Background story courtesy of Mike Miller, from rec.games.mecha.
Go straight to the Rules.
Master Tech Jason McCoy of the DCMS Ryuken-Ni regiment was exposed to the wonders and mysteries of omnimech design early in the Clan invasion.
In one of the many wild and crazy hijinks Inner Sphere forces attempted during the early invasion, Master Tech McCoy had overseen the loading and use of paint training rounds against the invaders in an attempt to blind the sensors of the fearsome Clan mechs.
While successful in the sense that it allowed a larger-than-normal number of Ryuken soldiers (almost half) to leave the battlefield alive, it was not the war-winning tactic Master Tech McCoy's commander had hoped. However, it did result in some very distinctive Clan mechs. Indeed, the unique 'Hawaiian Shirt' paint pattern on a particular Vulture-C enabled Inner Sphere forces to discover that the Vulture-C was, in fact, an alternate configuration of the Vulture rather than an entirely new mech. For Master Tech McCoy, who had first seen the mech in the 'A' configuration the day before (when it was plastered with its hideous paint combo), it was an epiphany on the possibilities of omnipods.
Later, a star of omnimechs captured with their entire Confederate-class dropship by the Ryuken-Ni revealed that the omnimech concept was more than a basic mech with different pods that could be bolted on. It was an entire plug-and-play architecture not readily retrofittable to an existing mech.
However, Master Tech McCoy was not so readily deterred. Some mechs and vehicles seemed to be well-suited for adopting alternate configurations on a limited basis. Particularly vehicles with weapons concentrated in turrets and mechs with handheld weaponry.
After yet another retreat from yet another planet, Master Tech McCoy found himself with a great deal of salvage to play with while on his dropship and few DCMS mechs to repair. (There was a relation between the amount of equipment fit only for salvage and low number of mechs. Here's a hint: they came from the same side of the fight.)
Ordered to replace the smashed PPC on the Chu-sa's Battlemaster, Master Tech McCoy decided to try his partial omnimech concept. With typical Succession Wars tech ingenuity, he repaired the damaged right arm hand actuator, dumped the slag that used to be a PPC, and turned surviving remnants of a Warhammer (the right arm) into a new "rifle" for the Battlemaster. With that duty done, he went to amuse himself with the debris of a Grasshopper (its arms, center torso, and one leg) and cobbled together an armored frame for its large laser and two medium lasers that would also fit in the Battlemaster's hand.
The ugly part was reprogramming the Battlemaster's targeting computer to handle the laser pod. The computer wasn't meant to hold all the drivers and program sets for all the possible weapons it could be given, or given an update on its software from the weapon pod itself. There was much tearing down and rebuilding of the lasers to make them compatible with the BLR's systems, though this proved no more difficult than adapting a weapon of a different brand to a mount meant for a weapon of the same class by a different manufacturer. Master Tech McCoy decided to approach the weapon-swapping from that angle. Each "pod" would be given a package of documentation for techs to install it, and would be pretty much dedicated to a single class of mech. The package would include new software for the mech's computers (targeting, gyro control, etc.) that would have to be hand-loaded each time.
After all was said and done, Master Tech McCoy found he could dismount the PPC pod (either the salvaged Warhammer unit or a proper BLR's PPC borrowed from another Battlemaster in the regiment) and replace it with the laser pod in about 60 minutes. Of course, he wasn't a newbie astech, so the process would probably take longer for the average DCMS tech.
Success emboldened Master Tech McCoy. He went to work on the blocky arm pods of a Marauder. He fashioned six more pods (3 left and 3 right arm pods). One set gained pulse large lasers and medium lasers. The other set was built around LRM 10s from smashed Dragons, 2 tons of ammo, and a medium laser. The last set was the original Magna PPCs and medium lasers, designed for faster (dis)mounting. The hard part was not so much adapting the Marauder to the pods as adapting the weapons to the Marauder. But Master Tech McCoy had rebuilt Marauders around large lasers in the dark days of the Succession Wars when replacement PPCs were not always available or the mechwarriors couldn't handle their heat load. He patiently rebuilt cooling jackets and power connections to mate with the ones threading through the Marauder's wrists. Based on Liao's half-assed attempt to handle the Marauder's heat problems (one large laser and one PPC) with its resulting targeting problems, McCoy knew the pods would have to be changed in pairs on the Marauder. In the end, each pod could be removed and replaced in 60 minutes: 2 hours for each set.
Master Tech McCoy was not alone in his efforts. The Marauder's mechwarrior appreciated the efforts and other mechwarriors clamored for his attention. He sent a copy of his efforts to another Ryuken-Ni dropship for the techs there to duplicate his efforts on the two Marauders they had on hand.
However, his next efforts were for vehicles. The SRM carriers that had fled with the Ryuken-Ni mounted their weaponry in platforms discrete from the rest of the vehicle. The 10 SRM 6s they mounted were in racks ideal for McCoy's omni conversion. He found it was quite easy to dismount them individually or half at a time and slide in an Arrow IV unit. In 60 minutes, 5 SRM 6s could be replaced with an Arrow IV, or 120 minutes to mount 2 Arrow IVs.
Though McCoy's work was quickly superceded by the first DCMS omnimech, the Raptor, he continued to refine his concept, until by the mid-3050s he had developed enough refits (with the resultant research and notes) to attempt to put together an "omni-refit kit" of sorts. The development of the Combine's OmniMech program, plus the fruits of the Star League Memory Core, greatly aided the Master Tech in this endeavor.
By 3056, Master Tech McCoy had successfully created and tested his omni-refit kit on a handful of mechs and vehicles, and, realizing the value, started trading the "kits" to other DCMS regiments in return for materials and upgraded systems. This, combined with new mechs from the DCMS, allowed the Master Tech and his subordinates to fully upgrade the Ryuken-ni by 3058. The first mech actually receiving the Refit Kit was the now-Tai-sa's Battlemaster that Master Tech McCoy has originally tinkered with.
The "Omnimech Refit Kit" developed by Master Tech McCoy has also been developed by a few other entities within the Great Houses, and so now has limited availability across the Inner Sphere. Most of Master Tech McCoy's initial bugs have been worked out, although he has come upon new limitations, primarily when attempting to convert pod space on the torsos. The most difficult part was the software additions to the mech computer, and this remains the biggest sticking point with pod swaps, as each pod swap requires a manual update of the mech's software system.
When installing the refit kit, the locations receiving the hardware upgrades (rails, generic connections, etc) must be determined and listed on the mech's record sheet. Locations that are not upgraded cannot accept pods. The base time for the upgrade is 240 minutes per location, with a +2 target number modifier (for the technician roll). This time cannot be modified by the Extra Time or Rush Job rules. A failed roll means a botched refit, and the refit must start over again.
Battlemechs who have been refitted with the "Omnimech Refit Kit" follow all normal rules for OmniMechs except for the following:
Base Time for Omnipod swaps is 60 minutes, vice the normal 30 minutes.
This reflects the additional time required to update the mech's software.
Because of the difficulty of refit and the need for rails, pods mounted on a refitted torso cannot have more than 1 critical space.
Ammunition-using weapon pods must have the ammunition mounted in the same location as the weapon using it.
Jump Jets may not be added as pods.
Any/all Hand and Lower Arm actuators remain fixed. They may not be added or removed as "pods".
Existing weapons and equipment on a mech being refitted may either remain as fixed equipment, or may be upgraded for pod use. If upgraded for pod use, a 25% cost is incurred (based on the weapon/equipment piece's cost), and a "repair roll" must be made. The base time and modifier to the Target Number is the same as if the weapon or equipment were being repair (as per the table on pg. 86 of the Battletech Master Rules book). A failed roll means the weapon broke down and must be repaired before a "pod upgrade" may be attempted again.
+ (20,000 per location) + (10,000 per ton of pod space desired)
25% of a weapon's cost (for weapons upgrades)
Battle Value: Same as normal for Battlemech BV.
Availability: All Inner Sphere
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Page last modified 31 December, 2003