Battlemech Info

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Battlemech Technology

A BattleMech (often abbreviated ’Mech, although that could technically also refer to IndustrialMechs) is an armored combat vehicle of roughly humanoid shape, some 10 to 20 meters tall and typically massing from 20 to 100 tons. ’Mechs are best suited for ground combat, although they are also capable of operation under water, in vacuum and/or in zero-g environments (space).

A single ‘Mech can easily destroy a city block. A BattleMech’s only true equal is another ’Mech—artillery, aircraft, and tanks are disadvantaged against them without BattleMech support or a strong advantage in numbers.

The first BattleMech was the Mackie, often described as a 100-ton box with legs. It was developed in 2439 by the Terran Hegemony, first deployed in 2443, and produced throughout the rest of the Inner Sphere after the BattleMech construction plans were stolen in 2455. Hundreds of distinctive BattleMech models have emerged since then.

The Succession Wars plunged the Inner Sphere into centuries of interstellar warfare soon afterwards. In this technological and cultural dark age of Lostech, the Successor States of humanity soon fought with ’Mechs and other equipment that was literally decades, if not centuries, old and in a sorry state of repair. Ancient automated factories continued to produce BattleMechs even when their technology was not understood anymore. Over time, equipment shortages, system failures and similar problems sparked innumerable variants of the classic designs. Field modifications and makeshift repairs became commonplace.

During the the invasion of the Clans in 3050, the Inner Sphere got its first look at technology advanced even beyond the lost technology of the old Star League. Enstranged from the rest of humanity for centuries, the invaders fielded unknown BattleMech designs that became known under different names among the Clans and in the Inner Sphere, respectively. For example, the Clan Timberwolf was nick-named the Mad Cat because the battle computers of Inner Sphere ‘Mechs alternated between Marauder and Catapult when they tried to identify the unknown design; the Clan Summoner was dubbed as the Thor by House Steiner’s forces because of its deliverance of “thunder and lightning” by its Autocannon and PPC, and the Dire Wolf became known as Daishi (“great death”) among forces of House Kurita. The Mad Dog even received different names, being dubbed Vulture by the Federated Commonwealth and Hagetaka in the Draconis Combine.

BattleMechs are built around an internal structure resembling a skeleton. The musculature (actuators) consists of myomer, an artificial polymer fiber which contracts in the presence of an electrical current. The artificial skeleton and musculature, combined with a large gyroscope system, provides stability for the BattleMech and allows for bipedal movement. Some ’Mechs have jump jets that provide thrust bursts for short leaps.

The power required for the actuators, weapons, and other systems is provided by a Fusion Engine mounted in the torso. Although all ’Mechs have heat sinks, heat buildup is a frequent problem. Intense combat action can lead to overheating that puts physical strain on the pilot, and may even cause an emergency reactor shutdown.

Most BattleMechs copy the human form to an extent, which is the deciding factor in their versatility and ultimately, their superior combat performance. The entire system is controlled by a pilot wearing a neurohelmet which links the ’Mech’s central computer to the pilot’s sense of balance and nervous system. Augmented by a combination of throttle, joystick, and dual pedal system, the ’Mech pilot controls the BattleMech like an extension of his own body, comparable to a very large combat suit. Many ’Mechs have fully articulated hands that can be used to climb or grab items.

OmniMechs, a concept introduced by the Clans and later adopted by the Successor States of the Inner Sphere, feature hardpoints with interchangeable weaponry whereas classic BattleMechs have a fixed configuration.

Designed as combat vehicles, BattleMechs are modular to an extent and thus relatively easy to repair and maintain. Even throughout the Lostech era of the Succession Wars, scavenged battlefield salvage could keep them operational despite their technology not being understood anymore.

Light
All ’Mechs weighing from 20 up to 35 tons are classified as “light”. Their skeleton can only carry limited armor, but the higher efficiency of smaller fusion reactors means that light ’Mechs benefit from superior mobility. They are typically fast but lightly armed and armored. These ’Mechs are generally used as scout ’Mechs and anti-personnel units instead of frontline combat duty, but some are designated combat ’Mechs with relatively heavy armament. Their low production cost, high proliferation, and relatively good supply of spare parts meant that they saw widespread use throughout history in virtually any role.

Famous light scout ’Mechs include the Locust, Stinger, and Wasp, while the Commando, Jenner, and Panther are powerful combat units for their size. Clan technology provides their designs such as the Adder (Puma) with firepower equalling Inner Sphere ’Mechs twice their size.

Notable specialized light designs include the Ostscout Recon ’Mech with its advanced sensor gear, the Raven ECM ’Mech, and the Firestarter Incendiary ’Mech.

Medium
Medium ’Mechs are the workhorse ’Mechs of most armies. Weighing between 40 and 55 tons they naturally fall somewhere in between the agile light ’Mechs and the powerfully armed heavy ’Mechs. While matching neither in their respective niche, medium ’Mechs tend to have the best combination between speed, armor, and payload which gives them unmatched versatility. The fastest medium ’Mechs often serve as command units among light ’Mechs with similar speed. Better armed than light ’Mechs, medium ’Mechs can often outmaneuver heavier opponents in combat and bring their weapons to bear with better effect to the point of being superior combatants in single combat, given time and suitable terrain.

Common medium ’Mech designs include the Phoenix Hawk, Vindicator, Centurion, Shadow Hawk, Griffin, and Wolverine, and the Clan designs Nova (Black Hawk) and Stormcrow (Ryoken).

Heavy
Heavy ’Mechs are those designed for frontline combat duty, and weigh in between 60 and 75 tons. They are slightly less versatile and generally slower than medium ’Mechs, but tend to have much heavier armor and weapon payloads. Capable of delivering sustained heavy fire over long ranges while retaining adequate mobility, they are formidable and powerful foes. Some designs are adapted to special roles in combat which greatly improves the combat performance of their unit but makes them a poor choice in single combat situations.

Typical examples of heavy ’Mech designs are the Crusader, Thunderbolt, Warhammer, Marauder and the Clan Mad Dog (Vulture), Summoner (Thor) and Timber Wolf (Mad Cat) designs.

The Rifleman is notorious for its anti-air capabilities, and the Archer for its long-range missile barrages.

Assault
Assault ’Mechs are the heaviest regular class of BattleMechs, weighing in between 80 and 100 tons. Some of these huge ’Mechs can mount up to 50 tons of weapons as well as very thick armor protection. They can project tremendous firepower, and perform best as the spearhead of frontal assaults or in defending entrenched positions. The trade-off is in speed and maneuverability, as assault ’Mechs are generally very slow. As such, they often require friendly units to protect them from being outmaneuvered. Assault ’Mechs are typically used as command units, heavy assault platforms, and in fire-support roles, but due to their prohibitive costs and limited production, they actually make up only a small fraction of all BattleMechs.

Iconic Assault ’Mechs include the Mackie, Atlas, and Stalker and the Clan Warhawk (Masakari) and Dire Wolf (Daishi) designs.

The BattleMaster and Cyclops are well-known command ’Mechs, as both have above average electronics packages geared towards command & communication while maintaining heavy weapon payloads.
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