mobile, a point of some note if as many feared, the Clan invasion ended with the House's forced to fight an insurgency.

Finally, after some study by the best in the field, it was determined that the mental issues detected by the early researchers could be solved-- eventually, by a number of techniques. However, in the short term, by performing the operation on individuals between 15-17, it was believed that the worst of the effects would be eliminated.  Covertly, several researchers also pointed out that even if they weren't, it would maximize the usable careers of these soldiers.  The equipment itself was identical to the VDNI systems being prototyped and could even use the same style interfaces.

The innersphere, and for that matter the Periphery (which had its own opinion about legions of genetically engineered warrior's speaking of restoring the Star League) had no lack of volunteers. Lent urgency by the ever increasing chance the Clan's would advance once again Dozens of protomech factories were established.  Protomech designs ranged from the 4 ton Infantry support unit to the Ultraheavy Dragon protomech.

When the clans resumed their offensive in late 3054, they were caught off guard. Their own intelligence had assumed that the new units were simply large battlesuits and the presence of protomechs that could kill light mechs, even clan mechs, caught them completely off guard.  Suddenly, energy armed guerrilla protomech units were popping up on dozens of worlds, not least several regiments worth that were dropped on Tharkad, forcing Clan Snow Raven and NovaCat to divert forces intended for further offensive operations to try and pin down the maddening protomech forces. 

Of course, the battles were not one sided-- the stories of protomech units dropped on worlds, in many cases with no back up, expected to fight to delay the clans until they were destroyed, became a part of the lore of the Inner sphere. Depending on who one asked (and opinions were divided on both sides) they were either patriots or naive cannon fodder, sacrificed by the Cynical House Lords.   Many of the brave youths that marched onto their transports to cheering crowds would, by the 3060 truce, be bitter and cynical soldiers who had far too many ghosts living behind their eyes.

Nonetheless, the protomech and battlearmor forces flung into the fray in the 3050s provided the Inner sphere the time it needed to regenerate  its savaged mech units, which were able to block the Clan offensive long enough for the Truce of Terra to be signed.  The protomech forces would also play a major role in the 3063 Terran revolution and the subsequent founding of the Terran Union. 

A few rules notes:

Most protomechs are largely constructed with the same frame and engine as clan units-- the assumption here is that much of the "efficiency" of protomechs isn't just due to super materials but because you have a more compact, smaller unit. However armor uses the Inner Sphere rules on the IS protomech thread-- the Clan armor is better. Also, inner sphere weapons are used as given in that thread. Some proto's do mount clan weapons-- it was possible to outfit an entire platoon of protos for the cost of a single mech and you were less likely to lose all of them at once, so as clan tech was obtained, protomech units, especially elite units, like  Yvonne Steiner-Davion's regiment (later in the decade), tended to have a fair amount of clan tech. 

Secondly, there are two types of protomechs-- the first designs used the neural interface system we see in canon.  A later model made use of advanced VR control systems that didn't require a neural interface, being essentially a very large battle suit control system.  This system weighs the same as its companion, but it requires the proto have the following changes:
 piloting skill rolls are required for the same reasons on mechs, and that the "near miss" results on the hit location table are ignored and re-rolled.  (This is stolen from Cray's nomad mechs).   

The comstar/Inner Sphere forces have access to all sizes of protomechs, including ultraheavies.

Stormcrow

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #1 on: 21 October 2012, 09:07:29 »
I think in the future that ProtoMechs will disappear. By 3250, no one will remember that they even existed except as museum pieces.
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Red Pins

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #2 on: 21 October 2012, 11:28:04 »
The mechanical aspects are very similar to my own ideas, make sure you remember I want a copy of your projects!

I think in the future that ProtoMechs will disappear. By 3250, no one will remember that they even existed except as museum pieces.

...I doubt it.  Upgraded, with a newer neural interface maybe, but I don't see anybody throwing away the idea.
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Korzon77

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #3 on: 21 October 2012, 19:54:46 »
Yeah-- protomechs have a number of advantages over both battlemechs and BA, though obviously they work best as part of an integrated combat system.

Prince of Darkness

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #4 on: 21 October 2012, 20:50:14 »
I think in the future that ProtoMechs will disappear. By 3250, no one will remember that they even existed except as museum pieces.

With a squad of Ultraheavy proto's being able to outrun most 20-30 tonners or able to carry clan ER Large lasers?  That ain't gonna happen.
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ialdabaoth

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #5 on: 21 October 2012, 20:52:38 »
Honestly, I think the opposite will happen - Protomechs will become the 'default' configuration for anything under 20 tons, and 'ultralight' Battlemechs will disappear.

Korzon77

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #6 on: 21 October 2012, 21:16:51 »
I've often though that Btech has a weird development cycle in setting-- you'd think that the process woudl be Battlesuits > protomechs >battlemechs. 

Suralin

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #7 on: 22 October 2012, 03:13:09 »
Most protomechs are largely constructed with the same frame and engine as clan units-- the assumption here is that much of the "efficiency" of protomechs isn't just due to super materials but because you have a more compact, smaller unit. However armor uses the Inner Sphere rules on the IS protomech thread-- the Clan armor is better. Also, inner sphere weapons are used as given in that thread.

Hooray! My idea's getting used! :D

Chaeronea

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #8 on: 26 October 2012, 17:57:15 »
Okay, Korzon, your story got me interested in ProtoMechs which is something I have never been. Probably that's due to how they were introduced, but whatever. Anway I have aquestion about the construction of the IS Protomechs - if the structure and engines are as efficient as the canon Clan models then why is the armour less efficient? The design rules in Tech Manual state that Clan designs can only use standard armour rather than Ferro-Fibrous or any other special kind, and standard armour on Clan Mechs and ASFs gets the same point-to-tonnage ratio as Inner Sphere armour.

Yes, I am asking you to think about changing this so that I can use HMLite to design some ProtoMechs for this setting. I'll even post them here so you can use them in your story :)

Korzon77

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #9 on: 26 October 2012, 21:30:49 »
That actually shouldn't be a probelm-- since this assumes it was the IS and not the clans that came up with idea, via the old SL-- so okay, their conventional armor is equal to the standard armor. The Major advantage the clans would have, of course woudl be in their weapons, but in this AU the clans aren't really fans of cybernetic enhancement other than due to injury, so protomechs aren't really there thing.

Now, the "manual control" proto, which does not use the interface, can be used by anyone, but it does have less effectiveness, being piloted like a mech and not having the advantage of the near miss hit chart. 

majesticmoose

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #10 on: 03 May 2013, 15:42:01 »
@ Korzon

I like what you've got going on, and I had basically the same limitations on my own IS tech faction that opted to go the proto route. Though my faction calls them Hrethgir though, which is more fun for me than IS proto.

For me, I made them use composite structure with no weight savings and they use as a default their own version of stealth armor. This version simply adds +1 to hit at all ranges, but it weighs 70kilos per point. And of course pricipally IS weapons (MMLs help a lot).

I like your back story, as it focuses on what photos do well, urban combat, and it makes for a more believable reason for their development.

CloaknDagger

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #11 on: 03 May 2013, 19:47:13 »
With a squad of Ultraheavy proto's being able to outrun most 20-30 tonners or able to carry clan ER Large lasers?  That ain't gonna happen.

HEY!

I put ERPPCs on mine.

majesticmoose

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #12 on: 09 May 2013, 22:49:32 »
HEY!

I put ERPPCs on mine.
Heavy... Large... Laser...

Hidden!  Muhahahahahaha!

except we're talking IS aren't we.

hmmm.  think a blazer could fit?

Suralin

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Re: Forging the Future Protomechs
« Reply #13 on: 10 May 2013, 11:01:52 »
hmmm.  think a blazer could fit?

Not with all the needed heat sinks. Maybe a ChemBlazer could fit, tho, if you were willing to make your Proto little more than a mobile turret.