Over the course of two months, assigned material began trickling back to me. I had several phone conversations with Matt Murray, who was tasked with rewriting the Chaos campaign rules and updating the cybernetic rules. Early on, after I reworked the word count, I realized we had too much material for the book. So I quickly decided to axe the cybernetic rules, as they played only a minor part with regards to some of the opposition units in the tracks. A quick conversation with Randall and Herb later, these rules – originally found in Jihad Hot Spots: 3072 – would be relocated to the Interstellar Operations core rulebook. My rules section for Total Chaos looked sparse, but because most of the book was rules and guidelines, I didn’t think that would take away from the project. Continue reading
A continuing look at my latest Catalyst Game Labs BattleTech project, Total Chaos. We left off taking a look at the mercenaries selected for the project. For those interested, the PDF version of the book is now for sale; the print version is tentatively due in August 2012.
One of the ideas that came out of discussions with Øystein and Herb was the ever-present request by players to have detailed synopsis of the Jihad on various planets. We knew there was no way we could do such a comprehensive volume that would be profitable. And spending time and resources on a PDF-only product makes no business sense. I believe Øystein even calculated that a unit-by-unit movement table (such as seen in the FedCom Civil War sourcebook) would alone take up nearly 300 pages – and that assumed small font size!
With both Øystein and myself wanting to delve deeper into Operation SCOUR and Herb intrigued with our initial idea to do a planet dossier of that conflict, we struck a compromise. Why not select roughly 30 of the more intense conflict worlds and do sidebar write-ups on those?
Then, one final thought hit me: why not make it a little more palatable and include brief rules for running a mini-campaign on that world?
The Jihad was not just a time of intense violence and interstellar war. It was also a breeding ground for the rise (and fall) of the mercenary trade. Some experts postulate that one in every five mercenary commands survived the fourteen years of incessant war. Looking back through the carnage, one can trace the success and failures of many of these groups through the recent conflicts; I’ve opted to focus on three different commands for this project. Each one began with dissimilar origins and followed a divergent path through the Jihad. While their success is relative to their own goals and vision, these men and women possess a rare common bond.
They survived the Jihad.
—Belle Lee, A Treatise of Jihad-era War; Fortymile Standard Press, 3095
[A continuation of the developer's notes on the Total Chaos project, soon for sale in PDF format. Print version (tentatively) available in August.]
When looking over the vast number of tracks needing compiled for this book, one question really nagged in the back of my head. How would we turn this collection of previously printed tracks into something worth printing – and buying? True, adding in some of the JTP e-publication tracks would help. As would several new tracks. But there had to be something else as our ‘hook.’ This wasn’t a simple reprint compilation here.
I revisited the opening sections of the Warchest campaign in Dawn of the Jihad. Going over the setup, I realized what that hook could be. Mercenaries.
Mercs are the most common “faction” (used loosely) in the BattleTech universe. We have made hundreds of these units throughout the course of nearly three decades, and always suggest and hint that there are more. Many, many, MANY more that exist. It’s an obvious window for players to “enter” their own home-made unit into the universe for their personal games, as well as an easy ‘out’ for authors in case they needed a filler force for the protagonist or antagonist role in a project. The entire idea of the Chaos Campaign setup in DOTJ was that a player’s merc unit would be the principle star of the story, giving the author (me) a lot of leeway in crafting wide-ranging tracks that could then be tailored to specific player and house games. Changing up the minor details in a track to account for a House or Clan unit is left to the player and doesn’t take a lot of brain power to work that out.
So, mercenaries. One unit or more, then? Canon or new? Continue reading
Okay, so this may be a little redundant based on my prior post. I’m sure you, fair reader, can cope, as the in the last post I got a tad bit ahead of myself in describing the germination of the idea for Total Chaos. Let me back up a tad, back to just after the initial pitch but before the formalized outline, and restart.
The pitch idea was to compact all of the Jihad Chaos tracks into one volume, supplemented with selected tracks from the six JTPs published over the last four years. Revamping the rules and many of the older tracks to conform with the Total Warfare ruleset was priority as well.
But what if we also gave players the chance to run side missions? These generic tracks, first seen in the Starterbook series, were designed for quick-and-easy scenarios that could fill the gaps in the main track timeline. (As astute readers of the Jihad Hot Spots books have noticed, there can be several months between tracks, plenty of time for one-offs and side missions to augment their campaign play.) These generic missions would also give players a chance to rebuild and regain lost Warchest Points (WP) to prepare for the more brutal tracks ahead.
So I tossed all of the mission tracks from both Starterbooks onto the pile. And made room for two new ones as well: Stalwart and Pushback. Continue reading
It’s no secret around here I’m a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan.
When the NHL announced last year that the 2012 NHL Entry Draft would be held in Pittsburgh at the team’s beautiful new CONSOL Energy Center building, I told my wife we should really try to go. Since getting to a game up there (I live in the metro DC area, for those who don’t know) is well nigh difficult – and expensive – it was a great shot for us to go see the new digs. Tickets, when released to the public, are free for both Round 1 (Friday evening) and Rounds 2-7 (Saturday morning/afternoon). The trick is being on hand to squeeze into the lottery for the tickets.
Because of my current work situation and schedule, I was going to be home on Tuesday, June 5 when the tickets would be released. Only 3,000 were going to be open for the public to snag, and I squared the 15 minutes or so I’d need ahead of time; no phone, no freelancing, no nothing. Just me, the laptop, and the Penguins ticket site on refresh.
What happened then was a complete disaster-turned-awesome – all thanks to Ticketmaster (disaster) and the Penguins organization (awesome). Rather than explain, I’ll simply share the emails that occurred since then. Continue reading
Last night, I reached a career milestone.
Most people, when you tell them you won an Origins Award, would look at you oddly, tell you politely “that’s nice,” and move on in the conversation. It’s not exactly the Oscar here.
But for people in the game industry, it’s somewhat of a big deal. Maybe not an Academy Award, but at least something like winning recognition from Cannes or the Sundance Film Festival. It’s a known award, and it’s considered something of value.
So last night, my project baby from 2011, The Wars of Reaving, won the 2012 Origins Award for Best SciFi/Fantasy Miniature Supplemental product.
Most games and game products that win are a team affair, and mine is not much different. I had a lot of help making WOR look pretty. Paul Sjardijn helped me construct the main “spine” of plot; Herb Beas gave me carte blanche on the entire project; and Ray Arrastia’s amazing layout skills made WOR stand out in a very unique way when compared to the usual BattleTech sourcebook.
I’m very thankful to all three of these guys, plus the artists, factcheckers, and playtesters that assisted in spiffing up the final product. And of course, to Catalyst for believing in me to do the project in the first place.
I’ve been part of an Origins Award winner team – Tactical Operations won in 2009 – but this is the first project I had the lead on to win. It was an honor being nominated, yes. And I was convinced all this week that Osprey Publishing’s Tomorrow’s War was going to win. (That book looked sleek and sporty on the table.) But winning the award – thanks in a large part from all the BattleTech fans who voted – means even more to me.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible. And more thanks to my wife, for her support and strength while I poured myself into the WOR project. It paid off, honey!
Onward now, to next year. I’ve got my sights set on repeating this success, and Total Chaos is the project that just may do it…