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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky  (Read 2052 times)

Grey

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Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« on: 13 December 2015, 12:31:08 »
Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
Who: Anastasia Kerensky
   Aka Tassa Kay
What: Star Colonel, Clan Wolf-in-Exile
   Independent Mercenary
   Star Colonel, Steel Wolves
   Galaxy Commander (faction leader), Steel Wolves
   Colonel, Wolf Hunters mercenary unit
   Bondsman, Clan Wolf
   Star Colonel, 2nd Wolf Assault Cluster, Beta Galaxy, Wolf Empire
   SaKhan, Wolf Empire
When: 3101 - Present
Weapon of Choice: Ryoken II Anastasia
         Savage Wolf (Mad Cat IV)

The third of Wrangler’s requests does not flow on from the previous two, and perhaps just as well since if we follow the theme of Victor’s love life to its natural conclusion then we’d be talking about a Liao.

And I'll admit that this one was a bit of a challenge.

Created for the Dark Age setting Anastasia Kerensky is intended as sort of a legacy character. Her name alone casts allusions towards Natasha Kerensky, as does, at first blush, her profession, more so her origin and skills.

Coming after what was at the time a significant time jump that leapt over some pretty significant events the use of a legacy character was intended to bring a degree of continuity, essentially providing something familiar so that while the game is the same, the setting has changed, but here’s an element players can recognise, hopefully making the setting less alien.

Or alienating, but that’s a symptom of the raft of changes that happened when the Dark Age debuted and whatever your personal opinions on the matter a degree of alienation was inevitable given the number of pre-existing fans and the scale of the change.

It is for these people that legacy characters like Anastasia are used, not so much to mute or appease them, more to show that while things have changed elements of the game or setting they loved is still in there somewhere.

Her success at this is debatable, in part because the setting has evolved again over time as ownership of the Intellectual Property has also changed. Say what you will it can be a challenge for a character intended to shepherd readers and players into a new era to continue to function when that era undergoes some rather drastic changes itself. But more on that later.

The legacy aspect is also carried by the ‘Mechs she pilots. The Ryoken II is a somewhat ridiculous unit based on accepted BattleTech design wisdom and its Clan origins. It’s a support design that’s ammo dependent, and doesn’t really carry enough ammo and lacks any powerful, show stopping weapons. All it really has is reach and seems very out of place for a Clan design.

But it’s a Clicky Tech design, intended to fulfil a different set of rule requirements and while the board game has no respect for plinky cluster guns they served a purpose under the other paradigm.

All the same Anastasia gets a personalised version, in part because she is a notable character, also because, well, again it lacks show stopping weapons. Even if you can use the Ryoken II to maximum effect, utilising its abilities it’s just a little lacklustre for a major character.

So her version mounts PPCs, ER Mediums and Streak 6’s in pairs. Sound familiar? It echoes Natasha Kerensky’s Warhammer, even the Marauder to a degree.

However personalised though it is still a chassis with a poor pedigree, so she gets an upgrade to an Omni, specifically a Savage Wolf, inheritor to the Timber Wolf mantle.

Yes, I know she briefly piloted a Mangonel, an odd ‘Mech driven in part by new toy syndrome as much as highlighting the necessity of piloting whatever is available rather than what you may prefer in this era.

The Savage Wolf is a much more prominent, powerful design, and again, one that is featured heavily in selling the current era to the point where it may become the flagship design, unseating its predecessor, the classic Timber Wolf.

In terms of being a ride for a major character it fits the bill. Prominence, aesthetics, power, which should mean its little surprise that two major characters pilot one.

And again it mimics Natasha’s old Warhammer and Marauder, PPCs and SRMs on a Heavy chassis with lines similar to the latter.

So in most respects Anastasia fits the bill. She has name brand recognition, familiar taste in ‘Mechs, considerable skill at fighting, no time for politics, cunning and a cheerful habit of being in the thick of action or disaster if not causing both on occasion.

The problem for Anastasia is that she’s a conflicted character, not in the useful sense of facing a lot of internal character conflict, the conflict is a matter of real world production.

To start with she was a Dark Age character, and regardless of what you think of the initial setting it was what it was, an attempt to turn back the clock, go back to the time when humanoid war machines were lords of the battlefield, and rare. It is also accurate to say that it was an attempt to turn back the clock on the tone of the setting and return it to a more pulp sci-fi environment.

There’s nothing wrong with pulp sci-fi as a setting, the trouble is that it jarred massively with the direction the fiction had previously been taking, more of a military sci-fi setting where people died and got maimed, and their amazing feats were reined in as much as possible.

Yes, Victor defied the latter, so did others, but characters that flouted or even outright wedgied reality were killed off or otherwise side-lined.

Anastasia, by virtue of what she does, is more fantastical than what established readers were getting used to. Not to the same degree as Natasha, as an occasional antagonist she had to have more failings in order to lose where necessary. But coming in, saving the day, joining an enemy faction, taking over said enemy faction, invading Terra, losing, turning the faction into a mercenary unit against what had to be some sort of founding principle, getting hired on as an ally, taking an important bondsman then becoming bondsman to that same person, even ignoring that the setting evolves once again into a military sci-fi theme, is all a bit fantastic.

In fairness she is making that transition a lot better than many other characters may have, principally because she has been so flexible. Jumping between factions seems to have prepared her well for becoming a Clan Bondsman then officer then SaKhan, odd as it may seem. For such a quixotic character it’s an almost logical transition.

And if anything makes her even more of a legacy character, though in this case she more emulates Phelan than Natasha, at least in terms of career evolution.

However this eclectic career path is not only symptomatic of the shake up the setting has undergone since inception, it also reflects the character herself.

In one early novel she mused on what she originally thought her life would be: Become a warrior, achieve high rank, fight many glorious battles, gather up honour coupons, pass on the genes and then into Clan politics, huzzah.

Which bored her.

Not just the politics, the progression, the inevitability of it all, the straight, narrow way towards the full stop.

So she struck out to adventurously find something that satisfied herself more than following a well-worn path. While the motives are different it’s another parallel to Natasha who left with the Dragoons to explore other options and to essentially chase adventure and challenge.

But it also makes it look like Anastasia doesn’t fully understand her own motives.

This isn’t necessarily bad in a character, one prone to introspection and exploring their life. Unfortunately Anastasia seems more interested in just running around and turning over apple carts for fun.

This is another result of the almost contradictory path the character has taken, without anything to solidly root her to a goal or ideology she cannot help but appear to be a wastrel.

Until Alaric turns the tables on her and she becomes his bondsman. By the time she sees him kill his own mother, possibly caused by the event itself, she becomes a loyal follower or loyal something to him.

There it’s bondsman to Star Colonel to SaKhan, albeit not in an unrealistically short order, it takes a couple of years. Well, in the Clans with an almost keep what you kill ethos that’s short order.

Is this a late hour attempt to anchor the character to a cause? Possibly. Consciously or unconsciously she may have been looking for that sort of thing for quite some time.

The thing is that if we seriously consider that then its retroactive characterisation. That sort of thing can often happen with a series like BattleTech, where the nature of the IP is open to change, multiple authors have a hand in characterisations or decisions regarding plot are made by committee.

Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is moot, it’s the nature of the Intellectual Property to be handled that way for better or worse. The upside, as we have seen, is a wide ranging, multi-factioned setting crafted by many hands focusing on different sections.

The downside, equally visible, is that a character that traverses these lines can wind up being handled in many different ways according to the needs of many different plots and creative minds, possibly winding up with a ‘too many cooks’ situation.

Is Anastasia an unwary victim of this? That is hard to judge, as I have said the setting has changed mood significantly from her initial introduction, characterisation of anyone who has existed through these thematic ebbs and flows is inevitably going to change in some shape or fashion.

That or be side-lined as Morgan Kell was, and Anastasia has too much legacy behind her to do that to, not without harming the setting in some fashion because of the prior investment.

She was intended as some sort of flagship character, someone to follow through on grand adventures, doing fantastic things. That the setting has become less fantastic again does not diminish the fact that she was intended to be in the limelight and to some degree has to stay there.

Why not kill her off as with pretty much every Dark Age specific faction leader? Good question.

One answer is that she has too much potential. Say what you will Anastasia does have a touch of destiny about her, and given the pace of advancement within the setting getting rid of that element could leave it directionless at the story level.

It doesn’t matter if she is totally irrelevant to the immediate plot or even the long term plot, this sort of character exerts a pull on the setting, providing energy and momentum.

This is a key difference from Morgan Kell, who could be side-lined because he was never a direct protagonist or antagonist, never a significant PoV character and developed into an elder statesman of the setting.

Anastasia, protagonist, antagonist, in the thick of it, if she is going to die is not going to do so quietly or quickly or off screen, she has simply had too much presence and still too much to do.

Kojak

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #1 on: 13 December 2015, 12:49:09 »
As I've said before, assuming that the Wolves do in fact end up ilClan, I strongly suspect that in his moment of triumph, Anastasia will strike Alaric down, and we will end the Dark Age with an ilKhan Kerensky seated on the throne of the Star League.
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mikecj

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #2 on: 13 December 2015, 13:01:09 »
I enjoyed having her as a familiar element as the DA novels moved around the inner sphere
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AJC46

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #3 on: 13 December 2015, 13:39:25 »
As I've said before, assuming that the Wolves do in fact end up ilClan, I strongly suspect that in his moment of triumph, Anastasia will strike Alaric down, and we will end the Dark Age with an ilKhan Kerensky seated on the throne of the Star League.

or we get a Steiner-Davion Kerensky.

and thus the with the Kerensky line the Steiner-Davion can say they have bedded all the major IS powers names

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #4 on: 13 December 2015, 21:26:54 »
I liked how TRO 3145 lampshaded the severely inconsistent portrayal of her character by wondering if there were actually several different people all using the same name.
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SteelRaven

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #5 on: 13 December 2015, 23:40:16 »
What really hurt Anastasia's character development was how she was portrayed differently by almost every writer. Not sure how much of it was the demands of the brand name (Wolf Hunters was need of a new merc unit? ) and how much was just bad writing (sorry, the Proving Ground Trilogy was a train wreck)
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wantec

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #6 on: 14 December 2015, 13:55:02 »
She also piloted a MNL-3W Mangonel in between the Ryoken II and the Savage Wolf.
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Kojak

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #7 on: 14 December 2015, 14:40:14 »
She also piloted a MNL-3W Mangonel in between the Ryoken II and the Savage Wolf.

You might have missed it, but that was actually covered in the article.
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wantec

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #8 on: 14 December 2015, 15:21:45 »
You might have missed it, but that was actually covered in the article.
I did miss that. I was thinking more of your list at the beginning of the article.

I wouldn't call it new toy syndrome (since the design had been around in universe since the 3085 era), as much as her Ryoken II was toast (specifically the control computers) and she needed a new ride. She piloted the Mangonel for some time between 6 to 11 months before it too fell victim to a saboteur trying to kill her. If anything, I'd call the Savage Wolf a case of new toy syndrome. And likely a case of wanting something fresh off the factory lines that no one had time to mess with.
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #9 on: 14 December 2015, 17:34:51 »
I believe that New Toy Syndrome referred to having her piloting a Mangonel because it had recently been introduced to the game via the latest expansion.
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Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #10 on: 15 December 2015, 01:46:51 »
The Savage Wolf is indeed another case of New Toy syndrome, and somewhat more since it looks like a contender for the era's flagship 'Mech it was pushed pretty hard with Anastasia and Alaric each piloting one, even if Alaric did personalise his.

And unfortunately because it looks like she was at one point intended as a constant thread through much of the Dark Age narration she did get handled differently by different people, ironically leading to considerable inconsistencies.

Wrangler

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Anastasia Kerensky
« Reply #11 on: 15 December 2015, 21:52:46 »
I've always thought Anastasia had potential, i was kinda upset when after "Call to Arms" that character changed in my eyes radically when she enter the Proving Ground Trilogy.  She lost what Coleman breathed life into a complex character.

In the Blood of Skye duopoly, she got a her second coming now down her luck splinter group with a pardon from the dying Republic by Tara Campbell, her sworn adversary and her target of teasing.  ;D  I like how she mentioned in throw way line in second book how she had live up to her genemother and father.  No word who he was, but she suggests something.  I wish author had gone into that later before the book done, properly lost place to go.

Best books in my eyes in later books, were Wolf Hunters and Master of War.  Which were good and fun reads.  They felt like old style Battletech novels, gave Anastasia some personality, as she was remaking her self and had goal of some kind evolution of her people.   

However, now with her now saKhan i think we'll never know what she was trying to do.

Thank you, Grey, for taking up my request for Anastasia Kerensky and other ladies of Battletech!

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