Project Titanfall: the Primer
For the people who aren't aware of Titanfall on the X-Box, the concept is special forces infantry running around until they acquire enough points to trigger titanfall, a mech being dropped onto the battlefield. After the mech is dropped, the FPS hero gets inside the mech and runs around shooting other pilots and mechs and for a variety of reasons jumps in and out of the mech.
To be considered for the Titanfall Project, a mech has to meet three basic requirements. There is a weight limit of 55 tons, the machine has to be fully jump capable, and it has to have two functional hand actuators. The following mechs from the 3025 Technical Readout are acceptable for project Titanfall
Stinger, Wasp, Commando, Javelin, Spider, Valkyrie, Firestarter, OstScout, Assassin, Hatchetman, Phoenix Hawk, Griffin, Shadow Hawk, and the Wolverine.
Arc weaponry is based on exploiting electronics vulnerability to impact and electrical shock. The two most common pieces of equipment are the Arc Cannon, and the Arc Sword. The Arc Cannon uses the same stats as the Light PPC but inflicts mock critical hits rather than damage to the armor. A unit that takes hits from an arc cannon has to make a critical check to see if any systems were affected. If there are, that component is inactive in the next round of combat. If the head or the center torso takes a hit, the pilot has to spend the next turn (piloting skill check) to try and restart his machine. The arc sword inflicts damage as a normal mech sword based on its weight, as well as having the same chance to inflict a mock critical against the target it is striking.
Assault mecha can generally ignore this unless they are being hit with multiple arc cannon blasts. Any mecha that mounts a conventional PPC is likewise nearly immune to arc cannon hits due to being designed to withstand the EMP backwash of their own beam weaponry.
Artillery Gear consists of over the shoulder rocket pods. These are one-shot weapons, and after being expended, the pods generally are blown free with explosive bolts. The pods come in a variety of sizes and ranges, with the most common being small and medium-sized medium range missiles (MRMs). SRMs are used more in urban environments, trading range for greater yield. LRMs are used in more open engagements where range can be more of a factor.
Assault Gear removes some or even most of the mech's secondary weapons and replaces them with bolt-on armor plating or reactive plating to deflect or destroy incoming sources of damage. The mech is also equipped with a melee weapon so that it can get into close quarters combat with enemy mecha and inflict more intimidating damage. There is no uniform melee weapon, but there are swords, arc swords, hatchets and axes, and morning stars that weigh as much as civilian transport vehicles.
Expedition Gear is designed to keep a mech in the field for a prolonged period of time, so the gear is functionally an armored backpack for the mech to carry (typically 20% of the mass of the mech carrying it). The gear will have a survival pod for the pilot, for resting outside of the cockpit, with a water recycling system, an air supply system, and provisions. There will also be ample ammunition for the mech's main weaponry, though reloading can be a slow process if there is only the pilot themselves. After completing an expedition mission, a mech will require much more than usual amounts of maintenance, owing to being away from support for a prolonged period.
Mortar Gear is a modular backpack system that replaces the mech's main weapon with an Arrow IV artillery missile system. This fires vertically, and the mech has to be immobile and braced before it can fire. The weapon cannot be fired directly and requires a spotter or another mech or infantry with target acquisition gear. While of limited value in mech on mech combat, Mortar Gear mecha can very effectively level enemy bases, destroy aerodromes, and otherwise make themselves an enormous threat to the enemy.
Stackpole Gear aka Nuke Gear is a modification done to a mech that is going into a suicidal or desperate mission. The reactor has had a number of safety systems disabled so that it can be triggered to go into a critical overload and explode in a miniature nuclear blast. A mech equipped with nuke gear can be drone/remote controlled, or it can be driven by a pilot who is willing to take the very real risk of being incinerated by their own mech's demise. An engine hit will automatically detonate the core, as will killing the pilot via a dead man's hand system. A sure sign of a Stackpole mech is seeing a light mech, showing obvious damage, and charging the enemy position without seriously engaging in combat or evasion.
Sniper Gear replaces all of a mech's weaponry with a single gauss rifle. This weapon tends to be oversized for the light and medium Titanfall mecha, so it has to be used with both hands, and the pilot has to stop moving and assume a shooting stance or position. Mechs too small to carry a gauss rifle will equip a light gauss rifle instead.
Tank Gear replaces the secondary weaponry on a mech, adding bolt-on armor plating as per the assault gear, and equipping an armor shield that the mech carries. These machines trade the ability to deal damage to withstand it and act as blockers or defenders working with other less armored machines such as mortar or sniper gear machines. Tank gear is not popular.
Unique and Rare Weaponry
The Avenger is the nickname given to the Rotary AC-5 autocannon. It is much heavier than the regular AC-5, but can fire up to 6 rounds rather than 1 per turn. The longer and faster it fires the greater the chance of a jam becomes, but until then, it is an armor shredding terror. To equip the Avenger, a mech has to be set up for sniper gear, and has to be either 50 or 55 tons to be large enough to equip this weapon.
One of the modifications associated with Project Titanfall is the inclusion of Core Modifications. These represent reworking and tuning of the existing mech's systems to give them a brief power advantage, allowing them to upset the balance of power in combat. These abilities are limited in use and have to be recharged. It is rare for a core ability to be used more than once or twice in a single engagement. A mech can only have a single core ability at a time, and changing them out is a lengthy process.
Damage Core Mod
This mod shifts the machine into a high-intensity mode for a brief amount of time. During this time its melee attacks inflict twice the amount of damage, and it can fire all of its weapons twice, for twice the heat and ammo expenditure (this doesn't apply to the Avenger). Weapons fired also do 20% more damage due to the aggressive stance of the machine and its AI. After using a damage core ability, most mechs are drastically overheated and have to either retreat while shedding heat or fight the safety systems that are going to try and shut the mech down.
Dash Core Mod
This mod allows the mech to sprint, moving at 2X its base speed rather than 1.5X the usual running speed. It has a relatively low recharge time, so a dash mech can move at high-speed multiple times in a conflict. (Any failed piloting checks while using the dash core run the risk of inflicting a critical against the legs of the mech)
Beam Core Mod
This mod can increase the amount of power going to laser weaponry systems. Damage is increased by 50% as is range. Heat is doubled, so use should be moderated much like the Damage core mod. The beam core mod is technically less overpowering than the damage core mod, but the beam mod only affects laser weaponry and has a lesser recharge time. (Overuse of this mod runs the serious risk of damaging laser systems)
Flame Core Mod
The jump jet is an impressive piece of technology, allowing a multi-ton war machine to blast through the air in a display of flipping off physics and gravity. Most of the time this is certainly a loud and impressive feat, but it could be more. The flame core mod changes the performance profile of the jets, causing them to run 'dirty' and spew out gouts of flame and smoke. The immediate effect is that the jump jet is now an incendiary device, setting the terrain on fire, as well as blasting unarmored infantry and light vehicles with furiously burning plasma. A mech hit with a death from above attack from an activated flame core mod takes the normal amount of damage, but also the same amount of heat the jumping mech generated in its leap. It's a hot stomp.
Flight Core Mod
A relatively basic mod to the jump jets, the flight core lets the mech jump at its running movement rather than being limited to its walking movement. This costs double the amount of heat and has a relatively low recharge time.
Salvo Core Mod
Only available to mechs equipping missile systems (other than one shot artillery pods) this core gives its missile salvos homing and swarming attacks. The strain is placed on the AI and targeting system, as it overclocks itself to ensure the largest number of missiles in a salvo hit the target, and those that miss are given something new to go after. The pilot takes a temporary point of strain.
Smart Core Mod
The smart core mod allows a pilot to engage multiple targets without multiple target penalties, allowing them to become a whirlwind of accurate death. It has a low recharge time, but like the salvo core, the pilot takes a temporary point of strain.
Burst Core Mod
The Burst core mod lets the mech fire its autocannons at twice the normal speed, 2 shots for regular, 4 shots for ultra. This causes double heat and ammo use and has to be all fired towards the same target. The core has a low recharge time but uses a lot of ammo and if using larger autocannons, can cause the pilot a point of strain.
Deployment and Mobility
Conventional mech deployment involves landing a dropship and the mechs walking out under their own power. This requires an expensive dropship to move into its most vulnerable position and park, open its doors and let the mechs file out. Then it has to restart its engines and take off again. This takes time, creates a window of vulnerability, and burns a tremendous amount of fuel. The second method is combat drops via a drop pod but such pods are one-shot use vehicles, they are large and are not free or even cheap, and modifying a dropship to carry and launch drop pods reduces the number of mechs they can carry.
Project Titanfall employs a HALO jump deployment. The dropship moves into a high altitude/low orbit path, and the mechs literally jump out. They are low enough that the dropping mechs don't have to worry about burning up on reentry, and the dropship is high enough that it can ignore all but surface to orbit weaponry. But dropping a 55 ton Wolverine from low orbit is insanity? It is, it really is. There are three mitigating factors, the mech's own jump jets, the shock absorbers in the legs, and the largest parachutes ever made.
The crucial part is the mech's jump jets. Rather than being run at launch power, the jets are fired by the mech's onboard computer to limit its descent speed. At high altitudes, the mech might come near or even break the sound barrier while falling. As the atmosphere thickens, the computer can angle the machine to increase its wind resistance and fire the jets at ten to thirty percent power to keep the machine moving at a reasonable pace. Once low enough altitude is reached, the mech can deploy two clusters of 60-meter wide parachutes. Between the parachutes and the jets, the mech can land at near the same velocity it would manage in one of it's normal jet-powered jumps.
Hitting targets from orbit with a death from above attack is not just possible, it is encouraged.
Hit an aerospace craft or aircraft on the way down? That's a medal. Go through a helicopter feet first, that is a different medal.
Successfully execute a death from above against an enemy mech, from low orbit, if you survive the battle and it's caught on film, you're going to be a national hero.
The Poor Bloody Infantry
The infantry has a place in Project Titanfall.
There are several new aerospace craft that are dedicated to infantry support. These craft are fast and well armored, with VTOL capability, and can carry a squad of infantry into a hotspot. This ranges from regular infantry to power armor infantry, and everything in between. These new-gen assault craft are typically named after either birds (conventional) or various sorts of undead (special forces).
Anti-mech training is standard.
Clowns, Remoras, and Bullriders
A Clown is a spec op infantryman who is equipped and trained to draw the attention of an enemy mech. This is a deadly occupation, as every mech made is vastly more powerful than anything a soldier can carry. Clowns will equip EM screamers, jamming systems, static smoke launchers, and even things designed to insult pilots and taunt them into doing dumb things. Clowns tend to be jump capable infantry.
Remoras are special infantry that travel will mechs to protect them from other infantry, spot for them, and if pressed, act as specialized snipers. They will equip overly large rifles that can inflict critical damage against a mech, but only by sniping vulnerable parts of the machine.
Bullriders are anti-mech trained infantry who don't just execute swarming attacks against the legs, chucking satchel charges and limpet mines. A bullrider uses magnetic grapples and other tools to climb a mech in an attempt to get to the head and attempt a forced entry of the cockpit. A mech without a pilot is no longer a threat, and if the pilot is trying to get a bullrider off of his mech (termed a rodeo) they aren't shooting at other mechs or acting in a battlefield dominance role.
Purpose and Usage
The purpose of this is to bring the dynamic energy of Titanfall to Battletech, which at times itself can be heavy and plodding. This allows for mechs to deploy in a vertical breaching maneuver, which is something that a tank couldn't do. Infantry and power armor infantry can do the same thing, but they can't bring the firepower a mech does. This also adds some validation to mecha over armor, as a mech can land on top of a tank, and destroy one target before even engaging the enemy with its own weapons.
This also works in a tiered response system. Titanfall mechs are dropped in. The drop pod mechs follow after the titanfall forces have secured something of a beachhead. This lets non-jump capable mediums and heavies enter the fight following on the first wave's heels. Then, the dropships can come in and start unloading the real heavies and assault mechs, unpack the fire support bases, and the mobile command centers for a campaign.
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