These rules are fuelled by Starfinder, a science fiction adaptation of Pathfinder by Paizo. You do not need the Starfinder rulebook to play since we aren’t really using their game – just their character sheets and dice rolling system. The classes, feats, races, spells, and items are all replaced with features explained in this document. The goal is to make this as easy to play as possible, focusing on the mechanics we need to resolve contests and conflict during our campaign.
If you’re familiar with D&D, then you basically already know how to play. As you interact with the environment, the Game Master (GM) may call upon you to make a roll. These rolls could could be in the form of a skill check (Computers or Perception, for instance), an attack (with a knife, a rifle, or even bare-handed), or a saving throw (Fortitude, Reflex, or Willpower). Since we handle this in Foundry, it’s as simple as clicking on the appropriate item on your character sheet and adding any extraordinary modifiers (such as Advantage or Disadvantage) on the window that pops up. This roll is made against a value known as a Difficulty Class (DC) which is determined by the GM. If your total roll is equal to or greater than the DC, you succeed on whatever prompted the roll. The GM will then either narrate the outcome or ask you to make additional rolls (such as for damage).
The actual math behind all of these rolls is handled by Foundry and explaining those is beyond the initial scope of this document.
Your character is 90% personality and background and 10% character sheet mechanics. When you first log into foundry, navigate to the Actors Directory and open the Player Characters folder. Inside you will find a blank character sheet with your name on it.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really not so bad.
The core of your character sheet are your six ability scores: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. To determine your initial ability scores, open up Discord and navigate to the #bt-diceroll channel in the BattleTech channel group. Type the following and press enter: !randchar
This will generate a set of ability scores for you, which you may apply in any order. You may reroll if the total rolled value is less than 70, and keep rerolling until you generate a set of scores that is at least 70.
These attributes can be increased as you level up, and are adjusted during your initial character creation by the selection of background choices and sex.
The BattleTech RPGs A Time of War and Mechwarrior: Destiny are class-less, skill-based games. Since we are using Starfinder as a base for our campaign, which is a class-based system, we will be utilizing classes. There are four playable classes: Engineer, Envoy, Operative, and Soldier. Here is a basic breakdown on the available classes:
- Engineer: Specializes in accessing and repairing technological and mechanical systems. Can utilize technical knowledge to boost the damage output of weapon systems.
- Envoy: Utilizes their charm and wit to succeed in social situations. For those familiar with other systems, this is very much a Bard without the magic.
- Operative: A rogue in all but name, the operative utilizes stealth and cunning to infiltrate, extricate and assassinate.
- Soldier: A straight-up combat specialist with many tricks up their sleeve.
These classes don’t truly define your character, but they should make sense when put up next to your character’s background and personality. To select a class in Foundry, you need to navigate to the Items Directory and open the Class folder. Choose from one of the available classes there and drag and drop your choice onto your character sheet. Doing this will grant you the first level of that class. Doing this multiple times will give you additional levels in that class, and is one of the ways by which you may level up.
Your background is comprised of two components: mechanical and non-mechanical. The mechanical component is represented on Foundry as your background “theme”, which describes your adult profession in broad terms. The non-mechanical component of your background is the material you write yourself: Your background story, your character’s psychological profile, your character portrait, etc.
For the mechanical component, navigate to the Items Directory and open the Background folder. Choose from one of the available professions there and drag and drop your choice onto your character sheet. Each background choice increases one of your abilities by 1 and gives you a bonus to a particular skill.
You may choose one background for every decade of life your character has lived after age 20. For example, you may choose two backgrounds at age 30, and three backgrounds at age 40. You can select the same background multiple times, but if you are doing so then simply modify your existing entry’s Ability Adjustment to reflect this (Starfinder does not allow stacking effects).
There’s only one race: the human race. However, your sex does dictate some of your initial attributes. Navigate to the Items Directory and open the Race (Sex) folder. Drag and drop one of the two choices onto your character sheet.
Feats are special features you can add to your characters to make them more unique and enhance their abilities on and off the battlefield. There are a large number of them to choose from, and many of them form chains of feats that enhance and add to the effects of their prerequisites.
Your character begins with one feat upon creation. Navigate to the Assets Directory and open the Feats folder, then drag and drop your chosen feat onto your character sheet.
Each player character begins play with 1000 c-bills (the primary currency) and the following gear:
- Clothing, Everyday
- Clothing, Uniform
- Cooling Vest
- Comm Unit, Personal
Equipment can be found by navigating to the Items Directory and opening the Equipment folder. There you will find separate folders for broad categories of items. It is easier to use the “Search Items” bar at the top of the Items Directory to find your starting equipment.
Character Background Form
A critical step in character creation is filling out the Character Background Form. This form helps us keep track of player characters and offers a tool for building a well-rounded, believable “person” instead of just statistics on a character sheet.
Health and Resolve
Unlike D&D, our system (and Starfinder, which these rules are ripped from 1:1) uses three different systems of points: Hit Points (HP), Stamina Points (SP), and Resolve Points (RP).
Hit Points and Stamina Points are tightly intertwined; while Stamina Points represent how many bruises and dings you can reliably shake off without suffering any lasting damage, Hit Points reflect how many actual injuries you can sustain while still staying upright and conscious. In contrast, Resolve Points (RP) are more of an indicator of your willpower and gumption, and this pool measures your ability to overcome your physical limitations as well as to employ core tenets of your training, even when the odds seem long.
Hit Points and Stamina Points
Hit Points (HP) measure how robust and healthy you are – a reduction in Hit Points represents physical wounds, illness, or another serious physical impairment. Stamina Points (SP), by contrast, measure your readiness and energy, and they replenish more quickly and easily. When you take damage, it reduces your pool of Stamina Points first, and any damage beyond your remaining Stamina Points comes out of your Hit Points. Think of Stamina Points like your ability to shake off a punch; the first one may not do any lasting damage, but eventually you get worn down and start hurting. If your Hit Points ever drop to 0, you are dying and must become stable, or you might die for good (see Injury and Death, further below).
Your Hit Points and Stamina Points are calculated automatically by Foundry. Your Hit Points are based on static math while your Stamina Points are based on your Constitution score. Both of these resources increase gradually as you level up.
You have a number of Resolve Points equal to half your character level (rounded down, but minimum 1) + the modifier of your key ability score (which is Dexterity for MechWarriors – the only available “class” in our total conversion). Even if you have a negative modifier, you always have at least 1 Resolve Point. Don’t worry about this math, it is handled automatically by Foundry. Ain’t it grand?
Spending and Regaining Resolve Points
RP can be spent in a number of ways:
- Regaining Stamina Points
You can spend 1 Resolve Point to regain lost Stamina Points, up to your normal maximum. Using this ability requires 10 minutes of uninterrupted rest.
If you are dying and have enough RP, you can spend a number of Resolve Points equal to one-quarter your maximum (minimum 1 RP, maximum 3 RP) on your turn to immediately stabilize. This means you’re no longer dying, but you remain unconscious. If you don’t have at least 3 Resolve Points remaining when you are dying, you lose Resolve Points as per the dying rules (see Injury and Death, further below).
- Staying in the Fight
If you are stable and have enough Resolve Points, or if you were knocked unconscious from nonlethal damage, you can spend 1 Resolve Point at the start of your turn to heal 1 Hit Point. You are no longer dying, you immediately become conscious, and you can take your turn as normal. You can spend Resolve Points to regain Hit Points only if you are at 0 Hit Points and are stable, and you cannot heal more than 1 Hit Point in this way. You cannot spend Resolve Points to both stabilize and stay in the fight in the same round.
Leveling up is straightforward. Follow the steps below each time the Game Master informs you that you have leveled up:
- Apply any ability increases.
Every 5 levels, you get to increase and customize your character’s ability scores. Each time he reaches one of these level thresholds (5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th), choose four of his ability scores to increase by 1. You can’t apply more than one of these increases to the same ability score for a given level. There is no limit to ability scores and you can continue to increase them to as high as you like, provided you have the points to spend! Keep in mind that adjusting ability scores increases your ability skill modifier (every even number by 1), which can have a butterfly effect across your character sheet. All of this is automated by Foundry, but it’s good to double-check that everything went through properly.
- Add new feats.
Your character gets a new feat at every odd-numbered level (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, etc.).
- Invest skill ranks.
Whenever your character levels up, he gains a number of new skill ranks based on his intelligence modifier (which is handled automatically by Foundry). Invest these new skill ranks in skills (in either existing skills or new skills), keeping in mind that your ranks in any one skill cannot exceed your character level.
Please see the chapter of the same name in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, beginning on page 132. These rules are also accessible here, though the official book is the reference relied upon for this conversion and the source that will be referenced during rulings (the book is available to be shared with players upon request).
Please see the chapter of the same name in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, beginning on page 238. These rules are also accessible here, though the official book is the reference relied upon for this conversion and the source that will be referenced during rulings (the book is available to be shared with players upon request). Most of what is covered in that chapter is automated by Foundry and comes down to simple button pressing, but there are a number of actions available to all characters that are not intuitively displayed within the VTT.
So far this document has covered character-scale activities. When it comes time to slip into the cockpit of a BattleMech and get into big stompy robot shenanigans, we will be utilizing MegaMek. Like Foundry, MegaMek does all of the math for us – allowing us to maintain forward momentum and immersion. Encounters that once took hours upon hours can now be resolved in a fraction of the time. MegaMek is freeware and has been around for a long time; it will run on just about every PC that powers on!
Converting from Character Scale to BattleMech
Unfortunately, no one has ever come up with a simple 1:1 conversion for character scale activities into BattleMech combat. We want to utilize the fantastic BattleTech rules for ‘Mech combat, so some conversion work is necessary. BattleMech pilots, called MechWarriors, have two relevant abilities: Piloting and Gunnery. Piloting represents a MechWarrior’s ability to maneuver the ‘Mech, while Gunnery represents his ability to fire its weapon systems. In BattleTech, these two abilities have a rating of 0 through 7, with 0 being the best and 7 being the worst. This is the opposite of how modifiers tend to work in Starfinder and other d20-based games, where the higher numbers are better – so we need to flip ’em!
This conversion turns your Piloting Skill from Starfinder into your Piloting skill in MegaMek, and your Ranged Attack Modifier in Starfinder into your Gunnery skill in MegaMek. See the table below:
|Starfinder Piloting skill and Ranged Attack Modifiers||BattleMech Piloting and Gunnery Skills|
For example: If your Piloting Skill modifier (rightmost column beside the skill on your character sheet) is +7, then your BattleMech Piloting skill is 3. If your Ranged Attack modifier is +5, then your BattleMech Gunnery skill is 4.
This conversion will generally result in player characters having relatively high piloting and gunnery skills. This is intentional. Player characters are supposed to be the “heroes” of the story and are expected to be a cut above the rest. Also, combat tends to be much slower when players are always missing their shots.
We utilize the rules found in the Total Warfare book for ‘Mech scale combat, but all of that is handled by MegaMek. You will benefit from an understanding of these rules, but it is not strictly necessary given the automation provided by the freeware. A basic understanding of BattleTech in general is required, and Total Warfare happens to be the place where you can find that as well. There are numerous YouTube videos explaining the lore and atmosphere of the setting, and sarna.net is THE definitive wiki for the franchise.