BattleChrome — Zone 17

Prologue

“It looks worse than it is.”

Rei didn’t turn to look at Sergei. Her eyes remained fixed on Bessie’s upper torso. The armor on the right side was almost completely blasted away, exposing the flexors, hydraulics, and wiring harnesses beneath. And the ConMod. The armor’s edges were turned out like flower petals.

“I think you were lucky. The plate did its work. I don’t see any internals.”

No fire. No shrapnel damage. The control module’s case, the wiring, and the motive systems all looked new. Shiny. Fresh off the showroom floor. Rei closed her mouth and swallowed. From what she could see, Sergei was right. Bessie was fine, provided there was no trouble on egress. She turned and walked over to him.

“It looks OK, but you didn’t feel that hit. It floored me.”

“It didn’t floor you. It threw you. I never knew you took ballet lessons. You pirouetted twice after the hit.”

“Ballet lessons?” Rei chuckled nervously. “No. Today was my first.”

“I could see that by the way you fell flat on your face when you stopped spinning,” Sergei added with a sly grin.

Rei turned back to look at Bessie. Fifteen meters in height, Bauhaus Bessie was forty tons of havoc wrapped in duralloy. Rei could see pocks and carbon scuffs everywhere, but the chest took a real hit. That’s where all of the important stuff is. That’s where she is. Rei closed her eyes and took a breath. Bessie would be fine on the trip back to the base, provided they could avoid any more contact with hostile forces, and that there was no damage beyond what she could see.

“Scav and bug. Twenty minutes. Let’s go.” Rei said, pulling a pair of heavy work gloves over those of her eSuit. Sergei saw that Rei’s hands were shaking. He thought better than to mention it. He snatched up his tools as he jogged to the closest wreck.

Rei didn’t have Sergei’s mechanical aptitude. Tearing apart a wreck looked easy, but she knew better. Sergei could strip that wreck of anything useable in less than an hour. It would take her all day, and she’d still miss half of the good stuff. Rei went for the easier reward. She grabbed a fire extinguisher and walked over to the nearest truck that was still, mostly, in one piece.  She had to find some good stuff. Repairing Bessie wouldn’t be cheap.

Overview

BattleChrome — Zone 17 (Z17 for short) is a role-playing and miniatures game set in a dystopic future, during a war fought primarily by mercenaries. Zone 17 refers to a contested area in Asia that saw more fighting than any other. Though the game is named Zone 17, action can take place in any area that saw combat, including colonies on other planets.

When playing the role-playing aspect of Zone 17, one player is the game’s Controller. The Controller designs the episodes that the players will play. Each of the other players controls a Character that participates in the episode. An episode, in this context, is like an episode from an action-based television show — there is usually a set-up, a mission, and then a wrap-up. Controllers are not required to follow this format, though doing so for most episodes makes life easier for both players and Controller.

When playing the miniatures aspect of Zone 17, the players can pilot their combat vehicles against forces composed and operated by the Controller, or players can compose their own scenarios and compete against each other.

All Characters are mercenaries in a war between two powerful organizations, both of which headquarter in what is modern day Asia. Both factions have holdings in many areas on Earth, space stations, asteroid mining operations, and even colonies on distant worlds. These conglomerates have enormous financial and manufacturing resources, and have reached a state of material excess that has made voluntary service unattractive to all but a few of their respective citizens. No government that wished to stay in power would discuss the idea of a draft. Mercenaries were the obvious solution.

Most mercenaries join up as an alternative to living in the squalor and poverty that consumes about a third of humanity. One doesn’t have to be affiliated with either antagonist to enlist. Anyone willing to follow orders and risk life and limb is welcome to apply. Candidates with college degrees could become officers. Those with training or aptitude could pilot or crew vehicles. Everyone else becomes a grunt.

Each Zone has a number of bases from which military operations are conducted. Each base typically has a section of Compliance Officers. These are bureaucrats who ensure that the rules are followed. Disobedience is rewarded with fines or a term on ice. Desertion is rewarded with wanted posters and possibly a firing squad.

Success on the battlefield means promotions, access to better equipment, and more money. Great success would get you vast wealth. Failure gets you broke — and maybe a tombstone.

When a character enlists, he or she is assigned equipment and provided training. The character is also given a debt equal to the cost of that training and equipment. This becomes a binding contract, and the character is not allowed to leave the service until he or she can buy off the contract by reducing his or her debt to zero.

At the end of a mission, the character can turn in equipment and supplies, like those salvaged from the combat zone, in exchange for money. Characters also earn bounties for scoring kills against enemy forces. These monies can be used to pay down debt, buy ammunition and parts, or purchase new supplies and equipment. Failing missions, scoring too few kills and not bringing back material prevents a Character from paying down his or her debt and minimizes his or her chances to offset the costs of consumed ammunition and equipment damage.

Capturing enemy soldiers and civilians has value too. A live human is worth a certain amount for ransom or interrogation. An intact dead one is worth something for organ recovery and reduction to water and protein. Of course, if a character gets too far behind on his or her debts, the Compliance Section may decree that the Character will be similarly processed to settle these debts.

Personal interactions between player Characters and non-player Characters are carried out with the Controller and the players verbally portraying the actual conversations the Characters are having. Combat is carried out on a table top with scale models.

There are two scales in BattleChrome – Zone 17. Agent Scale is used to represent interactions between Characters. Agent scale is about 36 to 1. Models are 25mm to 32mm. Interactions are conversations, fist fights, and motorcycle gun battles.

Battle Scale is used for combats between Characters piloting military vehicles. Battle Scale is about 180 to 1. Models are about 6mm to 8mm. Interactions are clashes with lasers, missiles, and artillery.

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