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Concerning autocannon descriptions to avoid misconceptions[edit]

Over the course of BattleTech's development as a franchise, there has been many canonical (primarily TRO) entries that are inconsistent or use phrases specific to the games. Primarily "single shot". Where often a weapon is given to be, say, 120mm AC/20 on a Thunder, and the phrase "a single shot", where many of us know that isn't how autocannons work. Although, actually upon looking it up that's an error on a Sarna editor's part as the TRO makes no mention of single shot in TRO 3055 Upgrade (or even the caliber). My point though is that often there are entries stating "single shot" when referring to a single round (as Battletechnology the magazine defines it a 'round' is a cassette full of ammunition which when consumed takes 1 digit off of the counter. This is an in-universe way of saying 1 round = one 'complete' use of the weapon in BattleTech), which in turn can be anything from 1 projectile (unlikely for an AC given the nature of Rifles) to 100 projectiles (ever so rare).

So when I see entries such as the hyper velocity autocannon at damage 10/shot and heat 7/shot, or Thunder's 120mm stated to have 20 damage in a single shot, or Hunchback's Tomodzuru mount type 20 180mm AC/20 with 20 damage in a single shot (which is directly in TRO 3025), or the Atlas's Defiance Mech Hunter 185mm stated to only have 14 shots (as opposed to 14 uses or reloads or what-have-you), it makes it no wonder that the BattleTech layman is simply confused or assume that mechs must be 20-30 meter tall giants with tanks the size of city blocks as they're sporting 285 lb bullets from a fully automatic weapon that mysteriously shoots once every 4 to 10 seconds.

If you were to choose a term to use instead of shot to convey a single use of a weapon without implying an exact projectile amount, that a player could read and understand it to mean a "turn" or "standard activation of the weapon" or what-have-you, what would it be? Koniving1

And this is one of the reasons that I have started changing the way that the wiki handles the weapon systems. The old system (as shown in the LB 20-X AC article) basically only deals with game stats and manufacturing info, the new style (as shown on the Autocannon/20 artice) allows for specific weapon brands to be wikilinked and fluff be added as to specific performance factors. Personally I feel that one "shot" is indeed a full cassette rather than a single shell, I also believe that the people who spend considerable amounts energy trying to match up rules elements to real life physics based on a fictional universe data kinda need to remember that it ain't real so if something does not work, it can just be ignored. I eventually hope to have enough in-universe cited weapon statistics to force even the most determined number cruncher to admit there is no one magic formula to how AC's would really work.--Dmon (talk) 19:22, 26 September 2019 (EDT)
Specifically regarding the terminology, you could get away with substituting the term shot with burst, or depending on the context, firing. As mentioned, the number of bullets thrown varies wildly. For an Autocannon shooting one round, the term burst would be inaccurate, but no worse than shot. If you were to somewhat personalize it, trigger pull can be accurate, but we want to avoid personalization whenever possible on a Wiki.Admiral Obvious (talk) 22:01, 26 September 2019 (EDT)
Thank you for the replies. Firing can work, use perhaps. Outside of Sarna I have taken to using the term rating, given that the weapons are "loosely rated" and I take that to be expected damage and heat buildup within a specified amount of time. But rating wouldn't work for say a first time visitor.--Koniving1 (talk) 02:22, 27 September 2019 (EDT)
That sort of brings up another thing since you mentioned LBX. The LBX is frequently described as a shotgun, even within many BT sources, though the very first description of LB 10-X describes it as firing flak-like projectiles, implying they explode. Further supporting that is the description of cluster ammunition.(TRO 2750 both versions) When combined you get a projectile that within proximity to the target specified by the targeting system to release smaller cluster munitions and then detonate which completely covers how it fits and many misconceptions associated with it, as well as some 'issues' such as LB 10-X being shown as a rotary cannon (Atlas II and Partisan_AA_Vehicle ) as well as range issues from the spread of projectiles over distance. The "Mech Shotgun" explanation is a very simplified way to tell other people about this as people will instantly pick up exactly what to expect of the weapon, but that version leaves the "space magic" of how it somehow gets superior range or lack of penalties and buffs due to spread regardless of range. Thoughts there?--Koniving1 (talk) 02:22, 27 September 2019 (EDT)

I mean, a LBX could be a standard autocannon with a less accurate gun, which scatters more than a normal AC would. It could also be described as flak, with proximity sensors and whatnot but that conflicts with flak itself. It could also work on the same principle of an APDS shot, but instead of having a sabot, it instead splits the projectile into the individual pellets instead as it leaves the barrel. You can fluff it up however you want, the key thing is that they basically all do the same thing in effect. The wonderfully (infuriating) thing about autocannons is that they make just enough sense to, well... make sense when described at a basic level. However, when you actually go into the details involving caliber and whatnot, that's when you have to ask, you wot? How does a 2000 RPM 30mm gun do more damage than a 500 RPM 120mm gun?Admiral Obvious (talk) 02:41, 27 September 2019 (EDT)
"Mech Shotgun" conflicts with another kind of ammo for autocannons as well, the flechette ammo. Though it says "flak-like projectile", the detailed description falls under your third proposition, in addition to looking like an APDS shot, it is described as "fragmenting" (I take this as discarding the sabot) after leaving the barrel (this is also why many also default to the shotgun perspective, but shotgun shells do not 'fragment' let alone leave the barrel first). Anyway, it is then described as releasing smaller explosive cluster munitions (think more cluster missile/projectile that sprays out the bombs once in close range to the target). However, the biggest reason for its longer range is that the weapon as a whole is "more" accurate than autocannon 10. Also its "standard ammunition" is not standard HEAP ammunition but "Dual-Purpose Armor-Defeating Rounds." This ammunition is significantly more expensive than standard ammunition, but functions identically aside from the superior accurate ranges over standard AC/10 ammo (by 90 meters, so from 450mm to 540mm).
From TRO 2750: ...."Another important feature of the LB-10X was the Mercury-IV Fire Control Equipment. This electronic system gives the cannon a better hit probability at all ranges, as well as extending its range by 20%." It then goes into the ammo. "In addition to firing standard Dual-Purpose Armor Defeating Rounds, the weapon may also fire a special Cluster Round which acts much like an Anti-Mech shotgun." It goes into how after it is fired, the round fragments, etc. However it seems that isn't the one that specifically states 'flak-like' (though if you think about it, a flak projectile gets near a target on a fuse and then spews its load of sub-munitions like a flying shotgun shell). I must be thinking of Era report 2750.
Anyway BattleTech Compendium, page 55, lists flak capabilities of the LBX cluster ammunition with a base to hit number of 6 (ignoring all target modifiers and then only applying firing unit's movement multipliers and damage taken. Gunnery skill is ignored as it goes completely into the hands of the Mercury IV FCS. [which if it is just a shotgun wouldn't make much sense, let alone that range modifiers are also ignored, where a Flak autocannon just gets a -2 modifier for to-hit and reduced damage.] To be fair a flak autocannon is firing a projectile that splits into smaller shrapnel which deals half damage against normal targets. Much like Flechette ammunition [shotgun ammo for standard ACs] does half damage against armored targets due to lacking LBX's explosive element. How else could one explain 20mm LB 2-X cluster shell being more effective than up to 90mm AC/2 with bursts of flechette ammo? "Cluster" is right in the name, we don't use "clustershot" to describe shotgun ammo.)
TechManual 2007 points out under the LBX entry page 207: "However, the slight range increase and the ability to switch between standard-style bursts and explosive cluster munitions—both specially developed for this weapon system—more than mitigate this higher cost." As such both types need to burst fire multiple shells (as well as distinctly tell us that the "standard ammo" is not the same as normal AC ammo as 'both' are developed 'specifically for this weapon'.)
What covers the full schabang, is to think of a mixture of this with that fire control system automatically programming each shell's intended fuse as the Mercury IV Fire Control System, and instead of tungsten BBs, a small array of cluster bombs to be jettisoned from the shell. A combination of multiple shells fired and close range releasing of these cluster munitions (as if each were in itself a shotgun shell) is what leads to a 'spread' that would ignore distance and allow for superior range. For the cluster bomb side, you could think Blu105 / Blu108 for models more advanced or for a simpler (more likely version) try this one here. and then change the angle from drop down to keep going forward and spread out from the original projectile). Afterall, they keep Flak tech it just becomes unpopular, and supposedly flechette ammo for autocannons (AC shotguns) never crossed their minds until 3068, so its hard to see why they would lose LBX tech, unless it had a deployment system they couldn't replicate in the ammunition that the Mercury IV FCS had to interact with quickly enough to individually program each shell as they fired. Later systems and brand name variations can function very differently, as the Kawabata Weapons Industries Autocannon 5-Ultra [dubbed the KWI ultra-5] is not 100% identical to other detailed Ultra/5s (its detailed as being a smaller caliber, but many UAC/5 calibers are identical to regular ones, unless they mean the ammo is shorter, and not all variations use magnetized feeds, similarly not all LB 10-X use the Mercury IV.)