Snarky Summary of the Jihad the Dark Ages of BattleTech

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A fan, I’m sure jerking my chain, asked me what eras followed the Civil War and Clan Invasion.  Now, a sane person would have steered him to Sarna.net.  I refused to accept the title of “sane.”  So I started a snarky response, a little BattleTech humor, for that fan.  Well I tweaked and modified it.  So, when someone asks me about the Jihad or Dark Ages going forward, this is what I steer them to.  I thought all of you still self-imprisoned at home might enjoy a little quirky humor.

Jihad Summary

Space AT&T (The Word of Blake) gets “a bit uppity” and decides that the best way to unify mankind is by destroying most of mankind.  The Wobbies magically super-jump warships to every capital world, lay waste to them and invade everything at once with an army of cyborgs and crazy-cool looking BattleMechs that somehow they have built roughly a bazillion of.  According to the Word of Blake, it was all just a “slight misunderstanding.”  They were not sending in invasion forces, these were “gifts.” Imagine their rage when they didn’t get thank you cards.  How rude!

They were led by a deformed and disfigured individual dubbed, “The Master,” because that title was bound to calm everyone down.  Anyone that has ever watched Dr. Who knew some serious shit was coming with that name.  Added to that, The Master was actually Thomas Marik – as if his adoption into a techno-cult and horrible face mutilation wasn’t enough, he came from House Marik…only slightly more stable than Charles Manson’s family.

Skull-fuckery was the mainstay of the day.  You get that with people that think you have to chant a song to get your Keurig to work.  Almost all of the major characters, mercenary units, and a few billion passersby are killed in a fate worse that death, killed ala sourcebook footnote.  Assassinations, betrayals, bombings, and outright debauchery happen everywhere at once with no apparent strategy, endgame, or even a bit of common sense.  Everyone agreed that the Word of Blake was rather rude, uncouth, and overreacted often with weapons of mass destruction.

The Wobbies used nukes, chemical, and biological weapons combined with badly written rap music to attempt to persuade their victims that worshiping technology was hip.  In a perfect response to this crisis, the House governments were caught with their hands in their pants and tried to fight the Word of Blake on their own because we all know that isn’t going to work.

Out of this utter drug-addled chaos, a nobody named Devlin Stone emerges and rallies the governments to kick the Word of Blake’s ass.  The Blakeists waged a scorched planet policy until everyone glows a pretty shimmering shade of orange.  You know the old saying, what do you call a million dead followers of the World of Blake?  A good start.

Somehow Stone unites the leaders, apparently because he’s not one of them.  He tells the Ghost Bears that the Word of Blake is actually descendants of Clan Wolverine, which unleashes them on a murder spree.  Nothing says loving like good bear mauling.

Eventually Terra was recovered, or what was left of it – then The Master got nuked, reliving a chapter out of Hitler’s last few days.  No one shed a tear.

Dark Ages Summary

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So Devlin Stone forms the Republic of the Sphere, a kind of Terran Hegemony on acid.  A dash of Camelot, a dollop of the Roman Empire, and a healthy dose of raw egotism were the foundation of the Republic. Stone wears a ball cap that says, “Make the Inner Sphere Great Again!” – true story!

He runs his new realm on a promise to beat swords into plowshares – and if you don’t do that, he will go to war with you.  Ask the Cappies about it.  Go on, I dare you.

Stone promises a golden age of peace and everyone is sick and tired of fighting, so they use ‘Mechs to cut down trees, dig holes, and other goofy shit.  I swear, you will see a mining ‘Mech on Gold Rush, season 522.  His great new universe works, for a few hours/days/years.  Even the Clans chill, having gone Reaving-ass on themselves in the homeworlds, wiping out many clans and forming new ones like Clan Stoned Pony.  It’s like My Little Pony got ‘Mech upgrades.  So the homeworlds are left to be a total frame-up restoration and even their Facebook pages were taken down.

Stone’s knights and paladins run around squashing everyone that gets a burr up their ass to start a new war.  Strangely it works, Wizkids even considers renaming BattleTech to PeaceTech.  Everything is mellow and cool, so much so that Stone packs up and disappears, supposedly sitting on a beach somewhere, getting laid and hammered.

What could go wrong?

Well, 80% of the HPG network goes offline and apparently you can’t shut off the HPG network and turn it back on again to fix the problem.  In a normal society, this would lead to caution, but for the Inner Sphere, it was time to open a whole case of whoop-ass which had been on the shelf for years.  Everybody starts beating their plowshares into swords.  For a while, Industrial ‘Mechs are armed until the factories start spitting out newer and more potent BattleMechs.  They even have Superheavies, which is not a description of someone coming out of Space Golden Corral but a three-legged monstrosity clocking in at over 100 tons.  Who would have thought that cultures that have lived at war for centuries might fall back on that the moment they can’t access Space PornHub?  Oh wait, all of us.

The Republic of the Sphere is seen as an easy target and the House lords hit them like hungry sharks on chum.  The Republic gets gobbled up until puts up, “Do Not Disturb!” signs at all jump points and it turns on its magic space shield (Fortress Republic) that somehow scrambled JumpShips trying to penetrate it.  This super-powered space chastity belt allows a few Republic worlds to survive and prepare for the inevitable onslaught.

Outside of the wall we have Knights, Paladins, Fidelis (Smoke Jaguars disguised as ninjas) and Anastasia Fucking Kerensky.  It’s always a party with a Kerensky in the house!

The magic space shield collapses around to Terra while everyone on Earth runs out and hoards toilet paper and meat products because the Clans are a’comin’!  The Wolves have played hippity-hoppity-get-off-my-property and moved to the Lyran/FWL border.

In this corner, his hair weighing in at 12 kilos alone, Alaric Ward, genespawn of everyone’s favorite star of Real Wives of ComStar, Katherine Steiner-Davion-Wolf and Victor Steiner-Davion.  Alaric is preparing to wreck Terra’s ass because he has the genes of a person that rates a 9.2 on the Amaris Scale of Douchebaggery.  PS.  Before your whine incest…Katherine stole Victor’s DNA.  Ew…why would you go there?

And in this corner, weighing in at 56 kilos, chock-full of maniacal mayhem, the one and only Malvina Hazen of Clan Jade Falcon, the Butcher of Wotan.  Malvina makes the Master look like a choir boy sans the pedophile priests of ComStar.  Seriously, she crashed a Jade Falcon WarShip on one of her own cities – just to make a point.  She is intent on taking Terra too – so that she can crash more WarShips onto more cities as part of the Jade Falcon’s Inner Sphere Urban Renewal Program.

Meanwhile, Stone apparently didn’t retire to a Canopian Pleasure Pit but instead put himself on ice and is now thawed and ready to be tagged in on the match.  House Kurita has landed on New Avalon which has had a significant impact on property values and resale value.  The Capellans are making their own run on Terra (and the Federated Suns) with some solid leaders for the first time in ages.  As it turns out, if you don’t have batshit crazy in your genes, you can actually run the Confederation rather well.  The Free World’s League is doing what it does best, shooting itself in its feet over and over again.

The Federated Suns lost one First Prince, Caleb Davion, the Harvey Weinstein of the Inner Sphere.  No one cried over that death, trust me.  Julian Davion runs it now, wrapped in plot-armor, and dealing with the reality that his nation is about to be pinched off like a turd.  The Lyrans are on their 17th Archon in eight months.  Wedged in between Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon, things are looking pretty dire.  Trillian Steiner seems to have what it takes – but she inherited the equivalent of a mobile home owned by a hoarder with a condemned notice tacked on the front door and 100 hungry cats wandering around.  Let’s just say, it’s not great.

So the stage is set, the music is queued, the DJ is on space-meth, and the Inner Sphere is ready to rock.

 

Review of BattleTech – Shell Games by Jason Schmetzer

Shell Games

This is the story of The Republic of the Sphere launching a military offensive against the Draconis Combine – striking first at Dieron.  As with most novallas, there is a lot packed into a relatively small package.  Jason Schmetzer does an admirable job of giving us the fight for Dieron far above and beyond what was published in the Shattered Fortress sourcebook.

For a decade or more, the Republic has hidden behind Fortress Republic.  Suddenly they reappear mounting a dagger-thrust into the Draconis Combine.  That alone is enough to make you want to pick this novella up.

Sourcebooks tend to be like the bullet points in a PowerPoint presentation.  Stories like Shell Games put some meat on these and tell the kind of in-depth coverage of battle that fans have come to love.  In this, Schmetzer does a great job of taking two paragraphs of sourcebook and turning them into a story of characters, strategy, and honorable struggle.

Most folks have written off The Republic of the Sphere.  Let’s face it, they have suffered defeat-after-defeat throughout the Dark Ages.  Now they strike at the Combine led by Paladin Max Ergen.  Ergen goes after the Combine with the precision of a surgeon, carving up his enemies with a calm that is a mix of confidence and a dollop of arrogance.  Using the secrets that Devlin Stone possesses to outmaneuver the Combine defenders; this is a story of someone manipulating his enemies and them attempting to not play his game.  We learn a lot about Ergen without him saying very much in the story – testimony to Schmetzer’s writing skills.

One thing I liked about this story is that it emphasized that the Republic is not a push-over – they can and will strike and strike hard.  More importantly the paragraphs on Stone inheriting the secrets of the Word of Blake were fantastic.  You get a creepy vibe from these two paragraphs about Devlin Stone, without him saying a word. The phrase that came to my mind was: That when you inherit the secrets of your enemy, you become the enemy.

Novellas are tricky.  You have limited runway to develop characters. Schmetzer works well in this format.  We learn a great deal about the characters through their actions and dialogue.  I loved his one word from a Combine officer when they realize they are being invaded. That one word told me a lot about the character without forcing me to read a lot of sentences.  That one word was powerful and perfect writing – a trademark of Schmetzer’s style.

This is a fight where you find sympathies with the junior officers and front line troopers more than the leaders.  This is their story after all.  True, we get an epic fight between Max Ergen and Tai-shu Kambei Okamoto, Warlord of Dieron, but that is not what this story is about.

I enjoyed the story because the focus was less on the BattleMech battles than it was the execution of a strategy.  I like characters that outthink their foes.  On this front, Schmetzer delivers.  Overall, I give this a five out of five stars for me – enjoyable with some memorable characters.

I couldn’t find this on Amazon – but you can get it from the Catalyst Game Labs store.

New BattleTech Tease – Wolf’s Dragoon Short Novel – Divided We Fall

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So, have we all figured out who this book is about?

Supreme Editor Demi-Precentor John Helfers, said I should show you more of the ‘Mech in this tease…and tell you the title and the release date.  This is one of those rare moments were I am more than willing to comply. Which caught him off-guard.

As a sidebar; My wife and I have sold our house and started construction on a new home near Fredericksburg VA, and are moving into an apartment in the next two weeks – so my time on social media will be hindered.  For those of you taking note, I will be living closer to Tex from the Black Pants Legion and that alone should make you all worried or delighted – your choice.

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You gotta love that new BattleMech smell…

Behold, more of the mystery BattleMech!  It’s a new model – this book will introduce a few new ‘Mechs.  This one we will be releasing the stats on in the book – grin (at least they were there before editing.) This one is called the Dominator. I violated my long-standing self-imposed rule and created this new BattleMech. Originally I wanted to go with Dominatrix but that opened up a whole bunch of kinky issues and frankly, I did not want to stat out the ‘Mech-sized cat of nine tails and other kinky items that the fans would ultimately demand.  There IS some sexiness to this new model, which you will see when they show the full cover.

I miss the old days when we put art in the back of the novels.  In this case, I figured, let’s do the full tech write-up and stats.  Brent Evans took my design and tweaked it.  I identified the other new ‘Mechs – like the Goliath C.  Brent worked out the stats on those and some other new ones that are forthcoming, and hired a great artist to work on the tech drawings.  Will they be coming out soon?  That question is best leveled at Ray Arrastia.  I do know the art is done.

Yes, that is a rear firing laser behind the head.

The story is called, “Divided We Fall,” which was not the first or second title for this project, but is, well, perfect.

One thing I love about this story is that it is new fiction.  In other words, the events you will be reading about have not taken place in some sourcebook.  This is the fiction back behind the steering wheel of the BattleTech universe.  Yes, you can argue that the sourcebooks are fiction – but I am talking meaty, extra-beefy novel fiction.  The stuff (including key characters) in Divided We Fall feeds into my ilClan books that are forthcoming.

Yes, it is all about Wolf’s Dragoons. Yes, I am going to take them in some new and interesting directions.  If you don’t like the Dragoons, don’t buy this book.  Life really is that simple.

So when will it be out?  John has authorized me to tell you that it will pop on or near May 18, 2020.  I am not responsible if it comes out late.  Which brings us to…

It’s available for pre-order!  Preorder Divided We Fall

Don’t be Bob.  Don’t ask when it will be in paperback or some other format because you want it that way for your collection.  I have no idea – I just write this shit.  Don’t ask if it is going to be an audio book.  I don’t know or care. Don’t nag me about when the new ‘Mechs will be out with stats – I don’t know, ask Ray. Don’t ask when the next book will be out – I don’t manage the schedule.  Don’t ask me to read your Clan Wolverine screenplay, I won’t. Don’t ask me if I have included you as a canon character or if you ended up on the cutting room floor. The fact you think I keep hundreds of characters and their individual fates in my head is both complimentary and drunkenly delusional.  I know nothing about the schedule when products will come out – so don’t bother me with that.  Don’t ask me about the Kickstarter – I’m not in the loop.  Don’t ask me for a free copy of anything, I’m not a “giver.”  In other words, don’t be Bob!

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All Bob’s get kneecapped.  I’m sorry, it’s ComStar’s rules…

One of my BattleTech Treasures

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The Rules – Only Cooler

My wife and I are building a new house and we have sold ours (after five hours on the market – screw you Covid-19!).  As such I am packing.  I have a set of shelves filled with the stuff I wrote as well as mementos.

One I have is one I contributed to – this little gem.

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I haven’t seen these up on Ebay before.  

What I REALLY like about this is that it was personally made with my name on the cover and it was a limited print run.  For me, it’s a BattleTech treasure.

I have been pushing John Helfers, my editor at Catalyst, that we ought to do a special print run of the ilClan novel when it finally comes out along the same lines as this book.  I said, “Some fans would pay big bucks for a hard cover elite printing.”  I’m sure it won’t happen…but if you like the idea, please nag the powers that be.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this with you all just for grins.  Enjoy

Some Snarky Humor – Things I’ve Learned or Confirmed During Quarantine

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Here is my observations up to this point – for your entertainment as we all sit at home.  Remember, I am a snarky bastard who sometimes writes stuff just to set people off – a troll of the highest caliber.  I do want to provide folks with a few minutes of provocative thought and maybe a chuckle or two.

  1. We, as a people, are easily manipulated by social media into panic buying (toilet paper).  Don’t try and justify the reality that you panicked.  Be prepared, the marketing people have learned a very dangerous lesson from this.
  2. I have come to better appreciate my wife’s company and her cooking skills.
  3. We have zero survival skills and purchase things that are of little to no use during a real emergency situation.  Good luck surviving on pickles peanuts, and jalapeno peppers.
  4. Ninety-percent of people, when given common sense reasonable guidelines, will follow them out of concern for themselves or others. They are good human beings. Ten percent are validating Charles Darwin and couldn’t dump piss from a boot if the instructions were on the bottom of the heel.  Punishing the 90% because of the idiocy of 10% is irrational.
  5. When deprived of services, people worry about the vanity-based ones the most – such as “When can I get back to my salon to touch up my roots?”  A lot of people are wandering around without their injections of Botox.  As a result of all of this mayhem, in another few weeks there are going to be a lot less blondes in the world.
  6. Many politicians have validated their incompetence – sadly meeting my expectations. Example:  Our governor came on TV to tells us we need to exhibit social distancing, surrounded by seven individuals less than two feet apart, none of whom are wearing masks.  One word: Moron.
  7. When you shut off the world economy and everyone goes home, the effects are strange and sometimes entertaining.  Like my PC, apparently it was time to reboot the planet Earth. While we have never done this before, I have found that it usually works pretty damn good with my PC so I encourage people to chill out.
  8. I have been dazzled by brilliant acts of individual kindness, courtesy, and grace. People can be wonderful.
  9. When faced with fear, people will surrender their Constitutional rights; demand that others do the same; and will report any infraction no matter how ridiculous. Yeah, that whole Hitler thing, that could totally happen here.
  10. Congress, when faced with a crisis, cannot resist spending money on things that have nothing to do with the actual emergency.  Giving themselves a raise, funding the Kennedy Center and PBS?  Really?  One word:  Douchebaggery.
  11. Thanks to Netflix, we all learned that Carol Baskins killed her husband and fed him to the tigers.  Oh, she totally did.IMG_1089
  12. We realize that police, fire, and medial workers are the most valuable members of our society – but in the end, we still won’t pay them what they are worth or for the hard work they have done.
  13. Shutting down professional sports has had negligible impact on our culture.
  14. Individuals believe their fear trumps the rights of others. I find it amusing that other people feel they should have a say about my rights are based on how they feel.  I receive similar lectures about what I say and political correctness – and those never work either.
  15. That Nancy Pelosi shelters in place in a mansion with gourmet food (and I presume a few cases of vodka.)
  16. The internet is as important in an emergency as electrical power.  Kudos to the folks that kept it up so far.
  17. Celebrities show their ‘suffering’ by not wearing makeup or doing their hair, wearing sweatpants, and going on talk shows from their mansions. Let’s be clear, none of us care about Hollywood’s hardships.
  18. Companies love to run advertising camouflaged as public service announcements.  “Look at how we are stepping up to plate to deal with this crisis.”  Yeah, you guys are real humanitarians…  We get it, you are keeping your marketing department from being furloughed.
  19. When an emergency like this emerges the media’s first action is to put the truth up against a wall and shoot it. They would put a monkey throwing feces on the air as an “expert” if it will sow fear and give them ratings.  Spreading disinformation and terror is now an agenda item.
  20. We moved way too much production of goods overseas. Time to bring that shit back home even if it costs more.
  21. Our government has a list of who is essential and tracks our movements on our phones to ensure compliance to their orders.  That should scare the crap out of everyone.
  22. We learned that we can get by just fine not buying stuff for a few weeks.  This isn’t necessarily a good lesson but good to know.
  23. Some people (not me!) have spent far too much time with their spouses and children and it shows in their social media posts.  Who knew you could be so angry?
  24. Regardless of how much money people get from the government, it isn’t enough.
  25. We turn to the wrong people for solutions in panic…like Bill Gates.
  26. Our economy is based entirely on our confidence and nothing else.
  27. Oil can go to a value of negative dollars per barrel.  I guess that means they are paying us to take the oil?
  28. I am amazed and delighted at how quickly and innovatively businesses can change their operations to cope with an emergency.
  29. There are people out there, including politicians, that take delight in this chaos.  They want big companies to fail and are gleeful that oil prices have tanked.  They are pathetic, sad, twisted people.  PS – her initials are AOC.
  30. There is no excuse for anyone not having a great yard this year…you had plenty of time on your hands.
  31. When a crisis happens and our leaders should come together behind their President, they, in turn, call any action he takes ‘racist.’ I guess when you only have one bullet in your gun…
  32. Everyone learned how to sew/make masks pretty darned fast.
  33. There were no emergency plans in place when schools were shut down.  What makes a good teacher in a classroom is not the same as what makes a good virtual teacher.
  34. People stupidly believed that posting their graduation photos somehow made 2020 graduates feel better.
  35. Liberals sincerely believe that shutting down churches and keeping abortion clinics and liquor stores open are justifiable actions.
  36. Millions of people learned how to order from restaurants on-line for delivery.  This will change things for years to come.
  37. The longer this goes on, the more susceptible people become to wild-ass conspiracy theories.  “Hillary Clinton killed Colonel Mustard, in the Library, with the Coronavirus.”
  38. When their constitutional right to free assembly is stripped from them, people will protest and resist.  Our founding fathers would approve, since they dealt with numerous medical pandemics and did not see fit to put a freeze on rights.  You think this is bad, try Scarlet Fever or Cholera. Suck it up, buttercup.  I applaud sensible protests.      IMG_0541
  39. In times of crisis, people idiotically think that the Federal Government should be a supplier of medical supplies and other things.  Seriously people…your local governments are far more impactful than a Federal response.
  40. Board games are still a hell of a lot of fun when there are no distractions.
  41. We learned that we are footing most of the bill for the World Health Organization and getting damned little for it.
  42. Companies are learning that people can work just fine from home and that remarkably little is gained by sitting in an office together.  Further, the solution to road congestion and pollution seems to be people working from home…duh.
  43. We are more of a welfare state than I never fully comprehended. I think we need to fix this.
  44. Every government giveaway of our money is going to have unintended consequences that none of us can fathom.
  45. The blurring of guidelines and restrictions is important to know.
  46. Some politicians seem to care more for non-citizens and incarcerated criminals than hard-working Americans.  This is a decision on thier part.
  47. Americans had to be taught how to wash their hands.  Geez, I learned that way before going to elementary school.
  48. Our grocery stores and restaurants have never been cleaner…and that is a good thing.

I know some of you will feel the urge to rebuttal me.  Let me assure you, I gain strength through your angst.  Like Rick Sanchez said, “Your boos mean nothing to me…I have seen what makes you cheer!”

 

75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Halle Germany by the American Army and a German WWI Naval Hero

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Graf Luckner – US Intelligence Photo – National Archives

My first military history book I wrote was Cruise of the Sea Eagle.  It was the story of Count Felix Von Luckner who, in WWI, went raiding on the high seas in the three-mastered windjammer.  No, I am not making this shit up.  Von Luckner raided the Atlantic and Pacific – only taking one life in his operations.  His ship was wrecked on an island in the Pacific (cue the Gilligan’s Island theme) and he was captured by New Zealanders, and escaped.  His story is amazing on many levels.  But today, I’d like to focus on one instance in particular – the saving of his hometown, Halle.

 

US National Archives.  Sketches of the Sea Eagle (Seeadler) 

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US Navy Photo – the wreckage of the Seeadler on Mopelia Island

By WWII, Von Luckner was an old man.  The Nazi’s didn’t want anything to do with him, because he didn’t buy into their ideology.  He was relegated to living in his home town, Halle.

On April 19, 1945, 75 years ago, the US Army came to liberate the town.  It had been spared a lot of carnage and devastation in the war.  The German commander was prepared to slug it out, making the Americans lay waste to the city.  Graf Luckner sneaked through the battle lines and connected with General Terry Allen of the US Army.  Von Luckner acted as an intermediary, negotiating the German surrender of Halle, saving his home town.

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General Allen with Von Luckner

In doing research for the book, my wife and I went to Halle, which had just emerged from being part of East Germany.  The city was very much as it appeared during WWII.  Much of this is because Von Luckner had spared the city.  Ironically, the East German’s version of events is that the American Army was never there –  that the Russians had liberated the town.  Revisionist history at its worst.

Today being the 75th anniversary of their liberation is special and brings me back to our visit there.  We have some wonderful memories of this beautiful German town and look forward to our return one day.

You can take part in the Von Luckner story by being part of his historical society.  Von Luckner Society

My Thoughts and Memories on the Renegade Legion Universe

 

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During the BattleTech writer’s summit in September, we had a very short talk (a sidebar actually) about the Renegade Legion (RL) universe – mostly between Randall Bills and me.  Both of us agreed that the Centurion and Interceptor game mechanics were very good and highly innovative, even by today’s standards.  Centurion’s armor widowing was groundbreaking at the time.  Centurion really crossed that line between a sci fi game and a true tactical wargame, which is a tough nut to crack.  Centurion, all on its own, was worth the price of admission to the universe. Interceptor’s flow-chart mechanic is one that I keep expecting to pop up again in some other game – it was that good.  While Interceptor came out first, it was Centurion that made the biggest splash (I think) with gamers.

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The Interceptor Damage Flow Diagram-Thingy.

For those of you that don’t remember, it was TOG – the Terran Overlord Government vs. the rebels – set in a sci-fi Roman-esque setting.  In many respects, it was Star Wars – right down to the aliens.  Hover tanks, space armadas, cool fighter aircraft; the universe had something in it for everyone. TOG was the evil empire vs. the Commonwealth, which desperately clung to a sliver of the Milky Way that was still not under TOG control.

Leviathans – the big ship game – was a lot of fun and probably one of the best space battle games out there until the recent FFG Star Wars Armada came out.  Prefect allowed you to do full planetary invasions – and fight the battles using the other games in the system.  How freaking cool is that?  The game had good balance, some awesome sci-fi weapons that were backed up with some pretty solid sci-fi tech.  Back in the day, this was all revolutionary.

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You have to give a nod to the artwork on some of these FASA box covers.  I LOVED this one.

I wrote a few Renegade Legion sourcebooks and did some of the design on the RPG for the universe (Legionnaire).  What most of you did not know was there was actually a book of the mathematics of the science behind the Renegade Legion stuff.  I still have it somewhere in my vast archives.  It was VERY complex and well thought out.  So why did it wither?

Randall pointed out that even if you custom built your tanks, they more-or-less looked the same.  Unlike in BattleTech when you build a custom ‘Mech is can look distinctly different than the others – not so much with Centurion.  Also, custom-built vehicles really weren’t part of the universe setting.  Also, when you look at BattleTech as a comparison, a lot of players build their own mercenary units.  In the RL universe there just wasn’t a good way for players to carve out a piece of space for themselves.

One thing I think that hurt the universe was the fact that it was fixed.  BattleTech has a timeline – different eras, new stuff always on the horizon.  Shadowrun – always changing things up.  The Renegade Legions universe got set up and stayed right where it was.

Another problem that plagued the RL universe was that it was space opera without the inspiring characters.  Most game systems that take on something big have these characters that are larger-than-life, who are devastatingly good and bad.  Even in BattleTech you had Hanse Davion and Max Liao – so you had powerful personalities.  The game never fostered and developed those.

Also, TOG had the upper hand, conquering the universe except for this tiny sliver.  They were big-ass Space Rome.  TOG was supposed to be the big-bad Empire and it was.  As such, I remember raising the issue – “So how could the Commonweath win?”  Ultimately the answer was they couldn’t.  Well, that seems a bit of dead-end.  At least with Star Wars there was a feeling that the rebels might win.  In Renegade Legion, you got the gut feeling that it was all over but the crying.  Imagine starting your journey into the Star Wars universe with The Empire Strikes Back.  That was what Renegade Legion felt like to me at times.

Finally, when it came out, 1989, it was right near the time period when game companies could easily crank out a wealth of sourcebooks that sold tens of thousands of copies.  Things were starting to tighten up in the gaming industry.  Print runs on sourcebooks were getting smaller, less profitable.  If the game had popped three or four years earlier, it might have built up more traction – in my opinion.

Still, some of the stuff put out for it was incredible, innovative, and fun.  Bill Keith wrote Renegade’s Honor which was a good solid novel.  When Centurion re-released with plastic miniatures, they were a big hit.  The Wake of the Kraken module featured a freaking haunted starship.  The sourcebooks were solid with lots of great material.

Personally, I would love to see the game come back with some major retooling of the universe.

Our Current Pandemic and the Call for the US Military to Step-In – Presenting the US Navy’s War Plan White – May 1946

Neverwars
Gratuitous self-promotion during a time of crisis, or filling people with some reading material?  You make the call

A few years ago I wrote a book about the early US War Plans to invade various countries (Never Wars)

There were a few plans I did not write about.  One was the US/UK plan to invade Ireland during WWII.  I found a lot of it, but not enough to make it meaningful to historians.  Another was War Plan White.  This plan called for the use of the US military on American soil to restore order, put down civil unrest, or respond to a crisis or emergency situation.  The version I found was 1946.

There have been a lot of variations on War Plan White over the decades.  In the 1902 and 1921 striking coal workers threatened to cripple the economy.  There were early drafts, which I never found copies of, during the Anarchist Movement as well.  Likewise the US Army was employed against US citizens during the Bonus Army protests in 1932.

With this COVID-19 pandemic, I have heard cries from the uniformed about the need to deploy the Army in hard hit areas.  As Teddy Roosevelt understood when he was tempted to do so during a miner strike, “The Army doesn’t know how to dig coal.”  Likewise the military, while experts in attacking enemies or defending our country; they are not necessarily the right response to a health care crisis. It isn’t something that the Army is trained for, nor do they have expertise in this area.  That isn’t a knock on the military, but a realization that sending in the military to assist in such matters may not have the intended consequences or results.

Since I had some time on my hands, I found the US Navy’s War Plan White copy that I found at the National Archives and thought I would share it for those interested.  It provides a glimpse of the Navy’s role in such an emergency situation, for those curious about such matters.  I tried to find the Army’s copy of White but was less-than-successful.  For those of you not familiar with the US National Archives, it is often a complicated search for the proverbial needle in a haystack when you look for a specific document.

This 1946 Navy copy of White is an interesting read.  You have to understand, the military, in that post-WWII-era, operated like, well, the military.  That meant that the law, under White, would be executed according to military justice – which is significantly different than civil law. What you also see is the preoccupation to secure Washington DC.

While far from a gripping read, I thought folks might like to see a very old template of what such an effort might look like.  Besides, people have time on their hands, so a little historical reading is probably a bit of a welcome diversion.   No doubt a revised set of White plans is being updated as we speak.  Let that setttle in for a moment.

The lesson with this War Plan is simple:  Be careful what you ask for…

White 1White 2White 3White 4White 5White 6White 7White 9White 8White 10White 11White 12White 13White 14White 15White 16White 17White 18

I apologize for the lousy photography.  Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t delete these files after I decided not the use them.  Also, page 11 was blank – thus not included.

Blaine Pardoe’s Annual BattleTech April Fool’s Prank 2020 – The BattleTech Kickstarter – Fulfillment of the Canon Characters

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In keeping with my tradition of April Fool’s BattleTech Pranks:

Operation Freaking Awesomeness

BattleTech Products That Never Came To Market

Failed BattleTech Storylines

Blood on the Canopy

Outline for the ilClan Sourcebook

This was my suggestion to address all of the people that opted in for the canon character option in the Kickstarter.

Internal Memorandum to Catalyst BattleTech Staff

Per our meeting, we was discussed the need to address the seemingly tens-of-thousands of Kickstarter backers who opted for canon characters in the universe. Some are easy, some are complicated to the point of absurdity. Example:  “I want to be a Khan of Clan Jade Falcon, who is really a covert Clan Wolverine operative that is also a DEST agent with secret information on Omi Kurita’s love child with Victor.” Yeah, I have tried to craft that story but it caused a small brain hemorrhage.  Let’s save it for the magazine (our new default answer to hard stuff).

Then it came to me. As you know, in an upcoming piece of fiction, I have bar where dead MechWarriors are commemorated for the stupid ways they died.  Their names are written on the wall along with how they died.  That got me thinking – what a great way to deal with all of these canon characters!

I propose this “memorial wall to the dead,” describing all of the dead and how they died.  Sure, it’s a sleazy way to address this, but that’s why you assigned it to me.  All we have to do is stick their names in before each of these glorious deaths and we can chalk it up as a win!

Example: Bob Roberts harbored the illusion that 28 centimeters of ice could support his BattleMech.

Extra points if you realize this guys name was Bob – twice.

What do you guys think?

Blaine “Buck” Pardoe

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Fulfillment Options (Insert names where appropriate) 

  • Killed in a bar-fight with _____ when a bottle cut his jugular.
  • Self-detonated his ammunition, forgetting that he did not have CASE.  Two tons of autocannon rounds left little to be recovered.
  • Last words – “They are only stupid Capellans – charge!”
  • His tactic of, “Let’s lure them in to point blank range,” proved to be incorrect.
  • Stopped moving in his ‘Mech and became the largest, stationary LRM and Arrow target known to mankind…for 20 seconds.  Then he became the largest LRM crater in the history of that world.
  • Last words – “We have them on the run!”
  • Killed by _____ in a bar-fight when he pulled a bottle out of his jugular, tossing it into _____ and cutting his throat in the process.
  • Drew a Square of Equals, just to be different, and was killed for his slight to Clan Ghost Bear tradition.
  • Got into a name-calling match with his armorer just before he went into battle.  As it turns out, he had no ammunition in his missile racks of his Archer.  The investigation remains open as to how that could have happened.
  • Decided to test the altitude limits of his jump jets without paying attention to his fuel.
  • Failed to do the mental math when charging four enemies.  Remains unrecoverable.
  • Was bragging in a bar about having sexually conquered a number of “Kerensky broads.”  He should have checked to see that it was a Wolf Clan bar.
  • Learned there is validity in the old saying that you should not bring a knife to a gunfight.
  • She made the comment, “All you ROM guys are pussies.”  She has not been seen since, presumed dead.
  • Volunteered to be point one time too many.
  • Ventured that the low rumble was a ground tremor, not the approaching enemy RCT.
  • Told an Elemental she, “…had your head up your ass.”  She demonstrated that positioning using him as the subject.
  • Pressed the “override” button on his automatic shutdown controls one time too many.  Body still too radioactive for normal burial.
  • Told the joke, “How many Capellans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Misunderstood his CO’s warning about a, “Steiner Recon Lance.”  He didn’t realize that was a lance of Atlas’s.
  • Last words – “I bet I could kick your Elemental-ass!”  Her body had to be identified via DNA.

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  • Proof that drinking and piloting a BattleMech in combat is a deadly combination.  “Don’t you kids try this at home.”
  • Proved you cannot tap dance in a mine field.
  • Last communication to the approaching enemy:  “I don’t think you have the guts to charge our position.”
  • Learned the maximum depth a BattleMech can operate under water.
  • Misread the map when calling for air support.
  • Last words – “Clanners never attack in the rain, everyone knows that.”
  • Despite training, held onto a grenade by the pin – once.
  • Last words – “I could beat you with only one arm.”  The Jade Falcon Elemental obliged by ripping off one of his arms.  He was wrong.
  • Went outside to urinate, in -70c weather and locked the door behind him.  Body eventually thawed and pants pulled up for his family’s sake.
  • Incorrectly calculated the range that an enemy sniper could fire from.
  • Told his tech that his actuator was, “Just fine.”  It wasn’t.
  • Decided to experiment in what could be fired from a gauss rifle.
  • Ignored his jump jet fuel indicator as he rushed off the edge of the plateau.
  • She became a “trainable moment” in overheating her ‘Mech.
  • Proved you cannot use a tank as a roller-skate for a BattleMech.
  • Discovered that no amount of camouflage can hide a BattleMech running in the open.
  • Last words – “Someone hold my beer…”
  • Failed to inform the enemy that the area was secure.
  • Hit eject but his canopy did not deploy before the seat hit it.  Remains scraped up and sent to his family.
  • Proof that Elementals are not “Cuddly.”
  • Put to test the engineering specifications for his ‘Mech going over a 200 meter cliff.  The engineers, as it turned out, were right.
  • Ignored his CO’s warning that the roof of the apartment building would not likely support his ‘Mech.
  • Last words – “I thought the map said there were mud pits around here…guys?  Guys?”
  • Learned the importance of checking the safety strap on his ejection seat, in the last ten seconds of his life.
  • Told his tech, “I’m in a hurry, don’t worry about those heat sinks.”
  • Tombstone reads:  “Fell asleep at his guard post the night that the DEST commandoes decided to pay a visit.”
  • Learned what the odds were of a gauss rifle hitting his cockpit.  Hint, they are higher than you might think.
  • Punched a Ghost Bear in the nuts – once.
  • Trusted his DropShip pilot to determine a safe altitude to deploy – over his own eyes and sensors.
  • Dated a cruel mistress – gravity – one too many times.
  • Refused to top off his missile and autocannon expendibles saying, ‘They won’t be mounting a counterattack for hours.’
  • Claimed that a one-shot missile rack was ‘plenty.’
  • Last words – “I bet I can pick up that Smoke Jaguar Elemental…”
  • Made the eternal mistake of volunteering to hold the rear flank against ComStar.
  • Ignored the smell of smoke in his cockpit…and the smell of bacon.
  • Told the Manei Domini at the bar, “Interdict this!” and grabbed his crotch.
  • Refused to panic…but should have.
  • Determined that urban camouflage did not work well in the desert.
  • Last action – Flipped the bird to the regular troops in the bar and initiated a lethal bar-fight.
  • Last words – “I’m well out of their range…”
  • Ignored the no smoking signs in the armory.  ID determined by the one square CM bit of flesh recovered from the explosion.

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  • Bet his life that the Jade Falcon Star Colonel would not draw down his bid and call for orbital bombardment.
  • Beat his tech the night before the battle in poker and thought it was funny.  So did the tech.
  • Did his own field repairs and learned the engineering limits of Duct Tape.
  • Last words:  “I think all ISF DEST operatives are wussies…”
  • Created his own chapter for future training classes.  “Always check the liquid you are wading in before you fire on it.”
  • Told everyone that camouflage did not matter on a BattleMech – and went with “Target Orange” with florescent yellow highlights…perfect for forest operations.
  • Misread the elevation lines on the map and his own eyesight out of the cockpit.
  • Taunted one too many enemies with, “Your mother was a Fed-rat and your father sold futures to the FWL.”
  • Tombstone reads:  “I told you I was sick.”
  • Learned that once you go Elemental, you do not ever come back.
  • Came as The Master to a Federated Suns Halloween Party during the Jihad.
  • Decided to make his own modifications to his bionic arm.
  • Last words – “Why is that forest moving?”
  • Learned how close you could stand to a firing PPC blast…and lost the bet in the process.
  • Wore her Wolf’s Dragoon gear into a bar filled with Waco’s Rangers to “intimidate them.”
  • Learned why they are called, “The cheap seats” in Solaris when a missile barrage went wild and killed him.
  • Issued a batchall to the incoming Clan Commander and told him, “If you had the balls, you’d face me alone.”  He did, apparently, have the balls.
  • Did not make his piloting skill roll.
  • Last words – “I can outrun her…”
  • Killed in the great Toilet Paper Riots of 3048 fighting a rear guard action over a mound of Charmin 8000.
  • Told his tech to, “Not waste time replacing my damaged rear armor.”
  • Face-planted his BattleMaster into the canyon despite numerous warning signs.  Earned a new nickname – Wile E. Coyote.
  • Learned he did not have the skills to override Clan BattleMech security.
  • Told a group of clan warriors that Nicholas Kerensky had a furry fetish.  They were less-than-amused.
  • Last action – Successfully mooning the enemy.
  • Proved he was not proficient in energy weapons.
  • Decided to exit the DropShip early, like 3000 meters up too early.
  • Tombstone reads:  “Here lies Corporal Dave who chased the Clanner into a cave…”
  • Tried to impress the lieutenant by offering to scout ahead.
  • Ignored the radiation warnings one too many times.
  • Died confident that the roof of the building would support his 70 ton BattleMech.
  • Disregarded his tech’s warning of, “I wouldn’t stand under that arm if I were you.”
  • Grabbed the first ‘Mech available when the enemy showed up.  Footnote:  A Stinger taking on a Timberwolf is never a good idea.
  • In his last moments regretted calling the ComStar adept, “A techno priest” when he went to send the message for reinforcements.
  • Last words – “They are attacking with only a star of ‘Mechs – we’ve got this…”
  • Last communication to the approaching enemy:  “Why don’t you come over here and make me?”
  • Accidentally dumped his ammunition at the first sign of the enemy.  Turns out, you need that shit in a firefight.
  • Asked Blaine Pardoe to read his fan fic piece with stolen cover art. Remains are yet unfound. The investigation remains open.
  • Made the comment in a Capellan bar that the Death Commandoes were ‘vastly overrated.’  The one at the bar proved him wrong.
  • Ignored the warning during ‘Mech startup when the voice told him, “All Systems Not Nominal.”
  • Told a group of Clan Warriors he was going to “Get all Task Force Serpent on their assess.”  The fight, for the record, lasted less than eight seconds.
  • Forgot to wear a hard hat in the repair bay.  A swinging piece of ferro-fibrous plate can leave a nasty mark on one’s head.
  • Was adjusting his play list when the first wave of missiles enveloped his ‘Mech in a bright orange ball of flame.
  • Last words – “It’s just a heat warning…”
  • Ignored the “Danger Radiation” warning label on fusion reactor access panel 3B
  • Walked into a bar and said, “All Bless Jerome Blake!”  Body identified by DNA.
  • While drinking at a bar, took a 5 C-bill bet that he could give that Elemental a wedgie.
  • Learned the importance of proper weapons maintenance when his laser rifle misfired during battle.  In fact, he become the poster-child for checking the barrel for burned clogging material.
  • Made the classic military mistake of volunteering.
  • Learned that not all civilian bridges are designed to hold up 100 ton BattleMechs.
  • Stepped under Captain Jackson’s jump jets during a take-off.  The good news is the body was pre-cremated.
  • Was poisoned by the company cook for making comments about his lousy, “Shit on a shingle.”  Only person in the Sword of Light to die by French Toast.
  • Electrocuted while trying to prove you can hot wire a BattleMech.
  • Last words – “I can prove there are no Snakes patrolling that valley.”
  • Proved the inherent dangers of grenade juggling in the barracks.
  • Misread the words “Lava Flats” on the map.
  • Died of heart failure when a gauss rifle slug opened his heart and pulverized it into a thin DNA paste.
  • Worst intelligence officer ever.  Spent the night before the battle surfing for Elemental porn rather than pulling up the satellite relays.  Shot by his own men.
  • Executed a HALO jump sans a working breathing unit.
  • Learned that Friendly Fire isn’t and that it has the right of way.
  • Tapped the warhead of a stack of LRM’s with a hammer “to make a point.”
  • Killed by his own men after purchasing surplus WOB munitions for their mercenary company, only to find that they were all mislabeled practice rounds.
  • Went into battle claiming the enemy could not see him because he was piloting an “Unseen” BattleMech.  As it turns out he, and Harmony Gold, were wrong.
  • Convinced his superiors that he was ready for his first battle.
  • In retrospect, his callsign of “LRM Target” was a bit of heavy-handed foreshadowing.
  • Called a group of clan warriors, “Wolverine-humpers.” They were less-than-amused.
  • Charged up over the ridgeline into a battalion of Davion’s alone, believing we were all following him, when we were just sitting back wondering, “Why is he being so stupid?”
  • Ignored the scout lance one time too many.
  • Tombstone reads:  “When his tech told him, ‘I wouldn’t do that shit if I were you,’ he decided to try and prove the tech wrong.”
  • Currently in orbit over Thorin as a non-operative satellite. Learned that piloting a BattleMech in space it is always a good idea to have a tether or magnetic boot attachments.
  • Last words – “Let’s rush their DropShips!”
  • Learned that when your artillery is in range of the enemy, their artillery is in range of you.
  • Thought it would be funny to paint a large white and red target on the cockpit of his BattleMech.
  • Told his lance mates that, “ECM is for wusses.”
  • Adjusted his IFF transponder incorrectly and at the wrong moment.  “Hey, where did that enemy Wasp come from?  Hit it boys!”
  • Refused to look both ways before driving his tank across the maglev tracks.
  • Was last seen with a toolkit saying something about fixing airlock four’s controls.
  • His friends replaced his coolant with Coolant Flush ™ energy drink as a prank.  Body was found to be extra crispy and caffeine infused.
  • Told his infantry support their “pansy-asses” weren’t needed.
  • Learned that Streak missiles can acquire new targets – including your cockpit.
  • Last words – “I don’t care that I am danger close, drop the barrage!”
  • Believed that the mine field sign was incorrectly posted.
  • Stood up the general’s daughter for a date and was assigned to, “An extended long range patrol to find the enemy main body.”  He did.
  • Yelled “charge” before making sure that the rest of his lance was willing to do so.  “It was spectacular the way he ran alone into the middle of that Clan Cluster…and over quickly.”
  • Ignored the “Launch Doors Jammed” warning indicator when he unleashed a salvo of SRM’s.
  • Two words – Autoerotic Asphyxiation.
  • Learned there is a wrong way to load short range missiles.
  • Told his tech, “Stop worrying about those cracks in the cockpit canopy…it’s just fine.”
  • As a newly pinned Lieutenant, he ignored the sergeant’s warnings about poking the bear.
  • Made the mistake of drinking too much and commenting in front of clansmen that Nicholas Kerensky got his names for the clans from a kids petting zoo.
  • Protected the ammunition dump – but too closely.
  • Two words – Terminal Diarrhea.
  • Last action – disabled his ejection seat because the power cable rattled too much.
  • In a bar bet he placed 100 C-Bills on the table that someone could slam an entire glass of coolant fluid.  He both won and lost.
  • Exited the DropShip to descend on his jump jets…which is ‘Mech was not equipped with.
  • Did not notice the large white and red target painted on the back of his ‘Mech.
  • Pulled the pin and fumbled one grenade too many.
  • Proved that standing still does not draw attention (or incoming fire) away from you.  FYI – Commonly known as Draxing.
  • Became the poster-child for not piloting your BattleMech underwater when your cockpit has been compromised.
  • Told his physician that his eyesight was just fine.  He was incorrect.
  • Thought it would be fun to cover himself in catnip and then seduce a bunch of those crazy Periphery cat-people from Canopus.
  • Believed he could outrun an avalanche.  Was off by 47 kph.
  • Bad eyesight made him confuse an enemy ‘Mech as a Crab when it was a King Crab.
  • Last Words: “What are the odds of them both hitting my cockpit?”  It is 6.94% – for the record.
  • Threatened his Tech prior to the big battle.  Mysteriously his weapons systems failed after their first shot.
  • Hid under the dropship.  Failed to check its departure orders first.
  • Last communication to the approaching enemy:  “Ghost Bear – what’s that?  One of the Care Bears ™?”
  • Was confident that he had dug has foxhole deep enough as the tank rolled over it.  For a millisecond before his crushing death, his confidence waned.
  • Learned that in an emergency you cannot replace coolant vest coolant with urine.
  • Said he would take the old-school Charger into the battle and that it was an underappreciated killing machine.
  • Learned that the warning labels on the fusion reactor output cables were there for a reason.  Can you say, “Extra Crispy Please?”
  • Last words, “They have nowhere else to run.”  As it happens, they could turn 180 degrees and charge.
  • Learned an important physics lesson regarding jumping, distances, and the structural integrity of BattleMech legs.
  • Learned there is a good reason to not tape your hand grenades.
  • His flagrant disregard for artillery barrages will immortalize him for years to come at NAIS as an example for future generations about “what not to do.”
  • Nickname – Squats.  Decided to go behind a tree and take a dump at the moment of the enemy counterattack. Never made it back to his ‘Mech.  Death by Taco-Bell.
  • Took the phrase, ‘…or die trying…’ far too seriously.
  • Suggested that he could write a better novel than any of the established BattleTech authors.  Was castrated, drawn and quartered, trampled on, and his remain were buried in eight different latrines.  According to the authors, “We could and should have done so much more but we are paid by the word.”

A Live PD Bingo Game For Your Quarantine Fun (Some True Crime Fun!)

Being a true crime author I am a huge fan of A&E’s LivePD  Things I learned watching Live PD  I figured since everyone is forced to sit and watch TV this weekend, I would provide you a fun little game to add to your viewing pleasure.

Just like regular Bingo, you want to get five across.  The first one that does, wins.  I’m providing four game boards, but you can easily make your own.  You can come up with your own prizes, be it shots or cookies — whatever floats your boat.  Simply print and cut these out, use pennies, beans, pickles, or whatever to mark your progress.  Good luck!

Feel free to share this and have some fun watching Live PD while stuck in your house!

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