Category Archives: Historical

Where Are The Bouncers?

Green Birds and Ham

In my copy of the Jade Falcon Sourcebook, it talks about the various battles of the Falcon Corridor of the Clan Invasion.  Many of these vignettes are just quick little paragraphs about the fall of an entire world.

On Page 36 it discusses the fall of Alkalurops to the ongoing Clan Assault.  And the results are very simple.  The planet is going to fall.  In addition to the local militia, there is the Bouncers, a combined arms regiment there defending.  The major cities and trade of the area is taken very quickly, but much of the outer-lying areas, as well as the Dravinna Vale will remain in the hands of the defenders, including most of the Bouncers.

And then, that’s it.  The Sourcebook says:

Just days after the planet’s surrender, these forces formed organized and effective resistance, attacking the invaders near the ore-processing factories of Dravinna Vale, using the valley’s perpetual fog to cover their activities.

That’s it. We know the planet falls.  We know it’s under the command of Falcon, but I’ve always wondered what happened to The Bouncers.  Did they evacuate?  How successful was the campaign on the planet?  I don’t know.

We know that numerous mercenary units were destroyed in the Clan Invasion, such as the 12th Star Guard.  So The Bouncers could have been destroyed.  In my campaign I have them cut down to less than half their force, get off-world, and then begin to rebuild with other contracts out in the Chaos March.

But I’ve always been obsessed with The Bouncers. What happened to them?  Where are they now?  Who were they?  What’s their history?  A regiment, even a mixed one, is not a small force, so how did they become The Bouncers?

And that’s one of the great things about the BattleTech universe.  There’s always something out there to grab a hold of and make it yours.  The huge sprawling universe is such a large, extreme place.  And while there is a lot of definition here and there, there’s a lot more to consider and run with.  A lot more decisions.  And little passing phrases here and there to tantalize them.

So what is your little obsession out there?  Is there a unit, a planet, a group, or something else to tantalize you?  Something that’s always been out there, with just a hint of information to intrigue you?

Who are your Bouncers?

What If? – The Clans Won the Great Refusal

We’ve all done it. At some point in our lives as BattleTech fans, each one of us has taken a look at how something played out and asked, “What if….?” This series of articles will attempt to take a look at both pivotal and seemingly unimportant events in the BattleTech timeline and ask this very question. My take on how events might have happened may be different from yours. Please, feel free to share in the comments how you think an event might have played out.  See the previous What If? The War of 3039.

One of the most pivotal and, perhaps undervalued, plot points in BattleTech history is the Victor Steiner-Davion led Star League’s victory in the Great Refusal on Strana Mechty in 3060.

But what if the Clans had claimed victory in the Great Refusal, validating their legitimacy claims for the invasion of the Inner Sphere and calling into question the Truce of Tukayyid?

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What If? – The War of 3039

We’ve all done it. At some point in our lives as BattleTech fans, each one of us has taken a look at how something played out and asked, “What if….?” This series of articles will attempt to take a look at both pivotal and seemingly unimportant events in the BattleTech timeline and ask this very question. My take on how events might have happened might be different from yours. Please, feel free to share in the comments how you think an event might have played out.

The War of 3039. It is sometimes forgotten as a pivotal war in the Inner Sphere. Post Fourth Succession War and pre Clan Invasion, this little war manages to fill a pocket niche in the BattleTech timeline that, while on the surface may seem unimportant, ended up as potentially the most critical event in the Inner Sphere leading up to the Return of Kerensky.

Imagine with me, if you will, what the Inner Sphere might have been like should the War of 3039 had never happened. If Hanse Davion had not decided to pursue his bitter rivalry with Takashi Kurita and launch a full scale invasion of the Draconis Combine, perhaps the Clans would have found a very different Inner Sphere when they arrived at the Periphery ten years later.

So what might have changed?

Well, the obvious change would be the stark lack of Free Rasalhague Republic conveniently located in the center of Clan Wolf’s invasion corridor. But let’s get back to that in a moment.

I want to focus first on the two main players of the War of 3039, House Davion and House Kurita.

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Your Favorite Scenario Packs

Scenario Packs and their ilk have been with us for almost as long as we’ve had the game. From the first campaigns to the latest Turning Point, we have seen a ton of scenario packs released down through the ages.

Sure, a handful of scenarios like UnboundLiving Legends and Necromo Nightmare might strike some fans as problematic from a variety of angles. Sales of modules, adventures, and scenarios are almost always going to be among your worst sellers.  And it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a variety of different takes of the Scenario pack, whether it’s replaying a major battle or campaign (Luthien, Tukkayid, Twycross) or whether it’s running the battles of a famous unit (Northwind Highlanders, Tales of the Black Widow Company), many scenario packs are repeats of famous aspects of the universe.  But when they don’t sell well, you get different flavors, such as generic ones like Operation: Flashpoint, Operation: Stiletto or those that push the limits of the universe (of which Living Legends is clearly the blatant example).

With that stated, what are my three favorite scenarios?

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The Clans of Kerensky, Part Three: Call to Revival

This article is Part 3 in a series on the Clans. The ongoing series attempts to cover the impact that the Clans, both as a society and as individual entities, have had on the Inner Sphere, since their arrival in 3050 to the present year of 3145.

The series began with Part One: Rise of the Clans and continued with Part Two: Crucible of Gold.

The Symbol of the Clans

The Great Debate

At the close of the Golden Century, the Clans found themselves increasingly divided along the ideological lines that separated the Crusader philosophy from the Warden mindset. As all of the Clans eventually declared for one philosophy or the other, a growing call in the Grand Council from the Crusader Clans necessitated constant delaying actions from the Wardens.

Crusader Clans insisted that a return to the Inner Sphere was imminent and unavoidable. They wanted to bring the rule of the Star League back to the Inner Sphere, once again uniting all of mankind under a single banner. While the idealism that existed within the Crusader Clans might have once come from a good place, which is known as Aleksandr Kerensky’s Hidden Hope Doctrine, the Crusaders had taken the vision of their Founder and crafted from it a call to arms to conquer and subjugate the “barbarians” of the Inner Sphere who has turned their backs on the Star League as the shining hope for mankind.

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BattleTech: First Somerset Strikers and Sourcebook Retrospective

I think the BattleTech cartoon was probably as close the franchise came to making the mainstream of popular culture. I could include the videogames (which I have discussed before) but the cartoon took place during a time where big fighting robots were generally in the mainstream anyway. MechWarrior 2, Robot Jox, and of course blockbusters like Terminator 2. Even Japanese distributors were beginning to test the US market with titles like Patlabor and different flavors of Gundam. Big robots were beginning to become as much a staple of science fiction as the space opera. (Some media, like Gundam and BattleTech combined the two).

So how does one market a mech-centric space opera towards children? As seen with other US franchises like Exosquad, don’t sugar coat it. In space operas, there are big wars going on, and people die. 1st Somerset Strikers doesn’t show death like Exosquad does, but one of the plot developments banks on one of the major characters failing to eject from his devastated BattleMech before it explodes and being thought dead by his compatriots for most of the season. Likewise, though it specifically mentions in the official BattleTech canon that the Jade Falcons evacuated the city of Romulus before glassing it with orbital bombardment, it was never brought up on the show.  So the viewer thinks they just watched an entire city of people get vaporized. Heady stuff. I really wish they had made more of a deal of the destruction of Edo on Turtle Bay later in the season, considering that most of the inhabitants in fact WERE massacred by the Smoke Jaguars (one of the reasons that clan was targeted for termination during Operations Serpent and Bulldog)

 

promotional artwork for the animated series

Promotional artwork for the animated series

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The Clans of Kerensky, Part Two: Crucible of Gold

This article is Part 2 in a series on the Clans. The ongoing series attempts to cover the impact that the Clans, both as a society and as individual entities, have had on the Inner Sphere, since their arrival in 3050 to the present year of 3145.

The series began with Part One: Rise of the Clans.

 

Symbol of the Clans

The Golden Century

Following the Annihilation of Clan Wolverine, the Absorption of Clan Widowmaker, and the subsequent death of Nicholas Kerensky in 2836, the Clans experienced tough growing pains as their new society struggled to keep up with the loss of their Great Father and the rapidly changing landscape of the Clans discovering what their society would ultimately become. Clan Wolf Khan Jerome Winson stepped up and succeeded Nicholas Kerensky as ilKhan of the Clans, and Winson’s leadership would prove to be just as vital as that of his predecessor. The one hundred years following Nicholas Kerensky’s death, generally agreed upon as 2830 to 2930, are considered by Clan and Inner Sphere historians as the Clans’ own Golden Century.

It is during this time that Clan society took firm shape and developed into the culture that invaded the Inner Sphere nearly one hundred years ago. The Clans, perhaps more so than the Inner Sphere, had a burning desire to survive out in the far reaches of space, away from the now storied and increasingly legendary Inner Sphere. While many of the planets that the Clans colonized were habitable, most were only dangerously so, and intimate knowledge of the eco systems of these new planets was still being obtained while the Clans fought over the meager resources at hand.

Over the course of the Golden Century, three major events occurred that can be argued to have had the most powerful effect on the Clans as a whole. While Clan society helped to shape, and was in turn shaped and solidified by these events, the most important milestone events are the ones that most directly contributed to the effects that were felt by the Inner Sphere over a century later.

Clan Mongoose

The first event is the Absorption of Clan Mongoose by Clan Smoke Jaguar in 2868. Clan Mongoose had prospered and secured great gains in the earlier years of the Clans. As a result, they were amongst the most powerful of the Clans, but their success also proved to be a dangerous hubris that would soon catch up to them. Clan Mongoose attacked the Smoke Jaguar held world of Atreus, and the campaign soon found its way into the Grand Council, where the Mongoose Khan attempted to stall out the Smoke Jaguars with politics and secure a victory off the battlefield.

The Smoke Jaguar Khans saw this political maneuver as an attempt to circumvent the Way of the Clans as written by Nicholas Kerensky and accused Clan Mongoose of treason, calling for the Grand Council to grant them the right to absorb Clan Mongoose. Clan Mongoose had spent a generation or more making enemies in the Grand Council, and the vote to begin the Trial of Absorption was passed. The ensuing Trial of Absorption strengthened the Smoke Jaguars and set the stage for their rise to prominence as an Invading Clan over a hundred years later.

The Coyotl, the first OmniMech created by Clan Coyote.

The remaining two major events were less political. In 2854, Clan Coyote unveiled its new cutting edge weapon, the OmniMech. Basing the technology off of Star League prototype modular weapon pods, the OmniMech was immediately sought after by every other Clan. The other major technological jump was pioneered by Clan Wolf, who first fielded battle armored infantry in 2868. Like the OmniMech before it, Clan Wolf’s battle armor was highly sought by the rest of the Clans. A little over a decade later, every Clan possessed both OmniMech and battle armor technology.

Followed up by Clan Hells Horses’ development of the Elemental phenotype, and several technological advances in the weapons of warfare pioneered by several different leading Clans, the Clans soon found themselves standing on the shoulders of the Star League in terms of weapons and eugenics technology, able to reach heights until then unseen in capability and power.

Elemental Battle Armor

Culture of Ritual

By the time the Golden Century came to an end in 2935, heralded in, according to many Clan historians, by the death of ilKhan Tobias Khatib of Clan Cloud Cobra, the Clans had also established a brand new society that is quite alien and unique compared to anything found in the Inner Sphere or the Periphery states.

Almost every form of conflict resolution in the Clans can be found in the form of a Trial. Becoming a warrior, gaining a new rank, settling a dispute, justifying breaking the chain of command, and hundreds of other matters are all settled by each of the separate castes in a manner befitting said caste. The most commonly known Trials are those that govern the dominant Warrior Caste and are fully detailed in other manuscripts.

The rigidity of the Clan caste system became solidified and continued to dictate all levels of Clan and inter-Clan operations. Everything about how the Clans operate as a society, from selection of leadership to how each individual Clan operates both internally and between each other, is ultimately guided by the caste system.

Clan Cloud Cobra MechWarrior

Clan Cloud Cobra MechWarrior

Warriors stand at the top of the caste system, revered and respected for their martial prowess and ability. Below the Warriors stand the Scientists, who oversee the massive trueborn eugenics programs and develop new technologies. Below the Scientists, the Technician caste operates solely to keep the Warrior and Scientist castes operational, overseeing construction and repairs on everything from BattleMechs and DropShips to habitat systems and mining equipment. A wild card caste, the Merchant caste officially operates below the Technician caste, but in some Clans, such as Clan Sea Fox (formerly known as Clan Diamond Shark), the Merchant caste plays a much more vital and important role in the Clan and is seen as just as important as the Scientist caste, if not the Warrior caste, in certain situations. Clan Sea Fox stands as an extreme example of this, however, and the Merchant caste of most Clans fits into the society right below the Technician caste. Lowest in the caste hierarchy is the Laborer caste. The people relegated to this caste see a hard life of endless work and toil, enjoying the fewest freedoms of any of the castes. Most Clans regard their Laborer caste as only one step above easily discarded refuse.

In almost all of Clan society, no matter the caste, trueborns are almost always considered as higher in status than freeborn members of society. This usually is most true in the Warrior caste, but it can make a difference in other castes, most commonly in the Scientist caste, where eugenics and blood legacies are revered with a near religious zeal.

Though not officially a caste, one more level of Clan society has made itself known to us since the Invasion. Commonly referred to as the Dark Caste, these outcasts of Clan society are usually little more than pirates and dissidents who attempt to shirk the Way of the Clans and elect to eke out a meager existence on the fringes of Clan space. In past decades, members of the Dark Caste have even made their way to the Periphery and the outer rim of the Inner Sphere. Not officially recognized as a caste, or as anything else, by the other members of Clan society, the Dark Caste is none the less a black mark on the Clans and stands as a part of their society, no matter how much they would prefer it to be discarded.

Out of the Fire

The Clans that came out of the Golden Century were a refined version of what Nicholas Kerensky had left to its own devices one hundred years before. Each individual Clan was secure in its identity, or well on its way, and many of the alliances and old hatreds between certain Clans that exists today finds their origins in the Golden Century.

Moving out of their renaissance, the Clans would soon turn their minds to the Inner Sphere and begin to question whether or not it was time for the Star League to return.

For further reading about the Golden Century, check out “Era Digest: Golden Century” available from the following online retail locations.

BattleCorps – Era Digest: Golden Century

DriveThruRPG – Era Digest: Golden Century

Robotech, Macross, and the Unseen

Even though it was decades ago, I’ll never forget the Saturday morning where I became forevermore helplessly, HOPELESSLY addicted to large military robots. I have since developed a bit of ‘flowery’ disdain for the bastard chimera that is the Robotech saga, but I am at least nostalgic that it was the vehicle with which I first was introduced to Supredimensional Fortress Macross.

It was 1985. I was eight years old, and until then Saturday morning cartoons consisted mainly of an assortment of Hasbro toy advertisements and video game tie-ins. Anime was and would continue to be very sparse (though much of it was animated in Japanese studios). Transformers (of the aforementioned Hasbro adverts) had a very strong effect on me for getting turned on to big stompy bots.

And then Robotech showed up; which took the transformable robot thing and showed that “hey- people can drive these things dammit!”. The VF-1 Valkyrie in all its flavors (which became the Wasp, Stinger,Phoenix Hawk and their LAM equivalents), was NOT a nae indestructible machine like the Transformers were (until half of them got spawn-fragged in the animated movie the following year). They, at least the tan-colored ones popped like zits throughout the show. But they had it easy compared to the thrashings the poor Destroids received.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk 'mechs.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk ‘mechs.

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The Clans of Kerensky, Part One: Rise of the Clans

Symbol of the Clans

This ongoing series attempts to cover the impact that the Clans, both as a society and as individual entities, have had on the Inner Sphere, since their arrival in 3050 to the present year of 3145.

Nearly a century has passed since the descendants of the Star League Defense Force returned to the Inner Sphere as the Clans. The landscape of the Inner Sphere, both political and physical, has been irreparably changed by their arrival, and Clans’ mark upon the history of humankind will forever be remembered.

The purpose of this series is to explore the origins of each Clan and its history and effect on the course of history, from the great Exodus of General Aleksandr Kerensky all the way to the present day. The Clans fascinate and terrify all in one look, and the majority of the Inner Sphere still does not fully understand the nature of their culture, traditions, and unique experiences that have forged each of today’s remaining Clans into what they are. Continue reading