I'm starting to see game consoles, e-readers, and even franchises like Pathfinder and Warhammer 40,000 differently. They all have built-in stores, in a sense, but they also want to be your whole lifestyle, or even your religion.
The outside of the BattleTech Introductory Rulebook:
The inside of the BattleTech Introductory Rulebook:
Seriously, I look at the cover art and I'm like "get this gamer bullshit out of my face." But then I look at the minis photos on the inside and I'm like "d'aww <3"
So, we read an excerpt from the intro to a history book on the First Succession War, which was a mad scramble for land and resources after a political upheaval.
It reminded us of how much we love BattleTech sometimes, and why:
It was a week before my nineteenth birthday when we learned that Amaris had been captured and the [coup] was over. Naïvely, we thought things would get back to how they were before, in our parents’ day. How quickly we were disabused of that notion. The dukes knew things would only get worse and all the patriotic noise Kenyon had made was soon supplanted by something more authoritarian. We were just the wrong age, the perfect age to serve.
My boyfriend, Joe, was one of those called up that autumn, thrown into a boot-camp and then shipped off-world to fill out a line unit. I never saw him again—he died on Anegasaki when the Capellans killed the Fourth Militia. I was luckier I suppose, drafted into the planetary militia, so at least I was near home where it was safe and quiet. At least at first.
Then Kenyon got a mind to take over all the Star League facilities, following up on the rumors that Kerensky had left vast stockpiles on-world. That may have been true, but after four years spent on that wild goose, with little more than field rations, toilet paper, and SLDF recruitment pamphlets to show for it, the FWLM shifted their attention elsewhere. That didn’t save me from a grilling by SAFE—several in fact—because of who Gramps was, and his involvement with the Engineering Sub-Command. He died when I was nine, but even so, SAFE struggled to accept that a pre-teen knew nothing about SLDF activity. Dad got it much worse, and was held at the facility in Freeport for three weeks before they decided that the English teacher from Durandel High wasn’t going to give them much help either.
In those days, the years before the start of the Succession War, I did wonder: if this is how badly we treat our own people, how are things going to go when we start shooting at people we don’t like?
Compare and contrast, with how 40k portrays warfare. And authority, and nationalism. Even if you read 40k as a dystopian satire, where the Imperium is meant to be seen as brutal, you rarely get such a personal look, at the price that ordinary people pay for you to dress up in armour and play as a "hero." To satisfy your vain ambition, for power or wealth or heroics.
40k isn't alone in erasing civilians and glamourizing warfare, of course. Don't get me started on dudebro shooters. >_>; With the extremely subversive exception of Spec Ops: The Line.
For another good take (IMO) on how BattleTech portrays conflict, check out the short story at the start of the Alpha Strike Quick-Start rules (PDF link). A private military contractor called Wolf's Dragoons catches a desperate foe completely off-guard, and an enemy MechWarrior has an obvious mental breakdown, but there's no guarantee that she won't recover once they've gone past. So Natasha just shoots her mech's legs out and moves on. Even though she has TEH RAEG because of something the other side's employer did to Dragoon dependents.
Finally, if you want to support a PC / tabletop game that tells the story of people who live in the ruins that "heroes" and generals fight over, check out This War of Mine:
Armed conflict is a terrific backdrop for drama. But it isn't a playground or theme park, and it shouldn't be treated as one.
The following is from me rambling at aliaspseudonym on Skype, after spending hours trying to untangle this cursed mind knot of how I actually feel about different miniatures games. I'm copy-and-pasting it here because it reads like the draft of an essay, which I just wrote extemporaneously.
9:21 PM Jewelfox feels like 40k's story is actually one of its big selling points, but not in the way you'd expect >_>
( Read more... )
Today we went down to the games store to play BattleTech. There's a small but loyal group of fans who play the original skirmish minis game there, in its modern incarnation which doesn't look out of place on the shelf even if its rules are still 80's-tastic.
For the uninitiated, BattleTech is basically what happened when North American military history enthusiasts got ahold of the first Macross Saga anime VHS cassette tapes, and officially licensed its mecha designs for a tabletop "wargame" of the kind that was state-of-the-art back then. Most people aren't into that kind of thing, so you're more likely to have heard of the MechWarrior series, which are PC and console games set in the BattleTech 'verse.
Over the decades, BattleTech has had tons of lore written for it, of a sort which is actually kind of refreshing coming from Warhammer 40,000. Because while "40k" fetishizes neo-feudalism, BattleTech deconstructs it, in much the same vein as Analogue: A Hate Story. The giant "mechs" shooting at each other are largely a backdrop for stories of political intrigue and interpersonal drama, each of which serves to underscore just how dysfunctional societies are in their time and have been throughout history.
Case in point: The recently released House Kurita Handbook, which we're dying to get our hands on, describes an interstellar realm which deliberately regressed to be an echo of feudal Japan ... or at least, of the parts of it that future space settlers idealized. Including state Shinto shrines devoted largely to warrior ancestors and the Coordinator, and not so much to nature or traditional gods.
Our personal BattleTech character -- we create one for every game -- is a shrine maiden at one of the few which enshrine Inari Ōkami, in our headcanon. Because this is a mecha anime, some of the miko are entrusted with the shrine's ancient BattleMechs, a "lance" of four with widely varying capabilities. They are some of the few women who were allowed to pilot these vehicles before Theodore Kurita's military reforms, and over the years they have been subordinated so much to the male-only DCMS that they are not even permitted to use live ordnance.
( Read more... )
tl;dr The overheat mechanic from the BattleTech / MechWarrior games is a really good metaphor for being triggered when you have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
BattleTech is a board game played with miniatures which represent BattleMechs, which are basically big walking tanks. It has a whole slew of spinoff games and novels, including the MechWarrior PC and console games, which most people are probably more likely to have heard of.
Most of the games let you customize your mech. The big limiting factor, though, that keeps you from slapping on as many weapons as you want and mashing the fire button, is the fact that firing weapons heats up your mech and can cause it to shut down.
Someone I knew once put twelve fire-linked extended-range large lasers on a single mech chassis, just to see what would happen. As he put it, the "fire" button doubled as the ejection seat switch.
It's an easy mechanic to get the hang of, because it's ludicrously detailed but all the details make intuitive sense. Using energy weapons overheats you faster than using projectile weapons. Operating a mech on a desert planet generates more heat than driving it through the tundra. Standing hip-deep in water while firing weapons helps cool your mech down. And if you want, when building your mech you can skimp on armour plating or advanced electronics and put in a bunch of heat sinks, which work exactly like you'd expect.
How this relates to PTSD
Having your PTSD triggered is not the same as "choosing to be offended," or throwing a fit because you aren't getting your way. (In my experience, the people most likely to accuse others of doing that are narcissists, who all seem to think it's a legit debate tactic or parenting method when it's them doing it.)
PTSD triggers are called triggers because they're reflexive responses, like the ones most people have upon seeing a jump scare or being tapped on the knee with a hammer. They can immediately put someone into "fight or flight" mode. But when you've been socialized not to do either (like in my case), or you "heat up" too much or too rapidly, they can make you just freeze up instead.
Just last night, someone said something that created a huge spike of "heat" during an FFXIV raid, when I already wasn't doing too well, and I shut down just like a BattleMech that overheated. I was watching the fight going on around me, and I couldn't do anything about it. I couldn't move. I couldn't talk. I could barely even think. I felt like a deer in their headlights.
I'm having trouble even writing this, because I remember how I felt and I freeze up again.
What you can do
It's not hard to explain how to deal with someone who has PTSD. There are really common triggers to avoid, like rape jokes and anything sexist / cissexist / homophobic. There are signs to look out for, like that deer-in-the-headlights look and someone freezing up and being unable to talk, or suddenly becoming really defensive. And there are things you can do, like say "I'm sorry if that was a trigger" and "it's okay if you need to take a break."
You don't have to understand how it feels to be triggered if you can just think of a mech shutting down, and let the person cool off and get back to "all systems nominal."
That’s what we did, last month. >_>b
We used the downloadable quickstart rules on the BattleTech website, printed them out, and then used a glue stick (which was like $1.50 for a package of four) to put the maps and the counters on cardboard backing before cutting them out.
The mech data sheets we put into plastic sleeve protectors, so we could mark off damage boxes with a dry-erase marker. We did the same with the cut-out quick reference cards, and the rules themselves, to add durability. Finally, for the counters’ bases we’re using the Pathfinder pawn bases that came in the Beginner Box set (and are also sold separately, like $5 for 20).
We haven’t had a chance to play the board game yet, but at Free RPG Day we got a glossy, high-quality booklet (the red thing in the picture) which has quickstart rules for both BattleTech and Shadowrun … and unlike the one they had last year, actually had playable female characters. There were no character creation rules, but we and rev_yurodivy were able to pick up the game pretty fast and play a whole premade adventure together while there at the store.
Best of all, everything fits inside the Pathfinder box with our other books, so it’s easy to store in our tiny den. Except for the game board, which we just shelved in between other boxes.
Now we can actually play the game without buying expensive rulebooks, at least for the time being. >_>;