Recently I had the chance to create a character for Catalyst Game Labs’ latest Battletech roleplaying game “A Time of War”. While the core mechanic is a pretty simple and straightforward “roll 2D6 + bonuses vs. difficulty level” mechanic, character creation is rather quirky.
You start out with 5000 points to spend. At first you pick your Affiliation, then your Early Childhood, followed by your Late Childhood, and so on. It’s basically a Lifepath system where each step of your development consists of one or more modules you have to buy which grant you with experience points spent in various attributes, skills, and traits. Yes, that’s right, you don’t get ranks directly, but the XP to buy them.
In some cases you get bad traits or maluses on your abilities that you can later buy off. The whole process takes a lot of time, especially when you are new to the game. And some of the modules you pick or the traits you get XP for have prerequisites you have to fulfill at the end of character creation. The “Nobility” early childhood module for example gives you the prerequisite of having Rank 5 in either Title, Wealth or Property. If you don’t make sure you got enough XP to buy one of those traits, you couldn’t have picked it in the first place.
Luckily we all had more than enough XP to basically create the character we wanted to play. But for most of the character creation process I had pretty much no idea how my character would turn out. At the end you’re allowed to make some optimizations. If you – for example – have 26 XP in a skill, you can either pay 4 XP to raise the Rank to 3 or take Rank 2 and spend 6 points on other abilities. It’s definitely a novel way of doing things, but I am not sure if it’s really worth all the hassle.
But regardless of my criticism of the character creation mechanics the process was pretty satisfying in the end. My character turned out great and I am extremely excited to actually play the game. We decided to start the campaign shortly after the arrival of the Clans. We might even be working with the Kell Hounds when they first encounter the Clans. Let’s just hope we don’t get our asses kicked too bad.
An old friend recently offered to run a Battletech RPG campaign for us. As a long-time fan of the board game and the Battletech universe I was actually overjoyed and immediately started to think about my character. The whole group talked about the idea and in the end we decided that we wanted to play Inner Sphere mercenaries. And start the campaign just before the Clan invasion.
Initially the plan was to use Mechwarrior 2nd Edition since it was written with the early Clan invasion era in mind. But later my friend told us that he preferred using A Time of War, the most recent edition of the Mechwarrior rules. Even though I own the rules basically since day one, I haven’t had the chance to play the game yet and from what I remember it was a great improvement over the somewhat weird 3rd Edition.
The group will consist of three players (the GM’s wife, my girlfriend, and me). Since our group is a bit small, we’ll each run our primary characters (which will be Mechwarriors) but also take control of secondary characters like technicians, aerospace fighter pilots and so on. Hopefully we’ll create characters this weekend but it will probably take a few more weeks before we can start the campaign. We already picked our ‘mechs (yes, our GM is very generous man). The GM’s wife chose a Thunderbolt, I picked the Warhammer (probably in the Liao variant), and my girlfriend decided her character should pilot a Catapult. One of the lancemates will be a NPC and we thought it would be nice to have at least some scout-capability, so the NPC will get a Phoenix Hawk. Our GM already told us that there will be opportunity to upgrade and/or modify our ‘mechs later, so I hope I can get my hands on a Nova Cat later (which is my favorite Clan mech). I keep my fingers crossed.
I am extremely excited to play a roleplaying game in the Battletech universe. Battletech was basically the game which brought me into roleplaying, since it were my BT-playing friends who introduced the concept of roleplaying to me back in the early 1990s. I have played most of the BT computer games, and have played the board game sporadically over the last years and even introduced my girlfriend to it. She’s not an avid fan but she enjoyed the boardgame and is always up for a roleplaying game where she can cause massive destruction and wield big guns.
Has anyone of you already played or run A Time Of War? If so, could you share your experiences? Is there some advice you can give novice players? Please post your comments below!
I’ve been fortunate enough to be contributing for this blog for two and a half years now… How time flies! Through this time I have made many new friends, had the opportunity to interact with other fans and authors, but most of all I have been really lucky to know this guy sometimes called Stargazer after discovering his blog while searching for material about Savage Worlds. I was fortunate enough to be here when Michael invited other writers to contribute to the blog. So as a contributor I became a roadie to this show he’s been running, a roadie to the rock star himself, the STARGAZER!
Stargazer’s Worlds had its anniversary a couple of days ago and I thought it would be fitting that for the 4year anniversary I’d turn the tables on the our fearless leader and interview the guy responsible for the blog and giving us contributors a forum to talk about our passion, role-playing games.
Sunglar: Hello Michael, why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about you? Who are you? Who is the man doing the stargazing?
Michael: Who am I? Good question. My usual response is that I’m a 37 year old German guy who loves roleplaying games, gaming in general, has an interest in astronomy, science in general and who enjoys writing about his hobby.
Sunglar: I think you have talked about this before on the blog, but just in case there are any new readers, how did you get into gaming?
Continue reading The man behind the Stargazer! An interview with Michael Wolf…