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For those not familiar with the tabletop, here is where it comes from:

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#1 Stradivarious


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Posted 08 August 2012 - 08:25 PM

The following is a forward written for the 8th book in the massive Battletech novel series(Shrapnel, fragments of the inner sphere) that provided much of the rich storyline for the tabletop, those of you who have only played the video games have truly missed out. It explains where the primary designer got most of his ideas and why the inner sphere, is well, the inner sphere. :P The rest of the book is copyrighted and of course I will not post it, I highly recommend that if you are intrigued, seek the novels out yourselves, and for the love of mechwarrior buy them. You will not regret it. It personally took me forever to find this one.


-Jordan K. Weisman
The BattleTech game, supplements, scenarios, and other related fictional products are all offshoots of an idea that came to me in 1984, when my own imagination was captured by the strong images that the Japanese had created for their animated television series featuring huge, walking battle machines. Though the graphics for these man-like and insect-like monoliths were fantastic, the Japanese storylines still left my Western mind unsatisfied. And so I set off to create my own fictional universe where men used fearsome. 10- or 12-meter tall monsters of destruction called BattleMechs to carry their endless struggles for domination across the stars.

What I wanted was a universe that had a taste of the alien, but that did not contain aliens. As in other science fiction, we produced this effect of strangeness combined with familiarity by changing only one of the basic premises we take for granted in the ‘real world.’ In contemporary society, new technology is automatically superior to what came before. That means a computer that is only five years old soon becomes completely ob­solete. It was that premise that we turned on its head for BattleTech.
In the 31st century where our game is set. anything built 200 years ago is drama­tically superior to anything that can be produced today. Indeed, many machines and equipment can never be replaced, for the technology to construct or even repair them has been lost as a result of hundreds of years of interstellar war. This single change creates huge societal repercussions in the BattleTech universe, from a natural tend­ency toward a scavenger society to more subtle effects such as the huge importance of hereditary rights.

In my view of history, a given political situation usually grows out of several hun­dred years of decisions and actions by numerous individuals rather than as a result of a single person's influence or power. Thus, I rely on historical events to inspire the backdrops of my fictional universes. For BattleTech, I felt that the struggle among the five Great Houses of the Inner Sphere and the ideal of restoring the glory of the Star League era were analogous to the fighting among the Roman city-states after the fall of Rome. This analogy helped us flesh out our history because I wanted all the sides in the fight to be shades of gray, as opposed to a conflict between good and evil.

House Kurita is a good example of what I had in mind. Though the enemies of the Draconis Combine may consider them to be bloodthirsty, war-hungry maniacs, the Kuritans have their own history, background, and motivations as well as their own per­ception of who they are. The same goes for House Davion, whose rulers may show up as knights in shining armor or conniving double-crossers, depending on who you talk to. We try to see that each book is written from the fictional point of view of someone in the 31st century. That means players must always pay attention to who is providing the information and then add the appropriate grain of salt.

Once I had a good outline of my history, society, and technology. I showed it to Pat Larkin.and the two of us spent considerable time discussing the ideas and how they could he fleshed out. When Pat and I felt we'd worked out the bugs, he went ahead to produce the excellent history that is in­cluded in the basic game. It was that early, original material that inspired you to want to know more and we at FASA to further develop the background of BattleTech.

While Pat was busy writing the fiction. I began to design the game system. As a gamer, I have always felt that the best sys­tems were those where you could vividly imagine the action in your head while playing, as though the game were a movie, with the player as hero. To keep from destroying the magic of imagination, I did not want a game with rules so complicated they interfered with the movie playing in our heads.
BattleTech started as a simple system, and that helped to draw more and more people into the game. Of course, as players became more experienced, they began to want more and more details. Though we have expanded the rules far beyond any­thing I everimagined at the start, players can still stick with simplicity by playing with the basic rules, and choosing for themselves whatever additional rules they want to in­clude in the game.

While producing all the new books and products for the popular BattleTech line, we wanted strong visual images that would help players feel that the game universe lives, breathes, and feels real. As a result, our BattleTech artists and designers have es­tablished new high marks for graphic quality in the adventure game industry. BattleTech was also the first line in the industry to include interior color art and it is the first to feature extensive uniform and vehicle painting schemes.

In addition to rules and striking graphics, the richness of the the BattleTech fictional background made it a natural for straight, non-gaming fiction. With fans of the game clamoring for more. I called Bill Keith to discuss the idea of writing novels related to the game and he jumped at the chance to work in a longer fictional form. The result was the exciting trilogy of the Gray Death Legion.

This year, with the major figures of the BattleTech universe moving their realms again toward another major interstellar war. I felt that the motivations of the major char­acters in this drama needed to be discussed in a depth that game material cannot hope to do. Thus was Mike Stackpole's Warrior Trilogy conceived. To begin this enormous project, Mike first had to become a world authority on BattleTech (excluding us at FASA, of course). Only then could he begin to craft the major plots we had designed, together with hundreds of characters and minor plots that he created, into a tale that would take the Successor States to a new stage of struggle, intrigue, and war.

Because we fell that BattleTech had spawned a wealth of beautiful and striking graphics, we decided to create Shrapnel, which is a collection of BattleTech short stories as well as a showcase for dramatic artwork such as the Jim Holloway painting shown here. For me, this painting is Battle­Tech. It portrays the action, the grittiness, and the scale that has made BattleTech so popular—and alt from the player's perspective. This image gives player the kind of ‘you are there’ identification that makes the game so real and therefore so much fun. As for the stories, all were commissioned specifically for this book, and are meant to show aspects of life in the BattleTech universe that have not been covered before.

This book is dedicated to the creative team, both in-house and free-lance, that has worked with me to create a universe that lives and breathes and feels real.
J. K. W. Chicago, June 1988

Edit: There is no current one stop shop for the Battletech novels as most are out of print, occasionally some fan site gets rights to a reprint or stumbles across some that never sold in book stores. Also some fan sites have what appear to be legal rights to the ebooks, choose carefully, the authors deserve the rewards for their works. I'm fortunate to still have most of these in paperback, some worse for the wear from multiple readings. ;)

Edited by Stradivarious, 08 August 2012 - 08:33 PM.

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