*grumble* Always so far behind.
So by this time I found a set of rules for a tighter integration between Battletech and Mechwarrior in my Mechwarrior's Companion. I'd kind of skipped over them before, but they actually do a number of cool things: they are essentially rules for playing Battletech with the Mechwarrior initiative system, and they actually tend to favor Mechwarrior characters a little. Which is good because the base Battletech rules are kind of punishing for these poor role-playing game characters and their relatively low skill levels. Even the greenest Mechwarriors from the random tables in the Compendium of Modern Warfare are significantly more experienced than the player characters, which makes things more unbalanced than I'd like.
Anyway, the grand challenge from last post ended up much to-do about nothing. Jaguar learned an important lesson -- heat is your enemy. He took the risk of firing all his weapons at once, and then failed his shutdown roll. The shutdown roll changes to a Computer check in the new rules set, probably the only thing that really caught us by surprise and made things harder for the player characters. Fortunately, the important lesson on thermal management was learned during this match (which, hilariously, Jaguar insisted be live-fire instead of simulated) risking only a whole lot of money and not with higher stakes. The party had split betting for and against him (Jaguar is a...polarizing character), so some characters actually ended up making money on the deal. They also forced Jaguar to pay for his lost stakes and the repairs to his mech from his own private fortune, which is, or at least was, rather considerable. I made a strategic error in the fight: I had Jaguar fighting a "pinball machine," that is, a heavily-customized mech. Now they know they can do it (though I've got reasonably strict rules about mech customization and how it affects piloting); so Jaguar also jumped on that bandwagon. That said, he very carefully went over what he wanted to do in order to minimize the impact of the customization on his mech's performance.
The following day, the mercenaries went to contact Bynjo Han, and get ahold of that replacement arm for Emma's Wasp LAM. Bynjo is based largely on the Outlaw Star character Fred Lau. Fred is the arms dealer who supplies the protagonists with weapons and equipment in the show. Also, Fred is flamboyantly gay and crushes hopelessly on the protagonist, Gene Starwind. So of course, Bynjo gave them a great deal on what they needed...in exchange for Sir Zeke agreeing to go out with him on a date. So after a fairly amusing and awkward dinner, the mercenaries got the equipment they needed and headed to the dropship to take off to Amity, the Marik world from which they'd be staging the objective raid they signed up for.
Amity is a frozen world, whose best days are behind it. The mercenaries met up with the local garrison and managed to not make complete fools of themselves in the bar; though they did give it the old college try. They also met the strike team that they'll be working with on the mission. They learned that the mission plan is to hit the Steiner world of Hyde (Marik has been raiding Hyde regularly for a long while; it's a very strategically valuable world for Steiner as a source of water for the surrounding systems). Because I didn't want to work out a company-sized force, they're going in as a small expeditionary band, to cause as much damage as they can and then pull out. I'm planning to give them a bunch of different small objective "missions" that they can do once they're on Hyde which will affect what enemy forces they'll face as they move around. The Tactical Handbook has some advice on running this kind of a scenario set, so I'll be consulting it some more as things shape up. But before they go to do their real mission, they had the (pretty good) decision to play a little war game with the rest of their raiding party against the local garrison; to familiarize each other with their tactics and capabilities and make their actual mission go more smoothly. This is a much larger battle than they've deal with before. I think the Mechwarrior Companion ruleset is actually making it play a little bit faster than Battletech normally plays, but it's still going to be a long battle. With the holidays we've been on a bit of a break, but the holidays are about wrapped up, so it'll be Battletech time again soon.