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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord  (Read 2068 times)


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Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« on: 22 December 2015, 05:55:11 »
Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
Who: Cranston Snord
   Aka (Presumed) Cranston Wolf
What: Lance Commander (Lieutenant Presumably), Wolf’s Dragoons
Captain (Commanding Officer), Snord’s Irregulars
Colonel (Commanding Officer), Snord’s Irregulars
When: circa 2975 - ?? ?? ??
Weapon of Choice: 2R Archer
         12D Bombardier

First of another pair of requests from Wrangler, and quite the interesting pair, is Cranston Snord.

Introduced with his mercenary company at the tail end of the Third Succession War at the same time as a good many other units, this was starting point for the whole series, at first blush Cranston and his Irregulars are something of a mid-tier mercenary unit. Not one with a lot of flash and bang like the Kell Hounds or Wolf’s Dragoons, they take beatings, occasionally lose and barely manage to bounce back, but at the same time prove themselves reliable and even honourable in their way, though not to stupid extremes.

They are also far from the likes of Wilson’s Hussars, many of their ‘Mechs have some sort of damage or technical issue, but they are far from down on their luck and even have the favour of Katrina Steiner as a result of their reliable service and determination to get results.

Some of these are rather extreme characteristics, but in terms of being a highlighted unit this is, again, middle of the road stuff because being utterly generic is too boring to be featured.

Which also permits the unit’s quirk of being historical treasure hunters. Thankfully they avoid being a unit of Indiana Jones’, or even just led by an ersatz Indiana Jones, though by necessity they are led by a quirky individual, hence Cranston Snord.

It is a case of the commanding officer characterising the unit, this is far more possible at the company level than regimental. While Morgan and Patrick Kell instilled honour, integrity and competence into their unit, their individual personalities did not filter all the way through as with the Irregulars, where every member carries a shade of what makes Cranston Snord unique.

Yes, it is written into the unit history that most of the members were recruited with this in mind, that is the justification for an element of Cranston carries through every warrior in a way the Hounds can’t match and don’t bother trying.

This has the side effect that Cranston and his unit do come across as cartoonish, it’s the by-product of having a unit wide quirk that leads them into odd ball actions, or looking and behaving like oddballs. However it’s particularly easy in this instance as they are collectors, and anyone who collects something is always going to look strange to someone who doesn’t collect that thing.

So what we are presented with is a middle of the road quality unit with an interesting quirk that largely works for House Steiner to the exclusion of others with a feud against House Marik (specifically Janos), that is full of daring do, vinegar and some other miscellaneous liquid.

All in all a good introductory unit for the setting, along with the other similarly sized units (most but not all mercenary) operating with other factions at the time.

This, however, is not all there is to Cranston, once the Clans arrive and Wolf’s Dragoon’s true origins are revealed then it is only natural that Cranston, who arrived with the unit, also get something of a background reveal.

In this case it’s more than that he’s just Clan, it’s that he’s Jamie Wolf’s own catspaw, sent out to look at things with a degree of subtlety the five regiments and change sized Dragoons can’t.

As a bit of retroactive characterisation it fits with the Dragoons’ mission, though how neatly is debatable. After all, Cranston largely only operated in Lyran space, generally against Marik with occasional forays against the Combine. Logically two or three such units operating around the Inner Sphere would have been more efficient, however it could be argued that too many of these units run by former original members of the Dragoons running around might arouse other suspicions, not to mention increase the chance of a leak.

I call it retroactive characterisation because Cranston the oddball as laid out in the initial Snord’s Irregulars sourcebook, while lacking any sort of early history leaving a convenient blank to be filled in, is very different from Cranston the loyal friend and operative of Jamie Wolf. However much this may have been planned before the sourcebook or arrival of the Clans we the readers are not supposed to be privy to the planning, we must deal with the information as it arrives.

Consequently while much could be cast as character evolution otherwise, and as it is the intention is more revelation, what we are given is something that changes the original nature of the unit and its commanding officer.

That being said, with so much of it going on due to the arrival of the Clans, on top of a time jump, it is a bit anticlimactic, and this is realistic since Wolf’s Dragoons stole all the oxygen on that one.

You’ll notice that like certain other characters I tend to refer to Snord’s Irregulars as much as Cranston himself. This is because originally he was introduced with the unit in a sourcebook, a format that tends to merge the characterisation of one with the other.

It is also because outside of sourcebooks Cranston has made all of one actual appearance, a cameo during the Civil War because Victor Steiner-Davion used his home base as a meeting point. It’s an appearance that neither adds nor detracts from the character, seemingly proving only that he’s still alive and that he (and also Victor) rub shoulders with all sorts of interesting people.

Unlike others treated this way it does not mean that Cranston does not exist separately from his unit, thanks in part to handing off command, to an extent, to daughter Rhonda.

There are frequent comments that Cranston is far less hands off with command as the word ‘retirement’ would imply, however this is not unusual for the setting, and the fact that he does largely leave command to Rhonda shows that he can do other things with his time, even if it does go back to the unit hobby of collecting historical artefacts.

Curiously this is also why the unit exists in the Dark Age, it sets a pattern of inheritance, a lineage of sorts that fits in with the nature of the setting. Basically bloodlines and surnames matter.

To that end his choice of an Archer, a stock 2R, a good one for a unit commander, puts Cranston in the same company as Morgan Kell and Jamie Wolf, another sort of lineage nod.

As I’ve mentioned in both those articles the Archer is an excellent choice for a commander because it discourages getting into the thick of action, is relevant at range permitting an overview of the battle, and has enough defences to survive a round or two before support arrives.

This also means the move to a Bombardier when the unit “acquired” Star League level tech was quite natural considering the similarities between the two units.

That being said, my personal opinion is that it’s a bit of a downgrade, since the Bombardier has less endurance due to no energy weapons and less ammo for the LRMs. Arguably the added speed and AMS are compensating factors, hence it’s just my opinion. Regardless it is still a good command unit for all the same reasons the Archer is.

And because he is such an effective commander his personality, ethics and sense of honour and conduct percolate down through his unit.

If it isn’t clear by now Cranston Snord’s purpose within the setting is to command that unit. It was an introduction to the universe through an interesting group of characters, and while there is a well-deserved aura of legend surrounding the Irregulars and Cranston himself that is part of the unit’s growth, an element of the setting evolution. As the environment became more dangerous, so did any surviving limelight units, the Irregulars being an excellent example of this, hence they serve equally well with the transition to a more advanced tech base in a more deadly universe under the command of Rhonda.

As an individual Cranston is, in short, an interesting rogue, at all aspects of his life. It’s one of the reasons his unit is interesting, it is why the character is interesting. That he takes more than a few hard knocks prevents him from being outlandishly fantastic, if anything he appears to have improbable luck rather than

Both he and Jamie Wolf considered him to be a loose cannon, a company is the perfect sized unit to be a loose cannon, running around achieving his own objectives.

And while he is a product of the earlier days of BattleTech where pulp sci-fi conventions dominated he never featured in the fiction to the same degree as more fantastical characters, so while he was side-lined by age and infirmity it was not the dramatic, or even degrading act that it was to other major characters who had to remain vital and active despite their advanced age.

Ironically enough for a lovable rogue he was in the perfect position to just quietly fade away when so many peers had more explosive, and frequently unfortunate, ends.


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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #1 on: 22 December 2015, 10:11:45 »
Quirky indeed.  Thanks for the writeup
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #2 on: 23 December 2015, 08:40:54 »
I've got a thought about this. When you look at the six original scenario books, there are three house units and three mercenaries. One one side, there are the Sword of Light, the Crucis Lancers and the Regulan Hussars; the other, the Grey Death Legion, the Black Widows and Cranston Snord's Irregulars. On one end of the spectrum are Sorenson's Sabres, who could arguably be war criminals, and on the other are the Irregulars, who are BT's version of Kelly's Heroes.

Retroactively, Cranston becomes our first view of what Clan family life could be. Part of what made Snord an outcast was that he brought his daughter along to the IS, the family bond being alien to the warrior caste. This, and his status as a former Wolf's Dragoons battalion commander, had him under a death sentence for over 40 years. Which seems ironic, as it was Joshua, not Jaime which ordered it. Joshua was the guy who was trying to marry Natasha Kerensky, which was about as socially out there as forming a family. Not the marriage part, lots of Dragoons eventually married, but marriage to a trueborn.

Thanks for this write up, I've always been a fan of the Irregulars.



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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #3 on: 23 December 2015, 23:22:49 »
Thank you for taking up the request, Grey!

Cranston Snord was by far one of the more interesting and quirky characters of the Battletech universe.

Sure he was a treasure hunter, allowing by extension of his interests, highlight stuff everyone likes bring 20th Century back to life in universe that for most part has long since forgotten about that era and other things.

In last of the FedCom Civil War novels, Cranston made a cameo appearance in the series novels, in fact twice.  One with Archer's Avengers and another with visit to his museum on Clinton (i think it was clinton) where he had among his collection of curiousities the alleged throne or Stefan Amaris!
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #4 on: 23 December 2015, 23:26:11 »
Also, he shows up in the art work for the 3025 Mercenary's Handbook with Rhonda.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #5 on: 24 December 2015, 02:03:49 »
While it's kinda shallow, it took me awhile to get over the name. Snord sounded like a name of a alien from Star Trek.

That aside, Cranston Snord does have one of the most colorful characters of early battletech. Kicked out of the Dragoons for looting and winning command of a new Merc Unit in a card game (first confirmed to be a ruse, the later I suspect is a tale told by the men as part of the ruse) Cranston is almost a amalgam of Oddball and Doc Holiday. Add the fact that the looting collecting merc leader is actually a former clan scout with a treasure map to lost SLDF bases almost out Captain Morgan Morgan Kell. 

Then you have his punk rock daughter, Rhonda Snord who pilots a bright pink Highlander with Heavy Metal written on the Gauss and Elvis Presley music playing over load speaks. The father/daughter team just made a great pair. 
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #6 on: 24 December 2015, 03:29:25 »
I think Wrangler nailed it, Cranston Snord in all his quirkiness was the 80s flair of BattleTech given form in a character. He's a joke more than a person from an ooc viewpoint.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #7 on: 24 December 2015, 05:57:54 »
I've always assumed that Cranston was a Goliath Scorpion warrior. it's where he gets his 'collector' gene from
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #8 on: 28 December 2015, 05:22:04 »
I've always assumed that Cranston was a Goliath Scorpion warrior. it's where he gets his 'collector' gene from

And we know from FM:Warden Clans that the Dragoons did train with the Goliath Scorpions before starting their mission in the Inner Sphere.  Further, one of the early Dragoon senior officers, Baxter Arbuthnot, had what turned out to be a Scorpion-exclusive Bloodname.


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Re: Character Study of the Week: Cranston Snord
« Reply #9 on: 28 December 2015, 05:43:32 »
Except that we know Cranston was raised alongside the Wolf brothers and is a freeborn Wolf warrior.