Battletech Campaign Guide

Using GURPS to build Battletech Characters


This conversion guide is intended to provide all the tools and information needed to run a Battletech Role Playing campaign using the GURPS rules system by Steve Jackson Games instead of one of the three Mechwarrior RPG's published by Fasa and FanPro. This conversion guide assumes that players still want to resolve their armored combat scenarios using the Battletech rules. If you want to run mechanized combat scenarios using GURPS, you'll have to look some place else.

Getting Started

Making a character for the Battletech™ Universe is similar to making a GURPS™ character for any other Science Fiction campaign. The key difference is that there are a number of new skills, advantages, and disadvantages available to characters in the Battletech universe.

Note: You must have a copy of the GURPS basic rules to use this system. The GURPS character generation rules are not reproduced on this site. Try visiting the Steve Jackson Games web page for more information about GURPS

The rules written here are geared towards a campaign set in the early or mid 3040's. The advantages and disadvantages reflect my interpretation of the technology availability in that era. GM's creating a campaign set before or after that time may have to adjust these tech levels up or down apropriately.

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages detailed here that allow a player to upgrade or downgrade their starting battlemech. In order to keep players from taking the disadvantage points for a lumbering wreck and hopping into the first new cockpit that presents itself, GM's are encouraged to keep players in equivalent quality equipment until they come up with the points necessary to buy off the disadvantage. Similarly, to keep from cheating a player who's heavily customized war machine gets slagged in the first fire fight, GM's are encouraged to make good quality replacements available to players who spent the points for good equipment.

On a similar note, GM's and players should remember that clan warriors do not own their battlemechs. They are assigned on an 'as needed' basis. A player who spends the points for an assault omnimech should generally be assigned to one, but it may not always be the same one or even the same class.

Starting Package

In addition to the basic attributes and wealth available to a normal starting GURPS character, each Battletech character starts with a medium weight battlemech. In the 3044 campaign this battlemech must be a 3025 era design. In a 3060 campaign it would be a newer design from the technical readouts 3050,55, or 58. In a clan campaign it would be a front line omnimech. This 'mech can be modified to some extent using the advantages and disadvantages listed below. This battlemech must be chosen from the standard set of designs and variants detailed in the technical readouts. Players who wish to build non-pilot characters should take the 'disposessed' disadvantage. (see below)

Aerospace fighter pilots may substitute a medium weight aerospace fighter for their starting battlemech. A player may also take a vehicle in place of his or her battlemech, but note that most combat vehicles require a crew of more than o ne to operate them.

Each GURPS Battletech character also starts out with one 'hero point'. More can be purchased with advantages. Hero points help to prevent the capricious battlefield of the Battletech universe from snuffing out a major hero prematurely. GM controlled characters do not get a free hero point but may purchase them as advantages. This is an advantage to being a player character. For a complete description of what hero points do see the section on using RPG characters in Battletech elsewhere in this section.


Mechwarriors in the Inner Sphere frequently continue their careers well into their fifties. Anastasius Focht didn't leave the command couch until he was more than 80 years old. To reflect this, GURPS Battletech characters do not need to make aging rolls until they reach the age of 50. Furthermore, they need only make a roll once every two years rather than once every year. Each level of the age dissadvantage indicates that the character has aged two years past his or her sixtieth birthday.


The GURPS wealth levels as described in the GURPS basic rule book do not quite mesh with the economics of the Battletech universe. This section provides an update to those rules for use specifically with GURPS in the Battletech universe.

Dead Broke (-25 points) The character has no money. If a character takes this disadvantage, he or she must also take the disposessed disadvantage. (see below)

The Poor and Struggling disadvantages work as described in the GURPS basic rulebook. If a character has this disadvantage, that character's battlemech (if any) must be of salvage quality. If the older 'mech disadvantage is available, the pilot must take it.

Average wealth is 10,000 C-Bills or equivalent house currency.

Comfortable, Wealthy, and Filthy Rich all provide five times the normal multilier for the character's starting wealth. For example, a character with the comfortable advantage would start off with ten times the normal starting wealth for the campaign.

Clans: In a military clan campaign, all of the characters are provided for by the clan itself. Characters have no monetary wealth and are not permitted to take any advantages or disadvantages associated with wealth. In campaigns where characters are not members of the warrior or technician caste, those characters may use wealth normally.

Tech Levels

Each campaign will have its own level of technology. This section provides some very rough guidelines for GM's to use when deciding what the apropriate level of tech for their campaign will be. Note that within each time period there is some leeway for the tech level to be higher or lower. Front line house troops are usually refitted earlier than mercenary troops for example so a mercenary campaign might have a lower base tech level than a regular army campaign set in the same time frame. Each GM will have to decide for his or her own campaign.

The various base technology levels are listed below. GM's should choose a base line tech level for their campaign before players begin the process of character creation. Each technology level gives a rough set of dates for when that tech level was prevalent. In some cases higher or lower technology may be available at a higher or lower cost. The tech level describes the level of technology that is most common during the time period listed. Each entry includes a listing of the technical readouts that correspond most closely with the tech level.

Inner Sphere Tech Levels

Tech LevelAproximate Time PeriodExample Units Available
Old Tech2801-3051Technical readouts 3025 and 3026
Star League*2700-2800 and 3052-3058Inner Sphere units from the technical readouts 2750, and 3050
Inner Sphere Refit3059-3067Inner Sphere units from the tech readouts 3055, 3058, and 3060
Inner Sphere Advanced3068+Inner Sphere units from the technical readout 3067, Project Phoenix, and the Upgrades record sheet book.

* - Note that for the purposes of technology level I have included the First Succession War in the Star League period.

Clan Tech Levels

Tech LevelAproximate Time PeriodExample Units Available
Exodus Fleet2784-3000Technical readout 2750
Clan Tech3000-3058Clan Units from the technical readouts 3050, and 3055
Clan Advanced3059+Clan units from the Warden and Crusader clan field manuals and the tech readout 3060

Take note that Inner Sphere omnimechs and power armor remain pretty rare even in front line units until some time in the mid 3060's.

New Skills

This section contains new GURPS skills designed for use in the Battletech environment.

Piloting/Battlemech (physical hard) This skill allows a character to operate a battlemech.

Gunnery/Battlemech (physical hard) This skill is used to operate Battlemech weaponry.

Piloting/Aerospace (physical hard) This skill is used to fly an aerospace fighter. This skill can also be used to pilot an atmospheric fighter.

Gunnery/Aerospace (physical hard) This skill is used to fire the weapons of an aerospace fighter.

Gunnery/Artillery (physical hard) This skill is used to operate vehicle weapons and artillery pieces.

The above skills all correlate with pilot skills from the Battletech and Aerotech tactical games. When the players find themselves in a battlefield situation, these skills can be translated into their Battletech equivalents using the rules described in the section on using GURPS characters in Battletech.

The ability to process information quickly is a powerful asset in the Battletech world. Battlemechs are bristling with sensors and guages that can provide a huge amount of valuable information to any pilot who can process it. To reflect this, any GURPS battletech character with an IQ score of less than 9 suffers a -1 penalty to their skill level for all Battletech related piloting and gunnery skill. On the other hand, any pilot whose IQ is 12 or greater gains a +1 bonus to all piloting and gunnery skills. Pilots with an IQ of 16 or better receive a +2 bonus to piloting and gunnery skills. (The +2 for an IQ of 16 is not cumulative with the +1 for having a 12.) All of the Battletech piloting/gunnery skills default to either reflexes - 4 or IQ - 6, whichever is better.

Battlemech Design (mental very hard) This skill is used for modifying battlemechs as well as for designing entirely new machines. Simple modifications like swapping out one weapon for another can be performed with a base line skill check. More complicated modifications like replacing reular heat sinks with double heat sinks will incur a penalty of -5 on the roll. Failing a battlemech design check by 5 or less will result in a functional but quirky system. See the 'quirky equipment' disadvantage later in this section for a description of this effect. Failure by more than 5 (or a critical failure) means that the new system does not function and any materials and time spent creating it are wasted. Prerequisites: Battlemech Repair 14+, Mechannical Engineering 14+ / Default: Battlemech Repair -6

Battlemech Repair (mental hard) This skill is used to perform all basic repair operations on battlemechs and aerospace fighters. (Vehicles can be repaired with the mechannic skill) Anybody with the battlemech repair skill can perform basic operations like routine maintanence and armor repair. All repair rolls assume that the necessary spare parts are available. Default: Mechannic - 4

Fusion Plant Repair (mental very hard) Repairing the small fusion reactors used to power all battlemechs and aerospace fighters requires detailed specific knowledge of the inner workings of these sophisticated devices. Prerequisites: Nuclear Physics 12+, Electrical Engineering 12+ / Default: Battlemech Repair - 4

New Advantages

Extra Hero Point (10 points) The character has an extra hero point. No character may ever have more than five hero points. For a description of what hero points do see the section on using RPG characters in Battletech elsewhere in this section.

Heavy Battlemech (5 points) The character starts with a heavy battlemech or aerospace fighter instead of a medium one.

Assault battlemech (10 points) The character starts with an assault 'mech instead of a medium weight one. Note that aerospace fighters and vehicles do not have an assault weight class, only heavy.

Personal Tech (5 points) The character starts out with his or her own personal technician. This tech must be paid regularly and does not supply any parts or ammunition. A personal tech is qualified as a regular level technician.

Expert Tech (10 points) This is similar to personal tech above, but the character has a veteran technician.

Modification (5 points) The character's 'mech has some kind of modification. One piece of its equipment has been swapped for something else using the same technology base. A good example would be swapping an AC/5 for a PPC. Small amounts of left over tonnage may be spent on other simple changes, but any serious modifications will have to be paid for separately. (This sort of thing usually requires a GM's call.) Another example would be replacing an ER PPC with a regular PPC on an Inner Sphere 3050 tech battlemech.

Tech Upgrade (5 points) The character has made some minor custom alteration to his or her battlemech in order to introduce new technology. In the 3044 campaign, this means replacing 3025 technology with Star League technology. In a campaign set further into the future it might allow substituting clan equipment for Star League equipment. In general, this advantage does not allow something to be upgraded more than one level. ( i.e. 3025 to Star League or Star League to clan, not 3025 to clan) Examples are replacing an AC/10 with an LB10-X or replacing a 'mech's armor with ferro-fibrous armor. The player may make further alterations to make use of weight freed up by replacing a weapon or to make room for a slightly larger weapon, but these should all be minor. Endosteel skeletons, XL engines and double heat sinks may not be added with this advantage without explicit GM approval. Even with GM's approval, XL engines and double heat sinks cost 7 points rather than the usual 5 for a technology upgrade.

Blood Name (10 points) The character may take a Clan Bloodname as his or her surname. Posession of a Bloodname brings with it many privileges and responsibilities, including a place on the Clan's ruling council and eligibility for the office of Clan Khan. This advantage is available only to those characters with a Clan background.

Brand New 'Mech (10 points) The player starts off with a brand new battlemech. This 'mech can be an old Star League design out of a cache or a cutting edge design from one of the technical readouts. This advantage is most useful in campaigns where new technology is being rolled out and new 'mechs have tech that is not available in standard ones. (as is the case in the 3044 campaign)

Custom Battlemech (5 points or 10 points) The player may use the Battletech 'mech design rules to design a customized battlemech from the ground up rather than choosing a 'book' 'mech. This advantage does not include any technology upgrades for that battlemech. each piece of upgraded technology used costs an additional 5 points. Instead of getting to design their own omnimech from the ground up, clan front line mechwarriors who take this advantage may personally configure their omnimechs before each mission on a role of 5+ on 2d6. If the role fails, the warrior may choose whatever standard configuration they like for the omnimech even if the scenario calls for a different configuration. Naturally, this ability only works if the pilot has access to the right equipment to reconfigure the 'mech. This advantage costs 5 points for a Clan front line mechwarrior or 10 points for anybody else.

Omnimech (5 points) The character starts out with an Inner Sphere omnimech rather than a conventional battlemech. This advantage is only available after 3058 and only to Inner Sphere pilots.

Clan Battlemech (5-15 points) The character starts off with a clan second line battlemech rather than an Inner Sphere 'mech. This advantage is only available to Inner Sphere pilots after 3051. The cost of this advantage depends on the technology level of the campaign. Consult the table below for a summary of the costs.

Old TechNot Available
Star League15 points
Inner Sphere Refit10 points
Inner Sphere Advanced5 points

A 'mech purchased with this advantage should be a basic clan second line battlemech, not an advanced design from the 'clan advanced' technology level.

Clan Omnimech (10-20 points) The character starts off with a clan front line omnimech rather than an Inner Sphere battlemech. The omni comes with a single standard configuration of clan equipment. This advantage is only available to Inner Sphere pilots after 3051. The cost of this advantage depends on the technology level of the campaign. Consult the table below for a summary of the costs.

Old TechNot Available
Star League20 points
Inner Sphere Refit15 points
Inner Sphere Advanced10 points

A 'mech purchased with this advantage should be a basic clan omnimech and not an advanced design from the 'clan advanced' technology level.

New Disadvantages

Disposessed (-12 points) The character has no battlemech. This disadvantage is available to clan pilots but since clansmen do not own their own machines it means that the character is not qualified to be a mechwarrior and must regain mechwarrior status before this disadvantage may be bought off. Note that being an ex-mechwarrior carries a hefty social stigma in the clans. Clansmen who take this dissadvantage are entitled to the stigma disadvantage as well.

Freebirth (-5 points) This advantage is available only to clan warriors. Freebirths adopted into the clan warrior caste carry the title with them as a 5 point social stigma for their whole carriers and must work hard to earn even grudging respect from their comrades.

Clan Mindset (-5 points) This disadvantage is available only to clan warriors. This disadvantage reflects the ridgid clan mindset fostered by the Clan's highly ritualized and regimented society. Clan warriors often have difficulty dealing with the 'dishonorable' tactics of their Inner Sphere enemies. Clan warriors with this disadvantage suffer a -4 penalty to their tactics skill when facing oponents who do not honor the Clan rules of engagement and often have trouble dealing with non-Clan customs outside of combat.

Light Battlemech (-5 points) The character starts with a light 'mech instead of a medium 'mech.

Quirky Equipment (-5 points) The character's battlemech may be in good repair but it just never seems to operate perfectly. Some chronic problem always seems to be there no matter what the techs do with it. This disadvantage requires some thought on the part of the GM. Every now and then something on the player's 'mech should malfunction or break but never catastrophicly or permanently. Generally speaking it should be the GM, not the player who decides what is wrong with the 'mech. Depending on the campaign situation, the player might not even find out what is wrong until something breaks. Good examples of quirky equipment are a heat sink that fails at the start of a scenario on a role of 9+ on a 2d6 or an (non-ultra) autocannon that jams if the player rolls a 2 when rolling to hit with it. Such problems are annoying but can be easily fixed after the battle. A character may take this disadvantage more than once. Each one adds another piece of chronicly faulty equipment to his 'mech.

Salvage Quality Battlemech (-5 points) The character's battlemech is functional but it is in a state of disrepair. Salvage quality 'mechs cost a great deal to restore and cost a lot to maintain. This disadvantage is only available if the PCs are responsible for the repair and maintanence of their own machines. (Usually in mercenary campaigns.)

Older 'Mech (-10 points) The pilot starts out with a battlmech that is not only behind the cutting edge, but is totally out of date. This disadvantage is only available in campaigns that start before 2850 or after 3052. This disadvantage is available only to Inner Sphere pilots. This will cause a pilot to start with a 3025 battlemech rather than a Star League technology battlemech. A pilot who takes the older mech disadvantage may not then take the tech upgrade advantage. The pilot may install new tech onto a 3025 'mech using the modification advantage if the pilot does so, he does not receive any points from this disadvantage.

Second Line Battlemech (-10 points) This is the equivalent of the Inner Sphere 'older mech' disadvantage for clansmen. With this disadvantage a clan pilot starts out with a second line clan battlemech rather than a front line omnimech. Note that there is a social stigma that goes with this assignment. That stigma is included in this disadvantage. The warrior is assumed to be either a freebirth or a washed up front line warrior and is not entitled to take additional disadvantages for those traits.

Character Packages

Clan Mechwarrior (34 points)
Clan mechwarriors have +2 DEX and +1 HT. They have the racial advantage Combat Reflexes, and the disadvantages Impulsiveness, Clan Mindset, and Code of Honor (-10). The intensive training undergone by all clan mechwarriors grants them the racial skills Gunnery/Battlemech at DX, Piloting/Battlemech at DX, Karate at DX-1, and History (Clan Rememberance) at IQ.
Clan Elemental (91 points)
Clan elementals have +1 DEX +3 HT, and -1 IQ. They have the racial advantages Combat Reflexes and Increased Strength (1 level), and the disadvantages Impulsiveness and Code of Honor (-10). The intensive training undergone by all elementals grants them the racial skills Battlesuit at DX+1, Karate at DX+1, and History (Clan Rememberance) at IQ.

Character Power Levels

The number of points uses to build characters in any campaign should be based on the power level the GM wants the players to have. The table below gives a rough idea of how many points characters should have exclusive of dissadvantages and quirks based on their approximate Battletech power level. In campaigns where schticks are allowed, the number of schticks a pilot is allowed to have should also be limited based on experience level. Typical ranges for the number of 'mech schticks a pilot should be allowed to have are included below. Note that because of the very high cost of piloting and gunnery skills in this conversion, the point values used in Battletech GURPS campaigns tend to be somewhat higher than they might be in a more conventional GURPS campaign. Sample characters are given for each category as appropriate.

Skill LevelBase Character Points Mech SchticksExample
Green 70 - 100 points 0 - 2 Andrew Bick
Regular 100 - 150 points1 - 4 Dimitria
Veteran 150 - 200 points2 - 5 Cyril Strombelbime
Elite 200 - 300 points3 - 8 J. Elliot Jameson
Legendary 300+ points 5+ Yorinaga Kurita

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