New tanks (Battletech).

 

I picked up a few new tanks and a fighter this weekend from the Value Village toy wall. I got one “YF-19” (the fake Stealth Fighter prototype that was making the rounds in the early ’90s), what I believe to be a pair of Korean Type -89 or -99 heavy tanks, and some kind of half-track (see pic).

IMG_20140529_132734_643
At first I thought they were Armored Recovery Vehicles, missing a crane or something. After extensive research, however, they don’t match the profile of any engineering or construction vee I can find that was produced before 1989 (the copyright date: both they and the tanks are marked “KPT ’89”). Right now I’m thinking they might be tractors for a tactical ballistic missile Transporter/Erector/Launcher, but for some reason images of ?Chinese? tac-nuke TELs aren’t exactly in wide distribution.

I also posted an image of samples from my tank collection yesternight on Tumblr, and promised stats: Here’s the first batch, with links to the source design.

Left to right: LRM, APC, and Autocannon variants.  Visible to rear is a JRS "Native Dancer" light strike vehicle and a factory-fresh Type 54 EWAC hover-car

Left to right: LRM, APC, and Autocannon variants.
Visible to rear is a JRS “Native Dancer” light strike vehicle and a factory-fresh Type 54 EWAC hover-car

Bromley Corporation ARMC Instead
A light attack vehicle, with options for a missile turret, autocannon, or troop-carrying capacity. I’ve made it a 35-tonner, given its close resemblance to the existing Striker Light Tank.
Bromley, inc. is a long-term competitor of Qwikscell, though the limited production capacity of their single FWL-based factory has kept their products to a lower profile than those of the “Acme” of cheap tanks. The “Instead”, properly an armored car or Infantry Fighting Vehicle, is built on a strengthened APC chassis. While governmental support for the company has always been limited, their cheap, rugged products are popular among mercs in the “golden triangle” at the intersection of Steiner, Liao, and Marik space. Mercenaries in the know particularly appreciate the targeting systems on Bromley’s weapons carriers and light IFVs; their programming was specially adapted for long-range ballistic fire and anti-aircraft work, compensating for a gap many independent units struggle to fill.

Quirks: (all combat variants): Improved Targeting (long), AA Targeting, Poor Environmental Sealing, Hard to Pilot (high center of gravity), Easy to Maintain, Hard to Customize (any Energy weapons mounted suffer from Poor Targeting at all ranges)

(APC variants): Easy to maintain, Modular equipment (as modular weapons, but for the 8-ton space in the body of the vehicle.), Poor Environmental Sealing.

Age of War/Succession Wars (2.5 Variants):
After cannibalizing their rare fusion engines, the design had to be downgraded to late Age of War specifications; the armor was slashed, and cheaper weapons installed. The fast 2-man design is popular with mercenaries. Tougher than the Scorpion, faster than most Medium or Heavy ‘Mechs, and mounting long-ranged weapons that are cheap either to replace or reload, the “Instead” is frequently bought rather than some other, more expensive design. Thanks to the survival of Flak ammunition, both armored car variants have kept their well-deserved reputation as dependable backup anti-aircraft artillery.
(Note: the SW-era APC variant would already remove the 1-ton turret, 8 tons of turret weapons, and 1t of armor: at that point, it’s simpler just to use the 20t Heavy Wheeled APC stats)
SW-era Instead AC variant SW-era Instead LRM variant

Star League/Clan Invasion (5+ Variants):
The original design was quickly resurrected after Bromley Inc. gained access to the Helm core. Vehicular ferro-fibrous armor and upgraded versions of the standard weapons give the second-generation “Instead” significantly more bite and staying power, albeit by more than tripling the light tank’s cost. Some mercenary groups have removed the LRM-15’s Artemis systems in favor of more (and much cheaper) ammunition storage – or NARC and TAG-compatible munitions –  but the specialized targeting/tracking system has so far made their attempts to add in energy weapons fruitless. The APC variants quickly became more sophisticated, with their 8-ton modular bays filled with everything from  MASH units to command facilities and battle armor, all protected by 5 tons of ferro and the Instead’s trademark speed. To encourage escort, most mounted a paltry single machine gun.

Invasion-era Instead AC variantInvasion-era Instead LRM variantInvasion-era Instead LRM variant (merc)Invasion-era Instead LRM variant (mmg)

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The Order of St. Clement XXVII (BattleTech)

Someone on /TG/ was looking for seeds of ideas for mercenary groups. I noticed that the technical and medical support of most companies is abysmal. Add on my fondness for Orders Hospitallier, and you get the following.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Amaris Civil War storyline, the government of the Earth was taken over by a power-hungry tyrant; among his many, many sins was murdering the Pope and most of the College of Cardinals present on Earth after they managed to smuggle the Vatican Archives and much of the Church’s treasures off-world. In the ensuing confusion, an Anti-Pope was elected on New Avignon Avalon
. This led to the foundation of the New Avalon Catholic Church, based in the Federated Suns (at the time, Space France/England) in schism with the Church of Rome.

 

Formed in the wake of the tragedies on Terra in the Amaris Civil War, the Order is a strictly non-combatant body of Roman Catholic monastics. They travel from warzone to warzone with fully-equipped MASH, disaster-relief, and Medevac teams. There are currently 11 active “priories”, each named for one of the faithful apostles (the Mule-class Priory of St. Philip was trapped inside Fortress Republic). All are based around a converted heavy-lift dropship. Order vehicles are painted pale blue (changed from white during the early days of the Jihad, after several false-flag ops). They bear the papal arms of the Martyr-Pope St. Clement XXVII surmounted by a black bar, with a small stylized portrait of the Priory’s patron saint beneath.

The Brothers and Sisters of the Order have extensive training in handling N/B/C mass-casualties, and drill constantly for the day they will be called on again. Many members are former warriors who have forsworn their life of conflict, seeking to “earn back” some of the many lives they have taken. Their identities are carefully hidden, and most are not deployed within the bounds of their former Successor States. All members swear traditional monastic oaths, including vows of poverty.

While the Order technically operates as a mercenary unit, this is primarily to gain the protection of whatever forces may be on-planet. Indeed, the Clementines have been employed by both sides of a conflict on more than one occasion. They actively encourage this, offering half rates to each if both sides agree to respect the neutrality of Order vehicles and paramedic teams. Priories between contracts routinely assist the victims of natural or engineered disasters without charge; the third Priory of St. Jude and the Priory of St. Matthew were lost to the Order after illegally running plague-world blockades during the Jihad. Once on-world, the monks sabotaged their own engines and ministered as best they were able to the dying populace. As a measure of respect, neither Priory was re-founded until a year and a day elapsed after each ship ceased transmitting.

Initially, the Order kept only enough of their fees to cover their operating costs, donating the rest to charity. Following the destruction of the Priory of St. James the Lesser by the Sword of Light in the First Succession War, however, they have maintained a “buffer” fund sufficient to repair and refit an additional dropship should the need arise. During the Third Succession War, this fund was strained to the breaking point as their ancient ships fell into disrepair or were even deliberately targeted. ROM files released after the Waterly debacle suggest at least two of these attacks were undertaken by ComStar agents attempting to seize ancient medical technology maintained by the order; after uncovering evidence of Holy Shroud involvement the Order demanded further payment in gold and germanium, and moved all of their C-bill assets into commodities. They now use personal codes when forced to use the ComStar HPG system, although ROM has undoubtedly cracked it. From a low of eight functional Priories during the War of 3039, the Order has successfully re-founded all twelve, finding many recruits among the spiritually and physically broken veterans of the Jihad. Rumor even places at least one repentant Manei Domini on the Priory of St. Philip.

The senior Priors of the Order are currently debating their response to Fortress Republic, with its attendant loss of contact with the Holy See and their brethren aboard the St. Philip. All agree that their services are needed now as much as ever in this time of growing wars. Fearing the news from inside the Fortress will reveal the destruction of the lost ship, many wish to divert their current surplus funds and outfit another ship to replace the St. Philip – whether under its original name or under the banner of St. Paul.  In addition, the Priories of Sts. Jude and James the Lesser have recently added exoskeletons and lightweight IndustrialMechs to their forces, the better to to assist the victims of urban disasters and trapped vehicle crews. The more conservative Priors feel these machines are too close to wargear, and might invite attack from less-charitable forces. Worse, they are occupying space and training that could be taken up with traditional medical facilities.
A majority of the Priors, however, support waiting until the Fortress Republic ends and they regain contact with the Holy See.

Short update

Spent all day yesterday at a craft fair. Didn’t make much but at least we covered costs for some household crap.
Trying a new mold-throwing method/style. More news and photos once the second pour cures tonight. I’m also cutting wood for a map-box to accommodate my spare BT maps.

ECCC 2014 (Panels)

Emerald City Comicon is my relaxation con. I love being able to just be an attendee, and there are a lot more people I have the time to enjoy talking shop with.
Sorry, Sakuracon, but our support for tabletop games and model-building kinda sucks. I also don’t really get to see panels (or anything) that happens before 7PM at S-con, I’m too busy down in my troll-hame under the stairs.

This year I didn’t get to see all I would have liked at ECCC; Tudyk’s panel was choked with bodies and had people still lined up halfway around the 6th floor wating for an opening. Just wasn’t worth it. Still, the ones I hit were more than worth it, especially for the commentary on acting strategies and goals.

Oh, and a language warning: Both I and Mr. Perlman say “fuck”. A lot. Now then…

First off, as a public service announcement:
Stop fucking asking about what voice acting is like. I’ve only done classes and I can tell you: boring. You sit in a booth and get fed lines and direction through headphones. If you’re really lucky and doing a dub, they’ll project some footage for you to work to. Otherwise, it’s an entirely masturbatory exercise: you’re in there by yourself, having a moderate amount of fun but wishing there were other people there, and you can do it with no pants on. Yes, working on video games is basically voice acting, and no, it’s not going to change based on how much you liked the game.
I have now saved you, and all the rest of us at Q&A panels, a good 5-10 minutes that can be used for interesting questions.

Dwight Schultz:
IMG_20140328_130909_303
Friggin’ hilarious panel. Lots of interesting little tidbits.
Apparently he actually got fired from the A-Team before the show was picked up, but he turned out to be one of the most popular characters in the pilot during test screenings, so they re-hired him and fired Tim Dunigan (who was replaced by Dirk “that “r” should be a “c”” Benedict). Also, Whoopi Goldberg actually got him into Trek: he commented once that he loved the show, and a script showed up with his name on it not long after – no audition, just “come on in”. He auditioned for a part in a new Peabody and Sherman cartoon the Monday after the con; I hope he got it, I love his voice.

Nichelle Nichols was amazing. None of my pics came out, and due to a self-induced scheduling error, we only got to see half the panel. I was not pleased with myself.
Still, we walked in on a proposal on-stage, at the end of which she turned to the girl and said, “Honey, this ring has been on my finger for over 50 years and I just about said ‘yes'”. She spent about 1/2 her time on-stage rambling about how awesome the space program is (while repeatedly apologizing, and being told very loudly by the entire auditorium to keep going..).

Right after her was John De Lancie. Now, everyone has a different personality on-stage; Nichelle was relaxed and chatty, Perlman was a little uncomfortable but clearly having fun, Dwight was pretty much joking around and nerding it up with us and talking over his career with the MC. De Lancie? He walked out owning the stage. The MC quickly got pushed aside, and he commanded that frigging hall for an hour.
At the end he told a story about his work on The Wild Thornbirds that managed to be dirty as Hell and still age-appropriate for the audience (because ponies). Also, he apparently shot the brony documentary specifically as a “fuck you” to Fox News, and didn’t initially know that Discord was going to be Q – just took the spec script and thought it was funny. The day the episode came out, he got ~400 emails, and he’d already forgotten he’d done the job..

Love his face.

Love his face.

Speaking of ponies, at one point two little girls (sisters) came up; he hauled them up on stage and asked them what their questions were..

Mr. DeLancie, who's your favorite pony and why?

“Mr. DeLancie, who’s your favorite pony and why?”

Oh, he tried to blow her off as politely as he could – “I didn’t really get to meet the other actors, I don’t watch the show..” and the like. Turns to second sister:

*about to cry* Who's your favorite pony? T_T

*about to cry* Who’s your favorite pony? T_T

“Right, you’re not going to let me get away with this, are you. Let’s say Fluttershy, because she taught me about friendship” *entire room erupts in cheers and applause*.

I also got more background on the Doug Drexler incident (his blog is dead now, sadly). See, Doug’s first day on Star Trek was Q-Less.. which was being shot the day before Thanksgiving. Doug was coming off of Dick Tracy, as a make-up guy; John, meanwhile, was being filmed “naked” (in a jock) on the bridge of the Enterprise, as Q’s been stripped of his powers. Apparently the makeup on DeLancie’s ass was running, “because olive oil soap really works..”. After he’d taken a shower with shitty dishsoap, they re-situate him on his little cart.  This was Drexler’s first day, and Midnight is fast approaching. They call in Drexler to patch the makeup mess on John’s arse; the director shouts (as Doug is dabbing DeLancie’s ass-crack with a cotton ball soaked in foundation)  “Ladies and gentlemen, Oscar winner, Douglas Drexler!” (killing the room). But.. well, the straps on the jock are screwing up the shot, and they only have an hour left at this point.
So he ditched it.
Apparently the take was perfect, and done much sooner than the previous ones…

He also talked a good bit about “Alien Voices”, his other misadventures as Q, and getting into acting.

IMG_20140328_163528_911Sonoda Kenichi. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-
ahem.
This is the entire reason I sprung for tickets. The man is one of my artistic heroes; his body of work includes both of my favorite mangas and one of the first mecha shows I fell in love with.
There were only about thirty of us at the panel, which made me kind of sad, but he told several stories about his early work with Artmic and Gainax. He kept focusing on me while telling the stories (I suspect it was because, other than the translator, I was the only one in the room using aizuchi), which was disconcerting but awesome.. My questions were about Cannon God Exxxaxion and its realistic protrayal of PTSD – which has actually helped a couple guys I know deal with it more effectively – and thanking him for his work. Other questions focused on his work on Gall Force, Otaku no Video, and Gunsmith Cats; Bubblegum Crisis got a bit less love – although apparently his favorite character ever was Priss’s hardsuit, followed by Catty from Gall Force. Most of the reason he liked the Riding Bean/Gunsmith Cats OVAs was the level of creative control (which actually explains a lot, looking at his work as a whole). He’s working on a new series, for the sake of which he exhorted us all to pester Bandai.
We also got to talk briefly after the panel; dude is cool as fuck. One more box checked off the bucket list :3
Now if only I can find some way to get Takada Yuzo dragged over here…

Michael Dorn’s pics didn’t come out either :/
Panel was fun but I don’t remember much of it, due to lack of sleep and caffiene: he helped with a proposal as well earlier in the weekend. Told some amusing stories about prune juice, reminded us to push for Captain Worf (which I want to see happen rather badly).

 

My mancrush

My mancrush

Ron Perlman:
Quote of the night, “It wasn’t lying there in the BLOOD that was the problem, it was the other guys’ piss, really.”
He really, really does not want to fucking talk about Sons of Anarchy and/or his exit from that show, and people just wouldn’t stop asking him questions about it. We’re talking visibly furious by the time the third idiot asked him how he felt about the show. Apparently, during the filming of his death scene, they made him lie perfectly still in a pool of fake blood, and several people felt it was an appropriate time to whizz on him.
On what turns him off on a film: “Shitty fucking dialogue. I became an actor to do Ernest Fucking Hemingway.. not this crap.” Talked a lot about his relationship with Del Toro and City of Lost Children. I was too busy swooning to remember a lot of what he said :b

More ECCC (cosplay/Legos/models) next post.

Not much to report today, still mucking through the early BT supplements cross-referencing shit with the newer books.
On the topic of replacing the ‘Mechs from earlier drafts, I’ve found that The Fox’s Teeth (the second “BT” supplement, also written for BattleDroids) got two interesting retcons with the Sword and Dragon book. Only 2 ‘Mechs were actually changed – the McKinnon hereditary command ‘Mech became a Black Knight instead of the old Marauder, and Dekker (the crazed Neo-Calvinist) got a Javelin with no mention of it replacing his old Wasp (every other replaced ‘Mech references the old organization). Yes, the force lists at the bottom of the pages still use the exact org chart from the older book for 3027, but it’s an interesting setup.

They also added hints for new scenarios in the old timeline; Sarah Lytton is rolling in a Commando her dad took down on Tancredi IV during a factory raid, and the opening fiction takes place during the birth of the FRR (or, in the Sabres’ case, shortly thereafter). Both scenarios look like they’d be interesting to play out on a tabletop, and give you some good meat to work with on balancing them.

The Fox’s Teethis also further along in the transition to “real” BattleTech. There’s still a few references to DroidWarriors or ‘Droids instead of ‘Mechs, and a few mentions of the “AutoCannon” instead of the A/C-5 (BD only had one cannon class, which.. well, makes a lot of the original eleven* make waaay more sense. That and the “all sinks need slots” rule from Battledroids, which left things like the Marauder much more critpadded, and meant that almost all the ‘Mechs could benefit from water). Several of the scenarios are still built with the same ten base ‘Mechs as TotBW, but the other Dougram ‘Mechs start showing up in the latter half of the book**.
*the Merlin was included as a sample, built under the construction rules but not actually canonized until the 3050s.
** The Thunderbolt (with the designation TND-4T; all of the designs have different model numbers in the book), BattleMaster (the first conventionally available Assault ‘Mech in the scenario packs, here labeled “BTM-6R”), Wolverine (here noted as “WLV-4E” or “WOV-4E” [Typos? In my FASA?..]), and the Crusher Joe – derived Locust (“LCS-2T”) all debut in the later scenarios of this book.

I’m also seeing evidence in the scenarios that someone on FASA’s staff had actually watched Taiyo no Kiba Dougram at this point; I need to verify that later, but it would be pretty exciting, since it would mean they had fansub access (or *shudder* script-and-raw) remarkably early on.

Now, I don’t plan on getting as insane with the other scenario books as I am with TotBW, but staging the Tancredi IV fight would give me an excuse to work on one of those infamous “Panther Companies” – I already have the ‘Mechs (2 -8Z, 8 -9R, 2 DRG-1N) and enough left over for another Kurita company. Plus the Fox’s Teeth use a standard camo scheme, so no loss for building their unit. Could even use some of them as the generic Davion OpFor in TotBW…

Reactor, Online… (Battletech, etc.)

Back online after the usual recovery/sanity period surrounding Sakuracon. We had a great year – it looks like we may actually hit our soft-cap next year – and my staff were as always pretty cool. Even got some game time in, along with the Gundam panel. I’ll have pics of S-con and ECCC later, along with commentary, but the posts are kinda stalled on my dashboard for now. Work is, as always, driving me slowly mad and ate the last week of the month; combine that with spring cleaning and you wind up with a month of dead blog. Sorry about the delay.

But enough about me, on to the content.

First off, a friend of mine had a birthday this week; he’s a big Seahawks fan, so I did him up a plastic Marauder in the 12th Donegal Guards’ colors, with a freehanded Seahawks logo.

Inn't she purty?

Inn’t she purty?

This is the first actual painting session I’ve managed to finish without cramping up or fucking up since I broke my hand last year. Now I need to get back on the stick..

Which is where the second part of this comes in. I’ve started work again on the Black Widows campaign I’ve been kicking around for months.

First step (yesterday and today) was finding the units, ‘Mechs, and planets used in each scenario, along with any special props and rules that might be required.

The next step, which should take about a week, will be updating the scenarios. See, Tales of the Black Widow Company isn’t actually a BattleTech book. It’s a BattleDroids supplement, crudely updated and shoveled out the door. Several things in it violate canon or construction rules (the Super Wasps and Griffin are infamous in this regard), and it was written using only ten standard ‘Mech designs throughout (plus two Mackies and the Supers). Hell, two of the units mentioned don’t even technically exist, nor do a couple of the planets. So.. yeah. I’m adding some iconic House ‘Mechs to each group (for example, swapping in Valkyries and Javelins for the Davion lights), altering others to give a slightly better balance, and swapping or enlarging the maps for a more tactical game (All of the scenarios use 1×2 or 2×1 setups of the original BattleDroids/BattleTech boxed set mapsheet with minor alterations).

Part of the ‘Mech cataloging process will be going through my collection and massaging the two to fit each other. Much as I love the Griffin, I don’t have twenty of them I can allocate to the pile (although the two booster boxes of Dougram gashapon I just picked up are certainly helping..), and adding in, say, a few Wolverines will certainly help matters.

After the cataloging comes the painting. Some are already painted (the Super Wasp, a couple generic Davion ‘Mechs), and I’ll be posting the WiP shots of the rest as I get into it.  88 total unpainted ‘Mechs at the moment, although with some list tweaks I can probably cut that down to ~80, and at least 10* different color schemes. I even get to paint the better part of a company of pirates (from the Santander Killers). If that doesn’t get me back on form, not sure what will..

For the edification and amusement of myself and my players, I’ll be playtesting my Random ‘Mech Quirks document as well (after the break, along with the unit breakdown).

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