Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canons In Front of Me

Battletech's 'canon', like that of any long running series, be it a TV show, comic book, RPG or whathaveyou, has been developed over the long history of its production. With the first edition of the Battletech game having come out in 1984 (originally as a boardgame/wargame called Battledroids), we're looking at a good 28 years of material to sift through. There have been numerous splatbooks, Mechwarrior - The Battletech RPG, card games, video games, novels, etc. All in all, there's a freakin' lot of Battletech.

How am I going to make use of all of that?

Well, I'm not. Or at the very least, not right away.

A firm believer in the concept that less is more when initially introducing a group of players to a setting, I am working now to distill all that canon and history into an easy to digest summary. I want to focus my next campaign,
BattleTech Reborn, on conflict between the Great Houses of the setting's 'Inner Sphere' of charted space (roughly 450-550 light years around Earth) and the Clans, the former military defense forces of the fallen Star League, who are returning from their self-imposed exile into what is known as the Periphery, a vast area of largely unexplored space some 500 more light years beyond the Inner Sphere.

Here is a preliminary design for the campaign map of known space. The colored borders indicate the areas of space ruled by the various interstellar government powers. I may be adding or taking away or simply shifting the position of some political entities but for the most part this is the way they will all sit next to each other.

The deep blue-grey-green circles indicate the regions of the Periphery and Deep Periphery. At the center of the map (well, a tad off center actually) you may note a small, white circle around a yellow star. That star is Sol and that represents the position of the Earth.

Now, I have not quite laid out all the details in my version of the Battletech universe's history, nor am I completely certain yet what event or events specifically set off the new state of conflict the PCs will find themselves in. The finishing touches in repainting and restoring this old jalopy are not complete by a long shot. In the meantime, here's another cool mech...

Great! Now quickly, while they're distracted...

Barking Alien


  1. Sometimes you gotta do your own thing.

  2. I have to say you surprised me with the whole Battletech thing. I didn't think you were a fan of it - and then reading through that last post I see that you weren't (duck! - But I think I like what you're doing here.

    I've played in quite a few campaigns over the decades using Mechwarrior 1st-2nd-3rd editions plus GURPS, Hero, and some homebrew stuff. System-wise I think that today I would ether go Traveller or Savage Worlds as none of those really float my boat today for this kind of game.

    There was always a heavy focus on the mecha in our games but that's more of a feature than a bug right? Presumably everyone playing likes giant fighting robots, right? It's no more of a problem than the guy with the 18/00 Strength or the Flame Tongue sword in D&D - a notable element of the character but not the only one, hopefully.

    As far as limiting the scope of the campaign canon, have you considered starting at the beginning with 3025? Mechs are difficult to repair, resources are tight, and wars are fought by small groups of mechs rather than vast invasion forces. It eliminates all of the clan invasion stuff and a lot of the later tech, plus it gives you a place to go later on if you choose to go with a largely canon storyline.

    The whole Battletech thing is one of my favorites and in the 80's and 90's it was one of our main games, though I've laid off of it the last few years there are still several shelves worth of books, a drawer full of novels, and a few hundred cased-up mini's out in the garage. Getting ready for the move had me thinking about it again and then you started posting about it the same week! I'll be introducing the apprentices to it soon so I'm curious to see where you go with it.

  3. I've always been a fan of giant robots and Mecha RPG gaming, though, as I've mentioned, not really Battletech.

    Exposed to Japanese Anime and Manga before actually encountering Battletech, I was very disappointed by the three or four tries I gave it. I couldn't understand why the milieu even HAD mecha. Seriously, the giant humanoid robot as a combat weapon is as ridiculous as it is cool. Take away the cool and there is no point.

    What makes them cool? They are huge, humanoid weapons platforms. So, if I am piloting a giant man with an awesome array of weapons, I should be able to do what a giant man can, like punch or kick my enemy, jump/flip over them, take their weapon out of their hand if I can wrestle it away or get into sword fights.

    For a long time, you could do none of this in Battletech. I am not certain as I stopped following the mechanical elements of the game long ago but I'm pretty sure you still can't do most of it. The mechs didn't fly, there were no space mechs and your futuristic robot overheated more often then a 1955 Oldsmobile.


    When I read the background story and setting I was pretty intrigued. Mainly because this was a Traveller-like setting, with distant worlds and FTL, that also had, at its very core, the giant robot.

    For years now I've been considering putting one of two projects into motion:

    First, an Anime/Manga themed Battletech with a true Japanese giant robot series look and feel.

    Second, MechaTraveller, a similar endeavour to add giant robots to the Traveller universe, specifically set during the rebellion era depicted in MegaTraveller.

    I am adjusting (read 'screwing with') the setting canon as I noted so that the years and events will be slightly different from what most Battletech fans are familiar with.