It is the 31st century, a time of endless wars that rage across human-occupied space. As star empires clash, these epic wars are won and lost by BattleMechs, 30-foot-tall humanoid metal titans bristling with lasers, autocannons and dozens of other lethal weapons; enough firepower to level entire city blocks. Your elite force of MechWarriors drives these juggernauts into battle, proudly holding your faction's flag high, intent on expanding the power and glory of your realm. At their beck and call are the support units of armored vehicles, power armored infantry, aerospace fighters and more, wielded by a MechWarrior's skillful command to aid him in ultimate victory. Will they become legends, or forgotten casualties? Only your skill and luck will determine their fate.
— From the backcover of Total Warfare sourcebook
The BattleTech board game was launched by FASA in the early '80s, evolving from traditional tabletop wargaming like Dungeons & Dragons, but influenced by the relatively new genre of mecha anime rather than fantasy. At the most basic level, a BattleTech game featured two teams of four 'Mechs, each with their own unique arsenal of weaponry, defenses, and movement capabilities, which would proceed to beat each other into the ground across a terrain map. As the background fiction developed, scenarios were written to provide specific settings and rules to "recreate" the fictional battles of the 31st century, and expansions to the rules included conventional units, space combat, and large-scale warfare, bringing the game right back to its roots.
BattleTech revolves around (mostly) small battles between groups of 3-10 Humongous Mecha per side, in Turn-Based Combat on (usually) paper◊ or 3-dimensional hex-based◊ maps, or for more advanced players, non-hex maps◊ where movement is calculated in inches and line-of-sight is determined by laserpointers. Players first declare their movement, then attacks, then calculate their mech's heat buildup, then the other player does the same. Rolls for firing and precarious movement are done using two six sided dice (2D6). Damage is calculated on cards with a simple diagram of the mech◊, which has the mech's armor, internal health, and status of the pilot and various equipment.A large emphasis on the game is on customization. The game has literally hundreds of mech chassis, many with dozens of variants a piece, but players are encouraged to customize their units. A player might swap out his large engine for a smaller engine, exchanging speed for more firepower or armor. The basic game, with the "Tech 1" rules, has a fairly small amount of selection in regards to equipment, but Tech level 2 and 3 greatly expand the equipment selection.Unlike other wargames such as Warhammer 40,000, which require official minatures, BattleTech has no rules on what can be used to represent battlemechs; An index card on a stand with a stick-figure mech could be used to represent your AS7-D Atlas, or you could buy official pewter or lead miniatures. The game's basic rulebooks can be downloaded for free off of the official BattleTech website, even.A fan-made, computer version of BattleTech, called MegaMek, allows the user to play the tabletop hex-based note The non-hex based version (like what Warhammer 40k uses) of the game is not available game on the computer for free. Online play is available, as are AI controlled players.
Humankind has set off into the galaxy, colonizing planets in a wide area radiating from the Earth, an area known as the Inner Sphere. With this work being more on the cynical side of the scale, the colonists were mostly "undesirables" thrown out of Earth. This, along with many other reasons, led to the almost non-stop wars of aggression and independence.During one of such wars, the Terran Hegemony created the Battlemechs, the hulking mechanical bipedal titans that would soon became the dominating force on the battlefields of the Inner Sphere.Eventually, the Terran Hegemony, now reformed as the Star League, succeeded in unifying the whole region, and humanity entered the Golden Age, until an Evil Chancellor killed the ruler and took power for himself. The Star League Defense Force (SLDF) turned on the usurper and defeated him, only for the remaining noble families of the Star League to start fighting each other over the right to succeed to the throne. In disgust, general Aleksandr Kerensky of the SLDF took his whole army and departed into unknown space, leaving the nobles to fight out their differences in devastating wars.For three centuries, the five self proclaimed Successor States note The Federated Suns (House Davion), Lyran Commonwealth (House Steiner), Draconis Combine (House Kurita), Free Worlds League (House Marik) and Capellan Confederation (House Liao) along with numerous minor powers fought for dominance, transforming the Inner Sphere into quasi-feudal society, while the Earth-based semi-religious organization known as ComStar, formed by the remains of Star League's Department of Communications, observed this for their own agenda (Having a monopoly on the only means of interstellar communications helps). During these three centuries of total war, humankind lost a considerable amount of knowledge, now called Lostech, almost descending into dark ages. Only a discovery of the Star League Field Library Memory Core prevented that.The intensity of the conflict and the resulting technological regression had also caused a stalemate between the Successor States. This was only broken when Houses Steiner and Davion merged to form the Federated Commonwealth, which proceeded to nearly destroy House Liao in the Fourth Succession War, as well as seize a lot of territory from Houses Kurita and Marik. The newly formed House Steiner-Davion seemed poised to eventually conquer the Inner Sphere but in the year 3050 a new enemy appeared.After three centuries of exile, the descendants of the SLDF, now calling themselves "The Clans", launched a Blitzkrieg invasion of the Inner Sphere. Following the will of Aleksandr Kerensky and armed with advanced Battlemechs, weapons, and Battle Armor, their intent was to end the still-ongoing Succession Wars by force. The two most prominent Clans of this invasion were Warden Clan Wolf, the direct successors of Kerensky bloodline who feel that the Crusader Clans were using Kerensky's will as an excuse to take over Inner Sphere and thus take part in the war to minimize damage, and the Crusader Clan Jade Falcon, who see the Inner Sphere as their rightful domain torn apart by fake usurpers. The invasion was eventually halted by using the Clans' own rules against them, honor binding them from attacking Inner Sphere for 15 years, but not before the Clans carved a huge chunk of territory out of the nearby Successor Statesnote Parts of the Draconis Combine, the Lyran side of the F-C, and nearly devouring the breakaway Free Rasalhague Republic, and for the next several decades both the Inner Sphere and the Clans will be busy dealing with the consequences.Within the Clans, the Crusaders led by Clan Jade Falcon were pointing at the Clan Wolf as a scapegoat, accusing their Khan, Ulric Kerensky, of a deliberate sabotage of the war effort, and were calling to break the 15 years truce and immediately restart the invasion. In return, Ulric initiated a Clan-scale Trial of Refusal in order to thwart Crusader ambitions, starting a war (which will be later known as the Refusal War) between the Wolves and the Falcons. The Wolves had lost the war with Ulric killed in action, but not before crippling the Falcon's might, effectively rendering all their invasion plans moot.Meanwhile in the Inner Sphere, the Clan threat convinced the previously stubborn leaders of the Five Successor States to form an alliance, and eventually create the Second Star League. In order to show the Clans that they meant business, they launched a large-scale military operation against the most aggressive and brutal of the Crusader clans, Clan Smoke Jaguar, retaking the former Combine territories and destroying the clan entirely. Then the new SLDF headed for Strana Mechty, the Birthplace of the Clans and took part, and won, in the Great Refusal that would both practically and officially end the unified large-scale Clan Invasion.After this the Federated Commonwealth fractured and triggered a civil war that would ravage the two member Successor States. The conflict would also spill into the rest of the Inner Sphere and trigger more conflicts as the FedCom gains of the Fourth Succession War were gradually undone. When the fires finally died down the leaders of the Inner Sphere noticed that the Second Star League had effectively stood aside while its members mauled each other and the alliance was disbanded as a result. The idea of the Star League was effectively discarded as a foolish ideal by everyone. Everyone, except one group.Furious at the disbanding of the Second Star League, The Word of Blake, a powerful and very Church Militant splinter faction of ComStar, started a Jihad against the Inner Sphere. Deploying the heavily modified cyborg fanatics armed with the new Star League-derived technology, using WMDs and orbital bombardments outlawed by Ares Conventions, creating chaos and confusion to fracture the already unstable states even further, the Blakists were posed to recreate the Star League in their own image. After enduring several years of intense fighting, the factions of Inner Sphere, including the Clans, formed an alliance to defeat the Word of Blake, in the end nuking them to oblivion.While the Inner Sphere was busy dealing with the Word of Blake, the Clans had their own problems. The Homeworld-based Clans back in the Kerensky Cluster and Pentagon Worlds were engaged in political infighting fueled by the failure of invasion, resource shortages and accusations that the Clans that had extensive contact with Inner Sphere were being "tainted by Inner Sphere's barbaric ways and were strayed from the true path of the Clans", which then after several proverbial sparks escalated into the full blown civil war and the rebellion of the scientist caste led by the scientist-run cabal known as the Society. These conflicts, later known as The Wars of Reaving, ended with the complete annihilation and absorption of several Clans, many bloodname gene vaults destroyed or beyond salvage and the majority of the scientist caste purged. In the end, the Homeworld Clans and the Inner Sphere Clans abjured each other and cut off all communications.From the ashes of Jihad, a man named Devlin Stone, one of the key figures in defeating the Word of Blake, revived the Terran Hegemony in the form of Republic of the Sphere. Stone's intent was to end the constant wars by creating a nation that throws out the old status quo by being a powerful buffer state in the middle of Inner Sphere, not unlike the Terran Hegemony during the Star League era, and with the general exhaustion in the wake of Jihad that left no one who was able or interested in starting another large scale conflict (except the Capellans, but they were quickly humiliated), he succeeded.Five decades of relative peace have passed with few minor wars, and the political situation in the Republic and the relations with its neighbors is near breaking point after Stone's retirement, and it was evident to all that one wrong event in the wrong time could shake the house of cards down. That event came in the form of a simultaneous attacks (be it a computer virus or a military action) on the majority of hyperpulse generators in the Inner Sphere, leaving the factions disconnected, without information, and rushing to prepare to take opportunity of this crisis or defend against such. And while the older factions stayed relatively unified, the unconsolidated hotbed of different cultures that was the Republic splintered into many micro-factions. Most of these eventually either joined or were conquered by the Great Houses and the Clans, who came upon the weakened Republic like hungry vultures. Besieged from all sides, the desperate Republic activated the fortress-republic system that prevented anyone from jumping into their core systems, often with fatal results, and abandoned the worlds outside the wall to the conquerors. With all easy pickings taken and high on momentum, the old factions soon turned on each other, all while waiting for the walls to come down.
MechWarrior - A first-person, real-time mech combat simulator series, for the PC.
MechAssault - A third-person mech action series for Xbox. While set in the BattleTech universe, it diverges greatly in terms of gameplay.
MechCommander - A pair of real-time strategy games, where the player commands a lance of mechs against enemy mechs, fortifications, and tanks.
BattleTech Expanded Universe - The Expanded Universe contains the hundreds of novels, the animated series titled BattleTech - one of the few Western mech shows.
In 1996, FASA ran into a licensing problem that has since become famous. When the game was first created in 1984, eight of the core mecha were based on designs from such anime as Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Fang of the Sun Dougram (yes, the Marauder does resemble a Zentradi Officer's Battlepod). The Macross designs were legitimately purchased and were being used legally. However, other rights to the actual shows and that IP in the United States had been transferred to Harmony Gold, a Los Angeles-based real estate and TV firm, to be used to create the first third of the TV series Robotech. The situation seemed to be one of "live and let live" until the mid '90s, when FASA contracted with Tyco Toys for a line of action figures, and also began to produce a cartoon series. Around the same time, Harmony Gold sublicensed its share of Robotech to Playmates Toys as a tie-in to the Exo Squad line. Playmates also created a toy for the line that bore a stunning similarity to a Mad Cat 'mech, whereupon FASA sued. Harmony Gold countersued, citing the use of Robotech mecha in their game, and suspecting that FASA was going to use the designs in their upcoming cartoon and toyline. The actual outcome of the case has been sealed, so anyone who was not actually involved in the case really knows who won and who lost. However, FASA was sufficiently shaken by the experience to unilaterally stop using not only the Macross mechsnote Wasp, Stinger, Phoenix Hawk, Crusader = various iterations of the VF-1 Valkyrie; Ostscout, Ostsol = Regult Tactical Pod; Marauder = Glaug Officer's Pod; Rifleman = Defender; Warhammer = Tomahawk, Longbow = Spartan but the Dougramnote Shadow Hawk, Griffin, Battlemaster, Goliath, Scorpion, Thunderbolt and Crusher Joenote Locust derived mechs as well, and any other design not created by FASA themselves. This ended in the odd situation of having to ban the designs created for FASA by Studio Nue (who had created Super Dimension Fortress Macross) so that Battletech could be exported to Japan while not stepping on any toes. These 'Mech designs became known as the Unseen. The stats were (and still are) valid and legal for game purposes, but the ban did not allow any artwork or new miniatures to be made. In 2010-2011, Catalyst Game Labs tested the waters, believing that they could use the designs again, but backed off on the Macross 'mechs after the legal team at Topps advised them against it. The other 'mechs for a brief time were allowed a return to artwork, but after concerns about making miniatures gave Topps jitters, Catalyst was advised to not use that art either. So, basically we're at the status quo post 1996 again.Also in a unrelated bit when the game was first released in 1984 it was known has Battledroids but since Lucas owns the word Droid it got into legal trouble over that name so in it's next edition it was known has Battletech and has been that since.
This game and backstory contains examples of:
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2-D Space: Every space map in the game is two-dimensional, even the maps of the Inner Sphere.
Needle pistols, which blast out needle shaped shards of plastic. Plasma Rifles seem to operate on this too, as they fire out clouds of what used to be plastic blocks, that have been lased and converted into a superheated plasma state. Infantry can also use a Gyrojet rifle, which fires self-propelled rocket bullets rather than using gunpowder.
There are missiles which deploy minefields, and artillery shells that launch radio and radar jammers. Some missiles can use Inferno rounds, which is basically napalm on crack.
Another special mention goes to the Fluid Gun, which, as the name suggests, can be adapted to spray a variety of fluids, including water, oil, coolant, Inferno gel, and acid.
Absent Aliens: Humanity has spread across the galaxy, and there are no other sentient species out there. Subverted in that there are alien creatures living on other planets, but they're all more or less the equivalent of wild animals, and humans interact with them as such.
Ace Custom: Encouraged by the construction rules and supported by the fiction. Even with scores of distinct "stock" 'Mech designs rolling off the factory lines in usually a number of variants already, individual MechWarriors still show up in customized personal rides time and again. Possibly the earliest example in the novels (and certainly still one of the iconic ones) is Justin Allard's Yen-lo-wang, a Centurion modified to replace its autocannon and long-range missile rack with a shorter-ranged but far more powerful autocannon specifically for arena combat.
Actually Four Mooks: Battlearmor come in squads of four (or five, for the Clanners). Infantry come in even bigger sizes. Some miniatures portray the correct amount of infantry/powered armor, some don't.
Aerith and Bob: With all the cross-cultural influences going on, it's not too unusual. Probably the best-known example is Takashi Kurita and his son Theodore.
Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Cloud Ten airborne aircraft carrier. It's basically a zepplin with a fighter bay and surveillance equipment.
The Alliance: The Second Star League was a joint Inner Sphere front against the Clans; rather than a political union like its predecessor.
The Council of Six formed by the Inner Sphere Clans after the Wars of Reaving resembled the old Grand Council but, rather than acting as a ruling body, it was meant to allow the now isolated Clans to survive in the Inner Sphere, mostly through jointly restoring the HPG network, their now purged Scientist castes and some of their military hardware and bloodnames that were devastated by the Jihad and the Wars of Reaving.
Devlin Stone's anti-Blakist Coalition is notable for its sheer diversity. It included the five Great Houses, all six Invader Clans, most of the major Periphery states, and a huge number of mercenary companies. Things were not exactly smooth but they did accomplish their goal and managed to avoid full scale conflict among themselves afterwards.
All Planets Are Earth-Like: Within a reasonable limit, all inhabited planets have between 0.9 and 1.1 atmosphere pressure, 0.9 to 1.1 g-gravity, and Earth norm temperature ranges, though no planet is as comfortable for humans as Earth is. There are exceptions (like the dome-covered cities of Sirius V where the atmosphere is methane), but then again, humans would tend to pick earth-like planets to settle.
Quite a few planets have issues involving gravity as well as unpleasant (and barely survivable) biomes. Ice planets in particular seem popular.
Source materials also mention Star League-era terraforming technology. In addition, it is frequently noted that settlers introduce genetically modified variants of Terran flora and fauna to colonized planets.
Alpha Strike: The contextual trope namer. Step one: fire every weapon you have, simultaneously. Step two: hold your breath and hope to god your mech can sink the heat. - failure to sink enough heat can result in such conditions as death by internal ammunition explosion, death by heat stroke, or death by hostile fire while your machine shuts down and tries to cool off. Step three: hope that you land a knockout.
Crosses over into Exactly What It Says on the Tin with some models, as it is not hard to guess what a Mech with a name like Axman or Hatchetman are boasting.
Ancestral Weapon: Families will pass down Mechs from father (or mother) to son/daughter. Justified by the fact that a Mech usually costs millions of C-Bills and thus is a valuable heirloom as well as a tool of war. For some perspective, if A Time of War, set in the Jihad era of 3068-3080 is any indication then the average peasant can save up 10,000 C-Bills. That's approximately $65,400 U.S. Dollars, at 2010 values.
Not to mention that, before the coming of the Clans with their OmniMech technology, 400+ year old Star League-era mechs were actually more technologically advanced than brand new 'Mechs being produced in the 3025 era. The constant war and strife has nearly "beaten humanity back to the stone age" (e.g. mid-late 20th Century) where repairing BattleMechs is essential when the base technology is not even all that well understood. Same goes for the Kearny-Fuchida drives in the JumpShips, which nearly all date back to the Star League era since the technology to construct new faster than light drive engines had been lost until a recent resurgence. See also Ragnarok-Proofing.
In one scenario from an early gamebook, a pair of Mackies from the original production run, the first BattleMechs ever designed and centuries old, passed down through a family from the days of the Terran Hegemony, are powered up to fight the Black Widow Company. They usually acquit themselves with great distinction.
Ancient Conspiracy: ComStar among others - there are multiple sourcebooks for the various ancient conspiracies lurking in the background.
Animal Mecha: These occasionally crop up, being regular battlemechs with some animal motifs (such as the Wolfhound◊ light mech containing its sensor equipment in ear-like lobes on the cockpit, making it look vaguely like a wolf head or the Mandril◊)
Animal Motifs: Almost all of the Clans. The sole exception is Clan Blood Spirit, named for the concept of esprit d'corps.
And they eventually inverted the trope. The blood spirit, a genetically engineered vampire bat, was named FOR the Clan instead of the other way around. Granted, it was meant as a Take That, but there you go.
Clan Diamond Shark was originally Clan Sea Fox. The name change was due to the introduction of the diamond shark (also genetically engineered, by a rival Clan) into the sea fox's native habitat, where it promptly drove the former species to effective extinction. Some sea foxes did apparently survive in captivity, though, and Clan Diamond Shark is scheduled for a name change back to Sea Fox around 3100.
Arbitrary Minimum Range: Many long-range weapons have minimum ranges, making it harder to hit within that minimum range.
Arcade: Back in the 1990's, there were several Battletech Centers - an immersive arcade with enclosed mech combat simulators. The place was designed to feel like being in the universe of Battletech. Also notable for having Jim Belushi in one of the barker videos the Centers would play.
Archaeological Arms Race: During the Succession War era, the discovery of Lostech caches can cause small-scale wars over their possession. Then the Gray Death Legion mercenaries discovered the Memory Core with almost complete lostech schematics and spread it contents through the Inner Sphere despite the efforts of ComStar.
Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: In MechWarrior swords are described as still being a preferred weapon aboard starships because combat will invariably be close quarters and the blade won't rupture the ship's hull as opposed to firearms.
Arch-Enemy: Dozens of cases here. If two factions have shared a border for any length of time they probably hate each other.
Secular (relatively) ComStar and the Church Militant Word of Blake hate each other as they believe that the other has perverted Blake's vision. Jerome Blake would have hated what ComStar had become when Conrad Toyama succeeded him, so post-schism ComStar is more his vision.
The Free Worlds League and the Lyran Commonwealth despise each other for both economic purposes and because their conflicts in the Succession Wars were among the most brutal.
The Capellan Confederation is still bitter from all the losses the Federated Suns dealt it. The Taurian Concordat is pretty much an entire nation of General Rippers; to them the Suns are behind everything.
The Draconis Combine had the typical hate with the Suns and the Commonwealth but also had a sore spot with several mercenary units. The most notable case was Takashi Kurita's personal vendetta with Wolf's Dragoons; which lead to him losing the Fourth Succession War when he threw an entire military district worth of forces at five regiments.
The Davions and Kuritas became more amiable towards each other due to an Enemy Mine situation that the Clans precipitated. The rank and file of the Combine and FedComs, however... old animosities die hard, especially with the more conservative elements.
The Wolves and the Jade Falcons have a history of bad blood; they lead opposing factions within the Clans and the Falcons are still upset that the Wolves possess exclusive rights to the Kerensky bloodname.
Clan Diamond Shark never really forgave the Snow Ravens for wiping out their original namesake the Sea Fox. Their revenge generally consists of jacking up prices though.
Clans Blood Spirit and Star Adder are constantly in conflict; though the latter is far stronger in this case and the Spirits usually end up losing. Completely, in fact, as of the end of the Wars of Reaving.
Clan Ghost Bear and Hell's Horses clashed with each other more than once, but both consider the other as worth opponents.
The Inner Sphere and the Clans as a whole; the former didn't appreciate losing a few hundred worlds and the Clanners blame the Successor States for ruining the Star League. Eventually the Ghost Bears and the Rasalhague Republic, the Ravens and Outworlds Alliance and the Wolves-In-Exile and the Lyran Commonwealth start to patch things up.
The Word of Blake is pretty much this to the rest of humanity; no one wanted a Succession War style conflict and weren't pleased at all when the Blakists started one over the break up of the, nearly powerless in practice, Second Star League.
Arm Cannon: There are 'Mechs that fit in both variations. In fact, 'Mechs that physically hold weapons in their hands are very, very rare.
Armored Coffins: While almost all Battlemechs and aerospace fighters avert this, it applies to tanks, VTOL craft, Protomechs, and a few infamous deathtrap mechs, like the Spider SDR-5V, which has no ejection system. To get out in combat, the pilot needs to get out of the control chair, unhook his neurohelmet, and then climb through the hatch below the armored window.
The Hunchback IIC was made to be this by the Clans for warriors who are to old(above 35), to die in battle. But the mech is still formidable for Clan standards.
The Wolf Trap was a terrible mech designed as its ammunition bays are on its back and attacking mechs usually aim for its backpack. It was discontinued ten years after it was made.
To say nothing of the Lucifer, a medium aerospace fighter that has no ejection system due to a cockpit redesign. As Technical Readout: 3025 put it, "the pilot is strapped into his fighter until he lands or crashes, whichever comes first." Even worse, the fighter has problems with dead-stick atmospheric re-entry and its ammo bays have a tendency to suffer internal explosions (destroying the craft) even outside combat!
The four-legged Clan Hell's Horses second-line mech called the Thunder Stallion has been referred to as a "quad coffin" by some mechwarriors due to the fact that some of the ammo for its main weapon (a Class 20 Autocannon, one of the most powerful weapons in the game) is located in the head, where the pilot is also located. If that magazine gets cooked off with even one round loaded in, the mech gets decapitated and the pilot gets fried.
Arms Dealer: The Lyran Commonwealth, the Free Worlds League and Clan Diamond Shark, as well as many other private businesses.
Art Evolution: Early BattleTech art was usually very basic black and white◊ unshaded drawings (save for sourcebook covers). Later art◊ featured shading, digital art, and more visually complex designs. Later sourcebooks got more covered artwork, whereas earlier sourcebooks typically had more simplistic black-and-white artwork.
BattleMech designs shifted from relatively anthropomorphic chassis ripped directly (and quite a few cases, literally!) from Japanese anime to more mechanical designs more typical of Western mecha (which, ironically, BattleTech helped to popularize).
Artificial Gravity: JumpShips have rotating grav decks, while DropShips use thrust to simulate gravity. The not-quite-canon animated series also features grav boots.
As You Know: The Shattered Sphere sourcebook contains many excerpts from Lyran propaganda. The editor of the In-Universe document makes many notations correcting the historical events covered. Thing is, they are addressed towards Victor Steiner-Davion, usually regarding events that Victor himself was involved in.
Ascended Fanon: Megamek is an open-source java application that emulates the board game on the computer. In-universe, a nod is given in also being the name of the official military strategic planning software that the Lyran Alliance uses.
Amusingly, they also get hit with the predictable downside: because their system selects on single-combat prowess, it also doesn't select based on organizational or unit-based tactical skills. In combat with the Inner Sphere at the strategic scale, they lose more often then they win.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: Clan Ice Hellion's preferred method of operation, in both politics and war. Combined with their impatience, it usually ends poorly. So poorly that most of them got killed by the Falcons and Horses and the rest were Absorbed by the Scorpions.
Awesome, but Impractical: The raison d'etre of Battlemech combat. The invention of war machines much more expensive and much less effective than battalions of tanks or legions of infantry was supposed to make humans think twice about fighting each other, but of course that didn't happen.
Ironically it kinda worked. Most "wars" for a planet only involves an dozen or so mechs, in an open area, after a battle or two the loser walks off.
In the early days of the game, the vehicle rules underwent several rounds of nerfing to keep Mechs the dominant unit on the battlefield. People kept spending their points on tons of hovercraft and swarming the big slow targets.
another related hampering of most non mech units is the inability for them to mount double heat sinks for better heat dissipation which is why energy weapons are not the to go weapons for most of them.
Most Solaris 7 inventions are beyond useless in an actual battlefield, but are used in the arena because of how flashy they are. Swords, bucklers, Bombast lasers, and Flails are all popular weapons.
Badass Army: The (larger) Mercenary company armies are usually made of the best of the best Mech Warriors, pilots, and crews.
Many of the most prestigious House regiments, frontline Clan galaxies, the ComGuards and the Blakist Shadow Divsions also fall here. Getting a place within these units is an incredibly competitive process and many of the above mentioned mercenary units tend to recruit from House veterans who mustered out.
Badass Grandpa: There are examples of truly exceptional MechWarriors remaining active well into their 80's.
Balkanize Me: The Free Worlds League effectively ceased to exist during the Jihad, leaving half-dozen of larger nations and hundreds of independent planet-states. Most of the states were reunited later in 3139 by a descendant of the last Captain-General.
Batman Gambit: Ulric Kerensky deliberately sabotaged the Clan Invasion by performing better than the other clans, which caused them, already poorly equipped logistically and mentally unprepared for the real warfare, to trip over each other and spread themselves thin trying to one-up the Wolves. When he was tried by the Clan Council after the war, it basically consisted of Ulric and his defense proving that he was just doing his job.
He also pulled another gambit during the Refusal War with the Jade Falcons. Most of the Wolf warriors he led into battle were of the Crusader faction, while he sent most of the Warden-minded ones away to the Inner Sphere. Win or lose, he would thin out the ranks of the Crusader-oriented Wolves who were causing problems as well as deny the Falcons the pleasure of beating Wardens. However he also got hit by one where the Jade Falcons used their freeborn and low-skilled trueborn warriors as Cannon Fodder for Zerg rushes, so that by the time the Wolves got to the high-ranking and/or skilled Falcons they were worn down first.
Beam Spam: The state of any battle in which a 'Mech with more than five laser weapons is in, with bonuses for pulse lasers. A number of designs, such as the Nova/Black Hawk Prime and the Flashman, are built to bring this.
Honorable mention also goes to designs such as the Awesome, the Warhawk, and the Hellstar, which carry multiple particle projection cannons, easily the largest and most destructive energy weapons available in the setting. And the I-UK Timberwolf variant, what with packing 11 ER Medium lasers and an ER Large laser, is it's own walking rave party.
The Medium Laser is ideally suited to this. It is, succinctly, perfectly balanced: One ton, one crit slot, no ammo requirements, three heat, five damage, respectable (albeit still short) range, and cheap if you're going into more campaign-based play. You can cram a stupid amount of these on a modern medium mech design and still have enough weight left over for extra heat sinks (double type, natch) to at least allow for most of them to be fired. Offshoot variants don't manage it quite as well; either due to range and weight (pulse variant) or excess heat (extended range variant). Some crazy, fan-constructed variants have mounted upwards of 50 of them into a single mech. That's more than enough potential damage to completely shuck even the heaviest mechs of all of its armor in a single salvo.
There is a canonical 'Mech that does precisely that—the Komodo is a 45-ton 'Mech designed to kill Power Armor. To do this, it brings a pants-browningly terrifying battery of ten medium lasers to the field, which is enough firepower to slag over three tons of armor in a single salvo. Note that the heaviest battle armor suits only weigh two tons.
Bears Are Bad News: Clan Ghost Bear symbology elicits this. They have a very heavy-weighted military, and became the premiere Warden clan after the War of Refusal tore Clan Wolf, the previous de facto "lead warden" clan, asunder. During the Jihad, a combination of a bombing by the Word of Blake at a summit on dealing with the Blakists claiming their Khan's life (among many others), and a series of usages of weapons of mass destruction against their civilian castes, prompted the Bears to throw all rules of warfare to the wind and went full "take no prisoners" against the Blakists. Their fury was so unrestrained that they were attacking other forces against the Blakists until they came to their senses.
Becoming the Mask: The Wolf's Dragoons apparently preferred life as mercenaries to life under Clan rule.
The Berzerker: Clan Smoke Jaguar was absolutely brutal in battling their enemies and in treatment of civilians. Additionally their forces were poorly disciplined and usually only held in check by highly charismatic officers. This attitude didn't work out very well; their brutality led to the Inner Sphere singling them out of destruction (both for their atrocities and their poor strategic decisions) and the rest of the Clans standing by and allowing them to be destroyed.
Bigger Is Better: The favorite strategy of the Lyran military is to send a slow avalanche of metal at their enemies. Some of their generals use heavy 'Mechs for recon, and are stymied why anyone would bother with medium and light units at all. Clan Ghost Bear also has a similar bias in their mechs, thanks to an abundance of raw materials enabling them to bias their touman (a Clan term meaning all the organic military assets, i.e. mechs, tanks, aircraft etc.) on the heavier side.
Explicitly mentioned in the description of the Heavy Gauss Rifle in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries ("Built around the concept that bigger is better, [...]"). No prize for guessing which nation commissioned that design.
Who was the first nation to field the Autocannon/20, the first headchopper weapon mountable on a 'mech, in centuries past? You guessed it... the Lyrans.
Amusingly, contrary to the stereotype the Lyrans actually do canonically have quite a few quality light 'Mech designs to call their own...which promptly led to some fans jokingly referring to such fully-fledged 'Mechs as the 25-ton Commando as "Lyran battle armor". The trope is also ultimately subverted — despite the big machines and a prestigious MechWarrior academy or two, the Lyran military gets just perhaps the least respect among those of the five major Successor States, due in large part to frequently less-than-competent leadership.
BFG: All 'Mech guns, really. But then there are Seriously Big Effin' Guns; Gauss rifles heavy and standard, any autocannon in the 20-bore size, Clan ER-PPCs, and Long Tom artillery pieces, any of which is sufficent to blow a suit of power armor to vapor or take a 'Mech's head clean off with one shot. And just as a modern tank's main gun is huge compared to a rifle but tiny compared to a battleship's turret, a Mech's guns are small compared to naval artillery as found on Dropships and Warships.
In infantry variants, there's Gauss rifles, which can be quite large. Or autojet rifles, which are like the Warhammer 40K bolters, imagine a modern rifle, except it shoots a rocket propelled, explosive tipped mini-rocket.
A mild subversion kicks in as units get bigger, though — eventually there aren't any bigger guns anymore and the only thing really left to do is mount more instead. For instance, even the heaviest individual BattleMech-portable weapons can in a pinch be squeezed into a medium 'Mech frame; the result may not carry any other weapons beyond its signature BFG and possibly cut some corners in other areas, but it can in principle be done. There isn't a single weapon that would actually require a heavy or assault 'Mech just to carry it. The Heavy Gauss Rifle comes close, but the only penalty is that any mech lower in mass than 60 tons has to make a piloting skill check each time it's fired.
BFS: Starting around 3050, Mechs gained a new melee option in mech sized swords, which further got expanded into experimental Vibroweapons versions later on. Should be noted that except for the aforementioned Vibro weapons, the melee weapons are basically stylized 5 ton metal clubs.
Compared to hatchets, swords have a better hit chance (due to better weapon balance) with a minor drop in potential damage.
Blood Sport: Solaris VII. Subverted in that while their Mechs will inevitably get destroyed thanks to the There Can Only Be One stipulation in the games, pilots themselves usually do not get killed; they will eject once their Mechs are nearing destruction.
Body Armor as Hit Points: Armor on BattleMechs, other vehicles and Battle Armor functions essentially as extra hit points that need to be ticked off before reaching the internal structure.
Boom, Headshot: Any weapon that can reliably outright destroy even an undamaged 'mech head in one shot should the Random Number God favor your hit location roll are colloquially referred to as "headchopper" guns. They're typically given much higher values in systems meant to quantify combat effectiveness.
Boring, but Practical: All that double heat sinks do is the same job as classic single heat sinks, only twice as well for the same weight...which basically renders the former obsoletenote In theory, double heat sinks should be balanced against singles by their considerably increased bulk, but the unit construction rules don't actually work out that way. and allows for unit designs with hitherto-unprecedented levels of firepower for their respective weight class.
In terms of weapons, the trope is embodied first and foremost by the medium laser. Modest damage, fairly short range... lightweight, compact, heat-efficient, no ammo needs, and arguably the most ubiquitous BattleMech weapon in the entire Inner Sphere.
Also, all those fancy BattleMech melee weapons and cool death-from-above moves? Frequently pale in comparison to a plain old 'Mech-sized kick, which comes completely free of chargenote Well, you can't have fired any leg-mounted weapons that turn... not a concern for most designs that aren't called Crusader. and tends to be accurate and do a fair chunk of damage — often to a target 'Mech's legs, which can cripple its mobility in short order once armor is breached. (Yes, there's a chance of overbalancing and falling yourself, but that's only if you miss in the first place.)
Add the Triple Strength Myomer boost to the battlemech kick and you pretty much can remove the legs from any foe who lighter then you and even some of the same weight class if they skimp on leg armor in one kick and against a downed foe results in some pretty brutal curb stomps and that's before you add the experimental Talon weapons for boosting kick damage which by the way ALSO benefit from the TSM boost.
A 'Mech design that has taken a somewhat bad rap for this in recent years is the Hellstar — a Clan assault machine with maximum armor for its 95-ton weight, four extended-range PPCs whose heat buildup it can sink completely, and no explosive components to be concerned about. Since Clan ER PPCs are "headcappers", that means it can basically walk onto a battlefield, engage the enemy 'Mech of its choosing, and has a 1-in-9 chance each turn note 1-in-36 for a headshot in the hit location table X up to 4 chances per turn to kill its target right then and there or, even failing that, deliver a heavy pounding under which something is bound to give sooner or later...lather, rinse, repeat as needed.
Born Winner: This is what Clan trueborns are intended to be.
Brain/Computer Interface: Clan "Enhanced Imaging" and the Inner Sphere's "Direct Neural Interface". Both allow the pilot to effectively control his or her 'Mech with their mind. Possible side effects include delusions of godhood and insanity. Direct Neural Interface also kills you after about a decade. Even among Clan warriors, most consider the consequences too excessive to be practical.
To clarify; all mechs are controlled in part by the pilot's mind, and always have been, via the Neurohelmet (which only requires a clean haircut instead of surgery). In particular, the mech's gyro is directly controlled by the pilot's sense of balance; whether an imbalance is pilot intent (such as tilting forward to walk or run) or peril (when a hard hit from weapons fire teeters the mech). It also gives indirect feedback, giving pilots a kinesthetic sense of their 'mech. Direct Neural Interface is a two-way system, feeding data from the mech's sensors directly into the mind, rather than using conventional status displays.
Brave Scot: The Northwind Highlanders, an illustrious and storied large mercenary outfit, are this. Their emblem comprises of a scottish claymore over a plaid kilt banner, and one of their favored 'mechs is the 90 ton assault mech of the same name.
Break-Out Character: More like Break-Out Mech: The Atlas is one of the most memorable and noted mechs.
Broken Pedestal: After their self-imposed exile, the Star League Defense Forces became viewed as heroes by the Inner Sphere. And then their descendants returned. Violently.
Car Fu: An interesting take on the concept, this is the premise from the popular lighter class mech urban tactic "Death-From-Above". Step 1: Realize your 40-ton mech can't go head to head with a 80-tonner. Step 2: Flee between skycrapers. Step 3: Jump-jet onto top of building, one that's taller than your opponent. Step 4: Wait until opponent is in jump range. Step 5: Gain as much altitude as possible before letting your "light" 35 tons of steel and armament come crashing down on top of your opponent. This is usually considered a last ditch tactic, as even a successful DFA is likely to cause some damage to the attacking unit.
Not just light mechs, either. The Highlander, a 90 ton Assault class mech, has jumpjets that allow it to DFA. Doing so is called the Highlander Burial, and can easily result in an instant kill by crushing the targeted mech's cockpit.
Catch Phrase: "This is [Rank] [Name] of the [Unit Name]! What forces defend [Objective]?"
Chicken Walker: Quite a few 'Mechs have reverse-joint legs, including favorites like the Marauder or the Timber Wolf.
Chest Blaster: Seen quite a bit, from BattleMechs that just install some secondary guns in the torso to support arm-mounted main weapons to such extremes as the Hollander light 'Mech that is basically just a BFG on legs (it's built around a Gauss rifle that by itself accounts for almost half its total weight and looks the part). The construction rules actually somewhat encourage this by generally making the left and right side torso locations the ones with the most room to install weapons and other equipment.
Slightly less insane than the Hollander is the classic Hunchback, whose variants (with very few exceptions) mount the biggest cannon possible for their tech level into their right torso. A Hunchback that DOESN'T have a gargantuan cannon jammed into its torso is such a different beast that most pilots will not call it a Hunchback at all (they're Swaybacks instead)
Slightly more insane than the Hollander is the Hollander II variant, built around the Heavy Gauss Rifle. Depending on the rules you're playing with, it has to potential to destroy itself.
The Clans built a model that takes it Up to Eleven: the Hunchback IIC features two of those monster cannons, one over each shoulder. Of course, in order to fit that monstrous firepower, certain things had to be sacrificed... such as armor and speed. Getting assigned to one is therefore generally an invitation to die in a Blaze Of Glory.
Some 'Mechs have smaller weapons embedded in their torsos, and the models depict them with the bore situated not far from dead center on the machine. Examples include the Hermes II, the Peregrine, and the Spider.
Special mention goes to the Fafnir, which has twin Heavy Gauss Rifles in its chest, enough to savage an entire Assault Mech unit even on its own.
Colony Drop: The Jihad had a few Asteroid Drops caused by Word of Blake, in one case framing the Federated Suns in the eyes of Taurian Concordat, sparking another front the Suns didn't need.
Cool Helmet: The Neurohelmet. The pre-Succession Wars/post-Clan Invasion neurohelmet are similiar to jet fighter helmets, while the Succession Wars era helmets are massive 10 pound monstrosities that limit the wearer's field of view.
Combat Pragmatist: Frequently Inner Sphere troops in general when compared to the Clans. Not all Clan warriors put Honor Before Reason, but enough of them do that peer pressure tends to keep the rest in line while the "dirty Spheroids" are largely free to run the gamut of what the Honor crowd considers acceptable tactics to gain an advantage in combat.
Company Store: Most nations in the Inner Sphere have tried to tie up mercenary companies in the national equivalents of "one company owns everything" from time to time, though some of the most famous incidents were the Draconis Combine's attempt to assimilate the Wolf's Dragoons into the Combine's military and the Federated Suns' hamhanded treatment of the Northwind Highlanders. Both ended tragically as the Dragoons ended up in a Pyrrhic Victory against Warlord Samsonov's forces on Misery, and the Highlanders, covertly backed by an agent of the Capellan Confederation who was a descendant of one of their heroes, decided to go independent when Katherine Steiner-Davion's actions triggered the FedCom Civil War, leaving FedSuns forces unable to keep hold of their homeworld of Northwind.
Continuity Nod: The Era Report: 3145 gives a few nods to the Clix Mechwarrior boardgame and the Wiz Kid era Dark Age novels:
The RISC cards, presented in-universe as unstable equipment that somehow shows up everywhere with no rhyme or reason, criticized by the in-universe writer of the report.
The inconsistent characterization of Anastasia Kerensky in the early novels:
The aimless bouncing from one goal to the next that characterized her actions in the mid-3130s caused many observers to question her mental state, with some claiming she seemed like a different person each time she popped up into the public eye.
The Chessmaster: ComStar had a hand in instigating a good number of conflicts during the Succession Wars.
Church Militant: The Word of Blake, its predecessor pre-schism ComStar, and Clan Cloud Cobra
Modern-day ComStar itself may be considered one as well, though with the religious aspects toned well down. Still, old habits die hard.
The Brotherhood of Randis straddles the line between this and Knights In Shining Armor. At any given time, a Knight can be studying the Bible, helping to build a hospital, or blasting the hell out of pirates.
The Clan: The different Bloodname families in the Clans work like this.
Crapsack World: Dozens of worlds are actually quite nice to live on. It's the hundreds of others - alternately exploited, ignored, and conquered by somebody or other - that are lucky to exist on the industrial level.
Somewhat Averted however. 90% of the time, the factions go out of there way to prevent as much civilian losses as possible and for them being conquered just means a new flag.
Critical Existence Failure: Averted (except with infantry). While 'Mechs can technically remain fully functional with a single hit point to the internal structure of their center torso remaining, there is a good chance of scoring a Critical Hit every time said internal structure is damaged. Damage to various internals such as the engine, leg and arm actuators and life support all have negative effects on the 'Mech. And MechWarrior pilots are more likely to lose consciousness as they take damage.
It is perfectly possible to kill a 100-ton 'Mech by getting a through-armor critical on the center torso that destroys the engine or the gyro. Doing so with some low-damage weapon such as a single LRM or SRM missile (or, more embarassingly, a machine gun) has make grown men cry.
If playing with optional "floating critical" rules, the same can occur but result in, say, the 'Mech's head getting blown off or the cockpit holed.
Machine gun ammunition bins, given how much damage potential it carries and how near-useless machine guns are in this game, commonly cause CT Fs.
Critical Failure: Death from Above attacks have a very high probability of dumping the attacking mech on its face, missing the target entirely. Rapid fire weapons like rotary and ultra-autocannons have a chance to jam if they're fired more than once in the same turn. It's possible to get critical failures from movement; roads are notoriously good at making your battlemechs stumble around like they're drunk, as players need to perform a roll when enter/exiting roads or turning on them - fail the roll, and the mech will faceplant onto the road or the ground next to it. God forbid you have to turn on a road while in a city, as failing the rolls will make your mechs slam into buildings, taking huge amounts of damage and even worse depending on what you slam into you could then cause the building you slam into to collapse on top of you for more damage.
The Experimental Hyper-Velocity Autocannon lines have a Critical Failure condition where getting a bad enough roll when using one of these Autocannons causes the gun to blow up in your face for damage to the unit using them.
Critical Hit: Any sort of combat machine, be it 'Mech, aerospace fighter, Dropship, or vehicle, can suffer critical hits. These are applied once armor is lost, and generally speaking the loss of any single slot of a component rendered the whole weapon useless. Even worse, some components, like Gauss Rifles and most forms of ammunition, could explode if hit.
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Clan Enhanced Imaging and the Word of Blake's Direct Neural Interface both allow the user much greater control over their vehicle. However they also cause psychological and physical problems; up to and including death after several years.
Generally averted for everything else; as long as you don't screw with the central nervous system than you can have as many Artificial Limbs and organs as you need. Even the extensively augmented Manei Domini, the above implant notwithstanding, are not merciless killers because of their augments; they are merely ideologically indoctrinated well before they were seriously upgraded.
The Cycle of Empires: The Successor States and the Crusader Clans are fighting one another to become the next empire after the Star League's fall.
Dark Messiah: Nicholas Kerensky to the Clans and The Master to the Word of Blake. Lesser examples for other factions come up with distrubing freqenecy.
Deadly Decadent Court: House Kurita's internal politicking is more often violent than not. Houses Liao and Steiner end up like this when the families crazier traits manifest in the current ruler. The Davions have to deal with a minefield of regional politics and lesser nobles while the Mariks have to contend with representatives from a few hundred worlds and very powerful provincial leaders. Civil wars are common in the Inner Sphere for this reason.
Death from Above: You can attack from higher ground to gain a chance to hit enemy 'Mechs in the vulnerable head area, call in air strikes or artillery, or perhaps just jump into the air and drop one multi-ton machine onto another. That last one is specifically called Death From Above in-game and in-universe. One rulebook even considers it good form to loudly declare Death From Above while attempting it in the course of a game.
Death Seeker: For a Clan warrior, the highest goal is a glorious death amidst a sea of fallen enemies, as it proves you have the courage and skill to be worthy of your genes being used to breed future generations. To live past the age of thirty is shameful, unless you're high-ranking enough that your badassery is truly without question.
Common among disgraced Combine warriors, who either wish to die in battle or be granted permission to commit Seppeku, and in The Fundamentalist units in the Word of Blake (particularly the Manei Domini), often carry out suicide attacks so they can die for their beliefs.
Also not unknown among Capellan troops since the Fourth Succession War went badly for the Confederation, Romano Liao took over to salvage what was left, and retreating from the enemy in combat effectively became treason and punishable by death. She's dead now, but "hopeless battle syndrome" has remained a real problem well into the reign of her considerably more rational son Sun-Tzu.
Death Trap: The base model of the Hunchback IIC mech is in-universe called one by most Clanners, since with it's light armor (for a medium size mech ) and sparse armaments (once the UAC 20 ammo is gone it only has 2 medium lasers to fall back on) anyone put into one is not expected to make it out alive. Given the above trope, aging Clan warriors will sometimes request this assignment so they can have a chance to die gloriously.
Death World: Many planets inhabitants depend on terraforming to stay alive on some of the worst examples. When the Star League collapsed and these technologies were lost, millions died in the Periphery to due disease and a lack of clean water and food.
The Clan homeworlds are at best considered sub optimal. Resources are in short supply, leading to wastefulness being a cardinal sin in Clan society. Many of the original SLDF exiles also contracted diseases in the early years. The Clans are also named for actual animals native (or modified and introduced) to their worlds, and these (which include lovely critters such as Steel Vipers, Ghost Bears and Smoke Jaguars) are often more dangerous than the Super Soldiers that took their names.
Clan Nova Cat as a whole defected to the Inner Sphere once they realized that the Crusaders were going to destroy any chance of the Star League being reformed. Clan Wolf (In Exile) had this forced on them, they sought to protect the Inner Sphere from Crusader aggression (under orders and in accordance with the Warden philosophy) but then the Jade Falcons came along, cheated to win the Refusal War and then had the Warden Wolves Abjured without a Trial.
Democracy Is Flawed: The democratic process in the Free Worlds League over the centuries has degenerated into a farce.
Designer Babies: The Clans' warrior caste are all test-tube babies, with their genetics manipulated to create Super Soldiers. Goes right down to "Freebirth" being a really nasty slur—"freeborn" is the neutral term for describing someone born naturally, but "freebirth" is a racial slur similar in offensiveness to the N-word.
Freeborns did sometimes join the warrior caste though; more than one series of the associated fiction involved a despised, bottom-caste Freeborn proving his worth as a warrior. In addition, certain Clans hold little or no value on test tube baby superiority, awarding rank and status purely on merit.
There's the opposite, "Trashborn" which is basically the term the Freeborn use for "Trueborn" aka. Designer Babies with the same concept in mind.
Clanner opinion changed after extensive warfare versus the Inner Sphere, especially in proving that older warriors weren't necessarily inferior (most Clanners past the age of about 30-40 were relegated to "cannon fodder" duty strictly on age).
Design It Yourself Equipment: Just about every vehicle in the game is customizable, or one can simply create wholly new designs from scratch; by the Total Warfare edition, there's an entirely separate book of construction rules, plus extra material to be found spread among several others. (Individual parts will still be off-the-shelf, though — whether you call it a ChisComp 43 Special or a Magna Mk III isn't going to make one large laser noticeably different from the next.)
Diabolus ex Machina: Just when a lot of LosTech has been rediscovered and things are starting to stabilize into the Republic of the Sphere, somebody throws a wrench into the works by shutting down the Hyperpulse Generator (FTL communications) network. The setting more or lesss immediately reverts to the pre-3025 political arrangement.
Divided States of America (The USA hasn't existed since the 21st century in the setting, but the Terran Hegemony and the Free Worlds League are close enough to qualify. In the Terran Hegemony's case their territory was divided up by the Successor States in a series of brutal wars following the fall of the Star League. In the Free World League's case . . . well, it's pretty much a Running Joke in the franchise that there's a betting pool going for when their next civil war is going to break out.)
Divided We Fall: The Free Worlds League tends to fight itself as often as it battles as other Successor States, mostly due to the fact that it's a collection of hundreds of "free worlds". It has had numerous civil wars (which are always exploited by the other Houses, and some of them are actually triggered by foreign spies) and during the Jihad broke up into no less than three major powers who all claimed to be the "true" Free Worlds League and were willing to fight to prove it. All while fighting the Word of Blake.
Clan Fire Mandril is arguably even worse than the League and this was intentional on the part of their first Khan. Divided into several Kindras they battle amongst themselves so often that they routinely get pulverized by other Clans. It got so bad that they were eventually Absorbed during the Wars of Reaving.
The Draconis Combine began to have these issues during the Clan Invasion and it only got worse as time went on. The reforms of Theodore Kurita were opposed by the Black Dragon Society, a bunch of hardline samurai traditionalists, who eventually engaged in armed rebellion against House Kurita. At the exact time the Word of Blake started its Jihad.
The Dreaded: Many individuals and military units fall here. However during the Succession Wars the mere threat that ComStar was considering to Interdict (refusing any communication services to the targeted party) you was enough to get all but the gutsiest leaders to back off. This is understandable as without the HPG network a nation is restricted to using months long and resource consuming Jumpship courier routes for interplanetary communication; throwing their military efforts, intelligence networks and economics into chaos.
Controlling Earth generally means you're the most powerful faction as well.
Elaborate Underground Base: Castles Brian (or "Castles named after Brian Cameron"), with the average one being the size of an average planetary capital city and rivaling a Dwarf Fortress for how long they can hold out against a siege.
The Empire: The Capellan Confederation, and the pre-Clan invasion Draconis Combine.
The Star League was like this to the Periphery nations; who were heavily taxed, denied the rights enjoyed by the Great Houses and were forced to join after the Inner Sphere attacked them in the Reunification War.
The Marian Hegemony practices slavery, used to be a bandit kingdom, and has conquered several other states in the Periphery. However they are far to weak to threaten any of the Successor States.
Enemy Mine: First happened with the feuding Successor States when the Clans invaded. And then, when the Word of Blake started the Jihad, the Successor States did this again with the very Clans that made them invoke this trope the first time. Of course, chances of the Successor States and the Clans allying with the Blakists in the future against an even greater threat is low, seeing how as all the Blakists are dead.
In the Dark Age, the Inner Sphere was shocked when the Wolf's Dragoons signed up with their traditional arch-enemy, the Draconis Combine, although by this time-frame almost all the Dragoons who had issues with the Draconis Combine were dead or retired by now which lessened the shock.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Hatchetman and Axeman BattleMechs; guess what they carry? Likewise the UrbanMech. It's the slowest light 'mech in the games (both original tabletop and the video games based off it), but it works because it's intended to be used in the kind of cover that a city can give.
Some of the 'Mechs can have rather pretentious names, but quite a few are surprisingly apt. The Charger excels at physical attacks like ramming, the Ostscout is a great recon vehicle (and dead meat if anywhere within a kilometer of a proper battle), and the Annihilator has eight rather considerable guns, half of which can fire the tactical equivalent of BattleMech buckshot and will chew up most smaller targets if given the chance.
Evil Is Petty: Several examples come to mind. The most infamous is probably Jinjiro Kurita; who had over fifty million people executed because his father was killed as a legitimate military combatant.
When the Word of Blake realized that they were going to be defeated and receive no mercy for their crimes their tactics became even more destructive. During the Liberation of Terra they detonated cobalt laced nuclear weapons in key population centers, irradiating them for decades, not for any tactical purposes but simply because they wanted to pull If I Can't Have You on humanity's homeworld.
On a slightly smaller scale, this is a defining character trait of Katherine Steiner-Davion, who after seceding with her half of the Federated Commonwealth is repeatedly shown to be more concerned with how to get back at people for real or imagined snubs than the responsibilities of actually running her nation.
Everything's Better with Samurai: Well, considering that the Draconis Combine is obsessed with feudal Japanese culture... it's not surprising that Kurita MechWarriors style themselves after the Bushido code of old. And then there's the Hatamoto-Chi, which is actually designed to look like a samurai.
Eyepatch of Power: Precentor-Martial Anastasius Focht sported one. Combines neatly with his Badass Grandpa factor (not physically, but he proverbially stared down the Clans with the Com Guard under his command).
Failure Is the Only Option: If any one faction succeeded, or even if widespread peace breaks out, the game ends! So when one faction does succeed, it must inevitably fall (Star League, Federated-Lyran union, Republic of the Sphere), and when widespread peace breaks out it must be betrayed (Clan Golden Century, Dark Age).
False Flag Operation: Many examples crop up but the Blakists are the masters of this trope. One of the reasons the Jihad was initially successful (despite taking on all the major powers at once) was because the Word was able to trigger several brush wars, civil uprisings and succession movements to weaken their enemies.
The Free Worlds League, despite being the most tolerant society in the Inner Sphere when it comes to any form of diversity, discriminates against those with cybernetic implants. Paradoxically they are also the most tech savvy of the Great Houses in many areas.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Each of the Houses has roots in a different Earth culture: For instance, Kurita and the Draconis Combine are based on feudal Japan.
Many of the books expand this so the Houses have SEVERAL ethnic backgrounds. They're... kinda screwy. For example, the Capellan Confederation, while being heavily Chinese, has also Dutch, Russian and Belgian members. Figure that one out.
St. Ives Compact started as pre-transfer Hong Kong, with elements of Taiwan being added over the years. The latter is lampshaded with the april fools e-book Free Taiw...St. Ives.
And once you really look at the material, the Draconis Combine are really just playing at being feudal Japan. They've also got sizable Indian and Russian communities which they haven't persecuted. And the Azami, whom they did persecute until the Azami fought back.
The Free Rasalhague Republic is extremely Norse, to the point of having a sea serpent for its banner and later merging with a winter-themed Clan.
The Marian Hegemony wishes it was Rome.
The Magistracy of Canopus is like Las Vegas (tons of slot machines everywhere) and the rest of Nevada (legalized prostitution) combined.
Dark Age Clan Hell Horses style themselves as Mongols and reformed their combat doctrine around the swift and mobile strikeforces, naming it the Mongol Doctrine. Then Jade Falcons under leadership of Malvina Hazen also style themselves as Mongols, but unfortunately for everyone else, the interpret the mongol doctrine as an extreme scorched earth policy. This caused a conflict between two Clans.
Faster-Than-Light Travel: Of the "Jump" variety. Ships that do this called JumpShips. BattleTech has one of the slowest FTL systems in Science Fiction. 30 light years at a jump, but then around a week to recharge. it would take about 9 months for one ship to travel from one end of the Inner Sphere to the other.
The Federation: The Federated Suns, and Lyran Commonwealth. However, while both are largely free societies, both are ruled by autocrats. The Federated Suns has a partially democratic congress, however. The Lyran Commonwealth also has a parliament with some power. Both states do have democratic governments at the planetary and local levels as well, for the most part.
The Star League was this to the Inner Sphere; the member states handled their own internal affairs and major decisions were made via a vote by the House Lords who could and did occasionally override the First Lord.
Feudal Future: All of the Successor states are ruled by royal families and nobles, with individual nations having different amounts of feudalism. The Federated Commonwealth is a (largely) free society, while the Draconis Combine takes feudalism Up to Eleven
As with everything to do with warfare, taken to the logical extreme by the Clans. Where the intent of the Ares Conventions was simply to outlaw weapons of mass destruction and keep civilians and irreplaceable Lostech out of the line of fire, Clan law places such emphasis on limiting collateral damage that bidding takes place before all combat, with the intention of keeping even military units that aren't absolutely necessary to achieve victory from being destroyed. Likewise, combat is ritualized to such an extent that in many cases even ganging up 2-on-1 against an opponent was unethical. Naturally, the clash of cultures was a shock during the Clan Invasion.
Foreshadowing: The Wolf's Dragoons sourcebook openly speculates that the mercenary unit is actually a scouting party for the return of Alexander Kerensky's Star League Defense Forces.
For Great Justice: The Brotherhood of Randis might qualify as a modest mercenary band, except they don't fight for profit, a rare thing in the pragmatic BattleTech universe. They do have an as-yet-undisclosed source of income though, so they can afford to be altruistic.
Fragile Speedster: Most of 20-30 ton light mechs by standard design. Due to their relatively small size, they do not have enough space to equip enough weapons and enough armor to go toe-to-toe with heavier mechs without sacrificing speed, at which point it would be more cost effective to field a medium mech. Thus, the light mechs are used for scouting, hit-and-run, and general harassment, with the "fair" opponents for them being the equally light mechs or extremely slow-to-turn mechs.
Free-Love Future: The Magistracy of Canopus has legalized prostitution (and sex tourism is a substantial part of their tourism and entertainment industry, which basically sustains their entire economy) and is pretty liberal when it comes to sex of any sort.
The Clans, despite being ruled by a military junta devoted to social engineering, also practice this. With no form of marriage in place, warriors reproducing through the eugenics program and civilians though arranged pairs (the resulting children are raised in communal creches), sex is treated like recreation.
Future Slang: The Clans in particular embrace this. Though they insist on speaking proper grammatical English, they also added plenty of their own military and cultural slang. It's part Russian, and part easily figured out, but it's there.
Galactic Superpower: The Star League in the past. Each of the Great Houses and the Clans as a collective have ambitions to recreate it with themselves as its rulers.
Gang Initiation Fight: The Clans military have a very similar principle, where a cadet must participate in live fire battles against several experienced members and win at least once in order to become part of the caste.
Gargle Blaster: The PPC, so called because it can take your head clean off. It's four shots of grain alcohol diluted with two shots of another liquor associated with one of the great political powers - peppermint schnapps (Steiner), bourbon (Davion), ouzo (Marik), plum wine (Liao), sake (Kurita), and various others for minor powers, regions, and Clans... or just more grain alcohol for the Periphery PPC. It's popular throughout in-universe fiction as a Mechwarrior's drink, when "real" ones usually prefer something that won't make their mouths numb.
Gatling Good: Rotary Autocannons, and some machinegun models.
Awesome, but Impractical: RACs like to jam up if you fire them like machineguns, making them of questionable utility due to their range and accuracy compared to the slower-firing but non-jam-prone autocannons.
Gender Is No Object: Most of the factions do not discriminate on the basis of gender and some of the best leaders in the setting have been female. Marion Marik (about the only leader who didn't maul the Periphery during the formation of the Star League), Katrina Steiner (the political mind behind the Federated Commonwealth) and Sandra Noruff (the mother of the SLDF) are all prominent examples. Even the male dominated Draconis Combine was rebuilt after a civil war by Coordinator Siriwan McAllister. The Taurian Concordat and the Magistracy of Canopus were founded by women. The Clans play this totally straight; all castes see a close to even gender ratio at every rank and no one bats an eye at a female Khan.
General Failure: While they pop up in every faction, the Lyran Commonwealth's "Social Generals", who achieve their positions through money and connections, are responsible for the most economically powerful faction in the setting having one of the weaker armies in the Inner Sphere. Other factions do have have similar cases but have waysofdealingwith them that the business minded House Steiner isn't willing to use.
Part of the reason why the Clans eventually began to lose to Inner Sphere forces; because of the Clan's Honor Before Reason attitude, the Combat Pragmatist generals of the Inner Sphere began to exploit the tunnel-vision of Clan commanders, with ambushes and various other nefarious tactics. It doesn't help that Clanners are promoted solely on combat prowess, rather than on their ability to actually command people.
Both of the above cases started to rectify themselves due to sheer necessity. House Steiner's brief merger with the more military minded Davions purged their officer corps of the worst examples and while Katherine's takeover set things back a little the Lyran Alliance's military isn't the same organization as it was during the Succession Wars. After the Great Refusal many Clan officers simply began disregarding their traditional rules of engagement when fighting Spheroids and one ComStar observer noted that whenever a Clan officer was defeated due to Honor Before Reason his subordinates caught on and weren't fooled the next time round. By the 3070s both the Lyrans and the Invading Clans successfully engaged the Word of Blake in large scale warfare and the ranks of Commanders, Generals, Star Colonels and Galaxy Commanders were more capably staffed; with leaders like Fredrick Steiner and Ulric Kerensky (strong strategic minds as well as capable warriors) having become the norm rather than the exception in their respective factions.
General Ripper: The Draconis Combine and Capellan Confederation are infamous for these. The Word of Blake was commanded by nothing but these.
An infamous historical example was Star League general Amos Forlough, also known as the Baby Killer. His preferred methods were razing cities from orbit and executing a tenth of a planet's population (literally decimation) to quell rebellions.
Some Clan sourcebooks actually point out the stereotype of Dumb Muscle existing even among the Clans, and how many Elementals have proven otherwise. The RPG rules codify this, as their intelligence has the same range as anyone else's.
Then again, FASA loved doing that at times... on the back cover (and in the center color panels) is a picture of a Periphery carnival. Along with the expected rides and carny games (including "strip quick-draw"), there is a small, unobtrusive sign advertising an "Intergalactic Massage Parlor"...
Giant Foot of Stomping: One of the (more sadistic) options Mechs have for attacking Infantry actually has a point of use in that it saves ammo although generally when one can get away with it one uses a machine gun or a flamer for anti infantry.
Actually best employed against battle armor. Even the biggest 'Mech foot will usually only get one or two troopers out of a conventional infantry platoon, there's a significant to-hit penalty for trying to kick things in your own hex, and missing forces a roll to avoid toppling your own machine by accident.
This is a valid tactic against enemy 'Mechs that have fallen. A 50 ton 'Mech curb-stomping its downed adversary is every bit as effective as it sounds, and the tabletop game's fluff makes several mentions of cockpits being crushed under giant metal feet.
Glass Cannon: Many designs that sacrifice armor for firepower. Of the few standard examples there many long-range support mechs who are not expected to fight in close combat, the Hollanders who are basically light mechs built around big guns and the Hunchback IIC, the purposely underarmored Clan mech with the goal of being the last ride of the dishonored or deathseekers past their prime.
Global Currency: While individual states still issue their own currencies, they largely operate secondary to one currency that is accepted equally everywhere—the C-Bill (Comstar Bill). C-Bills have their value backed by the highly important resource of HPG transmission time, and tend to be a lot more stable in value over any given period than the House currencies as a result. Mercenaries are particularly fond of them due to this.
To wit, there's one Ax-CrazyDragon Lady (Romano Liao), one Com Star leader who wants to plunge the finally recovering galaxy back to the good old dark ages where they control everything (Myndo Waterly), and Katherine Steiner-Davion, who apparently started out as the Daddy's Little Villain to theMagnificent Bastard of the entire franchise, Hanse Davion. Unfortunately for a lot of people, Hanse died prematurely of natural causes and no one else in Katherine's family had a clue of how to deal with their budding sociopath. It took her all of about 3 years to depose or kill all members of her family that stood between her and absolute power. And that's just the first half of her reign...
Godwin's Law: Used In-Universe. While Hitler is still occasionally used, the name Amaris has become synonymous with evil. One of the few things every faction is willing to agree on is that he was a monster and some people in the Periphery even express some concern that they, being descended from Rim Worlds refuges, might be distantly related to House Amaris. The background information has featured cases where the writer's enemy is compared or equated to Amaris.
Among the Clans (who idolize the Star League and thus view Amaris as pretty much Satan in human form) a unit declared Dezgra (dishonored due to serious breaches of honor or major defeats), in addition to receiving the worst supplies, recruits, weapons and general treatment, has to replace their traditional insigna with the symbol of House Amaris. In other words, Amaris is considered to embody dishonor and disgrace.
The Great Politics Mess-Up: The game's timeline started with the fall of the Soviet Union - in 2011; this was changed in later editions to the Russian Federation. The most recent edition puts it back to the Soviet Union, with history having changed from ours during the 1980s.
Later editions had Russia undergo a civil war between reformists and communists; which forced NATO to act as peacekeepers. This cooperation lead to the formation of the Western Alliance, which became the Terran Alliance which fell and was replaced by the Terran Hegemony.
Black and Gray Morality: The Jihad, with the Word of Blake clearly cast as villains in and out of universe, fell into this. The gray factions also tended to get darker. The Back Story involving the fall of the Star League also fell here; the SLDF was pretty ruthless but they were saints compared to Amaris the Usurper's forces.
Grievous Harm with a Body: BattleMechs can lose limbs due to structural damage or a Critical Hit, but the limbs do not simply 'disappear' from the map. Another 'Mech (or the same one that lost the limb!) can go over to the hex where the limb was lost, pick it up, and proceed to brutally club enemy 'Mechs with the severed arm/leg/head. This is actually surprisingly practical—trees used as clubs will shatter after a single hit, and finding a good girder can be hard if you're not playing in a city map or are trying to avoid collateral damage. The club increases the 'Mech's physical combat damage and in no way inhibits weapons fire from the 'Mech carrying it, and it can't be damaged the way a traditionally carried axe or sword could.
Historically, Hanse Davion did exactly this in the Battle for the NAIS research center on New Avalon during the 4th Succession War, using a severed Marauder arm as a weapon after his 'Mech's hand-carried PPC was destroyed in a physical attack.
Hereditary Republic: Pretty much every state in the Inner Sphere, to some degree or another. Particularly notable examples include:
The Free Worlds League, which has an elected parliament whose power can be ignored more-or-less at will by the Director-General, an office that is almost always held by a member of the Marik family.
The Capellan Confederation, where the Chancellor is virtually always a member of the Liao family, and which has also become a People's Republic of Tyranny.
The Outworlds Alliance, which has an elected parliament and a president but their society is so conservative that the presidency is always held by the Avellar family. Unlike most examples of this trope the Alliance is still quite democratic and a leader in human rights (along with the Magistracy of Canopus) in a setting dominated by monarchies and juntas.
The Republic of the Sphere, which is trying to avert this as per their "No More Nobles" ideology, but has already been forced to place nobles to the important administrative posts since they were the only ones who knew how to run planetary governments.
He Who Fights Monsters: The Principality of Regulus, one of the major regions of the Free Worlds League, who suffered greatly at the hands of the Word of Blake's nuclear attacks eventually got sick of it. Their response was nuclear bombardment of Blakist strongholds without any regard for collateral damage to civilians or biospheres. Unfortunately they got a bit trigger happy and basically ended up committing genocide on unaligned targets just to be sure. The other factions, particularly the Confederation (who had to battle the Blakists alone), did this as well to a lesser extent.
Historical In-Joke: The Reagan Defenses that were invented during the Star League era were named after "an obscure Terran leader who had dreamed of a similar system."
The drone warships that were part of the Reagan Defense system were known as "Caspar" drones, after Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's Secretary of Defense. And the term Space Defense System itself is commonly abbreviated SDS, which recalls the SDI, or "Strategic Defense Initiative", better known as "Star Wars".
Hit Points: Generally split between armor and internal structure points. Incoming damage eliminates armor first (it's ablative); once that's gone, further damage to the relatively 'soft' internals forces rolls for possible critical hits, and enough of it will of course take out the location struck (and possibly the unit with it).
Certain components also have hit points, but don't have Critical Existence Failure like armor (and to a lesser extent structure). Engines, gyros, sensors, and even pilots all gradually degrade from damage. For instance, the first critical hit on the engine damages the shielding, inflicting a permanent waste heat penalty. A second hit worsens the penalty. The third hit makes it so the reactor can no longer contain its heat to sustain the reaction and the mech is down for the count. Gyro damage causes piloting skill penalties for one hit and then permanently floors the mech on the second. Sensor damage causes to-hit penalties when targeting, and pilot injury causes a chance for the pilot to get KO'd and makes it gradually harder to wake back up, eventually to the point where the pilot is killed.
Even before the Manei Domini, several characters were shown or described as having visible cybernetic prosthetic limbs or facial features, and the tabletop game recognizes the less subtle variants are more common than the 'stealthy' ones.
Hollywood Genetics: Surprisingly averted with the Clan eugenics program. While they carefully control genetic pairings, they prefer to let nature determine the outcome and refuse to do any tinkering of their own (aside from the realistic purpose of correcting obvious random defects). Played more straight with some of the "modified" flora and fauna they introduced to many of their homeworlds, though the results are more reasonable than in most sci-fi.
Hollywood Science: Supposedly the constant war and strife has nearly "beaten humanity back to the stone age", but not only can people deal with the existence of future tech, but they can handle and repair it, what would be impossible for today.
Inverted by the Black Angus Boys mercenary group; their motto is "Dishonor before death!"
The Kuritans got in on this at times too. This may have something to do with their fascination with all things feudal Japanese, and it occasionally got them their collective butts handed to them, such as when they tried to challenge the Clans to the sort of straight dueling that both parties favored, but for which the Draconians were woefully underequipped and initially under-skilled.
Hover Tank: The science behind them is based off of real life science. There's no antigravity or other stuff like that here.
Hufflepuff House: The Free Worlds League kinda just.. sat around, for the majority of the universe's history.note Being at war constantly with yourself has a tendency to cause that... The FWL became much more important during the Clan Invasion and the Jihad, but it is still rarely featured in the novels.
The Periphery states and the Homeworld Clans also count, though exceptions occur when they get their own sourcebooks.
Iconic Sequel Character: A lot of mechs after Mechwarrior 3 and the Clan Invasion got this. The Bushwacker, Mad Cat, Shadow Cat, Vulture, Thor, and Daishi all got his treatment. The Mad Cat and Bushwacker the most.
Impossibly Graceful Giant: Averted. 'Mechs are basically tanks with legs. With a trained pilot and properly calibrated systems, they become agile runners, can negotiate rugged ground, and throw solid punches, but precise hand coordination is difficult. It's possible to use waldos to directly control the hands and arms on 'Mechs, but it's nearly impossible to use them for any sort of graceful action - you could not for example, use both arms to operate a giant 'Mech-sized shovel, without repeatedly jabbing the ten ton shovel into your mech.
The answer is that they often don't. A lot of 'mechs, particularly Clan 'mechs, can't be said to resemble humanoids at all. Bipedal and two-armed, yes. Even the freaky ones tend to have two legs and what could charitably be called arms (Or more accurately side-mounted gun turrets). Humanoid? Not quite.
Some, like one of the most Humanoid ones, the Atlas are humanoid because of one thing fear. That's the entire point of the atlas in general, that it's so big, so strong, and looks so fricking terrifying, that the other guy would crap his pants and start running.
It is possible to play this straight in the RPG, though it requires a highly skilled pilot and thousands of hours of computer programming to pull off. Than the pilot can do anything from moving through rough terrain more easily to Flipping the Bird with a 100 ton bipedal warmachine.
Informed Obscenity: The Clans consider all words that are connected to birth or pregnancy extremely obscene, and to call someone a Freebirth (a human who has been conceived and born the natural way and not grown from the Clan's artificial "Iron Wombs") is among the worst of insults.
Insert Grenade Here: Infantry with jet packs or grappel rods can conduct "swarm" attacks on 'Mechs, which essentially means "climbing onto the 'Mech and stuffing demo charges into the leg joints". While not likely to destroy a 'Mech alone, swarm attacks are much-feared because of their ability to cripple them and leave them vulnerable to heavier units, or worse, knock them down. It's much easier to reach the cockpit of 'Mech that's flat on it's face, and then blow in the canopy...
In the fluff there are recorded instances of single people on foot taking down BattleMechs via creative use of this trope to either kill the pilot or get inside the cockpit and hijack the 'Mech.
It's All About Me: Not an uncommon attitude among less admirable characters in particular, but Vladimir Ward may just take the cake, shown once to privately but in all seriousness believe that all of human history up to that point had to turn out exactly the way it did just so that he could return to the Inner Sphere and conquer it.
Jack of All Stats: Most of 40-55 ton Medium and 60-75 ton Heavy mechs. The workhorses of most armies.
Japan Takes Over the World: Well, kind of. The Draconis Combine has one of the strongest militaries in the Inner Sphere, but it isn't actually Japan. Also, the power comes from their martial might and not their economy, and they're based more on romanticized vision of feudal Japan than modern day Japan.
Jetpack: Infantry can wear light jetpacks, which allow them to jump long distances. Some mechs mount Jump Jets, which is basically an integrated jetpack that runs on the 'Mechs fusion reactor. There are also single-use jump jets for mechs, which are used once then jettisoned; they're most often used for air-dropping 'mechs that don't have integral jump jets.
The Jinx: The Dark Age-era Draconic Combine Fourth Dieron Regulars have a "cursed" White Zou, a heavy infanty battle armor. The Fourth lost every battle in which the White Zou participated, often with heavy casualties while the White Zou survived, even when it was deliberately placed in the unwinnable situations, since the Fourth believes that the "curse" will be broken if the White Zou is destroyed.
Karma Houdini: Katherine Steiner-Davion, who was responsible for fracturing the Federated Commonwealth to satisfy her lust for power, not only survived the Civil War, but even lived to the age of at least 100 as a warrior for Clan Wolf.
Katanas Are Just Better: Averted in the RPG, a katana isn't that different from any other sword; its a bit more accurate but also about eight times more expensive. However in the Draconis Combine earning the right to carry a katana and a wakizashi (by being inducted into the equivalent of their knightly order) is a requirement to advance beyond the rank of company commander in the DCMS.
Kill It with Fire: Inferno rounds, which can overheat mechs and force them to shut down (making them a sitting duck), or trigger internal ammo explosions inside them. Of course, you can also imagine the effect that these weapons would have on exposed infantry.
Flamers, true to their name, vent superheated core plasma at targets and will crisp an infantry squad in no time. The Plasma Rifle and Plasma Cannon does the same, but even quicker, and from further away.
Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Averted. Kinetic weapons are balanced against Energy Weapons with both having their advantages and disadvantages; generally, energy weapons have the benefit of unlimited ammo and great accuracy, but generate massive amounts of heat and fire slowly. Ballistic weapons require additional tonnage devoted to ammo and are relatively inaccurate compared to a laser, but don't send your heat rocketing up as far and can fire more quickly.
Ballistic weaponry on Vehicles is generally better, as they don't spike heat at all. They still need ammo, and still have generally bad ranges for the most powerful ballistics. The heat issue is why Vehicles tend to favor missiles and autocannon, over lasers or PPC, in spite of the limited ammo.
Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Despite Clan dogma which emphasizes the virtues of all five castes, the warrior caste in most Clans only very grudgingly respect scientists and technicians, and have no respect for merchants and laborers. Even the most open-minded Clans see the civilians as a support system for the warriors, with the only notable exception being the Diamond Sharks (who consider their merchants to be a more subtle form of warrior), and the Ghost Bears (whose emphasis on the strength of family results in higher regard for all the castes).
Justified after the Wars of Reaving. The other castes distrust the Scientists (those that weren't executed, imprisoned or sterilized anyway); because a good number of them turned out to be traitors and murderers.
Clanners hold little regard for the lives of the technicians on their JumpShips and WarShips. A captured Clanner technician on an Inner Sphere ship is surprised at the advanced life support and protection suits that all of the workers are given when working in dangerous conditions.
This trope is also Deconstructed with Clan Smoke Jaguar. Turns out that being a Clan of mostly warriors and little to no scientist, engineers, and even basic workers, means that you have to raid other people for basic supplies. This lead to them having no allies during the Clan Invasion, Mechs and weapons that could not be replaced anywhere near fast enough, and lower caste members defecting to the Inner Sphere. There is a reason Clan Smoke Jaguars no longer exists.
Lady Land: The Magistracy of Canopus. It's mellowed out over time, though. To the point that the only big restriction on men is that they can't sit on the throne.
Large and in Charge: Most command 'Mechs are in the heavy and assault weight classes; mostly because they can accommodate extra electronics, communications equipment and consoles.
Lensman Arms Race: The period from the start of Clan Invasion to the end of Jihad was the constant drive to research better weapons than the opposition had. The post-Jihad peace pretty much slowed it down to the crawl.
Let no Crisis Go to Waste: Common in the War-heavy setting like this. The first year of the Wars of Reaving for example was almost all about various Clans using the apparent "taint" as an excuse to attack other Clans.
The Great Houses pretty much owe their existence to this trope; as they were formed when the Terran Alliance left all of its colonies isolated and defenseless. The only option was to band together and swear fealty to a new authority.
The Word of Blake was only able to expand when the machinations of Katherine Steiner-Davion and Sun-Tzu Liao left many worlds (which came to be known as the Chaos March) in a state of almost total anarchy.
Katherine was notorious for using the threat of the Jade Falcons to expand her power base; she would leave border worlds undefended if they wouldn't swear fealty despite her illegal actions. This backfired when the Kell Hounds, Clan Wolf (in Exile) and a ton of mercenaries companies declared independence and formed the Arc Royal Defense Cordon to protect the Lyran Alliance when its own Archon wouldn't.
Primus Myndo Waterly of ComStar attempted to use the chaos of the Clan Invasion to take over the entire Inner Sphere. It backfired because three of the five Great Houses knew it was coming and even second line Clan units were capable of beating her forces in open combat. For her efforts Waterly got a bullet in the back of the head courtesy of Precentor Martial Focht.
The Clan Invasion only occurred because a ComStar exploration vessel accidentally jumped into the territory of the fervently Crusader Smoke Jaguars. Capitalizing on the fear that the Clans would be discovered by the Inner Sphere the Jaguars convinced the Grand Council, which had previously been about evenly split on the issue, to attack first. Only the Wolves dissented and they could not win a Trial of Refusal as the odds were set at 4 to 1 against them.
Lightning Bruiser: 'Mechs themselves. While in specific situations other types of battlefield units can hold an advantage over them, in general they are better armored, swifter, more maneuverable, and more heavily armed than anything else on the battlefield, barring an even bigger 'Mech cresting the hill in front of it.
For the Inner Sphere, the Charger is a prime example of this, being the fastest Assault 'Mech in existence. Sadly, due to being built as a scout 'Mech, the base variant carries almost no weapons at all.
Clan 'Mechs tended to fit this trope better originally, due to their better technology. Then the Inner Sphere caught up...
Among 'Mechs themselves the more advanced heavy mechs and select few assault mechs are this, one of them being the Timber Wolf/Mad Cat.
Many heavy and assault Aerospace fighters are quite capable of engaging in dogfights with other heavy and medium weight craft as well as assaulting larger targets. Provided they avoid Interceptors that is.
Some models of Battlearmor are this compared to ordinary infantry; they shrug off small arms fire and can survive a few hits from medium grade support and vehicular weapons, can run over 30 kilometers per hour, and a squad numbering less than half a dozen can still bring down a Mech or slaughter an entire regular infantry platoon if left unchecked.
Most Battle Armor pilots also fit here; as the physical requirements are stiff. Most of them are over 6 feet in height and very strong but they are also quite fast; having a few hundred pounds of muscle hitting you like a freight train makes them a threat outside their suits. Clan Elementals go even further than most.
Lightning Gun: The Particle Projection Cannon (PPC) looks like this when it fires but actually fires a supercharged stream of particles that melts the extremely advanced armor on BattleMechs.
Limit Break: Triple Strength Myomers will triple a mech's melee strength and greatly increase the mech's speed, but only when the mech is running very hot. Going above or below the recommended heat will reduce the benefits. A TSM mech needs to constantly fire its weapons in a careful manner in order to maintain its heat level - but good luck doing that when your targeting computer is malfunctioning from heat. A TSM boosted mech can curb-stomp fallen mechs and quite literally kick the legs off of lighter mechs.
Loads and Loads of Rules: The basic boardgame is essentially designed to provide for reasonably colorful and detailed 'Mech-vs.-'Mech duels and does in fact do that pretty well. It increasingly slows down as the forces involved on both sides grow larger, however...and that's before you add additional unit types like "conventional" combat vehicles, infantry, or aerospace assets, all of which have their own additional special-case rules (with the last in particular being basically on their own wholly new rules level), let alone go past the "standard" ruleset into the "advanced" and "experimental" optional add-on material that takes up at least two full hardcover tomes of its own (Tactical Operations and Strategic Operations) plus whatever updates are needed to keep up with in-universe development.
Lost Colony: These show up from time to time, usually because the maps of the Inner Sphere only show currently inhabited systems. Plenty of planets were rendered uninhabitable or abandoned for some reason or another over centuries of warfare.
One of the more famous examples in New Dallas, which is actually situated right next to the Chaos March, one of the most heavily contested areas in the Inner Sphere. The planet was nuked during the Succession Wars.
The Periphery follows a different rule; planets are only marked on the map if they have a HPG or otherwise significant connections to the rest of the universe. There may be hundreds of unmarked, inhabited worlds out there.
Another infamous lost planet was Dunkelwaelderdunkelrfluessenschattenwelt, on the Combine's border with the Outworlds Alliance. Both citizenry and government had gotten sick and tired of their jawbreaker of a name, and voted to rename the planet simply "Bob." However, the relevant paperwork got lost in the Combine's logistics department, holding up shipments, for as far as the Draconis Combine was concerned, the planet Bob didn't exist. The state of affairs dragged on long enough for the terraforming equipment to give out, destroying the colony.
Lost Technology: Lots of stuff from the Star League era. Pulse lasers, LB-X Autocannons, Gauss Rifles, Jump Ships, War Ships, and Extra Light reactors were all eventually rediscovered, though some technology has never been recovered, like the Star League Defense Force's adaptive body armor.
Macross Missile Massacre: In various densities and ranges. The biggest single volley from a 'Mech-mounted weapon currently comes from the MRM-40. Which, yes, does mean it shoots forty missiles at a time...and it reloads in under ten seconds, too.
Most fire-support 'Mechs are basically walking examples of this Trope waiting to happen. A couple of the more extreme examples include the Salamander and the Yeoman.
Rocket launchers rate a special mention. Yes, they're one-shot, they fire only unguided rockets with no fancy special ammo options, and their salvo sizes 'only' range from ten to twenty; but they're lightweight enough that it's easy to carry a bunch of them on a suitably dedicated unit, which can then potentially fire them all off at once.
Made of Explodium: Ammunition, while capable of reducing a 'Mech to scrap if a reasonably full bin is hit, arguably doesn't count; however, the game features non-ammo explosive components as well, most famously every model of the Gauss rifle.
There are optional (as well as physically impossible in-universe) rules for the Fusion reactor that powers the 'mechs, allowing them to explode messily when damaged, which is often easier than the amount of armor would indicate. Although as stated, the way that fusion reactors work makes this rule impossible, and was only created to please the fans of giant explosions.
Game rules have VTOL vehicles like helicopters explode spectacularly if they're destroyed in a crash - which many of them are. Officially, it's because they use more volatile fuels than other combat vehicles.
Magnetic Weapons: The iconic Gauss rifle and its descendants — the only weapons in the game where the ammunition is inert but the gun explodes if hit. The classic model, dating all the way back to the glory days of the Star League, is highly lethal to any armored target on the battlefield over long distances (especially enemy 'Mechs, whose head it can remove in one shot regardless of how heavily the rest may be armored) and remains the standard against which the generally more specialized rest of the family is measured.
Mama Bear: The aptly named Clan Ghost Bear (the actual animal is also known to display this type of behavior) is fiercely protective of its civilian castes, as well as the citizens of Rasalhague, whom they consider distant kin. When the Word of Blake decided to drop neutron bombs on a few of their cities and introduced a virus that killed hundreds of thousands, they dumped the usual Clan restrictions on mass battles and orbital bombardment. They proceeded to savage several elite Word units and almost single handily turned the Combine front of the Jihad around.
Meaningful Name: Consider 'Mechs such as the Catapult, Trebuchet, Longbow, and Archer. All names with implications of arrows and projectiles flung at quite a range. It should probably come as little surprise these designs focus on long range missile barrages as their primary offensive tactic.
Quite a few other 'Mechs fall into this by virtue of resembling their namesake. The Raven is the most obvious candidate, being the most avian of the reverse-joint 'Mechs, but you can make a good argument for designs like the Shrike, the Fire Scorpion, and the Kodiak.
Meaningful Rename: Clan trueborns fight Trials to earn the right to use the surname of the Founding warrior they are matrilineally related to. This is a great honor, allows a warrior to serve in combat until they are unable (most warriors end up in rear line units by the age of 35) to, grants one a vote and a voice in the Clan Council, and, most importantly, ensures that your genes will be passed on in the form of new warriors.
Mega Corp.: Plenty of these exist in the Inner Sphere and are especially strong in the Lyran Commonwealth, where the aristocracy is largely comprised of successful executives. ComStar pretended to be one of these but due to their control of the HPG network and their significant political influence and aspirations they were better described as an N.G.O. Superpower with corporate and mystical trappings. Eventually the Word of Blake stopped pretending when they started ruling worlds directly.
Mighty Glacier: The 80-100 ton Assault class of mechs, designed to deal and take massive amounts of punishment, but except for the few exceptions they are the slowest assets on the battlefield. The 150 ton Word of Blake Omega takes it to Crippling Overspecialization levels.
Mini-Mecha: Protomechs, which were designed to fill the gap between battlearmor and light Mechs. They stand at about half the height of the shortest mech and massing at just a tenth of a battlemech they were intended to allow the resource starved Smoke Jaguars to deploy a lot of firepower in smaller packages.
Misplaced Retribution: During the Jihad the Word of Blake's regular armies and its elite Shadow Divisions committed brutal actions against almost every faction in human space, understandably resulting in equally brutal acts by their opponents once the Word went on the defensive. However this also extended to the WoB Protectorate Militia, purely defensive formations that were not involved in a decade of nerve gas strikes, saturation nuclear attacks and populations being wiped out by biological weapons. Many found themselves faced with premier mercenary commands, elite House regiments and front line Clan clusters and were shown no mercy as the Word's enemies took the opportunity to get some payback for the horrors of the Jihad.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Nova Cats' alliance with the Draconis Combine was not that stable to begin with, and after the Second Combine-Dominion War the former were painted as the scapegoats of the war on top of the increased anti-Clan sentiments, resulting in their doomed rebellion decades later.
Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Charitably Physics Plus. Faster-Than-Light Travel and Subspace Ansibles are present, if both comparatively slow, and fusion power is basically treated as magic than can almost infinitely power anything as long as it's big enough to fit a reactor inside. (The impossibly efficient slower-than-light drives used especially by larger spacecraft, which routinely accelerate or brake at a sustained 1G for days without using more than a token fraction of their mass as combined fuel and reaction mass for what's supposed to be basically a fusion rocket, are if anything less believable than the actual FTL elements.) 'Mechs manage to not collapse under their own weight at least in part by virtue of...technically having a density so low that they should by rights float in water (not that they actually do). The list goes on. The rules within the setting are generally applied consistently, but based on "hard" real life physics they're not. On the flipside, it does get credit for requiring heat management, which far too many works (even "harder" ones) ignore, and averting common SF tropes such as Artificial Gravity, Inertial Dampening and unrealistically high accelerations.
Moral Event Horizon: Happens in-universe when the Word of Blake starts using WMDs indiscriminately on civilian populations. This is considered such a heinous act that every other faction in the Inner Sphere unite and ignore the Ares Conventions rules in order to nuke them into oblivion.
The original poster child for More Dakka was the Ultra Autocannon class of weapons, which would literally double their rate of fire (and go through ammo twice as fast). This meant that an Ultra AC 20 would spit out 40 damage in a single turn... The Hunchback IIC was therefore the poster boy for this trope, as it could ostensibly deal nearly 100(!) points of damage in a game where the average ton of armor had 16.
Several assault 'Mechs get in on this by carrying multiple autocannons. Examples include the Annihilator with its quadruple LBX guns, the Jagermech and its dual double barreled autocannon arms, and some variants of the Dire Wolf, which carried what can only be described as a shoulder mounted AA gun.
Motion Capture Mecha: Partially. The pilot's neurohelmet reads his instinctive motor implulses and uses those to coordinate simple details like balance, foot placement, and arm movements. Four-legged 'Mechs are less agile because a human doesn't naturally "think" like a crawler, and a 'Mech operating without the helmet is every bit the clumsy, lumbering giant that it appears.
Mechs with hands may have waldoes in the cockpit that the pilot inserts his meaty arm into to control the giant mech arm with, for use in situations requiring delicate work that the computer will probably botch up.
Elementals use hand signs to trigger their weapons - folding their ring finger and pinky, and laying their thumb over it to fire their arm mounted laser.
Multi National Team: ComStar and the Word of Blake are generally staffed by individuals who are adopted from other factions rather than born into the orders; all the better to use them as spies and sleeper agents. More mobile mercenary groups tend to pick up recruits as they travel, often from enemy defectors or prisoners, resulting in this trope once the command becomes established. The armies of the Republic of the Sphere are from the forces of Inner Sphere houses. And going back some further, the Star League Defense Forces were made up not only of warriors from the late Terran Hegemony, but from the other Great Houses, as well.
Mundane Utility: The BattleMechs. Mechs equipped with hands are very effective for light construction and combat engineering, high-power 6 ton lasers can be toned down for welding, Long ranged missiles are used like dynamite. Then ten seconds later they can pick up and crush a car, slice another BattleMech's torso in half with said high power laser, and user the LRMs to shower an area with a minefield.
The entire Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery was hit by this after the Kentares Massacre; where they put 50 million civilians to death with katanas or small arms. Many of them committed Seppeku or were demoralized to the point that they could not fight effectively. This, combined with the fact that the Federated Suns was out for revenge, cost the Combine the First Succession War when it had previously been on the verge of actually winning it.
Never Mess with Granny: Natasha Kerensky is ancient by the standards of the Clans and well into her 70's even as far as the Inner Sphere is concerned (excellent medical technology that makes her older than she looks notwithstanding). She is still far and away the absolute last person you want to get into a 'Mech fight with. She isn't called the Black Widow for nothin'.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Ares Conventions, while fulfilling their objectives of protecting civilians and entire planets from the horrors of scorched earth warfare, effectively legalized warfare when it came to resolving diplomatic disputes. Combat became so harmless and sterile (to the average citizen and ruler, soldiers in this period were honored, few in number, and relatively safe so they didn't mind either) that Forever War wasn't that bad of a prospect. And since every power has accepted constant conflict things got really ugly when this situation kept going after the positive aspects of the Conventions, such as the restrictions on attacking key technology or using weapons of mass destruction, fell out of practice and the constant warfare evolved into the near apocalyptic Succession Wars.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Clans invaded the Inner Sphere to try and establish a second Star League by force. The Inner Sphere's strategy to stop the invasion? Establish a second Star League.
Nonindicative Name: Some names just plain don't give any indication what the Mech is meant for, the Stalker is a mech meant for charging the enemy headlong while firing any guns in it's optimal range, the Hauptmann is a standard combat Mech with no command capability.
No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: While there are no aliens as such, the Clans as the next best thing play this straight enough that being 'infiltrated' by Inner Sphere pop culture is actually something of a concern for them.
Nuclear Option: The only accepted use of nuclear weapons under limited warfare is the killing of Warships, which tend to be Made of Iron. Even the Ares Conventions inserted a caveat allowing atomic detonations tens thousands of kilometers above the surface of populated worlds for this reason.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: In-universe. The massive indiscriminate slaughter of civilians from nuclear bombardment from orbit during the Succession Wars caused all the Successor States to stop using nukes and bombardment entirely. Until the Word of Blake showed up and started killing everything with nukes and bioweapons, that is.
Breaking the WMD taboo tends to get you killed as the other factions stop fighting amongst themselves to eliminate the more serious threat. The most clear examples being Clan Smoke Jaguar, who were destroyed by a reformed Star League and abandoned by their fellow Clans, after the bombardment of Turtle Bay and the Word of Blake, who were destroyed by the rest of the human species after they got too nuke happy. The Taurian Concordat (historically the most WMD happy faction in the setting) was absolutely gutted in the post-Jihad era for using nukes against the Inner Sphere while aligned with the Blakists. Part of this was caused by Spheroid retaliation but most of it was due to a large number of Taurian worlds breaking off and forming their own state to escape the insanity.
Obfuscating Insanity: Sun-Tzu Liao was a master of this before his mother's death. He painted himself as just as bat-guano as his mother and maternal grandfather, making his hidden machinations all the more effective. He's a Sociopath, to be sure, but he is far more lucid than either of his two most recent predecessors as Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation.
Obstructive Code of Conduct: The Ares Conventions. Along with reasonable restrictions (captive abuse, no detonating nuclear weapons on populated worlds, no chemical weapons, avoid urban damage) it also included things like timeouts for refueling and rearming and armies often surrendered simply because they were "checkmated". War was turned into such a gentleman's game that the Age of War (which lasted over a century) killed far less people than the 20 year Reunification War and the 2 year Fourth Succession War.
The Clans' Zellbrigen dueling rules and the Inner Sphere's informal pact of limited warfare subvert this. While you are not allowed to unleash all the weapons and force at your disposal these (as proven by the Pentagon Civil War and the First and Second Succession Wars) restrictions are necessary to prevent the end of space faring civilization.
Odd Friendship: The Outworlds Alliance and Clan Snow Raven formed an alliance and eventually merged outright. The only things they have in common are a focus on space combat and some serious issues with the Draconis Combine. The Ravens consider the Alliance to be backwards barbarians and the Alliance thinks the Clanners are insane but the Outworld's need for defense and the Ravens' need for a home after they were expelled from the homeworlds and lost a large portion of their population during the Wars of Reaving cemented the partnership. By the Dark Age the Raven Alliance is relatively functional, with the Ravens defending the realm and allowed to keep their warrior traditions and the Outworlders free to control their own affairs.
Older Is Better: Those old mechs who cannot be built anymore are treasured over weaker, more recent models.
Recent sourcebooks have created new weapons (i.e. plasma weapons) and technology (i.e. compact engines) which simply did not exist during the Star League era (previously the sole source of advanced equipment). So the while the trope applied during the greater portion of the Succession Wars, it starts to become subverted during the Fed Com Civil War and Jihad eras.
Old-School Dogfight: Aerospace fighters behave this way when fighting in atmospheres, and normally are the same way in space. However, AeroTech includes a set of advanced movement rules that allow for more realistic combat in a vacuum, among other things.
One-Hit Kill: Nearly every unit is in danger of these in some way. Vehicles have these as one of their serious disadvantages; 'Mechs are more resiliant and harder to destroy in one hit. 'Mechs themselves can be removed from combat in one shot through blowing off their heads; even the largest mech is limited in how much armor can go on the head, which leaves the cockpit vulnerable. Weapons that can reliably focus more damage in a single hit location than the heads can absorb get the epithet "headchoppers". After all, 20 damage on an Altas's chest is almost laughable, but 20 damage on it's head has instantly removed a terrifying opponent from combat.
Then there's a type of Critical Hit commonly called the "through-armor critical", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin - each hit, no matter how minor, has at least a small chance of getting lucky on the hit location table and being allowed to check for critical hits to the location struck even if the latter still has plenty of armor points remaining. (Under the stock tournament rules, this can only affect torso locations on 'Mechs, but there's a popular optional "floating critical" rule that allows this kind of hit to land anywhere — including the head.) This can potentially result in an otherwise-intact BattleMech getting its first hit from a small-caliber weapon like an AC/2 (the canonical "golden BB" example due to its combination of low damage and long range), having it turn out to be a TAC to the center torso, and get its engine or gyro shot out before the fight has even properly started; the chance of all factors aligning just right for this to happen is very, very small, but it's there. (It should be plainly obvious what happens if a lucky TAC actually manages to hit a proper ammo bin...)
One Steve Limit: Averted. In the fiction, there are many common first names that pop up again and again.
One World Order: Averted. One World Order arose on Earth, then expanded, then the space colonies rebelled. It was repeated with the Star League, but that fell apart too.
Only Sane Man: The United Hindu Collective, a minor state that peacefully merged with the Federated Suns during the Age of War, was the only nation to point out that the Ares Conventions would effectively legalize warfare.
During the Reunification War, when the rest of the Inner Sphere got very brutal in their attempts to force the Periphery into the Star League, the Free Worlds League was the only power to hold to limited warfare during the conflict. This is the primary reason why the Magistracy of Canopus, the state conquered by the League, has positive relations with the Inner Sphere compared to the centuries long legacy of hatred and mistrust you find in the Concordat and Outworlds.
Andrey Kerensky was pretty much The Conscience to his brother and kept Nicholas in check while the Clans were being formed. When he was killed his brother had no restraint and his more radical and brutal ideals came into force.
Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Completely averted. All of the major religions have survived and thrived throughout human space and many new branches and faiths have popped up over the centuries.
Overheating: Of equal threat to a player's forces as the enemy is the perennial problem of heat. Weapons generate heat, which is dissipated by heat-sinks. If you fire faster than your heat sinks can remove the heat, your 'Mech first slows down, then the accuracy of your weapon attacks suffers, then the reactor tries to shut down barring the pilot managing to override the safeties, and at the extreme end there's a real risk of any explosive ammo you may be carrying starting to cook off, or the pilot dying within seconds to heat exposure since the life support systems can't keep up. For extra fun, some weapons that can help raise a 'Mech's heat level from outside also exist...
Just see Kill It with Fire for examples of weapons that artificially increase a mech's heat level.
Path of Inspiration: Pre Reformation ComStar and the Word of Blake. They were particularly fond of indoctrinating inhabitants from worlds that had regressed to pre Industrial Revolution tech levels by amazing them with "divine" space age machines.
Pay Evil unto Evil: Prominent among many factions; there are codes of conduct for war but break the rules bad enough and you can expect to be treated in kind. The Word of Blake being blown to kingdom come is probably the best example.
Mercenaries tend to be unkind to other mercenaries who commit warcrimes or betray their employers; to the point that the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission (MRBC) will put out bounties on them. If you get kicked out of the commission you are considered a pirate and a criminal rather than a soldier; and pirates are considered free game by everyone.
Pull too many dirty tricks (or any at all beyond the mid 3050s) and the Clans will get annoyed enough to simply throw duels and honor out the window and turn their Super Soldiers and advanced weapons on you at their full potential. The Clans also punish piracy with battlefield executions and don't apply honor to criminals.
The fear this trope in the form of mutually assured destruction through Lost Technology was the only thing that kept the Great Houses from attacking jumpships during the late Succession Wars.
Planetville: Played dead straight. Except for the local capital (with its attendant spaceport) and the occasional outlying settlement or three, planets in most BattleTech fiction might as well be completely uninhabited. (This is to some extent an Acceptable Break from Reality, since it helps prop up the illusion that the fate of an entire world could in fact be decided by the relatively small-scale battles played out at the actual gaming table.)
Averted by the most prominent worlds, which have more realistic populations (billions) and spread out infrastructure. The historical battles that take place here also tend to be suitably large. Smaller worlds could just be a single colony; those examples would be justified.
Plasma Cannon: Uses a laser to heat a block of plastic into plasma and fires it at a target. Also comes in the smaller plasma rifle that can be used by Battlesuits.
Police State: The Capellan Confederation has fallen back on these policies as it is losing ground to its enemies for most of the timeline; though its only really bad when the current Chancellor is the insane variety of Liao. The majority of the other factions temporarily go into this in times of crisis.
Politically Correct History: Used in-universe. The Star League is generally considered to be golden age of mankind by just about everyone in the 31st century, while in actuality it was far from it. Sure, there was relative peace and a high technology level, but speak out about independence one iota and the SLDF would appear in-system to remind you who the boss was - with 'Mechs.
Various source books emphasize that, while Inner Sphere and Clan peoples remember the Star League's rule as 300 years of peace and development fondly, the Periphery states were forced to join after they were brutalized in the Reunification War and never really got over that. The Peripherary territories were poorly treated, overtaxed, and systematically abused until the collapse of the League.
There's also the little matter of never-ending shadow wars between what would become the Successor States that went on behind the facade of the Star League, though these smaller conflicts are nothing compared to the Succession Wars that started when the Star League fell.
Portmanteau: The Timber Wolf's Inner Sphere reporting name Mad Cat came to be when Precentor Focht was analyzing Phelan Kell's mech blackbox. The targeting system, not having data on the Timber Wolf, couldn't decide if it was seeing a Marauder (MAD) or a Catapult (CAT), constantly switching between MAD and CAT.
Powered Armor: From simple powered suits for special forces troopers, to one-ton suits capable of taking on 'Mechs in numbers, and even larger suits up to two tons. The best-known example is Elemental battle armor, which surprised the Inner Sphere military during its first appearance, on account of being so tough for such a small suit.
Power Pincers: Some mechs had large claws that could be used to attack opponents, such as other mechs. One example was the CTP-005 Clytemestra (in the magazine BattleTechnology #21) which had two Solaris Arms Mark IV BattleClaws.
Pragmatic Villainy: The main reason the Inner Sphere gave up total warfare and Weapons of Mass Destruction after the First and Second Succession Wars. Defeating your enemies simply isn't possible when your technological base is being blasted back to the 19th century, your civilians are all dead and unable to contribute to the war effort and the worlds you want to conquer end up as depopulated piles of wreckage. Centuries long stalemates aren't exactly fun but even the most ambitious House Lord realizes that you can't rule all of humanity if space faring civilization comes to an end.
Praetorian Guard: The Chancellors of the Capellan Confederation and the Coordinators of the Draconis Combine have the Death Commandos and Otomo respectively. The other Great Houses don't have dedicated units for this role but the current House Lord's former military command often plays this role. The various Khans in the Clans have Keshik units that they personally command in battle.
Bodyguarding a Badass: Most faction leaders at least have some military training and, in the cases of the Combine, the Federated Suns and the Clans, are often among the most highly skilled warriors themselves.
Proud Merchant Race: The Lyran Commonwealth is generally described as a nation of merchants first, politicians second, and warriors a distant third. The Free Worlds League likewise is a mercantile nation (when they aren't busy killing each other) and an industrial powerhouse, which allowed them to become the largest arms maker in the Inner Sphere after the Lyran Commonwealth was attacked by the Clans. Clan Diamond Shark combines their love of money with their love of combat, much to the chagrin of the other Clans.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Clans' warrior caste - in a half-twist, they are the enemies for once. The Invaders Clans who settled down in Inner Sphere are gradually changing to the Proud Soldier Race Guy sub-type, whatever they want to admit it or not, at least when dealing with the Inner Sphere "barbarians".
The soldiers of the heavily militaristic Federated Suns and Draconis Combine, based on Anglo-Franco knights and Japanese samurai respectively, tend towards this as well, to a much lesser extent.
Put on a Bus: An interesting case, as the bus putting actually happened in the backstory, before the then-current timeline in the game started. The example, of course, would be Alexander Kerensky and the Star League Defense Forces. It didn't last long because:
The Bus Came Back: And they throw the entire Inner Sphere into chaos when they return as the Clans.
Inverse are some mechs are no longer seen or in use as the factories producing them were destroyed or production of them were discontinued altogether.
Pyrrhic Victory: The Jade Falcons came out victorious over the Wolves during the Refusal War, but thanks to some strategic victories by the Wolves as well as a successful repelling of a concentrated assault on the Kell Hounds, the Falcons were ultimately in no position to resume the invasion of the Inner Sphere, and were forced to absorb the remaining Wolves in order to re-bolster their strength.
Ragnarok-Proofing: Properly maintained Mechs and Jumpdrives that are centuries old and still work far better than their more recently-made counterparts.
Ramming Always Works: The game's charge mechanics can lead to some...interesting results, depending on the unit being used. The aptly titled Charger BattleMech can deal a frightening amount of damage, mostly as a factor of mass and distance traveled. Given that the Charger is 80 tons and can move 86 kph on clear ground, its ramming attacks can be devastating (64 damage points to the target, while the maximum damage it can take as a result of its attack is often just 10 points).
Subverted in the rules for aerospace combat, though, where ramming your craft into another isn't just tricky in and of itself but is one of the few times the rules apply a sort of morale check in the form of a (difficult) roll to determine whether your pilot/crew is actually crazy enough to go through with it or chickens out at the last moment.
Realpolitik: With a few notable exceptions, like the undeniably evil Amaris the Usurper and a handful of insane Capellan chancellors, there really are no good guys or bad guys among the various political leaders. They're just looking to take care of their people, which sometimes means stepping all over someone else.
Real Robot: 'Mechs average a bit more resilient than usual for the genre, but they are still gritty metal-and-grease war machines that get banged up and blasted to pieces all the time.
Justified in backstory. Most of the more fragile units from the Star League era didn't survive the Succession Wars, or were rebuilt using simpler, more resilient technology.
Recursive Import: The Game was imported to Japan, which resulted in a Studio Nue redesign of the mechs based on Macross/Dougram designs.
Then came double secret recursion, when the Studio Nue designs were re-imported to the US and used to illustrate different Mechs for the Solaris VII expansion.
Recycled IN SPACE!: At first glance, most of the Successor States look like 16th-18th century nations, though they are actually more complex.
House Davion: Great Britain IN SPACE
House Steiner: Germany IN SPACE
House Marik: USA / France IN SPACE
House Liao: Imperial/Communist China IN SPACE
House Kurita: Feudal Japan IN SPACE
Redheaded Hero: YMMV, but Hanse Davion fits this trope to a T. It's one of House Davion's defining traits, which is actually appropriate since they are of Scots origin. Of course, some would argue that they are an entire family of Evil Redheads (especially if you're a fan of Houses Kurita or Liao).
Morgan Hasek-Davion has this in spades; depictions of him and descriptions from the background give him long red hair as a trademark. Several of the Scottish-origin Northwind Highlanders also exhibit this trope.
At least half of understrength Word of Blake elite Shadow Divisions were unaccounted for by the end of Jihad, who are rumored to have retreated to their hidden worlds to lick their wounds.
A popular in-universe theory is that in the former Rim Worlds Republic space there is a RWR remnant with hidden worlds bigger than other ex-RWR mini-states.
There is a small, but stubborn faction of Republic of the Sphere military that refused to retreat behind fortress-republic and opted to stay and defend their homes and the ideals of republic. They call themselves the "Remnant".
Reporting Names: Each of the Clan BattleMechs were given such names by the Inner Sphere. For example, the Clans' Timber Wolf is still widely known as the Mad Cat.
Some of these are better than others, and the mere mention of an Inner Sphere reporting name in the presence of a Clan supporter can cause arguments. Just to make it worse, the Vulture is the only Mech that ever went by three names. It was also called Hagetaka, which is Japanese for Vulture, in the Draconis Combine.
The Mauler is a FedCom reporting name for a Draconis Combine 'mech, back when it was so secret the other IS houses only had rumors of its existence. The 'Mech's prototypical name was Daboku (bruise), but the original prototypes were marked failures. While the newest models were superior and reasonably effective, the Draconis Combine used the FedCom reporting name to avoid the embarrassment of the Daboku's history. Before that, related models that (visually) called back to the Mauler went by Na-No-Kami (the Japanese god of earthquakes) and Linesman.
A similar story exists for the Wolf Trap BattleMech. Designed by the Draconis Combine, its original name was Tora (tiger), but it was quickly given the FedCom reporting name Wolf Trap in a hasty effort to make it not seem Draconian in origin, as the 'Mech was branded a failure.
An subverted case is the Ebon Jaguar, which was made sometime in battle of Luthien by Clan Smoke Jaguar. It was named the Cauldron Born by the Inner Sphere, and the Clans also call it Cauldron Born, because it was so new they didn't get the name Smoke Jaguar made.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap / Lethal Joke Character: The faster-playing adaptation Alpha Strike has had this effect on a lot of units that were thought of as useless in normal Battletech, as their usefulness grows exponentially in the faster-paced play environment.
Retcon: Certain early Mechs were inspired by Macross designs, and this caused legal problems for the game designers when BattleTech began to pick up steam. The designs were removed from the game, and fans took to calling these designs Unseen. With rights to the original artwork still not forthcoming, eventually the mechs were simply redesigned.
Word of God says this is officially NOT a retcon — the original designs still exist in universe, they just can't be seen in Real Life. The Project Phoenix redesigns are just that — revamped designs of the old machines meant to reflect the new styling of the 3060s. The debate over whether CGL ought to just retcon once and for all the old designs into the new designs is a cause of a lot of Broken Base on the official forums. CGL, for their part is not dipping their toes into that water. Yet.
Confusing the issue further, Catalyst has the rights to use, and does use, the artwork for the 'Mechs taken from all sources not Macross. The Thunderbolt, Shadow Hawk, Battlemaster, and others have reappeared in Real Life.
Catalyst, however, has officially said they will not exercise whatever rights they do have to that artwork, out of fear that someday it might come back to bite them legally. The official stance of CGL is that if it wasn't made "in house" by FASA, Fan Pro or CGL directly (this also rules out bespoke designs like the Studio Nue redesigns for the Japanese version of Battletech that became the IIC Clan 'mechs), they will not touch it with a ten-foot pole.
A more appropriate example would be the situation regarding 'Mech production. Initially there was ZERO production, just spare parts to fight over which placed a higher emphasis on the Schizo Tech and Scavenger World themes. A fairly early retcon created working factories which allows scrapped 'Mechs to be replaced, but without making them numerous either, preserving to a lesser degree the sense of scarcity.
Similarly, the fact that the Inner Sphere had finally started to recover some lost Star League technologies on a useful scale beginning about a decade before the Clan invasion...was only introduced to the universe after the first novels about said invasion had already been written. This makes several viewpoint characters from said novel sound oddly ignorant on the subject of the invaders' technology in retrospect.
Revenge by Proxy: One of the many ways in which some of the more oppressive Great Houses of the Inner Sphere (such as Kurita) violated human rights.
Pre-Schism ComStar and the Word of Blake also used this as a mean of intimidation. The latter often on a planetary scale.
Right Hand Versus Left Hand: All over the place. Be it mercenary commands getting into conflicts with their employer's regular forces, line units running into trouble with local leaders who feel threatened by their presence, rival commanders jockeying for position and influence (though certain factions, the Clans in particular, encourage this to an extent, business interests and military necessity clashing, or conflicting ideological and regional allegiances, in the 31st Century the enemy doesn't always fly a different flag.
The Free Worlds League is the best example. The main weakness of the otherwise solid FWLM is that units from different regions distrust each other and are often taking orders from regional leaders who have goals that don't line up with the commands coming from House Marik.
The Word of Blake had no less than five different factions on its ruling Conclave. Furthermore, during the Jihad, Precentors Apollyon and Cameron St. Jamais (who commanded the Word's elite Manei Domini and regular WoB Militia respectively) despised each other, to the point that the Shadow Divisions attacked Militia held worlds even while Stone's Coalition was beginning to go on the offensive.
Ring Out: It is possible to knock enemy units off of the map by knocking them into an adjacent hex when they're right on the edge; game rules often treat this as "in retreat" or similar.
It also caused another, directly aimed at House Kurita — the Eridani Light Horse were repulsed by the massacre, and declared their mercenary contract null and void due to Kurita's violations of the laws of war. The governor of the planet they were based out of responded by killing all of the Eridani Light Horse's families and dependents. This was a grave miscalculation on Kurita's part — the unit sought out every representative of the Kurita government and military on the planet and systematically killed them in revenge.
Wolf's Dragoons also got in on this during both the Marik Civil War and the events surrounding the aptly-named planet of Misery. Given both their skills and considering their eventual origins, this proved to be a bad thing for the parties they were seeking revenge against.
The Dragoons had another big one when Blakist sponsored mercenaries attacked Outreach and killed Jaime Wolf, among other atrocities. They proceeded to enact "Condition Feral" - they give every ally one chance to stand down, and kill every hostile without asking or accepting surrender, in an action explicitly compared to a Clan Trial of Annihilation.
The Clans have a socially accepted version of this, the aforementioned Trial of Annihilation. Normally a badly tainted group or personage is Abjured, exiled in other words. If they are considered truly beyond the pale, however, Annihilation is proposed. An Annihilated Clanner is killed, as are all those descended from them, and then all those killed are unpersoned. Like all Clan Trials it is by combat and it's in theory possible to win...but this has only occurred a handful of times in Clan history. The mere proposal of Annihilation usually means all the political bridges have been burned; the vote for the trial determines the odds on the field, and 100 to 1 or worse is the norm.
The Blakist nuclear and biological attacks on Clan Ghost Bear civilians made things personal. The warriors of the Bears - infamous among the Clans for being slow to act - threw out all the Clan rules of warfare and responded with an Inner-Sphere style campaign of massive bombardments and savage brutality.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like ancient and medieval kings back on Earth, royalty and other leaders are expected to inspire the people by leading their troops in combat, or at least have combat experience. Does not apply to actual heads of state, usually, but if the excrement is well and truly all over the fan, it happens. Ian Davion, Hanse's Davion's older brother and First Prince before him, died in his Atlas' cockpit, while Hanse and Takashi Kurita both mounted up (and scored several kills each) in defense of their capital worlds.
You can't be appointed First Prince of the Federated Suns without spending five years on the front lines as a member of the Federated Suns military. This particular point becomes a big issue for the younger sibling of the First Prince, who stages a very artful coup but never has particularly much legitimacy because she never did any military service. Cue vicious Civil War.
Considering she was second-in-line for the throne and the first born nearly got killed a dozen times or more while his parents were still alive, you'd think they would have insisted that #2 join the army...
Lampshaded in Mechwarrior4: Vengeance, where the protagonist is from a royal family, seeking to restore legal rule to his planet (and the final battle is with his cousin), and after one of his missions, a lancemate actually says "I guess you're not one of those royals who let the rest of us do the heavy lifting."
Royally Screwed Up: The Camerons of the Terran Hegemony, the Liaos of the Capellan Confederation, and the Mariks of the Free Worlds League to a certain extent. The other great houses also have had their examples throughout the ages, but those are the most prominent.
The Camerons were prone to excesses, and occasional bouts of Magnificent Bastardy. This actually managed to be a boon to their nation, until Richard was betrayed by his Treacherous Advisor.
The Liaos have a serious genetic predisposition to being batshit fucking insane. As in "self-mutilation to show your loyalty" and "kill a few thousand people because I'm convinced a handful are traitors" and "I'm convinced I can kill you with the power of my mind" kinds of insane. The ones that aren't insane are shrewd, competant leaders. The ones that are insane are shrewd, terrifying megalomaniacs.
The Mariks are known to two major traits: Being largely ineffective on the throne, and killing each other to take the throne. The most effective Marik leader in recent memory turned out to not actually be a Marik.
While most of the Steiners are skilled, and occasionally brilliant leaders; the family does have a sporadic history of psychological instability ranging from mild irrationality to megalomania. These cases are not as common as in Houses Liao or Marik but when one of them gets on the throne the Commonwealth usually suffers for it.
Other royal families also had problems with internal strife and political wrangling at each other, but usually not to the ridiculous extent the Liaos and Mariks would display. The Davions and Kuritas generally see infighting of a political and cultural nature rather than being rooted in mental illness.
Salt the Earth: The Cobalt-Laced nukes, used in early Succession Wars and late Jihad.
Another way this occurred was through destroying or cutting off a world's access to food and especially water. Many worlds that relied upon imports or terraforming quite literally died because of this during the Succession Wars. Preventing this trope (along with Lost Technology) is the number one reason why nearly every faction in the setting has rejected total warfare.
Scary Black Man: Franklin Osis, the first Khan of Clan Smoke Jaguar. Lincoln Osis, the ilKhan who saw the Great Refusal end the Clan Invasion once and for all, was also one.
The same applied to the Pentagon worlds before and during Operation Klondike.
Schizo Tech: Some League technology has been retained, but much has been lost and has to be reinvented. For example, compact fusion reactors and neurointerface technology exists in the setting, but targeting computers weigh several tons and are less capable than WWII-era analog ones.
Targeting computers weigh so much because it's not just a computer, but more precise servos for weapon mounts, better sensors, and the like.
And thanks to many worlds experiencing a combination of poor support in the early colonial days and the setbacks of war, most can't produce a full range of modern technologies on-planet, and imports can get pricey. There are more than a few worlds where businessmen talk on sattelite phones while riding their horses (or possibly some other alien beast) to work, and almost everyone has access to holo technology which look like high tech i-pads.
Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Pretty much how IlKhan Andrews started up the initial Reavings that would plunge the Clan Homeworlds into all out war. He even got away with killing another Khan before he had a chance to defend himself. His taint doctrine had no precedence in Clan law and only served to allow the Homeworld based Clans to attempt to weaken their Invader rivals. Once the strongest of these allies, the Star Adders, got what they wanted they pointed out that Andrews' Steel Vipers had also been "tainted" and Annihilated them under their own doctrine.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: General Kerensky and the majority of the SLDF fled known space once they realized that the only other option was to fight those they had sworn to protect.
Self Fulfilling Prophecy: ComStar's Explorer Corps was formed after the then Primus had nightmares about invading monsters from outside the Inner Sphere that bore alarming resemblance to the animals the Clans named themselves after. Said Explorer Corps were what instigated the Clan invasion of the Inner Sphere when one of them accidentally discovered the Smoke Jaguar homeworld.
Self Healing Phlebotinum: The Clans use an agent called HarJel in their Elemental Battle Armors. If the suit is damaged, HarJel acts like a sealing agent and also sterilizes suffered wounds and numbs the pain of the wearer. It is also uses to instantly seal ruptured hulls of spaceships. The secret behind it's mass-production is closely guarded by one Clan and thus the product is highly valued throughout Clan Space and the Inner Sphere.
Series Mascot: The Mad Cat/Timber Wolf is the series iconic design. The Atlas and Warhammer(replaced by the Battlemaster) are usually the Inner Sphere and Succession Wars mascots.
Secret Police: The ISF of the Combine, ComStar and the Word of Blake's ROM, The Free Worlds League's (comically inept) SAFE, the various Clan Watches, the Federated Sun's MI6, the Confederation's Maskirovka, and the Commonwealth's LIC (though their LOKI department goes a step further, and Heimdall goes beyond ''that'').
Clan Fire Mandrill warriors also practice this, being their founder was from the Draconis Combine himself.
Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: As with many tabletop games, this trope is in full force here. Long range weapons in Battletech rarely have a maximum range that exceeds ~25 hexes, and each hex is ~30 meters long. Most weapons have much shorter maximum ranges, and their effective range is even shorter than that. Apparently the tech level makes giant robots practical, but it can't arm them with anything that goes farther than half a kilometer.
This has been repeatedly called out, and repeatedly stated to exist for game balance. In real-world, all of the weapons would have ranges measuring "to the horizon", save possibly Lasers, as those would suffer diffraction. The designers have also directly said that it was for playability as well, as to model accurate ranges would force players into needing 12 or more maps end-to-end, and that it took away the "face-to-face" dueling romance of the game and instead making it a sniper contest.
Shotguns Are Just Better: In the right hands, even lower-damage LBX autocannons can tear shit up with cluster munitions.
A citizen of the Inner Sphere may ask, "What did the Clans ever do for us?" "Well," a citizen of the Barrens might answer, "the sanitation, the medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the freshwater system, public health, oh and peace."
The entry for the Black Knight heavy mech in Technical Readout: 3039 is absolutely full of references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. First, it says that the mech debuted with the 3rd Heavy Assault Regiment, a Star League unit nicknamed "The Pythons." Then it says that people who fought it had to "literally dismember their foe" to stop it. And finally, for good measure, there's this sentence in the mech's profile:
"In a one-on-one battle with another heavy Battle Mech - assuming equally skilled Mechwarriors - conventional wisdom is that the Black Knight will always triumph."
In Technical Readout 3055, an upgrade to the Spider Mech is created. Its name? The Venom. Hmm...
The Explorer Corps cites a fictional book titled I Want to Believe, written by a Piper Anderson.
Single-Biome Planet: Averted most of the time. Exceptions are planets like Tharkad, which can be pretty much summarized as "tundra everywhere".
Sins of Our Fathers: Present in many factions; mostly in reaction to criminal activity or dereliction of duty. Ranges from political and social marginalization (Houses Davion, Steiner and Marik), labor camps, pressure to commit suicide or outright execution (Houses Kurita and Liao) to demotion/exile/execution for warriors and sterilization for civilians (the Clans).
Indeed, the Clan Trial of Annihilation takes this Up to Eleven. Should the guilty party be convicted not only are they executed but anyone related to them is put to death (if in the warrior caste, and this includes children still in training or even still unborn) or sterilized and sentenced to a life of hard labor (if in the civilian castes). Afterwards if someone mentions the names of the Annihilated it is grounds for censure. It should be noted that Annihilations are only carried out well after the Clan's see the Godzilla Threshold crossed and it requires every bloodnamed warrior in the Clan (several hundred, apart from those who are targeted) to vote in favor to even commence the Trial.
Skull for a Head: The Atlas, the archetypal 100 ton mech, was deliberately designed as such.
Slap on the wrist WMDs: played straight gameplay wise for balance reasons but in-universe averted to high hell using nukes or just about any Weapons of mass destruction is the quickest way to get everyone to stop shooting each other and start shooting at you.
Reunification War states that only the biggest ones (like city busters) were not stated for balance reasons. Even the smaller tactical nukes, orbital strikes, radiological bombs and nerve gas weapons will destroy anything unfortunate enough to be caught anywhere near ground zero and will severely damage things further outside it. The Wars of Reaving also saw weaponized viruses with a 100% lethality rate against units at the wargame level and player characters at the RPG level.
Sniping the Cockpit: Largely averted. While head hits will hurt a 'Mech's pilot and may knock him or her out (and the head is usually the weakest spot on the whole giant armored war machine, period), actually aiming for the head is almost impossible unless the pilot is already unconscious or the reactor has shut down. Even then it's hard enough to pull off that it's more often a finishing move executed at point-blank range than anything else.
Smug Super: Trueborn Clanners are not exactly humble about their superior breeding and training; to say nothing of their tendency towards Cultural Posturing. Even the friendlier ones (who respect skilled freeborns and honorable Spheroids) are usually characterized as being confident well past the point of arrogance. To make things worse certain Clans, particularly the Falcons, Jaguars, Vipers, Ravens and Wolves, are considered prideful by Clan standards.
The Word of Blake's Manei Domini looked down on ordinary humans as "frails" and saw themselves as enlightened and closer to the Master's vision for humanity. Unlike the Clans, who recognize strength and are willing to swallow their pride if you beat them bad enough, the Domini have a tendency to throw tantrums if they lose; usually with massed WMD deployment.
Social Darwinist (The Clans: see Designer Babies. Ironically, real Darwinism bit them on the ass when they tried to retake the Inner Sphere. While the Clans had spent the last couple centuries honing their skills in ritualized honor-bound combat, the Inner Sphere had been fighting wars practically nonstop.)
Whilst the Clanners might have the upper hand in an organized fight, the Inner Sphere were more than capable and willing of employing tactics that the haughty Clan Warriors would see as cowardly. Or to put it simply, the Inner Sphere 'warriors and commanders were all versed in the art of Combat Pragmatism, quite happily exploiting the rigid rule and honour engagement structure of the clans.
The Clans got wise to it eventually, though. Nowadays Clan forces are permitted to flatly refuse any batchalls (challenges) from Inner Sphere forces without any loss of honor, if the Sphere challenge is blatantly intended to use the system to put the Clanners at a disadvantage.
Soldier vs. Warrior: In general, Inner Sphere are usually Soldiers and the Clans are usually Warriors:
The Clans are warriors who fight for individual glory, honor, and the right to have their genes added to the next generation, and operate on Asskicking Equals Authority. Clanner battles are basically honor duels. But since the failure of Operation REVIVAL where their own honor was used against them they slowly started to lean towards the Soldiers, and by the Dark Ages they use zelbringen against Inner Sphere only when it gives them advantage.
The Inner Sphere factions have been fighting wars for the past four hundred years, giving it all they got and employing ambushes and artillery and other "dishonorable" tactics, as well as promoting their officers for tactical ability rather than beating the others into submission. On the other hand, the sizable portion of military elite of the two most militarized Inner Sphere factions, Federated Suns and Draconis Combine, have a rather old-fashioned ideas on how the military should fight that lean on the Warrior side, such as only allowing the noble families to own mechs in the former and the preference for melee where long range should have been preferable for the latter.
Space Age Stasis: Over two hundred years went by during the Succession Wars, during which almost no new technology was created, and huge amounts of existing technology was destroyed, or hidden.
Though the Clans did not experience this stasis, and thanks to the Grey Death data core and salvaged Clan tech the Inner Sphere might end up moving out of it.
Spider Tank: Quadrupedal mechs do exist, though they're uncommon and generally less effective than the bipedal kind. In gameplay terms, as long as they manage to actually keep all four legs (which isn't as easy as it sounds), they're both more stable and can execute a special 'sidestep' maneuver...but lacking arms and the ability to torso twist, they have less room to spare for weapons than their bipedal cousins even when they can load the exact same tonnage as well as fairly large blind spots from which they can be attacked while being unable to return fire at all.
Standard Sci-Fi Army: Mecha may dominate the battlefield, but there still plenty of room for tanks, infantry, and power armor.
State Sec: The most (in)famous examples are probably the Draconis Combine's Internal Security Force and the Capellan Maskirovka. (The Cap Con also notably adds the Death Commandos, a comparatively small but fanatical and elite soldier/intelligence/bodyguard force that explicitly answers to the Chancellor alone.) There's also the Lyran Commonwealth's Loki, whose raison d'etre includes "state terrorism" among other things; however, with the Lyrans generally portrayed as a bit more mindful of such things as human rights, less tends to be made of that unless it's to emphasize how much of a villain the current Archon happens to be.
Stone Wall: While many mechs are heavily armoured, the most triumphant example is undoubtedly the aptly-named Great Turtle. It's a quadrupedal mech, which means it can mount more armour than a biped, and weighs 100 tons, giving it the maximum armour potential of any mech outside Superheavy designs. It mounts the maximum possible amount of armour, but what really makes the Great Turtle this trope is the type of armour it mounts; Hardened Armour, which reduces all damage taken by half. On top of that is the fact that its cockpit is torso-mounted, meaning it can keep fighting even if its head gets blown off. The downside is its low mobility and relative lack of weapons, although the former is mostly offset by its Jump Jets.
Subspace Ansible: The Hyperpulse Generator (HPG) is the standard means of interstellar communication. It basically hyperspace-jumps a radio wave to its destination up to 50 light-years away, bypassing the need for null-gravity that jump ships need to transmit since radio waves have no mass. During the Succession Wars, they were deemed so crucial that they became the purview of an (ostensiblly) neutral faction called ComStar, who established a universal currency using HPG transmission time as the backing commodity. A second, less-known form is the "Black Box" radios, which were backburner experiments during the Star League's time, but made practical by secret scientific endeavors by the Federated Suns and used to subvert an interdiction against them by ComStar during the Fourth Succession War.
Sub System Damage: Each section of BattleMechs and other vehicles have their own Hit Points. Once armor is stripped away, there is the distinct possibility of inflicting a Critical Hit that destroys a specific internal component in the 'Mech, with various effects.
Succession Crisis: The Succession Wars, with five Successor States with claims on the title of the First Lord of Star League, lasting 400 years through four separate wars. The Successor States themselves occasionally have successions crises of their own.
Super Soldier: Clan Mecha/Fighter Pilots and Battle Armor Troopers.
Clan fighter pilots subvert the Super Soldier trope. Despite being genetically engineered to be better pilots, and having better equipment, they consistently lose to Inner Sphere pilots. Clan aerospace inferiority arguably cost them the Invasion at the Battle of Radstat.
Elementals, meanwhile, take the trope and run with it. They're pretty much Space Marines minus the extra organs and plus the possibility to be female (with an even chance of being a Brawn Hilda or an Amazonian Beauty).
The Manei Domini are cyborgs originally designed to (hopefully) defeat the Clans, this would also make them Super Soldiers.
Tangled Family Tree: The Great Houses have quite a set of lineages. A particularly conspicuous knot for four of the five Great Houses focuses around Victor Davion. His parentage includes his father, First Prince Hanse "The Fox" Davion, and his mother, Melissa Steiner, daughter of the illustrious ArchonKatrina Steiner. His immediate progeny includes a son, KitsuneKurita, with Omiko Kurita, and three children with his eventual wife, Isis Marik, daughter of the "Real" Thomas Marik. Victor has sired children with both a daughter of the family that is his maternal ancestral enemy (Steiner vs Marik), and with a daughter of the family that is his paternal ancestral enemy (Davion vs Kurita).
Tanks for Nothing: Averted. Ton for ton, tanks are generally inferior to comparable BattleMechs, but they are still far from help- or useless. See also Tank Goodness below.
Tank Goodness: 'Mechs may be the 'kings of the battlefield'...but you would be well-advised not to tell a Demolisher, Alacorn Mark VII or Shrek PPC Carrier that to its face. Tanks are typically cheaper and far more numerous than 'Mechs, and quantity has a quality all its own. And those that do equal a 'Mech's pricetag are dangerous in themselves.
There's even an in-universe training scenario that highlights Tank Goodness. Called the Scorpion's nest, it involves an absurdly high number of Scorpion tanks continuously ambushing the testee until the testee loses. In-game, one is far more likely to see the Savannah Master swarm, with equally absurdly high numbers of an even worse unit. Played properly, either of those "crap" unit swarms can topple Dropships. Even Assault 'mech groups don't want to face an opposing Dropship.
Players who underestimate ground vehicles are quickly relieved of the notion after their first Demolisher encounter. An 80 ton tank with a heavy armor shell and dual Autocannon-20s that cost less than a 35-ton 'Mech, the Demolisher can easily be hidden in a hull-down ambush and roll up alongside a 'Mech to deliver a crippling one-two punch.
Clan Hell's Horse and their unwilling splinter cousins of Stone Lion are the only Clans that believe in this.
Technology Marches On: In-Universe. The official line is that humanity ran out of most of its good ideas before the 22nd century, and spent most of the next several centuries refining existing technologies. Thanks to scarce resources on some worlds though, 20th-century tech is the usual standard, with internal combustion engines, radio, and CD-ROMS.
Terraform: The technology exists, but only Mars and Venus have undergone the standard sci-fi total transformation, and since habitable, if not comfortable, worlds are common in Inner Sphere, Mars/Venus treatment is considered to be cost innefective. Most other examples are minor touch ups to the already habitable worlds.
That Was the Last Entry: Magazine BattleTechnology #21 article "What Now, Mechwarrior?", scenario "King of the Hill". The diary of a Pathfinder (scout for mecha forces) ends with "I sure will be glad when this mission is over and I can get off this dustball. At least the Sarge says he doesn't expect the enemy to..." It was found after a hard-fought battle.
Time Skip: When MechWarrior: Dark Age was introduced in 2002, the main storyline (retitled Classic BattleTech was wrapping up the FedCom Civil War. The Dark Age timeframe, however, was set in the 3130's, completely skipping almost 70 years of history, including the Word of Blake Jihad. The Dark Age line has since been discontinued and the main line has caught up with it. Also thematically the events between 3085 (first years of the Republic of the Sphere) and 3132 (Blackout) serve only as an interlude between the aftermath of Jihad and the proper start of the Dark Age.
Transforming Mecha: Early versions of the game featured Land-Air 'Mechs, which could transform Macross-style into aircraft. (The results were predictably Awesome, but Impractical.) This was seen as perilously close to outright copyright infringement, so they began to be phased out in the early '90s. Nevertheless, optional rules still exist for them, and updated rules are said to be in the pipeline.
Hilariously, some of the associated novels mention these very aircraft - and then ridicule them for failing miserably every time someone tried to design one.
It got so bad that FASA finally put in the fluff that there was one, and only one, factory by 3050 capable of producing LAMs. Clan Nova Cat, who had captured the world, had a typically Clanner loathing of LAMs (and the fact that they had very different phenotypes for aerospace pilots and Mechwarriors didn't help) and razed the factory to the ground.
The 3085 Technical Readout has updated LAM designs; they look much less ridiculous than the original ones, but still look like they'd topple over in a light breeze.
In the Dark Age there are QuadVee prototypes, the four-legged battlemechs that can change between all-terrain leg-mode or road-friendly tread mode.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted for Land-Air Mechs - they are most vulnerable when transforming, as getting hit when doing so could jam the transformation or cause the machine to crash if converting from fighter mode.
Ungrateful Bastard: It burns Vlad Ward up that the man responsible for rescuing him after the clan flagship took a kamikaze attack to the bridge was the freeborn bondsman he disdainfully sneered at so often: Phelan Kell. When Vlad flaunted the fact that he claimed Phelan's fancy belt buckle as irsola, Phelan just countered by reminding him of the scar across Vlad's face from the incident with a slow face slash gesture.
United Space of America: Soundly averted. Because the American planetary colonies were the first ones settled, they were also closest to Earth and thus subjected to the most horrific bombardments in the 400-year long interstellar civil war. Little American culture survives in the 31st century save for the tequila-drinking Texans of the Capellan March, the Americans and Israelis on the Southwest Worlds of the Free Worlds League, and the far-flung Amish planet of Home.
Unreliable Narrator: Every book, from the TROs to the Sourcebooks, (except for the novels) is explicitly written as an in-universe book. Originally, this was done just for flavor, as a way to create immersion. It has practical considerations as well. The way canon works in BT is that the most recent books trump any previous material. This makes doing a Retcon or even a subtle Re Write much easier; the older material is simply considered to be in error. It also allowed the BT writers to correct a lot of incorrect and inaccurate information in the earliest books, simply by calling the ComStar-induced errors or possibly even misinformation.)
At first, now the sourcebook writer seem to have developed a fetish for purposely giving out misinformation in the new releases. That's right, there's every possibility in the world that that brand new sourcebook in your hands is lying to you.
The misinformation took on a wierd new meta-level when the developers revealed a new 200-ton Omega "superheavy" 'Mech as an April Fool's joke to the players. Then at the end of the Jihad storyline, guess what one of the Word of Blake's new experimental weapons turned out to be? The joke's on you, heretics.
Rear-mounted weapons. Not a favorite of most players (many of whom will, if given a "canon" design that sports these, happily flip them around into the forward arc first chance they get), but at least in principle any weapon that can be mounted in a torso or leg can be installed in the same location to fire at targets behind the 'Mech instead.
Some 'Mechs move the cockpit from the head into the (comparably) better-protected torso, and then stuff the head with weaponry. One experimental Quickdraw turns this head-gun into a PPC turret.
Unwanted False Faith: Jerome Blake was just a bureaucrat who wanted to keep humanity's technology from being destroyed or misused; he most certainly did not want his subordinates to attempt to drive humanity into a Dark Age so they could remake the Inner Sphere in his "vision". Aleksandr Kerensky, while a career soldier, sought to lead his followers away from the eternal conflicts of the Inner Sphere and would most likely have disapproved of the warrior based Clans that came to see him as a Moses like figure. However both men were dead before their words were twisted, by Blake's successor Conrad Toyama and Kerensky's son Nicolas no less, so they couldn't exactly do much to prevent it.
Urban Warfare: Still a nightmare in 31st century. The Urbanmech, as the name suggests, is a light mech designed to fight in the cities.
Used Future: Some mechs and dropships have probably never been properly repainted and replated in centuries.
The Usurper: Amaris is the most infamous example but there are plenty of others; such as Katherine Steiner-Davion and the Von Rohrs dynasty in the Draconis Combine.
This also seems to have been Devlin Stone's approach in building The Republic of the Sphere, especially with the revelation that he was responsible for the HPG network crash
Ian Cameron had this mindset as he was building the Star League; he wanted humanity united at any cost. While the League did herald 250 years of relative peace, technological advancement and economic propensity the Reunification War against the Periphery was the deadliest and most brutal conflict in history until the First Succession War broke out.
Vibro Weapon: Exist at the mech level and, more commonly, as personal melee weapons. While a vibro weapon is capable of penetrating most personal armor the advantage is somewhat offset by the fact that the weapons run out of power quickly and make a very unstealthly humming noise.
Vindicated by History: In-Universe, Doctors Kearny and Fuchida developed the theory that would lead to the invention of faster than light travel. They were ridiculed by their peers and their careers were effectively destroyed; the fruits of their work were only produced long after both men were dead.
Walking Tank: The majority of Clan 'Mechs and post-Clan Invasion Inner Sphere mechs are Walking Tanks, but most Succession Wars era 'Mechs are more humanoid.
War Is Glorious: If you ask the Federated Suns, the Clans, or the Draconis Combine anyway. The Suns' belief in this trope was a major sticking point during their union with the Commonwealth; whose position was that war should serve economic and political goals, no more no less.
Weaponized Car: The Star League-era Rotunda scout car, which is a combat vehicle disguised as a luxury sports car or other civilian vehicles, and is armed with a large laser.
We Have Reserves: The main danger to the Clans from Inner Sphere units. A Clan cluster is 35 to 45 'Mechs, about the size of an Inner Sphere battalion. The Inner Sphere typically throws multiple regiments of 3+ battalions each at a Cluster.
Early in the invasion, the tech gap meant that most Inner Sphere forces considered that they'd require a 2-to-1 advantage over Clan forces to simply reach parity, and both sides would end up mauled into worthlessness during the actual battle. For any chance of a decisive victory, Inner Sphere forces needed to vastly outnumber the Clanners.
This was a deliberate choice, a company of 12 3025-tech Inner Sphere mechs was supposed to be a match for a star of 5 Clan Mechs,
Whip It Good: Clanners use laser-guided whips in single combat duels.
Wild Mass Guessing: Three recent sourcebooks full of what amounts to canon WMG. Its up to the individual GM to decide what's actually true.
Wretched Hive: Many independent planets in the Periphery are ruled by pirate bands and are havens for violence and other illegal activities. One example is Port Krin, where it is described as unhealthy to walk around without body armor.
Yellow Peril: Most of the Capellan Confederation's Chancellors, and the Draconis Combine at times. All depictions of Stefan Amaris show him as a bald asian with a fu manchu as well.