(it should go without saying that all of this non-canon, if you care about such things)
There’s always been this idea, in the BattleTech setting bible, that there are untold thousands of unnamed armor, infantry, militia, and mercenary units running around the Inner Sphere at any given time. It’s from that pool of unknowns that we pull the extra forces for, well, everything that doesn’t come off of deployment tables.
As a writer, I like that freedom.
But I want to tinker, because I know in centuries of war across hundreds of planets and thousands of platoons, companies, and battalions, there are going to be more variants and one-offs than you can shake a whole box of sticks at.
And heck, the construction rules (and MegaMekLab) are just sitting there…
I use MegaMekLab and MekHQ a lot for plotting and planning. Maybe 1% of it ends up in the story, but it’s there if I need it. And when I need my dopamine hit, I lose an hour or two building out full TOE’s that will never see the light of day.
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Because I like to be as realistic as possible, that often includes support forces that never get any screen time. Specialist infantry squads and platoons, custom logistics and support vehicles, a mobile headquarters version of a Karnov VTOL… yeah, I’ve got a lot of old stuff laying around. I have even gone so far as to build “technician” infantry squads so I can assign the one tech-six astechs to a squad and assemble them into platoons and companies for administrative purposes.
Yes. I know. Sometimes I need to go out more.
One of those is a cargo conversion of a basic hover armored personnel carrier. It’s only logical to assume that basic things like APCs are going to be a common as grass. And a big empty box on lift fans should be pretty easy to customize so long as you have three brain cells and a cutting torch.
But when you’re a high-speed‘ Mech unit and you need resupply, why use a slow-ass flatbed truck when you can use a blower that is twice as fast?
Armored Personnel Carrier (Cargo) Mass: 10 tons Movement Type: Hover Power Plant: 60 Fuel Cell Cruising Speed: 108 kph Maximum Speed: 162 kph Armor: Standard Armament: None Communication System: Unknown Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown Introduction Year: 3025 Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-D-D-C Cost: 81,600 C-bills Type: Armored Personnel Carrier Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard) Tonnage: 10 Battle Value: 37 Equipment Mass Internal Structure 1 Engine: 60 Fuel Cell 2 Cruising MP: 10 Flanking MP: 15 Heat Sinks: 1 0 Control Equipment: 0.5 Lift Equipment: 1 Power Amplifier: 0 Armor Factor: 8 0.5 Internal Structure Armor Value Front 1 2 R/L Side 1/1 2/2 Rear 1 2 Weapons & Ammo Location Critical Tonnage Cargo (5 tons) Body 1 5
This next one isn’t really an APC, but I put it here because it’s just as ubiquitous. There is an old unit called a skimmer, first mentioned in the original MechWarrior role-playing game and getting a record sheet in the old Record Sheets 5. I like using these old vehicles, because I get bored with always having the newest and shiniest toys.
A basic design of a knife hasn’t changed in thousands of years; it’ll still kill you dead.
So I figured, what would an actual scout platoon of armor look like? I found a scary-fast hovercraft (though I made a Ferret, too, because a little scout helicopter is fun) and ripped out the silly weapons, and made a recon version.
The other thing I like about these generic vehicles is, in your storytelling, you can treat them as archetypes. The actual game rules for this could be a custom-built military vehicle, or an adapted, one-off hand-built kludge by an enterprising mercenary unit’s tech team.
On a game table? These are a waste of time. But if you like to play formed units across linked campaigns or role-play out storylines, units like these can add a lot of flavor.
Skimmer (A) Mass: 5 tons Movement Type: Hover Power Plant: 45 Fusion Cruising Speed: 183.6 kph Maximum Speed: 280.8 kph Armor: Standard Armament: Communication System: Unknown Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown Introduction Year: 2100 Tech Rating/Availability: E/E-E-E-E Cost: 99,000 C-bills Type: Skimmer Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard) Tonnage: 5 Battle Value: 101 Equipment Mass Internal Structure 0.5 Engine 45 Fusion 1.5 Cruising MP: 17 Flanking MP: 26 Heat Sinks: 10 0 Control Equipment: 0.5 Lift Equipment: 0.5 Power Amplifier: 0 Armor Factor: 8 0.5 Internal Structure Armor Value Front 1 3 R/L Side 1/1 2/2 Rear 1 1 Weapons & Ammo Location Critical Tonnage Vehicular Mine Dispenser Rear 2 1 Recon Camera Front 1 0.5
The last one is another with really no battlefield utility, but an obvious conversion: a heavy hover APC converted into a MASH truck, with a three-theater surgical unit and a pair of paramedic equipment bays and an infantry bay to accommodate the doctors and nurses.
This one should properly be a support vehicle, probably, and the rules for that would probably work just as well, but I’m working in the realm of ‘what would make sense in as near a real-world setting as possible,’ and the answer to that is parts commonality and military-industrial spending. It makes significant logistical sense to build in as much parts commonality as possible, especially when you’re traveling between worlds.
Again, on a game table? Meh.
But if you want to add authenticity to your storytelling on the game table, but don’t want to handwave away the actual rules, units like this one are helpful.
And who knows? I’ve written BattleTech scenarios where you have to keep a unit like this one alive and functional for a set number of turns. Now you might have one that actually fits the bill?
Heavy Hover APC (MASH) Mass: 20 tons Movement Type: Hover Power Plant: 75 ICE Cruising Speed: 86.4 kph Maximum Speed: 129.6 kph Armor: Standard Armament: Communication System: Unknown Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown Introduction Year: 3025 Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-E-D-C Cost: 280,000 C-bills Type: Heavy Hover APC Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard) Tonnage: 20 Battle Value: 168 Equipment Mass Internal Structure 2 Engine 75 ICE 4 Cruising MP: 8 Flanking MP: 12 Heat Sinks: 0 0 Control Equipment: 1 Lift Equipment: 2 Power Amplifier: 0 Armor Factor:56 3.5 Internal Structure Armor Value Front 2 20 R/L Side 2/2 13/13 Rear 2 10 Weapons & Ammo Location Critical Tonnage Paramedic Equipment Left 1 0.25 Paramedic Equipment Right 1 0.25 MASH Equipment (3 theaters) Body 1 5.5 Infantry Body 1 1.5
Here’s a link to a zip file with the MegaMek unit files, if you want to see the details.
As I said at the start, none of these are canon. None of them are likely to become canon, unless you can all convince Ray and Aaron that we need a Technical Readout: Log Team.
I’m kidding. Don’t ask them for that. The construction rules are just sitting there. Make your own.