Saturday 31 October 2015

Technical Read Out 3055


I had the good fortune to be asked to write for the BattleTech universe by Sam Lewis.  I had written to him suggesting a TRO to cover the Clan second line mechs and Inner Sphere combat support vehicles.  My idea was to do a version of the 3025 book but using the new Clan technology rules.

Sam wrote back and said this was an interesting idea but given that I was in England it would be too difficult to coordinate this project.

You have to remember I was writing this stuff in the late 80s and early 90s before the advent of the internet we all know and love today.  There was also the little thing of just having one person write a whole TRO.  I was game, but the people at FASA thought it would be better if the work was given to more than one writer.

I remember having a conversation and asked what I would like to write for the book?  I said the Clan second line mechs, which made "Black" Mike Nystul happy.  Mostly because it seemed that no one had any interest in doing them because they were considered boring.  They sent me a bunch of drawings and told me to design stats to match.  At the time I knew nothing about the Harmony Gold problem and I was blissfully ignorant of any developments happening within FASA.  All I wanted to do was produce stats for classic Inner Sphere mechs I liked.

I Also remember Mike apologizing about cutting the text down for the TRO after insisting on it for the original specification.  I knew several of the other British based contributors to this product, and they all moaned about the amount of fluff text that had been specified.  It's quite difficult to write things which have any relevance to the game.

FASA wanted five of the design optimized for Solaris, which back then had a different ground and time scale. The designs had to take advantage of the rules, and I was told that if there was any spare tonnage that this would be a good thing.  Because they had ideas for scenarios with extra surprises. 

They also told me that certain mechs were to be Diamond Sharks and to mention this when writing the text.  I didn't have the first clue about who or what they were, other than they had plans.  Also, I didn't design the Jenner that is in the Clan second line mech section.

The following are links to the full text I wrote for FASA.

BBN-1V Baboon

BEH-0M3 Behemoth

GRF-3BN Griffin

GSH-0VK Goshawk

KKN-5N Kraken

The AC2 version of the Kraken was optimized for then original version of Solaris.  This used a different time and ground scale combo.  The rules  allowed certain weapons, like the AC2, to fire either every turn or on more turns than a lot of other weapons. 

LCT-3WU Locust
MAD-4R Marauder

MTD-0R Matador

What I called the Matador became the stats for the Phoenix Hawk. 

PER-G1N Peregrine

RFL-6LP Rifleman 

SHD-3J Shadow Hawk

VPR-0S1 Viper

VXN-2S Vixen

WHM-9U Warhammer

WVR-6MU Hellhound

Name changed from Wolverine to Hellhound by FASA.

I later learnt Herb Beas rewrote the rules because of my designs.  Seems the mechs were a popular choice for tournament games. Due to the combined bonus to hit from having pulse lasers and targeting computers.

My design philosophy at the time (even now) is to design mechs which over heat slowly, and as they take damage, degrade gracefully. This suits my style of play.  I'm not a frother who likes to overheat a mech for one extra shot on the enemy which ends up shutting down your mech.

This comes from a steep learning curve with unforgivingly brutal opponents like Glenn Wallbridge.  Though I think I can say that we were fairly evenly matched?  I've seen him reduce people's units, who were considered pretty good players, to shambling wrecks without breaking into a sweat.

He taught me a few things I had missed.  I remember playing a MechForce UK game against I think Neill Fowler Wright?  I fought his then unbeaten Jenner trio to a standstill with a Black Jack BJ-1D & Rifleman RFL-3D team. He reconsidered his tactics, and I started using Jenners after that.


  1. Fantastic! I remember spending many, many hours reading all those supplements. The Succession War Atlas volumes have captured many days worth of interest over the years!

  2. Wow, the Behemoth has long been my favorite clan mech. The model is outstanding, and I still have six copies. I never knew you were the author. That said, perhaps you can finally answer a vexing question: Why is the Small Pulse Laser the size of a gauss rifle?

    1. The small pulse laser is actually under the cockpit. The twin gauss rifles are located in the torso and fire through a dorsal turret.

    2. Looking at the sculpt the gag was that the gauss rifles were behind the circular hatches on the LT/RT and the CT turret could only be the SPL. Looking at the original fluff about the 360 RT turret Ashley posted it finally makes more sense. It would probably help if the turret were double barreled.

      That said, I really enjoyed the original fluff presented for an excellent mech design.

  3. Fascinating article :) Thanks for posting :)

  4. I'm glad to have people still appreciate the work I did all those years ago. Thank you one and all for commenting.

  5. Thank you for posting these back in 2008, and for collecting them again here!

    I know Nystul and Pardoe weren't British, while Hartford was; were Jerry Stenson or Bob Charette? And, I know this might be a stretch, but do you happen to recall how any of the other designs were divvied up between the other authors?

    1. Robert Charrette is an American

      Jerry Stenson I don't know, but my guess would be he was an American.

    2. Whoops, I should've known about Charette, or at least googled all the names first... thanks for replying!

  6. I think this was about the time I was getting out of the game. I remember buying 3050, and being horribly unenthused by it; the Clans struck the group I was playing with as Not Fun, either on the table or in the fiction. Clearly this was not your reaction. :-)

    1. After I wrote this I too dropped out of BattleTech, so you'd be wrong in your assumption. My attitude is best summed up by this quote, "Once the avalanche has started it's too late for the pebbles to vote."

  7. This is still good stuff. Thanks Ashley!

    That Pulse Laser + Targeting Computer combo was indeed deadly, and the rules for Total War were changed because of it.

    1. Yeah, got my name written in the naughty book for that. ;-)

  8. You may be interested in some art that's being posted on reddit:










    (PS: apologies for the continuing lack of podcast transcripts. I have a notion how to automate it, but I'm not set up to do it yet.)

    1. Cheers for the links, I may well have to reassess my engagement with Reddit. So far It's something I see occasionally in passing.

      Thanks for the update on the transcripts. Are you aware that people listening to audio is dropping during the lock-down? Without a commute, audio is less popular.

      Or so they say. I don't know.

    2. Cheers for fixing your BTU links! Blogger keeps mangling this comment. Third (abridged) time's the charm?

      Didn't know that about audio. Suddenly makes sense for news radio to be so sedately paced - don't want to distract drivers from the road.

    3. Well, once I saw the message on Reddit I came and fixed them.

      General note to any of my readers: if you find a broken link please would you be kind enough to let me know by leaving a comment or emailing me.

  9. I was very young, like in ky freshman year of high school when we got this TRO. Aside from the Victor musical industries mechs w/c were so dynamic looking, there were the CG graphics mechs too. It was a huge departure from Duane Loose's iconic work and then the 3050 tro of 1990. The fluff? Hell yeah we read it all and we didn't moan about any little detail. Yes we did appreciate all of this writing! A bunch of 13 year olds from Manila savored evey last word when it was brand new many moons ago.

    Cheers Ashley! ♡