24 Jun 2021

Test Run - A Time of War

Over the past month, I've dipped into Catalist Game Labs' MechWarrior Destiny RPG.  A few times, I mentioned that it was more streamlined than A Time of War, the previous incarnation of the BattleTech RPG.  Today, I demonstrate the difference by creating a PC with ATOW.

ATOW is point based.  Players get 5000 experience points to spend to create their character, compared to 12-20 for skills in Destiny.  However, 850 XP are already assigned, with 100 XP in each of the stats, 20 XP in Language/English and Language/(affiliation), and 10 in Perception.  So far, the new PC looks like the following without making any decisions, like affiliation.

  • Attribute Score Link XP
  •  Strength   100
  •  Body   100
  •  Reflexes   100
  •  Dexterity   100
  •  Intelligence   100
  •  Will   100
  •  Charisma   100
  •  Edge   100
  • Skill Level  Links  TN/C   XP
  •  Language/English                      20
  •  Language/(affiliation)                      20
  •  Perception                      10

For comparison purposes, I'll create a MechWarrior, like Catalina and Carter.  Character creation in ATOW is done in a similar life path manner, so some entries will seem familiar compared to the Destiny PCs.  For the purpose this example, I will assume PCs are part of a mercenary unit in the year 3055.

Stage 0: Affiliation

Now to choose where my character is from.  This time around, I'll use one of the major Houses, House Davion of the Federated Suns.  The module cost for being from the FedSuns is 150XP, leaving 4700XP.  Primary language in English, and I'll take Russian for the secondary.  For those 150XP, I get a choice of traits, Natural Aptitude/Protocol or Natural Aptitude/Strategy, both of which require an INT of 4.  I'll make a note of that for later.  I'll take Strategy here.

I also have to choose a sub-affiliation, a sector of the FedSuns where the character is from.  I'll take the Capellan March; there is a lot of fighting happening along that border.  I get 50 XP for WIL, 25 XP for Connections, -50 XP for Compulsion/Hatred of the Capellan Confederation, +10 XP in Protocol/FedSuns, +10 in Interest/FedSuns History, and +5 into Cantonese, German, Mandarin, Spanish, or Russian.  I'll boost the character's Russian skill.

Stage 1: Early Childhood

My future FedSun MechWarrior now gets to figure out a humble beginning and what the PC did by age 10.  A look through the possible entries leads to Farm, costing 275XP, leaving 4425.  The PC gets +100XP to STR and to BOD, +25XP to DEX, -50XP to CHA, +25XP to the Animal Empathy trait, -25XP to Illiterate, +5-XP to Toughness, -25XP to Wealth, +10XP to Career/Agriculture, +15XP to Animal Handling, and +5 to any two Interests, which will be FedSuns History and the Solaris VII Games.  Finally, I can add +10XP to any four Attributes, Skills, or Traits, so I'll place them into INT, EDG, Natural Aptitude/Strategy, and Interest/Solaris VII Games.

The character so far:

  • Attribute Score Link XP
  •  Strength   200
  •  Body   200
  •  Reflexes   100
  •  Dexterity   125
  •  Intelligence   110 *4
  •  Will   100
  •  Charisma   75
  •  Edge   110

  • Trait TP  Page  XP
  •  Animal Empathy                           25
  •  Compulsion/Hatred of Capellan           -50
  •  Connections                              25
  •  Illiterate                              -25
  •  Natural Aptitude/Strategy               110
  •  Toughness                                 5
  •  Wealth                                  -25

  • Skill Level  Links  TN/C   XP
  •  Animal Handling                                     15
  •  Career/Agriculture                                  10
  •  Interest/FedSuns History                            15
  •  Interest/Solaris VII Games                          15
  •  Language/English                      20
  •  Language/Russian                      25
  •  Perception                      10
  •  Protocol/FedSuns                                    10

Stage 2: Late Childhood

The PC now goes through puberty.  I choose Military School for this stage; the PC has been slacking off and paying more attention to the results of the BattleMech fights on Solaris VII than on school work, so the parents decide some discipline is needed.  Military School costs 500XP, leaving 3925, and requires a minimum WIL of 3.  I get to add +50XP to CHA, +15XP to Connections, +15XP to Fit, +20XP to Rank, +25 to Career/Soldier, +35 to Computers, +30 to any Interest which will go to the Solaris VII Games, +40 to Interest/Military History, +20 to Leadership, +30 to Martial Arts, +10 to MedTech, +30 to Running, +5- to Small Arms, +10 to Strategy, and +10 to Swimming.  I also have 40XP that can only go to skills, so 5XP to each of Animal Handling and Interest/FedSuns History, and 10XP to each of Strategy, Perception, and Career/Agriculture.

At age 16, the character is starting to look like a proper MechWarrior, though not in the cockpit yet.

Stage 3: Higher Education

Time to go to college, university, or enlist.  To become a MechWarrior, future pilots of these towering war machines need to go to an academy or through family training.  Being from the farm, the PC only has the academy as an option, costing 830XP right away, leaving 3095, plus the costs of the fields to come.  Right away, the PC get +50 to STR, +100 to BOD, +125 to RFL, +100 to WIL, +100 to the Equipped trait, +200 to Rank, +15 to Interest/Military History, +10 to Leadership, +15 to Protocol/FedSuns, and +15 to Swimming.  There are also 100XP that can be spent anywhere, so +20 to Strategy and +80 to Vehicle, to try to get a decent 'Mech.

The first field comes up with Basic Training.  Each field costs 30XP per skill in the field group; skills earned this way add 36XP to the skills in the field.  Basic Training has five skills, thus costs 150XP, leaving 2945 and requires INT and WIL of 3.  Each skill - Career/Soldier, Martial Arts, MedTech, Navigation/Ground, and Small Arms - gets 36XP.  The next field I take is MechWarrior, costing 150XP, leaving 2795, and requiring DEx and RFL of 4.  The skills Gunnery/'Mech, Piloting/'Mech, Sensor Operations, Tectics/Land, and Technician/Any all get 36XP each, and the Tech skill will be Mechanics.  I could grab a third field or take Officer Candidate School, but I want to save XP for later purchasing, especially considering the minimums I need to reach.

As for age, the PC started post-secondary studies at age 16.  Basic Training and MechWarrior each took a year, so once done with the Academy, the character is 18 years old.

Stage 4: Real Life

Finally, out into the real world.  Being a military sort, the best fit is Tour of Duty, lasting 3 years and costing 800XP, leaving 1995XP.  The PC needs to have at least one military field from Stage 3, and Basic Training fills that requirement.  I get to add +25XP to Connections, +100 to Vehicle, +50 to Career/Soldier, +40 to Martial Arts, +40 to Navigation/Ground, and +40 to Protocol/FedSuns.  Being from the Inner Sphere, I get to add +50XP to any two Attributes, placing it into RFL and INT, +50 into Vehicle, and -50 into either Compulsion/Any Addiction or Unlucky, and I'll take the latter.  For skills, I get +15 to Language/English, +15 Leadership, +10 Martial Arts, +20 MedTech, +20 Perception, and +175 into any seven military field skills I already have.  With that last bit, I place +25XP into Gunnery/'Mech, Piloting/'Mech, Small Arms, Sensor Operations, Tactics/Land, Navigation/Ground, and Martial Arts.  Do not start a brawl with this character.

I could go for a second module here in Stage 4, but I have the feeling that I will need the remaining XP to balance the character.  That said, the final step.  The character so far:

  • Attribute Score Link XP
  •  Strength   250
  •  Body   300
  •  Reflexes   275 *4
  •  Dexterity   125 *4
  •  Intelligence   160 *4
  •  Will   200 *3
  •  Charisma   125
  •  Edge   110
  • Trait TP  Page  XP
  •  Animal Empathy                           25
  •  Compulsion/Hatred of Capellan           -50
  •  Connections                              65
  •  Equipped                                100
  •  Fit                                      15
  •  Illiterate                              -25
  •  Natural Aptitude/Strategy               110
  •  Rank                                    220
  •  Toughness                                 5
  •  Unlucky                                 -50
  •  Vehicle                                 230
  •  Wealth                                  -25

  • Skill Level  Links  TN/C   XP
  •  Animal Handling                                     20
  •  Career/Agriculture                                  20
  •  Career/Soldier                                     111
  •  Computers                                           35
  •  Gunnery/Mech                                        61
  •  Interest/FedSuns History                            20
  •  Interest/Military History                           55
  •  Interest/Solaris VII Games                          45
  •  Language/English                      35
  •  Language/Russian                      25
  •  Leadership                                          45
  •  Martial Arts                                       141
  •  MedTech                                             66
  •  Melee Weapons                                       20
  •  Navigation/Ground                                  101
  •  Perception                      40
  •  Piloting/Mech                                       61
  •  Protocol/FedSuns                                    95
  •  Running                                             30
  •  Sensor Operations                                   61
  •  Small Arms                                         111
  •  Strategy                                            40
  •  Swimming                                            45
  •  Tactics/Land                                        61
  •  Technician/Mechanics                                36

Stage 5: Purchasing Attributes, Skills, and Traits

Time to use up the remaining 1995 XP.  Attributes and traits are always multiples of 100 XP, skills have a chart on page 85 to work out skill levels.  Starting with the attributes, I need RFL, DEX, and INT to be at least 4 each, and WIL needs to be 3.  It'll take 125XP to get RFL up, 275XP to raise DEX, 240XP for INT, and 100 for WIL, for a total of 740XP, leaving 1225XP.  I also want to get the other attributes up a bit, placing 150 into STR, 100 into BOD, 275 into CHA, and 90 into EDG, for a total of 615XP, leaving me 610XP.  I want to raise WIL a little more, but let's see where I am after traits.

With traits, I need to either remove anything not at the minimum or add XP to get to the minimum, both for positive and negative traits.  With the negative traits, I'll get a full trait point in Compulsion/Hatred of Capellan Confederation, for another -50, Unlucky requires two trait points, minimum, so another -150XP.  However, I will buy off Illiterate and Wealth at 25XP each for a total of 50.  I net -150XP, adding that to my available XP for a total of 760.

Now to the positive traits.  I'll let Animal Empathy go, gaining 25XP.  I do want Connections, so I'll add 35XP there.  Equipped is good where it is.  Fit, while useful, is too low to try to increase to two trait points, so I get another 15XP there.  Natural Aptitude/Strategy is what I'm basing my character on, so that needs to be raised to three trait points, costing me 190XP.  Rank needs to be at five trait points just to be a MechWarrior, so another 280XP there.  Toughness barely blipped, so that saves me another 5XP.  With Vehicle, I need to have four trait points to get a medium, or I can just take a light.  I'll return 30XP to the pool and stay with the light 'Mech.  The total cost of all this is 430XP, leaving me with 330XP for skills.

With skills, the first thing I'll do is see what level each one is, to figure out what I can trim.  The XP cost table on page 85 is critical here.  I could wind up with excess XP to spend, which can help with areas I think I'm lacking in.  To save space, I'm not placing the interim skill list here.  I will add 9XP to Career/Soldier, getting the skill to level 4, remove 5XP from Computers, remove 5XP from Interest/Military History, add 5XP to Interest/Solaris VII Games, add 15XP to Language/English, add 5XP to Language/Russian, add 5XP to Leadership, add 14XP to MedTech, remove 21XP from Navigation/Ground, remove 15 XP from Protocol/FedSuns, add 9XP to Small Arms, add 10XP to Strategy, add 5XP to Swimming, and add 14XP to Technician/Mechanical.  That comes out to a total cost of 45XP, leaving me with 285XP.

Since I do have XP available, I will increase WIL to 4, costing 4XP.  I'll also bump RFL to 5 for another 100XP, leaving me 85.  Increasing Gunnery/'Mech ad Piloting/'Mech will cost 19XP each, but I have it to spare, leaving me 47XP.  Plenty to increase Martial Arts to the next level for 29XP, leaving 18XP.  I'll split that between Piloting/'Mech and Strategy, leaving no XP to spend.

However, I am not done.  Some traits need to be figured out.  I make a note of what Equipped gets me, in this case, I can get any gear of Tech Level D, Availability B, and Legality C.  Rank comes out as E5, which, in the FedSuns, is a Corporal, as per page 29 of the /A Time of War Companion/.  I also get to roll to see what BattleMech I get, using two normal six-sided dice/  I roll a total of 6, earning me a WLF-2 Wolfhound, a newer BattleMech released in 3052 with an extended-range large laser and four medium lasers.  The WLF-2 is ideal for long range recon with no worries about needing resupply in the field.

Finally, I have 1000 C-bills to spend on gear.  I will assume that a neurohelment and a cooling vest come standard with a BattleMech.  A GM can provide gear to players based on the setting, so a military unit will have a standard sidearm, uniform, and field equipment when on maneuvers.  However, mercenary units might not have that sort of funding.  The shopping trip will see the PC getting a knife, a Serrek 7875D auto-pistol with three reloads, an ablative/flak jacket, and a pair of combat boots.  Total cost is 900 C-bills, leaving 100 C-bills when play begins.

All that's left is to name the character, fill out personal details, and get GM approval.  As the PC stands right now, the character could be seen as green, barely experienced with fighting in a BattleMech.  However, outside the 'Mech, the character is one to have beside you in a fight.


  • Name: Tatiana Cole
  • Affiliation: Federated Suns
  • Height: 165cm
  • Weight: 77kg
  • Age: 21
  • Hair: Black
  • Eyes: Blue-green
  • Extra: --


  • Attribute Score Link XP
  •  Strength   4 +0     400
  •  Body   4 +0 400
  •  Reflexes   5 +0 500
  •  Dexterity   4 +0 400
  •  Intelligence   4 +0 400
  •  Will   4 +0 400
  •  Charisma   4 +0 400
  •  Edge   2 -1 200


  • Condition Monitor
  •  Standard ooooo ooo
  •  Fatigue  ooooo ooo
  • Movement (metres/turn)
  •  Walk: 9
  •  Run/Evade: 20
  •  Sprint: 2
  •  Climb: 2
  •  Crawl: 3
  •  Swim: 10
  • Personal Armour (LOC) Armour Type BAR (M/B/E/X)
  •  Main (Torso) - Jacket  Ab/Flak         2/4/5/2
  •  Jacket (Arms)          Ab/Flak         2/4/5/2
  •  Combat Boots (Feet)    Boots           2/3/3/1
  • Weapon Skill AP/BD Range Ammo Notes
  •  Martial Arts   0M/1 Melee N/A
  •  Knife          Melee   1M/2     1m             N/A     
  •  Serrek Pistol  SmArms  3B/3    5/25/50/120      16     +1 to attack, service rolls


  • Trait TP  Page  XP
  •  Compulsion/Hatred of Capellan  -1   110 -100
  •  Connections                     1   112  100
  •  Equipped                        1   116  100
  •  Natural Aptitude/Strategy       3   121  300
  •  Rank                            5   123  500
  •  Unlucky                        -2   128 -200
  •  Vehicle                         2   128  200 - WLF-2 Wolfhound


  • Skill Level  Links  TN/C   XP
  •  Animal Handling                   0    WIL   8/SA   20
  •  Career/Agriculture                0    INT   7/SB   20
  •  Career/Soldier                    4    INT   7/SB  120
  •  Computers                         1    INT   8/CB   30
  •  Gunnery/Mech                      3  RFL+DEX 8/SA   80
  •  Interest/FedSuns History          0    INT   8/CB   20
  •  Interest/Military History         2    INT   8/CB   50
  •  Interest/Solaris VII Games        2    INT   8/CB   50
  •  Language/English    2  INT+CHA 8/SA   50
  •  Language/Russian    1  INT+CHA 8/SA   30
  •  Leadership                        2  WIL+CHA 8/SA   50
  •  Martial Arts                      5  RFL+DEX 8/SA  170
  •  MedTech                           3    INT   7/SB   80
  •  Melee Weapons                     0    DEX   7/SB   20
  •  Navigation/Ground                 3    INT   7/SB   80
  •  Perception    1    INT   7/SB   40
  •  Piloting/Mech                     3  RFL+DEX 8/SA   89
  •  Protocol/FedSuns                  3  WIL+CHA 9/CA   80
  •  Running                           1    RFL   7/SB   30
  •  Sensor Operations                 2  INT+WIL 8/SA   61
  •  Small Arms                        4    DEX   7/SB  120
  •  Strategy                          2  INT+WIL 9/SA   59
  •  Swimming                          1    STR   7/SB   50
  •  Tactics/Land                      2  INT+WIL 9/CA   61
  •  Technician/Mechanics              2  DEX+INT 9/CA   50


  • Life Module Other Notes
  •  0/Affiliation FedSuns
  •  1/Early Childhood Farm
  •  2/Late Childhood Military School
  •  3/Miltiary Academy Basic Training, MechWarrior
  •  4/Tour of Duty                 +3 years

C-bills: 100


Item Location  Data/Statistics

3 reloads for pistol     Pockets

Yeah, that's a lot,  It took me a couple of days to write this post up, compared to the single evening the /Destiny/ characters took.  However, ATOW integrates directly into the /BattleTech/ wargame with no added conversion.  Your mileage may vary.

This was a long one, so bonus Jewel.

It's easier to get a profile pic of Jewel.

Tiger lily to go with the tiger tabby.

As always, let me know if you use the the above character.

Friday, Lost in Translation continues at Psycho Drive-In.
Saturday, Lost in Translation can be found at The Seventh Sanctum.

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