As far as knowing the history, if your patient enough to read through my first 5 posts that is the history of the game universe from inception to just before the current timeline. You don't need any other background information, and really don't even need any but it wil ldefinately help.
The Dark Age books are set 60 years or so past the current timeline. I believe they are in the year 3130 (not %100 on that) and the current timeline(Word of Blake Jihad) is the year 3072. Most of the style between Dark Ages and Vurrent is the same. Basically at the start of the game, the Jihad will be only a few moths away. Basically what happens is Word of Blake(WoB) goes nuts after the other houses decide to disband the Star League(explained in the history), and threatens dire consequences if they disband. Never the less they do indeed disband and Comstar unleashed a war against the rest of the Inner Sphere. They begin using Nuclear bombs, for the first itme in over a century, chemical warfare, you name the atrocity they probably do it. as a result the whole Galaxy is in thrown into chaos. They wipe the Legendary Mercenary unti Wolf Dragoons into oblivion, along with many other wel lknown mercenary units.
As far as Battlemechs go there are four categories. Light Mechs weigh between 20-35 tons and are usually used for reconasance as they lack the armor and firepower to go toe to toe with other mechs, but are some of the fastest. Medium mechs are between 40-55 tons and are the most common they are the ones that wade into combat and hold the front until the slower better armed and armored heavies and assualts can reach the battle.Heavy ’Mechs weigh from 60 to 75 tons. Usually piloted by commanders and experienced MechWarriors, they play a major role on the battlefi elds of the Inner Sphere. Heavy ’Mechs can dish out and take immense amounts of damage, and so only another heavy or an assault ’Mech usually can successfully take on a typical heavy BattleMech. Assault ’Mechs, weighing from 80 to 100 tons, are the kings of the 31st-century battlefi eld. So fearsome are these behemoths in battle that one assault ’Mech is often equal to an entire lance of lighter ’Mechs. The pilot of a well-designed assault ’Mech fears no opponent in the fi eld, and the ’Mech’s physical attacks can cripple nearly any target.
All you really need to know battlemech wise is what weight class you want to pilot, and maybe decide what kind of tactics you prefer. I can then assign you a mech I think you would be comfortable with. Of course if you know the mechs and what one you want just let me know. I will also try to post some sample mechs, as well as give a brief description of the weapon types.
There is no need to learn the game system since it will be completely free form. For battles I will roll a die and if it is odd we will roleplayout the battle with the PC's winnign at the end, though maybe not without some NPC loss, and minor damages. on an even roll the PC's will lose the battle. It wil ltake some coperation between me and the players in order to make it work, but I think we'll be fine.