Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Story Thoughts --- Snipe Hunt

Well, the project I'm working on for Catalyst Game Labs has been announced:


So, I need to find out as much as I can about the one title I'm responsible for. The problem is I have only the current series to draw from (the previous series can't be considered, as there are major differences between the two series, even though they're about the same characters.) The current series is short, and the latest I can't draw from for several reasons. The fun of being a writer....but I'm digging out as much as I can!

For the rest of this post, I thought I'd write about Snipe Hunt, published back in 2009 (Nearly FIVE years ago --- where does the time fly?)

Snipe Hunt was my fourth published Battlecorps and up to now, my shortest story, clocking in at about five thousand words. As a new writer, I wanted to show Jason Schmitzer, Battlecorps' editor, that I could write for any faction. I had done a Federated Suns-based story, a Draconis Combine story, and a Word of Blake story. So I decided to try a Free Worlds League-based story, and another time period. So, I chose the League-Andurian War in the late 3030s. I found the circumstances in the Brush Wars sourcebook, just a paragraph describing the action on Conquista, That was followed by a look at the Free Worlds League Field Manual to find the Twenty-third Marik Recon Regiment as a part of the Sixth Marik Militia in 3059, so, since I found nothing to contradict it, I decided the Twenty-third had been a part of the Sixth for more than twenty years. I now had a place, circumstances, background, and an outcome. Now I just needed the characters and the actual story.

Instead of a MechWarrior, I decided to use a tanker's POV for this one, and Sergeant Faust Myers reported for duty. What I didn't have was any experience in how the crew of an armored vehicle worked together. However one of the workshop people did, and with a few words, gave me enough knowledge to make the dialogue and actions inside the tank feel realistic. I decided on an NCO as the main character, again because I wanted to make sure I was doing different things every time. And I came up with the idea of a snipe hunt that turns into something too real.

A snipe hunt was one of the practical jokes new boy scouts were exposed to (Yes, I was a boy scout --- made Eagle rank too!). A snipe hunt involved looking for a snipe, a type of bird and trying to capture it by doing something silly, such as making strange noises or running around the woods with a bag. Snipe are a real bird, are hard to capture, but most camping sites are nowhere near the Snipes' range (As an aside, the word "Sniper" comes from the snipe --- since the snipe isn't an easy bird to shoot or capture, anyone who had the skill to shoot one was called a sniper.) A snipe hunt is a wild goose chase, usually a deliberate joke used to harmlessly haze a new camper or boy scout.

According to the Field Manual, the Sixth Marik is an assault regiment, who rely on lighter armor to scout and guard their flanks. The Twenty-third Marik Recon Regiment, by it's very name, meant that I had to use light armor. I decided that the Pegasus hover tanks were the best vehicle I could think of for the role.

From there, it was figuring out the flow of the battle. I actually played this one out on MegaMek, as an experiment, and was surprised at how lethal the Pegasi actually were. What I wrote about in the battle was basically what happened in the game (I ran the Pegasi, while the computer ran the Andurians), with tweeks here and there for dramatic effect.

Later on, I used the story as a basis for a scenario which was published on Battlecorps. I enjoyed writing the story, and I think it's a good story, from a voice not often heard from in the Battletech universe.



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