Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II  (Read 18974 times)

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #420 on: 01 February 2018, 14:24:47 »
Date: July 10, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: Watch Your Back

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Following the battle against Zach Slasher on Galeton, Herras Ragen muses that he'll have to be more covert to get the last two Dark Wing members, since the surviving members will certainly target him if they know he's been killing their comrades. 

That plan lasts all of five minutes, as Cearle (the bartender) warns him that other mercenaries are touchy about how he killed Zach, who was one of their own.  Ace SAFE agent Vermin Minter is the only one that seems clueless (so...SAFE, basically), reporting that whoever killed Slasher probably also killed Wolf Glupper.

House Davion puts out a call for mercenaries to perform riot control on Cawdor.

Notes: The authors of the SNES MechWarrior game referenced key scenes in Warrior: En Garde in the NewsNet postings up to this point, but for some reason didn't go on to reference any scenes from Warrior: Riposte - all future NewsNet posts are just in-game contract hooks.  Without any other anchors for continuity, I've spaced the remaining missions out so the narrative finishes by the end of 3027.  (Though, in a parallel track, the other Dark Wing lance died defending Matabushi's bunker roughly three months prior to Zach's demise, as best I can figure.)

The Davion contract hook is very politely worded, for some reason.  "The House has respectfully requested the aid of any willing mercenaries to help with riot duty on Cawdor."  Why not just post a standard contract announcement?  As listed, it sounds like they're hoping for free assistance in massacring rebellious civilians. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #421 on: 01 February 2018, 14:57:11 »
Date: July 15, 3027
 
Location: Rollis

Title: In For a Penny...

Author: Jason Schmetzer
 
Type: Scenario

Synopsis: The Rollis Home Guard, under Subcommander Rodney Piet defends the city of Vidalla Bay against a raid by the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers, which has brought some new MechWarriors to get live fire experience against the ill-equipped Capellans.

The AFFS force has an Enforcer, Marauder, Dervish, and Centurion.

The CCAF troops have a Cataphract, Vindicator, Wasp, and Jenner, as well as two Hetzers and two Scimitars.

Historically, the Home Guard lost all four tanks and two 'Mechs, but captured two Davion 'Mechs in exchange as salvage, and forced the Fusiliers to retreat.

Notes:  This is a nice little fight, and we rarely if ever see Home Guard units on the field in canon material.  It doesn't quite align with what we've seen in the era, however.

I was surprised that the AFFS unit was the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers in 3027, given that Michael is still en route back from his "To Evil, Gentlemen!" moment with Max, Tsen, and Justin, and his signature achievement since getting in bed with Max has been to cut the raiding way back and more or less declare peace on the Capellan March frontier.  This sort of nuisance raid seems like exactly the kind of action that Duke Michael would have put the kibosh on as part of his deal with Max. 

(Granted, the world is out on the back end of beyond, bordering the Taurian Concordat, so the Syrtis Fusiliers are the local line units of record, but the timing would suggest this was part of GALAHAD 27, and with all the shuffling going on, any unit could be used.)

Secondly, I was surprised to see 'Mechs in a Home Guard unit.  The 3025-era (just two years earlier) Liao sourcebook describes Home Guard units as having two battalions of infantry (jump/mechanized) and one battalion of armor.  Confederation 'Mech assets are pretty limited, so I'm surprised that any would be assigned to a Home Guard unit - especially one on such a remote system.  I'm even more surprised that the 'Mech in question is one of the brand spanking new CTF-1X Cataphracts.

The Aftermath reports that the Cataphract pilot gets promoted up to the St. Ives Armored Cavalry afterwards...but his Home Guard unit is operating in the Sian Reserves sector, so why wouldn't he have been promoted within that chain of command?

I agree that Hetzers make perfect sense for the Home Guard.  The Liao sourcebook just lists Vedettes and Manticores, but there are many other vehicles that are Liao staples that should be included.   For close assault vehicle platoons, I'd recommend SRM carriers, Hetzers, and Demolishers.  For long-range fire support, Manticores, LRM Carriers, Vedettes, Brutuses, Schreks, and Behemoths.  For scouting/cavalry - Pegasus, Condor, J. Edgar, and Swift Wind Scout Cars. 

It would also make perfect sense for Home Guard vehicle battalions to have attached Guardians in a 2 planes/1 company "air lance" ratio, giving a typical Home Guard six fighters.

The Scimitars have always felt more "Combine" and "League" to me (being manufactured on Al Na'ir and also in the FWL), whereas the Condor is a core Capellan hover tank.

The Davion force has significant amounts of medium-to-long range firepower, and doesn't want to get into knife-fighting range with the Hetzers.  There's no time limit, so make a unified advance across the northern portion of the map, concentrating fire on any Liao units that poke their heads out.  (Keeping north prevents the Hezers from directly engaging, since they can't cross the river or lake, and will have to move around the southern edge of the lake, at which point they can be potted before getting into range.)  The Cataphract is the only Liao unit with much durability, so mass fire on the weaker units and pick them off.

For the Liao units, you need to use your superior mobility - make hit and run attacks with your speedsters, trying to get them to split up and chase you.  Hold the Hetzers back behind cover until the enemy is in range, then go in guns blazing.  If you can concentrate fire on the Marauder and take it out first, the rest have fairly unimpressive gunnery.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #422 on: 01 February 2018, 18:01:07 »
Date: July 15, 3027
 
Location: Terra

Title: Warrior: Riposte

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel (Warrior: Riposte)

Synopsis: Precentor Dieron Myndo Waterly is called before the First Circuit to account for her actions of May 22, and for the Circuit to determine whether her actions warrant excommunication and death.

Primus Julian Tiepolo charges her with informing the ISF that Melissa Steiner was present in their territory, using covert information gathered by ROM.  He alleges that her leak risked exposure of ComStar's intelligence gathering methods and violated ComStar's neutrality, while also serving to undermine the FedCom treaty endorsed by ComStar, but loathed by Waterly.

Waterly responds that ComStar has used targeted leaks for centuries, but Tiepolo reminds her that political meddling can only be authorized by the Primus, not a "renegade Precentor with delusions of divinity."  He admonishes her that such intervention must be subtle. 

Waterly mocks Tiepolo, arguing that the FedCom and Kapteyn Accord treaties brokered by ComStar were the very opposite of subtle.  She also worries about the security risks posed by hosting the Davion-Steiner wedding on Terra, opening access to the world to so many outsiders.

Tiepolo claims he has counterbalanced the FedCom treaty by helping to insert Justin Xiang into Maximilian Liao's court - pairing good news about Xiang's victories with depressing messages to the Chancellor, creating Max's obsession with the Davion exile.  Tiepolo expects Xiang's analyses to hamstring MIIO operations against the Confederation.

Waterly argues that she was equally subtle - merely joking to a known ISF agent about why the Combine tolerated bandits in the Styx system, and letting the ISF take it from there.  She notes that, aside from some dead ISF troops and mercenaries, nothing of consequence happened, and Quintus Allard was able to circulate a cover story.

Tiepolo worries that, with Patrick Kell dead, Morgan Kell might return from his self-imposed exile to battle Yorinaga Kurta, sparking a conflagration even ComStar cannot control.

The First Circuit absolves Waterly of any guilt.  Waterly vows to be more subtle the next time she tries to undercut Tiepolo's power.

Notes: More plottin' and schemin' in the First Circuit.  May 22 is just one day after the Bifrost jumped to Styx.  Clearly, ComStar knew the full details of the abduction well in advance and Myndo simply waited until she had confirmation that it had gone off as planned, then tipped the ISF.

Interesting that Tiepolo is so easily distracted.  He charges Waterly with 1) potentially exposing information gathering methods, 2) violating neutrality, and 3) undermining the FedCom treaty. 

For #1 - sure, she didn't come out and say "we're reading your mail," but wouldn't Subhash Indrahar begin to wonder "Wait, how did ComStar know there are bandits based in the Styx system?"  She seems guilty as charged on that point. 

Not that anyone had any question about that - House Marik proved ComStar was leaking info to their enemies, and got themselves Interdicted when they retaliated.  Quintus Allard's recent trip to Udibi would seem to indicate that those in the know already know not to use HPGs for anything sensitive.

The fact that ComStar was taken completely by surprise by the 4th Succession War suggests that ROM apparently only reads the HPG mail, and has let other sneaky-Pete skills atrophy due to over reliance on SIGINT/ELINT.

For #2 - her actions don't seem to have violated neutrality on the surface, but the fact that the ISF went there looking for bandits and found Melissa Steiner would suggest to Subhash that ComStar left them a valuable present (albeit one that slipped through their fingers), certainly causing the Combine to wonder about ComStar's motives.  The fact that Melissa wasn't gift wrapped keeps ComStar from seeming a clear ally, and the presence of the Hounds may make the ISF suspect ComStar baited them into attacking to try to test or destroy the new Genyosha.

For #3, Waterly's flippant answer that "nobody important got killed and there's a cover story" doesn't answer the third charge at all.  Sure, she failed to disrupt the FedCom treaty, but the fact remains that she tried - she meddled in politics without the Primus' permission.  She should have been Excommunicated and remanded for trial and possible execution on the spot.

Instead, Tiepolo had a senior moment and started trying to defend himself.  At the end, he meekly accepts her arguments and lets her off with a warning after getting unanimous thumbs-ups from the First Circuit Precentors.

I was very surprised by Tiepolo's reaction to Patrick Kell's death.  He predicts the return of Morgan Kell and the coming of a conflagration.  Was the legend of the bowing, unkillable Archer on Mallory's World so powerful?  Was Tiepolo awed by reports of Phantom 'Mech Ability?  Why does he think that a grudge match between Yorinaga and Morgan would destabilize the sphere-wide political situation?  (If they both are unhittable, wouldn't the battle be like the Jack Sparrow vs. Barbosa skeleton fight at the end of Curse of the Black Pearl - two pristine 'Mechs endlessly circling each other rolling metaphysical snake eyes?)

Of course, with his eyes on the Morgan/Yorinaga rematch, Julian completely misses everything Hanse and Katrina are cooking up with Operations GALAHAD and THOR, in preparation for Operations RAT and GOTTERDAMMERUNG.

Waterly makes an excellent point about the security risks of having outsiders on Terra.  Not only do they let all sorts of spies in along with the high ranking officials and members of the wedding party, but they host everything on Hilton Head...and they fail to suspend secret ComGuard training operations, enabling multiple spies to stumble onto the existence of the LosTech legions beneath the HQ complex.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #423 on: 02 February 2018, 17:41:13 »
Date: July 21, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: Person of Interest - Duff Skully

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Larman Sholest warns Herras that some of "the boys" are planning an attack, and are stockpiling supplies on Solaris.  Roden Wull reports he's "been asking around for people with the initials D.S." and that "Duff Skully" fits the bill.

Notes: The phrase "Nintendo Hard" is often applied to the Mario games and their ilk, but it certainly doesn't fit the SNES MechWarrior game.  If only the SNES system's capabilities (and those of its programmers) had allowed for a wider range of interactions, the game would be far less stilted.  Rather than sitting on his can at Club Zero-Zero, Herras could have been given the option of traveling to the 12 non-canon systems in the game and spending money on developing local contact networks - informants, etc.  Then getting this ludicrous level of accidentally encountered info/hints back at Club Zero-Zero would make sense - and add a mechanic for having to weigh the tradeoffs of building a better intel network to crack the secret of the mercenary underground/Dark Wing or getting a more powerful 'Mech.

Stuff like that certainly would have been possible on the system - 286 PCs were capable of running "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" so an SNES could have been programmed to do a "Where in the Inner Sphere is Wolf Glupper?" mechanism to add variety between the generic 'Mech battles.  I guess most of the SNES players were just looking for arcade action, rather than an RPG experience.

Lacking the more sophisticated overlay of gathering info, players are forced to suffer through reports from informants who view finding a matching set of initials as master spycraft.  Braindead informants giving excessively vague clues just utterly fails to capture the sense of intrigue and tradecraft that Stackpole was inserting into Warrior: En Garde (drawing on his earlier work on "Ninjas, Spies, and Private Eyes").  The crazy thing is that the developers directly referenced Warrior: En Garde in the NewsNet announcements.  They had the blueprint in their hands, but failed to follow it.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #424 on: 05 February 2018, 12:38:41 »
Date: 3027

Title: Unit Profile - Killian's Commandos

Author: Christopher Purnell
 
Type: Sourcebook (BattleCorps)

Synopsis: This BattleCorps exclusive e-product showcases Killian's Commandos, a company-sized unit active in the Third and Fourth Succession Wars, circa 3027.  It takes the format of the Field Manual series writeups, but is presented as a "Mercenary Today!" profile annotated by Adept VIII Martin, of ComStar.

Under John Foster Killian, the unit has three 'Mech lances and an infantry security force.  Command staff profiled include CO John Foster Killian (heir to the Janus Brewhaus on Timbiqui), Michael Harper (a LAM pilot desperate to keep his LosTech ride operational), Freddy Marsh (an exile from the Magistracy of Canopus), Luys Claessens (indebted to Killian for rescuing him from New Capetown, but critical of Killian's tactical decisions), Miho Sadamori (a renegade from the Draconis Combine), and Angus McPherson (a Caledonian with ties to Free Skye in his shadowy past).

Notes: The Commandos appeared in two of Christopher Purnell's BattleCorps stories - "Dingane's Day" (chronicling how Luys joined the unit) and "A Cover of Paint" (describing how the unit got involved in a Magistracy-backed political assassination on Mosiro).

Based on this writeup, one other mission the unit has undertaken was fighting against Liao guerrillas on Carver V (implying the FWL occupied Carver V at some point between 3010 and 3027).

The introduction assesses the unit as a "typical" Inner Sphere mercenary unit, and notes that it stays off the radar by taking contracts from planetary nobles, local militias, and minor corporations.  This explains why it was absent from the 3025 TO&E tables in the ComStar-written House books. 

The recurring theme in the command staff back-stories is people who fled their homes because they felt out of place or unwilling to live within the strictures imposed on them there.  Killian would rather play mercenary than become a beer baron.  Luys, living as a person of color on an apartheid planet, sought basic civil rights (and ownership of his mother's Locust).  Sadamori chafed against the Combine's restrictive attitude towards women.  Freddy fled the Magistracy because the Magestrix was trying to force him into an arranged marriage. 

I liked this experiment in having individual units profiled on BattleCorps, without having to be shoehorned into a Field Manual Update.  (Plus, this allows the coverage of eras outside those featured in the 3058-onwards Field Manuals or the retro Star League era ones).
« Last Edit: 05 February 2018, 13:34:19 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #425 on: 05 February 2018, 18:09:09 »
Date: August 1, 3027

Title: BattleTechnology 0101

Author: William H. Keith Jr. (Editor)
 
Type: Magazine (BattleTechnology)

Synopsis: Presented as an in-universe "Magazine of Combat in the 31st Century," the magazine describes FASA as a "Earth-based publisher of combat simulations."  BattleTechnology is described as a small publishing house based on Exeter, in the Federated Suns, with affiliate branches in the other Successor States.

Hiring Hall: This column is intended to give mercenary readers information about potential employers, rating Need, Pay, and Conditions on a scale from A (best) to Z (worst).  The inaugural outing looks at  Alcyone (really needs mercenaries, average pay, average conditions).  The world's primary strategic resource is the Hobson-Redeye laser factory.

Duke Leopold Ransom is presented as the heir to a noble family that has ruled Alcyone since the early succession wars, under both Davion and Liao control.  With the recent reversion to Davion control again, the populace has launched an insurgency to remove House Ransom, which is associated in the public view with Liao oppression.  Duke Ransom feels he cannot rely on the militia (the Alcyone Reds) for counter-insurgency or security duty, and has taken to hiring mercenaries. Ransom is offering a 6-9 month retainer, placed under the orders of Baron General Fitzhugh Ransom. 

BattleTechnology recommends against this contract, despite the above average pay and living conditions, due to the high likelihood of being caught up in a popular revolution.

Worldbook:  The Worldbook column is intended to give setting details for blank slate worlds.  Written by J. Andrew Keith, the initial entry profiles Weisau, aka "Brimstone."

The writeup is very detailed, listing ethnic groups, religions, orbital radius, mass, government, government structure, economic structure, exports and imports, transportation, life expectancy, defense budget and planetary militia composition, geology, ecology, and history, concluded by general notes.  It is presented has having been excerpted (with permission) from ComStar's 32-volume "The Navigator's Guide to the Inner Sphere."  (Volume 8 - The Cis-Alpheratz Sector)

In summary, 12.6 million people (100% English speakers, 62% Church of Blake worshippers, 1 major city - Port Erebus, mining colony, one moon - "Fire", planetary merchant fleet of two shuttles, 54 year life expectancy, and declining population levels, 12% adult literacy.  Planetary militia consists of one infantry regiment, six aerospace fighters, and three DropShips.)  Frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions result from the influence of its satellite - Fire.  The air is noxious - but breathable.

Settled as a Combine mining colony in 2640, its hydroponic dome infrastructure was shattered by the AFFS during an occupation in 2858, and again in 3015, forcing it to import food.  The garrison commandant is seeking mercenaries to supplement his forces in advance of an anticipated Davion offensive.

BattleTac:  This column presents the "Battle of Kilgour" as background/setup for the BattleTech and BattleForce scenarios later in the issue.  I have covered this separately as a scenario.

Sidearms: This column expands the variety of personal weaponry available in the BattleTech universe, ostensibly quoting from the New Avalon edition of the "Galactic Consumer's Report, Vol. 27, Number 5).  The initial column includes:

M2412A1 Starflash (laser pistol licensed for manufacture on 250 worlds across the Inner Sphere)

Kogyo-Khorsakov Model 2898 "KK 98" (laser pistol made on Luthien and common in the Combine)

Mark XXI Nova Laser Pistol/Carbine (heavy laser pistol favored by mercenaries and paramilitary forces)

Berelter 49S Ultra (budget mass-produced laser pistol with shoddy chips that require frequent maintenance)

TK 70 (heavy laser pistol for military use, manufactured on Tharkad, New Avalon, and Skye)

Martell Model X (military-grade laser pistol optimized for cutting)

Notes:

Hiring Hall:  If this is the first issue, how do reader surveys indicate that 32.6% of BattleTechnology readers are mercenaries?

The planetary writeup for Alcyone presented here is considered apocryphal.  While no conflicts have been created between the planetary description as presented here and canon sources, the planetary timeline is non-canon.  BattleTechnology states that Alycone was taken by Davion from Liao in 2807 and held until around 2900, at which point it reverted to the Confederation until 3025, when it returned to the Federated Suns.  The Second Succession Wars maps show Alcyone as a Capellan holding until 2835, at which point it was conquered by the Federated Suns and held thereafter, excepting a brief Liao recapture in 2861.  Assertions that it was raided by Capellan fleets in the First Succession War (when it was a Capellan world) have BattleTechnology's journalistic credibility off to a bad start.

The adventure hook presented here could be leveraged into a challenging campaign (which was the intention), and gave a strong flavor of the kinds of work being offered to mercenaries circa 3027.

No author is listed, so I'm assuming it was by William Keith.

Worldbook: The chronology on this one actually works out quite well, with a Federated Suns offensive taking nearby Niles in 2855 (per Second Succession War), making a brief occupation in 2858 perfectly timed.

I don't know how representative Weisau's militia is, since the Kurita sourcebook does not describe a "typical" Combine garrison.  One regiment of infantry per 10 million people seems a good rule of thumb, though.
 
What's interesting is the ratio of DropShips to fighters - 2-to-1 - the same as you find for Unions and Leopards.  This early in the lore, the three 'Mech carriers may have been the only DropShips in the book, so it would have made sense to have a trio of Leopards and six fighters.  On the other hand, subsequent elaboration of DropShip types suggest that the garrison defense group could have been one Leopard CV, six fighters, and two Assault DropShips.  (Granted, it seems overkill to assign rare Assault DropShips to a garrison a backwater mining colony, rather than maintaining them as part of the Draconis Combine Admiralty's fleets.)

BattleTac: Rather than just the usual sidebars to set up a scenario, Keith was able to allocate four pages to setup, backstory, and the ebb and flow of the campaign, along with pictures of the model-kit miniatures beating on each other.

Sidearms: The MechWarrior 1st Edition RPG was somewhat sparse in terms of the arsenals available to player characters.  This adds a selection of laser pistols to the mix.  One of the oddities of the magazine being so committed to staying "in character/in universe" is that the author neglected to provide game statistics for any of these pistols.  Such things as range and magazine capacity can be reverse engineered from the stats given, but damage requires converting from megajoules per second to "hit points" without a frame of reference.

Starflash - never appeared in official supplements, but the Starflash is a standard model of Medium Laser in canon.
KK 98 - Never mentioned again
Mark XXI Nova - Appears to have been imported into canon as the "Sunbeam Nova Laser Pistol," though the Sunbeam is a post-Clan invasion sidearm designed to fight Elementals, while the XXI is a product of Magna Industries circa 3027.  Both share the moniker "Nova" and have greater firepower than most laser pistols.
Berelter 49S "Ultra" - Never mentioned again.
TK 70 - Never mentioned again, though this entry does explain what "TK" stands for - Thorvald & Koch.  TK manufactures a wide variety of slug-throwing pistols and rifles in canon, mostly for the Lyrans.
Martell Model X - While the Model X is never mentioned again, Martell is listed as a manufacturer of 'Mech grade lasers in canon.


Next Installment:  "What is Hanse Up To?"; "MechWarrior: Mind and Machine"; "Mastering the Inner Fire"; "Technical Readout - FLC-4N Falcon"; "Repair Bay - Engine Swaps"; "BattleTech Simulator - MechWarrior: Training and Experience"; and "More Than Warriors"
« Last Edit: 06 February 2018, 15:56:29 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #426 on: 06 February 2018, 18:08:09 »
Date: August 1, 3027

Title: BattleTechnology 0101

Author: William H. Keith Jr. (Editor)
 
Type: Magazine (BattleTechnology)

Synopsis:

What is Hanse Up To?: This article, by "Special Correspondent Wallis Hasek" looks at the impact of the GALAHAD 27 exercises, in which AFFS expeditionary forces carry out planetary invasion maneuvers in the Fallon, McGehee, Groveld, and dozens of other systems in the Draconis and Capellan Marches, in a follow-up to the GALAHAD 26 exercises.

Hanse Davion, at the Summer Palace at Stirling (on Argyle), announced the exercises as defensive in nature, intended to protect the people of the Federated Suns from the "forces of Darkness and tyranny" that beset them on every side.  Though the announcement was made in August, maneuvers began in July.

Hasek takes the position that the exercises are needless, and squander precious resources needed elsewhere, further depleting the stores of parts needed to keep precious LosTech functioning.  Critics note that the Third Succession War is still ongoing, and question whether fighting the actual war wouldn't be better training.  The estimated cost of GALAHAD 27 is 250 million C-Bills, not counting the DCMS and CCAF raids that may be provoked by the GALAHAD exercises.

Hasek quotes the Combine Ministry of Information's statement that "Davion's posturings and saber-rattlings are meaningless," and Pavel Ridzik's announcement that "Davion's threats and warmongering are of absolutely no account."

A sidebar features Minority Leader Naomi Gavin Rollings, who argues that the Third Succession War has been deadlocked for at least 20 years, leading to the promise of peace through sheer exhaustion.  She worries that Hanse Davion may waste money, time, and resources with his wargames, and may prompt a resumption of high intensity military activity on the borders.  Rollings suggests Davion can end the fighting either by launching an all-out crushing invasion of House Kurita and House Liao, or seek peace with his exhausted neighbors.  She dismisses GALAHAD as being unhelpful for either option.

A rebuttal features General J. Wesley Fairfax III, of the Davion Command Staff on Klathandu IV.  He defends GALAHAD as vital for verifying combat readiness of the AFFS.  Rather than provoking new attacks from enemies, he predicts that the demonstration of AFFS might will encourage those enemies to refrain from invasion.  He notes that the cost of the maneuvers is far less than the damage that would be suffered if enemies thought the Federated Suns was ripe for invasion.

MechWarrior: Mind and Machine: MechWarrior Keith Douglas summarizes his interview with Colonel Kuan Li-Po (Ret.) to give an overview of training processes for new MechWarriors.

Poor worlds often go without training.  Bandit kings often press-gang recruits and shove them into a 'Mech cockpit, with predictably poor results.  Great Houses have elaborate training facilities where cadets get years of intensive training in simulators, but only the best graduate to command House-owned 'Mechs. 

The creation of the BattleMech came well after the development of the WorkMech - machines that took no real skill to operate.  The neurolinkages of the BattleMech, however, make the motions of the BattleMech instinctual, making it an extension of the user's body.  While anyone can handle a BattleMech competently after a minimum of training, it takes more to make a soldier into a true MechWarrior.

Li-Po recommends physical training to toughen the body and hone reflexes, operational training to understand how to use the 'Mech, and mental training to help the Warrior become part of his 'Mech.

Martial artists apparently make good MechWarriors, due to the physical and mental discipline they develop.  Dispossessed MechWarriors generally make good scouts, due to their physical training.

A good MechWarrior should have trained in operating not just bipedal 'Mechs, but also in quads, armless units, and specialty units like LAMs.  If they cannot master a wide variety, they should concentrate on one type of chassis and become a specialist.

To get the most out of neurohelmet operations, operators must think clearly and precisely to avoid feedback loops or overloading the system with extraneous impulses.  Martial arts helps with this kind of mental discipline, which lets them suppress emotions, ignore temperature extremes, and pilot by instinct.  One who has mastered mental control can also abandon it, becoming a short-term berserker.

House Liao's training is ineffective, due to manpower shortages.  Most troops get a bare minimum of training - 3-4 months of boot camp, except for a few elite units.  Elite units draw from the five major academies in Liao space, including the Tikonov Military Institute.  They learn ju-jitsu and karate, along with the philosophy of the Golden Way.

House Marik's training system is politically fragmented.  Oriente troops get the best training.  Most cadets attend privately-owned academies.

House Steiner's state-owned academies teach tactics and strategy, with a focus on the Neo-Zen philosophies of the late 28th century which promise the "union of flesh and thought."  However, only the top 20% get such instruction, while the rest (militia, rank and file, and mercenaries) get just the basics.

House Kurita's training is modeled on the Bushido code, which urges excellence in the military sciences, inner harmony, and art to be in touch with their inner selves.  Neo-Zen philosophies are also taught.

House Davion trains their warriors in the art of "Quick-Kill," a synthesis of karate, judo, aikido, and savate.  Since 3015, the New Avalon Institute of Science has added instruction in tactics, operations, strategy, and leadership.

In current trends, longstanding traditions focusing on bloodless maneuver and static defense are giving way to aggressive tactics that unleash total annihilation, as demonstrated by Natasha Kerensky and Grayson Death Carlyle. 

A sidebar focuses on apprentices/squires.  Young candidates are taken into a military household (like a MechWarrior family) between the ages of 8 and 10, and serve as laborers or servants in exchange for military training.  Manpower shortages in mercenary units and feudal armies make this practice expedient.  The quality varies according to resources available.  Grayson Death Carlyle is presented as an example of a successful apprenticeship.

Notes:

What is Hanse Up To?: Wallis Hasek is clearly carrying water for his relative, Michael Hasek-Davion, in writing a condemnation of Hanse's GALAHAD plans.  The last thing Michael wants at this point is Hanse stirring up trouble on the Capellan border.

It's interesting that the Summer Palace is back in operation, just a few years after its security was so massively breached during Operation DOPPLEGANGER.  Hanse's speech is clearly modeled on Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" speech re: the Soviet Union.

The cost of the exercises is estimated at 250 million C-Bills.  Yet the cost of launching a two-week battalion-sized raid against Scheat was estimated at 800 million C-Bills.  By that metric, shuffling dozens of regiments around for 250 seems pretty cheap.  (Was the Scheat cost estimate including the property damage done on Scheat to the Combine?  Unless the entire AFFS force was wiped out, including their DropShips and JumpShips, there's no way the AFFS suffered that much in terms of material losses.)

There have been debates as to when the Third Succession War ended.  Clearly, in William Keith's view, it was still a going concern as of mid-3027, and probably only really ended when the Fourth Succession War began, without a formal interbellum period.

The existence of an opposition leader suggests the presence of political parties in the Federated Suns High Council.  Since the High Council is described as more or less a rubber stamp for the Prince's policies (albeit one bogged down in parliamentary maneuvering), one would assume that the "opposition" party is a minority that favors Michael over Hanse.  (Each planet gets to send one representative to the High Council.)  I wonder if there's a Skid Row caucus in the High Council?

There's a bit of clear foreshadowing for Operation RAT in the opposition party sidebar, noting that one of Hanse's options is to utterly crush his foes with an all-out invasion.

It's clear that the concept of H-Bills hadn't been developed at this point, since the opposition leader makes a point of noting that Hanse is wasting the "C-Bills" our citizens pay in taxes.  It's doubtful that the Federated Suns would use C-Bills, rather than D-Bills (aka Pounds).

MechWarrior: Mind and Machine: I wonder to what extent the House sourcebooks (which each had info on training academies) were completed and available to Keith when he wrote this?  Was he summarizing and adding on to what was in the sourcebooks, or making it up in parallel?  He references the Tikonov Martial Institute and the NAIS, but doesn't namecheck any other academies, suggesting he was on his own, for the most part.  Certainly, his concepts of "Neo Zen," the "Golden Way," and "Quick Kill" didn't jump the gap into the mainline canon.

I like the explanation that a MechWarrior can run a 'Mech competently, but that the difference between the Hogarths of the world and the Kai Allard-Liaos comes down to mental focus, martial training, and operational experience.  It's unclear, though, as described here, whether the 'Mech just uses the signals from the neurohelmet to aid the gyro in balancing the unit, or if the MechWarrior can speed reaction times and improve other functions with specific thoughts through the helmet.  The passages on that topic can be interpreted both ways.

I heard once that the original intent had been for the Capellans to be dogged, skilled troops, undercut by a lack of resources.  That profile seems to have been transferred to the DCMS samurai, leaving the CCAF as a cadre of unskilled stumblebums that the AFFS can tear through like a vibroblade through silk.

The authorship isn't listed, but given the shout outs to Grayson Carlyle (who, at this juncture, runs a minor merc unit that has two battles under its belt), it's a pretty sure bet that it's by William Keith, BattleTechnology editor and author of the Gray Death Legion trilogy.
« Last Edit: 07 February 2018, 01:17:24 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #427 on: 07 February 2018, 09:32:04 »
Lordy, I did like BattleTechnology despite some minor quirks to it.

If we had something like that continues being published, even in PDF form now.  The community would be less restless I would think until the next big thing came out.

Wishing that thou is like wishing for world piece and 3250 to drop.  #P
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #428 on: 07 February 2018, 16:30:37 »
Date: August 1, 3027

Title: BattleTechnology 0101

Author: William H. Keith Jr. (Editor)
 
Type: Magazine (BattleTechnology)

Synopsis:

Mastering the Inner Fire: Retired AFFS Colonel Kuan Li-Po advises readers on how to use their minds as weapons.  He advises against over reliance on analytical thought and reason, instead advocating for honing instinctual reactions, then using reason to control the base emotions associated with instinct (hate, anger, impatience) leaving only the pure Spirit - the animal within.  This is the core of the AFFS "Quick Kill" martial art.

Kuan promises that anyone who can master the "Freedom of Spirit" will become Death Incarnate, ignore pain, stimulate self-healing, and become a berserker.  The Editor notes that Kuan admits he has not achieved that level of mastery, so these effects could not be demonstrated.

Drop Into Hell: Covered independently as a Short Story.

Technical Readout: This column is used to introduce additional 'Mechs beyond the core 16 and those found in TRO:3025.  The inaugural entry is the FLC-4N Falcon, written by Dale Kemper.

The Falcon was introduced as a "Bugkiller" in 2536 to combat Wasps, Stingers, and Locusts.  Never produced in great numbers, barely 200 are still functional as of 3027.  It has the speed to keep up with the Wasp and Stinger, with twice their armor.  It mounts one medium laser, two small lasers, and two rear-mounted machine guns.

House Davion Valkyries used LRMs to defeat Liao Falcons in a 3002 raid on Korrion.  Bandit raiders on Murcheson were hunted down by Kurita Falcons in 3010.  Variants drop the machine guns for more armor, or drop the small lasers for another jump jet, or hybridize the chassis with wrecked Ostscouts, Ostsols, or Ostrocs.

Marcus Bellisaurius pilots a Falcon in the 12th Tau Ceti Rangers, having captured it as an infantryman on Hsien in 3013, replacing the destroyed head with one from a Commando.

Lt. Jeremy "Bushwacker" McNee serves in the 10th Sword of Light with his Falcon "Gutstomper II," and is an expert tracker and hunter.

Repair Bay: This column gives advice to readers on how to customize and repair their 'Mechs given available materials.  The inaugural column discusses repairing and changing out the engine.

Repairs to the engine core shielding and mechanisms require repair platforms, derricks, or gantries.  Failing that, 'Mechs can lie down on the ground so a tripod hoist can be rigged above them.

Game rules are provided as "Optional Rules Variant 0101-A" for the MechWarrior RPG 1st Edition.

Engines of identical ratings can be swapped in if salvaged from another 'Mech with a successful Technician skill check, if all the tools are available.  Making a tripod hoist takes 60 minutes, but a friendly 'Mech can serve as one.  Friendly 'Mechs can also carry up to 10% of their weight, if they have hands, and can team up to carry their combined weight.

Repairing a damaged engine takes 300 minutes per critical hit.  Swapping out the entire engine for a new one takes 200 minutes.

MechWarrior: Training and Experience  J. Andrew Keith notes that the Earth-based FASA company creates a role-playing simulation called MechWarrior, and presents modifications to the character creation rules as Optional Rules Variant 0101 B.

This variant replaces the MechWarrior 1E RPG system of budgeting 150 CPs for each character with a 125 + 10 * 2d6-2 roll for CPs, giving characters anywhere from 125 to 225 to spend.

Players spend these points (and pick up free skills) as they choose to take Initial Training (0 years), Standard Military Training (15 + TRN/2 years), Apprenticeship Training (8 + TRNx2 years), Martial Arts Training (3 years), Academy Training (4 years), and/or NAIS Training (6 years).

A 4D6-4 determines starting Experience, which is multiplied by 100 to spend for character improvement for Regular, Veteran, and Elite characters. 

Battle of Kilgour  Covered separately as a scenario.

Randall's Charge at Bloody Field  Covered separately as a scenario.

Holding the Line Covered separately as a scenario.

Deep Trouble Covered separately as a scenario.

More than Warriors This column is dedicated to art created by Warriors.  The first installment looks at music - in this case, a camp song.  This verse is dedicated to Major Sergei "Death's Head" Vang, Senior Weapons Master at the Meistmorn Academy on Doneval II.

Notes:

Mastering the Inner Fire: Kuan's "Freedom of Spirit" abilities actually made it into canon as "ki" abilities in the Covert Operations sourcebook, presented as the product of decades of martial arts study by masters, allowing healing, poison touches, and being able to focus your ki to punch another person from across the room.

The editor's description of these abilities as "pseudo-mystic" suggests that the number of master-level adepts of Quick Kill serving in the AFFS totaled approximately zero circa 3027.  The fact that game stats exist for realizing them in RPG games, however, opens the door to supreme mental focus (as described by Yuan) opening up other abilities, like Morgan, Patrick, Yorinaga, and Ian Davion's Phantom 'Mech Ability.  (Though only Yorinaga achieved it through meditation - it seemed to appear spontaneously under stress in the other three.)

Technical Readout: The Falcon was ported over into canon via the Wolf's Dragoons sourcebook, and then TRO:3050 (for the upgrade).  The design specs were mostly ported over intact, but some of the backstory was altered.  Rather than debuting in 2536, it becomes an SLDF-commissioned unit for the Reunification War in 2582, per the MUL.

Murcheson is easily understood as Murchison, but there's no Liao world that comes anywhere close to "Korrion." 

The 12th Tau Ceti Rangers joins with the 1st Tau Ceti Rangers (Mercenary's Handbook) to suggest that Dale Kemper, at least, envisioned the TCR as having been a large brigade.  Later writeups indicate that the there were never any other TCR units except the 4th.

The Kurita sourcebook lists the 1st, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Sword of Light regiments as active in 3025.  The existence of a 15th Sword of Light disbanded in 2899 suggests the canonicity of the 10th Sword of Light, but it shouldn't be referred to as an active unit circa 3027.  McNee's entry with "Gutstomper II" could be changed to the past tense to avoid a canonicity conflict.

The Variants section is highly questionable, given that it suggests adding more jump capacity to the 6/9/6 unit (violating the construction rules) or hybridizing the 30-tonner with a 60 ton Ostroc or Ostsol chassis.  (Maybe a Falcon torso on Ost legs could work, but spindly Falcon legs would collapse under an Ostsol/roc torso.)

Repair Bay: Playing at UC Davis in college, I met people for the first time who had BattleTechnology issues, and kept bringing up an assortment of rules variants found nowhere in my dog-eared copy of the BattleTech Compendium.  This first entry created rules that were soon ported over into the mainstream ruleset - conducting engine repairs, carrying things with hands, salvaging components, and replacing damaged components wholesale.

I was somewhat surprised that the entry didn't cover options for downgrading or upgrading the engine (giving a 55-tonner a 275 instead of a 220 to boost speed from 4/6 to 5/8, or downgrading an engine to make more room for guns). 

MechWarrior: Training and Experience Andrew Keith's motivation for writing this appears to be to correct the situation in which any character created with the MW1E rules was a green rookie, fresh onto the battlefield.  This system gives players and GMs the ability to start characters at later points in their careers. 

In structure, it encapsulates the core of what later became the Life Path system for later versions of the RPG, and may have served as the inspiration for that character generation mechanic.

Holding the Line There's one chronological anomaly in the setup - a magazine with an in-universe date of August 3027 quotes a New Avalon Press article from 3028.

More than Warriors Vang was mentioned in TRO:3025 as the only MechWarrior to survive more than one encounter with the Black Widow, and was featured in a scenario in Tales of the Black Widow, taking his recently graduated cadets into battle against the Black Widows.  His cadets are also featured in one issue of the Blackthorn comic. 

Given the stats assigned to the Meistmorn graduates (Gunnery 7) in Tales of the Black Widow, Vang seems to have focused more on choir practice than the firing range.  Also, casting the cadets at Meistmorn as "apprentices" rather than academy cadets may explain why the surviving cadets ask Vang to join their newly formed mercenary unit at the end of the comic, and may explain why their skills are so terrible (given the earlier article in BattleTechnology that describes apprenticeship as mostly performing drudge labor in exchange for martial training, with inconsistent results.)
« Last Edit: 08 February 2018, 11:05:06 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #429 on: 07 February 2018, 17:06:31 »
General note about BattleTechnology:

The magazine was originally advertised as an official supplement to FASA's BattleTech line.  The fact that the editor was one of the key authors and that many of the rules and equipment featured in early issues supports this characterization.  It also expanded the scope of the still bare-bones Inner Sphere with articles about current events, politics, etc. to give the reader a sense of "you are there" as the universe's timeline moved forwards from the 3025 starting point, and helped flesh out some of the events set up in the novel line.

With Keith's departure as managing editor, those duties fell to Hllary Ayer, who shifted focus from shining a spotlight onto the nooks and crannies outside the novels and sourcebooks to providing more in depth coverage of events portrayed in the novels and sourcebooks.  (Perhaps a sign that FASA was getting concerned about rampant contradictions between its source material and that being generated by Pacific Rim Publishing.)

As noted above, many of the variant rules eventually appeared as core rules, since they covered areas the main rulebooks hadn't yet touched, and created some equipment that was later canonized.  The dates and locations, as was common with early FASA work, do not match the modern BattleTech universe chronology or cartography in many cases. 

At best, we can consider the events chronicled in BattleTechnology to have happened roughly along the lines portrayed, though not exactly, and not along the timeline or in the locations presented.  If it comes to a canonicity shootout, BattleTechnology loses to more recent publications.

That being said, the presence of a "and you are there" style of current events presentation allowed both the Fourth Succession War and the Clan Invasion to be sprung on readers from the perspective of characters reading about it unfolding in real time around them.  (Ideally, readers who hadn't read the Stackpole Warrior or Blood of Kerensky trilogies first, spoiling the suspense.)  I, personally, liked the return to that style with the Jihad sourcebooks - the collections of news articles put me in the head of someone actually living through the confusion and uncertainty of that war.

Keith maintained a very intense effort to ground the magazine and its contents in the universe, to the extent of pretending that FASA was an Earth-based battle simulator publisher responsible for Tales of the Black Widow and The Fox's Teeth, and not providing game statistics for the personal equipment.  They also didn't put any advertisements in the magazine, instead filling page space with ads for in-universe companies, and sign-up forms for the MechForce fan club.

It reminded me of early issues of The Dragon, TSR's gaming magazine.  The first dozen or so issues were all D&D all the time, with Gary Gygax's editorials loudly proclaiming the superiority of D&D to all other games on the market.  Then they were informed that advertising material didn't qualify for bulk rate shipping, so they broadened their scope to cover the gaming industry as a whole.  BattleTechnology focused on just BattleTech, but seemed intended to fill the same niche for the BattleTech game line as Dragon did for D&D - presenting new settings, items, characters, plot hooks, etc. for enterprising game masters to adapt to their local campaigns. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #430 on: 08 February 2018, 12:15:57 »
Date: August, 3027 [See Notes]

Location: Elidere IV (Ander's Moon)
 
Title: MechWarrior - Duke Vandenburg Returns to Ander's Moon
 
Author: Peter Fokos
 
Type: Encounter
 
Synopsis: Back on Ander’s Moon, the Chalice and the data disk on Operation INROAD clear the Vandenburg name, and the family title and honor is restored.



Notes:  I've put this at August 3027 for the same reason that I put the final battle on Kirchbach in March 3027.  It implies that Gideon returned to Ander's Moon in plenty of time before the five year time limit expired in 3029, but gets him back across the border before GALAHAD 27 ramps up in July (he would have crossed in late June/early July, and it would have taken about a month for the fallout to settle and the parade to be organized), which could have resulted in Gideon getting accidentally bagged either by AFFS troops on the move, or by jumpy Draconis Combine Admiralty forces watching the border.

Gideon gets a big parade, and House McBrin is presumably ruined and mass-arrested or at least put into exile, ending the tradition of trading the Dukeship back and forth between House McBrin and House Vandenburg.

Gideon goes on to have a relationship of some sort with someone named Maria.  (Wife, daughter?)  One scenario is that Duke Gideon "gets the girl" in standard adventure hero fashion and marries MI6 agent Tasha (Kym Sorenson+Morgan Hasek-Davion is an example that this sort of MIIO+FedSun Noble hookup happens often enough, not to mention Theodore Kurita getting an O5P agent as a bride), and has a daughter named Maria. 

Fast forward to the Clan Invasion, and we see Gideon again, having just had his Blazing Aces wiped out, and himself mortally wounded.  He tells Jason Youngblood to "Find Maria.  She knows where the 'Mechs are hidden."  A long outstanding plot hook...

So, where does Gideon go from here?  He's apparently a Duke - one of only 25 or so such individuals with that title in the Federated Suns, unless "Duke of Ander's Moon" is just a local title that isn't an official Federated Suns peerage rank.  So he has some serious administrating to do of his world and the others in his demesne - an average of eight systems, per the source material. 

So what is he doing playing mercenary in the FRR in 3051?  Well, one key event in the timeline is that Elidere IV falls to the Draconis Combine during the War of 3039.  Presumably, Luthien was not interested in retaining House Vandenburg's administrative services thereafter, so Gideon and his retinue had to hit the road.  I would guess he reformed the Blazing Aces out of the remnants of his household guard, and took mercenary work in the 3040s to raise money to try to build a force to liberate Ander's Moon (a path similar to that taken by House Winfield when the Jade Falcons threw them off their homeworld).  That would explain why he was in the path of the Clan Invasion during the "Crescent Hawks' Revenge" storyline.

The Activision MechWarrior game was a huge success, with a good 'Mech simulator arcade mechanic, an RPG component revolving around managing a small mercenary unit, and a sprawling spy-noir storyline that criss-crosses the Inner Sphere, with numerous shout outs to elements in FASA's sourcebooks.  It set the standard for BattleTech-based computer games, and paved the way for the cutting edge MechWarrior 2 a few years later.  (It also inspired the SNES MechWarrior game, with less stellar results - probably due to the limitations of the platform and a lesser familiarity by the design team with the source material.)

The status of the game's primary antagonists is an open question.  The Dark Wing seems to have been Matabushi Inc.'s in-house special operations team, but also was used as the cover for money laundering and smuggling schemes into the Federated Suns, and had ties with organized crime syndicates throughout the Inner Sphere.  Factoring in the Dark Wing's "mercenary underground" from the SNES game, and it appears that perhaps Matabushi's Operation INROAD was only a small part of what the Dark Wing was pulling together - trying to dominate the criminal underworld throughout the entire Inner Sphere by leveraging ties with intelligence agencies (like the ISF), the services of a wide array of rogue mercenaries, and extensive work with smugglers, terrorists, and other underworld groups (ranging from the Malthus syndicate to the yakuza, and including anti-government rebels in the Free Worlds League).

Gideon only disrupted the Dark Wing's operations with Matabushi, but the mercenary underground continued to be a going concern at least through the end of 3027, when the last of the founders was tracked down and killed by Herras Ragen.  I would assume that the surviving rank and file of the underground found ready offers of employment in the Fourth Succession War and in the brush wars that followed.
« Last Edit: 08 February 2018, 14:01:38 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Frabby

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #431 on: 08 February 2018, 16:11:45 »
Maria Vandenburg - In the end sequence following the Battle of Luthien in The Crescent Hawks' Revenge, Morgan Kell tells Jason Youngblood that he will inform Maria of her father's death, establishing that she's Gideon's daughter.

As for timing, I think finishing the game by August 3027 is... ambitious. Save-scumming speed run style ambitious. I mean, look at the setup. Gideon literally has to travel all across the Inner Sphere on his quest, and this actually made me lose the game a couple of times (as in, not recovering the Chalice in time) because travel times are very long - and you have to raise the merc unit on the sidelines that can beat the Dark Wing in the showdown. A walkthrough suggestion is to sell the Jenner immediately, ignore the mercenary sub-game and concentrate on following the quest until you've located the Matabushi/Dark Wing base and secured support and a boatload of money from Tasha. Then, and only then, use the money to raise a merc unit, get some plum contracts to get a heavy lance together, and slam into the Dark Wing. This is far more difficult than it sounds within the five-year timeframe that turns out to be pretty short after all.

I like the idea that "Duke" on Ander's Moon isn't a federal title, but rather a local affair. Given that Ander's Moon isn't exactly a high-profile world, I can't see Gideon getting formal rule over several other worlds, much less on the Kurita border, and still be mercenary. Though technically we're never told if he took the mantle, or kept the office - perhaps he found that he liked being mercenary too much, and refused the title or stepped down.
A thought I had about Elidere IV was that maybe it's a gas giant (fourth planet in the system) with one or more inhabited moons around it, and Ander's Moon one of them - perhaps even the capital moon. Would explain the naming scheme.

As for the Dark Wing, my gut feeling is that they're another example for the Draconis Combine brand of corporate mercenaries. There seems to be some problem with going really independent MRB-style merc in Kurita space, presumably because of their If-You're-Not-With-Us-You're-The-Enemy mindset. Look at the convoluted background of the Amphigean Light Assault Group - they were the next best thing to Kurita-raised mercenaries but it's unthinkable for Kurita citizens to hire out to someone outside of the Combine so they're in a strange middle world between merc, militia, corporate and state unit. Now where the Amphigean Light Assault Group may have been on the professional side of things, the Dark Wing was apparently more on the merc underground dregs/pirate end of the Kurita mercenary spectrum. Tolerated as a wetwork unit, even needed by Matabushi as a deniable asset, but ultimately just criminals on a leash.
« Last Edit: 08 February 2018, 16:14:21 by Frabby »
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #432 on: 08 February 2018, 18:12:01 »
Thanks for the clarification on Maria. 

The mid-3027 finish time was indeed based on the assumption that Gideon dedicated himself to tracking down the chalice, and didn't spend time on side-quests taking contracts, then using the big post-Matabushi reward to trick out the Aces as Wing-killers, for the following reasons:

1) He's under time pressure, so scrounging for C-Bills would seem to be a needless distraction, as long as he had enough cash for the interstellar transit

2) Whenever he gets into trouble during the cut-scenes, he's always alone.  Most of those ambushes would have had significantly less dramatic impact if he'd had a mercenary crew backing him up.  ("Grim Jim looms out of the shadows...and is blown away by a hail of bullets fired by your four lancemates.")

3) I timed out the transits to the official and the most-likely random locations based on in-universe official transit times, rather than the ones used by the game, which are often slower (thus your difficulty in meeting the 5-year deadline), and he can make the full circuit and even take revenge on Griez by late 3026, giving him about half a year to build his Aces with the Matabushi reward money and hit the Dark Wing.  I admit that it's not within the spirit of the game (which is to provide a framing device for lots of 'Mech combat), but it makes more sense for Gideon to stay on task, rather than trying to build a merc unit and a rep while finding the chalice.  First things first.

4) In-game NewsNet articles never mention anything about the 4th Succession War.  Plus, I'm not sure there'd continue to be a steady stream of merc contracts scattered all over with Operations RAT, GOTTERDAMMERUNG, and (to a much, much lesser extent) DAGGER in full swing.  Thus, the deadline of being done by January 3029 is actually pushed back to mid-3028, when the 4th Succession War kicks off.

5) Gideon has to have his late-game meeting with Natasha Kerensky shortly after her R&R on An Ting (a 3026 scene in Wolves on the Border), strongly suggesting the few remaining cutscenes take place in late 3026 and early 3027, though the potential remains for that being extended with procedurally generated mercenary missions.
« Last Edit: 09 February 2018, 11:25:41 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Liam's Ghost

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #433 on: 08 February 2018, 20:09:45 »
4) In-game NewsNet articles never mention anything about the 4th Succession War.  Plus, I'm not sure there'd continue to be a steady stream of merc contracts scattered all over with Operations RAT, GOTTERDAMMERUNG, and (to a much, much lesser extent) DAGGER in full swing.  Thus, the deadline of being done by January 3029 is actually pushed back to mid-3028, when the 4th Succession War kicks off.

The newsnet actually does mention the 4th war when the time comes around (at the very least the early waves). I assume the fact that the contracts don't change (and neither does the map) is more due to the software limitations of the day. They had to fit this all on a single 3.5" floppy disk, after all. Every byte is precious.

Also, one could make the argument that the stream of small merc jobs all over the place would actually increase during a major war. With the regular armies committed elsewhere, you need someone to put out the brushfires they normally handled.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #434 on: 08 February 2018, 20:25:37 »
Thanks - I had not known that.  I never had the game (my family had Commodore 64s and then Macs) and based the review on a Let’s Play video that finished in 3027, before any of those NewsNet articles appeared.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #435 on: 09 February 2018, 11:53:28 »
Date: August 2, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: LosTech Left Behind

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Herras Ragen accepts a subcontract from Meece Yerta to recover a piece of LosTech said to be on Zacapa.  Lana Mann (MIIO) reports that the mercenary underground has been laying low since word of Zach Slasher's murder came out on the News Net.  She recommends offering garrison assignments on Zhada to keep the peace.

Notes:  Mann's analysis doesn't seem to take the recent mercenary underground preparations for an attack on Solaris into account, though being MIIO, she may only be watching FedSuns worlds, rather than Lyran ones. 

I truly wish that the programmers had been willing to put more detail into the assignments.  "There's LosTech on Zacapa.  Find it;  There's a bomb on Solaris VII.  Stop it from exploding."  "Your princess is in another castle."  The writers knew enough about the universe to reference LosTech, but failed to frame the missions in a manner consistent with the established universe.

Why not use a set up like: "Group A is rumored to be transferring a LosTech Whoziwhatzis to black market buyers on Zhada.  I'll uplink the details of where and when the deal's going down.  Be careful - both sides are bringing security.  Bring the whoziwhatzis back here when you get it.  I've already got a buyer lined up, and will cut you in for a rich share of the payout."? 

That would fit the style of the universe, and imply that sufficient information had been provided to Herras to actually undertake the mission.  And heck, if the whoziwhatzis is a 'Mech weapon system, Herras could even make a choice between giving it to Meece for the payout, or plugging it into his 'Mech for better performance.  Instead, we have a vanilla setup for a vanilla mission.
« Last Edit: 09 February 2018, 18:07:06 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #436 on: 09 February 2018, 13:09:27 »
Date: August 11, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: Snitches Get Stitches

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Meece Yerta congratulates Herras on retrieving the LosTech, and pays him his share.  Herras overhears Yerg Gantor planning to ambush and kill a "young son of a gun" who "squealed on 'is mercenary buddies."

Notes: This is the first appearance of Yerg Gantor, who seems to primarily be differentiated by his accent, which appears to be going for a low-class cockney effect, droppin' 'is 'ayches, an' puttin' 'postrophes ev'erwher'.

This brings up the issue of accents as class identifiers.  In jolly olde Englande, numerous dialects developed, but those aspiring to the upper class took pains to speak only "the Queen's English," with other dialects and accents derided as "low class."  ("My Fair Lady" chronicles the effort of a dialect coach to get a low-class girl to speak in a high class dialect.)  The writer seems to be using the accent marks to identify Gantor as an underworld thug.

Yet, what is the linguistic standard in the Inner Sphere of 3027 for upper class speech?  Star League Standard English was the benchmark for centuries, but it was noted that when the Clans returned speaking it, their accents and verbal mannerisms sounded archaic, implying that the "Standard English" of 3027 has evolved beyond SLSE, just as Star League Standard English probably sounds a lot different from what was spoken in North America in 1988.  Perhaps Yerg is actually speaking archaic but formal high Star League Standard English, and the takeaway should be that he fancies himself a retro purist Terran Hegemony-phile.  (Probably not, though.  He's more like Badger from Firefly, with his 'very fine hat.')

In a universe where "Danstun Porgha" translates in some language to "ship's laundry," anything is possible.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #437 on: 09 February 2018, 14:39:10 »
Date: August 16, 3027
 
Location: Harpster

Title: Strike at Wittengate

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.
 
Type: Scenario (BattleTechnology 0202)

Synopsis: Armored elements (the 4th Cavalry) attached to the 2nd Ceti Hussars attack a DCMS supply depot at the crossroads of Wittengate, on the Anglic Steppes (on Harpster's Anglica continent) being guarded by the mercenary Brion's Legion. 

While the bulk of Brion's Legion pushes against the Hussars' 'Mechs and artillery to the south, an AFFS hover cavalry unit strikes at the invasion force's supplies behind their lines.

Historically, the 2nd Hussars looted the depot, destroyed what was left, and took down two 'Mechs, while only losing two hover tanks, gaining sufficient supplies to keep the AFFS garrison on Harpster fighting until reinforcements arrived.

The 4th Cavalry assigned to this raid consist of a Condor, a Pegasus, two Whirlwinds, one Harrier, two heavy trucks, and two rifle platoons (in the trucks).

The Wittengate security garrison, from Brion's Legion, consists of a Phoenix Hawk, Wolverine, and rifle platoon.  Rules for loading supplies into trucks and using infantry satchel charges to destroy supplies are provided.

No stats are provided for the Heavy Trucks (B2 Heavy Transports from the MechWarrior RPG probably suffice).  The Whirlwind is presented as a 45 ton 8/12 hover tank with 2 AC/2s and 2 Medium Lasers in the turret, along with 3 tons for an infantry platoon compartment.  The Harrier is a 50-ton 10/15 hover tank with a front mounted Large Laser and SRM-4, and a rear-mounted Medium Laser. 

Night rules are in effect, adding a +1 penalty to all vehicle and 'Mech attacks, and a +2 penalty to all infantry attacks.

Notes: Victory points are allocated for enemy units killed and for supplies stolen/destroyed.  While you can try to make a hit-and-run raid to get in and get out with supplies, the surest route for a Davion victory is to take down the 'Mechs and defending infantry, whatever the cost, then make up their losses by claiming maximum points for the supplies.

Given the high mobility of the hover and 'Mech units, plus the night combat modifiers, the infantry will be useless against them.  My recommendation would be to put the infantry in the Whirlwinds from the outset and leave the trucks off on the edge, in standby mode.  Blaze into the depot with the Whirlwinds and drop off the infantry, which can then shoot it out with the Kurita infantry at a 2-to-1 advantage, then get down to blowing supplies up.  Get into the Heavy depot building as quickly as possible to avoid getting too shot up when out in the open.

The Condor, Harrier, and Pegasus can duke it out with the mercenary 'Mechs, with the Whirlwinds joining in when they're finished dropping off the infantry. 

If the 'Mechs try to deal with the infantry, they'll lose mobility and you can hammer them.  If they come out to play tag with your tanks, play the initiative rolls.  When you lose, scoot away and hide behind cover.  When you win, swarm in and tear up their rear armor.  (Using that tactic, I once took out a Goliath with a Pegasus.)

Once the 'Mechs are down and the infantry has been massacred, you can bring in the trucks and work out how best to optimize the destruction/theft of the supplies.  Since you lose points for every ton of vehicle destroyed, make any unit that gets seriously damaged hang back, as much as possible, letting those with fresh armor take the lead.  Concentrate on one 'Mech at a time, so you aren't just hammering fresh armor, but are degrading their ability to shoot back at you.

For Brion's Legion, you've got a tough fight ahead.  You're outgunned and outnumbered, and are trying to defend a fixed position that is very vulnerable.  I would recommend a meta-approach - focusing on the heavy trucks.  If you can blow up the trucks (which are nowhere near as maneuverable as the hover tanks) first, you may be able to kill the infantry aboard, and severely limit the carrying capacity of the AFFS troops, so they'll be stuck getting 2 points per supply factor for destroying it, rather than 3 for capturing it.

Once the trucks are splashed, hang together and trade fire with the hover tanks.  Cover each other's backs to prevent them from swarming an unprotected rear arc.  If you're using the modern motive hit tables, you'll be able to degrade their speed (with a decent likelihood of blowing out air skirts) and reduce their efficacy.  Just keep moving as much as possible yourself.  There's no time limit, but you're down a lot of points for losing a 'Mech, so keep those defensive modifiers up for yourself. 

The scenario is framed as part of the defense of the Federated Suns world of Harpster against a Kurita raid, and notes that "reinforcements arrived and pushed the Kuritas back across the border."  Only problem...Harpster is a Combine world circa 3025, and has been since the Age of War.  The "Cavalry Raid on Harpster" sidebar seems to bear that out, noting that the 4th Cavalry had not seen much action "since our set-down on Harpster" and that the Ceti Hussars had "established their foothold" on the Anglica continent.

My guess would be that, as part of GALAHAD '27, the 2nd Ceti Hussars raided Harpster, which was garrisoned by Brion's Legion at the time.  (So much for the Prince's proclamation that the exercise was purely defensive in nature.)  The raid seems to have successfully pushed Brion's Legion off of the Anglica continent (probably what "pushed back across the border" meant, in context) and the Hussars maintained a foothold there until DCMS regulars arrived to drive them off following the GALAHAD exercise.

The Whirlwind and Harrier did not transition into mainline canon. 

With a good gunnery crew and some open road, the Whirlwind can be used in the same niche role as the Warrior H-7 - a long range harasser that can whittle away at the enemy (especially enemy fortifications) with its AC/2s without taking any return fire.  Its infantry compartment gives it extra utility - I'd take one of these over a Maxim (machine guns and missiles in all directions) any day. 

The Harrier lacks a turret, so its attacks will be modeled on those used by the Saladin.  Charge full speed at the enemy and try to tag them, then hit them from the rear with your rear gun when you pass, then come around for another run.  With 10/15 speed, you can really make good use of the times you win initiative, stabbing that Large Laser into the target's thin rear armor.

Harpster's a blank slate, so none of the apocryphal descriptive details (the continent of Anglica + the crossroads at Wittengate) contradict canon info.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #438 on: 09 February 2018, 16:34:51 »
Date: August 20, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: Ambush Foiled

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Cearle congratulates Herras on having put an end to Yerg Gantor's planned ambush.  The News Net reports that House Davion has launched an assault against Rostov, in pursuit of Dark Wing member Duff Skully, who has stolen top secret documents from a high security section of a Davion installation.  MIIO agent Lana Mann reports she will not be able to join the hunt on Rostov, but will be investigating the disappearance of one of her informants on Jelenia.

Notes: So much for the mercenary underground laying low.  Since the target of Skully's raid was a Davion installation, it seems likely that this branch of the Dark Wing is still taking orders from either Matabushi or the ISF - in service to House Kurita, in any event.

The framing device of Cearle telling Herras "Hey, look at all these classified intelligence briefing holodiscs that ended up in my lost and found!  You want 'em?" every single week was poorly thought out.  There's suspension of disbelief, and there's keeping such an open mind that one's brains fall out. 

It would have worked so much better if Herras was a handler for the MIIO, and could take missions to recruit spies (like the Bounty Hunter has, per Wolves on the Border) who would then be tasked with reporting in to him.  Cearle and the mercenary barflies at Club Zero-Zero could have given him a few starter leads, but then if Herras lacks informants on Solaris, he doesn't get contract hooks from Solaris.  Add in the ability to task informants with moving to other worlds in search of likely prospects, and some scripted self-relocating, and you get a far more plausible setup with Herras being the hub of a major MIIO-backed intel gathering operation - dispatching Herras as the troubleshooter whenever they get a solid lead on the mercenary underground or the Dark Wing ringleaders.

The only two canon worlds in the game are Galatea and Solaris.  The other worlds could, perhaps, be explained as outpost worlds - not abandoned colonies, but worlds with small, off-the-books pirate bases on them, serving as staging areas for pirates working the former Terran Hegemony sector.  Not unlike the off-map R&R world for AFFS mercenaries, Rahway II, or the staging world of Dragon's Field.  These would be natural hangouts for the mercenary underground.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #439 on: 09 February 2018, 17:51:20 »
Date: August 27, 3027
 
Location:  Scheat

Title: A Dagger's Death

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.
 
Type: Short Story (BattleTechnology 0102)

Synopsis: Captain Alaya Addison recounts the August 3027 defense of Scheat V against a Davion raid during GALAHAD '27.

Addison recalls the moment when the DCMS line broke on Galtor III, with Captain Rodgers' urging Dagger company to rally to him before his Dragon is shattered by missiles, while Lt. Morgan Falk had ordered his lance to pull back.  Addison recalls taking the initiative and leading the Recon Lance to counterattack, repulsing the Davion thrust and breaking through to where a Davion Marauder was savaging Rodgers' downed Dragon.  Driving the AFFS 'Mech away, the survivors of Dagger company recovered Rodgers' legless body from the wreck and extracted to their DropShips.  For his valor, Addison was promoted to Captain and put in command of Company B in the Daggers of Death - jumping over Lt. Falk.

Addison explains that the Daggers of Death is a mercenary "short regiment" (two 'Mech companies - A and B) under Colonel Joab Keen, and that Keen had decided Falk's decision to retreat caused the loss on Galtor III, removing him from consideration for company command.

Following the debacle on Galtor III, the Daggers were reassigned to garrison the industrial spaceport city of Kallair, on the shore of Scheat V's Polar Sea.  When word came that the AFFS was using GALAHAD '27 to repeat their GALAHAD '26 assault on Scheat, Addison faced supply, staffing, and morale issues.  He notes that, while the Daggers recruit troops from Kurita worlds, they get the lowest priority for supplies and parts, which are generally reserved for House regulars.

Worst of all, Addison recalls having to deal with Morgan Falk, who is bitter at having to serve under a woman.  Puzzled by the bias, Addison proposes discharging Falk to Col. Keen, but Keen refuses, citing the already critical manpower shortage.

Planetary aerospace assets proved ineffective against the wall of fighters deployed to cover the AFFS insertion.  The invasion fleet dropped 'Mech at high altitude as diversions, then landed DropShips at major spaceports, while the fighters used their air superiority to strafe fortresses and bunkers.

When two Unions were detected inbound for Kallair, the Daggers of Death scrambled and deployed along Hill 091 (a low, rocky spur with no cover and little strategic value) to intercept two reinforced companies.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the Daggers got the worst of the exchange of fire.  Realizing the danger of being flanked, Colonel Keen ordered the Daggers to withdraw and regroup.  Addison is unable to comply when her Thunderbolt's leg fails during a duel with the same Davion Marauder that killed Cpt. Rodgers on Galtor III.

Addison managed to restore power at the last minute, and engaged the Marauder at close range, but to no avail.  Her 'Mech was downed in short order, and the Marauder moved in for the kill...only to be interrupted by a desperate charge from Falk's Griffin.  Together, Falk and Addison downed the Davion 'Mech, but Falk's Griffin suffered a fatal missile cook-off at the end, destroying both machine and pilot.

The Daggers drove off the raiders and saved the Kallair munitions factory.  Looking through Falk's personnel files, Addison finds that he was from the world of Unity, settled by religious fundamentalists who believed women should be sheltered and protected.

A sidebar profiles Captain Addison, noting her service with the Chichibu militia and two tours with the Benjamin Regulars prior to signing with the Daggers of Death in 3026.  She was born in the city of Warrior's Way, on Chichibu, in 2998.

Notes: The Daggers are a very short "regiment."  It would seem that Addison meant short Battalion, except Keen styles himself a Colonel, rather than a Major. 

Establishing the Daggers of Death as being formed in 3026 neatly sidesteps the issue of not being listed in the 3025 House Kurita book, but implies they were either disbanded/destroyed or otherwise unimportant during the 4th Succession War, due to their non-listing in the NAIS Atlas of the 4th Succession War.  (I can imagine that they disbanded in the wake of the "Death to Mercenaries" order, since they had only their Combine ancestry to protect them, rather than the Amphigean Light Assault Team's corporate benefactors.)

Objectives: Draconis Combine covered Unity from an industrial point of view, but not a cultural one, so the apocryphal data on its founding and fundamentalist culture hasn't been contradicted.  Chichibu was profiled in WizKids' planetary profiles, but nothing in that writeup precludes there being a city named "Warrior's Way." 

I was surprised by the story section that had Addison remotely bypassing an electrical short (due to battle damage) from within the cockpit.  The onboard computers in a 'Mech are clearly capable of a wide variety of functions. 

Having grown up in the Combine, I'm amused that Addison is surprised by patriarchal attitudes towards women - something that's a core cultural element in much of the Combine, not just among religious fundamentalists.  More to the point, I'm surprised the Combine tolerated the continued existence of a religious fundamentalist sect on Unity, since sourcebooks indicate that most Combine citizens are Buddhist, and that other religious are persecuted, while extremist cults are annihilated.  (Requiem for the Dead Heads of Terrapin Station...)

Interesting also that the Combine chose to dispatch mercenaries to raid Galtor III at the outset of GALAHAD.  Perhaps they wanted to test the AFFS' much-vaunted "readiness," and perhaps to regain some small sliver of honor following the disastrous outcome of the 3025 Galtor Campaign.  The fact that they lost could, perhaps, be attributed to the numbers and composition of the AFFS garrison there being different than expected, due to the reshuffling associated with the kickoff of GALAHAD '27 in July.
« Last Edit: 09 February 2018, 18:17:01 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Skyth

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #440 on: 09 February 2018, 21:46:15 »
It's not the only time battle damage has been fixed from the cockpit like that.  In one of the Grey Death Legion books, Alexander does it as well.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #441 on: 12 February 2018, 14:52:34 »
Date: August 27, 3027
 
Location: Scheat

Title: Dagger's Edge

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.
 
Type: Scenario (BattleTechnology 0102)

Synopsis: This scenario re-creates the Battle for Hill 091 dramatized in "A Dagger's Death," in which Lt. Morgan Falk sacrificed his Griffin and himself to protect his commander, Captain Alaya Addison, from an AFFS Marauder.  His sacrifice allowed the Daggers to reform their line and blunt the AFFS strike at Kurita munitions stockpiles.

Rather than using one of the standard mapsheets, the scenario presents a contour map and recommends using transparencies with hex grids on them overlaid on the contour map, or just using regular BattleTech map sheets and ignoring all terrain features.

The Daggers field Captain Addison in her Thunderbolt (with pre-existing damage) and Lt. Falk in his Griffin (with minimal pre-existing damage).  Falk may only enter on a turn where the Dagger player rolls a 5 or 6 on 1d6.

The AFFS fields just Major Wendell Jones in his nearly pristine Marauder.

The scenario presents special rules for damaging nearby units if a unit explodes while engaged in a physical attack, or when simply adjacent to another 'Mech.

The Marauder wants to destroy both the Thunderbolt and Griffin, and exit the east edge of the map before Turn 11, but will settle for those results by Turn 20. 

The Daggers want to destroy the Marauder and take no losses, but will accept a withdrawal with no losses, or even a withdrawal of one of the two 'Mechs without destroying the Marauder, as a victory.  Historically, the Daggers achieved an "Expensive Victory" - killing the Marauder but losing the Griffin in the process.

Notes: The explosion rules are interesting.  If there's an internal ammunition explosion during the physical attack phase, count up the total damage done by the exploding ammunition, reduce it by the number of internal structure points remaining, and then do half that total to the other 'Mech in five point increments. 

(This situation actually came up for me once, when a Scarabus hatcheted through the backside of a Hitman and critted the LRM ammo.)

If the explosion comes outside the physical attack phase, divide by six instead of two, and apply the damage to every unit in an adjacent hex to the exploding one. 

This rule never made the jump to canon, but has some similarities to the Tactical Handbook's handling of "Stackpole rule" engine explosions.  The legacy carries on today with the modern, toned down, engine explosion collateral damage rule, and the self-destruct device rule.

I can see some potential for abuse of this rule - stripping a Wasp or Locust of its armor and weapon systems, and loading as many critical slots as possible with machine gun ammunition, hoping to turn it into a bomb with legs that can charge into the center of enemy formations and detonate.

It seems like it would be very difficult to replicate the events of the story, since you'd have to count on a lucky crit in the Griffin's right torso while taking damage from a successful charge attack.  Ultimately, the proximity ammunition explosion rules are interesting, but unlikely to be decisive in this engagement.

The AFFS Marauder pilot has a gunnery of 3, partially offsetting the minimum range penalties from the main guns.  The Thunderbolt is missing its Large Laser, but since the 3025-era Thunderbolt has serious heat issues, it's probably better off without it in this close-range fight. 

I would recommend that the Thunderbolt charge in and try to land some solid kicks on the Marauder's legs, while spraying it with Medium Laser fire.  At point-blank range, the PPCs and AC/5 will both suffer minimum range penalties.  The Marauder will kick back, but odds are against their main guns consistently plonking you, and if the Griffin gets in soon enough, you can both work over the damaged leg and bring it down that way.

You're going to be engaging at close range no matter what.  You start close, and if you back away, the Marauder can catch up (with you backing away at a walk) or plug you in the rear armor (if you turn and run).  Better to dive in and try to leg the Feddie.

For the Marauder, you want to finish this quickly, before the Griffin can join the battle.  You have a significant edge if you stay outside your minimum range, but hanging back risks the Thunderbolt surviving long enough to bring the Griffin in as a supporting unit.  I would recommend closing quickly to start kicking the Thunderbolt, following up with your lasers and autocannon.  Don't overheat, and keep slamming the same leg, if possible.  You do 10 more damage per hit than the Thunderbolt, so use that to your advantage. 

(Granted, you do more damage with PPCs and AC/5 than with a kick, but the kick damage will be concentrated in one place where you only have to hit 2-3 times to deal crippling damage, whereas the Thunderbolt can take PPC hits scattered across its body a lot longer.)
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #442 on: 13 February 2018, 13:50:07 »
Date: August 29, 3027
 
Location: Luthien

Title: Wolves on the Border

Author: Robert N. Charrette
 
Type: Novel (FASA)

Synopsis: Jaime Wolf arrives at the Unity Palace on Luthien, in response to the Coordinator's summons, accompanied by Major Sanford Blake (intelligence chief), Major Olga Kormenski (security chief), and three 7th Kommando special forces troops.  They are greeted by an Otomo squad, which escorts them through immaculately manicured gardens into the looming teak palace.

The Otomo tai-i directs Blake to enter his report into a terminal, while Colonel Wolf enters the meeting room alone.  Wolf analyzes the brusque treatment and concludes that the Coordinator will not be willing to listen to the Dragoon side of the story regarding the Udibi raid.

When guards escort Colonel Wolf into the meeting room, he is joined by Warlord Grieg Samsonov and Jerry Akuma.  Together, they enter the inner audience chamber, where Coordinator Takashi awaits, and greets Wolf warmly, offering him the opportunity to face his accuser - Warlord Samsonov.

Samsonov alleges that the Dragoons have displayed cowardice and used overly conservative tactics to preserve their own equipment, to the detriment of potential Combine gains.  He warns that such behavior, left uncorrected, could cripple Combine border defenses against the Federated Suns.  With assistance from Akuma, Samsonov cites his evidence in a tirade that lasts more than an hour, and ends by calling for the elimination of Dragoon leadership.

Takashi asks Akuma for his input, but he merely comments that it has been difficult serving as the Professional Soldiery Liaison to the headstrong Dragoons, apologizes for any areas needing improvement, and withdraws with the Coordinator's permission.

Colonel Wolf simply advises the Coordinator that the Dragoons will accept no other leaders than their own, noting that you cannot remove a family's father and expect them to accept a new head.  He refers to the report entered by Major Blake, rather than voicing specific rebuttals to Samsonov's charges, explaining that he sees no point in arguing when the Dragoons are prejudged.

Samsonov demands that the Dragoons be placed under his direct command, that Korsht and Dumont be relieved of their regimental commands, and that Arbuthnot and Kerensky be tried and sentenced to death for killing civilians on Kawabe. 

Takashi flatly rejects his demand, and rules in favor of the Dragoons, admonishing the stunned and enraged warlord to remember his duty to the Coordinator.

As Samsonov withdraws, Takashi invites Jaime to join him on a balcony overlooking Imperial City.  Takashi addresses Jaime as an old friend, and asks where the kindred soul he met on Quentin has gone.  He tells Jaime that the Combine wants to retain the services of the Dragoons, and offers better liaisons, more resources, and higher paying assignments.  Jaime offers only evasive replies, and rebukes the Coordinator - noting that the actions of his subordinates have stained his honor. 

Takashi invites Jaime and his retinue to stay in Imperial City for a week while they consider his offer, then allows the Colonel to withdraw.  Watching the Dragoons leave through the gardens below, Takashi concludes that Wolf has not taken the offer seriously.  He resolves that Wolf will be sent back to An Ting as slowly as possible, rather than by the command circuit which brought him.  Speaking into a hidden microphone, he orders the holo of the meeting to be delivered to ISF Director Subhash Indrahar, then ponders the competing pulls of what he wants to do ninjo and what he must do, for the good of the state - giri.

Notes: The room where the Dragoons wait is adorned by five Fudo statues.  Fudo is a classical guardian spirit (myo-o) from Buddhist mythology - the king of wisdom.  Five is a symbolic number in Japanese culture, and in the Combine culture created by Coordinator Urizen II, which was heavily modeled on that of feudal Japan.  Interesting that five is also a significant number in Clan society - being the base unit for military organization (the Star).  That, along with ritualized honor dueling and a rigid caste structure, make the Combine one of the most similar societies to Nicholas' Clans.

The entry doors to the lesser audience chamber are teak, carved with scenes from the history of the Kurita clan.  It's interesting to contrast this with the palace decor in the Celestial Palace on Sian.  While House Kurita touts its deep roots in history and its accomplishments, centuries of retreat and failure have led House Liao to focus more on escapist fantasy - adorning their throne with images of a mythical cosmology that purports to show the head of House Liao as a divine being at the center of the universe.

Takashi is wearing a kimono of glistening daigumo-spider silk.  Google translate's only marginally helpful here, but would that more or less translate into "long spider"?  (If "daikyu" is long bow while "hankyu" is short bow, then "dai" can be understood as a modifier meaning "long"? "big"? - I get this mental image of Unproductives being tasked with collecting silk from nests filled with horse-sized spiders as a punishment)  I wonder if the kimono is, as a result of using alien spider silk instead of silkworm output, bullet resistant.

I presume the balcony is sited to overlook the palace district, rather than the industrial sector or the Tumbledowns, where the Unproductives live.  Charrette describes the city as "one of the most beautiful cities in the Inner Sphere," but later accounts cite the sharp dichotomy between the lovely palace district and the utilitarian hideousness of the rest of the city (and the rest of the planet, for that matter - the phrase "Black Luthien" is as much a condemnation of the air pollution from runaway industrial development as of Kuritan morals.)

The Combine's Dragoon fiasco ultimately comes down to ambitious subordinates misinterpreting the Coordinator's desires.  Takashi truly respected Jaime Wolf and felt him to be a kindred spirit (an impression aided, no doubt, by the deep similarities between Clan and Combine culture). 

He wanted to keep the Dragoons under contract no matter what.  However, at this time, the standard practice by the Combine for binding mercenaries to them is to use "company store" tactics to ruin them financially and make them indebted to House Kurita, and to place them into no-win situations on the battlefield, where they have to sacrifice autonomy as a way of atoning for their failures.  Lacking imagination, Samsonov just went ahead with Plan A, with Akuma spitefully supporting him as a way to gain revenge against Tetsuhara.

Takashi notes that Wolf seemed distracted - his thoughts elsewhere - throughout the meeting.  Likely, Jaime was considering the bigger picture - how to keep his unit alive and operating, where to go next, and how to fulfill his operating orders - to prepare the Inner Sphere to repulse the coming Clan invasion.

As usual, Charrette compressed an enormous amount of universe-building into seven pages, again portraying Takashi Kurita as a lonely man who views himself as sacrificing friendship, father-son relations, and all personal rewards in favor of manipulating people and events to ensure the survival of the Combine.  The assassination of his father early on taught him to trust nobody - a lesson reinforced by the dozen-plus assassination attempts against himself along the way.

Samsonov's ravings about Dragoon cowardice and tactical ineffectiveness clearly don't mesh with reality, and therefore undercut his credibility with Takashi (who has, no doubt, been getting more cogent battlefield assessments from Subhash Indrahar).  However, Samsonov's warnings about the defenses on the Davion border being weakened come as Operation GALAHAD '27 is in full swing, punctuated by raids on Scheat and Harpster in just the last few weeks, and cannot be ignored.
« Last Edit: 13 February 2018, 15:53:36 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Liam's Ghost

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #443 on: 13 February 2018, 17:48:54 »
Daigumo would be "great spider". The "dai-" prefix refers to things that are great in either stature (a Daikyu would be a "great bow") or great in status (a daimyo can be roughly thought of as "great lord").

Specifically, the kanji character means "Large". So it's either a really big spider or a really impressive spider.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!

Jaim Magnus

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #444 on: 13 February 2018, 17:59:53 »
Or a really large, really impressive spider.


BattleCorps Author: Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken, Legacy Anthology 'The Forgotten Places'

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #445 on: 13 February 2018, 18:27:19 »
This is the Draconis frickin' Combine.  Of course they have at least one planet inhabited by kaiju-class spiders.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #446 on: 14 February 2018, 17:12:56 »
Robert N. Charrette always wrote a really good stories, rich in detail.

This is the Draconis frickin' Combine.  Of course they have at least one planet inhabited by kaiju-class spiders.
I'd love have read the Handbook with entry for one of the planets with one those spiders.  ;D
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #447 on: 14 February 2018, 17:57:52 »
Daigumo silk harvesting in progress:

« Last Edit: 14 February 2018, 18:10:18 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #448 on: 15 February 2018, 08:54:07 »
Aww, Godzilla has a big spider balloon.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II
« Reply #449 on: 15 February 2018, 14:23:21 »
Date: August 30, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: Agent Mann Captured

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Herras Ragen views a holovid left behind in Club Zero-Zero, which contains a plea for help from MIIO Agent Lana Mann.  She has been captured by the same group that previously captured her informant on Jelenia, and is being held hostage in exchange for plans she stashed on Cawdor.

Notes: So....  MIIO agents go in to check on sources without backup or a control team from HQ coordinating the operation?  And the goombas holding her decide the best way to get what they want is to let her record a plea for someone to recover the plans on Cawdor and deliver them, then have that disc slipped into the lost-and-found in Club Zero-Zero?  Is SAFE running this operation?  ::)

The only way this makes any sort of sense is if, as I've previously postulated, Herras Ragen is an MIIO troubleshooter and the lost-and-found at Club Zero-Zero is actually a dead drop for his agents.

The narrative suffers from the extremely skimpy writing in the framing scenes.  Activision's MechWarrior had extended, detail-filled scenes that moved the plot forward and added depth to the universe.  MechWarrior 2 had entire sections of the "The Falcon and the Wolf" scenario pack quoted verbatim to set up mission context.  MechCommander had detailed briefings on the mission, its context, and the overall operation.  Here, we're not even told what the plans are, where on Cawdor they might be stashed, and where to deliver them. 

It's possible the cartridge-based game hardware imposed severe restrictions on text displays - limiting messages to one page with a hard character count, but the overall effect is that much of the context that would make these missions anything more than randomly generated FPS frag-fests is sorely lacking.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

 

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