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Nov-12-2012

The Bounty Hunter Dossier Review

The Dossier line of PDF only products continues with the Bounty Hunter.  The enigma of the Bounty Hunter and his involvement (or non-involvement) in the Jihad era is a great storyline in the BattleTech universe.  I’ve been very interested in this product and like other Dossiers it is well supported by Iron Wind Metals with companion miniatures to bring the story to your tabletop.

The notable Paul Sjardijn and Mike Miller are at the helm for this title and I’m anxious to to see how they bring the Bounty Hunter to life.

Indirect Acquisition

The opening short fiction is one I would have liked to see finished in BattleCorps or another source.  I really enjoyed the slow build up of suspense before the abrupt end right before the real action was about to commence.  I’ve asked on the forums if there is more to the story and will update this post if I get a definitive reply.  A very good start to the PDF none the less.

Unit History / Profile

A two page introduction to the Bounty Hunter touches upon his history, companions, major feuds  but never fully fleshes out any.  It is times like these that the necessarily brief synopsis provided by these PDF only releases feels inadequate.  It feels like the Bounty Hunter is a topic worth much higher billing.  Regardless it was enjoyable and awe inspiring to discover a sub-company level unit with such a rich history.

Each member of the team gets at least one page to describe their background and how they came to be one of the select few in the Bounty Hunter retinue.  Interestingly enough each member BUT the Bounty Hunter has a profile picture.  Probably on purpose…

Also detailed is the personal ‘Mech used by each MechWarrior complete with quirks from Strat Ops.

Missions

The mission section features three WarChest tracks and one RPG mission.  This is actually one more than previous Dossier products.

I enjoyed the first two tracks.  I found the setups to be unique and well complimented by the special rules.  Both of these early tracks feature a way for the Bounty Hunter to win through a die roll that goes from very rare to good odds the more opposing units are killed.  It represents a kind of momentum system that makes up for the lack of balance inherent in the mission setups.  Let’s face it, even the baddest heaviest most advanced ‘Mechs in BattleTech are going to have a bad day when surrounded and outnumbered.  This gives the Bounty Hunter a way out by using his notoriety and fear so long as he can generate a few early kills to get the ball rolling.

The RPG mission involves a set of objectives and a general description of the mission such that a GM can build up the story and the elements required for players to game in.  A one page GM section includes further details that can be used to feed players information as discovered through role play.  I’m not the biggest fan of role playing games but I feel like there is still an awful lot of detail to be made up on the part of the GM.  I’m not expecting street maps of Tian-tan but maybe a floor plan of the safe house would have been nice.  These details will have to be made by the GM ahead of time for the game to go smoothly.

The last WarChest track is more of a single scenario than a part of a larger campaign.  The mission is a simple one-on-one battle between the Bounty Hunter and Kai Allard Liao.  It follows the storyline but is a understandably simple in construction.  I appreciate the additional track added earlier to compensate for the scenario-ish mission this track is.  Still a great mission to run.  I may try my luck as the Bounty Hunter to see if he really is the greatest MechWarrior in the Inner Sphere.

For the purposes of the last mission a short RPG profile of Kai Allard-Liao is provided for players to generate Piloting and Gunnery values as well as combat related traits and abilities.

Character Sheets

RPG sheets are provided for each member of the Bounty Hunter squad.  Not much to say here.  Very similar to other Dossier books.

Record Sheets

Ten ‘Mech record sheets are provided in the back of the PDF.  Some of the bulk here is due to the fact that the Bounty Hunter uses so many different machines.  Also included is a stock ‘Mech design, the Ryoken B used by Kai Allard-Liao.  While not a custom design, I appreciate the inclusion as it means that players have instant access to everything they need to play the last mission.  No need to buy another product to get the record sheet to play the last mission.  Good thinking.

The Final Word

Even with the extra track I feel like the tale of the Bounty Hunter was a bit too long a story to properly cover in this PDF release.  It is more of an appetizer for a main course that I hope can be found in other sourcebooks and BattleCorps offerings.

As far as the still young Dossier series is concerned this is by far the best so far.  With an added track, instantly notable subject, and a plethora of record sheets there is a good amount of content here.  I still prefer the Turning Points series as far as bang for your buck but something about the Bounty Hunter tips this offering over the threshold for me.

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