Proposing Future War: SCOUR and SCYTHE

Wolf vs. Blake

Roughly five years ago, and two years after pushing out the Masters and Minions compilation and sorting out material for Jihad Hot Spots: Terra, a random email conversation with a fellow contractor spawned an idea. What if we could detail one of the biggest operations of BattleTech‘s Jihad Era and possibly kickstart a dormant series?

Operations SCOUR and SCYTHE were two major campaigns that I helped orchestrate within our massive canon timeline. They were officially Stone’s biggest combined campaigns of the war, culminating in the emancipation of Terra from the Word of Blake’s choking grasp.

I went so far as to work up a detailed outline and discussed the possibilities with a couple of writers who were free and whom I trusted most.

Alas, the project didn’t gain much traction because shortly afterwards, the Total Chaos idea came up and was chosen instead. At that point, I just folded over into it pieces of what I had conceived in this project.

Since there’s no chance this will ever be done, I’m posting it here as a ‘what if’ possibility for those interested in such things. It’s also a good example of how to build a project pitch for a plot book – if you happen to be involved in development of a venerable game line someday that actually has money to spend.

Proposal: Historical SCOUR-SCYTHE

A Son’s Requiem (Part I)

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Starting a new short fiction series here. This will be weekly (every Wednesday) and while set in the BattleTech universe, is considered non-canon (for those who care). This is, much like my Shred of Honor story, something I worked on for a defunct project and set aside. Enjoy.

14 November 3078
140 km Southwest of Denver, Terra
Word of Blake Protectorate

Demi-Precentor Alex Emory resisted the urge to reach out and clear his cockpit screen. The gray sky was smudgy with fog­—really just low-altitude clouds, this high in the mountains—and gave the viewable landscape a blurry quality that the weary MechWarrior kept trying to blink away.

The radio crackled with static, breaking the monotonous silence. “Orca Actual, Three. we’ve got contacts three clicks south. Just like you predicted.” Alex glanced down at the electronic mapscreen near his left knee, confirming his picket’s report.

“Copy that, Orca Three. Pull back up the pass; do not engage. Repeat: do not engage.” His eyes traced upwards along the thin black ribbon on the map, curling along a mountain valley that eventually terminated within the distant Denver metropolis. The route passed just below his towering Legacy; the thick fog prevented him from actually seeing the old highway.

It was ages since the last time Alex had traveled the mountain trails he knew surrounded him. Barely wide enough for a person, they offered unparalleled views of the Rocky Mountains on clear weather days. His father used to bring him along on hikes across many of the peak trails, carrying only the bare necessities on their backs. Fog days like the one spread before him were common, terrifying for a young boy. He could still taste the fear, not knowing if the next step would send them plummeting thousands of meters to the earth. His father never wavered, however, and Alex learned to trust him and his instincts.

Alex quickly flicked a finger along his eye, shaking himself from the memory. His father was long gone, missing since the start of the war. Killed by allies of those now slowly treading their way up the crumbled road below.

He strained to see through the fog as his two pickets passed, imagining the Ravens picking their way along the ruined highway with their dainty, bird-like gait. He thought he saw a passing shadow, but the fog slowly swirled, fooling his gaze with shifting shadow in the gray light.

Unconsciously, he rubbed his fingers over the grips of his Legacy’s controls. His eyes fixed on the passive sensor screen, the two icons marking his pickets fading from view as the sensor pod located a few hundred meters from his ‘Mech lost contact. Alex felt more than heard the quiet purr of the massive war machine’s fusion heart, waiting for the approaching enemy. With the extreme cold the night previous, combined with the twenty hours in standby mode, his Legacy would be virtually unnoticeable by the scouting force making their way up the road.

A data window opened at his request. Alex’s hands clenched the sticks in his hands. His eyes took in the streaming data from the pod: four medium-class BattleMechs and several smaller vehicles trailing behind them.

Alex grinned with ferocity. He may only be one heavy machine, but he also had the advantages of height, weather, and knowledge of the terrain.

Hardly a fair fight.

His old man would be proud.

The enemy approached at a slow pace, creeping into his self-designated killing zone. With a savage glee, he unstopped his BattleMech’s power and with a roar, unleashed his fury at the enemy unseen below.

Chaos Theory

Preview of Total Chaos chapter art (Williamson).

In late 3067, the Word of Blake unleashed its Jihad, fanning the flames of violence and spreading it across the Inner Sphere. Three mercenary commands struggled to find their footing and profit from the all-encompassing warfare. As they navigated their way through the conflicts erupting on hundreds of worlds, these mercenaries grew in power, prestige, and character. Facing adversity, victory, defeat, and enemies within and without, they were typical of many commands touched—for ill or for good—by the Jihad.

As the Jihad unfolded through the Jihad Hot Spots plotbooks, players were introduced to the Chaos Campaign, a new game play system that gave players the opportunity to craft their own games around specific battles and events of the Jihad. Now that campaign, spanning fourteen years of conflict, has been collected and updated. Presented here are all of the Chaos Campaign tracks from the Hot Spots plotbooks and interwoven with select tracks from the Jihad Turning Points e-publication series and several all-new tracks and mini-campaigns.

This volume also includes detailed reports on nearly forty planetary campaigns, providing context and details previously clouded by interstellar media, local reports, and personal journals. With an updated and streamlined core ruleset for the Chaos Campaign and new Jihad-era Random Availability Tables for the Word of Blake, Mercenaries, and Militias, this book has everything players and gamemasters need to recreate the pivotal campaigns of the Jihad and lead their forces to victory.

 So. Total Chaos. What’s it all about? Continue reading