Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A bit of an Update...

Hello, and thank you all for your patience.

I have been busy this past weekend putting up lights, trees and whatnot. Our shop is short a person due to holiday vacation, so when I come home it’s understandable I am somewhat bushed. Add to that a slowdown on TRO progress (why did I ever think I could get this out by Christmas?) and you have little motivation for an update that really isn’t an update.

But it is.

I talked with Lee Madison, he of the Velite and Striker II art, and he is also busy with projects, but is nearly finished with his art. David Dryburgh has not checked in for over a week, but I think he is in the same boat as Eric Ou – that is, a student at university who is now out on holidays. Nevertheless, I trust he is still working on the final interior plate.

Naturally, this enforced idleness does not sit well with me, but I have been busy just the same. However, whenever there is a lull in the action, I get out to the various websites and check to see what’s happening in the world. In my case, that includes the world of BattleTech. One of the sites I visit is Mordel.net, a cozy little stop where folks are creating new machines and talking over new ideas. Much of it you will find on the bigger sites, but there are always a few nuggets to be found which do not make what I refer to as the ‘big time’. One of those little gems in the rough was a ‘Mech design based on a favorite of mine, the Jenner.

The designer meant well and designed the best he knew, but has mixed elements of a close-quarters fighter with those found more appropriately on a fire-support ‘Mech. All this, packed into a 35-ton machine which is one of the odder-looking ducks of the BattleTech universe – and that is saying something.

Now, the last time I saw something like this, it was a canon design called the Vindicator. The writeup admitted that this ‘Mech was the product of compromise, and really did not excel at any one task unless it was deployed in lance strength. I did not want a Jenner consigned to the same fate, yet the Mordel.net design had promise. The accompanying writeup was sparse, without enough detail to determine what assignments the author had in mind for his machine. Despite repeated efforts, I have not been able to contact the original designer to get his blessing and some additional background. However, there was enough to ascertain that this ‘Mech came from a campaign, a long one, and that it had seen actual combat on the tabletop. That was enough for me and I took it to the next step.

I changed a few things around – the energy weapons, the ammunition supply, the armor and the jump jets. The rest I left alone. The result looked enough like an advance on previous iterations of the Jenner to qualify as a TRO ‘Mech, yet I already had enough ‘Mechs for the Draconis Combine and was not willing to drop an existing piece just to make room. So the new Jenner found a home in the Mercenaries section.

Yes, that’s right. I decided to add another ‘Mech. Again.

Eric quickly agreed to do a new piece of art for this machine. I have cautioned him to retain as many of the major styling cues as possible, even sending an image of the Jenner IIC to show what I mean. And Geoff? He was eager to get started on the writeup – he agreed that it was a solid design. I will have to wait until Eric has finished his other commissions and Geoff has completed the changes to his writeup to reflect its Mercenary origin, but this one is a go.

The new Jenner’s warload is impressive. It carries three MRM-10 launchers, supplied with a single ton of ammo. That is enough for eight turns of fire, plenty for a ‘Mech of this tonnage and adequate for the average game. Backing these are two medium lasers. The original design called for four jump jets, but those are most often found on in-fighters and in any case, four is not enough. The stock unit carries five and they are only moderately useful – there is little a jump of four can do that a movement of 11 (or 14) cannot, and the speed on the straighaways is key for this design. The Jenner’s tonnage does not support in-fighter missions and such an assignment would be a waste of the MRM’s range in any case. I removed them and added MASC. Some might find this questionable, given the chance of losing a hip, but in practice I have found MASC to be a hole card when it comes to getting into position for a good firing solution.

Armor is near maximum for a ‘Mech of this size, with liberal use of endo-steel and ferro fibrous plating throughout. An extra-light engine powers this new Jenner. Again, some might consider this to be a liability, but light ‘Mechs have plenty of internal space relative to the tonnage available for weapons, so it’s a necessary tradeoff. The pilot is protected by CASE. With a movement profile of 7/11(14), this baby should be able to execute ‘saber-dance’ routines with ease, its high speed granting relative immunity from enemy fire. The key is to keep moving. A stationary Jenner, even with good armor, is a sitting duck.

When the ammo runs out, the pilot retires to the rear; armed with two lasers, he can deal with anything that makes it to the backfield. By the time the enemy gets there, they are usually full of holes and ready to take internal hits – and the Jenner pilot still has his speed.

My son took a look at this design and labeled it a ‘recon/harrier’ which would be especially hard on vehicles. Funny, because the original writeup described it as being unsuitable for recon. However, I believe the speed makes it suitable for such missions and the warload would deliver quite a punch to anything met along the way.

I have had email asking about the printed version. That’s good – there is sufficient interest for me to go ahead with the initial 25-copy print run. I will have to borrow money to make it happen, but should get a modest portion of it back when I sell the remaining nine copies. I would like to do thirty copies, but do not yet have enough people shouting for it to make that worth my while. It’s at least another hundred twenty dollars, and I do not wish to borrow more than $600. I might pitch in the extra money if enough people commit to it, but so far I have not got enough emails to warrant more than the initial run.

Hopefully we will see the finished Velite and Striker II before the next update. I am crossing my fingers – but not both hands. After all, I have to pay off the artists before I can publish, and that will take a little more time.

Thank you all for being so patient with the TRO and the blog updates. Hope your shopping is stress-free and that you are getting a chance to relax before the holidays hit us.


1 comment:

Paint it Pink said...

Well I've done most of my shopping for the festivities, with only my Godson's present remaining to be bought by me.

Anyway, it's good to see an update from you and as always I watch with baited breath. Have a very Merry Xmas and I wish you a Happy New Year too.