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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick  (Read 1921 times)

Grey

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Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« on: 25 September 2015, 14:55:32 »
Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
Who: Gregory Zwick
What: Precentor Naval, Word of Blake
When: 3005 - ?? ?? ??
Weapon of Choice: Farragut Class Warship
         Warship Fleet
         Droneship Fleet

After the previous article it seemed appropriate for the next to feature the next most prominent naval character in the setting outside of the Clans. That it is someone who has a total of three or four mentions in sourcebooks, and only one brief speaking excerpt speaks volumes about how the naval aspect of the game is treated, and the fate of that aspect into the Republican and Dark Age.

As Precentor Naval Gregory Zwick commands the largest, most diverse navy in the setting, consisting of Star League, Terran Hegemony, Successor State and even Clan vessels, acquired primarily through salvage and outright theft.

It is open for debate as to how much Gregory had to do with these acquisitions, it would make sense that he had something to do with it as both means would involve naval personnel. However the factional nature of the Blakist command structure, indeed, the Blakist culture or organisation as a whole, any operation could have been the initiative of anyone with enough clout to convince enough crews to get involved. Arguably such plans could have predated Zwick’s ascension to the rank of Precentor Naval as the Free Worlds League Blakist sponsored naval program had already begun in earnest.

This doubt follows through to the use of his command. For all its size the Blakist fleet wasn’t really used that efficiently, mostly parcelled out piecemeal in escort, raiding or ground support roles until it had to go on the defensive, and even then there are only one or two major naval engagements outside of Terra.

Was Zwick behind the planning of this? Was he held at the whim of other Precentors who lacked his acumen just as he lacked their clout or position? Or did he really think that these actions were a good idea, they just never panned out? We don’t know, that aspect of the character has never been explored.

And that in a nutshell is the problem with the character. Gregory Zwick, until the assault on Terra by Coalition forces, did not really exist. A Precentor Naval existed, yes, by implication, since the Blakists cribbed their organisational structure from ComStar, and their navy was large enough that someone had to occupy such a position. And given how little is actually known about their organisation leaving a gap like that would be somewhat glaring.

His first mention is much earlier than that pivotal naval battle, yes, but in, I believe, Masters and Minions, which is as much a primer for the inevitable assault as it is an independent sourcebook.

Regardless, given the similarities of origins and structure of the organisation some of their personnel would logically have similar histories.

So when he is finally revealed Gregory not only has a very similar background to Alain but pretty much walked hand in hand with him through most of their careers, even marrying Alain’s cousin.

This makes him a perfect foil for Beresick, a very personal one as they had once been so close and their careers are so very similar it must frighten both men.

It’s also a bit of fictional chicanery, as I said Zwick came into existence and prominence relatively late in the Jihad, unlike some commanders he wasn’t trying to be on every major front directing every skirmish, which gives him a very low profile for his rank and position. Associating him closely with Alain Beresick, retroactively I might add, shortcuts most of the character development a position, in the setting and in the fiction, Gregory Zwick occupies.

So it was less a matter of tying him into the setting as it was strapping him down hard and fast.

Why? He’s Precentor Naval and logically has to be on hand for the final battles in orbit, just as Alain Beresick has to be there. This means a lot of fast characterisation and retroactive development needs to be done otherwise you have a Precentor Naval who’s no different from some Adept III running around in a Gurkha in North America, a mook, a minion, a warm body to fill a position that happened, and the role and events require an actual character.

Just as important is the fact that for all that it’s developed a way of playing fleets, regiments and armies Battletech remains at its heart a small unit game. Lances, Stars, Companies, individual ‘Mechs, the rules favour duelling type scenarios, hence it’s quite logical that Precentor Naval faces off against Precentor Naval, or more accurately the Best Warship Guy of the Coalition against the Best Warship Guy of the Word of Blake.

So, emotional torque is applied by tying Gregory and Alain together in a number of very personal ways, ratcheting it up further by giving them a fairly personal final conversation as each is trying to kill the other, helping to enrich Gregory while driving home just how horrible this war is and how dire that particular situation is.

Am I selling him short? At the moment, no. In the future? Possibly, given the current nature of Battletech to explore timelines, both those in the deep past of the Star League and Age of War as well as recent ‘past’ events which include, say, the 3050s, Gregory is one of those characters who is ripe with potential.

A novel, short story, historical re-examination of events, any of these could easily contain events Gregory Zwick was involved in. While his characterisation is retroactive this means other retroactive sources could easily expand on his character and life.

Lacking that, though, we are left with a character dependent upon the man who he is the foil of for much of his background and history.

There’s nothing wrong with that, like many other characters he serves his purpose and exits stage inevitable plot development.

And quite often the best foes are the ones who are past friends.

Interestingly, from comments made by Marcel Webb during an interview stating that Gregory Zwick would be tried as a war criminal it sounds like he survived though his ship was destroyed.

There are a number of ways this could come about, the most obvious being that he somehow made it to an escape pod, or was placed there unconscious by a subordinate, or that even though Righteous Justice was destroyed whatever part Gregory found himself in at that point was intact and held an atmosphere.

Hey, considering how these things happen the ship could have been a largely non-functional hunk of scrap except for life support.

And what of that ship? A Farragut, arguably one of the most potent ships in the entire setting, with only three other more ‘modern’ ships that are more powerful.

For one thing its appearance is a bit of new toy syndrome, a whole lot of ships have been retroactively introduced over the years from the Age of War and Star League era, many turning up in the Blakist Fleet, so it’s not unfair that a retroactive character command one while showing off its capabilities in a dramatic fashion.

It is also a fitting flagship, given its power. While a McKenna would be even more potent one is already listed as a part of the Blakists public fleet, adding another diminishes both. Likewise using a salvaged or stolen Nightlord would have the same effect, so a fresh, relatively speaking, design is needed to do the job.

Also these would be the wrong symbols, a McKenna harkens back to the Star League, the long lost golden age and is thus not appropriate for villains, while a Nightlord is Clan, and, well, I shouldn’t have to spell that one out.

And it thoroughly outclasses the Invisible Truth, though not the late arriving Leviathan led cavalry.

Regardless it appears he survives.

This is done to show the unfairness of it all, heroic Alain dies while his opposite number Gregory lives. It also allows for more of the Blakist command structure to survive without letting someone truly dangerous, devious or monstrous live. St. Jamis, Kernoff, the Master, major leaders and plotters whose very existence is a danger to all and are directly responsible for much of the war’s misery. Gregory Zwick, for his high rank and position, hasn’t really done enough in the fiction to be labelled an outright monster, though again through speculation he could be accused of many things given how his fleet was employed, and, as mentioned earlier, how much of this fleet came under the Blakist flag.

Thus he can survive while still being considered a senior member and provide meat to the trials to come without causing some sort of incident due to prominence.

While it is unlikely he survives or walks away from the trials it would appear that there are some benefits to a thin fictional history.

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #1 on: 25 September 2015, 16:32:38 »
He first appears in Field Manual: Comstar as far as I know (he doesn't appear in Shattered Sphere). About the only extra information in that little bit is that he was a moderate Counter-Reformist leaning towards joining the Toyamas. Which seems like an odd combination to me, but may explain why he lasted through the Jihad when Blane didn't.

Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #2 on: 25 September 2015, 18:18:02 »
Huh, I'd missed that and I'd checked FM: ComStar just in case. Not that it changes anything so my bacon is safe for now. Sorry though.

But you make a good point, his politics, as they are reported, are very odd, and in a deeper character might indicate a pragmatic streak which would fit in with a space navy man. Again, so much potential.

Flieger

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #3 on: 25 September 2015, 18:53:25 »
Thanks!

I am pretty sure he would have been put on trial for war crimes if he was captured. A high ranking fleet member of WoB must be punished, especially as the architects of the war are dead. Even if it was not his responsibility directly, Blakist WarShips committed horrible orbital bombardments, and someone has to pay for it. Ironically, Zwick killed perhaps the only person who could testify in favour of his character: Alain Beresick.

It might be possible that his friendship with St. Jamais changed him to a more radical person. He would still be a moderate compared to Th. Marik, of course. But nonetheless, he seems to have been more radical than Trent Arian.

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #4 on: 25 September 2015, 19:58:09 »
Huh, I'd missed that and I'd checked FM: ComStar just in case. Not that it changes anything so my bacon is safe for now. Sorry though.

But you make a good point, his politics, as they are reported, are very odd, and in a deeper character might indicate a pragmatic streak which would fit in with a space navy man. Again, so much potential.

Heh, its hard to find everything. I just happened to remember that for some odd reason the WoB got their Precentor Naval described while ComStar didn't (though I had to go make sure it was Zwick back then).

Pragmatic might be a pretty good characterization of it, because its hard to see any other reason for it.

Thanks!

I am pretty sure he would have been put on trial for war crimes if he was captured. A high ranking fleet member of WoB must be punished, especially as the architects of the war are dead. Even if it was not his responsibility directly, Blakist WarShips committed horrible orbital bombardments, and someone has to pay for it. Ironically, Zwick killed perhaps the only person who could testify in favour of his character: Alain Beresick.

It might be interesting to see what exactly they could charge him with. They'd have to prove that the orders for the nukings came from him, rather than being the ship Captain's decision.

Of course, from the writeup of the trial of the WoB Precentor from Singapore, we know the Republic isn't unwilling to create their own facts in order to prosecute the WoB soldiers.

Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #5 on: 26 September 2015, 03:33:20 »
Well, at a guess, and it is just that, Zwick could realistically be charged with responsibility for the troops under his command, that is the entire WoB fleet. Regardless of whether he actually knew about it or not.

That's a list that includes planetary bombardment of civilian targets, use of nuclear devices against civilian targets, whatever the Q ships count as, though I'm not entirely sure that sort of false flag operation is truly held as illegal, but there are also actual false flag operations, and piracy, which is what stealing half your closest ally's fleet counts as.

Theoretically the list gets longer. Unless there's a member of the Blakist First Circuit, or whatever was above the Precentor Martial and (technically at least) not answering to The Master, then Precentor Naval would probably represent the highest surviving member of the Blakist command and as a recognised military entity that means ultimate command for Blakist forces defaults to him. Whether this means he's held directly responsible as the head of WoB for things, or held responsible by default, I don't know, this part is pure speculation.

Given the minutia I suspect this is why there hasn't been a lot of detail about the trials to date, though naturally the real world Nuremberg trials would be the guideline for the fictional trials.

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #6 on: 26 September 2015, 18:51:33 »
Yeah, the minutia could really bog things down. I think the details on the trial of the Precentor from Singapore is really all that's needed to show what the Republic was willing to do to get convictions. If they want you prosecuted, its going to happen no matter what you did. Zwick probably deserves it, but really, all prosecutions by the Republic are tainted.

Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #7 on: 27 September 2015, 05:02:42 »
Minutia is one of the tricky things with something like Battletech, which is a strategy board game, a fictional setting, a novel setting, RPG and something more. The small details enrich most of these, however that takes up valuable page space that is better spent on other areas.

This would be one of the reasons why Gregory Zwick has a background largely cloned from Alain Beresick, it saves time and effort and allows the differences to come out right when they really need the focus.

Flieger

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #8 on: 27 September 2015, 11:21:47 »
Regarding trial: the RotS would not be gentle, but is there any place in the IS where a high ranking Blakist would get a fair trial? Especially if he is the highest ranking survivor, which seems likely, he will be found guilty if only to placate the desire for vengeance and justice. The DraCom and ConCap would probably set up an openly unfair show trial; the LyrCom and FedSuns would probably try making it appear like a fair trial but there can be no doubt about the result.

I am actually a little disappointed that we did not get more information on trials against Blakists - perhaps not enough "battle" for Battletech. But would shed some light on how the IS deals with the catastrophe that was the Jihad.

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #9 on: 27 September 2015, 19:17:32 »
I don't think there's really anyplace where they'd get a fair trial. The DC and CC would be show trials, if they didn't just get shot out of hand. The LC and FS might give the appearance, but there's no way they're getting out of it. Maybe..MAYBE in the Duchy of Oriente where the fake Thomas Marik is. He might be the best bet for a legitimate honest trial.

Flieger

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #10 on: 29 September 2015, 18:14:28 »
Trial in the Duchy - interesting thought for sure. But it just occurred to me that other states probably want to trial him, too. perhaps no single state would trial him but rather a council of all states. (That would be another Nuremberg reference, of course). But then again, knowing the Republic, they might insist on doing it alone...

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #11 on: 29 September 2015, 19:25:27 »
Well, if the Duchy captures whoever is being prosecuted, then they get to do the trial. Since the rest of the FWL has broken up, its not like they really get a say in it. I suppose they could try diplomacy to get a shot at the prosecution, but if the Oriente doesn't want to give them up they don't have to.

Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Gregory Zwick
« Reply #12 on: 30 September 2015, 04:52:21 »
The short answer is no, there's nowhere any Blakist will ever get a fair trial, the nature of the conflict precludes it.

There may be some sort of justice in the sentencing, life imprisonment or somesuch, though I'd doubt it, the various members of the Coalition would rebel against anything that doesn't just outright remove Blakists from existence. Unless they're useful of course.

And as I've said (I think, I've tried posting this a few times over the last couple of days but it just won't work), Gregory Zwick is a ranking member of the organisation.

As Precentor Naval, a high command position, he is responsible for the actions of the troops under his command, which is the whole Blakist navy, who were not afraid of using nukes or orbital bombardment against military and civilian targets.

Even the Erynies actions could be laid at his fleet, along with piracy, which is what they'd call stealing half your main ally's fleet, could be laid at his feet. Even if he did not order these actions (possible given the nature of the Blakist command structure), he still would have had a hand in organising training, using these assets, or if not he is responsible for not knowing any of this is going down under his command.

Making him more special is the fact that he might be the highest ranking Blakist captured for trial, so there's a possibility that he will, wittingly or not by any of the involved parties, be tried as a proxy for the whole Blakist leadership.

Is any of this fair? No, particularly the last part, though responsibility for the actions of his command is something any nation would apply. But this is what victory looks like.

 

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