We got together this weekend in Seattle to map out where we are taking the BattleTech storyline. First off, it was mentally (and sometimes emotionally) exhausting. We started at 8am and went well into the night. I have to admit, I had fun despite the changes I need to do refine the work. The reason I had fun is that I think most of the changes are for the better…so that the fans of BattleTech will like it and so it can better feed future products. I appreciate your patience.
I had a lot of fun with Mike Stackpole getting caught up and brainstorming some very cool ideas that you will get to see at some point. It was fun to see Ray, John, and Brent too. Ray wore a different house or unit hat every day which, I have to admit, made me jealous and roused my competitive nature. Loren and Randall were in their element, though it was akin to herding cats. For some folks it was their first time in such an esteemed (albeit mad) gathering. For some of us old veterans, it was a trip down memory lane.
Our debates were lively, frustrating, and hilarious. I know you fans would love to see all of my notes – and that is never happening. Here’s the fun teasing stuff I feel safe sharing:
(At breakfast). Blaine: “Hey Randall, I see a press release that you guys are re-releasing the Succession Wars boxed set. Pretty aggressive given the Kickstarter isn’t it?” Randal: “What are you talking about?” Everyone went to their phones in unison…hilarity followed…
Two in-depth discussion and debates about technologies that do not exist. Loren: “We have to understand how it works so we never use it again.” Only in that room does that sentence have any real meaning.
“Life is cheap – BattleMechs aren’t.”
“Remember, we’re a little cash-strapped right now.” (Yes, the sarcasm was heavy in the meeting.) This was running joke #1.
“While you guys were having a sidebar, we added a few things to the list…” This actually qualifies as a running joke (see below).
Blaine: “As the only person in this room that has taught at a US military academy, twice, let me say…”
Brent breaking out the miniatures in the middle of our debate. I thought we were going to draw a Circle of Equals on the table and dice it out.
Blaine: “So we are setting in stone the list of novels, correct?” Everyone: “Yes.” Blaine: “Good, because I stuck on a Clan Wolverine novel on there and you just approved it.” (Followed with a shit-eating grin) Randall – with Sharpee in hand, “I can fix that!”
Loren: “So what do we call the new magazine?” Mike: “War Porn Quarterly.” John: “That will sell copies…”
(Everyone at one point or another) “Where is House Arano on the map?” Running joke #2. You needed to be there, but it was funny.
Blaine impersonating Edgar G. Robinson from a 20’s gangster film.
Randall: “Let’s face it, Katherine was our favorite person to hate.” A room of nods in unison followed.
Loren: “So, does X have any kids? They must have had kids, I mean the guy is like 45 now.” I cannot tell you the number of times we were reconstructing famous house genetic trees.
All (at one point or another): “WWJWD?”
The older guys, repeatedly, “Well, back in the FASA days…” We wore those words as a badge of honor with a dash of shame.
Randall: “I think I can make a ‘Mech summersault in terms of the physics, but I’m not sure we should have done it in fiction…”
Loren: “I think it would be great to capture one of these sessions entirely on film, but then I’m glad we don’t. No one really needs to see how the sausage is made.”
No one was killed during the session, though I will say we plotted the deaths and births of many characters. I can’t speak for the others, but we all seemed to have good time…I know I did. Please don’t press for more details. It is my job to simply be a tease…
As I sit here afternoon after the Kickstarter closed, writing the novella for the boxed set, I can’t help but be proud about the future prospects of BattleTech. I’m sure my friends over at CGL are suffering from a collective Kickstarter hangover at this point. Me, I’m just putting words down on a great little story and enjoying my inner geek immensely.
I have had fans asking me questions about the Kickstarter, including one from Russia. For the record, I had nothing to do with the Kickstarter formally. I don’t work for Catalyst – I’m a mercenary (he he he) that is paid for my words. I cannot answer your queries. No, I don’t know when the story will be out for non-Kickstarter people (hey, you had your chance!) No, I don’t know when it will be hard copy either. My ignorance is a blessed defense at times.
Before the KS launched I tossed my name in the ring to do some writing for it because, well, it’s BattleTech; duh… I was taken up on my offer with a call to get the first fiction done a few days before Gen Con. Alright, game on! That morphed into Randall saying, “Hey, make it a two-part story, with the second part to go into the boxed set.” Sure…why not?
What most people don’t ever fully understand is that we authors are fans of BattleTech too. Loren, Randall, and myself have been contributing to the universe for decades. We are friends as well. There are stories to tell here, but as Loren said at Gen Con, “not until the statute of limitations has lapsed.” Let’s just leave it at, we are friends and friends support each other. I knew they were going to need to have some fiction, so I raised my hand.
A handful of fans have “nagged” over the years that CGL wasn’t giving love to the Ghost Bears in terms of fiction. I wrote about them in Roar of Honor, but that had been a while ago. Contrary to what most people think, I DO listen to the fan community. So I thought, in the spirit of the Kickstarter, “Let’s give the fans what they want.” So a Ghost Bear centric story was born. Seyla!
Secretly, I have wanted to write about the Draconis Combine for decades. Did I exploit this opportunity to do something I have secretly wanted to do for ages? Hell yes! You read the part where I called myself a mercenary didn’t you? I only hope I got it right. You Combine fans, I am sure, will let me know.
Frankly, the hardest part so far was getting the names of backers for the story from Loren. I know, I was pretty low in terms of priorities. I finally squeezed him for a few and “improvised” on the others.
At Gen Con I got to meet with Adam Cunningham, who was in my story. I told him about where his character would be going and he loved it. Frankly, I was happy to meet one of the Kickstarter contributors who I would be crafting into the fiction. I would really like to connect with those involved with this next piece, and let them know in advance where they ended up. Maybe I can convince CGL to host a video-chat session for the handful of us…who knows?
Yesterday, the last day of the Kickstarter, in Warrenton, Virginia, in our local game store, I saw someone reading Jennifer’s Iron Dawn novel with a big pile of BattleTech stuff in front of him. I introduced myself and the guy said that the Kickstarter was getting him back into BattleTech all over again. He had convinced the store manager to buy in at Merchant Caste level too. I don’t think he believed I was one of the writers…but that was okay. He told me that BattleTech had been a big influence in his life and that it was very cool to see it coming back so strong. It made me proud to be a part of the universe. I never tire of hearing the story of how BattleTech impacted people’s lives.
My only concern with the Kickstarter was that it was going to consume BattleTech to the point where some of the really cool stuff we have planned would not be deployed. I received assurances that is not going to be the case, which was a relief. While all of you are looking to the Clan Invasion era, my gaze is forward to the future as well.
Bear (pun intended) in mind I could have mooched most of the stuff that comes with the Kickstarter…for “research” purposes. Instead I got caught up in it all and bought in just like one of the fans…three hours before the end. Besides, it was the best way to see the final product of Rules of Engagement. You guys got to see it long before I did. It’s always that way with the authors, we are at the back end of seeing final product.
The new fiction for the boxed set (working title, TheBurdens of Honor) is, well, awesome – but my perspective is pretty narrow and self-absorbed. Like many of you, I’m waiting to see the stuff starting to come in March. I have some paint schemes picked out – Smoke Jaguars and Jade Falcons…go figure.
A lot of the success of this Kickstarter is going to hinge on artists and authors – which have been the heart and soul of BattleTech since the beginning. These guys are more than up to the task. My hand remains up, ready to do my part. It’s bound to be a bumpy and totally enjoyable ride – one that has rekindled the spirit of BattleTech for the fan community.
For me, this year’s Gen Con was BattleTechlicious! I saw a lot of stuff, played a lot of games, and reconnected with the fan base. I made new friends, connected with others, and fought glorious battles and secured hard-fought, yet honorable, victories.
Man, I need a beer…
So, this will seem a bit rambling…I’m coming down after the insanity that always is Gen Con. But for those of you that could not attend, I assure you some interesting tid bits you might have missed. First, let’s dive into non-BattleTech stuff.
I came to Gen Con with the intent on securing three products which I will review in other posts. I got two of them. First was Green Ronin’s Modern Age. Don’t ask why, let’s just say I love Green Ronin’s production values and game quality. Second was Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game. Why? Because nothing say Christmas and the holidays with family like Die Hard. I am embarrassed that no one had produced this game decades ago.
The third one I wanted was the Gale Force Nine Aliens cooperative mini’s game. That wasn’t at the con. I pressed someone at the booth, “What the hell dude? This is months overdue…” What I got, informally and unconfirmed of course, was that they would be issuing a press statement on the game in September and that the issue has something to do with licensing. I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that we aren’t going to get that game, which leaves me bummed. I really wanted to play Hudson…
There IS an Alien RPG coming out soon. https://alien-rpg.com/ This was a bit of a surprise. From the web site, it looks awesome. Free League publishing is putting it out. Oddly enough, I can’t wait.
There was a new Marvel miniatures game previewed at the con as well from Atomic Mass – Marvel Crisis Protocol. The minis looked awesome and they were two deep for the demos. At $99 – I’m hesitating order a copy…but not for long.
Fantasy Flight Games released the Star Wars Legion big-ass boxed set for the Clone Wars. It looked great. I saw some other Star Wars miniatures stuff, including my first viewing of the campaign system for Star Wars Armada…at least that’s what I think I saw. Far too many people crammed in to get free demos.
CMON – who are awesome, released a House Baratheon Starter Set. I was going to pick it up because it was big and had a lot of minis – but I’m still painting minis from the original Kickstarter. Since I am retiring from my day job in October, I anticipate breakding down and ordering this in November.
Paizo released the much anticipated and nerd-bantered Pathfinder new edition. People were complaining about it while loading up copies in their arms to purchase. Gamers will complain, then hand you their credit cards.
Funko released a game system. You had to get a ticket (free) to go through a demo to buy it. My grandson and I played the Batman version and enjoyed it. The system is simple making it perfect for kids. They have a Harry Potter, a second Batman one, and, brace yourself, The Golden Girls. Yes, you can pit Blanch up against the Joker! I struggle with the mental image of that last one, but the games are interchangeable. With four Funko figures, you can’t buy the figures alone for the price of the game – so for my grandson, it was a win-win.
Tons of other game products were out that I either missed last year or were released. Let me just say that the industry is alive and kicking.
In terms of games I played, my grandson and I played his first game of D&D. I enjoyed a chance to play the game rather than DM. He had fun. Though he enjoyed learning and playing Pokemon a lot more.
As it turns out, my grandson loves playing the BattleTech pods – which made my day. We also did our annual Paint and Take. My wife painted a pink Space Marine, an image I cannot purge from my memory. It was fun, and that was all that really mattered.
BattleTech garnered a lot of attention with the Kickstarter. I will tackle the elephant in the room. “Where were your novels and the ilClan sourcebook?” This was covered in the “What’s up with Catalyst?” event. The books have been done for a while. They are going under a pretty in-depth review with the powers that be. We are setting the stage for a lot of fun stuff to come, as such, scrutiny will only make the products better (I hope.) If it comes down to rushing a product out vs. getting it right, I’ll error on quality every time. So stop asking me about release dates.
I was invited to sit in with some of the backers Thursday to talk shop with Randall and Loren. It was a stroll down memory lane for all of us. I think what most people forget is that we are all fans of BattleTech too. We have been with it a long time and to us it is a precious thing that we care about. I joke a lot about being a mercenary writer, but in reality, I love the game, characters, and the universe I play in.
Jason Schmetzer, Mike Stackpole, and I had a good chuckle at the booth talking about BattleTech, which I enjoyed. We never get a chance as authors to simply sit and talk BattleTech.
I spent some time with the infamous Krull Brothers at the Wolfnet gaming session Thursday evening. I loved talking the game and universe with them. I also got to pop in on the Battle of Thorin and saw Archer’s Avengers in action. For an author, seeing your stuff being played is a real reward. I tried to get to the Snord’s Irregular’s game, but could not find it. Dang it!
This year some fans gave me some nice gifts. It is never expected but always appreciated. One fan delivered a bottle of bourbon for my upcoming October retirement from the corporate world. I received a special rock from the Tait factory in Limerick where they made Confederate Uniforms. Someone whose name I didn’t get, got me a nice BattleTech shirt too.
The week was capped off with Master’s and Minions. Craig Gulledge, Mechwarrior extraordinaire and a fellow Scotsman was my partner. I piloted a Savage Wolf and a Marauder, and he piloted a pair of Penetrators – which opened up an endless series of jokes about double penetration. It was fun playing with ‘Mechs I actually designed in his case.
We waged a battle based on bad jokes, intimidation, and a dollop of sheer arrogance. We had a lot of fun, and were one of the last groups to wrap up at 1:00am. My Savage Wolf was lost, but I took tons off of the opposition before I went down. Victory? Aff! Fun? Absolutely!
The fans that went up against us enjoyed themselves, at least I hope so. I did not go down from Death from Above this year, so that alone made it a good run for me.
The battle rages
“Hey, they aren’t retreating…what’s with that?
“I thought we won initiative…”
“Never go up against two Scotsmen…”
So there you have it…another successful Gen Con. Seyla!
When I worked on the Wolf Clan Sourcebook, I knew there were two things we would need. First, a list of all of the Clan Bloodnames. Second, a map of the homeworlds. I undertook both of these efforts just so that future authors would have references to work off of…you’re welcome.
This weekend, while rooting around, I found the second draft (the FASA version) of my crudely handrawn map.
A few tid bits about the worlds…
Marshall, Albion, Niles and Homer were named after small towns in Michigan where I was raised.
Lum is named after a nickname my father had, a throwback to the old radio program Lum and Abner.
Grant’s Station was named after the antique shop my parents owned in Galesburg, Michigan – Grant’s Antique Market.
Roche was named for a great manager I had when working at Ford Truck Operations.
Foster was named after Foster Brooks, a wonderful comedian.
So anyway, I thought fans might enjoy a glimpse into a bit of BattleTech history.
I really started playing MWO about seven months ago. It all started because of the BattleTech pods at Gen Con. I LOVE playing in the pods every year – so does my son and my grandson. I was hoping to recapture some of that experience at home on my PC.
Bear in mind, I’m 56 years old – so I don’t have that energy-drink-fueled set of reflexes that a young kid playing the game does. I also didn’t do a lot of research into MWO before jumping in – other than it looked like it might be a good way for me to get my BattleTech fix on.
The first few weeks were depressing. I seemed to be a magnet for long range missile indirect fire. When I wasn’t being blown apart by LRM’s fired by enemies I couldn’t see, I was having freaking Ravens and Fleas running laps around me, firing at me with pea shooters until my ‘Mech collapsed into a pile of smoking debris. God I hate Ravens!
Some fellow fans (the 13th Oriente Hussars who I now regularly fight alongside on Friday nights) took me under their wing. First off, I learned, that the stock ‘Mechs were, “less than freaking effective.” Customizing a ‘Mech isn’t quite intuitive but I got some help. Heat is a real issue, but a lot of it was how I configured the target interlock triggers – so I worked on that. Also, I wasn’t using skills at all. I was sent by my comrades some great YouTube videos that helped me figure that morass.
I still suck…but not nearly as much. Moreover, once I got over those hurdles, I found my groove with the game. Now it is a treat for me. When I finish writing a chapter or something, I log on and give myself three quick drops.
My callsign is…are you ready…Blaine Lee Pardoe. Yeah, I know, real creative. Well it is. At least once a week I hear somebody threaten me, “Hey man, if the real Blaine Pardoe finds out that you are using his name, he’s going to be pissed.” Efforts to explain to them the truth often fall on deaf ears. “Yeah – right, you’re really HIM.” Also, it can be stupid to have that callsign, because a few folks have killed me and really enjoyed that. “I killed the guy that wrote some of this stuff!” “Laugh it up pretty boy – I’m switching to my Atlas Kraken for the next drop.”
I am now using it for research…at least that is my excuse with my wife. I have picked up some wonderful slang for BattleMech names and such which I am incorporating into my fiction. Funny how that works isn’t it?
So if you see me online – yes it is me. Yes it is cool to ask me questions. No it is not cool to shoot me in the back. It is most cool if you see a Raven heading my way to kill it.
All of this talk about the ilClan. You know, we might just be messing with you. The damn thing has been promised for years after all. Wouldn’t it be pisser if we just didn’t do it?
Anyway, as usual, I wanted to do something for April Fool’s Day again. Last year I did BattleTech Products that never reached the market. Before that I did Operation Freakin’ Awesomeness. Before all of this, I explored storylines we didn’t purse.
I figured, why not release the proposed outline for the ilClan Sourcebook? My first draft was whacked, but it was Ray that said, “You haven’t gone far enough.” As it turns out, you really shouldn’t give me a loaded gun like that.
TABLE OF CONTENTS – the key concept here is to spread the blame around as much as possible. Name dead people if that is what it takes. Include some fake names, especially as playtesters for the new ‘Mechs. We really haven’t had time to “validate” the stats or continuity.
INTRO FICTION (6k words)
Devlin Stone’s initial plan (Operation LANCE BOIL) for dealing with the ilClan is to use some long-captured Word of Blake tech that will blow up Terra. His thinking here is, “If there is no Terra for the Clans to set foot on, no one can be named as the ilClan.” The idea has a lot of merit, except for the loss of the cradle of mankind and billions of lost lives. Stone abandons this plan, after much debate, for dubious reasons, “I keep all of my stuff on Terra. Blowing it up would take out my miniature collection.” Note: This is totally plausible with our fan base, but not their spouses. This forces him to seek out new allies in order to stop the horrific and long-overdue Clan onslaught. (Operation WE ARE SO FU*KING SCREWED)
Devlin Stone’s secret mission to Clan Wolverine (Periphery world location – see Pardoe’s document on the fate of the Wolverines – section on “The Resurgent”) The risks of Clans Wolf or Jade Falcon taking Terra are too great for Stone. He proposes an evil alliance (cue the music when the Legion of Doom used to appear on Super Friends). The Wolverines come to Terra, joining the Fidelis/Smoke Jaguars there, and can proclaim themselves the ilClan(s). When the Wolves or Jade Falcons arrive, the combined RAF/Fidelis/Wolverine force will wipe them out, or so Stone hopes. The Wolverines want Clan blood in revenge and quickly agree. The stage is set for something cool or at the very least, utterly confusing.
The General of the Armies that Stone has tucked away is a clone of Victor Steiner-Davion. Victor 2.0, named Hannibal, is like Victor Steiner-Davion, but brutal, vicious, a tad kinky, suffering from male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction, and incontinence. There may be a hint of the Master’s DNA in him – because we all know the fan base loves the Jihad. We won’t be doing the big reveal as to his identity just yet. He is still short though, which will be the hint for the readers. Hannibal is looking forward to crushing the Clans and getting himself a studded dog collar.
Stone has also cloned his sister, Katherine, as Stone’s personal consort. Think Princess Leia in the slave outfit, but Katherine Steiner Davion – so most fans will loathe her. Her name is Katie and is utterly devoted to Stone, but willing to sleep with Hannibal behind Stone’s back! Ohh, intrigue! Ohh, incest. Ew… Outside of House Liao, we have never really played much with incest. Given the popularity of Game of Thrones, the powers that be think incest is a winner (per John Helfers).
SECTION – THE STORM BREAKS (3.5k words)
Operation BUTT-SCRATCHER opens with Jade Falcon operatives on Terra taking down Fortress Republic. As it turns out, there is a big switch in Geneva marked (On/Off) and all you have to do is toss it. Stone considers this “hidden in plain sight.”
The Jade Falcons engage in a massive naval battle in the Sol system and commence landing after a batchall with Stone. Imagine Malvina’s face when she learns that the Wolverines are back! Talk about getting your thong twisted! This section ends when the first Wolverine and Republic units hand the Jade Falcons a stunning defeat at the Battle of Berlin. (Artist Notes: Use image of Russian’s raising flag over the Reichstag with the flag of Republic of the Sphere.)
Sidebars: Wolverine’s Bioregenerative Armor, GenWeps, Quantum Disruptors, Mjolnir Gauss Hammer Projectors, Sonic Shredders, and Ultra-Elementals, and Wave Motion Guns and Cannons, Thor and Odin orbital spikes.
SECTION – THE BATTLE FOR NORTH AFRICA (2.8k words
Clan Jade Falcon is bogged down in North Africa, staggered by the revelation that the Republic is allied with Clan Wolverine and arguments about what colors to use to paint their BattleMechs that will camouflage them best in the desert. This allows us to explore the exciting world of camouflaging three story fast running war machines all over again. I personally think the fans embrace this.
The Republic forces suffer a staggering loss in Tunisia. The Fidelis wipe out the Falcon’s Green Arrow ™ Galaxy in Palestine. Malvina unleashed tactical nukes ‘cause she can.
Sidebars: Africa Burns – Summary of Falcon’s nuke strikes, losses, etc. Here we paint Malvina is a positive light – after all, it’s the freaking Wolverines she is slaughtering!
SECTION – LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD – WOLVES AT THE DOOR (3.341 words)
Alaric discovers that Fortress Republic has fallen and arrives in Terra to find the Jade Falcons Turkey Baster Galaxy trapped in Africa fighting the greatest foe of the Clans, the Wolverines. saKhan Garner Kerensky sets off for the Ghost Bears Dominion while Alaric lands to relieve Malvina (Operation BLIND SQUIRREL). Yes, the Wolves are saving the Jade Falcons. The fans will never see this coming! Hannibal plows into the Wolves with Stone’s Gallstones, wrecking havoc and making them run like a bunch of little wussies.
Anastasia goes to find the Wolves Dragoons to bring them in to help defeat the Republic.
Sidebars: Alaric’s Big Gamble – Choosing Your Friends Carefully. Intel report, new Battlearmor spotting in the field and why that is bad for you!
SECTION – BREAKOUT (3.5k words)
The combined Wolf/Falcon forces drive into Europe and Malvina nukes Geneva. The Northwind Highlanders arrive in defense of the Republic, forcing Alaric to retreat into Russia. Tara Campbell faces Malvina in battle and kills her. Note: We get a great scene of Tara playing the bagpipes with one foot on the blasted and bloated corpse of Malvina Hazen. Yes, it will piss off the Jade Falcon fans, but Malvina was never as warm and cuddly as we made her out in the fiction.
Khan Randi Franklin of the Wolverines is mortally wounded, turning leadership of the Wolverines to saKhan Ralf Hallis.
Sidebars: Profile of Randi Franklin. Per Ray’s notes, Randi is to have a heart for the dot over the letter i, it is some sort of cute trademark of hers. Make sure layout is aware of this. Also, we need a large fictional piece on the death of Malvina Hazen. There will be a hint that her BattleMech has been sabotaged in some way prior to the fight. It is a lot like Clue ™ in terms of who may have wanted to kill her. “I have Trillian Steiner, with the candlestick, in the bunker…”
SECTION – THE DRAGOON BETRAYAL (Reference Pardoe’s Wolves Dragoons novella for details) (4k words)
Anastasia’s attempts to lure in Wolf’s Dragoons take a bit of a twisted turn. She barely escapes alive as the Dragoons jump into the Wolf Empire, already secretly under contract with the Republic. Alaric’s empire is being consumed while he is on Terra.
Sidebars: New Dragoons General reveal…Jamie Wolf’s Clone – fused with his memories which the Dragoons have preserved. A resurgent House Marik forces link up with the Dragoons in the former Wolf Empire. The Marik’s have secured their position of power through a series of killings that make the Godfather Part II seem like a documentary on how pencils are made. They whip out 24 new ‘Mechs and vehicles, conveniently just enough to fill a new TRO. It’s so cool when stuff like that works out, isn’t it?
Sidebars: House Marik’s Sudden Rise to Prominence. Finding that cache of long lost Wobbie-tech sure paid off. See Randall’s notes on The Hidden Enemy – The WOB and What The Fuck They Are Up To Now.
SECTION – ULTIMATE BETRAYAL (2k words)
The Fidelis turn on everyone…payback on the Clans and the Republic and anyone else that screwed them over in the past (which is, well everyone). It isn’t their brightest moment as they are wiped out, mostly at the hands of the Republic Armed Forces and the Jade Falcons who oddly find themselves, for a moment, fighting the same enemy. Imagine their surprise?
The Fidelis survivors mount an exodus off of Terra with promises to return in a century and give everyone in the Inner Sphere an atomic wedgie, aka a Trial of Crack-Thrustus.
Sidebars: Where is the Fidelis Custos, Paul Moon? He disappeared just before the end of his people. Rumors include Word of Blake smuggling him off of Terra. Malvina’s Ghost – a MechWarrior sees her hovering over the battlefield, then survives an assault that should have killed a dozen men. The legend of Malvina’s Ghost spreads and will be a cult in a new era. Warriors that see her visage are granted survival against all odds. Oddly enough, a lot of ex-Blakists line up for this cult (those whack-jobs would follow any stupid vision.)
SECTION – THE CONFLAGRATION (2.9k words)
In Asia, the Republic releases its Super-Heavy Tanks, code-named Dinos. These are the size of city blocks, slow moving, but massively armored and armed. They are surrounded by new drones, ED-209’s. The Clans counter these with their new Wave Motion mounted weapons and hack the ED-209’s, turning them on each other and the Dinos.
The Republic’s new transmorphable Land-Air-and-Sea ‘Mechs lead a seaborne assault on the Philippines, despite the fact that it is defended by only a rouge cluster of Solhama, each oddly wearing a right eye patch (Unit: Wolf’s Mange Cluster). They achieve an early victory as the Clan commanders laugh uncontrollably at the sight of these new war machines and are gunned down while doubled over in hilarity. Once they rally the Republic forces convert into Prius’s and conceal themselves in a used car lot in Manila, opting to wage a largely unsuccessful by humorous guerilla war from there.
Speaking of gorillas, Hannibal unleashes squads of up-armored gorilla troops with mind-control helmets on the Clan Elemental forces. These “Grodds” proved to be effectively hilarious once the Jade Falcons learned how to jam their command signals and they began firing at any indiscriminate targets. This battle takes place in Vatican City because it is one of the few places we have never fought a battle and Brent believes that the Vatican Map Set is going to be a big seller with the kids.
Alaric is killed in Asia by an UltraElemental Star painted as the Green Bay Packers, but not enough for us to get sued – if you catch my drift. The Wolves are leaderless! Anastasia arrives just in time to save them from a complete rout. The Jade Falcons wipe out a lot of Republic troops and land in North America under their new Khan Bob Hazen. Sidebars: See the novel, XXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX Chapter 18 for death of Alaric. Do the fiction/Sidebars from the UltraElemental’s perspective, after-action report. Remember, these are essentially giants, so let’s get into stuff like their eating and hygene habits – the fans will love it! Separate Sidebars: Did Alaric really die? No body is been found. Reports are he may yet live… One account has him dressing in drag to get off-world on a transport heading to the Periphery. Other major Sidebars: Bob Hazen Profile from the Wolf Watch (make sure we mention his struggles with IBS – that figures in a novel coming next year – Bowels of Honor!)
The Ghost Bears jump into the Sol System (Operation TWIST AND SHOUT) and immediately the Fortress Republic (now weaponized) technology is turned on their ships as they materialize in-system. Warships go boom! Only a handful of Ghost Bears survive as their dropships are popped like balloons – revenge by the Wolverines who have a bit of a hard-on for the Ghost Bears after all of these centuries. Garner Kerensky lands with the Ghost Bears and is in fighting in Brazil. He is seen with no shirt, Putin-Style, going all medieval on the Wolverine’s collective asses.
A Galaxy of Ghost Bears (The Care Bear ™ Legionnaires) land in South America and face a surprise by Stone – ComGuard units! These ComStar units were preserved by the Republic and are fresh against the Ghost Bear survivors. These units employ new Inner Sphere technology that rip into the hides of the Ghost Bears and devastate their ranks. saKhan Wanker Bekker is killed by multiple death from above attacks by the ComGuards quasi elite ATT Customer Service Division. (Yes, we have new rules to cover this situation.) The Care Bears get in one devastating assault, taking out the ComGuard General Xander Davion-Kell (Julian Davion’s long lost love child with Calamity Kell) sending the Guards falling back. There may yet be hope for da’ Bears…
Sidebars: Using the Republic Technology as Weapons. What happened to Garner Kerensky Part II? Hiding ComStar in Plain Sight.
SECTION – FALL OF THE REPUBLIC (4.5k words)
The last Republic forces are crushed by the Jade Falcons. Stone’s Leghumper Legion slam into them, filled with rage and fury at the loss of Republic that has protected them for so long, taking down the last of Clan Jade Falcon. Clan Wolf retreats to India, devastated and pursued by the Clan Wolverine forces. Using Terra’s massive call center complexes for cover, the Wolves seem to be getting away.
The Northwind Highlanders (Your wife’s lipstick battalion) join ComStar in South America, further savaging the Ghost Bears uber-elite Snuggles Brigade just because we want to see kilted BattleMechs take on the Ghost Bears. Note from Brent: Iron Wind is producing eight different tiny tartan kilts for sale this year so that players can put them on their favorite ‘Mechs…sure to be hot item.
Jamie Wolf v3.0 rules the Wolf Empire, establishing a chain of burger franchises, Dragoon Fries and Shakes. He also makes a killing selling Dragoon action figures. He emerges as one of the more sane leaders in the Inner Sphere in this new era.
Meanwhile in the Federated Suns (Phil to write. Summary: The Combine and Confederation forces pinch House Davion down to a dozen worlds. Julian Davion is rumored to have gone insane from the losses. The Federated Suns is no longer considered a viable House. The worlds are clogged with FedSun refugees. The Cappies and Dracs can each claim a complete victory. They don’t conquer the survivors because there is nothing left to fight and no one wants to deal with the refugee issue.
Stone’s newly formed Knights of the Republic Sentinel Defenders of the Realm (rolls off the tongue don’t you think?) is made up of all of the Knights and Paladins, led by Levin and Redburn, surge into battle against the Clan Wolf forces but are pummeled badly (since most of them are antiques) giving Clan Wolf one moment in the sun with a victory.
Debauchery Kell (Calamity’s illegitimate twin brother) attacks the Green Lantern Corps Galaxy of the Jade Falcons. When pressed in battle he uses his Phantom Kell skill to summon the ghost of Morgan Kell. Morgan’s ghost destroys the attacking ‘Mech, saving Debauchery’s life, then goes off for years to meditate.
Sidebars: The Kell Hounds and Wolves in Exile eliminate the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone. (Phil to provide map) The Lyran Commonwealth is saved (Brent made us do it.) This should be a double-sized Sidebars given its importance. Phantom Kell Skill stats for the RPG (see Phil’s notes, it was his idea)
SECTION – ROAR OF DOOM (4.001k words)
The Wolves are surrounded and only a handful of them, led by Anastasia Kerensky, manage to escape alive. The Ghost Bears are wiped out as well, but the cost was every last one of the ComStar troops. No one sheds a bloody damn tear. Hannibal emerges from the fight with the bodies of his victims chained to his BattleMech, their blood streaking his paint. Like I said, he’s a tad vicious.
Sidebars: Where are the Wolf survivors? Hell’s Horses attack the Ghost Bear Dominion, finding it mostly abandoned – as does the Combine. Note: What emerges is that the most powerful forces in the Inner Sphere is the Draconis Combine and the Capellan Confederation. Anastasia Kerensky – Some People Just Fucking Refuse to Die.
SECTION – ilClan!! (3.3k words)
While Devlin Stone is prepared to declare victory, he is betrayed by Clan Wolverine, who proclaims itself the ilClan. Stone refuses to acknowledge this claiming the victory as one for the Republic. He faces saKhan Ralf Hallis in a Circle of Equals only to be defeated by the Wolverines. (Brent says we have artwork for this already.) Stone does live and will go on to lead the Republic (well, what is left of it.) Note: It is during the fiction tied to this that we learn that Stone has an entire cybernetic body, courtesy of recovered Word of Blake technology. This means he can potentially live forever (because the fans absolutely love his character and the depth we have provided as to his backstory.)
Clan Wolverine REALLY wants the ilClanship. This is critical because no one has seen this coming (except that bastard blogger MechLivesMatter who posted his predictions a year ago, I hate that guy.) The Republic still stands – but not on Terra, but what is left of Prefecture X, led by bionic Stone (who we will have slowly go insane.) The Wolverines begin to rebuild to take the war to remaining Inner Sphere Clans in the new era – The Wars of Horrific Retribution and Gloom (first sourcebook due fall of 2019).
Sidebars: Profile of Ralf (Ralfy to his friends) Hallis – ilKhan. (Recommend using artwork that mirrors Ralphy from A Christmas Story) Devlin Stone – Bionic Warrior-god. Rumor: Arthur Davion – is he still a thing or are we over that?
IMPORTANT NOTES TO SOURCEBOOK WRITERS – FUTURE DIRECTION:
Alaric will resurface in the Lyran Commonwealth where he will become Archon and marry Anastasia Kerensky. Their love children will be important characters in the next era.
Hannibal will reemerge with an eye patch over his right eye two years from now leading a rag tag fleet of survivors in the last BattleStar into the Periphery. (Reminder: Brent is going to have 2000 eye patches made up for GenCon 2020 – Dubbed “The Year of the Eye-Patch!”
House Marik will surprise everyone by being the most stable government in the Inner Sphere. We know this is a bit predictable, but they are equipped with a WOB-tech droid army which basically is autonomous BattleMechs. We did this because only good positive things come from self-aware androids in science fiction.
We know fans will be upset by the demise of the Federated Suns. Hannibal’s fleet of refugees will forge a new empire and come back for revenge, and as the means to sell six more Tech Readouts. It will take 300 years but will be worth it.
In 2022 we will have the BattleTech home world Clans find their way back for some fighting – The Wars of Reaming (sequel to The Wars of Reaving)
We have ignored the Sea Foxes and Snow Ravens. We thought it might complicate the sourcebook, but we will leak to the fan base that we have “special plans for these clans.” They always fall for that shit. In reality, the plans call for them to attack Terra for the epic GenCon 2021 event – tentatively titled – Screw the Wolverines Again!
SECTION – NEW UNITS FIGHTING FOR THE BATTLE OF TERRA
(See Phil’s list plus the following. Artists needed for the new Stone’s unit patches)
1st ComStar Division (Ghosts of Focht. All ‘Mechs have an eyepatch painted on them like their namesake)
2nd ComStar Division (ATT Customer Service)
3rd ComStar Division (Testicles of Tukayyid) With the Buddy the Elf Extermination Brigade
2nd Century, Fidelis (Jaguars of Doom)
The Dumfries Demolishers (Elite Northwind Highlander Company)
The Kell Hounds (rebuilt)
Stone’s Leghumper Legion
Stone’s Toenail Fungus (All ‘Mechs painted a dull flat yellow)
Stone’s Migraine Brigade
Stone’s Restless Leg Syndrome Battalion
Stone’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Stone’s Hangnail Legion
Stone’s Diaper Rash (This is a youth-brigade of young volunteers)
Stone’s Gallstones (personal troops for Hannibal/Victor 2.0)
Stone’s Depends ™
Stone’s Liver Spots (great cameo pattern with this unit!)
Toejam of Stone – staffed with dwarves – these are known as Stone’s Munchkins and the Lollipop Guide Fire Brigade
The Fox News Irregulars (Merc Unit)
Fee Fi Fo Fum…Uber UltraElemental Unit – Remember, these guys are basically genetically bred giants.
Clan Jade Falcon Green Arrow ™ Galaxy
Clan Jade Falcon Green Goblin ™ Galaxy
Clan Jade Falcon Emerald City Galaxy
Clan Wolf – The Wolf’s Mange Cluster
Clan Ghost Bear – Lambda Lambda Mu Galaxy – The Care Bear ™ Legionnaires
Clan Ghost Bear – Yogi Irregulars
Clan Ghost Bear – The Snuggles Brigade
Clan Wolf – The Angry Little Bitches Cluster
Clan Wolf – The Rabid Rottweilers Galaxy
Clan Wolf – Michael Vick’s Vengeance Cluster (again, too soon?)
Clan Wolf – Smells Like Wet Dogs In Here Assault Cluster
The Northwind Highlanders (Your wife’s lipstick battalion) Answers the age-old question of “What do you wear under your kilt?”
SECTION – NEW WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT: (Brent has had the powers-that-be bless the stats and can provide)
GenWeps (Brent has final refinements to the mutation tables)
Quantum Whip (we can stick the word “quantum” in front of any weapon and it sounds cool and deadly)
Enemanator (works similar to the Colonsocopy Anti-Infantry Ray but is more of a weapon that targets the MechWarrior in the cockpit)
Kloaking Device ™ Comes in light blue color
Remote Cockpit Systems
Class 7 Disco-Ball Scatter Laser
Molecular Acid Blasters (should look a lot like a super soaker)
Photon Destabilizer Weapons
Akira Laser Flashers
Thundar Disruption Hammer
Wildstar Wave Motion Guns and Cannons (what are the chances of us being sued twice for borrowing IP from Japan?)
Colonoscopy Anti-Infantry Ray – AKA Brown Ray Weapons – You can guess the effects on the targets, right? Infantry hit with this weapon need to be repainted with brown paints immediately.
Tachyon Vortex Cannon – nickname – Atomic Wedgie
Thor and Odin Orbital Spikes
Red Ryder Gauss Pellet Launcher
Mjolnir Gauss Hammer Projector
Pryor Class Enhanced Flamers – the older fans will get this
McClane Machinegun Array “Ho ho ho, now I have a machinegun…”
The Valhalla Organic Cohesion Eliminator (VOCX)
Twinkie Hypersonic Needler “That’s one hell of a Twinkie…”
UltraElementals – see notes, they are half the size of a BattleMech in full armor per Ray’s and Brent’s specification
SECTION – NEW BATTLEMECHS
Ball-Buster (186.5 ton Super-Dooper Heavy BattleMech)
Blood Upon the Risers is an American WWII paratrooper song about a paratrooper whose chute does not open. It appears several times in the HBO series, Band of Brothers. Band Of Brothers Blood On The Risers
I always thought that song was great. Then it hit me, we don’t have a good BattleTech song – one that captures big stompy ‘Mechs and particle projection cannons, trueborns, and stuff. So, this year, as part of my annual April Fool’s Day offering, I present to you – Blood Upon the Canopy – sung to the same tune:
He was a green MechWarrior who trembled with fright
He made sure his restraining straps were put on good, secure and tight
Outside of the cockpit he heard the artillery rumble and roar
He ain’t punching out no more
Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die
Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die
Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die
He aint’ punching out no more
The incoming LRMs tore his right torso to shreds
The laser beam hit his cockpit turning everything bright red
Warning lights flickered on filling his heart with dread
He ain’t punching out no more
His autocannon barrage was poorly aimed and went wild
The Clanner on the other side simply broke into a smile
He knew the Clansman would leave his battered body defiled.
He ain’t punching out no more
He unleashed his Alpha Strike making his cockpit a burning hell
The Clanner shrugged off the damage but he never even fell.
Inside his neurohelmet the sweat of fate he could only smell.
He ain’t punching out no more
He juked hard to the right, his arm was blown clean off
He was tossed about the cockpit hard and jostled pretty rough
The Clanner called to him asking, “You are toast quaiff?”
He ain’t punching out no more
His SRM missile rack was pounded into useless scrap,
His PPC sparked, a round had turned into nothing but crap.
Only then did he realize his lance had been led into a trap.
He ain’t punching out no more
His jumpjets flared and he rose up atop a brilliant blue flame
He came down hard, his left leg twisted and now it is just maimed
The evil Clanner taunted him, “They will never remember your name!”
He ain’t punching out no more
His missile ammo cooked off with a rumble through his CASE
His heat sinks burst and coolant sprayed all over the battlespace.
One salvo cratered his reactor housing, leaving not a trace.
He ain’t punching out no more
He grabbed the ejection ring and pulled it back with all his might
The cockpit canopy blew and shot him straight up out of sight.
The Clanner locked onto him with his PPC, purely out of spite
He ain’t punching out no more
He felt the blast shoot over him and into the bright blue sky
He saw the parachute disintegrate and he let out a cry.
The Clanner called out to him, “Freebirth prepare to die!”
He ain’t punching out no more
His BattleMech erupted in a massive ball of flame
He plummeted to the earth with no one left to blame
He hit the ground and his body was curmbled and left maimed
He ain’t punching out no more
He hit the ground, the sound was “SPLAT”, his blood went spurting high;
His comrades, they were heard to say “A HELL OF A WAY TO DIE!”
He lay there, rolling ’round in the welter of his gore
He ain’t punching out no more
As he lay there with his busted knees thrust over the top of his head
Then came the moment every Mechwarrior comes to fear and dread
“Tell my mother I didn’t fail House Davion, and I wish I wasn’t dead!”
He ain’t punching out no more
We buried what was left on a hillside not far from our post
We knew that MechWarrior well and were sorry he was toast.
He’ll never fight the heat or have to fear that he will in his cockpit roast
He ain’t punching out no more
Wayne Waco, Jamie Wolf and Archer Christofori
Horse, Aiden Pryde and even Natasha Kerensky
In Valhalla they await his coming with stein of Timbriqui
He ain’t punching out no more
(slowly, solemnly; about half the speed of the other verses)
There was blood upon the ejection seat and remains of his chute,
Intestines were a-dangling from his MechWarrior jumpsuit,
He was a mess, they picked him up, and poured him from his boots,
He ain’t punching out no more
Personally, I would love to hear this sung at GenCon this year, either at Masters and Minions or at the Catalyst Update Presentation. Print out copies – bring ‘em, sing ‘em.
For April Fool’s this year, my list of BattleTech plotlines and story ideas and plotlines that were never fully considered. Having been part of this universe for a long time, my sense of humor has been twisted rather tightly. Most of these concepts and story ideas were discarded for damn good reasons, though in all honesty, I think that the powers that be missed some golden opportunities with some of the ideas I’ve toyed with over the years. So, for a chuckle – here you go!
Kerensky’s Coup: When Stefan Amaris offers Kerensky the chance to serve under him – he accepts. While the Usurper secretly plots Kerensky’s assassination, the old man kills the First Lord first and assumes control of the Star League. The Rim Worlds Republic is shattered quickly as the SLDF units don’t have to fight their way into the Hegemony. The Star League never dies.
The last scene of Endgame is Katrina and Victor sleeping with each other.(Oh come on, you’ve all suspected that she secretly loved him…)
Kai Allard-Liao slips into an Elemental suit to prepare to do battle, but can’t use it because it’s too damn big (LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO WORK?). He climbs out and is squashed like a bug under the footpad of a Clan Vulture.
Nicholas Kerensky proposes the idea of the Clans and is then sedated and locked up. “Single combat when I have a fully company of ‘Mechs at my disposal, what in the hell is he thinking? Give up sex to reproduce using iron wombs? And what is up with all that babbling about Smoke Jaguars? What’s he been smoking?”
The Inner Sphere is invaded by giant intelligent chicken creatures. They are not only wiped out, but served as dinner to victors. (Courtesy of Colonel Wayne Waco Rogers Roasters)
The “What if I had a Jihad and no one showed up?” scenario. At the outbreak of the Jihad Outreach is reduced to radioactive slag. Only problem, Wolf’s Dragoons isn’t there. Uh oh. They got intel on the strike and moved against Terra. Double uh oh. The Dragoons shatter the Word of Blake there and declare themselves at the ilClan.
The “Liao isn’t as dumb as he looks,” scenario. Mad Max Liao, suspicious of the wedding of Melissa Steiner and Hanse Davion – orders his military to invade the Federated Suns at the time of the wedding reception. They catch the Davion forces on their staging worlds, unprepared, and inflict massive casualties. The Federated Suns crumbles, ill-equipped for a defense.
Jerome Blake IS The Master. Using lost Star League tech, Blake’s brain is put in a cybernetic body and never steps down as the head of ComStar. None of the religious mumbo jumbo ever becomes part of the ComStar culture. ComStar essentially becomes a very big powerful corporation with its own army. When the Jihad happens, its is ComStar putting an end to the Succession Wars.
When Victor-Steiner Davion denies Trent a chance to command, Trent kills him. “Any last words Mighty Mouse?”
Kahn Ward is attacked by a marauding band of giant intelligent chicken creature which peck him to death.
Primus Waterly named the First Lord of a new Star League. Her plan to cripple communications works (Operation Scorpion,) bringing the Federated Commonwealth to its knees, then the rest of the Inner Sphere follows. She kills Focht and establishes herself as the First Lord of a new Star League.
House Liao’s ultimate betrayal. During the Clan invasion, House Liao strikes at House Marik and Davion, taking out manufacturing centers. Without arms coming in, the Clans crush the other houses and Sun-Tzu Liao has backed a winner, earning him a place of honor in the court of the Star League.
The Outbound Light doesn’t find the Clans, they find the Wolverines. Talk about oops! The Wolverines tip off the Inner Sphere about what happened to Kerensky’s children. The Inner Sphere unites out of fear and armed with the intel given by the Wolverines – leads as preemptive strike into Clan space.
Vlad kills Phelan Kell. There should be more to this but just nurse it for a moment. Ahh…
Devlin Stone is the son of Frederick Steiner (Focht) and Myndo Waterly. She wasn’t killed, but has been the true force behind ComStar all along. I know – scary…
Snord’s Irregulars launch a surprise attack on Terra at the end of the Third Succession War and seize the planet. Cranston Snord becomes the new First Lord of a new Star League. It’s like Pawn Stars, but with ‘Mechs.
Jerome Blake doesn’t seize Terra – instead House Kurita does in a surprise assault. With control over ComStar and Terra, it is a battle royale between the rest of the Inner Sphere and the Draconis Combine.
Wolverines Triumphant. Nicholas Kerensky is killed while fighting the Wolverines. The Clans morph into a more benevolent society as Kerensky’s extreme weirdness is stripped away. The caste system is dissolved. The Clans become a unified peoples, still militaristic, but not so Klingon-ish. When they do invade the Inner Sphere, there’s no bargaining…it’s all out war.
What if the scientist caste was on top in the Clan heirarchy? Rather than the Warriors, the scientists rule the Clans. Technology leaps ahead centuries by the time of the invasion. Bio-BattleMechs and stuff. Nastier weapons. Uber-Tech.
The Smoke Jaguars win against the Star League. Victor’s head is held in Osis’s hands before the Clans. The Nova Cats get VERY nervous as a result of their betrayal.
The Nova Cats have a vision about giant Chicken aliens invading the Inner Sphere. Everyone laughs at them.
House Marik wipes out Wolf’s Dragoons as Joshua Marik takes the throne of the Free Worlds League. He picks apart the loot from the Dragoons and uses it to rebuild the League into THE major force in the Inner Sphere. He also figures out where the Dragoons came from and prepared his nation, but not the others, for the eventual invasion.
Katrina takes X as a mate. X = Kahn Ward, Thomas Marik, Lincoln Osis, Archer Christifori, or Sun-Tzu Liao.
The Knights of the Inner Sphere put on the play Spamalot II. I actually toyed with this script.
What if we never changed the universe? So a company of patchwork ‘Mech defend an entire planet. No factories, no regiments, and big merc units numbered twelve dudes and skimpily clad dudettes with ‘Mechs. Ice ships, pirates, and salvage means staying in the fight.
One word: Cylons.
ComStar’s network becomes self-aware and renames itself “Skynet.” Short android copies of Victor Steiner Davion are sent out to kill the leaders of the Inner Sphere. (I have to admit, I’m still fleshing this idea out, but you get the idea.)
Kahn Ward loses his arm in battle and Clan scientists replace it with a chainsaw appendage.
All MechWarriors in the universe have the “Ghost ‘Mech” capability that Morgan Kell demonstrated, and they use it a lot.
The Word of Blake comes across a planet inhabited by giant intelligent chickens. They use cybernetic implants on these creatures creating the Manei Cluckini, an army of killer chickens.
“Everybody on Exodus…be back in one hour.” Kerensky wasn’t the only one to go on the Exodus. All of the major houses send out forces into the Periphery to create empires they might need someday. Each of these mini-Exodus’s cuts ties to their home governments during the Succession Wars and all come back as unique distinct cultures to invade the Inner Sphere.
Richard Cameron sees right through Amaris and pops him with his laser before the coup unfolds. The coup never happens and Rim Worlds League is laid waste as a result of Kerensky learning of their deception.
Rather than fight a bloody Civil War, Victor has Katherine assassinated. The Federated Commonwealth remains intact going through the Dark Ages.
What if Kerensky came home sooner? Rather than the civil war that led to the Clans, the SLDF remained intact and prospered. In Kerensky’s lifetime they came back to the Inner Sphere on a war to reestablish the Star League. But instead of arriving in 3050, they come a century or two earlier.
‘Mechs invade Endor. While not a viable idea, I like the idea of crushing Ewoks.
Three words: Battlefield Nuclear Weapons. Not as optional – as standard equipment. Range of six hexes, they destroy everything within 20 from ground zero.
The Succession Wars don’t happen. Hell, Terra was pretty trashed anyway. Why fight for control of the Hegemony worlds? When the Clans arrive they find house governments with massive militaries that had not been battered by three centuries of warfare. Surprise!
Daleks invade the Free Worlds League! A little Dalek-on-‘Mech action would be fun. Question: How many points does a toilet plunger ray gun do? Answer: 5 but the range sucks.
The arrival of Wolf’s Dragoons results in their immediate attack and destruction. The Inner Sphere learns of the Clans from their databases and sets off to attack the Clans first (or better yet, feeds them misinformation about the Inner Sphere prior to their own invasion.)
House Ward is part of Clan Wolverine. Phelan Kell tells the Wolves that capture him that he carries the Ward bloodline in his veins…and they kill him.
Return to suggested Clan Names That Didn’t Make It Past The First Cut: Turkey Baster, Iron Scrotum, Killer Sloth, Pregnant Hamster, Viper-Poodle, Pap-Smear, Smoked Stoner, Jade Prostate, Mammoth Shrimp, Amorous Armadillo, Snow-Weasel, Emerald Ball-Crusher, Pink Flamingo, Black Hemorrhoid, Fire Frogs, Azure Zit, and Rabid Monkey.
Instead of building NAIS, House Davion builds a ‘Death Star.’(Imagine me doing the quotes in the air like Dr. Evil and it’s funnier…)
And finally…Adam Steiner from the TV Series becomes Archon! What? What do you mean we did that? WTF? Huh? It was mentioned in one of my books? Aw crudstunk…
Smell that? That is the smell of new BattleTech fiction. Ah…
One thing I wanted to capture with this book was that sense we all had when new BattleTech fiction came out years ago. It is that sense of excitement, those gasps at some of the things in the book when they are revealed, that tension we all had as readers back in the day. I wanted to be 20 or 30 again and feel that awesomeness as I learned more about this shared universe we all are a part of. Yes, even as writers, we thrilled when other authors put out new books.
From what I am seeing on social media, the fans are getting those sensations. Freaking sweet!
Going back to characters from Exodus Road was risky. We have had a lot of characters killed in BattleTech to only see them return. I knew that would be a challenge, but I also knew it was going to be worth it. We had to see the story arcs of these characters go to full fruition. The crushing defeat of the Smoke Jaguars left so many unanswered questions, I knew I had fertile ground to work with. For the record we never saw Trent’ death on screen, only word that he had died. That was true – he died several times after the battle, revived each time. The Nova Cats told the truth, but withheld the important parts because, well, they are Nova Cats.
And now it is out there, in the public. There will be detractors, the troll community. I don’t give a shit. BattleTech is back! You got boxed sets, new fiction, awesome new maps too. If you want to whine about it, well go ahead. The rest of us are going to have some fun instead. When was the last time that the community as a whole was devouring fiction? It has been years. Even with Betrayal of Ideals, it had already appeared in BattleCorps. This was new and fresh and touched on characters and eras when we all were heavily engaged in BattleTech.
The things I liked the most is the interplay between Trent and Paul Moon as characters. These two characters have been at each other’s throats for years. Having them be fighting together took a lot of character development work. Duty and honor trumps hatred in this case. They no longer have competing ideologies, but share something in common. Their shared vision is what saves the Smoke Jaguars from extinction.
Inanna is important. At one point (very early on) I wondered if I should make her a figment of Trent’s imagination – a fill-in for Judith. Then I realized I needed her to be much more.
The Second Star League is important as a character as well, though most people won’t see it that way. It was cocky, “liberating” Huntress and essentially throwing it into chaos. How many times have we seen nations win the wars and lose the peace? If it feels like the Star League did not have a plan for what to do with Huntress after they won it is because they really didn’t. How do you liberate a people that do not want liberation? The parallels, even contemporary, are many and sad.
I also loved dinging the armor of Victor Steiner-Davion. Like all humans, he is flawed. Forcing him to face those flaws was fun. Mistakes were made, but it took him decades to realize and acknowledge them. Even then, he hit the delete key. In that moment when he hits the delete key in the end is critical. Ego and arrogance overpowers the truth for Victor, even though he knows that there will come a time of reckoning.
The little scenes make it for me. Stealing the Remembrance from Master’s office – priceless. The whole Smoke Jaguar exodus was fun and dark and neat. Russou Howell was useful to be the alternative for the Jaguars.
There’s a lot to process in this novel, I will grant you that. The biggest one is, “Where does this leave us?” Well, the Smoke Jaguars are there, hidden in plain sight during the Dark Ages. We knew that already – but there are several clues near the end of the book as to what is possibly coming next, if you can spot them. (Evil laugh mode engaged – Mwah ha ha hah!)
For those of you that followed it, I tied in elements from Impetus of War (Wayside) and Exodus Road and Surrender Your Dreams. That should be a hint all on its own. I am a big fan of connecting the books in the BattleTech universe. To me, connecting the stories is part of what makes BattleTech cool. In other words, go back and start re-reading some of the older fiction!
Next up is the Wolves Dragoons novella for me (no I don’t know when it will be released or if it will be in paperback — geez I’m just a hack writer.) There’s a lot crammed into a small package with that fiction too. I can’t share the title with you because that alone will stir passions and frothing hilarity.
So, there you have it. The game is afoot. I can’t wait until GenCon. Bring your books to be signed and brace yourselves…something huge and exciting is about the happen.
Note: I will brush with spoiler territory with this post – but not cross that line. You proceed at your own peril.
Here is the original draft of the back cover text for Forever Faithful…
Clan Smoke Jaguar was targeted by the Star League to be obliterated. The other warring Clans turned their back on them, leaving them to die. Everyone presumed they had been completely crushed…and that was their mistake!
Four Warriors are determined to save the remnants of the Jaguars if they don’t kill each other first. One is the traitor that brought the enemy to their doorstep: one is the Smoke Jaguar who was tasked with rallying them and failed; one is a Nova Cat Warrior with a vision of their true role in history; and the other is from Clan Goliath Scorpion who wants to harvest their remnants as museum exhibits. These four are on a collision course that stretches from Huntress to the Inner Sphere. What the Smoke Jaguars become impacts The Republic of the Sphere and far beyond. When it comes to the vision of Nicholas Kerensky, the Smoke Jaguars are Forever Faithful!
Note: I can see why my editor, John Helfers, changed it. Still, parts of it ring very true to me.
I just received word that Forever Faithful is finally available for pre-order. In fairness, this is not a great entry book to the BattleTech universe. You need to know the events of the Twilight of the Clans series to really appreciate it.
I have to admit, there is a special place in the dark recesses of my mind for this book.
You see, it all began with Surrender Your Dreams. When I was offered that novel, the parameters were pretty vague. “Write 2-3 short stories about what was happening in the Republic after Fortress Republic went up.” I am no fan of analogies and writing three short stories just seemed cheesy. If you can pick one word to describe me it is, “Doesn’t follow rules well.” Get it? Moving on. So I altered the format of the book, jumbling the chapters’ ala Pulp Fiction. I also introduced something cool in the form of a new unit, the Fidelis.
The Fidelis were mysterious. I thought that the Republic needed something unique and enigmatic. Their unit formations were seemingly un-Clanlike or Inner Sphere. They were Special Forces, elite to the extreme. They also made sure when one of them died that they left no usable DNA behind. Clearly they wanted to hide their origins – but for the reader, it posed the question of “why?” As it turned out, they had a LOT to hide.
From the get-go, I knew they were going to be the Smoke Jaguars. I had heard some alleged-powers-that-be claim they were dead and never coming back – which made it all the sweeter to try. Randall said, “Write up how they came to be and let me look at it.” I did. A page or so of content. Randall approved it and I knew I had something ultra-awesome for the book.
Revealing the Fidelis as the Smoke Jaguars was a blast. It always nagged at me though. I never told the Fidelis origin story, I simply introduced them with a hint of mystery as to how they got there.
The fans loved the reveal at the end of Surrender, igniting an internet-troll-war of full-bore-hemorrhaging-level six-nerdgasms as to whether they were “really” the Smoke Jaguars. Some argued they were the Wolverines. No. Hell no. Then came the, “Well, they really aren’t Clan…so even if they are were Jags, they aren’t now.” It amazes me to this day how passionate and ditzy the fan community can be – and how many of them know more about the Jaguars than I do (according to them.) I bowed out of those online battles, because most trolls are douchebags and we all know it…begging for attention, even negative attention. Besides, I knew their origins, I knew the truth. Heck, I created it. And the truth was awesome.
You can take the warrior out of a Clan but you can’t take the Clan out of the warrior. Breeding will always dominate such a people. Yes, they were the Fidelis, but if you assumed that they had shed (or fled) all of their heritage you would be mistaken. Readers saw the public face of the Fidelis in Surrender Your Dreams, not who they were in their hearts. New Earth holds many dark and twisted secrets…
When John Helfers asked what I wanted to write first as a new novel, I originally proposed an all-encompassing Jihad novel that would explain the entire Jihad from an insider’s point of view. It was a neat idea, but frankly, I am no fan of the Jihad era. Too many dead mercs killed in less-than-glorious manners. John liked the Jihad idea but wanted another option…so I pulled out my original Fidelis document and thought, “Wow, this is a chance to fill in a neat piece of BattleTech history.” Even after their military defeat on Huntress, I didn’t feel the Jags had really reached the bottom. To do that, you had to have the Inner Sphere attempt to inflict their morals and values on them. This book allowed me that opportunity. Moreover, this book allowed me to set a few things right.
What things am I referring to? Trent. I didn’t like his demise in the Twilight of the Clans series; no offense to Mike Stackpole. It felt out of character for Trent. I raised the issue back in the day but nothing changed during the edit process. We spent a lot of time and effort to build up Trent and his death was an off-screen event that just felt empty. I hated that. Trent was never about revenge on the Smoke Jaguars. His callsign was honor, which he felt his people had wandered away from. Trent was what the Smoke Jaguars were meant to be, in my mind anyway.
Additionally, there were some stories that simply had to be told. What happened on Huntress after the Star League victory? Bits and pieces made it into sourcebooks, but no one said what happened with the remnants of the Smoke Jaguars after the faux-Star League departed. What happens to a warrior people that are crushed? What happens in a rigid caste society where the leading caste has been devastated? Did the Star League win the war and lose the peace on Huntress? What became of all that was left of the Jaguars?
The novel gave me the opportunity to write about some other Clans as well, one in particular that never really got much air time in fiction – the Goliath Scorpions. There’s some Nova Cat stuff in here too, back when the Nova Cats were all mystical and exotic. If that wasn’t enough, I also got to write about the Eridani Light Horse, which was special. Anytime you can write about such a storied unit, it is fun.
But in the end, this is the story of powerful characters and the change they have to go through. It is the story of what Victor Steiner-Davion put into motion with the destruction of the Smoke Jaguars – and how that spiraled out of his control decades later. I got a chance to introduce new characters and rekindle some fascinating old ones from a bygone BattleTech era.
I was allowed to determine what went on the cover which is a change under the new regime that is welcome. I knew the battle intimately and the artist did a stunning job of capturing it, right down to the lightning. I think it pops and sizzles. Moreover, notice that the Timber Wolf is standing on a crushed Goliath Scorpion ‘Mech? Pretty awesome eh?
This is a book about characters who are suddenly faced with the realization that everything they lived their lives for has changed. What they thought were their goals has been crushed. They must redefine themselves and their relationships to each other.
This book does not necessarily stand alone. Wink, wink. In fact, you may want to dust off other Classic BattleTech novels I have written to help you. If you think this story is over by the end or with the events in Surrender Your Dreams, you are delusional or on drugs. I was given a broad tapestry to work with and took full advantage of it. This story does not necessarily end with this novel. Even my evil plans have their own evil plans. Those of you that know me well know all of this stuff is stitched together into a pretty intriguing tapestry.
This was my first novel where I incorporated some fans into the fiction as well. Seyla y’all!
There are some killer scenes in this novel (pun intended). Without spoiling them, I will relay this funny story. During the edits, one editor wrote, “I wish he’s just punch Victor in the face!” That was when I knew I had written that scene right. Let’s face it, we ALL have thought about punching Victor at one time or another. The final scene with Trent is a very critical one as well.
Sidebar: At GenCon last year they inadvertently showed the cover of the novel on another book. I have to admit, I was surprised by that. Still, they didn’t show ALL of it…so the reveal is still pretty awesome.
To those defiant souls that think the Fidelis are not the Smoke Jaguars at their core – well, you couldn’t be more wrong. And in a few months’ time, I will prove it to you. Detractors, prepare yourselves for battle and to suffer the agony of defeat. (Engage Evil Laugh Mode for five seconds)
In the meantime, I encourage you guys to order the novel and get ready for a bumpy ride. This is not your daddy’s Jihad, this is Clan BattleTech action – where honor and pride matter. This is about Jaguars old and new, mystical Nova Cats, driven Goliath Scorpions, (“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”) Dust off your Twilight of the Clans series…because this starts where that ends.
Additionally, if you want more BattleTech fiction to be published, you have to order the books – it really is that simple. Catalyst is watching the novel sales carefully. Yes, there is a hardcopy of the book that will be available around the release date from Amazon.