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Author Topic: Why is the Unit Naming Convention Broken by ilClan Rec Guide 08?  (Read 624 times)


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I've brought this up elsewhere, and its been a few months since I last checked in with the errata thread to see if it had been given a formal correction, but there isn't any yet and the Search reveals no other comments on the new Devil. A conversation yesterday prompted me to reinvestigate this:

Why did developers break the unit naming convention established by FASA in the mid-1990s with the Devil in RG8?
-or, more succinctly-
Why isn't the Devil created by Clan Ice Hellion in RG8?

I got six words into this unit's TRO entry before realizing CGL made a grievous mistake that never should have made it print/PDF. Devil and hellion are synonyms (in fact, per Merriam-Webster, devil is the first synonym for hellion) and thus the naming convention dictates that a unit named "Devil" should be reserved for creations of Clan Ice Hellion. Applying it to Clan Snow Raven breaks a tradition going back (at least) 29 years to TRO:3055's original release.

For half a minute I continued reading, thinking this was just a simple mistake on the part of authors and editors who may not have known devil and hellion were synonyms, but then the word hellion is correctly used midway through the article, indicating that authors and editors knew what the word meant and broke the rule anyway.

So why trample on this tradition needlessly? This action is not needed to provide the Snow Ravens with this mech for late Dark Age and ilClan eras, or the Howler 3 refit in the 3060s. If the decision was made solely because the Snow Ravens created the Howler 3 in the 3060s*, then development group is not only breaking the naming rule but trying to justify actions taken in the late 2800s or early 2900s were somehow influenced by the 3060s, and BattleTech shouldn't require time travel to explain things.

(* Having Howler 3 created by the Snow Ravens wasn't a problem. Giving it the additional "Devil" name was. But I remember FanPro reps explaining this was merely homage to the yet-uncanonized true Devil, and that it was still, technically, a "Howler", and as an isorla refit would be very rare anyway. This toed the line on the naming convention but didn't explicitly break it. Probably shouldn't have ever happened though because it appears to have contributed to RG08's more serious error.)

Suggested errata:
Replace the first two sentences of the Devil entry on page 6:
"Originally deployed by the Snow Ravens in the early thirtieth century, the Devil was birthed from a Fire Mandrill Howler taken as isorla on Marshall. Raven technicians admired the chassis’ speed and long-range firepower, but thought it might excel with a bit more tweaking."
"Originally deployed by the Ice Hellions in the late twenty-ninth century, the Devil was birthed from a Fire Mandrill Howler taken as isorla. Hellion technicians admired the chassis’ speed and long-range firepower, but thought it might excel with a bit more tweaking."

This would restore the naming convention without wrecking later events. It does not prevent the Snow Ravens from refitting Howlers to the "3" specification in the 3060s or reintroducing the proper Devil in Alliance space in the 3140s. It also moves the introduction year back into the 2800s where it makes more sense for a resource-richer Clan like Ice Hellion, who even with new OmniMech technology in hand might still be experimenting with expensive 300 XL engines in standard BattleMechs (which makes much less sense for Clan Snow Raven, which RG08 even acknowledges), while also giving time for some distribution to Clans whom the Hellions don't seem to share any significant enclave borders, like Clan Snow Raven. I'll leave the exact year up to MUL group but remaining as 2911 would be astonishingly late (already is.) I am unclear if Marshall still applies: Hellions have it post-Fury but I don't know if I trust's pre-3050 assignments. Foster has the same problem though so if it were me I'd just drop the planet name as its inconsequential to the article.

And the first sentence of the second paragraph under Battle History (same page):
"Devils often appeared in Jade Falcon Eyrie Clusters, a legacy of the alliance between the two Clans during Operation Revival."
"Devils often appeared in Clan Jade Falcon's Eyrie Clusters following Operation Revival."

This eliminates a question of how and from whom the Jade Falcons acquired their Devils. (Either Snow Raven on friendly terms, or Ice Hellion on not-so-friendly terms, but inconsequential to the article.) Additionally, the 1993 source material, though not officially canon, does indicate that the mech was only first seen by ROM operatives behind Clan lines post-Tukayyid. The Jade Falcon Eyrie Cluster (singular) participated in the Battle of Twycross (3050) and the Gyrfalcon Eyrie Cluster at Tukayyid, where the mech should have been spotted if present at either. Could be the Peregrine Eyrie Cluster who sat out the conflict, but the current wording is just much too vague to avoid a temporal inconsistency. Having it appear post-Tukayyid as replacements for losses makes both original and newer material correct.

An alternative errata is to entirely rename the mech. But since a 30-ton Clan mech, moving 10/15, with an ER PPC and targeting computer has been "Devil" since 1993, and the article lends itself into explaining the "watered-down" Howler 3 adopting the same name, its hard to convince the fanbase that it should go by any other name.

All this said, I certainly appreciate my all-time favorite mech finally getting canonized after a nearly three decade wait since its appearance in the 1993 flyer, but the route has been very bumpy. I remember development group once saying (an earlier forum or maybe even newsgroups, circa 1999 or so) that the Devil was an early totem of a homeworld Clan. The Ice Hellion assignment was obvious enough from the name (or should have been) to the point of even leading me to adopt this clan as my faction (I was a Davionist for several years prior), just so I could have my favorite mech once it was canonized. Later material then moved the Targeting Computer's proliferation into the late 2860s and then the Howler (Baboon to Spheroids) was given a date of 2871, pushing it a few years later still. And the 2911 date supplied by MUL would push it another four decades. For a mech that for several years was expected to be "the answer" for how Clan Ice Hellion got onboard with zellbrigin (even their looser interpretation of it than most Clans), 90 years after the concept is introduced is neither "early" or well-explained. (I hope this is something current development group addresses someday. The Hellions lose half their touman in Moore's treachery in the early 2830s, but somehow both maintain parity with other Clans and adopt zellbrigin despite a woefully understrength, underweight, and outranged military. Either parity or zellbrigin maybe, but both at the same time requires some campaign game mechanics rebalancing in the form of "headchopper" mechs; i.e. Clan-grade ER PPCs. While the Hellions have Lancelot Cs, they shouldn't be flush with them. Lighter mechs with ER PPCs are sorely needed, and the merely five ton lighter Lynx C notwithstanding, they're absent until omnimechs proliferate 40 years later. Devil could have been that mech if the Targeting Computer and Baboon weren't adjusted to later times, but that's no longer possible. Currently, not many options remain on the table - an XL-engined Hussar C perhaps - but TRO: Golden Century didn't help plug this plot hole at all. Similar problem afflicts other Clans with bias to light mechs, such as Mongoose and Snow Raven, but to a lesser degree than the Hellions, as the Mongooses apparently talk their way out of trouble while the Snow Ravens ram a warship or a trinary of heavy fighters down your throat instead.)