Category Archives: Community

Community Outreach – CJF Dolgfer Roshak And Lego BattleTech

Welcome to another edition of Community Outreach! For the first interview of the year, I reached out to Dolgfer Roshak, of the German Jade Falcon Clan. He’s been posting his Lego BattleMech build videos for years, and I wanted to know how many Lego ‘Mechs adorn his walls (spoiler: it’s a lot). I’ve personally always loved Lego, and the only thing that prevents me from buying a whole bunch of random bricks to build my own ‘Mechs is my complete lack of space. And time. And money. Sigh.

Anyway, enjoy!

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Community Outreach – How Michael Todd Met Robert N. Charrette

So in my earlier article, I mentioned that I got to speak to Robert Charrette thanks to Michael Todd, a BattleTech fan and historian who’s got his hands in a lot of personal projects (some of which we’ve even covered). Michael gave me what I felt to be a rather touching story of how he and Robert met, and I thought it was worth sharing in order to prove just how small of a BattleTech world we all live in. I’ll let Michael take it from here.

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Community Outreach – The Robert N. Charrette Collection

If you’re new to BattleTech, you might not know much about Robert N. Charrette. I hesitate to call him one of the founding fathers of BattleTech as that makes it seem like there’s some sort of sacred text out there, but maybe “formative” father would do just as well. Robert penned some of the earliest BattleTech fiction, including Wolves on the Border, Wolf Pack, and Heir to the Dragon, and he was perhaps the third BattleTech author I’d ever read. All those stories introduced iconic characters that would define an era in BattleTech history.

But turns out that fiction isn’t even half Charrette’s contribution to BattleTech. 

So this sort of just fell into my lap, and I have to first off thank Michael “Sigil” Todd for tossing it my way. You might remember Michael from his work on the unofficial BattleTech CCG expansion as well as the equally unofficial TRO: 3028. Michael also did a huge amount of work creating the BattleTech retrospective Unseen: A History of FASA, Battledroids and BattleTech, which if you haven’t seen you should really give a look as it might just be THE historical account of BattleTech. 

During his endeavor to get to the heart of the Unseen era of FASA history, Michael met Robert and struck up a friendship. Then when Robert needed to downsize his enormous BattleTech collection, Michael reached out to me to get the word out.

That’s when I found out that Robert is the guy who made the vast majority of the original sculpts for the BattleTech (or Battledroids, as it was called back then) tabletop game. Those ancient metal minis? Robert’s the guy who made them. 

Well, maybe not all of them, but most of them. And certainly some of the more iconic ‘Mechs such as the Phoenix Hawk, Warhammer, Rifleman, Marauder, Archer, Locust, Catapult, and even the now-legendary Urbanmech. Yes, we can thank Charrette for the first three-dimensional representation of the walking trash can. 

Robert’s collection has gotten to the point where it needs to shrink a bit, so he’s looking to off-load some of his more interesting artifacts. I was able to briefly chat about what’s being called the “Charrette Collection” and what Robert’s contribution to BattleTech in general. Enjoy. 

Battledroids Lance

via Robert N Charette


Sarna (Sean): Well, first of all, what’s this I hear about you off-loading all your BattleTech stuff? Are you abandoning BattleTech and all of its big-stompy-robot glory?

Robert N. Charrette: Not all, just most. My personal gaming interests have drifted away and I haven’t played with them in years, but BattleTech will always hold a special place in my heart.

Sarna: You’ve been a huge part of the BattleTech universe for decades. I personally have read all of your stories, but I’ve only just recently discovered that you’re the one responsible for most of BattleTech’s first-edition metal miniatures. What’s the story there? 

“BattleTech will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Robert: I believe Michael Todd covered that story in his history of BattleTech. In short, Ral Partha pitched doing miniatures to FASA when BattleDroids was released. There was some reluctance to have Ral Partha do them since they were not a specialized producer of mechanical miniatures, so a “proof of capability” model was to be produced and I got the assignment, being the most enthusiastic sculptor regarding – I believe the term of art is – big stompy robots.

Sarna: How does one get the job of creating miniatures for a nascent tabletop game?

Robert: Being in the right place at the right time and having the ability to do the work.

Sarna: Are there any particular favorites from that first set of minis you produced?

Robert: The BattleDroids? Has to be the Wasp/Stinger/Phoenix Hawk family as they all were derived from the “proof of concept” model.

Sarna: But back to the “Charrette Collection,” as it’s being called. What exactly are you offering?

via Robert N.Charette

Robert: Michael has kindly offered to help with the “downsizing” of my gaming collection. Naturally, with his interest in BT, we started there. The first offerings are a mix of items from my gaming collection, which I painted and based myself, and other, now vintage, BattleTech items that I had a hand in or managed to collect in those early days. I’m still looking for that box of BattleTech sourcebooks and such.

Sarna: How can people get in touch to put in a bid or offer for these items?

Robert: https://charrettecollection.square.site/

Sarna:  What are you up to these days? Anything else you’d like to share?

Robert:  Mostly non-gaming things. 

For about 15 years I have been heavily focused on studying Armizare, a resurrected medieval martial art written down in the early 15th century by Fiore Dei Liberi. I wrote a book on the pedagogy of the manuscript I study, give presentations on it to academics and taught classes on it at seminars across the country and in Canada, and have been slowly, laboriously progressing on a series of books relating to the understanding and practical practice of Armizare, in and out of armor.

I am also back at the modern version of what I started out doing before I took up sculpting: graphic layout work. Computers make it both easier and harder than the exacto knives and rubber cement I started with.

via Robert N. Charrette

You can check out The Charrette Collection over on his site here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of BattleTech history, and the miniatures are all beautifully painted too. I totally recommend you check it out.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Talking BattleTech Fiction with Philip A. Lee

A few weeks ago, Nic managed to catch up to prolific BattleTech writer Philip A. Lee at GenCon 2019, who graciously agreed to an interview. I’ve read a few of Philip’s stories, so it was my absolute pleasure to pick his brain on how he got into BattleTech, how he started writing BattleTech, and how he managed to kill a Jenner in the most hilarious way possible. Well, he didn’t really kill the Jenner, but it was still hilarious and you should read about it.

On top of that, we also get a grade A. Lee-preview of the next story we can expect from the prolific author. So once again, sit back, relax, and enjoy another story from the many corners of BattleTech.

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Clan Invasion Approaches $2 Million Stretch Goal, Teases UrbanMech Plushie

 

UrbanMech

So the Clan Invasion is barreling towards the $2 million milestone with about $50,000 to go as of the time of this writing (it will almost certainly be higher by the time this gets published, and hopefully be over the $2 million threshold). 

I think it’s safe to safe to say that this Kickstarter has been far more successful than anyone could have hoped. But in the waning hours of this crowdsourcing project, I come to you with a final desperate plea: we have to get over the $2 million mark.

Why? Two words: Plush. UrbanMechs.

In the utterly insane pace that this Kickstarter has been climbing, Catalyst has been adding more and more stretch goals. When it passed $1,500,000, backers unlocked the coveted Double Forces Rapid Redeployment, which allowed them to select what Star/Lance/Level II pack they’d prefer to receive rather than merely doubling whatever Star/Lance/Level II was unlocked at their backer level.

Then at $1,875,000, backers unlocked the “Beard-Off Rematch” which will see bearded Catalyst and Harebrained Schemes team members compete in a live-streamed tabletop game of BattleTech where the losers will ceremoniously remove their beards.

But the $2,000,000 mark is the true prize. The creme de la creme, the piece de resistance, the other-French-words-that-have-great-meaning-but-I-forget, is the UrbanMech plush toy.

I want it. I wasn’t going to back this Kickstarter. Even though I love BattleTech and certainly love the new designs that Catalyst has put out, I don’t really do much tabletop gaming. Worse, I don’t really have a whole lot of shelf space to display miniatures on, as pretty as they may be. 

But I don’t care. I will make space for an UrbanMech plush toy. I will store everything else in a box if I can cuddle an UrbanMech to sleep at night. I WILL REMOVE EVERY ANCILLARY PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED TO MY COMPUTER IN ORDER TO MAKE SPACE ON MY DESK IN ORDER TO BASK IN THE GLORY OF A PLUSH URBANMECH.

I have backed the Clan Invasion Kickstarter at the $75 USD level (which works out to something like $15,000 Canadian) in order to make this dream come true. I implore you all to do the same. If you have donated, up your donation. Convince your friends to donate, even if they’re not BattleTech fans. We have just two days left. Together, we can make the plush UrbanMech a reality.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MechCommander Gold – Darkest Hours Gets 4.0 Release

via RizZen

Happy New Year, ‘Mech fans! I have to start this year off with an apology: I caught wind of this story well before Christmas, but with the holiday rush, I just didn’t have time to give it the attention it so desperately deserves. But by golly, we’re getting to it now, because this is news that any die-hard MechCommander fan should hear.

The original MechCommander Gold has been updated and remastered for you retro-gaming pleasure.

via RizZen

courtesy of RizZen

It’s called MechCommander Gold – Darkest Hours (a take on the original’s Desperate Measures expansion) and it’s more than just a remaster. Darkest Hours also adds 20 new pilots, merges the original and expansion campaigns, and expands them to include so many more user-created missions that it’s practically a new game. Some of those original story missions have also been updated too, so even the familiar standbys will seem like a fresh new experience.

We have RizZen to thank for this labor of love that he’s been working on since 2017. He’s compiled a host of previous additions and user expansions to include in Darkest Hours and created several resolution updates so everything doesn’t appear all pixelated (although, true MechCommanders will play on the original 640×480 for the genuine experience).

I remember playing the crap out of MechCommander, to the point where I mastered the entire game with nothing more than a company of jumping Cougars. The expansion added Shadow Cats to my playthrough which gave me a considerable armor boost, and a twin-PPC Bushwhacker build was easily my most favorite for an Inner Sphere-only playthrough.

via RizZen

The fine folks over at No Guts No Galaxy have provided hosting for Darkest Hours’ game files, but that’s not all! There’s also a huge player’s guide section that will provide new players with all the information they need to jump into this classic game. Veterans will find value in the guide too in order to handle all the new missions that have been added.

So start your 2019 off right with a retro experience unlike any other. Darkest Hours works on Windows 10 all the way back to Windows XP (something that even Microsoft can’t say) so even the most potato-like of machines can get this game running.

And as always, MechCommanders: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Artist Photoshops ‘Mechs Into Classic Paintings, And The Results Are Hilarious

Apologies for the relatively click-baity title, but it sort of fell out of my head and it’s very descriptive. Plus, most of it comes from the Reddit thread where I found these works of art, so I can’t be entirely held responsible.

That argument holds up in court, right?

We have Reddit user TheTwist to thank for taking time out of his life to take some old MechWarrior Online clipart and paste it into even older classic paintings. Actually, that’s selling his work short: these were previously extremely detailed marketing drawings, and making them look like super old oil paintings must have taken a lot of work.

We’ll start with what will obviously be a fan favorite simply for including an UrbanMech, the most mysteriously popular ‘Mech in all of Battletech. Somehow, the Confederates seem to have gotten hold of 31st-century technology and are using it to hold on to… some sort of school. Maybe a church? I know nothing of this painting, and as a proud Canuck, next to nothing about the American Civil War.

So I reached out the artist themself and got the lowdown on how they did it. The painting is called “Tomorrow We Must Attack” by Dale Gallon, and depicts General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson plotting before some sort of battle. Probably the one that they lost. Whichever battle that was. 

Moving on to another fan fav, the Atlas here is plunked straight in the middle of Vimy Ridge, a battle that as a Canadian I can take some particular pride for remembering the name. The painting is descriptively called “Battle of Vimy Ridge” by Richard Jack and shows the Canadian Corps bombarding the German-held ridge just before the Canuck’s relentless advance.

Somehow, I think the Canadians would have had less success if the Germans had a lance of Atlases on their side.

Next is “The War of the Worlds” by Terrence Cuneo, which was actually used as the cover art for an edition of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. The Kodiak you see getting hit by a 24-pound artillery round would normally be a Martian walker, but somehow a giant Ghost Bear assault ‘Mech seems far more menacing.

In “Battle of the Somme: Attack of the Ulster Division” by J. P. Beadle, we see a Locust supporting British troops just as they head over the top, as they used to say. Instead of the first ever tanks deployed in military combat, we see a 20-ton scout ‘Mech. One wonders which would be more effective.

Ravens

“Trooping the Colour,” another painting by Terrence Cuneo, shows the British military on parade back when the British military still had parades. It somehow really fits the twin Ravens, which would surely appear in military parades in Liao space.

Finally, we have “The Tirailleurs De La Seine At The Battle Of Rueil Malmaison” by Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour. This one actually shows a scene from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, with the Centurion lending support with its twin Medium Lasers.

I think these are great, and maybe even worthy of a desktop background if they could come in higher resolution. Which they do on TheTwist’s Imgur page, but not quite enough to be in HD. Still, a little blurring of the lines would only improve the effect of inserting a giant robot into historical battle paintings.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

The Art of War – An Interview with Matthew Plog, BattleTech Artist

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. That saying applies indescribably well to BattleTech. From the clean, sleek lines of scout ‘Mechs and vehicles to the thundering awesomeness of the largest assault machines, art brings the turmoil of the BattleTech universe to life. The images in our TRO’s and Source books lets us imagine these gargantuan machines storming across the battlefields of the Inner Sphere.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with one of this generation’s best BattleTech artists, Matthew Plog. Matthew was gracious enough to take some time out of his day to answer a few questions that gives us a glimpse into the mind of an artist and the workings of creating awesome BattleTech art.


Martin (Sarna): Let’s start from the very beginning, for all those budding artists out there who may read this. Where did you study art?

Matthew: First off I had a very creative mother and she was of course very encouraging to her young son.  Now that that’s out of the way :), I received my more formal art education in New Jersey at the Joe Kubert School for cartoon and Graphic design. 95-98′.

Martin (Sarna): It’s great on many levels to have that family connection to your passion. What got you interested in designing BattleTech equipment?

Matthew: I’d always loved machines, robots, tanks and the like.  Started with Saturday morning and weekday cartoons.  Ranging from G.I. Joe and all their gear to Voltron, Tranzor Z, even Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.  Anything along those lines fed what I liked, and thus made me like that kind of thing even more.

Martin (Sarna): There are some great blasts from the past there and lots to draw from for inspiration. So what was your first experience with BattleTech work?

Matthew: Well, after time things get fuzzy.  I know I started picking up work with FASA, who owned BattleTech at the time, directly from school.  I believe it may have been work in one of the Battleforce boxed sets, BF2 if I recall correctly.  That was mostly just introductory type work and shortly thereafter I got a big slice of the TRO3060 roster.  As far as the experience goes, working with the BattleTech guys was always good.  They knew what they were after, knew the right things to say to get it, and usually paid on time.;)

Martin (Sarna): As a writer I find it easy working with words. As an artist and with only words to work with, how do you go about transforming those words into drawings?

Matthew: Having everything I’m doing take place in a universe that has already been established helps.  It gives you the framework.  But the words do the same thing to non-artists that they do to artists, we hear something, we see it in our head.  We just have the ability to get it back out.  Plus almost nothing ever gets to its end state on the first go. There’s almost always something that gets missed or minimized when it should be far more evident.  That’s why we have art editors.

Martin (Sarna): Can you describe your design creation process? Do you typically start from the ground up (literally) or work from the head down?

Matthew: Such things often end up being on a case by case.  If there’s an important structure to whatever I’m drawing I’ll start there.  But if we’re just talking general ‘Mechs then I start from the inside out.  Since the universe has an established set of rules for its technology they tend to follow biological rules a bit.  What with artificial muscle and man-mind controls.  So typically an arm is an arm and a leg, other.  Having fun with the sliders in the BT universe between straight machine look and more manlike is usually one of the fun parts of design.  But usually the most important thing when designing is to remember what rules you’re supposed to be following.  That tends to make the difference.  Of course, also when to ignore them.

Martin (Sarna): You create a lot of excellent commissioned art, particularly via DeviantArt. What’s the thrill for you in doing this type of work as opposed to an entirely new creation?

Matthew: BattleTech fans have always been a fine bunch to do business with, so they make it fairly easy.  Drawing something different every time has its appeal.  I’m unlikely to be able to complain of stagnation, at least on a one to one basis.

Martin (Sarna): Between business and commissioned requests it sounds like you’re kept pretty busy. Do you have a lot of back-work waiting to see the light of day or do you create upon request?

Matthew: There are some personal projects still in sketchy stages, but generally I share everything that I’d consider “done”.  Usually a good idea to show off the latest commissions and such.  But when I’m not working on one of them, likely I’m doodling something else for sure.

Martin (Sarna): Do you play BattleTech? If so for how long and how often?

Matthew: I haven’t played the actual board game version in every part of 15 years but I still love the miniatures, buying and painting them.  In keeping with the tone set by the first time I ever heard “BattleTech” I’ve played it most recently in the computerized form.  I played MechWarrior Online for a bit and am looking forward to trying out the BattleTech turn based game as well.

Martin (Sarna): I can vouch that the latest BattleTech game by Harebrained Schemes is well worth the time and money. I hope you have a lot of fun playing it and we would love to hear about your experiences with it in the future.

Thanks very much for your time, Matt. It’s very interesting to get a little glimpse behind the curtain of a well-established BattleTech artist. We all look forward to seeing more of your work in the near future.


For those of you wanting to keep up to date with Matt’s work (and you absolutely should!) or contact him about commission work, you can follow his DeviantArt account here: MattPLOG on DeviantArt

Original BattleTech Pods In Grand Rapids Michigan Moving To New Dedicated Site

courtesy of Virtual World Entertainment

courtesy of Virtual World Entertainment

Some original BattleTech Center virtual reality pods are moving to a new dedicated “Pod Site” in Grand Rapids Michigan.

Those old enough to remember the Virtual World Entertainment pods will be happy to hear that they’re alive and well, and the set located in Michigan are migrating to a new location where they will continue to be tweaked, preserved, and even played in.

A few weeks ago, current Virtual World Entertainment owner Nickolas “PropWash” Smith posted to the BattleTech subreddit that he’ll be taking a contingent of the original BattleTech: Firestorm pods from their current storage location and bringing them to a dedicated pod site in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previously, your best opportunity to get insides one of these delightful relics was to go to one of the many conventions where Nick and the gang bring their portable pods. However, with the new site, you’ll have a chance to get a real taste of what it’s like to be in a “real” ‘Mech cockpit–minus the oppressive heat and need for a neurohelmet of course.

courtesy of Virtual World Entertainment

For those not old enough to remember, Virtual World Entertainment was the FASA off-shoot that dealt with turning the games that FASA made into “location-based entertainment experiences,” more commonly referred to as arcade games. They had a pretty nice heyday throughout the ‘90s, but as the demand for arcades began to wane in the early 2000’s (combined with FASA’s decision to abruptly cease operations in 2001), Virtual World was put up for sale.

Microsoft first acquired Virtual World Entertainment along with FASA Interactive, but then they sold Virtual World again to an investment group.

At the time, these simulator pods were state of the art arcade games that an investment firm would have seen no value except to sell for scrap. Some pods almost certainly were scrapped, but a concerted effort from Virtual World owners and a dedicated player community managed to save most of these pods from the scrap yard.

And while there are multiple former Virtual World pods out there operated by several different groups, the original Virtual World Entertainment company continues to remain operational under the ownership of one Nickolas Smith. Nick purchased the company in 2005 and has dutifully safeguarded these priceless pieces of real-life Lostech for 20 years.

courtesy of VGLU on Facebook

And upgraded them. The pods themselves weren’t originally meant to be carried from convention to convention, and only with diligent work from many dedicated enthusiasts were they able to become portable. This allowed Nick (as well as others pod owners) to bring their hardware to various BattleTech conventions.

Between conventions, these Michigan based pods were initially kept in storage at Nick’s house–a far cry from the public arcades they used to be found in. I myself remember getting my first lick at a BattleTech pod from a Dave and Buster’s over a decade ago. I’m nowhere near a convention that BattleTech is featured at, so without an arcade, I’d have never been able to enjoy pulling levers and pushing pedals as though I were a real ‘Mech pilot.

Obviously, keeping a bunch of VWE pods at a random house in Michigan is less than ideal. Nick moved his cockpits to Grand Rapids in 2010 and put them under the care of Jeff Perry at the Big Kidz Games retail store. Now they’re being moved to a new site storage in Grand Rapids that will open during select special events for public play or by private reservation. The new location will be called the Virtual Geographic League Underground, or VGLU for short–a call back to the fictional Virtual World origins story.

I had a chance to speak to Nick recently, and he says that the new location will operate by word of mouth and social media–sort of like a modern speakeasy. If you follow the Virtual World Entertainment Facebook group (or the VGLU Facebook group) then you’ll be able to ask how and when you can get your hands behind the control sticks of a piece of BattleTech history.

Currently there are 18 pods, all running both BattleTech: Firestorm–that’s the one based on MechWarrior 4. But these pods are running far more than the original software. They’ve been tweaked, modded, and improved beyond what you might remember. All the original ‘Mechs are still there, but there are also the MekTek ‘Mech Packs that expanded the MechWarrior 4 arsenal to over 100 chassis, and even more custom designs added after that.

The new Grand Rapids site will open during Brocktoberfest on October 12th through 14th (Brocktoberfest being a reference to the game Red Planet that I didn’t understand beyond the fact that Red Planet was another game run on the Virtual World pods). The best way to get involved is via the Facebook groups I linked above.

And while you’re there, consider making a donation–these pods are kept alive and even improved thanks to the hard work of some dedicated individuals, but MacGyvering replacement parts in an ever-dwindling supply can get expensive.

For those not in the Michigan area, there are plenty of other locations to try out these incredible machines, including locations in Albuquerque, Houston, Minneapolis, and a site recently opened in Montreal, Canada. Check out the link here for specific locations.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Fidelis, Stone, The ilClan? Oh, my!

Warning: potentially accurate theory regarding upcoming novels below.

Blaine Lee Pardoe, author of numerous BattleTech novels and source books, recently reported in his blog about a third BattleTech novella he is writing. The story, focusing on Wolf’s Dragoons, is scheduled for release in 2019, following two other novellas from Mr Pardoe, The Anvil and Forever Faithful.

We know that Forever Faithful will center on the Smoke Jaguars after their downfall in Twilight of the Clans and follow them through, I believe, to the ilClan era. We also know that Clan Goliath Scorpion will feature. It’s common knowledge that the last of the Smoke Jaguar warrior caste created the “Fidelis” (a Latin word meaning Faithful) and this elite force served the Republic of the Sphere following the Jihad. The name taken by the Smoke Jaguars, and the title of their upcoming novella, Forever Faithful, are unusual choices for a Clan that was known to openly mock mysticism. To what, exactly, are they “faithful”?

In his blog, Mr Pardoe hints at a number of “seeds planted” that tie in to a “big story arc”. There has been an incredible amount of fan speculation as to what this could mean and a number of conspiracy theories regularly pop up. I’m going to weigh in here with a few thoughts of my own that may or may not coincide with others.

I’ll start by tackling two with one blow: the Fidelis and Devlin Stone. Who the Fidelis are is well known. Why they had such a change in ideals is not. Also shrouded in mystery is the “debt” that they apparently repaid, granting them their release from Republic service in 3150. It seems clear that something significant happened resulting in a major shift in the Smoke Jaguars’ ideals. The annihilation of their Clan is major, of course, but would this alone really cause a transformation from aggressively martial (almost to the point of barbarism) to a more faith-based mind set?

The answer to that is hidden within the identity of the person who gave them their freedom: Devlin Stone.

There are many theories, and still so much mystery, surrounding who Devlin Stone really is. One idea that has crossed my mind (and it’s by no means an original one, I’m sure), is that Devlin Stone was created in an Iron Womb. There are certain links – tenuous I’ll grant you – that may suggest that at least part of Devlin Stone’s DNA came from Nicholas Kerensky. Let’s have a look at some of these:

  • Both have a very charismatic leadership style, politically and militarily;
  • Devlin Stone created his Republic from the Terran Hegemony;
  • Both have an affinity for the Atlas II, with Nicholas piloting an Atlas II throughout his Clan life,
  • They are eerily similar in their portraits;

  • But possibly the most telling of all – the control that Devlin exerted over the Smoke Jaguars.

If Devlin knows of his origins and imparted that knowledge to the remnants of Smoke Jaguar, that would cause the marked change in their philosophy that we have witnessed. Additionally, the “debt” that the Jaguars, in the guise of the Fidelis, owed could well be the ideals they held when invading the Inner Sphere. If Aleksandr’s wish was for a peaceful return to the Inner Sphere, and his son held to that vision, then the Jaguars’ methods were in direct contravention of that. If Devlin is being perceived as “The Great Father Reborn” then that could account for their shift.

On the subject of Aleksandr, the “Smoke Jaguar Remembrance” (also titled “The Unopened Work”) states the following (from the Dark Age novel Surrender your Dreams):

The betrayers came and claimed to be our friends. The Custos knew better. He trusted them only as much as necessary. When we learned of their betrayal, he changed us forever. He taught us that freedom, with rules and guidelines, was the key to our survival. We shed the old ways that held us back. We found The Republic and tied our future to the Great Father – Stone.

 Here they actually refer to Devlin Stone as the Great Father. That is a title that has only ever been reserved for Aleksandr Kerensky among the Clans. Coincidence or one of those planted seeds? Could it be that Devlin Stone is an amalgamation of the DNA of both Aleksandr and Nicholas?

And who are these “betrayers” that this passage refers to? It could be the Word of Blake, though the passage suggests that there was some trust between them and the fact that the Smoke Jaguars were imprisoned in Blakist re-education camps suggests that no trust was evident there.

That leads me to another possibility: The Blood. Whether it is to be believed or not, the sourcebook Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents tells of contact between ComStar and Clan Wolverine during that Clan’s flight from the Homeworlds. The tale goes on to suggest that these Wolverines become “The Blood”, a fanatical group that was originally led and shaped by a person called “Marillier”. If these Blood are descendants of Clan Wolverine and form(ed) the core of Word of Blake, it would make sense that the Jaguars sought any way to eradicate them, even joining the Republic’s crusade. This also supports the Devlin Stone/Nicholas Kerensky connection and Devlin’s drive to wipe out the Blakists.

And that leads us right back to the aforementioned novella featuring Wolf’s Dragoons and, potentially, the ilClan. If there is a Kerensky on Terra, will we see Clan Wolf become the ilClan and will Wolf’s Dragoons finally be “coming home”? It’s all speculation, of course, and even if none of it is accurate it can be fun to theorize. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments below.