Event - Battletech: Urban Warfare
In BATTLETECH, events occur between battles as players navigate across the galaxy. Events represent the day to day issues facing a commander of a mercenary company. They vary in tone and stakes, but every event revolves around player choice and offer multiple outcomes.
As a Narrative Designer at Harebrained Schemes, I developed a procedural narrative system for BATTLETECH that focused on how the player’s choices would shape their MechWarriors and generate unique stories from a pool of content. Utilizing personality tags, such as spacer, tech, honest, rebellious, and more, I determined how these personality traits would modify each other and how these characters would express themselves in escalating Events. These Events depicted the challenges of leading a crew of complex and often competing personalities. Ultimately, it’s up to the player to manage their crew and face the consequences for their choices.
In the example below, this event is generated if a MechWarrior has the spacer tag and the rebellious tag, but doesn’t have either honest, dishonest, or dependable personality tags. This is a moment where a MechWarrior has clearly broken the rules and your decision will determine which personality tags they end up gaining. These tags will determine future events the player experiences with this MechWarrior, culminating in a story arc of redemption or a descent into disobedience.
Darius jabs a finger at Behemoth, who sits sulking in a makeshift brig. "Yang caught this one sneaking through the Argo's ventral airlock last night. From the outside."
Behemoth averts her gaze.
"Apparently, she managed to jimmy the door open without alerting anyone." The XO's lip curls into an angry frown. "How about it, MechWarrior? Care to explain why you took an unauthorized EVA?"
Behemoth sighs. "I just had to, Commander." She searches your face for a reaction. "It's so peaceful out there—floating free, just me and the stars. No explosions, no sweltering cockpit. Just calm and quiet."
Darius shoots you a sidelong glance. "This little stunt could've gone wrong in a hundred different ways. Chuckles here is lucky she didn't get anyone killed. How do you think we should handle it?"
Option 1: Offer Behemoth leniency in exchange for revealing the exploit.
You level your gaze at Behemoth. "Here's the deal. You're going to tell Dr. Murad exactly what you did to that airlock door. In return, I'm going to let your behavior slide—but only this once. Mess up again, and we'll have a very different conversation."
"Thank you, Commander." Behemoth nods eagerly. "You won't regret this, I promise."
Two weeks later, you're jolted awake by the scream of klaxons. The comms buzz with the XO's voice. "We've got an oxygen leak. Sensors say that something's attacking the ventral airlock—from the outside."
Cursing, you pull on your uniform. "Some people never learn, do they, Darius?"
"Afraid not, and this time, the airlock's hatch isn't cooperating. Dr. Murad's got a team on it, they'll fix whatever's broken and bring Behemoth back inside. You want me to read her the riot act?"
"Put the fear of god into her." You collapse back into your bunk. "And Darius? Tell her that if this ever happens again, we'll just let her stay out there. The Argo could use a new hood ornament."
(Behemoth gains Dishonest Behemoth gains Low Spirits for 14 days.)
"You're not wrong, Darius. But in the end, nobody got hurt." You fix your gaze on Behemoth. "I'm willing to look past this, MechWarrior. But you're going to tell me how you opened that door, and from now on, you're going to appreciate the stars from a safe distance."
She nods gratefully. "Absolutely, Commander. Thank you."
The next morning, before your first cup of coffee has even cooled, Sumire's voice echoes from the comms. "Behemoth won't leave the navigation room. Apparently, she thinks that she has your permission to spend all her downtime staring wistfully at the star map."
Darius rubs the bridge of his nose, frowning. "Miscommunication. I'll deal with it." He gives you a sidelong glance. "Hopefully, she doesn't wind up back in the brig this time."
(Behemoth loses rebellious.)
Option 2: Reprimand Behemoth for tampering with the Argo.
"Behemoth, you know better. Tampering with an airlock door would get you thrown off of most ships, and as for the EVA… " You shake your head. "Look, I get it. Spacewalking can be a profound experience. But it can also kill you if you aren't careful."
She reddens. "I know I was reckless. I was overwhelmed by nostalgia—I grew up in low gravity—we'd go out on 'star walks' nearly every day. That's no excuse though."
"Exactly. If you can't control yourself here, how am I supposed to trust you in a 'Mech?"
Behemoth meets your gaze. "I'll tell you how I did it. Every hatch on this ship is connected to an actuator. If you know where to look—it only takes about eight pounds of pressure to force it open. Cover the panelling with some spot welding and it'll be secure."
"You just bought yourself a break, MechWarrior. I'm giving you to Dr. Murad for a week. After this exploit has been patched, you'll return to active duty, but if this ever happens again… "
Behemoth shakes her head. "Don't worry. It won't."
(Behemoth lose rebellious. Behemoth is unavailable for 7 days.)
You shake your head, regarding Behemoth. "Of all the MechWarriors in this company, you should know better. Tampering with an airlock? Going on an unauthorized EVA? It's like you're trying to get yourself killed."
"And yet, here I am, alive and kicking." She fixes you with an irritated stare. "It's almost as if I know what I'm doing, Commander."
Darius snaps. "Watch your tone, MechWarrior. Remember who you're talking to."
Behemoth blinks, and all at once, her composure cracks. A wave of self-doubt washes over her face. "I'm sorry, Commander. That was out of line."
"Damn right. I can't afford to remove you from active duty, but for the next month, you're gonna sleep in this box we're calling a brig." You pause and let the message sink in. "Now. If you show Dr. Murad exactly what you did to that airlock door, I might consider accepting that half-assed apology of yours. You wanna try your luck?"
She swallows, hard. "I'll get right on it, Commander. This won't happen again."
(Behemoth becomes dishonest. Behemoth gains Low Spirits for 30 days.)
Option 3: Offer to join Behemoth stargazing one last time.
You cock your head, regarding Behemoth. "Tell you what, MechWarrior. You show Dr. Murad what you did to the airlock door and I'll let you off the hook. Hell, we can go out spacewalking together, one last time."
After she agrees to your terms, you suit up and meet in the airlock. The outer hatch opens and Behemoth glides into the twinkling darkness. Tethered, you follow her.
Spinning slowly, Behemoth's faceplate reflects a swirling nebula of blue and gold. her voice comes over internal comms. "Out here, you're just a tiny speck of sentient dust in an endless sea of stars. It's a relief, in a way, to be reminded of your own insignificance."
You allow yourself to drift. "Sure, I get it. But the Argo isn't some existentialist thought experiment. On this ship, every decision you make has weight. A tiny slip-up can have disastrous consequences for the entire crew."
"You're right. You know, I'm pretty fond of our corner of the universe," Behemoth says. "I won't put it in jeopardy again, Commander."
(Behemoth becomes dependable.)
Option 4: Remind Behemoth that she can stargaze from the Low-G Pool.
[Requires Low-G Pool]
You rub your forehead for a moment. "We spent a lot of money getting the Low-G Pool fixed up, Behemoth. Why don't you knock this off and try stargazing from there?"
She licks her lips as she considers your proposal. "Uh, yeah. That's a good idea, Commander."
"Of course it is. I gave it to you." You narrow your eyes at her. "Now. I want you to tell Dr. Murad what you did to the airlock door. Offer whatever assistance she needs to close the security loophole you exploited. You do that, and you can spend as many off-hours as you like floating around in there. Deal?"
The next time you bump into Behemoth, your nostrils are assaulted by a concentrated blast of chlorine. She snaps to attention, offering you a crisp salute that's only slightly undercut by the wet towel draped across her shoulders.
There are no further incident reports regarding the ventral airlock or any other.
(Behemoth is no longer rebellious. Behemoth gains High Spirits for 30 days.)