Cheap Fusion Engines

Courtesy of Mike Miller, from

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"Yep, back in the day, you'd never see a fusion powered conventional vehicle. Damn things were too fragile to put something as expensive 'n rare as a fyooshun engine in 'em.
"Now people're startin' to lose their way. You see all these fancy new Ex-El engines goin' into every mech, savin' a whole lotta tonnage, yes sir, makin' mechs vulnerable to nicks and dents as minor as a torso or two gettin' blown.  Why, back in the day, whatsisname...Billy, that's it, Billy Boy, drove hisself uh Warhammer in muh lance. Got in uh tussle with the Snakes we did, and Billy Boy went toe-tuh-toe with an Atlas, the damn fool. 'Course, we ain't had no mechs in our lance whut was bigger 'n Billy's, so it wuz Billy's job tuh learn the Snake's Atlas a lessun. Well, you can imagine Billy Boy got shot to shit. Left arm came off first, then the whole right torso and with it that arm. He finally gave the Atlas a hail Mary run for it, charged the damn thing head first. 'snot like he had anything else to charge the thing with.
"Billy didn't do much to the three tons uh armor on the center of the Atlas' chest, but the Snake's hip wuz froze up from one uh Billy's last PPC shots, so it went over backwards when Billy hit. Couldn't get up right away either cuz uh the bum hip, so Billy stumped his Warhammer around (the Atlas had shot off its left foot some time after the left arm done fell off) and kicked the durn thing in the head with his good foot. I got a picture of that fine moment back home: a Warhammer so shot up you could see its engine and gyro from the front, back, or either side and arms fifty meters apart, kickin' in the skull of an Snake Atlas.
"You won't see that no more cuz uh these damn XLs. Cost four times as much as a normal engine, make mechs too durn vulnerable that a good shot in the side'll put'em down like a horse with a broken leg. Light mechs whut get popped with a single PPC shot has 'em, assault mechs whut're spozed tuh slug it out for five minutes at a time ain't lastin' but two minutes these days cuz uh the Ex-El's that gave'em all the tonnage tuh stuff in more guns. Whut a trade.
"And these Ex-El's is puttin' a glut uh old fyooshun engines on the market, so many of 'em that people're gettin' stupid again and puttin' fusion engines on vehicles.
"Well, fine, I say. I ain't gonna stand in the way of progress.  I'd just be uh cain't-learn-no-new-tricks old dawg if I ignored all the new factories pumpin' out fusion engines like we wuz back in the Star League or sumthin'...Hell, we are in the Star League now, ain't we? Maybe fusion engines is gettin' common ee-nuff to put in the jumped up trucks 'n tractors that think they can get on the battlefield with a mech.
"But they still ain't all that common yet, is they?
"You still take a real careful look at that GM gas turbine that some prim-ee-tive from the Tenth Century Ay-Dee mightuh had in his tank and some Periphery bum could fix with a rock hammer an' some duct tape 're whutever they got out there when you're thinkin' about a new tank, dontcha? Maybe an Eye-Cee engine ain't all that bad. Least techs know how to fix it, right?
"Well, gentlemen, I got you something right here. This ole coot found an ancient 'pository uh lostech. Now, now, settle down.  It weren't no Brian's Castle or anything great like that. It was OLD, yessir, way OLD. I mean, it was from the durn Terran Uh-Lie-Ance. Eight hunndred years old, 'less I read the newspapers left in there wrong.
"So I was in this cave of lostec, thinkin', "Damn, some people out in the Periphery find themselves uh trillion C-bills wortha germanium or whole divisions uh Star League mechs, but I had tuh find stuff more primitive than whut I got at home."
"I figured I could least sells some of the junk as antiques and make a nice little nest egg, even if Ah couldn't buy me a planet like some 'splorers do. I did find sumthin' mighty interestin' though, gentlemen.
"I found me plans for buildin' fyooshun engines, yessir. Old plans, old text books. I looked over'em, havin' a bit a learnin' when it comes tuh to things technical - had to, cuz back in the day my techs were either drunk or thought wavin' voodoo dolls at uh actuator on the fritz would fix things - and you know whut?
"I understood'em. Not that Ah had trouble readin' or the old folks from way back when wrote dumber, but I knew what the parts wuz on those plans. I never could figure out the fusion engine on my mech, just hope I read the diagnostics right and replaced the right circuit board. But this, sirs, this one Ah could figure out. It was prim-ee-tive technology, but it was simple technology. Ah figures if Ah could figure out the durn things, the techs on planets off in BFE could figure out how to fix'em up, too.
"These things used simpler parts, dumber parts, parts a toy factory these days can churn out. Oh, they're heavier, but they're FUSION engines, gentlemen. They got the heat sinks and don't need no air to run, no sir. They pump out 'nuff juice to run the lasers and PPCs without no power amps or whatsits.
"Ah ran these past some engineers a few blocks over 'n they said these engines'd be 'bout 50% heavier than a typical engine, about twice as heavy in a conventional vehicle. Yup, just as heavy as uh 'bustion engine when they goes in tanks, but they're fyooshun, fine sirs. They're cheaper, too, only
'bout three quarters as much as uh normal fusion engine.  Yeah, that makes'um 'bout three times as expensive as uh Eye-Cee engine, but you'll make that up in fuel savin's in uh few short years. The numbers fer that is in 'pendix B uh your reports, gentlemen. You know how them military Eye-Cee
engines is fuel hawgs, sirs.
"The big thing 'bout these old fusion engines is that they're so durn easy to build. If a planet can make uh radio...well, alright, maybe a 'puter...they can probably build these. The shieldin' ain't no advanced alloys and the controls is simple.  You can teach uh three year old to fix one, these were meant for the Alliance's colonies, so they kept'em simple 'n rugged.  I figure you sell uh a few video trainin' manuals with'em, a laminated owner's manual, an' you'll be sellin' 'em across the Inner Sphere in no time. Easy tuh build, easy tuh fix, they ain't like these fusion engines uh today or, God forbid, an Ex-El engine.
"What say you gentlemen? You want tuh pump in the venture capital or do I go to the next city over?"

Game Notes:

Cheap fusion engines follow all standard rules for normal fusion engines except for the following:

Cheap fusion engines are 1.5 times heavier than standard fusion engines of the same rating. They are twice as heavy as standard fusion engines when placed in a conventional vehicle.  For example, a 300-rated cheap fusion engine weighs 28.5 tons in a mech, or 38 tons in a vehicle. 
Cheap fusion engines use a more primitive, denser shielding than standard fusion engines.  While this increases the mass, this also increases their durability. They can endure an extra critical hit before being destroyed.  In other words, cheap fusion engines in battlemechs can take 4 critical hits before being destroyed. This first hit results in 2 extra heat per turn, the second hit 5 heat, third hit 10 heat.
The big edge of cheap fusion engines is not reflected in game rules: they require comparatively low technology to build and maintain, making the potential for re-introduction of fusion engines on Succession War-ravaged planets higher.

     Cost:  Tonnage (of the unit, not engine) * Engine Rating * 50
     Battle Value:  Same as normal for Vehicle BV.  For Mechs, use Total Internal Structure Points * 1.6 (slightly higher to reflect the additional engine hit allowed)
     Availability:  All

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Page last modified 31 December, 2003