Saturday 13 February 2010

Pink Panther History


I've never really tied myself in tightly to the BattleTech universe, but had a paragraph I wrote a long time ago for Games Master International about the Pink Panthers.

Major Gloria Mundi

Under the exchange treaty House Kurita received several of the BLR-1CJ variants, one of which went to Duke Ricol’s command and was assigned to his new “Pink” Panthers’ hunter-killer Battalion for evaluation. Major Mundi named her new mech Excelsior, and demonstrated the design’s tactical strengths during the false war of 3039.

Over the years I've kind of thought about this a bit more and here are some of my musings...

3034 Duke Hassid Ricol has to play nice because he has fallen on hard times, as outlined in Heir to the Dragon. We know he has a mech Company under Captain Tyrell from Shrapnel. So this is my draft of how the Panthers fit in.

The Red Duke saw the need for training to face House Steiner and mercenary units, and had the idea of training an OPFOR based on Steiner & Grey Death Legion principle e.g: Assault, heavy and medium mechs. A lance was formed under Captain Conrad Black in a Battlemaster, with Lieutenant Serena Griffiths as his second in command in a Thunderbolt. The lance was completed with three medium mechs. Sergeant Mundi was in a Wolverine, and Mechwarriors Lucy Morgenstern piloting a Griffin and Lara Atsuko Tachikoma a Shadow Hawk.

On paper all the mechs were good to go, but this is the Succession Wars and the truth was they were all patch jobs. To hide this orange disruptive patches were painted over the less than perfect repairs. However the lance served their purpose of giving standard Kuritan lances a taste of what it was like to face this combination, and the team proved adept at mimicking Steiner and mercenary commands tactics. The unit also acted as a training cadre and would have Kuritan mechwarriors added to it, and could be expanded up to a Company size formation. The unit was known as Black's Panthers, because it specialized in night operations.

Unfortunately, Black was killed during the false war of 3039, and Griffiths wounded during a night operation, but despite this Sergeant Mundi completed the mission. She was rewarded by a promotion to Captain and was given a new Battlemaster, so that she could used the command functions that it provides.

Both Morgenstern and Tachikoma were promoted to Sergeants for their part in the missions success. After the false war the Panthers were now an all woman unit and were nicknamed the "Pink" Panthers. As a response to this, Mundi had the techs paint a pink splinter pattern over the red and orange finish of the mechs.

By 3049 the Pink Panthers had become a training Company that were hired out as a cadre as necessary, and which could be expanded up to Battalion size for training when required. The unit was able to acquit itself well during the early stages of the Clan invasion, but their jumpship went missing during the war. If I get into the Dark Age they'll reappear in the game universe as a jump forward accident.

Pink Panther Battalion

I've been reviewing my blogs, and I see that a couple of posts have no comments on them and I kind of wondered why? I reasoned that I said nothing that anyone felt was worth commenting on, which is fair enough.

Comments really inspire me to write more, so I thought about what to do? What I thought is that rather than just post pictures of my mechs, sans pretty much anything, I would add some comments and fluff, which will hopefully generate more comments.

My favourite BattleTech mechs come mostly from the anime show Fang of the Sun Dougram, known in Japan as Taiyō no Kiba Daguramu. This is one of three shows that FASA used the mechs from for their Battledroids game, which due to Lucas Films owning the word "droid" was renamed Battletech.

The other two shows were Crusher Joe, known as Kurasshā Jō where the Locust battlemech and Galleon light tank designs came from, and the series Super Dimensional Fortress Macross known in Japan as Chō Jikū Yōsai Makurosu, which actually translates as Super Spacetime Fortress Macross, which is of course the show that was the basis for the TV series Robotech by Harmony Gold.

My other favourite mechs being the Destroids that became know as the Rifleman, Archer, Warhammer and Longbow, plus the Valkyrie's that became the basis for the Wasp, Stinger, Phoenix Hawk and Crusader. Other designs were used, or based upon Macross designs, including the Marauder, along with the Ostall series, name from Crusher Joe; the image being an interpretation of the Zentradi battle pods. All of this being old news to OSR fans like myself.

However, for now let me talk you through the Pink Panther Battalion.

The picture at the top of the post is the first Company of the Pink Panther Battalion. It looks like a standard 12 mech lance, but in fact is organised into two 5 mech lances and a command element of 2 mechs.

The mech front and centre left in this photo is a custom modified Griffin that was turned into a representation of Fang of the Sun Dougram Bushman mech. Though it is a little too large in actual fact. However, I do have a couple of Gashapon Bushmen that I intend to use in my recon lances at some point. So this mech will be re-imagined as a Griffin command variant.

Here is my Alpha lance. It has all my favourites mechs in it from the show Fang of the Sun Dougram. The Battlemaster at the back of the pictures, which was known in the show as the Soltic HT-128 "Bigfoot".

This is an original "unseen" model with no particular modifications made to it, and was originally painted up in the late 80s, so it is 20 years old. I intend to refurbish the aerials at some point on all my old models, as at the time I used piano wire, but want to use finer guitar string, as it will look better. I also have a whole bunch of custom Pink Panther unit decals from Fighting Pirranha Graphics to add as well.

 In the centre of the picture is my first Thunderbolt, which was known as the Hasty F4X "Ironfoot". This has been modified with a PPC on its right arm, and I've replaced the rather wimpy rocket launcher that came with the model with something more substantial, to make it look closer to the original design.

The Griffin, known as Soltic H8 "Roundfacer", is a newly modified model that has been turned into the 24th Battalion Custom"Korchima Special" from the show. 

The Shadow Hawk, known as the "Dougram" that the show is named after, has only had a minor alteration to it, which was to make the over the shoulder cannon rotate on a bearing. Originally I just used a pin through the casting, but after 20 years this was showing signs of failure, so I rebuilt the joint using brass bearings.

Finally, the Wolverine, known as Abitate T-10C "Blockhead", is another newly made model that has been reposed, and it has had the main weapon replaced with a spare casting given to me by Glenn Wallbridge, a friend of mine who use to make model masters for casting for firms like Akhenaton Models.

My Bravo lance is more of the same, because if one lance of Dougram mechs is good, two must be better.

In the centre is a customised Battlemaster, which has also been reposed. The Wolverine, Griffin and Shadow Hawk are all standard original "unseen" models. The Thunderbolt is a newly painted up and reposed "unseen" model that I finished last year. It keeps the original weapon, but I have again replaced the rocket launcher and done a lot of finessing to the pose of the model.

To me all the Dougram show mechs just look right. I have managed to acquire the main books on Fang of the Sun Dougram show, and I intend to post snippets of art from them in the future. It will be my tribute to this seminal "mecha" show that has not really been heard about, yet it was a big success in Japan, with model kits still being produced today, which is a real indicator of how influential it must have had at the time.

Finally, here are a few of the mechs I have in my second and third Company's.

With a total of 20 mechs painted up for my Pink Panthers, I'm not under any pressure to add more models at this time, so neither Company is complete.

 On my workbench I have an Archer and Phoenix Hawk that are awaiting some love and attention, both of which are highly modified rebuild to correct deficiencies in the original design interpretation and casting. Unfortunately my time is limited, and in what time I have I've been mostly driven by the urge to get some opposition painted up, and this has taken up my spare time somewhat.

However, I actually have two each of the Warhammer, Rifleman, Spider and Wasp that you can see in the above picture. The second Company is based around Macross Destroid designs, with odd FASA in house designs that I quite like in the third Company.

Monday 8 February 2010

Forum Get Away


Over at the usual place there has been an interesting thread on auto-cannons. Unfortunately, as I was checking this post today, gone with the forum crash that CGL had a while back.

On this occasion there has been a lot of useful discussion, even if total consensus has not been reached. One of the problems with designing anything by a committee is that they tend up producing elephants, rather than mice. Forums are like a giant chorus of me too's and squabbling when the toys are taken away. Can't be helped, as it is the nature of the mob, or the psychology of crowds that give anonymity to act out the individuals desires. Being human we all have a lot of desires in common, but I won't go there, as that would be a digression.

A very good point is made in the thread about the damage per ton of ammo being an over looked weakness in the auto-cannon design. Looking at the argument I thought it had considerable merit. For me, one problem with house ruling auto-cannons is that you can so easily end up with things that are a lot better, and that will as a consequence create more problems than they solve. It is the equivalent of an arms race. Improve one thing too much, and the proponents of the energy weapons will want to redress the balance.

My contribution was to posit an AC2 that would have 30 rounds of ammo that would hit twice, each time for 2 points. So still an AC2, but doubly effective. I also suggested making the AC5 into an AC6 and giving it double 3 points of damage, same again for the AC10 as a double 6, while finally making the AC20 a double 12 weapon.

Then the idea gets the mob look over and the feeling is that the AC20 should just remain an AC20, because having two chances of head-capping, or loosing the ability to punch 20 points into one location were deemed as either unbalancing, or weakening this fan favourite. I'm not sure that I would agree with this consensus.

However, one thing I did think of later, which I didn't post is to address the ammo explosion rules for mechs. I'm calling this CASE 0(Zero).

CASE 0 would mean that when an ammo critical hit was made then only one round of the weapon would blow off. So a machine gun round is 2 points, but an LRM20 is 20 points. Since the damage is all internal the attacker gets another chance of a critical, and if they hit the ammo again you get another blast of damage. Therefore it would still be possible for a mech to blow up, just not as likely to do so. Also, I would add that once any ammo blows then the feed mechanism is jammed. Either assume the weapon has one round chambered, or roll on a D6, and on 1 to 3 it doesn't and on a 4 to 6 it does.

I'll have to run the numbers through a 36 round test to see what the average damage looks like, before signing off on this one for my house rules book.

Disclaimer: All posts are condensed & abbreviated summaries of complex arguments posted for discussion on the internet, and not meant to be authoritative in any shape, or form on said subject, T&CA, E&OE & YMMV.