Category Archives: Novels

June News Roundup 2020 – Supplemental

Yeah, I know, we just had our June news dump, but a few things came up that I really didn’t want to push off until July. They’re kinda big deals, hence we have a “supplemental” addition to our June news.

So, without further adieu…

New Trailer For MechWarrior 5 DLC, Heroes Of The Inner Sphere

We heard about this DLC back in April, and now we get to see it in action. All seven new ‘Mechs are showcased in this trailer, which includes the Corsair, Champion, Dervish, Charger, Hatamoto-Chi, Vulcan, and Marauder II. I’m personally very excited about the Dervish, which I think would make a great early-game machine and a decent ride to throw my lancemates.

There’s also a brand new moon biome on display here that looks pretty danged good. Suspiciously good, in fact. I’m wondering if this DLC might have a few lighting improvements to MechWarrior 5’s engine.

And right at the end there? Infantry! Finally, MechWarrior 5 will feel more like a real world that is inhabited by humans and not just giant stomping death machines and the occasional tank.

Corsair

And as a quick recap, this DLC isn’t just about adding new ‘Mechs. Heroes of the Inner Sphere will add new warzones, quests, missions, and an expanded map of the Inner Sphere. The centerpiece is seven new quests that tell the stories of seven heroes along with their unique ‘Mechs.

Might those be the seven ‘Mechs that were just showcased in the video? Or will we see the tale of Grayson Carlyle and his Marauder? We’ll find out… later. There’s no release date and PGI isn’t even going to guess at a release window, so patience is a virtue here.

Catalyst Announces Two New Books And A Delay

Grey Watch Protocol

Gosh, Catalyst has a lot going on this month. Good news first: we got two new novels to pre-order. First is Grey Watch Protocol: The Highlander Covenant vol. 1, and the second is Jennifer Brozek’s Ghost Hour: Rogue Academy vol. 2. Both are available for pre-order now and will be delivered in digital format on June 26, which may or may not be after the date of this publication. If I’m late, I blame my editor.

Ghost Hour

Now the bad news: Technical Readout: Golden Century has been pushed back a few weeks. Originally scheduled to release this month, it’s been pushed back so that it can release in both PDF and print-on-demand format at the same time. If all goes well, Catalyst will also release other landscape-format products in the same way such as the upcoming Technical Readout: Irregulars and possibly even past TROs.

And a bit of more good news: Recognition Guide: IlClan vol. 2 is still on track to release next Friday, July 3rd.

Alright, that’s it for June. For realsies this time.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For May 2020

Hey, it’s May, and BattleTech is pretty okay! Sorry, that’s the best I could do to complete the rhyme.

Today, we’re going to completely ignore coronavirus just like an anti-lockdown protester and instead focus on all that’s still good in this world. And as we all know, the only things that are good are giant stompy robots.

Welcome to your BattleTech news roundup for the month of May. Let’s get this party started.

PGI Is Hiring For MechWarrior 5 Development

Katapult

We begin our monthly roundup with some big news from MechWarrior 5 developer PGI. They’re hiring! Eight new positions have opened up at PGI, including some pretty senior technical positions like Level Designer, Principal Animator, and Senior Game Designer.

As some of you know, PGI is also the development studio behind MechWarrior Online, but these positions are all calling for Unreal 4 Engine experience, and that means MechWarrior 5. MechWarrior Online runs on Crytek, an engine that’s both much older and much worse than Unreal 4. Think of Crytek as the Java of game engines–inefficient and nobody really uses it anymore.

I kid! Please don’t send me angry emails filled with Java code that will ruin my computer if I ever accidentally click the attached files.

Anyway, the fact that these are very key positions that are looking to be filled sort of implies that PGI might have lost a few people after the launch of MechWarrior 5. There’s no way you can make a game like MW5 without an Animation Lead or a Level Designer, so I’m thinking that those folks peaced-out after the game launched last year.

As we found out last month, PGI is delaying the release of MechWarrior 5‘s first DLC pack, and these empty positions might have something to do with it. That and the sudden shift to working from home and the up-ending of the global economy.

Benefits of working at PGI include flexible schedules, comprehensive benefits, and beer Fridays. Although, with everyone working from home, every day could be beer Friday. I’m having a beer Friday right now!

We Got Two New BattleTech Books!

May is turning out to be the month of BattleTech fiction for 2020. We’ve got two new novellas to tide us over until the release of IlClan, and both of them deal with events leading up to the ascendancy of Clan Wolf (I’m guessing–I don’t actually have any inside leads with Catalyst on plot development).

Shell Games

First, we have Jason Schmetzer with Shell Games. This book has to do with the Republic of the Sphere‘s incursion into Draconis space following the fall of Fortress Republic. Paladin Max Ergen sets out to capture Dieron, a Draconis district capital and home of the Dieron Regulars, but Warlord Kambei Okamoto won’t let the planet fall without one hell of a fight.

Renowned BattleTech author Blaine Lee Pardoe did a review of the story on his site, and said that “Schmetzer does a great job of taking two paragraphs of sourcebook and turning them into a story of characters, strategy, and honorable struggle.”

Speaking of Pardoe, he’s got his own book out now that also deals with Dark Age-era events. This time the focus is on Wolf’s Dragoons, the storied mercenary company that we all thought was done for after Outreach got nuked during the Jihad. They’re actually still around, and they even have a few regiments operating by the time the Fortress Wall fell.

In Divided We Fall, Alaric Wolf tries to convince Wolf’s Dragoons to return to the Clan that spawned them by sending an envoy: Marotta Kerensky. Will the Dragoons once again become Wolves, or will they keep fighting for the freedom of the Inner Sphere against Clan aggression?

Pardoe gave us a teaser earlier this month, treating us to a brand new ‘Mech on the cover of his book. It’s called the Dominator,  apparently the brainchild of Pardoe with a few tweaks by BattleTech art director Brent Evans. Speculating based on its appearance, its armament consists of an SRM-6, a PPC, either a Large or Medium laser in the right shoulder, and a rear-facing Small laser (which Pardoe confirmed in the teaser). Class, weight, and movement profile are unknown, but given the Linebacker right beside it, I’m guessing it’s on the heavier side of Medium-class.

Both Shell Games and Divided We Fall are available now wherever fine e-books are sold. Or you can just follow these links.

Pardoe Also Did A Fun Jihad And Dark Age Summary

Jihad

Not every BattleTech fan has kept up to date with current events. Some of them don’t know their Reaving from their Jihad from their Dark Age. That’s fine; Blaine is here with a fantastic way of getting lapsed BattleTech fans up to date.

Pardoe wrote a hilariously snarky TLDR of all the BattleTech events following the FedCom Civil War, from Jihad all the way to the fall of Fortress Republic.

“Almost all of the major characters, mercenary units, and a few billion passersby are killed in a fate worse than death: killed ala sourcebook footnote,” writes Pardoe, followed up by this gem about Inner Sphere savior Devlin Stone: “Stone wears a ball cap that says, ‘Make the Inner Sphere Great Again!’ – true story!”

You should read the whole thing over on his website, and also direct any BattleTech fan you know to bookmark it for future reference. And even if you already know the full series of events, it’s still well worth a read.

New Night Vision Mod Greatly Enhances Your Ability To See In The Dark In MechWarrior 5

Consider this a little preview for an article I’ve been pondering on just what mods you should get for MechWarrior 5. Mod support is perhaps the best thing about the latest MechWarrior game, and mods vastly improve MechWarrior 5 over the vanilla experience.

For example, night vision. The base game’s night vision is pathetic–you can barely see past your Atlas‘s big toe. With the Clear Night Vision mod on, you can see everything through two different choices of night vision. You can set your ‘Mech’s HUD to produce that typical green glow that society has come to readily associate with night vision since the Gulf War, or you can get a full-colored version that more readily approximates current technologies.

Phil at No Guts No Galaxy recently reviewed the mod, and I gotta say, the difference is night and day. I’ll show myself out…

Check out the mod in the video above, and stay tuned for a list of essential MechWarrior 5 mods.

Part 2 Of Tex Talks BattleTech’s Primer On The Clans Is Out Now

I’ve talked to Tex before about his video series which has only grown in popularity since then (not saying I might’ve had something to do with it or anything; his work stands for itself). His Clans Primer is probably the best work produced by the Black Pants Legion to date, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Part 2 ever since. It’s only fitting that it was released on May 20, just in time for the anniversary of the Battle of Tukayyid.

It’s hard to give spoilers for a story that you already know the ending to, but if you watch any Tex Talks BattleTech, watch this one. And then go back and watch the rest.

And speaking of Tukayyid…

Metal Core Collectibles Is Hosting An Anniversary Sale

Metal Core Collectibles

I’ve seen this guy post on the BattleTech subreddit a few times and have always been impressed by his work. If you’re not aware, Metal Core Collectibles is a series of not-quite BattleTech figures that are sort of like Mech Merc Commander from last week–BattleTech-inspired without actually having the license. They’re definitely made by a BattleTech fan though, and that shines through in the designs. I mean, there’s even a hex map in the background of most of the site’s images.

As far as I can tell, Metal Core Collectibles’ two designs–the Hammerhead and the Tyrant–are basically fan designs that somehow grew into their very own custom figurines. Both the Tyrant and the Hammerhead come in multiple variants so that you can get one with the weapons you want, and there’s a whole bunch of tanks, APCs, and choppers to buy too.

Personally, I really like the Tyrant. It looks like a Centurion-style medium ‘Mech, and I’ve always appreciated workhorse designs like that. I’m not sure if BattleTech-appropriate specs even exist for it, but it still tickles my love for giant robots.

And since Metal Core is owned by a BattleTech fan, they’re also hosting a sale in honor of both their first anniversary in operation and the Battle of Tukayyid. That’s 25% off anything in-store from now until May 27 using the code “Tukayyid2020”. Go check ‘em out.

That’s it for May! Join me next time as we explore what fresh hell June has in store for us.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Randall N. Bills Pens Free Novella For MechWarrior 5

Yes, I know the big news is that MechWarrior 5 is out, but that doesn’t mean I’ve completely lost sight of everything. I mentioned in my earlier piece that MechWarrior 5 might be light on story, but you know what’s not light on story? An actual story that was written as a prelude to MechWarrior 5

Also, it’s free to everyone and not just MechWarrior 5 owners. 

It’s called the MechWarrior 5 Origin Series, and you can find it on the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries website in 8 installments. Written by Randall N. Bills (whom you might know from his six previous BattleTech novels and as the guy involved in BattleTech development for over 20 years), the eight-part novella tells the story of Nikolai Mason and how he came to create Nik’s Cavaliers, the mercenary company you take over in MechWarrior 5.

Any amount of BattleTech fiction is, of course, a welcome addition, but a free novella? Free is the best price of all.

You can head on over to the MW5 website to download the novella’s 8 parts in either mobi or epub formats. Or you can get it from various online retailers for exactly $0.00. I think it’s pretty spectacular that someone managed to convince Indigo to host a novel for exactly zero pay.

The Origin Series also goes a long way to fixing one of the larger omissions from MechWarrior 5. I know that the game is geared towards getting action fans into a ‘Mech simulator game, but BattleTech fans still prefer to have a bit of backstory. Motivation is key, and with the game set during the “in-between” eras means that there are no galaxy-spanning conflicts to insert ourselves into.

If you use a Kindle (like I do), use the DriveThruFiction download link. That’ll get you set up. For everyone else, you can download your own e-reader to your phone, use the online store of preference, or just murder a tree by printing the whole thing out on paper. I personally prefer the less herbicidal approach, but you do you.

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.

Continue reading

Catalyst Releases New Map Pack, New Fiction From Michael Stackpole In March Update

Catalyst Releases New Map Pack, New Fiction From Michael Stackpole In March Update

Catalyst has announced more new products to continue BattleTech’s 35th-anniversary celebrations.

Hello again, ‘Mech fans! We’re back with another update from Catalyst Games as they’ve announced new products to add to the successful release of the latest box sets, starting with the previously mentioned new map packs.

The first new map pack is simple called “Grasslands”, and as the name implies, it’s all about fighting on generally flat, grassy plains. Not a whole lot of difficult terrain, forests, or water to get in the way of a good slugfest here. Just a good, old fashioned, stand-up shootout.

Grasslands comes on 6, double-sided, 17″ x 22″ paper sheets, which means there’s actually 12 maps total. Each map can be flipped and swapped to either side and then lined up to make whatever grassy battlefield you desire. All maps feature the new art aesthetic that’s showcased in the new box sets, and 10 of those maps are brand new, never-before-seen designs.

You can pick up Grasslands for $29.99 on the Catalyst store, or wait until April 17th for them to arrive at your local games retailer.

Next up is an even more exciting map pack called BattleMaps. These are 4, larger, neoprene maps that come in 4 different flavors: Desert, Lunar, Alpine, and Savannah. But wait, that’s not all! On the other side of these maps are the Grasslands maps, so you get to double your battlefield possibilities.

Each BattleMap is 36″ x 22″ and is only available on the Catalyst web store. Each one sells for $29.99, but you pay for durability on these bad boys.

Along with new maps comes new fiction. Everyone’s favorite Michael Stackpole is back with a trilogy of new short stories that describe the Kell Hounds’ founding an early years as Morgan and Patrick Kell fought tooth and nail to create their own mercenary company.

The first book is entitled Way the Smart Money Bets and is available now, while A Tiny Spot of Rebellion arrives March 22nd. A Clever Bit of Fiction concludes the trilogy on March 27th. Each is available for $3.99 wherever good e-books are sold. Sorry, no paper release is yet planned for this trilogy.

We’ll conclude this bit of BattleTech consumerism with a bit of an update on the Beginner Box Set, which is back in stock online and in store. The reprinted Total Warfare manual is now out of stock, but a reprint is underway, while the reprinted TechManual is currently available online but not quite yet available in print–but Catalyst expects to have it available soon.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Forever Faithful, Blaine Lee Pardoe’s Latest BattleTech Novel, Now Available For Pre-Order

Forever Faithful

Blaine Lee Pardoe has announced his latest BattleTech novel is officially available for pre-order.

Has it been a hot minute since the latest BattleTech novel? It sure feels that way. The last full BattleTech book I read was The Nelus Academy Incident and before that another Pardoe masterpiece in Betrayal of Ideals.

Now Monsieur Pardoe has returned, but instead of telling the tale of the late, great Clan Wolverine, we get to hear the story of another dead Clan, the Smoke Jaguars.

As we all know by now (and if you don’t know, SPOILER ALERT), the Smoky Kitties bought the big one at the end of Operation Serpent, which you can read all about in the Twilight of the Clans series and is probably the best stretch of BattleTech fiction you’ll ever read.

But while the Smoke Jaguars were erased as a Clan, that doesn’t mean everyone that used to comprise the once great Clan completely disappeared. Scientist, technician, merchant, and laborer castes all were taken in by various Inner Sphere states and rival Clans, and the fallen Smoke Jaguar warriors who survived escaped to form various bandit groups.

But not all them. One, a Smoke Jaguar MechWarrior instrumental in the fall of his own Clan, survived the battle of Huntress. We never did find out what happened to Trent at the end of Twilight of the Clans, and now we’ll have Pardoe tell the rest of his story as well as the tales of several others.

Forever Faithful

From his personal blog, we get the first draft of the back cover for Forever Faithful:

“One is the traitor that brought the enemy to their doorstep: one is the Smoke Jaguar who was tasked with rallying them and failed; one is a Nova Cat Warrior with a vision of their true role in history; and the other is from Clan Goliath Scorpion who wants to harvest their remnants as museum exhibits.”

This was apparently edited and will not be exactly what we see on the back of Forever Faithful (if you see a back at all since I’ve certainly gone digital for my reading these days), but it gives us an idea of what we’re in for.

Apparently, this novel is a sort of successor to Surrender Your Dreams, a Dark Age novel that delves into the Fidelis, a special forces warrior sect within The Republic of the Sphere. Pardoe describes in his blog post that there was apparently a lot of debate following that novel as to just who the Fidelis were, and he pretty much just up and confirms that they are indeed Some Jaguar survivors.

There’s more behind-the-scenes stuff over on his blog post, which you should definitely read. And pre-order his book on Amazon or wherever you prefer to get your reading material.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Catalyst Announces 35th Anniversary BattleTech With New Available Products

35th Anniversary

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Catalyst Game Labs is celebrating 35 years of BattleTech with a huge release of new products.

Way back in 1984, FASA corporation created a game universe that would inspire countless novels, sourcebooks, and video games. Well, actually, not all that countless, but I’ve never bothered counting them all, and I’m sure it’s a very high number.

To celebrate BattleTech’s 35th birthday, Catalyst Game Labs–the lovable rapscallions that serve as arbitrators of BattleTech lore and it’s tabletop roots–are giving in fully to their capitalist urges and holding a massive release of some exciting new products.

On Wednesday, January 23rd, a bunch of items went up for grabs on Catalyst’s website and in your local games retailer, starting with the box sets. Both the Beginner Box Set and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat will be available in-store and online starting on Wednesday.

That’s not all: Shattered Fortress will also be available in major retailers on January 23rd, and is already available on Catalysts’ website (and has been for a few weeks now). On top of that, a 35th Anniversary Edition of the BattleTech Manual will hit Catalyst’s online store which features all previous errata and the coveted 35th-anniversary logo.

Look at that Warhammer. Doesn’t she look pretty? Wouldn’t you like one on a t-shirt or something?

Well, good news! Catalyst has developed a mind-reading machine that can also see into the future and has prepared a bunch of 35th-anniversary merch with that same Warhammer logo! That includes a t-shirt, hoodie, and a pin for when you’re forced to be fancy but still want to show your love of BattleTech to the world.

And the Warrior Trilogy is back in stores for an anniversary edition PDF or Print on Demand. I’ve read all those stories twice now, so it’s a little less interesting to me, but if you haven’t read them before, you really should.

Now, normally we stick with BattleTech related items on Sarna, what with it being a BattleTech wiki and all, but Catalyst also watches over Shadowrun which is another FASA-born universe that I have much love for. If only the rules weren’t a complicated mess in desperate need of some D&D 5th edition simplification, I’d be playing it as my tabletop RPG every week.

It’s also Shadowrun’s 30th anniversary, so Catalyst has a bunch of new PDF sourcebooks and merch on sale too. A unique 30th-anniversary logo adorns a t-shirt, hoodie, and pin just as with the BattleTech merch, allowing you to show your love of the Sixth World in style.

Full details can be found over on Catalyst’s website.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – Interview with Jennifer Brozek, Author Of “The Nellus Academy Incident”

Catalyst Announces New YA BattleTech Novels

courtesy of Amazon

Welcome to another episode of Community Outreach! The famous and handsome owner of Sarna.net recently went down to Gen Con and had a chance to speak with Jennifer Brozek, author of The Nellus Academy Incident as well as the upcoming Rogue Trilogy of YA BattleTech novels. Using his rugged good looks and amazing charm he somehow convinced her to agree to an interview, which must’ve made the fact the interview was done by me all the more disappointing. 

Disappointment aside, Jennifer brings a new voice to the BattleTech narrative. We chat about how she got roped into writing about giant stompy robots and how important it is to include death in a YA novel. Enjoy! Continue reading

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.

Blaine Lee Pardoe Provides Some Clues On His Next Book

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that The Anvil was the Dragoons novella. I have it on very good authority that this is actually incorrect, and that The Anvil is a completely separate book. So that would be three books total. Math is hard.

Blaine Lee Pardoe has just completed his first edit pass on his latest BattleTech novella. We know this because he said as much on one of his most recent Twitter posts.

But we got even more info from his blog, which told us that the new book will center around everyone’s favorite mercenary army, Wolf’s Dragoons.

Unfortunately, as this is a book that’s yet to be released, Mr. Pardoe was unable to spill all the beans, but he was able to give us a few tantalizing tidbits–as well as a look behind the writing curtain–in the form of an impromptu Q&A session between himself and the many BattleTech fans who email him on a daily basis.

The first question had to do with how he actually plans out a battle between the towering behemoths we call ‘Mechs and whether or not he uses the tabletop as a starting point. I’ve always wondered about this personally–whether or not the great BattleTech writers actually sit down and play out every war from start to finish with friends, or if they even boot up some old-school vidya games to gain inspiration that way.

In Pardoe’s case, the short answer to either possibility is ‘no.’

“I do not put ‘Mechs on a map, fight a battle, then document it,” Mr. Pardoe wrote. “Why? Because I believe that the characters, not the battle, need to drive the story.” I couldn’t agree more.

He did admit to tracking damage with actual damage sheets from the tabletop in order to ensure that no ‘Mech’s damage ever grossly exceeds what is possible according to the rules. However, Blaine further clarified that in the ‘theatre of the mind’ battle damage isn’t just a series of boxes and numbers, and that a PPC blast to a ‘Mech’s thigh isn’t considered cumulative with a laser blast to its shin as it is in the official rules.

Or as Blaine put it, “I am aware of the rules and apply them as appropriate.”

The second question answered was regarding just how much freedom he has while writing, which turns out to be quite a bit. However, the BattleTech overlords over at Catalyst still set guidelines that need to be followed with respect to what happens in-universe. This can mean that novels might sit in waiting while we wait for the BattleTech universe to catch up.

Dragoons

courtesy of Broke Low on Blogger

As it turns out, this has actually happened to Pardoe for another forthcoming book entitled Forever Faithful. We don’t know much about that one other than it’s all done and it’s been sitting in a file folder on his desktop just waiting for the universe to catch up to the point where publishing the book makes sense.

Mr. Pardoe does sit in Catalyst meetings where the BattleTech powers-that-be discuss far-reaching narrative plans, so he’s not entirely powerless when it comes to influencing the direction that the universe takes. Blaine also mentioned “there’s a big story arc in play” and that he’s one of the many architects putting it all together.

Finally, if you’ve read all of Pardoe’s giant stompy robot books as I have, you might have picked up on his tendency to throw in some random names here and there. Turns out those are indeed fan requests, but they’re most certainly not from people who email him asking to be written into his books. That’s a quick way to get on the persona-non-grata list.

Instead, you gotta use the BattleTech International fan page over on Facebook. Occasionally, Mr. Pardoe will post a request for names, to which you might be the lucky winner to appear in one of his stories.

Well, luck might be a strong word.

courtesy of shimmering sword on DeviantArt

“Just because you are in a novel doesn’t mean you are an awesome heroic character,” cautioned Pardoe. “You could be a douchebag, or a street, or a river, or a throw-away character that gets a freaking headshot with a gauss rifle at the start of the battle and becomes a gooey paste. Be careful what you ask for.”

Oh, and one more thing: Mr. Pardoe is working on “a BattleTech novel of immense proportion that is due next year.” So keep an eye out for that.

Check out Blaine Lee Pardoe’s blog for more. And if you’re a fan of true crime stories, then you’ll find a kindred spirit in the rest of Mr. Pardoe’s website.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy