From My BattleTech Archives – The Planning Documents For Twilight of the Clans (Part II)

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If you haven’t read my first blog post Part I, on this subject, check it out.

In this final part, we see a massive space battle over Huntress and the arrival of Paul Moon’s Smoke Jaguar relief force, though at this stage of development, no one knew it would be Paul Moon.  As you can see, we didn’t map out the details for the fighting for Huntress, only that it was savage and brutal.  I never agreed with the concept that we would kill every warrior, that seemed unrealistic, and ultimately we did not.

On page 8 you can see my original question mark around Katherine seizing control of the Federated Commonwealth via effective public relations.  Talk about fake news!  Again, BattleTech was ahead of the curve by decades.  I always thought that whole explanation needed a lot more meat behind it.  I find it hard to believe that popularity polls would force a ruler to turn over power.  Then again, when you look at the years when this was written, the power of polls was just starting to emerge.

One thing we never fully covered was who killed Morgan.  Of course, as you saw in Part I, it was supposed to have been Focht that was assassinated. We never really bonded with Morgan as a character enough to care that he had died, at least that is my opinion.  It still remains a mystery as to who killed the Davion Lion.

In the list of units you will see Team Banzai…which was a treat.  I don’t recall us actually using them though.  It was around then that we stopped referecing them in material.

There were a lot of plotlines left open, including Thomas Marik’s fate/identity.  Boy did that get some legs and run over the years!

For me, this was great to dig out and post.  One, it shows you the behind the scenes structuring we went through.  We have been living with the results of this document and the novels that came out of it for decades.  Each author had discretion to interpret the document.  We didn’t have a clean canvas, but it was not a paint-by-numbers print either.

Two, we have been going through a similar exercise for the last year and a half to plan/plot/machinate the next new era of BattleTech.  For old farts like me, it is a real treat to still be doing this after all of this time.  With the Twilight of the Clans we set in motion a series of events that will start to come to closure in the coming few months.  Talk about a long journey!  If I am fortunate, in another 10 years, I will be posting the documents of what we have just completed planning.  Who knows?

In the meantime – here’s a glimpse into the history of BattleTech!

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Bad Reviews I’ve Had on Amazon and My Less-Than-Subtle Rebuttals

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I never smile that much.

Amazon.com is fantastic.  It has changed the way we buy almost everything – especially books.  What sucks about it is the review capability.  Basically anyone who purchases your book, can post a review of it.  At first that seems benign, but in reality, it gives every troll on the internet the capability to voice their opinion – no matter how crazy.  Worse yet, it is nearly impossible to get reviews removed from a book…trust me, I’ve tried.  Reddit is even worse…it is the freshman dormitory for internet trolldom.

While merely my opinion, I strongly believe that the internet turns normal idiots into connected idiots who proffer their pointless opinions to the world with the same credibility as geniuses.  Feel free to use this quote on Twitter.  I think it would make a swell t-shirt.

Not every negative comment is the result of a troll.  Some people have issues with my writing style or structure of the book. Unfortunately, just because you don’t like the style, doesn’t mean that others won’t love it.

Amazon does let writers respond to comments, but I have found this only feeds the narcissistic needs of the trolls that post the negative comments.  I don’t have the time or inclination to get into a pissing match with some stranger.  At the risk of sounding egotistical (which I am); it is beneath my dignity and a waste of my time.

Bear in mind I write in a number of genres, business management, military history, science fiction, and of course, true crime.

Writer

I understand (now) that being a successful writer means you are a public figure of sorts.  That means you are open to critique, good and bad.  I had no idea when I began this journey back at Central Michigan University in 1980 that I would find myself being reviewed by total strangers.  I wonder if it would have changed some of my decisions?

Naa…

I get far more positive reviews over bad ones, but still, I read them all. Every time I tell myself it is the last.  Here’s some of the more insipid comments I’ve seen and my rebuttal to them:

“This book could have used an editor.”  “This book is poorly edited…”  I’ve seen this one with a variety of books from different publishers.  To be upfront, I am not perfect (my wife will love this.)  Let me say this, I have and utilize editors.  They often have master’s degrees in English.  They edit the books carefully, meticulously, and with precision.  The real problem is people who think they know the English language better than those that edit books for a living.  Trust me, if my editors sucked, they would be out of a job.  Most, however, are very talented.  Often time’s my books are read 3-5 times, by different people/editors, checking and rechecking.  It is a labor-intensive process done by skilled professionals.  I don’t always agree with my editors and I love to torment them; but they are thorough and do a good job.  Just because you don’t agree with my/their decisions, does not make them or me wrong.  The English language is not a law etched in stone, it is not formulaic in nature.  It is a guide that sometimes is stretched to its limits by creative people.  Just because your second grade teacher told you something, doesn’t make you an expert.  Sidebar:  I deliberately violated several rules of English in this rebuttal, just to give you self-appointed editors cerebral aneurisms.

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“This book is repetitive in parts.”  The insinuation is that my restating of something is a mistake.  It is not.  I repeat some elements solely to make a point.  Where not appropriate, the editor will point it out to me; see above douchebag.  On my new books, we will be introducing something in the introduction, then explaining it in great nauseating detail in its own chapter later in the book.  That’s not repetitive, it is deliberate and planned.  Also, other writers do this all of the time – Ann Rule did in several of her works.  Oh, I get it, if Ann did it, it’s okay…

“This book is almost too perfect…”  I actually saw this on a three-star review recently.  Three stars?  What a pompous asshat.  In other words, I wrote a great book, so they had to rake it over the coals.

“There’s nothing new in this book that I haven’t seen before.”  Just to be clear, the individuals that post this stuff are either lying or wrong.  Every non-fiction book I have ever written has introduced new material that has never been made public before.  I pride myself on that as does my daughter.  Anyone writing this is really trying to say, “Look at me, I know more than the person that spent over a year researching this.”

 “The author(s) overlook obvious suspects.”  Let’s be clear, there are people out there with agendas of their own.  I know of one woman that has posted two reviews of my book under alias’s she has created.  Her purpose is nefarious – she has someone she wants to link to some murders to draw attention to her own suspect/research in a non-related crime.  It is bat-shit crazy, but there are people out there that are so focused on their own twisted agendas that they load up reviews and post things on various blogs and web sites to further their plans.  Sad, yet sick.

“The author doesn’t know the BattleTech universe well.” “This story is a retcon of established BattleTech history…” These came up years ago and made me laugh pretty hard. It still does from time-to-time.  It’s the damned Clan Wolverine haters.  Like a dog with a bone they will not let it go.

I wrote a lot of the early BattleTech history.  Here’s my bibliography:  Bibliography  Also, anything I have ever written had to be approved by the powers-that-be to become canon in the universe.  So, to be concise, if I wrote it and it was published, it IS canon, dillweed.  I make stuff up, but I always get my work approved by seasoned veterans of the intellectual property.  I won’t go into the whole Wolverine-thing in detail, but since I created that Clan and wrote the only bio information on Nicholas Kerensky, I feel pretty safe in what I did with them.  I have been writing BattleTech since 1986.  Don’t tell me that I don’t know the universe well. I am fu*king proud of my body of work.

 “Reads Like a High School Term Paper.”  This review was on a book that was a New York Times Bestseller my daughter and I wrote.  I do understand that the presentation of facts can be burdensome.  When you are writing a true crime about a cold case, you don’t want to get too flowery in the text or present a great deal of speculation.  Nonfiction books tend to be a presentation of facts.  I’m probably more offended with the “high school” part more than the actual review.  Seriously?  I have a master’s degree and have completed about 1/3 of a doctorate program.  Bite me.

 “This was a good story but no closure.” Many of the cases I write about are cold cases.  Some authors do this and claim they have “solved” the cases.  I tend to lean away from those books.  If you solved the case, then where is the prosecution or the announcement from authorities that they consider the case closed?  With cold cases, I maintain that the writers need to present the facts and let the readers arrive at their own conclusions.  People need to form their own opinions – not have the author craft the facts around their pet-theory.  Almost always, I make sure in the introduction that we tell readers that the case is unresolved.  Let me be clear, if you are reading a book about a cold case I have written, you will not get that closure at the end…BECAUSE IT IS A COLD CASE.

“True crime books are supposed to end in a trial.”  Most of my books in this genre are on cold cases.  I appreciate the vote of confidence from the reviewer…that somehow we might solve the crime and inflict overdue justice.  This is the real-world.  I am a writer.  Our books generate tips for the authorities, but we do not solve the case on our own.

“His fiction does not reflect gameplay.”  Okay, this is a BattleTech one.  My response is, “good, because I was writing fiction, not documenting a game of BattleTech.”  I follow the rules, but in the fictionalizing of a battle, things happen that rules do not exist for.  If I merely played out a battle and wrote about it, it would be dull and boring.  I strive to adhere to the rules, but at the same time, I feel empowered to push the limits with battles.

Personal attacks.  These come in a number of nasty comments, so let me focus on one in particular.  I have been accused of be a Confederate sympathizer in one review.  WTF?  Not true.  First, I am a historian. Second, I have incorporated the Civil War into many of my military sci-fi novels just for parallels.  I respect Southern military leader’s prowess without lamenting about the Confederacy’s fate.  Third, I am against tearing down historic statues and renaming things out of idiotic fits of political correctness or someone having hurt feelings.  I have voiced my opinion on that because I believe it is wrong to destroy or obscure history.  I also believe that you do not have a right to not be offended in this country.  In fact, one things Americans excel at is offending people. Grow a pair and stop whining and labeling.

I am not a Confederate or Lost Cause sympathizer.  In my entire writing career I wrote three whole pages about the Lost Cause and then only in non-fiction, in the story of Bert Hall in my biography, The Bad Boy.  In other words, no big deal.  None of this makes me a Confederate sympathizer.  I empower none of you to slap a label on me without my consent.  Calling me a Confederate Sympathizer; that simply makes me want to be one.  People that run around labeling people to attempt to damage their reputation are low forms of life.  You can take your social justice-self-anointed sense of empowerment and shove it high-and-hard.

Ahh…that felt great.  If I have offended anyone who gave me negative feedback; good.

The Chronicling of our D&D Campaign: Tempora – Part 30

 

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Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. Parts 1-19 charted the first part of the campaign, part 20 began the next phase of the saga: Tempora. For me, it lets me do a little creative writing between more serious projects. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one. Enjoy!

Theren…

As Barristen turned into a green gas and slid through a crack in the ceiling, the possessed paladins that had been trying to kill us suddenly stopped, looking around the room dazed and confused.  The air stung of our sweat and the same aroma as when lightning strikes.  It was easy to understand the confusion of the men we had just saved – I was still in the form of a bear and there was blood everywhere.

“The battle is over,” Althalus managed in amazement.  “We won!”

I transformed back into my human form and we began to try and reassure the stunned paladins we had just rescued.  “It is okay – we are friends.”  It took some convincing since we were covered mostly in their blood.  The image of the dead Cyrilla Drex helped more than our mere words.  We told them to take the magical collars off that possessed them, which they did.

“Where are we?”

We tried to explain to them in ragged breaths as our tempers eased…they were prisoners of Victor Barristen and Cyrilla Drex, and that we had come to try and rescue them. As I and Arius spoke, Brandon went over to Drex and began to check her body.  He produced an amulet from around her withered neck.  Her large wormwood staff was there and taken as well as golden ring from her gnarled finger.  “I like this staff,” the ranger said.

“I can possibly use its magical capabilities,” I countered.  “For you it would be nothing more than a walking stick.”  He handed it over as Arius wrestled with the sword.  “This weighs far more than it should,” the paladin said with a grunt.  “I cannot wield this,” he said.  “There is clearly some magic at play here.”

The oldest of the paladins we freed bent his knee and began to pray.  The others knelt as well around him, all praying.  Althalus backed up at their holy gesture…no doubt it was the devil’s skull in his backpack guiding his actions…that and the warlock did not want to be exposed to holy warriors.  The church took a grim, neigh deadly view of those of us that used magic outside of their control.

The elder paladin of the group rose to his feet and stood before us.  “Who is in charge here?  I am Sir Theris Bentblade of the Order of the Fang.  Who are you?”

Arius stepped forward.  “I am Sir Arius the Seeker,” he said proudly.  “I am from the Priory of St. Julius.”

“You saved our lives,” he said making eye contact with each of us.  “Thank you for what you did.”

“It is what we came to do.” our paladin asked.

“The rest of your men are in that sword,” Althalus said, nodding to the massive blade now strapped onto Arius’s back.

The paladins stepped forward and shook our hands.  “We were held by them, with magic we cannot comprehend.  It is blurry in my mind.  She would come for us, and Barristen would drain our life force from my men,” Bentblade said, stroking his long gray beard.  “One by one I watched them die, turned into the husks you see there,” he gestured to the pile of shriveled corpses.

Bentblade continued.  “We could not resist him.  He made us watch them die.  Each one made him more corporeal, more real.  I do not know how much time as passed.  He kept me alive to torment me, to make me watch the men in my command die horribly – one at a time.  Where are the others?”

“Trapped in this sword,” Arius replied.

“They are trapped inside the gem of that sword,” Althalus added.

“In the gem?” Bentblade asked.

“It contains a plane of existence,” Althalus responded.

“There is more,” I added.  “There is a Priory there – the one from the Sisterhood of the Sword.  It is there as well.”

“Do you know how to get them out?” Sir Bentblade asked.

“We’re working on it,” I replied.  “We just got the sword from Drex.  We don’t want to rush through this and possibly injure or kill those imprisoned there.”

Althalus spoke up.  “I regrettably must admit that the church may have more knowledge of this than we do.”

Bentblade shook his head. “I disagree.  The church may not know of these events. I led my men to track down the Sisterhood of the Sword and the Priory of the Blade.  We killed many of their order that day on orders of the church, but we never found the priory itself.  It was gone, vanished.  Only they know how their swords work and how to wield them.”

“How does Victor Barristen figure into all of this?” Arius asked.

“Drex summoned him from beyond the grave.  She seeks revenge for what the church did to her once-holy order.

“We set their plans back by killing her,” Althalus said.

Bentblade eyed the warlock carefully.  “Indeed you have, but Barristen is now on our plane of existence again and walking the lands.  That is a grave thing indeed.  He has his own designs against the church and will not rest until he has his revenge.  The souls of my men gave him power…he will want more.”

“He’s a coward,” Brandon added.  “He fled rather than fight us to the end.”

“He is no slacker,” Bentblade countered.  “Barristen is cunning and dangerous.  He will not rest until he takes the church down, stone-by-stone, soul-by-soul.  It would be unwise to underestimate him.”

“We won’t,” I said.  “But there is a bit of a challenge.  We do not know where we are.  We teleported here.  I assume we are somewhere in Tempora still, but that may not be the case.  Do you know for sure where we are or how to get out?”

Sir Bentblade shook his head.  “My mind…the memories are like those of a drunk, confused and blurred.  They led us here, I remember that.  Details…they elude me.”  The other paladins nodded in agreement. “I too believe we are in Tempora.”

“Camp with us,” I offered.  “I can produce food for us.  Together we can find our way out of this place.”

Althalus gestured to the mound of the dead.  “I am not entirely comfortable with us camping near a pile of desecrated husks that could rise up and attack us.”

Bentblade raised his hand.  “My men and I will say a prayer over them and bless them.  They will not pose a threat to us.  Let the dead rest.”

Brandon produced the letter that had Lexa Lyoncroft had written that had brought him to us.  “This is from Lexa Lyoncroft.  She mentions you in it.”

Bentblade read the page.  “Doddering old fool?  She calls me that?”  He then tossed the letter back to the ranger.  “So you are working for Lexa Lyoncroft?”

“I was just paid to deliver a message,” he offered.  “I did that job but joined them to try and rescue you.”

Bentblade was clearly shaken by the letter.  For a long moment he said nothing.  When he did spoke it was not in anger but almost a sadness.  “I hate to admit it, but the only person that might be able to tell us about that sword and how to free my men is Lyoncroft.”

“We don’t know where she is?” Brandon said.  “Only where I saw her last.  She came to my home town and paid me to deliver this message.  That was weeks ago.”

“How did you get here?”

“Through the White Vale,” I said.

“We battled the bone dragons there,” Brandon said with a hint of pride.  “We crossed the White Vale, found the hidden gate, and journeyed far underground to reach Tempora.  We were sent by the men still with the Order of the Fang.  They kept watch and asked us to come and find you.”

“And you traveled into the mountains heart and saved us?”

“Of course,” I said.

The older Bentblade waved his hands over us and murmured as he closed his eyes.  “I offer you men our blessings then.”  When he finished he spied the round shield that Arius had.  “That shield, where did you get that?”

“We found it in one of the many rooms of this abandoned city,” our brother-paladin offered.

“That belongs to the same order as Lexa Lyoncroft and Cyrilla Drex – the Sisterhood of the Sword.  It is a holy artifact – that much I am sure.”

Arius looked proud that he had it.  “I will take care of it then.”

Brandon held out the silvered weapons now in his possession.  “What of these?”

Bentblade looked the pair of silvered weapons.  “I have seen etchings of these – they were owned by a Dwarven Lord of some merit if I remember.  Yes – Shevrus Salamar, that is his name.  The sword and flail go together – never to be separated.  Bonebreaker!  That is it.”

I bent over and pretending the pray, but cast detect magic in the room.  The last thing I needed was the paladins recognizing that I was using forbidden magic in their presence.  While we had saved them, they were still men of the church, bound by their laws rather than the laws of nature which guided me.  What I found was four voids of magic in the room, where the rugs were on the floor.  The rugs were magical, but not in the way I expected.  They were null magic, voids where arcane powers were nonexistent.  If I had run across these in bear form, I would have transformed back to my human shape.  Magic weapons would have been impotent when standing on these large rugs.  A cleaver ploy, one we had fortunately avoided.

I also sensed an aura of magic on Cyrilla Drex’s armor and the ring and amulet that had been recovered, along with her staff.  I whispered it to Brandon so as to not draw attention. He barely concealed his joy and took the time to remove the charred armor from her withered corpse.  He wanted to put the ring on but Althalus and I warned him against it. The warlock found a word on it that would trigger the ring, but warned against speaking it.  “I have no idea where you will go if you say that word when wearing it.”  Dejected, the ranger pocketed the ring making us all fell much safer.

Arius carefully checked the double doors out of the room to make sure there was nothing waiting to pounce on us from the other side.  We did not opt to leave, not without resting up.  The battle had taken a great deal out of us.

I was concerned. None of us, including our new party members, knew where we were exactly nor how to get out.  We presumed we were in Tempora, but there was a chance we were not.  Victor Barristen was still out there, somewhere.  And those slowly starving paladins that were trapped in the sword we now possessed had no way out.

I knew one thing, we could not remain here to solve any of these problems.

The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Part 27

Part 28

Part 29

Character Background Material

My New Campaign

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#DandD

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The Delphi Murders – A Cold Case That is Solvable

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When we went to CrimeCon, Victoria and I attended two sessions about this case and it is one that sticks with you once you know something about it.  As we approach the second anniversary of these senseless murders, I thought I would highlight it on my blog.  Please share this…because this case screams to be solved.

On February 13th 2017, the day before Valentine’s Day, Abigail “Abby” Williams and Liberty “Libby” German were dropped off by Libby’s sister at a local park in Delphi Indiana.  They were let off near an abandoned railway bridge that was part of a relatively new park, the Delphi Historic Trail.  It was 1:00pm in the afternoon, in broad daylight.  The girls were 13 and 14 respectively and the park was considered safe.  Delphi is a small community after all, with a population of under 3,000.

As I recall from my notes, school had been cancelled unexpectedly that day, so there was no reason for their killer to expect them to be in that park at that time.

By 5:30pm in the evening the girls were reported as missing.  A search by locals found their remains the next day, some 50 feet from Deer Creek, about a half mile from the railroad bridge.  Authorities have not revealed the exact cause of death of the two girls to the public.

The real shock about this case is that Libby’s phone contained an image of their suspected killer and a recording of his voice, saying “Down the hill.”  He is suspected to be between 5 foot 6 and 10 inches tall, weighing 180-220 pounds with reddish brown hair.  There is little doubt that Libby managed to capture her killer both audio and video.  Despite this, there have been some false leads and suspects, but their killer remains at large.

What struck me, as an author of cold cases, is as follows:

  • This is a small community.  Clearly this is an outsider, making this a crime of opportunity on his part.  Is he a passing truck driver who stopped in the community and came across the girls, or someone who was passing through for some other reason?  To me, it makes sense to check truck stop videos nearby or weigh stations for their records. I passed on that suggestion to one of the family members at Crimecon, though I’m sure the authorities would have already checked these out.
  • The girls were not supposed to be out of school that day.  Did he know that school was out that day or is it sad happenstance that they were in the park to begin with?
  • With two victims – the question must be asked…did he act alone?  It is possible to get and maintain control of two victims, but it is more difficult.  Libby clearly got images and audio of their killer, why didn’t they flee?  Did he get control of one of them to compel the other to stay there?
  • The authorities are keeping quiet how these victims were killed – which is prudent and frustrating at the same time.  Clearly there is something in the method of the murder which somehow factors into this.
  • The killer’s clothing and hat are clues because chances are, this isn’t the first time he wore them.  These appear as “comfort clothing.”  While the video is blurry, the police composite is pretty clear.  Someone knows this man, or knows someone matching his description that was out of town (in Delphi) at the time of the murders.  Do you know someone who wore that kind of hat and jacket who stopped after July of 2017, when the images were released?

The police site has the audio of his voice as well.  Take a listen to it. Does it sound like someone you know?

Indiana State Police Site

You may hold the key to solving this cold case.  The families deserve justice and the victims have given us the best clues as to who this killer is.  Please contact the Indiana State Police if you think you might know something.

Review of Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Game

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Battlestar Galactica brings the little screen to the tabletop

Santa (actually Ares Games) dropped off this little gem just prior to Christmas and I have to admit, I was pretty geeked.  I saw the prototype game at GenCon this year and was looking forward to kicking some toaster-ass. Ares Games has delivered with Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles.

I was worried this was going to be a reskin of Wings of Glory – it is not.  First off the designers have captured the essence of what was saw on the TV screen with the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  When you play with the complete rules your ship must deal with kinetic energy and you can do those awesome maneuvers we saw, like rotating your ship while moving a different direction.  Fracking awesome!   This game does not portent to be a mathematically accurate simulation of space combat.  Instead it favors fun and playability, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

First off, you get two Vipers Mk II’s and two Cylon Raiders from the most recent TV series. Ares has committed that this will cover the old TV series as well, so I have to admit I am excited at that prospect.  The amount of stuff you get in the game is staggering – stands, pilot cards, maneuver cards, rulers, dice damage counters, talent cards, maneuver markers, asteroids, a scenario book and the plastic control panels (and more).  The control panels are neat – they allow you to track your speed, kinetic energy, and the rotation of your ship.

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The control panel

Like Wings of Glory (or Sails of Glory for that matter) you use cards to determine your maneuvers.  Firing is a matter of rolling dice to hit then drawing damage chips.  For the Quick Start Rules, this is about all you have to master – meaning you can unpack this game and be playing in, per my calculations, about 15 minutes.  The Quick Start Rules are enough to get you going but it is the Complete Rules that make this game purr.  Here you deal with kinetic energy you build up in your flight maneuvers and you also can rotate.  It took me a few test turns to fully get these rules down to where I understood them, but once I did I saw the brilliance of the design.  It turns this game from a simple fighter combat into a more complex tactical simulation – especially rotating.

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A steep banking curve maneuver card

The complete rules also change the damage your ship takes, using the damage counters.  It makes the games shorter when you start doing special damage to your enemies.   The Complete Rules makes movement more fluid, breaking it into multiple phases.  I found in my solo playtest that it shortened the game considerably.

The optional rules implement altitude changes, ala Ares Games peg elevation system, and introduces pilots and their talents.  So you can play Apollo right down to all of his skills.

The miniatures are exquisite and a little larger than I anticipated – a pleasant surprise.  I am sure in a matter of days there will be custom paint stuff out on the web for these but they are fully playable right out of the box and look awesome.

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The paint is incredible

So what is the downside to this game?  Well, the scale means we probably won’t be getting a miniature of the Galactica, Pegasus, or the fleet ships…my estimate is the Galactica would be over 18 feet long if built to scale (but would be awesome!).  I am not sure how well this game will work with large battles, but I am willing to give it a whirl!  I found you need some space for this game given some of the maneuvers you can do.  Also, the series did not introduce a lot of new ships, which means expansion of this game is going to be likely pilots, talents, etc.  I am looking forward to a Raptor mini though.

The upside of this game – it captures tactical space combat in a way that most game have struggled with for generations and does it with style and polish.  The game cards and rulebooks have the corners clipped off of them to give them the feel of paper materials we saw in the series.  It is that kind of attention to detail that makes this game sizzle and pop.

I give this a solid 10 out of 10 rating – definitely worth picking up and following.  I can’t wait for the “classic” Vipers and Raiders from the old TV series – and the chance to mix things up between the two eras.  Don’t flee from the Cylon tyranny – swing around and blast those toasters! By my command…

Fans Included in My Upcoming BattleTech Fiction

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There’s a reason I am posting this particular image.   More to follow…

I have had a lot of requests for this lately – so here we go.

How did all of this start?  I began including fans in my fiction with Forever Faithful, which ironically hasn’t been released yet. More on that later. The public version of this is that my thinking was, “Wouldn’t it be cool for some fans to appear as canon in the BattleTech universe?” In reality, I used to have to flip through a phone book for cool names and this is a hell of a lot easier and more fun for all parties involved.  So, the short version, laziness proved to be a powerful motivator.

For Forever Faithful I chose those names randomly from the BattleTech Facebook pages. People seemed to like the concept. When I wrote The Anvil and the upcoming Dragoons novella, I did the same – though I did casually ask for volunteers.

For the upcoming novel, XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX. I put up a big post on BattleTech International on Facebook for “volunteers.”  The results…almost a thousand names that were submitted. I couldn’t use them all.  I wanted to give some fans a treat; a chance to be part of BattleTech canon. Some are very likely to go on as major recurring characters. In fact, there are some characters from other novellas that get appearances in XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX too.  It is all part of being in a shared universe.

I am now using Facebook exclusively for obtaining names. I had people complain they don’t use Facebook and wanted to email me and I declined. Some whined in general.  Others told me what to do, “You should have posted it on Reddit.”  I am not known for following orders, especially when I’m just trying to be generous.  It is hard enough to manage an operation on this scale without having a half dozen sources for names. If you don’t like Facebook or don’t use it, you don’t get to take part. It really is that simple. I’m not promoting Facebook (It is run by the Word of Zuckerburg, a precursor to The Word of Blake, after all), it simply is a medium that I find most comfortable for gathering names. I never claimed this process was fair.

I cannot promise your name appears in the form of a glorious and honored warrior. Some are cannon-fodder (or in this case canon-fodder…get it?). Others are cities, streets, mountains, forests, any place I needed a proper noun. I know everyone wants to be that cool MechWarrior – but it doesn’t work that way.

How do I pick who gets in and who doesn’t?  Well, the name has to click with me. It is totally subjective.  Many names sound futuristic as is. Some get used for terrain features or cities. I have “reaved” the list to compile some obvious winners – names that pop to me immediately. It is hard to picture a Clan warrior named “Bob” or “Doug.” (Sorry guys, but no one wants to die hearing, “My name – Warrior Bob – will be written into the Remembrance for this glorious victory.”)  It is easy to pick a name like “Hasara” because it has a cool sound to it.  (Note:  This is just an example – don’t read anything into it Andrew). Bottom line: I tend to pick names that would sound cool for whatever the need is (be it a mountain range, a city, or a character.)  You would be surprised at how many proper nouns find their way into a book. Some thought goes into it on my part.

Some names get used more than once – implying they are more common in the 32nd century. Others are cameo appearances from other books.

Were there some special exceptions to the subjective selection process?  Yes. What is life without whimsy?  I did automatically put in the guys who waxed my ass at Masters and Minions at GenCon 2018. Did I use this opportunity for revenge?  Am I that petty? Yes, absolutely! This should inspire others to take me on this year at GenCon. You play me, you run a pretty good chance at getting used in fiction.

Brent Evans and I also came up with a few special fans we both knew and added them into the pool as well because we are benevolent gods. I also included some names of folks that are just cool people or who are Catalyst Demo agents that I like. I was going to include all of the Demo agents but it proved impossible to get that list through official channels. It would be easier to get a list of nuclear launch codes than the names of the demo agents apparently.  Sidebar:  This level of secrecy makes me wonder what they are up to.  Hmm…

For the record, I am bribable. I don’t want money though. One fan asked that I include a BattleTech convention organizer in a book and I did in exchange for a t-shirt from the con. See how shallow I am?

A lot of people gave me names of other people, but generally I don’t use those. I hadn’t planned on using callsigns but there were some neat ones provided that are going to be included. I don’t use character names for pilots – “I asked for your name, not your character’s name.”

I don’t use people who suggest/insist they be part of specific units, pilot certain ‘Mechs, demand custom paint schemes; along with their name. That is a quick way to get on a list and NEVER get used. I have some rules in the casting call post, please just follow them.  I am not crowdsourcing the writing of a novel. I write for my own sense of creativity – not yours.

Please bear in mind I am a raging thin-skinned egomaniac with delusions of grandeur in my choices. I read some douchebag’s comment that I was doing this only to get people to buy my books. My response to that was simple, “Asshat!”  Seriously, these are fans that would buy the book no matter what anyway. They don’t need encouragement to purchase BattleTech product. What a moron. You try and do something nice and some dillweed internet troll tries to ruin it.

Please do not ask me about the formats, release dates, or crap like that. I do not know if the book will be translated into Italian, when/if it will be made into an audio book, what day it will release in the UK, how to download it to your Nook (you bought a Nook, that’s hilarious!  Can I interest you in a Zune?), why isn’t it out there as a PDF, is it on RPG Fiction’s site, why Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it up on their site, why it isn’t a hardcover, when the boxed set of the game will come out, I’d like to do the voice work for the audio book, or how to be a Catalyst Demo Agent?  By the way, these are actual things people have asked or told me. I am prone, when I get these questions, to make shit up. Consider yourself warned.

I am toying with us having a special book signing/beer drinking at GenCon 2019 when the book XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX is released just for the guys and gals that are in the books/novellas I have written. Not sure if that is logistically sound or feasible yet, but heads-up, I’m getting creative.

So what is next?  Right now I have to weather the editing of the new book and the Dragoons novella before I start something new.

So, onto the honored fans!

The Anvil (Published)

Moses Obadiah

Nicholas Tockert

David DiFranco

Eric Belcher

Clifford McKinney

Jeff Sockwell

Daryl Noonan

Jonathon Scott Schofield

Cord Awtry

Ryan James Broadhead

Ben Myers

Troy Lee Cowell

Krzysztof Krecislaw

Chad Parish

Jack Lafreniere

Joshua Bressel

Marcus Odekirk

Robert Ostrowski

Mark Havener

George Tholburn

Erik Helgeson

Winter Guite

Jukka-Emil Vanaja

Christopher Turco

Juan Ochoa Jr.

Steven Molen

Broccán Mac Rónáin

Kenyon Burguess

Dave Alsager

 

Forever Faithful (Coming VERY soon.  John won’t let me say when, but I heard an actual date recently – so it is on the horizon.)

Benjamin Starkey

Av Paredes

Adam Mckern

Brian Blaney

Trixter Phillips

Alexander JW De Santis

Jamie Rife

Brandon Fisher

Andrew Gardenhire

Todd Farnholtz

Clint Woodall

Clifford McKinney

Adam Thompson

Ray Arrista

James McHenry

Patrick Finnegan

Oliver Kraft

Camille Klein

Shane Jaskowiak

Shawn Bruno

Colin Duffy

James Eyers Mclean Miller

Nathan Pelchat

Josh Ellis

Craig Gulledge

Peter Farland

Eric Eny

James Bixby

Thomas Lagemann

Craig Reed

Mike Lubowitzki

Devin Ramsey

Dustin Ballard

‎Jose Alvarez‎

Aaron Gregory

Bradley Proffitt

Dean Manning

Brian Chiasson

David Shell

Keegan Reid

Sam Snell

Alex Clarke

 

The Dragoons Novella (Coming Near GenCon) I can’t tell you the title because it gives away some stuff.

Wes Frenz

Timothy Byrne

Wayne Ledbetter

Scott Whyte

Kristopher Tyson Koniczek

Corey Riordan

Matthew Hinks

Brianne Elizabeth Lyons

Jason Tuttle

Andrew Sternglass

Cal Hornstien

Felipe Cintron

Alex Kaempen

Tony Deegan

Joseph McEachern

Richard Skelton

Sebastian Schröder

Jason Weiser

Patrick J Saul

Andrew Roy

John “Doc” Crouch

Jürgen Frey

Matt

Garry Jackson

Robert BJ Horncastle

Michael Barber

Eric Kraaier

Roderick van Noorloos

Rob Cheesman

Kevin Seibert

Hannes Hinterberger

Lon Porter

John Gaisano III

Ed Hachtel

Jared Donner

Derek Weese

William C. Pelcham

Nicholas Roche

Joshua McHugh

 

The BIG Universe Altering Novel XXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX  (GenCon 2019 release!)  Again, I can’t tell you the title!  (Note:  I am not responsible if the editors cut you from the book.)

Rowland Seckinger III

Michael Widler

Michael “Brent-Killer” Ciaravella

Josh Waltz

Keith Richmond

James Kirtley

Adolfo Fernandez

Oliver Haake

Mark Erikson

Ka’u Johnston-Kitazawa

Adam “Reaper” Grimm.

Edwyn Tiew

David Dryburgh

Markus Lindlahr

Chris Herbachuk

Paco Cubillo

Chris Friede

Arthur Santos

Rantinan Winters

Joshua Bressel

Linas Kasparaitis

Rob Watkins

Andrew Metcalf

Tackett McClenny

Josh Koziura

Florian “Floppy” Nau

Evan Christiano

Stephan “Warbear” Peter

Michael Hofacker

Stephen Parac

Elmer Lee Bechdoldt

Jason Gambrel

Xander Cosgrave

Larry Leslie II

Artem Kostyukov

Claire Harpham

Agustin Sierio Barj

Shane Overstreet

Olaf Dittmar

Marco Mazzoni

Jeremy Spurlock

Andreas Macht

Jerry Hornick

Sven Mansberg

Daniel Hippensteel

Josh Koziura

Karl Elmar Coert

Hannes Hinterberger

Jean-Jacques Labbé

David Baker

Shawn ‘Gorilla’ Willett.

Josh Ellis

Joe Mooney

Brian “Northman” Norris

Dean Manning

Amy Delaney

Cory Vigdal

Joshua Adam Lonbom

Rolf Peter

Iain MacLeod

Chong Hin

Kim Chapman

Kostas Latsis

Chew Hwee leong

Ted Burger

Kevin Stanners

Cole Gilman

John “Fratricide” Craig

David Hawkins

David DuJordan

John McNary

William Fife

Ludvig Yabar

David Abzug

Andrew Quay

Krzysztof Strato Raczyński

Powers Wartman

Sharizal Zarie

Brian Hammack

Beth Galatis

Sam Phoenix

Jac Cook

Ben Weingart

Volkmar Seifert

Eli “Viper” Drechsel

Ryan Altstatt

Linas Augustus Kasparaitis

Dirk “Derek” Kobler

Thomas Heath

Jared Micks

Benno deJong

Noran Ghall

Stephen Dukes

Lonnie Tapscott

Billy J. Caldwell

Jeff “Wearyknight” “Weary” Lamm

Sebastian Schröder (a cameo)

Andrew Roy (a cameo)

Andrew Krull

Max Prohaska

Brian Hammack

Paul Tomaszewski

Jae So

Lawrence DeLucas

Daniel Gladstone

Richard Francis Gagner

Andreas Borgscheiper

Daniel Gladstone

Christopher Chong Wei Jin

James “Tanker” Herring

Marcus Sedwick

Review – Star Trek Adventures Beta Quadrant Sourcebook

Star-Trek-Beta-Quadrant-Cover

I am slowly warming up to Star Trek Adventures.  At Gen Con I purchased a copy of the new Beta Quadrant Sourcebook and thought it was worthy of a review.

This book is written from a Federation perspective – i.e., primarily if you are playing a Federation character.

Like the original rules book, this one is chock-full of sidebar material designed to fill in gaps in the Star Trek universe or provide adventure hooks.  While I like the concept, the sidebars in this book are not as good as those in the original.  Example:  One titled – “Friday Night Knitting Circle Yarn and Fiber Swap” It explores, “Vulcan spinning” techniques.  Shame on the editors for putting this in.  We all get it, the Star Trek universe is multicultural. I would have gladly traded pages of this fluff material for more information on the Beta Quadrant.

This sourcebook is good, but does not go into the kind of depth you might be looking for.  With FASA’s Star Trek (which I wrote books for) their Klingon boxed set went into immense detail on creating Klingon characters and all of the nuances of the Klingons.  This book gives you fifteen pages on Klingon culture et. al.  It is good stuff, well written, but not as deep as you might be looking for.  Personally, I was looking for some more on the Houses and their impact on character development.  It wasn’t there.

The material is pretty broad – including Enterprise’s Xindi – though for the life of me I still can’t find their worlds on the maps in the end-flaps of the book.  There are new lifepaths for the Benzite, Bolians, Efrosians, Klingons, even the Zakdorn (and others).  While not a lot of material, it is pretty useful.

I enjoyed the chapter on the Orions – which opens up some wonderful RPG options for players.  Likewise you get some additional starships with this book which is nice.  I would have liked some drawings/artwork of the ships themselves.

The Romulan chapter is solid as well, but again, lacks the kind of depth that I think a lot of characters may be looking for.  The Gorn material does not seem like a retread of known history of the Gorn, which makes it quite enjoyable.

We do get more information on the Shackleton Expanse, where a lot of Modiphius’s material on the game seems to be set – which was highly welcome as a reader/player.

So how would I sum this up?  The Beta Quadrant Sourcebook is worth picking up – it significantly adds to the material in the rules book for the RPG. It is laid out in a high quality manner with good artwork. It could have been better, but is a good launching point for any campaign you may be planning outside of the Alpha Quadrant.