Friday, March 25, 2011

Repurposing Battletech Maps (or, "Re-Re-Inventing The Wheel")

School is very very crazy and gaming is pretty few and far between, lately, so I was psyched to have a chance to break out the Battletech stuff (for the first time in a loooong time) the other day. (Got two weeks off until it's back to Crazy Robots and Polygonland.) Introduced one of the roommates to tabletop BT - he's an old hand at the PC series, so most of it was already familiar. We did a pretty standard "attack/defend" scenario, just 'mechs (no combined arms stuff like tanks or infantry) and strictly 3025 designs (and level 1 rules). Today we'll probably do something similar, and then maybe we'll start working in the non-'mech stuff. I've always been curious how that mode of play goes - all my BT experience has been strictly 'mech-on-'mech.

So I'm reading the Mechwarrior book (the RPG chocolate to BT's boardgame/mini hybrid peanut butter), and there's discussion of running man-to-man combat using the standard Battletech maps (with a 5 meter to a hex scale). This looked lke fun, but it also occurs to me - why not use Battletech maps for other games where outdoor combat comes up a lot? I've never been a huge fan of wilderness layouts drawn on battlemats - visually it just doesn't work for me the way it does with dungeons - but I already own a big pile of hexed-out terrain sheets, with beautiful art no less. Next time I have occasion, I'm gonna whip out a few BT mapsheets and see how it flies. (The big decision: What scale to use (the hexes are a little bigger than the 1" I'm used to on my mat), and whether to bother restricting figures to the hexes, or to just use a ruler (a la traditional mini wargaming).

Of course this repurposing thing is nothing new - our learned and crusty readers will already be aware that Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival map was the original wilderness map for Gary's home game. Has a nicely circular feel, this.

It occurs to me as well that AD&D inherited OD&D's outdoor scale of 1" to 10 YARDS (as opposed to feet, as it is in indoor settings like the dungeon), and off the top of my head I can't remember whether Classic D&D followed suit. (The next chance I'll likely get to use this is our still-fledgling house Red Box game - the guys (and gal) came out of the Palace of the Silver Princess with one less adventurer than they went in with, and are considering making the trek down out of the mountains into the valley below, in search of able sword-arms and a decent outfitter.)

This would be a great fit for Traveller, as well, especially if I ditch Trav's assumed scale - the old Snapshot ship maps are beeeeyootiful, but who the hell wants to track down 15mm sci-fi minis when most everything else I play is 28mm and up?