Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

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Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby thunderclam » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:21 pm

I have gathered that this is a fairly loose setting with a lot of room for players to contribute their own ideas and build off the ones already present. My questions are pretty general, though, so I thought it might be best to check and see what everybody has to say. The book is detailed about some aspects, vague about others (for good reason I think) but I can see that there have been many thorough conversations about different aspects of the lore for some time now.

I'm fairly new so please keep that in mind when answering:

1. Mostly I'm curious about what a "company" is or should be. I see some that, like WangTech, are an actual corporate entity so "company" in that definition works well. I thought at first that ALL MFZ companies were meant to be player-created corporations that fight each other. Then I read the book and noted that the backdrop of a multi-front, interstellar war puts the emphasis (maybe?) on companies in the military unit sense. What I want to know is whether there's a preferred definition beyond that a "company" is a squad of Frame you use in play.

2. What role, if any, do mercenary "companies" have in MFZ? My educated guess would be that this would be quite all right and that there are probably many mercenary companies of various sizes (from ragtag units to full PMCs) operating in the galaxy. But I'm not really sure if there's specific lore with regard to how mercenaries are treated, how they operate, etc.

3. What role, if any, do hardsuits and other combat vehicles have in MFZ? Is it possible to develop a company that also consists of ground troops, aircraft, tanks, etc? If that has been considered and/or tried, does it operate with the same white dice+systems mechanic as frames (probably a tank would have less structure dice and systems than a frame)?

Thanks for your responses, folks.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby David Artman » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:36 pm

1) Dunno--haven't read the lore.
2) See above.
3) It was quite common in Mechaton to make "frames" that were anything but mecha. Some folks even setup squads as "frames," with 3P-high "figs" that represented each attachment and the white dice. SO a spot die might be a fig with binoculars. There is also a long tradition of vehicles, be they ground, air, or sea (the rules work well for naval battles; though cover is less a factor).

In the end, it's far more system than setting; and the rules work well for ablative damage that impacts abilities, so it suits many other types of combat.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Goober » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:57 pm

1. I'm pretty sure "company" refers to the military sense of the word. A company of soldiers is a the small group on the field, not a corporation, even if they work for a corporation.

2. I don't think there's official lore, but it sounds like mercenaries certainly fit the setting. Who they work for and why (and how they're paid) would vary widely I imagine, as would their size and level of organization.

3. You can make anything a "frame". A tank, a group of smaller units, etc. Just choose what counts as a system, so it can be taken off.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Zero Revenge » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:01 pm

thunderclam wrote:1. Mostly I'm curious about what a "company" is or should be. I see some that, like WangTech, are an actual corporate entity so "company" in that definition works well. I thought at first that ALL MFZ companies were meant to be player-created corporations that fight each other. Then I read the book and noted that the backdrop of a multi-front, interstellar war puts the emphasis (maybe?) on companies in the military unit sense. What I want to know is whether there's a preferred definition beyond that a "company" is a squad of Frame you use in play.

Companies in the book usually is meant in the military unit sense. Corporation is used to describe such entities as WangTech or Hesher Interstellar, Valhallan Industries, etc.

thunderclam wrote:2. What role, if any, do mercenary "companies" have in MFZ? My educated guess would be that this would be quite all right and that there are probably many mercenary companies of various sizes (from ragtag units to full PMCs) operating in the galaxy. But I'm not really sure if there's specific lore with regard to how mercenaries are treated, how they operate, etc.

There really doesn't seem to be a true mercenary company in MFZ, least not that i've seen. There is no equivalent to Blackwater Worldwide, as the capacity to travel between systems is EXUBERANTLY costly, and as such, the only people who use the Transit Gates the most frequently are those with capital, be it the Corporation at play or the Solar Union itself*.

* Obviously, when Transit Gates are stolen and held by Free Colonies or Ijad, they use them too, but from what I garner they can't use them as much due to the high costs. We've never gotten a specific amount, just that to work a Gate costs a lot. Enough that one would think "How could a non-Corporation fund its use?"

Therefore, the idea of "mercenaries" are more locally based. Let us enter the Martian Foreign Legion. The Solar Union, seeing a planet that needs to be controlled, but on a budget, will send 2 or 3 Martian Officers (a Colonel, and a Captain?) on-world with a suitcase of money [Solar Wulongs], and blueprints for the Chub - the main frame of the Legion. They will then go recruiting on that world. The Legion reports back [through the transit gates] back to the S.U. but stay on-world. There is of course, exceptions to this. Ester's Anvil & the Crimson Phalanx are canonical examples, and I'm sure you could create one yourself.

For individual groups, not aligned with a larger force to make transit jumps, would be [while plausible due to whatever circumstance one invents] unlikely. Not to mention, since Transit Jumps are based on mass, it would be equally unlikely that mercenary groups could transport any large quantity of frames with them, likely have to build new ones when they arrive on world.

So, you want to have a mercenary group? Sure! That actually sounds like a great idea. Again though, I would assume most mercenaries would be apart of a Corporation's payroll, as they have the money - and by definition a mercenary works for said money.

thunderclam wrote:3. What role, if any, do hardsuits and other combat vehicles have in MFZ? Is it possible to develop a company that also consists of ground troops, aircraft, tanks, etc? If that has been considered and/or tried, does it operate with the same white dice+systems mechanic as frames (probably a tank would have less structure dice and systems than a frame)?

Sure, there's no reason for a company to not have hardsuits. Or jets. Or tanks. But, with in the lore MFZ has established, the Mobile Frame is king in combat. It is able to react as Human-speed timings, but with the power of tanks and jets.

Also, creating and using a Mobile Frame has become as easy as driving a car. Everyone [speaking as an American here, so pardon me] learns how to drive by the age of 16. Children grow up looking forward to learning it. Frames are the same way, they've become such an integral part of Human [and now Ijad!] life, that it has replaced roles that other vehicles had.

*squee* Ah! I love fluff discussion.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby thunderclam » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:40 pm

Thanks for the thorough and awesome reply, Zero (can I call you Zero? 8-) )

As these things usually go, your responses have prompted additional questions/observations!

1. I thought for sure that I'd seen some of those self-labeled as "companies". I have been lurking the forums for about a month and I think that was the source of my initial confusion. I guess with this framework, a Corporation is just a big entity that might have several discrete companies working for it? randolph's WangTech definitely seems to follow that model. I like the idea as it gives robust players the opportunity to really let loose with different squads for different kinds of battles. Plus, the lore.

2. Knowing about the high cost of TG travel, I figured mercenaries would be more common in war-torn systems where planet-to-planet travel would be the norm. I figure a mercenary company, of whatever size and organization, would probably be relegated to a specific system. Barring that, it would be their employers (whether a large faction such as the Ijad, who probably wouldn't hire mercs come to think of it, or a big powerful corp like WangTech) who footed the bill for Transit Gating.

I may need to rebrief on the details about how the MFL works but it seems like their model would inspire competition, if only for Free Colonies who have the means to pay professional soldiers. Imagine a Seven Mobile Frames scenario where a small, poor colony in a very poor system offers a group of mercs peaches-for-protection. Fanfiction?

3. It seems to me that "support" vehicles like tanks, etc would still have some utility even in a battlefield dominated by frames. For the game, creating a larger army spearheaded by frames but backed by smaller infantry, tanks, artillery, etc might be an interesting modification to how points can be assigned and how battles could play out. Mostly I was wondering if it's at all canonical for them to be used. I could imagine some theaters where they'd be useful, but the point about the cheapness and availability of MFs is well taken.

PS: I'm a Canuck and we have similar car rituals. :P
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Soren » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:22 pm

1. "Company" in the military-unit sense, although they don't correspond very closely to any historical definition of a company, usually because recruiting and supply are irregular and companies can't always afford to deploy everything they have all at once.
2. Mercenaries are a pretty good sign that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in a given time period, and our setting is no exception. Worse, there's some blurring of the lines between mercenary and national forces. If they're lucky, they start to question what they're doing - if they're not, their employers are just as likely to have them shot to avoid the trouble of paying them. It's a living, but not a good or secure one.
3. Go nuts.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Zero Revenge » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:57 pm

thunderclam wrote:Thanks for the thorough and awesome reply, Zero (can I call you Zero? 8-) )

As these things usually go, your responses have prompted additional questions/observations!

You're very welcome. And sure, Zero is perfectly fine.

thunderclam wrote:1. I thought for sure that I'd seen some of those self-labeled as "companies". I have been lurking the forums for about a month and I think that was the source of my initial confusion. I guess with this framework, a Corporation is just a big entity that might have several discrete companies working for it? randolph's WangTech definitely seems to follow that model. I like the idea as it gives robust players the opportunity to really let loose with different squads for different kinds of battles. Plus, the lore.

Yeah, the word is interchangeable. Your confusion is understandable.

thunderclam wrote:2. Knowing about the high cost of TG travel, I figured mercenaries would be more common in war-torn systems where planet-to-planet travel would be the norm. I figure a mercenary company, of whatever size and organization, would probably be relegated to a specific system. Barring that, it would be their employers (whether a large faction such as the Ijad, who probably wouldn't hire mercs come to think of it, or a big powerful corp like WangTech) who footed the bill for Transit Gating.

I may need to rebrief on the details about how the MFL works but it seems like their model would inspire competition, if only for Free Colonies who have the means to pay professional soldiers. Imagine a Seven Mobile Frames scenario where a small, poor colony in a very poor system offers a group of mercs peaches-for-protection. Fanfiction?

I didn't even think of a system with multiple planets. That's a very good point. On the topic of the UMFL [I left out United, but they are "officially" the UMFL], it isn't uncommon for dissension in their ranks, if not full-blown mutiny. Don't forget, it's people in your own county or country, or town who are enforcing the laws of the Solar Union, lightyears away. (Realistically, they're enforcing the Corporation's Laws, but the two are usually one-in-the-same. When they aren't is when we see fireworks.)

And Seven Samurai. A classic.

thunderclam wrote:3. It seems to me that "support" vehicles like tanks, etc would still have some utility even in a battlefield dominated by frames. For the game, creating a larger army spearheaded by frames but backed by smaller infantry, tanks, artillery, etc might be an interesting modification to how points can be assigned and how battles could play out. Mostly I was wondering if it's at all canonical for them to be used. I could imagine some theaters where they'd be useful, but the point about the cheapness and availability of MFs is well taken.

It's canonical that they can be used. They usually aren't. It's easier, and practically cheaper [or the same price] for better rewards. But, many people have vehicles, either for support or otherwise.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby thunderclam » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:18 pm

Yeah, was totally riffing Seven Samurai. Now I just need to get enough parts to make my takafashii squad seven frames strong.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Dukayn » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:37 pm

Semi-related to mercenaries (but not really? I dunno), I quite fancied the idea of the fluff of a pirate group with a handful of mobile frames. At first I was thinking it wouldn't make sense, but then I thought it makes perfect sense. If mobile frames are used by the kinds of people which these pirates would be targeting, then they'd need mobile frames to be able to take them on.

So, yeah. Pirate frames. That's my thing. ARRRRRRRRRRRRR!
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby jadefalcon777 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:38 pm

I had been contemplating a mercenary company myself, and I think it could be done well in the setting. You'd either end up with UMFL-esque company-owned-and-operated squads, or smaller groups of guns for hire. I can see a small group of maybe four or five frames taking jobs around a particularly wartorn planet - like Soren said, it wouldn't be stable or safe but you could make a living.

The issue becomes, for an non-patron group, the logistics supply and maintenance. The mercs must somehow maintain and repair their frames, which would require either a mobile base/repair facility, or settling down in one area. For example, to reference the Seven Samurai again, a small merc company might settle down in a town and protect it for food, lodging, and maintenance of their weapons (to the extent that this could actually be done). On the other hand, you might see raiders working for a warlord that enforce his wishes with the business end of a 30mm cannon.

Groups in the company pocket, however, are much easier. Get a contract, go to this location (expenses paid), blow some stuff up and take what you can find. Not all that different from how it works in the real world, where companies might hire private enforcers to take care of less than cooperative locals.

So, in my brain, you're likely to see stuff like the ubiquitous Chub in the hands of smaller, non-patron merc companies. The materiel would need to be rugged, reliable, easy to find parts for, etc. Any customization would likely be pragmatic rather than flashy or spectacular. Mercenaries with a patron, however, might see some cooler, limited-issue or company specific gear.

Now, if frames and consequently frame PARTS are easy to obtain on the planet in question, this becomes less of an issue. Given the setting, there's probably a healthy black market for second-hand scavenged frame parts, old muscle cylinders, etc. In this case, you might see some custom-fitted mercenary gear even in smaller settings, cobbled together from a bunch of useful parts. If they've got a good mechanic on staff, you might see some pretty nifty stuff.

Now, I can't think of GREAT examples, since most mecha series don't tackle a sophisticated explanation of logistics and supply. Gundam X does an okay job of this, with a bazaar in the early episodes selling mobile suit parts and a resident mechanic who jury rigs a lot of 'upgrades.' Similarly, in one of the later Full Metal Panic! novels, there's a bustling aftermarket parts trade in pieces of the ubiquitous Rk-92 Savage, the AK-47/Chub of the setting.

As long as you carefully think out how a mercenary company is going to function from a logistical and practical standpoint, I think you can pull it off. Just remember the three important considerations - cash flow, ammunition, and repair.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby gatlinggouf927 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:15 pm

I guess my company (Varangian Guard) are mercs, they're contractually tied to one corporation and are a very well organized PMC, we adhere to SU laws, but operate outside of any organized SU military.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby ChaosChild » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:37 pm

Dukayn wrote:So, yeah. Pirate frames. That's my thing. ARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Mobile Frame Zero: Jolly Roger. I want to see some one-shot parrots. :D
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Dukayn » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:30 pm

ChaosChild wrote:
Dukayn wrote:So, yeah. Pirate frames. That's my thing. ARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Mobile Frame Zero: Jolly Roger. I want to see some one-shot parrots. :D

Image
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby thunderclam » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:48 am

I think the best source for a realistic, logistics oriented mecha fiction is the Front Mission series. Consider Front Mission 4 where one of the two player-controlled factions, Durandal, is able to pick up and play from any location in range (Europe mostly) because they have a sizable cargo jet and are able to get supplies wherever. They seem to also have military and national connections that help, if I remember correctly, but they are also sort of an elite outfit. A ragtag merc squad might employ similar tactics, minus the weight from connections, and be highly mobile on a single planet or even within a system.

I mean, I imagine this setting has room for smaller conflicts that rage outside of the larger three-way war? An example like the one someone (Joshua?) posted about a lost ship degraded to factionalism and onboard Mobile Frame hijinx. Speaking of which, my roommate and I are thinking of playing out such a scenario as an interactive story with a few battles to decide which faction wins and whether the lost ship ever gets unlost.

Fun stuff.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby C_L » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:15 am

My group is a small group of Mercs, actually; the Crimson Lance is a small group mostly consisting of UMFL deserters who do odd-jobs out in the colonies and Ijad-held areas. They only cart 3 'Frames and 2 Drones with them to any given place, using a small transport ship as a mobile base of operations, and then they build what they need when they arrive. However, the whole payments thing does make this kind of lifestyle a "scraping by" kind of thing: either you take a high-paying contract from a corporation that will probably just throw you and your friends out the airlock the first chance they get, or you take as many barely-worth it jobs from locals in a given System as you can find (since it's cheaper to travel in-System). The whole risk-reward thing makes for a very interesting dynamic.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Zero Revenge » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:33 pm

thunderclam wrote:I mean, I imagine this setting has room for smaller conflicts that rage outside of the larger three-way war? An example like the one someone (Joshua?) posted about a lost ship degraded to factionalism and onboard Mobile Frame hijinx. Speaking of which, my roommate and I are thinking of playing out such a scenario as an interactive story with a few battles to decide which faction wins and whether the lost ship ever gets unlost.

Fun stuff.

Many examples used are Post-Imperial Africa. Where you have MANY organizations [all with hutching weird acronyms] battling for territories. Not every battle is S.U. vs Free Colonies [Don't forget this is just an umbrella term], vs Ijad. Returning to the Africa example, some scenarios, say the Angolan Civil War would be considered a huge "Free Colonist" Civil War.

Seriously, look at all of those Acronym factions! :O
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby thunderclam » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:44 pm

Oh, Africa.

Firefly teaches us that some people prefer freedom to wealth! C_L's scenario follows from that ideal, sounds like.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby C_L » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:58 pm

Half Firefly, Half Cowboy Bebop, yep. :)
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:38 am

What I care about when someone says that they're building a mercenary company is, what happened to make them choose a side?

As Soren says, mercenaries are an indication of some horrible legal breakdown. That definitely happens a lot in the recent years of the Solar Calendar, but to be a mercenary worth hiring, you have to stay bought. Who's it worth staying bought for? Cuz no one will ever pay you again if you switch sides for a buck.
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Re: Questions about Companies, Mercenaries, and so on.

Postby Dukayn » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:14 am

That's one reason I chose pirate instead of mercenary for Ghost Legion. We're in it for the loot :)
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