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Tormano Liao

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Age 56 in 3050
Tormano Liao
Character Profile
Also known as Ironheart
Born 2996[1]
Died 3062[2]
Affiliation House Liao;
Free Capella
Title(s) Mandrinn of Capella;
Leader of Free Capella
Profession MechWarrior,
Parents Maximilian Liao (father)
Jasmine Liao (mother)
Siblings Candace Liao
Romano Liao
Spouse Hanya No Cha
Children Treyhang Liao[3]
Unnamed daughter

Tormano Liao, also sometimes spelled as Tormana Liao, was the only son of Maximilian Liao, Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation, and youngest of his three children.

He had a strained relationship with his father, and following the Fourth Succession War was best known for his role as a political advisor and the leader of the Free Capella movement, which united many disparate anti-Confederation groups into one cohesive organization. Free Capella would later fund the Blackwind Lancers and Jie Fang Legion.

While early sources[4] unflatteringly describe him as oily, ingratiating, conniving, unscrupulous and tending towards personal cowardice, he was in fact a capable MechWarrior[5] and became a shrewd politician and inspirational leader.[6]


Early life[edit]

Tormano Liao was born on Sian in 2996.[7] His godmother was Chandra Ling, the Director of the Maskirovka.[5]

He had a strained relationship with his family; as of ca. 3025 it was noted that only his sister Candace Liao seemed to speak in his defense, and there was speculation at the time that their relationship might be more than just a brother-sister relationship.[8]

At some point prior to 3021[9] he secretly married Hanya No Cha, a botanist from Brazen Heart,[10][4] the Capellan Confederation's secret prison world. His stepmother Elizabeth Jordan-Liao reportedly demanded his banishment for not having consulted with her before marrying "beneath his station",[11] but it is uncertain if or to which extent this played a role in Maximilian Liao's strong disapproval of the action. When Tormano refused to divorce his wife, the Chancellor annulled the marriage by decree[4] and named his oldest daughter Candace the heir to the Celestial Throne, removing Tormano and his offspring from the Capellan ruling line. Tormano placed himself in exile to Hsien as part of the 1st Ariana Fusiliers in ca. 3023.[4]


Tormano Liao had yet another falling-out with his father during a reception on Sian. On 21 January 3026, just after he had returned to his posting with elements of the 1st Ariana Fusiliers at Warex Base on Kali in the Algol system, a message from Brazen Heart called him to a place on the airless surface. Moving out in his Vindicator, he found that Maximilian Liao had ordered a doppelgänger to assassinate Tormano and take his place; the message had been a trap. Tormano was saved by pure luck when a Federated Suns strike force hidden on the world moved against Warex Base just then. Since the destruction of Warex Base would leave both Tormano and his would-be assassin to die on the hostile world, they temporarily joined forces to fend off the attack. Tormano managed to kill the assassin in the process.[5]

Fourth Succession War[edit]

In the first wave of the Fourth Succession War that broke out on 20 August 3028, the 1st Ariana Fusiliers on Algol were attacked by the Eridani Light Horse and 3rd Davion Guards RCT. The AFFS forces found Major Tormano Liao's headless Centurion after the fighting, and assumed that Tormano had been killed in action. Similarly, House Liao assumed he had been killed when he was not among the soldiers that retreated off-world.[10] When he was apprehended by AFFS forces after he ejected and headed into the wilderness, Tormano Liao was reportedly "half alive", with an infection that almost cost him a leg and a "broken ankle that will never heal quite right;" Hanse Davion ordered him brought to New Avalon in secret upon receiving the report on 25 September 3028.[12]

A treatise about the war for the NAIS by Dr. B. Banzai tells a slightly different story, claiming that guerrilla operations on Algol a month after the battle showed someone with proper training was running the resistance movement. This reportedly led to a manhunt which resulted in the capture of Tormano Liao after two more months of ambushes and guerrilla strikes.[10] This version is demonstrably false. The book was published shortly after the war already; from the context it could be assumed that the NAIS deliberately obfuscated the truth for some reason.

In exchange for Tormano's surrender, the MIIO reportedly agreed to smuggle Tormano's wife out of the Capellan Confederation.[10]

Hanse Davion extended an invitation to Tormano Liao and his wife. They arrived on New Avalon on April 19, 3028. While there Tormano (using "The Black Ram" as his alias) used access to military simulators to challenge cadets at the NAIS and Albion military academies. At the same time, Hanya No Cha used her access to the NAIS Information Network to learn about the new trends in botany. Hanse Davion also used Tormano's presence to gain a greater insight into the upper levels of the Capellan Confederation's political structure. These insights would serve him well when Pavel Ridzik formed the Tikonov Free Republic and Candace Liao contacted the First Prince about the secession of her St. Ives Commonality from the Confederation.[10]

Tormano was quick to build a new power base in the Federated Suns, with the long-term goal of putting himself on the Confederation's throne, and, with clandestine funds from the MIIO, started his Free Capella movement which he made into a powerful force over the next two decades.[13]

War of 3039[edit]

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Clan Invasion Era[edit]

Murder and Kidnapping on Solaris[edit]

By late 3055, Tormano had been running his Free Capella organization in the Sarna March to restore and preserve the Capellan people who lived there. In truth, his organization was meant to topple the regime of his sister, Romano, and later her son, Sun-Tzu Liao, in the Capellan Confederation and restore him to power. However, his nephew Kai was becoming more popular with the people, sensing opportunity he tried but failed to pass on control of the organization to him. Tormano saw him as a person who could lead to "freeing" the Confederation from Romano's heir however Kai showed a complete lack of political ambition and politely deflected Tormano's attempts to subvert him to his cause.[14]

During 3056, his operation HQ for Free Capellan was based on Solaris VII at his residence in the Cathay District of Solaris City. During the period of Kai's championship for 3056, Tormano's operatives discovered a secret that he then tried to black mail his nephew with. They discovered that he unknowingly fathered a son, David Lear, with Dr. Deirdre Lear during his time on Alyina. Once again sensing opportunity he has his men bring Dierdre and her son to Solaris to use as hostages to manipulate Kai into furthering the Free Capellan agenda.

During this time, Peter Steiner-Davion is assigned to him as a liaison officer, in order to supervise his activities by his brother Victor Steiner-Davion. Tormano, always looking for a new angle to exploit, attempts to use Peter to trigger a war against the Capellan Confederation so that he may assume power there. He manipulates the young man into conducting a military raid after the hotel bombing that "kills" Galen Cox.[15] Kai learns of Peter's disappearance from Solaris and goes to confront Tormano about what he has done. When Kai confronts him Tormano reveals that he has his son and that he is holding the boy and his mother hostage. Tormano tells his nephew that he is to do absolutely nothing for the next 10 days or he will never see them again.[16]

However, Tormano's plan fails, as Kai was able to secretly intercept Peter and the Khorsakhov’s Cossacks and prevents them from assaulting the Free Worlds League world of Shiloh to destroy the Harloc Raiders an event that would have triggered a war with them. Also, a Maskirovka agent, Nancy Bao Lee, prevented him from learning of leaked info on Kai's plans. Tormano is forced into exile once the Archon-Prince hears of what he attempted to do. When Nancy comes to him, she attempts to assassinate him, but Tormano disarms her breaking her arm in the process. Tormano reveals to her that he knows that that she is Mask spy, and tells her to send a message to Sun-Tzu Liao. He tells her he is no longer threat to him (sun-Tzu), because Kai Allard-Liao is an even bigger threat than he.[17]

Operation GUERRERO[edit]

However, Tormano didn't ceased his machinations: Kai neglected the Free Capella operatives, and when Sun-Tzu Liao and Thomas Marik launched Operation Guerrero, and the Sarna March dissolved into the Chaos March, Tormano managed to activate two of the operatives in the region. One of them killed Roland Carpenter, the pro-Capellan new leader of planet Keid, claimed by the Lyran Commonwealth,[18] and the other, on planet Zurich, another mysterious man (or woman) calling themselves Jacko Diamond, fought against the oppressive regime of Xu Ning.

After using a ComStar acolyte as a messenger, Tormano managed to have an interview with the new Lyran leader, Katherine Steiner-Davion, informing her of their "present" of the planet Keid to her. Impressed, she agreed to employ him as an advisor.[19]

Service to Katherine[edit]

Tormano, despite his bad relationship with Nondi Steiner, aunt of Katherine and her military leader, stayed beside her during four years. The Archon even left him in command of all of the Alliance, when she embarked on a secret trip to seek an alliance with the Clans.[20] During her absence, Tormano was forced to face a very serious crisis: a Clan Jade Falcon invasion. Working together with Nondi, Tormano ordered a communications blackout, hiding the crisis while gathering together troops to counter the Falcons' invasion, culminating in the Battle of Coventry.[21] He hired the Eridani Light Horse and Wolf's Dragoons to keep the Falcons fighting on Coventry, and the Waco Rangers, a unit personally loyal to him, to hold Tharkad. Katherine, upon her return, modified that order, sending the Rangers to Coventry too, ensuring conflict between them and the Dragoons.[22] After Katherine deposed Victor Steiner-Davion and took absolute command of the Federated Commonwealth, she was unable to stop Sun-Tzu invasion of the St. Ives Compact; Tormano renounced his post to take command of defending forces of the Free Capella Movement.[23]

Capellan-St. Ives Civil War[edit]

Tormano assumed a leading role in the war. He recruited his son, Treyhang Liao, to his side. His ambitions were to obtain a kingdom - either St. Ives or in the Confederation - for himself. He never realized his own ambitions: in 3062, on Indicass, as Tormano Liao made a speech in a pavilion, a hovercar attacked the meeting. It was destroyed by the Helios BattleMech standing guard (piloted by Treyhang), but it was too late. The nerve gas it carried killed most of the people present, including Tormano and the planetary governor. Treyhang, however, survived in safe confines of his 'Mech. The attack was orchestrated by his niece Kali Liao and carried out as part of the Black May strikes across the St. Ives Compact.


Tormano's legacy could best be described as Machiavellian. His self-interested behavior and habit of gathering as much power as he could can also be seen reflected in Katherine's policies.

On the other hand, Tormano was fiercely loyal to those who supported him. The Free Capella Movement, an independence organization focused on the Capellan Confederation, would never have been able to field two 'Mech regiments without his support. After Tormano's death, his son would take control of the Free Capella Movement. He would change it into a loyal opposition movement versus an attempt to usurp control from Chancellor.

Philosophical and/or political views[edit]

Though often cloaked in grandiose language, Tormano's politics basically existed to make his life easier.[24] Tormano frequently held grudges against those that he felt had wronged him; this was one reason why he gave information to Hanse Davion in the Fourth Succession War (though it should be noted that Hanse's willingness to flatter Tormano made the process much easier).


Tormana was the spelling used in early publications such as Warrior: Riposte and House Liao (The Capellan Confederation). Assumption of Risk in 1993 used Tormano, as have more modern works.

Portrait Gallery[edit]


  1. Era Report: 3052, p. 78
  2. Field Manual: Updates, pp. 9–10: "Service Timeline 3062" - Tormano dies in 2nd Black May attack
  3. Field Manual: Capellan Confederation, p. 113: "Free Capella Profile"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p. 126: Tormano Liao profile
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Think Like a Liao
  6. Era Report: 3052, p. 165: expressly describes Tormano Liao as an "inspirational" leader, and assigns him a +7 skill roll modifier to Leadership, Negotiation, and Protocol under A Time of War rules which represents a rather good skill
  7. House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p. 126: "Character Biography"
  8. House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p. 124: Candace Liao profile
  9. Based on the assertion that he had not seen his wife in five years as of 3026, as per Think Like a Liao
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 2, p. 18
  11. House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p. 126: Elizabeth Jordan Liao profile
  12. Warrior: Riposte, p. 248
  13. Era Report: 3052, p. 79
  14. Assumption of Risk, pp. 175–181: "Tormano fails to cow Kai into joining his secret plans to take Confederation"
  15. Assumption of Risk, pp. 278–281: "Tormano tricks the hotheaded Peter Davion into deadly raid"
  16. Assumption of Risk, pp. 278–289: "Tormano commands Kai to not do anything for a week, or he will never see his son or boy's mother again"
  17. Assumption of Risk, pp. 350–352: "Tormano confronts the Mask assassin and disables her. She passes a message to his nephew in exchange for her life"
  18. Chaos March, p. 43
  19. Bred for War, p. 330
  20. Malicious Intent, p. 95
  21. Malicious Intent, p. 126
  22. Malicious Intent, p. 181
  23. Prince of Havoc, p. 212
  24. House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p. 126: "Character Biography", - "Manner"