The Poor Frog

November 30th, 2021 • UncategorizedNo Comments »

Zelski II, February 2875, Taurian Concordat Briefing Room, Location Undisclosed

“Don’t worry, Envoy Grevin, they’re only going in to determine resistance level and soften up any defenses,” Ivan droned, “Follow up in a couple of months and you can bring sufficient forces to bear to take the prize.”

He looked up at the hairy ambassador with watery eyes before slowly continuing. “Besides, they’re mercenaries, an expendable resource…”

The ambassador growled low in his throat. “What, exactly, do you get out of all of this? The fact that we’re meeting here suggests Comstar general command either doesn’t know, or is content to have you run this off-book. Either way, that’s a big bet for a mid-level drudge.”

Ivan’s affront almost appeared genuine. “Why, the greater good, of course! A strong periphery would make a competent ally for a change.”

The ambassador nodded, unconvinced, “Of course. All the same, I still want at least one pair of eyes onboard that dropship.”

“It’s already done, ambassador.” Ivan’s smile left Grevin cold, dark thoughts clouding his mind.

They should put a bullet in the back of his head before he ever reaches that planet.

Scopion’s Sting

November 24th, 2021 • UncategorizedNo Comments »

Bridge of the Fortress Class Dropship Heart of Eden, October 2874

The old warhorse spoke gently, “Speak freely, Captain.”

“Colonel, I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Captain Weitz complained, pacing back and forth in the small officer’s mess.

“You’re not alone, J. Off-book ops tend to be the kind with the highest casualty rate.” The Colonel sighed and looked at his electronic folio for the 10,000th time since the mission brief came through, and shook his head. “Are we in a position to say no?”

Exasperated, the Captain stopped short, his regulation boots making a slight squeak on the metal floor. “You know we’re not…we never are. But any op that promises to buy us out of debt, fill our hold with armor and actuators, and let us take on new Pilots and tonnage is just too good to be true. And really, full salvage outside of any facility? It just screams someone in over their head or lying through their teeth.”

“It’s your ship, Captain, I’ve never pushed you into something you weren’t comfortable with. I hear there are some great garrison duty slots on Holder’s Moon. It may even pay enough to cover your oxygen usage.” The older man chuckled. “But I’ve seen the SIGINT…there’s something there, even if its not what they’re saying. And we’ll place satellites when we get there…if you need to, we can trade the Heart for passage back. You’ll still have a place as a lance commander, at least as long as I’m alive.”

The captain steeled himself and sighed. “Alright…I’ll call them all in…at least the ones crazy enough to say yes…I’m not forcing anyone into this op.”

Operation Christmas Scorpion (12-2021)

November 18th, 2021 • UncategorizedNo Comments »


What…is…that?  The young Comstar communications technician fiddled with some dials and pressed some buttons, assuming the stray signal was noise generated by a local quasar.  As he locked on and isolated it, a burst of data nearly burnt out his terminal…and then all was quiet.

Hesitantly, he called over Ivan, his wheezy supervisor.  Ivan’s eyes went wide as he scanned the data, and he inserted his data fob into Max’s terminal, downloading the files to his personal cache before deleting them from the young man’s device.  ‘Nothing for you to worry about…this never happened.’  A sense of menace came into the man’s watery gaze.  ‘Is that understood?’

‘Yes, sir,’ Max said, his voice quavering less than it might have.


Ivan stared at the data a long time, his mind swirling.  He referenced and cross-referenced against Comstar historical records and logs.  ‘It has to be,’ he muttered under his breath. 

He knew if he did this wrong, some busy-body bureaucrat would fumble the whole thing.  Checking his credit balance at Comstar bank, he pulled a crypto-rod from his supervisor’s safe.  Using one for personal reasons could put him in jail on a backwater mining colony for the rest of his life, but he knew how to fix the records so it would never be missed.

Inserting the rod that would make tracing of his transmission impossible, he spoke slowly and clearly into the microphone.

‘I’ve found something…need to meet…yes, you can invest…hire mercenary company…beyond the rim…Lostech…’

Lendon Fields

August 25th, 2012 • NarrativesNo Comments »

March, 2788

The old man stood quietly, an ache in his spine, and looked out over a thousand acres.  His memory conjured up an image of riotous fields, golden and heavy with ripe grain.  Now it was a land that would bloom no more.  The landscape was sowed with jagged hunks of iron, melted hunks of steel.  When it rained, a slightly radioactive thorium cloud choked off any remaining weeds that tried to sprout between the corpses of twisted metal monsters.  For thousands of years humanity had kept the barbarians from the gates.  First with wood, then stone, then iron and plasteel.  But not anymore.  The Fall of the Star League in the 27th and this centuries Succession War had seen many of the Periphery planets abandoned to pirates and warlords, mercenaries and governments that were no better than the bandits themselves.  They were taxed, supposedly for protection, but the destruction furrowed before him betrayed the lie.  His land planted with misery, watered with blood.  But I, he thought.  I will bring the harvest.

Arthur Lendon turned back to his own machine, the one he knew he would die in.  A three story, 65 ton death machine.  When she first left the gantry he heard the hoots, endured the mockery of the other mechwarriors who thought the golden grain pattern would get him killed.  On that first day, it was impossible to look directly at his unwanted partner, she shone so bright in the brilliant yellow sun.  Not stealthy enough, they told him, standing out will make you a target.  They simply didn’t understand.  He didn’t want to hide, didn’t care if a bolt of blue lightning destroyed his cockpit in the first engagement.  The only thing he cared about was that the pirates who salted his land saw him coming.  Saw the rain of missiles like seeds on the wind, ripping their metal skins like they did his wheat.

In the end, it was they who feared his beloved, his despised.  His lady, Lendon Fields, her namesake only a memory.  I will never walk this land again, the tired old man knew.  But my sons?  I will make sure they do.

Personnel Officer Chart

August 7th, 2012 • Campaign RulesNo Comments »
Personnel Officer Action Green (6)
May Request Personnel, Train or Raise Morale Once Per Turn Regular(5)
Roll Personnel Officer vs. their skill level Elite(3)
plus modifiers for the personnel type they are attempting to recruit.
Personnel Recruiting Cost
Infantry (Platoon) +1 5000
Mechanic/Medical Teams +2 20000
Vehicle Drivers +2 20000
Vehicle Driver with Vehicle +3 50000 If successful, 20% veh value
Mechwarriors +3 30000
Mechwarriors with Mech +5/+6/+7/+8 150000 If successful, 20% mech value
Officers +3 25000
Intelligence Officer +4 250000
Quality Level
Green 2-7
Regular 8-12
Veteran 13-14
Elite 15+
Modifiers to Success Roll
Sign-On Bonus 100,000 -1
Empty Mech -1
Dragoon Rating D +2
Dragoon Rating C 0
Dragoon Rating B -1
Dragoon Rating A -3
Unit is on Periphery +1
Unit is on Uninhabited Planet +1
Modifiers to Quality Roll
Regular Recruiting Officer +1
Veteran Recruiting Officer +2
Elite Recruiting Officer +3
MOS 5 or greater on Success Roll +2
A Personnel Officer and his team can spend the turn attempting to train another unit.
The other unit also has to have 0 duties.
Works only with Mechanics, Medical, Engineer, Personnel
Cost 20,000 credits
2-7 No result
8-11 Unit gains 1 exp
12+ Unit gains 2 exp
Raise Morale
A Personnel Officer and his team can attempt to raise the morale of the merc command.
Cost 200xnumber of personnel in unit
2-6 No result
7-11 Morale + 5
12+ Morale + 10
Green Regular Veteran Elite
Labor Costs (Per Turn)
Mechwarriors 3000 3750 4688 5859
Officers 2500 3125 3906 4883
Intelligence Officer 4000 5000 6250 7813
Vehicle Drivers 2000 2500 3125 3906
Technicians/Medical 2000 2500 3125 3906
Assistant Technicians 1500 1875 2344 2930
Infantry 500 625 781 977
Green Regular Veteran Elite
Labor Costs (Per Year)
Mechwarriors 72000 90000 112500 140625
Officers 60000 75000 93750 117188
Intelligence Officer 96000 120000 150000 187500
Vehicle Drivers 48000 60000 75000 93750
Technicians/Medical 48000 60000 75000 93750
Assistant Technicians 36000 45000 56250 70313
Infantry 12000 15000 18750 23438
Officer Types
Contract Lawyer
Fabricator (Type) Armor/Structure/Base Ammo
Mechanic (Type) Aero/Mech/Vehicle/Battle Armor/Protomech
Pilot Mechwarrior/Vehicle/Aero
Supply, Ordinance

Skills Explained

August 6th, 2012 • Campaign Rules3 Comments »

Some common questions on the skills.

1)  Logistics and Weight Management are ‘Command Skills’, and can only be taken by one member of the team.  They would become unbalanced if every lance member took them.

2)  Officer Duties – This skill allows a player, on any turn where they are not in combat, to perform in the role of their chosen officer specialty.  For example, if a player chooses ‘Personnel’, the team could requisition 2 Personnel per turn (one for the Personnel Officer, and one for the player with ‘Personnel’ skill.)  If the player takes this skill, and chooses any of the Mechanic skills, the team will need to hire 6 technicians, as a full Mechanic team consists of a lead tech and 6 technicians.  They can be hired through a Personnel office at a +1 Bonus.

3)  Intelligence Officer – The Intelligence officer is the one area of the game where the GM has more leeway, and because of it’s high costs, it has significant potential long-term value to a team.  The Intelligence Officer has 3 main functions, one on the battlefield, and 2 off.  Their battlefield functions comes from acquiring and using Intelligence equipment, mainly Satellites.  Their are several tiers and software satellites can run, and they can provide several benefits such as Initiative Bonuses, knowing exactly when enemy reinforcements will arrive on-site, revealing mine-fields, estimating enemy force composition, and approximate enemy positions if they are attempting to ambush.

Second, Intelligence officers can seek out special missions, including character background missions.  For example, one member of our current team is seeking the people who killed his parents.  The Intelligence officer can help complete those kinds of tasks.  Additionally, the Intelligence Officer can seek out missions the players can take regardless of having a contract in place.  For example, they could attempt to find hidden pirate bases, lightly defending mining or less lightly defended production facilities.

Finally, the IO can attempt to locate Lostech caches of weapons and equipment.  The players would need to organize missions and logistics to attempt recovery, which can be costly, but the rewards could potentially be huge. (or not so huge, depending on the size of the cache)

4)  Contract Law – These bonuses apply during contract negotiation.  There are several contract clauses that need to be hammered out as a contract is offered, such as Salvage Terms, how much in support costs the employer will pay, and what type of Command structure the players will be subject to.  A category reroll allows a player to reroll the result of any contract roll, and choose which of the 2 results to take.  A bonus to a contract roll provides a bonus modifier to be added to the contract roll.

5)  Shiny and New! (Light and Medium)  If a player’s mech is destroyed in combat, a player may choose an appropriate light or medium mech to replace it instead of rolling randomly.  Heavy and Assault mechs will always be random.

Character Creation

August 5th, 2012 • Campaign RulesNo Comments »

Character creation for the campaign is pretty basic.  Folks are starting with individual mechs and not lances, to keep mission times down and move the game along.  We had our first full blown lance on lance mission and it took nearly 3 hours.  We previously completed 4 objective missions in less than an hour each.

I don’t have any opposition to folks using A Time of War to create characters, but this will definitely remain a mech-based campaign, and not an RPG campaign.

Step 1 – Each player begins with the option to take a 45 ton mech with a (Green) 6/5 Pilot/Gunner rating.  Alternately, they can trade 10 tons and take a 35 ton mech with a (Still Green) 5/5 Piloting/Gunnery, or a 25 ton mech with a 5/4 Pilot Gunner rating.  As an FYI, the first group running through this campaign has a 6/5 in a Phoenix Hawk (45 ton) and a 5/4 in a Mongoose (25 ton), and the Mongoose has definitely held its own.

Starting mechs need to have been in production in 2791.  You can find all sorts of mech resources at Solaris7, and I checked most of the mechs in the Battletech Introductory Boxed Set and their first production is all before 2800 (if I’m wrong someone please let me know).  The game is low-tech to start, so be prepared to use just the basic weapons and equipment until you move out of the Periphery (if you ever choose to), the year advances to where new tech is available, or you get access to a good Intelligence/Procurement officer.

Each player starts with 1,000,000 C-Bills, and the lance as a whole starts with 5,000,000 C-Bills.  That’s not really a lot of cash, so money will be very tight for at least the first 20-30 turns or unless you score some good salvage terms in your first contract.

Step 2 – Each player starts with 10 Experience Points to spend on skills.  Experience is gained by surviving missions (+1) and per kill (+1).  Experience can be used to improve Piloting/Gunnery or add perks to a character.  I will continue to add new skills or balance the current skills with Exp cost as we use them.  For example, the first change (the one player who already took the skill at cost 1 can keep it) was to change Tracker from 1 to 2 Exp.  There were MANY times when the player was getting essentially a +1 gunnery, for a mere 1 exp.

Online Game Perks Benefit Exp
Weight Management Transport costs are 10% lower 2  (Only 1 player can take)
Officer Duties* Acts as an Officer of Regular Rank on non-encounter turns 4 (12 for Intelligence)
Officer Promotion Acts as an Officer of Veteran Rank on non-encounter turns 4 (12 for Intelligence)
Officer Promotion Acts as an Officer of Elite Rank on non-encounter turns 4 (12 for Intelligence)
Logistics Reduced mission transport/drop costs by 15% 2  (Only one player can take)
Delegation Can have an additional officer of the same type 2 Can take once for each officer type.
Contract Law I +1 Category Reroll 2 Can take 3 times
Contract Law II +1 Modifier to any category roll 2 Can take 3 times
Graft Can pay 50,000 credits to add +1 to any Officer Roll 4
Bribes Can pay 100,000 credits to add +2 to any Officer Roll 4 (Must take Graft)
Shiny and New! – Light** One-time; inherit random light mech 4 Can only take once per career
Shiny and New! – Medium** One-time; inherit random medium mech 8 Can only take once per career
Shiny and New! – Heavy One-time; inherit random heavy mech 12 Can only take once per career
Shiny and New! – Assault One-time; inherit random assault mech 16 Can only take once per career
Offline Game Perks
Bat Eyes No Night Fighting Penalty 8 (Must have Night Arrows!)
Edge Reroll any one roll per encounter (attacker or defender) 5
Explosives Can place 3 standard mines in any defense scenario, or +3 in scenarios with mines 2 (Also allows mine acquisition)
Heat Management On 8+, sinks one additional heat 1
Higher Ground +1 When firing from elevation 2 or greater 3
Individual Weapon +1 to hit, exact system (e.g. small laser, LRM 5) 3
Leadership Can command NPC’s in unit 2
Leadership Override Can command NPC’s against their better judgment.  -1 Rep when used 2
Lucky Reroll one Determine Critical roll (either as attacker or defender) per battle 3
Missiles/Lasers/Guns +1 to one category of weapon (Missiles, Energy or Projectiles) 5
Night Arrows! Night Fighting Penalty for Ranged only +1 3
Overrun Combat If initiative MoS is +2, One mech can move, attack and physical prior to enemy 8 Merc Supplemental p 73
Combat Drop – Precise Can choose target block for landing in a hot-drop.  +1 to landing piloting roll. 2
Combat Drop – Precise II Can choose target row or column for landing in a hot-drop, No piloting roll for landing. 2 Requires Combat Drop – Precise
Combat Drop – Precise III Can land in a specific 7 Hex Circle, and move once prior to initiative. 2 Requires Combat Drop – Precise II
Combat Drop – Engage Can fire all weapons once prior to rolling initiative for round 1 (+1 penalty for drop) 2 Requires Combat Drop – Precise
Steady -1 to Piloting when kicking or kicked 4
Strategist +1 to Reinforcement rolls 1 Can take a 2nd time for 2
Tactician +5% to Reinforcement BV 1 Can take 3 times
Terrain Advantage +1 when fighing on one terrain type (pilot choice); hills, water, urban 3
Tracker No Penalty for targets in Light Cover 2 (First Light Cover only)
 ** If your mech was destroyed in combat, you may choose the specific replacement.  Light and Medium Only.
To Pilot/Gunnery
Skill Improvement 5 4
4 8
3 12
2 16
1 20
0 24
Current Officer/Tech Duties
Mechanic, Mech* Maintains and repairs Battlemechs
Mechanic, Vehicle* Maintains and repairs Vehicles
Mechanic, Aerotech* Maintains and repairs Aerotech assets
Medical Can heal Pilot Damage and infantry losses
Supply Can procure general items
Supply, Ordinance Procures specialized weapons (Thunder LRM, Streak Missiles, Mines)
Personnel Can hire personnel
Engineer Can reverse engineer items and has minor fabricator ability. (+2 penalty)
Fabricator Can fabricte components with appropriate facilities.
Administrative Required for unit to operate efficiently.  Can make contract rolls, make contacts.
Intelligence Required for special missions, finding Lostech caches, adding satellite assets to unit.
*(Also gets one procurement request per turn for a specific part related to their specialization)
Dragoon Rating Modifiers Experience
Survive Mission 0 +1
Complete All Objectives +3 +1
Defeat all Reinforcements (away missions) +1 +1
Per Kill (individual) +1
No Internal Damage +1
Fail Mission -3
Break Contract -10

Ten Things at a Time

August 3rd, 2012 • NarrativesNo Comments »

Jet “Jet” Spiegel looked wearily up from his parts requisition as his two senior technicians burst into the room.  He could smell the rank combination of old lubricant and sweat that lack of decent sanitation facilities caused.  Dammit, he thought, I never remember to bring up showers when I’m with the group, where all we talk about are contracts, and tonnage, and drop costs.  These people are going to bolt if we don’t improve the situation here. 

This damn planet.  Most of it is so beautiful.  Excepting the 50 acres they had carved out of the Lendon battlefield, re-tasking as much of the non-radioactive metal as they could.  Still, sometimes Jet felt Last Chance was more backward than the lawless frontier where he grew up.

“Things in the bay are getting dire, sir,” the lead mechanic of team 1 said.  “We’re working 80 hours a week, but with the missions you’ve been going on, it’s still not enough.”  Bill Ramsbottom was a good base tech, fresh out of school, but Jet often wished he had some veteran staff.  Everything took twice as long as it should due to patching and repatching work that occurred regularly.

“You know we should have at least one maintenance team per mech, and that’s not counting battle damage.” Arline interjected.  Short hanks of greasy hair fell from her tec-helm.  Waifish, barely 1.5 meters, and probably cute under the layer of grime on her face.  At least he thought so when he hired her, but it had been so long since any of them had been really clean.  “And now you brought in that prima donna Salvatore, who won’t leave us alone.  It’s like we’ve never patched a piece of armor before, him always looking over our shoulders.”

Ramsbottom hated letting the little tech get a word in, and started talking over her.  “Look, somethings gonna happen out there if we don’t get the maintenance schedule back on track.  An actuator could freeze up in the middle of a gunfight, or a misdirected jump jet could spew plasma and melt a layer of armor straight off.”

The Karolo’s don’t get walked on, Arline thought before whacking Bill in the gut with her mag-wrench, leaving him wheezing.  “And that damn Liam wants to take up half the bay to work on that stupid Skulker.  Heck, that hunk of junk hasn’t been off the yard in 2 months, he doesn’t need the space.  We’d be better off selling it and transferring his team to Mech-maint.  Plus, the bay can barely accommodate the 4 robots we’ve got, let alone a vehicle.  You’re going to need a bigger facility and soon if you bring any more on.”

Ramsbottom raised his hands in peace as Arline prepared to give him another slug.  “Look sir, Arl’s right and we’re in real trouble here.  I’ll never leave you, and I think she feels the same, but our secondaries are all exhausted and at the breaking point.  I’d be surprised if several don’t bolt to the drop pad in town when we get our supplies next week.  At least at the mining colonies they can get some sleep, buy a beer, and carouse a little.  The fragging mayor shut down the saloon again last week, claiming we were a bad influence on the local pop.”

Jet nodded at the two techs, letting them know he understood, before holding up the requisition for parts they had requested.  It was only half finished and needed to get transmitted today if the supplies were to get on that drop ship next week.  Ten things at a time, Jet thought, as the techs let themselves out.


Last Chance

August 3rd, 2012 • Campaign RulesNo Comments »

Looks like a good world to hold the campaign on.  I haven’t checked all the books yet, but I can’t find much about it on Sarna.  It also sounds good considering the challenging, but hopeful nature of the campaign.



August 3rd, 2012 • Campaign RulesNo Comments »

The Battletech rules discuss and allow for ‘officers’ of various types.  These include officers such as Personnel, Administrative, Supply and the like.  Combining some ideas our gaming group has had with Battletech, using these officers provides much of the ‘campaign’ flavor to the Fringe War campaign system.  Every turn (barring travel turns), each officer can perform a task in his core function to assist the unit.  For example, the Supply officer can requisition armor and spare weapons in advance of an assault mission, or the Personnel Officer can attempt to hire a mechwarrior, another officer, or a squad of infantry.  High margins of success (MoS) will give bonuses to future rolls or reduce the cost of acquired goods.

For example, the Personnel Officer action consists of:

1)  Start Task

2)  Pay costs – some of the tasks officers can perform require a payment in credits.  For example, to recruit a mechwarrior without a personal mech costs 30,000 credits to cover the expenses of HPG transmissions, advertising, interviews, etc.

3)  Determine Target Roll – More challenging tasks require higher rolls.

4)  Roll and determine result.

5)  On a success, roll on the quality table to determine the rank of the hire.

6)  On a success, add one experience point to the Officer.  On a natural 12, add 2 experience points and at the GM’s discretion, another bonus is applied (such as an additional recruit available).

7)  Promote if enough experience.  Officers gain a rank (Green, Regular, Veteran, Elite) and decrease their target rolls similar to technicians.

An example:  Silver Spear, a light mechwarrior company is looking to hire an additional pilot for a Jenner it took as salvage in the last mission.  They have a Veteran recruitment officer (Target roll of 5), mostly due to the high number of replacement pilots they go through.  They are offering a 100,000 credit signing bonus (-1), they have an empty mech for the pilot to use (-1), and their Dragoon rating is C. (0 effect)  However, the unit is on the Periphery (+1), and they are doing Garrison duty on an essentially uninhabited mining planet (population under 100,000), which is another +1.  Their total roll would need to be a 5 or greater to succeed in locating an appropriate mechwarrior for hire.

Once a candidate is found, a roll is made on the quality table to determine the rank of the unit.  The Silver Spear Personnel Officer rolls a 9.  With his bonus to Quality roll of +2, he has found a Regular rank mechwarrior.

Each officer has a particular set of modifiers to their rolls, though they all have the same target numbers based on the rank of the officer.  Recruiters may also spend 1 experience to add a +1 modifier to any roll, up to a maximum of +5.

Green – 6

Regular – 5

Veteran – 4

Elite – 3

Questions, comments and suggestions welcome.  Future posts will cover each officers’ potential actions and modifiers.