Essay: Evolution of the "C" Refits

The following essay is copied from a forum post by jymset (Johannes Heidler), with permission, and edited only for wiki formatting and hyperlinking.

So, what are the "C" refits, where do they come from, what do they look like now, and why?

They originate from a couple of scenarios in 1990s The Battle for Twycross, available here as scan. CJF garrison troops deploy the following handful of IS 'Mechs (presumably isorla):

Weapon swaps and (in the case of Thunderbolt and Rifleman) deletions have been detailed, which, by virtue of omission leaves some of them with IS weapons, and all of them underweight on account of their lighter Clan weapons. One special case was the Marauder that specifically stated that its ammo was refit with CASE (because no other change at the time padded that RT ammo bomb...).

These were very quickly officially published in 1991's Record Sheets vol. 2, vol. 3, and vol. 4. They were each labeled as their featured 3025 model with a "(C)" suffix, e.g. "SHD-2H (C)" thereby confirming their special status as refits and also the basic assumptions that Twycross used the vanilla 3025 models.

More interestingly, they featured at times subtle differences, from simple stuff like changed HS allocations vs. the 3025 originals on some of them, lacking the CASE on the Marauder... and adding (IS) CASE (on top of a third ton of AC ammo) on the Atlas? Also, an error in the Shadow Hawk that showed 5/8/5 movement in the 'Mech Data while not allocating the additional two jump jets (Twycross did not mention any jump upgrade).

This error was emblematic of these sheets, which were a very valiant first effort by FASA, but were superseded in the mid-90s by RS 3025/26, 3050, and 3055/58 (with others following suit). Probably because the "C" sheets were technically doubly illegal (mixed tech and underweight, which was not a rules option at the time), they were not included in the new and canon-defining RS. They would quickly fade from view until 2010.

When we did RS 3085U-PP, we were aiming to be inclusive. The "C"s were going to be part of it. On account of the inaccuracies of the 1991 RS, the decision was made to work straight off the primary source. The new RS were thus slightly different to the ones seen 1991. (Side detail: because of limitations of the software and because there was spare mass anyways, the Marauder's CASE was denoted as IS CASE on the RS, when really it always should have been Clan CASE.)

The big, fateful change was changing the designation. Since their last appearance, there had been a slew of other "C" models appearing, though all of which were full-blown Clan 2nd line 'Mechs. TRO 3085's Project Phoenix included a Clan Rifleman, and it was this that tipped the scales in favor of treating the Twycross "C"s as standardized models. Obviously this decision immediately created problems of its own - how can they be part of a standardized line up if they are most obviously untouched ancient IS units that use the lowest of low tech and not even up to their possible mass? I do remember that the option of filling the chassis up with HS was discussed even at the time, though I don't remember the reason why we did not. Purity, I suppose.

It is a decision I have been uneasy with for a decade. Come the RecGuides, and suddenly a whole slew of other "3025-vintage" 'Mechs are receiving factory refits, many of which starting with the same, innocuous "C". The whole discrepancy of the fateful labeling of 3085's RS blew up in our face. After another debate, I moved forward in bringing the old Twycross refits into a place where they could exist among their peers moving forward.

As seen in the errata threads for RS 3050U and RS 3085, when we added the HS, we prioritized any new placement as found in the 1991 RS, or the 3025 originals. On top of that, we incorporated the sum of information from Twycross and the RS - hence the specific changes on Shadow Hawk and Atlas.

I apologize to those who feel this is an arbitrary change. The "C" refits have been malleable in all of their four appearances to this date. To me, streamlining them into a form that befits our current understanding of mixed tech units was a logical consequence of a labeling decision made in 2010. Now, with new fluff*, it was time to implement it. What we did discuss, but ultimately did not implement, was keeping the Twycross labels in the MUL.

That way, it could be clearer that the whole thing was an iterative process, both in-universe and in RL. But it would just spread confusion about having two entries for essentially the same 'Mech. Nevertheless, there's that head canon explanation - and anyone who revisits the original Twycross can always be free to go either way with what is used.

I hope this all has helped! Thanks for reading.

* Yes, even Victor and Atlas will have their variants covered "sometime soon" (TM) - be it in the RecGuides or another source. Maybe they will even have more room to discuss the in-universe process than the short mention in the variant text of a normal "Classic" entry.

And a final postscript: the RecGuide discussion happened around the same time that circumstance in the production of Tukayyid made a "Locust C" necessary. So, 30 years after first seeing the light of day, the Twycross 'Mechs were joined by another member in their ranks!