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Headscratchers: BattleTech
  • I've always asked myself this : why are the pilot not better protected? I mean, all it needs is a cockpit included in the torso and some video sensors in place of the head. But no, they feel obligated to expose an exceptionally skilled and specialized warrior to heavy weapon shooting.
    • One of the main reasons for putting the cockpit in the hard-to-defend head as opposed to the well armored torso is the ejection system. With the cockpit in the head, all the ejection system has to do is fling the pilot straight up as high as it can and then deploy the parachute for a nice and (supposedly) safe landing. If the cockpit is in the torso, then not only are you going to have to punch a hole through the thick torso armor (assuming any is left by the time the pilot ejects) but you also are limited to either straight forward or up at an angle, probably about 45 degrees above horizontal max. You could send the pilot backwards away from the enemy (assuming that the pilot wasn't flanked and attacked from the rear), but that would require placing the cockpit behind the internals of the torso, and generally the rear armor is weaker on 'mechs than the front armor as you're not supposed to let the enemy get behind you.
      Also putting the cockpit in the torso puts the pilot closer to the miniature star that the 'mech has for a power plant. And depending on which rules you follow, will explode like a bomb if overloaded or breached.
    • The cockpit is a pen and paper contrivance. If you look at several of the mechs, they actually do keep the head in the torso. The Urbanmech and Scorpion are two models. The Spider actually does keep the pilot in the chest due to size constraints, but the problem is as the troper above says: you can't eject from it and it has a reputation for being a deathtrap mech.
    • First, while the torso has more armor than the head on all but the very lightest Battle Mechs, it also tends to get hit much more often. (This is especially true once the 'Mech starts to take enough damage for the transfer rules to come into play.) And second, torso-mounted cockpits are actually available as optional but canonical experimental gear. They have pretty much the disadvantages alluded to above — the pilot can't eject, so destroying the center torso will kill him or her, and is more vulnerable to damage from his or her machine's heat buildup once the cockpit's also relocated life support suffers a critical hit. The torso cockpit is also more cramped than a normal one, so it's actually harder to control the 'Mech from there. On the plus side, without the cockpit getting in the way you can put more and bigger weapons and/or equipment into the head...
    • The lack of ejection doesn't really make a ton of sense. As he originally stated, it's not a matter of "where do you locate the glass cockpit" it's "why have a glass cockpit at all?" There's really no reason why the cockpit can't be located on the top of the mech, but without the exposed bubble. A simple hatch on the top of the mech the way an actual tank has would allow one to get in and out, while still being able to be positioned behind the torso armor from any angle save above. And with the hatch on the top, you could still have an ejector seat that launches you out of the top of the mech.
      • Touched on in several pieces of fluff text: the reliability of electronic sensors (or the ability to jam them) versus the reliability of the old fashioned Mod.0 Mk.I eyeball. The Marauder, for instance, was noted to have a sensor system that severely limited its pilot's physical field of view, which was stated to have cost its pilots at least one battle when the sensors were rendered less effective in hindering terrain. Even with advanced electronics, being able to directly locate an enemy is still crucial. Alternately, consider that 'Mechs are not necessarily moving on a more or less 2D plane as a tank might. Many 'Mechs can jump, and being able to look out the viewscreen and tell where that 50-ton flying chunk of steel is going is a good sign as to how to react. If a 'Mech's electronic sensors are disabled in some fashion, at least a 'Mechwarrior with a viewport to look out isn't stuck being unable to see very far out past one's 'Mech.
  • A bit of Fridge Logic that gets a lampshade the size of a dropship hung on it in the cartoon-related sourcebook. One: How do you evacuate an entire planet's population in a matter of hours? Two, how in Kerensky's name did a Star Colonel get the authority to evacuate an entire planet? That's something akin to having a Major stroll into Guantanamo Bay and declare a complete evacuation of the entire island of Cuba.
    • A Star Colonel of 'Mechs is in fact getting very close the highest promotional rank (as opposed to elected) in the universe. Only a Galaxy Commander would outrank you. Military forces in BattleTech are significantly smaller than today because they pack significantly more firepower, so it's not unreasonable.
    • Just because a planet is inhabited, doesn't mean it's gonna have a large population. Unless someone knows where a definite number is given, for all we know Somerset had only the training academy and a city/town or two.
    • Actually, pulling up the sourcebook in question, the in-character document states: "Somerset has been totally depopulated. Not a single citizen of the Federated Commonwealth remains. According to Major Steiner's report, this event occured in less than an hour. As of the 3045 census, the population numbered roughly one million people." And for the second: Even so, bump it up to a colonel, or heck, even a general isn't going to have the authority (to use the above analogy) to say, "Ok, all Cuban citizens, you have been ordered to evacuate the island." Of course, after the above quote, it also kicks in the Fridge Logic/Horror: The population must have already been evacuated (It even gives some facts, that the dropships could only, at most, carry about 10k people and they were moving too fast to be that full), therefore they must have not only been evacuated beforehand, but according to comments made by the Falcons, been enslaved as well.
    • Regarding the Star Colonel getting the authority to make the evacuation, you're forgetting about Clan law: IIRC, he lost a Trial of Possession for the planet. The Clans are bound by their laws of honor to follow the terms set forth in a Trial that is executed in accordance with Clan laws. The Clans could(and canonically, did) re-invade at a later point, but in the immediate aftermath even the ilKahn of the Clans would not have been allowed to stop the Star Colonel from following the terms set forth - and as the Star Colonel noted, he was following the agreement to the letter, and if the action was in accordance with the letter of the challenge then it is allowed. Even if someone above him could stop it, the Star Colonel in question was the ranking officer of the planet's forces at the time and had full authority to issue such an order even without the Trial if the situation warranted it.
  • Something that bugs me on the games: How is a 30 ton mech STEALTHY? I mean, you are supposed to get into the enemy base, scan the building (less than 100 meters in MW4: Mercenaries) and not be noticed? Granted, they are night missions, but still, how can't you notice a 30 ton mech size of a building next you? Especially when it's painted bright pink? Even if you were asleep you should hear when such thing stops next to you.
    • Well, you do have a few heavily armed pals shooting up the other side of the base which is kind of a distraction. Maybe every one in the buildings was busy watching that, or they were all hiding in bomb shelters in the basement or whatever the BattleTech equivalent is and couldn't hear you. Besides you had your radar switched off and could paint your mechs in colours that camouflage you better so maybe they did not spot you.
    • I guess it's stealthy by comparison, but it seems like a small, fast recon vehicle would be even harder to spot in the mayhem. Weirdly, this is exactly what happens on most other recon missions in the games—you cause the mayhem, but the actual recon is done by someone driving a Swiftwind or something similar.
    • Part of that is that it's a computer game. The appeal is, for most of the fanbase, doing everything in a mech. Yes, a swiftwind makes more actual sense, but it's hardly "fun". Remember allso, BattleTech sensors are generally crap, as they have to, among other things, overpower the local interference from jamming devices, be those attatched to a mech or other vehicles or the just plain massive fusion powerplant running the base-to-be-scanned.
    • As for hearing the mech, again, computer games. The computer games have never once done Melee combat, in spite of it being a prominent part of the source material, largely because it's very difficult. Same for good stealth action, look how difficult it is to convey in games actually about stealthy shenanigans. In a game where exploding the enemy is the main draw? Be glad any stealth was thrown in. Some of that holds for the Board Game as well, it'smostly there because vehicles of even twice the weight are easier to "mission kill" than a mech.
  • How did the clans, who's collective military forces number around 110,500 (Citation Battletech: Warriors of Kerensky) men manage to hold onto numerous occupied planets. That number is not enough to hold onto Iraq on Earth, and replacing losses is not easy for the clans.
    • Planetville. BattleTech plays that trope so straight it's not even funny, even for the capital worlds of entire Successor States. Heck, the Word of Blake took Earth (the one planet we actually do all know firsthand from real life) away from 'secular' ComStar easily enough.
    • Also, for most people in-universe, being conquered by a different state means hauling down the old flags and putting up the new ones with the only real change being where your taxes are sent each year and, if you are a nobleman, who you have to swear allegiance to. On a lot of the border planets that have been regularly fought over, they generally have this system down to a fine art.
    • It's mentioned in the novels. Clan warriors that are disgraced or too old are a separate garrison force and aren't frontline troops. They might also use their own version of non-mech vehicles: at least one clan even in the invasion force is fond of integrating mechs and conventional armor. My guess is the military forces listed there are the biddable forces they use for direct invasion, and not the support that they use to administer worlds.
    • The forces required for garrisons in BattleTech are vanishingly small. In 3020, a backwater world of only a million or less inhabitants was considered fully garrisoned by a company of 12 mechs. Even in the 3050s, a Full Regimental Combat team was considered enough to garrison a major world...consisiting of 104 mechs, 210 tanks, and about 2000 infantrymen.
  • Forgive me if this question is explained somewhere in the BattleTech 'verse, since my familiarity with the setting begins and ends with MechWarrior 2, but how do MechWarriors deal with motion sickness? (This question applies to any setting with Walking Tanks, really)
    • Probably through training and just getting used to it; not everyone in real life suffers from motion sickness and it is possible to get over it. Even the most rudimentary Mechwarrior training programs last about 2 years, if you can't get over it by than you will probably have to wash out or switch your branch of service. According to The Other Wiki motion sickness is triggered by the ears telling the brain one thing (you are moving) and your eyes tell it another (you are not moving). You get sick because the brain assumes that one of them is hallucinating and vomiting gets induced to remove any toxins that might be affecting your sensory organs. Now keep in mind that Mechwarriors have to have (at least) above average motor control and reflexes (making it easier to compensate for the fact that they can't "see" the Mech walking) and that they use neurohelmets to do all fine motor skills like walking. Between all these things it probably isn't that much of a problem.
  • MechWarrior 2 depicts energy weapons as bolts. MechWarrior 3 and beyond depict them as continuous beams of light. Which is canon?
    • For lasers, continuous beams (though they last very, very briefly for safety reasons). PP Cs fire what looks like lightning; one model deviates slightly by firing what appears to be "ball lightning", though there is no difference ascribed to this function over or under other examples of PPC. In general, MechWarrior 3 is considered to have the closest look to what's described in the books.
  • Why hasn't the Inner Sphere expanded in the centuries since the Exodus? It's not like the constant warfare decimated civilian populations, what with the Ares Conventions and all, and the Word of Blake Jihad only happened towards the end of the current timeline. In fact, the House Davion sourcebook even hints that the growing population of the Inner Sphere may necessitate expansion in the future (the book was written during the Succession Wars). What happened to that?
    • The Ares Conventions (which had in fact been suspended when the Star League was founded) were completely ignored during the first two Succession Wars (the two most savage conflicts in the game's timeline, a form of limited warfare based on the Conventions only came into play during the Third War) and one major loss was Jumpship production, in addition to the huge losses of existing vessels. The few factories that were left could only produce a dozen or so on a yearly basis at best and spare parts were rare; large scale colonizations of unknown territory would require a logistical capacity that had been destroyed. Plus the Successor States were focused on their neighbors from the Fall of the Star League until the Clan Invasion; they couldn't spare the funds, troops, and ships to establish new worlds because that would leave their borders undefended. Finally they would either have to choose to control these colonies very indirectly or make huge concessions to Comstar to set up Hyperpulse Generators so they can actually speak with the frontier. While colonization may have been possible after the discovery of the Helm Memory Core (probably what the House sourcebook was alluding to) and a ton of Lostech; the Clan Invasion, the Fed Com Civil War and the Jihad (which all pretty much happened back to back to back) all provided a significant distraction.
  • Clansmen shun the use of contractions, yet they are perfectly fine with combining words in other ways, such as quiaff (Query Affirmative) and quineg (Query Negative), even batchall (battle challenge). Is this a Double Standard?
    • And speaking of which, the Clan pilot in the MechWarrior 2 intro video uses contractions over and over and over again.
    • The games (Mechwarrior 2 in particular, 3 and 4 were generally better) had a tendency to be inconsistent regarding Clan speech. The explanation for why contractions are not allowed but combinations (and inventing entirely new words, usually borrowed from Russian) are fine is that the former demonstrates laziness while the latter was done to fill gaps in the English language. I believe that quiaff/quineg were brought in to remove any ambiguity from their speech or at least that's what the sourcebooks said.
  • What's with the inconsistency in the size of 'Mech to cockpit ratios? The 75 ton Timber Wolf has a cockpit that looks like it fills most of the center torso, while the 50 ton Hunchback has a cockpit that looks relatively small compared to the rest of the 'Mech, meaning the lighter Hunchback appears to be larger than the Timber Wolf. And that's just one example. Compare this Commando with this Catapult. The Catapult should be larger, but the Commando's cockpit takes up less space than the Catapult, indicating that the Commando should be larger. I'm sure there are other examples, but these two are the only ones that I can think of right now.
  • Why can't vehicles use double heat sinks? Is there an in-universe explanation for this that can handwave Game Balance Issues?
    • It mostly is a game balance issue. Since fusion engines always come with ten free heat sinks regardless of type, any fusion-powered combat vehicle with double heat sink technology would have a free dissipation of twenty heat points per turn right off the bat — and it still would only need to track heat for its energy weapons, so unlike for 'Mechs any missile or ballistic systems it also carried wouldn't even have to come out of that. Definitely edging into Game Breaker territory there. As for in-universe reasons, well, the TechManual vaguely blames their "increased bulk and other factors" for making them unsuitable for vehicular use...
  • Why does so much material from novels to games feature fusion reactors blowing up? The source material has made it clear again and again that a breached reactor shuts down - not as a failsafe, but because the reaction can no longer be sustained. If writers want Stuff Blowing Up they can get the same dramatic effect from ammo explosions, which ARE an established danger in the source material and game rules.
    • purely rule of cool for the cases of fusion reactors going off like that in the novels and while standard rules do indeed don't have reactors going off like bombs their exists optional rules to have them.
      • This is known as Stackpoling, after Michael Stackpole, the author who loves make mechs go boom.
  • Okay, my last contact with Battletech was before they shut down Wiz Kids, so please explain one thing. WHY DID DEVLIN STONE SABOTAGE THE SAME REPUBLIC HE'D INVENTED?!
    • in-universe who knows... Out of Universe because you can't have peace in a *war*game.
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