Register Register

Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion  (Read 7154 times)

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« on: 23 June 2015, 06:44:38 »
Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
Who: Caleb Davion
   Aka Caleb Hasek-Sandoval-Davion
What: First Prince of the Federated Suns
When: 3099 – 25 June 3144
Weapon of Choice: Marksman Tank

The Dark Age has produced a diverse range of leaders, mostly ambitious, generally conniving, and some with surprising competencies. And some are Caleb Davion.

The only offspring of Harrison Davion and his wife Isabella Hasek, he is the merger of the three major ruling bloodlines of the Federated Suns, not that this matters to anyone since the March seats already have their own distinctive lines which have proudly thumbed their noses at New Avalon for Caleb’s entire lifetime.

The difficulty in conceiving him resulted in his mother showering him with attention, something Harrison was uncomfortable with but with only the one heir he did not feel he could force the issue.

First the obvious must be stated: Caleb Davion was a bad Prince.

Crazy was one thing, and will be addressed, but it caused him to be paranoid, untrusting, micromanaging at a time when communications are massively delayed, jealous, and, well, basically a walking list of the worst human personality traits. And unlike a lot of other insane characters, mostly Liao, he had no qualities that made him capable or even mildly competent as a leader, civilian or military. He had no obsession, drive, cunning, intellect or anything the least bit useful for the position of First Prince.

Harrison Davion weakened the Federated Suns by buying whole heartedly into Devlin Stone’s disarmament program, he can be forgiven somewhat since he was a believer and it was ostensibly peacetime. Out of all of the leaders there had to be one naïve fool. However it was Caleb who crippled the nation though bad decisions and leadership in wartime.

Of course Caleb was also a bad human being as well. Rape is one of the few universally reviled crimes amongst humans, due to the absence of subjectiveness around the act, and while Caleb, delusional nut that he is, perceives Danai as a willing participant the simple fact is he is a rapist and therefore an evil character.

Patricide is almost as bad but after raping Danai pushing his father off a balcony in an angry impulse pales. However it is another important act by the character, showing how carelessly destructive he can be and how utterly unaware of things like consequences he is. Even though this act secures him the throne by removing his father before Julian can be made heir these were not Caleb’s motivations, he was just angry and acted.

Sadly, of the short list of people who know what actually happened in these cases none are going to make it public, and so within the setting Caleb is not publicly known as being this sort of evil.

Incompetent, certainly, that much would have very quickly become obvious to what fiction and sourcebooks show to be an already befuddled military, and would have soon pressed itself upon a public struggling to keep up with the border changes.

And of course the crazy has to be mentioned in more detail, for while some Houses are famous for it and more than one Federated Suns ruler has been slightly off-kilter Caleb took that to new extremes for the entire setting, being literal doing-what-an-imaginary-friend-tells-him-to-do-crazy.

The imaginary friend, Mason Lambert, is a personification for the more violent, disgusting urges Caleb has, his comments urging Caleb on, and isn’t revealed to be imaginary until the end of the novel “Sword of Sedition”. This is a common literary technique for creating suspense and drama. And for a character like Caleb this sort of hallucination provides a sort of short hand for explaining what is going on in his head.

Why must he be like this? For one thing it gives a legitimate reason for the faction to become so badly weakened by 3145. Demobilising, downsizing, and a string of military defeats is not enough, for so much disaster on two fronts something has to be seriously wrong and you can’t go more seriously wrong than a guy who could conceivably appoint thin air as the Prince’s Champion.

It is also another step away from the Federated Suns being the ‘hero’ faction, filled with do gooders, hyper-competent leaders, military geniuses, battlefield terrors and intelligent rulers. While few could lay claim to all of the above or even three at best, Caleb is none and puts his own spin on things.

Arguably the rape does something similar, however there is a small point of difference as that is a personal act, not the act of a leader or ruler authorising mass rape, or something equally vile, so reprehensible that it would likely put people off the Federated Suns as a faction for the future.

Ultimately it does place the Federated Suns where it needs to be: On the ropes. Time and again in Battletech a faction has been brought to this point only to rally and reassert itself, even if it does take a few decades, its good drama, if a little overused, and people love to play the underdog, there’s something innately heroic about it.

His death is, aside from inevitable, as strangely fitting as it was unforeseen: accidentally killed by a frustrated Combine MechWarrior when captured in his tank.

This means that Caleb Davion went down swinging, in proud First Prince tradition, and went down stupidly, in proud First Prince tradition.

In truth he could never have been taken alive, while I’m not sure what any nation’s response to their leader being taken hostage is, if the Federated Suns has no mechanism for removing a dangerous incompetent they have no greater hope of functioning with a hostage Prince. At best he would be ransomed back for the Draconis March, at worst he would be a puppet vassal for whatever was left of the nation.

Did he have to die like that? Well, yes. On the small scale he died either because he refused to surrender and fought to the bitter end or refused to recognise his situation and fought because he still thought he could pull it all out of the fire, assault the Draconis Combine and win.

On the larger scale he died as the result of bad, overly ambitious, egotistical planning being hit by a single betrayal and a superior enemy.

In short Caleb was trying to build the mother of all assault forces under his direct command, with Snow Raven naval assistance to take the fight to the Draconis Combine, attempting to prove to the entire setting he wasn’t Hanse Davion’s great grandson, Hanse Davion was his great granddaddy.

Why did he trust the Ravens? Because he was having an affair with Khan Stirling McKenna, something his father did which he abhorred, however this is an act initiated by Khan McKenna as a part of her long term manipulation of the Federated Suns and shows that both father and son were quite easily manipulated by a charming woman.

While in principle this large scale mobilisation and assault is exactly what needed to happen he made the mistake of putting everything, himself included, on one planet.

Theoretically this could have been done because communications were too poor to coordinate an assault force spread over a distance, however it is more likely because his paranoid, controlling nature prevented him from trusting a simple mission clock as Hanse famously did.

Besides, to his thinking what’s the use of having the mother of all assault forces under his command if he hasn’t gathered them all in a great big pile he can put a chair on top of he can sit in?

It would have looked impressive and may have had a chance if the Ravens hadn’t informed the Combine and kept their fleet at home. This is all the more reason why it had to be ambushed so badly, any success by Caleb Davion lessens his reputation as a bad leader.

Could it have succeeded? Probably not as grandly as Caleb would want, they could have retaken Robinson or maybe made it back to the old border, however Caleb’s command style, which seemed to revolve around deciding which ‘Mech fired what gun when, would have hampered progress severely and made any success extremely slow going. More likely it would have bogged down creating another disputed zone, this time deep within the Draconis March border.

Given the crime perpetrated against her death by Danai would have been cathartic for most readers, and debatably so for Danai, it would actually simply be more of a closing of a circle, not necessarily good story telling, and would be more about Danai than Caleb. She would either find closure or a lack thereof in the act and that would be her story, she had more than enough skills to pull it off if she came close to Caleb again.

Dying in the field as his own poor planning and leadership dooms him and much of the AFFS is much more fitting for Caleb from the perspective of that character, it puts a full stop on just how horrible he was.

And it’s not just in writing either. Looking at the one picture we have of him the impression is of a man highly indignant that his image is being requested or even taken, either because we should know who he is or because he doesn’t like the idea of someone stealing his soul.

There’s no politics about him, he doesn’t look the least bit military despite the uniform, in fact there’s very little that characterises him as being a part of the Battletech setting.

Part of this is because he isn’t a MechWarrior, as most prominent leaders are, somewhat uniquely he commands from a tank, a Marksman in fact, probably the export model but for the heir of a strong ally the Republic may have allowed for it’s more potent version to be used, we are never told for certain.

This has several effects, for one thing it stigmatises Caleb, in and out of the setting, his father never really got used to the fact his son fought from a tank, further souring their tense relationship. Caleb picks up on this and assumes, rightly or wrongly, that everyone else feels the same way, especially compared to hyper-competent cousin Julian Davion.

Arguably this has the effect of exacerbating the crazy, however the crazy is the result of what is essentially brain damage he was born with that also prevented him from accepting a neurohelmet, and therefore piloting a ‘Mech, creating a neat little vicious circle.

So that is Caleb Davion, every bit as crazy as his Liao counterpart but expressed in a different way, and without the slightest redeeming feature or ability. His selfishness and arrogance could have doomed an entire faction, we now wait to see what heroes rally.

Next week: Jeremy Brett, unless a particularly compelling request comes up. ;)

Wrangler

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 17109
  • Dang it!
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #1 on: 23 June 2015, 07:24:50 »
Caleb was I guess necessary evil by the writers to break up the FedSun's good luck mentality.  It was always a symbol of what good in the Inner Sphere, where there not suppose to be good guys.  I know that generic explanation, that my point of view. Wizkids needed something and the Fall of the Republic needed for everyone being out for themselves. The FedSuns was a big ally of the Republic.   With Caleb (aside of the person issues) was not friend of the Republic, he wanted fame, fortune, and to be the guy with little tin crown on his head.  His father spilling the beans to him to him that he wasn't going to give control of the FedSuns put him over edge, literately pushing his father to his death. Banishing Julian Davion out of the FedSuns, removing him as Champion due to his paranoia and full knowing his dad wanted him even if Julian didn't know about it.

It's a shame novels don't exist for this time period anymore, Caleb drama of mismanaging the FedSuns and the two-prong attack into the FedSuns itself would been heck of a read.

I would recommend Grey, to do a character write up on Vedet Brewer.   He's arguably as big of a architect to the fall of Commonwealth than anyone a aside from Melissa Steiner.



"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

False Son

  • Battletech Volunteer
  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6443
  • Kot Blini
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #2 on: 23 June 2015, 10:54:51 »
Why must he be like this? For one thing it gives a legitimate reason for the faction to become so badly weakened by 3145. Demobilising, downsizing, and a string of military defeats is not enough, for so much disaster on two fronts something has to be seriously wrong and you can’t go more seriously wrong than a guy who could conceivably appoint thin air as the Prince’s Champion.

He's a scapegoat.  The thing is, the AFFS is systematically "better" than their neighbors.  We know this from decades of handbooks and field manuals telling us they are larger, more professional and better organized.  What we need to understand is how such a systematically better faction could be so horribly defeated.  What we need is preface.  Lots and lots of preface.  I'd argue the AFFS has had more explanation put into why they are losing in the 3140s than any faction other than the CCAF's thoroughly documented humiliation in the 4th Succession War.  Caleb serves as part of that preface.  He still serves as an able scapegoat for AFFS apologists who can with some accuracy blame the current military crisis on Caleb's personal intervention into an AFFS that may have been dulled by the years of peace.

I'm just a little disappointed it was "The man with the imaginary friend" that caused all of the trouble with no one getting in his way. 
TOYNBEE IDEA
IN MOViE `2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER


Destroy what destroys you

Stormlion1

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 14076
  • The 1st Federated Suns Lancers will arise again!
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #3 on: 23 June 2015, 19:10:26 »
Strangely enough when he first showed up I liked Caleb and his imaginary buddy and even felt bad for him a bit as you read how his old man really didn't care for him overly much. Didn't help that they had been making Julian Davion out as the White Knight of the Federated Suns. Heck, when he first met Danai they got along famously. And even they hadn't had issues outside there control could probably have had a good friendship building up over the years. But alas the writers decided killing his father in a accident and the imaginary buddy and the rape (yes, yes, we know he's evil.) were the way to go with Caleb. And strangely I think if the HPG's had not gone down and all that had happened had not he could have been a moderately successful ruler when he assumed the throne and Danai had later assumed the CapCon throne. Literally if they had met at the Victor Funeral and the Universe had not gone into a massive dustup the two could have improved relations between the two realms better than they had ever been because they were at the least friends before they became rulers. Even if Caleb was nuts and Danai was born of incest.

As for his not being a MechWarrior. I kind of liked that, though I was shocked he used a Marksman. You would think he would have had a Challenger X or a Alicorn or something more badass than a RoTS Export model tank! Something a little more homegrown would have been a better choice.

Seriously, the rulers of the Inner Sphere have some real issues here.

I don't set an example for others. I make examples of them.

Nahuris

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #4 on: 23 June 2015, 19:17:48 »
The Fed Suns is unique in Battletech, as they were, from the beginning sort of portrayed as All American Good Guys, as well as the "gold standard" for the houses or forces. Their units were painted Red, White, and Blue and their warriors were tall, cleft chinned, heroes. They were putting down the Current Chinese Evil Empire, and they were still enemies of the Japanese Evil Empire, but that was more of a past thing.... a great war of past decades where the enemy had done a surprise attack at Kentares IV.... etc..... but those battles were more of a part of the setting, not so much thought of, in the current era. 

The problem is, people get bored playing the winners, all the time..... and the game grew from a Beer and Pretzels game, into a full fledged novel series, and gained background fluff. Even the merge with Steiner was written to show that while House Steiner had great industrial and financial might, it was the "superior" tactics and structure of the AFFS that was dominant in the military.

So, how do you knock the poster child down some --- one, you break them down with a war that forces them to redefine who they are ---- as in, the FedCom Civil War. Two, you give them a secession of bad rulers... Yvonne wasn't bad, she was just mediocre... she was actually never the actual ruler of House Davion, as she did not have the required military service and training. However, as regent, she is the one who made the decision to pull out of the Star League, which, while she could not have predicted it, did lead to the Jihad, and more hammering of House Davion, which is just another destructive war on top of the civil war .... so at a point, when units are just picking themselves back up, trying to replace lost equipment, and everyone is getting new green trainees..... they get to play in the meat grinder again.
Then, we get her son, Harrison --- who grew up in the aftermath of the Jihad, which came on top of the Civil War. That, to me, would explain a LOT of his willingness to drink Stone's Kool Aid by the bucketful. And while his reign would have been peaceful, it also came on he heels of two back to back wars that were extremely destructive, with heavy civilian casualties and suffering. Katherine seems to not have spared any opportunity to make people suffer for failing to worship her graven image with slavish devotion, to the point where, in one novel, she refers to her adviser as a doormat, and notes that if he gives her news she doesn't like, it would be time to find another doormat. Harrison would have been growing up in the aftermath of her actions, along with the decision of his mother that led to the Jihad,  and would have seen first hand, the suffering that people can go through.

So, he disarmed, and focused on projects for his people. Else, his house might not even have survived.

Now, we have the perfect storm for Caleb. Seriously, Harrison made a major mistake in not choosing Julian, and going public with it, sooner. You have a mental illness that is pervasive. The paranoia should have been noted, and recognized sooner, and had Harrison been paying attention, he could have averted the whole mess, that is Caleb's brief reign. The thing is, though, and one thing that comes up a lot with him, is his rape of Danai ----
That is one thing that is hard to categorize with Caleb -- yes, it fits with both his mental issues, and also, with his low self control, in that he tends to act in emotion, and not with logic..... but, as a descendant of a House Lord, there are issues with that. Especially in light of his own family history.....
Davions do seem to be very short sighted when noble blood is thrown around .... referring back to Katherine ...... many of the Davion units were more than willing to accept her, based on who mommy and daddy were. And now, Caleb has potentially given a Liao..... specifically THE LIAO that is in line to inherit the thrones of both House Liao, and The Magistracy.... a possible heir with blood ties to the Davion Throne. I cannot say I understand his particular action,  at all, his giving into the moment, and doing what he did with Danai ..... but afterwards, he didn't even consider the possible disaster he might have made. And that, to me, is the final straw that makes Caleb such a poor person, and the worst ruler any faction could have had ..... However, he was merely the final nail in a coffin built by the previous few generations.

The fact that he was convinced he was some great military genius, and that he had to micromanage every detail is almost forgivable. Our own history has had many rulers with that fault, and some even survived it.....  however, really, he was little more than the frosting on a crap cake, that had been baking for a while.

Nahuris
« Last Edit: 23 June 2015, 19:24:05 by Nahuris »
"A friend will calm you down when you are angry, but a BEST friend will skip along beside you with a baseball bat singing "someone's gonna get it."

"If we are ever in a situation, where I am the voice of reason, we are in a very bad situation."

sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #5 on: 23 June 2015, 21:14:52 »
When the character of Caleb was developed I have to wonder whether whoever came up with the key points had just watched Gladiator: Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Harrison) decides that he wants his key general (Prince's Champion), Maximus Decimus Meridius (Julian), to be his heir instead of his son, Commodus (Caleb). The latter reacts badly to the news, killing his father and taking power.

The Fed Suns is unique in Battletech, as they were, from the beginning sort of portrayed as All American Good Guys, as well as the "gold standard" for the houses or forces. Their units were painted Red, White, and Blue and their warriors were tall, cleft chinned, heroes. They were putting down the Current Chinese Evil Empire, and they were still enemies of the Japanese Evil Empire, 

I also see signs of FASA's previous work with Star Trek games, with the "noble/heroic" Suns in the role of the Federation, the "brutal/warlike" Combine as the Klingons and the "sneaky/untrustworthy" Capellans as the Romulans.

Tai Dai Cultist

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7127
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #6 on: 23 June 2015, 21:22:34 »
A comment I once saw on this site was that Caleb Davion was the best thing that ever happened to the Federated Suns.

I couldn't agree more.. and not because of the state of the conflicts in 3145 but because the Davion faction needed some depth to their White Hat status.  Liao and Kurita got some grown-up dimensions added to their moustache-twirling bad guy image, but Davion never had anything to add dimensions to their Dudley Do-Right treatment until Caleb.


Besides, you can't have an epic comeback without first being down big at halftime.
I can't imagine TPTB not having Davion coming out of the aftermath of Caleb stronger than it ever was before.

sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #7 on: 23 June 2015, 23:43:58 »
but Davion never had anything to add dimensions to their Dudley Do-Right treatment until Caleb.

Never?

Etien, Edward and Edmund Davion might disagree. Madness, arbitrary executions, self-indulgence, tyranny, murder and explosive violent tempers aren't what I'd call good.

There's also James Davion, the adulterous womanizer, Laura and Cassandra Davion, the would-be usurpers, and let's not forget Katherine Steiner-Davion.

There's also their enthusiasm to conquer the Taurians as their part of the Reunification Wars to force the unwilling Periphery into the Star League, and going back earlier, enslaving and transporting the population of Bell.

The Davions might not have been in the same ballpark as the Kuritans or Liaos, but they have long been a shade of grey at best.

Nahuris

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #8 on: 23 June 2015, 23:50:23 »
Never?

Etien, Edward and Edmund Davion might disagree. Madness, arbitrary executions, self-indulgence, tyranny, murder and explosive violent tempers aren't what I'd call good.

There's also James Davion, the adulterous womanizer, Laura and Cassandra Davion, the would-be usurpers, and let's not forget Katherine Steiner-Davion.

There's also their enthusiasm to conquer the Taurians as their part of the Reunification Wars to force the unwilling Periphery into the Star League, and going back earlier, enslaving and transporting the population of Bell.

The Davions might not have been in the same ballpark as the Kuritans or Liaos, but they have long been a shade of grey at best.

Which is true, but a lot of that was added in, once Catalyst got the game ----- prior to that, they were seriously the All American White Hat Team of the 80's and 90's....

At that time, that dichotomy of Good Guy / Bad Guy was pretty prevalent in Science Fiction --- it was the era of the the Empire vs. the Rebellion, and the Cylons vs. the Humans.......Etc. While it was part of things then, we've learned that wargames need everyone to be gray, so that any faction can be playable, and represented .....

Nahuris
"A friend will calm you down when you are angry, but a BEST friend will skip along beside you with a baseball bat singing "someone's gonna get it."

"If we are ever in a situation, where I am the voice of reason, we are in a very bad situation."

sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #9 on: 23 June 2015, 23:57:07 »
Which is true, but a lot of that was added in, once Catalyst got the game

Nope. Apart from Katherine, all of that was from FASA's House Davion housebook and she also began her treachery under FASA's aegis.

Nahuris

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #10 on: 24 June 2015, 00:07:29 »
Nope. Apart from Katherine, all of that was from FASA's House Davion housebook and she also began her treachery under FASA's aegis.

Katherine always portrayed herself as a Steiner ...LOL
Didn't remember the rest, but then again, all my old books burned in a house fire, some years ago, and at my age, remembering what I ate for breakfast is getting challenging.....LOL

However, I always got the impression from the books that even when there were some, not quite white, Davions, that they were short lived, in the past, not thought of any more, and just written in, to try and give some depth...... without actually changing anything current ----- and while those particular Davions did exist, with the exception of Katherine, who styled herself as Katrina Steiner (wish her grandmother, the real Katrina, had still been alive to give her the paddling she so desperately needed), none of them have novels about them. So, they are footnotes, but not active. Max Liao was in novels and books..... as was Romano, so the story is fleshed out.

Nahuris

Nahuris
"A friend will calm you down when you are angry, but a BEST friend will skip along beside you with a baseball bat singing "someone's gonna get it."

"If we are ever in a situation, where I am the voice of reason, we are in a very bad situation."

sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #11 on: 24 June 2015, 00:39:04 »
I agree that the examples were historical as far as game history goes, but then again so was much of the Kuritan bad boy reputation, for example. The point still stands though, that the Davions had plenty of dirty family background, so to say they never did is incorrect.

If anything, I'd say it was often the players' own projections that did more for their claimed good guy image, rather than what FASA actually published. The Davions were clearly one of the two protagonists early on in the game history, and it was only natural that this would garner them a larger share of followers. It's equally only natural that many of those followers would want to view the Davions in as good a light as possible, as people tend to like to think of themselves as being one of the good guys, so the less savory elements of the Davions and their history would be comfortably overlooked and/or excused.

Let's not forget, one Davion's liberation is a Capellan's subjugation (to paraphrase a saying that's edging rule #4 territory), and after some early hiccups the Suns has been oh so very, very good at "liberating".

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #12 on: 24 June 2015, 06:34:37 »
It is fair to say that Caleb is getting the Davion whites very messy, and while similar characters in the family line do exist, and have done for a long time, they are matters of the past, much like the very competent Liaos and unifying Mariks, and much like those historical figures because they haven't featured in recent literature, or any novels at all, they're not in the public mind.

Much as Liaos are considered crazy because of three out of the last four Chancellors, Davions are still considered 'White Hats' because of recent, featured, leaders, and most of the heroic main characters have been Davion too.

I'm not sure how much it needs to happen but no family line or ruling line is homogeneous, so a Caleb or five is going to enter into things.

As for how the Suns comes out of this, it's interesting. The major conflicts of late have been nothing but relentless beatdowns on all the militaries, and it takes time for them to come back from that, which they've just had. Coming out stronger may not be possible at this point, but stronger than others is a distinct possibility considering that for all that they've advanced both the Combine and Confederation have massively extended themselves. Simple economics and logistics may be their undoing before the new 'White Hats' of the Republic pull of their own massive resurgence.

And one thing that just occurred to me, Caleb was preparing to attack the Combine. There are a number of reasons for this, timing, the position of his supposed allies, Kuritians being the traditional foes, but it strikes me that another bit of reasoning in his warped mind might be the thought that since he and Danai were such close friends and such that the Confederation wouldn't be much of a threat to the Suns.

Vehrec

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 905
  • Mr. Flibble is Very Cross
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #13 on: 24 June 2015, 08:42:33 »
If there is one thing this article has told me it's to pretty much never, ever, ever, buy anything that features Caleb Davion.  Maybe in 1985 there was an excuse to be abelist about the mentally ill, but that doesn't fly with me today.  Caleb is a kind of caricature of the mentally ill, and as a designated villian reinforces a negative impression of all people with mental illness.  It's 2015, and that kind of thing really shouldn't fly anymore.  There are already so many people in Battletech who fill the 'crazy bad guy' role, do we really need another?  I'd gladly support a retcon of this guy's character, because it's just so ham-fisted and out of touch.
*Insert support for fashionable faction of the week here*

roosterboy

  • Site Maintenance
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5496
  • trapped in a world I never made
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #14 on: 24 June 2015, 10:59:19 »
I don't see why everyone here seems to think that Caleb and Danai were "such good friends". They had a brief connection on the journey to Terra but as soon as Caleb found out who she was, it was "ick! Liao cooties!" and he resented her because he thought she had known who he was all along and was taking the piss by leading him on.

If there is one thing this article has told me it's to pretty much never, ever, ever, buy anything that features Caleb Davion.  Maybe in 1985 there was an excuse to be abelist about the mentally ill, but that doesn't fly with me today.  Caleb is a kind of caricature of the mentally ill, and as a designated villian reinforces a negative impression of all people with mental illness.  It's 2015, and that kind of thing really shouldn't fly anymore.  There are already so many people in Battletech who fill the 'crazy bad guy' role, do we really need another?  I'd gladly support a retcon of this guy's character, because it's just so ham-fisted and out of touch.

I really don't think it's the sources being ableist so much as it is the people in this thread who are calling him crazy. Caleb was not crazy, he was ill. But having an untreated paranoid schizophrenic as a leader is just not going to end up well for anyone. Especially one who had been neglected and passed over his whole life, allowed to stew in resentment and illwill towards his father and his favored cousin. Throw in a family legacy to live up to and Caleb was doomed from the start, as much by external and internal expectations as by his own brain chemistry.

Tai Dai Cultist

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7127
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #15 on: 24 June 2015, 20:34:56 »
Never?

Etien, Edward and Edmund Davion might disagree. Madness, arbitrary executions, self-indulgence, tyranny, murder and explosive violent tempers aren't what I'd call good.

There's also James Davion, the adulterous womanizer, Laura and Cassandra Davion, the would-be usurpers, and let's not forget Katherine Steiner-Davion.

There's also their enthusiasm to conquer the Taurians as their part of the Reunification Wars to force the unwilling Periphery into the Star League, and going back earlier, enslaving and transporting the population of Bell.

The Davions might not have been in the same ballpark as the Kuritans or Liaos, but they have long been a shade of grey at best.

I get your point, but that point ignores such trivia never made it out of "Gee whiz, did you know..." territory.  They were hardly ever a predominant* part of the faction flavor; that didn't happen until Caleb.

(excepting of course Katrina... but of course while you are probably not the first to say she's a Davion, you're the first *I've* ever heard say she's a Davion.)

*=the "living" faction flavor, if that clarifies better.
« Last Edit: 24 June 2015, 20:36:33 by Tai Dai Cultist »

sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #16 on: 24 June 2015, 22:03:40 »
Now flip that and think about just what did the Kuritans really do bad post-3025 game start to deserve being commonly viewed as a black hat? We again rely upon their historical write up.

As for Katherine, she was raised with the intended goal that one day she would have been Victor's regent on New Avalon when the FedCom court was on Tharkad. The Lyrans were a means to an end, just look at what throne she aimed for.

Nahuris

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #17 on: 24 June 2015, 23:03:23 »
Now flip that and think about just what did the Kuritans really do bad post-3025 game start to deserve being commonly viewed as a black hat? We again rely upon their historical write up.

As for Katherine, she was raised with the intended goal that one day she would have been Victor's regent on New Avalon when the FedCom court was on Tharkad. The Lyrans were a means to an end, just look at what throne she aimed for.

Actually, Like Liao, Kurita was evil, because they were opposing the White Hats. They didn't have to necessarily commit any acts, but were already villains due to their current opposition of the Good Guys in the early fiction. By their very existence, as opponents, they were bad.... because the early fiction was somewhat Davion focused..... and when you add in the fact that NONE of the previous Davions are mentioned in the TRO's --- while the Kurita attack on Kentares IV is mentioned in more than one of the mech's write ups, it sets the mood and opinion for the faction.

There is no Mech Fluff write up that tells how Edward Davion used X mech to fire on hospitals, but it IS mentioned how some mechs were particularly noted for firing on hospitals, in response to Jinjiro's order to Bathe Kentares in Blood. NO other atrocity is so specifically spelled out in the technical descriptions of the battlemechs, with the exception of the Kentares IV Massacre. And again, while playing one of the early historical modules, you get House Kurita, using poison on the Team Banzai pilots, during a battle.

There may have been bad Davions, but none of them made it to a module, using poison on their opponents.

Nahuris
"A friend will calm you down when you are angry, but a BEST friend will skip along beside you with a baseball bat singing "someone's gonna get it."

"If we are ever in a situation, where I am the voice of reason, we are in a very bad situation."

Stormlion1

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 14076
  • The 1st Federated Suns Lancers will arise again!
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #18 on: 24 June 2015, 23:32:45 »
Real fun was that after Takashi the Combine got a shot in the arm as a non-evil faction. A more neutral one, while Comstar the official neutral faction became either a good faction for some or a backstabbing manipulative faction for others.

I don't set an example for others. I make examples of them.

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #19 on: 25 June 2015, 00:27:38 »
If there is one thing this article has told me it's to pretty much never, ever, ever, buy anything that features Caleb Davion.  Maybe in 1985 there was an excuse to be abelist about the mentally ill, but that doesn't fly with me today.  Caleb is a kind of caricature of the mentally ill, and as a designated villian reinforces a negative impression of all people with mental illness.  It's 2015, and that kind of thing really shouldn't fly anymore.  There are already so many people in Battletech who fill the 'crazy bad guy' role, do we really need another?  I'd gladly support a retcon of this guy's character, because it's just so ham-fisted and out of touch.

I can support your overall view regarding the caricature angle, and while I was prepared to counter the "crazy bad guy" role part it occurred to me that one reason for making Caleb crazy was to lessen the impact on the FedSuns reputation. A sort of "pardon him, he's crazy" sort of thing that limits the tarnishing of things.

Looking back the article even starts with saying that Caleb has plenty of character flaws to be a bad leader without the crazy.

The only excuse I can think of at this point is that he's crazy and comes to power because of the feudal nature of the setting. Enough people were willing to overlook things because he was the most obvious viable heir and because of his surname.

I'm actually kind of disturbed by the implications of some of these thoughts.

SteelRaven

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6779
  • Fight for something or Die for nothing
    • The Steel-Raven at DeviantArt
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #20 on: 25 June 2015, 01:08:06 »
The only excuse I can think of at this point is that he's crazy and comes to power because of the feudal nature of the setting. Enough people were willing to overlook things because he was the most obvious viable heir and because of his surname.

I'm actually kind of disturbed by the implications of some of these thoughts.
BINGO! (honestly, I've been screaming this for years)
Battletech Art and Commissions
http://steel-raven.deviantart.com

A. Lurker

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4641
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #21 on: 25 June 2015, 03:03:06 »
It's the basic flaw of inheritable positions. If all goes well, you get an heir who'd been trained all their life to handle their eventual responsibilities...and then it's kind of hard to argue in favor of preferring some random stranger who doesn't have that going for them instead, no matter the latter's credentials.

On the other hand, of course, if things go poorly and the heir's grooming goes pear-shaped or they're otherwise just not really qualified and there's no good working procedure in place to handle that (which there usually isn't)...well, then chances are excellent that you're stuck with them until some suitable replacement comes around, peacefully and "legitimately" or otherwise. Because that's just how the system is set up.

JadedFalcon

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 868
  • Wins at Battleteching
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #22 on: 25 June 2015, 03:11:57 »
I can support your overall view regarding the caricature angle, and while I was prepared to counter the "crazy bad guy" role part it occurred to me that one reason for making Caleb crazy was to lessen the impact on the FedSuns reputation. A sort of "pardon him, he's crazy" sort of thing that limits the tarnishing of things.

Looking back the article even starts with saying that Caleb has plenty of character flaws to be a bad leader without the crazy.

The only excuse I can think of at this point is that he's crazy and comes to power because of the feudal nature of the setting. Enough people were willing to overlook things because he was the most obvious viable heir and because of his surname.

I'm actually kind of disturbed by the implications of some of these thoughts.

To be honest, Caleb could probably have been written as a spoiled egotist in control of his faculties, and likely arrived at the same place. However the Dark Age setting seems to follow certain patterns - crazy Caleb, crazy Malvina, crazy Daoshen, crazy Bounty Hunter guy...

I'm not too familiar with the Dark Age setting outside of Era Report 3145, and some synopses, but my question is this: While Caleb is a villain, did he do anything to make the FedSuns villainous?

He invades the Republic, "liberating" worlds in the Tikinov region and plots to invade the Capellan Confederation, but did he toss nukes around or have dissidents brutally suppressed by stalwart FedSun troops? He does kinda get a quick replay of old Max in the 4th Succession war with that whole betrayal thing, but just because he's bad does he really do anything to make the FedSuns less heroic? If anything, he just seems incompetent. In the end, this is all probably a set up for the FedSuns to rally and rise up against their enemies in the upcoming era.

SteelRaven

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6779
  • Fight for something or Die for nothing
    • The Steel-Raven at DeviantArt
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #23 on: 25 June 2015, 04:16:20 »
I always thought the whole hero/villain thing is very suggestive in the BTU, the Fed Suns have always been the villain to Liao fans. If anything Celeb mirroring Mad Max only proves Great House Davion is just as flawed as any other Great Houses and it was their time to get kicked in the teeth.   
« Last Edit: 25 June 2015, 04:20:34 by SteelRaven »
Battletech Art and Commissions
http://steel-raven.deviantart.com

DarkISI

  • Praedonum Dominus
  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5713
  • Mias Gute Nacht Geschichten
    • My Author Website
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #24 on: 25 June 2015, 04:52:36 »
The Fed Suns is unique in Battletech, as they were, from the beginning sort of portrayed as All American Good Guys, as well as the "gold standard" for the houses or forces. Their units were painted Red, White, and Blue and their warriors were tall, cleft chinned, heroes.

Just FYI:



The Davions have been formed after the French in many ways and not so much after the USA, as many people make themselves believe.
« Last Edit: 25 June 2015, 04:54:29 by DarkISI »
German novelist and part time Battletech writer.



"if they didn't want to be stomped to death by a psychotic gang of battlemechs, they shouldn't have fallen down" - Liam's Ghost

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #25 on: 25 June 2015, 06:02:20 »
BINGO! (honestly, I've been screaming this for years)

Keep in mind that from a, well, a writing perspective this sort of situation, resulting from this sort of leadership, is exactly what is called for in a conflict heavy setting.

Absolute power that can be easily abused, hard to remove leaders, armies willing to follow petty egos, all create conflict which is what the Battletech setting is all about.

Still, that's not one of the aspects that creeped me out about Caleb being used in the character sense as he was.

lucho

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 728
  • say hello to my new friend!
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #26 on: 25 June 2015, 07:05:04 »
Good writeup. Caleb Davion was meant from the beginning to get the short end of the stick; he really does seem to exist to give Team Davion their epic comeback against their enemies. *shrug* that's just how the BTU works.

You know what I'd really like to see? Instead of just giving the FedSuns a few setbacks to tarnish their whitehat reputation, how about giving the Davions a turn at being the blackhats? Real blackhats.

Caleb Davion should have been made the next Jinjiro Kurita. All the Davion military prowess, but at the same time he shows the Inner Sphere what crazy really is   [skull]
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

A. Lurker

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4641
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #27 on: 25 June 2015, 07:27:24 »
Honestly, I don't believe in entire factions being ever "white" or "black" hats. Their leaders du jour, sure, that can happen; they're individuals to whom such terms may apply after due consideration, after all. But knowing about them already doesn't tell us all that much about the people even just a couple of steps down the ladder (who in-universe are traditionally just as likely to support them as to try and sabotage their efforts), let alone the vast more-or-less anonymous masses in various stages of personal hygiene that they distantly rule over. Chances are the hat of some lowly potato farmer in the Draconis combine (in a valiant attempt to buck the "they're Japanese IN SPACE, therefore they of course all eat rice!" stereotype) is in practice not actually appreciably lighter or darker than that of his or her counterpart somewhere in the Davion outback.

So, Caleb's not going to get me to boo the Federated Suns any more than Hanse and Victor managed to turn me into an uncritical fanboy; the rulers and their empires are distinct entities as far as I'm concerned, each with virtues and flaws of their own. Which I guess suggests I mightn't do so well in an actual feudal system, were I suddenly transplanted into one; lack of buy-in into the whole "cult of personality" mindset and all... ^-^

Nahuris

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #28 on: 25 June 2015, 13:59:56 »
Just FYI:



The Davions have been formed after the French in many ways and not so much after the USA, as many people make themselves believe.

Nah... they don't run away, enough.
LOL

In all seriousness, I do respect the French, even if my people did fight against them in the French and Indian War.
It does make a certain amount of sense, though, when you consider the Shadowhawk 2D, or Assassin 101.

Nahuris
"A friend will calm you down when you are angry, but a BEST friend will skip along beside you with a baseball bat singing "someone's gonna get it."

"If we are ever in a situation, where I am the voice of reason, we are in a very bad situation."

glitterboy2098

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 8267
    • The Temple Grounds - My Roleplaying and History website
Re: Character Study of the Week: Caleb Davion
« Reply #29 on: 25 June 2015, 15:30:08 »
Nah... they don't run away, enough.
LOL

In all seriousness, I do respect the French, even if my people did fight against them in the French and Indian War.
It does make a certain amount of sense, though, when you consider the Shadowhawk 2D, or Assassin 101.
close to rule 4 territory here, so lets watch it. but historically.. the french military is very capable and very brave. they just haven't always been as successful in their fights or given many chances to really show off.