07: Technical Improvements

“Standard” Technical Improvements :


   These are explained on the Research chart. “Basic” technical advances provide a “-1” on some systems heat production, the number of critical slots it takes up – or it’s weight in tons – to a maximum limit of 25% off the grand total and 50% off any individual value. While the number of possible improvements is rounded off, no value may be reduced below one. For example, PPC-10’s take up 3 critical slots, generate 10 heat when fired, and weigh 7 tons – a total of 20. The maximum reductions are 1 slot 5 heat, and 3 tons, but their total may not exceed 5. Exceptions are possible – especially for one and .5 ton items – but these are general guidelines. Armor, engines, IS, and so on, are also candidates for technical improvements. Some possibilities are listed under the “Exotic Systems” equipment listings and others are given below.


Exotic Technical Improvements :


   Aerial Fueling : While this requires both the Hose improvement and a unit with a lot of extra fuel tanks, it allows units equipped with them to transfer fuel to another aerospace unit while in flight. This requires that the units be in the same hex, match both speeds and direction, make a successful piloting checks – and spend one turn per ton transferred in this configuration. If attacked during this period, both units are considered to be “immobile” targets.

   Area Defense : This improvement allows antimissile systems to defend units in adjacent hexes.

   Automedpacks give pilots a “-2” bonus on their target numbers when rolling to remain conscious. They have no noticeable weight.

   Balanced Exchanges : This “improvement” is used to “shift” equipment’s weight/heat/critical slots around, rather then to reduce the total. One “improvement” in this area allows for up to two such one-point changes. Unfortunately, no slot may be reduced below .5 in this fashion and any such exchanges must be approved by the other players. There are simply too many possibilities to examine all of them in advance.

   The “Bruce Lee Modification” : This improvement on the usual joint configuration permits the mech to roll the locations for kick attacks on the general location chart. This is rather silly, and may not be permitted in some games, subject to a player vote.

   Caseless Ammunition : While this will require a few modifications to the firing chamber design, and thus the replacement of older autocannons, this allows the user to carry 50% more autocannon ammunition per ton (Round up).

   Clan Equipment to Star League Equipment : This improvement allows the use of a piece of clan technology in star league/inner sphere designs – and/or in upgrades to such designs. In a few cases it may permit several pieces of equipment to be so upgraded. As an example, applying this to the clan SRM-2 also includes the clan Streak SRM-2, since the weight of the streak equipment does not change between clan and star league technology.

   Compartmentalized : Allows vehicles to survive the destruction / flooding / depressurization of some location other then a turret.

   Directional Explosives : Actually this is simply a revival of shaped-charge technology. Missiles and Mines equipped with directional explosives may be designated as Target-Only (damage is restricted to the unit hit), or Line (A multihex warhead inflicts full/half/quarter damage along a line of three hexes, none otherwise. A line warhead is also excellent at clearing woods).

   Ducted Fan VTOL’s : This improvement on the common VTOL rotor system employs multiple, smaller, rotors in armored “ducts”. This allows the “rotor” to mount up to twelve points of armor. It also means that it will take several hits to destroy it. A ducted fan “rotor” system takes a maximum of one point of internal damage per attack. A “Rotor Destroyed” results merely reduces the vehicles movement rate by 1/2.

   Dynamic Compression Jets : These improved jump jets can continue their compression cycle while firing, and so need both less of a pressure buildup, and a smaller compression chamber. As a net result, they weigh only half as much as usual.

   ECM Upgrades include increasing the effective area, the ability to interfere with Streak targeting systems (Units may override and fire normally, but the effects of the Streak system are lost), and blocking the effects of Targeting Computers.

   Engine Improvements include making them lighter (QV Ultralight Engines), Increasing the standard number of heat sinks they come with (+10 at +25% on the engine’s base weight, a “10-point” improvement), increasing the number of heat sinks that need not be assigned to open critical slots (+2 per improvement).

   -As a note, if someone wants to develop half-weight heat sinks, whether single or double, this reduces the base weight of a fusion engine built with the relevant type of heat sink by 20%.

   External Fuel Tanks : These simple devices take up one wing slot per ton of extra fuel carried. They also temporarily reduce the user’s thrust rating (QV; Cargo Carriers).

   Fiber-Optic Guides : These allow lasers mounted in the center torso to “fire” from either arm, as well as in the usual frontal arc. The guides have a weight of (# of lasers/10) tons, rounded off to the nearest half ton. In most cases this is effectively zero.

   Field Relaxation : This simple modification allows the user to partially compensate for damage to his/her fusion engine by stepping down it’s power output. This reduces the engines effective rating by one-third, but negates the effects of one critical engine hit.

   Fuel-Air Bombs : These are fairly similar to other explosives in most ways (see; Drop Mines and/or Miniunit Warheads), however any unit or area damaged by them is also subject to the effects of an Inferno SRM warhead. More annoyingly, they are somewhat lighter then common explosive warheads (eight Drop mines to a ton. Reduce the weight of warheads by a step on the chart). On the other hand, they only function in oxygen atmospheres and are subject to the same overheating / detonation rolls that Inferno ammunition is.

   Fuel “Compression” : This useful development permits aerospace fighters to carry more fuel – increasing the number of thrust points per ton to 24/18/15 points per ton for Light/Medium/Heavy units. Miniunits – perhaps sadly – cannot practically carry the extra gear needed to profit from this development.

   Fuel Reserve : This useful improvement renders the user’s ICE units highly resistant to fuel shortages. The user receives a resistance check of “7+” to negate any such card or table result.

   Hardened Armor; You may mount up to (.5 x Hardening Levels + 2) x IS points of armor on a mech location. This is subject to a maximum of hardening-4, but every two levels of hardening also reduces the roll to check for possible criticals when the armor has not yet been breached on a location (IE; on a “2” location roll) by -1. Unfortunately, there are penalties associated with the use of hardened armor. Hardening-1 blocks the use of MASC or Engine Superchargers. -2 reduces the Mech’s Running speed by 1, and Sprinting by 2. -3 inflicts a +1 penalty on all piloting rolls, and -4 reduces a Mech’s Walking/Running/Sprinting speeds by 1/2/3 points.

   -As a note, on the head the formula is (.5X + 3)xIS.

   Hex TAG : This improvement permits the user to use TAG to target standard Arrow-IV missiles – effectively targeting the entire hex. Sadly, since units in combat tend to be moving around rapidly and unpredictably, this still has to be focused on a particular unit, and suffers all the usual modifiers. It’s very effective when used against installations however.

   High Hover : This exotic improvement makes a hover- unit independent of the “ground effect” – substituting a dynamic pressure zone instead. This allows the unit to reach height-2 above the surface, rather then 1, if it so desires – and also allows it to move through Heavy Woods hexes by riding over the forest canopy.

   Hoses : A refinement of Cables, hoses are hollow and can pump various liquids. While this is often used to dump some extra heat (A unit equipped with hoses gains the benefit of being “in” water if it’s within 4 hexes of water), hoses may also be used to extinguish fires, spray various liquids on other units (This counts as 2 SRM hits with various liquids, has a range of 2/4/6, and offers 25 “shots” per ton of “Ammo”), paint things – and to soak infantry with things like tear gas (Treat this as 4 hits with SRM chemical warheads).

   Hovermines are an improved, and even more annoying, version of Crabmines. Hovermines move at 5, and can make an attack on any opposing unit within one hex of their current location. They are – however – only capable of making 10 “attacks” per hex before the supply runs out from things like running into trees.

   Hoverjets are an improvement on the usual jump jets that allow the user to make a continuous jump of up to three turns duration, permitting them to jump further, over larger obstacles – and to briefly hover in the air. As a side effect, units equipped with Hoverjets gain a piloting roll to avoid falling into cellars, thru ice, or otherwise being penalized when their ground support gives way beneath them.

   Hoverjump : This interesting improvement allows any hovervehicle with “Overdrive” to use it to jump – with a jump rating equal to it’s usual cruise movement. The usual check for engine damage is still required unless the pilot restricts such jumps to one half the maximum distance or less.

   Hydride Fuel : This is a non-explosive fuel for IC engines. The user’s ICE units will no longer blow up – unless it’s caused by an ammunition explosion.

   Integral Gyroscopes : Given that the engine rating sets the size of the gyroscope, designing the two as a unit is a simple step. This saves one ton and two of the usual “gyro” critical slots – however, a hit on either of the remaining slots also counts as an engine hit.

   Jump Jets (Range) : This improvement permits units to have Jump moves equal to their running/flank moves.

   Liquid-Fuel Orion Systems : This improvement on the Orion Thruster allows the unit to divide up it’s “jump points” as it so desires. In addition, better control eliminates the damaging “side effects” of the original system. These can be mounted in strap-on weapons pods.

   Microflechette Ammunition : This handy enhancement reduces an Antimissile System’s ammunition use by 1D6, or to 1 if it’s already at 1D6.

   Modular Installations : These can be “readily” torn down and hauled around. Unfortunately, this requires the presence of an engineering unit and is limited to one- hex installations with a maximum CF of 60. Additional technical improvements will increase this limit by +20 apiece. The usual amount of cargo space must still be allotted.

   Multiple IC Engines : While this technique was apparently forgotten during the star league era – thanks to the general use of cheap fusion engines – it’s just not that complicated. With this “improvement” Battlemechs, VTOL’s, and Ground Vehicles may mount up to two IC Engines. Miniunits may still only mount one. Naval units may mount up to four. That’s the practical limit – if only due to maintenance problems.

   Omnivehicles : Allows the user to apply the “Omni- unit” modifier to vehicle designs.

   Optimized Design : This unit has been tinkered with enough to give it a small (+/-1) “bonus” of some kind. Sadly, optimization is unit-specific – although it can be extended to other units by expending two additional technical improvements on the task. The possibilities include;

  • -Unusually Agile/Stable/Responsive; -1 to Piloting.
  • -Low Signature; +1 to opponents missile target #’s.
  • -Angled/Deflective/Flexible Armor; +1 to opponents ballistic weapon target #’s.
  • -Reflective Armor; +1 versus laser weapons.
  • -Geodesic Armor; Unit’s armor is lightened by 1 ton provided that it carried at least five tons of the stuff to start with.
  • -1 “To Hit” versus a particular type of target. The possibilities include miniunits, the various kinds of vehicles, targets at particular ranges (EG; Any target at “long” range), secondary targets, and so on. These bonuses can’t be combined with targeting computers.
  • -Fast Response; Reduces the penalty for shooting at a fast-moving target by one.
  • -Enhanced Movement; +1 to the units base movement.
  • -Armored Systems; -1 on the critical determination table.
  • -Cool Running; Effectively adds one heat sink.
  • -Faster Conversion; LAM’s with this improvement may simply announce what mode they’re in when they are about to move.
  • -Laser Heat Sinks; These dump heat as light, rather then by thermal radiation and conduction. -1 on the target numbers to avoid heat-induced difficulties.
  • -Ballistic Targeting; Does not take the +1 modifier for firing indirectly.
  • -Exhaust Vents; -1 heat from firing missiles. This could also be applied to autocannons.
  • -Exoskeletal Bracing; Reduces IS weight by one ton, provided that the unit mounts five or more tons of armor.
  • -Easily Repaired; Treat all levels of damage (Short of “Total Destruction” as one level less.
  • -Extremely Comfortable; +10% bonus to morale on any extended campaign or operation.

   No one unit may have more then 3 “optimized” features. Sadly, such “special features” are always a bit bulky, effectively taking up one critical slot each, although critical hits on such slots have no effect. While the options listed above are generally acceptable, quite a few others are possible. Any such non-standard options must, however, be approved by the other players.

   Pattern Fire : Permits an SRM/LRM launcher to fire into a set pattern of hexes. The pattern may “scatter” – but will remain a pattern as set. Since no specific point within those hexes is targeted, this is normally only used with things like smoke rounds, fragmentation warheads, gases, and similar munitions.

   Penetrator Autocannon Ammunition : While this stuff is heavy (Half the number of rounds per ton), somewhat inaccurate (+1 penalty to hit), and expensive (Costing 3 MCr to set up a production line), it allows the user to roll for criticals whether the armor was penetrated or not. Unfortunately, the roll is made at a -1/-2/-3/ -4 for AC 20/10/5/2.

   Perimeter Targeting : This interesting improvement allows SRM systems to be used as antimissile systems – launching one or more of their missiles at an incoming missile flight. Fragmentation missiles will knock down 1D6 incoming LRM/SRM missiles each, but have little or no effect on drones, heavy missiles, and thunderbolts. Standard SRM warheads will handle heavy missiles – but special warheads may be needed to deal with drones. Of course, there’s no time to change loads while missiles are coming in. Secondarily, this requires an attack roll of 8+ to connect at all. The system may hold more ammunition, but it’s less reliable then an antimissile system.

   Rapid Launch Systems : It’s normally only possible to launch two drones, or “drop mines”, per turn. Each improvement expended on this area allows the launching of an additional drone or drop mine per turn.

   Reduced Heat Jump Jets : Halves the heat build-up from jumping, to a minimum of three points.

   Self-Sealing : Hull Breaches only occur on an 11+, not on a 10+ (QV; Hostile Environments).

   Streak LRMs : This is fairly obvious. +.5/1/1.5/2 Tons, and 1/1/2/2 critical slots, for LRM 5/10/15/20’s.

   Supermachine Guns : These do 1D6 points of damage, generate the same amount of heat – and burn ammunition ten times as fast. They do 2D6 points of damage to any unarmored infantry who happen to get in the way.

   Tandem Fire : This small improvement allows two, or more, at the players option, identical weapons mounted in the same location to attack with a single roll. The hit locations – if any – are, however, still rolled on an individual basis. An autofocus system allowing them all to hit the same location would be a very important invention – and is not recommended.

   -Normal Streak systems may use this mode even without an improvement. Optionally, if the dice rolling is getting to be a bother, players may allow this without any improvement – except in the speed of play.

   Thermal Sheathing : This modification to the usual “Triple-Strength Myomer” makes it effective at a lower then usual (5+) heat level with the first improvement, and allows it to be sufficiently heated by the current which drives it with the second. While this “internal” heating adds two points of heat a turn to the mech, it also means that the enhanced myomer is always working.

   UltraDensity, Discarding-Sabot, Thermal Core, Auto-Cannon Rounds : These are awfully expensive as far as ammunition goes (Setting up the production lines costs 3 MCr), but it permits Autocannons to inflict an extra five points of damage. Unfortunately, this cannot more then double their base damages, hence AC/2’s will only do four points of damage.

   Ultradense Metallurgy : One of the few developments relevant to miniunits, this collection of construction techniques permits the user to build “Miniunits” of up to 2.5 tons – rather then 2. Short of the invention of condensed matter plating – or some similar absurdity – this is that absolute maximum. Such units only get 12 points of armor per ton – but are otherwise treated as standard miniunits.

   Underwater Jump Jets : These allow a jump-capable unit to “swim” through the water at 2 jump MP per hex or to jump out of the water.

   Voltage Limiter : These keep pilots from being injured by ammunition explosions, unless, of course, the entire unit blows up.

One Response

  1. Some interesting stuff you’ve got here. Some of it just might make an appearance in my BT game as part of my house rules.

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