House Ricol was an influential noble house from the Draconis Combine, holding the title of Duke of Chekaar (though apocryphally, the principal duchy was that of Rodigo; see below) and implicitly that of (a) Duke of the Rasalhague Military District.
Having several other worlds in the Rasalhague Military District placed under the duchy's administrative jurisdiction gave the ruling duke the actual power of an archduke (whereas dukes generally had responsibility for only a single world). As of 3018 Duke Hassid Ricol had petitioned to be elevated to the position of Archduke over the five worlds he governed at the time, and his enemies at the court in Luthien had almost, but not quite, the power to deny his petition. Ricol was formally elevated to Archduke at some point.
House Ricol essentially lost their holdings in the Fourth Succession War, and Hassid Ricol, the last ruling Duke, apparently dismissed his title in 3072, shortly before his death as "Not even a title, but a mockery of one. A flimsy shell from decades ago, when my name brought fear to many."
Author William H. Keith, who had created the character of Hassid Ricol, provided a detailed (but technically apocryphal) writeup on Hassid Ricol and House Ricol in BattleTechnology magazine, issue #0102 (Hiring Hall: The Red Duke). The magazine is written as an in-universe publication from October 3027.
According to this writeup, the Ricols are an old and established family on Rodigo dating back to when the world was first settled in the 23rd century. In 2785 one General Henri Ricol became the first Duke of Rodigo. The 3rd Duke, Stefani Ricol, was the first to adopt the descriptive honorific "Red Duke" that would be revived by Hassid Ricol in the 31st century.
Beyond Rodigo, thirteen Lyran Commonwealth worlds, several of them formerly belonging to the Tamar Pact, were annexed for the Draconis Combine in three separate campaigns since ca. 2997 (more likely after Hassid Ricol came to power in 3002 and began to build a personal army for conquests) and put under the administrative jurisdiction of the Duchy of Rodigo.
Hassid Ricol was 34 years old when he inherited the Duchy of Rodigo from his father in 3011 and became the 12th ruling Duke of Rodigo in his line. (He was granted permantently detached duty from the DCMS to assume the mantle of Duke of the Rasalhague Military District in 3002, it is possible he was only formally made Duke in 3011.) The ducal seat is in Alexis on Rodigo. Duke Hassid Ricol is described as the de-facto lord of 14 worlds within the Rasalhague Military District from Kufstein's World to The Edge; other named worlds include Verthandi, New Caledonia, Basiliano, Dahlgren, and Auric II (Harvest).
It was noted that the double setbacks at Trell I and Verthandi had seriously jeopardized Duke Ricol's political standing.
House Ricol apparently lost most if not all of its holdings to the House Steiner invasion in the Fourth Succession War. When the Free Rasalhague Republic was formed in 3034, Duke Hassid Ricol used his copy of the Helm Memory Core as a bargaining chip to become governor of the newly formed Alshain Military District (formed from what remained of the Rasalhague Military District and ten worlds of the Buckminster Prefecture). Besides the civilian administrator, he also became the district's Warlord (Tai-shu) at some point prior to the War of 3039.
In 3046 Duke Ricol used his influence to create a training cadre battalion of MechWarriors who would not have been considered for the old DCMS but who would have a chance to prove themselves in Theodore Kurita's reformed army. Ricol had invested much in the training battalion, which he hoped would seed officers loyal to him into the DCMS. However, their first trial raid against Ryde ran afoul of the 12th Donegal Guards whose presence on Ryde the ISF had failed to notice or to report. The cadre suffered devastating casualties, losing seven out of nine lances.
The Alshain Military District fell to the Clans in the Clan Invasion, and House Ricol apparently lost whatever wealth and infrastructure they had retained or regained. By 3062 House Ricol was apparently essentially reduced to the person of the visibly aged Duke Hassid Ricol who now was an influential shadow agent and leading conspirator with the Black Dragon Society (Kokuryu-kai), his power apparently based in his connections rather than his actual wealth. He was a chief engineer of Operation Batsu that saw the Alshain Avengers lured into launching their unsanctioned attack against Alshain (which triggered the Combine-Ghost Bear War). Although Ricol's involvement was suspected, there was no proof and no official action was taken against him.
Unconfirmed transcripts of Kokuryu-kai meetings suggest that Duke Hassid Ricol suffered from deteriorating health after ca. 3072. He was dead by 3074 and his connection with the Kokuryu-kai was officially considered proven by then.
In a message written to Warlord Kiyomori Minamoto in 3072 that is attributed to Duke Ricol, he designates Minamoto his heir over Kokuryu-kai member "Jade" and warns Minamoto that Jade will be unhappy with this arrangement and probably become an antagonist; he goes on to call Jade just a tool and suggests that one discards of a tool once it is dulled. Jade is expressly described as his own flesh and blood and had referred to Ricol as "otosan", father, at one point in the recorded meetings, suggesting Jade is in fact Duke Ricol's son but was disinherited. Jade's actual name is not revealed.
In the same message the author (Ricol) mentions that he has no lands or riches to bestow and only a mockery of a title. This, together with the fact that he apparently disinherited his son in favor of Minamoto, suggests that House Ricol effectively ceased to exist after Hassid Ricol's death in or shortly after 3072.
House Ricol, in the person of Duke Hassid Ricol, were considered to possess a vast wealth and resources at least up until the Fourth Succession War.
He was also known for owning the only privately operated Behemoth-class DropShip in existence. Beyond that, he used his private DropShip Alpha as a command/HQ vessel during military ventures abroad; although the class of the Alpha is indeterminate, it is not a Behemoth as it is shown to be capable of landing on standard gravity planets, something the Behemoth class is incapable of. It is implied that Ricol had several additional DropShips at his disposal; he brought six DropShips to Helm in 3028 on two JumpShips
Although technically a civilian administrator position, the noble title and his military background allowed Duke Hassid Ricol to build and maintain what seems to have been a sizeable private army including BattleMechs but also professional interrogation teams. They had their own uniforms sporting a characteristic piping and kana symbols spelling out "Kurita" and "Duke Ricol" and displaying the House Kurita crest. On Helm in 3028, Hassid Ricol had brought a company of twelve 'Mechs and also deployed a lance of Galleon tanks and an infantry company of ninety men from the Alpha.
Duke Hassid Ricol was a renowned MechWarrior in his Marauder which was painted red with black legs and trim. Both the pilot and the 'Mech known as "The Red Hunter". However, his heydays as a MechWarrior appear to be behind him as of 3024, judging from his internal dialogue on Trellwan.
House Ricol warleader Captain Lord Harimandir Singh, who had been serving under Ricol for fifteen years as of 3024 (i.e. since 3009), commanded the "Red Hunter Special Operations Group" from a Crusader painted in a similar red-and-black scheme. He was killed in action on Trell I in 3024, and his 'Mech was destroyed. The Red Hunter Special Operations Group was not mentioned again afterwards.
At an unspecified time in ca. 3027, several years after Duke Hassid Ricol had lost several 'Mechs in his private service in an adventure across the border in House Steiner space (implicitly, the abortive invasion of Trell I in 3024), he recruited dispossessed MechWarrior Salvadore Tyrell and charged him with creating a new private BattleMech company that Tyrell would name Tyrell's Terrors. They were garrisoning the unruly world of Verthandi in the aftermath of the Gray Death Legion-supported uprising there, but were ordered to meet Duke Ricol at Kajikazawa upon his return from the Free Worlds League where he had recovered the Helm Memory Core.
A House Ricol crest or flag is mentioned, but never described in detail beyond a DropShip bearing "the red chevron of [Ricol's] flag".
The best known scion of House Ricol is arguable Hassid Ricol, also known as the "Red Duke" or "The Red Hunter".
- "House Ricol" is expressly mentioned as such in Mercenary's Star, chapter 14
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 27
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 47 (Duke Hassid Ricol sidebar)
- The Price of Glory, chapter 22
- Heir to the Dragon, chapter 3
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3072, p. 77: "Passing The Gem"
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 43
- Heir to the Dragon, chapter 51
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 46
- Path of Glory, chapters 12, 21
- Path of Glory, chapter 29
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3072, p. 53, "Council of Gems"
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents, p. 43, "Black Dragons Unmasked"
- Handbook: House Liao, p. 162, "Mówáng-class courier"
- The Price of Glory, chapter 23
- Mercenary's Star, chapter 14
- Mercenary's Star, chapter 5
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 10
- Decision at Thunder Rift
- Dance of Vengeance
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 26
- House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), p. 134