Enter the Dragon (Almost)

The noble yakuza of the Draconis Combine.

The noble yakuza of the Draconis Combine.


Whew. Almost there.

  • First outline written in 2006.
  • Final draft turned in 2011.
  • Edited version posted to layout 2013.
  • Printing (soon) in mid-2015.

Here’s a taste: ToC Preview.

Enter the Dragon.




Closing the Dragon’s Door


Well, you’d think this would be another update…and you would be correct. Except that it isn’t anymore.

Despite my (paltry) efforts in trying to sneak open looks into the forthcoming HBHK, interest in this book has never really taken off aside from a relative few Kurita fans. Which, in all honesty, isn’t that surprising. The book’s been near-vaporware for several years, the victim of other priority projects that kept leapfrogging it. It’s sadly become somewhat of an afterthought, a “let’s get this out to finish off the series because we’re completists at heart” project.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. I think because of the book’s specific nature, there’s little in it to appeal to other diehard faction fans of the universe. I mean, staunch Capellan loyalists aren’t going to much care about what goes on in Kurita space or how citizens of the Dragon live. It’s the inherent nature of the beast.

With the end of the 3067 Era now decently behind us and the Jihad/Dawn of the Republic drawing to a close, it makes this book even more anachronistic. I tried to mitigate that somewhat by putting in information that I’ve accumulated over the last 7-8 years while writing a lot of the Combine’s material. Knowing that the book would eventually come out, it was important to me that concepts or story threads that seemingly “popped up” in various Jihad-era books (and to a smaller extent, Dark Age material) be grounded in this Housebook. Like how the Nova Cats are really perceived by the citizen at large and the Dragon’s bureaucratic monolith. Or why Aix-La-Chapelle was a viable alternative to begin rebuilding the Combine war machine. Or why the Black Dragons seemingly never died but kept resurging. Or the bubbling cauldron of class warfare that ends up exploding well after 3067…

But, sadly, there’s just little interest in the project. My site stats don’t really lie; I barely see a ripple on these posts. (Interesting side note: My Wars of Reaving articles – now nearly two years after the project’s publication – still sees constant traffic.) On days when a HBHK peek debuts, those pages still see less activity than those hitting various Wars of Reaving pages. And never mind the anemic thread on the official BattleTech forums… I love the fact there are 5-6 constant readers…but it’s also disheartening there’s little discussion on a lot of the previews I’ve posted. When selecting material to post, I try to put up stuff that is interesting, fresh, and new to spur some chatter – but it’s just not happening.

Now, understand – I’m not complaining. The book’s getting printed this year regardless of who reads these previews (or not). I just had high hopes the process would spur more interest and drive the book into a higher bracket than the bestseller of the line, House Davion.

So, this’ll probably be the last on the topic until it is released in print. In the meantime, please enjoy my limited weekly series on the Clan Box Set strategy and tactics guide (every Friday). I’ll get around to finishing the Lego Death Star construction project as well, don’t worry!

The Dragon’s Potpourri


The final chapter of Handbook House Kurita is still somewhat stuck, largely due to me losing an evening’s worth of writing earlier this week. Typically I hit CTRL-S every few minutes to save my work as I write but for some reason, I didn’t the other night. When I went to close down, I got a “do you wish to save the recent version” message and, thinking it was for a new document I’d opened to facilitate some shuffling, hit “Cancel.” And it closed the document I’d been working on. I didn’t catch it until 30 seconds later…and by then it was too late.

Ah well. That’s the writer’s risk at times.

So in recreating the content, I think I strengthened what I had. It’ll all work out.

Here’s a snippet from a critter and a vehicle entry, and two sidebars from the history section for this week’s sneak peek. Enjoy.

From Rules Annex

Kaosu/Chi no Hebi
Kaosus reproduce asexually based on the amount of food it digests. Infestations can quickly spiral out of control if not contained early. Several industrial pesticides and electricity traps are available on the market and found at nearly every spaceport and station in the Combine.

A mutated version of the kaosu has been reported, though rarely. Found mainly on derelict vessels and in abandoned ruins, these chi no hebi enter through any available opening on an organism. The chi are drawn towards bone marrow. While feeding, the worm secrets a poisonous enzyme that burns nerve endings. The victim feels as if they are burning from the inside out; death comes within seventy-two hours. Rumors that the ISF uses chi no hebi as part of a torture regimen are unfounded.

Initially conceived as a standard cargo and passenger hauler, the Hoshiryokou served passably in the role. Its modular cargo containers were interchangeable with utilitarian passenger versions. The Dragonstar succeeded where the Hoshiryokou failed to deliver in amenities, comfort, and space. Kintetsu Stellar Systems faced bankruptcy when Yakima Enterprises’ offering pushed the Hoshiryokou out of the market. Rather than fold, Kintetsu found a new way to use its cargo hauler using extensive grants from the Combine government.

The structure of the Hoshiryokou was reinforced and a space tug adapter fitted to its front. Free upgrades to all owners of the vessel sent Kintetsu into deep debt to the government. Isesaki Shipping bought the company for little more than a handful of ryu and a two-hundred year agreement to produce the space tug for the DCA under cost.

From History of the Nation

Jinjiro Kurita: A Study in Calm Violence
The Heir Designate to Coordinator Minoru Kurita during the opening moves of the First Succession War, Jinjiro Kurita suffered during his upbringing. The son of a concubine—Minoru’s first wife Clarissa was barren—Jinjiro spent most of his early years embroiled in the center of heated Court politics.

His mother’s maiden name has been lost to the mists of time, though her adornment name (customary for royal concubines) was Heaven’s Gate. She was a native of Radstadt whose non-Oriental features made her popular in the ukiyos (pleasure districts) until Minoru bought her contract. After Jinjiro’s birth, Heaven’s Gate used every persuasive art—and some apparent blackmail—to get Minoru to adopt the child and make him the legal heir. Her access to the Imperial Court allowed her to poison the other contracted concubines with chemical that forced miscarriages. (It is also suspected that one strong overdose caused Clarissa’s death.) Believing the fates and his ancestors against him for his failure to save Drago Kurita and his family from Amaris, Minoru recognized ten-year-old Jinjiro as his son and heir just before learning his second wife, Yvonne Toshi, was pregnant.

A whispering campaign within the Court suggested that the Coordinator was under the charms of his concubine. True or not, the rumors were relentless until Yvonne, days from giving birth to Zabu Kurita, shoved Heaven’s Gate from the parapets of Unity Palace in the middle of the night. Jinjiro discovered the bloody, broken form of his mother early the next morning. She had survived the night and died in her son’s arms.

Combine historians and psychoanalysts believe this was the catalyzing event that began Jinjiro’s slow slide from sanity. The pain and shock of witnessing such an event was enough to push the sensitive child along the road to madness and eventually, planetary atrocity.

The Bloody Coordinator: Seeds of Kentares; Proserpina Publications, Ltd., 2971

Fall of the Cherry Blossom
Tai-shu Tomoe Sakade entered the Combine-Dominion war through less than auspicious means. Reassigned to the position by the Coordinator—also her husband—she faced not only the ferocity of the Ghost Bear assault but also lingering prejudices inherent to the Combine’s culture. A woman had never before been promoted to the prestigious position of warlord of a military district, and many under her command did not know how to take the promotion.

Sakade was a capable commander and a superb tactician. She was also very outspoken, though played the part of the Coordinator’s wife well. She was previously the military commander of the Kagoshima Prefecture, a position given to her by Theodore partly to assuage her warrior spirit. The honor of being entrusted with the protection of Luthien was not lost on the former tai-sho. By several accounts, she actually resisted Theodore’s command to step into the tai-shu’s role after the death of Teyasu Ashora.

The Ghost Bears penetrated into the Combine in their initial wave, striking Schulyer and ten other worlds in the Albiero Prefecture. With limited defensive forces available, Sakade knew another push by the Bears would easily swallow the rest of the district. The Tai-shu proposed a daring plan, one the Coordinator was intimately familiar with: strike back into the teeth of the Clan’s assault and fool the Bears into thinking the Combine was stronger than it was. This plan was identical in theory and in general operation to the one Theodore had carried out in the War of 3039.

Sakade targeted several Dominion worlds for the counterattack, using ISF and O5P data to select areas where sizable manufacturing centers or military depots were located. On 25 December 3062, most of the forces assigned to the Pesht Military District jumped out and struck twelve Dominion systems. The DCMS units were to hold their assigned targets for as long as they could and then retreat before receiving more than twenty-five percent losses.

The plan was solid and could have succeeded, save a few critical factors. Many of the commanders under Sakade believed her plan was flawed. As such, they took liberties to amend their assaults—including timing—to incorporate what they deemed more “honorable elements.” Others refused to believe a woman could come up with any type of strategy and found ways to stall or circumvent their orders.

Whatever the reason, only half of the operation went off as planned, leaving several regiments without appropriate support or needed firepower. Those forces that did follow orders were not enough to stop the Bear advance cold, though it did contribute to the Bears’ reconsideration of launching the second wave. Nonetheless, Tai-shu Sakade’s forces were severely damaged by the botched operation, which her enemies used as evidence of her unfitness for command.

Shamed by the actions of her subordinates, Sakade returned to Luthien to discuss the situation with the Coordinator. The Courcheval Challenge was the Tai-shu’s idea, along with several other small mini-offensives designed to keep the Bears in stalemate. Knowing she could not return to her command without the full respect and honor due her as warlord, she opted to take the samurai’s path out. By committing seppuku, she opened the way for the Coordinator to salvage the situation with a new warlord at the helm. Her honorable death also proved her detractors wrong; shamed, they were awarded the Honor of the Wakizashi at the end of the conflict.

The Coordinator named Tai-shu Tomoe Sakade as the first female recipient of the Glory of the Fallen Samurai in 3064.

The Dragon’s Tears Flow in Many Forms; Imperial Press, 3065

After Chaos

Mini and photo by DAK

Okay, so I thought I was done with talking about Total Chaos…until I was looking over the final PDF the other day and realized I’d forgotten one important aspect.

The art.

While the book would contain several new  commissioned pieces, it would also have two other types of art included. The first is what’s called “recycled.” This is exactly what it sounds like – reusing art from other projects, often in a different way or form in the new publication. I asked our art director and layout artist to keep the recycled art strictly from the previously done Jihad plot books, to keep the theme relevant. One of the best uses in Total Chaos is the image of the Bounty Hunter escaping the burning airship, found on page 33. The text is Mission: Pursuit and the image illustrates the page’s subject perfectly. (Not to mention that art is the illustrative piece of my short story, “Just Business,” which appears in Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents.) Continue reading

Final Chaos

Base Into Action, by Alex Williamson

Continuing the discussion on my latest book project, Total Chaos. We last left off with deciding what world sidebars to include and then cutting the writers loose.

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

And My Comment Is…

Heed the Warning

No comment.

Okay, well maybe a small one. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Some background here – this is my primary freelance client, of which I am an assistant line developer for one of their game licenses.)

Regarding the actual events, I won’t comment. The official press release from Randall pretty much says it all, and I’m not going to add anything to it. Partly because it’s really nobody’s business outside of Catalyst Game Labs (CGL) and affected contractors, and partly because the internet is horrible at rumormongering. I won’t add to it.

I do want to state here that I will especially miss working with Adam Jury. The man’s a genius with game design, layout, and concepts – never mind his industry knowledge – and I hope our paths cross again in the future. (Even if it’s during one of his visits to the DC area.)

I’m greatly saddened by the actions of several freelance contractors who thought it fit to break one of the first clauses of their Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) they *willingly signed* with CGL and go public with rumors, speculation, and all-around unprofessional behavior. From where I sit, it’s virtual career suicide.

Not exactly an option I would consider, but to each their own.