BattleTechWiki:System coordinates

BattleTechWiki, as a policy, does not use unofficial meta-sources as references for material incorporated into articles located on Sarna. However, as there are no longer canon coordinates for systems located in the BattleTech universe, and because the use of a coordinate system has been deemed important to the informational needs of system articles, the BTW team decided to make use of what has been determined to be a very reliable method of determining locations of those systems. This essay describes the issues with the previously published (and previously canon) coordinates, the now-official stance regarding those coordinates, and how coordinates based on the official maps have been extrapolated.


In 1987 and 1988, FASA published five titles often referred to as the Housebook series. In the back of each of these titles was a long fold-out list of worlds within that particular House (or located near its borders). Each world was provided with two-dimensional coordinates to indicate its location in relation to Terra (at the 0, 0 origin), as well as a code that indicated the world's affiliation. The coordinates were given in light-years as a scale. In 1999, FASA published The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, which also provided two-dimensional coordinates for the (then) forty-one Clan worlds, this time in relation to Strana Mechty, making the two coordinate systems not easily compatible.

Though it was not obvious immediately, a notable number of these coordinates did not indicate the proper locations for their respective worlds when compared even to the then-current maps provided in various products. The FASA staff did not consider these coordinates to be reliable and instead used the printed maps as the official reference as to a world's location (though this view was not widely advertised). A number of fan-driven projects, however, utilized these coveted numbers to help them create their own maps and generate jumppaths for travel between the BattleTech systems. One of the most notable efforts was completed by the Inner Sphere Cartography Society, the IS Atlas, based upon their datafiles last compiled in March 2000.

It was upon these datafiles that BattleTechWiki founder Nic Jansma based the first planet articles, auto-generating 2,500+ pages and their respective 2-jump maps in 2006. Unfortunately, due to an error in a number of pages where the Y coordinates were copied from the X coordinates, combined with the human errors that existed in the original coordinates and in the ISCS' initial efforts, an increasing number of coordinates were incorrectly provided within the BTW planet articles.

In 2011, an effort was started to overhaul the manner in which the planetary articles were presented. As a part of this endeavor, a discussion was held as to how to provide the most reliable coordinates for the articles. First up was to get an official stance from Catalyst Game Labs on the previously-provided coordinates (from the Housebook series and The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky). In August of that year, CGL Cartographer, Øystein Tvedten, provided the answer: FASA, FanPro, and now CGL did not consider the coordinates provided in those six titles to be canonical and that maps took precedence over coordinates. As it was felt publishing canon coordinates would be of little value and it only allowed for the possibility for additional error to creep in, no official coordinates were compiled, even in an unpublished form. [Note: the link to the official position was lost in one of the several website moves and crashes since 2011.]

The Extrapolation Method (by the Sarna Unified Cartography Society)[edit]

While it has not been officially stated, it is presumed that CGL maintains a 'master' electronic map file from which the published maps are generated, cropped, and re-scaled to fit the subject of the section of the book in which presented. At least since CGL's assumption of the BattleTech license, analysis of their maps has shown a reliable consistency of world placement. From the CGL-generated maps, fan Bad_Syntax compiled a list of coordinates based upon Terra's location at 0:0 (maintaining light-years as the unit of measurement). As additional maps have been generated, more planets have been added to the overall canon; as the newer maps indicated both the position of the newer worlds and pre-existing ones, coordinates for these newer worlds could also be determined.

Bad_Syntax's method for determining these coordinates can be independently verified. Using Adobe Illustrator and designating Terra as 0:0, he re-scaled newer CGL maps over those of existing ones so that world locations matched. Based on canon distances provided between four set worlds (including Terra), he established a scale of one pixel to equal one light-year (thereby matching the canon scale). By placing the cursor over the world's circle location, the software provides a two-dimensional (i.e., X:Y) coordinate of the center, which he recorded into his planet database.

As additional worlds were represented on new maps, fellow fan (and Sarna Cartographer) Volt (nee Volt Ampere) would establish five known worlds as a position and scale reference to incorporate the new worlds into the database. With the release of the various Handbook series, as well as the release of Wars of Reaving and Field Report: Periphery, Bad_Syntax and Volt were able to establish consistent coordinates, precise up to the third decimal, for all canon Inner Sphere, Periphery (including Deep Periphery) and Clan worlds. The project has since been revived by Volt under the auspices of the Sarna Unified Cartography Society and now includes all mapped worlds released in map-bearing products through July 2019 and (formerly apocryphal) worlds from Harebrained Schemes' BattleTech video game.

The collected coordinates—identified as the Sarna Unified Cartography Kit (SUCKit)— and other related products and tools can be found below, in the External References section.

Following the official stance regarding the previously-canon coordinates published, the BTW team decided to incorporate extrapolated coordinates provided by Bad_Syntax & Volt, since they provided a system of locating worlds that matched those printed by CGL and in the scale established by the previous coordinates. As the overhaul of the system articles occur, the coordinates from the database will be added, replacing both the (now) non-canon and incorrect ones currently provided on the old-style articles.

BTW's stance is that—in the absence of canon coordinates—ones derived from the CGL-provided maps provide reliable and verifiable information as to the precise locations of systems and are suitable for plotting jump routes. Older maps and published coordinate data will be treated as secondary canon, overridden by newer CGL maps and coordinates extrapolated from those maps.

For details on how remote system coordinates are determined, see BTW: Remote System Coordinates.

Status of Coordinates on System Articles[edit]

In September 2021—approximately ten years after initiating the update project—the major effort referred to as Operation: Doneve (under the Project: Planets banner) concluded. Over the length of the project, numerous Editors engaged in methodically redeveloping the planet articles (re-designated as "system articles"), replacing out-dated stellar coordinates with extrapolated ones, and adding valuable tools for utilizing the new information, such as with the Nearby Systems tables that list every system within 60 light-years (two jumps) of the target system. In 2018, HBS BattleTech fan and site developer Gruese joined the project to replace the original "wire" maps (generated originally by Nic) with newly developed ones that were patterned after the canon maps published by Catalyst. Wrapping up the project in time for Sarna's 15th anniversary and the unveiling of the new IlClan era, the team had replaced or added over 95,220 individualized custom maps to 3,174 system articles, as well as released 60 maps detailing the evolution of both the Inner Sphere and the Known Universe over the 30 major eras within the BattleTech lore.

The Sarna Unified Cartography Society intends to maintain these resources and update them as new materials are released.

External References[edit]

Feel free to download for your personal use