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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Garret Sainze  (Read 1276 times)

Grey

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Character Study of the Week: Garret Sainze
« on: 19 May 2016, 02:50:01 »
Character Study of the Week: Garret Sainze
Who: Garret Sainze
What: Star Captain, 3rd Sainze Battle Honour Guard, Clan Fire Mandrill
   Kindraa Leader, Kindraa Sainze, Clan Fire Mandrill
   SaKhan, Clan Fire Mandrill
   Khan, Clan Fire Mandrill
   IlKhan of the Clans
When: 3027 – February 3071
Weapon of Choice: Kindraa Sainze

Second place holder of shortest tenure as IlKhan, Garret Sainze is, for lack of a better term, destiny’s whipping boy.

His life started off ordinarily enough, for a member of Kindraa Sainze, the subgrouping within Clan Fire Mandrill that can trace it’s lineage back to the Clan’s main founder, and the person who really did, for better or worse, set the tone for the Clan as a whole, Raymond Sainze.

Garret proved himself an able warrior, earned honour and promotion through the ranks, a Bloodname, eventually becoming Kindraa leader and then, with some struggle and effort that was more a result of factional feuding and multidirectional spite than actual politics, prowess or reason, became SaKhan and then Khan. Neither was without challenge, almost constant challenge really, and that sets the tone for how we know Garret.

Nominated to the post of IlKhan as another act of spite it is the foundation of most of the tragedy of the Wars of Reiving. It’s a callous political move akin to the one that successfully elected Sun-Tzu to the post of First Lord.

Sadly Garret doesn’t seem to realise this. His response to his first nomination seems to be something along the lines of “they like me, they really like me”.

More accurately he seems to think that having successfully led the fractious Fire Mandrills others see this as a skill for doing the same for the Clans as a whole.

This is a fully reasonable, logical line of reasoning. The problem is it has no basis in reality. The Fire Mandrills were no more united under Garret Sainze than anyone else, and if anything circumstances and Garret’s own actions deepened most divisions even as it created super factions within the Clan. That said super factions came about in bitter reaction to his actions it testament enough to that.

It could almost be said that the man couldn’t lead the Fire Mandrills into a factional conflict, and it’s almost true, the factional conflicts he manages to instigate have wildly differing effects from what he intended.

This largely sums up what Garret Sainze is, a plot element rather than an independent character. He is never a protagonist, but can only awkwardly be called an antagonist. Certainly not a stabilising influence he’s not malicious either, only marginally ambitious and doesn’t really have an original idea. That last one is quite important.

Introduced in FM: Crusader Clans he occupies a position there reserved for Clan notables, typically Khan, SaKhan, Loremaster and possibly an up and comer within the ranks. These sections were there for several reasons. The main one was to personalise the factions, to make it known that there were individuals within these groups, put a face on things.

Naturally many of these were sympathetic sounding individuals, especially since the next purpose was to show the hopes and dreams of a Clan, to show us who is moving and shaking, and hopefully building them up, because every faction, all of them, needed that glimmer of hope character who could potentially carry them on to greatness.

That’s also something special to note, every faction at every point in BattleTech is on the verge of some great event, its basic drama, and this is best shown through these little blurbs on characters who can be expanded upon in later works.

So essentially it’s a section that exists to say ‘Sure, the Fire Mandrills may be fractious and on the verge of shattering, but here are these characters who could very well pull them through’.

Except none of the Fire Mandrills really read like that. There’s the Khan desperately trying to appeal to common sense, the SaKhan Garret following a Magic Eight Ball for decision making and a minor warrior who reads as having the Phantom ‘Mech ability, something so rare and utterly forbidden that it practically begs a literal hammer falling on the individual.

It just goes to show that in this Clan even the clear headed and forward thinking ones are hobbled if not by their own bias then by everyone else in the Clan who holds on to this very factionalism as a perverse strength.

This is deliberate and sets the stage for what Garret eventually becomes: the catalyst for disaster.

Not that he reads like that in the Field Manual, if anything it comes across more as ‘this is the best we have?’

Sorry, but he follows the leads of others too often. A Khan who can’t pick a direction or have an actual plan that differs from the ones that failed previously isn’t much of a leader. Every office he holds above Kindraa Leader reeks of compromise, and the Fire Mandrills suffer for it.

A deliberate move, but fair? Well, having three characters who could pull the Fire Mandrills together as notables means that the Clan should, inevitably, pull together unless one or more of those three are somehow removed.

More interesting would be to have three characters with the same goal of pulling the Fire Mandrills together but with such incompatible, even competing methods of doing so that they could only undercut each other. This would have added the potential for conflict, which is where the fun in this game comes from.

Sadly it’s something of a missed opportunity. Not from bad writing, I suspect it’s more that it’s a crowded playing field with so much happening. And perhaps more accurate to have one person who is trying to pull things together, another who seems to be waiting for it to happen inevitably as the result of his existence, and a third who is never mentioned again.

Moreover if the fractured Mandrills almost pull things together then it is almost against the grain for BattleTech, where such gloriously futile, heroic gestures tend to be quashed rather than succeed. That’s a different sort of drama.

So of course Garret is not this. He is in no way a unifier, he doesn’t even have a plan beyond ‘Kindraa Sainze is inherently awesome and should be followed’. He never reads like a saviour. If anything he seems to be one step away from flinging the Fire Mandrills apart with his heavy handed, Sainze superior methods of uniting the Clan.

Did he have to signal the doom of the Fire Mandrills?

Answering that comes down to whether you think the Fire Mandrills would have inevitably fallen apart or not.

In terms of plot it was inevitable, simply because these things are decided. In the setting, to be honest they are so hopelessly divided that uniting was not a likely possibility short of major, major changes, and those just didn’t happen. Instead major disaster did, at a time and in a way when even every other Clan managed at least some cooperation with someone else the Fire Mandrill’s couldn’t even work with each other.

In light of the Wars of Reiving, a time when only the largest factions and those who could form working alliances survived the Mandrills never had a hope.

Barely a Galaxy each the Kindraa lacked the resources to be competitive. This should have been apparent in the Field Manuals, thus their almost forgotten fate, slinking off into extinction with a whimper, is something of a foregone conclusion. Honestly I always thought it would be piecemeal absorption Kindraa by Kindraa, instead it was a few, pitiful remaining Clusters at a time.

This means that Garret isn’t directly responsible for what happened to the Fire Mandrills. He is the result of their culture as much as their demise is.

That Garret Sainze is a major catalyst for this should not be a surprise, by their very dominance Kindraa Sainze was a destabilising element, it’s a theme within the setting. To date only the Terran Hegemony has managed to be a powerful faction as well as a unifying one. Any other powerful faction attracts more jealous enemies than allies, be they genuine or self-interested.

Kindraa Sainze made things worse with their arrogance with their (very relative) power. They deemed themselves too important and thus refused to cooperate with anyone. The leader of that faction is the personification and spearhead for this, as is the way with fiction.

This also means his weapon of choice is irrelevant, from all appearances he was a MechWarrior, we just never see him in action as one and the one battle he was directly involved in that we know of to date resulted in his death.

Equally arguable he was used as a weapon, his election as IlKhan to be specific, was used to strike at the Snake Alliance.

Did Garret ever have a chance? From a plot perspective no. The Fire Mandrills as a whole never had a chance, their inability to unify even in the face of utter doom proved that. It’s noticeable that of all the Clans to fall during the Reiving the Fire Mandrills have no one moment of nonexistence, they are slowly picked off, Kindraa by Kindraa by plague and combat, the lucky ones being absorbed by Clans that lasted at least a little longer. Even the Ice Hellions went out in a blaze of self-inflicted, stupidity coloured glory.

In fact after Garret’s death there are no major moves by the Mandrills, just an announcement by Amanda Carrol that the situation was so dire they had to unite under her leadership just to survive.

While not stated outright I think we can all see how right she was and just how that worked out.

After all this it has asked if Garret was an idiot or a fool. The short answer is no, regardless of what you think of the system or the Mandrills one does become a leader of a Kindraa by being stupid. He had to be an excellent warrior and a leader otherwise someone in this hypercompetitive atmosphere would have replaced him.

Was he crazy? It has been revealed that he had a brain tumour that until operated on was affecting his behaviour somewhat. This is harder to answer, simply due to lack of material, but crazy manifests in a number of different ways and as has been seen time and again in BattleTech crazy does not mean the same as ineffective.

The long answer is that he was deluded. This isn’t exactly uncommon and while a flaw it’s not unique to the Fire Mandrills, in fact it’s more a matter of ambition overriding common sense.

And also the Fire Mandrills have, in a very cult-like fashion, convinced themselves that their way will eventually prove themselves superior. They were wrong, their way, like the way of the Great Houses on the eve of the Succession Wars, led only to wearying conflict.

Naturally, from all appearances, the Clans as a whole have failed to observe any sort of lesson from this.

Frabby

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Garret Sainze
« Reply #1 on: 19 May 2016, 03:32:38 »
Not an idiot or fool and not crazy. Rather, he's a poster child for the intrinsically flawed Clan way of using combat trials to select leaders (politicians and administrators), despite the skill sets having nothing to do with each other. The hyper-competitive Fire Mandrill environment only exacerbated this. In the end you have leaders whose mindset is narrowly focused on thriving in that paranoid sandbox, and who thus fail the test against reality outside of that mindset.
Author of the BattleCorps stories Feather vs. Mountain, Rise and Shine, Proprietary, Trial of Faith & scenario Twins
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